We all can agree, the traffic in Miami is a total nightmare. No matter where you live, to get from point A to B usually takes a very long time and if you’re on the road during rush hour your chances in getting to where you need to go in a timely manner go from slim to none. Largely populated cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have public transportation systems to help reduce the number of traffic pileups and Miami is one of the top five most populated cities in the country yet we are literally at the bottom when it comes to the efficiency of our public buses and trains. The outlook of South Florida’s public transportation system is so grim that city leaders have been scrambling to find solutions to alleviate commuters from future traffic nightmares.
“As a person who commutes in and out of busy Brickell,” RMG Staffing President Ricardo Michelangeli expressed, “I experience bad traffic on a daily basis. Our local government needs to find both short and long-term solutions to Miami’s traffic problems. The longer it takes for employees to get to work the less productive and unhappy they will be at their jobs.”
The Miami Herald recently published an article about Miami-Dade’s Mayor Carlos Gimenez traveling to China in search of a cheaper alternative to the Metrorail. Traveling with a group of 50-plus elected officials, county administrators, lobbyists, property developers, the 14-day trip itinerary will focus on a train factory in Zhuzhou, China, where the delegates will get a chance to observe the Chinese factory that is building “a ‘virtual train’ — it’s a rubber-wheeled vehicle (like a bus) that would be able to use autonomous steering to follow painted lines on regular highways alongside automobile traffic,” according to the Miami Herald. The Chinese company built the train in June of last year and Mayor Gimenez and his delegates will get a chance to see the train in action. Also on the itinerary is a stop in Hong Kong, where Mayor Gimenez and company with various other executives in the airline and film industry. Their trip to Japan includes a ride on a high-speed train.
Other initiatives involving the private sectors include Brightline, the only privately funded express inter-city passenger rail service in the United States. The company will have two new trains that will provide service in South Florida later this year. The express inter-city passenger service will connect Downtown Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, with connecting service to Orlando in the next phase.
The Downtown Miami terminal is called “MiamiCentral,” and will incorporate retail and office space and will eventually come to include 800 rental units of residency that will open in 2019. The company is also completing a set of rental apartments on the site of their West Palm Beach location. Future plans also include residential apartments near their Ft. Lauderdale terminal. Tri-Rail, which is operated by South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, will continue to separately run its Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach rail line. A ticket on Brightline from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale will cost more than Tri-Rail but will be faster due to their direct destination.
Joe Sous is a healthcare executive who works for Miami Jewish Health System in east Miami-Dade County. He lives in Boca Raton and his commute usually averages to 90 minutes each way on Tri-Rail. The new Brightline train will dramatically reduce the time it takes for him to complete a full commute. “It’s only 50 miles door to door, but it’s not the miles that matter, it’s the time,” Sous admitted to the Miami Herald. “How long does [the] commute take from point to point on the train versus by car? We will look at everything, but the Brightline is an enticement for those of us who like suburban areas, or want to live north.”
The future of public transportation in South Florida will definitely improve but only time will tell to what degree those improvements will be made.