Currently viewing the tag: "Ferry"

Transit has recommended a three year, five-day-per-week pilot program for the ferry, with service from It appears ferry service may soon be a reality in Miami - at least temporarily. Miami-DadeMatheson Hammock Park in the south and Haulover Park in the north to downtown Miami. According to Jose Luis Mesa, head of the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), service could be expanded to include additional stops north of Haulover Park, such as at Aventura, if the ferry proves to be a success.

There are still several hurdles to overcome, however. First, such a service would be a form of park n’ ride, which would require a considerable amount of parking spaces in environmentally sensitive, bay front areas. The last thing these two beautiful bay front parks need are massive parking allotments within them. The second major hurdle involves protection of manatees. Speed limits of just seven miles per hour are in place in several sections of Biscayne Bay to protect the “sea cows”, which are endangered species. Service would be far too slow to be feasible if the ferries had to follow these speed limits. As a result, the MPO is looking into the possibility of using catamarans with sonar or hovercrafts that float over the water to transport passengers efficiently without compromising the safety of the manatees.

Also, one-way trip times appear to be a little lengthy along the northern route. While the MPO estimates the trip form Matheson Hammock will take just 28 minutes, the trip from Haulover is expected to take an hour. I would think this needs to be cut to about 45 minutes for it to maximize ridership. Access to Haulover may prove difficult as well, given that it can only be accessed by A1A and is relatively isolated from residences on Bal Harbour to the south and Sunny Isles to the north.

Upon reaching downtown, the ferries would dock at Chopin Plaza (above and top pic) at the south end of Bayfront Park, which is just one block from metromover at Biscayne Blvd. & SE 2nd St. Service would run approximately every 20 minutes during rush hour and every hour thereafter between 6:00am and 8:00pm weekdays. If the county commission’s transportation committee approves the pilot, it could be running by 2009.


Photos from flickr: pixelflex, ldysteph

The Miami-Dade MPO is considering an initiative which would bring waterborne commuter transportation soon to our shores. The 99 passenger catamarans would run every 30 minutes between the city of Miami and Haulover Marina in North Miami-Dade and Matheson Hammock in South Miami-Dade. A Miami terminal is planned for the dead end street just north of the Hotel Intercontinental, just one block away from the Bayfront Park Metromover Station. Catamaran acquisition as well as improvements to both Marinas is estimated to cost $18 Million.

I’ve heard this idea floating (pun intended) around for quite sometime now. Similar systems are already integral parts of other transportation networks including: New York, Boston, San Diego, Houston, San Francisco, Sydney, and even London. There are also plans to bring commuter ferries to Chicago along Lake Michigan and Washington D.C. along the Potomac River. Despite commuter ferry success elsewhere, I have many reservations about this project. The decentralization of our city makes such a project fairly difficult to attract sufficient riders. The given route also seems to be a bit redundant to existing public transportation (Tri-Rail and South-Dade Busway/Metrorail) which have thus far failed to successfully attract riders (likely due to the decentralization and inability to properly integrate transit with the surroundings.)

Now, I don’t want to completely discredit the idea either. The ferries would transport commuters from two fairly affluent neighborhoods, a concept which was recently proven to be successful with Metrorail station boarding statistics. The park and ride idea could also work well given that it doesn’t completely remove vehicular use from the commuter. I think the fare should be split between rides and parking however, to further encourage the reduced costs of carpooling or seeking alternative forms of arriving at the departure marinas. The commuter ferry should be a driving force for the city to vastly improve all of our waterfront space. Rather than creating a terminal by Bayfront Park as proposed, I believe the catamarans should berth in the cut just north of the American Airlines Arena alongside the upcoming museum park cultural center. The city should then work to bring the Miami-Key West Ferry from Key Biscayne to this same terminal essentially creating a local water transportation intermodal center which would be only one block from the Parkwest Metromover Station and easier to one day link with Baylink or a Miami Streetcar.

There are serious hurdles which need to be overcome, none of which can be solved by just the MPO or any other single branch of local government. In order to make our transit options successful we need to work to centralize our city while making commuting options as comfortable, seamless, and attractive as possible. Miami’s waterfront park space needs to become an integral part of our city, bustling with pedestrians and activity in order for this concept to succeed. Ferry service, if centralized, could one day offer locals and tourists alike easy affordable transit to our coastal cities, Key West, or even further abroad; after all we are the cruise capital of the world…

New Miami-Key West Ferry Service

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