I ask; if I am ever ousted from a political or public works position (which, I assure you, will never be the case) please, do not hold a special “name clearing hearing” in my honor like the one scheduled tonight by the county commissioners at 5 pm over the firing of former transit director Roosevelt Bradley. How pathetic is this? Have we stooped to a new low in the commission chambers? Has our commission become complacent with substandard performance and abysmal results from one of the county’s largest departments? I assure you, the removal of Bradley from the top Transit post was a good thing for Miami-Dade Transit. It’s depressing that the best argument provided thus far against his removal from office has been racial, which I must mention had nothing to do with his lousy performance.

Yes Bradley has overseen a recent growth in Bus operation and has blanketed our county with awkwardly placed glass bus benches, but, we must not give credit to him for these ‘advances.’ After all, the transit department is growing because of the efforts of the 2002 PTP supporters, not the efforts of any transit individual. Since the 2002 approval we have yet to witness any considerable advances with our transit tax money. Sure they’ve purchased a few buses and installed some illuminated street signs, but, is that really what we expected out of the PTP? The north and east-west corridor are anything but certain seeing that either has yet to secure federal funding, the airport connection hasn’t even been finalized, and our transit oriented development is abominable, all the while precious PTP money is squandered. As director, Bradley should have and could have forced Baylink to begin financing and development. He could have created a joint development to accelerate plans to create the Miami streetcar. He could have modernized the transit system, abandoning the ludicrous token system and implementing a friendlier metrocard system. He could have worked to add bus benches in more strategic locations, rather than the wonderful collection we now have along SW 72nd St. in front of half million dollar houses with Range Rovers in the driveways. Hey, anyone remember the FEC and CSX rail corridors decaying across the county? The fact of the matter is that Bradley was fired not for what he accomplished, but for what he has failed to accomplish thus far as transit director.

I reiterate the importance now of hiring an individual with a visionary plan for the transportation problems in Miami-Dade County. We need someone who understands how real public transit works in other parts of the world and can bring some of the success of other transit systems to Miami. Miami-Dade Transit needs someone who can work to lobby congress to allocate more federal dollars for our transportation deficiencies. We need someone who will work to bring regional rail alternatives to the whole south Florida area and will work with Governor Crist and the Florida congress to reestablish the Florida High speed rail initiative. We need someone who understands that public transit is more than just trains and buses; it’s a complete redesign of our public spaces, our buildings, and our way of life. All in all, we need someone who at the end of the day will not say “Look at what I have accomplished” but rather “Look at how much more can still be done to improve Miami’s public transit.” No transit official should be tooting his own horn for adding buses which had already received funding from allocated taxes and no one should cry foul when fired over an appalling performance…

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3 Responses to The Bradley Mess

  1. Verticus S. Erectus says:

    Except for your fixation with streetcars, I agree with everything you say. In this county ethnicity trumps vision everytime. Regarding BayLink and use of the FEC tracks, it’s a damn shame nothing has been done to facilitate their construction and use. Hopefully someday soon, young grasshopper, you will come back from Gainesville and save the day. Please don’t abandon us for greener pastures.

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  2. Jeff says:

    Oh dear god, please, not again. The LAST thing FDOT needs right now (while it’s trying to get its original intermediate-speed rail project back on track) is for HSR to come up again and blow it away for another decade.

    Before the whole HSR debacle, FDOT was actively preparing to launch 79->110->125mph rail service between Miami-WPB, Orlando, and Tampa, and had a planned rollout date of sometime around 2002.

    The general plan was to acquire the CSX ROW from Mangonia Park to Auburndale, and Tampa to Orlando (eventually Jacksonville), and immediately start daily 79mph service with 2 trains between Tampa and WPB-MIA and 4 trains between Orlando and WPB-MIA (taking over scheduling for the track so they could give passenger trains priority and enable reliable end to end times of ~4.5 hours.

    More or less simultaneously with that launch, they’d start build a new track alongside the original track with 125mph design specs (but limited to 110mph for now by the feds in areas with grade crossings), and add more daily round trips between MIA-WPB and Tampa & Orlando (using the old tracks mainly as passing tracks and for slow freight trains)… dropping end to end times down to around 3.5-4 hours.

    As warranted by demand, they’d progressively eliminate grade crossings from the stretch between Auburndale and West Palm Beach & replace the old track to get the speeds up to 125mph, and end up with travel times in the 3-hour range (potentially as low as 2:30 for a train that departs from Miami and runs directly to Tampa or Orlando as fast as it can, without stopping at stations along the way to discharge or accept passengers).

    The best part? It would be fairly cheap (to build, operate, AND travel on), and most analysts have agreed it might even be PROFITABLE. The main reason being that “true” HSR would have a STAGGERING up-front cost, and the bonds sold to finance its initial construction would saddle it with a CRUSHING debt load from day one. By the time it managed to ramp up enough service for fares to come anywhere close to covering the original operating costs, enough interest will have compounded to increase its debt load to the point where not even packed trains 24/7/365 with $250/seat fares will raise enough money to pay it off.

    Most surprisingly, a 110mph trip from Miami to Tampa would actually be FASTER than what it would have been had the HSR project not been killed. Why? The planned track alignment would have forced people traveling to Tampa to pass through Orlando first, adding 30-60 minutes of delay from both the detour and added stops.

    Under the best possible scenario, a “HSR” trip from Miami to Orlando might take 2:08. Under even slightly pessimistic estimates, the trip might take 3 hours at 110mph (2:30 if nonstop). Are those 52 (or 22) minutes REALLY worth the extra $200 or so they’d have to charge for a HSR ticket to come anywhere close to covering the added cost of HSR vs ISR? Especially if ISR service were cheap enough to run 4-6 *FULL* MIA-ORL nonstop trains/day that made the trip in 3:30 anyway?

    Personally, if I had to choose between spending $150 roundtrip to travel from Miami to Orlando in 2:08 in a cramped airline-type seat with minimal legroom and narrow pitch in second class on a “true” HSR train, or spending $100 roundtrip to travel from Miami to Orlando in 3 hours in first class, waited on hand and foot every step of the way (like ICE trains in Germany) at “only” 110mph… well, to me, anyway, it’s a no-brainer. ISR wins, hands down, no contest.

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  3. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Valid Points Jeff…I’m aware of the flaws behind the actual HSR proposal but I was insinuating any reasonable rail link between the major cities in the state…

    An ICE Network would be desirable to say the least…

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