09 December 2011

Miami-Dade (laugh) Transit

So, a few years back, I was really excited that my hometown of Miami was going to be expanding Public Transit in what seemed like an intelligent and a meaningful way.  The planned expansions of the MetroRail were (seemingly) well thought out, and would serve some of Miami's most deserving communities.  For those who know Miami well, imagine being able to go from Dadeland to Joe Robbie Stadium (I will always call it that) on the same train without having to drive or pay to park in an open dirt lot.  Imagine being able to drink at the Dolphin game and not worry about driving home.  That would have been just a few of the possibilities with the proposed expansion (I hate football, but not as much as I hate Drunk Drivers!)  Not to mention that it would have brought reliable transit into the North Miami/Liberty City/Opa Locka areas, providing vital connections to services like Jackson Hospital and Miami-Dade College, the employment opportunities in Downtown, and eventually (with the completion of the planned Phase 2) Florida International University in western Miami-Dade County.  Needless to say, if Miami is truly going to be a city of the New Milennium, Public Transit needs to improve.  Sadly, Miami does not seem to grasp this fact.  Despite asking voters to approve a tax increase to support the promised expansions (voters passed it in 2002,) with the promise of expanded, reliable rail service, the plans have now been scrapped for both phases of "orange line" construction.

In the 13 years since I moved to New York, the air in Miami has become visibly clogged with pollution from carbon-spewing automobiles and planes.  The city I grew up in has become the Los Angeles of the east coast with regards to traffic, and wider highways and massive spending on roads is not going to improve the situation.  You may ask what set me off on my little tirade-well, let me tell you.  I was perusing the website that discusses improvements to the system via www.miamidade.gov and saw that the MetroRail now has free WiFi in all cars.  Okay, that's kinda cool, especially since even NYC doesn't offer that perk.  Here's my issue-most commuters on MetroRail ride approximately 20-25 minutes to their destination, whereas many bus passengers spend over an hour on the bus before even connecting to MetroRail.  So, if you are going to invest in WiFi, you would think that those who have the longest commute would benefit the most from access, right?  Just another example of backwards thinking by a government agency (I wonder which Miami-Dade County employee wanted to use their laptop or iPad on the train and got this done with no regard to the many thousands of bus riders who could really use it?)   Again, I am not knocking the idea of it, just the lack of system-wide implementation.  MetroRail has suffered for 30 years from poor planning, has never been able to cover its own operating or even construction costs, and is commonly referred to as "MetroFAIL" by riders, who find it to be plagued with problems and unreliable service.  When I used to ride it to work, I was frequently late, and even 'coached' that I should take the earlier option, which would leave me at my job a full hour ahead of my start time in order to avoid being late.  I started driving to work immediately, despite my desire to be environmentally aware (this was before hybrid cars were domestically available.)

So, can someone please explain to me the logic in scrapping a project what would INCREASE ridership and revenue, REDUCE carbon emissions and DUI's, and (possibly most importantly in this economy) CREATE jobs?   If you can, please feel free to, because I am at a loss here...

1 comment:

  1. I am working on a proposal to run the metrorail on the center 2 lanes of 826, 836, with the access points being placed at street level beneath existing Highway overpasses, thus allowing riders to transfer to buses without having to get poured on in 'Monsoon Season' as more and more drivers see trains moving faster than they do during rush hours, they will make the switch to the trains...
    no new ramps or structures to be built (except stations and bus lanes underneath existing overpasses, your bus drops you off under the palmetto at say Bird Road, and you are in Hialeah in 25 minutes, without having to drive...
    or, for those who insist on driving, parking structures can be built in the center of current onramp 'loops', with a pedestrian bridge crossing to the station