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South Florida Roundup Transit Breakdown From Miami-Dade To West Palm Beach

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The South Florida Sun Sentinel
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The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority will begin training and testing to bring Tri-Rail services to MiamiCentral Station.

Downtown Miami will soon have access to a Tri-Rail station that will allow people to travel from Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County back to downtown with no transfers.

That has been made possible by an agreement between Brightline and Florida East Coast Railway with the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority to begin training and testing to bring Tri-Rail services to MiamiCentral Station.

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Raquel Regalado, the Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 7 and chairperson of SFRTA, joined us at the South Florida Roundup to explain more about the deal.

Training on topics such as route familiarization, checking rides and testing of power units, has not yet begun because SFRTA has had some employment issues. SFRTA will be trained by Brightline — which is trained by FEC Railway.

“It allows us to move this a lot faster,” Regalado said. “We would have waited another eight, nine to 12 months if we wanted to do this training directly. So we're very grateful that Brightline has partnered with us in this so that we can get this moving and really start to check off all these boxes.”

An exact date for when the Tri-Rail services will be available has not yet been determined, but they’re hoping to have them operating next year, according to Regalado.

“This is our number one priority,” she added.

In preparation, SFRTA has had to tackle issues such as redoing the tracks because the train did not fit the station, transferring to the software system ATMS (advanced transportation management system) and fixing the design of the steps to ensure they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The SFRTA has approved bicycles and scooters that can be rented on the spot for every Tri-Rail station in Miami-Dade County. An agreement was also reached to have concessions in the stations.

"The first and last mile is the deal breaker," Regalado said. “You can't expect someone to go to these stations and not have a way to get from there somewhere else in a quick way.”

Tri-Rail will continue working on fixing pedestrian bridges, refurbishing existing stations, concessions and wayfinding.

“A lot of people don't have the information on if you stop at a travel station abroad, ‘how [to] get a bus or how [to] get a bike or how [to] get a trolley,’” Regalado said. “And wayfinding is a big part of that also.”

According to Regalado, the Tri-Rail trains wouldn’t have a huge impact on traffic because stops already exist in the areas where the train would pass. She added that investments have been done to ensure that the trains move efficiently and don’t hold up traffic.

"It's an amazing system," Regalado said. "It's just a matter of bringing it into this century and making it more user-friendly."

On the South Florida Roundup, we also discussed how Miami-Dade County commissioners voted to accelerate and extend the existing Metrorail system, as well as the Broward County penny tax from 2018 and how it has been implemented.

Listen to the full episode above.

Ammy Sanchez is a junior at the Honors College at Florida International University, studying organizational communications.