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New bus service links west Broward and downtown Miami

For 11 years, Aaron Melean has tried every possible way to commute from Weston to downtown Miami. He has organized carpooling with co-workers, and taken various trains and buses. But nothing seemed to work.

“I drive about 80 miles a day, over two hours,” Melean said. “It’s stressful driving with the construction on Interstate 595, it gets crazy on Interstate 95 — there are dangerous big trucks that block your view and South Florida commuters are crazy.”

Starting Monday, Melean will be able to take a new express bus from Sunrise to downtown Miami.

“This service will be extremely popular because it was requested by our riders,” said Phyllis Berry from Broward County Transit. “We decided to do this as part of an overall project with the construction on 595 and it will help minimize number of cars where there is construction.”

Broward Transit already offers express service from the BB&T in Sunrise to Brickell Avenue in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Aboard the hybrid buses, passengers will have free Wi-Fi access, power outlets for charging electronic equipment and high-back seats for comfort.

The new service includes:

• During weekday mornings, buses will leave Westgate Square, on the corner of Weston Road and State Road 84, every 30 minutes between 5:20 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. Passengers will be dropped off at the Miami Civic Center, at the intersection of Northwest 19th Street and 10th Avenue in Miami. Stops along the route will include the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Tri-Rail Station (at Griffin Road), Veterans Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami-Dade County Courthouse and Miami-Dade College Medical Campus.

• Buses will leave the Miami Civic Center heading north to Westgate Square between 6:15 and 7:20 a.m. weekdays.

• For the afternoon commute, buses will leave the Miami Civic Center northbound for Weston every 30 minutes between 3:10 and 7:40 p.m.

• Southbound afternoon commuters can catch the buses at Westgate Square for Miami between 4:30 and 7 p.m.

During the first week, riding will be free to all passengers. After that, a one-way trip will cost $2.35 and must be paid in exact change. There will also be a $1.15 reduced fare one-way trip, a 10-ride bus pass for $23.50 and a 31-day bus pass for $85.

“I try to downsize costs with efficient cars and even then it’s about $50 a week plus I have to pay for parking in Miami,” Melean said. “I will have tremendous savings, it’s way cheaper than what I pay for gas.”

Commuters wanting to use the Westgate Square Park & Ride will have to register their vehicles to receive a permit, which is free.

Passengers will save money and time because they will be able to use the time on the bus to read, check emails and use electronic devices, said Berry.

“This service will do very well,” Berry said. “We will probably have more ridership than expected in the Miami area.”