Discussion about Florida passenger rail operations including proposals. Official web-sites:
Miami/Dade Metrorail, Sunrail (Orlando), and Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority
For Virgin Rail/Brightline: Virgin Trains Worldwide (includes Brightline)

Moderator: Kurt-Trirail

  by Jeff Smith
Mass Transit Mag

Very interesting concepts; chances? We've heard this tune before...
It will likely be several years -- at the least -- before anything gets built. If and when that happens, the new transit lines would offer commuters new options to get to downtown Miami: those coming from the western suburbs could avoid driving on traffic-clogged State Road 836 and South Miami-Dade residents potentially could be ferried up U.S. 1 by a train that links to the existing Dadeland South station.

Other lines would run along Kendall Drive in southwest Miami-Dade, Northwest 27th Avenue in Miami Gardens, and near Biscayne Boulevard in northeast Miami-Dade.

The sixth line would connect urban neighborhoods such as the Design District and Wynwood with South Beach, through a train running across the MacArthur Causeway.

If those routes all sound a bit familiar, it's because county voters already endorsed them back in 2002 -- when they approved a half-percent sales tax increase that was supposed to add up to 88.9 additional miles to Miami-Dade's Metrorail system.

All six of the currently envisioned SMART lines were included in the rail expansion promised to voters back then. But instead of a huge Metrorail expansion, the community only got a 2.4 mile- extension connecting the rail system to Miami International Airport.
  by Rockingham Racer
Yes, it is interesting. However, the projects have been talked about for years. Poor Miami has definitely missed the boat [[umm, train] when it comes to public transit. They're about 20 years late trying to do something about the traffic mess that exists in this city--even on side roads.
  by electricron
What have they spent 13 to 14 years of the half cent sales tax revenues on? I just can't believe the airport extension of both MetroRail and TriRail consumed all of it.
  by JasW
It's gone (and is still going to) routine transit operations, maintenance, and overhead, mainly because what little there already is of transit was itself underfinanced.

As for the latest proposal -- sigh -- la plus ça change... The big difference is that it's going to be a light rail system separate from the heavy rail Metrorail, light rail being cheaper than heavy rail.

To me, it's just the latest in a long series of proposals that have done little other than give employment to people who are paid to conduct transit studies.

Here's the proposal from 1999 when there was a campaign for a full-penny sales tax increase (I saved the graphic at the time). It was defeated.


And here's the 2002 proposal that when along with the successful 2002 half-penny sales tax increase (this map is actually from 2008 and the Herald's "Taken for a Ride" series). You'll note it shows, with a blue dashed line, routes that weren't in the original plan but were "considered." Those would have served huge population swaths in SW Miami-Dade and in NW Miami-Dade/SW Broward. They are and have continued to be SOL in every plan.


Finally, here's the new "SMART plan." You see the same old stuff: the vaunted extension due west from downtown out the Dolphin Expressway, the lines west out to Kendall and south down US 1 from Dadeland, the line up Biscayne Blvd from downtown, and the line up 27th Avenue to the county line.


The only people making out here are the ones are the transit planning bureaucrats who have been paid over the last 20 years to come up with these studies and proposals. A lot of this is due to having been dealt a bad hand. The original Metrorail route north of downtown is a joke, zigging and zagging to take in the district of every two-bit 1980s pol who had a hand in the matter.
  by electricron
Let's face the truth, a half cent sales tax is not sufficient tax revenues to finance subsidizing the existing trains and also build new heavy rail lines! It's enough to do fund one or the other, but not both.

As for the planned future expansions, I'm thinking the Kendal, West, and North extensions will be possible. The corridor along the FEC is unlikely with TriRail and Brightline trains sharing the existing tracks. I also don't think the BRT line south towards Homestead will be replaced soon, it would be the last corridor on my list to be upgraded.
  by JasW
I don't think it's enough to even fund the proposed light rail lines. And certainly they're possible, but will they end up happening? I'm doubtful if only because I've seen the same plans be put forward again and again with nothing happening except for the short MIA extension and the even shorter extension to the Palmetto. Note the SMART plan now includes express buses replacing a couple of rail lines in the earlier proposals. That's all I can see them actually doing. Leaving aside the US 1 busway, express buses are a highly unsatisfactory solution because they just get bogged down in traffic. The state DOT is spending a ton of money on express lanes for I-75 and the Palmetto, which one of these proposed express bus lines will take advantage of, but all that will do is get people to somewhere around Flagler and the Palmetto, and leave them to find there way on other buses to downtown. A normal city would have long since built the east-west line out the Dolphin, and would have then built a line up the Palmetto and I-75.