A picture of public transit in the early 1900s found trolleys on streets clogged with horse carts and jammed with people. As it developed, public transit traditionally served downtowns with streetcars, subways, or buses operating on fixed routes and on fixed schedules. Through the 1950s, public transit was a profitable industry owned and operated by private companies.
With the coming of the automobile age, urban areas changed dramatically. Cities and their suburbs had grown around the public transit lines radiating out from the downtown area. The automobile allowed people to go anywhere. As a result, decentralization of retail, financial, and industrial sites into the suburbs moved rapidly after World War II. In the post-war era, automobile ownership became almost universal, providing instant mobility. Brevard County’s public transit developed almost exclusively in the automobile era. In 1959, there were less than 25,000 people in the entire county. Brevard County has no dominant downtown with a concentration of retail, financial, and service businesses typical of older cities that were developed before the automobile; its industrial employment centers are dispersed. During the 1950s and early 1960s ridership on public transit declined rapidly. Public transit’s financial viability, as a “for profit, private sector enterprise,” also declined rapidly. By 1964 many private transit companies were losing money. The federal government intervened with a program to buy privately owned public transit assets and operate them in the public sector. By 1974, the federal role expanded to include operating assistance. By this time, most public transit systems were publicly owned and subsidized similar to roads, bridges and highways.
In 1974, the Federal government dramatically increased its role in public transit, in part, because of the 1973 Arab oil embargo. More federal grants were available for buying buses and new grants became available for paying operating expenses. Many communities that had no existing public transit operations took advantage of new federal funds and began public transit operations. This occurred in Brevard County through the formation of the Brevard Transportation Authority. The original idea of the BTA was that all local governments and the Florida Department of Transportation would participate. As it turned out, the Brevard County Board of Commissioners and the municipalities in Central and North areas of the county declined to participate. Although its name implied that it served the entire County, BTA served only the area south of the Pineda Causeway, or roughly one-half of the County’s population. The BTA attempted to provide traditional public transit service using fixed routes and fixed schedules. Because of low-density development in the service area, results included low ridership, high subsidy per passenger, and a decline in public support. By the time the BTA went out of existence in 1985, there were only two participating municipalities out of the original ten that had formed the authority in 1974.
During 1974, the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners also set up a transportation system. Although Brevard County had no traditional public transit system before 1974, there were several non-profit agencies that operated transportation services for their clients. In 1974, these separate transportation systems were melded into a single agency called CATS, or the Consolidated Agencies Transportation System. Under the Board of County Commissioners, CATS was charged with providing service to senior citizens for medical, shopping, and congregate meals and to the economically disadvantaged for medical and other life sustaining needs. Over the years, CATS services expanded, ridership increased, and public support grew. The cost to the Board of County Commissioners was minimal since CATS drew support from many funding sources. The service was also free to the passenger thus enabling CATS to maximize user support. Transportation was provided by subscription service to social service agencies and demand-response service during the middle of the day for senior citizens. Although both the BTA and CATS transportation systems were formed in the same year, there was very little cooperation between them. In fact there were constant disputes over service based on the BTA’s belief that CATS was duplicating services offered by the BTA. Over the years, the relationship grew more and more pronounced. In 1983, the BTA announced that unless a clear definition of service parameters between the two systems was effected, it would discontinue service. At that time, the Brevard Metropolitan Planning Organization was updating the urban area’s Transit Development Plan. That plan recommended a two year demonstration of cooperation between the two agencies and, if the experiment was successful, a merger of the two systems. The consultants based their recommendations on the fact that there was stronger support for the specialized transportation provided by CATS. BTA, in fact, was providing service mainly to senior citizens who were already qualified to ride the specialized serviced provided by CATS.
A two-year demonstration began in October 1983. By October 1984, it was obvious to local officials that cooperation between the two was already succeeding. The BTA turned all of its assets over to the county and went out of existence on September 30, 1985 and the merger was accomplished on October 1, 1985. A countywide contest was held to determine the new name of the system. The new system named Space Coast Area Transit (SCAT) would be operated as a department of the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners. Space Coast Area Transit was not designed to be a traditional system. The service was available to anyone, and a fare was charged, but those were the only two aspects of the service which were similar to traditional public transit systems. The service was designed around the special needs of the elderly and the disabled. SCAT continues to provide service to those groups that had been served by CATS.
SCAT also serves not-for-profit agencies through separate contracts with those agencies. A typical contracted bus route starts out its day picking up developmentally disabled adults and transporting them to training centers and sheltered workshops. Around the lunch hour, senior citizens are transported to designated meal sites. In the afternoon the bus reverses the route and takes everyone home. SCAT also operates paratransit services to serve the mobility needs of those who are unable to utilize fixed routes. Paratransit is generally a curb-to-curb service accessed through a trip-by-trip reservation. SCAT provides such services to meet the needs of the transportation disadvantaged citizens of our County.
Additionally, Space Coast Area Transit oversees the Volunteers in Motion Program. This program relies on volunteers to provide transportation services to qualified elderly citizens of Brevard County. Brevard’s Vanpool program began in 1982, when the BTA received a federal demonstration grant to promote ride-sharing as an alternative to traditional public transit service. The concept was based on using vehicles smaller than buses with volunteer drivers and passengers sharing all of the operating expenses of the service. The BTA began the ridesharing program with its own staff, but in 1985, it was bid out competitively. Two proposals were received and the contract was awarded to Vanpool Services, Inc. (VPSI). The program has grown from 6 to over 100 vans in the last 20 years and has become one of the largest public/private sponsored vanpool program in the State of Florida. Space Coast Area Transit purchases the vans with federal and state capital grants. The vans are then leased to VPSI, which in turn subleases the vans to commuters and human service agencies. Commuters that live in the same area and work in the same location form vanpools of seven to fifteen people that typically meet at one of Brevard County’s Park-N-Ride lots. Passengers save money, time and gas by riding to work comfortably in state-of-the-art passenger vans provided through this program. Vans are leased to commuters at a flat rate that includes all maintenance, insurance and administration. Vans are also leased to social services agencies to provide more specialized service than can be provided by Space Coast Area Transit’s subscription or paratransit service.
In 1994, SCAT unveiled its first illustrated bus, joining leading transit systems throughout the nation who use transit vehicles to generate advertising revenue and increase interest in the public transit system. Due to a grant received from the Florida Department of Transportation, Space Coast Area Transit was able to hire a professional advertising agency to develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Maps and schedules are now being designed in a format that makes public transit easy to use and understand.
In 2001, Space Coast Area Transit introduced trolley service to Cocoa Beach. The trolleys are actually buses designed to look like trolleys. The service runs from Port Canaveral to 13th Street in Cocoa Beach. A ride on the trolley costs just $1.25 with a reduced rate of 60¢ for seniors, veterans, disabled, and students. There is no charge for children under five or for transfers to fixed route bus service. Bikes and surfboards are welcome.
In 2003, Space Coast Area Transit was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Public Transportation System Award by the American Public Transportation Association. The annual award recognizes a public transportation system providing more than one million and fewer than four million trips annually. A criterion used to select the nationally recognized winner includes attributes such as efficiency and effectiveness, achievements in safety and operations; customer service; financial management; minority and women advancement; policy and administration; community relations and advancement of industry initiatives. According to SCAT director, Jim Liesenfelt, “The award was a great tribute to everyone involved with our organization. SCAT’s strongest resources are the contractors we have carefully selected to partner with and our highly trained staff. We have 100 plus employees who are 110% dedicated to getting their customers where they need to go, when they need to get there, wherever life takes them.” By combining a unique mix of fixed route and paratransit service, vanpooling and dedicated volunteers, Space Coast Area Transit is committed to combining their resources with emerging technology to ensure Brevard’s current and future transportation needs are addressed. In 2007, SCAT launched new services, including an interactive trip planner as well as evening and Saturday service on most routes.
On September 24, 2007, for the first time in the 34-year history of public transit in Brevard County, Space Coast Area Transit served over one million fixed route passengers boarding in a one year period of time. The historic event occurred at 8:03 am on the Cocoa Beach trolley at Shepard Park. Millionth rider Kathy Brady, an employee at the Country Inn and Suites in Cape Canaveral, was the recipient of a one-year complimentary pass on any of the Space Coast Area Transit bus and trolley routes. After riding her bike to a bus stop in Sharpes that morning, she transferred from a bus to a trolley as she had done many times during the last 12 years. Her ride took an unexpected turn when she was suddenly surrounded by shouts of congratulations, photographers and presents, including a flat screen TV. All of the gifts were donated by SCAT’s vendors, Florida Today, Central Florida News-13, Clear Channel Outdoors and Space Coast Advertising. “We wish they all could have been the millionth rider,” stated Transit Director, Jim Liesenfelt. “As our county continues to grow and congestion on our roads becomes a way of life, we hope more and more of our residents will use public transportation as a primary method of commuting as an alternative to continuously building new infrastructure.” Since the 2007 launch of expanded service, SCAT has had impressive ridership growth. From 2006 to 2010, the annual fixed route passenger trips increased from 912,025 to 1,604,020, an increase of 691,995 or 43%. The average growth has been 15% a year for the past four years.
In October of 2010, Space Coast Area Transit received four first-place marketing awards and was awarded best of show for their social media marketing efforts at the 36th Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) Annual Conference. They also won First Runner Up for safety in a medium size system, a coveted award issued by FPTA to recognize the best transit safety record in the State. The awards for marketing included signage and a cable television commercial that was funded by the Florida Department of Transportation to increase transit ridership on the congested 520 and A1A corridors. Using play on words, the campaign featured a medieval “knight” to promote “night service” on the two routes serving the 520 and A1A corridors, Route 4—520 Connector and Route 9—Beach Trolley. Another first-place award was given for a campaign honoring Space Coast Area Transit’s ten-millionth transit rider. Elements focused on the significance of how many people ten million really is, by comparing the number of riders to the entire population of LA, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia being loaded into buses. Space Coast Area Transit vendors donated a prize package for the ten-millionth rider that included a 60″ flat screen HDTV, an i-Phone, flip video camera, and a behind the scenes tour and VIP luncheon at News 13.
The last first-place award that went on to win best of show was for Space Coast Area Transit’s Facebook and Twitter social media marketing. Through the use of FBML, their facebook account acts as a mini website, featuring schedules and maps in both English and Spanish, as well as vanpool and Park & Ride lot information. Riders can also receive Tweets from the local transit service by following their Twitter account, SCATBus. Jim Liesenfelt, the Director of Space Coast Area Transit said that “being recognized for having effective community outreach was very gratifying, however, passenger safety has always been the number one priority. To be acknowledged as having one of the top safety records in all of Florida is a tribute to all the Space Coast Area Transit employees who work hard every day to provide mobility to our residents, in the safest possible manner,” he said.
Also in 2010, Space Coast Area Transit teamed up with Google Maps to provide a trip planner on their website using the technology of Google Transit. Step by step directions for the entire route, including transfers and travel times are available in text, and on the map. Travel times and transfers are provided for each leg of the trip. Directions can be reversed to plan a return trip, and print out a map and text directions. Customers can access maps and schedules from everywhere on their mobile devices. In 2011, Space Coast Area Transit was named the Outstanding Public Transportation System by the Florida Public Transit Association (FPTA). Transit systems throughout the state of Florida were compared to determine the winner. Quantitative measures included an analysis of functions such as the number of passenger trips, vehicles operated and hours of service in comparison to overall operating expenses. Qualitative measures, such as safety, customer service, and community relations were also rated. Wes Watson, FPTA’s executive director, stated, “Many transit agencies in our state are doing an outstanding job, especially in light of the tight economy generating a need for increased services while simultaneously creating a decrease in the revenue from which those services are derived. However, when we analyzed the comparative data, it was clear that Space Coast Area Transit was truly deserving of this award.” Jim Liesenfelt, director of Space Coast Area Transit, said he felt both humbled and gratified. “To be recognized as the most efficient transit agency when compared with all your peers throughout the state is very humbling. At the same time, to have our County Commission and the outstanding employees in our department recognized on a state-wide level as good stewards of the trust that the citizens of Brevard County have placed in us—from both a financial and a customer service standpoint—is a badge of honor that all of us are very proud to wear.”
Highlights of 2012 included record-breaking bus ridership of 11% or 2,040,000 passenger trips, and an all-time record of 2.6 million system-wide passenger trips (including vanpools and Paratransit). Melbourne and Titusville signed agreements to help fund additional bus service within their cities; Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and Palm Bay contracted for additional bus shelters and benches. 17-year-old Paratransit buses were replaced with 18 new buses. Communication with riders increased through Facebook, Twitter and a quarterly E-Newsletter. Space Coast Area Transit received 4 first-place statewide community outreach awards—including one for their new mobile website and QR code. Over 4,500 volunteer hours were logged in our Volunteers In Motion program. A Transit Development Plan that provides guidance on how to expand transit service through 2022 was completed.
During 2013, an all-time record of over 2.8 million system-wide passenger trips went on the books— a 7.7% average increase over the prior year and a 19% increase in one month alone. Newly designed bus stop signs replaced ones that were worn out. Made of a high intensity reflective material, the signs are much more visible, especially at night. A QR code on the signs link passengers to a mobile website, where the Google Maps Trip Planner details which routes to take. Additionally, a Bus-4-Life game app was created and subsequently garnered 1 of 4 first-place marketing awards—and the Florida Public Transportation Association Judges’ Choice Award. A savings calculator was created on 321transit.com, allowing customers to see how much they really save by riding the bus or vanpooling versus commuting by car.
In January of 2014, Brevard County residents—6,600 to be exact—embraced a New Year’s resolution to try out their local bus service on the first annual Resolve to reThink Your Commute Day. Space Coast Area Transit co-sponsored the event with reThink, a program of the Florida Department of Transportation that promotes transportation options to commuters, and CareerSource Brevard, a place where people come to learn business skills and set out on a career path. At a kick-off ceremony where community leaders spoke about transits economic, business and environmental benefits, Brevard County Manger Howard Tipton stated, “Transit service benefits our people, our businesses and our local economy as well. Commute options not only benefit our residents, but also the businesses that need to get their employees to work, and the tourists who are visiting the Space Coast. Providing commute options in our region puts us on the map, and makes us more attractive to the high tech types of industry we are actively pursuing.” “Resolve to reThink Your Commute” was named Member’s Choice at the Florida Public Transportation Association Annual Marketing Awards competition. Other 2014 highlights included the commencement of a new bus route in Rockledge and Viera, implementation of a fare increase raising the base fare to $1.50, construction of a new transfer station at the Melbourne Square Mall, and a new record-breaking ridership of 2.94 million total system boardings.
In 2015, Space Coast Area Transit started the New Year in style. During the 2nd Annual reThink Your Commute Day kick-off ceremony held at the King Center for the Performing Arts, a “Students Ride Free” funding agreement with EFSC was renewed. Ancel Robinson, president of the EFSC Student Government Association, began the celebration by stating, “Without transit service, our students would be lost. I know, because I am one of them. Richard Laird, Vice President, Financial & Technical Services at EFSC also shared that, “The college’s long standing relationship with Space Coast Area Transit remains invaluable and is among the most important that we have in Brevard. It adds an element to higher education that is often overlooked: the critical role that public transportation plays in our cities and neighborhoods.”
Additionally, Space Coast Area Transit: facilitated 2,374,498 passenger boardings on the Fixed Route network, an increase of 2%; assisted FDOT in opening a new Park & Ride Lot for car/vanpooling at Hope Community Church in Titusville; received a first-place marketing award from the Florida Public Transportation Association for an employee-driven motorcycle safety awareness campaign in honor of deceased co-worker, Art Churchill; created a Speakers Bureau Video to connect community members with transit services— presented it to over 40 agencies; awarded a “Best Workplace For Commuters” designation—over 70% of Space Coast Area Transit employees are available for commuter benefits; provided 5,200 client trips to Brevard’s elderly and mobility challenged through Volunteers In Motion (VIM); and celebrated as the Florida Commission for Transportation Disadvantaged named VIM driver Joseph Leacock the State of Florida Volunteer of the Year. Leacock drove 110 days and provided 1,320 trips, donating 1,449 hours of service over 5 years.
In January 2016, Space Coast Area Transit co-sponsored “Transit’s Economic Benefits Summit at Florida Today Newspaper. Director Jim Liesenfelt stated, “The transit system employs over 150 people with an 8.6 million dollar operating and maintenance budget. More than 80% of it comes from revenue sources outside Brevard County, while conversely, almost 100% of the 8.6 million is spent inside Brevard County.” At the close of the summit, the formation of a new council for transit advocacy called “Transit One” was announced. “Transit is a vital lifeline for so many people; it’s almost a public utility that demands bold creative thinking,” Assistant Brevard County Manager Venetta Valdengo stated. Additionally, Volunteers in Motion celebrated its 20th year of service by assisting 2,956 clients and donating 4,227 hours of time. Each of the volunteers were recognized with a President’s Volunteer Service Award, and David Wiltshire was recognized as a gold achiever with over 500 volunteer hours. “This program sets an example of how things might be if others were living by your definition of ‘a life well lived’,” Program Coordinator Lori Hamilton told the volunteers.
At the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) Conference, Space Coast Area Transit vehicle operator Ann Bernick received the 2016 State of Florida Paratransit Driver of the Year Award. The Agency received FPTA’s Gold Safety Award, the top honor for safe transit operations in the State of Florida. “Safety has always been our top priority. It’s not just a slogan; it’s the way we roll. If we can’t do it safely, we just don’t do it,” stated Director Liesenfelt. The Agency also changed its website URL to 321Transit.com and created the 321Transit app, available in the iTunes App store and on Google Play. The app assisted Space Coast Area Transit in providing over 225,000 bus trips during the fiscal year. In December 2016, Space Coast Area Transit implemented an increase of 3,175 hours of service and additional evening and Saturday service was added.
Over 150 community stakeholders attended the 2017 Tourism + Transit Summit on January 27, 2017. Eva Rey, President of Transit One, stated “This community is known for getting people to the moon and back, but we can’t even get our workforce home after 9 PM using public transit. I have issues with that! Less than 20% of our funding is local. If our state and federal grants disappeared, there would be no transit system. This community issue requires a community solution,” she said. Rey went on to outline community partnership opportunities, and encouraged participants to connect with the organization at TransitOne.org
The Agency also unveiled “Ride With Jim”, a quarterly event that provides the general public and transit advocates an opportunity to share coffee & conversation with those who help shape Brevard County’s Transit System. Co-sponsored by Bagel 13, the events began with a bus picking up registered riders at a select bus stop and driving them to a nearby Bagel 13. Over coffee and a bagel, participants have the opportunity chat with Transit Director Jim Liesenfelt. Marcia Gaedcke, President of the Titusville Chamber of Commerce, said she was “inspired” after attending the inaugural Ride With Jim event. “Building relationships and maintaining open lines of communication are important factors in Brevard County’s success as we continue to grow, and improving connectivity and diversity of transportation options are a huge part of that future,” she stated.
Space Coast Area transit also participated in FDOT’s Mobility Week, a grassroots initiative to promote awareness of safe and sustainable transportation choices and how those choices can build stronger communities, reduce traffic congestion and improve community health. Pop up events were held at bus stops throughout Brevard, thanking bus riders with giveaways, providing Bike/Ped safety information, and sharing an opportunity to ride for free on “Try Transit Thursday” by downloading the 321Transit app on their mobile device. Over 1,000 fans followed 321Transit on Facebook, in part because of a monthly Facebook live video series called “Transit Talk”, a behind the scenes look at transit’s interaction throughout the community.
In January 2018, 0ver 190 tourism and transit stakeholders attended the sold out B4 Summit, “Bikes, Bus, Beach + Brevard. The highlight of the jam-packed event was keynote speaker Andrew Evans, a National Geographic Travel Journalist and TV host of “Worldʼs Smartest Cities”. Evans gained a worldwide following with an epic overland journey from National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., all the way to Antarctica, by bus—a 12,000-mile journey through 9 states and 14 countries, and the focus of his keynote speech. “What I learned is the world is very small,” he said. “Transit and mobility is about allowing people to have opportunity. While Antarctica may not be their destination, being able to get to work or school allows them to fulfill their own goals and dreams. Following the B4 Summit, attendees traveled to Manatee Sanctuary Park on Space Coast Area Transit buses for a picnic luncheon and Bike Share ribbon cutting.
In May, the Brevard County Commission confirmed the appointment of Scott Nelson as the new Director of Space Coast Area Transit. He replaced Jim Liesenfelt, the former 20-year director, who was promoted to Assistant Brevard County Manager. Liesenfelt strongly endorsed Nelson’s promotion, stating, “During his term as Interim Director, Mr. Nelson led the department through Hurricane Irma, five Federal, State and Local audits, positioned the department for future succession planning, and continued to work with Federal, State, City and Local authorities to improve Brevard’s bus service. He has a proven track record as a successful Transit Director; serves with distinction on several statewide leadership teams; and is recognized for his integrity, strong interpersonal skills and operational expertise.” During Nelson’s 11-year tenure as Space Coast Area Transit’s Manager of Operations, fixed route ridership doubled to 2,000,000 passengers annually, the entire bus fleet was replaced and enlarged, video security systems were installed on all buses, and required State and Federal safety and security plans were developed and adopted. Additionally, the Agency won numerous state-wide awards for safety, driver of the year, and community outreach “I am very honored and grateful for this new opportunity,” Nelson stated.
Space Coast Area Transit was also excited to take a QUANTUM leap in 2018! Q’Straint, a company focused on developing innovative solutions to advance the safety and effectiveness of wheelchair passenger travel, partnered with Space Coast Area Transit to roll out a QUANTUM pilot program. QUANTUM is the first fully-automatic, rear-facing wheelchair securement station in the world. It allows passengers to fully secure themselves at a touch of a button, profoundly changing the face of public wheelchair passenger transportation by providing independence for disabled passengers. As part of the pilot, Q’Straint retrofitted two Space Coast Area Transit buses with the QUANTUM system at no cost.
The agency also unveiled Transit Talk, a monthly Facebook Live series that offers an unscripted behind the scenes look into the many ways Space Coast Area Transit interfaces with riders, community leaders, organizations and stakeholders in Brevard County. At the annual Florida Public Transportation Association convention, the promotion received a first-place award for community outreach.
In 2019, business leaders, elected officials, and stakeholders from across Brevard County shared their love for the Space Coast at the annual Tourism + Transit Summit. The Valentine’s Day event focused on reasons to love the Space Coast, including savings available by riding Space Coast Area Transit and sharing a ride to work. Commissioner Kristine Isnardi, Chairman of the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners, stated that the number one reason residents ride the bus is to get to work.
“This holds true especially for employees who work in the tourism industry. While you may not personally rely on Space Coast Area Transit, I guarantee that you rely on someone who does,” she said. Eva Rey, Chairman of Transit One, Brevard’s Council for Transit Advocacy, followed up by stating that one of the main objectives of the summit is to advocate for investment in public transportation by encouraging community partnerships. “We know that Brevard County Government cannot be solely responsible for fixing transit’s funding problem. Lack of local funding is a community issue that’s going to require a community solution,” she said.
Summit keynote speaker Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and the follow up book Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places, challenged attendees to be more creative, innovative, and open to seeing problems and solutions differently. “Management needs to encourage co-creators in their cities and organizations. Let your employees know it’s OK to say ‘yes’. People need to have skin in the game. Things have a value beyond purely financial. Think about the cost of ugly and boring and then let’s build the types of departments, communities and organizations we want to live and work in. Let’s create destinations that are worth the journey. Love is the best thing we do; it’s about time we apply it to the places that we live. Let us do small things with great love,” Kageyama concluded.
Lori Hamilton, a Space Coast Area Transit employee was recognized as Brevard’s Best for her heroic actions. Quick thinking by Hamilton, the Volunteers in Motion Program Supervisor, helped save the life of a 99-year old client who had been lying on the floor of her home for several days, unable to stand after falling.
When a volunteer driver went to a client’s residence for a pre-scheduled Volunteers in Motion ride, there was no answer at her door or phone. Lori immediately came to the scene and accessed the home with a spare key. The client was lying on the floor with her walker under her legs and a pool of blood by her head. Hamilton called 911, checked with the client’s doctor’s office for any known allergies, and located her son. Her composure and exemplary response to the emergency situation helped save the client’s life. For her actions, she received the Brevard’s Best Award and was named Transit Services Employee of the Quarter. According to Scott Nelson, Director of Space Coast Area Transit, Hamilton’s actions reflect why the Volunteers In Motion program is so desperately needed. “With a little time and effort, our volunteers provide services for those with very limited mobility. The personal satisfaction received from knowing you are providing life-sustaining services for residents who are too elderly or frail to transport themselves is very rewarding,” he said. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for volunteers who participate in the program. Volunteers In Motions provides a new vehicle in which participants pick-up/drop-off those with limited mobility, assist them with shopping, or possibly go with them to a medical appointment. To find out more, read about Volunteers In Motion or call 321-635-7999.
It was standing room only when elected officials, stakeholders and riders celebrated the grand opening of the new Cocoa Transit Terminal. “This location is very strategic in keeping our busy transit system on the move and getting our riders to work every day,” stated Transit Director, Scott Nelson. “From the Cocoa Transit Center, we have direct connections North to Mims, South to Melbourne, East to Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach, and West to West Cocoa.” Commissioner Bryan Lober compared Space Coast Area Transit’s efficiency to the Sarasota’s Transit System. “Their county has 100,000 less residents, less than half the square miles we do, the bus system transports less riders then we do, and they receive over 19 million dollars more from their county’s general fund, to do the same job we do. I would say that we are pretty efficient.” He went on to state that, “for every $1.00 in general funds Space Coast Area Transit receives, they leverage $8.95 in state and federal grants. Last year, they delivered about 2.5 million trips with just 136 employees. While we are proud to operate a fiscally conservative transit department, we are also compassionate. Veterans, students, seniors and disabled ride the bus for half price,” he said. Transit Director Nelson concluded the ceremony by stating, “I want to thank to our dedicated staff for everything they do to keep this system running every single day. They have made us more than a transit system, they have made us a transit team.”
At the annual Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) Conference held in Orlando, FL, Space Coast Area Transit received two first-place awards for community outreach. The first award was for their interior signage program that notified resident of upcoming events and holiday schedule changes. The second was for their “Mobility For All” campaign. As part of Space Coast Area Transit’s ongoing commitment to ADA accessibility, the website, 321Transit.com, was modified to comply with the W3.org web content accessibility guidelines, WCAG 2.0 level AA. All content on 321Transit.com is available for all users in a standard or alternative format. In addition, colors and fonts have been adjusted to also accommodate users with low vision.
To maintain their investment in a high level of commitment to Mobility For All, Space Coast Area Transit has implemented an annual 321Transit.com ADA compliance review, as well as needs-based accessibility testing, and resolution if an issue is found. This is just one of the many ways that Space Coast Area Transit continues Moving Brevard into the Future.
In 2020, a Route 20 Campaign, Dine, Shop, Work, Play and pushed out a major PR effort to increase ridership on Route 20.
The Space Coast Office of Tourism helped fund a TV commercial and photography for the new Beach Trolley, and placed a $15,000 Cable TV schedule.
The March UF IFAS Brevard County Extension Ride With Jim event was such a huge success, a van was needed for overflow!
Space Coast Area Transit sponsored the Space Coast Public Relations Association’s 2020 Annual Media Summit. Members were shown the Speakers Bureau Video and a trolley was parked at the event entrance for tours.
An advertising campaign for Volunteers In Motion included press releases, billboards, print ads, transit advertising and a flyer. Volunteer In Motion participated in 2 “Drive-Through Expos” sponsored by Senior Life.
And then, out of nowhere, COVID-19 appeared. It was hard to accept that a virus was going to waylay the planned May 2020 Transit Summit. On the day we agreed to cancel, who knew it would be the least of our worries in days to come.
Within several weeks, all promotions through the spring and summer were canceled. Marketing efforts immediately shifted from increasing ridership to emphasizing that riding the bus was for essential trips only in order to help stop the spread.
New messaging through social media, billboards and press releases informed riders of schedule reductions, however, the number of buses on routes doubled to increase social distancing. Additional messaging included elimination of fares; providing alternative transportation on an individual basis to riders whose work hours had been impacted; back door boarding; driver barriers; using hand sanitizers; and wearing masks.
With quarantining in place, a Transit Team campaign on social media connected passengers with Space Coast Area Transit Team Members. Carmen, Space Coast Area Transit’s Mobility Manager, has been a dedicated team member for over 2 decades!
One of the top media events of the year was inspired by the Manager of Operations and Maintenance, Lance Parker. The media watched as transit staff was trained to apply a product called Gencie, which killed bacteria, human viruses, and fungi on buses and in terminals. A News-13 broadcast featured an interview with Mr. Parker. During a follow-up event, transit agencies throughout Florida as well as Brevard County community leaders were invited to attend an informational session on the disinfectant and sanitizer.
The marketing team began working on a new website that included real time data, token transit, and easier navigation for a mobile website, which by now comprised approximately 80% of all transit users.
The Florida Public Transit Association’s annual meeting went virtual; all meetings were being held on Zoom. Space Coast Area Transit received three first-place Marketing Awards for the Gencie Special Event, 321Transit Ads and the Activity Book for Kids. The Most Innovative and Creative Award also went to Space Coast Area Transit for their Ride With Jim program. Even though COVID mandated an earlier-than-planned ending to the popular program, it will continue to live on in state-wide transit history. Chosen by representatives from the FPTA, FDOT, and CUTR, the award is given for “demonstrating innovative and creative concepts that translated into effective problem-solving techniques for the entire public transportation industry.”
With plans to unveil the new Beach Trolleys during the Transit Summit canceled, the Team begin working on a new Mobility Week promotion called 10 Days of Trolley. Arrangements with the following locations to take part in 10 Days of Trolley: Ron Jon Surf Shop, Sandbar Sports Grill, Cocoa Beach Library, Wildlife Watersports, Fat Kahuna’s, Coconuts on the Beach, Golf-N-Gator and Beachside Grand Prix, Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach, The Dinosaur Store, Graham’s Beachside Grill, Joanne’s Beachside Café, and the Beachside Hotel & Suites. Watch this great series on YouTube!
A 10 Days of Trolley Kick-Off, open to the general public, was held at Cocoa Beach City Hall. Businesses and residents enjoyed “Trolley Talk” over coffee and treats with local officials including Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober, Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik, City Manager Jim McKnight, Assistant County Manager Jim Liesenfelt, Transit Director Scott Nelson and Space Coast Office of Tourism Director Peter Cranis. The media coverage and social media hits were top of the year. Event highlights included attendees hopping aboard the Trolley, ringing the bell, and taking a Trolley ride.
In 2021, a new 321Transit.com state of the art website was unveiled. Web tutorial scripts were approved and produced to assist 321Transit.com visitors on how to use the main website features. The Team facilitated 8 Pop-up events which encouraged riders to download the 321Transit App to view their bus in real time. Approximately 1,825 apps were downloaded through June 30. The events culminated in a free ride day for customers who showed the 321Transit app on any mobile device.
A new mobile ticketing system called Token Transit was introduced and linked to 321Transit.com and associated apps. A campaign was launched across multiple platforms to promote mobile ticketing.
A partnership with the Space Coast Office of Tourism featured $42,000 on cable TV spots promoting the Space Coast Area Transit Beach Trolley. Commercials featuring Brother-4-Life promoting that riders could now view their bus in real time. A media schedule featuring the Real Time commercials was as placed with Spectrum and a corresponding campaign was created and disseminated across all platforms.
New decal graphics were created for all transit vehicles including 22’ and 23’ Getaways, the 28’ Defender, the Freightliner, E450, the Beach Trolley, Collins Buses, Hybrid Buses and 30’ and 40’ buses.
When the retirement of the Space Coast Area Transit Director Scott Nelson was announced, media articles were published that featured the numerous transit accomplishments during his tenure.
The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners confirmed Terry A. Jordan as the new Director of the Transit Services Department at their July 6, 2021 meeting. Featured news articles on a national, regional and local basis featured the prestigious appointment. Jordan served as Space Coast Area Transit’s Planner since June 2017, working on major initiatives such as the intelligent transportation system installation, mobile fare payments and bus stop improvements. Prior to working for Brevard County, Jordan managed two rural transit systems in North Carolina and worked for the North Carolina Department of Transportation managing federal transit grants. He began his career in 1990 at the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (also known as Lynx).
“Terry’s previous experience has prepared him well to manage all areas of transit services. We know he will capably lead Transit Services Department employees and continue building on the successful public transportation system already in place. I remain amazed and proud of how our transit management and staff work together, work hard and deliver great service—even through the most difficult year I can remember,” said Assistant County Manager Jim Liesenfelt.
As a former transit agency director, Jordan was in charge of operations, financial management, budgeting and grants, new service development, State and Federal compliance, policy development, and quality control. Elected twice to the North Carolina Public Transportation Association Board of Directors, he also presented federally funded programs at the annual Community Transit Conference for North Carolina Public Transportation Systems. Jordan attended Craven Community College and is a graduate of the Brevard County Executive Leadership Program.
“I am very appreciative and excited for this new opportunity,” stated Jordan. “Our entire team has been working hard to improve the transit experience for our customers. In April, we unveiled new service in Titusville, Port Saint John, and expanded service in South Beach. Additionally, an entire collection of new transit tools have also been released, including a feature-rich bus tracking website, state-of-the-art apps for Android and iOS smartphones, an on-board audio announcement system and contactless mobile fare ticketing. Most importantly, our customers can now receive real-time vehicle updates, view their bus on a map in real-time, and know for certain when their bus is coming. Also, Wi-Fi will soon be available on all fixed route buses. I am privileged to lead such a great staff, as together we continue moving Brevard’s transit system into the future,” Jordan said.
At the 2021 FPTA Conference, Space Coast Area Transit received 2 first-place Marketing Awards and the Judges Choice Award. First place awards included the Real-Time Bus Tracker Commercials (featuring Brothers-4- Life) which also won the Judges Choice award, and the Ready, Set, Go, Social Media Campaign.
The 2021 Mobility Week was action-packed with 3 events held in 8 days. Trolley service starting on South Beach Route 26 was the main focus off the events. The first event, held on October 30th at Canova Beach Park, featured Brevard County Commissioner Kristine Zonka, Transit Director Terry Jordan, and free Trolley Tours and Hot Dogs. Trolley T-Shirts were distributed to attendees who downloaded the 321Transit App. Additionally, the Trolley was free for the first 10 days of service to anyone who downloaded the 321Transit app.
The second event was held on November 4th at Pelican Beach Clubhouse. Guests mingled over coffee and treats with tables featuring a variety of transit services and partner information. Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith, Satellite Beach Mayor Steve Osmer, Space Coast TPO Executive Director Georganna Gillette, and Transit One Chairman Eva Rey joined Transit Director Terry Jordan for “Trolley Talk” and a ribbon cutting.
During November’s Satellite Beach Founders Day Parade and Community Event, there were approximately 100 321Transit app downloads and nearly 750 people who visited Space Coast Area Transit’s outreach table. At the peak of the event, there were 3 – 10 people at the booth at any given time. Many people heard about the new Beach Trolley service in Space Coast Daily as the trolley was featured on the cover for 3 consecutive issues. There were also 3 photo galleries in Florida Today, one for each of the events. We also had the opportunity to introduce the new service to community members who have never been on a Space Coast Area Transit bus or Trolley, but made the commitment to try it.
Mobility Week also featured a Vote and Ride for Free promotion. An unprecedented amount of press was generated by the Mobility Week events. Social Media exploded. All the events were quite successful.
In 2022, A Driver’s Wanted campaign as well as Download the App and Get a Free Ride were promoted through geofencing. A web page specific to Driver’s Wanted was created that featured a “Recruiter Phone Number” as well as benefits.
Scripts were written and approved for the Speakers Bureau Video, Volunteers In Motion Video and the Message on Hold. Talent was selected; and a production schedule was approved.
In 2022, the Marketing Team was excited to unveil the new Speakers Bureau Video called Look At Us Now! The Volunteers In Motion Video and the Message On-Hold video were also completed and new photography was uploaded to the website.
Events included CareerSource Brevard and Space Coast Area Transit’s Recruiting Event and Spring Job Fair; 4 Eastern State College Welcome Back events; the Greater Palm Bay Chamber and City of Palm Bay Multicultural Event; and Brevard County Libraries and Parks & Recreation events, including the Summer Reading Kick-Off.
Also in 2022, the long anticipated, 3-time-COVID-postponed, 2022 Tourism and Transit Summit, Rideshare from Earth To Space, was held at the Kurt Debus Conference Center at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex.
The goal of the Summit was to inform and engage stakeholders and community leaders by focusing on new initiatives and technological advancements that positively impacted residents and businesses; introducing transit stakeholders to the real-time bus tracker a high tech 321Transit website/app and Wi-Fi on buses; discussing innovative ways to enhance economic prosperity by moving people and goods through multiple modes including highways and streets, air, rail, sea, spaceports, transit; and the ever-expanding deployment of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Additionally, attendees were updated on the state of tourism on the Space Coast and the impact of space tourism. Yet another community segment listened to the transit message, Space Stakeholders. Jane Poynter, the Founder, Co-CEO, CXO, and Chief Experience Officer of Space Perspective, was the Summit’s keynote speaker. Space Perspective will begin transporting tourists to the edge of space in 2023 via a capsule attached to a hydrogen balloon. The Transit Summit was a sell-out with a substantial waiting list.
The day of the event, attendees were directed to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center parking lot for registration where they were then transported to the attraction entrance by a trolley or a hybrid bus. After checking in through the turnstile with a free ticket, they were directed to a hour-long Transit Expo in Debus Conference Center Lobby.
Finally, the Transit + Tourism Summit was kicked off by News 13 MC Space Reporter Greg Pallone, featuring transit speakers in the morning, a Keynote with Q & A, luncheon and tourism speakers in afternoon. At the annual FPTA conference, the Transit Summit won first-place for Special Events, the Best of the Best Award, and was the winning entry for the Most Innovative and Creative Transit Agency in the State of Florida.
Also in 2022, maps, schedules and the system map were reprinted. The Transit Team launched a Read-To-Ride campaign including posting flyers to the Brevard County Schools Peachtree system that are delivered electronically to all parents in the district. Printed flyers were also delivered to all Brevard County Libraries. Some of collateral materials designed and printed included promotional material for Dump the Pump Day, Presentation Folders, a new EFSC rack card, a Free T-shirt with App campaign, an updated Fact Sheet and a Rider’s Guide, Trade Show displays for Space Coast Area Transit and Volunteers In Motion, a Free Ride with App Download QR code and window sticker, and a new Connect With Us rack card. Contactless mobile ticketing was promoted at every opportunity. A special Volunteers In Motion parking sign was created. Additionally, the team designed a Volunteers in Motion Bus to be used at special events.
At the annual FPTA Convention, Space Coast Area Transit won three first-place awards: for their Social Media, the new Speakers Bureau Video and for the 2022 Tourism and Transit Summit. The Speakers Bureau Video went on to receive the Judges Choice Award and the 2022 Tourism and Transit Summit went on to receive the Best of the Best Award. For the second time in 3 years, Space Coast Area Transit was awarded as the Most Innovative and Creative Transit Agency in the State of Florida. Congratulations Marketing Team!
Mobility Week 2022 got off to a great start thanks to Jim, Ken and the rest of the team that helped stuff 660 goodie bags. We averaged :36 per bag. Whew! Space Coast Area Transit and their Mobility Week partners “popped up” at bus stops, thanking riders and distributing goodie bags and safety information. Those who had the 321Transit app on their mobile device or downloaded it at the “pop-up” events received a free T-Shirt. As a special thank you, riders who downloaded the app also received a Free Ride on Try-Transit Thursday.
At the 2022 Mobility Fair, we were excited to unveil a new program called Talking Transit with Terry Jordan. In partnership with the Space Coast TPO and the Central Viera Community Association, Space Coast Area Transit co-hosted an interactive Senior Citizens Mobility Fair at Addison Village Clubhouse. State and local indoor vendor booths showcased transportation safety, mobility resources, and much more. During the event, attendees joined the Space Coast Area Transit team for the interactive hands-on learning experience, Talking Transit with Terry Jordan. In addition to learning about transit system benefits and asking questions, participants took a ride on a new Hybrid–Electric Bus. The group of stakeholders were also encouraged to share ideas with the Transit Team to help shape the future of Brevard County’s Transit System.
November’s Satellite Beach Founders Day Parade and Community Event was postponed due to Hurricane Nicolle. Speaking of a hurricane, when the event was rescheduled in January of 2023, hundreds of attendees swamped the Space Coast Area Transit Trolley! At the peak of the event, there were 3 – 10 people at the booth at any given time. We also had the opportunity to introduce the new service to community members who have never been on a Space Coast Area Transit bus or Trolley but said they would try it. There were 58 QR code scans, 26 Google Play downloads and 29 iOS downloads, for a total of 55 App downloads.
Other events throughout 2023 included Eastern State College Welcome Back events with Team Members Carmen and Lance; and Brevard County Libraries and Parks & Recreation events including the Summer Reading Kick-Off Party with Don and his team, as well as the End of Summer Rewards Event with Ron and his team.
Maps, schedules and the system map were reprinted. Wi-Fi availability on all fixed routes was featured as the cover art. Thank you Izzy for making this important technology leap a reality!
A Driver’s Wanted campaign continued throughout 2023. A web page specific to Driver’s Wanted was created that featured a “Recruiter Phone Number” as well as more detailed benefits. Wrapped buses, bus backs and transit panels promoted our recruitment efforts.
Interior signage continued to communicate changes in holiday schedules and other relevant events and campaigns to our passengers. Signage graphics were also used in social media, the website and on billboards.
Volunteers in Motion attended two Senior Life Boomer Expos, one in March and one in November. They also attended the Satellite Beach Founders Day Parade and Community Event in January. Lori was the driving force at all of these events.
A new system for rider complaints that insured feedback, response and evaluation, was created and instituted by Space Coast Area Transit. 321RESPOND assures that customer concerns are addressed in a timely basis by the appropriate staff member. Additionally, dashboard reports allow evaluation of complaint topics, as well as numerous other functions. Training sessions were held to make sure all staff members were familiar with how to use 321RESPOND. One month after launching 321Respond, we had 62 submissions, 53 of which have already been closed and approved. Thank you, Carmen, for being the point person on this and many other projects!
The Rider’s Guide for Special Services was updated. Additionally, the ADA and TD Paratransit Application forms were created electronically. Clients can now fill out the applications online and upload the required information to complete the process.
In May, the Team launched a Read-To-Ride campaign that offers students 18 and under an opportunity to ride free all summer by showing the bus operator their Brevard County Library Card. Flyers were electronically posted to the Brevard County Schools Peachtree system that go out to all parents in the district. Promotional flyers were also delivered to all Brevard County libraries.
We never missed an opportunity to promote mobile ticketing. A new wrapped bus promotes our partnership with Token Transit! Significant progress was made on properly branding our vehicles.
In 2023, multiple repairs were made to branding decals. Thirty-three self-promotion advertising panels were installed, along with 10 Driver’s Wanted backs. Thank you, Lance, for helping facilitate this project.
Social Media continued to be an important part of our marketing and on a monthly basis. Daily schedules were created for Facebook, X, Google Business and Instagram. The Marketing Team also unveiled RIDE ON, a new promotional program that connects middle/high school students and their parents with Space Coast Area Transit.
By appealing to the students desire for transportation and independence, the RIDE RIDE ON program explains how we can connect students with jobs, after school activities, schools, the mall, beaches, EFSC (duel enrollment), transfer points in high value areas and more. The Brevard County Schools Partner in Education (PIE) Kick Off event provided Space Coast Area Transit an opportunity to meet with school representatives that could provide opportunities to exhibit at middle schools and high schools to present the RIDE ON program. Thank you Jazz and Terry for representing us at this important event.
Mobility Week 2023 was just as busy as its predecessors, with 6 events held in 5 days. Thanks to all Team Members who helped stuff 600 Goodie bags and to Don for providing the staff to haul and carry! Both North and South Pop-Up Teams did a great job, and the passengers loved it! We were successful in getting three photo galleries in Florida Today during Mobility Week.
Try Transportation in EGAD (Eau Gallie Arts District) featured a pedestrian safety presentation by the Space Coast TPO and a Transit with Terry event. Although attendance was light, our partnership with the TPO continues to be one of our most important stakeholder relationships.
We were surprised when over 800 attendees at the Cape Canaveral Friday Fest showed up to tour the Beach Trolley! Thanks to Don and North Team Members for a great event. Don also got an amazing video of the Space X rocket going up behind the Beach Trolley. Thank you all 321 Transit Team Members, partners, stakeholders and above all riders, for your Mobility Week participation!
And to come full circle, at the Annual FPTA Convention, the RIDE ON Program would go on to win a first-place award for Sustaining Campaigns, Read to Ride won first place for Interior/Exterior Signage, and Bus For Life won first-place in the website/app category. Space Coast Area Transit was the only Transit System in the State to receive three first-place marketing awards. Go Team!
For Bus Schedules or Paratransit Information call the RideLine, 321-633-1878. For Vanpool Leasing call 321-952-4562. To Volunteer, call 321-635-7999. For Transit Advertising Rates, call 321-726-6611. Hey, your ride’s here! Space Coast Area Transit . . . Moving Brevard into the Future.