Getting around Miami
Getting around Greater Miami can be difficult due to the size of the city. Nevertheless, Miami-Dade Transit Service (MDT) (tel: (305) 770 3131; www.miamidade.gov/transit) provides a variety of useful public transport options, including Metrorail, Metrobus and Metromover.
The Metrorail is the longest elevated rapid transit system in America. At 34km (21 miles), it runs from Kendall northwards through South Miami, Coral Gables, downtown Miami and then northwest to the Hialeah district. There are 22 stations and the entire journey takes 42 minutes. Trains run approximately every 10-20 minutes and more frequently at peak hours. Exact change only is placed in the slot at the entrance turnstiles.
The trains connect to the Metrobus and Tri-Rail. Transfers to the Metrobus, at the Government Center station or Brickell station, must be purchased at the original boarding station.
Metrobus operates a comprehensive bus service with 94 routes, some running 24 hours. Blue and green bus-stop signs list the routes and destinations. Exact change is required.
Downtown Miami is served by the futuristic, driverless Metromover, an elevated, three-loop, fully automated monorail. It operates daily from about 0500 to midnight, with the outer Loop serving Brickell and Omni operating as one continuous loop from about 1900 until midnight. The Metromover is free to all travellers. It is safe, air-conditioned and it also provides unparalleled views.
The South Beach Local makes getting around South Beach a breeze. The bus runs every 10-15 minutes and is very cheap.
A monthly Metropass allows for unlimited travel on the Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover. This pass is available for purchase from the Transit Information Center on the second level of the Government Center Metrorail station, online and at designated outlets.
The Easy Ticket enables 60 days of unlimited rides on the Metrobus and Metrorail. Buy the pass from the airport (Mercado Miami store, Concourse F), Welcome Centers and other select locations.
Taxis are plentiful but it is not the norm to hail one in the street. They are easily available from taxi stands outside most hotels and shopping malls, although it is more common to telephone for one.
Firms include Metro Taxi Co (tel: (305) 888 8888), Aventura Taxi (tel: (305) 599 9999), Coral Gables City Taxi (tel: (305) 444 4242), South Miami-Dade Taxi (tel: (305) 242 7117) and Yellow Cabs (tel: (305) 444 4444). A 15-20% tip is expected.
Greater Miami comprises 30 municipalities but Miami is divided into quadrants. Flagler Street runs east-west, thus dividing the city into north and south sections, while Miami Avenue runs north-south, splitting the city into east and west sections. Most Miami addresses refer to these quadrants.
Greater Miami traffic can be terrible; cars can come to an absolute standstill along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue in South Beach during weekday rush hour and weekend nights.
There is plenty of metered parking available in Miami but not elsewhere. Visitors should check displayed information for rates and hours of operation. The average rates for parking meters range from US$0.75 to US$1.50 per hour. Some newer meters accept Visa and Mastercard as well as cash. On weekends, parking garages fill up with shoppers during the day and clubbers during the night. Further information on locations of car parks, hours and rates is available from the Miami Parking Authority, 190 NE Third Street (tel: (305) 373 6789; www.miamiparking.com).
Hiring a car is relatively straightforward. Drivers must be over 25 years old, possess a valid national driving licence and a credit card to hold a deposit of at least US$500. When arranging car hire, visitors should enquire about an all-inclusive rate and ask how this compares to the regular daily rate. An all-inclusive rate should include all taxes, airport fees and car-handling fees. CWD (also known as LDW), which makes the hire company, rather than the driver, responsible for damage to the car, and SLI (supplementary liability insurance), also sometimes called top-up liability insurance or EP (extended protection), increases third-party liability coverage. All-inclusive rates may also include a tank of petrol and additional drivers. There is usually an extra charge for child seats.
Major providers include Alamo (tel: (305) 633 6076; www.alamo.com), Avis (tel: (305) 341 0936; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: (305) 871 3053; www.drivebudget.com), Hertz (tel: (305) 871 0300; www.hertz.com), Global Rent a Car (tel: (305) 635 3060; www.interamerican-car-rental.com), and Thrifty (tel: (877) 871 5051; www.thrifty.com).
Most hire outlets are in bike-friendly Miami Beach. They include the Miami Beach Bicycle Center, 601 Fifth Street (tel: (305) 674 0150; www.bikemiamibeach.com) and Mangrove Cycles, 260 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne (tel: (305) 361 5555; www.mangrovecycles.com). Miami occasionally holds car-free, bike-and-stroll days in and around downtown Miami, Brickell and the Miami River. Look out for details in the local press.