DMU railcar demonstration offers a transit alternative

(Photos by Armando Rodriguez/Miami-Dade County)

Officials and residents from around Miami-Dade hopped onboard a Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) railcar on Wednesday, July 18, experiencing what Miami-Dade Commission chair Joe A. Martinez hopes will be a new public transit option in South Florida.

Martinez organized a demonstration ride along the Florida East Corridor (FEC) from Downtown Miami to North Miami so riders could test the railcars. The DMU project seeks to utilize existing freight railroad lines to provide commuter rail service to different areas of the county and alleviate roadway congestion. Since 2002, Martinez has pushed for the county to upgrade its existing rail system by providing a link from Florida City to Miami’s airports. He has proposed a line that would run from the Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, passing through high traffic areas around Zoo Miami, Snapper Creek rest area of Florida’s Turnpike, and Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus, all the way to Tri-Rail’s Miami Airport station.

As the western and southern areas of Miami-Dade have continued to expand throughout the years, Martinez felt it was appropriate to reintroduce the idea of bringing better public transit to residents traveling in those regions.

In a report compiled by Miami-Dade’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), one of the major reasons for Miami’s increase in traffic congestion has been its burgeoning population. Since 1980, Miami- Dade’s population has grown from 1.6 million residents to 2.5 million. With no improvements to the county’s current transit system beyond 2014, the MPO predicts the population will continue to increase to 3.28 million by 2035. This also would mean an estimated 11.8 million daily car trips for commuters and an average commute of 36 minutes, a 38 percent time increase from what Miami-Dade drivers experience currently.

“As Miami-Dade continues to grow, using existing rail lines may be the most cost-effective way to provide faster transit options in high-traffic areas,” Martinez said. “Residents need some kind of relief on the road between the gridlock and soaring gas prices. The DMU project offers the potential to cut commute times and save residents money with fuel-efficient railcars that run with quiet engines.”

For more information, contact Martinez’s office at 305-375-5511.

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