Officials of the Town of Cutler Bay and Miami- Dade County gathered on Sept. 5 with residents, government staffers and invited guests to inaugurate a new specialized bus route to serve the community. In a morning ceremony at Pinewoods Villa Senior Citizen Community, 8420 SW 188 Terr., more than 100 people attended as Miami-Dade District 8 County Commissioner Lynda Bell, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin, council members Sue Ellen Loyzelle and Peggy Bell, and others celebrated the realization of a project they have worked on for the past three years. “What a wonderful day it is for the residents of Cutler Bay,” Commissioner Bell said.
“Today we fulfill a promise to all of Cutler Bay’s residents, but particularly the elderly population by giving them what they have asked for, time and time again — a little more freedom, a little more independence, to make their lives easier and also more enjoyable.
The Cutler Bay Local will make it easier for all residents to access shopping centers, dining, parks, government buildings, and the iconic South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, as well as provide a vital link to existing county transit routes,” Bell added. “It will also serve as a tool to spur much-needed economic development in the area, and link shoppers to businesses.”
Rafael Casals, interim town manager, served as emcee for the event, and next introduced Mayor MacDougall after describing the process they had gone through in negotiating the county deal and going through different CITT committees and subcommittees.
“I can tell you that at those meetings the mayor was there, side by side with both myself and the previous town manager, and understands the process for the interlocal agreement,” Casals said. “One thing that I talked about with the mayor was that we wanted to get the bus ready for this holiday season.”
Last year, the town had been able to use the Village of Palmetto Bay’s bus to transport seniors to shopping centers so they could do their holiday shopping. Casals said that helped them develop a good route and system for the town’s own bus.
Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilmember Joan Lindsay of Palmetto Bay as well as Councilmember Joseph M. Corradino of Pinecrest also attended.
“This truly is a great day,” Mayor MacDougall said. “This is one of the things that makes a community great — to provide transportation for those people who need it most. My thanks to Miami- Dade County and the partnership we’ve had with the commissioner, the partnership we’ve had with the CITT, the funds that have come to us, the transportation department, this wonderful bus, it will have every latest gadgets you can imagine. It is a safe bus, an expensive bus…but a great bus.
“All I want to do is tell you how proud I am to be able to stand before you as the mayor of Cutler Bay, along with my predecessors, and the members of my council who have been there, working hard for you and believed. It’s a great day.”
The Cutler Bay Local seats 25 passengers and has wheelchair access the same as other full-size county buses. Operating three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:10 p.m., it will provide service to the town’s senior residence centers, with stops at various shopping centers, Southland Mall, Cutler Bay’s Town Hall, the South Dade Government Center, Health South on Old Cutler Road, the busway and many bus stops in-between.
The cost for riding the bus is only 25 cents, and is free for seniors who have a Golden Passport card from the county transit department.
Santiago Vega, a resident at Pinewoods Villa for the past 30 years, could not have been happier about the new bus.
“That’s great — the best thing that happened to us,” Vega said. “We have a lot of people here who are disabled and this will be a real help.”
Beryl Jeune, also a resident at Pinewood Villa, asked to use the microphone at the conclusion of the formal ceremony.
“I just want to thank everyone for making this possible,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”