The Need for Speed: How Dedicated Bus Lanes on Flagler Street Can Alleviate Traffic and Improve Quality of Life
Flagler is at the center of Miami-Dade County, dividing the southern and northern parts of the county. Each year, over 250,000 transit riders go up and down the corridor to reach their jobs, family, or medical appointments. Route 11, which serves Flagler, is the 3rd most ridden route in Miami-Dade County, surpassing even route 38, which serves the entirety of the South Dade Transitway. Flagler Street is home to an impressive variety of small businesses, critical services like medical and child care, popular restaurants, and box stores such as supermarkets and major retailers. Flagler connects Miami’s premiere public university, FIU, to Downtown Miami while also stretching into the western reaches of the county. The street also serves as a main thoroughfare for neighborhoods such as Flagami, Little Havana, Sweetwater, and Downtown Miami. To alleviate traffic, serve the community, and improve quality of life, it's time for a dedicated bus lane on Flagler Street.
Miami-Dade County's transportation infrastructure is in dire need of significant investments to tackle the pressing issue of traffic congestion. The current bus system on Flagler Street is inherently slower than driving as it sits in the same traffic, prompting many to opt for single-occupancy vehicles. Buses have the potential to move 20-120 times more people than a single car, yet they lack priority on the road, subjecting bus riders to the same gridlock as thousands of automobiles. Without a means to separate transit from the rest of traffic, these routes often run at speeds averaging 16 MPH, a tough sell in efforts to retain or improve transit ridership. Study after study has shown that dedicated bus lanes significantly improve the speed of buses, which encourages people to take advantage of the new service, further reducing traffic.
A dedicated bus lane is a no-brainer if we consider our streets as corridors that move people, not cars. In fact, Flagler Corridor was home to Miami’s first electric trolley car in 1919. A mere six buses operating at full capacity per hour can replace up to 654 cars. At peak times, approximately six hours daily, this equates to removing up to 4,000 cars from Flagler Street during the entirety of rush hour. The impact of 4,000 fewer cars on the road is transformative for daily commuters, our environment, and our quality of life.
Even if you are not a transit rider, your neighbors might opt to take the bus if it is fast, convenient, and reliable in their daily commutes. Every car off the road means you do not have to deal with that extra traffic. The time savings from a bus-only lane will enable every resident living along or near the Flagler corridor to spend more time with their families or doing things they enjoy.
Transit Alliance Miami is excited and willing to work with the TPO, FDOT, DTPW, and other organizations along the corridor to ensure this dedicated lane is built in a fast, efficient, and effective manner. We thank Commissioner Cabrera and Higgins for bringing this common sense item to the TPO, and we hope FDOT will embrace the commissioner’s leadership on this critical issue.