Trespassing vagrant adds fuel to bus stop debate

Posted at 6:24 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 18:24:56-05

The cleanup of several bus stops along a busy West Palm Beach roadway is hitting a speed bump.

There is new proof that trash cans and signs may not be enough to combat "unruly riders."

On Friday a homeowner along Forrest Hill Boulevard called police to report a vagrant sleeping on his porch.

"I leaned over and told him this is private property," Paul Lambrakis said. "He mumbled he was waiting for the bus and rolled back over and went to sleep."

Lambrakis, who's already requesting that Plam Tran remove the bus stop closest to his house, says this recent incident should elevate his complaint. "It's no longer a question of property values it's also a question of personal safety."

After living in his house for quite some time, Lambrakis says the stop hadn't become a problem until Palm Tran shut down at least two other stops to the east. Along with Lambrakis, some people there also complained about garbage and loitering.

"Really these bus stops don't belong in residential areas," Lambrakis said.

Palm Tran says at this moment it has no plans of moving the stop in question but did initiate a customer education campaign. A spokeswoman says in November its director Clinton Forbes went out to the stop and spoke to riders.

Along with his visit, a pedestrian survey revealed many of the riders work at nearby businesses and could use an alternative stop on Dixie Highway. Palm Tran says it is now trying to redirect those riders.

Commissioner Shanon Materio of West Palm Beach, already involved with the removal of two stops on Forest Hill Boulevard, is asking for a better approach. Materio is asking for the Palm Beach Metropolitan Organization is consider the matter when expanding transit.

"We have to provide the transit, it's very important for the future of South Florida," Materio said. "At the same time we really have to be conscious of our residents. It's been an uncomfortable situation."

Palm Tran says it is working with the city and Lambrakis to find some common ground.