Written by Miami Today on August 6, 2009
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NO MORE FREE RIDE?: Miami-Dade commissioners continue to consider charging to ride downtown Miami’s now-free Metromover. At a public meeting on transit between Commission Chair Dennis Moss and Transit, Infrastructure and Roads Committee Chair Barbara Jordan, Mr. Moss asked whether Ms. Jordan is planning to propose a fee, observing that some folks seem to loiter on the mover. Ms. Jordan — in an attempt to combat transit budget woes — recently explored charging a quarter to ride but found it wouldn’t cover the cost of starting fare collections. Upping it to 50 cents "may be something that we take a look at," she said. "I do feel that we need to get some resources out of that." Revenue from a voter-approved, self-imposed half-penny surtax for transit improvements was meant to fund free mover service as well as new projects such as Metrorail extensions. Commissioners this year agreed to allow up to 90% of surtax revenue to fund operations and maintenance of the existing system, apologizing to voters for "over-promising" surtax capacity in pitching the tax in 2002. Meanwhile, transit works recently removed the turnstiles for the mover.
PARIMUTUEL PROTEST: Reacting to the prospect of slot machine gambling at Miami International Airport, state Rep. Marcelo Llorente of Miami is looking to close what aviation officials see as a window of opportunity. Miami-Dade is considering Las Vegas-style slots as part of an arsenal of revenue-generating initiatives. But to have a shot, the county had to quickly apply for a quarter-horse racing permit — now a pre-requisite for slots — as the clock ticks on an agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe.The pending gambling pact would trigger legislation that would restrict quarter-horse racing and accompanying slots. "Now, Miami International Airport seeks to squeeze in as the Legislature is closing the door on the quarter-horse loophole," Mr. Llorente wrote in a letter to Charles Drago, secretary of the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The legislator is asking the department to hold off on approving the airport’s application and others, asserting that "Such delay would give the Legislature the opportunity to act and give clarity to its intent to close the quarter-horse loophole."
FEWER OVERNIGHTERS: Fewer overnight visitors came to Miami in the first five months of 2009 than in January-May 2008. International visitors decreased 2.9%, while domestic visits plunged 6.1%, says the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. Overall, 5.19 million people spent the night, off 4.6% from the first five months of 2008.
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