Monday, July 28, 2008

Train to Nowhere

The as-yet unfinished Metrorail here in South Florida has yet another plan heading for a dead end.

If commissioners want to build the so-called Orange Line — expanding Metrorail to the north, the west and through the transportation hub near the airport — Miami-Dade needs to come up with another $9.4 billion over the next 30 years.

That’s $9.4 billion — with a ”b” — on top of the property, sales and gas taxes, fares and parking fees and federal and state grants that are already supporting the deficit-plagued transit agency.

To fill that hole, commissioners were going to have to raise fares and parking fees; increase the gas tax by two cents a gallon and pony up $5.4 billion in new property taxes over the next 30 years.


While transit agencies around the country are raising fares to deal with the crush of new passengers and the rising cost of fuel, Miami-Dade commissioners stuck their heads in the sand.

So what happens when the regulators take a look at this $9.4 billion plan and ask the inevitable next question: ”Who’s agreeing to implement these fare hikes and tax increases?”

Well, uh…

Remember, this is the same set of federal analysts who called out last year’s plan as utterly unrealistic and ridiculous.

So why submit a plan that is doomed to fail? Politics, naturally. Six commissioners are up for reelection next month.

Politics never seems to have an energy shortage.