Most people that live in Miami and South Florida own a car. However it's still possible to get around South Florida with a bus, metrorail or tri-rail. The buses are not as frequent as, let's say NYC, but you can literally get from North to South with no problem.
The bus systems are easy to understand. Like most cities they will go North and South, East and West.
The metro-rail is located only in the Miami area and will get you to the key destinations. There is a connection from the metro-rail to the Tri-rail.
The Tri-rail is the train that can take you to Broward and West Palm Beach counties.
South Florida Regional Transportation:
The Miami Metro system is a fast and efficient way to get around Miami. The metrorail contains one main line with 22 stations(a subway/metro line), serving downtown Miami and most of the suburbs. The metromover, a downtown metro system with 3 lines, operates in the downtown Miami area. The metromover goes almost everywhere in downtown, and is free to ride. The metrorail costs $1.50 USD to ride. Metrorail goes to Dadeland(an urban area south of downtown, with malls, condos, etc), South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, the University of Miami, Brickell, downtown Miami, Hialeah, Medley, Miami's medical district, as well as many other suburbs. Metromover operated a downtown loop, which stays in the central business district, a brickell line, which services the Brickell financial district in southern downtown, and an omni line, which services the "Midtown Miami" area to the north of downtown. Transfers from Metrorail to metromover occur at Government Center and Brickell stations. You can also transfer from Metrorail to Tri-Rail at the Metro Transfer station. The tri-rail is a commuter rail line which can take you directly to Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and Palm Beach. The tri-rail line is over 70 miles long and serves almost all of South Florida. The one place that is not accessible using public transport is Miami Beach. Plans are in the works to extend Metrorail as a subway or possibly light rail across Biscayne Bay to the beach within a few years. Other possible extensions are a north corridor of Metrorail running to Dolphins Stadium in northern Miami-Dade, and a direct metrorail connector to the airport, which would eliminate the current situation where a transfer from the main line is neccessary to access the airport. Overall, the public transit system, while not as large as New York and Boston, is a much better alternative than driving in the terrible Miami traffic. Although parts of Miami are known for their high crime rates, the metrorail is very safe.
info about getting around the south florida area (palm beach county, broward county, and miami/dade county) by what is evidently a commuter train can be found at -- www.tri-rail.com/schedules_fares/train_schedules.htm. the customer service phone is 800/874-7245.
a website with a "trip planner" option is -- www.sfrtp.cinrtosfl.com for general info -- and -- sfrtp.cinrtosfl.com/hiwire?.a=iTripPlanning&.s=2c2014a1 to enter a specific starting point and destination. what you will get is info on how to get from one place to the other by whatever public transit means are available -- train/bus/whatever.
caution -- i did not try any public transit when i was in this area b/c i found these websites only after i got back!
The best way to get around downtown Miami is by Metro-mover. You can also go to shopping centers by Metro-rail by getting off at the South Miami or Dadeland North station. This is where the locals shop. The only other way to get around Miami is by car. The bus system is less than desirable.
Getting there is easy. So many airlines fly directly into Miami and the airport is well served by public transport.
I found getting around to be easy. The public transport is good and fairly inexpensive, but I had access to a car. Some people hate driving in Miami but I can say I truly loved it.