Train to plane: Metrorail line to run to Miami International Airport starting Saturday

Metrorail trains will run to Miami International Airport starting Saturday.

07/26/2012 5:00 AM

07/26/2012 9:42 PM

Finally, after a 28-year wait, Metrorail will reach Miami International Airport starting Saturday.

Miami-Dade Transit will open the new Orange Line from Dadeland South Station in Kendall to the new airport station at the giant Miami Intermodal Center just east of the airport. It’ll be the first new Metrorail line since the elevated train system opened in 1984.

“By opening this new line we will be connecting downtown and other areas to the leading economic engine of the county, the airport”, said MDT director Ysela Llort.

Although the train trip from Dadeland South to the airport station will take less than half an hour, passengers will have to muster some patience depending on whether they park their cars at a Metrorail station or take the bus or Metromover. Then the total trip to MIA could run an hour or more.

On Wednesday and Thursday, a reporter simulated a trip to MIA on both Metrorail and by driving from Key Biscayne to the South Miami station, one of three where you will be able to park cars for up to 30 days.

It took about 25 minutes to reach the station from Key Biscayne in rush-hour traffic. Finding a parking space took about two minutes. Waiting for the Orange Line train during rush hour was about 10 minutes. The trip to MIA from South Miami will take about 23 minutes once service starts.

The calculation is based on how long it took a Metrorail test train Wednesday to travel between the new MIA station and Earlington Heights station — the transfer hub for the existing Metrorail Green Line and the new MIA Orange Line. The reporter also traveled up and down the current Metrorail line to time trips between Earlington Heights and all the existing stations.

Passengers arriving at the airport station will need to walk a few steps to board the automated MIA Mover train that links the new Metrorail station to the terminal. The trip on the MIA mover takes about four minutes, including wait times. So total travel time from Key Biscayne to the airport would be a little over an hour.

The trip may take longer if you want to reach Metrorail by bus.

Generally, Metrobuses run about every 10-15 minutes during peak hours, less frequently at other times. A bus ride from Key Biscayne to the nearest Metrorail station where the bus stops, Brickell, takes about 20 minutes.

A bus traveling from the corner of Southwest Eighth Street and 27th Avenue to Brickell station takes about 15 minutes. From Brickell station, the Metrorail trip to MIA will take about 13 minutes.

The most efficient way to use the new Metrorail service: Have someone drop you off at any station. The trip to MIA by Metrorail from any station is relatively fast.

For example, from Government Center — the downtown transfer station for several bus routes and Metromover — the Metrorail trip to MIA will take about 11 minutes.

From the Tri-Rail transfer station, the trip will take about 10 minutes.

The fastest trip is between Earlington Heights station and MIA: 4 minutes.

Direct Orange Line trains to MIA, which do not require transfers, run from Dadeland South station in Kendall to MIA. Green Line trains from Palmetto require a transfer at Earlington Heights to the Orange Line.

Passengers will be allowed to carry baggage on Metrorail trains. Some cars have already been retrofitted with storage areas. Passengers will also be able to carry baggage on Metrobuses and Metromover cars as well, as long as they don’t block the aisle.

Besides the South Miami station, passengers will also be able to park at lots at the Earlington Heights and Okeechobee stations for $4 per day.

To travel by bus you must have exact change or a pass purchased in advance. The cost of a single one-way ride is $2. Metromover is free. For Metrorail you need to buy a pass or ticket at stations.

Cost for a single one-way ride is $2.

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