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Whether by water, air, rail, highway, or mass transit, Palm Beach County boasts an efficient, integrated transportation system, from a major international airport and three commercial/executive airports to an expanding port that ranks among the state's finest…and busiest.
The Port of Palm Beach is the fourth-busiest container port of Florida’s 14 deepwater ports, and is the 18th-busiest container port in the United States. In fiscal year 2010, the port moved over 213,000 20-foot container units.
The Bahamas Celebration cruise ship is based at the port. Sailing every other day for the Bahamas, it brings 275,000 passengers to the port, an additional and significant economic impact for Palm Beach County. The port also handles diesel fuel, molasses, liquid asphalt, and other bulk commodities. There is also substantial tonnage involved in the movement of heavy lift and project cargos. All of this happens in a port that occupies only 156 acres of land.
Unlike most ports in the United States, the Port of Palm Beach handles exports as well, with approximately 80% of its cargo exported, creating a subsequent improvement in the balance of trade. The majority of the exported cargo goes toward supporting the island nations of the Caribbean. The Port of Palm Beach supplies 60% of everything consumed in the Bahamas and is the essential lifeline to the rest of the Caribbean.
The almost 900,000 tons of raw sugar produced in the Glades area of the county is shipped through the Port of Palm Beach – 100% of it.
The Port of Palm Beach and its tenants combine to become one of the largest employers in Palm Beach County, and is an economic engine for the County. Approximately 2,400 people are employed directly and indirectly because of the Port, which contributes $260 million in business revenue and $12 million in State and Federal taxes. Over $7 billion worth of commodities moves through the Port each year.
The Port of Palm Beach is the only South Florida port facility operating its own rail system with pier-side rail box, hopper, and intermodal cars operating 24 hours a day. The Port has three slips, four marginal wharves, and two ro/ro ramps for a total of 5,200 linear feet of berthing space. A Foreign Trade Zone at the Port has been in operation since 1987, encompassing several Port-owned sites, one sub-zone in Boca Raton and, in the near future, all five zones in the county as well as several high-tech sites in Martin County. Activated areas include the cargo handling bays of the Port’s old cruise terminal, as well as the entire facility of the Port of Palm Beach Cold Storage facility (POPBCS), which operates a 100,000-square-foot facility.
Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA), centrally located in West Palm Beach and easily accessible from I-95, is one of the largest medium-hub airports in the United States. PBIA’s services include a U.S. Customs and Immigration Port of Entry that is capable of processing 300 passengers per hour and handling aircraft up to the size of B747-400, private aircraft maintenance, air cargo, and international air. Eighteen airlines currently offer scheduled flights from PBIA to destinations throughout the continental United States, and direct international flights are available to the Bahamas and Canada. On average, about 6 million people a year pass through PBIA. Commercial airlines, including commuter aircraft, fly in and out of the airport about 56,000 times a year. General aviation, freight, and other flights average nearly 85,000 a year.
Palm Beach County also offers four local commercial/executive airports:
Boca Raton Airport is located halfway between West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. It is publicly-owned and is designated as a general aviation transport facility governed by a seven member Authority appointed by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County Commission. There are two full service Fixed Base Operators (FBO's) located at the Airport.
Glades Airport is Palm Beach County’s designated recreational airport, located three miles southwest of Pahokee and 35 miles west of West Palm Beach. It is popular for flight training for both fixed wing and helicopters. Glades Airport is also designated to support FAR 105 Parachute Operation.
Palm Beach County Park Airport (LNA) is located in Lantana and is six miles south of PBIA. LNA is a reliever airport focusing on the general aviation reciprocating and turbine driven aircraft. LNA is a busy airport with a mix of both fixed-wing and helicopters, and six runways.
North County General Aviation Airport (F45) is set on 1,832 acres, with over 1,100 being dedicated to environmental preserves that surround the airport. It is a designated reliever for PBIA and serves both reciprocating engine and jet aircraft.
"Depending on what type of business you're talking about, there are fantastic opportunities with rail in South Florida," says Edwin Radson, South Florida's District Railroad Coordinator. "And as far as commuter rail, we're moving into the mass transit system you would find in the nation's major cities."
Florida's rail system is comprised of 12 line-haul (freight) railroads and four terminal or switching companies. Of those, Palm Beach County is primarily served by CSX Transportation's 1,650 Florida route miles-- which connect with a total of 19,000 CSX miles covering 20 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada-- and the Florida East Coast Railway Company's 442 Florida route miles. The South Florida Rail Corridor is a state-owned 81-mile corridor between West Palm Beach and Miami (formerly CSX trackage). As many as eight freight and 35 passenger trains operate within this corridor daily.
CSX and FEC are the largest carriers in the state, handling, among other things, such commodities as nonmetallic minerals, chemicals, and allied products, coal, and various commodities moved in containers and trailers. Florida's Amtrak rail passenger system operates over CSX trackage, with daily intercity passenger services in both directions between the northeastern U.S. and South Florida, as well as the west coast of the U.S. and Miami. A multitude of destinations are available from Amtrak's West Palm Beach station.
Tri-Rail Commuter Rail, with its four double-decker passenger cars accommodating a total of 700 seated passengers, services Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties for convenient commuter travel between West Palm Beach and Miami. There are a total of 50 north- and south-bound trains running each weekday from dawn until midnight, and slightly fewer on the weekends, covering a 70-mile route. All Tri-Rail stations are served by a dedicated Tri-Rail shuttle system, interconnecting county transit buses or other transit systems.
Palm Beach County is served by several major highways -- Interstate 95, Florida's Turnpike, U.S. Highway One, Military Trail, Beeline Highway and State Road 7, to name a few -- as well as national, county-wide, and local bus systems. Palm Tran, a county-wide bus system, covers every corner, from Boca Raton to Jupiter to the western communities and the Glades. Palm Tran runs seven days a week (excluding holidays) serving more than 3,200 bus stops. In fiscal year 2010, Palm Tran provided more than 10 million rides.
Timed-transfer points allow for easy movement from the north/south main routes to the east/west routes. All Palm Tran buses are equipped with wheelchair ramps, automatic stop announcement systems, and bike racks. All of Palm Tran's buses were recently updated with Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) systems to provide real-time GPS bus schedule information to passengers, and for safety and security, buses are now equipped with surveillance cameras.
Greyhound/Trailways Bus Line maintains stations throughout the county, including downtown West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray and Belle Glade, with daily travel and freight shipment available to destinations across the country.