Currently viewing the tag: "South Miami-Dade Busway"
This week’s Streetwise Column by Herald Reporter Larry Lebowitz, presented an “innovative” new use for Miami-Dade’s Busway program. We’ve taken some time to mull over the basics of the plan over the past few days (apparently so have a number of you based on the number of emails I received) and have prepared an analysis of the project based on the data Larry provided in the article.

Imagine widening the Busway from two lanes to four and giving buses and carpoolers with at least three passengers a free ride.

It is a stretch of my imagination, that is for sure, but from the looks of it, this does not seem like a promising solution for South-Dade commuters. Granted, the Busway is far from perfect, but adding lanes, albeit managed lanes, is hardly the solution to an ever-growing congestion problem.

Instead of encountering dozens of incredibly looooooong lights at the busy cross streets on today’s Busway, imagine flying over all the major intersections as the government guarantees a reliable 50-mph journey from Dadeland to Florida City or the turnpike interchange near Southwest 112th Avenue.

The sad part about this is that some sort of “benefit” has to be presented for motorists in order to shore up the funds to marginally improve the transit infrastructure. I guess that is one of the major issues we have to deal with when we have a President who in his next financial deficit (that is not a budget) wants to reduce an already anemic transportation fund by $3.2 billion. One major question remains: What is going to happen to all of those cars not going to Dadeland or the Palmetto when they merge back onto a US-1? We cannot honestly expect all these folks to suddenly abandon their cars and hop on Metrorail, can we? Or will the lanes be extended north into downtown, continuing to undermine the reason why Metrorail was constructed along US-1 to begin with - to get people out of their cars.

A similar variably priced tolling plan is about to be introduced on a 24-mile segment of Interstate 95 between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. They are also planned for the expanded Interstate 595 in Broward.

True. However, I do not think drawing comparisons between US-1 and limited access highways is fair. HOT lanes are a novel concept for the highway scenario, but not along a corridor where driveways and intersections all interfere.

Not only could it provide a little relief to the normal wall-to-wall madness on the overburdened South Dixie corridor, but it could also finally fulfill the Busway’s original promise: real rapid transit.

Once again, see our unrelated qualms above on transportation spending as a whole in this country. It’s deplorable!

”Without a strong transit component, this doesn’t work,” said Javier Rodriguez, executive director of the expressway authority.

Amen!

Elevated intersections will incite plenty of sturm und drang from communities along the Busway. The neighbors must be mollified, especially if Transit is forced to relocate its stations away from the intersections to maintain easy street-level access for riders.

Wow, you can say that again. Most of these communities have already reduced the allowable density along US-1 making Mr. Rodriguez’s point listed above extremely difficult to accomplish. Transit needs to treat any further upgrades to this project as a rail project, bringing with that the power to enact land-use changes for the corridor that will continue to prepare it for future rail transit, increase bus ridership, and lay a foundation for preventing future westward and southern sprawl. Without a massive overhaul of the land around the Busway, this corridor will never realize the transit ridership necessary to fund such a project.

Besides noise walls and landscaping, some must-dos:

Whoa, noise walls are a definite must-do-not. This project needs to entwine the Busway (future railway) as much as possible with the surroundings, not create an inhospitable environment for those walking, biking, or using transit.


All plans must leave a pocket for future light rail or Metrorail within the 100-foot corridor as the Busway was originally intended. It might take 30 to 50 years to get trains there, but that’s what the people were promised and the bulk of the growth is already occurring down there.

Definitely! Can’t stress this point enough.


The plan must set aside money to re-time all of the signals for cross-street traffic trying to get onto and across U.S. 1 under the elevated intersections.

This is something MDT/MPO should do now to give the 15,000 daily transit riders a surefire benefit to riding the Busway. Which reminds me, what exactly is MDT up to these days?

An expanded Busway must mesh with the community charettes aimed at future redevelopment of Princeton, Naranja and Goulds into transit-oriented development villages.

Ditto for preserving the existing bike path and enhancing pedestrian access to and from the Busway.

Once again, we cannot stress how important this is. These details will ultimately make or break a project like this. Take Metrorail for example, it is a great transit system but the surroundings are beyond lousy.

The point of this article was not to criticize Streewise or Larry Lebowitz - after all he’s just the messenger - but rather to condemn a plan which is seemingly being hailed as the golden ticket for fixing congestion. The fact of the matter is, for any real change to come of any of these plans (Metrorail, Bay Link, Miami Streetcar, Busway included) we need to push for land use changes more favorable to living lifestyles which are not automatically governed by the necessity of owning a vehicle.

The South Miami-Dade Busway expansion will finally be complete and open to the public next week. We want to hear about your experiences riding it, so please feel free to email us with stories, comments, or concerns.

From the Miami-Dade Transit press release:

(MIAMI, December 7, 2007) – Miami-Dade Transit will dedicate the final 6.5-mile segment of the South Miami-Dade Busway in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will take place at the south end of the new extension at Southwest 344th Street, two blocks west of U.S. 1 in Florida City.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, members of the County Commission and other local dignitaries will help celebrate the occasion. The public is invited to the event, and free refreshments and entertainment will be provided.

Buses will begin running on the newly completed extension — which continues the Busway from Southwest 264th Street to 344th Street — on Sunday, Dec. 16. Routes 34 (Busway Flyer) and 38 (Busway MAX) will be realigned to operate on the new Busway segment, allowing passengers to get to their destinations more quickly. Route 38 will continue to stop at the Florida City Wal-Mart from the Southwest 344th Street Busway station, while Route 34 will continue to serve Florida City’s City Hall.

At 20 miles, the completed Busway, which runs just west of U.S. 1, will be the longest Bus Rapid Transit line in the United States, providing fast, convenient service all the way from Florida City to the Dadeland South Metrorail station, with several Park & Ride lots located at convenient intervals along its entire length.

“We’re very pleased in bringing the benefits of the Busway to residents of south Miami-Dade,” said Miami-Dade Transit Director Harpal Kapoor. “Homestead and Florida City residents will now be able to get to work and other destinations faster and more conveniently using the Busway, just as their neighbors on the north end of the Busway have been doing for years.”

Since the Busway opened in 1997, Miami-Dade Transit buses have been swiftly shuttling thousands of passengers a day on the exclusive bus-only expressway, allowing commuters to avoid gridlock on chronically congested U.S. 1. The Busway now enjoys 23,000 average weekday boardings – a stunning 180 percent ridership growth in its 10 years of operation.

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.