South Beach Local ride a trip — and a good one

The packed South Beach Local makes its way south on West Avenue on Sunday.

With Miami Beach commissioners expected to decide on some South Beach Local route modifications Wednesday, the Belle Isle bloggers went exploring this weekend and had one heck of a time. Some nuggets from our adventure:

– The buses were packed. We spent Sunday afternoon going all over South Beach and at various points in the ride, it was standing room only — every seat taken, some 35 folks on board, about 10 holding on to the strap hangers.

– The routes are super convenient. Up and down West and Washington Avenue, anywhere you’d want to go is no more than a two block walk from a bus stop. Changes should make them even better.

– Bus drivers sometimes get a bad rap, but these drivers rock. We saw them help handicapped riders on and off (including their wire grocery carts), joke with passengers, give walking directions and deftly manage masses of people.

– The most confusing part of the ride is around the Publix at Sunset Harbor and on Belle Isle. On Belle Isle, the bus loops Island Avenue, but drivers aren’t supposed to stop in front of any of Belle Isle’s condos, only at the designated stop on Venetian Way in front of Belle Isle park near the Grand Venetian.

The least busy stop was Belle Isle, and that’s a big issue for those of us who have come to appreciate what an asset and value the SBL can be. We spent the day on South Beach and paid 50 cents each to get around. How do you beat that?

The city added the Belle Isle stop and stops in Collins Park (at 21st Street and Park Avenue) last June. A memo sent to the city commission this week specifically mentions that ridership to and from Belle Isle will determine whether the island stays as part of the route, because it adds time to the overall loop around South Beach.

On Wednesday, the city will discuss changing the traffic pattern from Belle Isle to provide direct service to Collins Park, and to the social security office. The route also will extend to Collins Avenue and 23rd Street, which would connect Belle Isle to the Ganesvort. Elsewhere on the route, it would add a stop at Alton Road and Sixth Street, site of the new big box mall with Best Buy and Ross and Publix.

You can click through to see the current routes and the proposed changes Beach commissioners are likely to put in place on Wednesday.

The package commissioners received includes a letter backing the change from Scott Diffenderfer, president of the Belle Isle Residents Association, which has lobbied like crazy for the Belle Isle link. The association letter also suggests construction of a bus shelter on Belle Isle, and promises a vigorous educational campaign to boost ridership.

If commissioners approve the changes, they will take affect this June. The city administration has recommended them.

We’ll update after Wednesday’s meeting.

On Washington Avenue and 15th Street, turnover is heavy.

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3 responses to “South Beach Local ride a trip — and a good one

  1. My wife and I also enjoy the SBL. What a great way to dine out around 5th street without worrying about your car/parking.

    You can really enjoy this South Beach perk, what deal 25 cents.

  2. Pingback: South Beach Local route changes coming soon « Belle Isle Blog

  3. Sensible bus routes

    The bus route should be more simple and fast, and stay on the thoroughfares, and be the same clockwise and counter-clockwise:

    Alton-Dade Blvd.-Washington-South Pointe Drive-Alton.

    That’s it.
    More people will ride because it won’t be going on clumsy, time-consuming side excursions. It will be faster, will come around more often, and it will be easier to understand. It should stay off the non-through streets, particularly Island Ave. South, but also the Collins Park area. The extra loops are counter-productive and put buses on side streets that are better and safer without the noisy buses that are dangerous on side streets. Any of these neighborhoods are within a couple block walk to what I propose, and there are several grocery stores, including Publix, on the route I propose. Also, with 1000 new decobikes, we need to keep buses on the thoroughfares.

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