Metromover Ridership Doubles In Three Years
By Claudio Mendonca
The cost of gasoline and a growing downtown population are swelling Metromover ridership, according to Miami Dade County Transit, which is working to replace some or all of the system’s aging people-mover cars.
As the only free transportation in Miami, the mover has grown from 4.7 million riders in 2002 to an expected 9 million this year.
In 2003, 6.7 million rode Metromover, up 42% from 2002. In 2004, 8 million rode. September’s average 27,300 daily riders was up 13.8% from two years earlier.
"As more development takes place downtown, we expect Metromover’s ridership to increase," said Manny Palmeiro, a spokesman for Miami-Dade Transit. "The price of fuel has also increased the amount of riders in the recent months."
As usage swells, the 1986-vintage Metromover cars, which run between the Omni area and Brickell, need to be replaced, officials say. The county commission’s transportation committee has tagged 12 of the system’s 29 cars for replacement. A recommendation will go to the full commission for action Jan. 24, said Miami-Dade Transit spokesman John Labriola.
If the resolution passes, Bombardier Transportation USA Inc. would be awarded a contract to replace the 12 cars with an option to replace the remaining 17.
The cost of 12 is $28 million. If the commission opts to replace all 29, it would cost about $72 million.
The transportation committee recommended that the commission approve a contract with the expectation that the first 12 cars would arrive by April 2008.
The Metromover car replacement is the first planned upgrade of the county’s transit system. The transit department also plans to restore all of its Metrorail vehicles at an estimated cost of $319 million. According to the agency, completion is due before the opening of a Miami Intermodal Center-Earlington Heights connector in 2010.