New Business and Commission Requests - R9 Q
|Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission
|Raul J. Aguila, Interim City Manager
|April 21, 2021
|FINAL BETTER BUS NETWORK PRESENTATION BY MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
Miami-Dade County is finalizing the Better Bus Network plan which consists of changes to the County bus service intended to maximize access to jobs, increase ridership, and establish longer and more frequent service for residents, workforce, and visitors of Miami-Dade County. The City has reviewed the County’s final Better Bus Network plan and supports some of the proposed changes as they relate to increasing service frequency and hours of operation of County bus service in Miami Beach. However, the Administration has concerns related to proposed reductions in service, increase in the number of transfers due to truncation of some routes, elimination/consolidation of existing bus stops, and the level of community outreach conducted by the County in terms of engaging and soliciting feedback from our elderly and transit-dependent residents and workforce.
Specifically, the Administration recommends that Miami-Dade County address the following concerns and comments from the City prior to obtaining final approval from the Board of County Commissioners on the Better Bus Network plan:
- Modify new Route 36 to directly serve Mount Sinai Medical Center campus and terminate at the Washington Avenue/Lincoln Road terminal.
- Implement an on-demand service to serve the transit needs of the Middle Beach community given the proposed elimination of Route 115 in North and Middle Beach.
- Ensure that new Route 1 service has sufficient capacity to meet the high transit demands of the SR A1A/Collins Avenue corridor.
- Coordinate with the City’s Transportation and Mobility Department to ensure that bus stop spacing is reasonable for elderly residents, particularly those with mobility impairments, and to ensure that elimination/relocation of bus stops, installation of new stops, and/or transfer points are coordinated with the City’s Trolley service.
The Better Bus Project proposes a redesign of the County bus network, led by Transit Alliance Miami and the Miami-Dade County 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 is a two-year advocacy-driven project which began in June 2019. A goal of the redesign is to position the system for ridership growth by creating a more effective service while remaining budget neutral.
In September 2019, two network concepts were released by Transit Alliance (i.e. coverage concept and ridership concept). These concepts were 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. At that time, the Better Bus Project also considered redesign of trolley networks in cities of Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables; however, the final Better Bus Network no longer contemplates any changes to trolley service. The coverage concept created more high-frequency bus services in the urban core by better integrating county and municipal services, primarily in the City of Miami. This concept ensured that everyone who currently has access to transit service remained within a quarter mile of service. The ridership concept was designed to maximize access to jobs and frequent service. It shifted service away from low density areas and low performing routes to high density areas and high performing routes.
On October 7, 2019, the Transportation, Parking and Bicycle-Pedestrian Facilities Committee (TPBPFC) discussed the Better Bus Project and passed a motion in support of the ridership concept, however, TPBPFC did not support eliminating Route 150/Airport Express.
On October 23, 2019, the Neighborhood/Community Affairs Committee (NCAC) discussed the Better Bus Project and endorsed the ridership concept, while keeping South Beach trolley service to Belle Isle.
On October 30, 2019, the City Commission adopted Resolution No. 2019-31073 (Attachment A) accepting the recommendations of the NCAC and approving conceptually the ridership concept of the Better Bus Network, provided that the South Beach Trolley Service to Belle Isle is retained.
On February 26, 2020, the project team presented Draft Plan of the new network to the public. Following a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the County is currently in the final stage of stakeholder engagement and public outreach and anticipates presenting the final Better Bus Network to the County’s Transportation, Mobility and Planning Committee and Board of County Commissioners in May 2021. If the Better Bus Network is approved, the County will pursue implementation in November 2021.
The County currently operates ten bus routes that serve 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 (pre-pandemic); however, there has been a steady decline in ridership over the past several years. Based on information provided by the County, the proposed Final Better Bus Network provides the following benefits as compared to the existing County bus network:
- Increases the percentage of County residents near frequent service from 10% to 23%
- Increases the percentage of jobs near frequent service from 20% to 36%
- Increases by 31% the number of jobs which the average County resident can reach via transit and walking within 60 minutes
- Provides frequent service near 28% of residents in poverty and 23% of residents of color, compared to 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively, with the existing bus network
A map of the existing and proposed bus networks is included as Attachment B. Detailed route alignments of the existing and proposed bus networks are depicted in Attachment C. Attachment D includes the final Better Bus Network presentation prepared by Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works.
PROPOSED FINAL BETTER BUS NETWORK IN MIAMI BEACH
New Route 1 will replace current Route 120/Beach Max route alignment except for Omni Terminal and will operate along the MacArthur Causeway, Washington Avenue, and Collins Avenue to Aventura, with a service frequency of 7.5 minutes to Haulover Park and 15 minutes to Aventura all day (24-hour service).
- New Route 15 will replace current Route 101/A and operate along the Venetian Causeway from Omni Terminal to Washington Avenue/Lincoln Road serving Sunset Harbour and Collins Park neighborhoods. Service will operate from 5AM to midnight with a frequency of 30 minutes. This is a major service improvement which the City has been pursuing with the County for several years.
- New Route 20 will replace current Route 119/S route alignment except for Government Center and will travel along the MacArthur Causeway and Alton Road to Lincoln Road/Washington Avenue. A transfer at Omni Terminal will be required to continue to Government Center and a transfer at Lincoln Road/Washington Avenue will be required to continue north to Aventura. It will operate at 15-minute service frequency from 4AM to midnight. This route will also serve Miami International Airport thus replacing current Route 150/Airport Express.
- New Route 36 will replace Route 110/J and operate along the Julia Tuttle Causeway as a two-tier route: Route 36A from Miami International Airport to Washington Avenue/Lincoln Road and Route 36B from Doral to Washington Avenue/Lincoln Road. Route 36 will operate from 4AM to midnight with a service frequency of 15 minutes, providing a one-seat ride from the airport to Miami Beach at 30-minute service frequency via 36A. It is important to note that although Route 36 is the only route that will operate along the Julia Tuttle Causeway, it will not serve Mount Sinai Medical Center (MSMC) campus. As a major origin/destination along its route, it is of utmost importance for MSMC to be directly served by Route 36.
- New Route 79 will replace Route 79 Max and Route 112/L and end at Collins Avenue/73 Street via the JFK Causeway. The route will have four tiers: (1) Route 79LL, (2) Route 79ML, and (3) Route 79SL coming from Miami Gardens, Hialeah Gardens, and Northside Station, respectively, and serving Collins Avenue and 73 Street. Tier 4 - Route 79OWL (overnight service) is proposed to connect Northside Station to Washington Avenue/17 Street. Span of service is 24 hours.
- New Route 125 would provide connectivity between Miami-Dade North Campus, Bay Harbour Islands, Bal Harbor, Surfside and Miami Beach City limits, connecting to Collins Express and North Beach Loop trolley service. Service would operate at 15-minute frequency from 4AM-midnight.
PROPOSED FINAL BETTER BUS NETWORK CHANGES TO CURRENT BUS ROUTES
- 79 Street Max – To be discontinued and merged with new Route 79
- 101/A – To be replaced by new Route 15 and extended to Collins Park
- 103/C – To be discontinued due to low ridership and duplication of service on Alton Road and Washington Avenue
- 110/J – To be discontinued and replaced by new Route 36
- 112/L – To be discontinued and replaced by new Route 79
- 113/M – To be discontinued and replaced by new Route 20
- 115 – To be discontinued due to low ridership
- 119/S – To be discontinued and replaced by new Route 20
- 120/Beach Max – To be discontinued and replaced by new Route 1
- 150/Airport Express – To be discontinued and replaced by new Route 20
Key differences between the proposed Final Better Bus Network and the Draft Better Bus Network Ridership Concept conceptually approved by the City Commission in October 2019 include:
- Route 20 will terminate at Lincoln Road/Washington Avenue rather than at MSMC
- Route 36 will terminate at Lincoln Road/Washington Avenue rather than at Collins Avenue/41 Street
- Route 15 service frequency will be 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes
- No changes to the City’s trolley service
KEY ISSUES AND CONCERNS
- Bus stop spacing and proposed elimination/consolidation
- Approximately 129 out of 281 existing bus stops throughout the City will be eliminated due to stop spacing (to achieve ¼ mile spacing between stops) or because service will be eliminated by the Better Bus Network
- Most bus stops to be eliminated are located along Route 115 which will be eliminated and currently operates along Hawthorne Avenue, 63 Street, and Alton Road to Washington Avenue/Lincoln Road
- 14 bus stops will be considered for consolidation or relocation
- Elimination/consolidation of bus stops will increase walking distance which may be detrimental to residents with mobility impairments
- Route truncations
- Truncating routes will result in more frequent transfers and increases in walking distance to complete a trip
- Collins Avenue service capacity
- Currently, three bus routes serve the Collins Avenue corridor. Under the Better Bus, only new Route 1 will serve Collins Avenue, a high-demand transit corridor.
- Elimination of service in the South of 5th Street neighborhood, thus a transfer to the South Beach Trolley will be required
- Discontinuation of Route 115 service in North and Middle Beach due to low ridership
- Given this is a low-demand area, perhaps an on-demand service can be a more effective means of serving the transit needs of this community
- Service to/from Mount Sinai Medical Center
- Only new Route 20 via the MacArthur Causeway will serve Mount Sinai
- New Route 36 via the Julia Tuttle Causeway will by-pass Mount Sinai and terminate at Collins Avenue/41 Street rather than at Washington Avenue/Lincoln Road terminal
- Community outreach/engagement, particularly with elderly residents and transit-dependent residents and workforce
SUPPORTING SURVEY DATA
According to the 2019 Miami Beach Resident Survey, 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 Network intends to maximize ridership potential of the County's bus system to improve access to opportunities for residents, regional access for workers, and access to frequent bus service for all users. While service frequency and reliability are expected to improve as a result of implementing the Better Bus Network, the Administration has concerns with the anticipated increase in transfers and walking distance as a result of various proposed route truncations in Miami Beach and in Downtown Miami and elimination/consolidation of bus stops in the City. Furthermore, the Administration has concerns with the level of community outreach in terms of engaging and soliciting feedback from our elderly residents and transit-dependent workforce. No changes to City’s trolley service are being proposed.
The County anticipates presenting and holding a public hearing on the final Better Bus Network plan at its Transportation and Mobility Planning Committee (TMPC) meeting at 9AM on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Subsequently, the County would seek approval from the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in May 2021. If approved by the BCC in May, the County Administration anticipates implementing the proposed Better Bus service changes in November 2021.
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