MDX sees hope as ‘new way of thinking’ emerges to address transit challenges



It seems that buses, bus rapid transit, trolley, and rails are all the jive on the street. And everyone from policy makers to casual observers has an opinion, a plan, or a dream, about regional transportation – and where we go next.

One place to start is with solid facts. Miami Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) is taking a close look at research on this topic that applies not only to Miami-Dade but elsewhere across the U.S. That’s because one thing is certain: we are not alone with regard to present-day mobility issues.

In Miami-Dade County, just 3 percent of the traveling public uses public transit. They probably live close to a Metrorail Station or can easily drive to one to hop a train. There are also those who have no choice but to travel by bus. That leaves 97 percent driving cars to get around locally.

So, “Is that all there is?” In the immortal words of American singer Peggy Lee, the answer is no. Because even in the end of her hit 60s song by the same name, she changes her way of thinking with an upbeat message of hope, alternatives, and optimism.

Give in? “Oh no, not me,” she says.

Reliable notes on this matter can be found in research published by Robert Poole, a transportation specialist with The Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based think tank. In fact, an article entitled, “Developing Transit Service for the 21st Century,” states that “transit agencies must change the way they think and plan to offer cost-effective mobility transit options.” It outlines the challenges facing the Miami-Dade our area and looks at ways other cities are endeavoring to improve transit service and ridership.

Interestingly enough, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is also at the forefront of this new thinking.

And furthermore, as one might expect, technology is front and center when it comes to addressing local transit challenges.

Miami-Dade County is fairly well covered by local bus service and more recently by municipal trolley services – which, by the way, are little buses disguised to look like trolley trains. 

However, the county lacks a true bus express rapid-transit service which would offer the possibility of increasing bus speeds – just what potential riders are looking for.

This is a much more flexible mobility option because it can be implemented much faster than a network of commuter trains, while mimicking the level of service of a train at a fraction of the cost. It also would allow for a “building” of ridership along corridors. The local existing expressway infrastructure in Miami-Dade County offers an opportunity for bus express rapid transit service.

This is where the Transportation Planning Organization stepped in, by asking MDX to take over the east-west movement within the SR 836/Dolphin Expressway. MDX is aiming at innovating and implementing the first urban-express service in the county using XT (Xpress Technology) lanes. Right now, these new lanes are being constructed on the wider and reinforced inner shoulders of the Dolphin.

Recognizing many people don’t think highly of bus service, MDX is working to change that perception, by deploying top-notch executive charter type vehicles that will entice their own commuters to travel by way of this premium transit option over their own vehicle.

While details and operational guidelines are still being worked out, MDX plans to procure private entities to operate the urban-express service while establishing the parameters and funding for a pilot program to start within a timeframe of a year.

According to transportation planners, given Miami-Dade’s urban configuration and growth trends, it seems prudent to implement transit service incrementally – driven by demand and funding availability. Service should be gradually rolled out and include local buses, express buses, and then trains wherever appropriate. 

Another interesting prospect is the use of MDX XT lanes along the Dolphin Expressway to offer a future mobility option using public and private autonomous vehicles – for “platooning,” which can carry even more units than a train.

We will get there, because it seems we may finally be on the right course. Ultimately, what we can all hope for is an integrated system offering multiple modes of transportation or mobility options for travelers to pick from based on what best fits their needs. That decision is a personal one made easier through a new upbeat way of thinking by government that offers smart options, alternatives, and vision.

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  1. Back in the early ’80s, When we were hearing the good news about a metro rail service all the way to Florida City,,, we were excited. Then the second leg of the train was to go from downtown to FiU. NONE of these things happened. This is why we have this gargantuan problem today. MDX is going wild with their added highway expansion in lanes and unbelievable overhead crossover (ie. SW 128 Street) By the time you guys finish this, there will be more cars on the road and all the so call improvements will become obsolete. Putting the trains close to the people on the western side of town and down by Homestead, would have made a big impact on the amount of riders….we were deceived. Homestead exploded with new homes, hospital and many…many new cars on the Turnpike. We gladly passed the sales tax increase for all of this….we call MDX the halfway folks. or the no way folks.

  2. It is very quite interested news and articles published. With it been read means that the mass public transportation and rails become into a future way of traveling from Cities like Miami and Orlando in great acomodation and fastest way. What about the express ways and Turnpikes and is it a possibility of no more parking spaces and people would reduce own transportation instead using a Public transportation? Is it will affect housing and Multifamily units and as a local real estate agent in Hollywood area how this innovation would change economic and changes. Thank you

  3. You said “Miami Dade County is fairly well covered by local bus service and more recently by municipal trolley services” are you serious? what local bus service and what trolley services are you talking about? the bus services are the same as when arrived at this city and county over 30 years ago. Perhaps you could let me know, as I have not seen any improvement in the public transportation nightmare. What ever happen to the 1/2 cent tax approved by the taxpayers a few years ago. As far as I am aware it is being use in anything but improving the public transportation service, although they have added a lot more tolls on the road to the detriment of the driver and are constantly repairing the roads, to the inconvenience of the drivers who has to use the roads.

  4. Too hot to stand outdoors in a tie and jacket while waiting for a train. If stations were air conditioned I would use the Metro Rail to commute from South Dade.

  5. Dear Mr. Kress,

    I read with much interest your article about our disastrous transit system. It is my daily prayer and downright demand to God that our “leaders” miraculously have a minor IQ increase bestowed on them and start building a metro rail all the way down to Florida City.

    Respectfully sir, in all kindness, rapid transit is not “new thinking”, much less in Miami. You may not understand the local monkey-politician lingo so allow me to translate the gibberish you no doubt hear. Our fearless leaders’ thinking goes more like this “Hmmmm.. we have such bad traffic in Miami. I know! Let’s go have a cafecito and dig for clams! That’ll help for sure!” And that our esteemed Mayor Gimenez is at the forefront is not “interesting” so much as it is “suspicious”. Just look at our giant baseball stadium monstrosity, which created a totally different magnificent traffic jam. Much better than the one we already had. I am sure in their infinite wisdom the Leaders really really really needed the stadium to counteract the “speed tolls” that we pay only $35674 a month to travel the distant 3 miles in a mere 45 minutes. His interest is probably fueled by his grandmother owning a cement company or something more forefront thinking like that.

    I also wanted to let you know that contrary to what you said, we actually DO already have a “express” bus service! YES! Shocking right? I know! I will try to spare you my snarky sarcasm this time by simply resting my case on the fact that you have never heard of it.

    Sorry I can’t resist.

    Perhaps it’s SO express that buses just whiz by without anyone noticing? I myself tried the expressway recently and unfortunately had to stop after suffering massive side effects from the G-force speed of taking only 2.589 hours to get home. WOW! Now that’s what you call EXPRESS. I do suspect that if I try roller-skating while knitting a sweater, I might get home faster but without all that nausea.


    Mr. Kress, I truly appreciate your taking the time to read my diatribe. Thank you and thank you for keeping our Miami family informed!

    Kind Regards,

  6. Bill, so much has been said in the past about needing elevated trains, but they cost too much. While traveling in Europe multiple times in multiple cities they had light rail running efficiently through the city on the ground. At intersections lights stop traffic and maybe their drivers are better at obeying laws, but they do stop for the trains. Seems our leaders think that there will be accidents involving the trains so they must elevate. Then justify not doing anything because of the cost.
    I voted for the transit tax to lighten the load on the roads. Instead it seems our money was squandered by the politicians.

    Mayor Giminez came out recently that light rail is 19th Century. Well flying autonomous vehicles are probably a little farther away than a light rail system.

  7. As reluctant as we all are to pay new taxes, the electorate voted to tax themselves years ago specifically for transit services, knowing that traffic was only growing worse exponentially. We did not make an outcry when those funds were diverted for other necessities during the financial crisis, which has now abated. If we are not going to receive the transit expansion that we have paid for, we ought to get our money back. Metrorail might be dated technology, but we were promised an expansion, and it is better than any other option that will become available in the foreseeable future. We should not have to continue waiting for the expansion that we have been paying for for years. That is the equivalent of robbery.

  8. I read your article and am of the opinion that I have a radical proposal that would solve this problem within five years.The proposed ideas outlined are nothing but a band-aid for a very difficult problem. If anyone is interested in hearing my idea I would gladly share same with the interested parties.
    Thank you


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