The latest plans for the MIC/Earlington Heights Connection/East West corridor, immediately spurred a question back into my mind that I once asked a leading Miami-Dade County transit planner at a meeting last year: What is Miami-Dade Transit’s vision and goal for Metrorail? I went on to suggest that at times I feel that MDT isn’t sure itself of what it hopes to accomplish with regards to the rail transportation needs in the county and certainly isn’t aware of how public transportation is implemented in other progressive cities across the globe. Now, to understand my question fully, you have to understand the east-west corridor images which were being presented. The aerial photos showed the proposed corridor and stations. Superimposed around the stations were depictions of what is traditionally considered the reasonable walking distances passengers would be willing to make to access the system. Here in lies the problem: not only were the stations located alongside low density single family neighborhoods, but, the superimposed circular area was often times more than half composed of highway space, thus rendering at least 50% of the walking distance draw factor to be useless. To further compound the problem, the stations were being designed with commuter parking in mind while the maps alluded all into thinking otherwise. MDT doesn’t seem to realize that metrorail is at best a commuter rail train and does little to promote and enhance the urban concepts they are trying to incorporate. This is why the transit oriented developments around the current stations can generally be seen as complete failures, because they lack the basic integration of transit with the rest of the urban setting. Notice how every TOD sits upon a giant parking structure and integration with metrorail is typically seen as an afterthought covered walkway at most.


It appears that their confusion has gotten worse over the past months. The latest plans call for metrorail to run directly to the airport as either part of the east-west corridor project or the Earlington Heights Connection with the Miami Intermodal Center, which would in a sense render the whole concept of the intermodal center to be pointless. Now, some cities like Atlanta and Chicago use this sort of approach, however, it is typically incorporated at the end of a transit line, rather than an awkward, out of the way, non commuter friendly loop. The MIC was designed to be a hub linking all forms of area ground transit with the airport, similar to the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations cited on the Airtrain map of JFK. Notice the similarity between the keyhole shapes of JFK and MIA, the transfers to MTA subway and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) at Jamaica and Howard Beach Stations, and the rental car facility easily accessed at Federal Circle. Airtrain and JFK is the quintessential working model of what we are trying to accomplish, paralleling our glorified view of the MIC equating a “Grand Central Station” like terminal. The Airtrain solution seems way too obvious to me, perhaps this is why MDT has failed to see it.

About the transfer conundrum. I’d like to detail my most recent trip to NYC for you all so that you can see that transfers don’t have much to do with a desire to use the system, its more about incorporating transit with the urban spaces.

  • Walked 2 blocks to nearest subway station
  • After going down a flight of stairs and clearing the turnstiles, boarded a train bound for Penn Station (Ride time: <4mins)
  • Purchased LIRR ticket to JFK, although there are several LIRR routes all but one travel through the JFK station: hence you don’t have to wait long.
  • Boarded LIRR bound for JFK (Ride time < 15mins)
  • Exited LIRR and rode elevator up to Airtrain platform which left me right outside my terminal (Ride Time < 10mins)

Numerous transfers on trains and stations that weren’t equipped to handle luggage larger than carry-on in 40 degree weather and yet I wasn’t the only non-native using the system. I’d also like to add that the whole trip cost less than what any car or taxi would have cost…

Going back to my original point, I would like to point out a major difference. MTA has created in New York a public transit system which continues to blend in well with the urban fabric of the city. MDT has yet to figure out what they hope to accomplish with rail service in Miami, transporting people to hubs that no longer exist, failing to integrate rail well with our surroundings, and generally creating system that will one day be as confusing as the people who created it…

MIC “Progress”


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Related posts:

  1. The Airtrain Solution: Part 3
  2. The Airtrain Solution: Part 4
  3. The Airtrain Solution: Part 1
  4. Studies Favor Density Along US-1
  5. Lets Plan!

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