Miami Beach

Miami Beach wants to run a free express trolley linking North Beach to South Beach

Miami Beach’s North Beach trolley departs from a stop at the North Shore Youth Center on Tuesday afternoon. The city wants to run an express route linking South Beach to North Beach.
Miami Beach’s North Beach trolley departs from a stop at the North Shore Youth Center on Tuesday afternoon. The city wants to run an express route linking South Beach to North Beach. jflechas@miamiherald.com

A free trolley is expected to soon connect the north end of the city to South Beach with an express route, allowing a rider to get from North Beach to Lincoln Road with few stops.

The city only needs Miami-Dade County commissioners to approve the new route for the Miami Beach trolley, a popular free service that has grown across the city over the past three years. Such city-run transit programs require county approval. The “Collins Express” route connecting bustling South Beach to the working-class North Beach would be up and running within two weeks of county approval, which could come in September or October.

A route connecting the Middle Beach route to the North Beach trolley would be extended further into North and South Beach. Milos Majstorovic, the city transit official who oversees the trolley system, told residents at a community meeting Tuesday that a data analysis showed riders most often get on and off the trolleys at transfer points, suggesting an express line could eliminate transfers for many riders.

“We don’t want to have passengers traveling from north to south to have to transfer twice,” Majstorovic said.

The city of North Miami Beach has new redesigned trolleys and a new entrance wall on 163rd Street near the Golden Glades Interchange. City leaders revealed the changes Sunday afternoon.

One resident praised the transit department’s proactive approach to modifying its routes to serve people who want simple, user-friendly transit across Miami Beach.

“This simplifies it,” said Gail Frank. “I think it’s a big improvement.”

The stops for the Collins Express are not finalized yet. Because existing drivers and vehicles would be used for the new route at no additional cost to the city, the trolley would come every 20 minutes, which is longer than the 10-15 minutes waits along shorter routes. The same Collins Express would run the same hours as the route it is replacing, from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

The new route would not cost the city any extra money, said Transportation Director Jose Gonzalez. The whole system costs the city about $7 million a year.

Majstorovic also said that before the end of the year, the county-run South Beach Local bus and the city-run trolley that loops around Alton Road and West Avenue will both be replaced by one South Beach trolley.

STATE CHIPPING IN

On Wednesday, the city announced it will receive a $500,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to fund operation of the Middle Beach trolley — the route with the largest ridership in the city. About 4,000 people ride the Mid-Beach route each day, according to the Beach’s transportation department.

The half-million dollar grant represents about half of the funding available from the state transportation department’s local branch, District 6.

“We are immensely grateful to have received this additional funding,” said City Manager Jimmy Morales in a statement Wednesday. “Being granted approximately half of the Florida Department of Transportation District 6 allocation is an honor and a responsibility to continue setting the standard locally in providing exemplary transportation service to our residents and visitors.”

The Middle Beach trolley takes riders from Lincoln Road to the 41st Street area, including Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Miami Beach debuted a new trolley route on Nov. 22, 2016. The Middle Beach Loop connects the Lincoln Road area to 41st Street and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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