Tuesday June 27, 2006
Miami Transit has a
gushing positive writeup on the forthcoming Miami Intermodal Center (I’ll rag on their web site in a minute). The idea is one central interchange between the airport, Metrorail, buses, rental cars, pedestrian traffic, taxis, and probably pogo sticks: it’s a big central hub. It’s also a great big showcase, a $1.4 billion (you heard me) palace to our efficiency and Jetsonsness.
Boy do I ever call bullshit. This is one of the least sense-making things I’ve ever seen, for two completely different sets of reasons. Firstly, there is no logical reason for all these things to be under one roof. Consider: if you fly in to the airport, you have a good chance of leaving by a rental car or by bus. Is there any advantage to having a bus station at one end of the airport and car rental facilities at the other? Of course not. Do you need to be at some central transportation locus before you decide where you’re going and how? You don’t. Any reason taxis should drop people off at some central repository rather then as close to their gate as possible? Nope.
It’s as though our officials are overcompensating for idiotically not putting a Metrorail stop at the airport by turning that stop into a ridiculous palace (go to the Miami Transit page for more photos). The airport is already interfaced with buses, taxis, and rental cars. Is this monstrosity going to improve matters? Maybe ever so slightly, but this is a massive solution in hopeless search of a problem.
Which brings me to the other obvious problem: the $1.4 billion. Oh, the MIC web site? Hilariously, it has an unskipable flash intro, so that nobody with a flashless browser can see it without a deep link (here’s one). After that it’s graphics-only navigation menu, with random links to PDFs and other garbage. A hilarious number of the main menu buttons open up to a grand page with a single off-site link in the middle. It’s like these idiots consciously decided to do the opposite for every single web accessibility recommendation. But if you click around long enough (and if you have the right browser and software), you’ll see enough of the pictures to realize just how much of this thing is purely ornamental.
Oh, and it may look gleaming and beautiful in the computer renderings. But don’t be fooled: you know what happens to mass transit facilities. They get abused, and after awhile they start to look a little shabby. Imaging a huge glass and steel mass transit hub after a year in use: still huge and silly, but now much less immaculate, and looking for all the world like a gigantic mistake. I don’t need to run down the problems the county is facing for you to realize that this money could have been much much much better spent, do I?
Update: Transit Man has revised and extended his remarks. “It’s Kinda like watching the credits roll on Nacho Libre and wondering: ‘How can so many people see nothing wrong with putting this into production?’ except instead of the $10 ticket and popcorn, it’s $1.3 Billion.”
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