Among the more notable and praiseworthy highlights of this past Saturday’s Transportation Summit Community Forum was the commentary made by Mr. Adam Old.

A councilperson for the small Miami-Dade County municipality of the Village of El Portal, and an active member of the recently formed Transit Action Committee (TrAC), Mr. Old was perhaps the only municipal representative at the forum.

He was also one of only a handful of people who sought to redirect the focus of the meeting away from the relatively minor gripes of the transit-riding population regarding issues like rude bus drivers and poorly maintained bus interiors toward the more systemic issues plaguing our poorly coordinated mobility networks.

Some highlights from Mr. Old’s comments:

“[What the public] is measuring [the Transportation Trust’s] performance on is more mass transit lines. So, I applaud you on the airport link, but we have not seen nearly enough progress on rail. . . . Heavy rail, light rail. . . . Get it going. Get it going. Where are our commissioners? If there’s not money in the plan, pull it from the municipalities.”

[. . .]

“There should be a line to the beach 10 years ago. There should be a line to the beach 20 years ago.”

[. . .]

“Nobody’s saying ‘Hey! Transit in Miami sucks! And we need it to be better!’ That’s what we want. We want more money, and we want you guys [the Transportation Trust] to hold our commissioners’ feet to the fire for that [half-penny sales] tax. If you have to pull it from road widening projects, then pull it. That’s what we want.”

Well said, Mr. Old.

17 Responses to El Portal Councilperson Presses CITT on Rail

  1. Roger Williams says:

    It seems to me that there were two camps at the summit. The first, which was the biggest, was those who actually use transit daily and and are therefore faced with the harsh realities of its short-comings, ie: rude drivers, filthy buses, inconsistent head ways, etc. the other camp was more concerned about the big-picture issues of the expansion of our rail systems, etc. I agree with both camps. However, it is my understanding that funds that should have gone to hiring more mechanics and upgrading our buses and expand ingbus networks were diverted to the Orange Line/Metro Rail Expansion. That’s not cool. The big picture is great, but there are little things that we can do with our CURRENT infrastructure to make the transit experience better for all.


  2. Adam Old says:

    I agree with you, and I don’t mean to belittle the individual suggestions to improve daily transit at all. Of course we need clean buses that run on time with courteous drivers, but my point was that when people voted for the PTP and the half penny tax, the biggest selling point was _more rapid transit lines_, to finally connect the density and main attractions of Miami Dade with the current rail system so that we can stop wasting money destroying neighborhoods by widening arterials through them and demanding exorbitant parking minimums for new buildings.


  3. Roger Williams says:

    I totally agree. As another attendee stated, and I paraphrase, we over-promised on the PTP. The goals for use of those funds should have been more realistic. The wording in the ballot language tried to do too much too soon.


  4. TransitDave says:

    They took a poll after the passage of the People’s Transportation Plan in 2002, which created the CITT to oversee the proceeds of the half penny transit tax. They asked voters if they voted for the tax (67% did). They further asked those who voted yes what aspects of the plan they supported the most. The overwhelming majority wanted more metrorail lines (65%) more buses was at about 25%, road projects were in the single digits, and were only supposed to be limited to those specifically mentioned in the plan; the tax was never supposed to be used as a permanent source of funding for anything but transit projects, other than the municipal shares, administered by the respective municipalities.
    The CITT has been nothing but a rubber stamp for the actions of the County Commission since very early on; as has been written before by myself and others, nothing less than a comprehensive reform of county government can be expected to change much, if any of what ills our transit agency and system. And that’s a damn shame.


  5. Dahomey says:

    I was in attendance as well on Saturday. I ride MDT buses on a daily basis, most frequently from the Beach to downtown, which is an increasingly frustrating experience. I agree with the comment about there being two camps, I would just add that’s I think its a perfect reflection of what’s wrong with this county. What we have (which is woefully insufficient to begin with), we don’t properly run or take care of. Maintenance, cleanliness, reliability, efficiency, security, even a place to sit down for women and children can’t be counted on when people ride our public transportation. At the same time we desperately need to expand our transportation options with heavy rail, light rail and/or BRT. The beach and a western spur to FIU should have been done ten plus years ago (they did build a westbound platform at Gov’t center afterall). 27th avenue North line, twenty plus years ago. Now all these corridors are competing against one another for whatever scraps are left at the table. And we “trust” this County leadership to get the job done?


  6. ivo says:

    After reading the CITT reports of where the money is going, i’m very disappointed.

    Even though they are funding two projects very close to my house, they are focused on making cars moving faster, forgetting that there are not bus lines to take us to the rail station that is only 4 miles away.


  7. Juan Carlos Contreras says:

    Amen! We need more advocates like this. In other cities, Miami’s fast growth would be going on without transit. We’re headed towards extreme congestion. We needed Metro lines throughout the city DECADES AGO! We need political advocates now!


  8. Adam Old says:

    Again, I want to make it clear that I fully support everyone who commented about making MDT’s operations better, cleaner, faster, more frequent and more courteous—I think these should go without saying, and I hope that MDT has taken them to heart and will fix as many as possible, some of them shouldn’t even cost anything.

    However, the CITT needs to advocate for us on more than just day-to-day operations of the current system. They were formed to bring Miami-Dade into the future, where transit would be a premium option in getting from place to place quickly. So far that ultimate goal has fallen by the side of the ever-widening road.


  9. B says:

    While some aspects of bus service can be improved by better maintenance and training, the fact is with Miami’s traffic congestion busses have inherant limitations when it comes to meeting their fundamental purpose-to get you somewhere on a regular, predictable schedule. Things like rail expansion, bus lanes, ect., they are not in competition with having quality of bus service-the two go hand in hand.

    When our rail systems were torn up and replaced by busses, it was never anticipated that the roads would get congested as they are now. Busses stop working when they are beholden to unpredictable traffic such as: the MacArthur causeway, Biscayne and 36th, 79th, and 123rd, Indian Creek/Collins and 41st and 63rd, among many others. Then riders get frustrated, drives encounter frustrated riders on a regular basis and are pressured by supervisors to speed and drive aggressively and keep to the schedule, it’s just not a good situation, and you can’t entirely blame the drivers.


  10. Mike Moskos says:

    What surprises me is that there has been no expansion of the 3 jitney lines, beyond the FreeBee service on the beach. Where is the class of young entrepreneurs driving electric 10-12 person vehicles in routes around the Tri Rail and Metrorail stations and other routes? With the low costs of purchase and electric fuel for these vehicles (picture a large golf cart), I would think they could be profitable at $2 a ride.

    And it sure is a shame this wasn’t the vehicle of choice for all the large city shuttles I see running around with barely a passenger. You might not be able to figure out when one is coming, but you can be sure it will take you to city hall.


  11. SEFTA says:

    It amazes me that Adam Old is the only representative that confronts this useless board. Seems to me their sole purpose is to funnel monies to MDX related projects.
    Every 4-5 years the area spends millions on a “Master Plan”. Each stress the importance of new transit lines in the area. Everybody agrees that it’s all a great idea then it sits there. No action is ever taken toward that end.
    Then they say there is no money yet there’s money for ridiculous, misguided plans for “Lexus Lanes” or more money to turn our streets, already the some of the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians, into highways.
    Now they want to spend $600 million to widen 395 for a new “iconic” bridge which is just a way to sell new “Lexus Lanes” to the beach. and you know that $600 million will be closer to $1 billion. What is expected? That a new wider bridge will make it faster to get onto th beach at the other end by getting them across the bay faster? The congestion is not on the Miami side. No, they will be turning the newly upgraded Alton Road ramp or 1 of the lanes to 5th Street into “Lexus Lane” and that too will be backed up but only after all the right people make millions off of this giant scam.
    The FEC right of way north will be squandered for a ridiculous plan for more “Lexus Lanes” instead of a transit line and all at the communities expense?

    I suppose this is to be expected in a county that only 10% of the community actually vote for their own representatives. So I say BRAVO to Adam Old for being the lone voice out there


  12. amonte says:

    There needs to be one entity for mass transit/public transportation in the Miami area, divided in two, one serving the city, Miami, and the other serving the suburbs.

    It’s completely horrible when there is more than one and you have to call each county’s transit you will use to get from your starting point to your destination, but it’s EXTREMELY HORRIBLE when there is FOUR like we have. We have the Dade transit, the Tri-Rail, Broward and Palm Beach.

    Today, I wanted to go from a starting point in Palm Beach to a destination in Broward. I needed to get on a bus in Palm Beach, take the Tri Rail and then take a bus in Broward. I had to call all three! It was a disgusting experience! Plus, you have to be in all FOURS monthly bus passes seperately! You might as well buy a car and spend money on expensive gas and car maintance!

    People need to stop being selfish and thinking about themselves and think about the bigger picture.

    This is a MAJOR metropoilitan area. Miami is the city and the rest are the suburbs. Understand it! Cities are cities for a reason and suburbs are suburbs for a reason. People move to each one for a reasons. You can’t want to live in a suburb and expect to get city things. Or live in the city and expect to get suburban things. If you want amazing public transportation, that’s in the city. If you want urban, that’s the city. If you want suburban, that’s in the suburbs. Etc.

    People who are selfish are ruining the Miami area!


  13. Mike Arias says:

    In reference to the current roadway and transportation woes existing in South Florida lets address some of the ones that, can easily be addressed, resolved in a timely manner at a cost effective expenditure in order to improve and or alleviate some of these traffic and transportation issues.

    I wholeheartily concur that when the 1/ 2 penny surtax for transportation was proposed and approved by the resident voters there were to many false promises made which obviously could not be kept.

    Dreaming of these proposed grandiose mass transportation plans to hopefully occur in a reasonable timeframe at a time when capital funding sources are simply not available is nothing more than effort in futility and a waste of taxpayer funds.

    Why even spend taxpayer funds on performing costly engineering and traffic studies that are simply useless for todays commuters which are then placed in storage filing cabinets when these funds could be better reallocated for other worthwhile much needed roadway improvement projects which would be in every resident / commuter vested interests.

    Perhaps some day future resident / generations will see these major mass transportation capital improvements occur in their life time in South Florida.

    For example :

    1) Synchronizing the traffic lights at the major intersection on the main roadway corridors
    to improve the flow of traffic ( especially during peak load hours).

    Remember anytime that, traffic mobility can be enhanced and the commuters can arrive at their intended destination this temporarily removes 1 vehicle from the roadways and when this concept is expotentially applied to thousands of vehicles traveling on the public roadways on a daily basis it can have a major positive effect on the traffic flow.

    2) Increasing the time interval for the left turn lane ( on average it currently last 7 to 10 seconds to perhaps move 3 to 4 vehicles legally and 3 or 4 illegaly thru the intersections which often result in collisions and traffic delays occurings)which is totally inadequate during peak load traffic hours.

    How about extending the timeframe a minimum of 20 ,30, or 45 seconds depending on capacity and length of the left turn lanes to clear all of the vehicles staged to turn and prevent an overflow and traffic obstructions to occur on the public roadways like other major cities have done.

    3) Expanding the capacity of the left turn lanes on the roadways which during peak load traffic hours overflow and then adversely affect the traffic flow in the adjacent travel lane of the roadways.

    4) Clean up of automotive debris which are remmants from collisions which occur on the public roadways glass, plastic, metal, oil, coolant, fuel etc which creates a potential safety hazard for the bicyclists and the motorcyclists which are the most vulnerable users traveling on the roadways.

    5) Pot holes, craters, uneven pavement, deep ruts in the pavement in construction areas where former roadway striping was previously installed on the roadways are all very hazardous for motorists.

    6)Need additional mid block pedestrian crosswalks installed on the public roadways with proper signalization to warn oncoming motorists so pedestrians can safely cross the public roadways.

    7) Overhead pedestrian crosswalks are much needed at numerous locations throughout the County in order to enhance pedestrian and bicyclists safety as well as not interfere with the flow of traffic at the entrance and exit ramps on the expressways and at other high volume pedestrian crosswalk locations.

    8) Traffic enforcement is much needed especially for those motorists that voluntarily choose to block the box, continue turning left even though they no longer have legal right of way, speeders, and those that drive in a reckless manner which jeopardize everyones public safety on the roadways.

    9) Having safer designed roadways ( which are much needed) by installing center median dividers in order to prevent high speed frontal crossovers collisions from occurring would save countless lives annually as well as reduce the severity of the injuries which occur to motorists.

    10) Install safety guard rails on the sides of the roadways in order to prevent errant vehicles from departing the roadways and potentially subsequently rolling over which often causes serious or fatal injuries for motorists.

    11) Provide adequate width emergency shoulders of minimum 12 ft on both sides of the roadways where space is readily available in order for disabled, emergency vehicles, and in the future for commuter busses to use as well.

    12) Install lights on the public roadways which are currently much needed on ( Krome Ave, # 29, # 41, # 50, # 60 # # 84 # 192 and numerous others throughout the State as well in order to enhance the visibility for motorists during early morning and nighttime travel on the public roadways.

    Before this City wants to be considered as a global world class destination all of these traffic mobility, public safety, and mass transportation issues ALL collectively need to be addressed and resolved or this will simply be another dream that will simply not materialize in the Magic City.


  14. Mark Rampion says:

    “Perhaps some day future resident / generations will see these major mass transportation capital improvements occur in their life time in South Florida.”

    Really? So future generations will be using the new port tunnel, the Metrorail airport Orange line, the new PAMM or Museum of Science, or any other new major construction project that has started or already complete? This all sounds familiar..If I had to guess this is the same reasoning Christians ascribe to their lives here on Earth. They think that in the afterlife we will be living in the kingdom of heaven. Ahh that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Well, I for one do not buy that twisted logic. I believe Miami can be better and can build more public transportation infrastructure just like it built a new Marlins baseball park or Miami Heat arena. We should all try living in the HERE and NOW where we make the most of our time. Miami has the means it just doesn’t have the will/spine.


  15. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Miami should do important things that will be done NOW, not things that will be done in years, like the irrelevant “signature” bridge. Just stop and do urbanization and public transportation. That would create less traffic because more people would use public transportation and would have more eyes on the streets for less crime and more safety.


  16. Anonymous says:

    Stop using south florida to refer to greater Miami. South florida is the entire southern region which includes the Miami metropolitan area but other areas as well.


  17. John Gamble says:

    I was the second person behind Adam Old and everything he said is exactly correct if we want the commissioners increase funding to transit we have to attend the meetings and get them to invest into Miami Dade Transit or we could elect new commissioners who are focused on improving transportation in Miami-Dade County


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