August 13, 2017

BRIAN BASHAM/The Citizen
The Duval Loop Old Town circulator bus will debut on Thursday, Aug. 31, just in time for Labor Day weekend.

BRIAN BASHAM/The Citizen The Duval Loop Old Town circulator bus will debut on Thursday, Aug. 31, just in time for Labor Day weekend.

The Duval Loop Old Town circulator bus will debut on Thursday, Aug. 31, just in time for Labor Day weekend.

City of Key West officials are still finalizing details on a ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with additional ideas for the bus route’s debut including partnering with Duval Street bars and businesses to offer discounts to riders on the opening weekend, Sustainability Coordinator Alison Higgins told the Sustainability Board this week.

The debut of the free service has been pushed back several times, first because of a lack of drivers, then due to hurricane regulations and a computer virus that slowed the printing of graphics.

The 16-stop route is designed to eliminate cars and ease congestion in the heart of Key West’s entertainment district.

The L-shaped route will mostly operate on Simonton and Whitehead streets from United Street to Caroline Street. The loop also runs up Fleming and Caroline streets to allow for more parking options near stops.

Although titled the Duval Loop, only two of the 16 stops will be located on Duval Street to ensure the 15-minute route can be timely and reliable for downtown workers using the service, according to Key West Parking Director John Wilkins.

Eight of the 16 stops were created specifically for the route, while the other half uses already established bus stops, Higgins said.

The project is funded through last year’s $1 parking meter hike, with 33 percent of revenue going to the Duval Loop, according to Wilkins.

The board also heard updates from Energy Manager Terry Justice and Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Chris Hamilton.

Fine-tuning work and the implementation of an occupancy schedule at City Hall that automatically shuts down air conditioning and lights during the building’s off hours has reduced electricity by 39 percent from peak February rates, Justice said.

“(We’re) pretty doggone close to energy consumption predictions the LEED certification was based on,” he said.

Recently purchased portable energy logging equipment will allow for audits of individual energy components in city hall and other city owned properties, Justice said.

Progress reports on both major Key West bicycling initiatives were delivered by Hamilton, who said the bike and pedestrian master plan and Car Free Key West marketing campaign are moving forward.

The master plan advisory team will review drafts of the proposed bike network later this month, upload to the internet for public comment in September and hold public meetings for additional input in November, Hamilton said.

Goals for year two of the CFKW campaign include assisting in the promotion of the Duval Loop, creating a street safety initiative and developing a van-pool program, Hamilton said.

sunger@keysnews.com