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Center Identification Number: 350-13

Project Title: Bus Rapid Transit -- Phase I Preliminary Evaluation of the South Miami-Dade Busway in Miami, Florida 

Co-Principal Investigators: 

Joel R. Rey, Senior Research Associate

William Morris, Senior Research Associate


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

External Project Contact: 

David Fialkoff, MDTA Planning and Scheduling Director

I. Project Objective

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has continually promoted the need for better and more effective bus service in the transit industry. In 1998, the FTA issued grant opportunities for the demonstration and deployment of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in the United States. The FTA maintains that advancements in vehicle technology, simulation systems, traffic engineering and intelligent transportation systems have enhanced the industry's ability to improve bus transit service in the U.S. BRT can provide significantly faster operating speeds as well as improved travel time, mobility, economic growth, and environmental quality in a community. In specific applications, it is also a flexible and low-cost alternative to rail systems that can match the efficiency and quality of rail.

The purpose of this study is to document and evaluate the South Miami-Dade Busway as one of the newest applications of BRT in the U.S. The results of this study will not only benefit the operating system by identifying the current strengths, weaknesses, and potential areas of improvement for the system, it will also provide a model for the FTA and local communities to use when evaluating similar proposed projects. Due to current funding availability the Miami-Dade Busway project will only serve as a phase one evaluation analyzing the performance of the service and not the technology. The level of effort for each task or the prioritization of task accomplishment will be contingent on additional funding through FTA or MDTA.


II. Project Abstract

The South Miami-Dade Busway is a two-lane, bus-only roadway constructed in a former rail right-of-way adjacent to U.S. 1, a major arterial running north-south along the Atlantic coastline. The eight-mile busway was opened by the Miami-Dade Transit Authority (MDTA) on February 3, 1997. While an 11.5-mile extension south is planned, this extension will not be examined in this effort. However, it is the subject of MDTA's BRT project as part of the FTA Bus Rapid Transit Demonstration Program.

The National Center for Transit Research at CUTR in partnership with MDTA, the FDOT, and FTA, will provide an objective evaluation of the performance of the South Miami-Dade Busway. CUTR will document the performance of the service over time (since its opening in February 1997), as well as in comparison to the prior service operated in this corridor. Surveys of passengers will be performed in order to determine customer satisfaction with service, frequency of use, identification of new riders, and previous mode of travel, among other related demographic/travel characteristics. In addition, CUTR will analyze available accident data for the corridor before and after the opening of the Busway to determine changes in rates or types of accidents associated with the increased level of service and/or the change in the operational characteristics of the service (i.e., bus-only lane, signal timing/loop detectors, etc.).

III. Task Descriptions

Task I - Ridecheck

Using MDTA's current bus stop inventory, CUTR will develop a database of ons and offs and on-time performance by stop for the South Miami-Dade Busway. Analyses will include time-of-day ridership (a.m. and p.m. peak periods, etc.), load factors, boardings/deboardings by stop, segment data, and on-time performance. Tables and figures will be developed to summarize the results of these analyses.

Task II - Operational Performance

Using available data obtained from MDTA, as well as that collected during the Busway ridecheck task, CUTR will assess the current and historical performance of the service in terms of passengers per mile and per hour of service, travel time, etc. The current performance of the Busway service will then be compared to that of the bus service that MDTA previously provided within this corridor.

Task III - On-Board Survey

CUTR will conduct two customer surveys: one weekday and one Saturday. The surveys will be conducted on board the buses. The purpose of the surveys is to determine demographics, travel patterns, transfer activity, and satisfaction with services both during the week and on weekends. The survey instrument will be designed to maximize response within the overall average travel time on the Busway.

Once the survey instrument has been developed, CUTR will be responsible for printing an adequate number of surveys to gather the appropriate information. All surveys will be sequentially numbered. In addition, the project will provide the necessary pencils, collection boxes, signs, and any other materials necessary for the successful administration of the survey.

Approximately 50 percent of weekday and Saturday trips will be surveyed covering the entire service day based on system runs. CUTR will develop the sampling methodology in conjunction with MDTA Service Planning and Scheduling. The project team will be directly responsible for training and supervising all survey administration personnel.

The project team will also be responsible for the data coding and entry process. Staff provided by the project team will be used for this effort. MDTA will be responsible for forwarding any surveys to the project team that are returned after the survey administration has been completed. Following data entry, the project team will perform quantitative and qualitative analysis of the survey results. Frequency distributions by question will be computed along with an array of cross-tabulations. The findings will be provided in hard copy format. Data will be weighted to reflect total weekday/Saturday ridership for the Busway routes.

Task IV - Accident Analysis

In this task, the investigators will compile available bus accident data for bus service in the corridor. These data will be compiled from the year prior to the beginning of busway construction, as well as for the initial start-up year and the second full year of service on the busway. The bus accident data will then be entered into a database and prepared for analysis. Frequency distributions will be run on all of the data fields in the accident database. In cases when the frequency analysis does not provide enough insight into or cannot alone pinpoint the causal factors of the problem, CUTR will perform additional cross-tabulation analyses. On a limited basis where time and budget will allow, a geographic analysis will be performed. Accidents will be geocoded, and for locations where frequent accidents have occurred, further analyses may be performed. The data analyzed will then be compared against any known training and/or capital safety improvement projects associated with the busway. The accident data will be used to assess the effectiveness of the training programs and/or capital improvement actions.

Task V - Final Report

The information from all previous tasks will be compiled into a final report that will summarize the results of the system ridecheck, the performance analysis, the on_board.survey analysis, and the accident analysis.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate students will be used to assist in the data gathering, entry, and analyses.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

Will be coordinated with APTA and FTA initiatives in this area.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities

The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through interim memoranda and a final report. Copies of the final report will be provided to the FDOT Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office, and the FTA. The results of this analysis will be made available to transit agencies and others as requested. Presentations will be made through national forums including APTA, and TRB conferences. The final report will also be available on the NCTR website.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project

The purpose of this study is to conduct a preliminary evaluation of the South Miami-Dade Busway service as one of the newest applications of BRT in the U.S. The results of this study will not only benefit MDTA in identifying the current strengths, weaknesses, and potential areas of improvement for the system, it will also provide a model for the FTA and local communities to use when evaluating similar proposed projects.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Public transit, Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, APTS, busway


National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 Comments: