When Miami-Dade County voters approved a half-cent sales tax for the delivery of a great idea called The People’s Transportation Plan in 2002, they expected the plan to come with the implied disclaimer: “Landing gear included.”
The PTP promised to expand the bus system, improve traffic flow, and extend rapid-transit lines to West Dade, Kendall, Florida City, Miami Beach and North Dade, as well as add 635 buses. While voters have been expecting the promise of what they paid for, their money — to the tune of $2 billion — was being used to fund existing transit operations, effectively depleting the funds for new projects.
Sadly, this classic bait-and-switch has left South Dade without a rail.
Some may argue that “landing gear” for the PTP was considered: a Citizen’s Independent Transportation Trust was formed to safeguard taxpayer money and ensure that it would be used solely for new projects. However, it lacked the vitality and stamina to stave off self-serving vultures who would thoughtlessly betray the public’s confidence. As a result, thousands of loyal Miami-Dade voters and taxpayers must deal with daily traffic congestion, high tolls and poor highway and roadway maintenance.
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Currently, pleasantries are being abandoned in the face of unfulfilled promises. Now, voters are screaming: “Show us the money. Give us the rail.”
Local elected officials have been working hard in South Miami-Dade for the past few months demanding Metrorail service. Resolutions from local officials and petition drives are in full throttle as voters fight to have their voices heard.
To further exacerbate the situation, some individuals have gone on record to report that they are looking for funding sources. Miami-Dade collects between $100 million to $225 million through the half-cent tax every year. Voters have in good faith opted to pay more in tax to bankroll specific needs in their communities. There is no reason why money should have to be “found” and, most importantly, voters should not have the same basic transit advantages of others in the Miami area.
The blatant and outright disrespectful misappropriation of funds has left many to speculate whether the county knew from the beginning that the promises it made could not be kept. However, just as landing gear supports aircraft when they are not flying — allowing them to take off, land and taxi without damage — appropriate landing gear for the PTP should have offered the same promise of protection.
One thing’s for sure: A promise means everything. But once broken, sorry means nothing.
Kionne L. McGhee,
state representative, 117th District,