May 6, 2024

Miami-Dade’s network redesign excels with iterative approach and proactive communication

Morgan Greene
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Photo of Miami-Dade County with overlaying stat about 3.5% OTP improvement
May 6, 2024

Miami-Dade’s network redesign excels with iterative approach and proactive communication

Morgan Greene
May 6, 2024

Miami-Dade’s network redesign excels with iterative approach and proactive communication

Morgan Greene

Executive summary

Accurate run-times are the foundation of any well-built transit schedule. A network redesign is a rare opportunity for a transit agency to tailor their service to meet the evolving needs of their community—and a monumental undertaking for all agency departments. Miami-Dade Transit recently completed the launch of their Better Bus Network, the biggest network overhaul in county history. 

While completing a project of this magnitude, Miami-Dade Transit arrived at best practices for tools and processes to ensure positive outcomes and minimize disruptions for riders.

Less than a year after the first redesigned routes launched, Miami-Dade Transit can already point to real positive impacts for riders throughout the region. 

By the numbers

Measuring results and improving performance within days

Initiated by the community through a local advocacy group, the Transit Alliance, Miami-Dade Transit started planning for the Better Bus Network in 2019 alongside Jarrett Walker + Associates (JWA). JWA informed their plans with Swiftly’s Speed Map and On-Time Performance data to inform and validate speed assumptions along major corridors. Having access to accurate historical data proved critical in planning an efficient network. 

"Accurate speed data is critical to the process of redesigning a network, and the Swiftly Speed Map provided valuable and detailed data on speeds by segment for existing routes, allowing us insights into better drive time assumptions in the Better Bus Network planning process," says Scudder Wagg, Principal Associate at Jarrett Walker + Associates. 

Following a rigorous public feedback period, the agency prepared to roll out the redesigned network in 2022, when the industry-wide operator shortage delayed their plans. Undeterred, the agency updated the schedule to proceed with a phased launch starting in July of 2023. This approach had an upside, allowing the agency to learn from updates to limited subsets of routes and apply them as the rest of the redesign continued. 

“We planned and executed a smaller launch in July of 2023 for three routes,” says Linda Morris, Chief of Service Planning at Miami-Dade Transit. “It was actually a good testing ground for us to make sure our processes were working, so that was really helpful. And then we did the full launch in November.”

The process of continuous iteration and improvement ended up being a hallmark of the project. The phased launch gave Miami-Dade Transit’s team the opportunity to monitor performance on newly redesigned routes on an approachable scale rather than across every route at once. Performance data available through Swiftly’s On-Time Performance and Run-Times products facilitated historical comparisons with earlier route performance, providing insights within days and weeks rather than months. 

Morris explains this rapid feedback loop: “Our internal On-Time Performance Group uses Swiftly data to monitor the success of our network redesign. The first couple of days, we were monitoring the service and asking, ‘How are these individual routes doing?’ We were checking the on-time performance historically. We would see that we’ve increased on-time performance ten points from this previous time. That was a really good, quick, and easy way of checking, ‘Did we get this right?’ That was really helpful.”

Maintaining rider trust with reliable data and proactive communications

Miami-Dade Transit works with Swiftly to provide best-in-class real-time passenger information for riders. Unique Swiftly capabilities such as Auto-Assigner and integrations with existing onboard hardware ensured reliable data coverage across the Miami-Dade Transit fleet. As a result, passengers received accurate arrival predictions throughout the network redesign process, available on consumer trip planning apps through a GTFS-rt feed. 

Furthermore, during the Better Bus Network implementation, the agency started using Swiftly’s Rider Alerts product to notify passengers of routes with redesigned schedules. The proactive communication helped boost rider trust and limit confusion.

“We had a command center set up in our bus operations control. There really wasn't the craziness that we thought that there would be,” says Morris. “We did have 400 ambassadors at strategic locations across the county trying to help for a couple of weeks before and after the launch, which really helped engage with passengers. But operationally it went remarkably well.” 

Continuous improvement to benefit the region

A project of this scale may only occur once in a generation for a city, which makes lessons learned all the more valuable. Chief among them from the Better Bus Network rollout is the value of agility and continuous improvement. 

The staff at Miami-Dade Transit had tools and processes in place to proactively ensure rider trust and start measuring performance on day one. Continuing to monitor results and responding quickly to issues can be just as important as an effective initial redesign. With plans for future schedule changes throughout 2024, Miami-Dade Transit is dedicating resources to improving all routes as the redesign progresses. 

“We've still been going at 100 miles an hour,” Morris says. “These are the largest changes that we've done as a county transit agency. So we're still functioning as if we're gearing up to implement, just because there's still an awful lot of work to do.” 

Another ongoing element of the project involves coordinating service with neighboring municipalities. Miami-Dade Transit is helping adjacent transit agencies to best align their service with changes from the Better Bus Network project. These efforts will work towards the mission to transform public transit for the broader community. 

“Some of the discontinued routes left some gaps that we've been working with the municipalities on trying to fill. So we've been doing that work since we launched. At least two municipalities are moving forward with some of their realignments happening in the next couple of months, which is great,” says Morris. “We know where the issues are and the key municipalities that we need to work with. So it's been helpful to focus us. The foundation is laid. Let's figure out how to build everything else.”

Learn more

Hear more from Miami-Dade Transit’s Linda Morris in our upcoming webinar on improving on-time performance—register just below.

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