South Beach Local stays on Belle Isle, but moves route to north side of the island

A new bus route around Belle Isle.

Starting today, the South Beach Local won’t be zooming around the tight turns on Belle Isle’s Island Avenue South.

Responding to suggestions from Belle Isle residents, Miami-Dade Transit has directed drivers of the commuter bus to change course and head west directly in front of Belle Isle Key Apartments and The Standard before looping back east to the SBL bus stop at Belle Isle Park.

Belle Isle residents have complained for more than a year about near-collisions will the buses, which always seemed too big to be careening around the half-circle of condos and parked parks on Island Avenue South.

According to Miami Beach interim Transit Manager Christine Bettin, the change is experimental; if buses find their path blocked on Island Avenue North by delivery and garbage trucks too frequently, they may not make the change permanent. But “if the detour operates smoothly, then this realignment will become permanent during the implementation of MDT’s June 2011 regional service changes.”

The county’s agreement to change the path cames a day after Miami Beach commissioners reinforced their commitment to the SBL stop on Belle Isle at the urging of representatives of the Belle Isle Homeowners Association. Thanks to Josh Fisher of Nine Island Avenue (and a key advocate of preserving the SBL stop), there is a video clip from that discussion.

On Thursday, at least one of the buses drove the new path as a test.

South Beach Local bus tests the new route (Photo by Josh Fisher)

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