Currently viewing the tag: "Transportation"

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?

County leaders on the ground remind us that the debate going on in communities across the country isn’t about government that’s big or small. It’s about government that’s smart and partnerships that work. It’s about working together to deliver results for the people and places who depend on us most.

Ray Lahood, Secretary of Transportation

Tagged with:, the UM School of Architecture & Green Mobility Network invite you to meet, 

Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives

Meet the leader of a grassroots transportation advocacy organization that is helping make New York City more bikable and livable. He’ll be here for CONNECTING MIAMI, a 2-day event featuring a lecture and bike ride.    


Friday, March 25, 6:30 p.m. @ Glasgow Hall. University of Miami School of Architecture, Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center, 1215 Dickinson Drive, Coral Gables. Seating is first come, first served. RSVP via GREEN MOBILITY NETWORK FACEBOOK PAGE.

HEAR how New York reinvented itself as a bike-friendly city… 

LEARN what makes better streets for cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users…


For more information visit:   

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The Texas Transportation Institute just released its annual study on National Traffic Congestion - and surprise! congestion is on the rise across the country, and especially here in Miami. Miami ranked 7th in the top 15 cities for longest travel delay and congestion cost (under cities like Chicago and New York).

Important to note in the rankings is the definition of congestion cost, calculated as, 

Value of travel delay for 2009 (estimated at $16.01 per hour of person travel and $105.67 per hour of truck time) and excess fuel consumption (estimated using state average cost per gallon).

Other notable factoids include:

- highest transit usage occurred in 2008, but 2009 transit ridership remains historically high (due to the bus service expansion following the PTP)

-Congestion cost in Miami-Dade County $3.2 billion dollars in 2009 - at an average cost of $892/car.

Unfortunately, the calculations tend to fall apart when comparing Public Transportation numbers and the benefits derived from continued service. According to the data, public transportation accounts for a reduction of $217 million in congestion costs. The problem with this number is that it’s derived from calculating transit trips and their value. The report compares vehicle miles traveled for cars and places these on equal footing with unlinked public transit trips - a calculation that ignores the benefits of compact urbanism (ie. downtown). One public transit trip equals more than one car trip because the areas around transit nodes contain more density and intensity of activity that one need not take multiple trips for different activities.

In spite of this misleadingly low number, we can still see that congestion has a hidden cost on our economy that we pay for indirectly and that our limited transit network (here in Miami) provides a tangible benefit in reducing these costs.  This should be signal to our elected officials that transit has an economic value, and pulls its weight, in spite of the fact that farebox revenues do not pay for the operation of the system. We end up paying for the lack of transit in other ways - car maintenance/insurance/gas, tolls, environmental and social costs, not to mention lost productivity.

The report did have one shining jewel of advice when considering how these numbers should be used by officials in considering transportation projects and their impact on congestion:

Consider the scope of improvement options. Any improvement project in a corridor within most of the regions will only have a modest effect on the regional congestion level. (To have an effect on areawide congestion, there must be significant change in the system or service).

Well said. Transportation planners in Miami-DadeCounty have to stop thinking about ‘congestion’ as a problem that can be fixed with operational gimmicks and highway expansion. Congestion is going to exist with or without projects like MDX’s South Dade lexus lanes. What we need to do is provide people with an expanded array of transportation options that will give them an alternative to congestion. Projects that try to ‘ease’ congestion will only serve to benefit a small number of users, as in the case of the US1 managed lanes; wealthy residents of South Dade will benefit, but the rest of the working class and poor residents of South Dade will continue to use the service that remains on the Busway, or have no other choice than to sit in congestion and wait. Doesn’t sound like an equitable or efficient use of the public righ-of-way to me.

A Message From Horizon 2060:

A Statewide Transportation Summit will be held August 19 and 20 in Orlando on the future of transportation in Florida.

     At this event, all interested partners and members of the public will have an opportunity to provide input on draft language for the 2060 Florida Transportation Plan and to help kickoff an update to Florida’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. To help us plan and prepare accordingly, please click here to RSVP online.

     Thursday’s event will include roundtable discussions and electronic voting to build consensus on draft goals and objectives to be potentially included within the 2060 Florida Transportation Plan. A preliminary meeting agenda is posted online, and additional materials will be posted as soon as they become available. * Please note. If you are unable to attend the Summit, the draft goals and objectives will be posted online in survey form and available for comment. A reminder email will be sent the day of the event with links to these surveys.

When: Thursday, August 19 from 1pm to 6pm — with a focus on the draft 2060 Florida Transportation PlanFriday, August 20 from 9am to 3pm — with a focus on the update to Florida’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan
Where: Hyatt Regency Hotel, Orlando International Airport. There is no cost to attend and you may register the day of either meeting.
     For questions regarding the 2060 FTP please contact Huiwei Shen. For questions regarding the Safety Summit please contact Marianne Trussell of the Safety Office.

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A local event related to the Florida Transportation Plan 2060 is upcoming .  For more information on the Florida Transportation Plan 2060 go to:

If you cannot attend the workshop be sure to submit your comments here!

Miami Regional Workshop

  • Date:
    June 2, 2010 — 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Location:

Miami-Dade College, The Chapman Center
300 N.E. 2nd Avenue
Room 3210, 2nd Floor, Building 3
Miami, FL 33132

For more information please contact: David Korros by phone at 305-470-5840 or by email at

Great news out today from Secretary of Transporation Ray LaHood. The administration is making a shift in how it views bicycle and pedestrian investments.  This from the Secretary’s own Fastlane Blog:

Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

  • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
  • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Go beyond minimum design standards.
  • Collect data on walking and biking trips.
  • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
  • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
  • Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

Now, this is a start, but it’s an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.

Awesome. This is exactly the sort of smart transportation planning we have been advocating for. Transit Miami applauds the change and looks forward to seeing it implemented. If the recent success of the TIGER stimulus grants are any indication of the federal commitment to complete streets, this latest proclamation is yet another step in the right direction.

Funding and bus service were the themes of the night at the second annual Miami-Dade Transit Summit. In attendance were Mayor Alvarez, County Manager Burgess, Assistant County Manager and transit guru Ysela Llort, and Commissioners Barbara Jordon, Chairman Moss, and Carlos Gimenez. The audience was a mix of transit aficionados and transit users (or both) who gave a wide variety of suggestions on proposed route changes, funding mechanisms, and general discontent with the job the Commission and administration are doing to provide transit service to the citizens of Dade County.

The word affordability was repeated several times, and each time it made me cringe. How can we hold a public good like transit up to some artificial standard like affordability? Who determines what is affordable? Are our public schools affordable? Who pays for the O/M of the police and firefighters? We do. We determine what is affordable . Transit costs what it costs, and it needs to be funded whether the commission likes it or not. Affordability is not a factor, because if it was then the most affordable option would be to buy current transit users a car, dismantle MDT and call it a day. Why waste any more time and money on a public good you don’t think we can ‘afford’?

I was impressed by the many speakers who gave solid, common sense suggestions as to how to improve the system and to fund it. Here just a few of the observations I thought were on point:

  • Use the surplus of MDX toll revenue to provide premium transit. The MDX representative was proud of the nearly $10 million dollar contribution they had made to MDT, but that doesn’t go far enough. The New York MTA recieves over $400 million of surplus revenue from bridge and tunnel tolls. Why can’t MDX provide a similar service? Not to mention the roads that are not tolled at all, like the Palmetto. Even a modest toll on this road would go a long way to funding the O/M of our transit system.
  • Expand the tax increment districts to beyond go beyond the station areas. As transit is a good that reaches beyond the area surrounding the station, then so too should the tax benefit come from a wider area. Duh.
  • Increase the gas tax.
  • Stop giving away free rides to the elderly.
  • Provide a thorough audit of how the 20% share of the PTP that has been used by municipalities. (I especially like this one as I am pretty sure any audit will uncover how this money has been wasted.)

Some of the best comments came from members of the local Transport Workers Union 291. Intelligent, well thought out, and passionate comments were made by the men and women who are on the ground every day and know exactly how the system works (or doesn’t). They rightfully criticized the plans for BRT expansion, citing Phoenix, Atlanta and other cities that were investing in light rail, rather than BRT. With a similar O/M cost, and higher capacity I agree with them.

I had prepared comments, but by the time my turn came to speak, all of my points had been addressed by the other speakers, save for one. It was a challenge to the administration and Commission to stop blindly throwing money at the transit ‘problem’ without having any goals or benchmarks to measure success. Throughout the night, the common response to audience concerns was “Other cities have the same problems we do.” I agreed, but observed that they did have solutions to the problem, we just were not implementing these solutions. San Fransisco recently set a goal of 30% transit ridership by 2030, why can’t we do the same?

In her closing remarks Commissioner Jordon responded to my comments by saying that they did have goals, but didn’t have the funds to reach them. I don’t know if she understood what I was saying, but as a person who is well versed on the subject, I have yet to see in writing a commitment by Miami-Dade County to increase transit ridership by any amount. How can we guide our investments in all forms of transportation if we don’t lay out a framework to achieve certain goals?

In the mix of transportation options available to people we include cars, transit, and walking/biking.  Currently, our transit ridership share is only 2.5%, with walking/biking less than that, which means more than 90% of the trips taken in Dade County are by car. This is not an accident. In the same way we plan for future highway and roadway expansion to accommodate future ‘demand’, so too should we do the same for transit.

My challenge to the Commission and to Mayor Alvarez remains: make a goal of 30% transit ridership by 2030, and fund that goal. That is the only way we are going to get out of our transit black hole.

Tropical Paradise or Transportation Paradise?

Morro de Sao Paulo is a small village on the island of Tinhare in Bahia, Brazil which is located about 40 miles south of Salvador, Brazil’s third largest city. It is only accessible by a 2 hour boat ride or on a 25 minute puddle-jumper.  It has a small population of about 3000 local residents which rely predominantly on tourism in order to fuel the local economy.  Up until about 15 years ago, Morro de Sao Paulo was a fishing village.

The real beauty of Morro de Sao Paulo is not just the beaches, but the fact that no cars are allowed to enter the village center. To get around, your only real transportation option is your feet. In fact, during my 4 days in Morro de Sao Paulo, I saw only 4 bicycles, a couple of donkeys, and a tractor that collects garbage early in the morning. I saw my first car when I was on the way to the airport while riding on the back of a tractor-bus.

Getting around on two feet was not difficult, but rather pleasurable.  The development of the village has grown naturally on a human-scale; meaning most distances within the village are no longer than a half-hour walk. The inaccessibility of Morro de Sao Paulo is certainly a major contributing factor to its organic growth.

Particularly inspiring is the manner in which supplies are transported within the village. Whether a refrigerator, cement bags, computers, alcohol bottles or food, all goods are transported within the community by wheelbarrow. It is astonishing to see the small supermarket in the village was fully stocked with first-rate amenities. Approximately 200 men wheelbarrow all the supplies from the arriving boats to the village.  The car free village generates jobs by employing wheelbarrow operators that do not pollute.

There are some valuable lessons to learn from Morro de Sao Paulo. This tight knit community has shown that with a little hard work and planning, a car free community is possible and desirable, as can be evidenced by the thousands of tourists that visit this remote village every year. The community’s low reliance on motor-vehicles, combined with a transportation infrastructure which is predominantly reliant on human power will allow it to adapt more easily to an oil starved future.  As our cities become more densely populated, perhaps we will need to turn to working examples such as Morro de Sao Paulo.  This small village illustrates that with an emphasis on human power we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Pack Horse

Garbage Truck

Unloading Beer Bottles and Propane Tanks



View Larger Map

Supporting good transportation policy is not about ideology, but education. In an interview with Blueprint America, ranking Republican John Mica of Florida has this to say:

“If you’re on the Transportation Committee long enough, even if you’re a fiscal conservative, which I consider myself to be, you quickly see the benefits of transportation investment. Simply, I became a mass transit fan because it’s so much more cost effective than building a highway. Also, it’s good for energy, it’s good for the environment – and that’s why I like it.”

In response, David Alpert of Greater, Greater Washington suggests we cycle more fiscal conservatives through the Committee so that they learn the myriad benefits to be derived from investing in public transportation.

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Today’s New York Times profile for US Transportation Secretary is garnering a bit of attention from the blogosphere today. Particularly, Mr. Lahood’s self-recognition that he is not  a transportation expert.  However, Lahood is proving to be an admirable champion for a more balanced transportation approach, especially as it relates to high-speed rail and bicycle infrastructure.

For more on Mr. Lahood, you can read Hugeasscity’s conclusion that he has definitely drunk the Kool-Aid, or check out The Infrastructurist’s approval of Lahood’s performance to date. And if that doesn’t convince you that a Republican can get down with the pro-transit folks then read the  quote below, lifted directly from a testimony Mr. Lahood gave on the future of surface transportation  policy. Despite our initial bellyaching, it seems we transit advocates have a friend in Ray Lahood.

In the past, population and economic growth have always led to large increases in highway travel. This is because most communities’ have built transportation systems that only allow people and goods to move by road. This Administration believes that people should have options to get to work, school, the grocery or the doctor that do not rely solely on driving. We want to transform our transportation system into a truly multimodal system with strong alternatives to driving in order to maximize highway capacity, combat traffic congestion, reduce our reliance on oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

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In a moment rail advocates around the country have been waiting for, the Obama administration unveiled its plans for American High Speed Rail.


While many advocates say the plan does not go far enough, the so called $8 billion “down payment” will jump start the process, with another $5 billion paid over the next five years. Click here to watch Ray LaHood, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama present their vision for American high speed rail, or here to read more of the details.

The corridors to receive funding have yet to be unveiled, but Obama promised the selection will be based on merit.

How the Miami-Orlando-Tampa route fairs in the funding process will be something Transit Miami watches closely.

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As Tony has written, and as Streetsblog profiles, stimulus money is being disbursed-or not-in all sorts of non-sensical ways. Regardless, you can follow the progress and see how much  AARA money has been spent on transportation projects  here.

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The Congress for the New Urbanism, an organization for which I am a proud member, has informed its members that the latest CLEAN TEA legislation is to add language supporting federal funds for walkable  street networks to their bill, the overall goal of which is to direct funds from future carbon  cap and trade for transportation and planning investments that reduce carbon emissions. To make sure the sponsors stay committed to network connectivity, CNU now urgently needs members and friends from the sponsors’ states and districts to write letters of encouragement and support.

The sponsors and the areas they represent are:

Sen. Carper, state of Delaware
Sen. Martinez, state of Florida
Rep. Blumenauer, Portland-Gresham area
Rep. La Tourette, Cleveland-Painesville area

A template letter, with text, is below.

For electronic communication, Sen. Martinez prefers that constituents use a web form found on his Congressional home page. Letter text must be pasted into a box. It can also be effective to print a letter on your letterhead (or from your home address) and fax it to Senator Martinez.

Sen. Martinez’s web form:
Sen. Martinez’s DC fax: (202) 228-5171

Dear Senator Martinez:
As a member of the planning and development community from Florida, I am writing to thank you for your leadership in moving our country toward transportation systems and development practices  that reduce carbon emissions while making communities more valuable, livable and sustainable. In particular, I appreciate your recent decision to add language to the CLEAN TEA legislation that encourages and funds improved street network connectivity. As a member of a leading inter-disciplinary organization promoting sustainable urban planning and development, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU -, I have learned of your instrumental role in developing the CLEAN TEA bill. It represents a groundbreaking effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved public transportation, more connected local street networks and planning for transit-oriented neighborhoods where destinations are nearby and walking, bicycling and riding transit are all attractive options.  Along with others in CNU, I heartily support the CLEAN TEA effort. As word spreads, CLEAN TEA is attracting considerable positive attention in the planning and sustainable development communities.  One of its main provisions — the reviews by state departments of transportation and cities of more than 200,000 people of their transportation plans to determine how future investments can reduce carbon emissions — is a breakthrough. And a strong bill was strengthened further by the recent addition of language that recognizes the essential role that enhanced street connectivity plays in supporting both transit and walkable, livable low-carbon development. CNU’s partnership with the United States Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council to create the first certification system for neighborhood-scale green development (LEED-ND) confirmed that transit-supporting green neighborhoods must have highly interconnected street grids that make walking and mixed-use activity convenient, rather than a  dendritic pattern of cul-de-sacs and collectors that make driving the only option. We heartily thank you for including support for connected transportation networks in the CLEAN TEA bill. As practicing urbanists, we’ve been leading a revival of this kind of time-tested neighborhood-based development, whether it’s revitalizing inner city brownfields, turning dead malls into walkable mixed-use centers, revitalizing small towns or creating walkable new towns. Although it often requires the changing of existing zoning codes and automobile-only road and highway designs, development in these walkable mixed-use neighborhoods strengthens community ties and creates enduring value, generally selling at a premium compared to comparable driving-only subdivisions. By helping people reduce the amount of driving they are forced to do, these neighborhoods help households dramatically reduce both their personal transportation costs and their household carbon emissions. Where this mixed-use development is served by good transit service and accessible to regional job centers, the carbon reduction impacts are even more dramatic.

See and for more discussion of these impacts.

As you and your fellow sponsors of CLEAN TEA have made crystal clear, we cannot achieve either the sustainable economic growth or the carbon reduction goals we so badly need without addressing the emissions impacts of transportation investments and the shape of our built environment. CLEAN TEA starts to reverse highway-centric federal transportation policies that  actually made the problem worse. We in the planning and development community applaud you for making transportation reform a priority and look forward to working with you to help advance this legislation.Please do not hesitate to call on me or CNU to advocate for language that ensures that federal funds can be used to improve sustainable transportation networks. Thank you for your consideration of my views on this issue.

Sincerely yours,

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I mentioned last week that the commission is going to consider changes to the rules governing the transportation surtax- allowing for flexibility in using the funds for operations and maintenance. Larry Lebowitz goes a little further today and describes the result of the proposed legislation:

If the measure is approved on Tuesday the county would give [itself]  a lot more flexibility in determining how to blend sales-tax revenues into the budgets of the transit agency and other county departments like public works, the 311 call center and the General Services Administration.

Greeeaaat. I’ve never been one of the ‘repeal the tax’ advocates, but the commission makes it so hard to believe they will use this money responsibly. The problem isn’t the tax, but that the county doesn’t want to pick up where the tax leaves off. They want the tax to be THE funding mechanism for whatever size system the tax can pay for, and that is not going to fly. We voted on a tax for expansion and that’s how it should remain. If I thought for a second that this change would lead to an expanded and functional system I would say go for it,  but this is just another step in the wrong direction. What do you expect from a commission that simply doesn’t care about mass transit, or good planning, or quality of life, or reducing our dependence on foreign oil, etc. etc. Sigh…

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