A northbound Orange Line train arriving at Miami International Airport.

(Alancrh, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Metrorail is a rapid transit system in Miami and Miami-Dade County in the U.S. state of Florida. Metrorail is operated by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), a departmental agency of Miami-Dade County. Opened in 1984, it is Florida's only rapid transit metro system, and is currently composed of two lines of 23 stations on 24.4 miles (39.3 km) of standard gauge track. Metrorail serves the urban core of Miami, connecting Miami International Airport, the Health District, Downtown Miami, and Brickell with the northern developed neighborhoods of Hialeah and Medley to the northwest, and to suburban The Roads, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and South Miami, ending at urban Dadeland in Kendall. Metrorail connects to the Metromover in Downtown, which provides metro service to the entirety of Downtown and Brickell. Additionally, it connects to South Florida's commuter rail system at Tri-Rail station, as well as Metrobus routes at all stations. In 2023, the system had 13,439,300 rides, and about 48,300 per day in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In 2012, Metrorail opened its 23rd station, Miami International Airport station, at Miami International Airport (MIA), beginning service on a newly created 16-station Orange Line between the MIA and Dadeland South stations. The new line has helped increase ridership significantly, adding millions of riders per year and allowing residents and visitors alike direct access from MIA to Downtown Miami, as well as greater connectivity between various modes of transit throughout Miami-Dade County. The station provides direct service to Tri-Rail commuter rail, Greyhound Lines intercity bus, and the Rental Car Center.


Metrorail viaduct under construction at Douglas Road in Coral Gables during the early 1980s.

(State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, via Wikimedia Commons)




In 1964 the Miami Urban Area Transportation Study was initiated by the Dade County metropolitan planning organization. It was completed in 1971 and recommended the construction for a rapid transit system for Greater Miami.[6] Having experienced a prolonged post-World War II population boom, metropolitan Dade County's permanent population rose by 35% to nearly 1.3 million residents within a decade, among the fastest population growth rates in the United States.[7] Within a year of the study, county residents approved a $132.5 million ($965.1 million, adjusted for current inflation) bond dedicated to transit, with additional funding approved by the Florida Legislature for transit which, up until that time, operated solely on fare revenue. In 1976, with preliminary engineering completed for the system, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA, then, the Urban Mass Transit Administration) committed 80% of the costs for the first stage of rapid transit system, with the county and state incurring the remaining cost. In the end the system cost over a billion dollars.


Construction of Government Center (1984).

(Florida. - Department of Commerce. - Florida Film Bureau., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


In April 1979, the Interstate Commerce Commission ratified an agreement between the Florida East Coast Railway and Dade County to transfer the right-of-way along US 1 to Miami-Dade Transit, then named the Metro Transit Agency. Groundbreaking for the system the county commission voted to be named "Metrorail" (working name was DART - Dade Area Rapid Transit) took place at the site of what would become University station in June. Construction began in December 1980 with placing of a double-tee guideway girder near the University of Miami. The entire original 21 mi (34 km) line contained 2,704 girders, constructed at a cost of $55,887,830. In June 1983, the first segment of Metrorail, 10 stations from Dadeland South to Overtown (now "Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre") was completed with the construction of the Miami River Bridge. Revenue operation commenced on May 20, 1984, with 125,000 taking the free first-day service from Pinecrest/Dadeland to Overtown.


Early photo of a northbound Metro train approaching Brickell.

(Florida Photographic Collection, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


In 1984 Rockne Krebs created an urban-scale neon sculpture multicolored light installation called The Miami Line that stretches 1,540 feet (470 m) across the Metrorail bridge over the Miami River. Additional segments between Earlington Heights and Okeechobee opened between December 1984 and May 1985. In March 1989, a temporary station was opened to provide a connection to the newly opened Tri-Rail commuter rail line, with the now permanent station officially opening in June. Preliminary engineering for a rapid transit extension to the Palmetto Expressway began in 1996 with Palmetto station opening in May 2003. As far as operational costs, revenues expected for 2006 were $17.15 million, while expenses budgeted for 2006 were $41.29 million. These historic figures became the last the Miami Dade Transit Authority ever disclosed, and are the figures still displayed on today's Miami-Dade Transit webpage as of January 2012.


Northbound Metrorail traveling above South Dixie Highway.

(Florida. - Department of Commerce. - Florida Film Bureau., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


With the area having a generally low density and lacking transit-oriented development, the Metrorail was designed as a park and ride system, with the idea being that suburban residents would drive to the stations, then commute the rest of the way into the city. Nearly all of the stations outside of downtown Miami have parking facilities, except Tri-Rail station. Several have large parking garages, such as Dadeland North and South stations, located at the southern end of the system, which combined have space for over 3,000 cars. Earlington Heights, located just northwest of Downtown and adjacent to Interstate 95 and the Airport Expressway, has a large garage that was formerly dedicated to Metrorail riders. However, that is now used by the county due to the station's low ridership, with only 95 vehicle spaces currently available. The successful Dadeland garages are at or over capacity, with two of Metrorail's proposed extensions, the West Kendall Corridor and South Link, intended to help alleviate them. The two northernmost stations, which are located near the Palmetto Expressway, Palmetto and Okeechobee, appeal to Broward County commuters with nearly 2,000 combined spaces. Additionally, the proposed North Corridor to the Broward/Miami-Dade county line would have included five park and ride facilities totaling 2,650 spaces. In the late 1990s, the plan was to potentially even continue the Metrorail line into Broward County along 27th Avenue (University Drive), ending at Broward Boulevard near Broward Mall in Plantation.


Passengers aboard Metrorail during the mid 1980s.

(Florida. - Department of Commerce. - Florida Film Bureau., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


Ridership growth and transit tax

After the initial segment of the single Green Line opened, Metrorail saw less than 10,000 riders per day. This increased to 15,000 after the rest of the line and stations opened in late 1984 and 1985. After running out of money due to cost overruns, the originally planned to be 50 miles (80 km) system consisting of several lines was never completed, and lack of transit-oriented development along the single line led to the system being regarded as a boondoggle. President Ronald Reagan commented that, given the low number of riders, it would have been cheaper to buy them all a limousine than the billion dollar cost of building and subsidizing the system. The federal subsidy was approximately $800 million of the $1.02 billion used to fund the line. Ridership was up to 15,000 after the rest of the line had opened. Ridership continued to grow in the late 1980s, with an edge city-like area known as Dadeland in suburban Kendall growing up around the southern terminus of the line at Dadeland North and Dadeland South stations. Consequently, the southern nine stations from Kendall to Downtown Miami have higher ridership than the northern end. This part of the system also has a higher average speed, having fewer curves and long distances between stations as it follows the congested South Dixie Highway. During the 1990s, ridership growth was relatively stagnant, however, and Metrorail remained the subject of criticism. At this time, ridership was up to about 50,000 per day, about a quarter of the original ridership estimate.


Southbound Metrorail train heading to Culmer during the late 1980s.

(Florida. - Department of Commerce. - Florida Film Bureau., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


Although the original referendum for a one-cent transit sales tax increase had failed in 1999, a half-cent sales surtax (Charter County Transit System Surtax) increase was passed by a two-to-one margin by Miami-Dade County voters in November 2002, with the intention being for the revenue to go fully towards the funding of new transit lines, including the Metrorail Orange Line, new bus routes, and increased service. Metrorail briefly ran a 24-hour hourly service from 12am to 5am and rush hour peak headways were reduced to 6 minutes, but the idea of the transit tax was sold to voters as being able to fund up to 88.9 miles (143.1 km) of additional Metrorail track by the 2030 long range plan, beginning with a completion of an Orange Line north corridor and east–west line by 2016. As it turned out, Miami-Dade Transit was running a deficit and used some of the tax to close the books, as well as using some to hire new staff, pay rent, and buy furniture for their new headquarters at the Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre station. By the late 2000s recession, it was realized that only the 2.4-mile (3.9 km) AirportLink of the Orange Line would be funded, and after service cuts in 2008, Metrorail was running fewer trains than before the tax was passed. In response to all this, The Miami Herald published a comprehensive exposé titled "Taken For A Ride, How the transit tax went off track", detailing all of the promises that were not kept as well as what money was misspent and how. Despite the service cuts, due to the rise in energy prices and ever-increasing congestion, as well as a significant amount of residential development in the downtown area, ridership continued to grow during the 2000s, averaging well over 60,000 weekday riders throughout 2011. However, this is still short of the 1985 estimate of 75,000 daily riders that were expected by the end of that year. The transit tax also funded improvements to the adjoining Metromover system, including removal of the 25 cent fare, with the idea that higher ridership on the system would lead to higher Metrorail ridership, as well as the realization that the cost of fare collection exceeded fare revenue.


Construction on the now complete Miami International Airport as of June 2011.

(Florida Department of Transportation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Orange Line and Airport extension

The original Metrorail line was initially planned to be built to the airport, but due to political pressure and lobbying was instead directed to its current alignment around the airport and to Hialeah. In May 2009, Miami-Dade County broke ground on the AirportLink project, a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) extension of Metrorail connecting the existing Earlington Heights station to the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC), located adjacent to Miami International Airport's rental car center. The AirportLink was considered a vital component of the People's Transportation Plan (PTP), which Miami-Dade voters approved in 2002. The bulk of the funding for the $506 million project came from the plan's half-penny tax, with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contributing $101.3 million. Construction commenced in May 2009, and service on the new Orange Line began on July 28, 2012, with the project completed on time and under budget. At the MIC, the Orange Line connects to Tri-Rail, Greyhound intercity buses, and the MIA Mover, the airport's people mover.


Construction of elevated track leading to Miami International Airport May 2011.

(Danazar, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Transit-oriented development

In addition to private development, several joint-development affordable housing projects have recently been constructed along the Metrorail line with the intent of increasing ridership through transit-oriented development. These projects include Santa Clara apartments, Brownsville Transit Village, and The Beacon, which is located near Historic Overtown/Lyric Theater station in Downtown Miami. The headquarters of Miami-Dade Transit, also located next to Historic Overtown/Lyric Theater station, is known as the Overtown Transit Village. Brownsville Transit Village, opening in March 2012, was visited by the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa P. Jackson, on January 5, 2012, to tour the 490-unit development, which will save an estimated five million gallons of water and $50,000 annually in utility bills due to environmentally sustainable plumbing fixtures. Nonetheless, by 2016, Brownsville and Santa Clara were still the lowest ridership stations, the only ones to regularly post ridership numbers below 1,000 daily. In general, stations to the north of Civic Center see much lower ridership, on average one-third of stations from Civic Center south. They are mostly in industrial areas with low population density and little development, as well as stagnant or declining populations, such as Gladeview and Brownsville. Additionally, stations to the north of Earlington Heights are only served by one line, giving them much longer headways.


Metrorail departing Dadeland North station and heading towards Dadeland South station.

(Alancrh, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Metrorail runs from the northwest in Medley through Hialeah, into the city of Miami, the downtown area, through Coral Gables and South Miami, and ending in southwest Miami-Dade at Dadeland Mall. There are 23 accessible Metrorail stations, one about every 1.25 mi (2.012 km). Metrorail connects to the Metromover system at Government Center and Brickell stations and to South Florida's Tri-Rail suburban commuter rail system at the Tri-Rail station.

Since completion of the Airport Link in 2012, Metrorail increased its service frequency to peak headways of three and a half to five minutes on the shared portion of the line from Dadeland South to Earlington Heights.

Along with the Metrorail system, the tracks are mostly elevated. The three sections that are not are under I-95 between Vizcaya and Brickell stations, under I-95 just east of Culmer station, and the northern end of the line from just east of the Palmetto Expressway heading west into the Palmetto station and tail track. In each of these cases, the tracks ride on the ground level for a brief amount of time. The platform at each Metrorail station is long enough to accommodate six-car-long trains; the Dadeland North, Earlington Heights, and Government Center station platforms are long enough to accommodate eight-car-long trains. In-service trains are usually either four or six cars long; in the evening it is not uncommon for Miami-Dade Transit to link two out-of-service trains together before returning them to Lehman Yard. Trains are stored at the Lehman Yard just west of Okeechobee station. There are extra tracks and a new test track, known as the Lehman Center Test Track, built at the Lehman Yard.


A Budd train entering Brickell station in 2017.

(Phillip Pessar, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Rolling stock

Current fleet

Metrorail currently uses 136 heavy-rail cars built by the Hitachi Rail Italy, the first of which started running in December 2017. They were constructed in a custom rail-car building facility in Medley, Florida. The cars are semi-permanently attached in married pairs, and joined up to form 4-car trains, which is the normal train length, although 6-car trains are also possible. Included amenities are free Wi-Fi, interior bicycle racks, improved announcement systems, digital signs and high-efficiency air conditioning units.


Former fleet

Metrorail formerly used 136 heavy-rail cars (known as the Universal Transit Vehicle) built by the Budd Company under the name "Transit America"; they are identical to those used on the Baltimore Metro SubwayLink (save for the modifications made to Baltimore's cars during their refurbishment between 2002 and 2005), as the two systems were built at the same time, and the two agencies were able to save money by sharing a single order. The Baltimore-Miami order was among the last orders Budd filled before shuttering its railcar manufacturing business; a fleet of similar vehicles was manufactured by Società Italiana Ernesto Breda for the Red and Purple lines of the Los Angeles Metro Rail between 1988 and 2000.

These cars were manufactured in Budd's Red Lion plant in Northeast Philadelphia in 1983. The cars are 75 feet (23 m) long, 10 feet (3.0 m) wide and have a top design speed of over 70 mph (110 km/h). Each car can hold up to 166 passengers (76 seated, 90 standing), and draw power from an electric 750 V DC third rail.


A new Metrorail car at a press event at the Hitachi Rail facility in Medley (2016).

(Miami-Dade County, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Miami-Dade County Government was working with the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) to receive money from the half-penny sur-tax approved by voters in 2002 in order to purchase new Metrorail cars. MDT later planned to refurbish the existing Metrorail cars with the money instead of replacing them as promised. However, it was found that the fleet had never been maintained properly, and in 2008, a cost-benefit analysis found that, based on the current fleet's condition, a refurbishment would cost just as much as it would to buy new cars, if not more so. There were discussions with Washington, D.C.'s Metro system about combining car orders with their 6000-series cars to achieve lower costs through economies of scale, but the talks failed to work anything out.

The following year, Miami-Dade issued an RFP for new cars to replace their existing fleet, at a cost no greater than $2.419 million per car. Proposals from three railcar manufacturers were reviewed, with only two of which meeting the price requirements, these being from Italy-based AnsaldoBreda and Elmira Heights, New York-based CAF USA, an American branch of the Spain-based Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles. CAF's bid was slightly higher than that of AnsaldoBreda, and thus Miami-Dade was prepared to award the contract to the latter. However, the contract was stalled when CAF filed a lawsuit against the transit authority, claiming that their selection of AnsladoBreda was due to the fact that the builder was willing to open a local factory in Miami-Dade County to assemble the vehicles. This violation could render the deal ineligible for federal funding.

After reevaluating the bids from the builders, without taking local geographic preference into account, Miami-Dade reaffirmed its selection of AnsaldoBreda, and in November 2012, approved a $313 million purchase of 136 new Metrorail cars from the company. Miami-Dade issued the notice to proceed the following month, with the cars expected to be delivered over the course of several years until 2017. By the time the custom rail-car building facility in Medley was completed in early 2016, AnsaldoBreda had been purchased by Hitachi Rail and the full rollout was pushed back to 2019, beginning gradually from 2017. The first trainset entered service in early December 2017. The delivery of the cars fell behind schedule once again due to flooding at the Hitachi Rail factory in West Plains, Missouri, and in February 2018 it was announced that the final replacement cars would not arrive before 2020. The shortage of replacement cars resulted in some Metrorail runs being operated as two-car trains.


Green Line train arriving at Tri-Rail Station.

(FrickFrack, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


MetroPath / The Underline

Main article: The Underline
Beneath the Metrorail guideway from Brickell to Dadeland South, along the former Florida East Coast Railway right-of-way, there is a nearly contiguous 10.5 mi (17 km) bicycle and pedestrian trail known as the MetroPath (M-Path) which was built in 1984 along with the metro system. It is popular among cyclists, some of whom use it to commute to and from downtown, as well as runners.

In 2014, plans were made to revamp the MetroPath as a linear park, taking after the popular High Line in New York City, by a group known as "Friends of the GreenLink. The University of Miami assisted in the procurement of the idea. Into 2015, the proposal gained momentum and rebranded itself as (Friends of) "The Underline". The full park will be completed in phases and will be fully complete in 2025.


The Metrorail station at the Miami Intermodal Center.

(John Petito, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Main article: List of Miami-Dade Transit metro stations

Metrorail currently operates 23 stations, and combined with the Metromover in Downtown Miami and Brickell, the entire Metro system operates 43 stations. Metrorail stations are located at about a mile (one and a half kilometer) apart along the line, and Metromover stations are located at approximately every two blocks in the greater Downtown area.


Proposed expansions

For more on proposed expansions, click here.



For more information on ridership, click here.


Metrorail System Map.



Owner: Miami-Dade Transit
Locale: Miami-Dade County, Florida, U.S.
Transit type: Rapid transit
Number of lines: 2 (Green/Orange Line)
Number of stations: 23
Daily ridership: 48,300 (weekdays, Q4 2023)
Annual ridership: 13,439,300 (2023)
Chief executive: Eulois Cléckley
Website: miamidade.gov/transit
Began operation: May 20, 1984
Operator: Miami-Dade Transit (MDT)
Train length: 4 or 6 car trainsets
Headway: 5 – 10 minutes (rush hour); 7½ – 15 (off peak); 15 – 30 (late nights)
System length: 24.4 mi (39.3 km)
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification: Third rail, 750 V DC
Average speed: 27–31 mph (43–50 km/h)
Top speed: 58 mph (93 km/h)