A New Beginning for Tri-Rail

By Grant Miller

A year and a half ago, Tri-Rail’s board made a decision that would change the future of public rail transportation in South Florida. Tri-Rail’s progress had stagnated due to poor leadership by their former executive director, Steven Abrams and de-facto executive director, Teresa Moore. The decision, spearheaded by then Tri-Rail Board Chair, Commissioner Raquel Regalado and approved by the Board, to hire David Dech, a railroader, to run the railroad was the first step in Tri-Rail’s turn around.

Since his hiring, Mr. Dech has focused on streamlining the agency, reducing reliance on consultants, and regaining the trust of the state, Miami, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The opening of Tri-Rail’s downtown service this weekend is a direct result of Tri-Rail’s action in hiring Dech.  The extension had been delayed for years due to the incompetence and interference of the previous Tri-Rail leadership, including Moore.

Under Mr. Dech’s leadership, Tri-Rail has come a long way to changing its culture but to make the change complete, the last vestige of the old Tri-Rail must go.

As a result of silly politics from years ago, Teresa Moore works directly for Tri-Rail’s Board of Directors with no reporting relationship to the executive staff of the agency.  As a result, unlike every other Tri-Rail employee, she has no accountability to Dech, sets her own schedule and, has been reporting to work in her living room instead of Tri-Rail’s offices since the start of Covid.  As one of Tri-Rail’s highest paid employees, Moore’s “rules for me, not for thee” attitude result in a lowering of morale and an absence of efficient legal review and support for the staff.  Mr. Dech would be better served hiring a staff attorney like most other governmental agencies instead of waiting on legal assistance based on Ms. Moore’s convenience.

Now that Miami Central is open, the next logical step is for Tri-Rail to expand affordable commuter rail service to Aventura and Ft. Lauderdale.  Known as the Northeast Corridor in Miami and Broward Commuter Rail in Broward, this service on the Brightline tracks would operate North from the Miami Central station.

Brightline offers an excellent upscale service, but it needs to be supplemented with an affordable public service for students and the average worker’s daily commute.

Miami and Broward are working on plans for the system and, it only makes sense that efficiencies and cost savings would be gained with one operator for all public commuter rail lines with an experienced leader like Dech at the helm.

To do so efficiently, Dech and Tri-Rail must continue re-shaping the agency by changing their legal department which did Abrams bidding.  With Moore gone, Tri-Rail can work unhindered with the state, counties, Brightline and FEC to make this new service a reality.

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