Plans to Expand Metro Derailed


Sean Bennett, Reporter

The Metrorail is an important mode of transportation for many commuters in Miami. Most riders would agree that expansion of the system would allow more people to use it and improve the experience as a whole. As of now the Metro spans 25 miles from Kendall to downtown Miami. However, without monetary support from the federal government, the rail cannot be expanded any further.

According to an article published in the Miami Herald, the current plan to extend the routes of the Metrorail, proposed by chairman of the County Commission Esteban Bovo, is expected to require a budget of $1.5 billion. Unfortunately, during the press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 17, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that “resources are an issue.” Although this new information was disheartening to Metro users across the county, it was not all bad news.

Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade Mayor, suggested modernizing the bus system to allow “rail-like” perks for passengers. This would allow for full advantage of the dedicated bus lanes next to U.S. 1. This plan has a significantly lower budget of $534 million and would not require the aid that the federal government cannot provide.

Even with alternative solutions, Metro riders are still worried about the current and future state of the system. TERRA Junior Kayvon Navab is one such user, relying on the rail to get home from school every day. “I have no other options for transportation,” Navab said, “I am getting a car soon, but I would be all for the expansion of the Metro.” Additionally, he noted that the bus system, as of now at least, is awful and could not replace the Metrorail.

Junior Matias Martinez used the Metro before he had a car, and like Navab he used it for commuting to school. He said the nearest station was two miles from his house, and after he got off he had to take an Uber to get to TERRA. “My bike would get a flat tire at least once a month just from riding there and back everyday,” Martinez said. Martinez supports the idea of expanding the Metro despite no longer relying on it to get around, but he noted that “Miami traffic is going to be bad no matter how much public transportation is improved.” He also agreed with Navab’s position on the bus system, calling it “completely useless in its current state.”

Despite the Trump administration’s new spending plan and transportation budget cuts, Chao explained that they could help in other ways. A few of her suggestions included “facilitating the permit process” and “helping with the deregulatory process.” Although exactly what will be improved upon is still unclear, political leaders on the local and federal levels seem ready and willing to cooperate with each other to ensure that commuters across Miami-Dade have a more positive and accommodating experience when using public transportation.