I felt encouraged during the last Miami-Dade mayoral election that improvements to public transportation were on the way.
Metromover hours were extended, more frequent service to the airport was implemented, and Metrorail, in general, provided more trains on the Orange and Green lines. New buses were rolled out. It looked impressive.
Therefore, it was heartbreaking to read that because of low ridership, the proposed 2018 budget for Metrorail will suffer cuts, and the budget for buses will be cut by 8 percent. Even more disturbing is a proposal by Commissioner Xavier Suarez to shift about $50 million of revenue from transit operations to the SMART plan.
While all of these cuts are being proposed, an article in Aventura magazine touted the growth at Miami International Airport (MIA). More passengers also mean more employees, a growth potential for Metrorail.
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Instead of seeing this as an opportunity (as most private sector companies would), it appears that Miami-Dade Transit has ceded this market to Uber and Lyft. The airport is a 24-hour operation. We need to provide dependable transportation around the clock.
Availability of trains diminishes after 10 p.m. After arriving on an evening flight, I waited more than an hour for a train. So, of course, Uber is tempting.
Not everyone who isn’t using Metrorail can afford Uber, so we still have an opportunity to capture these riders, but only if we have an excellent product. Many Europeans are comfortable riding public transport and will willingly give ours a shot.
MIA is the second largest hub in the United States for inbound international travelers.
It’s ironic that city of Mayor Tomás Regalado is considering spending money on sea-level-rise projects. Wouldn’t getting folks to give up their cars and create fewer emissions also be beneficial?