Top Them Off! Marrying public space and transit

Anyone traversing Miami-Dade at almost any time of the year comes across an unsettling image — working people, children, and elderly residents waiting for buses and trolleys at the mercy of the weather because of the lack of covered shelters at most transit stops.

Miami-Dade County has a duty to advance the interests of its 2.7 million residents. Time and time again residents have expressed their frustration with current traffic woes on our roads and highways.

A recent Miami Herald poll cited traffic congestion as the second most important county issue, after jobs and the economy. Therefore, we must continue to challenge our community’s conventional approach to transportation by moving away from a carcentric culture to one that offers transportation choices. In order for our community to make this cultural shift we must first address a public transit issue that has a simple solution — namely, keeping bus and local trolley passengers protected from South Florida’s heavy rain and harsh sun.

Many transit riders are elderly, or of limited means, and are dependent on taking public transportation for their work or shopping needs. It is tough to see a grandmother carrying a couple of supermarket bags waiting for a bus or trolley that may or may not be delayed, on a wet summer afternoon.

Bus shelters are not a luxury; they are a basic, public requirement, especially if we want to persuade drivers to consider public transportation as their mode of choice. Quite simply, when it comes to transit shelters, we should Top Them Off!

And this is why we are proud to announce that the Miami Foundation has awarded us a grant to design, build and install a unique bus shelter in front of Bayside Marketplace to bring attention to the lack of bus shelters throughout the county. Bayside was chosen because it is a popular, high-visibility transit stop for residents, workers, and tourists alike.

Our proposed design for the shelter (courtesy of Zyscovich Architects) offers protection from the weather while also being as iconic and original as Miami itself.

Our project also invites community residents to be innovative about solving this challenge in their own neighborhoods. Part of our project entails providing the public with a Web application that allows them to submit unique ideas for bus shelter designs for anywhere in the community.

Many of the Miami Foundation’s previous winners (like the Ludlam Trail walking signs, and bike repair and pump stations on Old Cutler Road) have sought to utilize public space in a manner that promotes alternative ways of moving around. Through this award, we seek to encourage transit usage by drawing the attention of the surrounding community, as well through a promotional campaign leading up to the big reveal of the installation.

MDT is expected to release its new Bus Shelter Request for Proposal (RFP) in the near future. In this RFP, the county will present the bus shelter contract for which companies will compete. During this competitive process, companies will present their bids to secure the best deal for the county and a business opportunity for the contractor.

Unlike the previous RFP that only requires the contractor to maintain existing bus shelters, this new request will require the winning bidder to design, manufacture, install and maintain new bus shelters. The RFP is integral to “topping off” the remaining 2,000 uncovered bus stops throughout unincorporated Miami Dade County.

This project will showcase how bus shelters are a public space asset that can showcase the attractiveness of public transit through the use of beautiful innovative designs.


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