Miami Riders Alliance.
(That means we're sticking up for riders!)
The following are the Miami Riders Alliance's stances on the issues surrounding transit in Miami-Dade County. We would like to hear from you on how you feel about these policies, and you can contact us using our Contact Form or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Click on specific policies' titles below to learn more about our reasoning behind our position.
The Miami Riders Alliance has advocacted against the privatization of #ourcounty's bus routes. Currently, 26% of the Metrobus system is contracted our to Limousines of South Florida, which, according to riders, does not have a good track record of accommodating the elderly and the disabled. We spoke twice at the Miami-Dade County BCC to ask for an end to the county's contract with LSF. You can see our history with the item at our BCC webpage with archive right here.
Riders Alliance released a statement on 3/19 appealing to the County Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, and all 13 county commissioners to maintain service amid the COVID-19 crisis. We warned that by cutting service, Metrobuses would become too crowded and therefore would serve to spread COVID-19 amongst members of some of Miami's most vulnerable. This fear was realized on April 7th when a now-viral picture was taken with a driver and a crowded back of the bus. The picture and subsequent articles and news coverage led to MDT adding articulated busses to some routes.
Busses cannot move faster than traffic at peak hours unless they have their own dedicated right of way. We support better dedicated bus infrastructure that compliments the Better Bus Project to put our busses in the fast lane. If drivers continually notice a bus whizzing by them in traffic, this may also serve to encourage mode-shift, where users of one mode (automobiles) shift to another mode (bus, rail, etc.).
All-Door boarding (patrons enter from all doors of the bus) which speeds up boarding and therefore, speeds up the bus. This approach is working in many major metros in the US, and can work in Miami-Dade, where long lines to enter the bus plague our system.
One of our campaigns is the Better Bus Stop Campaign, which aims to raise awareness for the inhospitable conditions many transit riders wait in.
- Well designed stops accessible with ample sidewalk access
- Reduced traffic speeds near stops
- Real-time route information (less ghost busses) to decrease waiting
- Access to seating, restrooms, and licensed food vending near/at major transit hubs and stops
- Better integration with other forms of transportation (stops at rail stations [including private rail])
- Better integration with personal transportation like bicycles and other forms of micromobility like bikeshare and scooters. That includes bike parking at
- Major bus hubs/stations as well as drop stations for scooters at those stations as well to prevent "scooter littering"
Miami-Dade County is a hub for sports teams in South Florida. However, when we host sports events, we often leave behind workers that serve sports patrons and many who would like to attend these events, but have no viable transportation option to attend these events. When Miami-Dade hosted the NFL Super Bowl in 2020, many mobility options like The City of Miami's Trolley were cut because of increased demand, which is the opposite of what many metro areas do when demand increases. Services like our Metrorail were going to end at midnight (just as the game wound down), and the stadium is only connected to areas like South Dade via the 27 and Metrorail -> Busway. If we do not have connectivity to our stadiums, our residents who do not have access to vehicles, then we cut off an important part of our County's most important vehicle for cohesion to an entire bloc of residents who deserve access to the venues their taxes have paid for.
We know this plan isn't perfect, but by providing more frequent service and maintaining ridership, we can create leverage with increased ridership to improve our system further.
We understand objections to this plan due to cutting service in some parts of the map to increase service in other areas; however, overall, the plan maintains 98.6% of existing ridership access (being within a 10 minute walk of a bus stop) and also includes:
- 368,000 more residents will live a 5 minute walk away from a bus route with a frequency of <15 minutes.
- An average resident will have access to 33% more employment opportunities than the existing system.
- 50% less contracted routes than the existing system.
- More than 88% of residents will be within 1/2 mile of a bus stop and 67% of residents within a 1/4 of a bus stop.
- Municipal trolleys reworked to work WITH the county transit system, not against.
- All-Day high-frequency Mon-Saturday service (yes, even in off-peak hours).
- You can read more of the reasons why we've chosen to support this policy right here.
Bicycle & Scooter Policy
We wrote to the Miami-Herald after concerns over the county's ban on micromobility options (which allow residents to physically distance on shorter trips). We believe that this ban forces many riders into unnecessarily dangerous situations in enclosed spaces like public transportation if it is not necessary.
Some or most micromobility companies are now sanitizing their vehicles at a rate higher than the county's "once-a-day" "scrub" of our Metrobuses".
Miami Beach is a dense corridor. In this neighborhood, relatively low car-ownership and dependence on transit and bicycle travel has created a need for bicycle infrastructure that has not been met.
In a car-dominant exclusive suburb like Coral Gables, it is important to build out infrastructure to give residents the option to get out of their cars. However, bicycle infrastructure is not just for the people who live in Coral Gables, but for those powering and visiting its bustling downtown. Easing congestion on throughfares also opens up more opportunities for residents of Miami-Dade County to enjoy and spend money in the City of Coral Gables.
We support FDOT's "Alternative A" for the I-195 Corridor Planning Study. This alternative includes a protected, completely separated shared-use path for bicycles and pedestrians.
We support countywide improvements of bicycle infrastructure to both encourage biking and to make biking safer to bicyclists who rely on the infrastructure for mobility.
Bicycle infrastructure is an important part of reducing car Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and reducing emissions from unnecessary car trips. Bike lanes can help residents replace most car trips (a majority of which are under three miles) with a bike trip.
However, not all bike lanes are created equal. We support the improvement of unsafe bike lanes like those on SW 8th St (US-41/Tamiami Trail) and the Macarthur Causeway (I-395/SR-A1A) which place bicyclists less than 3 feet from vehicles regularly travelling in excess of 60 MPH. We therefore support protected bicycle infrastructure along routes like these as a priority, but we support protected lanes throughout the county to increase safety for bicyclists.
We are also strongly in favor of better integration of our transit system with bicycle infrastructure throughout the county as well. This includes things like ample bicycle parking near all major mass transit stations and hubs. This also includes providing bicycle storage on transit such as: bike racks on Metrobuses, Metrorail, Tri-Rail, and Metromover.
Miami Dade's 2045 Bicycle Pedestrian Master plan needs to take priority especially moving out into our new normal following the COVID-19 Crisis.
Learn more about the plan here: 2045 Miami-Dade Bicycle Master Plan (PDF)
We support scooter and bikeshare programs that encourage residents to use those modes for short trips rather than using a personal automobile. These modes of transport are efficient, relatively low cost, and are better for the environment than cars. These vehicles also cut down on waiting time for transit which is useful for trips that are a mile or less.
We support the continuation of the scooter pilot program past its initial end date, and hope to work to make our streets safer for all road users and that includes those on scooters.
We support better scooter parking, possibly taking the place of a personal vehicle on-street parking space in the urban core. These drop zones will allow scooter users to properly dock their scooter while keeping our sidewalks clear for pedestrians, especially those using the sidewalk with a disability device.
We support opening our streets to people during the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate social distancing and allow residents to shake off cabin fever while being able to stay healthy.
Other cities across the country and globe have been able to do this while Miami lags behind many of its peers. It's time we give back our streets to people, even if just for a short time by:
- Converting underutilized on-street parking as a bicycle lane or sidewalk extension.
- Converting one car lane of a multi-lane street into a bike line.
- Closing off residential streets to thru-traffic to allow those with smaller/no backyards to have space to get fresh air.
We support rail extensions of the SMART corridor where rail is supported by land use patterns and we support changes in land use around all SMART corridors to support rail in the future. We support interim modes like Bus Rapid Transit to eventually lead to rail expansion, but we are against unreasonable figures that make it all but impossible to convert to rail in the future (like the SMART South Dade Transitway Corridor).
We do however, support BRT/APM (Bus Rapid Transit and Metromover) along corridors like the Flagler Corridor and the Beachlink Corridor respectively because those modes are the most efficient in cost and for the surrounding land use.
An idea that has been brought up by local residents and that some politicians have expressed interest in is bringing a Tri-Rail link down to South Dade using existing CSX railroad that connects Miami International Airport to Homestead. We support that connection to provide commuter rail options to those in South Dade that are screaming for relief from the burden of traffic and the high costs of automobile ownership in Miami-Dade County.
Tri-Rail's coastal link will bring much-needed relief to the commuters of Miami's coastal areas. This plan will take many cars off the road (helping with Climate Change) and will also provide another mobility option to residents of #OurCounty.
Tri-Rail's downtown Miami Link will provide another link for commuters to access the economic opportunities in Miami's Central Business District for more residents. It will provide a one-seat-ride into Downtown Miami.
Rail has been promised to all Miami-Dade residents since before the concrete hardened on the Metrorail in 1983. We do not support the implementation of BRT in SMART corridors where rail is feasible at a reasonable cost per rider and with reasonable land-use around the proposed corridor or reasonable changes to the land use patterns around the corridor to support rail when built.
This means we support rail (commuter or heavy), without alternative, in the following corridors:
- North Corridor
- Northeast Corridor
- South Corridor
We are, and have always been, against the subsidizing of private, for-profit corporations with PTP funds from the Half-Penny sales tax. The deal struck by the county with Brightline was rushed through the commission, not put past the public, and done very sneakily. We should not have given the $79 Million to Brightline without assured Tri-Rail access. We believe that because we believe that Brightline is NOT transit, and this station (and subsidy) will only serve wealthy residents of Miami-Dade Couty, all the while leaving middle and lower-class families out to dry.
Of course, we support the continuation of a fare-free Metromover system. This policy is important because not only does it provide a means for tourists to move around the city without renting a car (getting cars off the road and easing congestion) but it supplies those without the means of procuring a vehicle with a mode of transport and access to the opportunities within our central business district.
This emerging trend, which should have been started from the beginning of the Miami transit system, has now proved successful in our CBD. Brickell City Centre, a busting, prime example of the success of Transit Oriented Development, has sparked a series of new development projects along both the Metromover and the Metrorail. We support all of these developments with some objections about their pricing (they are unaffordable) and their parking requirements (which have been altered by the BCC's new Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP)).
A long standing issue on all elevated systems in Miami-Dade County is accessibility when an escalator or elevator breaks down. This type of breakdown impacts riders with mobility impairments and bicyclists alike who rely on the elevators and escalators to reach platforms.
The Metromover Beachlink extension would have several benefits and we support it for the following reasons:
- The Department of Transportation and Public Works is not considering Metrorail and it has been voted down by both the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) and the Board of County Commissioners (BCC).
- Any mode would require a transfer, meaning there would be no "one-seat-ride."
- The Metromover is more apt for the density of Miami-Beach. A Metrorail option would require stops spaced further apart, relying more on the at-grade bus system to provide local transport options.
- A raised APM system would be less susceptible to sea-level rise.
- Metromover, while holding a capacity less than Metrorail, can run more frequently in an automated manner, making up for the lesser capacity.
- The Beach Link would feature a guideway capable of faster speeds than the current Metromover system, so the cars would move at least 15 MPH faster than their Brickell, Inner, and Omni Loop counterparts.
- A rubber-tired vehicle would not produce vibrations that are harmful to the aquatic ecosystem that a steel-wheeled heavy rail or light rail system would produce.
Fare-Free transit is important to both A) building the ridership of our transit system to bring down the cost-per-rider (CPR) and to B) provide access to economic opportunity for our residents who need it most. The $2.25 far of our transit system, over time, can be prohibitive to the very people our system should be aiming to help.
That being said, we do not believe that fare-free transit is the solve-all end-all to our transit woes; it simply covers one aspect of our crumbling infrastructure with a sheer band-aid. Fare-free transit may work, but it must work in conjunction with several other factors such as: an improvement in the quality of our transit system, an improvement in the reliability of our transit system, an improvement in the coverage of our transit system, and an improvement in connectivity of our transit system. Until all of these issues are addressed, fare-free transit alone will not fix the issues we have with our system.
If we continue with a farebox system on our transit, we can implement some measures to decrease the cost burden of transit on riders while also growing ridership. Some of these are:
- Discounted annual passes / subscriptions (Oahu County, Hawaii, Tucson, Albuquerque, etc.), semi-annual passes (Bloomington, etc.) and three-month passes (Eugene, etc.) to speed services and reduce administration costs.
- Fare-capping: while this feature is available to riders using a digital wallet or touchless debit card, it is not clear if this rule (where once your card has hit its cap for a daily pass, you can no longer incur fares) applies to EASY cards.
- Free transfers between different modes of transit: we recognize that many riders require different modes of transportation to meet their final destination. Making transfer fare free between modes of transit would encourage transit use further along the journey rather than it usually does. This policy also helps disadvantaged riders that live very far from economic centers and require multiple modes of transit to reach job opportunities across the county. We acknowledge and appreciate the county's efforts to move on this issue with its commitment to free transfers from bus-to-bus.
Transit: Not Cars.
We believe that a bike's place is in a protected bike lane riding alongside vehicles (or riding on their own protected lane or street). We believe a bus' place is in its own lane or on its own busway. We do not support roads that exacerbate congestion (6-lane highways through neighborhoods) and we most certainly do not support roads with no sidewalks, limited sidewalks, wide lanes that encourage speeding, or roads with limited pedestrian access to crossings or walking infrastructure.
We support the increased use of inclusive street design which, if cars must be included, include all road users rather than forcing bicycles to share automobile lanes or forcing pedestrians to share a sidewalk with scooters. Pedestrians should be given wide room for walking and bicycles/scooters should have ample room to ride without impediment.
We support traffic calming to protect all road users and the use of road dieting techniques that make roads safer for everyone.
We support the taking back of roads from cars. It's hard to believe that just a century ago, streets were made for people–not cars. In some cities around the U.S., planners are making way for people in crowded CBDs. These solve the solution of traffic congestion by removing personal vehicles from the equation entirely.
Many of these plans have been hailed worldwide for their success, even some in the US. Some include:
- The pedestrianization of most of Times Square (New York City, NY)
- The pedestrianization of Market Street (San Francisco, CA)
- 14th Street Busway (New York City, NY)
- Lincoln Road (Our Very Own Miami Beach, FL)
We believe that we can become a world-class city. Also, remember: Amsterdam wasn't Amsterdam 30 years ago; it took a concerted effort and many, many protests for them to become centered around the bike and pedestrians like they are today.
Studies have shown that decreasing tolling has an adverse effect on traffic, and actually make the situation worse. Congestion pricing on the other hand, which dynamically changes toll costs based on traffic, encourages less congestion and less car usage overall, encouraging transit use and other forms of transportation like bikes or scooters.
Every time the Palmetto has been expanded, it fills right back up (because of induced demand). This widening project will not solve what many people need solved, and will lead to more congestion and state tax dollars gone to waste.
The Kendall Parkway will not solve the constant congestion in Kendall.
The Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike (HEFT) was originally to be used as Miami's bypass highway, but has now become an arterial route and latest casualty of the breakneck pace of Miami's rapid urbanization.
The Kendall Parkway will suffer the same fate as Commissioners are pushing to continue moving our Urban Development Boundary (UDB) further west. We believe that the Kendall Parkway is not only an environmental threat to the existence of Miami-Dade County by exacerbating Climate Change, but it is also an unfair burden on Western Miami-Dade residents seeking congestion relief, but finding themselves paying more and more tolls.
FDOT's "Signature Bridge" project will cost Florida Taxpayers over $800 Million, and will minimally impact traffic flow in our city's growing urban core. The project will encourage more cars to speed along the MacArthur Causeway (I-395) and will provide minimal access to bicyclists all while making the existing bike lanes much less safe due to speeding vehicles.
Florida is number one in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. In light of that fact, we should not be encouraging these kinds of projects in 2020 when we know better.
We support an independent Miami-Dade Transportation Authority that is divorced from political infighting, influence by local officials, and funding restraints that the current Department of Transportation and Public Works is under.
Like New York's MTA or Vancouver's TransLink, the MDTA would have the power to levy taxes, sell bonds, and create funding to complete transit projects that have not been able to secure funding for or get off the ground and which the residents of Miami-Dade County desperately need.
Whenever a service cut or route alteration is made to an MDT service, the administration should provide the following:
- A reasoning for the change
- Mitigation for any inconveniences caused by the change, if any
- A timeline for the service change
- Adequate notification before the alteration is made.
The DTPW, specifically during the Novel Coronavirus Quarantine, did not notify riders with adequate amounts of time before the service alteration was made, leaving some essential workers stranded at their workplace trying to find a way back home after their shift.
We support transit administration officials that are experts in their fields and care about public transportation.
We support officials' engagement in the public transit system that they run. By using the system, officials can get a glimpse from the point of view of the riders and understand the service alterations they need to make to ensure a transit system that works efficiently and reliably.
Land Use Policy
We encourage types of development that support transit infrastructure and discourage personal vehicle ownership. Typically, these types of development lead to higher densities that grow ridership of transit routes and leave a smaller carbon footprint–which is important in our fight against climate change.
We support transit oriented development which encourages residents to use the transit available to them to commute to work, go out for leisure, and more without having to use a personal vehicle. These developments develop transit ridership and positively impact the environment as well.
Transit Ridership Development Policy
We support better signage that informs residents and visitors alike of their public transit options to destinations. This includes better/less confusing signage at important transportation hubs like the Miami Intermodal Center or Government Center.
This includes signage informing people of areas of high interest along the routes served by a hub, useful routes to move people around the county in an efficient way, and producing more informative material on how to use the transit system effectively.