Currently viewing the tag: "Metrorail"

The following post comes from a new TransitMiami-partner blog initiative I started last month: Miami Geographic.

The Editors here at TM were kind enough to give this new Miami Geographic initiative a boost and permit me to re-post the article here.

One can find the original article “Understanding Miami’s Metrorail Land-Use” on Miami Geographic.

Thanks for the support, TM!

Miami’s rapid transit Metrorail train system currently consists of 23 stations running along a nearly 25-mile elevated, heavy-rail, dual-track corridor.

Opened in May 1984, Metrorail is operated and maintained by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), an agency of the Miami-Dade County administration.

Miami's Metrorail System and Traversed Municipalities. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.
Miami’s Metrorail System and Traversed Municipalities. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

With Metrorail turning 30 years old this very month, Miami Geographic will be celebrating the anniversary with an in-depth look at how the system works.

Toward that end, I’ll be starting here today with what is arguably the single-most important feature of any major public transportation system: land-use.

Land-use is simply the economic purpose for which land resources are utilized, or, stated even more simply, the way humans use land.

Land-use represents the geographic anatomy of a region. It determines the spatial structure and performance of human settlement systems.

To understand the way Miami’s Metrorail train system works — in terms of its capacity to move people throughout the metro region and connect them to the various destinations required for them to make a living and sustain their lives — it’s critical to understand the land-use configurations surrounding and served by the train corridor.

We’re talking about places where people live, work, and play.

A bit more specifically, we’re talking about origins and destinations like homes; places of employment; schools, colleges, and universities; grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and other retail locations; churches, mosques, and temples; parks, open-, and green-spaces; sites of extraction, manufacturing, production, and waste management and disposal; and government buildings such as city and county halls, courthouses, and other facilities administering public services; etc.

So let’s imagine that the Metrorail transit corridor is actually a large artery for distributing the life blood of the city (people) to Miami’s organs (the city’s various land-use amenities), each of which contributes to the system’s urban metabolism.

Which land-use organs are most supported by flow of people through the Metrorail artery? How well connected are the different organs of the urban system?

Before we jump right into it, let’s quickly go over how Metrorail land-use was assessed.

I delineated 1-mile areas surrounding each of the 23 Metrorail stations in two ways:

  1. Euclidean (“As-the-Pigeon-Flies”) Area: regularly-shaped circular areas defined by Euclidean, absolute distances from each Metrorail station, uninterrupted by the on-the-ground impedance realities like disconnected streets, water bodies, and buildings, etc.; in other words, areas defined by distances “as-the-pigeon-flies”
    Metrorail System 1-Mile Euclidean ("As-the-Pigeon-Flies") 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.
  2. Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) Area: irregularly-shaped areas defined by the design and pattern of a particular network, in this case the street network, which more accurately reflects on-the-ground impedance realities like disconnected streets, water bodies, and buildings, etc.; in other words, areas defined by distances “along-the-street-network”
    Metrorail System 1-Mile Network ("Along-the-Street-Network") 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

The graphic below illustrates the very different geometric outcomes produced when each of these two area-delineation methods is employed. Metrorail’s Government Center Station, in the heart of downtown Miami, was used in this example.

1-Mile Euclidean ("As-the-Pigeon-Flies") & 1-Mile Network ("Along-the-Street-Network") Area-Delineation Methods. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Land-uses in Miami-Dade County were reclassified into the following 11 generalized classes:

  • Agricultural
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Institutional
  • Multi-Family Residential
  • Office
  • Park
  • Single-Family Residential
  • Transportation & Utilities
  • Undeveloped
  • Water

Land-use data for 2014 came from the Miami-Dade County Land-Use Management Application (LUMA), accessible from the Miami-Dade County GIS Self Services platform.

Within each of the two 1-mile area-delineation types – as-the-pigeon-flies and along-the-street-network – the proportion of each of these 11 land-use classes was calculated.

In the station-by-station descriptions below, I make reference only to the along-the-street-network land-use proportions, although those for the as-the-pigeon-flies areas are reported in the maps too.

Let’s start at Metrorail’s southern terminus.

Dadeland South is the second busiest station after Government Center. The Datran office complex, along with the other offices in the downtown Dadeland area, is represented within the 4.9% of office use. Dadeland Mall, as well as the various other retail and restaurant sites within downtown Dadeland, account for the 13.3% in commercial use. Single-family residential dominates at 31.9%, while multi-family apartments and condominiums occupy 15.6%.

Dadeland South Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Dadeland North station shares in much of the same land-use amenities as its moniker-sharing counterpart to the south. However, the share of single-family residences is nearly 10% greater. Multi-family residences correspondingly decrease, and despite the presence of the Dadeland Station shopping center, commercial use remains slightly less in Dadeland North than in Dadeland South. Interesting to note is the small, less than 1% agricultural land-use here, as well as the slightly larger proportion of undeveloped parcels.

Dadeland North Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

South Miami station is surrounded predominantly by residential use: 37.7% for single- and 7.9% for multi-family. The City of South Miami’s downtown business core is found just across US-1 from the South Miami Metrorail station. Boutique clothing shops, pleasant restaurants offering a range of tastes and price-points, and some popular bars are found adjacent to the Sunset Place open-air shopping center. Even with all that, commercial use comes in at just 6.6%. Offices amount to 4.6%. Assessed at both absolute (as-the-pigeon-flies) or relative (along-the-street-network) 1-mile distances, South Miami station includes the western edge of the City of Coral Gables, including a sizable chunk of the University of Miami’s primary campus. That, along with some public, charter, and private schools in area, account for the more than 10% of institutional use.

South Miami Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

University station is dominated by two land-use types: residential (especially that of the single-family variety: 33.2%) and institutional (primarily for the University, schools, and religious buildings).

University Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Douglas Road probably has one of the best distributions of land-uses of any Metrorail station south of the downtown core. This part of the urban region, where the City of Miami meets the City of Coral Gables, is one of its most transformative pockets. It’s dynamism comes not only from its land-use mix, but also the rapidly transforming real estate and streetscape realities. Construction crews are actively building new condominium/apartment buildings in the area. Currently undeveloped land sits at 3.3%, but that number will be reduced significantly within this year. The immediate proximity to the ultra-luxurious, elite-endorsing Village of Merrick Park outdoor shopping mall has made the neighborhood an increasingly attractive site of investment. This commercial plaza hosts, among other high-end shops, The Collection, where the super-rich can purchase Ferraris and Aston Martins. Commercial accounts for 5.2% of the land-use composition. Coral Gables Senior High School is also within the vicinity, accounting for part of the the 6.9% of institutional use.

Douglas Road Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Coconut Grove station is over 55% residential (single-family: 29.5%; multi-family: 27.4%). The near even split of single- versus multi-family homes is remarkable to witness along SW 27th Avenue. On the ground, one can find residential structures on both sides of the avenue. However, on the west side of SW 27th, there are large numbers of one- and two-story duplexes. The City of Miami’s City Hall on Dinner Key is just within the as-the-pigeon-flies 1-mile area, making the share of institutional use at that geographic unit over 1%  higher than for the network-based unit.

Coconut Grove Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Vizcaya station is adjacent to the single-family neighborhood known as The Roads, the historic mansions along the bay and in south Brickell, some high-rise condos, the soon-to-be-relocated Miami Museum of Science, gorgeous City of Miami Alice Wainwright park and, of course, lovely and historic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Vizcaya Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Brickell is one of three Metrorail stations serving the downtown core of the Miami megalopolis (the others being Government Center and Overtown). Don’t be too alarmed by that 6.0% of undeveloped land; much of that is actively being eaten-away by the rising, city-redefining juggernaut that is to be Brickell City Center. Multi-family, office, and commercial space will increase as the phased project continues to materialize before our eyes (and to our collective wonderment). With Brickell serving as the financial business district of our urban core, it’s no surprise to find significant commercial (9.6%) and office (7.8%) space. It’s an increasingly residential area too, with nearly 20% dedicated to condos and apartments, comprising the largest land-use class in the area: multi-family residential.

Brickell Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Government Center is the station most people know, even those who have rarely ridden the train, if ever. As its name suggests, it’s where one can find, well, government. The Miami-Dade County courthouse is there; the US Federal District Courthouse is there; lots of a little court houses and related legal agencies are in the vicinity; all of these government or quasi-government buildings account for the 8.8% of institutional use. Requiring comment is the nearly 10% of undeveloped land in the area, in this, the very heart of the Miami region, the core of the core. That amount of undeveloped land in the center of one of the United States’ most important cities, and perhaps the most important city for intra-hemispheric relations, is astounding. However, just as with the current and on-going transformation of undeveloped land surrounding the Brickell station just to the south, most of that surrounding Government Center station is already, or will soon be, undergoing major development.

Government Center Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Overtown is the third Metrorail station offering passage to and from Miami’s core downtown, where the distribution of land-uses is about as equal as you’ll find anywhere else along the system. Here institutional use (11.3%) occupies slightly more space than multi-family residential (9.5%) and commercial (8.0%). Refreshingly, parks become a bit more significant (6.9%), but one wonders if that’s a sufficient amount of public recreation and leisure space for the heart of downtown. For the first time since moving our way through the Metrorail corridor, we start to see Miami’s industrial space (3.0%) emerge.

Overtown Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Culmer is an under-utilized gem of a station. Its land-use configuration is also dominated by institutional use (20.9%), most of it being the various medical-educational facilities comprising the de facto and increasingly formalized Miami Health District.

Culmer Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Civic Center station defines the center of, and is most readily associated with, the Health District. The Health District hosts such staples of the community health and local medical industries as Miami-Dade County-operated Jackson Memorial Hospital, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, as well as the UM-owned “UHealth” brand of medical care, not to mention the UM Life Science & Technology complex to further advance UM’s aggressive pursuit of a medical and biotechnology empire. The Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospital as well as the Miami-Dade College Medical campus are also both located in the Health District, among many other health-related institutes and organizations. Important to note about the Health District is that it also serves as a secondary government and legal district, second only to that found nearest to Government Center station. Still, significant multi-family units dominate the spaces surrounding these institutional uses. The industrial side of Miami — in the form of solid waste processing, factories, and especially fruit import warehouses — begins to become more apparent as one moves toward the Santa Clara station to the north.

Civic Center Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Santa Clara station can be used to access the industrial sector of Allapattah. This station also seems to be the preference for many Miami-Dade Medical Students whose campus is found just off of NW 20th Street.

Santa Clara Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Allapattah station is a Metrorail system node serving the residential heart of the Allapattah neighborhood, whose single- versus multi-family residential split (24.1% versus 18.4%) isn’t too drastic. Standard Miami, along-the-arterial commercial use applies; in this case accounting for 5.7%.

Allapattah Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Earlington Heights station is surrounded by a land-use arrangement very similar to that of Allapattah. Notable, though, is the relatively high percentage of undeveloped space: 5.5%.

Earlington Heights Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Brownsville station has an even greater excess of undeveloped land: 7.7%. Continuing with the line of medical analogies: one questions whether an urban system is as healthy as can be when significant pockets of it’s space are left unproductive, effectively contributing nothing to the well-being of the system. Undeveloped land so near the heart of the city, and so well connected (via the Metrorail artery) to other urban organs, virtually begs for investment (either public, in the form of say, parks, or private, in the form of business and economic stimulation).

Brownsville Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. station is where we begin to see more clearly that the notion of a purely service sector economy for supposedly post-industrial Miami is a myth. Industrial land-use occupies an even 12% at the 1-mile network unit. The amount of undeveloped space here is also striking at 7.8%.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Northside station is just over 20% industrial. Another fifth is allocated for commercial use (9.0%) and to, well, essentially nothing (in the form of undeveloped land: 10.%). Yet another fifth is allocated for the people living in the single-family homes (21.8%) in the area.

Northside Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Tri-Rail station is surrounded by industrial (21.1%) and single-family residential (29.6%).

Tri-Rail Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Hialeah station is located just south of the Hialeah Park Race Track & Casino, which accounts for the bulk of the 15.6% commercial use in the area. Otherwise, it’s mostly single- and multi-family residential (24.5% and 18.4% respectively). Industrial use (5.1%) remains significant up in these northwest reaches of the Metrorail line.

Hialeah Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Okeechobee station is surrounded by still more industrial use (18.1%) and the standard Hialeah mix of single- and multi-family residences.

Okeechobee Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Palmetto station brings us to the end of the Metrorail line, at least the end of the Green Line. Industrial use is overwhelmingly highest here at a whopping 49.6%.

Palmetto Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Miami International Airport station, the newest station in the Metrorail system, is dominated by transportation-based uses of land (i.e., the Miami International Airport and associated facilities). There is indeed a significant percentage of greenspace, which is classified as park (15.5%), but its important to note that this open greenspace is actually a large golf course and country club.

Miami International Airport Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

So what can be taken away from these maps and pie charts?

Well, for one, there is a strikingly high percentage of single-family residential space surrounding many Metrorail stations, especially those south of the urban core.

There’s also a less-than-expected share of commercial use immediately surrounding the region’s primary rapid transit train system.

Park space isn’t as abundant, or accessible via Metrorail, as one would expect in a city as predisposed to outdoor recreational activities as Miami.

As the Metrorail system deviates from its primary north-south orientation through Miami and begins it’s more east-west movement in the northern sections of the line, we see very high percentages of industrial land-use, not the type of use that is most amenable to facilitating the movement people through an urban system to connect them to their destinations.

While industrial spaces can and do serve as important sites of employment, they don’t generate the necessary flow of people needed to optimize major investments in public transportation infrastructure.

The Transportation & Utilities category of land-use is consistently the most, or among the most, dominant land-use classe surrounding each of the 23 Metrorail stations. This is reflective, of course, of the fact that the Metrorail train system is itself categorized as a transportation-based use of land.

However, it also reflects an undeniable land-use reality for the entire region, not just those areas surrounding Metrorail: streets (i.e., impermeable paved roadways, designed, in Miami’s case, primarily for automobiles) consume a disproportionate amount of all space in Miami’s land-use mosaic.

Again, thanks goes to TransitMiami Editors for permission to re-post this piece from my new partner blog Miami Geographic!

- Matthew Toro

Among the more notable and praiseworthy highlights of this past Saturday’s Transportation Summit Community Forum was the commentary made by Mr. Adam Old.

A councilperson for the small Miami-Dade County municipality of the Village of El Portal, and an active member of the recently formed Transit Action Committee (TrAC), Mr. Old was perhaps the only municipal representative at the forum.

He was also one of only a handful of people who sought to redirect the focus of the meeting away from the relatively minor gripes of the transit-riding population regarding issues like rude bus drivers and poorly maintained bus interiors toward the more systemic issues plaguing our poorly coordinated mobility networks.

Some highlights from Mr. Old’s comments:

“[What the public] is measuring [the Transportation Trust's] performance on is more mass transit lines. So, I applaud you on the airport link, but we have not seen nearly enough progress on rail. . . . Heavy rail, light rail. . . . Get it going. Get it going. Where are our commissioners? If there’s not money in the plan, pull it from the municipalities.”

[. . .]

“There should be a line to the beach 10 years ago. There should be a line to the beach 20 years ago.”

[. . .]

“Nobody’s saying ‘Hey! Transit in Miami sucks! And we need it to be better!’ That’s what we want. We want more money, and we want you guys [the Transportation Trust] to hold our commissioners’ feet to the fire for that [half-penny sales] tax. If you have to pull it from road widening projects, then pull it. That’s what we want.”

Well said, Mr. Old.

Nearly six months ago, TransitMiami was proud to offer the broader public an exclusive first glimpse of the renderings for some of the potential designs for our new Metrorail train cars.

As we described back in December 2012, the three models are:

  • SPOON
  • RING
  • SHIELD
Vehicle: Spoon  |  Livery: Neon  |  Interior: Blue/Magenta

Vehicle: Spoon | Livery: Neon | Interior: Blue/Magenta

Vehicle: Ring  |  Livery: Shark  |  Interior: Yellow, Grey-Blue

Vehicle: Ring | Livery: Shark | Interior: Yellow, Grey-Blue

Vehicle: Shield  |  Livery: Status  |  Interior: Red, White

Vehicle: Shield | Livery: Status | Interior: Red, White

Each comes with its own distinctive livery. (Note that there’s also a variant, predominantly yellow, livery for the “RING” model that can be seen in the original post.)

We also want to bring your attention to AnsaldoBredo’s spiffy little 3-minute computer-animated video giving a cordial (albeit far from riveting) view of how these potential new train cars might look on the inside.

SHIELD is the train model featured in the video . . . Have a look! Share your thoughts!

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Forty years since the publication of a visionary transportation planning document, the shortcomings of Miami-Dade County’s transportation reality suggest that we lost our vision somewhere along the highway, literally.

TransitMiami invites you to take brief trip through time . . .

THE PAST

The year is 1973. The Dade County Public Works Department has just released its State Transportation Programs Proposal for Dade County 1973-74.

In it, a chapter titled Mass Transit (pp. 72-98) makes declarations of a new “beginning on development of a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County, in which “non-highway elements” are stressed to be at least part of the solution to Dade County’s burgeoning population and economy.

Indeed, there seems to be a fundamentally new consciousness — dare I say, a paradigm shift — reorienting the urban planning and public policy realms away from highways and toward mass transit.

StateTransportationProgramsProposedForDadeCounty_1973_1974

Around 1973, this is the vision the County had for University Metrorail Station. Note the dedicated busway right along US-1. Note the wide sidewalks and crosswalks. Note the number of pedestrians. Note the relative “completeness” of the streets, save for the absence of bicycle facilities, etc. Compare this with this same site (US-1 and Stanford Drive, Coral Gables) today, especially in light of recent considerations to build an elevated pedestrian bridge crossing US-1.

The beginning of that Mass Transit chapter reads:

Metropolitan Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation in recent years have become increasingly active in planning the improvement of mass transit facilities. With less emphasis on highways alone, programming efforts have been broadened to multi-modal transportation facilities, including airports, seaports, rapid transit, terminals for truck, rail and bus companies, as well as the highway and street system that serves them and provides local traffic needs.

There’s a sense that perhaps the mid-20th century notion of highways being the transportation panacea has finally begun to lose potency. A more holistic, more enlightened view has apparently begun to gain traction, one which posits that transportation corridors and corresponding land-uses perform best when designed to serve the myriad means and purposes of mobility, as well as the urban environment’s diversity of functions.

Here are some of the major mass transit proposals from the report:

  • 53.7 miles of high-speed transit served by 54 stations,
  • bus routes operating on expressways and arterial streets,
  • feeder bus routes to complement other bus routes and rapid transit,
  • mini-systems at selected transit terminals to provide local circulation and link traffic generating areas with rapid transit.

THE PRESENT

Fast-forward 40 years into the future. The year is 2013.

FDOT and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) — and the construction, automobile, and petroleum lobbies — actively and aggressively seek to expand highways.

Tax payers are being charged $560,000,000 (that’s right: more than half a billion!) for the highway expansion mega-project at the SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway) Interchange.

826_836_ProjectRendering_North

826_836_ProjectRendering_Southeast

Real estate developers eager to cash-in on building single-family cookie-cutter homes along the urban periphery in the west and south of the County lobby to transgress the Urban Development Boundary (UDB). Residential sprawl continues to lower the quality of life on the edges of the city.

Eager to keep its agency coffers growing, MDX writes hyperbolic reports emphasizing inflated demographic growth projections on these suburban outskirts, thereby seeking to further justify its southwestward expansion of SR 836 (Dolphin Expressway). MDX advocates for expanding tolled highways in order to generate increased revenues aimed at the perpetual expansion of highways in greater Miami.

SR-836-Southwest-1-Kendall-Extension-map

Those same city-destroying developers-of-sprawl back MDX — as do all others in the broader network of profiteers — because they perceive as far too lucrative to forego the opportunity to cash-in on pushing the boundary of Miami further into the Everglades and into our fresh water supplies.

Even on roads that have long exhausted their traditional function as “highways”, MDX pursues measures to retrofit them so as to restore their obsolete highway-performing characteristics. This is epitomized by MDX’s “US-1 Express Lanes”, whereby the agency hopes to reduce the dedicated South Dade busways to accommodate new tolled arterial travel lanes for private motorists, as well as, most notoriously, create elevated overpasses (that is, create more “HIGH-ways”).

US1_Elevated_expresslane

MDX_US1expressway_ShareFacilityPlan

FDOT, in collusion with MDX, actively seeks to expand the tolled Florida Turnpike in far south Miami-Dade County.

Meanwhile, our mere 23-station elevated heavy-rail Metrorail system traverses a very linear (and thus limited), virtually-non-networked 25 miles, including the recently added, yet long-overdue, Miami International Airport / Orange Line extension. This is literally less than half the of the 54 stations and 53.7 miles of rail network envisioned in the planning document from 40 years earlier.

Miami Transit in Perspective. Image courtesy of Leah Weston.

Miami Transit in Perspective. Image courtesy of Leah Weston.

Planned expansions to the Metrorail intended to create a true network have been scrapped due to a lack of political will to secure dedicated funding sources, along with an over-abundance of administrative incompetence and corruption.

Taken_for_a_Ride_MetrorailCorridors_MiamiHerald

Source: “Taken for a Ride”. Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/multimedia/news/transit/

After decades of false starts, broken promises, gross mismanagement of public funds, and outright political apathy, the time is now to regain the vision put forth four decades ago. The time is now to withdraw ourselves from our toxic addiction to the 20th century model of single-occupancy vehicles congested on highways. We must stop supporting those who seek to destroy our collective public spaces for personal gain through the incessant construction of highways.

The time of the highway is over. The time for “a true multi-modal transportation system in Dade County  is now.

Has Miami-Dade County lost its vision for public transit over the last 40 years? — most definitely. However, one can find solace in the fact that this is not the Miami of 1973, nor of ’83, ’93, or ’03. We are no longer the Miami of the past.

This is the Miami of 2013. This is our time. It is up to us to set forward — and bring to fruition — the vision for the Miami of 2053 . . . and beyond.

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TransitMiami can’t help but give a great neighborhood bar, The DRB, some unsolicited praise for its ingenious selection of an otherwise neglected downtown office building for its new location.

By choosing to site its new bar in the part of downtown dominated by boring institutional land-uses, The DRB chose to bring some vibrancy and character to an otherwise lifeless part of downtown. The very phrase itself — “lifeless part of downtown” — is an unfortunate contradiction, an oxymoron of a poorly planned urban milieu.

The building in question — situated on NE 5th Street and 1st Ave. — is surrounded almost exclusively by  institutional land-uses (occupied by, e.g., federal courthouses, a community college, a church, etc.) and lots of shamefully vacant and/or completely undeveloped, prime-for-mixed-use-development downtown parcels.

When New Urbanists and other community design-oriented folks refer to the evils of homogeneous land-use configurations, the image most typically invoked is that of miles upon miles of single-family residential land-use. Indeed, monolithic residential land-use embodies the notion of ‘urban sprawl’.

Elected officials, planners, and developers must also recognize, though, that large areas of homogeneous institutional land-use in the downtown core is at least as toxic (if not more so) for our city as sprawling single-family cookie-cutter houses along the periphery.

We need more transit-oriented development (TOD) in Miami’s de facto government-institution district. That area already has a great combination of Metrorail, Metromover, and Metrobus access. We must augment this healthy transportation configuration with a healthier land-use configuration.

And we must certainly continue to push our elected officials to expand the public transit network. However, we must also push them to better incentivize more commercial in-fill near the highly viable sections of public transit we already have, especially in downtown. It’s the hustle and bustle of downtown that build’s a city’s personality.

Kudos to you, Democratic Republic of Beer, for selecting a site so wonderfully accessible by transit, foot, and bicycle. Now all those bureaucrats and college students have a nice neighborhood spot in which to enjoy one of your exotic specialty brews from one of the corners of the globe.

(This author recommends the Sri Lankan Lion Stout.)

TransitMiami is excited to share the latest images of the possible Metrorail train car fleet! We should be seeing one or more of these proposed machines in operation by the first quarter of 2015.

We were provided with exterior and interior renderings for three (3) fundamentally new Metrorail vehicle models:

  1. SPOON
  2. RING
  3. SHIELD

Each of these models bears a distinctive livery (design scheme / insignia):

  1. SPOON – “Neon”
  2. RING – “Shark” & “Shark Y”
  3. SHIELD – “Status”
 Take a look. . . .

SPOON — “Neon”

RING – “Shark” & “Shark Y”

SHIELD – “Status”

 

Share your thoughts. . . . Any favorites? Any design(s) you particularly love/hate? . . . Speak up, Miami!

 

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 grand opening of the Metrorail’s new Orange Line and the Miami International Airport station has run parallel to, and even initiated, some positive changes to Miami’s Metrorail experience.

The MIA station grand opening marks the beginning of an exciting renaissance for our Metrorail system.

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.

This sign may now seem a trivial commonplace, but it represents a hugely positive change in thinking on how our Metrorail trains should be occupied.

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).

Five comfortably standing Metrorail riders. Even more passengers could fit in the new standing space during times of higher volumes (albeit a bit less comfortably).

The most important cargo of all: one’s children. Where else would this man have put that huge, twin child stroller (and his two young children inside it) if not for the Metrorail’s new standing/storage space?

Without this new bicycle storage area, that bike would be either obstructing the center isle, blocking seats from passengers, and/or simply creating a hazard.

These four gentlemen have much more leg room and space standing than they would sitting squished together, especially with their bags and other carry-on items.

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.

Finally, bikes have a space on Metrorail. Things are hopefully going to get even better when the new train cars with hanging bike racks come into fruition.

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 . . .

WHY DRIVE?

RIDE . . . METRORAIL

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You can get with THIS, or you can get with THAT . . .


You can get with THIS, or you can get with THAT . . .

I think you’ll get with THIS, for THIS is where it’s at.

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On Saturday, July 28, come down to Government Center in downtown Miami to celebrate the arrival of the new Orange Metrorail Line – a direct link from the Miami International Airport to Downtown Miami, and all of the other new ways to get around Miami’s urban core. The Downtown Development Association is sponsoring the party at 111 NW 1 St. from 1-4pm with live music, free food, pedi-cab races and the chance to get your picture taken with a lemur monkey from Jungle Island.

With the opening of the Orange Line, Miami will (at last!) join a relatively small list of American cities with rail connections to their downtown areas. Though in this recent USA Today report, many more American cities are planning rail connections as planners realize that simply building more parking lots and enlarging roadways aren’t sustainable practices.

This celebration is about more than just the new Metrorail link. In the past few months, Miami has seen a relative explosion in transportation options for people downtown, including Cars2Go, the Miami Trolley, MonkeyShuttle, Tropical Pedicabs and the Miami Water Taxi.

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The signage at the stations and inside the train cars is now almost fully converted.

Airport link is coming . . .

 

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The M-Path is, without a doubt, one of Miami’s top bicycle amenities. Officially called the Metropath, the corridor was recently acknowledged by FDOT consultant Stewart Robertson as, “the most connected, non-motorized path in Miami-Dade County.” The path has been the subject of numerous Transit Miami posts over the years, where we have advocated for both long and short-term changes that will improve connectivity along the path, including better crosswalks, repaving and straightening.

Luckily, city officials are realizing what an asset the M-path is, and are busy implementing parts of the 2007 M-Path Master Plan, as evidenced by the recent celebration of the M-Path south extension on April 5 where Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez officially inaugurated the path’s newly-minted Dadeland sections (including the new pedestrian bridge over the Snapper Creek expressway).

Politicians Don't Forget: People not only walk with their feet . . . they vote with their feet too!

With all the attention being paid to the M-Path, we wanted to go back to review the action items from the 2007 Master Plan, and compare that plan with the proposed M-path improvement project(s). The projects, recently presented to members of the Miami-Dade Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee by FDOT consultant Stewart Robertson, include short- and long-term improvements being made to the path.

The short term improvements prescribed by the 2007 plan include:

  1. resurfacing critical sections,
  2. providing advance warning signals and re-striping crosswalks,
  3. installing north/south directional signs, as well as signage indicating distances to Metrorail stations,
  4. installing ‘STOP’ pavement markings near intersections,
  5. marking precarious and sight-limited meandering (curving) sections,
  6. constructing the path’s missing links at the University of Miami parking lot sections,
  7. realigning the path at the South Miami Metrorail station and closing the existing sidewalk (identified as a “high crime area” in the Master Plan),
  8. installing emergency call boxes at these “high crime areas”,
  9. implementing encroachment prevention measures, and
  10. applying development standards during site plan review and approval.

The long term projects found in the 2007 Master Plan include:

  1. realigning overly meandering parts of the path,
  2. widening the path to 12-feet,
  3. installing countdown pedestrian signals,
  4. reconfiguring intersection layouts (to include, e.g., crosswalk realignments, refuge islands, raised intersections, bollards, etc.),
  5. installing lighting along the path,
  6. enhancing landscaping along the path,
  7. providing way-finding signage to the Metrorail stations,
  8. constructing a non-motorized bridge at the Coral Gables Waterway (the canal crossed by the path via an extremely narrow bridge along Ponce de Leon Boulevard), and
  9. coordinating a property/easement exchange with the occupant of the lot adjacent to the path at Bird (SW 40th Street) and Douglas (SW 37th Avenue) Roads.

According to Robertson, 9 of the 10 short-term improvements have either been addressed, or will be addressed within the next two years through a series of upcoming projects. While we don’t know where, when, and how most of these 9 short-term improvements are to be made, the current capital projects will include resurfacing those portions of the path where asphalt has crumbled, reinforcing those sidewalk sections of path (typically found near Metrorail stations) where tree roots have cracked the concrete, and realigning excessive curves along the path.

M-Path Disjunction = M-Path Disfunction

In some cases these curves block two-way visibility along the path and contribute to the path’s many disjointed sections. In addition to straightening the path, attention will be paid to intersections critical for connectivity. Notable path alignment and crosswalk improvements mentioned in the presentation include SW 19th Avenue (which will involve a re-milling of hilly topography), SW 22nd Avenue, SW 24th Avenue, the parking-lot sections along the path near the University of Miami, and SW 80th Street.

Abrupt disjunctions, like the one here at SW 37th Ave. (Douglas Road), are common for the M-Path.

Intersection enhancements include the widening of curb ramps to the width of the M-Path itself (as was done in the path’s newly constructed and re-constructed southern Dadeland sections), and the painting of high-emphasis/high-impact (‘ladder’) crosswalks. The M-Path Master Plan also prescribes that the new crosswalks be 12 feet in width and further accentuated with supplemental coloring (i.e., with green paint). No clear verbal indication was made by Robertson as to whether these width and color enhancements are included in the proposed projects, though they were depicted in some of the figures contained in his presentation.

Without question, the safety, accessibility, and connectivity of the M-Path – our community’s most prized shared-use path – will improve.

However, a notoriously daunting and dangerous problem continues to plague the M-Path: automobiles encroach onto the crosswalks — where and if present — linking the path.

Numerous examples of this can be found, especially at intersections with major arterials like SW 27th Avenue, SW 67th Avenue, and SW 32 Avenue, although they occur at every street crossing the path. Motorists at these cross-streets turning-onto US-1 (or turning right from  US-1) advance their vehicles into the crosswalks without consideration, obstructing the passage of M-Path walkers, joggers, skaters, bikers, and those in wheel-chairs.

Crosswalk ≠ Crossdrive

Please remove your gas-guzzling, smog-emitting tanks from our crosswalks . . .

Transit Miami strongly advocates for a very simple solution: A Miami-Dade County ordinance and/or Florida-wide law prohibiting right turns at red lights abutting at intersections abutting any multi-use facility, such as the Metrorail-Path.

The forthcoming implementation of some of the short- and long-term improvements laid-out in the 2007 M-Path Master Plan is exciting, and will undoubtedly transform our community’s experience on the M-Path for recreational, commuting, and overall transportation purposes. We give these projects a Transit Miami thumbs up!


It’s always a fun experience to ride the Metrorail following a major community event, especially following the annual Corporate Run.

This year marked the run’s 27th anniversary. Apart from being a great community- and team-building event, the Corporate Run also never fails to highlight how convenient travelling via transit really is.

The picture below gives a glimpse of just how packed the train was following the 5-kilometer run.

It's always nice to see our Metrorail at maximum capacity. More rail please . . .

People realize that when roads are packed, the most viable and efficient way to move around the city is with trains and buses. And these days, it’s rare to find streets in our community that aren’t congested.

Let’s stop wasting our tax dollars on expanding highway and road systems that leave us trapped in metallic boxes on four wheels and start investing our tax dollars in rail and public transit systems.

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Metrorail riders beware! There seems to be a criminal on the loose targeting unsuspecting passengers! This just in from the University of Miami police department:

CRIME ADVISORY

April 26, 2012

Event Description: Serial Robber Targeting Metrorail Riders

Campus police and security have received information about a serial robber who has targeted Metorail riders. One victim boarded a northbound train from the University Metrorail station.  The offender, whose picture and description appears below, sits next to passengers shortly before a stop, brandishes a firearm and demands property from his victims.  If you see the subject, avoid him and call police immediately.

This information is being provided to help keep our communities informed and safe.

SUBJECT INFORMATION: Black Male, 6’0” to 6’2” tall, about 180 pounds, no facial hair, and has a short haircut.  He has consistently worn dark suit pants and a vest (presumed to conceal a firearm).  He has also worn a light tan sport jacket, as in the picture. If you see the subject at other rail stops call 911 and/or report the subject to on duty security.

Anyone with information regarding this crime or information that may lead to the apprehension of this individual is asked to call:

  • MDT DISPATCH CENTER: 305 375-2700  or
  • CRIMESTOPPERS: 305 471-TIPS (8477)

Callers will remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward.

As regular Metrorail riders know, the train is a safe, efficient, stress-free, and pleasant way to get around town (at least certain parts of town). Don’t be discouraged by this isolated incident by some goon trying to disturb the peace typically found on our Metrorail.

The incident conveyed in the above crime advisory got me thinking about the unnarmed volunteer group founded in New York City, the Guardian Angels.  By the late 1970s, conditions on the NYC subway system had gotten pretty rough, and a group of citizens got together to provide a sense of security for the passengers on the trains. 

Back in the day, the Guardian Angels made their presence known on the NYC subway system.

For the most part, crime on our Miami Metrorail is not common. Furthermore, whatever minimal criminality does manifest on our public transportation system is nowhere near the scale of that in NYC a few decades ago.

In any case, be viligant out there folks. The Metrorail belongs to us, the people, not some thug with a gun.

 

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Meet the Douglas Road Corridor MetroRail Line.This 4.5 mile project would connect the MIC to Douglas Road Station and US1, with stops at NW 7 Street,  SW 8 Street, and Coral Way. The line would service areas, like downtown Coral Gables, where land use already supports a high level of pedestrian activity. This should be a high priority for our leaders, and some are very supportive. Check out the 5 and ten minute walk sheds  – this line would run through some of the densest parts of Miami and Coral Gables – pluggining thousands of residents who have already chosen apartment living into the ultimate urban amenity – rapid transit.  (Not to mention creating another connection to the airport for those traveling to/from points south.)

 

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