As Miami Beach officials attempt to push forward with their plans for a light rail line that run for two miles along Washington Avenue, two recent public meetings showed “a majority of attendees did not support the estimated $244 million wireless streetcar,” per The Real Deal.
Instead, those who spoke at the meeting said the streetcar would likely exacerbate congestion in South Beach because it would result in the elimination of a traffic lane and parking spots on Washington Avenue.
Robert Lansburgh, a resident who started the Facebook group Stop the Train Miami Beach, said light rail systems in other cities have failed to generate significant ridership. “Most of the comments I have gotten say this is crazy or it’s insane,” Lansburgh said. “We are under the influence of lobbyists. This is not about moving people.”
Another resident, Tom Richardson, worried about the city spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a system that will fail to achieve its goal. “It doesn’t seem to me that this is going to solve our traffic problem,” he said. “But we are going to get stuck with a big bill.”
It’s obvious there is a huge need for public transit in the form of a rail connecting Downtown Miami to Miami Beach, but there is rightful concern with the rationale behind the two-mile portion that would run from 5th Street to Miami Beach High (about 23rd Street).
I think for the majority of people, there isn’t a major need for public transit for the sake of navigating South Beach once you’re already there. Legs, bikes, trollies and Uber/Lyft allow you to commute the area with ease. South Beach itself is only about a mile wide and two miles long.
While it will be no simple feat to get a rail operating along MacArthur Causeway, considering it affects two cities, that needs to be the priority.
An expensive rail connecting a mere two miles on South Beach? Perhaps it’s not the most prudent use for the city’s cash.