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monsoon, May 9, 2004 in Florida
I've used the metrorail and tri-rail systems several times in the past and I think they're a great way to get around the aera, depending on where you want to go.
With that being said, its not anywhere near the level of DC's metro, which is probably the best in the country, imo. The reason being, is that the system isn't linked to some popular destinations like South Beach, Downtown Fort Lauderdale or the Airports.
I've only been on Tri-Rail. The tracks run parallel to I-95, which means that it's stations aren't in convenient locations. Most of them are parking lots, off some side road. The West Palm Beach Station is in Downtown, but it's a couple blocks from anything worth while. Unless you count Dreyfoos School of the Arts, which is across the street from WPB Tri-Rail. Hundreds of kids ride the train to school, which is music to Tri-Rail's ears.
But if you want to go from Palm Beach County to Downtown Miami, and you don't want to drive on I-95, you can park at a Tri-Rail Station, ride to the MetroRail transfer, take MetroRail to the Metromover Station, and you're there.
I know that plans are in the works to build on the other train tracks that run through South Florida. The other set of tracks goes through just about every urban area in the Tri-County Area. I think the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale said the project "isn't a question of IF, it's a question of WHEN" So hopefully they'll do it!
The Metrorail is a nice little system. I try to take transit at least once a week, bus/rail combonation. It's great for getting downtown. Outside of some other well places stops: South Miami, UM, Hospital; it requires some work to get to where you need to go. There are plans to expand Metrorail, starting with an east/west line connecting FIU, the Airport and downtown. There's also an extension along US1 to Florida City, a Kendall line and several other lines in the works. We defintiely need a connection to Miami Beach and up along Biscayne to Aventura.
A lot of people still think of it as a boondoggle. I can see why they think this, but it's busy enough during the day and is grown to be an accepted way to get to work. That being said, it could use a an upgrade in cars and technology, especially at the turnstiles.
I've never done Tri-rail. It doesn't seem to actually go anywhere, but people are riding it.
Overall... I like it and would ride it more often if the local bus service was more accomodating to my work schedule, but needs improvement. C+
I think one of the reasons that Tri-Rail is so successful is the MetroRail connection. If there was't a convenient way to switch between those routes, there would be a significant drop in ridership. Also, besides bus routes at the Tri-Rail stations, some stations give special shuttle routes to major businesses/office parks.
I know that Miami is planning Baylink, which will most likely be a light rail connection from Downtown to the Beach. I don't know if it's direct connection will be to MetroRail or Metromover.
Yes the Metro connection for tri-rail is very important. It'll be great when/if Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach put in some light/heavy rail that can connect to Tri-rail and connect everybody a little bitter.
Last I heard on Baylink was that it was put on the back burner because Miami Beach doesn't want it. The county still wants it done, but will put their resources into other projects first.
several years ago I was carless for 2 months and commuted from Hialeah ( I walked to the station) to West Kendall...the best part of the trip was Metrorail.
Metrobus & the Kendall KAT were ok but of course they had to deal with rush hour traffic. Now I use it everytime i have to go downtown or to the civic center....I can't wait for the expansion.....as for TRI-Rail I've never used it but I have friends who would ride it every weekend from W. Palm Beach to the Golden Glades station and found it comfortable.The only drawback is the hour long wait in between trains but that should change once the double tracking is complete reducing the wait times.
The only other system I've riden is the NYC subway..of course no comparison!
I am most familar with the MBTA system in Boston, and again there is really no comparison, but I think Miami is going in the right direction, and could actually learn from a city like Boston. For instance, the Green Line which is four different routes/streets (the B, C,D,and E) runs above ground for a good majority of its trip down the median of the roads.
This is the greenline, at the Park St station in this pic:
Here is the Redline crossing the Charles River going over the Cambridge:
I couldn't find the right pictures online to display, but Miami has plenty of four lane roads with medians that could serve as rail lines for a subway..
The Greenline was really nice in Boston. We ended up getting a hotel way out on the greenline for pretty cheap. Service was fantastic and easy. I've got 5 or 6 lines planned (in my head) for miami that would be perfect for that kind of service.
I tried commuting up to Hialeah from West Kendall not long ago. Bus service up there was really spotty though. Though I later learned Hialeah has their own bus lines going, I had no idea where they were going. I may be getting a job up there soon, so I may try it a few more times.
A desire named streetcar makes tracks in Miami
Clang, clang, clang go the trolleys if Miami politicos get on track with streetcars, an old idea reborn in the spirit of new urbanism.
"It's in the exploratory stage right now with a feasibility study under way. It's not yet an approved project," said Lilia I. Medina, city of Miami assistant transportation coordinator and project manager for the streetcar investigation.
Streetcars. Think San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia ... and Miami. They were here, once.
Miami's first trolley hit the streets nearly 100 years ago. The Tatum family, area pioneers and land speculators secured the first street railway franchise along with some associates in May 1905. The initial streetcar made its "maiden voyage" on July 23, 1906.
"At one time, there were 100 Miami streetcars operated by five different companies," Medina said. "They last saw service in November 1940, when they were sold to Brazil and operated there for the next two decades."
Second Avenue the main line
On tap is the planning and design of a streetcar operation between downtown Miami and Northeast 79th Street, utilizing four north-south corridors, with Second Avenue as the main carrier. The developing Buena Vista Rail Yard area will also be incorporated.
Complete with tracks and overhead electric lines, the cost of the system is expected to average $20 million or less a mile for the track and electrification system. In comparison, it cost $100 million a mile for Metrorail, Miami City Commissioner Johnny Winton said.
Add in $2 million a vehicle, a five- to 10-acre maintenance facility at $10 million to $17 million, and presto - a significant boost to the existing public transport system that locals and tourists will want to ride.
No right of way needed
Best of all, its proponents say, the system can be built without the need for a dedicated right-of-way. Winton said it fits into the existing traffic patterns and is critical to the future of Miami.
"If we fail to address the difficult problems of public transportation, the Miami boom will stop," said Winton, also president of Wynco Realty Partners.
The feasibility study is one part exploration and two parts due diligence.
"The study began in February," Medina said. "and it is being funded by the Peoples Transportation Plan Fund from the municipal share of the half-cent transit sales tax surcharge."
By law, 20 percent of the sales tax surcharge money must be spent of transportation projects.
Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Engineering is conducting the six-month feasibility study. It employs 325 in Florida and has offices in Miami Lakes, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Orlando, Tampa, Bartow, Jacksonville and Pensacola.
The study will deal with route alignment options, station location/planning, economic development opportunities, traffic, parking, capital and operating costs, ridership, connectivity to transit, and other interrelated elements.
The study should be finished soon, Medina said. It will be presented to the Miami City Commission July 8 in an informational briefing.
Next, a presentation will be scheduled before the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Commission and there will be another round of public input meetings.
In the second phase - if it gets there with everyone's blessing - there will be a planning, design and implementation plan.
The scramble for federal, state and local funds will not be far behind.
This is good news. Isn't this the route that's gonna go through the Design District?
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