A busy holiday weekend reminds me that Miami is trying to be a “real” city - but is it yet? I’m sure we all wish it could be as easy as a Pinocchio fairytale of making a wooden puppet into a “real” boy with just the touch of a wand. But in reality, our city needs a whole lot more than just some magic stick. We host all these weekend events - Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Miami Boat Show, and other President’s Day weekend activities - to showcase our Magic City to our visitors. And yet what we end up with are packed busses with long headways; clogged highways; and other congestions making our city, well, far from magical to our visitors.

Its not the events, its the experience. Despite a little rain on Friday and Saturday, this weekend’s events were a success - attracting people from all over the state and country. But how was their time actually in our city? Special events are a reason to come to the city, but the experience is what attracts people back. We need to offer reliable transportation options so they can really experience all of Miami.

Its not the funding amount, its the investment. We all know times are rough, and money is tight. But yet its obvious that we are still focusing our funds into tired highway transportation that literally gets us no where. Of course we don’t have the funds to plop NYC subway system on Miami - but we can start our smart investments incrementally.

Its not the mode, its the freedom of choice. Transportation, transit, transport, or whatever you want to call it is a broad category - as are the choices it should provide. The priority shouldn’t be on one particular mode of transportation, rather a priority to provide a wide variety of options. Its about the freedom of choosing bus, rail, bike, car, walk, skate, etc to get around.

Go By Streetcar

Not that we need to put up a false front for our brave visitors on special weekends, nor care more for our tourism than our own livability - because we already know these are facts that we have been discussing for years. Its about revisiting our city from another viewpoint. Just think how many visitors we could transport between Miami Beach and downtown if Baylink existed; or the improved bus experience if we had shorter headways at least on event weekends; or the number of DecoBike rentals if the M-Path was cohesive; or the successful storefronts and valuable real estate if the streets were more pedestrian-friendly.

Is Miami ready to be a “real” city and cradle a wide-mix of diverse groups. If so, lets see the real investment in multiple transportation options - or where is that fairy with the magic wand when you need her?

9 Responses to Does Miami want to be a REAL city?

  1. Kathryn says:

    I’m always struck by how people feel in NYC and what they remember when they leave. Same for Portland, Paris or Bogota. They connect with the Plazas. They remember the faces of locals they sat next to on the train or trolley. They remember the spirit of the (public) space. Where is Miami’s spirit? People don’t connect with the Bacardi tent or the temporary pop-up festival and think, wow, this is Miami. They do think, wow, this is the Food Network (c) party!


  2. Alex Baquero-Lima says:

    The Miami metro area is still a very young area. Hopefully, in time, it will change. However, as in most old cities, the time to act is at a city’s turning point i.e. the time is now.


  3. Robert Flanders says:

    There has been a massive failure on two fronts. First of all, our elected officials have failed to educate us with all of the true benefits of a coordinated transportation plan that includes serious mass transit. Secondly, the under-informed electorate refuses to vote enough money to make it work, thereby losing matching federal funds that would soften the blow. No funds, no future.


  4. Kyle says:

    @Robert- Agreed. However, I think the tides have shifted in the city greatly. With the huge demographic shift going on in the city- wealthier, more educated, professional and urban, I think this class of people has become more vocal for transit.

    Local politics are not just dominated by Little Havana and Coconut Grove, but now also Brickell and Downtown. Slowly others in the city have realized how important a good transit system is. A mayoral candidate that can embrace these changes would be successful. If anything, Manny Diaz was successful in being an urban visionary with parks, transit and other urban amenities that past mayors had ignored.


  5. Robert Flanders says:

    @Kyle- I sincerely hope you are correct - that “the tide has shifted”.

    You certainly are correct about Manny Diaz - he practiced “clean & safe”, while leading the pack in terms of his vision for the City of Miami.

    Unfortunately, this was not duplicated at the Miami-Dade County level, which is where 99% of our transit options are determined.

    Miami-Dade County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (M.P.O.) decides on the 5-Year Transportation Improvement Plan (T.I.P.).

    So my point is that the City of Miami may wish better transit options but unless the County plans, approves and most importantly, funds, it isn’t going to happen.

    It has been my experience that you have to plan on a minimum of a 15-year window to complete this process to actually see some improvements.


  6. Super Planner says:

    Barely 4% of the residents use public transportation. Everyone else is addicted to their personal vehicles. Disgraced ex-Mayor Manny Diaz is responsible for the concrete structures that he had built in our formerly green parks. Too bad he killed so many playing fields. Diaz is also responsible for the ugly billboards on the sides of too many buildings.


  7. NE Taxpayer says:

    Do not forget it was disgraced ex-Mayor Manny Diaz who was one of the biggest boosters of the Marlins scam. With debt service the Marlins scam will cost taxpayers well over $3 BILLION over the next 50-60 years. Of course, Manny Diaz demanded the Marlins keep 100% of all revenues.


  8. Jon Hernandez says:

    Been reading the site for a few years now. I’ve been a loyal reader, and believe in what you are all doing, but the articles lately are either too negative or just poorly written. Makes it hard to take the ideas seriously. This article was particularly difficult to get through.


  9. Jack says:

    I agree with Robert. Unfortunately, we have been so mislead and misdirected by irresponsible, possibly corrupt leaders/politicians that we are now 30 years behind more progressive thinking areas. Billions for highways and little left for anything else.


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