At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Miami-Dade Transit Director Ysela Llort announced the launch of a 25-cent circulator service aimed at giving Westchester residents a transportation alternative.
The Westchester Circulator, dubbed “el paseito de Westchester” (“gentle stroll of Westchester”), began service on June 21 following the transit system’s biannual round bus route improvements.
A single bus provides hourly service between Florida International University’s South Campus on SW 107 Ave and SW 17 St to Tropical Park at SW 40 St (Bird Road) and SW 79 Ave.
Along its east-west path, the route alternates between SW 32 St and Sw 24 St (Coral Way) to service the West Dade Regional Library, a local Walmart, Columbus High School and other places of interest.
Each trip costs .25 cents and is free for Golden (elderly) or Patriot (veteran) Passport holders.
Director Llort, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and other community representatives attended the ceremony, which was held outside the West Dade Regional Library beginning at 11 a.m.
Llort, Gimenez and others claimed that the Westchester Circulator was a fight waged by and ultimately belonging to District 10 Commissioner Javier Souto, who years ago fought a similar fight for a bus with a different name.
In 2008, an investigation by the Miami Herald into the transit agency’s misuse of a half-cent transportation tax revealed that Souto forced inappropriate spending of taxpayer money by demanding a Route 82 bus while lacking information that showed a demand for the service.
The 82’s route was very similar to the current service provided by the Circulator.
The Herald revealed that the half-cent tax funded Souto’s controversial 82 route, which had a per passenger cost of $30, 13 times the money spent on passengers elsewhere in Miami-Dade County at the time.
When the agency tried to cut the service, Souto said, “That’s not what the people voted for! If you expand, you don’t kill what you have. You expand.”
Media contact for Miami-Dade Transit Irene Ferradaz agreed that the Circulator and former 82 bus share similar routes. She added that the next set of bus route improvements will determine the fate of the route.
The Herald’s report was formerly available online but has since been taken down; it is summarized on the Man or Maniac blog.
At the ceremony, Souto said in Spanish, “Here [in Westchester] we need to get people out of their cars and have them walk, have them go on the bus.”
Gimenez added that “everyone knows the problems we have here with traffic, and what we need to solve that problem is different options, and the Westchester Circulator is one of them.”