Miami-Dade bus route 'adjustments' designed to save $18 million
By Risa Polansky
Without cutting whole routes, Miami-Dade Transit is to drop bus service from 32.6 million miles to 30.5 million in June.
In adjusting schedules, combining routes, shortening routes and eliminating duplicated service, the changes are to save about $18 million a year.
"We've not cut any routes here," Transit Director Harpal Kapoor told commissioners at a committee meeting last week.
The department plans to adjust 13 routes across the county, including some that serve Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, the University of Miami, Biscayne Boulevard, Homestead and more.
Most proposed changes affect routes with below-average productivity, documents say. In some instances, two routes are to be combined. In others, buses would continue runs, but less frequently.
Buses are to serve the Metromover system but are to end at the Omni station to encourage riders to use the mover to get around the city "to reduce our mileage and also traffic congestion in downtown," Mr. Kapoor said.
Officials based the changes on passenger counts and rider feedback.
Eliminating and altering routes about a year ago allowed the county to make less-severe changes this time around, documents say.
Since December 2006, Miami-Dade Transit has cut bus service by about 3½ million miles, saving $36 million a year. The proposals would cut 2 million miles more.
Should the full commission approve the changes June 2, they'd begin on or after June 14.
"This 30.5 million miles actually is quite contained," Mr. Kapoor said. "We have a service based on our budget, and we see that this will be quite good to work within our means."
County buses get 293,000 boardings daily on average, documents say. The proposed changes would leave about 300 with no alternative service.
It could have been worse, committee Chair Barbara Jordan said at last week's meeting. Had the commission not voted this year to merge the general transit budget with most of the revenue from the county's half-cent transportation surtax, 3,000 people would have been impacted by route cuts, she said. Instead, it's only 300, and "they're being impacted based on extending the time of the route, not eliminating the route."
The committee-approved changes also call for a new route on 79th Street, from the Northside Metrorail Station to Collins Avenue on Miami Beach. The Florida Department of Transportation is to fund that.
Another 49 routes are to be tweaked later, documents say.
Also at the meeting last week, commissioners approved use of state funds to create a new express bus service from downtown Miami into Broward County, with federal funds to follow. Broward is to reciprocate.
The move drew a bit of criticism at a full commission meeting Tuesday, when Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said "it raises concerns" that the county is cutting local routes but adding regional service.
Mr. Kapoor assured commissioners the county isn't paying operational costs for the Broward service and reminded them the county this go-round is not cutting local service — just adjusting it.