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Local man appeals to city for LeeTran revamp support

By Staff | Feb 8, 2018

Not happy that the county has not immediately embraced his plan to revamp of LeeTran’s service routes, a local man has now reached out to city of Cape Coral officials.

Thomas Kanell, a former LeeTran employee who lives near the Cape Coral/North Fort Myers line, has proposed a plan he says will benefit riders who catch a bus in the Cape by reconfiguring routes and increasing “meet points” from 15 to nearly 200.

The plan would not add additional buses, Kanell maintains.

“My plan is very common sense. The buses are there to serve the public. The public is not there to wait around for service,” said Kanell, who adds “My plan is more passenger oriented.”

His plan to symphonize routes – as he says is done in neighbor Collier County – was given to LeeTran a year ago. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners gave LeeTran a year to analyze it and he was hoping for a positive outcome.

“I had met with the people who run LeeTran back in 2016 by the direction of the Lee County Commissioners. I explained my plan and one of the managers of LeeTran said ‘This plan would take us a year to analyze and implement,'” Kanell said. “One year later nothing has been done.”

LeeTran spokesperson Katie Meckley confirmed they have received Kanell’s suggestions and plans and are evaluating them. She said LeeTran will take his proposal into consideration in the future when they look to enhance services.

“LeeTran is constantly evaluating our service and striving to make it better for the residents and visitors of Lee County. However, LeeTran operates on a continuation budget and we do not envision major changes to our current service levels in the near future,” Meckley said.

Kanell has now turned to city officials in hope of garnering support.

He has written letters to the Cape Coral City Council, with two members, Dave Stokes and John Carioscia, interested in more information.

“What I did was to refer him to our staff. I must admit that Mr. Kanell, and any other resident who has a plan to make the Cape a better place to live, will always be sent by me to those city staff experts who are in the field of the resident’s proposal,” Carioscia said via email.

Kanell also sent a letter to the mayor of Cape Coral last week.

“Hopefully, the mayor can get behind it too. I think Cape Coral is severely hampered by this service that the county is giving them right now. Less than 6 percent efficiency is how I calculated it from 15 meet points to over 200. It doesn’t need to be that way. A simple adjustment in the schedule would solve that,” Kanell said.

He believes if the service was better, LeeTran would have more riders because they would not have long wait times to catch a bus.

“There’s a link between efficiency of service and how many people use it. You are not going to want to take the bus if it takes you all day long to get to the doctor’s office and back because your car is broken down. You want a service that is efficient and gets you to where you need to go in the least amount of time possible,” Kanell said.

He said he has witnessed firsthand how frequently passengers have to wait for their connecting bus.

“I would always feel frustrated that customers had to do that because many times it was not necessary. The problem is that the planners never planned for buses to meet, so that is why I decided to go about actually designing a plan for buses to meet,” Kanell said.

Although his plan includes all of Lee County, Cape Coral stands to benefit the most from what he is proposing, he said.

“This system I developed is a standard model of transit in many parts of the country,” he said about using the “pulse system.” “Buses meet in a predictable regular pattern where passengers can count on catching their bus when they need to catch it.”

Currently, Kanell said Cape Coral only has 15 meet points between buses throughout the entire day. His plan would increase that to close to 200 bus meet points.

“It’s just a matter of designing a plan where the buses are designed to meet, instead of being haphazard as they are now,” Kanell maintained.

As presented, his plan includes two basic meet points within Cape Coral – the Cape Coral Transfer Center off of Southeast 47th Terrace and the Cape Coral Hospital.

“They are beneficial because they happen to be a strategic place where bus routes have the right amount of time to meet just at that one place and they can continue on their route without delays,” Kanell said.

The hospital would be better than the current basic meet point, Coralwood Center.

“Moving the other meet point further north helps to integrate the routes with the North Fort Myers routes,” he maintains. “Cape Coral Hospital is ideally located.”

Kanell said the 40 bus already meets at the Cape Coral Hospital and the 70 bus passes right by the hospital on Del Prado Boulevard.

“I think the northbound bus stops in the little curved parking lot and the southbound bus passes by off of Del Prado and does not go into the parking lot, which is a mystery to me,” he said.

The main reasoning around synchronizing the routes, Kanell explained, is because they currently run at all different lengths of time.

For example, he said, when he computed his plan, the 120 route was 80 minutes long, the 70 route 125 minutes long and the 40 route 138 minutes long.

“If you were to make all the routes 120 minutes long, they would all meet up every time they come in and out of Cape Coral,” Kanell said. “If a passenger is being transferred from one bus to another bus they would be right there and wouldn’t have to wait for the next bus to come an hour later, 30 minutes later. All the buses would meet every hour on the hour.”

Currently, he said a bus passes by Coralwood Center 64 times a day, but it only has three bus meets.

Those who would like to learn more about his plan, can visit http://abetterleetran.site/Synchronized-Cape-Coral.php. He encourages people to also contact their County Commissioners.

“It wouldn’t cost anything because it wouldn’t add on any more buses. It would just run them more efficient,” Kanell said.