Item Coversheet

Committee Assignments - C4  A


TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager 
DATE:September  25, 2019



The Administration recommends that the Mayor and City Commission refer this item.


The Better Bus Project is an advocacy-led and community-driven bus system redesign, led by Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works and Transit Alliance Miami.  Transit Alliance is a local, non-profit organization advocating for walkable streets, bikeable neighborhoods, and better public transit in Miami-Dade County.  Its campaigns combine data-driven research, community engagement, and policy advocacy intended to get Miami-Dade moving safer, faster, and happier.


The Better Bus Project is an intensive two-year community-driven project. A goal of the redesign is to position the system for ridership growth by creating more effective service while remaining budget neutral. The overall network is somewhat aligned to the street grid, but stands to benefit from several key systemwide improvements:


·         Increase in high-frequency services

·         Create more viable connections

·         Serve new high population/employment centers

·         Resolve low productivity and “rollercoaster” routes

·         Integrate key municipal circulators


Miami-Dade Transit currently operates ten bus routes that serve the City of Miami Beach.  Some of these routes, such as the 119 (S) and the 120 (Beach Express), are among the routes with the highest ridership in the County; however, there has been a steady decline in ridership over the past several years. While the Better Bus Project is focusing on the County bus network, it also looks at improvements to trolley services in the cities of Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables, which account for 70% of trolley ridership in the county.


The Better Bus Project effort began in June 2019 and is scheduled for completion in February 2020. The plan which will be voted on by the Board of County Commissioners between December 2019 and February 2020.  


Earlier this month, two network concepts were released by Transit Alliance (Coverage Concept and Ridership Concept). These concepts are not proposals, rather different ways of thinking how the bus network could be designed, depending on goals that are found to be most important. The Coverage Concept changes the network to maximize job access, widen stop spacing, and redesign trolley services but ensures that everyone who is within a quarter of a mile of transit today is still near a stop. The Ridership Concept changes proposes significant changes to the existing network by shifting service away from low density areas and increasing frequency in the densest and busiest places in the County.


Please refer to Attachment A for Transit Alliance’s Summary of the Better Bus Project Network Concepts and impacts to Miami Beach.  Attachment B depicts maps of the Existing Network, Coverage Concept, and Ridership Concept.


As it relates to the City’s trolley service, both the Coverage Concept and the Ridership Concept have been designed to keep the existing service hours (Monday to Saturday from 6AM to midnight and from 8AM to midnight on Sunday) and for the changes to be budget neutral to the City. The Better Bus Project’s proposed changes to the City’s trolley service are as follows:    

South Beach Trolley

Under both concepts:

·         Eliminate “Via 11 Street Loop” and reassign vehicles to Loops A and B to achieve a higher service frequency of 12 minutes under the Coverage Concept and 10 minutes under the Ridership Concept.

·         Eliminate service to Belle Isle and Collins Park for all three loops and terminate service at Sunset Harbour Publix.


Both concepts suggest that Belle Isle would be served by an enhanced County Route 101 which would operate an all-day service across the Venetian Causeway from Omni Terminal to the existing Lincoln Road stop located between Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue and with a connection to the Sunset Harbour Publix.  Route 101 service hours would be similar to our trolley service, and service frequency would be 30 minutes under the Coverage Concept and 20 minutes under the Ridership Concept. Route 101 would require a fare. 


Both concepts suggest that the Collins Park neighborhood would be served by the Collins Express Trolley operating along Collins Avenue at a higher service frequency.


Middle Beach Loop

Coverage Concept

·         Eliminate the segment west of Washington Avenue (17 Street, Meridian Avenue, Dade Boulevard, 21 Street).

·         Operate from Mount Sinai Medical Center to Washington Avenue/17 Street along 41 Street, Indian Creek Drive, and Collins Avenue.

·         Affected trips could be conducted by connecting to more frequent routes, such as South Beach Trolley (every 12 minutes) and several County bus routes (Route 20, Route 101, and Route 115). 

·         Service frequency would be 20 minutes.

Ridership Concept

·         Eliminate the Middle Beach Loop entirely and reassign vehicles to Collins Express to improve service frequency along that route.

·         Service from Mount Sinai Medical Center to City Center (and vice-versa) would be replaced by proposed County Route 20 (which would require a fare) with 20 minute service frequency, as compared to 15 minutes currently.

Collins Express

Coverage Concept

·         No change to route.

·         Service frequency will increase to 15 minutes due to reassigning vehicles from the Middle Beach Loop.  

Ridership Concept

·         No change to route.

·         Service frequency will increase to 10 minutes due to reassigning vehicles from the Middle Beach Loop.  

North Beach Loop

In both concepts, the North Beach Loop remains unchanged with 15-minute service.

In addition to the suggested trolley modifications described above, the Better Bus Project is proposing to eliminate Route 150/Airport Express, which currently provides direct service from Miami International Airport to Miami Beach, due to low ridership and low productivity.  Route 150 would be replaced by a new local (i.e. non-express) route that would require multiple stops and may require transfers to travel from the airport to the beach.

Key Issues

·         Trolleys and buses serve different purposes.

Both the Coverage and Ridership Concepts assume that the City of Miami and Miami Beach would change their trolley networks to maximize job access overall. The trade-off is that trolley routes are the result of a community-driven process and are controlled by cities.  Service is free and different vehicles are used. To achieve the intended goal of the Better Bus Project means changing municipal trolley routes and the County bus network concurrently to create the intended synergies in the transit network.


·         Fares

Given that city trolleys are free to ride and County buses require a $2.25 fare, if some of the changes to the City’s trolley routes are implemented as suggested in the Better Bus Project, some Miami Beach residents who are currently riding the trolley for free will need to pay a fare to ride the County bus.


·         Transfers

 Eliminating segments of the City’s existing trolley routes or eliminating the Middle Beach Loop entirely as proposed in the Better Bus Project will require that some residents transfer from trolley to bus or walk a greater distance to access the bus.


No fiscal impact.


While the Better Bus project intends to maximize ridership potential of the County's bus system, each of the two concepts developed by Transit Alliance, if implemented, will have impacts on the City's current trolley service, thus, the concepts need to be further reviewed and discussed.  

Applicable Area

Is this a Resident Right to Know item? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
No No 

Strategic Connection

Mobility - Increase multi-modal mobility citywide and connectivity regionally.
Legislative Tracking
Transportation and Mobility

Attachment A
Attachment B