For the first time since Metrorail opened 28 years ago, a new route was tested out Thursday from Dadeland South in Kendall to the Miami International Airport.
The new service underwent a series of tests before the line officially opens to the public on July 28.
“This is really exciting,” said Ysela Llort, director of Miami-Dade Transit . “It’s the first time since the Metrorail began that we have a second line in the system.”
Since Metrorail started in 1984, the system of elevated trains has operated on a single line that now stretches from Dadeland South in Kendall to Palmetto in northwest Miami-Dade, close to the Palmetto Expressway.
But on Thursday, trains on a second line operated between Dadeland South and the airport.
The tests will continue Friday. On July 28, the new route begin transporting passengers to the futuristic Metrorail airport station.
Besides testing the new route, MDT officials also increased the frequency of trains.
During morning and afternoon rush hours, trains traveling between Dadeland South and Earlington Heights will run every every five minutes instead of every 10. One train will travel to the airport while the other will stay on the existing route.
The new route is called Orange Line, and it is an addition to the existing Green Line.
The Orange Line goes to MIA with stops at 16 stations from Dadeland South. The Green Line operates from Dadeland South to Palmetto, with stops at 22 stations.
During Thursday’s test, trains on both lines transported passengers, but those traveling on the Orange Line had to get off at Earlington Heights because the MIA station is not yet open to the public.
This caused a little bit of confusion among a few passengers who were not aware of the tests. But all passengers interviewed at the station platforms were pleased about the new route to the airport.
“This is very good,” said Marlene Ruiz, who traveled on one of the Orange Line test trains after boarding at the Dadeland South station.
Betty Ordóñez, another passenger on the same train, echoed Ruiz’s feelings.
“It’s a good idea because it shows that we are making progress,” Ordóñez said. “It will be very convenient to have a line to the airport, especially for people like me who don’t have a car and must use buses and trains for transport.”
When the airport line officially opens, passengers catching a plane will be able to carry their luggage on Metrorail.
The Orange Line trains to MIA will operate every 10 minutes at peak hours and will travel from Dadeland South to MIA. There will be no Orange Line trains from the Palmetto station because the MDT did not build a spur connecting the existing line with the new track to the airport. The reason is that most passengers using the Metrorail travel from Dadeland South to Earlington Heights. Passengers who wish to travel from Palmetto to the airport will have to transfer at Earlington Heights.
The MIA Metrorail station was built at the new Miami Intermodal Center still under construction and will eventually have Metrorail, Tri-rail and Amtrak under the same roof, as well as rental cars, taxis, local, regional and interstate buses. The MIC is located just east of the airport.