Popular Transport’s 3rd Season
“The popular beach tram will commence its 2020 season on Sunday, January 5,” announced LeeTran Director Robert Codie. “We will continue to run the trams until Saturday, May 2. An exciting development for this upcoming season is we will add a third tram, as this became a necessity due to the unbelievable usage they undergo on Fort Myers Beach. In 2019, the seasonal trams drew 166,814 riders, and that was a 41% increase in ridership from the inaugural year when 118,604 people rode them. In 2019, trams transported 1,400 riders daily, and this does not count those who rode the beach trolleys, so these numbers are extraordinary!”
Those figures made the decision to add the additional tram easy, Codie related, “to better serve our community on Fort Myers Beach! These ridership totals are what we had in mind when we initiated tram service there in February 2018, but the 166,000 number happened much faster than we ever anticipated, so we are excited about that. We have more great tram news, however: While daily tram service will still start at 8 a.m., they will run this year to 11:30 p.m., as opposed to last year when they stopped operation at 8 p.m. We know how much people like to ride the trams during the day but now you can go out for a night on the town on Fort Myers Beach, so being able to do that while enjoying a ride in an open-air tram we believe will be phenomenal!”
Codie pointed out one more further tram enhancement for 2020, “but LeeTran cannot take credit for this one! The tram route is no longer in the Estero Boulevard construction area that is now in the center and southern portions of the island, so we won’t have to fight our way through all those orange barrels to serve you.”
The three trams will run on staggered times from Bowditch Point Park, through Lynn Hall Memorial Park and Times Square, then turn around near Matanzas Pass Preserve, looping around Bay Road, Oak Street and School Street. The trams connect with the Beach Park & Ride Trolleys at Times Square and the Lovers Key State Park Trolley at Bowditch Point Park, servicing such island attractions as the Fort Myers Beach Public Library, Bay Oaks Recreational Center and Community Pool, Beach Elementary School, Town Hall, and numerous restaurants, shops, bars, and businesses. There will not be any advertising on the outside of the trams, though there are ads on the inside of the trams.
“There are over 20 designated stops along the short route,” said Codie. “They are very close together, so we ask you to board and disembark only at those specific locations, for safety considerations. Remember the trams are not a hop-on-&-off service, so you can only board or get off once they are at a complete stop, because safety is our number one concern. That is a major reason why we have two employees on each tram; one to drive while the other assists people on-and-off. Due to their open nature, trams are free to residents and visitors, compared to the 75-cent trolley fee. While LeeTran does not yet have the technology to provide live-time updates for tram placements and arrival times, you can track the trolleys by downloading our free App, ‘Transit: Real-time Bus Information,’ so you can see their exact locations.”
Trams hold a maximum of 70 people, or roughly triple that of the enclosed trolleys, “but that varies by ride-to-ride,” explained Codie. “If people bring additional items on-board, like strollers or car seats, then it will be less, but each transports at least 50 riders at any time. While trams are ADA-accessible, they do not have a bicycle rack, unlike trolleys, but if ridership affords the space, you can put your bike on the tram. Since the route is so short, however, it may be quicker simply to bike to your destination.”
The public absolutely loves the beach trams, exclaimed Codie. “I think this is due to three reasons: the trams are open-air; tram rides are fee and we are providing a much-needed service that puts smiles on people’s faces! An important part of the ridership experience is our two-person crew on each tram. The drivers are professionals, while the attendants are often former LeeTran drivers or individuals who have a wide range of knowledge about Fort Myers Beach, so they can tell our riders all about the upcoming stops, bars, restaurants and island landmarks, to enhance their enjoyment.”
LeeTran will not run the seasonal trams during the 2019 Holiday Week: “We actually had internal conversations about that recently, but our current budget and operational grants say service begins in the month of January, so we just couldn’t do it this year, but it is something we are definitely considering for future seasons.”
Beach Park & Ride Trolleys
Usage at the Beach Park & Ride is starting to beef up, Codie added, “and this is a little earlier than last year, as season is right around the corner. LeeTran had nearly 46,000 boardings at the Beach Park & Ride to date in 2019, making it our sixth most utilized stop in terms of boardings.”
While 2020 trams remain free, riders still must pay 75 cents for Beach trolleys, though Codie reminded everyone on Fort Myers Beach that they still receive a bargain. “All other Lee County routes cost $1.50-per-rider, so it is already far less expensive for our beach residents and visitors. On top of that, trams operate in addition to the trolleys so they do not replace but enhance existing services, to reduce traffic during the busiest time of the year.”
In addition to the trams operating from January 5 to May 2, that is the Fort Myers Beach Seasonal Trolley Service schedule as well, with Route 400 from the Beach Park & Ride at 11101 Summerlin Drive, at the corner of Pine Ride and Summerlin Roads, to Times Square daily from 6 a.m. to 10:23 p.m., with The Beach Park & Ride location offers 125 free parking spaces. From Bowditch Point to Lovers Key State Parks, trolleys runs daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Both routes cost 75-cents-per-ride, $2 for an all-day pass, and $4 for a 3-day pass. For additional tram and trolley information, schedules, or to purchase multiple day passes, call 239-533-8726 (LEE-TRAN) or see www.leegov.com/leetran.
“We look for ways to improve the tram experience for the Fort Myers Beach community,” offered Codie, “so that residents and visitors alike get the ultimate ride experience, and so far, we get better year to year to year. Your satisfaction and safety are our prime concerns, to provide superior customer relations and service for citizens and guests through our tram and trolley programs as safe, fun and efficient travel enhancements. When you provide a safe and fun improvement, everyone wins. On top of that, remember that every one of those 166,814 passengers rode the trams for free! What could be better than enjoying a ride in an open-air tram, with the cool breezes and visual beauty of Fort Myers Beach all around, and for free!”