By Public Transit
The Miami-Dade Transit System (www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/transit) stands as the 16th largest public transit offering in the US, providing passengers with a slew of options starting with its popular fleet of Metrobuses. More than 1031 buses service 107 routes, providing easy access to all of Miami's attractions.
Metromover offers free shuttle service on an automated people mover in the downtown area only, with stops at popular destinations such as American Airlines Arena, Miami-Dade College, and the Bayside Marketplace. It consists of two loops, the inner loop and the outer loop, which run daily from 5am to midnight. 21 stations are stretched between the Omni and Brickell districts. Buses pass each stop every 90 seconds during rush hours, and every three minutes during off-peak.
Metrorail, an elevated rapid-transit rail system, is the perfect alternative for maneuvering around the surrounding area. With 22 miles of track it offers 22 stations (most about one mile apart), making stops in heavy traffic areas including downtown and the University of Miami. It operates daily from 5am to midnight. During peak hours each stop is serviced every six minutes and every 15 minutes during weekday midday hours.
The Tri-Rail (Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority; www.tri-rail.com), a double-decker train, wanders through Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties while making stops at such popular attractions as the Metrozoo, the Miami Seaquarium and the Art Deco District. Tickets must be purchased before boarding.
Electric buses offer a novel alternative in negotiating the Miami Beach area.
Taxis are generally expensive with a surcharge of $2.50 for the pick-up and an additional $0.40 for each 6th of a mile travelled. Almost all cab companies in the area have pre-determined rates for travel into the barrier islands of Miami Beach and other beach and nightclub communities popular with tourists which can range from $30-$60 depending on arrival location. For example, South Beach may be the most expensive while a residential neighbourhood in Miami Beach may be the cheapest. The charge is the same regardless of pick-up location on the mainland. All taxis are fitted with maps of the barrier islands which state the cost per location. The same applies for passengers leaving the islands onto the mainland, though normal rates apply for person travelling by taxi within the islands or within the mainland.
Service is available throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties regardless of pick-up location. The normal service charges apply for these four counties, but it is wise to ask for a pre-determined price beforehand if leaving the county as this will in most cases turn out to be cheaper and most drivers are willing to negotiate when leaving the county. If you wish to be taxied to a location outside of those four counties, you must negotiate a price and advise the cab company first. Drivers may refuse to drive outside of the metropolitan area if they are not advised to do so beforehand.
Usually you will have to call a cab company and request a pick-up. Taxis operated by the major companies are not normally allowed to pick up passengers at random locations for safety and legal reasons except at Miami International Airport, the Port of Miami and train stations. Some individual taxi drivers will not follow this rule, however. You can try hailing a taxi in the street.
If you are planning on limiting your movement to in and around the South Beach area, you can easily do without a car. Otherwise, a rental car is a must since most of Miami's attractions are generously spaced. Driving through Miami is relatively easy compared to most major cities in the US. The numerous drawbridges, however, can slow down movement. Most drawbridge openings last 5-10 minutes.
Roads in Miami are usually easy to navigate. The area's roads are designed around a grid system, where most roads are numbered based on their distance from the city center. The two main axis roads are Miami Avenue (running north to south) and Flagler Street (running east to west). These two roads intersect in downtown Miami, the county's geographic centre. All avenues run north to south, while all streets run east to west. Most roads in Miami conform to this nomenclature, but due to the more than 30 municipalities within Miami-Dade County, there are a few exceptions to be aware of. Examples include Coral Gables, the Coconut Grove section of Miami (city proper), Miami Lakes and Hialeah.
Miami has four primary expressways. In addition to I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike, there is state highway 836 (also known as the Dolphin Expressway) and state highway 826 (also known as the Palmetto Expressway). The Dolphin Expressway runs west from downtown Miami along the edge of Miami International Airport. The Palmetto Expressway and Florida's Turnpike form "F"-shaped loops around the city. The Turnpike continues north, roughly parallel to I-95, and will take you to Orlando if you keep driving. I-95, the Palmetto and the Turnpike intersect at a junction in North Miami called the Golden Glades. You may find driving in the Glades challenging, especially if you have little experience driving in it.
If you're planning to bicycle your way around Miami, you will be gravely disappointed. Outside of Miami Beach's boardwalk, the greater Miami area woefully lacks in bike paths.