Shuttles in time race for Miami Marlins' opening day
By Ashley Hopkins
It's a race against the clock in Miami-Dade Transit's push to fund a shuttle from Metrorail to the new Miami Marlins stadium. While Washington has approved funding, money may or may not flow by the April 4 baseball season home opener.
The county seeks $4.8 million. It would use $234,500 of that to run a one-mile shuttle from the Culmer Metrorail Station, the nearest rail link to the ballpark.
Ysela Llort, transit head, said that after regional transit officials approved it Dec. 16, the fund request went to the Federal Transit Administration, which finished its review last month.
The Department of Labor received the county's application Jan. 27 and approved the funding following a 30-day review to ensure that that funding request would not unfairly affect labor unions.
County referrals now have been sent to area labor unions, which will have 15 days to object, said Karla Damian, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Transit. If no objections are filed, the Department of Labor will certify the grant application and the Federal Transit Administration can award the grant.
Ms. Damian said Tuesday that the transit department expects to receive a certification by the first week of April and is developing operational plans that would enable it to provide service at the beginning of the baseball season.
The shuttle would connect the Culmer Metrorail Station at Northwest 11th Street and Seventh Avenue to the Marlins Stadium at Northwest Third Street and 15th Avenue. It would run only during the 81 home games.
The county is applying for funds through a program that funds transportation to get low-income persons to and from jobs. The nearly 2,000 ballpark workers could use the shuttle on game days — as could baseball fans attending the games.
The grant request is based on carrying workers, not fans. The county's application says of the 50,841 residents surrounding the ballpark, 37.2% live below the poverty line.
If OK'd, shuttles would run from 5:30 p.m. until an hour after games. Eight buses would run every four minutes before games, 10 would run every three minutes after games.
As Metrobus routes 7, 11, 12, 17 and 51 run within walking distance of the stadium, the transit department is also working to extend those routes on game days, Ms. Damian said.
In another move that could help residents reach the ballpark on game days, this month the City of Miami's rubber-tire trolley system began offering free service on its Health District-Stadium District route. The city's service is to run every 15 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
Routes are to roll out in phases. In late spring, the Brickell Avenue-Biscayne Boulevard route, which is serve the downtown area, is to begin, followed by a loop connecting Overtown to the Health District.
At this point, the new city service, announced this month, is the only guaranteed additional public transit link to the county-owned Marlins Stadium.
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