City fills out its roster to offer free Miami Trolley routes citywide
Written by John Charles Robbins on June 19, 2018
Miami city commissioners have given the green light to the final trolley route yet to be served in their goal of offering free trolley rides citywide.
Commissioners last week approved a new Miami Trolley route, expanding the service into the Flagami community, with a direct link to regional transportation at the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC), next to Miami International Airport.
The MIC provides connectivity with Miami-Dade County Metrobus routes, Metrorail, Tri-Rail, Amtrak, Greyhound bus service and more.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Mayor Francis Suarez and Commissioner Manolo Reyes.
“Our plan to continue expanding our trolley system throughout the city has been a success, and the Flagami route is a great example of this,” said Mayor Suarez.
“We are committed to providing accessible and reliable transportation options to Miami residents to alleviate congestion and promote a better quality of life,” he said.
The new Flagami Trolley Route will have five new trolleys operating six days a week with service connecting major arteries such as Southwest Eighth Street and West Flagler Street to the existing Little Havana Trolley Route and other nearby neighborhoods.
“The residents of Flagami had expressed to me a need for better transportation in the area,” said District 4 Commissioner Reyes.
“The Miami Trolley will help many of them get to and from work and school, and run errands in the community while connecting them to surrounding areas,” he said.
The action directs the city manager to take all steps necessary, including an amendment to the city’s current agreement with the county to add a Flagami route to the trolley system that would connect with the city’s Little Havana trolley in the Flagami area.
A background memo on the Flagami route says the city is working to provide transportation alternatives within the Flagami neighborhood by connecting with regional transportation including the MIC.
The Flagami trolley will travel from the MIC to Northwest 37th Avenue, to Northwest Seventh Street, to Northwest 57th Avenue, and serve the farthest western portion of the city.
When traveling east, the Flagami trolley will serve partial sections of Southwest Eighth Street, West Flagler Street, and Northwest Seventh Street to Magic City Casino and back to the MIC.
The route will service the area’s parks, schools, connection with the city’s Little Havana trolley, the county’s transit routes 6, 7, 8, 11, 37, 51, 57, 73, 238, the City of West Miami Shuttle, and the Coral Gables Trolley.
The city will buy five new trolleys for $1.75 million for the Flagami Trolley Route, and the operation cost of $1.2 million (excluding fuel) brings the total to $2.95 million.
The commission also took two other actions, approving expansion of the Brickell Trolley Route to City Hall. Additionally, the Coconut Grove route was modified.
There’s no charge to ride the city trolleys – rubber-tired vehicles designed to look like old-time streetcars – and from the onset of the program in 2011 city leaders have stated a desire to keep it free.
Commissioners have tried to offset operating costs by adjusting routes once patterns are established and cost-saving measures present themselves.
Also, in 2016, commissioners created a transportation trust fund, in part to provide funds to support continued trolley operations.
Trolley riders can download the free trolley app available for iOS and Android devices.
The Miami Trolley has grown year over year since fiscal 2013-14. In fiscal 2016-17, the trolley service gave more than 5 million rides (compared to 2.3 million in 2013-14). The most popular routes in 2016-17 included Little Havana, Coral Way, Allapattah, Biscayne and Brickell.
The Little Havana Trolley Route more than doubled boardings from 2015-16 to 2016-17, according to city officials.
A Little Haiti route was added in February, after the city received a $400,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. The deal requires a 50% match of $400,000 from the city’s coffers.
City leaders have requested that the Flagami route be considered a pilot project of the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization’s (TPO) SMART Plan. The plan prioritizes light rail or premium transit technology along six corridors, and a bus express rapid transit network.
City officials are also working on a proposal to add a Beach Express to the city’s trolley system that would connect the City of Miami with the City of Miami Beach.
The route could link with the Miami Beach Trolley, existing City of Miami Biscayne and Coral Way Trolley routes, the Metromover and Metrobus routes. The 9.67-mile route would roll seven days a week.
This proposal was on the city commission’s agenda last week but was deferred until July 26.