I live in Golden Pines between the 27th avenue Metrorail station and the 37th avenue Metrorail station. I moved there in part because my children and I can walk/bike to the Metrorail stations. Pre-Covid19 I walked to work which is only a few blocks from my home but now because of the pandemic I work from home. I am the parent of two autistic teens who currently use STS for transportation, but I am hoping that soon my son will be able to use public transit. In my area we have been waiting for over a decade for Miami Dade County to finalize housing and commercial development at the 27th avenue and 37th avenue metro rail stations. We have also been anxiously awaiting the Underline which will also provide safer bike and walking trails.
When I ran for Miami-Dade County Mayor in 2016 I presented a transit plan and criticized the mayor for not applying for federal transit funds in over 5 years. In 2017, the county applied for federal transit funding.
In 2016, my plan started going to broward because that is where we had the largest possible growth in ridership. In the past few years the county has moved towards other options that have reduced ridership and in the case of the Virgin stations made transit economically unfeasible for most residents of Miami-Dade County. Your transit audit and plan is a great start that should be refreshed now in this pandemic to reflect changes in working conditions and mobility needs. If public transit is to be a viable choice instead of a last resort it must be timely and dependable. As a county commissioner I will also work on bus shelters and ensure that they provide some coverage from the elements. Finally, your plan is a great start and you have my commitment to implement as much of it as possible.
We have to synchronize our street lights and educate drivers about sharing the road. One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic has been an increase in walking and biking and now is the moments to capitalize on interest.
Timeliness, Connectivity and Communication. During this pandemic the county used countywide texting to inform us about curfews but shut down transit and informed no one. Why can’t we use this same system to inform about transit? We clearly have the capabilities. As a candidate I can text residents why can’t we use texting to alert users regarding delays, changes and availability of transit? We also need to improve media’s coverage of transit issues. I do my part on Spanish language but we need a broader conversation about transit on all media.
County is finally applying for federal funding, we will see increase in federal funding for housing so we need to align it with transit. We can also work with MDX and PTO to align services and priorities. Finally we must change PTT so that it must provide recommendation before committee meeting to BCC, not after.
The PTT needs to recommend before BCC committee not after. The PTO needs to be changed. It is completely ineffective. The funding for Virgin stations was an example of the disfunction of our transit governance structure. The Baylink vote without consideration of municipal wishes, disregard of 20 years of discussion and condemning ethics report is a case study in what not to do.
I attended the half penny rollout as a child with my mother who was covering it for WRHC. From the very beginning the half penny was a disaster. It took decades to get to the airport because of the power of the taxi lobby. Our transit system was designed to fail and once the county could not use airport, port and water and sewer funds to balance they budget they began to take transit dollars with zero accountability. As the parent of two disabled teens that use STS I can say that it works for my children, their friends and other adults with disabilities. But Covid19 has changed the ability to ride share and we must face that reality. As a commissioner and later as Mayor my father spent 11 years litigating with the county so that municipalities could have trollies. Now everyone celebrates the municipal trollies system but forgets those who had to fight the county to make it happen. As a member of the county commission I will do everything in my power to end the antagonistic relationship between the county and the cities. I am honored to have the support of Mayor Francis Suarez, Commissioner Manolo Reyes, Commissioner Xavier Suarez. Mayor Valdez Fauli, Vice Mayor Vice Lago and many more because of ability to build consensus and get things done.