Elimination Of Trirail Weekend Service Weekday Service Cuts Imminent
Written by Risa Polansky on May 7, 2009
By Risa Polansky
Efforts to win a dedicated funding stream dead and an eleventh-hour push to snag a one-time bailout derailed, Tri-Rail officials are preparing to eliminate weekend trains and cut weekday service by about 20 daily trips beginning Oct. 5.
South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Chair Josephus Eggelletion Jr. has authorized authority Executive Director Joseph Giulietti to bring the board this month a budget reflecting the lessened service, which Mr. Giulietti said could only be maintained for about 18 months.
"It looks bleak by now, basically, for the operation of the system," authority board member and Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said, calling service cuts "imminent."
Proponents pushed during this year’s regular legislative session to pin down dedicated revenue for the South Florida commuter rail, seeking to add $2 to the state rental car surcharge.
When a bid for proposed Central Florida line SunRail died last week, so did that chance.
Hoping for stop-gap funding to allow Tri-Rail to provide full service at least through next fiscal year, eight senators — seven from South Florida, one from Central Florida — pled for $30 million in a Sunday letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul.
Failure to secure dedicated revenue "has led to a crisis that threatens thousands of jobs and the futures of families who depend on Tri-Rail on a daily basis," they wrote. "We intend to work together to establish a dedicated funding source for Tri-Rail’s future. But to achieve that future, we must assure that Tri-Rail can sustain its operations into the next legislative session."
The last-minute push failed.
Legislators printed the budget Monday — absent a Tri-Rail fund boost.
The session ends Friday.