Miami, the Car Optional City?

Even a casual visitor could see right away that Miami is a car-centered place. This sprawling city is dominated by an ever-growing network of expressways, with new routes and lanes constantly being added to meeting the swell of residents and visitors.

Given the obviously bad congestions that results, many Miamians and visitors alike are desperate for an alternative.

Enter Alice Bravo, former deputy city manager of Miami, who is now the county’s new transit director. Well aware of the region’s infamously high congestion rate, and the lack of any other reliable mode of transportation, she is aiming to expand the existing public transit network enough to make the area, in her words, “car optional”.

“It’ll take time, but we have to take advantage of this enthusiasm to make Miami a car-optional city one day,” Bravo tells New Times. “It’s apparent that we have a younger generation that is not interested in having a car and wants to use public transportation. We have to make sure there is a system there for them to satisfy their needs.”
How the heck will she do that?

Bravo admits it’s a long-term goal, but in the near future, she says, there are projects that will immediately relieve congestion.

She points to the often-out-of-sync traffic signal system. She says by creating a system that can monitor intersection congestion and adapt on a moment’s notice depending upon traffic flow can optimize efficiency. Once a system is in place, she says, it can become centralized and connected to the bus system.

“We want to get all of our systems working together,” she adds.

The longer term plans call for more concentration on “connectivity points” – areas in the suburbs that are more convenient for commuters. These will be turned into stations that will offer greater access via added sidewalks, bus lanes, and shuttle services. To address the especially bad traffic going from east to west, Bravo also wants to get agencies onboard with having buses on the highways.

Additionally, Miami-Dade Transit is also looking abroad, both to other U.S. cities and Europe, to see the latest technologies and advancements in transportation. The current transport system is aiming to be cleaner, safer, and more reliable, which will in turn encourage car-loving Miamians to give them a go.

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