According to the 2019 Miami Beach Resident Survey, 75% of residents are satisfied with the City’s trolley service; however, 63% of residents are using their personal automobiles for trips within Miami Beach. Additionally, the 2019 Miami Beach Business Survey rates transportation as one of the four most significant challenges for the future growth and stability of businesses. According to the same survey, 48% of businesses are satisfied with the effectiveness of public transit for employee commuting.
The Better Bus Project is an advocacy-led and community-driven bus system redesign, led by Transit Alliance Miami and the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works. Transit Alliance is a local, non-profit organization advocating for walkable streets, bikeable neighborhoods, and better public transit in Miami-Dade County. The Better Bus Project effort began in June 2019. The final plan will be voted on by the Board of County Commissioners between February and March 2020.
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 a more effective service while remaining budget neutral. The overall network is somewhat aligned to the street grid, but stands to benefit from several key system-wide improvements:
· Increase in high-frequency services
· Create more viable connections
· Better serve high population/employment centers
· Resolve low productivity and circuitous routes
· Integrate key municipal trolley services
The County 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.
Last month, two network concepts were released by Transit Alliance (coverage concept and ridership concept). These concepts are not proposals, rather different ways of thinking about how the bus network could be designed, depending on goals that are found to be most important.
The coverage concept creates more high-frequency bus services in the urban core by better integrating county and municipal services, primarily in the City of Miami. This concept ensures that everyone who currently has access to transit service remains within a quarter mile of service.
The ridership concept is designed to maximize access to jobs and frequent service. It shifts service away from low density areas and low performing routes to high density areas and high performing routes.
For example, today 2% of jobs in Miami Beach are within a quarter mile of bus services that arrive every 10 minutes. In the coverage concept, this would increase to 52%. In the ridership concept, this would increase further to 76%.
Attachment A depicts 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.
On October 7, 2019, the Transportation, Parking and Bicycle-Pedestrian Facilities Committee discussed the Better Bus Project and passed a motion in support of the ridership concept.