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Free trolley service launches January 4 to national parks

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The first-ever free public transportation from Homestead to Everglades and Biscayne national parks begins on Saturday, January 4, 2014, with a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Losner Park, 104 N. Krome Ave., in downtown Homestead.

City officials, the superintendents of both parks, and local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops will participate. Live music, free food, and educational programs are planned.

The trolley will operate every weekend from January to April. Riders will receive a guided tour and waived entrance fees at both parks. Tour guides will explain the parks’ ecosystems and history, and how they relate to the history of Homestead and Miami-Dade County

Close Proximity

The trolley will go to Everglades National Park’s Ernest Coe Visitor Center and the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm. It also will travel to Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center and boardwalk, and to Miami-Dade County’s Homestead Bayfront Park, where you can swim at the atoll beach.

Downtown Homestead is about ten miles from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center at the main entrance to Everglades National Park, and about nine miles from the Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Biscayne National Park. Homestead may be the only city in America with two national parks in such close proximity.

Everglades National Park welcomes about a million visitors each year who spend about $146.8 million in communities surrounding the park. This spending supports 2,408 jobs in the local area, park officials report.

Historic downtown

Before or after your bus tour, you can visit Homestead’s downtown area, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There you’ll find century-old buildings of architectural interest, restaurants (including several offering authentic Mexican fare), and the city’s free Old Town Hall Museum.

The Homestead trolley stop connects to bus routes from Miami-Dade County’s public transportation system, making the parks accessible via public transit from anywhere in the county for the first time. Free parking also is available near the trolley stop.

Organizers of this program are the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Service, and the City of Homestead, which is contributing four new trolleys acquired recently through federal grants and Miami-Dade County People Transportation Plan funds.

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