Miami Envisions Electric Street Car System

Goal is to improve mobility and reduce congestion

Published: 21-Mar-2004

City of Miami officials, including Mayor Manny Diaz, envision an electric street-car system that would connect neighborhoods and increase mobility within the increasingly congested city core. The concept is just a glimmer of an idea right now, but is worth full-tilt exploration.

The city's core is growing at a break-neck pace, and good planning demands multifaceted transportation options. Light rail would be a welcome addition to the mix that now is heavily reliant on cars and buses.

The quest to build a similar system in Miami Beach, called BayLink, has been controversial -- and Miami can learn from the Beach's experience. Beach residents and business owners feared long interruptions of traffic flow and financial losses during the construction phase.

As Miami officials proceed with plans, they should anticipate similar problems and work proactively with residents and business owners to resolve them.

Miami's street-car would link downtown Miami with the Upper East Side and other neighborhoods that are set to boom in the next few years. The Miami system would start with a ''demonstration phase'' that would enable planners to test the project and work out the bugs. A pilot program also would allow time to build up support for light rail and also to develop funding options.

Feasibility studies are in the early stages and the street-car route hasn't been determined, although possible routes include Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Avenue and Northeast Second Avenue. Bravo to city officials for an idea whose time has come.

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