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Front Page » Transportation » New Metromover fare rolls ahead

New Metromover fare rolls ahead

Written by on February 18, 2015
New Metromover fare rolls ahead

A Miami-Dade commission committee has approved a plan to charge Metromover passengers to ride the elevated transportation system. The 4.4-mile system that serves downtown Miami and Brickell is currently free.

The decision came after much debate.

Commissioners who backed the change said charging would help beef up transit department coffers and that Miami-Dade should tap into this revenue source, especially now that a building boom is swelling Brickell and downtown.

Commissioner Barbara Jordan, a co-sponsor, said charging a fare is a way to transfer the cost of public transportation to people who can more afford it, such as those living and working downtown, from those who can least afford it, meaning people who don’t qualify for a county subsidy to use mass transit in other parts of the county.

“If we are going to have this to continue to be free, then we’re losing out on opportunities of growth and development in downtown from a constituency who can more afford to pay,” she said. “To me, we’re transferring it from where we could give discounts to people who can’t afford it to people who can afford it and we’re letting them ride free.”

Others on the dais said a paid system would cut ridership and that the financials don’t work out to give the county a solid yield.

“If there is a huge surplus to be made, then I would be supportive,” said Commissioner Dennis Moss. “But there is not a huge surplus to be made.”

If a 50-cent fare is charged, it could take the county five to 10 years to recover the initial capital expense, according to a county analysis. In addition, it would cost the county $475,000 a year to operate and maintain a fare-collection system.

According to the analysis, ridership on the Metromover would drop if there were a fare because riders would opt to take the free City of Miami trolley.

Metromover wasn’t always free. Riders used to pay 25 cents per trip. In 2002 voters approved a half-penny sales surtax that, among other transit projects, subsidizes fare-free Metromover.

Metromover “is not free, but it’s not a fare-collecting system. It’s paid by another revenue source,” said Commissioner Bruno Barreiro.

Ridership soared once the 25-cent fare was removed.

Weekday ridership in November 2002, the month Metromover first became free, increased about 52% from November 2001, county records show, and weekend ridership increased about 80%.

The Transit and Mobility Services Committee last week voted 3-2 to call for fares on the Metromover. The measure needs a two-thirds vote of the full commission to pass.

Some on the committee said they want to keep Metromover free but, at the same time, the county’s transportation department could use the revenue.

“They [residents] pay a price, and with that tax we give services in return,” said Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. “It’s a simple equation, but sometimes it’s a very difficult equation because sometimes that tax does not cover those services and supplementation comes into play.… We could talk about it all day long, but in the end of the day where’s the money coming from?”

13 Responses to New Metromover fare rolls ahead

  1. DC Copeland

    February 18, 2015 at 11:23 am

    “…We could talk about it all day long, but in the end of the day where’s the money coming from?” Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz asked. Well, if the commission hadn’t tampered with the 1/2 cent sales tax voters wanted set aside for mass trans projects– and I suspect “Pepe” and Jordan among others on the commission were responsible over the years for the systemic emasculation of the once virile Peoples Transportation Plan (an autonomous entity set up to oversee that the money raised through the tax was to be directed to transportation and nothing else)– you would have had the money necessary for maintaining and expanding mass transit and keeping MetroMover free. When you already know that historically ridership will drop if a fare is levied and installation of fare collecting equipment will cost close to half a million dollars, why is this even being considered?

  2. Marc

    February 18, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Just shows how incompetent elected officials of this area are (Sarnoff and Barreiro). Brickell and Downtown area give so much to the city in property taxes and yet streets and sidewalks in several areas of brickell and downtown are in poor and dirty conditions. Now they are taking away a service that was offered to them for free. If you are taking away services you should at least reuse most of the money they are already giving you in taxes to revinvest in public spaces. Not to mention the hefty developer fees city has been getting for the past 3 years and will continue for at least another 3. These officials are a disgrace.

  3. William Fairchild

    February 18, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Another incompetent insane move by our esteemed politicians. I thank the above commenters and ask to have this matter put to vote from us, the public !

  4. Martim

    February 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Yet another perfect example of futility by our publicly-elected officials…

    I give it only a matter of time before the Hobo’s are the only souls riding the MetroMover once this fare is enacted…

    Where did all the transportation tax money go when the half-cent was put into place???? Where can we see and hold people accountable for this money?

  5. Justin

    February 18, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    “Commissioner Barbara Jordan, a co-sponsor, said charging a fare is a way to transfer the cost of public transportation to people who can more afford it, such as those living and working downtown, from those who can least afford it, meaning people who don’t qualify for a county subsidy to use mass transit in other parts of the county.”

    This logic is so erroneous, I can’t even reason what she’s suggesting. Does Commissioner Jordan really think people with means will elect to pay for the Metromover rather than hiring an Uber or Lyft (or driving themselves)? Has there been any surveying to see if people will actually continue to ride if there’s a fee? Do we know what the mover ridership consists of? Is it a majority of lower income individuals who use it to commute or is it folks with money to spare (or tourists)? Seems like there’s a ton of speculation about who uses the service and the revenue it could “potentially” generate. That’s not normally a position I like to make such substantial decisions from. Dare we ask for more concrete data before jumping in?

  6. Angel M.

    February 18, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    While in principle no public transit is “free”, this is not going to work because the Mover doesn’t really go to any place that is not serve by other forms of transit, including buses and just plain walking. I know sometimes I ride the MetroMover to the Omni from Downtown because it’s free and I have time, but I could just as easily walk there. Same with Brickell to Downtown. Heck, I might be an exception but I’ve walked to Wynwood instead of waiting for the Biscayne trolley that never comes when you need it.

    So unless they start coordinating the smorgarsbord of transit options they have created (bus, MetroRail, Mover, trolleys, upcoming HSR and oh, let us not forget the water taxis!!!) so one can easily transfer from one to the other without wasting time, I see no reason why I, and perhaps most other people, can’t take a bus instead or just plain walk to wherever the Mover goes.

  7. global reach

    February 18, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    How about we stop giving free passes to seniors too, that would save more money.

  8. Casey Piket

    February 18, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    What bothers me about the reasons for levying a fee to ride the Metromover is that is seems it is strictly to just keep it running. If the fees were for Metromover station upgrades and an extension of the tracks, I would understand. Elevators need replacing and the escalators don’t work at half of the MM stations. Ridership was growing at a pace where there was a need to add cars just to keep up with the traffic. That will change when a fee is charged.

    How is the City of Miami crying poverty for the services that every big city provides when vacant lots and parking garages are being converted into skyscraper residential towers? The property tax base should be sky rocketing right now.

    One answer is that they continue to provide incentives to developers in the form of property tax subsidies as an incentive to build on land that sits in the middle of the hottest real estate market in the world. City governments should provide basics such as mass transit systems that keep up with it population growth. Miami’s City Commission seems more concerned about catering to developers while making bad business decisions. They should have been planning for mass transit 7 years ago, rather than waiting to implement a pre-2002 approach to paying for the inadequate current system.

  9. Alice

    February 19, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    well that sucks. i guess more reason for me to move out of Brickell.

  10. Juan Carlos Contreras

    February 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    I fear charging a fee will just encourage people to not take Metromover at all. Currently, it’s an attractive alternative to walking, driving, and taking the bus. Particularly when it’s really hot (which is most of the year).

    It’s a shame we can’t be discussing extensions of Metrorail, because the transit improvement we really need in our city is more Metrorail to more places. Our city needs to mature beyond being a auto-oriented city. Look to the successfully, albeit much older, transit-oriented cities of the Northeast- Boston or NYC for what Miami could be. Can we do it?

  11. VICTOR

    February 20, 2015 at 2:10 am

    WoooW! I didn’t think they had the guts to do it. Now lets work on expanding the metro throughout the city.

  12. Ben Grimm

    February 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    The fare hike hasn’t passed yet, folks. Contrary to the title of this article, a subcommittee of five supposed transit experts has approved the hike. It still needs two-thirds of the BCC to pass.

    If the commissioners have any common sense left, they’ll vote no. If two-thirds of them actually believe the government can turn a profit from this then those of us adverse to walking will no longer endure overcrowded Metromover cars again.

    It’s the saddest version of a win-win scenario.

  13. Michael Cole

    February 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    If we approved a 1/2 cent tax to make the Metromover free, then if a fee is charged the 1/2 cent tax should be rescinded.