Ralph Rosado has gone where few Miamians who can afford a car rarely go — he ditched his personal wheels for a month. For all 30 days of April, he walked, biked, and used mass transit to get around the county: his office, his home, business meetings, dinners out.
He ended the experiment with a better understanding of the big gaps in our transit system, ones that will cost millions of dollars and years to address. But he also came away with a few simple, low-cost fixes that could make it a little bit easier to ditch those wheels in car-centric Miami. These are a drop in the bucket, but they’ll have a big impact, insists Rosado, who is running for City of Miami commissioner.
We have the Metromover, Metrobus, and the city trolleys — and we have to go to that many different places to track them. Most people don’t know who owns what form of transport and aren’t going to toggle between a bunch of different apps. Consolidate them include city and county information on one app.
Make existing apps more user friendly
The apps that do exist don’t work the way people do. For example, the Miami-Dade Transit app can’t easily find an address without a zip code. Rosado said he typed in the address for Wynwood Walls, one of the biggest tourist destinations in the city, on the Miami-Dade Transit app without the zip code and the app couldn’t find it.
Provide maps on city trolleys and on Metrobuses
Often times trolleys run on just one route. That’s great if you have the route memorized, but most people don’t. Rosado says that he used the City of Miami trolleys all month to get around and he never saw a map on them. “Once I asked the driver for a map and he had to shuffle through a basket and only found one crumpled up at the bottom of a pile,” he said. He suggests adding a poster of the specific route in each bus as well as having a few paper copies on board.
Editor’s note: This paragraph has been updated to reflect which trolley did not have a map.
Update information online and on buses
This one is as simple as it gets. The maps and hours posted on buses and trains or their stops aren’t accurate — something that is really easy to fix, as Rosado saw. “I saw outdated hours on the trolley website and screenshotted it and sent it to Miami-Dade Transit via Twitter,” he said. They immediately changed it, which was great, but if he didn’t already know the correct timetable from using it so often, he says he would have believed the old schedule that said it wasn’t running and not even tried to use it.
Install an LED sign on all Metrobuses
In other cities, LED signs inside buses help passengers know when they need to get off. We already have them on some buses — Rosado thinks they should be standard.
Make waiting for a bus more pleasant
Plant shade trees so that walking towards bus stops and waiting there isn’t grueling in the summer heat. Palm trees are beautiful, but they do little in the shade department, or the rain cover department. Plant trees like oaks, and mahoganies, or things like orange and white geiger trees instead.
Rosado made these suggestions to the City of Miami and Miami-Dade Transit and they’re actually listening. A few things, like updating the information consistently and fixing the apps, are already in the works. Other things like LED signs, getting all of the trolley and bus data on one app, and planting more shaded trees might take a little more time, but Rosado’s hopeful.
“Before this experiment, I hadn’t been on a bus in 20 years,” Rosado admitted. “But it’s a lot better than I remembered … Everything is clean and air conditioned.”
He also shared a few pointers.
“I don’t think that many people know about the new Dadeland South Metrorail route yet. It started a few months ago, but it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. I went from Kendall to Brickell and it took me only 12 minutes,” he added, referring to the pilot express route that the county is trying out.
“Also all public transit has Wifi, so even if it takes longer than that I can work the whole time. My whole month was so productive, and that’s worth it. I got 45 minutes of work done on my commute, so at the end of the day I saved time.”
Now, has he totally ditched his car? Not entirely.
“It’s 50/50,” he admitted. But hey, that’s 50 percent more than before. Now: which public official is going to take the challenge?