Seems like we here in South Florida are always fighting for the bare minimum when it comes to transit.For the next few weeks the Florida legislature is going to be considering a number of options to fund the controversial Sun-Rail plan, as well as our own Tri-Rail.
Among the key transit proposals under consideration in Tallahassee: Giving Tri-Rail a guaranteed source of income to avoid recurring budget shortfalls, approving construction of a similar commuter rail service known as SunRail in Central Florida and creating an agency to oversee a possible bullet train. (Herald)
It is ridiculous that at the same time that legislators are discussing building a new line (very similar to Tri-Rail) that there remains an ongoing funding problem with Tri-Rail. How can we be expected to get any money for any sort of transit (high speed or normal) when we don’t make a commitment to fund even the most basic commuter rail?? I’m not so worried about losing out on high speed rail dollars as much as I am about the myriad of other local rail projects that rely on federal dollars (like the FEC line).
One might argue that the two issues are not connected, but I think that they are. They point to the single issue that dominates any discussion of transit funding: political will. As Barbara Jordon observed during the last transit summit, political will to raise the necessary funds is the largest obstacle to expanding our transit system. As a commuter line, Tri-Rail is an integral part of creating a balanced multi-modal network in Dade county. This is not about subsidizing a bad business venture, but about funding a necessary (and successful) public good.
SFRTA officials have said that they will discontinue service by 2011 without dedicated funding. Do our legislators really want to be responsible for adding additional 14,000 cars to the road at peak times?
I urge our legislators to support funding for Tri-Rail. Show the feds, and more importantly your constituents, that you take transit seriously and that you will not let an important part of our local economy go to waste.
Please email our elected officials, and let them know that you support funding Tri-Rail. Even if you only write a sentence, it is important for these people to know that the residents of South Florida care about Tri-Rail.
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