From the Transit Miami inbox, concerned reader Jennifer Garcia writes:
Dear Transit Miami Team,
The direction in which Miami-Dade Transit is heading toward has started to concern me, as it probably concerns several people sharing the interest of seeing this city reaching its potential. I understand that times are tough and that budget cuts are inevitable. I also understand that the American car-oriented mindset does not lend itself to public transit. However, I do NOT understand why with one of the biggest American events of the year held right here in town, why Miami-Dade Transit didn’t jump on this opportunity.
On my way to the Beach to watch the big game, I sat in the back of a very crowded bus. My thoughts were on the amount of people in this bus, but more on the amount of revenue Miami-Dade Transit must have been making this past weekend. I thought, this must be great, both for local businesses AND for MDT’s budget. Unfortunately, these fond and hopeful thoughts of our transit system soon changed course into disappointment, embarrassment, and anger in my journey back home. As an average transit rider, I have had my share of bus/metro “adventures” -but I think this particular bus-waiting experience wasn’t as much of a personal let-down, as much as embarrassment of the city that I love. It took me over three hours to get home; not due to traffic, but simply the lack of respect bus drivers and their management team seem to have toward their patrons. As I waited at one too many bus stops, I couldn’t help but overhear comments from both locals and visitors. As much as I care about my locals, it was the visitors’ comments that concerned me: “This is ridiculous; I’ve been waiting here for over an hour;” and “Shouldn’t this bus be running now, it’s not even 11;” or “Well, I had to wait even longer last night” and “I thought this was the city that never sleeps”…
Obviously, this wasn’t just any ordinary Miami weekend, but a completely MISSED opportunity for a city building itself on tourism. How are we going to invite thousands of people to our city, but not offer them reliable transportation? Its not like Miami-Dade didn’t know about this particular event – it’s practically an official holiday! Even free taxi rides from restaurants/bars were offered, yet simply running more frequent buses or even after 10 PM wasn’t considered. Together, we need to ensure that the next big Miami-hosted event provides for our visitors’ transit needs so they can truly enjoy the city we care about.
It didn’t surprise me that on the same day that I received this letter I also read this headline out of next year’s Superbowl host Arlington, Texas: “Mass Transit to play key role for Super Bowl in Arlington,”
“We were caught in several significant traffic jams there,” he said about his Miami trip, which he took with Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Irving Mayor Herbert Gears. “We are going to have to concentrate on that. It’s a real displeasure if people are stuck in traffic for a long period of time.”
The Miami Superbowl host committe should be strongly advocating mass transit (can anyone say the Orange Line Phase 2???) rather than arguing for a roof as a way of keeping the Superbowl in town. The ironies are obvious. An expensive roof structure for a single game in Miami’s dry season (once every four or five years)…investing in empty parking infrastructure around the stadium rather than in a mas transit project that runs right to your doorstep (a project that is already far into the planning stages, and which will provide a realistic mass transit alternative for people to get to the stadium- all year round!) All this, and the only thing the latest owners of Joe Robbie can think about is getting a public subsidy for improvements to their property. Sigh…what will they ask us next?
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