April 11, 2008

Fund Tri-Rail, not Highways.

A few months ago, I did some budget review, and discovered what transit experts had been saying all along was true; it's cheaper to leave your car at home. And that's true now more than ever.

A few years ago, when I looked into using Tri-Rail, it did cost less than driving, but only by a small margin. Now that gas prices are up to $3.45 a gallon, that margin has drastically increased.

Unlike too many of you, I don't drive a gas-guzzling SUV. I have a very basic Chevy Cavalier, and it gets about 28 miles to the gallon in South Florida Traffic. I live 30 miles from where I work. When you factor in tolls, maintenance, and insurance, I spend about $12.00 a day to drive to and from work. I can make the same trip via bus and Tri-Rail for $6.50.

Let's crunch the numbers; I'm saving $5.50 a day, times five days a week is $27.50, or about $118 a month. Over the year, less my two weeks vacation, that's $1,375.00 in savings.

That really isn't chump change, is it? It's like getting an extra couple of weeks' salary for me.

And if you're driving an SUV, or big-ass gas guzzler, you'll save more than me.

(As far as I'm concerned, the ONLY reason to drive an SUV is if you're hauling crap over uneven terrain and to help fund terrorist organizations in the middle east. But that's another blog entry)

I'm not the only one who has discovered this; Tri-Rail ridership has increased 32% from last year, which translates to 10,151 passengers a day.

The other day, a co-worker was trying to figure out how to get her sister to the Miami Airport from Aventura in rush hour traffic without missing several hours of work to do it. I handed her a Tri-Rail schedule and made her day. She went from having to spend three hours in traffic to dropping her sister off after a five minute trip. And her sister's train ride will only be about a half hour.

The problem is that we elect personable people who really aren't very bright. They look at the traffic on our roads, and conclude that the problem is that the roads are too small. So they make them wider, or build new ones. And the result? Traffic gets WORSE.

You see, the problem isn't that the roads are too narrow, or that we don't have enough of them; the problem is that there are too many cars on them.

Now, if our elected officials had any intelligence at all were paying attenction, they would study the results of their past actions:
  • widening highways: worse traffic.
  • double tracking Tri-Rail: increased ridership
  • adding "alert" signs to I-95; increased traffic delays as drivers slow down to read signs
  • adding trains to Tri-Rail: increased ridership
And here's another fun fact for you: voters keep voting for trains. We voted to create Tri-Rail, we voted to expand Tri-Rail, we even voted to mandate the creation of a high-speed train service to run from Miami to Tallahassee as a part of the state constitution.

To me, that says that a vote against trains is a vote against the voters. But then, I'm not an idiot politician elected official.

Tri-Rail has a petition drive going: click this banner to add your name:

You can also check out Transit Miami.


  1. Ah ha! So this is why your nit-picker blog has been so silent. Sneaky bugger! ;-) I never thought I'd envy the Tri-Rail, since my daily commute is 42 miles with no alternative.

  2. Yeah, that other blog was to be a place where I would anonymously bitch about everything. But I really wanted to do something more pro-active.

    I also have 2 other blogs; Camera-Ephemera and South Florida Theatre Scene.