The streetcar articles have stirred up some great discussion in the comments section, both in favor of and against the proposed route. I would like to address one of the main reasons cited against the streetcar; the proposed and possibly upcoming LRT along the FEC corridor.

The LRT along the FEC corridor appears to be the favored alternative transportation choice of those in favor of and against the Miami streetcar. Although I believe that the FEC corridor would prove to be the most useful alternative due to its dedicated ROW through the largest municipalities, I don’t believe it should be the driving force behind the opposition to the streetcar. We shouldn’t discredit the current effort to provide reasonable alternative means of public transportation within the city limits; after all, this is all the city can do to improve its’ own infrastructure. This is a city of Miami infrastructure solution, funded by city dollars, so we can erase the notions of spending the money instead to run rail lines every which way out of the city. Likewise, the FEC corridor situation is basically out of the hands of city planners and is still currently little more than a pipe dream study, leaving at least several years before we can even begin to witness any sort of real planning or development occur. In the meantime, the streetcar would begin to alleviate the traffic problems the current and future development is going to create and would further bolster the reach of an FEC corridor LRT, eventually giving riders more destinations in easy reach of efficient transit. Many streetcar opponents claim the streetcar simply isn’t a reasonable alternative and cite the FEC as a more realistic option, however, I don’t know if this is because it wouldn’t be funded solely by the city or if it wouldn’t impede on their daily vehicular commute…

5 Responses to LRT vs Streetcar

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why does everyone argue one mode against another. You need a system. In Portland they have Light Rail and Streetcars. In San Francisco they have light rail and a Metro (BART). There isn’t a silver bullet to transit. You need Metro, Light Rail, Streetcars and Buses to interact. You wouldn’t just build a freeway without local roads would you?

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  2. Ryan says:

    Good point anon. That’s what Gabe is saying. The best transit systems have a heirarchy of rail ranging from heavy commuter rail to inner city subways to light rail and neighborhood streetcars.

    Ideally, Miami would have streetcars running not only on the proposed route, but also down Flagler, Calle Ocho, AND Coral Way. For example, New York doesn’t just have a few lines webbing the city, but instead multiple lines often run vary close to one another or even go along roughly the same route at various points. This is something Miami should shoot for in the future, but that certainly can’t happen until this first line gets built.

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  3. Steven says:

    I believe that the streetcars are a viable option, but I also believe that they are a short range form of transit more than a longer range transit type. Basically, I feel that they need to connect to some faster and longer range infrastructure such as a heavy rail (Metrorail) or light rail in order to be effective. To this extent, I can easily see a series of east-west streetcar lines that feed areas such as Coconut Grove from the Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, Little Havana from the Government Center Metro Rail Station, Jackson Memorial Hospital from its relevant metro rail station, and eventually the eastern portions connecting with a light rail line running up the FEC corridor. A line to Little Havana or Coconut Grove or even Jackson Memorial would not rely too much on establishing rail lines to get there since they already have Metrorail. Following the proposed route though, basically the FEC corridor needs to be established for it to be truly effective.

    The problem that has been produced is the old “chicken and the egg” scenario. Should the FEC rail corridor come before the streetcar or should the streetcar come before the FEC rail corridor? What bothers me is how the City and County and in fact the whole Southeastern Florida mentality works is that if the streetcar is built before the FEC alignment, it would mean those responsible for the planning of the FEC corridor can place that project back on a bookshelf and let it wait since now new DEIS documents would need to be produced. Since a rail alternative may be built in the area, they may feel that it is not as needed to build anything in the near future along this route.

    While I am not opposed to construction of the streetcar, I am somewhat concerned that the FEC rail corridor line would not be made for even longer if the streetcar were built. I do feel that the FEC corridor is more valuable to the region as a whole more than the streetcar can benefit the region. While this argument may spur some debate in the form of “The city commissioners are supposed to be looking out for the city only and let the regional planners watch out for the region”, I feel that the two projects are equally as important and should be built ASAP.

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  4. Adam says:

    the problem is that while a streetcar may encourage density and improve quality of life and tourist traffic between inner-city neighborhoods, it isn’t going to do anything about traffic.

    That is why I am all for the streetcar as long as it isn’t being presented as a _transit_ or _traffic_ solution.

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  5. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Who says it won’t do anything about traffic? I’m not saying its a guarantee, but, it is certainly more possible than you’d think. The point here isn’t just to add density, its to add it in such a way that would encourage people to leave their cars at home- in effect making the streetcar a better (cheaper perhaps) alternative. The city needs to impose strict building requirements to make the area pedestrian friendly (covered portico, sidewalks, on street parking, landscaping, lighting, traffic calming features, etc.) concepts in order for this concept to fully succeed and create a truly vibrant urban neighborhood…

    If these concepts are included along the corridor then traffic will no longer become our main concern…

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