Letters to the Editor

Don’t blame Miami-Dade workers for transit woes

Miami-Dade Transit workers are furious.

We safely move more than 7 million Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover riders every month.

It can be a stressful, unhealthy and dangerous job. Traffic is a nightmare. Service schedules are unrealistic. A percentage of passengers are unhinged, abusive and violent.

Making matters worse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez seems more interested in denigrating transit workers than coming up with comprehensive solutions to the problems plaguing the system.

Amazingly, Gimenez also thinks he should get a personal raise of $170,000 — even though the contract for transit workers expired more than three years ago.

Enough is enough.

The mayor should stop spouting the ridiculous notion that worker absenteeism is the reason riders are experiencing long waits, delayed trips and unreliable service.

In reality, there are not enough railcars or buses, and the equipment we do have regularly breaks down because it’s so old. Metrorail’s trains started picking up riders more than 33 years ago — when Ronald Reagan was president.

A recent Miami-Dade Transit report says 70 percent of the agency’s buses have reached their useful life expectancy: 12 years and/or 500,000 miles.

Recently, the Miami Herald reported that “mechanical problems cause most bus problems, not a lack of staffing.” In the first two months of the budget year, “mechanical issues caused about 95 percent of the late buses,” The Herald reported, citing the county’s own data.

If the mayor hopes to avoid a legacy of mass transit misery and worsening traffic, he has a lot to do, including speeding the delivery of new trains and buses. That process has fallen behind schedule.

He also has to figure out a way to properly fund the system so he can increase service, instead of imposing more service cuts.

He shouldn’t blame workers for the failures of management.

Clarence Washington, president Transport Workers Union, Local 291, Miami

John Samuelsen, president, TWU International, Washington, D.C.