Promises of a Better Bus System breathe life into the Transit Debate.

Transit Alliance’s project is the only proposed transit improvement that has a shot at making things better now. The initial concepts have been released and are ready for our review.

Transit Alliance and Jarrett Walker + Associates were charged with redesigning the bus system in Miami to make it more efficient, effective, and cost neutral. (Transit Alliance received the project after raising half of the funds). They recently released 2 concepts: 1/ The Ridership concept focusing more busses on high use routes, and eliminating low use ones; 2/ The coverage concept, leaving coverage spread wide, and eliminating redundancies in the system with trollies, etc. in order to improve it.

Existing Bus Network, color-coded by frequency.

Above is the existing bus network color coded by frequency. Currently, most routes have more than 30 min frequencies on weekdays at midday (a known indicator of all day service). Before drawing the concept maps, residential densities, jobs, and underserved populations were mapped and discussed in workshops across the county. Recent areas of high population growth are shown to be underserved, such as Homestead, Kendall, and Doral. Also trolley routes double serve certain corridors making them ineffective, and a drain on the bus system instead of a complement to it.

Transit Alliance then released their “Concepts” in order to spur a discussion as to how far the community wants to go in the Ridership vs. Coverage direction. See below for the concepts.

Coverage Concept, color-coded by frequency

The Coverage Concept adds frequency on a few important routes while removing redundancy on others. The US1 south route, Flagler, and NW 27th Ave are increased to 15 min or better. However, many underused routes that have 60 min waits or more still remain. In this concept, the average resident can reach 33% more jobs than the existing system using transit within 45 min.

Ridership Concept, color-coded by frequency.

The Ridership concept increases frequency on a number of routes, especially in the high ridership areas of Miami Beach, Flagler, Kendall Drive, and North Miami. It eliminates routes in neighborhood areas such as Pinecrest, South Miami, and Miami Gardens. In this concept, the average resident can reach 51% more jobs than the existing system using transit within 45 min.

See above for a side by side comparison of the 2 concepts (Coverage right, Ridership left). You can see that the red (15 min) routes expand further in the ridership model, while eliminating some 60 min routes in favor of high ridership corridors. The concepts are meant to spark a conversation as to what direction the county should go in. To swing the pendulum more towards Ridership or closer to Coverage? Personally, I would endorse a system closer to Ridership in order to better the environmental efficiency of the system, while running select routes in order not to swing the pendulum too much into inequity.

Whatever the outcome, it will better the bus system. In bettering the system, ridership will increase along certain corridors. This increase will hopefully illustrate routes where dedicated lanes, rail, and signal priority can begin to be implemented. This project can be used as the first step towards a comprehensive transit system with dedicated infrastructure, while achieving improvements in the short term.

Now that you’ve seen the concepts, take the survey and offer your feedback here!

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Note: The author (Shaan Patel) of this blog post is a board member of Transit Alliance, but this article in no way speaks for the organization.