I recently wrote an editorial entitled MDX should seek new solutions to county traffic woes (Pinecrest Tribune, Dec. 1, 2014) concerning the need for the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) to use some of their money to improve transit and do something more than just build more roads. MDX, via their charter, has the ability to invest in public transit solutions, and not just build and repair highways. MDX prepared a very nice response which was published in its entirety.
MDX in that reply states that they are an integral partner in solving our community’s transportation problems and that they work closely with other agencies such as Miami- Dade Transit (MDT), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). That sure sounds good.
My question to MDX is, in the words of Clara Peller, that memorable television hamburger pitch woman, “Where’s the beef?” Sure, MDX is spending a lot of money, but is any of it really going to improve mass transit?
MDX states in their response that the latest MDX Five-Year Work Program totals $880 million. Now that’s a lot of money. But how much of that money was spent on transit improvements and enhancements along the MDX network? Did they build any park-and-ride lots? Did they build any HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) or dedicated bus lanes? For that matter, did they purchase any buses?
The answer to all of these questions is no.
MDX advises that their investments will relieve bottlenecks throughout the highway system. They say they are working with MDT, FDOT and the MPO to commence “planning” on Express Bus Service. Their contribution to date has been to allow MDT buses to operate on the shoulders of certain stretches of highways. Really! A total of $880 million spent and the MDX commitment to rapid transit is to allow MDT to use a few shoulders on the side of the roads?
Sure, MDX widened SR836 all the way from the Palmetto Expressway to the Florida Turnpike, but they didn’t have the foresight to put in a busway or an HOV lane. Now they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new highway construction projects stretching from the Palmetto Expressway to Downtown Miami, but they have not given any consideration to installing a busway or HOV lane. The so called “Express Bus” they talk about will not resemble anything close to an express vehicle if it operates in the same traffic as the rest of us.
MDX needs to follow the lead of FDOT on I-95 and I-595 where dedicated lanes are extremely effective and have resulted in taking literally thousands of cars off the road every day, while commuters enjoy riding in new state-of-art articulated buses operated by MDT and Broward County Transit. FDOT is even helping to pay for the new buses.
MDX is talking the talk, but not walking the walk. To me, it looks like they are spending all of the money on just pouring more concrete and building more highways. And that’s not the solution to our transportation problems.