Item Coversheet



TO: Finance and Economic Resiliency Committee Members

Jimmy L. Morales

DATE: January 13, 2020



Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the City of Miami Beach have partnered in the planning, development, and implementation of the Beach Express North Bus Express Rapid Transit (BERT) route which is one of three BERT routes proposed to connect Miami Beach to the mainland pursuant to the County’s Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan.


At its June 29, 2018 meeting, the Finance and Citywide Projects Committee (FCWPC) passed a motion recommending that staff:

1) work with Miami-Dade County to finalize the Beach Express North bus express rapid transit (BERT) interlocal agreement and business plan;

2) explore the possibility of modifying the existing Route 150 (Airport Express) to provide interim BERT-like service in advance of the Beach Express North BERT service;

3) explore providing a subsidy to City of Miami Beach employees that use transit service to commute; and

4) provide quarterly updates to FCWPC regarding the status of the Beach Express North BERT demonstration project.


Based on the City’s 2019 Business Survey:

  • 48% of businesses rate effectiveness of public transit for employee commuting as excellent/good
  • 14% of businesses encourage use of public transit


Following are updates on the current status of the Beach Express North BERT project, potential Route 150 interim modifications, and the City’s transit pass program.


Commencement is still anticipated in 2023. 

FDOT review of the Project Justification Report continues. The design process for the BERT service and queue jumpers continues.

The operating and maintenance funds awarded through the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization SMART Demonstration Program for the BERT service are not included in the FDOT Work Program at this time. It is worth highlighting that the City has committed to funding 50% of the annual operating and maintenance costs of the BERT service for a three-year period, for a total approximate amount of $5.1 million.  As such, City staff has formally requested that FDOT include the state’s 50% share of the annual operating cost of the BERT service in its Work Program.  The City, County, and FDOT will be meeting on January 22 to review the operating and maintenance funding needs for the Beach Express North service and to include the operating and maintenance funding into the FDOT Work Program. 

Route 150/Airport Express

The City has been working with Miami-Dade County to implement interim modifications to the existing Route 150/Airport Express to achieve BERT-like service in advance of the future Beach Express North BERT project.  As such, both the County and Transit Alliance’s Better Bus Project have assessed Route 150 and made recommendations to modify the existing service.

A report prepared by Cambridge Systematics for Miami-Dade County dated September 18, 2019 and entitled “Route 150/Airport Flyer Route Modification Opportunity with Beach Express North BERT” evaluated the Route 150 modifications proposed by the City. The report concurred with the route alignment proposed by the City, which recommends service between Earlington Heights metrorail station and Miami Beach via Julia Tuttle Causeway and 41st Street to Collins Avenue, then proceeding south along Collins Avenue and terminating at City Center rather than at South Pointe Drive where the service currently terminates.  The next step is for the County to review and approve the route modifications for potential implementation as part of an upcoming bus service line-up, which occurs in the spring and fall of each year.

On a parallel path, the Transit Alliance’s Better Bus project is evaluating the performance of all County bus routes, including Route 150.  In September 2019, two network concepts were released by Transit Alliance: the coverage concept and the ridership concept.  These concepts presented two different bus network designs based on two different goals.  The coverage concept maximizes job access and widens stop spacing while ensuring that everyone who is within a quarter of a mile of transit today is still near a stop.  The ridership concept proposes a network that shifts service away from low density areas and increases service frequency in the densest and busiest places in the County, including in Miami Beach.

In both Better Bus concepts, Route 150 is eliminated and replaced by a new Route 120 that connects Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, and Miami International Airport (MIA) along Flagler Street rather than Julia Tuttle Causeway.  The Better Bus project’s goal is to provide access to Miami Beach and Miami International Airport along a new route with a higher population density in order to increase ridership; however, the new route would operate as a local service rather than an express service.

The Better Bus project concepts were presented to the Transportation, Parking, and Bicycle-Pedestrian Facilities Committee (TPBPFC) at its October 7, 2019 meeting.  At the meeting, the committee passed a motion endorsing the ridership concept; however, the TPBPFC did not support the proposed elimination of Route 150 because it eliminates a direct express route between Miami Beach and MIA which the committee felt is valuable.

City of Miami Beach Resolution #2019-31073 supporting the Better Bus ridership concept was adopted on October 30, 2019.

Miami Beach Transit Pass Program

City employee participation in this fully subsidized program has been steady per below:

- November 2019: 71 participants (11 residents, 60 non-residents)

- December 2019: 74 participants (11 residents, 63 non-residents)

- January 2020: 73 participants (12 residents, 61 non-residents)


The Administration will continue to work with FDOT and the County to expedite the design and implementation of the Beach Express North BERT service as well as interim modifications to the County’s Route 150/Airport Express service to provide a reliable mobility option for the City’s workforce commuters.

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.