Miami Renews Push for Streetcar System in Urban Core

Miami may be looking to the past for its public transportation future. In the '20s and '30s, streetcars zoomed through the city of Miami, and now city commissioners have renewed a push to bring them back.

According to Miami Today, the plan had gained steam back in 2006 but lost priority after the real estate crash. Now, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is leading a push to find funding for the idea.

"With the construction currently under way, we'll have an additional 85,000 residents by 2016," Sarnoff said during a September 11 commission meeting according to Today. "This represents an increase of 16% from 2011 ... [and] an overall 100% increase from the year 2000. Downtown daytime population is over 200,000 with [an] influx of employees and people attending events. If the streetcar was deemed worthy of a significant conversation in 2006, we certainly need it in the near future given this population growth."

The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization is in charge of transportation planning, and once had listed streetcars as a top priority, but now includes streetcars as only a "priority six" project.

Sarnoff managed to get fellow commissioner Francis Suarez to back the idea, as Suarez is the city's representative to the MPO.

"One of the main components that I don't know that we dedicate enough time to is mass transit," Suarez said. "If we don't do something now, it will not happen -- that's a guarantee."

No word on what the plan may eventually look like, but Today points out that the 2006 plan called for two lines. One running from Government Center to the Design District, and the other running out west to the Health District. The routes would essentially connect downtown with areas that are not covered by the Metromover.

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Kyle Munzenrieder