Extension will connect Metrorail to Miami airport

Popular student Metrorail stops
The Metrorail runs from 5 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Service to the airport is scheduled to begin at noon on July 28. To view the train scheule, visit miamidade.gov/transit.

Construction of the 2.4-mile elevated extension to the Metrorail, connecting Dadeland South station to Miami International Airport, is on track.

The “AirportLink” extension, slated to open July 28, will connect Earlington Heights station to a new public transportation center just northeast of the airport. Earlington Heights is 11 stops away from the University Metrorail station, the stop located across from the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.

Traveling to the airport from University station would take approximately 30 minutes. Train service between Dadeland South and Earlington Heights stations will double in frequency after construction, decreasing wait time.

Irene Ferradaz, a public information officer for Miami-Dade Transit, expects a 12 percent increase in ridership during the first year.

Ferradaz said the extension will help students because, among other reasons, it “cuts down on hassles driving to the airport, wrestling with traffic, looking for a place to park and having to take a taxi.”

At the public transportation center, passengers will be able to connect to airport terminals via the Automated People Mover. There will also be access to the Tri-Rail, county buses, taxis and a rental car center. This hub will be completed in the fall of 2013, after the AirportLink.

Senior Giovany Delgado has ridden the Metrorail every day for the last 10 years, and plans to take advantage of the extension.

“Honestly, it’s about time they invested in a direct line to the airport,” he said. “Miami-Dade should continue investing in more lines to alleviate traffic.”

The $506-million extension is part of the larger People’s Transportation Plan (PTP), and is the first major extension since the Metrorail was opened in 1984. In 2002, Miami-Dade voters approved a half-penny sales tax increase to finance the PTP and, by extension, this project. The remaining $101.3 million was covered by the Florida Department of Transportation.

The PTP and its $17 billion budget also includes the plan to add more buses and routes, improve service, expand rapid transit and create thousands of transportation and construction-related jobs over the next 25 years, according to Ferradaz.

Despite the significant cost of construction, fares will remain the same at $2 a ride.