Miami: Starting a Network Redesign

We’re excited to get started on a bus network redesign in Miami!

Miami-Dade Transit runs a large network of about 100 routes, running over 750 buses across a huge area over 40 miles long. Over the last five years, the Metrobus system has lost about 1/4 of its riders, which has caused Miami-Dade leadership to question the current bus network and how well it’s serving the county.

Like many other Sunbelt cities, Miami is growing and a lot of that growth is in a few places: around downtown, on the beaches, and in a few key centers such as Coral Gables. These densifying centers are reaching the point where cars simply don’t work anymore, and transit is essential to the continued growth and prosperity, not to mention equity. Thus, there are increasing demands for more useful service in these core areas.

As in many cities, the edges of the region are also seeing new development designed almost entirely for car dependence. And many people moving to the edges are doing so because they have limited incomes and the housing is cheap. But the land use design and distance means that the cost to serve them with transit is very high. These trends are stretching Miami-Dade Transit farther and farther geographically on a limited budget. This combination of forces is putting great demands on transit in opposite directions and is heightening the difficulty of the ridership-coverage tradeoff.

A key question in the process will be the different roles of different transit agencies. Many municipalities have begun running their own municipal bus routes. Some, like the Miami Beach network, are extensive. As Miami-Dade has lost riders municipal systems have seen big ridership increases, rising from 7.4 million riders per year in 2013 to 10.9 million in 2017. Where these municipal routes compete with county-wide Miami-Dade routes, many people are choosing the municipal routes, in part because they are free. These trends are causing greater segmentation of transit services across the county and adding to the complexity that an average rider must manage when trying to figure out how to make a trip or trying to understand the whole system.  They also represent a degree of duplication that could potentially be reallocated to create more frequent and useful service.

As always, public input (including but not limited to riders) will be essential to figuring out what direction Miami-Dade wants to go. For that effort, we are especially excited to partner with Transit Alliance Miami, a local non-profit organization advocating for walkable streets, bikeable neighborhoods and better public transit. Transit Alliance advocated this project for years, and now they are actually leading the process on behalf of Miami-Dade County, with a big emphasis on involving the community in decision-making throughout the process. We think this is the first US bus network redesign that is led by a community advocacy group.

We expect there will be some early outreach on key choices in the summer. In the fall, we expect to release two concepts for how the future network could look, and this will be a key point for public input. All of that input will guide us on a final plan, which we expect will be voted on this winter. Keep an eye on the Transit Alliance twitter feed and website for regular updates throughout the redesign process and opportunities to provide input and respond to concepts.

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7 Responses to Miami: Starting a Network Redesign

  1. Albaby May 14, 2019 at 2:40 pm #

    As a Miami resident, I look forward to seeing what comes out of this process.

    However, I am a bit confused about what this process actually is. Have you been hired by the County to redesign the network? Or is the advocacy group coming up with its own plan in partnership with you, which would then be proffered to the County?

    It wasn’t clear in your post (or, quite frankly, the Transit Alliance materials) whether this is a government project or a private one.

  2. The people at ground Zero May 15, 2019 at 2:38 am #

    Has anybody considered getting the people who have the most experience with this failing transit system involve? If management would take the advice of the ” BUS OPERATORS” and the “BUS TECHNICIANS ” the public wouldn’t have suffered this long. For one the data about low ridership is flawed because the devices that count the passengers and the money are broken half the time, then there’s the outdated bus schedules that haven’t been updated in 20 or more plus years since the population has grown, not to mention the fact that Miami Dade County Commissioners continue to grant and allow other sources of transportation the power to operate along bus routes and throughout the county further undermining the system they claim to support. These are just a few key problems that continue to hurt public transit right now, and until all of these individuals with their bright ideas start taking advice from the people at ground zero, Miami Dade Transit will always be light years behind other cities when it comes to serving the public. Signing out ( Bus Operator )

    • Sailor Boy May 15, 2019 at 2:54 am #

      It’s pretty standard to involve bus operators in the process for any network redesign. Usually operators are engaged for their valuable insight on details of routes such as where stops are hard to access, where left turns are difficult, where narrow roads prevent fast running.

      However, ridership or coverage is a question that the funders (public) and passengers (public) should answer, not the operators (contractors).

  3. MB May 15, 2019 at 3:34 pm #

    “But the land use design and distance means that the cost to serve them with transit is very high.”

    I do not think this is very true. The outskirts of Dade County are almost no different from inner Miami, with dense single family housing on small lots, and a mostly grid network that makes running bus routes pretty easy.

    Metro Miami is one of the densest urban regions in the USA, and transit can succeed throughout the area, if good service is offered.

  4. Nathanael May 30, 2019 at 10:42 pm #

    ANYTHING being done in Miami needs to consider sea level rise first and foremost. Miami WILL be flooded, and any route design needs to consider this.

    A good bus network for Miami is a network which will still look like a good bus network after sea level goes up by 5 feet and floods half the county.

    • Eric July 21, 2019 at 2:03 pm #

      It will be 100 years or more before sea level rises by 5 feet. This plan doesn’t have to be future-proofed for the conditions of 100 years from now.

  5. Anonymous June 1, 2019 at 4:29 pm #

    If you create such a network NOW you’ll only end up not serving half the city.

    Wait until the sea level actually rises before redesigning the network around it.