On Wednesday, the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) hosted a transit summit in Fort Lauderdale. The event, attended by several hundred transportation professionals, featured short speeches from the directors of all the South Florida transit agencies as well as some words from other transit advocates and “luminaries.”
The FPTA also took the opportunity to highlight their foray into social media, the IM4Transit campaign. Roughly akin to a Facebook “Like” or the too quickly forgotten Facebook groups, their goal is to sign up 100,000 Floridians who support transit. If you care to, sign up at IM4Transit.org or head over to Facebook and spread the like. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) also expressed their support for the IM4Transit campaign, which serves as their pilot program in social media.
- On October 29, MDT celebrated the one year anniversary of the Easy Card - the automated fare collection system implemented to increase the usability of the transit system by automating payments and reducing the time needed to board MDT vehicles. The agency celebrated by awarding the rider who made the 42 millionth “tap” a full year of free ridership. MDT also awarded the top five most frequent users of the EASY Card with a free month of transit. Not trying to hate on these lucky folks but, the picture released by MDT, above, isn’t particularly filled with joy.
- Two County armed guards, tasked with collecting the cash deposits used to recharge EASY cards at Metrorail stations were robbed early this morning at the Douglas Road station. The stolen vehicle was recovered about a block away from the station. Perhaps the county should review its policy of collecting the fare-box revenues at 2AM.
- Margaret Pace Park, bolstered by the recent development boom has flourished recently thanks to the large influx of new residents. The once dilapidated park and neighborhood is now a shining example of urban life in downtown Miami.
- Weston’s only bus route, #23 was spared from being axed completely last month by County Commissioners. Riders however, will face higher fares, reduced service, and a new route alignment in effort to reduce the cost of operating the underutilized route. Just another debilitating effect of urban sprawl - public transit becomes ineffective and difficult to operate.
- Miami-Dade County public schools saved $6M in energy costs last year by implementing a district-wide campaign to conserve energy.
Across the blogosphere:
- The Transport Politic provides a comprehensive analysis of FL Congressman John Mica’s likely transportation agenda. Mica will likely become the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and as such will have a big impact on the upcoming reauthorization bill and future Federal spending on transportation. Mr. Mica has previously expressed support for HSR in regions where it “makes sense” such as the dense Northeast corridor.
- A recent report from MSNBC notes that younger folks today (those aged 18 - 35) are less likely to hold valid drivers licenses and own cars as compared to their counterparts in 1994. The article attributes the decline to the recent economic depression as well as a growing ambivalence about driving among younger generations. (Via: Streetsblog)
The Sun-Sentinel offers a voters’ guide for issues that will appear on Broward County’s ballot. While I am not familiar with many of the other issues, I would disagree with their recommendation to vote against Question 1, the creation of a Metropolitan Transit Authority. A letter to the editor of the Miami Herald sheds a little more light on the subject. Read it and consider carefully. I believe it would be in Broward County’s best interest to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority. The Sun-Sentinel thinks it is better to come up with a comprehensive plan first, then create the Transit Authority. I believe the Authority could help create a plan, however. Also, the first steps to creating a plan have been taken through the Transit Summits that Broward County has been having for about a year. Broward County Transit’s own headline says their purpose is to develop a Public Transportation Plan. So it’s not too early to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority. The time is right.
If anyone can come up with a better reason why we should not have a Metropolitan Transit Authority in Broward County, let us know. Otherwise, vote yes on Question 1.
Another important Broward County issue on the ballot is Question 5, amending the county charter to provide a regional focus. That way whenever the county commission considers something, they have to consider it at the regional level. This would help avoid fights with other counties such as the ongoing fight with Palm Beach county over the University Drive extension. Better yet, if this is incorporated with the transit authority, we might have some hope of providing a better regional transit network. So vote yes on Question 5.
Remember that vote by Broward County Commissioners to remove funding for Tri-Rail feeder buses in Broward County? Well, the Sun-Sentinel reports that on Tuesday the commission will consider replacing the funding for shuttle buses for at least the coming year.
These shuttle buses are a crucial part of the Tri-Rail service, as the stations themselves are generally far from employment centers. The buses, funded by the county, provide the final link to work or home for many Tri-Rail riders. Until we get Tri-Rail service on the FEC tracks that pass closer to city centers, they provide the best connections. County bus service is not timed to the train schedules and often uses longer routes to get to key locations. Take the Fort Lauderdale airport, for instance. Right now we have a nice shuttle bus providing service from the Fort Lauderdale Airport station to the airport terminals. Without the shuttle, the alternative would be to wait for Broward County Transit Route 4, then transfer to Route 1 at US-1. I don’t even want to know how long that might take! Do you want to be able to get to FLL by Tri-Rail? Ask your county commissioners to keep the shuttle.
Find your commissioner and let them know you want to see Tri-Rail shuttles funded for the coming year. Also remind them that you want to see funding continue on a permanent basis.
Tomorrow, Broward County Transit is having a public hearing on changes to some bus routes. Instead of the service cuts that South Florida sees too often, it looks like their changes mostly consist of service improvements and the addition of a new express route. See their press release for more details, and head over to room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center on August 12 at 2 PM to put in your two cents’ worth.
There’s aso a Transportation Development Workshop this Thursday, August 14, from 3:30 to 5:30 PM at the Broward County Lauderhill Towne Center Library. Again, hit up the website for more info on the Transit Development Plan and the workshops.
And don’t let the bus hit you on your way there.
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.
Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes.
Tired of unreliable buses? Sick of not knowing when the bus is coming, or whether you just missed it and have to wait the full 30 minutes for the next one?
We can’t do anything about the unreliable buses until we get a streetcar, but BCT has begun putting up real-time message signs that tell you when to expect the next bus. The first two started operation Thursday at bus stops on Hwy. 441 near Oakland Park Blvd., and more are ready to be installed in the near future. Broward County’s signs one-up many similar systems across the country by including a voice that audibly tells riders when to expect their bus. It’s a great feature for visually impaired or illiterate people, many of whom are forced to ride the bus as they cannot legally drive a car.
Maybe we need some more visually impaired people. We need some way to get people out of their convenient Lexus Cages. Failing a sudden rise in blindness, perhaps comforts like these message boards will help.
Read more details about the boards in the press release. If anyone’s used the message boards, please let us know how they work. How’s the accuracy of the time?
Update 6/11/2008: BCT sent us a picture of one of the message boards. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.
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
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?
- Free Rides on Tri-Rail all day with this voucher…
- Free Rides on MDT, only if you win a T-shirt on El Zol or Hot 105… Come again? What’s up with MDT’s lack of participation this year?
- BCT is encouraging participation, no free rides…
- Palm Tran is M.I.A.
- LYNX is M.I.A.
- JTA is M.I.A.
- Free Rides on LeeTran (Fort Myers)
- MCT is M.I.A. (Monroe County)
- RTS is Participating (Gainesville)
- SCAT is participating (Space Coast)
- HART is Participating (Tampa)
The $19 pass will come with a countywide transit system map including detailed maps of Miami Beach and downtown Miami showing visitors how to get to numerous tourist attractions and destinations using Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover. A scratch-off calendar will let passengers choose the seven consecutive days they wish to use the pass.
The pass will initially be sold at Miami International Airport, four visitor centers, select hotels and businesses and MDT’s transit service centers. For exact pass sales locations and hours of operation, call 305-770-3131 or visit www.miamidade.gov/transit. Online sales of the pass will begin in the fall on MDT’s website as well as a number of international travel websites.
- Free Dunkin Donuts on Thursday if you participate in the Commuter Challenge Day by riding Tri-Rail…Or, you could just print this voucher and go to your nearest Dunkin Donuts, but I’d still recommend giving the train a try…
- On that Note, with regards to Ryan’s Post on the absence of a regional farecard system, Larry Lebowitz, the transportation Guru at the Miami Herald, has informed me that MDT, BCT, Palm Tran, and the SFRTA are working together to implement such a system soon. Apparently the hold up is coming from the SFRTA. I’ll be working to obtain more information on the subject…
- Great Ideas, now just agree to build the darn thing downtown…
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