The Belle Isle Residents Association wants Miami Beach to battle with Miami-Dade Transit to save the South Beach Local bus stop on the island, arguing that ridership is growing and will continue to improve
Eliminating the Belle Isle from the SBL route “is short-sighted and cuts off a service that is important to the residents of Belle Isle just as it is getting going and beginning to be successful,” residents association President Scott Diffenderfer wrote in a letter to Mayor Matty Bower and the city commission.
“Please do not permit this needed service to be cut off just as it is getting going and showing real signs of success.”
The SBL loops around South Beach and costs 25 cents a ride. In a budget crunch, the county is considering doubling the SBL fare to 50 cents and trimming the route.
Two years ago, Miami-Dade Transit added a stop on Belle Isle at the urging of the residents association. Ridership from the island has been slow to build, and some island residents have complained about the SBL’s path around the narrow south half-circle of Island Avenue.
That’s part of the problem, Diffenderfer says in his letter. the residents association has argued to move the path to the north side of the island, so it passed in front of The Standard before heading east on Venetian Way to the stop in front of Belle Isle Park.
Diffenderfer also argued that ridership has grown since the SBL route was tweaked a year ago. Without roughly 10 percent of South Beach’s population, the Belle Isle stop will be successful over time, he argues.
A Miami Beach commission committee recommended the rate increase last week after a discussion of the SBL, which has routes in two directions that loop Alton Road, across South Pointe Drive, up Washington Avenue, and across Dade Boulevard to Belle Isle. It links the island to Publix, Collins Park and shopping on Washington Avenue, the big box center at at 5th and Alton, and stores West Avenue and Alton Road.
Overall ridership on the SBL is strong, about 130,000 trips a month.