Currently viewing the tag: "Trolley"

The City of Miami’s Office of Communications released yesterday a short video on the Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust’s (CITT) 2013 Miami-Dade Transportation Summit.

The elevator music and 1980’s electric guitar riff can be a little hard to endure, but it’s nonetheless interesting to have a glimpse at the City’s perspective on the Summit.

Featured in the video are the City’s Assistant Manager, Alice Bravo, who describes the role and responsibility of the CITT. Also featured is the City’s Special Project Assistant, Thomas Rodrigues, who talks about the City’s Trolley(-bus) routes.

Take a gander!

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What if Miami’s vibrant light-rail system of the past existed in the Miami of today?

Let’s explore how the historic Miami Beach trolley route of the early 20th century would look through the Miami of the early 21st century.

MiamiBeachTrolleyRoute_Intro

Click on the video below. You’ll be taken on a virtual fly-through of the the no-longer-existing Miami Beach trolley line through the streets and neighborhoods of today. Please do enjoy for yourself and share with others!

Just imagine if this trolley were still up and running! Light-rail Baylink, anyone?

Also, be on the look-out for more TransitMiami geovisualizations in the near future!

Transit Miami reader and Emerge Miami coordinator Leah Weston shared the following letter with us, containing some poignant feedback and observations from the new-ish Miami Trolley service in downtown Miami.

The new diesel-powered, rubber-tire, retro-kitschy busses.

Sent to TrolleyInfo@Miami.gov

Good morning,

I am writing because I would like to make some comments about the Miami Trolley Service. While I am happy to have the mobility from my apartment on the south end of Brickell to the Metro station, I have observed a few issues over the past month and a half that I have been using it and felt like I should give my feedback.

(1) The trolley is completely unreliable. The signs say every 15 minutes, but that is just dead wrong. Oftentimes what will happen is that I will wait for 30 minutes and see two or three trolleys going the opposite direction pass me before one going in my direction shows up. The B bus follows almost THE EXACT SAME ROUTE and it is MUCH MORE reliable. I’d rather pay $1.25 to get somewhere on time than to stand around indefinitely, holding a huge pile of heavy books (I am a law student) and sweating profusely.

(2) Why is there no way to track the trolley like you can with the Metrorail and the Metrobus? If the purpose of public transportation is to be able to get around without a car, I need to be able to plan my trip.

(3) Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense. There are two stops-one for Northbound, one for Southbound. However, the two stops are VERY far apart. That’s fine, except for the fact that there’s nowhere on the FRONT of the trolley that indicates which direction the oncoming trolley is going. Both the North and Southbound trollies stop at the Northbound stop to let people off. I personally have to go Southbound in the afternoon when I arrive home. If I think a Southbound trolley is coming, but it turns out to be a Northbound trolley, I have to run back and forth like an idiot with a 20 pound pile of books. Also, there have been a number of occasions where I think a trolley is heading my direction, but it turns out not to be and, in turn, I miss the B bus back home and have to wait another 15-40 minutes (whenever the next trolley decides to come). Long story short: A 20 minute commute home turns into an hour commute. Might as well drive my car for that kind of efficiency.

(4) Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley. Shortly after this happened, I promptly wrote an e-mail inquiring about my ID. About a week later, I got a phone call from someone at your office, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner, but that they had shred my ID. That ID also happened to contain a $50 monthly student Metro pass which I had paid in full and which was nonrefundable. While I understand the policy, there are a few problems with this scenario: Why don’t you have someone regularly checking your e-mail account? Why doesn’t the fact that my name and the name of the judge I was working for appeared on the front of the ID merit a little bit of investigation? The woman on the phone also told me she would “see what she could do” about my Metro pass. Why did she never follow up with me?

I’m sorry for the lengthy diatribe, but I thought you should be aware that your service is sub-par and needs improvement. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I have written.

Thank you,

Leah Weston

Miami, FL

What has your experience been with the Miami trolleys?

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What can we learn from the Miami of the past?

With some extra ‘indoor time’ over the past few days due to tropical storm Isaac (when I wasn’t bike riding or taking photos of the devastation), I spent a good deal of time looking at old photos of Miami on FloridaMemory.com. It’s fascinating to observe the evolution of Miami and it’s environs; how some areas drastically transformed while others stay remarkably similar though the years. What’s also captured here is the insidious destruction the automobile wrought on downtown Miami through the 50’s and 60’s after the streetcars were town out, historic buildings were razed and parking lots sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rainfall.

I’ve been posting a few photos on our Facebook page, but without further adieu, here is a collection of my favorites.

Which are yours?

Staff and crew of the Florida East Coast Railway by the streamliner “Henry M. Flagler” in 1939. The Railey-Milam hardware store in the background was founded in 1902 and was a prominent Miami business for decades.

Downtown on East Flagler Street. December 20, 1935. Notice the streetcar, and the Ritz Hotel (building still stands) in the background. Credit: Fishbaugh, W. A.

View of the Brickell family home at Brickell Point on the Miami River in 1898. Today, this site is home to the Icon condominiums, Viceroy Hotel and Miami Circle park. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Gentlemen in the Coral Gables streetcar during its first day - April 30, 1925. Mayor of Miami, E.C. Romph is at the controls. Credit: Fishbaugh, W.A.

City officials inspecting the “STOP” sign on N.E. 2nd Street at Biscayne Blvd. December 9, 1926. (They haven’t given road safety the same level of attention since) Credit: Fishbaugh, W. A.

Trolley car 109 eastbound on 5th Street, Miami Beach. Station doubled as the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. 1921 Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Part of the “Dirty Dozen” in the old Royal Palm Hotel garden. Downtown Miami, 1916. Were these guys the first Miami hipsters? I don’t know who the ‘Dirty Dozen’ were, but one of them is sporting a massive chainring on his single-speed steed! Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Classic picture from 1927 of a Coral Gables express trolley on Flagler Street, with another following close behind. These trains used to speed down Coral Way at speeds of close to 75 mph, connecting downtown with Miracle Mile in under 12 minutes. Credit: Gleason Waite.

Miami’s first Critical Mass? Bicycles on Biscayne Boulevard, 1948. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

New diesel locomotives, downtown Miami. 1938. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

People at the bandshell in Bayfront Park enjoying an evening concert. downtown Miami, 193-. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Young women making fun of sign at beach requiring full bathing suits - Miami Beach. July 4, 1934. Credit: Gleason Waite

Soldiers performing training exercises on the beach during WWII - Miami Beach, sometime between 1939-1945. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Motorcycle cop directing traffic on County Causeway (now MacArthur) - Miami Beach, Florida. Nice to know speed limits were actually enforced once upon a time on this roadway.

Brickell Avenue, looking north. Photographed on September 25, 1947. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Uh oh. Here comes the construction of 1-95, plowing it’s way through downtown….forever transforming the city. Looking east from Flagler street. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Egads! Bayfront parking lagoon for First National Bank, downtown Miami in 1962. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Aerial view of downtown Miami and Bayfront Park in 1963. Look at all the ‘missing teeth’ in the streetscape - aka parking lots. Many of the buildings razed in this era would today be considered ‘historic’ and thus, lovable and worth caring about. Check out a forested Claughton Island (Brickell Key) in the distance.

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Did you know Miami once had a streetcar trolley network that was one of the most efficient and extensive in the developed world at the time?

The map below shows where Miami’s trolley network went in 1925, back when the area population was around 200,000. Today’s Miami-Dade population is approximately 2.5 million. The green lines show our current Metrorail and MetroMover lines, which pale in comparison to the connectivity we enjoyed in the era of the Miami streetcar (1916-1940), indicated by the lines in other colors.

Miami's Historic Streetcar Lines

To attract people and business in the 21st century, the Miami of the future should look a lot like the Miami of the past.

Thanks to Rogelio Madan from the City of Miami for providing.

Miami Trolley #238

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During the Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual conference, CNU 20: The New World, held last week in West Palm Beach, I had the opportunity to interview author James Howard Kunstler. Kunstler is the author of The Long Emergency, The Geography of Nowhere, the World Made by Hand novels and is a leading critic and social commentator on the American landscape of suburban sprawl.

Over lunch in downtown West Palm’s new urbanism-inspired development, CityPlace, I pried Jim about bus travel in Florida, nostalgia for transit, the state of our current rail system, his own oil paintings (featured in the slideshow) and more.

Special thanks to Duncan Crary for allowing me to use his audio equipment for the interview. Crary hosts a weekly podcast with Jim called the Kunstlercast, posted each Thursday at Kunstlercast.com.

trolley in Coral gables

The Colonnade Building and Coral Gables Trolley, mid 1920’s. From the State of Florida Archives.

Car is on NW 2nd St. and 16th Ave

@ NW 2nd St. and 16th Ave, 1940 Courtesy of Florida Memory, State of Florida Archives

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  • The South Dade Coalition is fighting FPL’s plans for transmission lines down US1 as these would keep the corridor from developing into the mixed-use, walkable place they seek. Good job guys.
  • Coral Gables is extending its trolley down ponce from 8th street to Flagler using FDOT dollars for the first year.
  • Dade and Broward Counties are getting express buses to run on I95 and the turnpike, linking Downtown Miami and Downtown Ft. Lauderdale and the ‘burbs. Yay! The routes are being funded by the State of Florida and the Federal government - no MDT money, also good.
  • A State Judge has said that the County’s decision to move the UDB was illegal. This is going to have big implications for the upcoming vote on Parkland.
  • No word on the Miami 21 vote yet from the City of Miami. Jeez.
  • More on taking the CITT back to voters from State Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera: “Unless the county commission reaches some sort of an accord, I’m going to explore legislation to call for a vote of the voters again. It should be up to the voters to decide, and let them judge if they’re satisfied with the way the money has been handled.” From Miami Today.
  • The Virginia Key Masterplan is going to be presented on May 20 at the Miami Museum of Science, 3820 South Miami Ave, from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm. This is in anticipation of its consideration by the City Commission in June. If you are interested, please attend.

Back in March we reported that the city of Miami was using part of its $4.1 million ARRA transit stimulus money on implementing new local rubber-tire trolley service.  Transit Miami contacted city officials to get more information about these important initiatives with regard to proposed routes, community outreach efforts, and future funding. Assistant City Manager Bill Anido and Transportation Coordinator Jose Gonzalez were helpful in providing the following description of the project, as well as the linked maps.

The City’s project consists of purchasing rubber-tire circulators/trolleys and ancillary capital equipment such as shelters/benches and signs to provide circulator service in the Downtown, Brickell, Coral Way, Allapattah, and Overtown communities.  The proposed circulators will enhance both connectivity and frequency of transit service along their respective routes.  The service will essentially consist of the following 5 circulator routes described below:

Downtown-Brickell Trolley: We are partnering with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to finalize the route and stops for the Brickell-Downtown Trolley which will connect to the Coral Way Trolley at the Brickell Metrorail/Metromover Station at SW 1st Avenue and proceed north along Brickell Avenue/Biscayne Boulevard serving the Brickell, Downtown, and Omni areas.  We have currently undertaking a survey of area residents, employees, visitors, and students to gauge the community’s interest for an area trolley service.  I am pleased to report that we have received over 400 surveys, thus far, with extremely favorable outcomes.  In addition, for this trolley route, we are considering providing service during weekends and special events.

Coral Way-Brickell Trolley: The Coral Way-Brickell Trolley will operate along Coral Way serving all the commercial, retail, and residential establishments along the corridor.  The service will terminate at the Brickell Metrorail/Metromover Station at SW 1st Avenue where a connection to the Downtown-Brickell Trolley will be provided; it may also connect to the City of Coral Gables Trolley system on Ponce de Leon Blvd.

Health District Trolley: The Health District Circulator will operate a 2-way loop to provide premium service to the Health District area, the second largest employment center in the City and County.  This trolley will connect to the Civic Center Metrorail Station on NW 12th Avenue and to the Overtown and Allapattah loops described below.

Overtown-Health District Trolley: The Overtown-Health District Loop will provide premium service in the Overtown community via NW 3rd Avenue and will connect to the Health District Trolley.  This connection will facilitate transit mobility between the Overtown community and numerous health care, judicial, educational, and civic institutions in the Health District.

Allapattah-Health District Trolley: The Allapattah-Health District Loop will provide premium service in the Allapattah community via NW 20th Street from NW 17th Avenue to NW 27th Avenue.  This route, similar to the Overtown Loop, will connect to the Health District Trolley in order to facilitate a premium transit connection between the Allapattah community and the Health District, an area experiencing tremendous growth and a significant source of employment in the City.

This is a big step in providing the type of convenient local transit that is necessary to get people out of their cars and riding transit. If you live near one of the proposed lines, get involved! The city is looking to hear from residents on how they can make this a success, so if you have a comment or idea drop us a line at MoveMiami@gmail.com and we’ll forward it on! Stay tuned for more on the trolleys….

A lot happened this week behind the scenes and between the lines. Here is a review:

Kudos to this editorial today from El Nuevo Herald columnist Daniel Shoer Roth. I think he did an excellent job in highlighting how mismanaged our transit system is. Accountability goes out the window when ten different departments and municipalities are ‘responsible’ for certain aspects of mass transit. I’m always talking about how our system is ‘mismanaged’ but that really isn’t the case at all. It’s a question of priorities, and transit has not historically been one of them.

Our planning priorities were on full display this past weekend in an insert produced by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that the Herald included in its Sunday edition. The insert describes work done to date and future projects. If you are not familiar with the MPO, it is a County run organization that is charged with coordinating the various transportation projects around Miami-Dade, as required by Federal Department of Transportation rules. Their mandate is described on their website is:

…to have a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process that results in plans and programs that consider all transportation modes and support metropolitan community development and social goals. These plans and programs shall lead to the development and operation of an integrated, intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient, economic movement of people and goods.” (emphasis added)

Many worthy goals, but unfortunately their focus is more on expressway and road building projects than on balancing roads with mass transit. My favorite part of the insert is titled “Miami-Dade: Urban Travel Trends” which utilizes graphs, bright colors, and a lot of traffic engineer lingo (vehicle miles traveled, peak period speeds, etc), with only a brief mention of transit under a graph called ‘Transit Mode Share’. The text accompanying the graph states, “the countywide transit mode share in 2005 was approximately 2.5%” It goes on to say that share will grow, “albeit modestly.” Ok. I find it disillusioning that the organization supposedly responsible for coordinating our transit system is not very optimistic about the future growth of MDT.

Truth be told, after this week’s political farce concerning tranist fares and another half cent tax, I might tend to agree with the MPO. Our future transit does not look so good because the people responsible are alseep at the wheel. Commisioners Bruno and Barbs: wake up!! You have have been reaching in the dark these past few weeks trying to placate your constituents. I know this issue gets heated and personal. Let me be clear: this is not a personal attack. It makes it difficult for those of us who are transit advocates and who supported the first tax increase to justify anything you ask for now because of how the money has been squandered. Surely you can understand that. Next week I am going to work on a series of posts on how the People’s Transportation Tax has been spent to bring to light how that opportunity has been, and continues to be, botched.
If you really care about transit, and Commissioner Jordan I think you care about getting the Orange Line built, here are a few recommendations that can serve as confidence building measures that might make any fare or tax increase palatable:

  • Make the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust the sole entity responsible for deciding what happens to that money. Give it back its teeth, and allow it to do its job.
  • Charge veterans and the elderly. We can’t give away transit that doesn’t exist yet. Until MDT gets its house in order, they should be charged, albeit at a reduced rate that should be revisited when MDT’s finances get better. MDT needs income, and the Trust shouldn’t be responsible for giving it an allowance every month.
  • Charge for the Metromover. Same reasons as above.
  • Have MDT work with the Trust. Recent reports from Miami Today describe how the Trust is having a tough time getting cooperation from MDT with regard to budget issues. How is the Trust supposed to operate if it doesn’t know how much the system costs to maintain?? This is silly.

Note to Mayor Carlos Alvarez: the strong mayor powers you wanted came with responsibilities, ie. get MDT organized. How can they run the business of Miami-Dade Transit without a budget. Helloo?? Not to put all the blame on you though, as you’ve only really been in charge for a short while.

  • Tie the 20% Municipal Transportation Plan funding to transit specifically, not transportation which has become synonymous with roads and expressways. A majority of payments to municipalities have been spent on roads, resurfacing, and other road related infrastructure. The PTP was marketed primarily as a transit plan. Spend money on rail, buses, and the infrastructure related to these much needed systems. Our roads are in fine shape. That way projects like the Coral Gables Trolley continue to get funding, while other money is free to be spent on, oh, I don’t know, maybe a few bus shelters (around International Mall maybe)?
  • Increase fares to be consistent with our how efficient our system is. Don’t over do it. We want to pay for our transit, but we want to get something in return.

You need to rebuild our confidence in your ability to provide us with a functional and growing transit system. Very soon public perception of transit in this community is going to turn from being a nonessential ‘social good’ to an indispensable and basic part of the infrastructure of the city. When that happens, when people start to feel like they have no choice but to get in their cars at $8.00 a gallon, watch out Commissioners and company. The mob will be ruthless, and the storming of the Bastille will seem like a trip to Disneyworld in comparison to your worth in the public eye.

As some of you may have noticed, two of Transit Miami’s writers, Andrew Davis and James Wilkins, have departed due to personal time constraints. Meanwhile we welcome the addition of our latest writer, Rob Jordan, who will be working his way into the website over the next few weeks. Transit Miami is looking for some new talent to contribute to the site weekly, if you think you’ve got what it takes to write for Transit Miami, send us an email and some writing samples: movemiami@gmail.com…

Local:

  • Palmetto Bay NIMBYs are fighting an unlikely foe: Palmer Trinity. When residents turn their backs against school expansion out of a fear of more traffic, there is something critically wrong… (Miami Herald)
  • Despite the overwhelming success of the Coral Gables Trolley, plus numerous reports and independent studies which underline the very basic point that the transit system reduces city congestion and the need for 713 downtown parking spaces, Vice Mayor William Kerdyk is still having trouble finding a steady funding stream for the Coral Gables Trolley… (Coral Gables Gazette)
  • The Sunpost, has become the latest newspaper to publicize Norman Braman’s efforts to hoodwink the community into thinking that streetcars, tunnels, and public works projects are a sham… (SunPost)
  • The Public Works department has made a recommendation to cancel the 104 street widening project in west Kendall. (Community Newspapers)

Elsewhere:

  • Damien Goodmon proposes the most asinine reason why a Light Rail Line should not be built in Los Angeles: Kids leaving school will get hit by the passing trains… (L.A. City Beat)
  • Is Suburbia the natural evolution of development? Nope! (Planetizen)
  • Phobia of Public Transportation? Have no fear Stagecoach has prepared a manual for Britons who have become too accustomed to personal vehicles, explaining the intricacies that come with riding a bus. (Telegraph)
  • The Air Car: The world’s first fully air powered, zero emission vehicle to go on sale by summer 2009 in India and some other select countries. The $12,700 CityCAT is powered by 340 Liters of compressed air at 4350 psi, can travel up to 68 mph, and has an estimated range of 125 miles. (Popular Mechanics)
  • Photographs of the BMW X6 sport utility coupe. (It’s Knuttz)
  • A Funeral Dinner on a subway. (Oddity Central)

The Coral Gables Gazette recently published a troubling article on a trolley study conducted by the University of Miami’s Industrial Engineering department. Troubling not because of the results of the study but because of how ridiculously logical the conclusions were. The simplicity can be summed up best by the CGG’s article title: New study: Trolley saves 712 parking space per day. You don’t say? Transit actually reduces the number of parking spaces needed in an urban area, what’s next, you’re going to suggest transit reduces congestion?

Engineering, calculates that the trolley saves the city 712 parking spaces a day and reduces the amount of vehicle traffic along the route by 1.2 million miles a year.

Gasp! Obviously we’re floored that this can still be considered newsworthy and is typically not common knowledge. Coral Gables commissioners are considering affixing a charge to ride the system which is currently free. Not all city commissioners appear to be happy with the success:

[Commissioner Ralph] Cabrera also reiterated past complaints that the trolley system had evolved from its original purpose as a downtown circulator into more of a connector between county mass transit systems.

Who cares as long as the system effectively reduces congestion in the Coral Gables Downtown Core? Since the city is unwilling to reduce the parking requirements for buildings to begin with, we might as well reduce the need for all the parking being built anyway. Although I agree MDT should do more to help the city transit service, axing the project would cause too many problems. At least someone sees the benefits brought forth by the system:

[Vice Mayor William] Kerdyk said that the independent study, which he points out that he didn’t even commission, should erase any doubts to the effectiveness and importance of the system although he wasn’t sure that questions regarding budgeting for the trolley system would go away as a result of the study.

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