Bus Battle: South Miami-Dade riders say route change has left them stranded

(WSVN) - Thousands of people depend on buses every day in South Florida, but one community says changes to their route has left them stranded. 7’s Brian Entin has more on the “Bus Battle.”

She may not be able to get around as well as she used to, but Pauline is very independent.

Pauline Velasquez, rides the bus: “I am 70 years old. I don’t want nobody to take me to do things when I can do it for myself.”

Pauline doesn’t have a car, so she has relied on Bus Route 35 in South Miami-Dade for years.

Pauline Velasquez: “I’ll go to the grocery store, the mall, wherever is necessary for me to get to.”

Getting around was easy for Pauline and other residents in this neighborhood along U.S. 1 in South Miami.

The bus stop was right outside their complex — but in March, Miami-Dade Transportation stopped service to this bus stop.

Now, they have to walk nearly a mile to get the bus.

Pauline Velasquez: “I have three surgeries in my back. There is no way I can walk.”

Transit officials say the changes were made to combine Route 35 with Route 70, which had low ridership.

Frank Guyamier, Miami-Dade Transportation: “By merging both routes and rerouting them, reconfiguring the route, we were able to accommodate many people with as little impact as possible.”

But residents say the changes have had a huge impact on their lives.

Desiree Brown, bus rider: “I have younger kids, and you always have to worry about your safety.”

Desiree says she was attacked after getting off a bus years ago, and now, with a longer walk to the bus stop, she’s afraid it could happen again.

Desiree Brown: “It’s much more dangerous. People are afraid.”

Her neighbor, Cameo Parrish, doesn’t want that to happen to her 16-year-old, so she pays for an Uber or Lyft to get her teen to and from the closest bus stop.

Cameo Parrish, bus rider: “It’s costing me even more money. We don’t catch the bus because we want to. We catch it because we have to.”

Theo Herbert, bus rider: “The struggle is real out here.”

Neighbors say they have reached out to their commissioner, Dennis Moss, who sits on the transportation committee, but haven’t gotten any answers.

Cameo Parrish: “Everybody says their hands are tied. They are routing you back to other people especially Commissioner Moss’ office.”

Bianca Currie, bus rider: “They don’t care. They don’t think that this area is worth it. That’s really what they’re saying.”

Daniella Levine Cava is the commissioner for the neighboring Cutler Bay area. She says the changes to Bus Route 35 are impacting her district, too.

Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County Commissioner: “It’s extremely disruptive and maybe has even cost people their jobs, their medical appointments.”

Commissioner Cava says she has been fighting for transportation improvements on behalf of her district for years.

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava: “They pay their taxes. They are a part of our community, and we need them to be able to get to their jobs.”

Transit officials say they are working to fix things.

Frank Guyamier, Miami-Dade Transportation: “We have planners, and the planners will gladly get some kind of feedback from the community.”

But neighbors say they need changes now to end this bus battle.

Neighbors did meet with a liaison for Commissioner Dennis Moss’ office the last week of April, but say they still haven’t seen any changes.

7News reached out to Commissioner Moss’ office for an interview, but he has not responded to our request.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Heard By Commission on an Issue
http://www.miamidade.gov/commission/agenda-coordination-be-heard.asp

Miami-Dade Transportation
http://www.miamidade.gov/transit/routes_detail.asp?route=35

Miami-Dade Commission
http://www.miamidade.gov/commission/

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

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