A few days after we published Leah Weston’s letter lambasting the Miami Trolley service for poor service and planning, the City of Miami responded with their side of the story. See below for the response.
Dear Ms. Weston,
Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on your experience with the Miami Trolley. As a new service, the office of transportation is continually working to make the Miami Trolley a more convenient transportation alternative in the City. Please be assured that we are taking your comments into consideration and are working to resolve the problem. In the meantime, we would like to address your concerns with a brief response to your e-mail. Please read below.
1. The Trolley is completely unreliable.
The City of Miami is aware of the issue of inconsistent headways and is working on possible solutions. Traffic congestion, lane closures, and the opening of the Brickell Avenue Bridge impede vehicular traffic thus creating challenges to maintain consistent and reliable headways.
To rectify the issue, the City is working closely with Limousines of South Florida (LSF), the company contracted by the City to operate the trolleys, to resolve this problem. Drivers are required to maintain regular radio contact with the dispatcher to ensure proper spacing. When the trolleys begin to bunch, the drivers of the trailing vehicle are asked to wait at the next stop to establish proper spacing. This is a temporary solution as we hope to resolve the problem by introducing technology into the program as many other transit agencies do. For further information, please refer to the answer to question # 2.
2. Why is there no way to track the trolley…?
The City is working to establish GPS-based monitoring of the trolleys in the coming months. This technology will accomplish a number of things: First, City and LSF staff will track trolleys remotely, facilitating the identification and correction of vehicle bunching. Second, the GPS tracking will allow riders to access the trolley website to determine the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) at their stop.
3. Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense.
The northbound and southbound trolleys overlap at the Brickell Metrorail station but have two separate stops. The ideal situation would be to have both stopping at the same location. The northbound has to stop closer to SW 10th Street to be able to make the turn under the Metrorail. Due to bus bay capacity issues, the City decided to move the southbound stop further south next to the Metromover station. At times, both routes arrive at the same time. We acknowledge that sometimes the southbound trolley stops at the northbound to drop off passengers. This should not happen as it creates confusion to the passengers waiting for their trolley. We will continue to remind the drivers that southbound vehicles must stop ONLY at the southbound location.
In addition, we are working closely with LSF to make use of the LED marquee signs in the front of each vehicle to have them clearly identified as northbound or southbound.
4. Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley.
When you contacted the City of Miami, we forwarded your query to LSF. Unfortunately, an LSF employee had destroyed your ID. This was a simple case of human error. We understand that LSF contacted you, and apologized. We also would like to apologize for the inconvenience this incident has caused you.
We appreciate your comments and please do not hesitate on contacting us with comments or concerns.
Carlos Cruz-Casas, P.E.|Assistant Transportation Coordinator
City of Miami – Office of the City Manager/Transportation
Yes, the City of Miami has done it again. It has managed to squander away another perfectly good $50,000 on another useless project. About two years ago there was an armed robbery in Belle Meade. The knee-jerk reaction by some Belle Meade residents was to erect a fence to prevent crime and Commissioner Sarnoff choose to support this silly idea with tax payer dollars.
Transit Miami produced this short video to illustrate how ridiculous and pointless this fence is. Instead of wasting $50,000 on a useless fence, Transit Miami has asked Commissioner Sarnoff to organize an Upper Eastside Charrette so that the entire community can come together and address the many issues that affect our neighborhood. We have yet to hear back from Commissioner Sarnoff regarding the charrette.
If you think this fence is a waste of money and the funds could have been more wisely invested to develop a long term Upper Eastside plan, please let Commissioner Sarnoff know by sending him email by clicking here.
Transit Miamians — It’s an extremely important time to make your voices heard to your elected officials and community planners!
As many of you already know, Miami-Dade County seems to have concluded its negotiations with the firms bidding to construct and install the new Metrorail train cars, slated for delivery in the last quarter of 2014.
The Miami Herald reported early last week on Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s endorsement of the Italian company, AnsaldoBreda, to win the $313,000,000 contract to replace 136 Metrorail vehicles.
Putting aside the politics of the decision in favor of the Italian firm AnsaldoBreda over the Spanish firm CAF, TransitMiami was interested in learning more about the actual designs of the new train cars themselves, and how they would impact our daily commute.
We got in touch with the energetic and eager-to-help Acting Assistant Director of Miami-Dade Transit Rail Services, Mr. Jerry Blackman. If you recall, Transit Miami reported on Mr. Blackman’s January 2012 presentation at the Citizen’s Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) regarding the acquisition of the new Metrorail train cars.
At that time, unfortunately, the contract was still under bid and thus remained under the Cone of Silence. Exercising an abundance of caution, Blackman was rather tight-lipped about the contract.
When Transit Miami got in touch with Mr. Blackman just a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Cone of Silence was still in effect. Just a few days later, however, the Miami-Herald brought the public’s attention to Mayor Gimenez’s recommendation that AnsaldoBreda be awarded the multi-million dollar contract that will dictate our Metrorail experience for the next 30-plus years or so.
We were then able to convince Mr. Blackman to give us some insider information on the design of the prospective Metrorail train cars.
We didn’t get too much, but what we did get should make a good start to a deeper public dialogue on how our city’s Metrorail can best serve its people . . .
With regard to “Passenger Seating / Bicycle Rack”, we got the following excerpt from a presentation made by an unspecified bidding firm (assumedly AnsaldoBreda):
- Color schemes, materials and designs will be finalized during the Vehicle Final Engineering Design Reviews
- The seating layout shall provide for two ADA compliant wheelchair areas per car
- Seat cushions shall be designed to fit on the seat frame in a clean, well designed appearance, and shall include cushion foam and upholstery
- Seat upholstery shall be a material resistant to graffiti, vandalism, and liquid pentration
- The seating arrangement shall include an area in the R-end of the vehicle with center facing flip-up seating to allow for passengers with either baggage or bicycles
- Bicycle racks shall be installed with provisions to support a minimum of two (2) bicycles per car to secure bicycles
We also acquired a single rendering of the interior of one of the proposed Metrorail train car designs — it’s no Rosetta Stone of Miami Transit, but it’s a start to a more transparent public discussion:
Now that we’ve finally emerged from the secretive Cone of Silence, it’s time to speak-up! Transit Miami will be keeping a close eye on how our collective $313 million is going to be spent.
This is our city; let’s make sure it evolves the way we want – the way we need – it to . . .
You are invited to attend the ***FREE*** alternative fueled vehicle roadshow event in Miami.
A statewide vehicle showcase tour and series of presentations on the economics and practicality of implementing alternative fuel transportation solutions for industry and government, using natural gas, propane, biofuels, and electric vehicles.
Registration is required for this free event:
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 — 9:00am-noon
701 NW 1st Court
Miami, Florida 33136
South Florida’s Best Block photo/video competition has launched, check out miamiherald.com/bestblock! It’s presented by the Herald, WLRN, and Townhouse Center, and sponsored by the Knight Foundation.
Prizes for best photos are $600, $500, and $400, same for videos. Your photo or video can be of any urban block in Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County. The jury will also choose the best block in South Florida for a block party.
You can also vote by searching Instagram or YouTube for #sfbestblock, and “like” your favorites. Photo and video with most “likes” will get a “People’s Choice” mention in the Herald. Enter soon to rack up
votes, and forward to your friends!
To enter, register at miamiherald.com/bestblock!, then upload a photo on Instagram or video on YouTube with tag #sfbestblock and short caption about why it’s your favorite. It’s that easy! Deadline has been extended to Monday, September 17 at midnight.
This won’t come as news to many of you, but for several months now, the experience on Metrorail has been improved tremendously.
The transition from 6- to 4-car trains since the grand opening of the Orange Line to the brand new Miami International Airport Station (a.k.a., Central Station) in late July 2012 has certainly been a welcome change.
The trains now come much more frequently, reducing:
- 7-8-minute rush hour wait times to 5-6-minute rush hour wait times,
- 15-minute off-peak hour wait times to 7-8-minute off-peak hour wait times, and
- 30-minute weekend wait times to 15-20-minute weekend wait times.
Apart from that indispensable improvement to the system, you’ve almost certainly also noticed the improvements to the physical layouts to the inside of the train cars themselves. In nearly every Metrorail train car, one now finds that two sets of seats have been removed and, from the resultant additional space, there is now a much-needed area for standing passengers and bike and luggage storage.
Below are some pictures of the new Metrorail space in action. It’s great to see people regularly using the space, especially during rush hour, when there simply aren’t enough seats for everybody (not to mention that many people, myself included, actually prefer standing over sitting).
The additional standing room is an improvement of which I’ve personally been a long-time advocate. In November 2011, I presented a set of possible policy changes to the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee pertaining to the many issues surrounding the Metrorail Bike & Ride Policy. The removal of seats to create more standing and storage area was the primary proposal of the presentation. It’s great to know that Miami-Dade Transit is listening to its riders! Now we just need more people speaking-up!
One of the overarching problems with the Bike & Ride policy (notwithstanding the utterly ineffective Bike & Ride permit system) has always been that bicycles were relegated to the back of the train. This created lots of confusion and often overcapacitated the rear train car with bikes.
The new Miami-Dade Transit Bike & Ride policy (last updated July 24, 2012) permits bikes in any train car containing the sign depicted above. That’s a huge improvement! The only problem is that Miami-Dade Transit has yet to install signs on the exterior of the train cars so that riders can identify which cars are appropriate to enter with their bicycles.
Another positive change is that the new Bike & Ride policy doesn’t explicitly specify a maximum number of bikes permitted in each train car. The previous number of bikes allowed on the train was a mere four. As you can imagine, that policy was ridiculously impossible to enforce, and completely undermined the point of having a policy in the first place. If you’re going to make rules, make sure they make sense and can be enforced, otherwise the entire system is delegitimized. Fortunately for us, limits are no longer specified.
There are still problems, of course. Miami-Dade Transit still hasn’t improved the system for distributing and enforcing its Bike & Ride permits — that’s a whole other issue!
Still, it’s undeniable that, with regard to the overall Metrorail system, layout, and policies, things are evolving for the better. Until the new Metrorail train cars are acquired in the last quarter of 2014 (for installation and usage estimated for the first quarter of 2015), we’re going to have to appreciate what we’ve got and continue making our voices heard to make it better!
In the blinding brightness of the east-facing morning, trapped in our metallic boxes of rage, impatience, and anxiety, the truth called out to us . . .
It called, not as an answer, but as a question . . . a question whose simplicity made a mockery of all those willing to confront it . . .
Out of the blinding light, for that fleeting moment of honesty concealed by the shadows, the truth taunted all those brave enough to accept it . . .
From the blinding light, the truth dared us to regain our vision . . .
RIDE . . . METRORAIL
Transit Miami reader and Emerge Miami coordinator Leah Weston shared the following letter with us, containing some poignant feedback and observations from the new-ish Miami Trolley service in downtown Miami.
Sent to TrolleyInfo@Miami.gov
I am writing because I would like to make some comments about the Miami Trolley Service. While I am happy to have the mobility from my apartment on the south end of Brickell to the Metro station, I have observed a few issues over the past month and a half that I have been using it and felt like I should give my feedback.
(1) The trolley is completely unreliable. The signs say every 15 minutes, but that is just dead wrong. Oftentimes what will happen is that I will wait for 30 minutes and see two or three trolleys going the opposite direction pass me before one going in my direction shows up. The B bus follows almost THE EXACT SAME ROUTE and it is MUCH MORE reliable. I’d rather pay $1.25 to get somewhere on time than to stand around indefinitely, holding a huge pile of heavy books (I am a law student) and sweating profusely.
(2) Why is there no way to track the trolley like you can with the Metrorail and the Metrobus? If the purpose of public transportation is to be able to get around without a car, I need to be able to plan my trip.
(3) Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense. There are two stops–one for Northbound, one for Southbound. However, the two stops are VERY far apart. That’s fine, except for the fact that there’s nowhere on the FRONT of the trolley that indicates which direction the oncoming trolley is going. Both the North and Southbound trollies stop at the Northbound stop to let people off. I personally have to go Southbound in the afternoon when I arrive home. If I think a Southbound trolley is coming, but it turns out to be a Northbound trolley, I have to run back and forth like an idiot with a 20 pound pile of books. Also, there have been a number of occasions where I think a trolley is heading my direction, but it turns out not to be and, in turn, I miss the B bus back home and have to wait another 15-40 minutes (whenever the next trolley decides to come). Long story short: A 20 minute commute home turns into an hour commute. Might as well drive my car for that kind of efficiency.
(4) Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley. Shortly after this happened, I promptly wrote an e-mail inquiring about my ID. About a week later, I got a phone call from someone at your office, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner, but that they had shred my ID. That ID also happened to contain a $50 monthly student Metro pass which I had paid in full and which was nonrefundable. While I understand the policy, there are a few problems with this scenario: Why don’t you have someone regularly checking your e-mail account? Why doesn’t the fact that my name and the name of the judge I was working for appeared on the front of the ID merit a little bit of investigation? The woman on the phone also told me she would “see what she could do” about my Metro pass. Why did she never follow up with me?
I’m sorry for the lengthy diatribe, but I thought you should be aware that your service is sub-par and needs improvement. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I have written.
What has your experience been with the Miami trolleys?
- Once and Future Metropolis. Our own Craig Chester takes cues from Miami’s past to discuss where success will lay in our future. It’s sad to know that Miami once boasted 11 trolley lines that crisscrossed the county from Miami Beach to the City of Miami and even out the then-suburb of Coral Gables. (Biscayne Times)
- $2.8 billion transportation upgrade rolling (Miami Today)
- Boca Raton politicians leading on transportation policy. The Sun Sentinel sits down with Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams and Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie to discuss their roles in reshaping local transportation infrastructure. (Sun Sentinel) Note: Commissioner Abrams was was elected Chair of the SFRTA at the July 27 meeting of the Governing Board. At the same meeting, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro was elected Vice Chair. (SFRTA)
- Two new Rubber-Tired Trolley announcements in one week! South Florida’s Trolley Fever is raging. First: Sweetwater to get new trolleys (Miami Herald) Then: Trolley cars may replace shuttle buses in Delray Beach (Orlando Sentinel)
- $45 million PortMiami tunnel dig payment threatens Miami’s finances. Come January, the city is facing a $45M payment on a short-term loan that helped fund the PortMiami tunnel dig. (Miami Herald)
- Parks Vie For Space In Miami’s Forest Of Condos. In Miami, neighborhood parks can be hard to find. The Trust for Public Land ranks Miami 94 on a list of 100 cities when it comes to park acreage per 1,000 residents — just 2.8 acres per 1,000 residents. (NPR)
- Get on the Bus. The tale of one correspondent’s journey aboard public transit in Aventura. Despite the density and height of the condos in Aventura; it remains a driving city. (Biscayne Times)
- Cities With The Worst Drivers 2012. No surprises here, Hialeah is ranked 4th while Miami is 9th. (Forbes) It’s no wonder that recent editorials call for enhanced driver education programs in South Florida. (Miami Herald)
- Affordable housing developer: South Miami’s inflexibility violates federal law. The City of South Miami is facing a Federal Lawsuit from a developer seeking to build affordable housing adjacent to the metrorail station. As we noted on our Facebook page, this is precisely what is wrong with many of the communities that border Metrorail and the South-Dade Busway. Adjacent to existing rapid transit infrastructure is exactly where we should be building denser and reducing parking minimums. Instead, insular city politics allow South Miami, Florida commissioners to deny construction permits for an affordable housing development due to insufficient parking (the city was requesting a 2:1 Space to Unit Ratio!). (Miami Herald)
- Back to School! Did you know that MDT offers discounts for students? The K-12 Discount Fare EASY Card and the College Pass are affordable options available to our local students.
Around the Sphere:
- Smackdown-County vs. City: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble Over Gated Communities! (Miami Urbanist)
- With Metrorail Open, Checking In On Miami Central Station. CurbedMiami drops in to check-up on the progress on the Miami Central Station. (CurbedMiami)
- Miami Trolley. Alesh gets critical on the Miami Trolley. He’s got a point, the SFRTA’s Strategic Regional Transit Plan don’t mention Trolleys. (Critical Miami)
- Miami Needs Less Planning, More Doing. (UEL Blog)
- OP-ED: Miami-Dade Commissioner’s Resolution is Bad of Bicycling. (BeachedMiami)
- Green Mobility Network has launched their new website – check it out! (Green Mobility Network)
- Use of awnings for your historic house. (Miamism)
- Cutting dependence on cars isn’t anti-car, it’s common sense. “As a matter of fact, not everyone can drive; and as a matter of principle, we want people to have other options.” Amen. (GreaterGreaterWashington)
- Dynamic Pricing Parking Meters Climb Above $5/Hour in SF (TransportationNation)
- Tennessee DOT Moves Past Road-Widening as a Congestion Reduction Strategy (Streetsblog DC)
- They Totally Went There: GOP Outlines Extremist Transpo Views in Platform (Streetsblog DC)
- Boston case shows declining car volume on major street. (Stop and Move)
- Are Our Transit Maps Tricking Us? (Atlantic Cities)
We received some good news from County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa a few minutes ago in response to our email this weekend:
I would like to thank the cycling community for expressing their opinions and concerns about this item that is of importance to all the residents of Miami-Dade, as many of us rely or know of someone who relies on bicycles as a means of transport and/or recreation. My intent in sponsoring this resolution was not to prevent bike lanes from being created. On the contrary, I support and embrace establishing bike lanes Countywide. I acted out of concern for the safety of cyclists, particularly on SW 57 AVE from SW 8 ST to SW 24 ST, where customers of businesses along this stretch of road back their cars directly onto SW 57 AVE. I am concerned that this would create an unsafe environment for cyclists. Additionally, I sought greater cooperation between FDOT, Miami-Dade County, and Municipalities to make sure we create an atmosphere where bike lanes continue to be encouraged while ensuring safety.
In light of your concerns, I am requesting this item be temporarily deferred to ensure nothing in this item will negatively impact the cycling community. Your opinions are always welcome.
Commissioner Rebeca Sosa
Miami-Dade County, District 6
Transit Miami would like to thank Commissioner Sosa for pulling the item from the agenda. We look forward to working with her office to work through some of the issues we raised with regards to item #121569 while fostering a healthy redevelopment of 57th Avenue that both enhances the mobility of all roadway users and supports the needs of local businesses. While we do agree that greater cooperation is needed between FDOT, Miami-Dade County, and the local municipalities, we believe that this discussion should take place in a public manner and in a fashion that affords the communities greater say over FDOT roadway projects.
Miami-Dade’s Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to vote on legislative item 121569 this Thursday. (The meeting was postponed from September 4 to September 6.)
Four specific bike lanes come under attack in this legislative item. They’re meant to demonstrate examples of “state roads in Miami-Dade County that may not be particularly suitable for bicycle lanes”.
One of those four lanes is that located on the MacArthur Causeway. Its supposed lack of suitability is due to the fact that, on this particular state road, “the speed limit is 50 mph”.
The lane on the MacArthur Causeway can indeed be a dicey one to traverse, especially with all of the on-going Port of Miami Tunnel construction, the South Beach partiers driving back from their nights of inebriation, and the overall speeding automobile traffic.
Nevertheless, even at 50mph, the bike lane on the MacArthur functions.
Of course, it could function better — by making it wider, buffering it from automobiles, and some other possible retrofits — but it functions, nonetheless.
The people are hungry — not only for more bicycle facilities, but better bicycle facilities too. Please . . . feed us!
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