If you ever thought that crossing the street in Miami is impossible, don’t try this in India:

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Ever get that feeling that your elected official is completely out of touch with your district, your city, or even our everyday surroundings? I do, and I have some irrefutable evidence to support my claims. I’ve had a hunch for sometime that our commissioners are the type of people who drive to work daily from sprawl-land in their cushy vehicles to government center. As we all know from their objections against the downtown Marlins’ Stadium venue, they have the reserved privilege of parking on a nearby surface parking lot (I honestly wouldn’t see that as privilege but more of a hassle.) I get the feeling they don’t ride metrorail much (even though the “central station” is right at their doorstep) and don’t wander out for lunch, at least not on foot. An article in last week’s Miami Today confirmed my suspicions; a rare moment in Miami history occurred when Commissioner Joe Sanchez went for a walkThrough downtown Alone… Ha, ha! Just Kidding about the last one, this was an all out publicity blitz

“It was very important for us to go out, talk to merchants, find out what’s going on downtown,” said Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, chairman of the DDA. “When you’re up on the 29th floor, you don’t see what’s happening in the streets. You don’t see the cracks in the sidewalks, you don’t see the lights out on a streetlight.”

You also can’t see much if your eyes are closed, but I thought that too was common sense… I’m sorry, but is anyone else taken aback by the fact that commissioners likely haven’t walked around our downtown (barring special occasions such as these,) taken a ride in anything other than a private car, or heck, been at least somewhat conscious of the decay that has blighted the CBD, Parkwest, and Overtown neighborhoods for the better part of the last few decades? Taking a stroll along Flagler seems to me like the best place to start before making any decisions to spend our $10 Million on “streetscape enhancements” or voting to make the thoroughfare more pedestrian friendly by switching it to a two-way street…

While he and authority officials were quick to note Flagler Street’s potted and hanging plants and the uniformed maintenance crew pressure-cleaning the sidewalk [Strategically Placed, I presume], Mr. Sanchez did not hesitate to gesture to graffiti, unleveled sewer covers and stagnant water in the streets.

What’s he going to do, ignore it? Given the media circumstances I’m surprised he didn’t call over Sherwin Williams…

“These are the things we don’t see from an office or a board meeting,” he said. “People want beautification, people want cleanup. That’s what the people deserve.”

To attract more upscale retailers, vital in elevating the status of downtown, “we need to look perfect,” he said. “We need to look sharp.” Marketing is also crucial, he said. “The DDA needs to help get these tenants. Let’s romance it. Bring out all the guns. When they come, seven other merchants come.” Improving the landmark Macy’s store would be a start, Mr. Alonso said. “I think we need to persuade Macy’s to invest $10 million to $20 million and refurbish their store.”

We need to look like any other city outside of the “developing world?” Macy’s has played a great hand thus far, we know they’re bluffing but we still need to come to the realization that a large sum of money needs to be invested in this area. The downtown retail industry should be giving ole Simon a run for its money. The city has the ultimate “lifestyle center” at its fingertips; hey, it could actually emulate real life elsewhere by becoming an actual city center. Who knows? Bob has some thoughts…

Also in the works are plans to improve area transportation. Because bus service on Flagler Street was eliminated when it became two-way, the county will offer a new shuttle bus on Flagler Street beginning May 21 that will connect to Metrorail, the Port of Miami and Bayside, said Bob Pearsall, manager of service planning for Miami-Dade County Transit.
That kind of convenience along with cleanliness and safety will revitalize downtown, Mr. Sanchez said.

You remember that plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly and was endorsed by the same people who later complain about downtown congestion? Well had they known that the conversion to a two-way facility would actually inhibit traffic flow and make congestion worse I think the vote would have come out a little bit different- In any case, I’m not complaining…

“The whole downtown experience, the whole success for downtown, is people need to feel safe, keep coming back,” he said. “They need to have a pleasant experience.”

Pure genius. And all this time we were thinking that allowing homeless individuals to run amuck with our downtown was the right way to go…What were we thinking?

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Photo Source: Miami Herald via Green Peace, AP File 2006

Our global warming crisis continues to become more foreboding. Today the Herald reported findings from a recent study that predicts serious local climate change in South Florida’s future. According to the study, which is one of the first to predict local climate change stemming from global warming, by 2100 South Florida will likely have a novel climate that is warmer, drier, and unlike any other on Earth. Among the findings:

  • Mean temperatures in South Florida could rise by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer/wet season (+ 3 ½ degrees in the winter/dry season)
  • High temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90’s can be expected during the summer/wet season
  • Much drier conditions: 3 ½ fewer inches of rainfall during the wet season (Note: Drier does not mean less humid)
  • Even if worldwide action reduces greenhouse gas emissions, 4-20 percent of the world’s land could experience novel climates
These findings have grave implications for South Florida. As I noted above, a “drier” climate does not mean a less humid climate. High temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s coupled with high humidity would make it feel like 110-120 degrees based on heat indexes. Also to consider, the 5-7 degree rise is in mean temperature, which is the average temperature over a 24-hour period. For the last 30 years, Miami’s mean temperature has averaged about 83 degrees during the peak of the summer/wet season. If the predictions are true, then our average daily temperatures could be as high as 90 degrees! Imagine stifling days with highs of 95 and lows of 85. Factor in humidity, and even our nights would feel as warm as 100 degrees!

All of this does not even consider the potentially catastrophic effects of rising sea levels, increased frequency of major hurricanes, drought, and the decimation of the Everglades. It is now critical that we begin making major changes in the way we live and the way our cities function. Given the implications of climate change in South Florida, you would think that our region would be on the leading edge of sustainable urban planning. Sadly, as we all know, this is not currently the case. Yes, Mayor Diaz should be complemented for his green building proposal, Miami 21, and the Miami Streetcar initiative, but this barely scratches the surface of sustainability. We need a progressive, regional effort to significantly reduce our dependence on the automobile, boost alternative transportation modes, and design sustainable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. We cannot wait any longer to act.

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I sent an email over the people from the Shops at Wasted Space (Sunset Place) to find out what would occupying the space once the Bodies exhibit concludes. I also decided to inquire if the mall was actively persuing any ideas to better connect it with metrorail by means of a pedestrian overpass. Here is the reply I received:
Mr. Lopez-Bernal

There is a tenant planned for the space that Bodies currently occupies, but that tenant’s name has not been announced. I have not been advised by Metrorail of any plans for a pedestrian overpass, but it does sound like a great idea.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Great initiative. Yes, let’s wait for the helpful folks over at MDT to come up with a plan to better link metrorail with its surroundings, maybe something will get done by 2050, we’ll see…

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On my way to Milam’s on 32nd and Bird Ave this afternoon I almost got hit by a car after freezing in the road upon first site of this new building. Known as “Groveloft” at 3062 Bird Ave., this building adds absolutely nothing to the area’s pedestrian realm. The architect had a good opportunity, even with an oversupply of parking required, to add some quality density to the Grove and enhance the pedestrian realm along Bird Ave. Instead, they opted for a totally auto-centric design. This building is completely designed to be integrated with automobiles and not human beings:
  • The entrance to the parking garage is large, hideous, and the focal point of the building’s principal frontage on Bird Ave, a primary street. The arrows are tacky and the gate is ugly as all get out.
  • There are not any pedestrian entrances from Bird Ave., which is a primary street in Miami. Typical of most buildings in the Grove, this building does all it can to separate itself from public space with its fortress-like ground floor.
  • Instead of planting shade trees, which would have enhanced the pedestrian realm on Bird Ave. and aligned closely with the lush character of the Grove, the developers opted for dinky little palm trees on the edge of the street that serve more as eye candy for passing drivers than for functional green space on the sidewalk corridor. The larger tree in the back right of the photo that could have better accomplished this is instead barricaded from the public behind yet another gate.
This building is certainly not unique in Miami. Many more just like it are emerging each month throughout the City, and each one of them squanders an opportunity to enhance Miami’s pedestrian realm, which would encourage more people to walk and serve as the precursor to increased transit ridership. This is the kind of design that should be eliminated with the implementation of Miami 21 – which couldn’t come soon enough.

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From the Flickr of JamesGood

Posting over the next three days will be sporadic…Stay tuned for discussions on Miami Park Space, I-95, and Stadium Issues…

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A close friend of mine works next to the location of today’s train derailment. They forwarded a picture for me to share. Funny thing was that I walked along the tracks right where this train derailed recently and wondered how any train could possibly travel along them. At first I even thought they had been abandoned due to their horrific state and amount of debris laying along them. It’s no wonder accidents like these happen…
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Anyone interested in learning about Miami 21, especially residents living in the East Quadrant, should attend the open house this weekend being put on by planning consultant firm DPZ. The open house is meant to discuss and provide details about recently updated documents of the Miami 21 code.

The open house will be held from 8:00am to noon this Saturday, March 24th, at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School located at 4949 NE 2nd Avenue.

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I ask; if I am ever ousted from a political or public works position (which, I assure you, will never be the case) please, do not hold a special “name clearing hearing” in my honor like the one scheduled tonight by the county commissioners at 5 pm over the firing of former transit director Roosevelt Bradley. How pathetic is this? Have we stooped to a new low in the commission chambers? Has our commission become complacent with substandard performance and abysmal results from one of the county’s largest departments? I assure you, the removal of Bradley from the top Transit post was a good thing for Miami-Dade Transit. It’s depressing that the best argument provided thus far against his removal from office has been racial, which I must mention had nothing to do with his lousy performance.

Yes Bradley has overseen a recent growth in Bus operation and has blanketed our county with awkwardly placed glass bus benches, but, we must not give credit to him for these ‘advances.’ After all, the transit department is growing because of the efforts of the 2002 PTP supporters, not the efforts of any transit individual. Since the 2002 approval we have yet to witness any considerable advances with our transit tax money. Sure they’ve purchased a few buses and installed some illuminated street signs, but, is that really what we expected out of the PTP? The north and east-west corridor are anything but certain seeing that either has yet to secure federal funding, the airport connection hasn’t even been finalized, and our transit oriented development is abominable, all the while precious PTP money is squandered. As director, Bradley should have and could have forced Baylink to begin financing and development. He could have created a joint development to accelerate plans to create the Miami streetcar. He could have modernized the transit system, abandoning the ludicrous token system and implementing a friendlier metrocard system. He could have worked to add bus benches in more strategic locations, rather than the wonderful collection we now have along SW 72nd St. in front of half million dollar houses with Range Rovers in the driveways. Hey, anyone remember the FEC and CSX rail corridors decaying across the county? The fact of the matter is that Bradley was fired not for what he accomplished, but for what he has failed to accomplish thus far as transit director.

I reiterate the importance now of hiring an individual with a visionary plan for the transportation problems in Miami-Dade County. We need someone who understands how real public transit works in other parts of the world and can bring some of the success of other transit systems to Miami. Miami-Dade Transit needs someone who can work to lobby congress to allocate more federal dollars for our transportation deficiencies. We need someone who will work to bring regional rail alternatives to the whole south Florida area and will work with Governor Crist and the Florida congress to reestablish the Florida High speed rail initiative. We need someone who understands that public transit is more than just trains and buses; it’s a complete redesign of our public spaces, our buildings, and our way of life. All in all, we need someone who at the end of the day will not say “Look at what I have accomplished” but rather “Look at how much more can still be done to improve Miami’s public transit.” No transit official should be tooting his own horn for adding buses which had already received funding from allocated taxes and no one should cry foul when fired over an appalling performance…

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Vienna and its’ surroundings are covered in a vast web of efficient public transportation. Four rail options make life in the Austrian capital a breeze for residents and visitors alike. Like Miami, Vienna lacks a definite central district where workers travel to and from daily. The inner stadt, encircled by a one-way ring street and streetcar is about as close as it gets to becoming the center of Viennese activity, but major business hubs such as the UN complex are located far outside of the center.
The streetcars or Strassenbahns are a marvelous form of transportation, easily accessible by locals and visitors alike due to the vast network they create across the entire city (There are over 30 different routes and it is the third largest network of streetcars in the world.) To understand how vast this system really is, please click on the map here, you won’t be disappointed. Nearly every street contains tracks for the streetcar, which often shares the limited roadway with vehicles on narrow 2 way streets. The streetcars are prompt, clean, and effective forms of traversing the city.

The U-Bahn (Subway) is a relatively new form of transportation in Vienna; it opened in its modern form in 1976 and has since grown to incorporate six different lines (although parts of the U-Bahn date back to the 1890’s.) Click here, for an animation depicting the growth of the U-Bahn over the years including the upcoming extensions of the U2 line due to open in 2008 (to the stadium) and 2010, in time for the UEFA Cup which the city will be hosting in 2008. The U-bahn provides a faster mode of transportation and links some of the major hubs including: Stephansplatz, Vienna International Center, and train stations (Westbanhof, Franz-Joseph Banhof, Wien Nord.) Like most modern transit stations, most stations feature newsstands, bakeries, and all other sorts of convenient amenities foreign to the Miami-Dade Transit System.

The city and its immediate surroundings also contain over 380 kilometers of track for the Schnellbahn, a suburban commuter rail train similar to our tri-rail, only its efficient, vast, reliable, and electrically powered. As I mentioned previously, we used the schnellbahn to connect from the airport to the U-Bahn. There is also a small light rail transit system located within city limits (I know these people are so lucky to have all different forms of rail transit) known as the Lokalbahnen. I’m not familiar with the Lokalbahnen, seeing that we never had the opportunity to use it, but I often saw its trams arriving at the Karlsplatz station, where passengers could connect with U-Bahn, Schnellbahn, or bus transit options along the Ringstrasse. Notice how every site I’ve linked contains maps, schedules, routes, tickets, etc. in English in an easy to find format…

The city is also covered by over 80 different bus routes some of which operate 24 hours a day. The Nighlines provide service once the metro systems close for the night, at 1 am and run until they reopen at 5:30. The Nighline runs every 30 minutes and is just as prompt and easy to use as the Strassenbahns and no less popular among the locals or even us visitors. Using the bus system was no less of a breeze to connect us with the nearest U-Bahn station. The buses also lack the stop signal system found on most U.S. buses, instead a button near the exits serves as a dual use button to trigger doors to open and to signal the bus driver to stop. All buses (thanks to GPS devices) also announce upcoming stops and Strassenbahn and U-Bahn connections.

After experiencing yet another efficient and effective public transportation system, I am forced to realize that Miami has far to go before it too can become a very accessible city to all. Below are a series of photos I took while in Vienna for the purposes of depicting some of the most fascinating elements of their public transit system on this site:

Notice anything conspicuous about this entrance to the U-Bahn platforms? The absence of any turnstiles should jump right out at you, especially if you are familiar with the heavily armored nature of most American subway entrances. In parts of Europe however, subway entrances like this are the norm because the entire metro system operates on the honor system- Gasp! Yet, it works, because people know what the law is. Enforcement is done completely at random on bus, streetcar, and U-Bahn routes. Throughout our week long visit we were checked a whole zero times! While I’m on the fare subject: we were able to purchase an eight day coupon using our credit cards at an ATM like machine at the subway stations. The eight day card (24 Euros) enabled us to eight full days (not necessarily consecutive) of transit use (all forms) provided that we stamped our tickets daily at anyone of the punch card boxes located on every vehicle or station entrance. This marvelous system eliminates the foolish token or cash system and enables passengers to board the trolleys or buses through any door at any stop. The Honor system and punch card system is far too advanced of a thought for any U.S. Transit system. With heavily fortified entrances and armed station guards, many of our transit systems still suffer from delinquent fare box evaders. Part of the reason why Miami’s Metromover system is free rather than 25 cents is that the cost to add security to every platform would cost more than the income gained and more than cutting back security and making the whole system free. In any case, imagine at least if we could add machines which allow users to buy extended day metropasses with credit cards at every station. Maybe our next transit director will bring our transit system into the 20th century, let alone the 21st…After passing through the faux turnstiles, you emerge on a subway platform which is far cleaner than any public space you’ve ever experienced. Though even I admit this station was cleaner than most, it was interesting to look down at the tracks and not see the usual litter, sewage, and congregation of rodents which is typical of any subway system in the United States. Like the honor system, citizens here know to deposit trash in the appropriate receptacles rather than all along the station platform or tracks. It was rather stunning to encounter such an immaculate station in any case. The trains themselves are very well kept, with clean comfortable seats and handles. The absence of graffiti or window etchings was a plus and I even witnessed residents asking fellow passengers to remove their feet from the seats… Some of the busier stations featured the wall advertising typical of most subways along with maps depicting the upcoming routes (way too advance for Miami, but more common elsewhere.) Some of the busier stations also feature projectors and screens displaying top news headlines and local information.
Most of the subway cars are extremely modern, like the one pictured above. The trains are surprisingly smooth and quiet, making the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods minimal in the areas where the trains travel above ground. The Strassenbahns (Aka. Streetcars or Trolleys) are an eclectic mix of old and modern technology. The new cars, designed by Porsche Design Group, feature the lowest ground to floor clearance of any similar vehicle. Every station features covered waiting areas with benches and route maps. They also contain real time data LCD screens which depict upcoming trains and expected waiting times which are frighteningly accurate. As I mentioned above, the streetcars share the roadways with vehicles and rarely travel along their own dedicated right of way. Often times, the only lane in either direction is shared while the shoulders are reserved for on street parallel parking spaces. The streetcars operate under different signals than cars and usually have dedicated space in the “medians” for the stations . The overhead power cables are strung from the surrounding buildings, eliminating excessive poles along the side of the roads. The streetcars enhance the pedestrian activity along every street and do not detract from the vehicular traffic flow at all. The electrical wires are not unsightly and share dual use with the overhead streetlight system. What I always find impressive when touring European cities is the amount of young children (typically 5 years and older) wandering around alone on the public transit systems. I took the picture above to emphasize the benefits a good transit system would have on our education systems. See, in Vienna, like many other cities, their is no school bus system. Kids use public buses and trains to get to and from school. When field trips are scheduled, school groups take public transit like the group pictured above; on its way to the Museum of Natural History. Sensational. Imagine how much money we’d save if we didn’t have to fun an independent cheese wagon transit system just to transport kids to class daily? I took the above picture while waiting for the Nightline bus. After a long night of Karaoke and drinking, the minimal wait for the bus ride home was pleasant as street cleaners buzzed by routine maintenance was conducted on the streetcar power cable systems. Oh, and yes, at night the LCD screens display the wait times for the buses as well…
Nearly all the intersections in Vienna are dotted with Siemens sound sensors to aide blind pedestrians cross the streets. Gas stations such as this one above and below emphasize the idea that cars are secondary forms of transportation in the Austrian capital because well, they are. This particular gas station is located outside the opera house and does little to take away from the imperial surroundings. The one below was built into the side wall of a building.

The picture below depicts the middle level of one of my favorite transfer stations in Vienna, Schottentor. This station is a major transfer point for at least 10 different Strassenbahn lines, including the 1 and 2 trams which traverse the inner stadt. Trams arrive on the ground and mid level of the station, one level below ground. From the mid level the Votivkirche (church) provides a beautiful backdrop for the arriving trams. One level below, passengers can access the U2 line of the U-Bahn. Note: None of the stations feature parking, parking garages, or anything to accommodate ridiculous vehicular usage.

The regional transit options are no less spectacular than those of the city or of other parts of Europe. The OBB, a train I could liken to tri-rail, only dependable, transported us to a town called Melk, 85km west of Vienna in about one hours time. The OBB trains are powered by overhead electrical wires and make stops in various stations along the way. It was amazing to be outside of the city and traveling through woodlands and pastures in the matter of a few minutes, emphasizing the compact nature of Viennese life and making such marvelous transit feasible in the first place. Melk, a small unassuming town along the Danube River even boasts a local bus circulator and is so compact we had crossed the town by foot in a matter of minutes. Stay tuned for Part 3…

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Miami could soon become a national leader in green building. Mayor Diaz is pushing an initiative that would require all new buildings of 50,000 sq ft or more to be LEED certified. According to the US Green Building Council,
“LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
  1. Sustainable site development
  2. Water savings
  3. Energy efficiency
  4. Materials selection
  5. Indoor environmental quality”

If approved by the city commission in May, it would be a progressive policy move that would serve as big step forward in sustainable growth in Miami. The new “green building” requirements would include some of the strictest policies of the sort to be implemented in any major American city thus far.

Now if only the city and county would overhaul its ridiculous, suburban-oriented parking codes, our new green buildings such as “Green Miami” (under construction adjacent to Douglas Metrorail Station) would truly be sustainable, pedestrian-oriented, and transit oriented, thereby not inducing travel demand by cars and exacerbating the main contributor to global warming.

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Broward Commissioners approved a plan to buy 200 NABI buses over the next five years to replace aging vehicles and add to their existing fleet. Flexible buses similar to the one pictured above, will begin running along the US 441 route this week…

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Well, I’m back from my latest travels through Europe; we had a marvelous week exploring Vienna and the Austrian countryside. Although I have many stories to share and experiences worth describing, I will offer you all a glimpse into the transportation efficiency which made my trip so worth while. Some of you may liken it to an apples-to-oranges comparison; but I think there is much we could all learn from the European system of planning and constructing cities which would make all of our lives a heck of a lot easier. I will begin now with the airports through which I traveled: Miami International, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and Flughafen Wien. Go ahead and visit their respective webpages to see their cyber differences. Ours is a catastrophe, in English only, alluding to the disastrous experience you’ll likely encounter when visiting.Amsterdam’s Schiphol is a paradise for anyone encountering a layover in Europe. The modern terminal is excellently situated to allow transfers between all international flights without having to pass through security or customs, unless traveling to another EU country. The airport features some comforting amenities with which to pass the time including: showers, sleep areas, an museum featuring Dutch art from the 18th century, wireless internet, a mall, and various restaurants, bars, and casinos. The facility was immaculate. The airport employees were well informed, courteous, and fluent in various languages, a rarity even in our cultural “melting-pot.” A PA announcement played whenever someone was running late: “Mr. or Mrs. So and so, you are delaying the flight to Casablanca. Please report to gate D4 for immediate boarding or we will proceed to offload your luggage.” Fantastic.

We didn’t spend as much time in Flughafen Wien due to the fact that it was our final destination, however, while passing through I noted several similarities between it and Schiphol. The airport featured some enclosed glass boxed rooms for smokers only, an innovative thought to keep the smoke away from the general terminals; even though smoking is generally permitted everywhere else indoors in Europe.

The City to airport connection at both airports is a marvel in itself. Forget the Miami Intermodal Center, distant thoughts of running metrorail or a people mover into the airport, or the current inconvenient bus rides to the nearest tri-rail station. Flughafen Wien, located several kilometers away from the city center, is linked via the City Airport Train (CAT), an express train which whisks passengers into the city in 16 minutes. What I find most impressive about the CAT is the feature which allows you to have your luggage transferred from the plane to the train. Likewise, you can check in your luggage at the city train terminal and not worry again about your bags until you reach your final destination. The train terminal at the airport is located beneath the baggage claim and departure facilities, placing it within easy reach of all travelers. Since we weren’t exactly traveling to the city center, we rode another train, a suburban commuter train like tri-rail called the Schnellbahn, which also services the airport.

The City/Airport connection in Amsterdam is no less fantastic than the one in Vienna. Having a five hour layover on the return flight enabled us to catch a train into the city to kill off the wait. Within 15 minutes we were arriving in the city’s central station, within walking distance of all the sights, museums, and activity occurring in Amsterdam. The commuter train was just as pleasant, packed with travelers on both decks of the train.

Amsterdam’s Central Station is an amazing intermodal facility. It links the city with the airport via rail as well as local metro service, streetcars, buses, ferries, water taxis, regional rail service, and long distance rail…

More to come soon…

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Well, it’s been a busy last couple of days with planning news…
  • Three bills proposing to give the Marlins a $60 million dollar subsidy to bridge the funding gap for the new stadium easily made it through the state Senate and House committees on Thursday. While the baseball fans in Miami-Dade and Marlin stakeholders should be excited by early popularity of the proposed bills with the state House and Senate, it appears Broward legislators have a bad case of sour grapes over the stadium location. Broward senators are leading the charge against the stadium funding because they’re upset the proposed stadium sites are not located in the suburbs near county line. Speaking of the stadium site, there still has been no settlement; however, it appears the Orange Bowl plan is unfortunately still gaining steam.
  • FDOT is planning on making major “improvements” to I-95 between Ft. Lauderdale and downtown Miami. The proposal calls for the replacing the current HOV lanes with two HOT lanes (High Occupancy Toll) in each direction. Newly installed computer sensors on the highway would measure traffic volume and average speed, which would allow the system to increase or decrease the toll fees in the HOT lanes based on how much congestion there is. Drivers wishing to use HOT lanes would use a prepaid toll card like the SunPass. I’ve never been much of a fan of these “Lexus Lanes”, but I’ll let Gabe elaborate on the issue as he is the resident transportation engineer of the group.
  • Miami-Dade Transit director Roosevelt Bradley was forced to resign last night. Apparently, Bradley is one of the first casualties of Mayor Alvarez’s new powers to hire and fire administrators at County Hall. According to the Herald, Bradley, who took over Miami-Dade Transit in 2002, was inefficient as a boss and oversaw massive deficits under his rule. We’ll keep posting any updates as soon as we hear who might be the next director.

Transit has recommended a three year, five-day-per-week pilot program for the ferry, with service from It appears ferry service may soon be a reality in Miami – at least temporarily. Miami-DadeMatheson Hammock Park in the south and Haulover Park in the north to downtown Miami. According to Jose Luis Mesa, head of the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), service could be expanded to include additional stops north of Haulover Park, such as at Aventura, if the ferry proves to be a success.

There are still several hurdles to overcome, however. First, such a service would be a form of park n’ ride, which would require a considerable amount of parking spaces in environmentally sensitive, bay front areas. The last thing these two beautiful bay front parks need are massive parking allotments within them. The second major hurdle involves protection of manatees. Speed limits of just seven miles per hour are in place in several sections of Biscayne Bay to protect the “sea cows”, which are endangered species. Service would be far too slow to be feasible if the ferries had to follow these speed limits. As a result, the MPO is looking into the possibility of using catamarans with sonar or hovercrafts that float over the water to transport passengers efficiently without compromising the safety of the manatees.

Also, one-way trip times appear to be a little lengthy along the northern route. While the MPO estimates the trip form Matheson Hammock will take just 28 minutes, the trip from Haulover is expected to take an hour. I would think this needs to be cut to about 45 minutes for it to maximize ridership. Access to Haulover may prove difficult as well, given that it can only be accessed by A1A and is relatively isolated from residences on Bal Harbour to the south and Sunny Isles to the north.

Upon reaching downtown, the ferries would dock at Chopin Plaza (above and top pic) at the south end of Bayfront Park, which is just one block from metromover at Biscayne Blvd. & SE 2nd St. Service would run approximately every 20 minutes during rush hour and every hour thereafter between 6:00am and 8:00pm weekdays. If the county commission’s transportation committee approves the pilot, it could be running by 2009.


Photos from flickr: pixelflex, ldysteph

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