Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Do common sense & logic ever intersect in transportation planning? I ask because of the "Radical change proposed for Dulles Rail Project" and well, experience in South Florida

Just some policy considerations to think about in the new year as plans, great and small, are proposed as solutions to real-world problems here in Hallandale Beach, Broward County, South Florida and the United States... and where you readers out there in the blogosphere live, from Stockholm to Santa Monica, Notting Hill to Sydney.

First, since some of you newer readers don't already know, I worked in Washington, D.C, and lived there and in Arlington County from 1988-2003, where I probably rode the Washington Metro (WMATA) about 12 times a week. This, after a few years of constantly riding the CTA's El  into downtown Chicago when I lived in Evanston and Wilmette.
At one point, I lived just a few blocks from the end of the El line at Linden Avenue.
Great in the morning, not so much when coming home in evening rush hour!

I lived right near Lake Michigan at the first house off of Sheridan Road, DIRECTLY across the street from this beautiful site, officially called The Baha'i House of Worship for North America, but which everyone just called The Baha'i Temple.
This is what I looked at from my bedroom window on the south side of the street, and especially at night, it was an amazing sight I never tired of: http://flickr.com/photos/tags/bahaihouseofworship/

So, all that said, kudos are very much in order for unsuck dc metro blog, who on Tuesday wrote a spot-on Beltway version http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/2012/01/we-can-put-man-on-moon-but.html of a typical South Florida transit snail's-pace story that South Florida resident Matthew Gissen first made public in 2007 in the Miami Herald.
That was a story of epic Miami-Dade County govt. failure that I followed closely and looked at for myself every time I had some free time while in downtown Miami. 
I finally mentioned it on my blog almost three years ago:

Similarly, Thursday, over at the GreaterGreaterWashington blog, consistently one of the best public policy blogs in the country, has a great post by Dan Malouff that bears careful reading, as well as the reader comments, since it has a very learned audience.
Dulles Metro must go to Dulles Airport

Malouff's post on the preposterous plan -suggested by a supposed responsible party who actually has a vote on the matter- re the Washington Metrorail's overdue line to Dulles Airport actually NOT going to the airport, is a direct response to this bit of news, which I first heard about here: http://wtop.com/?nid=120&sid=2711431
I was dumbstruck.

This sort of "planning" is something that we know about in South Florida, given the often, to be kind, counter-intuitive way things are done here.
Now in most parts of the country, creating a sensible rail option from scratch, a route from the downtown business or legal community to the nearby airport is usually a no-brainer, unless there are physical or geographical barriers that make costs prohibitive at the beginning.

Frankly, it's often part of the price to be paid for enlisting the help of the business community in getting legislation or a referendum for the system actually passed. 
(Then again, they and their employees actually use it)

But as I written here and mentioned in some of the conferences and forums on transit that I've attended down here over the past eight years, in 1970's greater Miami, a rail connection to the airport, for whatever reason, wasn't deemed important enough a priority to make it actually happen, despite how ridiculous that sounds to read all these years alter.

And it has a direct correlation to why certain things are STILL the way they are in greater Miami, and from my perspective, someone who knew where almost everything was in Miami because I'd been there, most of them are for the worse.
Like building sports arenas and stadiums in areas far from population centers that make it easy for fans throughout South Florida to get to and from them easily via rail or train.

That's why getting from Flagler Street, Brickell Avenue or Biscayne Blvd. to Miami International Airport (MIA), then and now, is NOT as simple as paying for a ticket, hopping onto a train and sitting down and reading the newspaper or listening to your iPad for a few minutes, or simply look out the window, like I could in Washington,  Chicago and Baltimore on my way to Reagan National, O'Hare and BWI.
That, plus the power of the South Florida taxi cab industry, which showered Dade County commissioners with campaign contributions, and was NOT interested in having customers cut out the middle-man -them!

Here in Broward County, at some point during the 15 years I was working in the Washington, D.C. area and living in Arlington County -near the Ballston Metro station- the Tri-Rail system constructed an "Airport" train station that's NOT actually at Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, but rather in nearby Dania, where you have to wait and catch a bus to actually get to the airport.

But then consider where I live -South Florida.
Here, taxpayers are forever hearing stories from their elected state legislators about their travel hardships, and, I guess, we are supposed to just shrug our collective shoulders and look the other way as these legislators myriad and continual ethical shortcomings and flights of fancy are done after taxpayers have routinely pay $800 for them to take round-trip, non-refundable flights between this area and no, not Los Angeles or Seattle, but to Tallahassee.

And as some of you out there in the blogosphere know independently and some from my having shared articles about it with you over the years via email, some of these state legislators actually have the audacity to publicly complain and bitch to not only local news media about their travails, but also to the FAA, whether about the paucity of airline flights or the size of those planes.

It's not the fault of South Florida taxpayers that the state capital is NOT centrally located, but rather in what is, essentially, southwestern Georgia.
This sort of bitching is so embarrassing, and only makes the Banana Republic rubric applied to Florida harder to shake.

In his post, Malouff reiterates certain basic fundamentals that I believe hold true for concerned taxpayers and chastened activists, no matter where they live, to have any degree of faith and confidence in govt. planning, and transportation planning in particular.
Two sentences in particular resonate for anyone like me who has gone to lots of public meetings in South Florida, esp. about transportation policy & process, and emerged hours later shaking their head.

Cutting so many corners that you don't achieve your goal is not cost savings, it's failure. 
The absolute minimum requirement for a Metro line to Dulles Airport must be that it actually reaches Dulles Airport. Period.

He's 100% right.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


Transit Miami is one of the most widely-read blogs in South Florida, especially among people interested in public policy, or, who are, themselves, policy makers. Lots and lots of very educated people who know their way around a City/County Hall and who ALWAYS vote. 

Like me.

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