Miami-Dade Transit ridership has fallen 80% below normal due to business closure mandates, social distancing and other Covid-19 prevention measures, county Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Director Alice Bravo said.
That’s a loss of about 5.4 million monthly riders, with ridership now at 1.3 million, based on last year’s system-wide numbers.
“It’s holding steady at that level,” she told Miami Today.
TPW eliminated fares and reduced services across systems, first advising Special Transportation Service users to take only essential trips and limit use to one rider per vehicle. Metrobus cuts and elimination of highway express routes followed.
Metrorail and Metromover saw similar cuts, as TPW ran fewer vehicles and ended service at 10 p.m.
Last week, TPW cut overnight Metrobus service, substituting Uber and Lyft vouchers whose cost, Ms. Bravo said, isn’t yet known.
Most agree cuts were needed, but some say notice was too short.
When Covid-19 passes there may be a “new normal,” she said, as people adjust to work from home and residual fear of infection holds down ridership.
Economic difficulties historically add riders. Another boost – the Better Bus Project, a county-wide Metrobus route network redesign by nonprofit Transit Alliance – is nearly done.
“This is the time for transit to come back stronger than ever with a redesigned system,” alliance Director Azhar Chougle said.
Some, including Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Eileen Higgins, suggest Metrobus remain free for a time so users can learn the new routes and riders can join. Ms. Bravo said it’s too soon to say if that’ll happen.
“In the financial crisis in 2009, ridership grew dramatically as people couldn’t afford cars and fuel prices were high,” she said. “We’ll have to see the situation evolve more before answering that question.”