Skytrain services have halted for the time being at Miami International Airport, and as a response to the situation, a bus system has been introduced. This will effectively alleviate the mile walk needed to reach the majority of gates while Skytrain is out of service. According to an MIA spokesperson, the shuttle bus is scheduled to commence operations in November. 

The county-owned airport is waiting on additional information before it can resume repairs. An engineering report on the state of deteriorated concrete found in one station about five weeks ago may require the entire system to remain closed during repairs on the train structure on top of Concourse D – the main home to American Airlines at the terminal. 

“Additional inspections, analysis, and testing continue to be conducted” on the Skytrain structure, Greg Chin, MIA spokesperson, said in an email correspondence delivered last Friday. “The results of that analysis are expected in November.”

The reason for the initial closing of MIA’s Skytrain was noted as extensive structural cracking. The $130M automated train was originally built in 2010. It runs between the D17 and D47 gates with the ability to transport up to 9,000 passengers per hour. Its operations have been suspended indefinitely until the airport administrators decide how to proceed. 

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The initial shutdown of Skytrain occurred on September 15th. Inspectors found the structural cracking and were alarmed at the potential extent of the damage. The cracking was found on multiple concrete piers responsible for holding up the tracks while the train was in use. This information was made available to the public last month when records were released by the Miami-Dade Country Aviation Department. 

The closure resulted in a passenger experience that was less accommodating than usual. As Concourse D is the airport’s busiest on average, the mile-long series of D gates noticed a significant impact from the loss of the Skytrain system. Over 80,000 passengers a day utilize the concourse, creating a need for a substitute system and the consequential inception of the up-and-coming shuttle bus. 

In the email sent by Chin last Friday, it was stated that the damage discovered in September was limited to one of the Skytrain stations on the concourse. Specifically, the damage is affecting Station 1 at gate D17. This implies that repairs may not require the entire system to be shut down, as the other three could potentially stay operable. Those three stations could provide service between gates D24 and D47. Even in this scenario, the shuttle bus system will help facilitate easier travel for the guests at Miami International Airport. 

American Airlines has been running a pair of golf cart shuttles to help passengers adapt to the current situation. Those who request assistance in advance have had the opportunity to enjoy the courtesy. The service was initially provided by MIA itself, but American Airlines has taken up the mantle of responsibility. American Airlines passengers requesting wheelchairs are provided with access to the service, and shuttle drivers are instructed to help struggling passengers they see along the stretch. As American Airlines is the sole provider of flights out of Concourse D, they have a heightened sense of stewardship over the area and are taking strides to address the problem. 

MIA plans to operate the bus outside the concourse next month, operating between Gates D10 and D55. According to Chin, the expanded cart service plans to host stops in Concourse D where passengers can wait for available seats.