Miami, Florida/South Miami-Dade Busway Extension

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South Miami-Dade Busway Extension

Miami, Florida

(November 1999)

(South Miami-Dade Busway Map)

Description

The Miami-Dade Transit Agency (MDTA) is proposing to extend its existing South Miami-Dade Busway further south to Florida City. The Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has selected a locally-preferred alternative (LPA), which is an 11.5 mile extension of the South Miami-Dade Busway from Cutler Ridge Mall near SW 200 Street to Florida City along side US Route 1 (U.S.1). Within the corridor, 12 stations are proposed with 6 park-n-ride lots and 620 parking spaces. The proposed extension will improve bus travel times and transit access in the corridor along U.S. 1 in South Florida, which now has limited transit service. The proposed Busway is an extension to an existing 8.3 mile busway which opened in February of 1997, and which has increased transit ridership in the corridor by providing improved travel times for commuters from the rapidly growing area south of Miami. MDTA has estimated total project costs at $87.8 million (escalated dollars), and has an estimated 8,800 average weekday boardings on the extension.

South Miami-Dade Busway Summary Description

Proposed Project Busway
11.5 miles, 12 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $87.80 million
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $61.30 million
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $4.90 million
Year Ridership Forecast (2015) 8,800 average weekday boardings
3,000 daily new riders
FY 2001 Financial Rating: Medium
FY 2001 Project Justification Rating: Medium
FY 2001 Overall Project Rating: Recommended

The Recommended rating is based on the project’s cost-effectiveness and the adequacy of the project’s capital and operating plans. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Status

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), undertook a Major Investment Study of the Florida East Coast Railroad Right of Way, completed in 1985, which recommended that a Busway be constructed from the Dadeland South Metrorail Station south to Florida City. Phase I of the busway, from the Dadeland Metrorail Station to Culter Ridge, was constructed with FHWA funding and opened in 1997. Concurrent with construction of Phase I, FDOT and FHWA completed a Preliminary Engineering Report/Draft Environmental Impact Statement that was completed December of 1997. The MPO Board selected the Busway as the locally preferred alternative in December of 1998, and added the project to its 2015 and 2020 Long Range Transportation Plans. A five mile portion of the South Miami-Dade Busway is undergoing Final Design and the remaining 6.5 miles is undergoing Preliminary Engineering. It is anticipated that Final Design for the first 5 miles will be completed by June 2000. For the remaining 6.5 miles, Final Design is anticipated to be completed by April of 2001. Miami-Dade anticipates beginning construction for the first 5 mile segment by March of 2001 and for the remaining 6.5 miles by January 2002.

In August 1999, the South Miami-Dade Busway Extension was selected as one of FTA’s ten Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Demonstration Projects.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(46) authorizes the South Miami-Dade Busway Extension for final design and construction. Through FY2000, Congress has not appropriated any Section 5309 New Start funds for this proposed project.

Evaluation

The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria for the 11.5 mile Busway Extension. N/A indicates that information is not available for a specific measure.

FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance to final design, and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts.

Justification

The Medium project justification rating reflects strong anticipated mobility improvements and adequate cost effectiveness, off-set by relatively poor transit supportive land use in the corridor.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: High

The 11.5 mile South Miami-Dade Busway Extension is expected to serve 8,800 average weekday boardings and 3,000 daily new riders by 2015. Miami-Dade estimates the following annual travel time savings.

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) 3.20 million hours 2.90 million hours

Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 760 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed twelve stations for the South Miami-Dade Busway extension, roughly 23 percent of total households within ½ mile of the proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Medium

The southeast Florida area is an attainment area for carbon monoxide and a maintenance area for ozone. MDTA estimates that in 2015, the Busway Extension will result in the following impact on emissions.

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) decrease of 21 annual tons decrease of 18 annual tons
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) decrease of 370 annual tons decrease of 370 annual tons
Hydrocarbons (HC) decrease of 17 annual tons decrease of 19 annual tons
Particulate Matter (PM10) increase of 2 annual tons N/A
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) increase of 4,578 annual tons increase of 5,582 annual tons

MDTA estimates that in the year 2015, the LPA will result in the following impacts on regional energy consumption.

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) decrease of 60,754 million annual BTU decrease of 72,817 million annual BTU

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: High

MDTA estimates a decrease in the system-wide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2015 for the heavy-rail alternative compared to both the No-Build and TSM.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2015) $0.53 $0.52 $0.49

Values reflect 2015 ridership forecast and 1999 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Medium

MDTA estimates the following cost-effectiveness indices for the BRT alternative compared to the No-Build and the TSM alternatives.

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $11.70 $14.20

Values reflect 2015 ridership forecast and 1997 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Low-Medium

The Low-Medium land use rating reflects the generally low densities and poor pedestrian access along the corridor, but acknowledges the positive efforts of Miami-Dade County and local jurisdictions to promote transit-supportive development within the corridor.

Existing Land Use: The northern portion of the corridor includes predominantly low density single family homes, public housing, and trailer parks. There is a large regional shopping mall at the Dadeland South Metrorail Station, where the existing Busway connects with the Metrorail system. Further south, the commercial uses immediately abutting U.S. 1 include strip commercial shopping centers, agricultural services, and automobile dealerships. Current population density is 1.8 persons per acre and employment density is 0.6 employees per acre. Further south along the corridor, most of the land is used for agricultural purposes. There are few pedestrian amenities in the corridor and limited connectivity between existing development.

Plans and Policies: The Miami-Dade County Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) has policies that call for minimum standards of development and housing at transit stations. The cities of Homestead and Florida City both have transit supportive corridor policies to support mixed land use development, higher density land use, and transit oriented land use design in station areas. However, no proposed station area design specific to this project have been developed by Miami-Dade County or the cities of Homestead or Florida City. Growth within the corridor is constrained by an Urban Growth Boundary (UDB), established within the Miami-Dade County Development Master Plan, which limits the extension of urban services and facilities to a twelve-mile wide area of land stretching from the Atlantic coast of Florida inward to the Everglades. The proposed South Miami-Dade Busway extension is roughly in the middle of the UDB area. Largely because of the UDB, the land along the proposed South Miami-Dade Busway extension is one of the last undeveloped areas in South Florida and thus, there is tremendous growth pressure. The population in the corridor is expected to grow from 124,470 to 317,300 in 2015, an increase of 155 percent. Employment in the corridor is expected to increase from 38,700 to 46,900 in 2015, an increase of 21 percent. Plans and policies need to be developed to accommodate the proposed growth and concentrate it around the proposed Busway Extension.

Other Factors

FTA BRT Demonstration Program: In August 1999, the South Miami-Dade Busway Extension was selected as one of FTA’s ten Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Demonstration Projects. FTA’s BRT Demonstration Program is intended to foster the development of BRT systems in the United States; address BRT planning, implementation, and operational issues; and evaluate system performance in a wide range of operating environments.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 of Total Project Costs: 30%

MDTA’s financial plan assumes $61.3 million from Section 5309 New Start funds (70 percent of the total project cost), $5.7 million (6 percent) in CMAQ flexible funds, and $20.8 million (24 percent) in State funds (for right-of-way purchased in 1988).

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating acknowledges the commitment of Non-Section 5309 funding to the project. However, the capital cost contingency is low for a project at this stage of preliminary engineering and very limited non-Section 5309 New Starts funding appears to be available to address potential cost increases.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: The Miami Dade Transit Agency is in adequate financial condition. While the failed July 1999 sales tax referendum limits MDTA’s capital expansion plans, the agency’s proposed participation in the Busway project (previously purchased right-of-way) is secure.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: The capital cost estimates for the South Miami-Dade Busway Extension are based upon two different sets of plans for the project: 1) a five mile segment has had preliminary engineering completed to 60 percent, and 2) a 6.5 mile segment of the project has had preliminary engineering completed to 10 percent. Thus, capital costs estimated are preliminary and as such, should have a high contingency cost. However, the capital costs include low contingency costs for a project in the preliminary engineering stage of project development. Because the proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of the project costs are not from an existing revenue source, there are limited resources available for financing any unanticipated cost increases.

Existing and Committed Funding: The proposed Non-Section 5309 New Starts share of project costs is $26.5 million, or 30 percent of the total capital costs. The local match proposed for this project is $20.8 million, which is the value of 11.5 miles of a 20 mile right-of-way purchased for $40 million in 1988 by the Florida Department of Transportation for the busway. Another $5.7 million in CMAQ funds are programmed for the project. Thus, the Non-Section 5309 Share of the project costs are existing and committed.

New and Proposed Sources: No specific new funding sources are proposed.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects the low operating cost of the proposed busway and the financial condition of the MDTA to operate buses on the proposed facility.

Agency Operating Condition: The MDTA is in good operating condition. In recent years, MDTA has experienced operating surpluses (on average), a 30 percent farebox recovery ratio and consistent ridership levels. Miami-Dade County has historically provided sufficient operating funds as required to operate the existing MDTA system.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Annual operating costs are estimated at $4.6 million. Project operating costs and inflation assumptions appear reasonable for a project of this size and scope.

Existing and Committed Funding: MDTA anticipates a farebox recovery ratio of 45 percent ($2.2 million annually) on Phase II of the South Miami-Dade Busway, which is similar to the farebox recovery for Phase I. The remaining $1.7 million in operating funds are anticipated from local revenue sources and $0.9 million is from unidentified revenue sources.

New and Proposed Sources: No new or proposed sources of operating funds have been identified.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
($million)
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Starts $61.30 $0 million appropriated through FY 2000
Federal: CMAQ Flexible Funds $5.70
State: Florida East-Coast Railroad Right-of-Way Purchase $20.80
Total: $87.80

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

South Miami-Dade Busway Extension Map. The project is proposing to extend its existing South Miami-Dade Busway further south to Florida City. The Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has selected a locally-preferred alternative (LPA), which is an 11.5 mile extension of the South Miami-Dade Busway from Cutler Ridge Mall near SW 200 Street to Florida City along side US Route 1 (U.S.1). Within the corridor, 12 stations are proposed with 6 park-n-ride lots and 620 parking spaces. The proposed extension will improve bus travel times and transit access in the corridor along U.S. 1 in South Florida, which now has limited transit service.