South Florida, and NOT to its credit, has once again redefined the meaning of "Free Ride." But shouldn't we all realize by now -after so DOZENS of fatally-flawed transit decisions and an equal number of poorly-executed plans- that when it comes to #Transportation Policy in #SoFL, there's no such thing as a free ride?
But #Miami pols, @Tri_Rail & @AllAboardFla can't help themslves when it comes to taking taxpayer dollars and taking credit for something BEFORE the facts are ALL in
Below is a slightly-expanded version of an email that I sent out early last night, after reading the article and tweets below, to just under 200 concerned citizens, pols and news media reps in the Sunshine State, and to transportation reporters and columnists across the U.S.A.
I was not able to send all the tweets to them, so... include them here
Tri-Rail would offer free rides to Overtown district residents in station deal http://t.co/A8dWMJ0PHA
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) March 25, 2015
Tri-Rail would offer free rides to Overtown district residents in station deal
Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald
March 24, 2005
Tri-Rail would offer free passes to large numbers of Overtown residents in exchange for public funding of a new Miami station, part of a deal aimed at piecing together $69 million in tax dollars to bring the commuter line to a privately funded train depot downtown.
The largely state-funded Tri-Rail would offer free passes to residents inside Miami's Overtown/Park West taxing district in exchange for extracting about $30 million from the entity for construction of a Tri-Rail platform in All Aboard Florida's rail complex that's about to begin construction in downtown Miami.
Read the rest of the article at:
LETTER TO THE EDITOR . . . . . . Terrell N. Fritz' Letter to the Miami Herald Editor regarding 'Why We Need Tri-R… http://t.co/vzbMOhcpvP
— Terrell N. Fritz (@TNFritz) March 26, 2015
Tourist taxes add-on a creative way to finance vital transit
Written by Michael Lewis on March 25, 2015
Read the rest of the column at:
"@Tomas_Regalado Opposes Miami Grand Central Station’s @Tri_Rail Coastal Link". Chkoutt my contribution @transitmiami http://t.co/jJm0q8fHWv
— Carlos Markovich (@camarkovich) March 25, 2015
"The @CityofMiami is taking the brunt of paying for the #TriRail platform." http://t.co/GOVIaXrCuR @RaquelRegalado pic.twitter.com/0eMjFaYnc9
— DailyBusinessReview (@dbreview) March 25, 2015
Will somebody, anybody, please fund Tr-Rail Downtown. http://t.co/hLtkVBPSHj pic.twitter.com/nGRrC9uD1g
— Curbed Miami (@CurbedMiami) March 25, 2015
#SoFL in nutshell: @transitmiami @NewsbySmiley @BrowardCounty - .@Tri_Rail didn't get on @twitter until Jan. 27th and on @YouTube last month
— HallandaleBeachBlog (@hbbtruth) March 19, 2015
Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization is holding back transit. Here's how to fix it. http://t.co/fwNhfR1170 pic.twitter.com/E9pE91LBsq
— Miamitude™ (@Miamitude) March 19, 2015
Because others wld pay more! @BrowardCounty @beamfurr Comm. Hardemon said @Tri_Rail leaders told him #Overtown residents wld ride "for free"
— HallandaleBeachBlog (@hbbtruth) March 19, 2015
@JessicaGKwong #Miami mayor will veto attempt 2 pay 4 project 2 bring commuter trains fm #PalmBeach #Broward http://t.co/3MgFJCLyTC #SoFL
— HallandaleBeachBlog (@hbbtruth) March 19, 2015
Miami Needs Real Transit Solutions http://t.co/FjIbh7mH1U pic.twitter.com/rtJF14hmaG
— Miamitude™ (@Miamitude) March 17, 2015
Tri-Rail's operator wants Miami-Dade County to shell out $8 mill for the train service's expansion to downtown Miami. http://t.co/KDm8tHTUSo
— Miami Today (@MiamiTodayNews) March 14, 2015
Plans to expand Tri-Rail to downtown Miami is a "once in a lifetime opportunity," @MayorGimenez said. For background: http://t.co/oSepB9mofs
— Lidia Dinkova (@LidiaDinkova) March 9, 2015
Tri-Rail seeks funding to open downtown Miami station http://t.co/Ll9ZEdqtWg via @trdmiami #Miamirealestate
— Jetset Realty (@jetsetrealty) March 4, 2015
My update on the planned light-rail to link Miami & Miami Beach; details on proposed P3 financing. http://t.co/240wtG6r3G @MiamiTodayNews
— Lidia Dinkova (@LidiaDinkova) March 4, 2015
@FixMetroMDT If only U & @twitter existed in 1970's, B4 so many bad ideas, ill-conceived notions & sloppy execution became norm in M-D. :-(
— HallandaleBeachBlog (@hbbtruth) February 27, 2015
Miami-Dade transit committee: Let's move planned transit projects beyond just ideas on paper; let's find the funding. http://t.co/wMq8Bz80SM
— Lidia Dinkova (@LidiaDinkova) February 26, 2015
Greater Miami officials plan a trip to Colorado where they're to study how a sweeping mass transit system is being implemented. #transit
— Lidia Dinkova (@LidiaDinkova) February 24, 2015
Miami Today Editor Michael Lewis says a plan to reduce auto traffic lanes on BIscayne Blvd. is not a good idea. http://t.co/7VMfIBQ02W
— Miami Today (@MiamiTodayNews) February 21, 2015
For an existing passenger train, Tri-Rail, to link to downtown Miami, $68 million in public funding is needed. http://t.co/cM3l1lSe5r
— Miami Today (@MiamiTodayNews) December 4, 2014
A few things worth knowing while you digest the facts and anecdotes above and try to make sense of it all:
In case you forgot -or never knew- the person who led the effort to change the City of Miami's former CRA district and create a new CRA district -done as part of the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County's foolish efforts to build a new taxpayer-built baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins- is none other than Marc Sarnoff.
Yes, the outgoing City of Miami commissioner at the center of this story, now a paid CRA Director, and, oh yeah, someone trying desperately to elect his wife as his successor on the Miami City
Now perhaps those of you who doubted me last year when I -alone in South Florida- publicly asked why the one-and-only public All Aboard Florida public scoping meeting scheduled in Miami-Dade County last year was taking place in a crime-ridden area that future users of the train between Miami and Orlando would never willingly visit without an ample display of security.
In case you forgot, this one-and-only AAF public scoping meeting in M-D was scheduled to be held at night, during the week, at a place where, IF you entered its address on Google Maps like I did and looke at it via Street View, what you saw was the side of a liquor store with debris everywhere.
As opposed to, well, having it at a centralized location in the county with plenty of parking spaces outside and plenty of air conditioned seats inside on a hot day that would ACTUALLY draw future paid train passengers for rides to Orlando?
Afterall, AAF is trying to cast as large a net as possible for passengers, aren't they?
Trust me, for their business plan to be successful, their core audience can not consist of just poor people and people who lack a car to make the drive up to Orlando.
But look how clumsily and amateurish it was handled when they had lots of time to decide what they were going to do?
That's called portent, my friends...
Yes, but then THAT is precisely the kind of planning we've come to expect from the same AAF folks who've always got their hands out for more for the public purse, forgetting that many of us still recall how much they bragged and patted themselves on the back early on for how much theirs was a "private" enterprise.
The same people who did NOT even plan on hosting a public scoping meeting anywhere in Broward County for its taxpayers and consumers last year until I embarrassed, shamed and publicly flogged them, via several high-profile emails and blog posts that were cc'd to the South Florida, Orlando and Tampa Bay area news media, and a handful of people with power and influence in Tallahassee with
an interest in logic intersecting with reason at least, well, OCCASIONALLY in public policy
Me, via the blog last May, which generated more than a few not-so-happy phone calls and emails to people who thought they'd pulled a fast one:
More Transit Policy Woes in South Florida: With stealthy and self-sabotaging friends like All Aboard Florida and SFRTA/Tri-Rail, pro-transit advocates in South Florida don't need any more enemies; 'All Aboard Florida' fails to schedule a single public scoping meeting in Broward County this Spring despite Fort Lauderdale being a proposed station, while SFRTA chief refuses to answer a simple question -Will Hallandale Beach have a station under the proposed Coastal line plan?; Just because you're pro-transit doesn't mean you have to ignore displays of transit incompetency or mismanagement when you see it!
After I publicly outed AAF's ill-conceived plan to ignore the very Broward public -and its future customers- who'd no doubt be asked to pay in some manner or form towards a new public train station and assorted infrastructure in Fort Lauderdale, they wised-up and decided to throw one together in Fort Lauderdale.
Wow, talk about disrespecting their own core consumer audience!
WHO would intentionally do THAT???
Not that the people at AAF and the assorted City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County geniuses have yet to figure out how they'll keep Fort Lauderdale's sizable homeless population from camping en masse in and near any new public train station.
That, of course, is proposed for but a few blocks from Broward County's present central bus depot, off Broward Blvd.
You know, right in the middle of the area where, as has been reported upon for MANY years, homeless people drink (and often defecate) everywhere, as is entirely self-evident to anyone paying attention.
With the City of Fort Lauderdale City Hall but a stone's throw away!
But they just ignore it.
Unfortunately, because like so many levels of government in South Florida, with rare exceptions -like open-minded Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, whom I knew and trusted implicitly from her years of being an Assistant City Manager and City Manager in Hollywood, who consistently talked-the-talk and walked-the-walk on transparency and public input on public policy- they're always thinking that a PR-driven strategy will inevitably trump a logical and well-planned public policy and goal that actually requires genuine public input.
But what they almost always fail to appreciate is that the public buying-in, if the plan is smart and sound, esp. financially, almost always results in genuine public success achieved SOONER, not just the mere illusion of it.
That same unfortunate attitude I think also explains why so many public places in Florida in general and South Florida in particular seem so resolutely mediocre, second-rate and ill-conceived.
Is that what we really want with train/commuter stations that ought to have been built 40 years ago, when I was a kid growing up in North Miami Beach, which perhaps could have kept South Florida from physically expanding beyond reason -and infrastructure- including building stadiums and arenas far from core supporters, when logic would have seen them built near well-planned train stations, which would have benefited everyone, including the team's bottom line?
As a longtime public transit advocate, in Chicago, D.C./Arlington County as well as in South Florida, I think not.
But just because we see the important role of public planning and public transit doesn't mean we support breaking the public bank to do so, and pretend that car-centric South Florida is, overnight, going to become transit-friendly, and therefore can sign-off on gold-plating everything so that Marc Sarnoff can see his reflection on a plaque of names for years to come.
What are -and where are?- the benchmarks that AAF and Tri-Rail should have to reach in order to get the deal they want?
My experience is that simplicity and ease-of-use will count for more with the people who actually use a train station in the future, since that's what they will tell their friends, family and work colleagues,
and no amount of PR dollars can ever equal that.
The powers-that-be need to create train stations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale with the same mindset used to create the current international airport in Oslo, where so many first-time visitors feel exactly as I did in 2013: completely at-ease and not the least bit confused or overwhelmed.
Something I know about from using O'Hare so often for so many years in the 1980's while living in Chicago, Evanston and Wilmette.
Trafikken steg med nesten 3 prosent på #oslolufthavn i februar. http://t.co/8D8aVxxqzM pic.twitter.com/7LFe7aDCKk
— Oslo Lufthavn (OSL) (@Oslolufthavn) March 9, 2015
You actually WANT to linger.
That surely counts for something, no?
Heia Norge! #osl