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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How derailed is the People's Transportation Plan?

From Poder Magazine, June 2009
The Great Train Wreck
by Kirk Nielsen
In 2002, sensing that all great modern cities have great urban rail systems, the citizens of Miami-Dade County approved a ballot question calling for one. (They also sensed their grand weariness of traffic jams and two-hour public bus excursions to travel 15 miles.) Thus was born the People’s Transportation Plan, or PTP, which involved a new half-cent sales tax to fund, among other things, “rapid transit lines to West Dade, Kendall, Florida City, Miami Beach, and North Dade.” Specifically, the plan proposed to expand Metrorail from a solitary 22-mile line into a nine or ten-line system with 90 miles of track.

Seven years later, the county has spent about $1 billion of PTP sales tax money, virtually none of it directly on Metrorail expansion. About $70 million was used to pay interest on bonds that are to help fund new rail lines. Most of the rest went to operate and maintain the single Metrorail line, buy new buses, and slightly expand bus service, according to a memo county manager George Burgess sent to commissioners in May. Some of it also disappeared into roadways. Read on.

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