Posted Oct. 5, 2012
By BOLTON LANCASTER
London has one, Tokyo has one, Paris has one, and now Miami has one too.
It’s an urban railway that takes travelers to the airport. Having opened in late July, the new Orange Line of Metrorail is considered one of the easiest and most convenient ways to get to and from the Miami International Airport.
“Major metropolitan cities throughout the world have a rapid transit connection to the airport, so we were trying to develop one ourselves,” said Karla Damian, information officer of Miami-Dade Transit.
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of the Orange Line is that it makes it easier and less expensive to travel to and from Miami International Airport.
“It’s too expensive to drive over here: the gasoline, the Sun Pass, the tolls,” said Alvaro Torres, a resident of Miami who travels to South America every other week for his job.
He estimates that every time he drives to the airport it costs him $12 to $14. Additionally, it costs him $8 per day to park in the Economy Park and Ride Lot, which is a bus ride away from the terminals. Since the new railway has opened, however, he has been taking it whenever he needs to head out of town.
“For me, it’s very convenient and very inexpensive,” Torres said. “There’s no problem with the rush or the traffic. You know exactly how much time it will take.”
The new line does not just benefit people flying to various destinations though.
“The airport is one of the biggest employers in the county,” Damian explained.
According to the Miami International Airport website, the facility employs 36,797 personnel in the “aviation department and other.” With construction of the Orange Line, MIA employees that rely on public transportation now have a shorter daily commute by taking a train rather than a bus.
In addition to providing convenient transportation to the airport and reducing traffic on the ground, the new Orange Line also helps businesses in the area.
“All the businesses that are along the Metrorail now also have direct access to the airport,” Damian said.
According to Damian, Miami-Dade Transit has been involved in a campaign to encourage travelers at the airport to take the new line. Whether they are looking to get to a hotel, eat at a restaurant, or visit a shopping center, the businesses along the Metrorail now have the ability to gain more patrons as a result of the airport traffic.
As efficient as they are, one area of confusion for the Metrorail cars is that they are often not clearly marked “Green Line” or “Orange Line.” On many of the trains, the only indication is a small marked piece of paper on the front and back.
This has led to some confusion among passengers such as Robert Elmore, a resident of Broward County, who was trying to get home from the Veteran’s Administration Hospital near downtown Miami. After hopping on the wrong line, Elmore’s trip was delayed by about 35 minutes as the train that he was on went to the airport station.
“This isn’t my first trip. I’ve done it a few times, but I don’t remember an Orange Line,” Elmore said.
The new Orange Line did not simply come into existence overnight. It is the result of many years of planning. As a community that generally has to deal with a lot of congestion, concerned Miami-Dade citizens decided to find a solution.
“Even before they passed the plan, they had a lot of community meetings,” Damian said.
The Orange Line was constructed as the centerpiece of the People’s Transportation Plan, a piece of legislation that was enacted in 2002 by voters of Miami-Dade County. Voters also passed a half-percent sales surtax in order to fund the project, which ended up supplying about $404.7 million of the $506 million cost. The remaining $101.3 million were contributed by the Florida Department of Transportation. Construction on the line began in spring of 2009 and served its first customer on July 28 this year.
People who are looking to use the Orange Line to go to the airport should be aware of a few things. First, it is important get on a train marked “Orange” once at the Metrorail station. As mentioned before, the signs can be difficult to see but are marked on the front and back of the train. Additionally, the conductor often announces what line the train is at each station.
The Green Line runs the traditional route of the Metrorail: From Dadeland South all the way up to Palmetto. If a passenger were to accidentally get on the Green Line, the best solution is to simply get off at the Earlington Heights station and get on an Orange Line train from there.
Second, the Orange Line does not drop passengers off directly at the airport. Rather, it takes them to the new Miami Central Station, a central hub that currently has connections with MIA Mover, Metrobus, and Metrorail and will eventually also have connections to Tri-Rail and Amtrak. Miami Central Station is a short distance from the airport. Passengers must simply go up the escalator, go through the doors on the right, and turn left to access the free MIA mover, which is a three-minute rail ride away from the terminals.
- Metrorail runs from 5 a.m. to midnight every day of the week.
- Trains arrive every 10 minutes during weekday rush hours, every 15 minutes at midday, every 30 minutes from 7:30 p.m. to closing, and every 30 minutes on the weekend.
- To ride Metrorail, obtain an EASY Card or EASY ticket from the EASY Card vending machines located outside each station. Credit cards and cash are both accepted. The cost per trip is $2.
- Parking at any Metrorail station costs $4 per day. A $10 monthly parking pass is also available.