Currently viewing the tag: "MDT"

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Google Transit Ad

Have you checked out Google Transit yet? It sounded good back when it came out: use Google Maps to plan your transit trip. It’s definitely better than the official South Florida Regional Transit Trip Planner, but we didn’t have any local transit systems on there. Until now.

We can’t be certain when that changed, but Broward County Transit is now on the official list of Transit systems that Google searches. A nice feature is that if you search for directions on Google Maps, it offers a “public transit” option as well as a drive option for areas that are on Google Transit. It’s never been easier to compare your public transit alternatives to driving.

If anyone’s keeping score of these high tech transit tools, I’d say that puts Broward: 2 to Miami: 1.

Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes.

 


Flickr Photo Courtesy Redpopjp

After reading Larry Lebowitz’s article in The Miami Herald yesterday, I decided to take a look around the nation at transit fares. 

Here, for your edification (and, hopefully, action), I compare what our fares here in Miami-Dade County would look like after enactment of our commission-proposed fare hike, versus fares of some other transit agencies around the country.  The purpose of this is to get those of you out there who are reading this, and who are so inclined, to speak up – let your County Commissioner know that you won’t stand for a fare increase of the likes they are proposing.

While I researched nine transit systems, I am only posting here the top five of those I researched.

Continue reading »

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Rethinking Transit

A reconstruction could be brewing for Miami-Dade Transit. Commissioner Javier D. Souto wrote an open letter last week discussing the issues that have arisen with the People’s Transportation Plan. Somehow the Miami Herald has ignored it in their series so far, but the South Florida Business Journal covered the letter. Souto begins by discussing the importance of mass transit in the day of $4/gallon gasoline and the continued difficulty with getting people out of their cars into an inconvenient transit alternative. After going on about the problems we have, he proposes a radical idea: privatize transit.

Souto starts the paragraph by saying, “if the desire is to make a profitable transit system…” This is where I imagine his whole paragraph must be sarcasm. Then I remember that there are still those who are convinced that transit should be funding itself, and those people would desire to make a profit from a transit system. So, Souto (or anyone else), if that is your desire, quench it. Transportation is not profitable. Period. Government subsidizes every aspect of it, from roads to railroads to bus systems to Metrorail. It’s a subject worthy of an entire post, so let’s just make it clear that profit should not be the goal of any transit system. Not unless we have a major paradigm shift to also make a profit with roads…

Regardless of motive, privatizing transit is not unheard of. The original streetcars in the US were all privately owned and operated. Unfortunately, that made it easier for them to fold as the automobile became the preferred mode of transportation in this country. The same thing happened with intercity passenger rail, and only a subsidized Amtrak is left standing. Those systems failed because their goal was to make a profit.

Today we have brought mass transit under government subsidy, and we have developed Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) that maintain governmental control and regulation. The I-595 project is a good example, as a private company will design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the improvements, while FDOT maintains control over things like standards and tolls. FDOT will not be turning a profit from the system, either. The toll FDOT collects will not be sufficient to pay off the concessionaire company for building it, so they will be using other budgeted funds to pay for it. Profit is the motivator for the private company, of course, but not for the government agency. Transit could work the same way. A private company could design, build, and finance Metrorail improvements, while operating and maintaining the existing and future system. The county would still have to control things like fares and basic standards.

That brings us to the biggest problem. Someone responsible would still have to manage a PPP. Until the county takes some major steps in the right direction, we would not have the confidence for them to direct a PPP any better than they have the current state of affairs. Could a PPP have any success in Miami-Dade Transit? Perhaps. Privatization might boost the confidence that transit can be managed properly (or it might not), but alone it is not sufficient to solve the woes of the People’s Transportation Plan. And it most definitely will not solve any financial woes. No profit will come to the government from such a privatization. Do you hear that, all you profit-minded capitalists?

 

Photo by Flickr user ImageMD

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Last week I decided to go cycling along the M-Path and was taken aback by the hostility and fragmentation of Miami’s only main Bicycle route. I was even more shocked when last weekend I visited Cambridge again and witnessed first hand the disparity between Miami’s and Cambridge’s cycling facilities. We have a long way to go.

Cambridge is by far one of the friendliest cities in the United States for cycling. Click here for a full citywide map of routes. Most city streets look like the image below and the bike lanes provide a consistent network for area residents.

The M-Path, our “premier” cycling facility is a fragmented trail of hostility. As the M-Path to Enlightenment points out, if you aren’t paying attention and are traveling too fast, you’ll end up in the Miami River along the path’s northern terminus in Downtown Miami. I was taken aback most by the lovely “No Trespassing” signs along the very public right-of-way. A little misleading, isn’t it?

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We apologize for being slow to comment on the recent Herald series about the People’s Transportation Plan disaster. Everyone at Transit Miami has been extremely busy as of late, but we’ll definitely have several pieces in the coming days and weeks discussing many of the elements referenced by Larry Lebowitz’s multi-part series.

Stay tuned!

Image: Miami-Dade.gov

This video provides us with a glimpse of Miami’s first Transit Oriented Development, conceived in the 80s at the Kendall Station of the southern terminus of the metrorail system. This video kicks off a series of articles which will be aimed at discussing TOD…

Major Breaking News – Contrary to our report last week regarding the increase of transit fares, a couple of Miami-Dade County Commissioners (Bruno Barriero and Barbara Jordan) are proposing an additional ½ penny sales tax hike which would eliminate all MDT fares for all riders. The sales tax hike would require a public vote in November.

The proposal, floated Tuesday morning by two county commissioners, would ask voters to choose between higher taxes and higher fares.

The commission is scheduled to vote next month to raise fares by 50 cents and automatically raise fares in the future as the system’s costs increase, but those hikes would be moot if fares are eliminated.

Well, the Miami-Dade County Commission did it again – they continued the mentality that rising fuel costs should amount to higher transit fares. As much as I would like to agree that transit fares were well below the point they should have been, I cannot justify anyone spending $100 for a monthly metropass.

Let us compare similar monthly passes across America:

Atlanta $52.50
Boston $59
Chicago $75
Dallas $50 or $80
LA $62 - $98
New York $81
Seattle $54-$108
Portland $76

Are we oblivious to what happens elsewhere around this country? Most cities have a zonal system of affixing prices to their tickets, charging more for longer distance trips. These long distance routes, service suburbia, places where transit really should not be servicing unless the area population density is well above 8 people/acre.

There is also the logical answer to the funding dilemma; charge drivers. Congestion pricing and parking pricing encourages greater transit ridership while reducing congestion (see London.) Those whose travel habits cost the greatest societal burden (drivers) pay the most for their services.

I could go on for hours on this subject (I assure you, I will) but the underlying message here is that we are continuing the flawed mentality regarding our automobile habits and transit funding.

  • PAB supports the Marine Industry.  So do we.  The unofficial Port along the Miami River is critical economic engine for our community and should be working to unify into an official entity (Say: a Miami-Dade Port Authority?)  in order to maximize the potential of all of our resources.
  • The PTP is a mess and the CITT doesn’t have a real budget.  I’ve got to commend Miles Moss for his work thus far as the Chairman of the Trust, too bad the County Commission stripped the trust of its teeth…
  • This headline is precisely why I stopped reading the Sunpost (plus all the attention they give to Norman Braman): “County Eliminates 600 Bus Routes” Oh really?  600?  So much for that “The Story Matters Slogan” because facts sure as heck don’t…
  • Arthur Teele Park; has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?  Never mind all the corruption and bribery allegations, let alone the most dramatic suicide in Miami’s History…
  • Miami Beach Commissioners are looking to remove the Bike lanes from a reconstruction plan for Alton Road.  Anyone else see a lawsuit coming?

FDOT is obligated by state statue to include bike accommodations where possible. They were recently sued by a Boca Raton bicycling group for refusing to put bike lanes on A1A. They lost - a decision which we hope will scare FDOT into taking bicyclists more seriously.

  • This CGG headline is fitting: “There’s always something to complain about”  That just about sums up their mission, doesn’t it?

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If the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority is forced to cut trains, the authority — and even the state, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — could face a $275 million lawsuit by the Federal Transit Administration, Tri-Rail officials fear.

Only in Miami/South Florida does a transit agency face a lawsuit from the Federal Transit Administration for reduced local funding for transit.  How do we think this decision will affect Miami-Dade’s attempts to secure funding for the north corridor?  Let’s ask “Pepe” Diaz what he thinks:

“If we’re cutting routes locally,” [“Pepe” Diaz] said, “where are going to get the funding for Tri-Rail?”

That’s the spirit, justify the Tri-Rail cuts with our own local stumbles.

Follow this link to send emails to our local senators in support of Tri-Rail…

  • Farecards are coming and we couldn’t be happier. MDT will spend $72 Million to finally upgrade the transit fare collection system, phasing out the cash only system for a new high-tech card. However, on the downside, MDT is also looking to increase fares to $2 among other things in order to improve the federal ratings of the proposed North and East/West expansions…
  • Man who tried to commit suicide by rail this morning is alive and well, even after he was run over by 3 rail cars…
  • Ana Mendez performs a mini experiment and finds that walking around downtown is easier than driving (duh!) I find it shocking how many Herald reporters don’t use transit regularly…
  • The CITT has reversed its original decision to refuse the funding for new metrorail cars. We can likely kiss one (maybe two) of the original proposed extensions goodbye…
  • Downtown Doral is rising…
  • Rumor has it that the state is working on an incentive program to bring a new Hispanic owned airline to MIA as well as a reincarnation of Eastern Airlines…
  • Here is another no-brainer: Rising Gas Prices Lead to Increase in Public Transportation

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Miami-Dade Bus Stop

If you’ve been sitting at (or more likely driving by…) one of the Miami-Dade County bus stops lately, then you’ve likely noticed the addition of some new blue trash receptacles. I recently spoke with John Labriola at MDT to get a better understanding of the trash bin program and the financing behind it:

“All were in Unincorporated Miami-Dade, as the County does not have jurisdiction over bus stops in incorporated areas. The bins were installed by MDT with funding from the Solid Waste Department, which will be responsible for emptying out and maintaining the litter bins.”

MDT identified the 1,000 stations for the Miami-Dade Solid Waste Management Department and were placed from August through December.

We are relieved to know that the trash bin funding came from outside sources rather than some of the recent raids on the PTP and are glad to see that MDT is not responsible for the maintenance. The fact that MDT or Solid Waste, both County agencies, do not have the authority or jurisdiction to place these receptacles within the municipalities is a cause for concern. This is a blatant example of the division we experience in Miami-Dade due the fragmentation of municipalities. These multiple cities create that extra layer of bureaucracy which in this case, prevent the county agencies from rolling out a consistent pattern for municipal structures. Note: Miami-Dade bus shelters are located only in unincorporated areas as well, leaving the individual municipalities to purchase their own distinct shelters while preventing MDT from establishing a countywide brand image. It may seem insignificant, but the trash bins provide a visual glimpse of the political barriers our county agencies face…

City of Miami Bus Shelter and Trash Bins:

City of Miami Bus Shelter

Coral Gables Bus Stop and Trash Bin:

Coral Gables Bus Stop

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Last May, Miami-Dade Transit introduced a $19 unlimited ride pass good for seven days. Called the Visitor Passport, it was marketed toward out-of-town visitors, and sold in only a few tourist-heavy spots such as Miami’s airport. Why, some wondered, couldn’t there be other innovations to make getting around easier – for locals?

At the time, transit officials insisted they had plans underway to create various rider passes in addition to the existing $75 monthly pass. There was talk of something akin to New York’s per-ride Metro Card, coordination with transit systems in Broward and Palm Beach counties, free beer. Okay, maybe not free beer, but you get the point.

Granted, transit does offer discounted tokens and various price breaks on monthly passes for groups, seniors and college students. But still no easy-to-use, per-ride cards.

It’s been a year. The average person still has to fumble for exact change, carry a stash of tokens or commit to a monthly pass. No wonder people consider public transit impractical.

When is MDT going to wake up?

Photo by Flickr User ImageMD.

If you haven’t heard the news, head over to the Miami Herald and read about the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) vote to reject the planned use of sales tax money to purchase new Metrorail cars. At least they are protecting the tax money that’s supposed to go towards new service.

Meanwhile, Miami Gardens is asking Miami-Dade to bump the North Corridor Expansion to Phase 1, presumably making it priority over the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) connector. I’m not sure what benefit they expect to see out of that, as the MIC connection is not using federal funds and is currently the only piece of the Orange Line that looks like it might get built.

The feds pointed out when they downgraded the rating that they didn’t trust Miami-Dade to fund Metrorail properly. This whole failure to refurbish the cars in a timely manner merely proves them right. The CITT is trying to get the point across that band-aid fixes won’t work anymore. MDT needs a solid funding plan to get out of the current hole it’s in, and an equally solid plan to fund expansion. Without that, the feds won’t give Metrorail a dime.

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