Wednesday night at the Homestead City Council Meeting, Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan Kimball and Biscayne National Park Superintendent Brian Carlstrom joined Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter in signing a historic Memorandum of Understanding making the Homestead National Parks Trolley program official. This innovative project is the only public transportation available to these national parks and offers trolley riders free transportation, free parking, a guided tour, and waived entrance fees to the parks.
“The trolley is going to provide a critical public transportation linkage, not only between the two national parks and Homestead, but also with the Miami-Dade County bus way,” said Biscayne National Park Superintendent Brian Carlstrom. “This is the last link for public transportation to get to our national parks and it will make a big difference to a large segment of our population that simply did not have way to enjoy their national parks.”
Each weekend from January to April, free trolley rides to Everglades and Biscayne National Park will depart from Historic Downtown Homestead. Local residents and visitors who ride the trolley will receive free admission to both National Parks and to the Homestead Bayfront Park beach, where the trolley also makes a stop. Visitors will enjoy an educational guided tour while they ride in the trolley in which they will learn about the history and ecosystems of our national parks and how these relate to the history of Homestead and Miami-Dade County.
“This is the first project under the City of Homestead Gateway to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks umbrella.,” said Vice-Mayor Stephen Shelley who led the gateway designation project as well as the Homestead National Parks Trolley program. “Through this gateway designation we are working towards attracting the tourists that visit the parks as well as supporting the mission of the parks to educate and connect the public to them.”
Beginning January 4, the Homestead National Parks Trolley departs every Saturday and Sunday from picturesque Historic Downtown Homestead, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can enjoy local area restaurants, take in Homestead’s beautiful historic architecture, or visit the free Old Town Hall Museum before or after their visit to the parks. The Homestead National Parks Trolley can be picked up at Losner Park in Historic Downtown Homestead at 104 N. Krome Avenue. The trolley connects to bus routes from Miami-Dade County public transportation. There is also plenty of free parking adjacent to the trolley stop. From Downtown Homestead, the National Parks Trolley will bring visitors to Everglades National Park’s Ernest Coe Visitor Center and the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm. It also travels to Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center and boardwalk and to the atoll beach at Miami-Dade County’s Homestead Bayfront Park.
“One of the major actions this coming years is connecting people to our parks and that is exactly what this trolley is going to do,” said Dan Kimball, Superintendent to Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks. “We answer calls from people from all over the world and one of the questions we get a lot is do you have mass transportation to the parks and the answer has always been not. With the Homestead National Parks Trolley the answer will finally be yes!” The Homestead National Parks Trolley is the result of efforts of National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in collaboration with National Park Service and the City of Homestead. NPCA is America’s voice for national parks and works to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for current and future generation. For more information on the Homestead National Parks Trolley schedule and routes as well as ranger-guided walks at the National Parks and other activities, please visit: www.cityofhomestead.com/gateway
At the table (from L to R): Biscayne National Park Superintendent Brian Carlstrom, Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter, Superintendent to Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks Dan Kimball; standing: Vice-Mayor Stephen Shelley, Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough, Ranger Deputy Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks Allen Scott, councilwoman Judy Waldman, Councilman Jon Burgess, Biscayne National Park Ranger