Dec 222013

Since my biking days appear to be over, and a vehicle is out of the question, getting around the rock involves one of two methods, putting one foot in front of the other, or ponying up $2 for a ride on the Key West Transit system.  It’s been awhile since I talked about the bus system here on this little island, and since I have used it more this past week than all of the previous year, this seems like a good time to bring it up again.

The Key West Transit system is the official bus system for Key West and the Lower Keys all the way to Marathon.  There are 6 bus routes which run every day except for two (Red and Orange) that don’t run on Sundays.  4 of the routes run in the Key West to Stock Island area.  They are the Blue, Green, Red, and Orange.  The Pink and Lime run a route through Key West and all the way to the north end of Marathon as far as the Walgreens.  From there you have to take the Monroe/Dade express to get any further up the Keys.

The Blue, Green, Pink, and Lime are the only ones that go to the Key West airport, which is important if you are relying on the bus to catch the plane.  The Red and Orange stick to a north side route running all the way into Old Town and then back out to Stock Island.  All the routes stop at the hospital on Stock Island also.

The routes are pretty regular, for running on island time, and tend to stay on schedule.  You can pretty much expect a bus to come by every two hours or less, depending on the stop.  Most stops are little more than a sign post on the street but some places have sheltered stops.

The busses themselves are comfortable enough but noisy.  The ones in town look like they can hold about 20 people and they do accommodate anyone needing assistance, like with wheelchairs or walkers.  There are also places to put your bags.  The ones in town also have bike racks but not the ones that go up the Keys.  The busses are air conditioned but the drivers tend to run the ac to the extreme and it can get chilly inside.

As for said drivers, for the most part they are pretty nice, most speak another language, and they stay polite.  But a few tend to take their job a bit too seriously and will yell at someone for some minor infraction like eating on board or falling asleep.

Cost for these trips is reasonable.  $2 one way of for the in town rides.  $4 for a one way to Marathon or back.  Student and senior discounts are available as well as week or month long passes which will save a few bucks.  Always have exact change though.

If there is any real issue with the busses it is with some of the passengers.  Most riders are locals who cannot afford to drive, won’t or can’t ride a bike or walk, or just prefer to let somebody else do the driving.  But the busses do attract the bums, the drunks, the nut jobs, and they can be a nuisance sometimes.  I haven’t had too much trouble with anyone but once in a while you get that special someone who needs to be ejected, preferably when the bus is going over a bridge.

The routes tend to be bit slow too.  I found I can walk from the marina to Key Plaza in the same amount of time it takes a bus to go the same distance.  So while I am saving wear on the feet, I’m not saving any time.  Still, the fare is fair, and there are those times where you just don’t feel like hoofing it or the weather is bad, so the bus makes sense.

If you are coming down to the rock and need to get around, go to the link and study the routes and maps carefully.  The mobile site translates very nice to the iPhone in that you can select a route, chose the stop, and it will give you an up to date ETA of said bus.  They run from dawn to around midnight so if you figger on spending some late night time on Duval, plan on a cab to get home.

Capt. Fritter