Fund or Fail

Discussion about Florida commuter rail operations including Miami/Dade Metrorail, Sunrail (Orlando), and Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority in southern Florida. All Aboard Florida (Brightline) is discussed here: Florida East Coast Railway).

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Fund or Fail

Postby chrsjrcj » Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:25 pm

http://tri-rail.com/FundOrFail/

The counties cannot be faulted for their decision to reduce funding; they are struggling just as we are. As I announced at last Friday’s meeting of the Governing Board, if the counties reduce their funding assistance and the legislature provides no dedicated funding source, we will have no choice but to reduce service to potentially as few as 30 trains a day and suspend service on the weekends and holidays, as of October 5, 2009.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:35 am

We have state leadership that is basically anti rail. In addition they do not like us here in the southeast area of Florida.
If they do cut us, we might get federal funds to help out and if that does not work and they are forced to cut train service,
the state stands to face action by the feds to repay the federal funds that were advanced for the double tracking work
over the past few years.
If they cut funds for Tri-Rail the feds can and should make the state repay the funds, I suspect they will too.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby transitrider » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:08 pm

This is real sad, Florida always been anti-rail. They never will understand why rail systems are effectively than built super highways. I send my comments to Tri-Rail and express my feeling. If they ever cut the weekend service, it will hurt big time and it also will hurt the ridership for Tri-Rail.

Sad, needless to say.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby transitrider » Sat Jun 20, 2009 1:12 pm

Someone over at South Florida Regional Transportation Authority confirmed me that if 3 counties give zero funding, Tri-Rail will cease it's operations 9-12 months after October 2009 which means Tri-Rail will be no more no later by Summer 2010.

We need to act and make sure the funding is still in place. Public transportation is very important for the community.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:21 pm

Just came out today that Tri-Rail is going to use capital funds to keep the present operation going for a while longer.
Here is a link.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/ ... 9795.story

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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:15 am

Here is a link to a write up in the Sun-Sentinel for Sunday, June 28th.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/ ... 2721.story

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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:23 pm

The real problem is that most voters and taxpayers see very little benefit from Tri-Rail, which is hardly surprising when you consider that almost every community in Florida has developed in the era of the automobile, hence a population distribution pattern that is largely inimical to commuter rail. Moreover, Tri-Rail is open to criticism due to the CRC DMU order, and considering the controversial history of mass transit in Miami, it isn't hard to see why Tri-Rail funding is being cut. In any case, Tri-Rail ridership numbers indicate a service that is hardly "vital" to the community, although you can argue that it benefits a relatively small number of individuals.

Right now, Florida is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis and it isn't hard to see that commuter rail in Miami plays a subsidiary and very minor role compared to a metropolitan area such as New York.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:35 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:The real problem is that most voters and taxpayers see very little benefit from Tri-Rail, which is hardly surprising when you consider that almost every community in Florida has developed in the era of the automobile, hence a population distribution pattern that is largely inimical to commuter rail. Moreover, Tri-Rail is open to criticism due to the CRC DMU order, and considering the controversial history of mass transit in Miami, it isn't hard to see why Tri-Rail funding is being cut. In any case, Tri-Rail ridership numbers indicate a service that is hardly "vital" to the community, although you can argue that it benefits a relatively small number of individuals.

Right now, Florida is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis and it isn't hard to see that commuter rail in Miami plays a subsidiary and very minor role compared to a metropolitan area such as New York.


I rode Tri-Rail this morning during the rush hour to Miami and there were a good number of people on that three car train of
double decker cars. In fact there were some single seats available but not too many. There are a lot of people here in this
part of Florida who obviously do not agree with what you said.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:13 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:The real problem is that most voters and taxpayers see very little benefit from Tri-Rail, which is hardly surprising when you consider that almost every community in Florida has developed in the era of the automobile, hence a population distribution pattern that is largely inimical to commuter rail. Moreover, Tri-Rail is open to criticism due to the CRC DMU order, and considering the controversial history of mass transit in Miami, it isn't hard to see why Tri-Rail funding is being cut. In any case, Tri-Rail ridership numbers indicate a service that is hardly "vital" to the community, although you can argue that it benefits a relatively small number of individuals.

Right now, Florida is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis and it isn't hard to see that commuter rail in Miami plays a subsidiary and very minor role compared to a metropolitan area such as New York.


I rode Tri-Rail this morning during the rush hour to Miami and there were a good number of people on that three car train of
double decker cars. In fact there were some single seats available but not too many. There are a lot of people here in this
part of Florida who obviously do not agree with what you said.
Noel Weaver


Sadly, the riders of those short three car trains can't (or won't) support operations through the fare box. This is the universal dilemma facing all commuter rail operations, but in the case of a truly vital system, such as that it New York, the benefits of mass transit are so immediate and obvious that there is broad consensus favoring taxpayer support. Without the various MTA operated commuter lines, New York would grind to a standstill. That is not the case with Tri-Rail, where the ridership is relatively minor in comparison to the substantial but highly dispersed population base.

Only a small percentage of suburban taxpayers ride Tri-Rail, and in truth, the ridership isn't great enough to lower highway and surface street traffic to the extent that the benefits would be demonstrable to the voters.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby chrsjrcj » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:17 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:In any case, Tri-Rail ridership numbers indicate a service that is hardly "vital" to the community, although you can argue that it benefits a relatively small number of individuals.


Plenty of Tri-Rail riders disagree with that statement. And do you really want to see an extra 10,000 people (daily ridership of Tri-Rail) on I-95 in South Florida during rush hour? No.

It benefits EVERY single person who uses I-95.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:12 pm

chrsjrcj wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:In any case, Tri-Rail ridership numbers indicate a service that is hardly "vital" to the community, although you can argue that it benefits a relatively small number of individuals.


Plenty of Tri-Rail riders disagree with that statement. And do you really want to see an extra 10,000 people (daily ridership of Tri-Rail) on I-95 in South Florida during rush hour? No.

It benefits EVERY single person who uses I-95.


The problem is that the fares paid by Tri-Rail riders don't fully support operations, let alone capital spending - which is to be expected for any commuter rail system. In the absence of an external funding source, no system of this sort can survive. The problem is that Southeast Florida taxpayers, most of whom don't use Tri-Rail, don't apparently want to pay higher taxes to support the system. I can't blame them and the situation has been exacerbated by the collapse of Orlando's SUNRAIL boondoggle, not to mention the bad press from the CRC DMUs.

As far as traffic on I95, I suspect that the current economic downturn has done a great deal to reduce traffic, and indeed, the entire funding issue is tied to the state of the economy. Next year, when Tri-Rail runs out of money, the funding issue will come to a head.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:57 pm

goodnightjohnwayne wrote:
chrsjrcj wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:In any case, Tri-Rail ridership numbers indicate a service that is hardly "vital" to the community, although you can argue that it benefits a relatively small number of individuals.


Plenty of Tri-Rail riders disagree with that statement. And do you really want to see an extra 10,000 people (daily ridership of Tri-Rail) on I-95 in South Florida during rush hour? No.

It benefits EVERY single person who uses I-95.


The problem is that the fares paid by Tri-Rail riders don't fully support operations, let alone capital spending - which is to be expected for any commuter rail system. In the absence of an external funding source, no system of this sort can survive. The problem is that Southeast Florida taxpayers, most of whom don't use Tri-Rail, don't apparently want to pay higher taxes to support the system. I can't blame them and the situation has been exacerbated by the collapse of Orlando's SUNRAIL boondoggle, not to mention the bad press from the CRC DMUs.

With attitudes like this, we will keep building more and more highways all over the place at a much higher cost than to
sustain a decent public transportation system. California was headed the same way for many years until the leadership
finally decided to forsake highway construction for railroad passenger service and look at what has happened to California
today where they have both extensive intercity service as well as good commuter service too.

As far as traffic on I95, I suspect that the current economic downturn has done a great deal to reduce traffic, and indeed, the entire funding issue is tied to the state of the economy. Next year, when Tri-Rail runs out of money, the funding issue will come to a head.


Yes and when things pick up the traffic will be worse again. If we don't improve our public transportation systems eventually
our area will be smothered in its own mass. No public transportation system pays its own bills without outside government
support and that is not going to change probably ever.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:06 am

Noel Weaver wrote:With attitudes like this, we will keep building more and more highways all over the place at a much higher cost than to
sustain a decent public transportation system. California was headed the same way for many years until the leadership
finally decided to forsake highway construction for railroad passenger service and look at what has happened to California
today where they have both extensive intercity service as well as good commuter service too.


California is approaching a state of fiscal collapse, and there is a very real possibility that Florida is now following the same path. In other words, California is not a positive example of governance, but a model of dysfunction on nearly every level. In the end, commuter rail is not an alternative to highway construction in a highly dispersed urban setting, and in truth, a metropolitan area has to be built around rail infrastructure to begin with to obtain a fully indispensable rail transit system. In other words, no matter how much money is spent, and invariably wasted, you can't turn Los Angeles or Miami into New York. New York was built around rail, while places like L.A. and Miami were built around the automobile, and no matter how much money is lavished on rail systems, it is impossible to impose a rail-centric transportation model on these dispersed urban landscapes.

In truth, commuter rail can serve to compliment highway transportation, but it is entirely false to suggest that rail can supplant highway maintenance and construction, especially in cities like Miami.

As a transportation advocate, I support both highway and rail development, as one the two are complimentary, not mutually exclusive. As a realist, I can't support any aspect of California's misguided and largely mismanaged transportation policies, or any of the other policies that lead to the current unemployment, demographic declines and spiraling fiscal crisis.

Noel Weaver wrote: If we don't improve our public transportation systems eventually
our area will be smothered in its own mass. No public transportation system pays its own bills without outside government
support and that is not going to change probably ever.
Noel Weaver


With the former real estate driven development model irretrievably broken, at least for the time being, the Miami area would be fortunate to experience an economic boom that would cause it to be "smothered in its own mass." Unlike most previous recessions, Florida is at the center of this decline and, arguably, has been feeling the full effects of the decline for longer than most states. In the current context, public transportation has be distant priority behind education and health care. Florida is a state where sales taxes are already high, where property taxes are pushing the threshold of public acceptance, and where the institution of a state income tax would cause a massive flight of taxpayers.

I fully accept the economic paradox of passenger rail, but the real problem in the case of Tri-Rail is a lack of relevance to Southeast Florida taxpayers, which is precisely why it has never obtained a "dedicated funding base."
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:20 am

Your thinking is just like the politicians in Florida and they are going up a dead end street. There is almost no sentiment in
this state for rail whether it be passenger or freight. Just build more highways, buy more cars, buy more gas, more trucks,
more traffic, more pollution, more transportation problems and forget about anything railroad to try to correct this mess.
Even where railroad lines do not exist, the bus service is terrible and not practical for a lot of users, maybe that's one reason
that the taxicab outfits do so well here in Fort Lauderdale.
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Re: Fund or Fail

Postby goodnightjohnwayne » Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:36 am

Noel Weaver wrote:Your thinking is just like the politicians in Florida and they are going up a dead end street. There is almost no sentiment in
this state for rail whether it be passenger or freight.


All post-WWII development in Florida was based on the use of personal automobiles for transportation. I has often been said that the automobile and mechanical air conditioning were the two factors that lead to population growth in Florida, and it is worth repeating. You have to look back to the days of Flagler, when the initial development of the east coast was initiated by the building of a railroad, to recollect a time when the passenger rail was the dominant force in Florida development.

As far as freight, that is a function of the private sector. There's a surprising amount of traffic in a couple of bulk commodities, and of course the east coast container traffic, but Florida's freight railroad network hasn't developed along with the population base because there really isn't any need. In some cases, there is a complete disconnect between population growth and freight railroad traffic, because that demographic growth was based almost exclusively on residential real estate development, with almost no accompanying increase of rail appropriate industry.


Noel Weaver wrote: Just build more highways, buy more cars, buy more gas, more trucks,
more traffic, more pollution, more transportation problems and forget about anything railroad to try to correct this mess.


The problem is that passenger rail can't be a primary transportation solution in a highly dispersed community that was developed on the basis of a highway system. If you vilify motorists, you only antagonize the largest demographic of society, and serve to further marginalize passenger rail advocacy, which is precisely what's happened in Florida in the wake of the SUNRAIL fiasco, which has spilled over to negatively impact the future funding prospects of Tri-Rail.
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