A fleet of three new free shuttles are roaming the streets of downtown Miami. One goal is to patch any gaps in the county’s public transportation system.
“We want to move as many as we can,” said Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes, who is also chairman of the Downtown Development Authority. “We’re starting with this. .... It’s a good start.”
Here’s what to know about the new service:
Where does the downtown Miami Freebie go?
The DDA partnered with the company Freebee to run the electric-powered shuttles, which have room for five people. They stick to a fixed route in the downtown business district, including the Miami-Dade County Government Center, the Kaseya Center, Biscayne Boulevard, the central Brightline train station and four Metromover stations.
What are the hours of downtown Miami’s Freebie circulator?
The circulators roll around downtown seven days a week:
Monday-Thursday: 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
How do you get a ride?
The vehicles, which resemble long golf carts, can be flagged down on the street or summoned via a phone app.
Freebee rolled out South Florida service in Key Biscayne and also has run routes in other cities including Doral, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale,
“It’s a good thing,” Alex Paccini, a visitor to downtown Miami from France said. “When you are a tourist, [it is] perfect.”
Reyes expects downtown residents and workers to benefit most. In the long term, cutting the distance of walks to a bus stop or parking lot.
What about transit connections in Miami?
The downtown shuttle comes as Miami-Dade County is offering free bus fares through the end of the year as part of the rollout of Miami-Dade County’s Better Bus Network. It changed schedules for 26 routes and discontinued 33 others.
The downtown Freebee route joins other municipal efforts to help people get to where they’re going, in a limited range, with free or low-cost shuttles around town.
What are the wait times?
Reyes thinks the Miami pilot program could help reduce wait times.
“No more than 10 minutes, 10 [to] 15 minutes, and it could be faster,” he said.
The shuttle started Nov. 27, but it has hit a few speed bumps. CBS News Miami tried to use it Monday night and It took 28 minutes for a pickup. That’s twice as long as Deyondre Whipple spends waiting for buses downtown.
“Honestly, I feel like that’s a little bit too much of a wait time, though,” Whipple said. “It should be there at least 5 or 10 minutes.”
“We’re getting information,” Reyes said. “If we have to tweak it here, tweak it there, it will be tweaked to make it as efficient as possible.”