I walk or ride a bike every day. I believe the absence of reliable, fast, mass transit, as well as first mile and last mile reliability, keeps Miami-Dade County drivers in vehicles.
I would aggressively pursue implementing the smart plan. Further, I would love to modernize our bus routes so that they speak to where people are, where they need to go, in the most efficient way to get them there. Additionally, I would address the following five items:
1. Design infrastructure for people and bicycles, not just cars. This means pedestrian and bicycle oriented designs should be a priority in our roadways.
2. Prioritize barrier separated infrastructure to increase safety for pedestrian and bicycles.
3. Prioritize funding to implement needed pedestrian and bicycle improvements countywide.
4. Continue to support, expand, and advance countywide Safe Routes to Schools, as well as promote educational materials for pedestrian and bicycle safety.
5. Promote public service announcements and safety campaigns to raise awareness and support of the rights of pedestrians and bicycles on our network.
I would optimize the bus system by minimizing overlap services and increasing frequency on high ridership routes. Make the system more user-friendly and offer reliable and easy to use services, such as intuitive network and simplified bus maps. Increase bus stop amenities such as shelter, lighting, and accessibility, including pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to bus stops. Additionally, I would seek to address first and last-mile concerns with municipal trolley systems as well as other public transit assets.
Four years ago, the TPO adopted the SMART Plan and prioritized the expansion of mass transit in both the short and long term transportation plan of Miami-Dade County. The plan maintains maximum flexibility to incorporate the latest technologies, innovation, funding partnerships, as well as refinement in land use and ridership needs. This action put into place a program to deliver new transit infrastructure along mass transit corridors that have been discussed for decades. The SMART corridors represent the highest employment and population growth in our region. With the current experience of COVID-19, telecommuting has emerged as a critical tool applied across industries, including telehealth, remote-learning, and government services. TPO has noted that Countywide telecommuting has significantly reduced traffic and could be used as a long term strategic goal to reduce traffic congestion in Miami-Dade County. TPO is currently leading the effort to assess these impacts to adapt the SMART Plan with appropriate policies and improvements. Maintaining flexibility and innovation is key to maximizing our investments in the infrastructure.
I’m not sure whether I will change the transportation governing structure, it is worth noting that changing the transportation structure would likely take a change to state law, which is something that cannot be accomplished through the county commission.
I think what is missing from transportation governance in Miami Dade County is not an effective structure but more the political will to work together for the betterment of the residents and businesses in the county - that I can help change.
I believe that breaking faith with the people regarding the expansion of the metro rail, for whatever reason, leads to fundamental mistrust about transportation governance. Understandably, situations change, making it impractical or impossible to deliver on promises, in that case, you owe it to the voting public to come back to them and have a new conversation about what we can do regarding transportation expansion with resources that are now available.
Additionally, we have witnessed decades of uncoordinated agency and roadway specific focus instead of a holistic countywide transportation plan that includes all modes. This resulted in unbalanced roadway-focused investments while delaying critical planning and investment in mass transit expansion in Miami-Dade County.
I believe what is going right with transportation is the SMART Plan. The SMART Plan embraces innovation and flexibility. It is not stagnant or unmovable and builds consensus throughout the county. The plan specifically resulted in the allocation of Federal and State funding; facilitated the merger of DTPW and Transit, as well as the bus signal priority treatment and network integration; included FDOT involvement in project development of SMART Plan corridors; and dedicated funding/PTP supports current and future transit operations.
It’s the first time in decades that policymakers were able to agree on a comprehensive plan to address transportation.
Continue to advocate, support, and, most importantly expand, equity in transportation via National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for assessment of Environmental Justice, Community Impacts, and Socioeconomic effects resulting from our transportation projects in Miami-Dade County. This includes not only the analysis of transportation impacts but also specific recommendations for mitigation of impacts.
Continue to advance efforts and policies that integrate and harmonize land-uses with appropriate transportation infrastructure. Recent efforts by BCC and TPO have strongly encouraged Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and also resulted in the creation of Transportation Infrastructure Improvement Districts (TIID). This provides a funding source while incentivizing maximum synergy between land use and transportation; however, more is still needed. Additional emphasis on community-based development is also necessary. TPO has directed that the SMART Plan go a step further by developing land-use visioning plans that include not only livable community priorities but also include economic and mobility elements, for an emphasis on community-oriented development.
Increased collaboration between municipal and county transit services has already resulted in significant gains for the traveling public; however, increased emphasis on planning a holistic, interconnected countywide system is still needed. As previously stated, we need to increase system interoperability and unify transit services across all modes and levels of government. Continue to support the development of an integrated transit tracker for real-time route information, as well as optimize municipal and county routes to eliminate duplication of transit services.