The pandemic has turbocharged digital transformation efforts at transit agencies. They’re rethinking their physical procedures and reevaluating their metric for success, looking to give riders a satisfying experience that keeps them resilient and relevant.
The new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes updates that reinforce state safety oversight programs and work to protect frontline workers and passengers. It also helps agencies integrate equity into their planning process.
Miami-Dade County Breaks Ground on the South Dade TransitWay
The County’s public transportation system has its ups and downs, but a new initiative may help it get back on track. Miami-Dade Transit broke ground last week on the South Dade TransitWay, a 20-mile busway that will run parallel to US 1 and offer commuters rail-like travel time, iconic stations, level boarding through all doors, and pre-paid fares for speedy access. The corridor is scheduled to be operational by 2024.
The County’s transit system is comprised of 93 routes and 893 buses, operated by Miami-Dade Transit. It serves all of the county’s incorporated municipalities and most of the unincorporated areas of the region.
However, the transit system’s ridership has been dropping recently. In October 2016, total daily ridership sank below 100,000 passengers for the first time in more than a decade. This was largely due to the popularity of the free Miami Trolley and other pseudo-bus systems, and it was further compounded by the effects of Hurricane Matthew.
To address the problem, Miami-Dade County has invested in a number of initiatives to improve its bus service. These include introducing new fare payment options, expanding the use of mobile ticketing, adding air conditioning to more buses, and upgrading existing stations.
In addition, the County is planning to install bus-only lanes and other infrastructure along major corridors. These measures should increase the speed and efficiency of bus service, which will hopefully boost ridership and entice more people to leave their cars at home.
Another key initiative involves the expansion of the county’s GO Transit bus lines. GO Transit is Miami-Dade’s rapid transit system, and it operates a network of 71 boarding and disembarking facilities throughout the county. GO Transit provides more than 900,000 rides per month.
In an effort to enhance GO Transit’s connectivity in the county, Miami-Dade is partnering with state lawmakers to fund upgrades to a trail that spans several municipalities in its southern region. The county plans to spend $3 million on the project, which will match Florida’s one-time allocation of funds for the initiative. The money will finance plans and designs for improvements to the South Dade Trail, which runs parallel to the South Dade TransitWay. The County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works will lead the project, with support from Miami-Dade Commissioner Tim Meerbott, the mayors of Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, and Homestead; District 8 Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins; and the mayor of Florida City. Coral Gables-based Behar Font & Partners is designing the project, and Doral-based Jaxi Builders will be the general contractor. Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2024. The project is supported by a federal grant administered by the Florida Department of Transportation. The County is also seeking federal funding to upgrade a number of other trails and roadways.
The State of Florida’s Transportation Department Announces New Bus Routes
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) continues to recognize that communities across the state have unique visions for their transportation systems, and the agency remains attuned to innovative ideas to ensure it has a system that meets the needs of Florida’s 22.2 million residents and more than 100 million annual visitors. The agency also continues to focus on safety and to enhance mobility options in the face of record-breaking travel times.
FDOT projects across the state continue to progress, including completion of the Interstate 4/State Road 557 project in Southwest Florida for better traffic flow; construction on the new West Tampa Transfer Center; implementation of new ramp signals at key interchanges; and resurfacing projects throughout the state. FDOT also is moving forward with the introduction of managed express lanes on Interstate 275 in Tampa and on Interstate 75 in Jacksonville.
In addition, RTS is expanding one route this fall and eliminating five routes from the winter schedule. Routes 2, 36, 40, 119 and 121 will be eliminated because they serve areas with low ridership. A new Route 52 will be added from Jonesville to UF Health at Center Drive. RTS constantly reevaluates its bus services, watching for new developments that require service and for old routes that do not meet performance standards.
Meanwhile, New York City transit leaders are reporting a jump in ridership and speed after the redesign of 13 local routes in June 2022. Buses on the rejiggered routes run an average of four percent faster than before, according to MTA officials. Ridership has increased an average of two percent on weekdays and three percent on weekends.
The MTA plans to revamp the remaining boroughs’ buses over the next two years. Officials will relaunch the Bronx plan this summer, followed by Brooklyn in 2020 and Queens in 2021.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority (HART) is proposing a number of changes to its bus routes, which include increasing or decreasing stops and changing or combining routes. The changes would affect nearly all of HART’s 69 local and 19 express routes. In addition, the authority is considering an expansion of HART Flex, a door-to-door bus service for certain areas. The plan will go on public comment through the end of August. See the proposed changes here. To help with the public input process, HART is hosting several open houses and a webinar.
The City of Miami’s Transportation Department Announces New Bus Routes
The city’s Transportation Department is launching a new bus service that will help people navigate the area. The program is called GO Connect and it will allow users to book on-demand trips that can connect them with the Miami-Dade Transit system. This will help alleviate traffic congestion and give people access to a more sustainable mode of transportation. The GO Connect service is launching on October 28th and will first be available in the Dadeland/South Miami area.
The county’s transportation department is reworking its Metrobus routes to get more people on the buses. The reimagining of the bus network is part of the county’s Better Bus SHIFTS into Gear action plan which aims to improve Metrobus service for more people with more frequency.
Getting more people on the bus will help reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. It will also improve access to jobs, education and healthcare. The reworking of the system will also benefit some of the most vulnerable residents, such as seniors.
The redesign of the system will also include new bus-only lanes which will be used exclusively by buses to separate them from general traffic. These lanes have been very popular in other cities, and they can increase the speed and reliability of the bus service. Several of the new routes will use these lanes.
Some of the routes will see a reduction in their number of stops, which will help to speed up travel times. For example, the 26 bus will be rerouted to drop its current run through the Harbor Drive neighborhood off of Rickenbacker Causeway. The 31 Local route will also see a reduction in its number of stops, and some of its operation hours will be shifted to a revived 37 Express route which will have fewer stops.
In addition to reworking the routes, the county is adding new electric buses. Several of the new routes will be using Proterra electric buses which can travel longer distances on one charge and emit significantly less pollution than regular diesel-powered vehicles. The county plans to add more of these buses to its fleet over time, which will help to further reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
The county is also adding a new bus stop improvement program which will provide more shade and benches for passengers waiting for the buses. These improvements will be funded through the federal Surface Transportation Assistance Program. These grants are designed to help communities in need with infrastructure and improvements that would otherwise not be possible through traditional funding sources. The county’s reimagining of the bus network is an important step in helping it become more environmentally friendly and accessible for all residents. It will be particularly beneficial for those living in South Dade, where the county is focusing on improving the transit system to serve the growing population.