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Use Parking Authority Revenue For Transit

Looks like City of Miami residents can expect a show-down between Elected City officials and the Miami Parking Authority at the ballot box in November. Control of the MPA is being contested between City of Miami Commissioners /Mayor who want a greater piece of the parking money pie, and the independant Board that exists to run the MPA. A  semi-autonomous entity, the MPA  is currently managed by a governing board that is not answerable to the City Commission.

Critics have correctly noted that the City’s lack of financial stability is concerning as the City seeks control over yet another government agency. Municipal officials can counter that other cities get greater profits from their parking authorities. Still others see this as a solution in search of a problem that does not exist. The MPA is solvent and sends the City yearly million dollar checks. Why change? All are valid points, but they miss the big connection between public parking management and transit.

A recent Herald article on the subject pointed to the Toronto Parking Authorityand their 2009 contribution to the city of over $50 million in revenue. What the article fails to mention is that  Toronto has the third largest transit system in North America and respends the $50 million they get from parking on transit (many times over). After the slow and quite demise of the streetcar proposal, he City has been sleeping with regard to transit planning.  If the City expects voters to side with them they are going to have to show that they understand the connection between parking supply and transit/mobility by using parking revenue to address the mobility needs of city residents.

The potential increased revenue from the MPA could be leveraged to bring premium transit expansion to the city. The long planned streetcar, the Brickell Metromover loop, and other local city projects  must have local support and funding. As our downtown and surrounding suburbs densify and become ever more urban, City of Miami officials will not be able to look to the County to solve their mobility problems. The proposed  MPA restructuring could be the beginning of an overhaul of how the City of Miami fulfills its mobility needs. City Commissioners should look to the example of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is the agency responsible for transit, bike infrastructure, and parking in San Francisco. Reflecting the close relationship between urban mobility and parking, this agency is a model for the City of Miami in deciding how to establish control of the MPA. How Commissioners choose to take advantage of this opportunity will determine whether voters see the wisdom in fixing something that is not broken.

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10 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    The parking authority is small potatoes…the real money is with MDX. The expressway authority needs to start spending its surplus toll revenue on funding transit instead of banking it for fantasy projects like the 836 extension to nowhere.

  2. Tony Garcia says:

    Mdx is a different scale of government. I’m talking about local city of miami service not county-wide transit.

  3. Oscar says:

    I agree with the first poster, while using MPA’s revenue to fund transit is a great start, I think that the scale and nature of our transit problems mean that they need to be solved by the county. A streetcar is a great start but, at the end of the day, we’re going to need to expand our heavy rail. We’ve already fallen behind with our failure to meet the Metrorail expansion goals we passed almost a decade ago. As our suburbs become more urbanized, the need for an efficient system of transit that can carry a high volume of riders will increase. Lack of commitment, funding, and creativity doomed previous expansion efforts. I think using MDX revenue is a logical solution seeing that, as our county becomes more urbanized, there will be fewer and fewer opportunities to expand highways. MDX will kick and scream but, if we really want a transit system fitting a world-class city, we’re going to have to demand this.

  4. Tony Garcia says:

    Guys we’re talking about the City of Miami, not the county. MDX has nothing to do with this conversation. I am making the case for local transit. Sharing local parking revenue is common in cities across the US- parking management has everything to do with urban mobility.

    Ps. Sharing mdx revenue is one part of a strategy that I have been advocating for years now. It is not the ultimate solution, but just one tactic that has merit.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The city wants the MPA so it can use whatever surplus it has to be added to the general fund. Thinking that money will suddenly be available for transit is fantasy.

  6. Tony Garcia says:

    The City also wants to convince voters that they suddenly deserve this money, when they are inept with the money they already have - that’s way more of a fantasy than using it for transit. Not to mention, this is common practice throughout the US. But, I guess in a place where we elect people who can hardly speak English we shouldn’t expect to be like the rest of the US.

  7. Anonymous says:

    In a place like San Francisco there is a obvious understanding how transit is a necessary part of a functional city. That Miami’s leaders and residents alike have not gotten to this level of awareness has nothing to do with weather or not they speak English.

  8. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree! I’m making the point that things operate by their own logic here - conventional thinking does not apply.

  9. Oscar says:

    I agree with you, Tony. If the City wants to seize control over the MPA, it stands to reason that they should use those funds for transit. If the City wants us to throw our support behind this take-over, they need to show us that they are committed to improving transit with that revenue. I still believe that, seeing as Metrorail and buses are operated by County government and the population distribution beyond the city’s limits, any major improvement in local transit will need to involve the County. Just as MPA revenues should be used by the City to improve transit within city limits, MDX revenues should be used by the County to improve transit throughout the county. A streetcar and other light-rail options implemented by the City will help, but, in the long run, I think that Metrorail expansion will be necessary.

  10. Tony Garcia says:

    Good points Oscar

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