- On October 29, MDT celebrated the one year anniversary of the Easy Card – the automated fare collection system implemented to increase the usability of the transit system by automating payments and reducing the time needed to board MDT vehicles. The agency celebrated by awarding the rider who made the 42 millionth “tap” a full year of free ridership. MDT also awarded the top five most frequent users of the EASY Card with a free month of transit. Not trying to hate on these lucky folks but, the picture released by MDT, above, isn’t particularly filled with joy.
- Two County armed guards, tasked with collecting the cash deposits used to recharge EASY cards at Metrorail stations were robbed early this morning at the Douglas Road station. The stolen vehicle was recovered about a block away from the station. Perhaps the county should review its policy of collecting the fare-box revenues at 2AM.
- Margaret Pace Park, bolstered by the recent development boom has flourished recently thanks to the large influx of new residents. The once dilapidated park and neighborhood is now a shining example of urban life in downtown Miami.
- Weston’s only bus route, #23 was spared from being axed completely last month by County Commissioners. Riders however, will face higher fares, reduced service, and a new route alignment in effort to reduce the cost of operating the underutilized route. Just another debilitating effect of urban sprawl – public transit becomes ineffective and difficult to operate.
- Miami-Dade County public schools saved $6M in energy costs last year by implementing a district-wide campaign to conserve energy.
Across the blogosphere:
- The Transport Politic provides a comprehensive analysis of FL Congressman John Mica’s likely transportation agenda. Mica will likely become the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and as such will have a big impact on the upcoming reauthorization bill and future Federal spending on transportation. Mr. Mica has previously expressed support for HSR in regions where it “makes sense” such as the dense Northeast corridor.
- A recent report from MSNBC notes that younger folks today (those aged 18 – 35) are less likely to hold valid drivers licenses and own cars as compared to their counterparts in 1994. The article attributes the decline to the recent economic depression as well as a growing ambivalence about driving among younger generations. (Via: Streetsblog)
We may soon have a ciclovía event in the Fort Lauderdale area, closing down some streets on a Sunday to fill them with people bicycling and walking. Even if you didn’t make it to the initial planning session last month, it’s not too late to get involved in making an event like this happen. The discussion continues tonight at the Broward County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, which starts at 6:30 PM in the Broward County Government Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The BPAC meetings are always open to the public and happen the second Wednesday of every month, same time, same place.
A big thanks goes out to Katherine Moore for a great presentation at the September BPAC that got everyone enthused and ready to go! With your help, perhaps we can come close to what she accomplished by starting Bike Miami Days.
If you haven’t heard, Denver launched their B-Cycle Bicycle Sharing program last week, on Earth Day. They have about 400 bicycles at 40 stations around the city. It would be great to get something like that down this way, right?
Turns out South Florida is not far behind. This morning a selection commitee met to rank companies to implement a bicycle sharing program for Broward County. B-Cycle, a partnership between Trek Bicycles and Humana, got the top ranking. Their proposal is to provide at least 200 bicycles with 18 stations in downtowns, beaches, and transit hubs in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach, and Pompano Beach areas. The system could grow to potentially 575 bicycles with 52 stations in five years. The contract still needs to be negotiated and approved, but this project is exciting for the future of bicycling in this area. B-Cycle hopes to get a system installed within six months of signing a contract, so if we keep our fingers crossed we might have a bicycle sharing program in place by the end of this year. Hit up the gallery for B-Cycle’s renderings of potential bicycle sharing at key locations.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s Broward Operations Center is already using the website that you may have just heard about, SeeClickFix. That means that instead of your concerns just getting posted on the site and ignored, you can hope for some action. Transit Miami spoke with Darlene Williams in the complaints department at FDOT, who has dealt with about six or seven issues on the site since April. Not all those could be addressed by FDOT if they were not on a state road, but she pointed out how she has a working relationship with other government agencies in Broward County. Darlene regularly passes on issues that involve city or county roads. You can see an example of that action on issues such as this one. Optimally, we would like to see the cities and counties hop on this bandwagon and create their own SeeClickFix watch areas. But thanks to a proactive FDOT, your issues reported within the Broward County watch area should get noticed.
Check out this issue reported on SeeClickFix if you want see an example of the type of public conversation the site makes possible. Coral Gables has a watch area as well, though it’s difficult to see how active the city is in responding. Now we need to get agencies in other counties (like Miami-Dade and Palm Beach) made aware of this site.
The Miami Herald is reporting this morning that Raj Motwani of Fort Lauderdale struck three bicyclists with his Mercedes yesterday morning, killing one. The crash occured on State Road 84, near the Glades Parkway. A quick analysis of this area reveals that SR 84 features minimal shoulder width, and that it is a relatively high-speed thoroughfare that acts as a service road for 595. Charges have yet to be filed.
The latest phase of the multimillion dollar attempts to mitigate congestion along I-95 goes into effect this week in the form of a ramp metering system. Needless to say, I am curious to see the result: Will drivers obey the lights, knowing full well that the local FHP is understaffed and underfunded? Will demand outpace supply and will cars back up into local roadways and intersections? Will we experience a decrease in VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and see a worthy reduction in congestion? Only time will tell…
Ramp metering is a form of restricting access to roadway. Signals located at the entrances to freeways dictate when cars can proceed. The timing for these signals, in a well designed ramp metering system, is based wholly on the existing congestion of the roadway. Ramp Metering seeks to mitigate the “turbulence” caused by vehicles entering highways – a significant cause of congestion as motorists accelerate and merge with existing traffic. Ramp meters regulate this access, creating a steady flow of vehicles rather than the platoons caused by signals leading into the current highway entrances – helping to avoid the dangerous shockwave phenomenon we discussed nearly a year ago.
While I generally speak favorably of ramp metering – I have a few concerns I feel the DOT should address. Foremost, it seems a bit counterintuitive to me to implement a congestion pricing (HOT Lane) program simultaneously with a ramp metering system that does not allow motorists to buy themselves out of the on-ramp wait time to begin with. The way I see it, if a motorist is willing to pay $X to drive in the HOT lanes to get from A to B faster, why would he want to wait to access the highway to begin with? For the whole scheme to work seamlessly, a second access lane should be provided to allow motorists to buy instant access to the highway. Call it Ramp Pricing.
Secondly, the current ramp meter placement, similar to the HOT lanes, punishes drivers in Miami-Dade (see above) while giving Broward drivers (suburban drivers who presumably have higher VMT) unfettered access to the whole system. At final build out, it seems theoretical that a driver from western Broward (who is willing to pay the congestion pricing fees, of course) could flow across I-595 and into I-95, guaranteed 55mph service the whole way (once the I-595 congestion pricing comes online as well). This is an obvious concern: we are in a sense providing easiest access to our urban areas to those who live the furthest away…
To read more on Ramp Metering, click here.
The Sun-Sentinel offers a voters’ guide for issues that will appear on Broward County’s ballot. While I am not familiar with many of the other issues, I would disagree with their recommendation to vote against Question 1, the creation of a Metropolitan Transit Authority. A letter to the editor of the Miami Herald sheds a little more light on the subject. Read it and consider carefully. I believe it would be in Broward County’s best interest to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority. The Sun-Sentinel thinks it is better to come up with a comprehensive plan first, then create the Transit Authority. I believe the Authority could help create a plan, however. Also, the first steps to creating a plan have been taken through the Transit Summits that Broward County has been having for about a year. Broward County Transit’s own headline says their purpose is to develop a Public Transportation Plan. So it’s not too early to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority. The time is right.
If anyone can come up with a better reason why we should not have a Metropolitan Transit Authority in Broward County, let us know. Otherwise, vote yes on Question 1.
Another important Broward County issue on the ballot is Question 5, amending the county charter to provide a regional focus. That way whenever the county commission considers something, they have to consider it at the regional level. This would help avoid fights with other counties such as the ongoing fight with Palm Beach county over the University Drive extension. Better yet, if this is incorporated with the transit authority, we might have some hope of providing a better regional transit network. So vote yes on Question 5.
Remember that vote by Broward County Commissioners to remove funding for Tri-Rail feeder buses in Broward County? Well, the Sun-Sentinel reports that on Tuesday the commission will consider replacing the funding for shuttle buses for at least the coming year.
These shuttle buses are a crucial part of the Tri-Rail service, as the stations themselves are generally far from employment centers. The buses, funded by the county, provide the final link to work or home for many Tri-Rail riders. Until we get Tri-Rail service on the FEC tracks that pass closer to city centers, they provide the best connections. County bus service is not timed to the train schedules and often uses longer routes to get to key locations. Take the Fort Lauderdale airport, for instance. Right now we have a nice shuttle bus providing service from the Fort Lauderdale Airport station to the airport terminals. Without the shuttle, the alternative would be to wait for Broward County Transit Route 4, then transfer to Route 1 at US-1. I don’t even want to know how long that might take! Do you want to be able to get to FLL by Tri-Rail? Ask your county commissioners to keep the shuttle.
Find your commissioner and let them know you want to see Tri-Rail shuttles funded for the coming year. Also remind them that you want to see funding continue on a permanent basis.
Remember ShuttlePort? The FLL shuttle service that had problems with drivers crashing? This LA Times article points out that it was owned by the same company that employs Metrolink engineers. Yes, that’s the Metrolink that had the commuter rail crash earlier this month.
Streetsblog had a post last week with a link to a document outlining McCain’s and Obama’s respective positions on transportation. Well worth checking out.
Much closer to home, Broward County is cutting funding for the Tri-Rail feeder buses. As a shuttle stops at my workplace, and my employer just built a bus shelter for it, this is particularly upsetting. We may have more to say about this later.
In yet another South Florida hit and run, two children age 10 and 13, were struck yesterday in Broward County while bicycling down their neighborhood street. The heartless driver took it upon themselves to leave the scene of the accident. Police have asked citizens to keep a look out for the car in question, which the Miami Herald reports is a “gold, older-model, four-door Honda with tinted windows. The car should have damage and might be missing a front headlight cover and the left front tire is either missing a hubcap or was a spare tire.” Geez, come to think of it, that could be half the cars in Miami.
According to one of the comments on the Miami Herald website, the neighborhood street is often used as a cut-through by speeding motorists.
I would like to say that I am shocked by this incident, but unfortunately cannot bring myself to such an emotion. Since moving to South Florida a year and a half ago I have repeatedly witnessed behavior akin to this dastardly act of selfishness, on the road and otherwise. Although explaining why this behavior persists in South Florida may be complicated, I reduce it to a lack of civitas. That is to say, the disconnected lives that people tend to lead down here — in their gated suburb, gated high-rise, or personal automobile — prevents a feeling of a collective citizenship or a sense of pride in place. It’s everyone for themselves down here, and this incident is no different.
Photo: MIKE JACHLES / BROWARD SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Tomorrow, Broward County Transit is having a public hearing on changes to some bus routes. Instead of the service cuts that South Florida sees too often, it looks like their changes mostly consist of service improvements and the addition of a new express route. See their press release for more details, and head over to room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center on August 12 at 2 PM to put in your two cents’ worth.
There’s aso a Transportation Development Workshop this Thursday, August 14, from 3:30 to 5:30 PM at the Broward County Lauderhill Towne Center Library. Again, hit up the website for more info on the Transit Development Plan and the workshops.
And don’t let the bus hit you on your way there.
Have you checked out Google Transit yet? It sounded good back when it came out: use Google Maps to plan your transit trip. It’s definitely better than the official South Florida Regional Transit Trip Planner, but we didn’t have any local transit systems on there. Until now.
We can’t be certain when that changed, but Broward County Transit is now on the official list of Transit systems that Google searches. A nice feature is that if you search for directions on Google Maps, it offers a “public transit” option as well as a drive option for areas that are on Google Transit. It’s never been easier to compare your public transit alternatives to driving.
Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes.
Tired of unreliable buses? Sick of not knowing when the bus is coming, or whether you just missed it and have to wait the full 30 minutes for the next one?
We can’t do anything about the unreliable buses until we get a streetcar, but BCT has begun putting up real-time message signs that tell you when to expect the next bus. The first two started operation Thursday at bus stops on Hwy. 441 near Oakland Park Blvd., and more are ready to be installed in the near future. Broward County’s signs one-up many similar systems across the country by including a voice that audibly tells riders when to expect their bus. It’s a great feature for visually impaired or illiterate people, many of whom are forced to ride the bus as they cannot legally drive a car.
Maybe we need some more visually impaired people. We need some way to get people out of their convenient Lexus Cages. Failing a sudden rise in blindness, perhaps comforts like these message boards will help.
Read more details about the boards in the press release. If anyone’s used the message boards, please let us know how they work. How’s the accuracy of the time?
Update 6/11/2008: BCT sent us a picture of one of the message boards. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.
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