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Getting Around Palm Beach County

On the Ground
Business and tourism cannot grow without a good network of roads, railways, and airports. Transportation systems are continually improved, including mass-transit. In 1971 Florida Transit Management, Inc. began countywide bus service with 20 buses on seven routes; the system was renamed CoTran, short for "County Transportation," in 1980, and Palm Tran in 1996. Today Palm Tran has a fleet of 192 buses serving more than 3,300 bus stops. In 2008, Palm Tran provided an average of 32,394 weekday rides.

Palm Tran Connection was added in 2000, providing door-to-door transportation under programs with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Division of Senior Services, the Transportation Disadvantaged, and Medicaid. The Connection service schedules and monitors an average of 4,000 passenger trips each weekday by private transportation providers.

The Tri-Rail commuter train system was created in 1987 by the Florida Department of Transportation, as a temporary commuter service during work on I-95 and Florida's Turnpike. The original 67-mile route was extended in 1998 to 72 miles, running from Miami International Airport, through Broward County, to the former Jai-Alai fronton in Mangonia Park. In 2007 the entire line, owned by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, was upgraded with double track. Currently there are six Tri-Rail stations in Palm Beach County: Mangonia Park, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and Boca Raton. A station at Palm Beach International Airport closed in 1997.

In 1987, after years of disagreement about the path it would follow, the last link of I-95 from Maine to Miami was complete. The 29.7-mile stretch ran from PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens to State Road 714 in Martin County.

In the Air
During the mid-1980s, People Express airlines commenced scheduled service at Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA); the former U.S. Customs House was converted into a terminal for the carrier. New York Air, Northeastern, and Presidential Airlines also briefly served PBIA during this period.

A 25-gate, 550,000 square-foot passenger terminal replaced existing ones in 1988, with two concourses, three passenger levels, and a rooftop parking garage. By the time the new terminal was completed, American, Continental, and Northwest Airlines had initiated scheduled service. The terminal was named for David McCampbell, a World War II naval flying ace, Medal of Honor recipient, and Palm Beach County resident. It was designed in the tradition of Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner, using keystone walls and porticos, and was decorated with the work of local artists.

North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport, also known as North County Airport, opened in 1994 at PGA Boulevard and Bee Line Highway (S.R. 710) in Palm Beach Gardens, as a reliever to Palm Beach International Airport. The 1,832-acre facility, owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Department of Airports, has one turf runway plus two asphalt-paved runways. About 200 aircraft are based there, primarily propeller-type, with some private jets and helicopters. Due to its proximity to Pratt and Whitney Aircraft’s Sikorsky division, North County is used to test approaches on experimental or prototype helicopters.

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phone: 561.832.4164  |  fax: 561.832.7965  |  mail: P.O. Box 4364, W.P.B., FL 33402  |  visit: 300 N. Dixie Hwy, W.P.B., FL 33401

© 2009 Historical Society of Palm Beach County  |  all photos courtesy HSPBC unless otherwise noted