Giant bus station in new rail hub?
Written by Samantha Joseph on October 16, 2013
Miami-Dade Transit officials are in preliminary talks with All Aboard Florida and the Metropolitan Planning Organization to create a multi-million-dollar centralized depot to consolidate the operations of about 20 bus stops and layover points.
The proposed central bus station would be within a bustling transportation hub that links several forms of transit.
“We have a lot of bus depots distributed all over downtown Miami,” said Transit Director Ysela Llort. “We’re working to have a central one.”
The goal is to combine passenger bus stops and layover points, which serve as rest zones for drivers, into a central terminal integrated into All Aboard Florida’s proposed $1.5 billion train hub.
“We’re talking with All Aboard Florida so they could also accommodate this consolidated bus terminal within their development,” said Albert Hernandez, Miami-Dade Transit assistant director for engineering planning and development.
It would provide passengers immediate connections to train service, to Metromover and to other bus connections, he said.
“It’s kind of like Grand Central Station in New York, where you have the buses, the rail, the Metromover – all very close in one location,” he said.
And it would be a location that All Aboard executives say would be a destination, with entertainment, shopping and commercial attractions. In addition to transportation, they promise to create a mixed-use development with apartments, offices, commercial space, retail, restaurants and other amenities. The company is planning an intercity passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando, with stops in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“Since we have these bus stops scattered all over downtown Miami, we are working with All Aboard Florida to build an integrated facility,” Mr. Hernandez added.
Transit officials are discussing a payment structure with All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, and are hoping for funding assistance from the private sector firm.
“That’s something that the county would propose. Those discussions are still preliminary,” Mr. Hernandez said. “That would be ideal for the county.”
It’s also too early to say how much the project would cost or its timeline for completion, but officials are hoping to match All Aboard’s 2015 projections for the initial phases of the downtown intermodal center.
“Hopefully this could be out of the ground in the first phases of development,” Mr. Hernandez said.
The groups are also discussing a location for the central depot. All Aboard Florida would need a garage for its operations. Its proposed development would replace current surface parking downtown with a garage, Mr. Hernandez said. One suggestion: Miami-Dade would retrofit the ground floor of that garage and create the central bus depot there.
“We’re working with them because they need to build a parking garage and we’re looking at the possibility of sharing the parking garage,” he said.
Another possibility would be to use land that the county owns on the northwest side of the Government Center building downtown.
All Aboard Florida declined comment.