Currently viewing the category: "Tri-Rail"

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.

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

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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….

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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

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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)

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…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.

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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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SunRail was defeated in the State Legislature Friday, 23-16. With it goes the $2 rental car surcharge for Tri-Rail, which most of the South Florida Senators ended up voting against because they said they were worried that local voters might overturn the surcharge. It’s uncertain whether they considered that most locals will not be paying this “tax”, but will definitely benefit from it. Read more at the Palm Beach Post.

Also check out an article at The Ledger that includes Senator Mike Bennet of Bradenton suggesting that the money spent on SunRail would be better spent buying a car for each of the 3,500 riders predicted to ride SunRail the first few years. I know the government is now in the auto business, but really now—how ignorant can you get?

Don’t vote for these guys in the next election.

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The Transit Advocates of Florida recently submitted this editorial.  If you have any comments, suggestions, or articles you would like to submit, feel free to contact us: movemiami@gmail.com.

Passenger Rail in Florida is vital to the economic future of this state. The federal government has presented a tremendous opportunity for states to leverage their money for rail corridors. Locally in the Miami metropolitan area both Tri-Rail and Metro Rail are both suffering from a lack of support for maintenance and new corridor development. Statewide rail corridors have been studied since Governor Lawton Chiles’ administration before being undercut by the Bush administration.

I urge you to support dedicated funding for Florida’s passenger rail service through the state legislature. This includes existing services such as Tri-Rail that have shown that passenger rail service in Florida is vital to the economy of a region. Tri-Rail ridership has surged as facilities have been upgraded and double tracking allows consistent train schedules and capacity upgrades. The state would never build a one-lane road and ask cars to please wait on the side every few miles to allow others to pass.

Regional rail is not for the local transit agencies to fund or run. These are regional systems using different technologies over larger areas. Additionally a state agency similar to the Turnpike Enterprise should be formed to create the Florida High Speed Rail network. Lastly local transit projects should be prioritized to link into these systems and create an interconnected grid of passenger rail for Floridians.

Please support dedicated funding for RAIL IN FLORIDA. Our state and localities competitive future depends on it.

Send a message of support for dedicated funding to your elected officials in Tallahassee, log onto www.tri-rail.com/FundOrFail

Sincerely,

Transit Advocates of Florida

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And we thought last year was bad. Tri-Rail’s Year Reprieve is coming to an end, and the news looks dire. Sit back and take a deep breathe, there’s a lot going on if you haven’t caught it already.

First up we’ve been hearing talk of a fare increase, and the amounts have been made official: 25%. So the cheapest one-way fare will rise from $2 to $2.50, while the monthly pass will rise from $80 to $100. The increase has yet  to be approved, so stay tuned for news of  a public hearing which the Sun-Sentinel reports will take place on April 24.

SFRTA, Tri-Rail’s parent agency, is also announcing plans to reduce weekday trains from 50 to 30 and drop weekend service entirely beginning October 5, if no dedicated source is found. Like last year, Palm Beach County has already said they will reduce their funding of Tri-Rail from $4.1 million to $1.5 million, and the great imitators in Broward and Miami-Dade County would follow suit for some strange reason. (Can someone tell them they don’t have to do what Palm Beach County does? They could fund Tri-Rail more and let Tri-Rail just reduce service in Palm Beach County if it comes to that.) No one’s come up with any new ideas for a funding source since last year. The controversial $2 rental car surcharge is still being floated as the solution to their funding woes.

A few more minor, but equally interesting details include the fact that Tri-Rail will be tweaking their schedules in an attempt to keep their trains on time. The Palm Beach Post reports how they also just dumped their law firm that had helped them lobby for the $2 rental car surcharge. Get this—the firm also lobbied against the $2 rental car surcharge for Enterprise. If the law firm were a Palm Beach County Commissioner, they would be in jail for that!

To combat these forces that seek to effectively shut down our commuter rail service, sign the “Fund or Fail” petition at Tri-Rail’s website. You can scream now.

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