Hey there fellow rail passengers! My journey has officially kicked off in Miami, where I’ve already attended my first baseball game at Marlins Park (more on that later). To keep more up-to-date, don’t forget to follow along on our Twitter and Instagram.
At each major city on my journey, I’ll be posting a city abstract outlining the character of transportation in each city and some of the challenges transportation advocates face. Some more personal reflections will follow after I’ve finished my time in each area. So, without further ado, here’s the abstract I’ve prepared for the first city on my journey, Miami:
PASSENGER RAIL LINES:
- Tri-Rail Line
- Brightline (planned)
- 64,485 – Amtrak
- 19,984,735 – Metrorail
Rail was first welcomed to Miami on April 15, 1896 with the arrival of the Florida East Coast Railroad passenger service. Over the years, various transportation companies grew and – at least in one case – went up in flames, until the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Miami-Dade County was created in 1960. The MTA was tasked with bringing public transportation under one umbrella. By 1983, following federal, state, and local funding, the Metrorail system also began to function within the county.
Since then, extended commuter rails outside the city and increased transportation options within the city have bolstered the city’s amenities. For instance, Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins, is accessible via a free trolley from the Civic Center Metrorail system. The Tri-Rail commuter rail uses tracks originally built in the 1920s to provide service between three neighboring counties (Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties). In fact, stations in some towns like West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale are the same ones used on the original Seaboard lines in the 20’s.The Tri-rail underwent a renewal in the past twenty years, with funding from both the state and federal government to make the entire line a double-track and improve many rail stations. Besides this, the Metrorail service is looking to expand considerably, with new lines such as the Coastal Link set to open within the next decade.
Currently, several new projects are underway such as Brightline are the next big thing in in rail in these areas. Brightline is currently the country’s only privately owned and operated passenger rail, and runs on tracks originally built for the Florida East Coast Railroad, bringing passenger rail full circle in the area. Finally, the Silver Meteor trains have been operating up and down the coast since 1939, and today stretch from Florida all the way to New York.
The development of Brightline is seen as a test of public reception and use of private passenger rail systems. Some observers see Brightline’s success or failure as a good way to view the viability of private passenger rail in other states like Georgia or Texas, which similarly have extensive freight rail systems already in place and intense car traffic in between their major cities. Currently Brightline is involved in a lawsuit over funding agreements between the rail (run by Fortress Investment Group) and the US Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration, with the plaintiffs arguing that the rail received funding from bonds that it shouldn’t have.
MIAMI INTERMODAL CENTER
The transit hub, which the state first recognized that it needed in the 90s, today combines Metrorail, Greyhound, Metrobuses, and Metromover systems to transition people effectively between a variety of transportation options in Miami. Despite initial plans to join in, Amtrak has yet to reach the station because the platform was built too short for the trains coming into the station. This has caused a stalemate which has lasted for years, and so far no firm commitment has been made to solve the issue.