Miami creates mass transit trust fund

October 23, 2015

The Miami area remains among the most congested in the nation, and drivers fed up with stop-and-go commutes want solutions. On Thursday, Miami city leaders took a step toward addressing the problem.

Miami Commissioners unanimously approved creating a transportation trust fund to establish a pot of money that can be used to fund large and small transit projects. The trust fund, proposed by Commissioner Francis Suarez, starts off with $1.6 million allocated in the current year’s general fund.Website Insert 5000 New Seats copy

 That’s not much, considering that major transportation projects typically approach and surpass $1 billion. But it’s another signal that the city, which along with several semi-autonomous entities recently agreed to contribute about $30 million to bring Tri-Rail commuter trains downtown, is interested in being part of a solution. And Suarez believes the fund can grow quickly

“I think it could be a fund that actually has quite a bit of money in it,” he said. “It’s a start in getting us to think and be proactive.”

 Suarez began pushing for the trust fund several months ago as the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority sought $69 million from public entities to bring Tri-Rail trains downtown. Miami commissioners also voted to expand Miami’s trolley system into Wynwood, Coconut Grove and other neighborhoods not yet serviced by the city-funded system. Administrators said the move would quickly deplete a small reserve the city had set aside for transit projects from the city’s cut of the county’s half-cent transit tax.

Suarez said he realized it was time to create a transportation fund so that the city wouldn’t “have to scramble” to find money for needed projects.

“It’s time we started thinking ahead,” he said.

The legislation approved Thursday ensures that 20 percent of any unrestricted, one-time payment to the city of at least $500,000 will go into the trust fund. For instance, should the city ever receive the $10 million payment related to the SkyRise tower project, $2 million would go into the account.

Miami Herald reporter David Smiley has the full story by clicking here.


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