Monday, December 10, 2007

Miami's Metromover

Three cities that have put people movers to work are Detroit, Miami and Jacksonville. In all cases you can argue how successful the systems has been. In Miami there used to be a .25 cent charge to ride the system but that was eliminated in 2002.

Here is what my feelings are toward the Miami system after riding it for several days in November.

Here is one of the MetroMover cars just east of the Omni Station heading for the end of the line at School Board Station taken when I was in Miami.

I will have to say that traveling on the people mover is not that bad, although it probably is a little rougher than TRAX or a streetcar would be at the speeds it travels at. The cars do not hold that many people seated and most end up standing. Since there is no operator passengers do have a good view out the front of the vehicles.

Here you see one of the cars approaching the Omni Station which is located next to a dead mall call the Omni Center. The mall is being turned into a office building.

One of the problems you have with this type of system is how poorly in interacts with street level. In other words it does not induce pedestrian traffic. In addition you can see the huge infrastructure required for a station. Now this station is only set up for two car MetroMover trains and Metromover cars are much smaller than a light rail vehicles or monorail car. Can you imagine the size if it was designed to handle a monorail train that could hold as many people as a TRAX train?

This is something that Monorailist just can't seemed to comprehend, and that is how much infrastructure is truly required to handle a monorail train. However even light rail needs to be elevated at times (in fact the West Valley line should be elevated not at street level) but should only be used as a last resort.

As can be seen in the pictures below the Metromover just does not interact with it's surroundings very well.

Now take a look at this station below:

Can you imagine that this concrete monstrosity of a station creates an interaction with the sidewalk below? In fact few people seem to get off this station despite the Miami Riverwalk below. Now the station has to be this tall because after leaving this station the MetroMover goes over the Miami River and has to be tall enough to clear without a drawbridge.

What would interact better with the area? Well streetcars interact much better than the Metromover, the only downfall is that it would have to travel over the river on a drawbridge but then again most of the traffic is leisure travel and not frequent.

Miami is moving forward with a streetcar proposal. Some have suggested that since the streetcar will pass the Omni Station and within a half a block of three other of the Omni Loop Stops, that the Omni Loop be torn down and the track used elsewhere.

While it does look cool to see these cars going overhead, they do not provide the interaction between themselves and the community below.

While Downtown Miami has several new skyscrapers being built, none of them, even one with a MetroMover station along side of it are being designed to interact with the MetroMover. If they would be designed to interact with the Metromover, it would do wonders to increase the utility of the line, however, it would still not solve the problem that the Metromover does nothing for the street environment on the area.

While a Metromover may have a place at places like Disneyland, it just doesn't do the job we need to do in our cities today.


Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal said...

Yeah, the metomovers stemmed from an absurdly flawed transit policy in the 70's and were hastily built with little foresight. Fortunately, Miami has the most extensive of the original systems, though I cannot foresee any reasonable extensions occurring ever... The added cost of creating the elevated stations outweighs the benefits of creating the dedicated ROW. Personally, I am a streetcar advocate, the best form of urban transportation which if implemented, would work wonders for Miami Beach, Design District, Little Havana, and the Gables among other neighborhoods. Unfortunately the streetcar is facing widespread oppositions from commissioners and ignorant community activists.

Thanks for the plug, I'll be sure to add you to my blogroll soon...

JMD said...

I was growing up in Los Angeles when they first proposed a people mover. In fact there is at least one building in downtown LA that has the right of way for it.

If Los Angeles gets the Downtown Connector built it will follow the same general route as the people mover would have.

Nick Bastian said...

Very interesting post. Many of the public meetings here in Phoenix talk about getting the people and communities involved in the light rail plan. It's nice to see that, maybe they have learned lessons from past problems of other systems. Glad I found your blog!