Transit Miami reader and Emerge Miami coordinator Leah Weston shared the following letter with us, containing some poignant feedback and observations from the new-ish Miami Trolley service in downtown Miami.

The new diesel-powered, rubber-tire, retro-kitschy busses.

Sent to

Good morning,

I am writing because I would like to make some comments about the Miami Trolley Service. While I am happy to have the mobility from my apartment on the south end of Brickell to the Metro station, I have observed a few issues over the past month and a half that I have been using it and felt like I should give my feedback.

(1) The trolley is completely unreliable. The signs say every 15 minutes, but that is just dead wrong. Oftentimes what will happen is that I will wait for 30 minutes and see two or three trolleys going the opposite direction pass me before one going in my direction shows up. The B bus follows almost THE EXACT SAME ROUTE and it is MUCH MORE reliable. I’d rather pay $1.25 to get somewhere on time than to stand around indefinitely, holding a huge pile of heavy books (I am a law student) and sweating profusely.

(2) Why is there no way to track the trolley like you can with the Metrorail and the Metrobus? If the purpose of public transportation is to be able to get around without a car, I need to be able to plan my trip.

(3) Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense. There are two stops-one for Northbound, one for Southbound. However, the two stops are VERY far apart. That’s fine, except for the fact that there’s nowhere on the FRONT of the trolley that indicates which direction the oncoming trolley is going. Both the North and Southbound trollies stop at the Northbound stop to let people off. I personally have to go Southbound in the afternoon when I arrive home. If I think a Southbound trolley is coming, but it turns out to be a Northbound trolley, I have to run back and forth like an idiot with a 20 pound pile of books. Also, there have been a number of occasions where I think a trolley is heading my direction, but it turns out not to be and, in turn, I miss the B bus back home and have to wait another 15-40 minutes (whenever the next trolley decides to come). Long story short: A 20 minute commute home turns into an hour commute. Might as well drive my car for that kind of efficiency.

(4) Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley. Shortly after this happened, I promptly wrote an e-mail inquiring about my ID. About a week later, I got a phone call from someone at your office, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner, but that they had shred my ID. That ID also happened to contain a $50 monthly student Metro pass which I had paid in full and which was nonrefundable. While I understand the policy, there are a few problems with this scenario: Why don’t you have someone regularly checking your e-mail account? Why doesn’t the fact that my name and the name of the judge I was working for appeared on the front of the ID merit a little bit of investigation? The woman on the phone also told me she would “see what she could do” about my Metro pass. Why did she never follow up with me?

I’m sorry for the lengthy diatribe, but I thought you should be aware that your service is sub-par and needs improvement. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I have written.

Thank you,

Leah Weston

Miami, FL

What has your experience been with the Miami trolleys?

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18 Responses to Misadventures on the Miami Trolley-bus

  1. Rachel says:

    I have had similar experiences and completely agree with #1 and #2. The trolley has proven to be unreliable. I usually take the Metromover around downtown Miami, where I live and work. I decided to take the trolley for one week and see how it stacks up. In the 4 days (8 trips) on the trolley, it took far longer than advertised 6 times. For example, as I waiting at the Bayfront Metromover stop, I watched 5 (yes, 5) Movers come and go while I waited 25 minutes for a trolley. I waited 30 minutes one morning, and was late for work.

    I have concluded my experiment, and unless the trolley arrives at the stop at the same time as I arrive, I take the Metromover.


  2. M says:

    Over the years, I’ve heard people complain about MetroMover. These trolleys (which largely run parallel to MetroMover downtown) are making MetroMover look even better. It also shows the benefit of fixed guideway transit in its own right of way as a better solution than a dressed up bus. I don’t like the Brickell trolley for the reasons mentioned above. I also have a problem with the fact that the city didn’t purchase hybrid buses that run cleaner and use less fuel.


  3. Ralph says:

    I haven’t personally had the “pleasure” of riding the Miami Trolley, but from what I’ve observed I can tell is pretty much useless. I thought the Metro mover was slow, but I can tell these trolleys are slower than molasses. I’ve driven by these so many times and thought to myself,”if I have to depend on this mode of transportation to get me to work, then I’ll never make it on time.” Maybe the Miami Trolley system should speak to the trolley system folks in Coral Gables and find out how they accomplish being on time and efficiency. When I lived by Dadeland, I used to take the Metrorail and get off at Douglas Road, I would hop right into the Gables trolley and always got to work on time. From what I can remember, 99% of the time when I got off the Metrorail there was a Coral Gables trolley waiting for passengers coming off the train. How come this system works in Coral Gables but not here? Please if your trying to help public transportation, at least make it efficient and reliable.


  4. Wallace Bray says:

    My guess Ralph is that Coral Gables trolly’s does not have a river to cross. Having never used the Miami Trolly’s I don’t know if they have to wait for a closed bridge. Miami’s big mistake was replacing the old bridges with new bridges instead of tunnels. A working river has priority over roads. I drive in and out of Downtown Miami everyday and catch at least two bridge closings a day. It’s frustrating.


  5. Kevin says:

    The trolley is such a waste of money, I can’t believe the city pursued this. I’m all for improvements in transit, but this money should have gone towards a fund to build the Streetcar from Downtown to Wynwood/Edgewater.

    As it stands now, the trolley is basically a slower, less reliable bus that in many instances follows the Metromover lines. The Metromover is reliable because I know it comes every minute or so and yeah, it’s not as fast as the Metro, but it’s free, it gets me to where I want to go on time, and it’s fun.

    Stop the trolleys, let’s save the money for real transit.


  6. Kevin says:

    Wallace Bray- The solution to bridge openings: take the Metromover.

    I’m always baffled when someone who lives in Downtown complains about traffic after they just drove to another Downtown location. That there’s your problem. We have an amazing unique Metromover system that blesses us with the ability to not even have to walk AND it’s free. We can’t complain.


  7. Leah says:

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know how much money the city is dumping into these idiotic things?


  8. EZ says:

    I could not agree more with all of the complaints about the trolley system.

    I live across from Margaret Pace Park (ostensibly the terminus of the northbound trolley route). One evening, I was waiting for a southbound trolley for over half an hour.

    When the trolley finally arrived at 10:45 PM, the driver told me that he was no longer transporting passengers, even though the sign I was standing next to said the trolley operated until 11:00 PM. When I pointed this out, he shrugged his shoulders, closed the doors and drove away.

    I absolutely love the idea that Miami is making more of an effort to provide effective public transportation. However, as per usual, all they have succeeded in doing is wasting money.


  9. C says:

    Does anybody know what work is being done with the brickell loop mover being closed for an unset period of time?


  10. Craig Chester says:

    C - I guess it’s back up and running. I find it ridiculous that Miami-Dade Transit did not even give a timeline for it’s return to service. A day? A week? A month? A year? I mean…in what city is such a lack of response acceptable?


  11. Wallace Bray says:

    I guess I didn’t explain very well Kevin. My job is driving. What I won’t say, only I have to cross the Miami River downtown six times a day. So bridge closings I know all too well. When I go to the heart of downtown on my own time I always take Metrobus to Metrorail and use Metromover and I love walking. The first time I went to NYC five years ago I walked from the north end of Central Park to Washington Square in the Village. My head was looking up the whole time. From 1999 to 2004 I lived and worked in Downtown Miami and didn’t own a car. I did a lot of walking and bicycling. It was the healthiest time of my life. I now live in Miami Springs and own a car. I live there because it’s just three miles from where I report to work. I hate commuting any distance. Believe me I’d much rather live downtown without a car. When I retire maybe which isn’t soon enough.


  12. Yes, the Miami River, which in so many ways makes living in Downtown Miami more wonderful, is the cause. You can’t have a rubber tire solution with open bridges. Naturally, trolleys get delayed, and the ones behind them catch up.

    Until there is a tunnel, the MetroMover is the right solution. Unfortunately the split on the southwest of the CBD Loop makes it less convenient to go south to Brickell for those of us who live and work in the CBD.

    See you on the Mover!


  13. Leah says:

    I still haven’t received any response from the Miami Trolley folks, but I’ll be happy to let Transit Miami readers know if/when I do.


  14. B says:

    I haven’t had any reasont to ride the trolley, but I do pay attention to how many riders there are when they pass. Usually it’s only a handfull. I know the Civic Center gets many more riders, but the ridership on the downtown/Brickell route is pathethic. And based on the problems people are having, it’s no wonder why.

    I think the main problem is the route reguires several left turns in order to service both Brickell Key and the Brickell Metrorail (including at the worst intersection of all: Brickell and 8th!). Also, the route goes through the congested Mary Brickell Village area. Obviously, they aren’t picking up many passengers there, or the trolleys would be more full. Finally, it doesn’t actually go anywhere that Metromover doesn’t already go! I think if it only went from Bayside to Cocowalk, on a DIRECT route, it would be much more popular, especially with tourists and the evening dinner/happy hour crowd.


  15. Felipe Azenha says:

    Agreed B. I have never used the trolley BUS either (it is a BUS, and not a trolley) because I can walk faster than it. It would much be better if the BUS ran straight down brickell and biscayne blvd.


  16. ivo says:

    I’ve never understood the existence of this trolley in an area well served by Metro, metromover and metrobuses. I took it once and it was slower than walking trough Brickell.

    On the other hand, i praise the Doral trolley, being that MDT has completely forgotten that area.


  17. Jairo Serna says:

    We are grateful for the trolley service the city has provided.

    The user’s experience with the trolley would be highly enhanced if you could put a limit to the volume used by the drivers on their radios. The high volume of the music, that the passengers are forced to listen, is really extremely annoying on most of the Brickell trolleys.


  18. alida gamboa says:

    Last night, July 26 2013, I arrived at 7,50pm. at Brickell Key Station to take the Trolley. At 8,10p.m. a Trolley stop in front of several peoples in that Station and the driver told us: I finished my work. He said to another person inside the trolley: “Get off because I do not work at this time” At that moment at least 8 people were waiting for this transportation and we were under the rain.The driver left the station. The worst was that the next trolley arrived at 2 minutes before 9p.m. When we arrive on Brickell Station there were other 2 trolleys and in the next block was parked a 3 trolley. When I get off the trolley at the 15 St and Brickell Av. it was 9,24p,m. In conclusion, under a lot of raining I had to wait for the Trolley and arrived in my home 1hour and 26 minutes. The behavior of the driver was very unpolite and I considered he should brougth us until Brickell Station and in this station finished his turn.
    For me is unreliable the Trolley and the driver in this turn was unable to give us a service even when it was raining a lot.


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