The latest disconnect: two rail systems where one is vital
Written by Michael Lewis on February 9, 2016
We’ll never add to Miami-Dade County’s mobility if every government keeps going its own way, with nobody making sure that we connect transit modes.
Last week we lamented that 28 governments run buses or trolleys in this county with no coordination. Any schedule links – and they’re few – are informal.
Separately, we wrote that the 119-year-old City of Miami still has no full-blown transportation plan even within its own borders, much less to link with the county and other cities to make travel seamless and simple.
Now the latest imbecility: one of the few coordinated plans among major governments – to create a single transit line through Miami Beach and across the bay to mainland Miami – has splintered.
Miami Beach now intends to build its own rail system, taking its own bids and setting up its own rail line. Meanwhile, former partners in the county and City of Miami are left to build their own lines later on, using technology that might differ so much from Miami Beach’s that they’d never connect into a single seamless ride.
And so we go, everyone in charge of his own destiny and doing his own thing, meaning that nobody is in charge across city borders and any ability to get around beyond the convenience – or inconvenience – of the automobile is purely coincidental.
It had been heartening that a Metropolitan Planning Organization team involved in a Baylink aim to unite mainland and beach had been on one page to create a unified system with one technology and no transfers. Now there’s to be no single system, and even transfers are in doubt.
Two unconnected systems beat none – but what a missed opportunity to create not only compatibly but one rail service.
Already Metrorail cannot run on Metromover lines and 28 bus systems run independently and rarely link. Now we’re going to add not one but two rail systems that might never be compatible with anything else.
As we said last week, what a way to run a railroad – or any transit system.
It’s very nice that our 34 municipalities, county government, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, local Florida Department of Transportation Offices and all are independent. Every government wants to make its own decisions locally. We don’t disparage that.
But in transportation, at least, too much independence does more harm than good, because transportation needs are regional. Transportation is not confined to municipal boundaries. It is decidedly not local.
Most of us travel in multiple jurisdictions – cities, villages, counties. The only mode that runs seamlessly through all of them without a transfer is now the automobile – the vehicle we’re trying to diversify from as traffic slows in congestion.
As for Baylink, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez was quoted as saying last week “I would like to be compatible. But it may be that there will have to be a connecting point.”
As he well knows, every connection or transfer decreases convenience and hence use.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization, the unwieldy transportation planner for the county, is just now getting around to studying how to connect all the bus and trolley systems. The City of Miami is just now thinking about a unified transportation plan in its own borders.
It’s a shame, then, that the Baylink team seems to be breaking apart just as others are very belatedly looking at putting as much as possible together to add mobility as auto congestion subtracts from it.
As population grows without new or expanded roads, we must do as much as possible as fast as possible to maximize transit help.
It’s a case of less is better: the fewer independent transit systems and operators, the faster we will get around Miami-Dade County.