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?

Tagged with:
 

19 Responses to Super-Bowl Weekend in Miami: Where Was Our Transit System?

  1. brody says:

    If only they actually cared about Miamians, and advocated for the Metro line, we’d have a plus for them and a plus for us. Not only that, but a Metro line to Joe Robbie Stadium, would boost hotel occupancies in Downtown and economic activities throughout the city as people will spend less time wasted in cars stuck in traffic, when they could be walking around Downtown spending money at restaurants, bars, shows, museums, etc.

    I think the NFL should put pressure on Joe Robbie Stadium to advocate strongly for the Metro Orange Line because it really would be a HUGE benefit for them more than anyone else along the line (perhaps also MDC-North). Think of the increased number of people in the stands that would be enticed to go to a game now that they don’t have to drive and only pay $2 to get there. UM students, Dolphins fans, Super Bowl, Orange Bowl, etc. etc. We need Metro expansions, so, so badly here.

       0 likes

  2. Ryan Sharp says:

    The sad irony there is that Arlington, TX is infamous for (as of 2007) being the largest city in America (365,000) without ANY public transportation. Enough said.

    http://www.planetizen.com/node/27135

       0 likes

  3. Prem says:

    Tony,
    these letters and post raise such a great point. The people paying the bills are oblivious to how the decisions they make affect our way of life. By not even considering the public transportation option as pivotal to deal with an influx of tourism all involved dropped the ball, as usual.
    Joe Robby stadium sits empty most of the year, taking up a lot of land and providing little benefit to the community.

    Aren’t we all glad they’re building ANOTHER stadium?

       0 likes

  4. John says:

    I gave up on Miami a long time ago. Born and raised here but looking to move out a.s.a.p.

       0 likes

  5. Mike Moskos says:

    I have to agree; I took the bus over to Lincoln Road Friday during the day; bus was packed to the gills (barely enough room to stand) in both directions. I find buses going back and forth to the beach like that a lot. Given that there isn’t enough county money for more bus trips, how come no entrepreneur has recognized this as the incredible opportunity it is?

       1 likes

  6. Transit Employee says:

    Miami-Dade Transit cannot provide shuttle bus or charter bus service to special events such as the Super Bowl as per FTA (Federal Transit Administration) rules. This is why the park/ride services for the Dolphins games and the UM Football games was discontinued years ago.

    The ideas make sense and MDT could have easily provided this service, but are hands are tied if we receive FTA funds.

       1 likes

  7. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree mike! Let’s start a business!

       1 likes

  8. TM READER says:

    I would like to hear more about what Transit can do, I am glad to hear a transit employee speak up, and hope to see more comments or posts from them.

       0 likes

  9. Johnny Remigio says:

    Note to Jennifer: The county does provide transportation for tourists! We have Alamo, Budget Rent a Car, Avis, Hertz, etc. It’s disappointing to say the least. I was born and raised in Miami, depended on my car for everything, and now I live in New York. What a change?! When you don’t have to focus on hour long traffic jams to and from places, your days really do change. Why is transit such a hard sell here?

       0 likes

  10. Rog in Miami Gardens says:

    Transit is a hard-sell in South Florida because most of the citizens who use it are TYPICALLY among the lowest social and economic rungs of our local society. In places/regions like Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco and even D.C., the transit system is well-used by members from all over the socio-economic landscape. It DOES make a difference when an attorney or an accountant who was late for work complains because the train was late, as opposed to a hotel short-order cook who was late for his shift. I know this seems elitist, but who would be more likely to have the time to complain and follow up with the complaint? That’s what I thought.

       0 likes

  11. Jennifer Garcia says:

    Glad to see I’m not alone in this thinking! While it would be great to have shuttle service to the game, and the Orange Line would be even better, I was referring to the temporary expansion of our current bus service (using the same routes). At the very least, MDT should provide us with the weekday schedule for these important events.
    I DO appreciate the explanation of the FTA guidelines; and would have to agree that I’d like to hear more from the MDT employees.

       0 likes

  12. brody says:

    What ever happened to the Miami Streetcar that’s supposed to connect Government Center with the Design District via Midtown? Is this still happening? Should I even ask about Baylink, or is that dead?

    http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2009/01/12/story6.html

    http://www.lightrailnow.org/images02/mia-lrt-stc-map-proposed-starter-line-2007_City-of-Miami_Metro-Jacksonville.gif

       0 likes

  13. Interesting idea – starting a transit business that would fill in the gaps that Government can’t or won’t.

    What are some of the low hanging fruit? Stadiums and games seem ideal if you can get targeted word out to fans.

    For instance, if they are talking about charging at least $10 and probably more like $20 to park in the garages being built in conjunction with the new baseball stadium, it seems like you could have a profitable business with a small van that would shuttle between the ballpark and the nearest Metrorail stations.

    Wonder if the new ballpark will include bike racks?

       0 likes

  14. Rog in Miami Gardens says:

    Tom, the challenges is how would we go about getting permits for that? I’m sure they’ll probably put us through the a lot of red-tape, right?

       0 likes

  15. Mike Moskos says:

    Rog,

    I think the whole idea is that the regulations/fees should be the barest possible minimum: insurance/liability requirements, posting the fare in big letters on all sides of the bus/van and some route map or route highlights. With minimal regulations, the fare could be lower (approaching the subsidized fare on gov. transit systems). In this particular case, I imagine it would be the Marlins, anxious to fill their garages to capacity, who would be the biggest obstacle.

       0 likes

  16. Lex says:

    Hate to say it, but I’m in the same boat as John. Miami has disappointed me time and time again. I’m off to Boston/NYC upon graduation.

    And I also must agree with Johnny. Your days seem less hectic and fast-paced when you don’t have to deal with traffic jams. Rush hours feel different in New York as you walk down the stairs into the station and take a 10-15 minute ride home on the 6 train, where the stop is about a block from your apartment. (assuming you work in lower manhattan and reside in the upper east side)

       0 likes

  17. Unfortunately we live in a city that lacks vision and cohesive direction when it comes to transit. Also we have a transit system that defeats itself if it is successful. So the result is that we don’t discuss the needs and continue down the same path.

    Consider that a great portion of transit funding comes from gasoline taxes….what would happen if we stop driving and take transit? So we need to change the way to fund transit, so as we leave our cars home or change to electric cars, we can still have the funding for public transportation.

    I think the discussion about privatizing some transit components is great. Consider that our new Marlin stadium has no connection for mass transit. I still don’t know why this stadium was not placed near the Arena where we already had transit infrastructure, but finding out why will not change the fact that next year when it opens cars will once again flood little Havana and the local residents will try to make a few bucks from people who will drive to see a game.

    As I was having lunch at Garcia’s on the River yesterday and seeing the stadium from there, I thought how wonderful it would be to eat at Garcia’s and then take a water taxi to within walking distance of the stadium.

    The only problem with trying to get private companies to provide these services, is that while our local government does not do a good job in planning ahead, they do a great job at discouraging private ventures.

       0 likes

  18. Tony Garcia says:

    Great points Carlos. The upcoming increase in gas prices (which is already starting to occur) will be the only way we will get real change in the way we plan our city, but we will also face a serious shortage of funds to expand mass transit because of faulty funding mechanisms.

       0 likes

  19. Alex Baquero-Lima says:

    Exactly why we shouldn’t have an FTA.

       0 likes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.