Update: a resolution was passed today by the City of Miami Beach Parking and Transportation Committee to move forward with preliminary studies regarding Bay Link….

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49 Responses to We Want Baylink!

  1. Steven says:

    This community desperately needs BayLink. I remember one time traveling on TriRail south from Lake Worth… When we stopped by Ft. Lauderdale International, several people clearly from out of town got on and were complaining about all the walking to get to transit and they were heading to the beach. When we transferred onto Metrorail, there were lots of complaints because the station was very dingy and run-down, but then they came to the realization that they would need yet another transfer to get to the beach and because Metrorail was a little behind schedule, they feared they would miss the bus.

    This story is a strong motivator for a couple things (sending TriRail down the FEC corridor as well as establishing a connection to the beach). The thing which concerns me most about the picture linked here is the confusion in downtown. Why can’t there instead be a simpler loop downtown like there is on the beach side?


  2. Tony Garcia says:

    Good point. My big beef is that it doesn’t connect to our existing Metrorail. We should have one consistent system, not ten different lines requiring multiple transfers.


  3. Oscar says:

    With the “indefinite delay” (cancellation – cough cough) of the Orange Line, is Bay Link still even being considered? It’s a critical piece of infrastructure for our future but I haven’t heard anything of it in a while. Is the County finally considering building this?


  4. Steve says:

    The last I heard, Miami Beach is the holdup… They don’t want any of the “riff-raff” from Downtown to polute their happy little pool or something…


  5. Oscar says:

    Yeah, I remember that being the primary issue before but figured that funding would be a problem now that the County has basically come clean and said that they chose to hire thousands of new workers instead of building new miles of mass transit. Hopefully this will get done. Is this Bay Link map part of something being considered by the County?


  6. Tony Garcia says:

    There was a meeting today on Miami Beach bringing this item for discussion. It may have some hopes…


  7. M says:

    This weekend I watched the Miami Beach City Commission meeting from last week in which they were discussing the Port of Miami Tunnels. Commissioner Wolfson was asking Florida Dept. of Transportation representatives how that project would impact Baylink. The FDOT officials did not have good news. Apparently, the widening of I-395 bridge from downtown to Watson Island will use the underwater foundations that would have supported Baylink. To build Baylink in the future, new foundations will have to be built and that will make the project that much more expensive. The FDOT officials said that Baylink was not being taken into consideration when construction the Port of Miami Tunnel because the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization has not included it on its long-range plan and therefore, it is not likely to be built at anytime in the foreseeable future.

    What this means is that if we want Baylink, it is up to us. No one from the county, city, or state even has Baylink on the radar. The only thing that can save it (in my opinion) is a full-scale grassroots campaign to raise awareness, money, and political will necessary to build it. Anyone have any ideas how to get something like that started?


  8. Steve says:

    its a shame that essentially one group of narrow-minded people holds up a worthwhile project that could potentially change the face of Miami into a managable place to live and function without a car.

    Hmmmm I can actually take that line and cut and paste it into the Miami 21 discussions too!


  9. Anon says:

    I don’t understand why Overtown didn’t riot when a few Miami Beach racists tried to kill Baylink. What does the Miami commissioner for that district think? Anyone send an email to him?


  10. Mike Moskos says:

    One way to lower the cost is to cut all those stations downtown–just connect it to Metrorail and Metromover for now. Foreign tourists love transit–they take transit and stay in expensive hotels.

    I think it will take a combo of MUCH high gas prices, expressway tolls to the beach, higher Miami Beach parking rates, and just plain congestion to get more public support for BayLink. The broad public just assumes they’ve never use it, so they don’t want to pay for it (but are quite happy to see gobs of welfare money go for highways and airports).

    By the way, I’m almost finished with the book, “Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service” by James McCommons. GOOD read. Miami Dade library has it. The main argument that rail supporters are coalescing around is this: there is not enough room for the highways (much less money for) needed just for the U.S.’s expected natural population increase. Rail is much cheaper–esp. since much of the existing rail lines are still in place. Those lines may be decrepit, rotting, bikeways, etc. or carrying much freight, but they already exist. Getting rail going, is not as difficult (and is a fraction of cost) for building new roads. Rail is a good career for the future.

    I will leave with this: $1 billion for a car/truck tunnel to the port and rail still doesn’t go into the port to move freight. Or $1 billion+ in recent construction at the airport on the eve of peak oil’s effects. Not enough long term thinking.


  11. Oscar says:

    Yeah, a lot of the routes downtown seem to overlap with the existing Metromover line. I wonder if this plan calls for new rail to be built there or for the Bay Link vehicles to share Metromover’s tracks. At the very least, it looks like the plan calls for new tracks to extend north on Biscayne Blvd. in front of the American Airlines Arena. Adding new elevated tracks downtown along the pictured route seems somewhat redundant considering the nearby Metromover and can pose a significant obstacle to achieving Bay Link’s primary goal: Providing mass transit to South Beach. It’s proven difficult enough to accomplish that without the extra hurdles. Bay Link should just link (get it) existing transit, primarily Metrorail, to destinations on Watson Island and South Beach.


  12. Oscar says:

    With that said, this thing needs to get built. It’ll unite one of our more successful communities, South Beach, with one which hopes to one day match that success, Downtown, helping foster development and growth in both.


  13. Steve says:

    Oscar, somewhere on the MPO website they have the project documents including how BayLink would interact with the environments planned. They also include these really cool pictures that put computer generated models into the current conditions.

    Downtown is supposed to be at-grade or operating at street level. If memory serves me correct it is supposed to operate in a dedicated lane like a Streetcar. The only true elevated segments were going to be crossing the bay only. Miami Beach once again is at-grade.


  14. Steve says:

    This is the 2004 presentation in PDF format.



  15. tomas says:

    We need to move past the complaining online stage of trying to get mass transit to happen. There are lots of great insights and people who frequent this blog, and we have the potential to start organizing. If we want to see baylink, the orange line, light rail, etc., we need to build a transit riders union. We get out there, we flyer, we talk to people, and we take action. The reality is that mass transit is in the interest of most people, but it’s against the interest of the economic elites and bureaucrats. We should try to get together a meeting to build organization, craft plans, and put ourselves out there. Lots of other cities are already starting this process


  16. Gabrielle says:

    What a change at TPC from last year, when the Committee would not even let Wilson Fernandez from the MPO speak on the matter! Perhaps it was the big fish Allen Fishman brought to the meeting that made the sway: Mayor Neisen Kasdin. It could be said it was His Honor who brought the trolley to the tracks, but it was the next Mayor and Commission who refused to let it leave the station, despite the will people who voted 3 to 1 in favor of the Streetcar at referendum. If this new Commission is truly ‘Resident Oriented” they will jump on the train now, so we can be well placed in the Federal feed line when the opportunity, ( read: money) is available in the next big T-Bill….. we will need close to $700 million dollars for just the proposed crossing of the Bay, (if that alignment holds, and yes, the pilings are there at the MacC, and FDOT cares not that they are displaced over the tunnel), and the Miami Beach LPA shown on the map….. Many thanks to Steve for digging up the presentation and for everyone’s thoughtful comments…..


  17. M says:

    I fully agree with Tomas and that is what I was alluding to in my earlier post. All the discussion in the world on this blog gets us nowhere and we cannot criticize anyone for doing nothing, if we ourselves do nothing. I would be happy to help out with a transit union or transit coalition of some sort. Who else? Let’s start it up and see what we can get done.


  18. Gabrielle says:

    M: There is a group on Miami Beach: Alliance for Reliable Transport, who were the public champions of Baylink, back in the day. I know the group is still active, and could use all the support, new ideas and energy you can muster!


  19. M says:

    Thanks Gabrielle. I found their website http://www.protransit.org but all it has is videos of the never built Baylink. Anyone have any other information about this group?


  20. tomas says:

    Interesting about ART. There is no contact info on there though, do you have a contact? Are they Miami Beach only? Honestly Miami and the suburbs is where the overwhelming majority of working class people live who desperately need cheap rapid transit to get to work, and for daily usage. We should link up and work with these people if they’re interested, but we’ll need to expand our scope. I’m excited to hear about them though.


  21. TransitDave says:

    Sorry to piss on the baylink parade, but the last action the Miami Beach city gov’t took was to endorse Baylink, with the provision that NO LOCAL FUNDS, NOT EVEN MIAMI BEACH PTP LOCAL SHARE FUNDS,WOULD BE USED TO BUILD BAYLINK.

    In other words, if the rest of the county paid for the construction and on-going maintenance and operation, then Miami Beach was all for it. As a city of Miami resident, I give my middle finger salute to that plan, and remind them that the county has other priorities like the Orange Line……On the other hand, if Miami Beach wants to pay for their share of the system, have at it…….Personally, I think it would not be a commuting option once the novelty factor wore off, simply because it would be no quicker a ride than the bus service we already have, and it would get stuck in SOBE traffic just like the buses do now.
    It would be a scenic ride though, no disputing that…….


  22. TransitDave says:

    ART was headed by by a guy named Randy Needle, if memory serves…..


  23. M says:

    TransitDave, you are only partially correct. Baylink would not use traffic lanes on the MacArthur Causeway. If you travel that road at all, you will see that it is congested quite often, especially during weekends and special events. That would be the big benefit of Baylink. If it conveniently connects to Metrorail, perhaps all the people coming to the beach from Kendall would use it not only to avoid traffic, but avoid the need to find parking once they got to the beach.


  24. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree with TD. To truly influence transit usage beyond being a simple novelty it will need to be seamless with the metrorail, which it doesn’t look like it will as a streetcar. The service times and frequency of a streetcar cannot compare with a real rail service. Not to mention you carry far more people with rail than with a streetcar. A sensible alternative to the loops shown above would be a simple connection to the existing metrorail that runs along NW 11th Terrace. Let the metromover take care of local downtown transit. The Metrorail could extend to 5th and collins and simply stop there. The Beach could then implement its own local streetcar service.
    Bottom line is that the distance separating Miami from Miami Beach makes this a poor candidate for a streetcar connection. It needs to be a higher speed service….


  25. TransitDave says:

    Tony, I see that my rants here are doing some good……I’ve got some old, old info and graphics on the east-west subway if you ever want to publish ’em….TD


  26. tomas says:

    I agree a direct connection to metrorail in the long term makes more sense. I don’t know how that would work in South beach, I’m not an urban planner so I can’t speak to that. The reality is though without a collective voice capable of pressuring city and county officials, their proposals will only reflect the interests of business and government. It’s nice to speculate about possibilities, but they will never generate the revenue for such a project without serious pressure. Business interests would rebel against the taxation necessary to properly fund transit. That can be overcome, but only with serious public pressure.


  27. Steven says:

    oooh! you mean the ones that had the east-west corridor for metrorail going under ground somewhere around the Orange Bowl/Marlins Stadium site and then ending on the Beach or the Port???


  28. Felipe Azenha says:

    I’m on board for the Metrorail extension as well; it makes more sense than Baylink. Seamless,faster and the carrying capacity is much higher.


  29. Tony Garcia says:

    TD. definitely send what you have.


  30. tomas says:

    please send me the contact info of ART or if anyone is interested in working on this stuff email me

    logos at riseup dot net


  31. Steve says:

    The biggest problem I see with a Metrorail extension to the Beach is property. I believe that the necessary space needed for the track would wind up being cost prohibative. Additionally, it would not service the entire beach as adequately as a streetcar could. The amount of space needed to turn a Metrorail-type heavy rail car would be very prohibative of working on the beach.

    This being said, I agree with many of the posters in that working within traffic would create some issues, especially on the Beach side where people like to linger and people watch from their cars. I don’t feel that grade seperation is the key though. Instead, a single dedicated-Streetcar only lane would be more advantaguous. If managed and timed correctly, a single track would be able to support both directions with double tracking only at the stations. Since this is Miami though and the concept of “Managed Correctly” is as foreign a concept as good politics, then double tracking would have to occurr.


  32. Tony Garcia says:

    The ROW costs are negligible….metrorail would run within existing ROW. Light rail baylink runs along an elevated line just like metrorail (along the mcarthur). Since Miami Beach doesn’t want to pay for baylink, let the county foot tHe bill for the extension- but not local travel within Miami beach. With two metro rail stops at 5th and Alton and 5th and Collins you effectively reach over one half of the population of south beach. This is far less expensive than ripping up the street all over downtown and south beach – AND providing an elevated line to Miami beach. No downtown loop is necessary given the metromover. Duh.


  33. TransitDave says:

    Tony and gang…Just for laughs, let’s kick around the ideal situation (necessarily leaving the obscenely high price tag out of the discussion for now), and review all of the planning that went into the east-west subway back in the 1990’s…….We should be able to speak to some of the FDOT players, and provide a chronology of events, Remember, this project had a record of decision, and was the reason why they rushed thru the ill-fated transit not tolls referendum of 1999 (makes me feel old to recite all this ancient history)…….


  34. Oscar says:

    If Bay Link is built as an extension to the Metrorail, instead of a streetcar for all the reasons listed in the previous comments, some of the extra costs can be offset by only building one track. Since Metrorail is considerably faster and holds a higher capacity than a streetcar, one train running on one track can possibly transport more passengers than a group of streetcars. It’s the same sort of system used in New York City’s Time Square subway shuttle – single track with one train shuttling passengers back and forth.


  35. tomas says:

    Where does the airport line connect? Right around allapattah right or brownsville? It might be easier to go out across the julia tuttle in that instance?


  36. Mike Moskos says:

    Another question: why didn’t the original Baylink route run through the passenger areas of the port?

    By the time anything gets built, I think there would be more than enough traffic to support a Metrorail link from the airport, through the port, and on to South Beach. Maybe the final portions of this line could run at street level and get its power from an overhead line (or through batteries that charged during its travel through its elevated portions where there is a third rail).

    There are SO many reasons I prefer a street-level iight rail system, but if it runs through the port, it may have too many passengers to economically run street-level light rail (elevated heavy rail can have many more cars driven by 1 driver or even automated).

    Elevated heavy rail is like an interstate: it is super efficient at sucking the life out of a city, dispersing people to the suburbs, then reversing the process in the a.m. But, like an interstate, there’s generally a huge dead zone around the lines and the enormous stations. Street-level light rail has no dead zone. Baylink may need to be tweeked, but it should be built.


  37. Mike Moskos says:

    One more thing: Miami Beach’s mayor won her election with just under 6,000 votes (which is about the maximum number of votes it takes to win a Miami Dade Commissioner’s seat). Miami Transit says riders take 130,000 trips on transit every weekday (presumably much less on the weekends). Transit riders could EASILY be the deciding factor in every election in Miami Dade. And it wouldn’t take much to direct them to candidates who would favor transit over all other government spending.


  38. Jeff says:

    Ideally, I feel Miami Beach should have a streetcar and a Metrorail line. The streetcar could serve local transportation, similar to what the metromover does for downtown Miami (but for a fraction of the price), whereas the Metrorail would move people to/from the rest of the county. As for electing officials that are in favor of public transportation, I would be in favor of doing so.


  39. Tony Garcia says:

    I agee Jeff – that is exactly what I think!


  40. TransitDave says:

    I even agree, a streetcar circulator in SOBE would be popular, and could be done with local and probably state funding. It’s the Metrorail line, though, that would reduce the traffic in south Beach…Imagine how many people drive across the county to get to South Beach now, and how much county-wide traffic could be eliminated if they got on a train, to say nothing of freeing up the parking for those who choose to drive….Incidently, the estimated time to ride Metrorail from MIA to South Beach was about 23 minutes for the east-west line………How many Northeasterners would love a quick getaway to SOBE when they knew that they wouldn’t have to take a cab or rent a car in Miami? It would add a new dimension to tourism……But back to the streetcar, the goal of ART was in fact to get a streetcar circulator system built in SOBE, the Baylink project was the avenue to pursue it……I think they recognized that the circulator could have been more successfully pursued as stage 1 of baylink…..Anyway, Randy Needle may have left town, but they were really effectively advocating the SOBE streetcar untilabout the time the Miami streetcar project was proposed…….


  41. Jeff says:

    Seeing so many people desire such a system, I think this line should be the county’s priority. It was mentioned that most people live west, thus the metrorail should be expanded there. Although there is the potential for ridership, I don’t know anybody that works in either downtown Miami or downtown Dadeland. On the other hand, I know several people that attend the beach on a weekly basis during the summer. I feel if we got some hard numbers and presented them to MPO or SFTA we can get them to at least consider the line for their next expansion. Speaking of which, how many of you are going to the Transportation meeting next week? I am planning on going.


  42. Mike Moskos says:

    I think the Airport Express bus service is an attempt to establish ridership–a tourist (much less a worker) can’t beat $2.35 from the airport to the beach. BUT, new service really should run through the port to move passengers (and residents/workers) from the airport to the port for their cruises and then to the beach for extended stays on the beach. Ideally, it could do it without any transfers. On that note, does anyone know if the new extension to the airport is using the same Metrorail cars? Details on the website are real sketchy, but it looks like the new extension will connect to the ground level of the Earlington Heights station while Metrorail stops above–not the most convenient connection, but perhaps the best that could be done with the money available. Minimizing the walk for transit riders is key, that’s why stations need to be small and built right next to existing attractions/businesses.

    The Bush brothers were opposed to rail, but Obama is changing the tune (perhaps because Biden is a 30-year rail commuter or perhaps because transit is now the only viable option for congestion). We can expect more money for big transit projects (until the feds go bankrupt).

    I’ll be at the June 2 meeting: 2060ftp.org. Another study starting is: http://www.i-95alternatives.com


  43. tomas says:

    The problem with trying to elect official or just giving good arguments for transit is funding. Realistically when social services are being slashed all across the world, not just the US, we’re not going to get a real transit boost without a fight. Better transit implies more taxes. Realistically this would be felt by business, and they typically will fight such measures. We can elect all the politicians we want, but without having collective power to fight the business interests that control the politicians its pointless.


  44. Tony Garcia says:

    Mike: the extension to the airport from the MIC will be a monorail type. It will not be a direct metro-rail connection (meaning you will have to get off the train and reboard a different type of train.


  45. SoBeResident says:

    If we allow full service casinos in Miami Beach and Downtown mabe they will fund Baylink, the same as that nice monorail in Vegas the Casinos built.


  46. Daniel says:

    What happened with this? Is it really revived (the idea at least). The only news I’ve seen are the original articles from 2003. Did the preliminary studies take place?


  47. Daniel says:

    Moskos, its funny you mention national politics in favor of liberals, yet under Regan we got two entire transit systems, under Bush the economy was stellar (so good it crashed, you could say) and transit systems were planned including airport link which is happening, yet under Obama the Savior we’ve gotten nothing and the economy remains sucking.


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  49. myangeldust says:

    BAYLINK IS DEAD BECAUSE YOU WANTED IT DEAD (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2003-08-19/news/0308190115_1_beach-residents-miami-beach-miami-residents). Now everyone’s complaining that there’s no link to Miami Beach from the airport or anywhere else. But it’s really the people’s fault. They fought against it. Their politicians fought against it. Almost a decade ago you said NO based on culture-dilution, traffic congestion, island mentality, crime projections, and racist views. Now you’re crying for a Miami to MB connection? Try to get around that tunnel entrance and around that museum on Watson Island. Everything above this comment is moot.


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