Seems like we here in South Florida are always fighting for the bare minimum when it comes to transit.For the next few weeks the Florida legislature is going to be considering a number of options to fund the controversial Sun-Rail plan, as well as our own Tri-Rail.

Among the key transit proposals under consideration in Tallahassee: Giving Tri-Rail a guaranteed source of income to avoid recurring budget shortfalls, approving construction of a similar commuter rail service known as SunRail in Central Florida and creating an agency to oversee a possible bullet train. (Herald)

It is ridiculous that at the same time that legislators are discussing building a new line (very similar to Tri-Rail) that there remains an ongoing funding problem with Tri-Rail. How can we be expected to get any money for any sort of transit (high speed or normal) when we don’t make a commitment to fund even the most basic commuter rail?? I’m not so worried about losing out on high speed rail dollars as much as I am about the myriad of other local rail projects that rely on federal dollars (like the FEC line).

One might argue that the two issues are not connected, but I think that they are. They point to the single issue that dominates any discussion of transit funding: political will. As Barbara Jordon observed during the last transit summit, political will to raise the necessary funds is the largest obstacle to expanding our transit system. As a commuter line, Tri-Rail is an integral part of creating a balanced multi-modal network in Dade county. This is not about subsidizing a bad business venture, but about funding a necessary (and successful) public good.

SFRTA officials have said that they will discontinue service by 2011 without dedicated funding. Do our legislators really want to be responsible for adding additional 14,000 cars to the road at peak times?

I urge our legislators to support funding for Tri-Rail. Show the feds, and more importantly your constituents, that you take transit seriously and that you will not let an important part of our local economy go to waste.

Please email our elected officials, and let them know that you support funding Tri-Rail. Even if you only write a sentence, it is important for these people to know that the residents of South Florida care about Tri-Rail.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Tagged with:

7 Responses to Why Tri-Rail Matters

  1. Prem says:

    “This is not about subsidizing a bad business venture, but about funding a necessary (and successful) public good.”

    Really? public good? for whom?
    does the current system even pay for itself yet?


  2. Tony says:

    ‘does the current system even pay for itself yet?’

    what does this matter? Do our schools ‘pay for themselves’? No. How about police or firefighters? Didn’t think so. Prem, are you really arguing that public transit is not a public good?


  3. Chris says:

    Well it’s a good for me….. Do the highways pay for themselves? I don’t understand the hypocrisy from so many anti-rail pundits (forgive me if I am being unfair, Prem)- they fault rail because it is not a multi million dollar profit center yet they neglect to consider that constant maintenance, widening, and upkeep performed on highways is a money pit (yes, upfront cost to operate rail is higher, yet ticket sales generate revenue to help offset the cost differential relative to highway costs). If we are to assume that neither highways nor rail lines are going to generate profits, I’d much rather funnel my taxes into a system that takes emissions off roads and allows me to do my work instead of ripping my hair out in bumper to bumper traffic. Also, the indirect benefits of rail (NEW development along the corridor, increased property values) make it a priority for this state.

    Thanks for the post, Tony. I intend on contacting the officials you listed.


  4. Brad K. says:

    One of the major problems with Tri-Rail is that it really doesn’t connect with City Centers and densely populated areas. The 79th street Metro Rail (which takes Tri-Rail traffic gong to Downtown Miami) is the busiest station in Miami-Dade due to the fact that this is the only way to get into downtown from Tri-Rail.

    One of the sincle most important things that the agencies charged with redeveloping our Downtown area can do is to push for the Downtown Miami Tri-Rail extension. This is in the Tri-Rail master plan and can be implemented relateively easily given funding due to the fact that Tri-Rail would rent existing tracks. This is important to contrast with the much talked about $25 M FDOT study for commuter rail, which will take 10-15 years to implement, if at all.

    The economic impact of a Tri-Rail Downtown extension on the entire Downtown area could be enormous. A direct connection from the airport to Downtown! The increased commuter traffic will generate hundreds of jobs in the surrounding service and support industries as well as creating an additional incentive to make Miami more pedestrian friendly. Placing a Downtown Miami station across from the Overtown Transit Staion would revitalize a long neglected area. You would think that the between CRA (with $50M in the bank) adn the DDA ($6 Million annual budget) someone could throw a couple million (maybe to build the station including retail and service elements) for something that obviously makes sense.

    Let’s stop spending our tax money on studies and outside consultants and actually do something for a change!


  5. Kristin says:

    “‘does the current system even pay for itself yet?’

    what does this matter? Do our schools ‘pay for themselves’? No. How about police or firefighters? Didn’t think so. Prem, are you really arguing that public transit is not a public good?”

    Actually, the do pay for themselves. Schools turn out educated children who go off to join the workplace or start businesses and contribute to life. Firefighters and police keep us safe, reduce crime that costs money and saves buildings from being destroyed. Quality of life matters, and its a sound fiscal policy as well.


  6. Prem says:

    There’s no free lunch. However, I’d like to clarify that I’m asking in regards to the comment that rail is a successful investment. While some members of the public benefit from the existence of rail, and may benefit from proposed expansions, there is very little discussion of the cost of such projects.

    Just like the dreaded highway system creation and expansion of a rail system has drawbacks. Aside from the massive initial investment, which is also often subject to all manor of inflation and shortchanging, rail systems often fail to address the needs of the very public government agencies claims to aid.
    I think these arguments apply in double for highways, Chris. I’m not suggesting some “old” way of doing things is better, but the rail systems being planned in florida would require tens of billions of dollars to complete, would take decades, and would likely serve fewer people throughout the state than use BART in San Francisco Bay Area.
    Anyone know ridership estimates?

    Aside from red herrings about “public goods” (as if that’s an excuse to dump money into a money hole) and education, or police, or safety, does anyone have any explanations as the while a very expensive rail system will benefit the public in Florida more than alternative uses for the many billions of dollars you all want to spend on this?


  7. […] even admit that the likelihood of obtaining federal funding for the system is low considering the feds gave SFRTA several hundred million dollars only two years ago for Tri-Rail Upgrades. How ignorant can these folks be with regard to the true transportation needs of Miami-Dade […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.