For thousands of passengers who ride South Florida’s Tri-Rail commuter rail system, recently announced extension of the system’s route to Downtown Miami is most welcomed. Tri-Rail officials confirmed a $20 million loan will be allocated to the extension. South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) executive director Jack Stephens said by the end of 2018, service to Downtown Miami should be operating.
Tri-Rail will also share a new Downtown Miami central station with All Aboard, a rail express service being developed between Orlando and Miami. The extended Tri-Rail line will be on the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, operating between Jupiter the north and Downtown Miami in the south. The extended line is estimated to double Tri-Rail’s passenger ridership to 30,000 passengers daily.
The news is much welcomed for many commuters in Broward County. For Caribbean-American Audley Roams, who travels by train daily from Hollywood to his Biscayne Ave job in Downtown Miami, it has been frustrating be unable to use the railway to get to Downtown Miami. Instead, she has had to disembark at the Hialeah station and take Miami-Dade’s Metrorail into Miami.
“While there’s nothing we can do about this, sometimes there’re delays in exchanging trains, making us late for work,” said Roams.
Another Tri-Rail commuter, Cidnay Thomas, says she enjoys commuting on Tri-Rail, but doesn’t use the system regularly because of the inconvenience of changing trains.
“At the end of a long day, I hate to have to transfer trains,” said Thomas, who is a Miami banker. “So most days I drive to work.”
Since January 1989, Tri-Rail has been transporting passengers between Mongolia Park in Palm Beach County to Hialeah Gardens in Miami-Dade County.
According to spokesman Mike Lawson, in its initial years the system struggled to have a full passenger load. However, as gas prices have risen on average in the past few years, passengers have increasingly turned to Tri-Rail as a commute alternative, especially between Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale. Today, according to Laughton, the system transports over 15,000 passengers daily.