As Liberty City rises, it now can mobilize better, too.
After years of planning, community meetings, and redrawing of routes, the Liberty City trolley route is ready to move residents to key areas of the neighborhood, including the Joseph Caleb Center – at no cost to them. Joyous, cheerful chatter filled the front porch of Charles Hadley Park on Monday as neighborhood residents, advocates and city of Miami leaders celebrated the inauguration of the new Liberty City trolley route.
For the moment, three orange-and green-themed Ford E450 buses will service the newly established route until the city procures new trolley cars, expected to be delivered a year from now, city officials said. The buses, which each seat about 25, will run from 6:30 a.m. - 10 p.m., Monday - Saturday.
The new trolley route will cover a large swath of the Liberty City and Brownsville neighborhoods, traveling mostly along Northwest 62 Street from Seventh to 22nd avenues, looping to 54th Street and going as far south as 36th Street, to connect riders to sections of Allapattah. The route will make stops at schools during school hours, including Miami
Northwestern and Miami Edison senior high.
The route will also connect riders to the Little Haiti trolley route, and make a stop at the Allapattah Metrorail station, as well as make a stop at the recently restored Joseph Caleb Center. A full loop around the route is expected to take about 45 minutes.
More than 40 Liberty City residents, many of them senior citizens, anxiously waited on Monday to be the first riders on the new trolley route.
For months, neighborhood senior citizens advocated to include a stop at the Joseph Caleb Center in the final route. Many of the seniors said a stop at the center was crucial for the route to accommodate their needs. Latest census data shows that about 12 percent of Liberty City’s residents are seniors, many of whom rely on public transportation to get around and live on fixed incomes.
“When you don't have a car or a way to get around then you become stranded,” said Barbara Moss Jones, a lifelong Liberty City resident. She gave a fist pump as she boarded the trolley for the first time on Monday. “It’s going to help a lot of seniors and kids in our neighborhoods,” she said. “It is serving their whole neighborhoods.”
Community leader Samuel Lattimore is the president of the Charles Hadley Park Neighborhood Association and has advocated for the Liberty City trolley route since the program began in 2015. Over the past months, he liaised many of the community concerns regarding the route with city leaders.
“I feel great because our children will see that they are not excluded from city operations,” he said. “Our seniors now have ways to get around, especially those on a fixed income.”
He said the success of the new route will depend on ridership and limited problems.
Though the route will service students, children need to behave and abide by the rules of the trolley, he said. “We need the children to understand that these are not play items, and there are rules and regulations that they will have to abide by if they want to ride.”
Mayor Francis Suarez congratulated the Liberty City residents on their new trolley route.
“One of the major costs in a family is transportation,” Suarez said. “For us to be able to work with the community and get a trolley system that goes to the areas they wanted to go to for free, it’s a huge benefit.”
After the ceremony, seniors lined up to experience a ride first hand, while others got off of the trolley.
“It needs some cushions,” Moss Jones said laughingly.