Last week I posted on the upcoming plans to  convert the South-Dade Busway to a managed lanes expressway with bus service. Since then MDX Public Information Officer Tere Garcia was kind enough to offer this response:

We certainly understand your concerns and many may be unwarranted due to incorrect speculation. We are in fact working together with Miami Dade Transit on this study to improve existing transit service and providing Express lanes maximizing the unused capacity of the busway. Alternatives that are being studied are grade separations at major intersections, among others, that would allow for the buses to ride safely and quickly without having to stop at the intersections as they must do today. This would allow for faster and more efficient bus service and potential increase in ridership. The MPO first took a look at the possibility of using toll money to improve transit specifically on the South Dade Busway. All new transportation corridors that MDX has included in the MPO long range plan have a multimodal component including the potential for transit, bikeways. We welcome the opportunity to brief you on the facts of this project and clear up any misconceptions. Thank you

Ok, MDX – I’m open to getting more information about the project, but I’m not sure I’m missing anything that will change the basic problem here: the ‘capacity’ of the busway should not be used for car service. Period. So before we  get together for coffee lets have an honset conversation about what these plans portend for transit in Miami-Dade County.

For all the non-transportation professionals out there,  this is a rough translation of what MDX actually said:

We couldn’t go on seeing all that roadway capacity around the buses go unused, so we are going to take whatever capacity is not being used for public transit and give it to the car. Of course, we have to make this a convenient alternative for cars, so we are going to make improvements to the Right-of way that will make it easy for people to speed right past all that congestion on US1 (by building expressway overpasses). Oh, and we are still going to let the bus use this road too. Its a win-win for everyone. We might even put in a bike lane, or something like that.

I have no misconception about this project – it is a highway building project that you are going to allow buses to use. The alternatives are just variations on the theme.  Just because you say that this is a transit project does not mean that is the case – it is all a matter of spinning the facts to get buy-in from the community. Let’s let the facts tell the story:

- a transit-only route will be converted to a single occupancy vehicle expressway, with buses sharing the road with cars.

-”the unused capacity of the busway” (your phrase) will be maximized, not by increasing or improving  transit service, but by allowing single-occupancy vehicles to share the road with buses. How can this be misconstrued as a benefit to transit riders?

- Transit service will have to compete for riders with a new express alternative to US1. Rather than incite more people to use the because of ‘efficient and faster’ transit service, managed lanes will only provide an express alternative to both the busway and US1 !

-Grade separations at key intersections will allow for faster travel times –  for buses and cars. Fair enough, but without true transit stations and BRT infrastructure, the efficiency gained by faster bus service will be lost because of decreased access and safety. Who will want to wait for a bus next to an expressway?? (This is also a problem in the design of transit lines in other MDX projects – how do you expect to increase transit ridership if the stations are mostly accessible by car and not by walking?)

Other regions have Transportation Authorities that are responsible for coordinating capital improvements between different forms of transportation infrastructure. The New York MTA is responsible for all of the regional rail service, bus service, subways, and (some) bridges and tunnels; they maintain a Capital Construction Department that finances transportation projects (partially by sharing toll revenue).  With MDT and MDX collaborating on projects now and in the future, a Transportation Authority structure would combine a mandate to provide mass transit with an effective management and capital investment structure (not to mention it would allow the sharing of ROW and toll revenue). MDX isn’t to blame – building highways is what they do!

Ultimately, the goal of this project should be to ‘maximize the capacity of the roadway’ by improving transit service (and thus increasing ridership). As I have repeated on Transit Miami many times, I support a systemic change in the way we plan, construct and operate our transportation network. MDX has a track record of building and operating profitable expressway projects – we need to focus this energy and expertise toward the construction of a premium transit network – not an expressway network with buses.

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9 Responses to MDX Answers Transit Miami Regarding the Busway

  1. Anonymous says:

    MDX’s support for transit is going to be limited to allowing MDT buses onto their expressways… that’s it. Don’t expect any operating support. To MDX, transit is a money-loser and they are in the money-making business.

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  2. Flipped says:

    Not interested in a grade seperated busway, or a highway that also allows bus access. It’s about time to take transit serious, perhaps providing transit would be a better alternative than building additional highways. It may not make the kind of money tolls do, but tolls would supplement transit, and move more people. Isn’t moving people the goal?

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  3. LG says:

    Nice! Keep up the good and relentless work.

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  4. Kenneth G. says:

    Clearly the problem is not that they want to dismantle the transit system. The problem is simply that they just don’t get it.

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  5. Hank Sanchez-Resnik says:

    You’re doing great work. We have to get organized and change the whole mindset. It will take several lifetimes, but we better get started.

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  6. Bravo! MDX has spun their tunnel vision mantra of “highways are the only solution” for too long. It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore. In one meeting we had with MDX we brought up Metro Rail and their response was, “oh, that’s social transportation”. They look down upon anything that won’t make them a buck. Fact is Wall Street loves toll authority muni bonds baby! And why not. When you can legally extort a dependent group through overpriced tolls with no regulation it’s money in da bank! Since our inception, RollBackTolls.com has learned the way of MDX: Gotta build more highways, to put up more tolls, so we can sell more bonds and service our bloated debt all on the backs of Miami-Dade drivers. Does this sound familiar to anyone? It’s time MDX and their board of directors take a good long look in the mirror and realize they are doing a very long term disservice to our community by not implementing a real mass transit component to the mix.

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  7. M says:

    So it seems like people are in general agreement that MDX is intent on building highways, charging tolls, and they don’t care to be stopped or take a realistic look at other options. But guess what…that is their job. They are not in the business of facilitating mass trasit. They are in the business of moving cars as fast and convienient as possible using expressways. We need to stop trying to force MDX to do something different. That is their mandate and their mission.

    It only makes sense that if people want other transportation options, they should form an organization with the mandate and mission to do so. It is obvious that Miami-Dade Transit is in complete disarray and is not working, as evidenced in a series of recent Miami Herald articles and the freezing of federal grant funds to the agency. In previous posts Tony Garcia has suggested a publicly elected official to head MDT and therefore be accountable to the people of Miami-Dade county. I agree. I also believe a semi-autonomous organization should be created so that it could have some degree of control of itself and not get bogged down with county commissioners. MDX is successful in part because it doesn’t have the county commision red tape, in fighting, and money problems. That’s what we need for our transit agency. That combined with some accountabilty to the public and we could have a much better transit situation.

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  8. Im4transit2 says:

    The South Miami-Dade Busway is just that: a busway. It was designed to work as a busway and nothing else. Ridership is much higher than ever estimated. Why change something that works and works well. MDX is for building highways, it has not been friendly to transit. MDX, if you have excess funds, assist in getting more buses to provide even better service on the busway. MDX,stay away from the busway!

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  9. B says:

    The thing about building fly-overs is you either have to push the bus stops further away from the crossroads to keep them at grade, or you have to build elevated bus stops complete with elevators for disabled access. Instead, why don’t you just give busses all green lights? It’s stupid to have busway busses stopping at every other traffic light then stopping again after 50 ft to make the actual bus stops.

    And MDX: how about flyovers over major intersections on US1 itself??? Of course, you won’t get any tolls out of that arrangement…

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