To wrap up the discussions on the new proposed plans for the MIC/Airport connection, I will focus on why a direct line to the airport is such a bad idea. Like I previously stated, a direct line partially negates the reason why we decided to construct the MIC to begin with. Given the shape of the airport, tight clearances around the terminals/parking garages, and numerous elevated walkways, I am left to assume that the only suitable location for metrorail and station would be between the parking structures or west of the new cooling tower by the new south terminal. I assume the current taxi parking lot could also be a viable option considering the cars will one day be stationed at the MIC instead. In any case, any of the above three options place metrorail just enough out of reach to make it convenient for all passengers at all terminals. Any of the above options would equate to more than a quarter mile walk (linearly, which we know will not be the case) for some of the farthest gates. A direct line will also only be able to service one location (the airport) rather than an Airtrain like concept which will be able to service every terminal, parking structure, and transfer station. Like most Airtrain systems, travel from terminal to terminal would be free and passengers looking to exit the Airtrain system at the MIC would pay the fare to disembark, effectively solving the ridiculous concept of an automated farecard system so rental car patrons can ride for free to the intermodal center, while anyone who stays on Metrorail will pay a regular fare. We don’t even have fare cards that can be purchased at any station, why are we dreaming up further problems!?
Going back to my previous post, I’d like to present some more evidence with regards to the confusion of the MDT decision makers. As I stated, metrorail is at best a commuter rail with several parking garage park-n-ride stations. The concept of a truly urban transit oriented development is, well, quite foreign around here to put it mildly. MDT somehow conceives that fewer transfers will equate to greater ridership numbers, which for an urban transit system can generally be true. What MDT fails to realize though is that metrorail riders are commuters, which means they have already used another form of transit (a car, likely, parked in one of the massive park-n-ride stations) to arrive at the station which will probably not have any long term parking for people who will be away for longer than a day. Where am I going with this? People who live near metrorail cannot walk to the station because we haven’t adapted the surroundings properly for this type of lifestyle and people who already use metrorail will not be able to ride it to the airport because they usually drive to metrorail to begin with. The problems are worse than we think! Had MDT pushed through some necessary urban train lines first (like baylink) then perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big issue because it could be perceivable that many people could walk a short distance to the nearest Miami Beach station and only have to make one transfer to get to the airport.
There is no clear-cut answer to the problems posed by the MIC-MIA connections. MDT needs to seriously analyze what they hope to accomplish as our transit agency and how they plan to create a transit system that effectively replaces vehicle use from a substantial portion of the population. MDT would also benefit greatly from studying the solutions other airports have concocted to this very issue, rather than continuing to do things the ineffective way…
The latest plans for the MIC/Earlington Heights Connection/East West corridor, immediately spurred a question back into my mind that I once asked a leading
It appears that their confusion has gotten worse over the past months. The latest plans call for metrorail to run directly to the airport as either part of the east-west corridor project or the Earlington Heights Connection with the
About the transfer conundrum. I’d like to detail my most recent trip to NYC for you all so that you can see that transfers don’t have much to do with a desire to use the system, its more about incorporating transit with the urban spaces.
- Walked 2 blocks to nearest subway station
- After going down a flight of stairs and clearing the turnstiles, boarded a train bound for Penn Station (Ride time: <4mins)
- Purchased LIRR ticket to JFK, although there are several LIRR routes all but one travel through the JFK station: hence you don’t have to wait long.
- Boarded LIRR bound for JFK (Ride time < 15mins)
- Exited LIRR and rode elevator up to Airtrain platform which left me right outside my terminal (Ride Time < 10mins)
Numerous transfers on trains and stations that weren’t equipped to handle luggage larger than carry-on in 40 degree weather and yet I wasn’t the only non-native using the system. I’d also like to add that the whole trip cost less than what any car or taxi would have cost…
Going back to my original point, I would like to point out a major difference. MTA has created in
Knowing that my day will be pretty complicated tomorrow, I’ve decided to provide you all with a photograph of NYC’s JFK airport’s Airtrain and an interesting recent article on MIA for you all to mull over until I can better analyze the
situation catastrophe occurring in our Aviation/Transportation departments…
Ryan is back with some firsthand experience on the vehicular addiction we’re trying to break here in
My roommate has got a new job in
. He lives in Coconut Grove. No problem, right? Wrong. My roommate is addicted to cars/driving, which is unfortunate for him because his old SUV crapped the bed recently. In typical Coral Gables form, he’s now found a way to take an asset (close proximity to job) and turn it into a significant liability because of his car addiction. Miami
For some background information, most of his active pursuits are located in his own neighborhood, the Grove. Whether eating, working out, or partying, he does most of it right here a few blocks away. Most of his friends live in the Grove or Downtown, an easy bus or train ride away. However, instead of buying a student Metropass for a meager $37.50, walking 2/10th of a mile to the nearest #42 bus stop, which then will take him directly to downtown Coral Gables for work in less than 20 minutes, he’s living a complicated, stressed out life completely dictated by someone else’s car. Below is an unbelievable description of his daily schedule:
- Wake up at
- Drive downtown against rush hour traffic using friend’s borrowed car to pick up his friend
- Drive his friend from downtown all the way across the county to FIU for his work
- Drive back home to the Grove against morning rush hour for the second time to “relax” and kill time before work at
- Leave for work @ driving friend’s car en route to downtown
- Departs downtown Coral Gables @ 5:00 pm en route to FIU to pick up friend, battling fierce westbound rush hour traffic in Miami-Dade’s heavily congested central corridor (Flagler, 8th St, Coral Way westbound)
- Around approximately (after 45-60 minute drive), he leaves FIU to return downtown with friend to chill/drop off
- Gets back home around or with friend’s car
- 8:00 am, at it again
So as you can see, not only is the schedule itself crazy, stressful, and completely unreasonable, but my roommate now feels obliged to return such “favors”, often resulting in him joining his friend for activities that he may have preferred to abstain from in favor of extra “free time” for rest or study. Instead of waking up at for work at , he’s up at , facing a stressful series of commutes which he must successfully negotiate or else his kind friend who shares his car will be late for work. If he works four days a week, that’s 10 hours of sleep per week he’s losing to his car addiction. Moreover, while he struggles to pay his collegiate finances and loans, he continues saving most of his money for a new car while at $37.50 a month (for a Metropass) I’m paying off student loans early and getting a whole lot of extra sleep. It’s really sad, and if you think about it dependency on cars can parallel other addictions like smoking.
After I first told him how ridiculous his itinerary was and briefly gave him the low-down about the transit alternative, he agreed, looked me right in the eye and shrugged, “But the problem is I like driving”.
In dire need of some simple groceries, I decided today was a good day to begin my quest to minimize my daily impact on the local environment by biking around to accomplish my errands. Biking through my neighborhood, thankfully, is quite a breeze if you stay on the sidewalk. I ventured out into the street every so often only to be corralled back by a lumbering Escalade or whatnot. Crossing the new roundabouts recently installed by the city of
The ride was fairly smooth until I arrived at my local Publix. The bike rack was nowhere to be found. An employee informed me that there wasn’t enough space in the cramped parking lot to fit a bicycle rack.
I figured it was probably a waste of their money to try and accommodate other forms of transportation when visiting the store, even though it is less than half a mile from a transit station and I was likely going to be the only idiot who would bike over 2 miles to get some milk. I nonetheless left my bike attached to a railing, knowing full well that whoever wanted to steal my bike had to be pretty desperate considering the conditions and its’ appearance.
I made my way through the park with the greatest potential for urban greatness in the Coral Gables/South Miami area, which also happens to be across the parking lot from Publix and on my way to my next destination. With plenty of green space, on street parking, benches, and room to run around,
Aside from me, there was one elderly and homeless looking lady enjoying the tranquility of our surroundings. I took a quick break to survey the surroundings which noticeably lack any uniform interaction with the park. The park could sorely benefit from denser residential development and more inviting facades of buildings other than the parking structures which currently front the west side.
I crossed several waterways along the way where I stopped to admire the ultimate private boat parking spaces. As you can see by the photograph below, pedestrian activity along the bridge was clearly an afterthought to the automotive needs, barely leaving me enough room to cross as cars zipped through.
Close encounters with cars: 1
Random pedestrians who said hello: 3
Errands Accomplished: 2
Total Distance: 4+ miles
Time: 45 minutes
To all the transit naysayers, I present some irrefutable evidence that public transit can and does have a chance to survive in our region. Today the SFRTA released the final ridership figures for the tri-rail system which for the first time surpassed three million annual riders and witnessed a 21% growth. Although I agree that the conclusion of the double tracking project has likely led many to try the system out, I can also attest that some riders have also given up on the ridiculous congestion experienced daily on I-95. The amazing use of transit to witness the Miami Heat Victory parade also demonstrates how through necessity we will seek an alternative form to reach a centralized part of our city; if only we could use this same model to steer business out of the suburbs, we’d have many more reasons to use transit daily…
Image from rross233′s flickr…
Alrighty folks, it’s that time of year again: time to create our New Years’ Resolutions…
I have a proposition for my readers to take up my New Years’ Resolution: to minimize my daily impact on the environment by consuming less natural resources and living a healthier lifestyle by walking and using more public transit. Similar to the Summer Transit Challenge I laid down this past summer, I am pleading that all my readers to once again give alternative forms of transportation a try, once a week at a minimum, especially now in the cooler months when being outside is rather pleasant. It’s not just about riding an underutilized transit system; it’s about reducing your oil consumption and carbon dioxide emission, walking and exercising more on a daily basis, and living a lifestyle that I guarantee you will be socially healthier for you. I want to hear from everyone, all experiences: positive or negative, local or abroad…
This year, I plan to not only rely less on my automobile, but, I also plan to work to actively reduce my daily impact on all our natural resources. Recycling is just the beginning; Miami is reaching a critical point in our water consumption, trash generation, and ridiculous demand for oil.
I saw this today on sale at Publix. Can someone tell me when Dolphin Stadium was moved out of
The other day I happened to be on the Government Center Metrorail Station platform when I noticed I was almost completely surrounded by parking. Good thing I had my camera with me – check out all the parking and keep in mind this is the supposed to be one of the densest parts of city as well as one of its’ most prominent public spaces. This is definitely not something you want to have anywhere in the city, especially abutting the downtown transit hub. This ruinous land use has the following effects:
• Fractures urban continuity in densest part of city; alienates the station from the rest of the city’s urban framework
• Takes the place of valuable real estate
• Induces demand for more driving in Miami’s downtown core; gives the impression that transit is an afterthought in this community, thus stigmatizing transit as the not-so-sexy stepchild to private automobile travel, even in the densest part of the city’s urban core
• Serves as a morbid public space in an otherwise strategic location
This puts into perspective the lunacy of adding more parking adjacent to Government Center Station. Doing so would effectively surround Miami’s primary downtown station on at least three sides by parking, as well as displacing the downtown bus terminal (which needs a public space makeover itself – not displacement.)
In my next post, I’ll illustrate and describe a good example of what Miami transit stations should aspire for regarding integration of quality public spaces – especially at Government Center Station.
Here is a letter I received from Miami businessman Frank Rollason to the Miami Herald regarding his recent experience snowed in at Denver‘s Airport. Looks like Tancredo shouldn’t throw stones…
Letter to the Miami Herald Editor:
After just spending three miserable days and two nights in the Denver International Airport, I would suggest that Congressman Tom Tancredo spend a little time at home visiting his own “reservation” to see what “Third World” is really like. First, we have an airline domiciled in Denver (United/TED) which flew us into the Denver Airport from Miami knowing full well that the airport was being shut down because of the blizzard; they should have alerted those in Miami whose final destination was not Denver so that other arrangements could be made. In our case, the stop in Denver was for a connecting flight to Honolulu for a 10-day holiday cruise which we did not make. We spent two nights in the airport with virtually no assistance from the airline and absolutely no assistance from the Airport Administration. The outside temperature was well below freezing and the air conditioning on the inside was kept very cold pouring out very cold air starting about 4:00am each day. They also kept all the bright ceiling lights on and the TV blasting all through the night – sort of like being in jail, I would imagine. An extra goodie was the every half hour announcement on the PA system that the airport was closed because of the blizzard. I guess this was for the benefit of the Denver residents who are too stupid not to move out of this frozen tundra state to say like a tropical oasis like Miami. On the first day, we were able to get a very light blanket from the plane as well as a little pillow and those were our provisions for the first night. The food court did stay open and that was great. Many of their employees were stranded, too, and they had to flop on the floor the same as the travelers which tells me their management does not care too much about their employees. In addition, as hundreds of people were sleeping on the floor at the gates and several thousand more in the main terminal, we were pretty much on our own to figure out what to do. No one came to visit during the evening hours from the airline or the airport. On the second night, the airport provided some folding cots for those who were elderly or handicapped – a good thing. These cots take a lot of storage room. What they should consider is stocking up on the slim foam workout mats which could be stacked by the hundreds in relatively small spaces for such an occurrence; I would think if the Airport Administrator spent one night on the concrete or commercial carpet over concrete floor, he or she would recognize the problem. I know, in Miami, we have made provisions for people stranded in both the airport and the sea port, so I would say that Miami is not Third World in this respect and I would not consider Denver Third World, either. Instead, Denver is Bush League which is not even up to the level of Third World! So, Congressman Tancredo, I suggest you remove your head from your posterior and see what you can get done in your own state when problems arise; after all, who would ever expect a blizzard in Denver or people being stranded at the airport? It’s like Miami not being prepared for a Hurricane – we are and Denver is not and that just about sums it up. By the way, please don’t anyone invite me to Denver – the weather sucks and the people in charge of things are not too bright!
While the commissioners bicker like a group of school girls over an impending public vote to boost the power of the mayor, the ineptitude of their previous decisions is shining brighter than ever this holiday season.
After severely fumbling with cost over-runs and years of delays at the Carnival Center, the County is still rushing to put together a plan to create parking for the new center (you know, before the land becomes expensive…whoops…) Even I, the biggest advocate of public transit, believe that the center should have contained a small percentage of parking spaces, preferably underground, similar to the American Airlines Arena (or Lincoln Center, or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A., or any other city with logical people in charge.) Now, it seems like we’re looking to add enough parking for every visitor in array of equally hideous parking garages surrounding the venue. I am befuddled that an unsightly parking garage is favored alongside the
“If the northside deal goes through, Mr. Carlton said, the bus terminal would be moved to the MetroMover’s western station.”
Out of sight, out of mind…
Oh, and I forgot to mention, the county is so inept that one of the “solutions” for the cost over-runs over on the airport’s north terminal involves canceling the project. I can see the signs: “Welcome to MIA, please pardon our dust as we never complete anything we begin.” I hate to ask, but, then how much longer will we be paying for that train we’re “exercising” in
Perhaps we would be able to afford some of these cost over-runs if we weren’t paying 50% of the tuition costs of an untold number of County employees annually ($2.6 Million Last Year.) Apparently, we’re funding the educations of Acupuncturists, Doctors, Lawyers, etc., even students abroad! Anyone majoring in Urban Planning or Economics? No, that would be too practical…
As if renaming the legendary downtown department store to “Macy’s” wasn’t bad enough, now Federated Department Stores is also considering closing the downtown store which opened originally in 1912.
The move, from an economic standpoint, is the nuttiest idea I’ve heard come out
I was idling in traffic earlier today, heading south on US-1 when I noticed something had gone amiss. The first thing that tipped me off was that a crowd had gathered at the
It turns out my gut instinct was indeed correct. A metrorail train carrying about 50 passengers derailed as it departed the dadeland south station heading northbound. No serious damages or injuries were reported. This is the first time a metrorail train has derailed.
Rick of SOTP fame led me to this informative page on the concept of “slugging.” Slugging is basically carpooling, enjoying the benefits of using the HOV lanes, with one minor exception: your passengers are complete strangers. The site claims that slugging began over 30 years ago, during the oil embargo of the 1970’s. It’s amazing how quickly we turn to easy alternatives once economics come into play. In any case, slugging puts HOV lanes into good use, requiring that vehicles traveling in the lanes have a minimum of 3 occupants, the DC area laws were written and enforced to move the greatest amount of people. Slug-Lines provides a wealth of information on slugging, including; pick-up/drop-off locations, etiquette (amazing list of rules can be found here), slug groups, and a message board. Once again, it is evident that
I must say, I am so tired of listening to people in
Miami-Dade talk about density as if it is the devil reincarnated. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are concerned that density in or around their neighborhood will somehow lower their quality of life, perhaps by increasing traffic, “overcrowding”, or blocked views. Or, many others fear density because they are afraid of the lifestyle changes that are associated with density (i.e. a less car-dependent lifestyle, less suburban lifestyle, etc.). Perhaps more unfortunately, I think many of the “keep density downtown” advocates are either xenophobic, delusional, or both, sincerely wishing they didn’t live in a major, diverse city like County . Never fear – with this post I’ll be briefly pointing out why as citizens of Miami , we should embrace quality density as a friend, not an enemy. Miami
First of all, density is necessary to combat our affordable housing crisis. How is this the case, you ask? Well, density allows developers to allocate a share of units in new buildings/townhouses to people and families lying within middle class and working class income brackets. A form of this policy is already being used by the County, which provides a density bonus to developers who allocate a portion of their units for affordable housing. Regrettably, the potential of such policy thus far has not yielded the intended results, and it appears that a mandate allocating a given percent of EVERY new multi-unit residential building to affordable housing would be the best way to attack the affordable housing crisis and create more socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods (an opportunity squandered recently by the County.) It is up to us citizens to put the pressure on planners and officials to enforce the density bonuses and develop better affordable housing policy instead of continuing to allow most new developments to be of the luxury nature. Believe me; this policy has been very successful in cities throughout
, North America , and Europe . Australia
Additionally, by creating more compact communities, density is the precursor to upgrading mass transit. Possibly the most popular scapegoat for local anti-transit advocates around is that “
is too spread out for transit to ever work well here” (also another myth.) Regardless, more compact communities will increase the feasibility of transit in many areas, which would eventually lead to enhanced mobility and even increased property values. Miami
Density is also one of the answers to global warming and our oil crises.
car-dependent culture is definitely not sustainable in the long term. NASA scientist, and perhaps the most renowned researcher on global warming in the world, James Hansen, has proclaimed that “man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches a tipping point and becomes unstoppable….” Here’s a stat; with only 5% of the world’s population, the Miami’s consumes 26% of global energy. When you consider that of the 20 million barrels of oil used per day in U.S. , 40% is used by passenger vehicles, we have a problem. Frankly, we are way behind when it comes to instituting the necessary land use changes and sound urban planning practices that result in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Much of America and Europe are light years ahead when it comes to building sustainable cities, which definitely puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Moreover, oil production has peaked, meaning from now on production will begin to decline while prices will steadily rise. When it comes to economic competitiveness, this reality puts auto-centric cities, states, and countries at a marked disadvantage. The reality is, if we don’t begin to acclimate ourselves to lifestyles that don’t revolve around cars, we’ll be faced with very abrupt, painful changes in the next few decades. Also, when we begin to consider where much of the remaining oil reserves are located (Middle East, Venezuela, etc.), we need to ask ourselves, do we really want to be held economically hostage to unstable countries that don’t particularly care for us? Japan
Another very important issue I want to bring up is the link between compact inner city development and urban fringe development. Growth estimates in
(currently eighth most populous county in Miami-Dade County ) project an increase of approximately 600,000 people by 2025, totaling over 3,000,000 residents. The reality is there is no slowing down the population growth in the Greater Miami area, which leaves us with two choices: embrace density and compact communities within the urban growth boundary to help accommodate population growth, or continue sprawling development along the urban fringe, further threatening the Everglades, agricultural land, and the entire metropolitan region’s water supply. America
Density even makes our neighborhoods safer. Compact, mixed-use communities put more eyes on our streets. Consequently, this will generally make our streets safer as criminals need be much bolder to commit crimes in a public space where people are watching. It’s a lot scarier walking down poorly lit, deserted streets flanked by parking and building setbacks than it is walking down well-traveled sidewalks on well designed streets.
Density even has a positive impact on public health. Compact communities, as a compliment of density, promote more physical activity within the community, which has the effect of combating obesity and lessening stress. Dense, mixed-use communities in which amenities are typically within walking or biking distance could lead to a dramatic decrease in necessary car trips per person, which could save you a lot of money, too. On a related note, according to renowned community activist Robert Putnam in his seminal book on social capital, Bowling Alone, “every 10 minutes of commute time equates to 10% less participation in the local community”, thus exhibiting the deleterious effect low-density, car-dependent development has on social capital.
In leaving, I should mention that it is important that we advocate for quality density, which is often overlooked because of absolutist fights between developers and NIMBYs. Good urban design is the key to a communities and cities realizing the full potential of density. Subsequent posts will focus on some simple areas of urban design to look for when examining the effect a building will have on its surroundings.
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