Currently viewing the tag: "Policy"

Dear Transit Miami Readers,

The recently released budget proposal from the Republican Study Committee cuts federal funding for transit. And it doesn’t stop there. Amtrak gets cut to zero.

It eliminates New Starts, the transportation program that funds all new transit projects in the country, and slashes high-speed rail funding — the same program touted by President Obama to great fanfare in last week’s State of the Union.

It even chops all federal funding for Washington DC’s transit authority, the very transit system that legislators’ staff and neighbors rely on every day to get to and from work.

This budget is a trial-balloon for the budget fight to come. We need to waste no time making it clear that these kinds of cuts are short-sighted and unacceptable.

Sign our petition objecting to this assault on public transportation funding. We’ll deliver the petition with your signature along with a letter from us and our partners to lawmakers.

The plan from the Republican Study Committee, which represents 165 of the 242 Republican members of Congress, calls for eliminating the $1.5 billion annual payment for Amtrak, $2.5 billion in high-speed rail grants and $150 million in annual funding for Metro.

The lawmakers who crafted this budget clearly aren’t aware that millions of Americans – including their own constituents – rely on passenger rail and the types of transit projects these programs fund.

These are also the very projects that pay far-reaching dividends. Study after study has shown that every dollar spent on public transportation generates more jobs than any other form of transportation spending. This proposed budget cuts the investments that create the most jobs – an especially poor decision in the face of a recovering economy.

We can keep this proposal from becoming law if we speak up now and make it clear that Americans aren’t going to sit by as federal investments in transit are gutted.

Sign our petition to protect federal support for transportation and jobs!

Thank you, once again, for all you do.

Sincerely,

Stephen Lee Davis
Deputy Communications Director

Transportation for America

"Mr. Carollo was here."

Commissioner Carollo wants you to know that he supports Bike Miami Days. At today’s meeting of the City Commission, Mayor Regalado presented a statement to commissioners on the scheduled April 25 event. Before he could move on to his next point, Commissioner Carollo asked to put on the record,

I was at the first Bike Miami Days and I will be there on April 25… Every once in a while, it’s good to leave your car at home and go for a bike ride.

The Mayor and Commissioner went on to comment that they both have sons who like to bicycle and that the new City Manager, Carlos A. Migoya, is a cyclist, as well. At this point, we can only hope that this means that Carollo will support bicyclists on the road, as well as on the record. As reported here earlier this week, the Commissioner has put all bicycle projects in his district on hold. This concerns residents and local business owners for a number of reasons. The SW 32nd Road project, which had already started, would connect the Vizcaya Metrorail Station/M-Path to Coral Way and its bike lanes. The project represents a significant connector route for cyclists and transit users, and promotes local businesses by connecting shops and restaurants with the highly residential neighborhoods of Coconut Grove, the Roads and anyone who lives along the M-Path.

Last but not least, it is one of the first benchmark projects of the City’s Bicycle Master Plan. With this bicycle route up for reconsideration, what will that mean for the other projects cyclists are waiting for in District 3, such as SW 3rd Ave or Flagler to 5th? We encourage you to direct these questions yourself to the Commissioner and his Chief of Staff, Jude Faerron, and let us know if you get a response. If there is ever proof that they are listening to you, this is it.

You can watch the video from the Commission meeting on the City’s website here. The conversation took place around 11:40am.

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Commissioner Frank Carollo, District 3

At this week’s Bicycle Action Committee meeting, the regular updates given on the status of the Bicycle Master Plan were missing a few crucial projects, all of which are in Commissioner Frank Carollo’s district. I asked the Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, what happened? Ever the diplomat, he informed us that they had been put on hold by the new Commissioner. “Does the Commissioner not understand that these projects are of crucial importance to the connectivity of our bicycle routes“, we asked.”…the safety of cyclists who use them to bypass busier streets and access the restaurants and shops of Coral Way?

Mr. Worth would not speak for the Commissioner, who had sent no representation of his own to the meeting so… what can we do? Rumors (so far, just rumors) suggest Carollo is no fan of the Bicycle Master Plan (yet), that he thinks car parking is more important than bringing cyclists and pedestrians to stores, or that he simply doesn’t realize how important these projects are to us, the residents of Miami.

Of course, we cannot expect the new Commissioner to automatically support everything started in his district before he took office. We understand that it can take time to look at each project and that even if it is nearly completed, he will be held responsible if it is completed under his watch. So, we have reached out to the Commissioner and hope that you will, too. Let him know that you support road improvements that support the City’s Complete Streets Policy and/or Bicycle Master Plan and/or whatever you feel is important.

Each City of Miami Commissioner controls the dollars spent on capital improvements (including road projects) in his district. Have you emailed or called your commissioner to introduce yourself yet?  He needs to hear from you. If you do not live in the City, you can still reach out to the commissioner of the district where you work, do your shopping or otherwise visit.

TransitMiami.com encourages our readers to engage with their local government and support moving Miami better.

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Oregonian Congressman Earl Blumenaur is one of this country’s strongest advocates for mass transit and active transportation. This week, the Honorable Representative writes a brief but strong op-ed for Politico.com in which he espouses his support for pro-rail legislation as a defense against climate change.

TransitMiami.com encourages you to engage your representatives locally, in Tallahassee and DC. Inform yourself on what legislation is presented and advocate for what matters to you. (Transportation!!)

Still have questions? Write to us or click on the links below for more information.

Who is my Congressman? How is s/he really voting?

What is the best way to lobby my representative?

Of course, there are lots of resources available online, and we appreciate your recommendations!

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Transit Miami is honored to have been nominated in the Best Local Blog Category of the 2008 Netroots Awards.  Voting is online and open to anyone through June 1, 2008 (Click here to Vote).  Show us some support!

Via SFDB (One of our strongest “competitors”…)

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Recall the post where I had the opportunity to interview Miami Beach chief of Staff AC Weinstein? Good, because here are some thoughts I drew up on the conversation, many of which I commented directly to AC throughout our first of many discussions on the future of Miami Beach…

Now, the first question on development, I fear, may have been interpreted a little bit too literally, but that is what happens when you try to be so precise with the wording of questions. The intention was never to correlate the cranes in Miami ensure economic vitality, but rather insinuate how in such a difficult market would Miami Beach continue to grow in order to ensure a steady tax revenue stream and thus guaranteeing the future economic vitality of Miami Beach industry. I was also hinting that height restrictions and true urban density should not be so interconnected with increased congestion on the Beach and that absurd limitations would only hamper future economic options for Miami Beach.

I was disappointed (not surprised) upon hearing Mr. Weinstein’s reply regarding Baylink, but was utterly dismayed when discussing the reasoning behind it. The basic arguments presented against Baylink (by the Beach) have been: Hurricanes, Washington Avenue, the Flexibility of Buses, and now apparently Historic Character. Hurricanes, we’ve addressed, this is a moot point considering all wires and structures will be built to hurricane standards and underground wires are not out of the realm of possibilities. Coincidentally, the reconstruction of Washington Avenue occurred at time when Miami Beach officials were beginning to object to Baylink (remember the famous quote around then: “Baylink will further enable those people to readily access the beach?“) Baylink would only further enhance the Washington Avenue streetscape, requiring only insertions of tracks while leaving much of the rest alone. My Favorite: “Flexibility of buses.” Miami Beach is like what, 11 blocks wide where most of the streetcar will be traveling? I doubt selecting any of these two streets will pose a problem when the streetcar will be virtually within a 4 block walk of nearly every address South of the Bass Museum. You really can’t go wrong. As for the Historic City comment, please look below at the Miami Beach Streetcar Map in 1928, or click here for some solid video evidence.
My qualm with the whole Baylink discussion was that the office of the mayor has yet to provide a legitimate alternative transit solution to handle the city’s current and upcoming demand. The reports I’ve seen both indicate that congestion will reach unbearable levels by 2011 (the economic vitality I was hinting at earlier would certainly suffer) all but promoting the idea of a longer termed solution. The office mentioned no plans to improve (or green) bus capacity, build transfer stations, or work with MDT to enable better signal prioritization along key corridors.

We’re pretty excited the Mayor’s office created the Green committee, however we’re not quite sure what tasks the committee will be tackling or what the stated goals of the committee are. There aren’t any plans, yet, to push for mandatory LEED certification on new construction or considerations for alternative fuels, car sharing, or other equally progressive programs.

The Bikeways and expanded bike lanes were a breath of fresh air. It’s reassuring to see the city take the necessary steps to move in a bike-oriented direction and even require bicycle parking. I hope the city (and perhaps the green committee) see that the addition of transit will only further enhance the cycling options while creating a much cleaner environment along the beach.

All in all, my conversation with Mr. Weinstein proved to be beneficial to us here at Transit Miami, as well as with many of the Miami Beach constituents. Mr. Weinstein provided us with a glimpse of the mentality issues we’ll have to face in the coming years in order to see real public transportation options come into fruition while providing a fresh, new perspective on the bicycle/pedestrian improvements the Beach hopes to make.

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Tri-Rail Commuter Train, originally uploaded by jmdspk.
Due to the volume of e-mails, I know when we are running behind on a given topic (sorry!) but hey, you can always count on us to cover every transit/development related story sometime within the given week.

This week’s topic is how FDOT, like every other DOT across the country (I guess the Feds set the precedent here), is trying to raid the public transit funds for more road expansion projects in the Greater Miami Area (get used to it folks, we don’t fly with the “South Florida” nomenclature around here.)

On one end is the Florida Department of Transportation, or DOT, trying to keep money it uses to build and improve state roads. At the other is Tri-Rail, struggling to find money to fund the commuter train’s operations and pay for new projects.

Let us analyze this statement briefly. The Florida Department of TRANSPORTATION (not too aptly named, eh?) is trying to raid the nation’s fastest growing public transportation system (tri-rail) of hundreds of Millions of Dollars over the next 5 years for various road widening schemes? Jeff Koons of the Palm Beach MPO and Tri-Rail governing board has the right idea:
“I wish we had more dollars, but by [giving Tri-Rail] the $2, I hope they realize this is a crisis,” he said. “The state needs to take a look at adding some funding sources for regional mass transit.”
Without this dedicated funding source, Tri-Rail, like all of the sprawl inducing road projects, would be dead in the water. The Agency would have until October to come up with $17 million or else shut down in the midst of 2 years of solid growth, capacity expansion, and recent train dispatch control.
If Tri-Rail doesn’t get a dedicated funding source and if the three counties cut their funding next year as expected, Tri-Rail officials say they’ll have to drastically reduce service. Under that scenario, Tri-Rail could default on a $334 million federal grant used to construct a second track because the money was awarded based on the agency’s pledge to operate at least 48 trains a day weekdays.

The troubling aspect of this issue is not only how we continue to heavily subsidize our roadways at an uncontrollable rate, but that our state transportation agency is attempting to financially dismantle our commuter rail system in order to expand congestion. The State continues to battle itself, by working on projects that contradict themselves: Tri-Rail, Road expansion, HOT Lanes, etc. The FDOT epitomizes a transportation agency and policy that is anything but; eager to shift resources away from reasonable solutions and further legitimizing the misconceptions often encouraged by people like Gregg Fields:

But is it streetcars we desire? The mass transit message is decidedly mixed. One day earlier this month, Tri-Rail celebrated ridership hitting a whopping 15,000. There are Burger Kings with more traffic at their drive-thru windows — and they serve food.

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If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it twice, we’ve said it about a hundred times: parking is cancerous to urban areas. The more of it you have and the cheaper it is, the more lethal it becomes to what could be a healthy, well-designed urban area as it induces driving demand and destroys urban continuity. Unfortunately for Miamians, people in power are still about as clueless about parking as George McFly was about women.
In this recent article in the Miami Today News, it is revealed that Bayview Market (yeah, one of the proposed uber-retail developments in the Omni area with about 50 million parking spaces) is now unfathomably receiving bonus incentives from the City to build more parking. The measure is designed to reward retail developers for adding extra parking in the Urban Central Business District, allowing an additional 10 ft. of building height for every additional 75 parking spaces provided.

Though the bonus only is allowable for up to 20 ft. of building height, it is still terrible, terrible policy to be incentivizing developers to build more parking in the CBD — a place that already has such an incredible oversupply of parking it is disgusting. If this isn’t bad enough, here’s the real nail-in-the-coffin of bad parking policy: the ordinance requires that the new spaces be free to the public during business hours, and offered at market rates during off-peak periods. This is absolutely as backward as it gets.

Too bad that the people’s opinions that matter don’t think so. City Manager (and apparently urban planner wannabe) Pete Hernandez calls this ridiculous new ordinance, “good, sound policy.”

Bayview Market’s developer, Garcia Du-Quesne, also seems to have missed the boat (though he can at least claim bias):

“We strongly feel that it (the ordinance) has a tremendous foresight and reflects good planning…(it) is made for every present or future retail developer.”

Yikes. But this is what we’ve come to expect in Miami/Miami-Dade. People who have no formal urban planning education are making critical errors in policy and project approvals based on hunches, pet theories, and overly simplistic economic policy that will forever damage our quality of life and urban potential.

I’m forwarding a copy of UCLA Urban Planner and world-renowned parking policy scholar Donald Shoup’s People, Parking, and Cities (or click here for the abbreviated version) to the City Manager and all of Miami and Miami-Dade’s commissioners. If you’re reading at home and really want to become an expert of parking policy, I highly recommend Shoup’s book, The High Cost of Free Parking.

Both of these pieces will change your opinion about parking forever.

Photo: Google Earth

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