This won’t come as news to many of you, but for several months now, the experience on Metrorail has been improved tremendously.

The transition from 6- to 4-car trains since the grand opening of the Orange Line to the brand new Miami International Airport Station (a.k.a., Central Station) in late July 2012 has certainly been a welcome change.

The grand opening of the Metrorail’s new Orange Line and the Miami International Airport station has run parallel to, and even initiated, some positive changes to Miami’s Metrorail experience.

The MIA station grand opening marks the beginning of an exciting renaissance for our Metrorail system.

The trains now come much more frequently, reducing:

  • 7-8-minute rush hour wait times to 5-6-minute rush hour wait times,
  • 15-minute off-peak hour wait times to 7-8-minute off-peak hour wait times, and
  • 30-minute weekend wait times to 15-20-minute weekend wait times.

Apart from that indispensable improvement to the system, you’ve almost certainly also noticed the improvements to the physical layouts to the inside of the train cars themselves. In nearly every Metrorail train car, one now finds that two sets of seats have been removed and, from the resultant additional space, there is now a much-needed area for standing passengers and bike and luggage storage.

This sign may now seem a trivial commonplace, but it represents a hugely positive change in thinking on how our Metrorail trains should be occupied.

Below are some pictures of the new Metrorail space in action. It’s great to see people regularly using the space, especially during rush hour, when there simply aren’t enough seats for everybody (not to mention that many people, myself included, actually prefer standing over sitting).

Five comfortably standing Metrorail riders. Even more passengers could fit in the new standing space during times of higher volumes (albeit a bit less comfortably).

The most important cargo of all: one’s children. Where else would this man have put that huge, twin child stroller (and his two young children inside it) if not for the Metrorail’s new standing/storage space?

Without this new bicycle storage area, that bike would be either obstructing the center isle, blocking seats from passengers, and/or simply creating a hazard.

These four gentlemen have much more leg room and space standing than they would sitting squished together, especially with their bags and other carry-on items.

The additional standing room is an improvement of which I’ve personally been a long-time advocate. In November 2011, I presented a set of possible policy changes to the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee pertaining to the many issues surrounding the Metrorail Bike & Ride Policy. The removal of seats to create more standing and storage area was the primary proposal of the presentation. It’s great to know that Miami-Dade Transit is listening to its riders! Now we just need more people speaking-up!

One of the overarching problems with the Bike & Ride policy (notwithstanding the utterly ineffective Bike & Ride permit system) has always been that bicycles were relegated to the back of the train. This created lots of confusion and often overcapacitated the rear train car with bikes.

Finally, bikes have a space on Metrorail. Things are hopefully going to get even better when the new train cars with hanging bike racks come into fruition.

The new Miami-Dade Transit Bike & Ride policy (last updated July 24, 2012) permits bikes in any train car containing the sign depicted above. That’s a huge improvement! The only problem is that Miami-Dade Transit has yet to install signs on the exterior of the train cars so that riders can identify which cars are appropriate to enter with their bicycles.

Another positive change is that the new Bike & Ride policy doesn’t explicitly specify a maximum number of bikes permitted in each train car. The previous number of bikes allowed on the train was a mere four. As you can imagine, that policy was ridiculously impossible to enforce, and completely undermined the point of having a policy in the first place. If you’re going to make rules, make sure they make sense and can be enforced, otherwise the entire system is delegitimized. Fortunately for us, limits are no longer specified.

There are still problems, of course.  Miami-Dade Transit still hasn’t improved the system for distributing and enforcing its Bike & Ride permits — that’s a whole other issue!

Still, it’s undeniable that, with regard to the overall Metrorail system, layout, and policies, things are evolving for the better. Until the new Metrorail train cars are acquired in the last quarter of 2014 (for installation and usage estimated for the first quarter of 2015), we’re going to have to appreciate what we’ve got and continue making our voices heard to make it better!

12 Responses to Metrorail System, Layout, Policies — Evolving for the Better

  1. Carlos says:

    Very cool! Another suggestion would be to provide with hooks that will attach a bicycle or stroller to a frame.
    This is similar to a set up in some commuter trains going into San Francisco. These trains have bungee cords with hooks available for users to secure multiple bikes together. This way the owner can sit somewhere else and not worry about the bike falling.


  2. Kevin says:

    Awesome, I love it! The Orange Line really has brought a huge new wave of excitement to the system (or perhaps it’s just me and my fellow transit riders lol). Bring on the improvements! (I will keep dreaming of that Metrorail line to FIU though…)


  3. Matthew Toro says:

    I share your dream, Kevin!


  4. Mike Moskos says:

    I have to moan about 3 things at the new station:
    -There are NO bathrooms or water fountains at the station. You have to take a long walk to the car rental area or take the MIA Mover over to airport.
    -There’s not enough seating at the Metrorail or bus levels.
    -There’s lots of concrete on the lower bus area, but little greenery. Can you say, “heat island”?

    But, it is a beautiful station. I think I may have been on the very first passenger train to run out of it.


  5. Herby says:

    Great article!
    It’s crazy how there is at least one person chatting on a cellphone in each picture. In other public transit systems around the world people are chastised or shooshed if they talk on a cellphone while riding mass transit.
    People don’t talk on your cellphone while riding ANY public transportation, it’s rude.


  6. Brandon Trentler says:

    Glad to see bikers are no longer relegated to the back of the train. Good info!


  7. Eddie Suarez says:

    Thanks for the update! If we’re no longer supposed to be in the last car then someone needs to tell the security guard. One of them was on the train with us after the August CM and he yelled at us that we had to be in the last car. I yelled back, THERE’S NO ROOM! I know I shouldn’t have yelled but the lack of common sense irks me. The car we were in must have had 15 bikes. And you could see bikes in the cars behind and ahead of us. Did he think we’d all fit back there?


  8. Kevin says:

    Herby, I think as long as people are respectful and aren’t speaking loud on their cell phones then I don’t think there’s a problem with people on their phones. Same goes for people listening to music; please use headphones.


  9. ivo says:

    recently I sow one of those leather handles for standing passengers common in other metrosystems. Was it something new or a thing from the past?


  10. B says:

    Another improvement is the new signage, at least at Earington Heights. The new HD screens that announce when the next train is coming are pretty cool, not to mention the potential for advertising revenue.


  11. Carlos Perea says:

    There ARE bathrooms at the Miami International Airport station, but they’re on the south side second level and not immediately noticeable to passengers proceeding to the Rental Car Center.

    It should be noted that the improvements in train frequencies only apply to stations from Earlington Heights southward. For those of us on the northern half of the system, frequency has remained the same while the transition to 4-car trains cut capacity by a third, resulting in overcrowded Green Line trains during rush hours.


  12. Byke Ryder says:

    No, thank goodness the Bike Permit policy isn’t being enforced. It’s absolutely pointless. Whenever I’m traveling with my bike anywhere else in the world I don’t need a bike permit. Really I don’t need one in Miami either, but let’s hope they don’t decide to start enforcing again.


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