Thursday December 29, 2005

Let's expand Metrorail

Ronald Reagan criticized Metrorail when it was finished in 1985, saying “It would have been cheaper to buy everyone a limousine.” These days, Metrorail serves 48,000 people a day so that (racist?) remark has been sufficiently refuted. It’s still a pretty low number, though, and the reason is obvious: Metrorail doesn’t go any-particular-where.

Now, there are lots of proposals around for expanding public transportation – everything from water-taxis to streetcars to a second Tri-Rail. There is even a super-ambitious plan for expanding Metro-rail floating around, but I’m not going to support anything quite so pie-in-the-sky as that.

I’m thinking of a second Metrorail line, which would run east-west, down to South Beach at one end, meet up with the current line at Government Center, and proceed west to the airport (or further, if possible, maybe to FIU). This would solve the problem of Metrorail not going to the airport, incorporate the free-floating BayLink idea (good grief: “To be evaluated for funding in 2016”), and generally make the rest of Metrorail make sense, by giving the system more destinations.

There are three principal arguments against this: (1) Miami isn’t suited to a large public-transportation system; (2) it’ll cost too much money; and (3) we don’t want more people going to the Beach; they’ll ruin it. To which I answer:

Maybe not (1), but tell that to the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the system every day. The more people who use public transportation, the better off we are as a city and as a civilization, and the more places there are that can be conveniently reached by public transportation, the more people will use it (Metrorail is more convenient, less intimidating, and faster then regular busses, so much more likely to be used by people who have a choice).

(2) This’d less then double the size of the system, and it would leverage the usefulness of the existing stops; it’s throwing good money after (arguably) bad. Plus, what with all these condos going up in Miami, we’re in for a big tax-boom over the next few years. If we put this plan in gear, we’ll be spending the money just as it rolls in.

As for (3), people living on the Beach (of which I’m one) being afraid of their neighborhood being overrun by tourists is like being afraid of Iraq becoming a center for terrorism: it’s already done happened! Making the Beach more convenient might make it a more popular destination, but it also makes life easier for residents.

There’s all this talk of Miami being the city of the future and whatnot, and our public transportation system is lagging. It’s been over 20 years since Metrorail (line 1!) was built, and it’s high time to expand. We have the need, we have the money, and we have the momentum; let’s do it.

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  1. otto    Thu Dec 29, 06:41 PM #  

    East west is the major problem in this city… The 836 24/7 parking lot is your best example. the same goes for 595 in broward, but who cares about them. And the airport needs to be in loop.

    Speaking of Loops… if the existing Metrorail connected back to itself from Hieleah down the palmetto or turnpike to Dadeland riders would have more options. Once that phase is complete you could expand towards broward in the north and towards cutler ridge in the south.

    The system should have expanded years ago. We should not approve moving further into the everglades without having the public transportation system expanded first! That will delay any new development for at least 20 years.



  2. otto    Thu Dec 29, 06:54 PM #  

    Wow – I should have looked at that proposal first… I thought I had seen that before. But if you see its dated 2002… and in two days it will be 2006. Our fine goverment at work.

    Oh one other thing I forgot… the trains should also run later. Miami is a late night city… trains should run late into the night, especially if you want to stop drunk driving.

    I need a drink! Is it new years yet?



  3. Rick    Thu Dec 29, 08:23 PM #  

    Not much to add here except that I think any mass transit proposal needs to be devised with Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in mind.

    That doesn’t mean that Metro Rail needs to run up into Broward or Palm Beach, although it sure would be nice. No, what I mean is that planners need to consider where their users are coming from and going to. A couple stations up around the county line might help make those commuters who are coming in to Miami-Dade from Broward each morning consider stopping at one of the stations and riding Metro Rail the rest of the way in instead of fighting traffic on I-95, the Palmetto, or Turnpike.

    And for God’s sakes, run a line out west, like you’re suggesting. Doral, FIU, Kendall…they are all places that large groups of people either work or live.



  4. alesh    Fri Dec 30, 04:56 AM #  

    to be honest, i’m not sure where that plan came from; it sure isn’t on the miami dade site. The Wikipedia page on MDT has an other projects section, which might have some more “official” proposals.

    And yes, a lot of these ideas have apparently been around a long time; i’m not making any particular claims to originality – i’m just saying it’s time for the shovels to hit the dirt on this.

    There’s also something called the Miami Intermodal Center mixed up in all of this, but i’ll be goddamned if i can figure out what the fuck that is supposed to be for (a way from people to “transfer” from a plane to a bus?) . . . based on their web site i’m going to assume it’s another money sink our leaders have built into the tax code.

    For sure their web site seems aimed at obfuscation and shock-n-awe rather then clarification (dig the my-first-flash-presentation opening with no ‘skip’ button – your tax dollars hard at work).



  5. Roger    Fri Dec 30, 10:56 AM #  

    I thought I voted on a tax increase for exactly this expansion you speak of back in 2002 and I HAVEN’T SEEN ONE IOTA OF PROGRESS SINCE THEN. Until Miami stops being run by politicians trying to line their pockets and give themselves raises without it even being voted on by the taxpaying public, Miami is Nowheresville. For every step forward we take, the system down here takes two steps back. It’s utterly ridiculous. This should have been implemented 20 years ago when the metrorail was created. Yes, expansion would create headaches for a few years but Miami would ACTUALLY be a city that you could get around in without the need of a polluting, income-guzzling car – a concept way too progressive for Manny Diaz or Joe Arriola or any of those other morons.



  6. Miami Harold    Fri Dec 30, 11:22 AM #  

    Settle down, Roger. Alesh explained where your tax dollars went:

    right here!

    You think fancy websites are free? Don’t be such an ingrate.

    And Get a Horse!



  7. john    Fri Dec 30, 11:55 AM #  

    ALL of you are sooo right. Why does it seem that the blogosphere is full of reasonable people but the powerful have their heads in their asses?

    I have seen a lot of what you are proposing in the current county plans. The MIC is suppose to be a place for trains, planes automobiles to meet modeled on LAX’s airport based multi modal terminal(including the new and long overdue Greyhound and Amtrak stations- JEZUS aren’t THEY scary!). The new train routes would do what you are all proposing but a look at the MPAC tells us how well it will all turn out. Oh yeah, Odebrecht and Haskell are going to be a major contractors. HA HA HA!

    The Bay Link problem has a lot more to do with the tension of Miami Beach’s hotel owners and power brokers that don’t want to facilitate Miami downtown hotels putting up folks to make convenient tripping to the Beach. There is an underlying ethnic thing going on there too, OF COURSE, because this is Miami, i.e. Jewish Beach vs. Hispanic Miami, working class Hispanic and Black kids with increased access to the beach…

    Blacks who commssion votes made metro rail possible want NW routes to be built before FIU and SW routes because they feel (rightfully) that they have been shortchanged.

    It was the same silly reasons that have held up regional lines. Broward and Dade have that historical tension as one county was built upon Hispanic political arrival and the other White Flight. This is what killed the use of the east of I-95 federal train corridor that is already there waiting to be used.

    “Tie It All Together” was my most recent entry on the subject but there is more on some old postings on Miamista.

    God Damn, can’t we all just get past it!!! We are jeopardizing the future of our region over pettiness.



  8. soso    Fri Dec 30, 12:13 PM #  

    as metro user and beach tenant, I am shocked that we do not have a better bus, metrorail or mover schedule. This city is behind the times!

    I’m surprised that buses do not run more frequent and late into the night. (The owl service does NOT count!)



  9. Otto Moe Beal    Fri Dec 30, 12:41 PM #  

    Fun Facts About Mass Transit

    It took 30 years to complete and cost more dollars than King Kong has fleas to build Washington DC’s subway system, but it’s the nation’s best: clean, attractive, and heavily used by commuters and tourists alike.

    Los Angeles actually has a subway system. Los Angeles! Land of the Freeway !

    Discussions of public transit always inspire ethnic and racial, um, “insights.” Everybody heard that the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit System (MARTA) is known as “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta” (thank you, Julian Bond!). And remember Braves’ ex-pitcher John Rocker’s outrageous characterization of New York commuters (purple-haired queers, gays with AIDS, foreigners—how the hell did they get into this country, anyway?). So Miami is in the mainstream, for once.

    Here’s a plus: if they dig a subway, maybe they’ll bury some FPL lines.



  10. Hose B    Fri Dec 30, 03:07 PM #  

    Yes, and maybe after it’s all finished at the end of the century, we’ll dig a tunnel from Key West to Havana like the one linking France and England…...make it safer and easier for would-be immigrants to make their way off the island. Fido will be dead—probably, at 182—but his hand-picked successor, Elian Gonzalez, will have to deal with it. Heh heh heh.



  11. Paul    Fri Jan 6, 11:48 PM #  

    I don’t care how long it takes to complete the metrorail expansion project or if a few contractors get rich in the process. I just want less cars on the street. The main reason the project is taking so long is because buying the land for the new metrorail is costly and time consuming. However, construction has already begun on the Miami Intermodal Center. Here’s a good article on the subject: http://www.miamitodaynews.com/news/050324/story5.shtml