Currently viewing the category: "South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)"
Open Bridge

Open Bridge - Via GoboNdc’s Flickr

Around Miami:

  • Once and Future Metropolis. Our own Craig Chester takes cues from Miami’s past to discuss where success will lay in our future. It’s sad to know that Miami once boasted 11 trolley lines that crisscrossed the county from Miami Beach to the City of Miami and even out the then-suburb of Coral Gables. (Biscayne Times)
  • $2.8 billion transportation upgrade rolling (Miami Today)
  • Boca Raton politicians leading on transportation policy. The Sun Sentinel sits down with Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams and Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie to discuss their roles in reshaping local transportation infrastructure. (Sun Sentinel) Note: Commissioner Abrams was was elected Chair of the SFRTA at the July 27 meeting of the Governing Board. At the same meeting, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro was elected Vice Chair. (SFRTA)
  • Two new Rubber-Tired Trolley announcements in one week! South Florida’s Trolley Fever is raging. First:  Sweetwater to get new trolleys (Miami Herald) Then: Trolley cars may replace shuttle buses in Delray Beach (Orlando Sentinel)
  • $45 million PortMiami tunnel dig payment threatens Miami’s finances. Come January, the city is facing a $45M payment on a short-term loan that helped fund the PortMiami tunnel dig. (Miami Herald)
  • Parks Vie For Space In Miami’s Forest Of Condos. In Miami, neighborhood parks can be hard to find. The Trust for Public Land ranks Miami 94 on a list of 100 cities when it comes to park acreage per 1,000 residents — just 2.8 acres per 1,000 residents. (NPR)
  • Get on the Bus. The tale of one correspondent’s journey aboard public transit in Aventura. Despite the density and height of the condos in Aventura; it remains a driving city. (Biscayne Times)
  • Cities With The Worst Drivers 2012. No surprises here, Hialeah is ranked 4th while Miami is 9th. (Forbes) It’s no wonder that recent editorials call for enhanced driver education programs in South Florida. (Miami Herald)
  • Affordable housing developer: South Miami’s inflexibility violates federal law. The City of South Miami is facing a Federal Lawsuit from a developer seeking to build affordable housing adjacent to the metrorail station. As we noted on our Facebook page, this is precisely what is wrong with many of the communities that border Metrorail and the South-Dade Busway. Adjacent to existing rapid transit infrastructure is exactly where we should be building denser and reducing parking minimums. Instead, insular city politics allow South Miami, Florida commissioners to deny construction permits for an affordable housing development due to insufficient parking (the city was requesting a 2:1 Space to Unit Ratio!). (Miami Herald)
  • Back to School! Did you know that MDT offers discounts for students? The K-12 Discount Fare EASY Card and the College Pass are affordable options available to our local students.

Around the Sphere:

  • Smackdown-County vs. City: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble Over Gated Communities! (Miami Urbanist)
  • With Metrorail Open, Checking In On Miami Central Station. CurbedMiami drops in to check-up on the progress on the Miami Central Station. (CurbedMiami)
  • Miami Trolley. Alesh gets critical on the Miami Trolley. He’s got a point, the SFRTA’s Strategic Regional Transit Plan don’t mention Trolleys. (Critical Miami)
  • Miami Needs Less Planning, More Doing. (UEL Blog)
  • OP-ED: Miami-Dade Commissioner’s Resolution is Bad of Bicycling. (BeachedMiami)
  • Green Mobility Network has launched their new website - check it out! (Green Mobility Network)
  • Use of awnings for your historic house. (Miamism)

Elsewhere:

  • Cutting dependence on cars isn’t anti-car, it’s common sense. “As a matter of fact, not everyone can drive; and as a matter of principle, we want people to have other options.” Amen. (GreaterGreaterWashington)
  • Dynamic Pricing Parking Meters Climb Above $5/Hour in SF (TransportationNation)
  • Tennessee DOT Moves Past Road-Widening as a Congestion Reduction Strategy (Streetsblog DC)
  • They Totally Went There: GOP Outlines Extremist Transpo Views in Platform (Streetsblog DC)
  • Boston case shows declining car volume on major street. (Stop and Move)
  • Are Our Transit Maps Tricking Us? (Atlantic Cities)

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James Dougherty, Pamela Stacy and Jason King  created the Arrive in Style poster for CNU20’s AuthentiCity Contest. The Arrive in Style poster provides plans for the redevelopment of the Belvedere Road Station and Banyan Boulevard Station in West Palm Beach in a style consistent with Addison Mizner’s vision for West Palm Beach. The plan envisions walkable, mixed-use destinations in the grand tradition of placemaking established in the golden age of Florida rail travel.   

A travel poster format was used to make a statement about transit planning in the future: train travel was once an entirely designed experience – from the city center one departed from, to the passenger car one travelled in, to the city center one arrived at – and for this reason train travel had tremendous appeal. There was an instant excitement upon arrival that automobile and plane travel can never fully provide. Immediately after getting off the train there was an experience of place.

For transit to become attractive to new generations it needs to recover its grandeur.  This will require station buildings that are proud, memorable, and iconic (regardless of style). Leaving the station one must find themselves in more than just a walkable environment with connections to local transit, but at the heart of the city or town, at the center of activity. Also, one’s experience of beauty cannot be limited to temporary art exhibitions in the station but present in the buildings, streets, and neighborhoods around the stations.

Transit centers should be anchored by a signature open space.  This space could serve as an identifiable landmark for all the surrounding neighborhoods. Corner stores and live-work offices around these open spaces and near the transit stops will provide an initial mixed-use component which would grow to full centers. The next increments of urbanism are shown in the plans: the corridors that connect the rail stations to the surrounding neighborhoods fronted by urban format buildings, and the neighborhoods themselves, infilled with housing types that can generate transit-supportive densities.  

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The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority approved a plan yesterday to move forward with a local and express commuter rail along the famed corridor that once carried Flager’s train to Key West. The decision by the board will advance a “fast start” plan proposed by Tri-Rail administrators to leverage existing administrative costs and recently purchased locomotives to run service along the FEC line from Jupiter to Miami within 3-5 years.

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The plan is an answer to FDOT officials who had previously proposed giving the concession to run trains directly to the FEC company in an effort to privatize the system. Tri-rail planners, though, say this is not necessary as they are already 80% privatized and can run the service for half the price as the proposed FEC plan. “For the same [capital] cost as the FEC- FDOT plan, we can provide 56 trains on the FEC between downtown Ft Lauderdale and downtown Miami, while also providing connectivity with the rest of the region,” said Joe Quinty, Transportation Planning Manager with the SFRTA.

Under the “fast track” proposal, which will now go to the tri-county MPO’s for approval and further cost feasibility, trains would use the FEC line from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, with 7 stops in Miami-Dade County. Stops include 163 Street, 125 Street, 79 street, 54 Street, 36 Street, 11 Street/Overtown, and Government Center. As currently envisioned the plan would cost Tri-Rail an extra $15 million a year in operations costs by expanding existing contracts with Bombardier and Veolia. The FDOT plan would have cost $25 million a year and provided fewer stops in Miami-Dade County.

The project was approved 6-1, with the lone exception being FDOT District 6 representative Gus Pego. The plan envisions several types of service along the line, beginning with direct service between Ft. Lauderdale and downtown Miami. Regional service beyond Ft.Lauderdale will be established at Atlantic Boulevard, where a line connects the existing Tri-Rail tracks with the FEC service.

FDOT has been studying rail service along the FEC for years, with the latest SFECC Study looking at an integrated service, similar to what is being proposed, at a cost of over $2billion for the tri-county area. This plan hit a wall this spring when the Miami-Dade County MPO balked at moving forward with the study because of concerns over cost.

Tri-rail planners say that the fast track project is a way to get service running on the line as the South Florida East Coast Corridor study advances and addresses the MPO concerns. As currently planned, the service would not require any county or federal funds for operations or construction.

One third of the additional operational costs will come from farebox revenue from the new line, while the rest will come from a combination of Tri-Rail service adjustments, and yearly contributions from each of the 17 cities that will have stations of between $350,000 - $550,000. The capital cost to build the line is approximately $270 million, which will come from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Quinty went on to say,  “We believe this new SFRTA is superior to FDOT’s approach, as it can be implemented quickly (by avoiding the Federal project development process), provides better regional service coverage, and will not require any additional county or FDOT operating funds.”

In the fall of 2008, Tri-Rail was running near record ridership corresponding to higher gas prices. They never beat the record of over 18,000 riders from Miami Heat’s victory parade in 2006, though. While we came close to another Heat victory this year but didn’t quite make it, Tri-Rail still scored a ridership victory. On June 16, with free Tri-Rail rides for Dump the Pump day, Tri-Rail smashed their all time record. 19,731 people rode the commuter rail yesterday. Check their press release here. Let us hope many will continue to ride even when they have to pay the fare.

A Transit Miami reader sent us this image of one of Tri-Rail’s new DMUs sitting in the Hialeah Rail Yard.

 

It is always one step forward and two steps back for transportation in South Florida. The governing board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority voted last week to close the Tri-Rail Airport Station for several years to allow construction to continue on the Miami Intermodal Center, scheduled to open in 2013 with a new Tri-Rail station. 

Project engineers claim that keeping the service running would lead to cost overruns and delays in opening the Miami- Intermodal Center big parking garage  next to Miami International Airport. Users coming south from Broward and Palm Beach will have to take a shuttle from Hialeah station to MIA. No big deal to FDOT district secretary Gus Pego, who said users already have to take a shuttle from the existing station to the airport (which is a bit misleading - a 5 minute shuttle cannot be compared to a 20-30 minute bus ride through Hialeah.) As one commenter on the Miami Herald put it, “Another decision about public service made by those who don’t use the service.”

Ironically, the Miami-Dade contingent of SFRTA is made of many of the same anti-transit leaders on the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority Board. How can we expect these folks to advocate for the best transit options, when they are simultaneously planning to undermine Tri-Rail and the US1 busway with an elevated expressway (not to mention their stated opposition to the regional service on the South Florida East Coast Railway Corridor at recent MPO meetings). Yet another instance of the fox guarding the hen-house in Miami.

The transportation planning and governance model in our region must change. Our leaders have established a highway monopoly where they can set the price for the service at whatever level they choose, while giving people a false choice between transportation options. In referendum happy Miami-Dade County - is it time for us to take control of our transportation future?  I think so.
PS….

City Spotlight Series:

South Florida Regional Transportation Authority / Tri-Rail
Regional Transit Planning Initiatives / Station Area Improvements
Location Tigertail Lake Park (adjacent to Bass Pro Shop)
Address: 580 Gulfstream Way, Dania Beach, FL 33304
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2010
Time: 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. (light lunch provided)
Speakers:     Joe Quinty, AICP and Brandy Creed, P.E., D. WRE
Cost: Free
RSVP: yesbeckn@sfrta.fl.gov, space is limited – please RSVP
Transit to Event: Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at Dania Beach.
Depart Golden Glades on Train P622 @ 11:43 a.m. (Free tickets provided)
AICP: BAPA will apply for 1.5 CM Credits

The State of Florida Senate passed the rail bill, complete with funding for tri-rail ($15-17 million), funding for Sun-Rail, and the establishment of the State Rail Enterprise to manage regional (and high speed) rail. Woo hoo! This is a big first step in the right direction for the State of Florida. The details of the plan might have problems, but the sign of commitment is hugely important, and will be the building block of a more transit oriented future.

The bill is off to Governor Christ, who is expected to sign it into law.

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From tampabay.com:

At the start of the second week of a two-week special session, the Florida House voted 84-25 today for sweeping rail legislation. The bill allows creation of the SunRail commuter line in central Florida, adds a new permanent money source for the debt-ridden Tri-Rail system in South Florida and accelerates construction of a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail system linking Miami, Tampa and Orlando.

Now on to the more contentious 40-member Florida Senate, where passage is far from guaranteed. We’ll see what happens. I am hopeful for the simple reason that Tri-rail needs to be funded. Unfortunately, Tri-Rail funding  is tied to Sun-Rail and the future of high speed rail in Florida, and the details of these projects are not without controversy (especially Sun-Rail’s lame CSX liability clause- why should we be liable for CSX accidents??) That’s politics, and I would rather see a bad Sun-Rail deal as long as Tri-Rail lives another day.

Check out the full legislation being proposed here and make your own opinion. What do you all think?

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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.

Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com, adam.hasner@myfloridahouse.gov, alexander.jd.web@flsenate.gov, altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov, anitere.flores@myfloridahouse.gov, ari.porth@myfloridahouse.gov, atwater.jeff.web@flsenate.gov, audrey.gibson@myfloridahouse.gov, bill.galvano@myfloridahouse.gov, brad.drake@myfloridahouse.gov, bullard.larcenia.web@flsenate.gov, james.bush@myfloridahouse.gov, baker.carey.web@flsenate.gov, carlos.lopez-cantera@myfloridahouse.gov, constantine.lee.web@flsenate.gov, david.rivera@myfloridahouse.gov, deutch.ted.web@flsenate.gov, dockery.paula.web@flsenate.gov, dorothy.hukill@myfloridahouse.gov, dwight.bullard@myfloridahouse.gov, eddy.gonzalez@myfloridahouse.gov, elaine.schwartz@myfloridahouse.gov, ellyn.bogdanoff@myfloridahouse.gov, erik.fresen@myfloridahouse.gov, esteban.bovo@myfloridahouse.gov, evan.jenne@myfloridahouse.gov, fasano.mike.web@flsenate.gov, faye.culp@myfloridahouse.gov, franklin.sands@myfloridahouse.gov, garcia.rudy.web@flsenate.gov, gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov, gelber.dan.web@flsenate.gov, greg.evers@myfloridahouse.gov, haridopolos.mike.web@flsenate.gov, Hazelle.rogers@myfloridahouse.gov, hill.anthony.web@flsenate.gov, janet.long@myfloridahouse.gov, jc.planas@myfloridahouse.gov, Jeff.Kottkamp@MyFlorida.com, jennifer.carroll@myfloridahouse.gov, jim.waldman@myfloridahouse.gov, joe.gibbons@myfloridahouse.gov, john.quinones@myfloridahouse.gov, john.stargel@myfloridahouse.gov, joseph.abruzzo@myfloridahouse.gov, joyner.arthenia.web@flsenate.gov, juan.zapata@myfloridahouse.gov, julio.robaina@myfloridahouse.gov, justice.charlie.web@flsenate.gov, kelly.skidmore@myfloridahouse.gov, kenneth.gottlieb@myfloridahouse.gov, kevin.ambler@myfloridahouse.gov, kevin.rader@myfloridahouse.gov, lake.ray@myfloridahouse.gov, larry.cretul@myfloridahouse.gov, lawson.al.web@flsenate.gov, luis.garcia@myfloridahouse.gov, marcelo.llorente@myfloridahouse.gov, maria.sachs@myfloridahouse.gov, mark.pafford@myfloridahouse.gov, martin.kiar@myfloridahouse.gov, mary.brandenburg@myfloridahouse.gov, matt.hudson@myfloridahouse.gov, mike.homer@myfloridahouse.gov, oscar.braynon@myfloridahouse.gov, jenniffer.parfitt@dot.state.fl.us, perry.thurston@myfloridahouse.gov, portilla.alex.web@flsenate.gov, priscilla.taylor@myfloridahouse.gov, pruitt.ken.web@flsenate.gov, ray.sansom@myfloridahouse.gov, rich.nan.web@flsenate.gov, richard.glorioso@myfloridahouse.gov, richard.steinberg@myfloridahouse.gov, ring.jeremy.web@flsenate.gov, robert.schenck@myfloridahouse.gov, ron.reagan@myfloridahouse.gov, ron.saunders@myfloridahouse.gov, ronald.brise@myfloridahouse.gov, timothy.ryan@myfloridahouse.gov, sean.cannon@myfloridahouse.gov, siplin.gary.web@flsenate.gov, smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov, sobel.eleanor.web@flsenate.gov, stephanie.kopelousos@dot.state.fl.us, storms.ronda.web@flsenate.gov, terry.fields@myfloridahouse.gov, rudi.williams@myfloridahouse.gov, villalobos.alex.web@flsenate.gov, will.weatherford@myfloridahouse.gov, william.snyder@myfloridahouse.gov, wilson.frederica.web@flsenate.gov, yolly.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov

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  • Sunrail special session update: seems like the powers that be are going to meet in December to discuss funding for SunRail and TriRail. “…every leader in Tallahassee has been told by the federal government: you’re not getting any money until Tri Rail gets a funding source,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Jeff Koons, chairman of the board that oversees Tri-Rail. Good to hear. CSX has also agreed to revisit its liability demands.  (Orlando Sentinel)
  • Check out this cool tribute to architecture and urbanism guru Vincent Scully (one of my former professors from UM). (Hartford Courant)
  • Great editorial from Friday’s Herald about the Port of Miami: “As the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, the Port of Miami has much at stake. The port serves more than 20 shipping lines that call on more than 100 countries and 250 ports across the world. It contributes $17 billion annually and 176,000 direct and indirect jobs to the local economy.” Duh. Then why aren’t we serving the people who work and travel to the Port with adequate mass transit?
  • Glad someone is paying attention: Katy Sorenson is sponsoring a resolution to establish the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact between Palm Beach, Broward, Monroe, and Dade Counties.  (Miami-Dade)
  • Win for citizen involvement: Bruno Barreiro is sponsoring a resolution to direct the Mayor to develop a web-based application for legally required public notices or ads to appear on the County web portal. (Miami-Dade)

…implement a transportation concurrency management system that supports mobility needs; reduces congestion; supports urban infill and redevelopment; discourages urban sprawl, and achieves healthy, vibrant urban centers.

  • Very cool: MDX is giving FIU $500,000 to study transportation technology:

…the development of an advanced bus rapid transit system along State Road 836 (Dolphin Expressway) and propose how to build various Advanced Transit Oriented Developments (Advanced TODs) where Advanced Transit Stops (ATS) can be located, including adjacent to FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus, the FIU Engineering Center and the Miami International Airport/Miami Intermodal Center.

Javier Rodriguez had this to say:

MDX is pleased to engage the FIU Lehman Center for Transportation Research in helping to identify and develop these cutting edge transportation systems that will help us deliver to the citizens of Miami-Dade County a state-of-the-practice multimodal transportation system,” he said.

Well done sir.

Lot going on today, but there always is isn’t there…

  • The Miami-Dade Office of Sustainability & the City of Miami are teaming up to get grant money from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance by forming a “non-profit entity to deliver energy services to residents and businesses within County geographic boundaries that provide performance based energy audits, retrofits and renewable energy across building types.”
  • Cutting the fat: Miami Dade Transit is cutting bus lines and expenses. “Buses are to serve the Metromover system but are to end at the Omni station to encourage riders to use the mover to get around the city “to reduce our mileage and also traffic congestion in downtown,” Mr. Kapoor said. Officials based the changes on passenger counts and rider feedback.”
  • Plan B:  Now that the commission has voted not to fix the CITT, Commissioner Gimenez is going to try to organize a voter referendum. The CITT is answering with its own Plan B: “The trust and county continue to mull using light rail or bus rapid transit to serve the corridors that were promised heavy rail…Some trust members suggested also considering a sunset provision for the measure that mingles the surtax funds with the general transit budget, as there may be a financially healthier time in the future that could eliminate or lessen the need for what administrators call “unification.”
  • Tri-rail funding from Miami-Dade Counyt  is ok…for now. “Attempts to secure a dedicated state funding source for the cash-strapped South Florida commuter rail system failed during the legislative session, and Tri-Rail officials plan to nearly halve weekday service and eliminate weekend trains anticipating reduced funding from local governments.”
  • Miami 21…delayed again. The next earliest meeting is in June (barring some unknown/unannounced special meeting between now and June 11).

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From the Sun Sentinel:

On Sunday, eight Florida state senators, including SunRail foe Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, sent a letter to Senate President Jeff Atwater, R- North Palm Beach, Speaker Larry Cretul, R- Ocala, and Gov. Charlie Crist, urging them to redirect $30 million to Tri-Rail for the next budget year. The seven senators wrote that state intervention is the only possible solution for Tri-Rail, and the Legislature’s failure to fund Tri-Rail “has led to a crisis that threatens thousands of jobs and the futures of families who depend on Tri-Rail on a daily basis.” The letter was signed by Dockery, Sen. Dave Aronberg, D- Greenacres, Sen. Ted Deutch, D- Boca Raton, Sen. Dan Gelber, D- Miami Beach, Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and Sen. Fredericka Wilson, D-Miami.
“We intend to work together to establish a dedicated funding source for Tri-Rail’s future. But to achieve that future, we must assure that Tri-Rail can sustain its operations into the next legislative session,” the senators said. If funding for Tri-Rail isn’t approved, Tri-Rail will slash the number of weekday trains from 50 to 30 on Oct. 5, the start of the next budget year. All weekend and holiday service will be eliminated.

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