What's next for mass public transportation in FTL? | Big Picture Broward | Big Picture Broward

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) understands our cities needs. 

[Mass public transportation in Fort Lauderdale]

Mass public transit Fort Lauderdale

“The Wave Streetcar won’t be built, but it served one of its chief purposes anyway: helping attract developers to Fort Lauderdale’s biggest downtown building boom,” reports Brittany Wallman and John Maines, contract reporters for the Sun Sentinel.

This is true, but now that public and private developers have taken interest in Fort Lauderdale, our city needs a mass public transit solution in the heart of downtown more than ever.

Studies published in Sage Journal, the leading independent, academic and professional publisher of innovative, high-quality content; Future Structure, an initiative from the publisher of GOVERNING (Government Technologies and Emergency Management); and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), agree.

Was the Downtown Development Authority right in their decision to support mass public transportation via light rail, all along?

The DDA projected the long-term economic advantages and found that they far outweighed the immediate, short-term expenditures.

Studies by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) show that every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns, and every $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million in increased business sales.

mass public transportation

The Wave (a light rail public transit solution) had a proposed budget of $192.58 million, a cost that would have been distributed amongst various local, state, and federally funded agencies. The price tag seems staggering, but Fort Lauderdale would have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in business sales from such a large scale project.

Basically, a big budget is not always a negative variable. We just have to look towards future benefits and not the immediate cost.

Growth does not happen in one day.

The organizations pushing for mass public transit understand this fact very well. Just because light rail is not the perfect solution for our city, does not mean we do not still need a mass public transit option that is affordable, accessible and reliable.

We need to keep moving forward.

Mass Public Transportation in the heart of Downtown Fort Lauderdale

A mass public transit system connecting to the Brightline Train is still something we need.

This will restrict growing traffic congestion along key roadways in the heart of downtown.

How?

Let us start by saying that “restricting” and “alleviating” are different outcomes. The chances that a system connecting to the Brightline would lead to lighter traffic (especially with rising population estimates) is unlikely.

But. . .

It will reduce the number of active cars on the road by offering multiple alternatives to new commuters.

The population of Broward County (specifically Fort Lauderdale) is growing rapidly. The state estimates that it will grow by 12,600 people each year, coming close to 2.2 million by 2040.

We know where these people are most likely to move.

If one person substitutes their vehicle for public transportation, a new one will undoubtedly take its place. That is life. The important takeaway is that we need a public transit solution that does not add cars to the road. A system that reduces the number of vehicles would be even better.

Mass Public Transportation

This brings us to interconnectivity.

A growing urban space depends on affordable, accessible, and consistent public transportation services.

The issue needs to be solved, and soon. Especially because public and private developers have already committed to downtown Fort Lauderdale in mass.

According to a South Florida Sun Sentinel report of 65 development plans from 2012 to April 2018, “A total of 7,612 apartments and condo units are proposed at or near where the train stations would have been. And there are an expected 563,587 square feet of retail space, 792,808 square feet of office space and 757 hotel rooms planned to be built” in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas, and Flagler Village.

Interconnectivity is a huge selling point for the new workforce Fort Lauderdale is attracting. Our strategies for connecting districts scattered across our urban landscape will decide the style of living these downtowners are likely to adapt.

Do we want them to add to the congestion or embrace systems that eliminate it?

Mass Public Transportation

So what’s next?

Let us start by saying, we are confident in the DDA and other forward-thinking organizations’ ability to invent a new public transit solution that all sectors of local, state and federal government can agree upon.

We believe their vision for the future is the right one. And we are excited to see what new paths we can take to arrive there.

The Wave Streetcar may not have been the perfect solution for our city. But that only means we have to keep planning and assessing until the best one presents itself.

Our strategies for tri-county interconnectivity, economic growth, urban development and traffic congestion will depend on the way our county designs our newest public transportation installation.

So tell us,

How do you envision the future of Broward County mass public transportation?