Currently viewing the tag: "Tri-Rail"

James Dougherty, Pamela Stacy and Jason King  created the Arrive in Style poster for CNU20’s AuthentiCity Contest. The Arrive in Style poster provides plans for the redevelopment of the Belvedere Road Station and Banyan Boulevard Station in West Palm Beach in a style consistent with Addison Mizner’s vision for West Palm Beach. The plan envisions walkable, mixed-use destinations in the grand tradition of placemaking established in the golden age of Florida rail travel.   

A travel poster format was used to make a statement about transit planning in the future: train travel was once an entirely designed experience – from the city center one departed from, to the passenger car one travelled in, to the city center one arrived at – and for this reason train travel had tremendous appeal. There was an instant excitement upon arrival that automobile and plane travel can never fully provide. Immediately after getting off the train there was an experience of place.

For transit to become attractive to new generations it needs to recover its grandeur.  This will require station buildings that are proud, memorable, and iconic (regardless of style). Leaving the station one must find themselves in more than just a walkable environment with connections to local transit, but at the heart of the city or town, at the center of activity. Also, one’s experience of beauty cannot be limited to temporary art exhibitions in the station but present in the buildings, streets, and neighborhoods around the stations.

Transit centers should be anchored by a signature open space.  This space could serve as an identifiable landmark for all the surrounding neighborhoods. Corner stores and live-work offices around these open spaces and near the transit stops will provide an initial mixed-use component which would grow to full centers. The next increments of urbanism are shown in the plans: the corridors that connect the rail stations to the surrounding neighborhoods fronted by urban format buildings, and the neighborhoods themselves, infilled with housing types that can generate transit-supportive densities.  

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In the fall of 2008, Tri-Rail was running near record ridership corresponding to higher gas prices. They never beat the record of over 18,000 riders from Miami Heat’s victory parade in 2006, though. While we came close to another Heat victory this year but didn’t quite make it, Tri-Rail still scored a ridership victory. On June 16, with free Tri-Rail rides for Dump the Pump day, Tri-Rail smashed their all time record. 19,731 people rode the commuter rail yesterday. Check their press release here. Let us hope many will continue to ride even when they have to pay the fare.

The Florida state Supreme Court released its response to a lawsuit filed eariler in the week alleging Governor Rick Scott exceeded his authority in rejecting high speed rail money. The ruling states:

 The Court has reviewed the petition, response, and reply, has heard oral argument, and has considered the factual allegations and legal arguments. Based on the limited record before the Court and a review of the federal and state law relied on by the parties, the Court has determined that the petitioners have not clearly demonstrated entitlement to …. relief. Accordingly, the emergency petition is hereby denied.

Too bad.  Ray LaHood quickly responded by saying “I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens.” No kidding.

Earlier in the day governor Rick Scott used ongoing state funding of Tri-Rail as an example of why HSR would leave the state on the hook for ongoing mantinenance of the system once built. Kudos to Politifact for calling bullshit on this one.  

If Scott were on a crusade to end public subsidies for all forms of transportation, that would be one thing. Transportation systems —including roads, buses, ports and trains — more than not require government help.

But Scott is trying to isolate the problem to trains when citing Tri-Rail’s revenue problems as a reason for nixing high-speed rail in Florida. It may be a convenient talking point, but the two systems are hardly alike. In the end, high-speed fail might fail and the projections for ridership might be too rosy. But people shouldn’t use Tri-Rail as evidence any more than they should cite any other form of mass transit. We rate this claim Barely True.

Well said.

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 2010 was an ambitious year for MDX. Open road tolling really took off, and MDX had its planners busy working on ways to turn our County into an expressway wonderland, where everyone is only a block away from smooth rides; all the while, as our friends at rollbacktolls.com report, MDX ran a $2.4 billion debt through 2010. While we at Transit Miami do not think that tolls are the problem, we support others’ efforts to put MDX under a magnifying glass - after all, they act with complete impunity when it comes to planning and operating the expressway system in Miami-Dade County. And it would seem that their long-term strategy is to dismantle the few bits of premium transit we have in this region.

Take for example the plans they released in July (2010) to build a double decker expressway on top of Tri-rail, in an effort to connect all the major expressways in Miami. Insensitive to the fact that building a highway directly on top of a major regional transit system would only compete for riders, sources within MDX even admit that the likelihood of obtaining federal funding for the system is low considering the feds gave SFRTA several hundred million dollars only two years ago for Tri-Rail Upgrades. How backward can these folks be with regard to the true transportation needs of Miami-Dade County?

Now the latest assault on Miami-Dade Transit: the effort to dismantle the South-Dade Busway and create lexus lanes for the wealthy residents of Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and Pinecrest. MDX planners are meeting with area residents to get buy-in for the project, but what they won’t tell people is that this is part of creating a parallel highway to US1 that reaches South Dade.

The irony is that the busway was conceived as low cost alternative to bring transit to the mainly underprivileged residents of South Miami-Dade County along existing train tracks built by Henry Flagler. The busway was never meant as a limited access highway for the wealthy residents of suburbs that have developed since then. Be that as it may, MDX is moving full speed ahead preparing plans to convert the bus-only transit way into an I-95 style lexus lanes expressway with elevated intersections.

What does MDT get in return for letting MDX rape its only premium transit service to the residents of South Miami-Dade County? A big fat nothing. No shared toll revenue. Faster travel speeds say MDX, but at the expense of accessible and convenient transit. On a line that already runs beyond capacity most peak times, the only transit oriented upgrade to the busway would be to make true BRT improvements, increase frequencies and headway, and eventually to extend the metro-rail south; what they should not take apart a thriving transit service. 

It’s time for a change in transportation planning in Dade County. We cannot allow MDX to continue to expand highway capacity at a time when most Miami-Dade residents are clamoring for expanded transportation options that will help them out of their cars.  The myopic car-centric decision making at MDX will only continue to degrade transit service until one authority is made responsible for uniting the managerial know-how and Right-of-Way MDX posses with MDT’s transit mandate. Until then, it is open season for MDX, and the drive to expand roadway capacity will continue at the expense of transit ridership.

On Wednesday, the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) hosted a transit summit in Fort Lauderdale. The event, attended by several hundred transportation professionals, featured short speeches from the directors of all the South Florida transit agencies as well as some words from other transit advocates and “luminaries.”

The FPTA also took the opportunity to highlight their foray into social media, the IM4Transit campaign. Roughly akin to a Facebook “Like” or the too quickly forgotten Facebook groups, their goal is to sign up 100,000 Floridians who support transit. If you care to, sign up at IM4Transit.org or head over to Facebook and spread the like. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) also expressed their support for the IM4Transit campaign, which serves as their pilot program in social media.

Harpal Kapoor, director of Miami Dade Transit, defended himself (perhaps in response to recent criticisms) by talking up his success as a leader.

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City Spotlight Series:

South Florida Regional Transportation Authority / Tri-Rail
Regional Transit Planning Initiatives / Station Area Improvements
Location Tigertail Lake Park (adjacent to Bass Pro Shop)
Address: 580 Gulfstream Way, Dania Beach, FL 33304
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2010
Time: 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. (light lunch provided)
Speakers:     Joe Quinty, AICP and Brandy Creed, P.E., D. WRE
Cost: Free
RSVP: yesbeckn@sfrta.fl.gov, space is limited – please RSVP
Transit to Event: Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at Dania Beach.
Depart Golden Glades on Train P622 @ 11:43 a.m. (Free tickets provided)
AICP: BAPA will apply for 1.5 CM Credits

The State of Florida Senate passed the rail bill, complete with funding for tri-rail ($15-17 million), funding for Sun-Rail, and the establishment of the State Rail Enterprise to manage regional (and high speed) rail. Woo hoo! This is a big first step in the right direction for the State of Florida. The details of the plan might have problems, but the sign of commitment is hugely important, and will be the building block of a more transit oriented future.

The bill is off to Governor Christ, who is expected to sign it into law.

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From tampabay.com:

At the start of the second week of a two-week special session, the Florida House voted 84-25 today for sweeping rail legislation. The bill allows creation of the SunRail commuter line in central Florida, adds a new permanent money source for the debt-ridden Tri-Rail system in South Florida and accelerates construction of a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail system linking Miami, Tampa and Orlando.

Now on to the more contentious 40-member Florida Senate, where passage is far from guaranteed. We’ll see what happens. I am hopeful for the simple reason that Tri-rail needs to be funded. Unfortunately, Tri-Rail funding  is tied to Sun-Rail and the future of high speed rail in Florida, and the details of these projects are not without controversy (especially Sun-Rail’s lame CSX liability clause- why should we be liable for CSX accidents??) That’s politics, and I would rather see a bad Sun-Rail deal as long as Tri-Rail lives another day.

Check out the full legislation being proposed here and make your own opinion. What do you all think?

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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.

Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com, adam.hasner@myfloridahouse.gov, alexander.jd.web@flsenate.gov, altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov, anitere.flores@myfloridahouse.gov, ari.porth@myfloridahouse.gov, atwater.jeff.web@flsenate.gov, audrey.gibson@myfloridahouse.gov, bill.galvano@myfloridahouse.gov, brad.drake@myfloridahouse.gov, bullard.larcenia.web@flsenate.gov, james.bush@myfloridahouse.gov, baker.carey.web@flsenate.gov, carlos.lopez-cantera@myfloridahouse.gov, constantine.lee.web@flsenate.gov, david.rivera@myfloridahouse.gov, deutch.ted.web@flsenate.gov, dockery.paula.web@flsenate.gov, dorothy.hukill@myfloridahouse.gov, dwight.bullard@myfloridahouse.gov, eddy.gonzalez@myfloridahouse.gov, elaine.schwartz@myfloridahouse.gov, ellyn.bogdanoff@myfloridahouse.gov, erik.fresen@myfloridahouse.gov, esteban.bovo@myfloridahouse.gov, evan.jenne@myfloridahouse.gov, fasano.mike.web@flsenate.gov, faye.culp@myfloridahouse.gov, franklin.sands@myfloridahouse.gov, garcia.rudy.web@flsenate.gov, gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov, gelber.dan.web@flsenate.gov, greg.evers@myfloridahouse.gov, haridopolos.mike.web@flsenate.gov, Hazelle.rogers@myfloridahouse.gov, hill.anthony.web@flsenate.gov, janet.long@myfloridahouse.gov, jc.planas@myfloridahouse.gov, Jeff.Kottkamp@MyFlorida.com, jennifer.carroll@myfloridahouse.gov, jim.waldman@myfloridahouse.gov, joe.gibbons@myfloridahouse.gov, john.quinones@myfloridahouse.gov, john.stargel@myfloridahouse.gov, joseph.abruzzo@myfloridahouse.gov, joyner.arthenia.web@flsenate.gov, juan.zapata@myfloridahouse.gov, julio.robaina@myfloridahouse.gov, justice.charlie.web@flsenate.gov, kelly.skidmore@myfloridahouse.gov, kenneth.gottlieb@myfloridahouse.gov, kevin.ambler@myfloridahouse.gov, kevin.rader@myfloridahouse.gov, lake.ray@myfloridahouse.gov, larry.cretul@myfloridahouse.gov, lawson.al.web@flsenate.gov, luis.garcia@myfloridahouse.gov, marcelo.llorente@myfloridahouse.gov, maria.sachs@myfloridahouse.gov, mark.pafford@myfloridahouse.gov, martin.kiar@myfloridahouse.gov, mary.brandenburg@myfloridahouse.gov, matt.hudson@myfloridahouse.gov, mike.homer@myfloridahouse.gov, oscar.braynon@myfloridahouse.gov, jenniffer.parfitt@dot.state.fl.us, perry.thurston@myfloridahouse.gov, portilla.alex.web@flsenate.gov, priscilla.taylor@myfloridahouse.gov, pruitt.ken.web@flsenate.gov, ray.sansom@myfloridahouse.gov, rich.nan.web@flsenate.gov, richard.glorioso@myfloridahouse.gov, richard.steinberg@myfloridahouse.gov, ring.jeremy.web@flsenate.gov, robert.schenck@myfloridahouse.gov, ron.reagan@myfloridahouse.gov, ron.saunders@myfloridahouse.gov, ronald.brise@myfloridahouse.gov, timothy.ryan@myfloridahouse.gov, sean.cannon@myfloridahouse.gov, siplin.gary.web@flsenate.gov, smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov, sobel.eleanor.web@flsenate.gov, stephanie.kopelousos@dot.state.fl.us, storms.ronda.web@flsenate.gov, terry.fields@myfloridahouse.gov, rudi.williams@myfloridahouse.gov, villalobos.alex.web@flsenate.gov, will.weatherford@myfloridahouse.gov, william.snyder@myfloridahouse.gov, wilson.frederica.web@flsenate.gov, yolly.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov

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  • Sunrail special session update: seems like the powers that be are going to meet in December to discuss funding for SunRail and TriRail. “…every leader in Tallahassee has been told by the federal government: you’re not getting any money until Tri Rail gets a funding source,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Jeff Koons, chairman of the board that oversees Tri-Rail. Good to hear. CSX has also agreed to revisit its liability demands.  (Orlando Sentinel)
  • Check out this cool tribute to architecture and urbanism guru Vincent Scully (one of my former professors from UM). (Hartford Courant)
  • Great editorial from Friday’s Herald about the Port of Miami: “As the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, the Port of Miami has much at stake. The port serves more than 20 shipping lines that call on more than 100 countries and 250 ports across the world. It contributes $17 billion annually and 176,000 direct and indirect jobs to the local economy.” Duh. Then why aren’t we serving the people who work and travel to the Port with adequate mass transit?
  • Glad someone is paying attention: Katy Sorenson is sponsoring a resolution to establish the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact between Palm Beach, Broward, Monroe, and Dade Counties.  (Miami-Dade)
  • Win for citizen involvement: Bruno Barreiro is sponsoring a resolution to direct the Mayor to develop a web-based application for legally required public notices or ads to appear on the County web portal. (Miami-Dade)

…implement a transportation concurrency management system that supports mobility needs; reduces congestion; supports urban infill and redevelopment; discourages urban sprawl, and achieves healthy, vibrant urban centers.

  • Very cool: MDX is giving FIU $500,000 to study transportation technology:

…the development of an advanced bus rapid transit system along State Road 836 (Dolphin Expressway) and propose how to build various Advanced Transit Oriented Developments (Advanced TODs) where Advanced Transit Stops (ATS) can be located, including adjacent to FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus, the FIU Engineering Center and the Miami International Airport/Miami Intermodal Center.

Javier Rodriguez had this to say:

MDX is pleased to engage the FIU Lehman Center for Transportation Research in helping to identify and develop these cutting edge transportation systems that will help us deliver to the citizens of Miami-Dade County a state-of-the-practice multimodal transportation system,” he said.

Well done sir.

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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From the Sun Sentinel:

On Sunday, eight Florida state senators, including SunRail foe Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, sent a letter to Senate President Jeff Atwater, R- North Palm Beach, Speaker Larry Cretul, R- Ocala, and Gov. Charlie Crist, urging them to redirect $30 million to Tri-Rail for the next budget year. The seven senators wrote that state intervention is the only possible solution for Tri-Rail, and the Legislature’s failure to fund Tri-Rail “has led to a crisis that threatens thousands of jobs and the futures of families who depend on Tri-Rail on a daily basis.” The letter was signed by Dockery, Sen. Dave Aronberg, D- Greenacres, Sen. Ted Deutch, D- Boca Raton, Sen. Dan Gelber, D- Miami Beach, Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and Sen. Fredericka Wilson, D-Miami.
“We intend to work together to establish a dedicated funding source for Tri-Rail’s future. But to achieve that future, we must assure that Tri-Rail can sustain its operations into the next legislative session,” the senators said. If funding for Tri-Rail isn’t approved, Tri-Rail will slash the number of weekday trains from 50 to 30 on Oct. 5, the start of the next budget year. All weekend and holiday service will be eliminated.

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SunRail was defeated in the State Legislature Friday, 23-16. With it goes the $2 rental car surcharge for Tri-Rail, which most of the South Florida Senators ended up voting against because they said they were worried that local voters might overturn the surcharge. It’s uncertain whether they considered that most locals will not be paying this “tax”, but will definitely benefit from it. Read more at the Palm Beach Post.

Also check out an article at The Ledger that includes Senator Mike Bennet of Bradenton suggesting that the money spent on SunRail would be better spent buying a car for each of the 3,500 riders predicted to ride SunRail the first few years. I know the government is now in the auto business, but really now—how ignorant can you get?

Don’t vote for these guys in the next election.

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