Manufacturer can’t keep up with Miami Beach trolley demands
Written by John Charles Robbins on February 28, 2017
The City of Miami Beach is doing well with two new routes on its free trolley service with a goal of providing folks a city-wide option for getting around.
Connectivity is a key to its success, said city officials.
The bus-like trolleys, designed to look like old vintage trolleys or streetcars, are more popular than ever and the manufacturer can’t keep up with demand.
Miami Beach had planned to roll out the last two routes during the summer of 2016, after announcing the push to city-wide service in 2015.
The manufacturer informed the city it was taking more than nine months to deliver new full-sized trolleys, and they are being made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Miami Beach got the new trolleys in November and December.
“With commencement of the Middle Beach Loop trolley service on Nov. 22 and Collins Link on Dec. 22, the city has enabled for an additional, reliable, city-wide transportation option, significantly improving city-wide mobility and connectivity,” said José R. González, director of the Miami Beach Transportation Department.
The new routes have been very well accepted by the trolley riders, he said.
To enable passengers to commute using the trolleys, the city extended service hours to begin two hours earlier in the morning with the openings of the Middle Beach Loop and Collins Link, said Mr. González.
Current hours of operation are 6 a.m. to midnight Monday to Saturday, and 8 a.m. to midnight Sundays, 365 days a year, with service frequency of 10-15 minutes.
“Though the Middle Beach Trolley and Collins Link rolled out less than three months ago, trolley ridership has been rising steadily and has been a good indicator of the positive impact of the new trolley service on the community,” Mr. González said.
The Middle Beach Loop has an average daily ridership of about 3,300, while the Collins Link serves about 2,400 passengers a day. The North Beach Loop has an average daily ridership of approximately 2,500 passengers.
The Middle Beach Loop runs from 17th Street north to 44th Street, stopping at many key points along the way, including Mount Sinai Hospital, businesses and schools on 41st Street, the Miami Beach Regional Library, Collins Park, the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Botanical Garden and City Hall, among others.
The Collins Link services the dozens of condo buildings along the corridor, and specifically provides connectivity between the North Beach and Middle Beach trolley loops. Key stops for this new route includes the Publix at 69th Street, North Shore Youth Center, North Shore Branch Library, Normandy Isle park and pool, and more.
The trolleys can carry an average of 25 passengers with ample floor space to provide easy access to wheelchairs and disabled passengers, free onboard Wi-Fi, real-time tracking and next bus information through the city’s mobile application Egov, security cameras and trained drivers.
Miami Beach now operates 17 trolley vehicles. Six run along Middle Beach Loop, five along Collins Link and four along the North Beach Loop.
The city is currently operating a temporary Alton-West Loop with two trolleys in service 8 a.m. to midnight every day. That loop will be terminated once the South Beach Trolley service is launched, which is anticipated this November, Mr. González said.
“The city is constantly evaluating the existing service and identifying potential enhancements to better serve the community,” he said.
The city hopes to roll out the South Beach Trolley in November, he said. Ten low-floor vehicles will be providing service along the South Beach Loop with a frequency of 10-15 minutes during the same service hours as the other trolley loops.
“In addition,” Mr. González said, “the city is planning to launch an express trolley service to facilitate travel from North Beach to South Beach with no more than one transf