As the SMART Plan continues to works its way through the County the more and more it seems to get diluted with each step.
A couple of weeks ago, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez retracted on his campaign promise of expanding Miami’s train systems in favor of a Rapid Transit Bus System. According to the Mayor, the Bus System will be significantly cheaper and feasible with the funds available. The Mayor also noted that “trains are 19th Century technology” and instead we should be looking at better technologies.
The problem is not the 19th Century technology, it’s the 19th century mentality that has squandered any progress or innovation for public transit in the City of Miami.
Apart from airplanes, ALL our modes of transportation are from the 19th Century. The first combustion engine was built in 1884, which paved the way for motorized automobiles, buses, trains, motorcycles and boats.
A bus system is just as antiquated as a train system. The true measure of its success is by one simple metric: RIDERSHIP. Ridership will only grow if a system is functional and reliable.
As it stands now Miami is FAILING. Ridership of public transit is down all across the board. To make matters even worse, public transit is being defunded and services are being cut.
The argument that we shouldn’t invest in a FAILING system is flawed. Saying that we shouldn’t invest in trains because better technology will come is simply wishful thinking.
Why do restaurants fail? Because of bad food, bad service, and a bad experience. This doesn’t mean you stop investing in your restaurant. On the contrary, you find the problems and you FIX them. The same logic can be applied to transit; the service is bad, unreliable, and impractical.
There is no doubt newer and better technology will come, but we need to live in the PRESENT. We have a transportation crisis and need to act NOW.
To do nothing in hopes of autonomous vehicles would be catastrophic. It’s like a cancer patient avoiding treatment while waiting for a miracle cure. If this is the mentality, why even bother investing in Miami?…. We may be under water before autonomous vehicles become mainstream. This is not even 19th Century mentality, this is medieval mentality.
What is more worrisome is how Miami citizens keep on getting short-changed. Fifteen years ago a half-cent sales tax was implemented to expand our system and NOTHING substantial has happened. If the City and County is not even capable of maintaining the current system up and running effectively how can we expect them to tackle something as ambitious as the SMART Plan?
The mentality shouldn’t be “what can we afford?” The mentality needs to be “what is best for Miami and how do we achieve it?”