Public Transit Day 2016: In Review



What does it take to ignite an entire city around a shared community challenge? How do you get civic and community leaders and local residents to take a collective responsibility for solving that challenge together?

On December 9th, 2016, we rallied thousands of fellow Miamians around an issue of critical importance to South Florida - strengthening public transit.

This report tells the story of Public Transit Day: the backstory of how it came to be, what happened on the day of, lessons learned, aspirations for the future, and next steps.

PART 1   |  How Did Public Transit Day Come To Be?    

PART 2  |  The Day Of    

PART 3  |  Takeaways and Next Steps    

PART 4  |  You Made Public Transit Day Possible

View Full Report

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Part 1 | How Did Public Transit Day Come to Be?

Recognizing the necessity for an improved public transit system, in Spring 2016, we turned to our community for suggestions on how to strengthen our system. Through a five-day social media campaign, 1,700 Miamians collectively generated more than 400 unique ideas to strengthen our community's public transit system.

Ideas ranged from making it easier and safer to walk or bike to and from transit stations to adding in water-based transportation services to enhancing the transit experience with better amenities.


five themes

Of all these ideas generated during the 100 Great Ideas Transit campaign, five themes emerged:

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Expand  |  If Miami’s transit system is going to be a viable option for locals, transit options need to increase in frequency, accessibility, reliability and reach.

Integrate  |  There are many disparate parts that need to be integrated to create a seamless user experience. In order to be world-class, Miami’s system needs to integrate.

Delight  |  The user experience needs to be at the forefront of any transit improvements. What will make for a joyful, positive experience for all users?

Lead  |  Our leaders play a critical role in educating, engaging and decision-making to shape the future of transit in Miami.

Innovate  |  The future offers powerful solutions for transit, and as a new innovative-focused community, we should welcome technology, new forms of transit and creative to the mix.

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The #1 Idea

Participants all agreed: expanding the system and improving connectivity of existing services is critical for increasing sustainability, economic opportunity, quality of life and affordability in our city, especially for those residents who require increased connectivity to access employment opportunities. But how do we advocate for these improvements?

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The most popular idea from the campaign was to engage decision-makers in experiencing the issue firsthand by actually riding public transit, just for a day.

Through the experience of mapping their route, planning their day around transit schedules and physically riding the train and/or bus, leaders could develop a clearer understanding of the wins and pains of the system and increase their personal commitment to improving the system for all.

Engaging in this experience alongside committed locals would also allow leaders to feel the wind of the community on their backs. And thus, the idea for Public Transit Day was born.

< Back to Introduction

Onward to Part 2 | The Day Of >

Part 2 | The Day Of


What did it look like for the whole community, including over 40 elected leaders, to come alive around the experience of riding transit?

What started as a small idea blossomed into a massive, community day of action across South Florida that engaged community leaders and locals in riding public transit, dialoguing together on social media about their experience, participating in transit-related events around the city and fueling the commitment to strengthening our transit system.

Posts and tweets started coming in before the actual day as locals and elected leaders began mapping out their routes and preparing for their day. On Public Transit Day, residents walked, biked or used rideshare to get to their nearest transit stop, many for the first time. Activity picked up on social media early on December 9 as commuters packed buses and trains.

Civic Center Metrorail Station during morning rush hour.

Civic Center Metrorail Station during morning rush hour.

Our friends at the Knight Foundation helped us remind everyone to ride transit for Public Transit Day.

Our friends at the Knight Foundation helped us remind everyone to ride transit for Public Transit Day.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava received support from a sympathetic bus driver when she had a bit of difficulty loading her bike on the bus' bike rack.

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez’s bus never arrived so she called 311: “It [the app] said it [the bus] would be arriving in 7 minutes - that was roughly 3 minutes ago. The bus never came, and when I re-logged into the app, it said my bus would arrive in 40 minutes. Do you know where my bus is?” A patient 311 operator let the commissioner know that her bus had broken down; a re-route led to a ride on a Miami Beach trolley, a system the commissioner had previously opposed funding for. The experience shifted her perspective.

County Commissioner Jose 'Pepe' Diaz rode the bus and handed out one-week transit passes to other transit riders, and City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell used a combo of Uber, the Metrorail and the Metromover to get where he needed to go.

Joined by Miami-Dade County Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Rebeca Sosa, and Esteban Bovo, North Miami Mayor Smith Joseph and Mayor of Palmetto Bay Eugene Flinn, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez joined us on the Metrorail and Metrobus to celebrate Public Transit Day and demonstrate his commitment to strengthening our public transit system.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, and Miami-Dade CountyCommissioner Rebeca Sosa take the bus on Public Transit Day.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, and Miami-Dade CountyCommissioner Rebeca Sosa take the bus on Public Transit Day.


Events throughout the day celebrated the day of action with free and discounted snacks and fun. The City of Doral rallied their community around Public Transit Day and trolly riders received 10% off purchases at participating businesses. Lucky rail riders received free coffee and snacks at the Civic Center station, presented by Jackson Health System. Public transit advocates rode transit on their lunch break and joined the transit conversation at Lunch @The Underline at the Brickell Metrorail Stop.

The Underline demonstrates the important role great public spaces play in shaping and improving our public transit system. The Lunch @The Underline showcased how the public areas around the Brickell Metrorail Station are being transformed into inviting places for people to meet and mingle.

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In addition to free snacks from The Salty Donut, Wynwood Parlor, Harmless Harvest & EVOS, attendees had the opportunity to talk and learn about public transit improvements with the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation & Public Works.

Transit users stopped by restaurants throughout the city to partake in Public Transit Day snacks - La Fresa Francesa gave out free lemonade and Books & Books handed out free coffee for transit users showing their transit “proof” - a selfie or a post on transit using #PublicTransitDay. Museum-loving transit users received free admission to the Perez Art Museum Miami, the History.Miami Museum, the new Cuban Diaspora Museum and Fairchild Botanical Gardens - and The Wynwood Yard featured a special Public Transit Day cocktail.


Interested in combining your transit experience with some local culture? Evening transit riders partook in Buskerfest, an annual street performance festival in downtown Miami. This year featured approximately 40 groups of local musicians, acrobats, comedians and dancers at Metromover stops.

One of the biggest surprises for our team was the reach and exposure #PublicTransitDay received on social media. At day's end, numerous cities across the globe had picked up on #PublicTransitDay and joined us in celebrating mass transit!

Cities worldwide caught on to Public Transit Day and joined in on the action.

Cities worldwide caught on to Public Transit Day and joined in on the action.

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We learned a lot about your transit experiences through social media. Twitter polls provided insight on what improvements might be priorities for locals. We heard about some great transit experiences and some not so great ones. While some of you had a seamless ride, others experienced late trains/busses, long commutes and difficulty getting to your first transit stop of the day.

All in all, Public Transit Day was a tremendous success. Transit users new and old experienced the transit system - celebrating its wins and feeling all of its pains. Beyond their personal experiences on transit, elected leaders heard from YOU, their community, that you care about this issue - not only because you care about traffic congestion, but because you care about equity, the environment and the economic vitality of our city.


Check out our Public Transit DAy social media feed


Part 3 | Takeaways & Next Steps

Public Transit Day played an important role in connecting community insight to people in decision-making roles like transit agency directors and elected leaders. But the work is far from over. While Public Transit Day was one opportunity for elected leaders to experience the system and the needs of our South Florida community, our community needs to continue to advocate for public transit improvements that spread opportunity to all.

Marta Viciedo, co-host of Public Transit Day, will continue to work with TransitAlliance.Miami to advocate for improvements in all aspects of mobility in Miami. TransitAlliance.Miami is a non-profit organization dedicated to making Miami one of the safest, most enjoyable places to walk, bike, and access a mass transit network that is integrated and reliable. 

Below are some ways that you can continue to engage in the efforts to strengthen our public transit system, improve mobility throughout our region and create a vibrant and equitable city. 



GET Hands-On

Quick Build Challenge (through June 1, 2017) |  provides funding and technical assistance to anyone who wants to make short-term, low-cost transportation improvements to their neighborhood. 

Public Space Challenge (March-April 2017)  |  gathers and funds the best ideas for creating, improving and activating parks, plazas and local gathering places in Miami-Dade County.



JOIN the Convo

Tune into or better yet, attend, the monthly Miami-Dade County MPO meetings where upcoming transit projects and policies are discussed. Sign up for their informative weekly newsletter to stay up to date on transit-related meetings and conferences.

The Miami-Dade County Transportation & Public Works Committee also meets publicly on a monthly basis. While the MPO board consists of various city mayors, commissioners and representatives from other transit agencies, the Miami-Dade County Transportation & Public Works Committee consists of five county commissioners who gather regularly to work towards the expansion of the county's mass transit system.



Get involved

Several organizations have been successfully advocating for and advancing improvements to our mass transit and mobility networks for several years. These organizations include, but are not limited to, TransitAlliance.Miami, Green Mobility Network, Bike Somi, and Friends of The Underline. Any and all of these local organizations would love to hear from you and count you as a new member!

Radical Partners and Urban Impact Lab will continue to be engaged in our local transit issues, and we welcome (as in would absolutely love) your involvement!

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Part 4 | You Made Public Transit Day Possible

What did it take to pull this off?

First, this event could not have been made possible without the generous support of our lead sponsor The Miami Foundation, as well as from Lyft, Ride2MD, the Miami Center for Architecture & Design, Tri-Rail, Whole Foods and the Health Foundation of South Florida.



It takes a village

Public transit is a complex challenge given the number of stakeholders that play a role - and we sought to engage agencies and individuals within each key areas to build momentum for this movement.

As the leader in the Miami public transportation space, we began by partnering with the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation & Public Works; their support and engagement during this day of action greatly amplified the success of the day. We also engaged the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and both county and city elected leaders.

Municipalities such as City of Doral stepped up their particpation by creating a video promoting Public Transit Day and organized local businesses to provide discounts to trolley riders. 

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Our initial efforts focused exclusively on engaging Miami’s stakeholders, but as we began to build momentum for the event, stakeholders from all across South Florida lined up to join in.

Given that transit is truly a regional issue (as many travelers commute between cities for work and other opportunities) we coordinated with Tri-Rail, Palm Beach MPO and Broward County to engage locals and elected leaders, publicize the event and partner with us as we advocate for advancements in South Florida’s vast and complex network of public transit options.

Throughout the lead-up to the event, we received support from both our outreach partners and host committee which consisted of individuals and community organizations all dedicated to improvements in our public transportation system.

Our outreach partners, who went above and beyond to help us showcase this event, included: Buskerfest, The Underline, EVOS, The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, The AO Insight and Rosado and Associates. In addition, the teams at The New Tropic, Prism Creative Group, Sustainable MIA and The Conroy Martinez Group helped us plan and get the word out leading up to and during the day. 

The host committee, who actively promoted the event, included: Albert Lee (Local Measure), Alice Bravo (Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works), Alissa Farina (Miami Science Barge), Amy Rodriguez, Anna Prisse (WeWork), Carlye Wisliceny (Whole Foods), Caryn Lavernia (Florida International University), Cheryl Jacobs (AIA Miami and the Miami Center for Architecture & Design), C.L. Conroy (Conroy Martinez Group), Daniel Horton (Candidate for State Representative), David Doebler (, George Fernandez (Ride2MD), Ileen Delgado (Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works), Isabella Akcer (PRiSM Creative Group), Jodie Knofsky (Consultant), Justin Wales (Engage Miami), Maggie Fernandez (Sustainable Miami), Meg Daly (Friends of the Underline), Melissa Hege (Melissa Hege Planning & Transportation), Mitchell Bierman (Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Chairman), Natalia Arias (Dream in Green), Nick Uhren (Palm Beach MPO), Peter Wood (Health Foundation of South Florida), Ralph Rosado (Rosado and Associates), Rob Kiskupic-Knight (Engage Miami), Roland Rafuls (EVOS), Ryan Vega, Sam Cohen (Lyft), Shekeria Brown (SFCDC), Stuart Kennedy (The Miami Foundation), Valerie Neilson (Palm Beach MPO), Vance Alouopis (Children’s Movement) and Vince Sciullo (Tri-Rail).

Thanks to this all-star group of supporters, over 500 individuals (including almost 40 elected leaders!) pledged to ride transit on Public Transit Day.


Community members, businesses, and local organizations throughout South Florida hosted events and activations to celebrate Public Transit Day. A special thanks for the following businesses for hosting Public Transit Day-themed events and/or specials: Taurus Beer & Whiskey House, Sweat Records, ACME Lounge, Mina’s Meditarraneo, The Wynwood Yard, Coyo Taco, Zuuk Mediterranean Kitchen, My Ceviche, Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe, Toasted Bagelry and Deli, Blue Tree Juice, Power Pizza, La Sandwicherie Brickell, and Sushi Maki.