Last night, after several bottles of wine the conversation turned to the Metromover. At the table were several colleagues from my office. We all have at the minimum college degrees, so I think it’s fair to assume that we are of at least average intelligence.   Dario, a Londoner, explained to me that the first time he rode the Metromover he ended up where he started from.  Issiac, a New Yorker, also got lost the first time he used it. He figured out something was very wrong after he passed the same building twice. Mind you, he has ridden the subway in New York his entire life and has never gotten lost!

Most every time I use the Metromover, I find a lost soul seeking directions.  Even as a veteran of the Metromover, I often have to study the map before getting on to ensure that I get off at the right transfer station.  Or I have to strategically think about which station I need to walk to in order to avoid riding the Metromover aimlessly.

I do like the Metromover, it works for me.  However, it is poorly designed. You need a Phd. in order not to get lost. Transit should not be complicated; the Metromover is. In order for transit to work efficiently, a first time user should have a clear understanding of how the system works right off the bat. So this got me thinking last night, maybe we need to abandon the Metromover?

However, before we abandon the Metromover, we need to replace it with a well thought-out streetcar. So what to do with the elevated infrastructure from the Metromover once it is replaced with a proper streetcar? Well, it should not be torn down. Instead we should consider converting it to an elevated bicycle path, a greenway in the middle of the city, much like the New York City High Line.  In many ways it would become a bicycle highway in the middle of our city. Imagine the possibilities. What do you think?

20 Responses to My Love-Hate Relationship with the Metromover

  1. Prem says:

    i think it’s a fantastic idea.

    while i disagree that the metromover is very confusing, I’ll admit to occasionally getting on the wrong car because the displays are rather pathetic.

    It’s certainly a failed project, and as a bicyclist there isn’t a place the metromover takes me that I couldn’t get to quicker by bike. I do like it, though, for how much warmer it is inside a car than riding on the streets.
    that little respite from this current cold is much appreciated.

    that all being said, I still don’t quite understand your love for a streetcar.

    After startup costs, would management of a streetcar be less than simply create a system of shuttle busses that move people around downtown?
    Such busses would require absolutely no infrastructure alterations as they can easily use the streets we already have, which is great because they could also have much more convenient routes than metromover, which has some very annoying stops in the middle of some very bad parts of downtown.


  2. Michael says:

    I don’t understand the obsession with street cars around the country. Don’t streetcars get stuck in traffic? I say improve metro-mover with clearer routes than have an elevated bike path, how do you get up there?


  3. Felipe Azenha says:


    I wouldn’t say that the Metromover is a failed project; it does provide a valuable service and until we find a better solution we should certainly keep it.

    In order for a streetcar (light rail) project to be successful, there are certain characteristics this valuable service should have. Most importantly, it should have its own dedicated lane. Meaning, it should not share a traffic lane with other motor vehicles (particularly in densely populated areas like downtown and Brickell). By giving the streetcar its own lane it will provide a service which makes it more efficient than traveling by car. People will only use public transportation if it saves them time. In order to make the streetcar successful every station should be raised; this reduces the boarding time (on and off) of passengers.

    We could accomplish the same goals through a bus rapid system (BRS). However, people are more apt to use a sexy light rail system then a BRS. A light rail system would also provide more of any opportunity for transit oriented development (TOD). Developers are more likely to invest around a TOD because they know there will be a permanent transportation link around their investment. In many cases minimum parking requirements are reduced around TODs; this also becomes another incentive for real estate developers to engage in in-fill development.

    Should a properly planned streetcar ever come to fruition in our beloved city, then I believe the Metromover should be abandoned. We can accomplish the same goals with a streetcar. Having the Metromover and the streetcar would be redundant. Considerable monies would be saved by only operating one system.


  4. Felipe Azenha says:

    Hi Michael,

    Please see my response to Prem above. I think it will answer a couple of your questions.

    I agree with you that as a short term solution the Metromover can be improved. I’m concerned with the costs associated with extending the Metrmover. Building and maintaining an elevated system are considerably higher than a streetcar system.

    By no means do I realistically think that an elevated bicycle system is in our future any time soon, but it can’t hurt to dream and be creative with our transportation ideas. Should this dream ever become a reality, Metromover stations could possibly be retrofitted with a bicycle ramp. We should not be afraid to dream a little, it gets all of our creative juices flowing.


  5. Guillermo says:

    As far as I know, there are no plans and there should not be any plans to replace Metromover. What would be the point of getting rid of a system that is already in place and working. If anything, it should be improved or at least maintained. If a streetcar were to be put in place, it should compliment the system, not be redundant. There are already many under-served areas of our urban core.
    Personally, i do support the streetcar. Once people see streetcar working in other places (i.e. Portland, or many cities in Europe), they should see how much more attractive than a regular bus. Not only that, but by providing a new streetcar system, better waiting areas can be provided, signal preemption to streetcars, more reliability or the impression of it (buses haven’t done a very good job so far in miami, so it’s hard to sell the idea that just buses would solve the mobility issues)
    While it is true that people will use transit when it is faster, they might also use it because of convenience, even if it is not too much slower..There are areas with expensive, hard to find parking, or people using it for a night out in town, or a show in the adrienne arsht…or if there is an attractive, pedestrian friendly area, just to make leisurely trips. With the amount of tourists Miami receives, if we provided an appropriate and convenient infrastructure, we would have more than enough potential users, and we would increase the city’s appeal.

    In my opinion, what could be done, is start providing more organized, efficient, reliable bus service and build up ridership, while the endless discussion and bureaucracy takes place and we can get something better……


  6. brody says:

    I don’t think Metromover should be removed. It’s extremely convenient and makes getting around Downtown and Brickell easy especially when its cold out. The easiest solution is that the maps should be redone, and should be simplified. There are complicated rail systems around the world, they all find a way to create a map that makes getting around simple.


  7. dario (not of London) says:

    I still like the Metromover. Sure, it can be confusing to visitors and others and it could occasionally get stuck between stations, leaving passengers staring at the skyline until they near panic because they’re trapped, but that’s not a good enough reason to abandon the facility. Better wayfinding signs and investment-oriented design & maintenance could fix it. Problem is Feds don’t fund maintenance. It is easier to find funding for projects like streetcars than to fix existing problems.
    If we should abandon the metromover, a bike highway is a great idea. Linear parks are the current trend and I could easily see this becoming an elevated linear park.


  8. Charlie says:

    While I don’t think we should get rid of the Metromover (unless something better is already in place), a streetcar with mostly dedicated lanes offers one thing that the Metromover doesn’t- easy expandability.

    A streetcar downtown could be expanded across the McCarther and Juliet Tuttle causeways to loop in Miami Beach. With a dedicated lane, it could pass the often crowded causeways (especially on holidays, weekend evenings, rush-hour, good beach days, etc.). The Metromover could never be expanded to the beach because residents wouldn’t permit the raised tracks looming over Washington Ave.

    Please please please Miami, can we get a good transit option between downtown and one of the world’s most popular destinations?


  9. Michael says:

    Charlie, this is where I agree! Get ‘baylink’ working! yet while the streetcar/tram would solve the atheistic problem in Miami Beach my only concern would be a slow hokey-pokey streetcar performance that doest directly connect to metro-mover/rail (which will eventually hook up at MIA). But I agree with trying to avoid an undesirable raised track above wash. ave.


  10. Michael says:

    aesthetic*! oops.


  11. TM reader says:

    Yes the metromover does not go everywhere it should. It should be expanded to complete the Brickell and Omni Loops. If the cars simply showed on the outside what route they are on would do wonders for information purposes and for the digital info inside the trains to work both visually and audibly could be a great start.

    I disagree that the system is a failure. It needs to be expanded and improved just like Metrorail.


  12. Felipe Azenha says:

    TM Reader,
    I like your ideas for improving the current Metromover. Although I would like to see the metrorail expanded, i think we are better off with a streetcar rather then expanding the Metromover. The streetcar would be a much cheaper option. Building and maintaining elevated transit is expensive.


  13. Jeff says:

    With all this talk about linking up the metrorail to the airport, why doesn’t the county look into linking up the metromover to the seaport. Just have a seperate line come off the freedom tower station and go adjacent port boulevard. Once on Dodge Island you can make loops going clockwise and counterclockwise. Best of all, since the line from the freedom tower station will pass near the American Airline arena, a station could be built there. This will make going to the heat games and to bayside marketplace a whole lot easier.


  14. Prem says:

    that’s a bit pointless. it’s a two block walk from the metromover t the AA arena.
    people should just walk


  15. Jeff says:

    Although I agree with you in that it is a short walk, I would disagree with you in it being pointless. For one, the point of extending the metromover would be to get it to run throughout dodge island. The reason I thought of such a thing is that looking at an article about the original East-West corridor, the port of miami was one of the proposed stops. Instead of running the metrorail all the way there I would think it is more cost efficient to just extend the metromover with a stop near the AAA. Besides, currently people have to cross a few streets to get to the metromover station from the AAA, if you build one next to the arena it would remove some pedestrian traffic.


  16. Prem says:

    as far as I can tell pedestrian traffic is welcome. It means people are out spending money on our community, instead of on GAS.neither the mover nor the rail should be extended to the port of miami. That sounds silly as hell to me.
    I’d have to see these magical numbers the government planners find to justify such enormously misguided projects.


  17. Felipe Azenha says:

    The port of miami is one of the area’s largest employment pockets. Passenger rail service to the port is a pretty good idea. 1000’s of cruise ship passengers also need access to the port from airport.


  18. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree with Jeff 100% Connecting the Seaport with premium transit is a no brainer and should be a high priority for MDT. With 2 million visitors annually, and over 150,000 employees, the port is a huge pool of potential riders. I have been pushing for the FEC to connect to the Seaport in its upcoming upgrade to passenger service - with resistance from FDOT. word is that the DDA is very friendly to the idea of connecting the seaport as well and for good reason.

    Prem, the distance from the arena to the toll to get into the port is more than a ten minute walk. Considering that most people go to the port to travel or work, the assertion that some great shopping opportunity is lost by providing mass transit is ridiculous, and is, as you say silly. Providing a transit connection to the port is about providing a convenient way for people to reach the port without getting in their cars- thats the goal. The example Jeff gives of extending Metromover is great. Small scale, and effective. Some things don’t require magical numbers - just common sense.


  19. Prem says:

    do employees of the port park within it?

    I’m not much for the saying, “if you build it, they will come” I see things being built but underused often.
    but you do raise good points. if all those employees were parking somewhere else and using public transit to get to the port it would obviously be very well used.


  20. Josh says:

    I was just in Miami for a conference. The Metromover is great. It brought me from my hotel to the grocery store, bars and restaurants. I also hopped on at Omni after a bus ride back from the beach. I do think that the routes could be simplified. Perhaps the Brickell and Omni Loops could run as one route via Government Center, with the east side covered by a separate route running both directions on the loop.


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