Tricounty Transportation Thrust Seen Short Of Unity
By Candi Calkins
With South Florida already poised to upgrade its Regional Transit Organization, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has decided to go further and seek a full-blown authority.
The chamber’s new work plan seeks "establishment of a Regional Transportation Authority… with the ability to self-fund and implement transportation programs for the entire region."
The current unfunded coalition, said Allen Harper, chamber transportation committee head, has seen limited success in coordinating bus schedules and mass transit systems in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
"Everyone recognizes that the three counties are linked inextricably," said Jose Luis Mesa, director of Miami-Dade’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. "The idea, I think, has a future.
"We do have the shell now" for a tri-county effort, he said.
The organization will soon be renamed the South Florida Regional Transportation Organization if county commissions and Metropolitan Planning Organizations in the three counties approve.
Henry Sori, transportation systems analyst for the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization, said at the chamber’s weekend goals conference that the pending amendment broadens the agency’s reach to include transportation planning.
"The whole goal and key of the South Florida Regional Transportation Organization is looking on a regional basis," Mr. Sori said, focusing on projects that have an area-wide impact to "create a seamless transportation system."
Projects in the works, he said, include a commuter transit voucher program and an information network.
Transportation planners said regional cooperation is a key. Danny Alvarez, director of the Miami-Dade Transit Agency, said coordination already has increased state funding.
He said 21 transportation agencies coordinated efforts this year, lifting transit allocations for South Florida to $28 million from $9.6 million the prior year.
Mr. Alvarez said it would be better for the three counties to start creating an authority now rather "than for it to be imposed."