Archive for the 'Broward' Category

Vote on Broward County Transit Issues

The Sun-Sentinel offers a voters’ guide for issues that will appear on Broward County’s ballot. While I am not familiar with many of the other issues, I would disagree with their recommendation to vote against Question 1, the creation of a Metropolitan Transit Authority. A letter to the editor of the Miami Herald sheds a little more light on the subject. Read it and consider carefully. I believe it would be in Broward County’s best interest to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority. The Sun-Sentinel thinks it is better to come up with a comprehensive plan first, then create the Transit Authority. I believe the Authority could help create a plan, however. Also, the first steps to creating a plan have been taken through the Transit Summits that Broward County has been having for about a year. Broward County Transit’s own headline says their purpose is to develop a Public Transportation Plan. So it’s not too early to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority. The time is right.

If anyone can come up with a better reason why we should not have a Metropolitan Transit Authority in Broward County, let us know. Otherwise, vote yes on Question 1.

Another important Broward County issue on the ballot is Question 5, amending the county charter to provide a regional focus. That way whenever the county commission considers something, they have to consider it at the regional level. This would help avoid fights with other counties such as the ongoing fight with Palm Beach county over the University Drive extension. Better yet, if this is incorporated with the transit authority, we might have some hope of providing a better regional transit network. So vote yes on Question 5.

Tri-Rail Shuttle Shuffle

Remember that vote by Broward County Commissioners to remove funding for Tri-Rail feeder buses in Broward County? Well, the Sun-Sentinel reports that on Tuesday the commission will consider replacing the funding for shuttle buses for at least the coming year.

These shuttle buses are a crucial part of the Tri-Rail service, as the stations themselves are generally far from employment centers. The buses, funded by the county, provide the final link to work or home for many Tri-Rail riders. Until we get Tri-Rail service on the FEC tracks that pass closer to city centers, they provide the best connections. County bus service is not timed to the train schedules and often uses longer routes to get to key locations. Take the Fort Lauderdale airport, for instance. Right now we have a nice shuttle bus providing service from the Fort Lauderdale Airport station to the airport terminals. Without the shuttle, the alternative would be to wait for Broward County Transit Route 4, then transfer to Route 1 at US-1. I don’t even want to know how long that might take! Do you want to be able to get to FLL by Tri-Rail? Ask your county commissioners to keep the shuttle.

Find your commissioner and let them know you want to see Tri-Rail shuttles funded for the coming year. Also remind them that you want to see funding continue on a permanent basis.

Broward County Transit Meetings

Tomorrow, Broward County Transit is having a public hearing on changes to some bus routes. Instead of the service cuts that South Florida sees too often, it looks like their changes mostly consist of service improvements and the addition of a new express route. See their press release for more details, and head over to room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center on August 12 at 2 PM to put in your two cents’ worth.

There’s aso a Transportation Development Workshop this Thursday, August 14, from 3:30 to 5:30 PM at the Broward County Lauderhill Towne Center Library. Again, hit up the website for more info on the Transit Development Plan and the workshops.

And don’t let the bus hit you on your way there.

Broward County Transit Now On Google Transit

Google Transit Ad

Have you checked out Google Transit yet? It sounded good back when it came out: use Google Maps to plan your transit trip. It’s definitely better than the official South Florida Regional Transit Trip Planner, but we didn’t have any local transit systems on there. Until now.

We can’t be certain when that changed, but Broward County Transit is now on the official list of Transit systems that Google searches. A nice feature is that if you search for directions on Google Maps, it offers a “public transit” option as well as a drive option for areas that are on Google Transit. It’s never been easier to compare your public transit alternatives to driving.

If anyone’s keeping score of these high tech transit tools, I’d say that puts Broward: 2 to Miami: 1.

Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes.

 

Broward County Transit Installs Real-Time Message Boards

Tired of unreliable buses? Sick of not knowing when the bus is coming, or whether you just missed it and have to wait the full 30 minutes for the next one?

We can’t do anything about the unreliable buses until we get a streetcar, but BCT has begun putting up real-time message signs that tell you when to expect the next bus. The first two started operation Thursday at bus stops on Hwy.  441 near Oakland Park Blvd., and more are ready to be installed in the near future. Broward County’s signs one-up many similar systems across the country by including a voice that audibly tells riders when to expect their bus. It’s a great feature for visually impaired or illiterate people, many of whom are forced to ride the bus as they cannot legally drive a car.

Maybe we need some more visually impaired people. We need some way to get people out of their convenient Lexus Cages. Failing a sudden rise in blindness, perhaps comforts like these message boards will help.

Read more details about the boards in the press release. If anyone’s used the message boards, please let us know how they work. How’s the accuracy of the time?

 

Update 6/11/2008: BCT sent us a picture of one of the message boards. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

TOD Coming to Deerfield Beach

You heard me right — Tri-Rail’s Deerfield Beach Station is poised to have transit-oriented development by 2010.

According to real estate website globest.com, Atlanta-based developer York Residential has received final approval to begin construction on the the Deerfield TOD. The project is expected to cost $180 million, with construction beginning in early 2009. Let’s hope that our market conditions don’t squash this development.

The mixed-use TOD will be adjacent to Deerfield Beach Station along Hillsborough Boulevard. Some specs according to the article:

  • It will include three residential buildings with 467 market-rate apartments and 82 workforce-housing units, 36,000 sf of office space, 14,500 sf of ground-level retail space, a 140-room hotel and two parking garages with 1,146 spaces.
  • The residential units are expected to come on line in 2010 while the completion date for the remainder of the project has not been determined.
  • Target rents for the residential units also have yet to be set. According to Yonce, rents for a one-bedroom unit in the area range from $1,100 to $1,150 per month.
There are also 3,500 employees that work within a quarter mile of the development site, which means there could be a considerable walk-to-work element to this TOD. Let’s just hope that the design is up to far so that walking in and around the development will be a pleasant experience.

Note: Photograph is not a rendering of Deerfield Beach’s proposed TOD.
Photo: mhginc.com

Lonely Florida Panthers Seek Expansion

Okay, let me get this straight. The Florida Panthers spurned their downtown Miami digs in 1998 for the Bank Atlantic Center on the western fringes of suburbia. Now the Panthers are feeling a little bit lonely along the River of Grass and want to create a Mixed-Use Facility in western Broward?

The company said the project would create a source of funding for ongoing capital improvements, allow it to expand its programming to events that it is unable to secure because of the lack of hotel infrastructure in the area, and create a cultural hub for western Broward County.

Lack of hotel infrastructure in the area? I didn’t see that one coming when they built that foolish stadium out west. Now the Panthers want to make suburban sprawl the center of culture in western Broward, when will the stupidity end?

Haphazard Bicycle Lane Placement

I was bewildered last week when I read this:

“Rush hour traffic often flows smoothly on the highway thanks to a fourth eastbound lane added during the past two years in the congested stretch between 136th Avenue and Douglas Road.

But the new bike lanes added during the same project are a different story: Mostly, they’re empty.”

Then I took a look at the accompanying picture (above), which immediately ended my confusion. Instead, I thought well of course nobody uses them, what do you expect when you add bike lanes to an I-95-like facility? Implementation of bike lanes on streets such as this one on Pines Boulevard are a huge waste, nobody in their right mind will ever feel comfortable riding bike on a street with 8 lanes of vehicles. Now, while we fully support the expansion of bicycling facilities and lanes in our region, we must do so with caution and restraint, creating lanes on streets where they are likely to be used and will provide a general net benefit to the public. This haphazard, understudied form of bike lane implementation is a waste of taxpayer money and will do little to change the autocentric mentality of South Florida.

Via Spokes ‘n’ Folks

Broward County Transit Meeting

A quick reminder for anyone in Broward county: tonight there is another public meeting/summit to discuss your transit concerns. Head to the South Regional/BCC Library, 7300 Pines Blvd. in Pembroke Pines from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Sorry about the last minute notice, but go if you have the chance!

Broward County Transit Summit Update

We Received a letter from a loyal reader and transit advocate who was able to attend the recent Broward County Transit Summit. Here’s what happened:
This past Tuesday Broward county held a transit summit with the intent of getting input from the public on what is wrong with public transportation in Broward County and what can be done to fix it. Mayor Joseph Eggelletion started up the public portion of the summit. The most notable thing he mentioned was that Broward county wants to “think green” with their transit. This is a departure from recent trends, as they have foregone any hybrid options for new buses such as the highly touted articulated buses for the 441 Breeze route. Perhaps they will follow PalmTran’s lead and use biodiesel.

The president of the American Public Transportation Association, William Millar, delivered the keynote speech. His speech offered a few pointers to improve transit, but nothing earth-shattering. The most insightful information of the summit was some numbers comparing the transit system in Broward county to other Metro areas, from Miami to Seattle to Atlanta. [I
don't have these numbers with me at work.] They all have more buses and more rail than Broward county, but only because they each have a dedicated funding source. Last year Broward voters passed up a 1% sales tax increase that would have gone toward transit, and the system will continue to stagnate if residents are not willing to pay for expansion.

Two of the suggestions I wrote down were to secure a funding source and to connect to Miami’s Orange Line Metrorail when they come to the Broward County line. Metrorail’s deputy director told me their final elevation was such that Broward County could connect to their tracks. The ball is in the hands of the voters. If we can vote to tax ourselves, the county says they will listen to us and use that money where we want them to. In the meantime, additional summits will be held on Nov. 13 and on Jan. 24. Go andtell them how to make our transit better.

I didn’t get to stay for the end to hear what other comments were, so I don’t know if the overall tone was good or bad.

Blog/News Updates

Blog Updates
  • For those of you who haven’t visited the site in a while due to the convenience of the automatic daily e-mails, you may not have noticed the addition of James Wilkins to the Transit Miami staff (more to come soon, too.) James will be primarily writing about architecture and Urban Design here on a weekly basis. His first post appeared on Monday and discussed what could/should be Miami’s most prominent waterfront structures at Museum Park. As always, if you have any news, stories, or general feedback for any of us three, please drop us an e-mail: movemiami@gmail.com…
  • The site will be temporarily out of commission for part of the weekend, sorry for any inconvenience which this may cause…
  • New Sidebar Miami Blogs: Hallandale Beach Blog, South Beach Hoosier
News
  • Broward Commissioners approved a new 8,000 ft. south runway for Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday night before a crowd of over 1,000 (mostly opponents) at the Convention Center. The new runway will allow FLL to meet expected demand over the next few decades and will provide the airport with another runway capable of handling most domestic aircraft. The $600 Million runway will likely require the purchase or soundproofing of 2,500 nearby residences and will be elevated over US-1, similar to Atlanta’s runway, pictured below…
  • Meanwhile, the state denied FPL’s most recent bid to build a “clean” coal power plant in Glades County. “…the company lost its bid to build the coal plant, in part, due to risks the facility would contribute to Everglades and other environmental pollution…” (Via CM)
  • If you build it, they will come…Now, can we just start doing it properly?
Miami Blog Updates
  • I’ve accidentally neglected TM’s Friend Rebbecca Carter of GreenerMiami for too long. Back in May she covered the Commuter Challenge, which this year featured two Mercy Hospital employees “racing” from SW 152 ST. The commuter who used the busway and metrorail won by 19 minutes! Here is her take on the I-95 HOT lanes too…
  • The 836 West extension opens next month and with that, more tolls! Rick says its best: “One More Reason Not To Live In Kendall…” but I find that hard to swallow coming from a Pembroke Pines Suburbanite… In any case, the West extension from the Turnpike to 137th Avenue will be available to SunPass users only…
Headlines From Around the World

Rail Transit along the Beeline, Further Congestion on 595

While plans move forward to expand I-595 in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin County commissioners are working on a plan to bring east-west Tri-rail service along the beeline expressway. The commissioners hope to one day use the existing CSX rail tracks to link research and biomedical facilities in the works in both counties. Unlike their Broward counterparts, these commissioners see the financial advantage of not widening roads and instead using our money wisely:

“Koons estimated that widening the road to accommodate development could cost $1 billion…”

“Many of those developments are running into traffic concerns because parts of SR 710 are getting congested. Future development could be prohibited if the highway isn’t widened. Using commuter rail could reduce the need for widening, Koons said, and help solve affordable housing problems.

“You can afford more housing if you have to spend less on transit,” he said.”

Nice to know someone sees it…

Broward Commissioners approved a plan to buy 200 NABI buses over the next five years to replace aging vehicles and add to their existing fleet. Flexible buses similar to the one pictured above, will begin running along the US 441 route this week…

BCT Mechanic Pay raise is in the works…

Looking North for Some Obvious Answers

Perhaps Miami should look north for some answers on how to regulate our urban sprawl. Central Florida community leaders are presenting 4 alternatives on the future growth patterns the area can choose to take for regional developments and are allowing area residents to choose which path the region should take from now till 2050. I think its exceptional thinking on the part of city planners to choose a plan of action for regional growth over the next 40 years while educating the public on the negative effects sprawl will have on their community if the corrective measures aren’t taken. The report is inclusive of urban growth and development patterns, environmental land conservation, area job opportunities, and public transportation. The plan proposes three better urban growth alternatives along with the typical “do-nothing” alternative which would continue the treacherous path of disruptive land use. Needless to say, the citizens are speaking out and are overwhelmingly deciding that the “do-nothing” alternative is not a reasonable plan of action and are instead opting to see denser, smarter developments in their community. Interestingly enough, the seemingly controversial streetcar is included in denser growth patterns, as is extended commuter rail and alternative transit (bike, bus, etc.)

Our region is in dire need of an area wide policy against current land usage patterns. Our neighbors to the north have realized this, why can’t we?

I found this on the myregion.org website, which has a wealth of information. One of their desired outcomes is something I have had a great deal of difficulty achieving with Miami residents since I started Transit Miami nearly a year ago:

Our Desired Outcomes:

  • Build a new regional mentality
  • Strengthen and create regional coalitions
  • Maximize opportunities and address challenges

Changing people’s minds will be the hardest objective for any visionary plan in this Country. The already disillusioned “American Dream” has morphed into an uncanny desire to lay claim to large tracts of land, repeatedly misuse resources, and generally live in an unsustainable manner. To attempt a reversal of this mindset would require a figurative amending of the constitution as well as widespread progressive leadership to reverse the suburbanization of American Culture witnessed over the prior six decades…

  • Heck, they even address the fragmentation which has occurred in the region…
  • Check out who is on board