Regional Transit Board Ready To Roll
By Shannon Pettypiece
The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority will set priorities in the next month now that the new group is close to settling on a mission and general goals.
Projects in the planning stage include a possible purchase of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks that run from Palm Beach to downtown Miami, extension of Tri-Rail service north to Jupiter, construction of an east-west commuter line parallel to State Route 836 and spreading of bus service across county lines.
"There is just so much going on," said authority spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold. "The board asked us to flesh out everything that is going on for their Dec.12 meeting."
The board is considering imposing a $5 license-tag fee to cover transit projects and operating costs.
After two meetings and several public workshops, the board this month will vote on its bylaws, vision, mission, initiatives and long- and short-term goals.
State legislation creating the authority was signed into law in June. It calls for one body to coordinate and finance transportation projects connecting Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
The group is designed to increase mobility in South Florida, leading to greater economic vitality. Its mission is to work with communities to coordinate, implement and develop a regional transportation system, improving quality of life and sustainable growth.
Among the authority’s goals are to:
NCreate a "socially responsible transportation system."
NIncrease ridership by providing more transit choices, accessibility and safety along with better customer service.
NSustain current funding as well as look for long-term funding for new projects and to sustain current infrastructure.
NMaintain an organization focused on education and recognizing employees’ needs.
Officials said success of the authority will require coordination among the three counties and dozens of municipalities so all modes of transportation in all areas connect.
Funding will be a factor in making goals reality, said authority member Allen Harper. "We need to make sure that we make every effort to go after our fair share."
The group plans to design facilities and transit systems that make riders feel safe and comfortable and programs to improve customer involvement, said Ms. Arnold.
"The goal is having public transit be part of a function of a development."