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.
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."