Transportation in South Florida
The Greater Miami area, comprising the three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, known collectively as South Florida, is home to a wide variety of public and private transportation systems, including heavy rail mass transit (Metrorail), commuter rail (Tri-Rail), light rail (Metromover), highways, two major airports (Miami International Airport (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (FLL)) and seaports (Port of Miami and Port Everglades), as well as three county-wide bus networks (Metrobus (Miami-Dade), Broward County Transit (BCT), and Palm Tran), which cover the entire urbanized area of South Florida. Census and ridership data show that Miami has the highest public transportation usage of any city in Florida, as about 17% of Miamians use public transportation on a regular basis, as well as about 4% of those in the South Florida metropolitan area. The majority of public transportation in Miami is operated by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT). Miami-Dade Transit is the largest transit system in Florida and the 14th largest transit system in the United States.
South Florida is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the United States, being bound by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the South Florida Water Management District (The Everglades) to the west. As of the 2000 Census, South Florida was the eighth most dense urban area in the United States. Now, with a population of 5,564,635 people living in an urbanized area of only 1,116.1 sq mi (2,891 km2), it has an average population density of 4,986 residents per square mile. According to the population as of the 2010 US Census, the 35.68 sq mi (92 km2) Miami city proper has an average population density of 12,139.5 residents per square mile, with Downtown and Brickell being the fastest growing and most dense neighborhoods.
A major problem for urban planning and effective public transit in Miami-Dade and South Florida is the fact that it is one of the most sprawled out and car dependent metropolitan areas in the United States, with a very low percentage of the area's office space being located in the Central Business District (CBD) of Miami (only 13%, the lowest in the nation, in 1999), as well as having very little transit-oriented development (TOD).
Dade County contains many Interstate style highways. The main north-south thoroughfare for the entire tri-county area is Interstate 95. I-95 and the Palmetto Expressway, a horseshoe shaped freeway that serves the farther inland part of the county, are the two busiest roads in South Florida. Interstate 95 terminates into US Route 1 just south of downtown Miami in the Brickell neighborhood. Interstate 95 has three east-west spurs, Interstate 395, Interstate 195, and Interstate 595 in Broward County. I-395 is a short highway that runs east from I-95 and terminates on the MacArthur Causeway, en route to South Beach, Miami Beach. West of I-95, the same alignment is known as the Dolphin Expressway, which continues west all the way to the edge of the urban boundary at NW 137 Street just past Florida's Turnpike. I-395 crosses the MacArthur Causeway and terminates into 5th Street in South Beach, Miami Beach. A few miles north, another east-west highway alignment exists, known as Florida Route 112 on the west side and as Interstate 195 east of I-95. State Route 112 terminates at the northeast corner of the airport and is also known as the Airport Expressway. I-195 goes east over the Julia Tuttle Causeway to Miami Beach. Florida's Turnpike is a north-south tolled highway that catches the outskirts of the Dade County metro area. Many highways and roads intersect at the complex Golden Glades Interchange near North Miami Beach in Dade County.
The Dolphin Expressway, Airport Expressway, Don Shula Expressway, Gratigny Parkway, Venetian Causeway and Snapper Creek Expressway are all managed by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX). The rest of the highways and the majority of the roads in Dade County are operated by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
In Broward County, east-west Interstate 595 connects I-95 to Fort Lauderdale to the east, and to the west it is known as Alligator Alley after it meets the Sawgrass Expressway and terminates into Interstate 75 and crosses the entire state of Florida.
Several highways have a tolling system using SunPass. Both the Dolphin and Airport expressways have an eastbound toll, but no westbound toll. Additionally, I-95 has north and south express lanes from the I-195 interchange up to the Golden Glades Interchange. The price varies depending on traffic from 25 cents up to several dollars during rush hour or other heavy traffic. The entirety of Florida's Turnpike is tolled in South Florida.
The grid throughout most of Miami-Dade County, with the exception of a few cities such as Coral Gables, is a simple axis-oriented numbered street pattern. Flagler Street forms the north-south divider and Miami Avenue forms the east-west divider between roads. Hence, all streets travel east-west and all avenues travel north-south, with the numbers increasing uniformly away from the divisors. Nearly all streets are referred to and indicated by number and all have a prefix (NW, NE, SW, SE) to determine their quadrant. Many of the busier, arterial roads, are also known by their common name, such as West 42nd Avenue, which is often referred to as LeJeune Road.
All streets and avenues in Miami-Dade County follow the "Miami Grid," with a few exceptions, most notably Coral Gables, Hialeah, and Miami Beach. One off-grid neighborhood, The Roads, is thusly named because its streets run off the Miami Grid in a 45-degree angle, and therefore all roads are known by their common name. Another busy off-grid road is Okeechobee Road (US Route 27), which travels diagonally through the urban area. Additionally, US Route 1, known better locally as Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard, does not follow grid pattern.
Some of the major Florida State Roads (and their common names) serving Miami are:
- SR 112 (Airport Expressway): Interstate 95 to MIA
- SR 821 (The HEFT or Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike): SR 91/Miami Gardens to U.S. Route 1/Florida City)
- SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway): Golden Glades Interchange to U.S. Route 1/Pinecrest
- SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway): Downtown to SW 137th Ave via MIA
- SR 874 (Don Shula Expressway): 826/Bird Road to Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike/Kendall
- SR 878 (Snapper Creek Expressway): SR 874/Kendall to U.S. Route 1/Pinecrest & South Miami
- SR 924 (Gratigny Parkway) Miami Lakes to Opa-locka
|Miami Causeways from south to north|
|Rickenbacker Causeway (toll)||Brickell and Key Biscayne||1947|
|Venetian Causeway (toll)||Downtown and South Beach||1912–1925|
|MacArthur Causeway (I-395)||Downtown and South Beach||1920|
|Julia Tuttle Causeway (I-595)||Wynwood/Edgewater and Miami Beach||1959|
|79th Street Causeway||Upper East Side and North Beach||1929|
|Broad Causeway (toll)||North Miami and Bal Harbour||1951|
Miami has six major causeways that span over Biscayne Bay connecting the western mainland, with the eastern barrier islands along the Atlantic Ocean. The Rickenbacker Causeway is the southernmost causeway and connects Brickell to Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. The Venetian and MacArthur causeways connect Downtown with South Beach. The Julia Tuttle Causeway connects Midtown and Miami Beach. The 79th Street Causeway connects the Upper East Side with North Beach. The northernmost causeway, the Broad Causeway, is the smallest of Miami's six causeways, and connects North Miami with Bal Harbour.
In 2007, Miami was identified as having the rudest drivers in the United States, the second year in a row to have been cited, in a poll commissioned by automobile club AutoVantage. Miami is also consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians.
Taxis are very common in Miami, especially around high tourist areas such as the airport and South Beach. Many charge an up front fee of about $2.50 for the first 1/6-mile and 25 to 50 (usually 40) cents for each additional 1/6-mile. Waiting time is around 40 cents per minute. At this rate, a trip from the airport to South Beach costs about $30 to $35. Fare is almost always tracked automatically using a typical electronic toll calculator. Toll road fees are added to this and some cabs charge a $2 fee for starting at the airport. Most companies display the rate of their taxis on the outside of the cab near the back door. All taxis must be registered and certified by the county.
As with many large cities, parking in the Miami area can be expensive and scarce. Nearly all of the public parking in the county is metered, or charged by a daily flat rate, common with parking garages. Nearly all single parking meters in the region have been removed and replaced with master meters that accept both cash and credit card. The Miami Parking Authority operates 10 garages, 80 surface lots, and over 10,000 public parking spaces in the downtown Miami area, enforcing the streetside and surface lot parking meters and issuing parking citations for violations. Free parking at businesses is often strictly enforced, with clearly placed tow warning signs for abusing the space to go to other places or for parking for an excessive length of time, especially in highly trafficked areas such as South Beach. Many businesses have no free parking available, or do for only limited amounts of time. Even suburban plazas and big box stores often have parking security to ensure both patron safety and designated use of parking. In many suburban residential areas, people do not have their own private garages as properties are small due to high land values. A parking pass even for residents of a high rise residential building often costs an additional fee over the rent or association dues.
The Miami area is known for its high level of vehicle dependency and lack of public transportation, which has led to an increasing traffic problem throughout the county. Nearly 20% of household income is spent on transportation and Miami had the most decentralized office space of any metropolitan area in the United States, according to a study in 2000. Despite overwhelming support for public transportation to be funded in place of several new highways in the 1970s, Miami's Metrorail system was not functional until 1984 and has yet to reach the scope which was promised over 30 years ago. Ridership was very low in the early years, averaging less than 10,000 riders per day as it was not finished, even after nearly one billion dollars in federal subsidies, meaning that $100,000 was spent for each passenger. This led to criticism from then President Ronald Reagan, who stated that it would have been cheaper to buy everyone a limousine. Those supporting mass transit argued that the low ridership was due to the system being incomplete and not going where people needed it to. Many of Miami and Florida's politicians have not been advocates of alternative transportation. For example, both state governors Jeb Bush and Rick Scott denied funding for an intercity high-speed rail system in Florida. Two state senators tried to force Scott to accept the funding, but the Florida Supreme Court denied it and the funding was later directed to several other rail projects across the United States.
The half penny transit tax approved in November 2002 as part of the People's Transportation Plan was promised to fund Metrorail Orange Line expansions. Not only was the money used for other things, it was later revealed by the federal government that Miami-Dade Transit could not actually afford to support and operate these lines even if their construction was 100% federally funded, as MDT's revenue and ridership forecasts assumed significant and regular increases in fare while assuming no loss in ridership. This, along with a more recent federal investigation and takeover in 2011 has led to Miami-Dade Transit's perception as an unreliable organization.
Therefore, the Miami metropolitan area remains highly vehicle dependent, with a prominent grid system made up of many wide, dangerous roads interlaced with a few highways, most of which have tolls. Office buildings and other high-rises and semi dense communities are spread randomly throughout the area, with a lowly defined central business district and no defined edge cities, leading to many long commutes in all directions. This lack of density and transit-oriented development also helped lead to the downfall of the Metrorail Orange Line North Corridor along NW 27 Avenue. Many of the buildings in downtown Miami sit atop large parking pedestals, often over 10 stories high, or have a separate, proprietary parking garage on site, such as the 14 story Southeast Financial Center parking annex. Other than the Government Center transit hub and the Miami Tower, both built in the 80's in conjunction with the system, no buildings have a direct, at grade connection to the Metromover. Despite this, nearly all the condos built in the 2000s real estate boom were in the downtown area along the Metromover lines, leading to a doubling in ridership from 2000 to 2011, with daily average ridership now at over 30,000.
South Florida is served by three international airports; Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport, and Palm Beach International Airport, as well as several smaller, regional airports.
Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport, serves as the primary international airport of the Greater Miami Area. One of the busiest international airports in the world, Miami International Airport caters to over 35 million passengers a year. Identifiable locally, as well as several worldwide authorities, as MIA or KMIA, the airport is a major hub and the single largest international gateway for American Airlines, the world's second-largest passenger air carrier. Miami International is the busiest airport in Florida, and is the United States' second-largest international port of entry for foreign air passengers behind New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, and is the seventh-largest such gateway in the world. The airport's extensive international route network includes non-stop flights to over seventy international cities in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
The airport is served by taxis, dedicated Airport Express Metrobus routes, as well as several shuttle bus services available 24 hours a day. It also has a large rental car center and parking garage, known as the Miami Intermodal Center, and a rail station for Amtrak and Tri-Rail, known as Miami Central Station both of these centers are being completely rebuilt and in 2012 will be served by MIA Mover and Metrorail's AirportLink as well.
The MIA Mover is a new, free, automated people mover connecting the MIA Central Terminal of Miami International Airport to the new Miami Central Station and Miami Intermodal Center, which are still under construction. MIA Mover opened on September 9, 2011 and is 1.27 miles long, running on an elevated track. MIA Mover has a top speed of about 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) and the capacity to move more than 3,000 people per hour.
AirportLink is the only completed phase of the MDT Orange Line. It connects the airport's new, under construction Miami Central Station to the main Metrorail line at the Earlington Heights station. It consists of a 2.4-mile elevated line that is still under construction and will open in 2012.
Miami Central Station
Miami Central Station is a major new transit hub that, along with the new Miami Intermodal Center, will connect and centralize all the major forms of transportation to and from Miami International Airport. MIA Mover, Metrorail's AirportLink, Amtrak, Tri-Rail, Metrobus, the rental car centers, and personal vehicles will all come together there. Phase I for Metrobus, MIA Mover, AirportLink and cars is scheduled for completion in 2012, while Phase II for Amtrak and Tri-Rail is scheduled to be completed in mid-2013. Miami Central Station will serve as a connection point between all forms of ground transportation in South Florida, including walking and bicycling.
Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport
Located just to the north, in Broward County, is another large airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
Palm Beach International Airport
Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) is a public airport located 3 nautical miles (5.6 kilometers) west of Palm Beach, Florida, in West Palm Beach, Florida, and serves Palm Beach County. The airport is operated and maintained by Palm Beach County Department of Airports. Road access to the airport is available directly from I-95, Southern Boulevard, and Congress Avenue. The airport is bordered to the west by Military Trail.
The entire length of the South Florida metropolitan area is situated along the sea. Port of Miami in Miami-Dade and Port Everglades in Broward are South Florida's two major seaports, while Port of Palm Beach is a smaller port located in Palm Beach County.
Port of Miami
The Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami is one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the world, as well as a major cargo port. Located right in downtown Miami, it is currently only accessible by car via a six lane bridge known as the Port Boulevard causeway, which terminates on the city streets of downtown. When the damaged tracks of the FEC freight line are repaired, Tri-Rail may run a passenger train service to the port. Additionally, to give the port direct interstate access and to help relieve downtown traffic, work is underway on a $1 billion tunnel project to connect the port to I-395 on Watson Island via the Port of Miami Tunnel, due to be complete in May 2014.
Port Everglades, located in Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, is another major seaport that is about equally busy as Port of Miami in terms of cruise and cargo traffic. It is home to the two largest cruise ships in the world, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
In addition to the ports, South Florida has many marinas and navigable waterways for privately owned boats and yachts. The Miami River, which travels right through downtown, is publicly accessible and leads to inland marinas. Miami Beach has a long, inland canal as well. Biscayne Bay is popular for fishing, sailing, and kayaking. There are also several recreational water taxis that gives sightseeing tours along the coast, such as the Miami Water Taxi and the Hollywood Water Taxi.
Metrorail, Metrobus, and Metromover, all operated by Miami-Dade Transit, comprise the majority of public transportation options in Dade County. Miami-Dade Transit also runs the Paratransit division’s Special Transportation Service. The only public transportation systems currently offered in Broward and Palm Beach County are the bus systems, run by Broward County Transit and Palm Tran, respectively. South Florida's tri-county commuter rail system, Tri-Rail, is operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA). There are also several localized public bus systems, such as the South Beach Local and the Coral Gables trolley. The elongated and sprawled layout of the South Florida metropolitan area complicates the process of designing practical mass transit systems unlike more circular metros such as Boston and Washington, D.C., which use traditional loops with radii spurs for their public transit and highway systems, known as the spoke-hub distribution paradigm. Miami's existing Green Line and proposed Orange Line would only form the spokes, which could only emanate towards the west due to Miami's coastal location. Additionally, Miami is a relatively young city that saw much of its growth during the automobile age, and continues to be very car oriented. South Florida ranked fourth in the nation in a 2000 study of metro areas by the Washington-based Surface Transportation Policy Project for percentage of household income spent on transportation, with an average of 19%. Many of the downtown high rises have their own very large, above ground parking garages located at the bottom. The entire urbanized South Florida metropolitan area, being about 110 miles long but no more than 20 miles wide in any part, as well as covering three counties, further complicated the creation of a unified transit solution. As of the 2000 census, it was the eighth most densely populated metropolitan area in the United States, with the city of Miami growing at about a 10% growth rate.
Metrorail is a heavy rail rapid transit system comprising a single 22.4-mile line, known as the Green Line, with 22 stations. Starting in Hialeah, it travels generally southeast to the CBD and Brickell, then travels generally southwest to Kendall. It has been in operation since 1984. In the 1970s, there was a plan to fund several more highways in South Florida, but it was decided by the people that a mass transit option was more desirable. It was intended that the existing line would only be the beginning, hence many more were planned. However, due to budget shortfalls and less than anticipated ridership, none other than the 2.4-mile AirportLink have been realized. When completed in 2012, it will connect to Metrorail's 23rd station at Miami Central Station.
The current standard fare on Metrorail is $2 and reduced fare is $1. A standard monthly pass costs $100 and $50 for reduced fare. The monthly EASY Cards are sold at over 50 sales outlets. Reduced fares are available only to Medicare recipients, people with disabilities, and Miami-Dade students in grades 1–12. Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) that sell EASY Cards and EASY Tickets are found in all rail stations. All Miami-Dade senior citizens aged 65 years and older and with Social Security benefits, and Veterans residing in Miami-Dade and earning less than $22,000 annually ride free with the reduced fare monthly EASY Card.
On July 16, 2008, Miami-Dade Transit announced that it would be replacing all fare collection methods with the EASY Card system by late 2009. The system replaces the old cash-/token-based system with one that automatically deducts fares at Metrorail fare gates from a reloadable card. The final station to start fare gate installation was Government Center on August 2, 2009. Since the system launch on October 1, 2009, all passengers utilizing Metrorail must use either an EASY Card or EASY Ticket to enter stations.
Metrorail runs from 5 a.m. until midnight seven days a week. Trains arrive every 8 minutes during weekday rush hours, every 15 minutes at midday, and every 30 minutes after 7:30 pm until closing at midnight. Weekend service runs every 30 minutes until midnight. For a brief period from 2003 to April 2004 there was 24-hour service; between midnight and 5 am, trains arrived every 60 minutes. 16 of the 22 stations have dedicated parking facilities, either a garage or a surface lot, with a charge of $4 a day. The stops that don't are Tri-Rail and the five "downtown" stations, Civic Center, Culmer, Historic Overton/Lyric Theater, Government Center, and Brickell. However, there are multiple parking garages available around these stops.
A limited-stop bus route, Route 500 Midnight Owl, operates hourly between 12:30 am and 5:30 am trip between Dadeland South and Government Center Metrorail stations. This bus service replaces the 24-hour Metrorail service cancelled due to a lack of ridership.
The Miami-Dade County Government is working with the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust to receive money from the half-penny sur-tax approved by voters in 2002 in order to purchase new Metrorail cars.
Metromover is a free, automated people mover that operates on three loops totaling 4.4 miles of track and 22 stations in the central business district and Brickell. The main Inner Loop opened in 1986, and the Omni (north) and Brickell (south) extensions opened in 1994. The Metromover gained popularity significantly when the 25-cent fare was lifted in 2002. Since then it has been free to ride. Metromover is used heavily by those who live and work in downtown, with ridership doubling from 2000 to 2011, as well as by tourists staying in downtown to get to attractions or just to get a free tour of the downtown cityscape. It is also used by those who commute into the city using Metrorail and Tri-Rail. Metrorail and Metromover are connected at the Government Center and Brickell stations. Tri-Rail and Metrorail are connected at the Tri-Rail and Metrorail transfer station.
The Metromover currently operates 22 stations, and combined with the Metrorail, the entire Metro system operates 44 stations. Metrorail stations are located at about a mile apart along the line, and Metromover stations are located at approximately every two blocks in the greater Downtown Miami area.
Currently all stations, except for Knight Center station located in the bottom of the Miami Tower and Government Center station located at the bottom of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, are stand alone units with no direct integration with other developments. The platforms are elevated and most have functioning elevators and escalators (usually only for up), as well as stairs, to access them. For the future, however, there are at least two large developments that plan to incorporate the Metromover into their design. One is Brickell CitiCentre, located in the Brickell financial district on the south side of downtown, which will integrate the Eighth Street Metromover Station. Another is Resorts World Miami, planned for the Omni district north of downtown, which plans to modify the Metromover line where it passes the to be demolished Miami Herald building, as well as building a new station into its development. Two other high-rise projects have also claimed a Metromover integration, the cancelled Brickell Flatiron building, which would have had a hole for the line to pass through it, and the proposed One Bayfront Plaza skyscraper, whose original, as well as its latest known designs are planned to have a pedestrian bridge connecting it to the Bayfront Park Metromover station. As far as expansion, an extension to the Port of Miami and then to South Beach has been considered among others, but none have yet made it beyond preliminary planning and impact study stage.
Metrobuses at a stop along Collins Avenue (A1A)
|Service type||bus service, bus rapid transit|
The Metrobus network provides bus service throughout Miami-Dade County 365 days a year. It consists of more than 100 routes and 900 buses, which connect most points in the county and part of southern Broward County as well, to connect with the Broward County Transit bus system. Standard fare is $2. Seven of these routes operate around the clock: Routes 3, 11, 27, 38, 77, L (No 24 hour Hialeah service) and S. Routes 246 Night Owl & Route 500 Midnight Owl operate from 12am to 5am. Most other routes operate from 5 AM to 11 PM. All Metrobuses are wheelchair accessible, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Bus route 301 (Dade-Monroe Express) extends into Monroe County, reaching Marathon, where a transfer is available to a Key West Transit bus proceeding further into the Keys. With the appropriate bus transfers, one can travel all the way from Key West to Jupiter entirely on public-transit buses.
South Miami-Dade Busway
The South Miami-Dade Busway (originally the South Dade Busway) began operating on February 3, 1997 and was extended in April 2005. The final 6.5-mile (10.5 km) segment of the Busway extension to Florida City opened on Sunday, December 16, 2007. It is an exclusive bus road that runs parallel to US1/ S Dixie Highway, and replaced an abandoned Florida East Coast Railroad line. It functions effectively as an extension of the Metrorail line and is an alternative to daily traffic congestion. The 13-mile (21 km) roadway was built by the Florida Department of Transportation just for Metrobus routes and emergency vehicles. Express buses on the exclusive lanes shuttle passengers to and from Dadeland South Station (see Metrorail) in under 40 minutes.
Both full-size buses and minibuses operate on the Busway and in adjacent neighborhoods, entering the exclusive lanes at major intersections. Local and limited-stop service is offered between Florida City and Dadeland South Metrorail Station. Park & Ride lots along the busway are located at SW 152d Street (Coral Reef Drive), SW 168th Street (Richmond Drive), SW 200th Street (Caribbean Boulevard), SW 244th Street, and SW 296th Street. At Dadeland South Station, riders transfer to Metrorail. Riders headed downtown can transfer from Metrorail to Metromover, which consists of three shorter downtown loops, at Government Center Station.
The South Miami-Dade Busway features 28 stops, all of which have been converted to light-rail style stations. A multi-use path known as the South Dade Rail Trail stretches the length of the Busway, connecting with the MetroPath at Dadeland South station.
Routes that use the Busway
- 31 Busway Local- serves all stations between northern end of the busway and Southland Mall, before looping to serve Cutler Bay shopping centers and the South Dade Government Office Complex
- 34 Busway Flyer- travels the entire length of the busway, but does not stop at any stations before SW 152nd Street
- 38 Busway MAX- travels the entire length of the busway, deviating from the route slightly to serve Southland Mall, and travelling beyond the end of the busway to serve Florida City shopping centers
- 52- begins at Dadeland North Metrorail Station, then runs along busway to SW 152nd street, before becoming a Richmond Heights and Goulds local route
- 252 Coral Reef MAX- begins at Dadeland South Metrorail Station, then runs along busway to SW 152nd Street, before becoming express route to Country Walk
- 287 Saga Bay MAX- begins at Dadeland South Metrorail Station, then runs along busway to SW 168th Street, before running as express route through West Perrine and Saga Bay
Busway vs. rail controversy
The Busway has been the site of many accidents, as some car drivers driving south on US-1 (which runs parallel to the Busway for much of its length), and looking to turn west, do not stop at the red arrows that govern the right turn lane at an intersection that has a Busway crossing adjacent to it. They make a right turn and go right into the path of a bus that is entering the adjacent Busway intersection. Buses have to slow down to 15 mph (24 km/h) before crossing the intersection, and the police often patrol the intersections looking for red arrow runners. The intersections where the Busway runs as far as two blocks west of US-1 suffer the same problem, with car drivers either not seeing or ignoring the red lights at SW 184th and 186th Streets. City planners and residents alike have commented that rather than dismantling the former Florida East Coast Railroad line for the busway, the Metrorail system could have been extended southward over the railway line.
Broward County Transit
Broward County Transit (BCT) is the public transit authority in Broward County, operating a county-wide bus system covering the greater Fort Lauderdale area. It is the second largest transit system in Florida (after Miami-Dade Transit). It currently operates the only public bus system in Broward County. Besides serving Broward County, it also serves portions of Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County where the systems share transit hubs such as Aventura Mall in Miami-Dade County.
Palm Tran is a bus system run by the Palm Beach County Government, serving Palm Beach County. Standard (Adult) one-way fare is $1.50 (people eligible for the reduced fare such as students and senior citizens pay $0.75). For $3.55 an unlimited all-day pass ($2.25 for reduced fare). There are no free transfers except to Tri-Rail or Broward County Transit. Daily and 31-day unlimited ride passes are also available for purchase. There are 31-day unlimited passes that are available reduced or regular costing $55 and $40 respectively. All Palm Tran buses have bicycle racks on the front, capable of holding two bikes.
Other buses and trolleys
South Beach operates its own local bus system known as the South Beach Local. The fare is only 25 cents. Streetcar style trolley buses have been implemented in over a dozen cities in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, such as downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and Hollywood. Since it began operation in 2003, the free Coral Gables Trolley (bus) has moved over four million commuters around downtown Coral Gables with over 5,000 riders per day, freeing up 750 local parking spaces and reducing car trips by 20% along its route. The city of Hollywood operates a trolley route serving its downtown area and Hollywood Beach. In April 2012, Miami initiated its own trolley system with loops around downtown similar to the Metromover as well as to the new Marlins Park and Civic Center.
Miami-Dade County is located at the southern end of two prominent rail lines, the state-owned CSX passenger line, and the Florida East Coast Railway freight line. It also has a regional commuter rail system (Tri-Rail), which uses the CSX line, and was planned to be connected to Orlando and Tampa by a high-speed rail system; however that plan was cancelled in 2011. Historically, the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) line went all the way to Key West running passenger and freight service. However, the Overseas Railroad through the Keys was severely damaged during the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and service never returned.
Tri-Rail is a 70.9-mile, 18 station commuter rail train system, operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) that runs north-south through Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade county, terminating at Miami International Airport in Dade County. Tri-Rail is split into six zones. Fare ranges from $2.50 to $11.55 and is determined by the number of zones travelled through and one way or round trip. A standard fare of $100 for a month is also available. Many Tri-Rail stations have free parking.
Tri-Rail may relocate or add service to a more easterly alignment on the Florida East Coast Railway freight line, which would bring it closer to the major population centers of South Florida, of which he FEC line passes through about 22. This would also bring it directly into Downtown Miami, where it would terminate at the Government Center transit hub, and might possibly even have a spur to the Port of Miami. This would also extend service northward to Jupiter, which would more than double Tri-Rail's current system length. Currently, Tri-Rail is a phenomenal money loser and relies heavily on shuttle buses and parking at stations because they are not within many people's walking distance. To save money, the state is looking to bid out Tri-Rail operations to a private organization such as the Florida Department of Transportation, which would likely own and operate the trains running on the FEC line. Other private companies may operate trains on the current line if the entire system is privatized, and an east-west connection could be made between the two, giving South Florida a more complete commuter rail system. The MIA station at the southern terminus of the current line will be closed for about two years from 2011 to 2013 while work is underway on the new Miami Central Station.
Miami is the southern terminus of Amtrak's Atlantic Coast services, running two lines, the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star, both terminating in New York City. The Miami Amtrak Station is located in the suburb of Hialeah near the Tri-Rail/Metrorail Station on NW 79 St and NW 38 Ave. Current construction of the Miami Central Station will move all Amtrak operations from its current out-of-the-way location to a centralized location with Metrorail, MIA Mover, Tri-Rail, Miami International Airport, and the Miami Intermodal Center all within the same station closer to Downtown. The station is expected to be completed by 2012.
Florida high-speed rail
Twice a Florida High Speed Rail system was proposed to connect Miami with Orlando and Tampa. First in 2000, which was opposed by then Florida governor Jeb Bush, then in 2009 the plan was revived with a grant offered under Obama's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. However, Florida governor Rick Scott denied the funding in 2011, citing that it was still a risk due to uncertain ridership estimates and actual construction and maintenance costs, which could have been a burden to taxpayers. Many were disappointed in Scott's vehement denial of the money. 26 Florida senators from both political parties signed a letter to United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood encouraging him to ignore Scott's decision, and even former governor Jeb Bush, who was against the previous high-speed rail proposal, was surprised by Scott's actions. The money was ultimately directed to other states and the plan killed.
In 2012, Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) announced a proposal for a privately owned and operated high speed train system, All Aboard Florida, which would connect Orlando and Miami on its own tracks. While not full high speed rail, the train would supposedly reach a speed of 125 miles per hour (201 km/h) on a 40 miles (64 km) section of new track connecting Cocoa and Orlando. According to FEC, the system could be operational by 2014.
There are many popular bike routes in Dade County and South Florida. In recent years, the city government under Mayor Manny Diaz, has taken an ambitious stance in support of bicycling in Miami for both recreation and commuting. Every month, the city hosts "Bike Miami", where major streets in Downtown and Brickell are closed to automobiles, and left open for pedestrians and bicyclists. The event began in November 2008, and has doubled in popularity from 1,500 participants to about 3,000 in the October 2009 Bike Miami. This is the longest running such event in the U.S. Now known as Critical Mass Miami, the event is held on the last Friday evening of every month. In October 2009, the city also approved an extensive 20-year plan for bike routes and paths around the city. The city has begun construction of bike routes as of late 2009, and under the new Miami 21 zoning laws ordinances requiring bike parking in all future construction in the city is now mandatory as of October 2009. In 2010, Miami was ranked No.44 most bike-friendly city in the U.S. according to Bicycling Magazine. Several large biking events are planned throughout South Florida for the fall 2011 season, including possible 100+ mile charity and timed runs.
In early 2012, the final major gap in the MetroPath, which follows the Metrorail guideway from Brickell station to Dadeland South station, was completed with the addition of a bridge over the freeway style entrance to the Snapper Creek Expressway from US-1, as well as the 1.2 mi (2 km) extension to Dadeland South. This connects the now 11 mi (18 km) path with the 20 mi (32 km) South Dade Rail Trail, which follows the South Miami-Dade Busway continuously all the way to Florida City, creating a 31 mi (50 km) off road bicycle and pedestrian corridor.
In recent years, bicycling has grown in popular in Miami Beach, as well. Due to its dense, urban nature, and pedestrian-friendly streets, many Miami Beach residents get around by bicycle. Locally, South Beach has implemented many BikeShare units all around the neighborhood as well as the DecoBike system, which launched in March 2011. The initial rollout of the program included "approximately 100 solar-powered stations and 1,000 custom-designed bikes available to residents and visitors." This public bicycle sharing and rental program is owned and operated by DecoBike, LLC, a Miami-based company, and operates under a long-term agreement with the City of Miami Beach. The service is available to both residents and visitors – any adult with a major credit card can check out a bike to pedal to their next location. An iPhone app and an interactive map on the DecoBike website allows you to locate the nearest "station" and gives you the number of bikes available and the number of free docking spaces in real-time.
In early 2012, Miami Beach announced plans to build a 2,900 ft (884 m) elevated bicycle and pedestrian path from Belle Isle to the beach along the Collins Creek seawall on the south side of Dade Boulevard. The plan was approved and set to be finished in July 2012.
A 2011 survey of the largest cities in the United States by walkscore.com determined the City of Miami to be ranked eighth in terms of walkability, with an overall walkscore of 73. The ranking is based on proximity of restaurants, food, transit stops, and entertainment, among other things. Despite this, Miami, along with many younger, auto-dependent southern and western (Sunbelt) cities, is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the US for pedestrians due to rude drivers, very wide roads, and the number of hit and runs. Often several cars will hit a pedestrian and drive away. Sometimes people are even killed while waiting in bus stops when cars run off the road and destroy them. In 2002, pedestrians in Tampa-Orlando and Miami-Fort Lauderdale were found to be three times more likely to die than pedestrians in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio. In 2011, all four of the most dangerous metropolitan areas or pedestrians in the United States were in Florida, with Miami-Fort Lauderdale coming in fourth. As the population grows in the Miami area, graded and textured crosswalks are added to slow traffic along busy streets such as Brickell and Biscayne Boulevard (US-1). New crosswalks installed in the Upper Eastside along Biscayne Boulevard in late 2011 will also be outlined with flashing lights, as well as having islands in the center of the road and large speed feedback signs to warn automotive traffic.
South Beach, with its crowded nature and night life, is a very popular walking area, as parking is limited and expensive. It is also known for its upscale Lincoln Road walking mall. Once drivable, Lincoln Road has been converted into a strict pedestrian road. Also popular for walking in South Beach are the Ocean Drive art deco historic district and Española Way. Additionally, much of the oceanfront along the east coast features pedestrian and bicycle only beach walks, which are often lit and lined with shops and restaurants.
Future proposals and extensions
Many transit systems, including highways, have been proposed in Dade County that were subsequently cancelled, often due to financial issues.
MDT Orange Line (Metrorail)
The Orange Line was a major proposal for three new Metrorail lines. One north to the Broward/Dade county line via 27th Ave, an east-west extension to Florida International University, and a link to Miami International Airport. Only one has been built, the short connector to the airport from the Earlington Heights station, known as the AirportLink, which was completed in 2012. The other two have been permanently cancelled, primarily due to political corruption, namely the misuse of the half-penny tax passed in 2002 and false ridership and revenue forecasts by MDT.
Although the only physical Metrorail addition forming the Orange Line is the single station 2.4-mile spur to the airport, the entire line from the airport to Dadeland South has been rebranded as the Orange Line, in addition to being the Green Line. This is because trains that will run to the airport will go all the way to Dadeland South, along with Green Line trains.
FEC Tri-Rail alignment
This is the proposal to move Tri-Rail to the more easterly Florida East Coast Railway freight line. This would bring it closer to people and boost its ridership to up to 59,000 passengers a day, according to a three-year study by the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as bring it straight into Downtown Miami, terminating at the Government Center transit hub. Additionally, service will be extended northward to Jupiter, located in the extreme northeast corner of Palm Beach County. The east-west crossover between the lines would allow both to go to Miami International Airport or downtown Miami, and a second spur to the port, which already exists, might also be used for Tri-Rail service. The FEC line would have to be vastly upgraded to make this move possible, as much of it is only a single line, where Tri-Rail requires two. Additionally, all new stations would have to be built. It is uncertain whether or not Tri-Rail would continue to operate its current line at the same time. The expansion proposal by Tri-Rail's current operator, the SFRTA, would have trains running on both lines, while the other proposal by the Florida Department of Transportation might only operate on the FEC line. The state is looking to possibly privatize operations of Tri-Rail, with the FECR likely to operate any future passenger rail on its line, while the current line may be operated by other private entities. An east-west connection between the lines would give South Florida a much more complete commuter rail system. Much of the FEC line is single tracked, and would need to be at least double tracked to handle freight, passenger, and possible Amtrak service. For this reason, the project may be cut into phases, such as an initial improvement of the line between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Pending local and state funding, as well as a possible Federal Railroad Administration grant, service is expected to begin on at least part of the FEC line as early as 2015. On October 28, 2011, the SFRTA Governing Board approved a plan to run Tri-Rail local and express service on the FEC line to Downtown Miami by 2015, possibly sooner by 2014. The plan will now go to the tri-county Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)'s boards for approval. The plan is being fast-tracked in phases to provide service on the FEC portion from Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Downtown Miami's Government Center Station as soon as 2014.
BayLink was a proposed streetcar, light rail, or Metrorail extension that would connect Downtown Miami to South Beach via the MacArthur Causeway, with the light rail or streetcar options having loops at both ends. Originally proposed as a light rail line such as a monorail, Miami Beach city officials opposed this in favor of something less intrusive, such as a streetcar. They also cited concerns of unwanted downtown residents detrimenting the South Beach image. Additionally, the unused parts of the bases of the MacArthur Causeway bridge pilings that were to be used to support the line have been used for the widening of the causeway for the construction of the Port of Miami Tunnel.
Several street cars, jitneys, and other local bus routes have been proposed in Miami for the Downtown/Brickell/CBD/Omni area. A notable example is a proposed streetcar line down Biscayne Boulevard from Downtown to Omni. Miami had streetcars since 1909. By the 1920s, downtown had an extensive streetcar system, including an express line from Miami to Coral Gables that exceeded 70 mph. However, the 1926 Miami Hurricane damaged the system and as time passed they were all removed.
Fort Lauderdale had plans in 2011 for a 2.7 mi (4 km) downtown light rail streetcar system to be called the Wave Streetcar.
Metromover port extension
In mid-2011, a $120,000 study was proposed to analyze the feasibility and impact of building a Metromover extension to the Port of Miami. This would create a somewhat direct elevated transit link from Miami International Airport to the seaport, Dade County's two largest economic generators. Multiple transfers would be required, however, as a trip from the airport to the seaport would start with the MIA Mover, then Metrorail's AirportLink, then the Metromover port line.
More priority has recently been given to transit-oriented development, with several housing and mixed-use projects being given special incentives and reduced parking requirements for building along transit lines. Examples include MDT's "transit villages". Two recently built transit-oriented developments are located at Brownsville and Santa Clara, the two least used stations in the system. The still under development Brownsville Transit Village will have 467 affordable housing units and ground level retail between five midrises on a 5.8 acre plot located immediately next to Brownsville station, which is currently the second least used Metrorail stations, average under 900 riders per weekday as of February 2011. Santa Clara Apartments I and II were opened in 2011 and are located at Santa Clara, the least used station, averaging under 800 riders per day as of February 2011. The highly dense suburb of unincorporated Kendall in South Dade has been built up significantly around the busy Metrorail stations of Dadeland North and Dadeland South, both of which opened in 1984, have over 6,000 riders per average weekday, and form the southern terminus of the current Metrorail line.
During the large condominium real estate boom of the 2000s, nearly 50 new condominium buildings were constructed in the greater downtown area, which correlated with a doubling in Metromover ridership throughout the decade.
Miami's Midtown Interchange in the 1960s
Parking garage of the Southeast Financial Center, built in 1984
Miami Parking Authority in downtown Miami
Congestion in Downtown Miami due to container trucks leaving the port. The Port of Miami Tunnel is intended to help relieve this
The First Street Metromover goes through The Loft 2 condominium
The new Miami Central Station being built in June 2011
Critical Mass Miami assembling in Government Center
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