HISTORY OF CATENARYLESS STREETCARS IN THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH
Within five years of the City of Miami Beach’s incorporation in 1915, electric streetcars were rolling through the city’s streets. The streetcar system, operated by Carl Fisher’s “Miami Beach Streetcar Company,” transported passengers across the MacArthur Causeway, then north from South Beach to Dade Boulevard, for a modest fare of 10 cents.
Much has changed in the last one-hundred years. Most notably, Miami Beach has become a regional economic driver and top international destination, attracting millions of visitors each year.
With its growing reputation, the City of Miami Beach has also attracted millions of vehicles onto its roadways, making Miami-Dade County one of the most congested metropolitan areas in the US. Meanwhile, Carl Fisher’s once-thriving streetcar system has disappeared.
Local officials have long recognized the need to re-build a modern streetcar system that connects the cities of Miami and Miami Beach and alleviates traffic congestion in the busy South Beach district. Over the last 28 years, four separate studies have examined the implementation of a streetcar system that extends into Miami Beach. These studies have generated significant support among local political leaders and the general public. In November 2004, for example, the residents of the City of Miami Beach approved the streetcar concept in a non-binding straw vote. Yet despite the numerous studies and expressions of public support, the modern streetcar project has not moved forward…until now.
Recognizing the critical need for a streetcar solution in Miami Beach, local leaders have led an effort to adopt a phased implementation for the Beach Corridor Transit Connection Project, formerly known as “Baylink,” with the Miami Beach portion serving as the catalyst for the rest of the project. In January 2016, the City of Miami Beach initiated a competitive process to select the most qualified proposer to construct and operate the Miami Beach modern streetcar project. Miami Beach City Commissioners received three unique bids for a Miami Beach catenaryless streetcar system. GMTP was chosen as preferred bidder by an independent selection committee composed of five members. The selection was presented to the City Manager and to city commissioners at the commission meeting in July 2016. The Commissioners voted 6-1 and confirmed the selection. The City of Miami Beach is currently in the process of negotiating with GMTP to continue moving the project forward.
The GMTP team looks forward to continuing to work with city leaders and residents to develop a sustainable, 100% catenaryless modern streetcar system that will provide immediate traffic congestion relief and address the city’s transportation priorities.