The second season of LeeTran’s Fort Myers Beach Tram service concluded on Wednesday, May 1, and Robert Codie, LeeTran Director, is ecstatic over the results!
“Our two FMB trams transported 166,814 riders from January 3 through May 1,” he said gleefully. “That is almost 50,000 more than the 118,604 folks who rode the tram during the 2018 inaugural season and that super-excites us! That is just a bit short of my personal goal of 168,000 riders, as I wanted to exceed 2018 by 50,000 people, but this is close enough. Trams transported 1,400 riders daily, and this does not count those who rode the beach trolleys, so these numbers are extraordinary!”
The 2019 FMB Tram Season began and ended roughly one month earlier than in 2018, with 11 additional days of service. “The peak period for both years was March,” Codie reported, “with easily the highest volume of travelers. We anticipate these figures to continue to climb in 2020 so we will add a third FMB tram next year, to provide the best service possible to hit all the peak times during the day and night.”
While Tram Season is “officially over,” that does not mean Fort Myers Beach has absolutely seen the last of them for 2019, Codie offered. “We are examining bringing them back for high-profile FMB events, like the Island Hopper Songwriter’s Fest in late September, the American Sand Sculpting Championship in late November, Christmas Week, and we just recently learned that the beach will host the ‘Roar Offshore’ Powerboat National Championship from October 10 to 12, when perhaps as many as 90,000 people may attend. It is important that LeeTran investigate providing service for these large-scale events, not only for beach residents and visitors, but all Lee County citizens, to best serve our countywide patrons and encourage ridership.”
When the Tram season began in early January, a few Town Council members voiced their concern that LeeTran would house the trams at the former Seafarer’s Mall site at the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, but Codie described “the Town of Fort Myers Beach as a joy to work with! We have a mutual respect and work hand-in-hand to benefit not only our ridership, but the Town and Lee County, so we thank the Town and its leaders for their ongoing cooperation.”
Codie reported that “all 2019 public comments were positive – Thumbs Up all across the board! The trams not only help the traffic flow on Fort Myers Beach, but are an environmental enhancement as well, as most of those 166,814 people enjoyed Fort Myers Beach without bringing their cars to the island, lowering the carbon impact and decreasing wear-&-tear to the roadways. This benefits not only Fort Myers Beach residents and visitors but all Lee County citizens. We also know that Fort Myers Beach has heavy hearts right now, with the recent passing of Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker, who was your Mayor for five years. The Trams and Park-&-Ride were his vision, so we are happy to report all these marvelous impacts, as that positively reflects on his legacy and are contributions no one should ever forget.”
LeeTran also revised its Beach Trolley service. “We combined the three in-season trolleys into one that we renumbered Route 400,” Codie explained. Route 400 runs from Lovers Key State Park to Bowditch Point Park, back to Times Square and then to the Beach Park & Ride at 11101 Summerlin Drive, near the corner of Pine Ridge and Summerlin Rd. “Service commences at the Santini Marina Plaza at 5:45 a.m. and concludes at the Beach Park & Ride at 8:55 p.m.” The Beach Trolley operates daily except for the six major holidays; cost is 75-cents-per-ride, $2 for an all-day pass, and $4 for a 3-day pass. Bus passes can be purchased at the Beach Park & Ride Center. For trolley information, schedules, or to purchase multiple day passes, call 239-533-8726 (LEE-TRAN) or see www.rideleetran.com.
Codie emphasized one final Lee Tram point: “Remember each of those 166,814 passengers rode the trams for free! That speaks well of the collaborative effort between LeeTran, the Town, and Lee County to offer the best possible benefit for all of our citizens and visitors, as a safe, fun and efficient travel enhancement.
“When you provide a safe and fun improvement, everyone wins!”
By Gary Mooney