April 19, 2024

Noticias Para Ciudadanos Modernos

Better Bus Network faces point-by-point scorecard

Written by on March 19, 2024


Better Bus Network faces point-by-point scorecard

The county’s Transportation, Mobility and Planning Committee last week called for a thorough point-by-point report card for the Better Bus Network, which launched last November. Some riders have complained that they can no longer reach jobs conveniently because of the changes.

The resolution by Commissioner Juan Carlos Bermudez called for the mayor to:

■Describe the status of implementation of the Better Bus Network.

■Compare ridership numbers from before the network began and after, “including and specifically detailing the ridership numbers from the fare-free period from Nov. 13, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2023.”

■Detail which routes did better or worse.

■List numbers of complaints to the county before and after the new network was introduced.

■Detail the average waits at every bus shelter.

■List numbers of incidents involving bus users before and after the network started.

■List fare collection amounts before and after the network began.

Even that long list of requests wasn’t enough for the committee, which added to the report card a request by Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins to list the times that buses move along the routes to see if they are moving faster or not.

Commissioner Raquel Regalado asked that the on-demand MetroConnect service be included in the study because it became a cost in the overall network as MetroConnect in essence replaced bus routes where use in the past was sparce. She also said that the MetroConnect is performing duties that weren’t contemplated in the plans.

“A lot of people are using it past the first and last mile,” the segments of the journey connecting riders’ homes to the bus system, and are acting like it’s a free Uber system “on our dime,” Ms. Regalado said.

Committee Chair Eileen Higgins said that MetroConnect must indeed be part of the report because it is actually part of the bus system. She asked that the report also include the cost per user of the system and who the users are.

“We were already preparing a report” before the resolution was offered, said county Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales, who said the report will also talk about the three-times-yearly adjustments to routes that was planned, including adjustments coming in April. “The report was forthcoming anyway.”

Chair Higgins noted her concerns about the route on Miami Beach’s Alton Road and implied she expected those to be addressed in April.

In October 2021 the county commission authorized the service adjustments in bus operations that would become the Better Bus Network, which affected 80 of the county’s 99 bus routes and added about $20 million to annual system operating costs, a 7% increase in the then-current budget.

Some of the changes planned included upgrading weekday peak service to run more frequently and adding routes.

The aim was to increase access to jobs and services while reducing bus service to areas where the buses were barely used, Mr. Morales told commissioners before their 2021 vote. The changes were the result of a three-year public outreach by the volunteer Transit Alliance that studied the bus system minutely.

But those plans never came to fruition fully. The bus system wasn’t able to hire enough drivers to run the full plan, the legislation states, so “a series of service adjustments set forth in the revised Better Bus Network” cut the need for so many drivers and the service started in scaled-back format last November.

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