Shuttles to new Miami Marlins ballpark detoured
By Ashley Hopkins
As Miami-Dade Transit scrambles to get more than $4 million to add service to the new 37,000-capacity Marlins stadium by its April 4 grand opening, lack of a quorum at the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has probably road-blocked aid for opening day service.
The department is seeking $4.8 million from the Federal Transit Administration via the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. While the funds would let the county extend 10 bus routes, the department aimed to use $234,500 to run a one-mile ballpark shuttle from the Culmer Metrorail Station, potentially adding patrons on game days.
The application was to go before the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority on Dec. 2 but lack of a quorum prevented the authority from hearing the item, said Bonnie Arnold, its marketing director. The authority's Planning Technical Advisory Committee has recommended approval, but the authority now won't consider shuttle funding until Jan. 27.
If approved, county transit would forward its funding request to the federal administration, which would be expected to hear the issue in two to three months, so even a federal OK would probably be way too late for opening day.
According to the county's application, 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. The shuttle would run only during home games and would "maximize job access and mobility to and from the ballpark."
The county is seeking funds through the Job Access & Reverse Commute grant program, which was established to meet transportation challenges faced by welfare recipients and low-income persons working to get and keep jobs.
Through that program, private non-profit organizations, state and local governments and public transportation operators are eligible for grants to fund projects that carry low-income persons to and from jobs and employment activities.
In a prior interview, Ysela Llort, interim Transit Department head, said the nearly 2,000 workers expected at the ballpark could benefit from the shuttle. The grant request is based on carrying those ballpark workers, not baseball fans.
According to the grant application, of the 50,841 residents surrounding the ballpark, 18,932, or 37.2%, live blow the national 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.
The county would use the remainder of the $4 million to fund extensions along:
Miami-Dade Intermodal Center routes J, 6, 42 and 57
Northwest 27 Avenue
State Road 836
Coral Way Limited
Northwest 135th Street/State Road 916
As Metrobus routes 7, 11, 12, 17 and 51 run within walking distance, Ms. Llort said the transit department is also working to extend those routes on game days. While the department lacks the money to finance extensions, she said it plans to adjust service levels as needed later.
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