After Miami vote today, two trolley routes could start this fall
By Jacquelyn Weiner
A long-awaited Miami trolley system charging $1-$2 fares is to be voted on at today's (4/14) Miami City Commission meeting.
Brickell/Biscayne and Health/Stadium District routes are planned to begin this fall, according to a memorandum from Manager Tony Crapp Jr., with Overtown/Allapattah and Coral Way trolleys still pending.
Those routes aren't yet funded, but the legislation up for approval includes both as future options.
"In order to remain eligible for [Florida Department of Transportation] funding…," Mr. Crapp wrote, "these routes cannot be initiated until the [department] has selected them for funding participation."
Miami is pursuing grants from the Florida Department of Transportation for the "optional routes" that are already to finance 50% of maintenance and operations of the Brickell and Health routes for three years.
Those grants are to be matched with Miami's half-cent transit surtax funds.
Service along the Brickell/Biscayne and Health/Stadium District routes is to begin in fall, with trolleys running every 10-15 minutes during peak hours and 20 minutes in off-peak hours.
Fares would be $1 for regular service and $2 during special events, payable with cash or a Miami-Dade Transit EASY card.
Without fares, the city estimates it could only sustain service for 8-10 years, Mr. Crapp wrote.
The proposed fares are to "help defray the cost of operations and maintenance of the Trolley Program and to deter vagrancy and pan-handling on-board the trolley vehicles," he wrote.
The Biscayne/Brickell Trolley is to travel from Southeast 26th Road up to Margaret Pace Park at 1775 N Bayshore Drive, serving the Brickell, Downtown and Omni areas.
It is also to run through a section of Flagler Street, connect to several Metromover stations and stop at the Brickell Metrorail/Metromover Station on Southwest First Avenue.
The Health/Stadium District Trolley is to run on a loop stopping at the Civic Center Metrorail Station on Northwest 12th Avenue, serving sites like Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Bruce W. Carter Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Miami Dade College's Medical Center Campus, extending to the Marlins stadium along Northwest 12th Avenue.
Trolleys are to operate Monday-Saturday, with tentative operating hours 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on the Brickell and Health routes and 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on the others.
Hours are to be extended on the Health route for Marlins games at the regular fare, according to the memorandum.
Procurement of the 28 rubber-tire trolley cars resembling classic trolleys is underway, as is selection of a trolley operator/manager.
Miami requested proposals for trolley operations in February with a March 29 deadline.
A 2009 bid for the contract returned with just one response, so the city decided to open the opportunity a second time, hoping for more selection and better pricing.
A final contract to operate the Health/Stadium District and Biscayne/Brickell trolleys is expected to be ready for commission approval in July.
The trolley program won't draw on the city's general fund, according to the memorandum. It's to be financed instead with $14 million in unspent half-cent transit surtax funds and a subsequent $2.25 million annually from surtax money.
Additional fund sources include $4.1 million from the federal stimulus to buy the trolleys and multiple Florida Department of Transportation grants, including the matching funds paying for 50% of trolley operations on the Health and Brickell routes for three years.
Advertising space inside and outside trolley cars is estimated to generate $800 per month per trolley.
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