The trolley above once ran down the streets of Miami, from 1925 to 1931. Anyone recognize which street? Automakers killed streetcars like this by buying up the transit companies and shutting them down. That was before my time, but it seems sensible to say that the streetcar died because of the automobile. The last thing we would want to see is the same mistake made again. Recent criticism of Miami’s votes to fund the streetcar point to the same phantom raising its ugly head again. Norman Braman, owner of Braman Management and its car dealerships, has come forward with sharp criticism of the plan to fund the port tunnel, Marlins stadium, and streetcar.
One could point to the port tunnel and stadium as Braman’s main beef, but his past actions indicate the possibility that he is chiefly against the streetcar. According to this Miami Herald article, he was behind an ad campaign 8 years ago against the penny sales tax to fund transit. So this is not the first time this car dealership owner has come out against public transit. We cannot pretend to know his motives, but the fact is, we have someone with vested interest in getting more people to buy cars trying to shoot down a system that will reduce people’s dependence on the automobile. One of his dealerships is in downtown Miami, where it could sell cars easily to the new residents that will be pouring into all the condo towers. The Miami Streetcar, when added to the existing transit options, will only make it easier for these residents to live without a car. So it is in Norman’s best interest to sue the county to keep it from getting funded. Even if Miami-Dade County eventually wins the suit, taxpayers will still be stuck with the legal fees and all these projects will likely get delayed while the suit is pending.

Braman also plans to launch an ad campaign against the latest resolution about these projects. Short of launching our own ad campaign, one thing we can do is be prepared to counter the ads whenever friends or family see them. If you want to take it a step further, I’m sure you can suggest some good ideas. If someone wants to keep Miami in the dark ages of car centered design, then we must fight back.

12 Responses to Don’t Let It Happen Again

  1. Anonymous says:

    I would contribute some cash to run pro streetcar adds, I live downtown and would use it to get to midtown or to the civic center. I would love to see this happen, and Braman is a shortsighted jerkwad.
    If you get something going, post something and I’ll send a check

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  2. Joe - Miami Beach USA says:

    My guess is that it’s approximately Flagler Street and NE 1st Avenue, and those cars look like they belong to Carl Fisher’s Miami Beach Railway which shared tracks with Miami’s Trolley System at that location. Just a guess, though. A little info here…

    Carl Fisher’s Miami Beach Railway

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  3. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Anon- Thanks for your support, we’re actually in the process of setting up an account to receive donations for this project. We’ll let you know when we’re ready and what exactly we plan to do to mount our campaign…

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  4. James Good says:

    Guys - you say that the auto makers bought out the streetcar companies and shut them down. That’s incredible. Is there proof of that?

    -James.

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  5. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    James- Yes, a GM led consortium created NCL (National City Lines) which bought up over 100 streetcar lines across the country. GM was ultimately found guilty in federal court and fined the grand sum of $5,000 for their actions. We’ll cover this in more detail very soon…

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  6. James Good says:

    Thats Gabe. That’s very interesting… Looking forwards to reading your coverage of it.

    Happy Christmas!

    -James.

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  7. JMD says:

    Let us also remember that the streetcars were heavily taxed to use the streets and in turn those taxes went to build roads.
    Many a streetcar line were still profitable but the taxes put them badly in the red.
    That is one of the reasons the non-NCL lines went to buses were they were not taxed as much. In other words streetcars were subsidizing the buses and cars.

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  8. alex says:

    Wasnt Braman also a critic of the orginal metrorail line and helped kill future lines from being buit in the 80’s-90’s?

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  9. serial catowner says:

    Gabe, I just posted about this on orphanroad.com, but unfortunately I don’t know how to link- you may wish to leave your link in the comments there.

    Incidentally, the story I heard about the National City Lines case was that the judge fined GM one dollar. Either way, not even a mosquito bite to GM. Henry Kaiser said it cost him $50 million to learn he was too poor to go into the automobile business.

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  10. Miami-Forum says:

    I have a BMW, which happens to need a lot of work done. But I’d sooner cut off my left arm then bring my car to the downtown BMW Stealership! The Braman dealership is as crooked as they come. Especially the service department.

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  11. JM Palacios says:

    Joe, you were right about the location. It’s Flagler St., although I don’t know what intersection. If you click to enlarge the photo and look closely, the destination says “NW 3rd Ave.” The caption where I got the picture mentions the Coral Gables Rapid Transit Corporation that ran trolleys, so I guess those cars belonged to that company.

    James, follow the link in the word “killed” in the post to read about some of the streetcar conspiracy.

    miami-forum, that is one way to hit Braman where it hurts! I may have to look for a car soon, but I plan on steering clear of any Braman dealerships.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    If you support the street car, then please go (with all your friends) to the City Commission meeting Thursday Jan. 10th at 10:30am- @ Dinner Key (Pan American Drive, Coconut Grove). The people need to show that we support public transit in our city!

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