Mass Transit Made Simple -- For Tourists, At Least

Public transportation in Miami just got a lot easier – for tourists.

Tuesday marked the “soft launch” for the new Visitor Passport, a $19 unlimited ride pass good for seven days.

The county’s transit department hailed the advent as a key to help speed tourists on their way, saving them gas, rental car money and traffic headaches. Hell, it can even save residents from dealing with relatives, according to transit’s website.

“No time to be a gracious host to visiting family and friends? Just buy them the new $19 Visitor Passport to explore Miami and its beautiful beaches.”

The VP sounds good, but raises a few questions. Will tourists use it? More importantly, if transit can do this for vacationing dentists from Milwaukee, why can’t it create a more logical, streamlined system (a la New York’s Metro Pass) for the people who actually live here?

While praising the VP, Gabriel Lopez-Bernal of Transit Miami – a voice for progressive urban planning amid a wilderness of piss-poor development – suggested the concept may be misdirected. “How can we expect (tourists) to use it when we don’t even have a system that’s geared for the locals to use?”

Transit’s first priority should be transitioning from cash and tokens to a more streamlined system that allows for credit card use and per-ride passes. The problem, Bernal opined, is a mentality block. “Yeah (Miamians) want transit, but they want it for other people to use it.”

Change is on the way, said Jeff Bechdel of the transit department, citing plans to create various transit passes in addition to the current $75 monthly pass. The new system will likely be coordinated with transit in Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to Bechdel.

Asked why it had taken so long to develop such a plan, Bechdel begged off. “I’m not directly involved in that,” he said. --Rob Jordan

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