Guide to Miami public transportation
How to get around by bus, rail and taxi in Miami
Miami's public transportation system is run by Miami-Dade Transit. For information and detailed transit maps, log on to www.miamidade.gov/transit or call 1-305 891 3131 (7am-8pm Mon-Fri, 8a-5pm Sat, closed Sun). Alternatively, try the Transit Information Center at Government Center Station, where you can pick up route maps or, if you're very lucky, the Miami-Dade County Transit Map, a schematic plan showing the various transportation services and their connections. Guard it with your life.
Buses—called Metrobuses in Miami—are for the unlucky. Only the poor or very elderly don’t drive in this town. The vehicles are clean, air-conditioned and comfy, but they travel along congested routes and often don’t readily serve the places where visitors might want to go. Frequency of service varies by route, time and day of the week: as often as every 10 or 15 minutes or as far apart as every 45 minutes.
Fares & bus stops
A one-way bus fare is $2; children up to 3ft 6in tall travel free. Express buses cost $2.35. Transfers cost an extra 50¢; you must ask and pay for a transfer when you get on the bus. You’ll need the exact fare, but the machines do take silver, crisp dollar bills and EASY tickets (see below). Bus stops are marked by a rectangular white sign with a blue and green metal marker bearing specific bus route(s), and often by a yellow kerb stripe. Sometimes they’re not marked at all. Shelters are uncommon, so take a hat.
Tokens & passes
For frequent bus use, purchase an EASY Card, a reloadable transport pass that lets you pre-pay up to $150 on to a one-day, seven-day or one-month pass. EASY Cards can be purchased online (www.easycard.miamidade.gov) or at any Metrorail ticket vending station. If you’re in town for a while and planning to do some major schlepping on public transport, the EASY Card can save you money, time and the annoyance of carrying change at all times.
There are three train lines in Miami-Dade: Metromover, Metrorail and Tri-Rail.
Miami’s Metromover, an elevated, electric monorail that runs two very short loops—one inner, one outer—around Downtown from 5am to midnight seven days a week, is free to travel and offers fine views. Sadly, that’s about all it offers as it goes nowhere useful.
A 24.4-mile elevated train system that runs from Palmetto (north) to Dadeland (south), with stops around every mile, Metrorail is another of Miami’s expensive and underused transit systems. As on the bus, a trip costs $2, plus 50¢ for a transfer. Trains run about every 15 minutes from 5am until midnight and every 30 minutes on weekends. If you plan to use Metrorail you must purchase an EASY Card or ticket; cash is not accepted. Visitors may find Metrorail useful for trips to Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Vizcaya. Metrorail also connects to Tri-Rail, the Gulf Coast’s intercity commuter system (see here for more info).
Taxis & limos
Taxi meters start at $2.50 for the first one-sixth of a mile and click away at $2.40 per additional mile, plus waiting time charges ($24 per hour). For short distances, they’re affordable; for long distances, they can cost a fortune. The meter racks up $10 just traveling the length of the MacArthur Causeway. On top of hefty fares, you’re also expected to tip 15 per cent; cabs carry a handy tip calculation chart pasted on the passenger windows. Visit www.taxifarefinder.com before reserving a trip to get an estimated price. Cabs are usually radio-dispatched, but on South Beach and Downtown you can flag one down. Restaurants and hotels will call cabs for patrons. Note that drivers often speak little or no English. Some reliable companies are Best Yellow Taxi Service (1-305 444 4444), Central Cabs (1-305 532 5555) and Metro Taxi (1-305 888 8888).
Limos are a dime a dozen in some areas, especially South Beach. Rates start at $50 per hour for a Lincoln Town Car and escalate to $100–$125 per hour for a ten-passenger stretch limo. Nearly all companies require a 3hr minimum rental time, and many tack on a 20 per cent "gratuity." Ask your hotel to recommend a service.
To make a complaint about a taxi, call 1-305 375 3677.