Miami-Dade County

Discounts! Freebies! But you’ll have to ditch your car and take the bus

A bus awaits passengers in downtown Miami.
A bus awaits passengers in downtown Miami. El Nuevo Herald File

Even if you love your car, kiss it goodbye for a day and say hello to the bus or the train.

That’s what the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works is asking you to do Friday as part of the first-ever “Public Transit Day.”

The community-wide day is aimed at encouraging people to use public transportation and use the hashtag #PublicTransitDay on social media while they commute. What started out as a Miami-focused effort has now expanded to include transit riders and leaders in Broward and Palm Beach counties as well.

“I hope I'm not all by myself this Friday! Music, art, pop-up happy hours & more #PublicTransitDay,” tweeted Ken Russell, a Miami city commissioner.

Public Transit Day is brought to you by civic innovation groups Radical Partners and Urban Impact Lab with help from the county’s department of transportatiuon It’s co-hosted by organizations and businesses that are eager to improve South Florida’s transit system.

So far, 22 public officials have signed on with their support and 433 local residents have taken the pledge, something Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, co-founder of the transit day project, says is vital.

“We want to see all of our elected leaders and engage locals riding public transit, especially those who haven't been on it before,” Lipsey said in an interview with WLRN. “In the long term, strengthening public transit is for the vitality of the entire city. And we believe in order to make the kind of changes necessary our elected leaders are going to need to make this a top priority. And they're going to need to feel the community's wind on their back. We are trying to facilitate that wind.”

Co-founder Marta Viciedo added that “What we really want to feel is that the community is really galvanizing behind transit and giving their support to our elected leaders, to our transportation department to make the changes that are necessary.”

If you’re anything like Eugene Flinn, mayor of Palmetto Bay, Public Transit Day is just another day. The avid bicyclist routinely rides his bike to a Metrorail station and then takes the train to the courthouse in downtown Miami.

Small businesses also are taking part by offering discounts and freebies for hopping on public transit.

In Doral, 14 local businesses have signed up to participate and give a 10 percent discount to anyone who takes the trolley Friday.

“In Doral, every rider of the free Doral trolley will receive a “Public Transit Day!” sticker, redeemable for a 10 percent discount at participating businesses,” said Doral spokeswoman Maggie Santos. “Riders can also enter a Twitter raffle for a $50 gift certificate at premiere eateries Bulla and Pisco y Nazca by tweeting a selfie wearing their Public Transit Day sticker while riding public transit to #DoralPublicTransitDay.”

Ride-share company, Lyft, will also have a special offer Friday for new users. With promo code MIATRANSITDAY, users get $5 off each of 10 rides in a two-week period.