Gas prices have caused many people to consider public transit. I started riding the bus long before gas was even $3.00 a gallon. I detailed my experiences here a few months ago and wrote about teaching teens how to use public transit on 21st Century Dad. These articles were intended for a general audience, but now I have some specific tips to share for people here in Broward County.
When I discovered that 3 bus routes are within reasonable walking distance from my home, I began to explore the transit system further. If you’re using Firefox, you can just type “BCT” in the address bar and it will take you straight to the Broward County Transit homepage. Here you can download a map of the entire transit system and find maps and schedules for all routes. The maps and timetables are also available as printer-friendly PDFs. You can even find the maps and timetables for the community buses run by various municipalities in Broward County.
Use Google Transit and Google Street View
Google recently introduced Google Transit. It started with a handful of metro areas, and the list is growing. You enter a starting point and a destination. But unlike driving directions, you have to input either a departure time or a desired arrival time. Another tip: you can enter the time in 24-hour format. Instead of typing “7:00pm” you can simply enter “1900.”
After you click on “Get Directions” you get a page that looks a lot like the driving directions you are accustomed to seeing. You also get:
- How far you’ll need to walk to and from the bus stop
- Which buses to take
- How much money you save vs. driving
- The total time it will take to make your trip
- Alternate routes (if available)
You can also go to Google Maps to get driving directions. In addition to driving directions, Google Maps will tell you if public transit options are available for your trip.
Most of Broward County is covered by Google Street View. Google Transit and Google Street View can be used together to help you plan your trip. If you are going to an unfamiliar destination, this will ease your mind. The resolution of the images is good enough to see if there is a bus stop.
Buying the Right Bus Pass
For casual users of BCT, the 10 Ride Pass is the best value. As of July 2008, regular fare is $1.25, but a 10 Ride Pass is $10. You save $2.50. There are no transfers issued between BCT buses, so you’ll pay full fare or get ticked for another ride on your 10 Ride Pass when changing buses.
The All Day Pass is only $3. You can purchase these on the bus. Just tell the bus driver you want an All Day Pass. If you are taking 2 buses to get to your destination, you will need 2 buses to get back. Full fare, that trip is $5. On the 10 Ride Pass, that’s 4 rides, or $4. Are you a math genius? Neither am I, but we can both see why this makes sense.
I used an All Day Pass one day to run some errands. I rode 6 buses and brought my bike. Yes, you can get around South Florida quite easily without a car! This was also on a Sunday when the buses don’t run as frequently.
Other Bus Passes
31 Day Adult Pass – $40
7-Day Pass – $11
College Student Pass – $20
All Day Reduced Pass – $2 (seniors, youth, disabled, Medicare)
31 Day Reduced Pass – $20 (seniors, youth, disabled, Medicare)
These prices are current as of July 2008. Some bus passes will go up in price in October 2008. All bus fares will get an increase in October 2009. Click here for more information.
The buses are pretty good about running on schedule. If the bus is running ahead of schedule, it will make an extended stop at one of the time points along the route. However, plan to arrive at your bus stop 5-10 minutes before the time posted on the schedule. Based on my observations, the clock used by BCT is most likely synchronized to the atomic clock servers operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Your computer and your cell phone are synchronized to this clock too.
If your destination is in Miami-Dade County, Google Transit seamlessly integrates the two systems. Google Transit is not yet integrated with Tri-Rail, Metro Rail, or Metro Mover.
All the buses are equipped with bike racks. Most accommodate 2 bikes while some of the newer buses have a different design that can carry 3 bikes. If the bike rack is full, you’re generally out of luck. Sometimes, a bike-riding passenger will opt to get off and ride a little further or inform the bus driver that his/her stop is just a few blocks away. In this case, the bus driver may let you bring your bike on board. When the bike rack is free, you must move your bike to the rack.
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