Currently viewing the tag: "Miami-Dade Transit"

Tropical Paradise or Transportation Paradise?

Morro de Sao Paulo is a small village on the island of Tinhare in Bahia, Brazil which is located about 40 miles south of Salvador, Brazil’s third largest city. It is only accessible by a 2 hour boat ride or on a 25 minute puddle-jumper.  It has a small population of about 3000 local residents which rely predominantly on tourism in order to fuel the local economy.  Up until about 15 years ago, Morro de Sao Paulo was a fishing village.

The real beauty of Morro de Sao Paulo is not just the beaches, but the fact that no cars are allowed to enter the village center. To get around, your only real transportation option is your feet. In fact, during my 4 days in Morro de Sao Paulo, I saw only 4 bicycles, a couple of donkeys, and a tractor that collects garbage early in the morning. I saw my first car when I was on the way to the airport while riding on the back of a tractor-bus.

Getting around on two feet was not difficult, but rather pleasurable.  The development of the village has grown naturally on a human-scale; meaning most distances within the village are no longer than a half-hour walk. The inaccessibility of Morro de Sao Paulo is certainly a major contributing factor to its organic growth.

Particularly inspiring is the manner in which supplies are transported within the village. Whether a refrigerator, cement bags, computers, alcohol bottles or food, all goods are transported within the community by wheelbarrow. It is astonishing to see the small supermarket in the village was fully stocked with first-rate amenities. Approximately 200 men wheelbarrow all the supplies from the arriving boats to the village.  The car free village generates jobs by employing wheelbarrow operators that do not pollute.

There are some valuable lessons to learn from Morro de Sao Paulo. This tight knit community has shown that with a little hard work and planning, a car free community is possible and desirable, as can be evidenced by the thousands of tourists that visit this remote village every year. The community’s low reliance on motor-vehicles, combined with a transportation infrastructure which is predominantly reliant on human power will allow it to adapt more easily to an oil starved future.  As our cities become more densely populated, perhaps we will need to turn to working examples such as Morro de Sao Paulo.  This small village illustrates that with an emphasis on human power we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Pack Horse

Garbage Truck

Unloading Beer Bottles and Propane Tanks

Taxi

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Join us at two public meetings where you can share your ideas regarding Miami-Dade Transit’s Transit Development Plan. The TDP is a 10-year plan that focuses on the development of transit services in Miami-Dade County based on where they are mostly needed. For more information call María Batista at 786-469-5245 or send an email to BPB@miamidade.gov There will be two meetings:

Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations Town Hall Meeting
Kendall Village Center – Pavilion
8625 SW 124th Avenue Miami, FL 33183
Monday, August 3, 2009 7 p.m.

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City of North Miami Beach Planning and Zoning Meeting
Council Chambers
17011 NE 19th Avenue
North Miami Beach, FL 33162
Monday, August 10, 2009 7 p.m.

According to Metro Magazine Miami-Dade Transit has been honored by the National Association of Counties for their Train Tracker service.

If you have not already check out the Train Tracker by visiting www.miamidade.gov/transit and click “Where is the Train?” in the left navigation bar under “Rider Tools.” If using a mobile device, visit www.miamidade.gov/transit/mobile/.

Congrats MDT!

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Good, but belated news: The Green Mobility Network is reporting a win with the County regarding much needed funding for the M-Path. Read all the news here, or an excerpt below.

We are celebrating today after the Miami-Dade Commission’s vote to transfer $700,000 in order to repair the bone-jarring damaged pavement along parts of the M-Path. This money may also cover planning new signals at one or more of the troublesome street crossings near U.S. 1 between Vizcaya and South Miami.

Do indeed contact your County Commissioners and let them know you support the M-Path and appreciate their decision to fund its improvement.

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Lot going on today, but there always is isn’t there…

  • The Miami-Dade Office of Sustainability & the City of Miami are teaming up to get grant money from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance by forming a “non-profit entity to deliver energy services to residents and businesses within County geographic boundaries that provide performance based energy audits, retrofits and renewable energy across building types.”
  • Cutting the fat: Miami Dade Transit is cutting bus lines and expenses. “Buses are to serve the Metromover system but are to end at the Omni station to encourage riders to use the mover to get around the city “to reduce our mileage and also traffic congestion in downtown,” Mr. Kapoor said. Officials based the changes on passenger counts and rider feedback.”
  • Plan B:  Now that the commission has voted not to fix the CITT, Commissioner Gimenez is going to try to organize a voter referendum. The CITT is answering with its own Plan B: “The trust and county continue to mull using light rail or bus rapid transit to serve the corridors that were promised heavy rail…Some trust members suggested also considering a sunset provision for the measure that mingles the surtax funds with the general transit budget, as there may be a financially healthier time in the future that could eliminate or lessen the need for what administrators call “unification.”
  • Tri-rail funding from Miami-Dade Counyt  is ok…for now. “Attempts to secure a dedicated state funding source for the cash-strapped South Florida commuter rail system failed during the legislative session, and Tri-Rail officials plan to nearly halve weekday service and eliminate weekend trains anticipating reduced funding from local governments.”
  • Miami 21…delayed again. The next earliest meeting is in June (barring some unknown/unannounced special meeting between now and June 11).

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Pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, and motorists be warned: the easternmost bridge of Venetian Causeway will be closed for construction from May 1 - May 30. While it is understood that maintenance is essential to keeping the bridge safe, the loss of this major east-west link presents several challenges for all of its users, especially  pedestrians, bicyclists, and moped operators who depend daily upon the Venetian for a safe link between the City of Miami and Miami Beach.

According to a Miami-Dade County construction fact sheet I obtained from a toll booth operator, all traffic will be diverted to the MacArthur Causeway for the duration of the bridge closure. While the detour is  inconvenient for all of the above, the detour is potentially life threatening for the aforementioned groups, those who do not depend on enclosed motor vehicles for their daily transportation.  Since the fact sheet mentions obstruction to motor vehicles only, and nothing for all other users, it is extremely unlikely that the County will take any additional steps in ensuring any viable options for pedestrians or bicyclists to travel in a manner to which they are accustomed.

Certain MetroBus lines will likely enjoy some overcrowding as a result, but will likely be the safest alternative for those traveling between  Miami and Miami Beach. However, the monthly cost and inconvenience of traveling by such a mode will further impede many Venetian Causeway users.

Thus, please join Transit Miami in asking the County to protect both shoulders of the MacArthur Causeway with some type of temporary barrier so that bicyclists and pedestrians may proceed without immediately fearing for their lives. While such a provision will surely not appeal to every user, it will do much to alleviate the temporary convenience.  and allow people to travel more safely.

To make this simple request, please contact Delfin Molins, Public Information Officer for Miami-Dade County Public Works, with this simple request. Delfin may be reached at 305-375-1682, or delfin@miamidade.gov. As always, phone calls tend to be more direct and effective.

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Sorry for the hiatus folks, lots goin’ on.  Hope everyone is having a happy and relaxing Easter weekend. Some interesting bits of news flying around, thought I would share…

The County Manager’s office has released its grant application for 2009 Federal Transit dollars (not stimulus related). MDT is requesting approximately $87 Million dollars for a variety of projects including metrorail maintenance ($80 Million) and bus-related improvements ($7 Million).  I’m happy to see that they are not just raiding the CITT again, although it doesn’t address the basic funding problem MDT has which is that it doesn’t get its fair share of General Fund dollars.

The Transit Committee and the full Commission get these silly monthly Orange Line reports that don’t say anything substantive. Not to mention that a new plan for using the CITT dollars still hasn’t been created, and the only thing we taxpayers have to show for our half-cent contribution is a proposal for monthly or quarterly transit ‘summits’. Greaaaaat. Now they can tell remind us on a regular basis how they are mismanaging the transit system and wasting our money. I can’t wait.

I was happy to read that the County Manager is not going to renew Wackenhut’s contract to patrol transit stations (ahem, what ever happened to the police?) I was also happy to read that some of our criticisms of MDT, the MPO and the commission are finally being recognised:

Some critics have called for creation of a transit authority, removing the county government’s control of the transportation system.

Read here and here for more commentary on what should be done with MDT and our transit system. That should give commissioners something to talk about at their quarterly transit summits.

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The outer loop of the downtown Metromover stopped dead in its tracks early this morning, according to this article.  Apparently, the service halt is due to a problematic switch.

Let’s hope MDT engineers can twist the right lug nut, or what have you, and fix it.

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Infrastructure stimulus funds are coming from two different sections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, one is for transit & the other for highways. Although the MPO prioritized certain projects at the last meeting, we still don’t know exactly which projects will be funded. This is how funding is distributed in Miami-Dade:

Transit:

$132 million in Transit Capital Assistance to be divided between Surface Transportation Projects (80%) and Transit Projects (with Miami Dade transit getting 80% and municipalities getting 20%).

$5.3 million Fixed-Guideway Infrastructure Investment

$0.00 million Capital Investment Grants (out of possible $700m)

Highways:

$126 million from the FDOT for highways, roads & bridges.

$5.5 million for transportation enhancement - only to be used for pedestrian improvements, bike lanes, & trails.

TOTAL:$260million-ish

The transit stimulus comes at an unfortunate time for MDT because of its Medium rating with the FTA. Stimulus funds are allocated within existing funding programs, which means that Miami-Dade is missing out on money from the Capital Investment Grants program (which operates under the new starts/small starts rules). Too bad.

Carlos Gimenez pushed for the 20% municipal share, which I’m torn about since municipalities tend to spend the money on road projects (just look at what gets funded by the PTP’s $200 million annual municipal share). In this case it makes political sense to get small local projects off the ground so that you can put a sign on them and say “See, this is where we spent your money - on this sign!”

Lets face it, the majority of people are never going to notice the millions going to the intermodal center, or the $112 million going to the airport viaduct - and that’s ok as long as they see something happening in their own neighborhood too.

I’m happy that the City of Miami is funding trolleys with its portion of the transit funds. There are a bunch of really good projects on these lists including streetscape upgrades to Ponce de Leon Boulevard and a tolley in Doral. Even these little projects will work toward a better balance of local vs. county wide transit service (part of why eliminating some routes is the right thing to do…more on this later).

The Miami-Dade County Commission Agenda for March 3 is out and it is full of fun items…here are some that I found interesting:

  • Improvements along Old Cutler based on the Old Cutler Charrette including roundabouts at 87th and 97th avenue, along with pedestrian/bike path upgrades and facilities from Cocoplum Circle to 224 Street.
  • Commissioner Jordon wants to tinker with the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust this time to ensure that the Trust reviews and recommends award contracts within 45 days and that it meet with the Commission at least quarterly. Interesting…
  • Approving $37 Million in additional FDOT funding for MIA’s people mover, connecting the MIC with the Airport (this is the much needed connection between Metrorail and the Airport.)
  • The City of Doral is expanding its free trolley service.
  • This is a biggy (and another Barbara Jordon sponsored item): Officially allowing transit surtax dollars to be spent on the system maintenance and operations, while increasing General Fund contributions by 3.5% every year, and dedicating 10% of the surtax yearly to capital expansion. Wasn’t all of the surtax to be used for expansion?  Sorry, but these numbers are still off….seems like more should be put aside from the General Fund, and for expansion (7% and 25%?)
  • Developing an elderly TOD at the Okeechobee Metrorail site.
  • The County is looking to cut 20% of its energy consumption (estimated at 1.17 million-megawatt-hours..wow)
  • Awesome:  MDT is updating its bus-tracking software to allow for real-time infomation to be sent to wireless devices.  MDT is also deploying a real-time bus tracking system on the new Kendall BRT pilot project, scheduled for May 2012. This line will extend from 166 street and Kendall Drive to Dadeland Station, and include 27 stations that will connect with the GPS based tracking system.
  • A resolution urging the President to rethink Federal transit funding when Congress looks at the surface transportation spending act later this year - specifically allowing for use of the funds for operations.  This would finally move the Orange line forward.
  • Implementation strategy for Miami-Dade Parks Masterplan. Also awesome. (Noted in this item is a growing program me and some collegues started called the Native Carbon Cure - a carbon tax that mitigates our business’ carbon footprint through local habitat restoration projects.)

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Yesterday’s Miami-Dade County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting was filled with interesting news. As Spokes n’ Folks reported, much attention was given to a couple of urban infill projects in Coral Gables, located adjacent to the M-Path.

Dadeland Station developer Jeff Berkowitz is moving forward with plans to redevelop the Deel Ford parcel, the larger of the two parcels outlined in orange below.

Due to high traffic volumes on S. Dixie Highway, Berkowitz’s current plans seek to bisect the M-Path on the north side of the site with an easement allowing motor vehicle access to the development’s parking garage.  BPAC members have previously asked the developer to include several safety measures in the site design to mitigate the effects of  of motor vehicle traffic. Yet, the “sketchy” drawings presented yesterday did not detail the required safety measures, which caused BPAC to table the approval.

Additionally, a proposed 30,000 square foot office development is slated for an old Shell station located at nearby, at the corner of S. Dixie Highway and LeJeune Road (small parcel, above). The developer of that property has also asked for an easement that would bisect the M-Path.

While the BPAC is right to ask for safety measures, they are setting a very dangerous precedent. After all, the M-Path is already compromised by numerous heavily trafficked streets without any commensurate design or safety measures to help pedestrians and bicyclists through the intersections.  Allowing two more easements will further interrupt the Path’s function, and could plant the seed for future development to follow suit.

Ultimately, Miami-Dade Transit  (MDT) will have to approve the easements, with the mitigations suggested by the BPAC.  If you ride  or walk/run the M-Path consistently, you know this directly threatens you. Please call and write MDT, Coral Gables City  Commissioners, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners to let them know that safety upgrades or not, these developments do not need easements into the M-Path, but rather a little more creative site design.

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In related BPAC news, an FDOT representative announced plans for bicycle lanes along the MacArthur Causeway. Yes, you read that correctly.

My initial reaction to this proclamation was that the encouragement of bicycling on what is effectively a high-speed highway, where bicycles are normally not allowed for good reason, is sheer lunacy — unless commensurate redesign of the roadway would significantly reduce lane width and motor vehicle speed. Well, it seems the lanes will be shrunk to 11′ from 14′, which will indeed slow motorists down and provide ample room for bicycle lanes.

Full plans have not been reaveled, however. As always, the devil will lie in the details. How will the proposed lanes work with the Biscayne Boulevard on-ramps and off-ramps? Will these lanes be physically protected with bollards or curbs? How far will FDOT go in calming one of the most heavily trafficked roads in South Florida?

We’ll be tracking this one.

The  County is asking for public input on their LRTP. You can’t complain unless you participate. Put this one on the calendar. Let your voice be heard that people of Miami-Dade need and desire better transportation options and demand that there be no more squandering of funds set aside for transit!

You are invited to attend a Public Meeting to review and comment on the draft Needs Alternative of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The LRTP is being developed to guide federal, state, and local transportation funding allocations through the Year 2035 and the Needs Alternative is a list of needed improvements to the County’s transportation system that will form the basis for the LRTP.  This comprehensive plan will consist of highway, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and other types of improvements for maximizing local and regional mobility of people and goods. Solutions will include new, creative, and innovative approaches to current transportation challenges.  The final draft of the LRTP will be presented for approval to the MPO Governing Board in late 2009.

Who:Miami-Dade MPO

What: 2035 LRTP Public Meetings

When and Where: The following meetings will be held from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM:

· January 29 - Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 22nd Street, Miami Beach, FL  33139

· January 29 - West Kendall Regional Library, 10201 Hammocks Blvd. Miami, FL 33196

· February 3 - Homestead Branch Library, 700 N Homestead Blvd. Homestead, FL 33030

· February 3 - Coral Gables Library, 3443 Segovia St. Coral Gables, FL 33134

· February 5 - Gwen Margolis Center, 1590 NE 123rd St. North Miami, FL 33161

· February 5 - Miami-Dade College West Campus, 3800 NW 115th Ave. Room 1121 Doral, FL 33178

Why: To encourage citizens to become familiar and get involved with the transportation planning            process.

For more info: www.miamidade2035transportationplan.com.

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