2002, the Metrorail
public transit system will be undergoing a major overhaul
and much-needed expansion
. The funding will come from a 1/2 cent increase in the sales tax
county, as well as federal
Expansion plans include a much-needed East-West corridor line, which would follow and bypass State Route 836, which as VXO said, is painfully slow almost all the time. This route would include stops at Miami International Airport, and in the West-Dade area, where it would connect to another proposed north-south line paralleling 117th Avenue serving the Kendall suburb.
Another proposed line would extend from downtown, up Biscayne Boulevard to the Broward County line, serving the Design District, Little Haiti, Miami Lakes, and other neighborhoods previously reachable only by bus or private vehicles.
The most exciting proposed line is the Baylink project, which would connect Downtown Miami with Miami Beach. Miami Beach suffers from severe traffic and parking problems, and this would alleviate such issues, as well as diversifying their somewhat insular economy and population.
Additional expansions include a rail line to the southern sections of the county reaching as far as Homestead, as well as proposed short-haul lines connecting neighborhoods to MIA. Bus expansion is on the board, too, with the current plan being to double the current fleet of 635 buses, adding new routes, and increasing the frequency and service hours of current routes.
The effects of this plan are already there, with the automated Metromover service now being free, and the Metrorail scheduled to begin 24 hour service in June of 2003.
The expansion is due to be finished by 2010 or so, with each phase costing a few hundred million to a few billion dollars, depending on the type of technology used, rights-of-way purchases, and so forth.
Updates July 2003
Certain Metrobus lines, the Metrorail, and the Metromover inner loop are running 24/7 now. The bus lines I can think of off the top of my head are the 3 going up from Dowtown to Aventura via Biscayne Boulevard, the S line going up Collins Avenue on South Beach to Aventura, the L line going up Collins from South Beach, and then striking out west along 79th Street, and a few other lines here and there...check http://www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/transit for the list.
It's actually handy, I've used the bus lines at 3 or 4 in the morning on a weeknight, and there seems to be a decent amount of ridership. It's mostly graveyard shift workers, crackheads, whores, and other charachters, but they've all paid their buck twenty five, so it's revenue nonetheless.
The Baylink project is causing a right bit of controversy on South Beach. The "official" excuse is that the construction will cause undue traffic issues, and 'destroy' the look of South Beach. The "real" excuse seems to be that the residents don't want "undesirables" coming over the causeway en masse. The proposals are up for a vote in September, I will fill in the results.
Updates December 31st 2003
A rail link from MLK Station to the Broward County line is moving forward at a rapid clip...rights of ways need to be purchased, but the neighborhoods along that line are mostly industrial, vacant lots, or impoverished, so that is a minor challenge. I see this line being completed before the
controversial Baylink line comes to fruition.
Baylink has entered into the final Environmental Impact Statement/Preliminary Engineering Phase of Study. The designated mode of transit is a streetcar, unfortunately this will be subject to normal vehicular traffic, and is not much more practical than a bus.
Newer buses are coming online, and the 24 hour lines seem to be here to stay, with some routes actually being quite busy in the late night hours.
Updates May 12th 2004
The Metrorail's experiment with 24-hour operation has come to an end. Citing low ridership, the train runs only from 5 AM till 1 AM for now. However, a few people depended on it at that hour, so the Transit Authority put a new bus route into operation, the "Midnight Owl" (Route 500), which follows the Metrorail alignment...the logic being it is cheaper to run a few diesel-powered minibuses rather than
a full fledged heavy rail line. The bus is a bit slower, but it beats the alternative, and the Midnight Owl intersects most of the other 24 hour routes at some point. The TA stated that 24 hour service could be reinstated for future rail lines, such as the beleagured Baylink.
The Baylink is still in bureaucratic hell. Other lines are encountering much less public and government hassle, most being in the Enviromental Impact planning phase.
Current project status can be traced at : http://www.miamidade.gov/trafficrelief/home.asp