Transportation Panel Oks Spending 16 Million On Metromover
By Shannon Pettypiece
The occasional delays, squeaky brakes and worn interiors of downtown Miami’s Metromover vehicles could be eased as Miami-Dade County will spend $16 million to refurbish or replace 12 of the system’s 29 cars.
The cars will be upgraded by 2005. Transportation officials plan to eventually improve the entire system.
The project will be paid for with funds from the half-cent sales tax for transportation issues that was approved by county voters in November.
The Citizens Independent Transportation Trust, which oversees spending of revenue from the tax, last week approved the funding. The project was not part of a master plan approved by voters in November, but the group agreed that it would be a necessary expenditure to improve transportation options in the area.
The Metromover system is several years past a deadline for an overhaul, according to federal guidelines, said county transit spokesman Manny Palmeiro said. The 12 targeted cars went online in 1985.
A new car would cost $1.8 million, and refurbishing one would cost at least $1.4 million, Mr. Palmeiro said.
"If the rehab is going to involve a lot of electric parts, it is better to just go the other way and get a brand new one," Mr. Palmeiro said. "A consultant will eventually tell us if it is better to rehabilitate them or replace them."
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro proposed the idea of improving the Metromover system last February so it could be linked to Miami Beach, if the Baylink commuter service proposal is approved.
If the county decides to purchase new cars, they would be similar to the current model, which holds 88 standing and eight seated passengers and is capable of being used for a proposed link to Miami Beach, he said.
The current cars are not reliable and the county is spending more on minor repairs than it would to replace them, said county transit director Roosevelt Bradley said last month at a meeting of the watchdog group. "We are two years behind schedule. The longer this takes, the more reliability problems we’ll have," Mr. Bradley said.
He said that the system’s 24-hour service, which began recently, places more demand on the cars and increases their unreliability.
More than 4.7 million people used Metromover last year, when its operating budget was $17.5 million.