Open Letter

To: Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Elected Florida state and local representatives
From: Miami-Miami Beach Monorail
Re: BayLink


We urge you to use the power of your office to push for a monorail solution for BayLink. We believe the current proposal of a light rail trolley car will contribute to instead of correcting the problems inherit in transporting large numbers of people between Miami and Miami Beach. By its very nature, slow-moving, lane hogging trolley cars impede traffic. The narrow streets of South Beach cry out for a different solution. This is ours.

  • Regarding mass transit, we believe any solution that isn't off the grid is part of the problem. When traffic arteries are already clogged, you can't solve the problem by adding another means of fixed-track transportation to the congested grid. You can only solve that problem by either going over or under it. Going over is less expensive.

  • Our BayLink monorail solution is less expensive and disruptive and much quicker to build because 80% of it runs on beach sand and at grade along the MacArthur Causeway. Working around existing utilities is virtually eliminated and the need to build elevated piers for the monorail for nearly a third of its run is unnecessary.                           

  • Our solution offers convenient connections to existing and proposed mass transit. Under our plan, it would be possible to take a commuter train from Palm Beach to the Miami Beach Convention Center with only one transfer.                         
  • Construction and maintenance costs could be reduced further by offering concessions to the private sector.                                     

  • The $200 million budgeted for the Miami streetcar project should be directed towards developing a BayLink monorail.                                                                  

  • Singapore

  • A retired transportation engineer* with over 40-years of building monorails in the Far East likes our concept of connecting Miami to Miami Beach with a monorail that runs at grade along the MacArthur Causeway and then along the sands of Miami Beach so much that he took time to give our conceptual solution real world numbers. The Miami-Miami Beach BayLink Monorail plan is:

  • *8.6 miles long,

    *The Miami run is a 4.4 mile one-way single beam rising from and returning to the Watson Island station (but for system costing it is considered 2.2 miles of dual-beam two-way run),

    *The MacArthur Causeway at-grade run is 3.1 miles long,

    *The Miami Beach run is a two-way dual beam 3.3 miles long.

    *Estimated cost: $370 million.

    *Feds pick up half of cost ($185 million)

    *State picks up ¼: $92.5 million

    *County picks up ¼: $92.5 million

    *Cost per mile per county share: $10.8 million.

    *Construction time: 30-36 months with an additional 6-months for testing.

    Our consultant wants it known that "the proposal has given thought on how to mitigate the impact of construction on existing road traffic. It is suggested that serious consideration be given during the design stage to evaluate the feasibility of using single large bored pile foundation and column as a contiguous structure. The columns could be clad externally to better embrace some art form that befits the local ambiance."

    The 3.1 mile MacArthur Causeway run and the 3.3 mile long north-south run along the sands of Miami Beach takes advantage of a unique set of conditions found only here. Instead of disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over many years while tearing up miles and miles of streets to lay trolley car tracks and to realign underground utilities, 80% of our solution runs where none of the aforementioned problems exist: on the south side of the MacArthur Causeway and over beach sand. Unlike the current default BayLink plan, archaic, lane-hogging, slow-moving trolley cars with their ugly overhead power lines will not be forced onto narrow streets with stations every few blocks. Our approach is to get people from one side of Biscayne Bay to the other as quickly as possible with a minimum of stops where they are needed the most. These "People Magnet" stops include Lincoln Road/Beach and the Convention Center/Live Nation Theater on the beach side with mainland stops at Carnival Center, American Airlines Arena, Museum Park and, although it doesn't currently exist, the "Grand Central Station of the American Pastime." Our forward thinking design makes it possible to take a commuter train on the FEC tracks all the way from Palm Beach to the Miami Beach Convention Center with only one transfer.

    Although it isn't inexpensive, we are suggesting sharing the costs to build and maintain it through a joint venture between public and private enterprise. We are also advocating directing the $200 million allocated for building a downtown Miami streetcar towards the BayLink monorail.

    Creative funding models can be found in most forward thinking countries and communities. One of the most interesting is one used by the Republic of Singapore. It experiences one of the worst traffic congestion problems in the world and has come up with an enviable solution that portends what other governments may find themselves doing in the near future to reduce the number of cars on the road while increasing funding for mass transit projects:
    • Anyone who wants to buy a car must bid for a "Certificate of Entitlement" (COE). Bid prices vary depending upon the number of units available for bidding and the size of the car. Unless someone can show proof of owning a COE, that person cannot buy a car. The COE is valid for ten years and the bidder pays the lowest successful price for that category. COEs are not transferable. COEs can be re-evaluated after ten years for an extension of another five or ten years. However, if one bids and wins an extension, no further extentions will be entertained, i.e., after the extension, the COE no longer becomes renewable. You can bid for a COE via an ATM, phone banking or online banking facilities at participating bank and new car dearlerships. The money raised by selling COEs to the public helps fund public transportation-- from building new mass transit lines to maintaining and improving infrastructure. There are three car sizes.
      • Category A: Cars up to 1600 cc.
      • Category B: Cars above 1600cc.
      • Category C: Used cars.
      COEs are further broken down into:
      • Regular (365 days)
      • Weekend

      Price for a COE is determined by the size of the car and the number of units available and market demand. But this creative funding model for public transportation doesn't stop there. Singapore also imposes an ANNUAL ROAD TAX on every car based on the size of its engine:
    • 600cc = $400.00
    • 601-1000cc = $400.00 + 0.25 cents for every cc above 600 up to 1000.
    • 1001-1600cc = $500.00 + 0.75 cents for every cc above 1001 up to 1600.
    • 1601-3000cc = $950.00 + $1.50 for every cc above 1601 up to 3000.
    • Over 3000cc = $3050.00 + $2.00 for every cc above 3000. As an example, if you own a big monster with 6000cc, you pay $3,050.00 PLUS $2.00/cc above 3000 which is an extra $6,000.00 or $9,050.00 PER YEAR.
    In summation, we believe the proposed light rail trolley car plan is archaic, lacks vision, and becomes part of the problem instead of the solution. Besides being inherently ugly and susceptible to the ravages of salt air, the overhead electrical lines employed to power the trolley cars are its weakest link during a hurricane and should automatically disqualify it from consideration. Our solution, besides being less disruptive since block by block of city streets won't have to be torn up to lay track and move utilities, will come on line much, much sooner once construction begins. And maintenance, due to our plan's simplicity, will be much less. Other reasons why we believe a monorail is the best solution can be found here.

    We hope you will seriously consider our proposal and use your power as an elected official to make it reality. All it takes is a little vision on the part of the people and their elected officials. Until then, remember our rallying cry: Free our streets! Grab the Vision and lets Monorail!

    Thank you for your time,

    Miami-Miami Beach Monorail

    Watson Island:

     MacArthur Causeway:

    Miami Beach North-South run from 5th Street to Convention Center:

    *Our retired transportation engineer spent the last 40 years in Asia planning and designing public transport for Calcutta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The Kuala Lumpur monorail is carrying an average of about 60,000 passengers per day. Monorail Malaysia, in which he played a principal role, was given three months by the Prime Minister of Malaysia to design, build and test a prototype to prove that his company was up to the task at hand. They got the go-ahead by the end of May 1999 and invited the prime minister to test drive the prototype on a 100-meter test track by September of that year. The system opened on Aug. 31, 2003. Photos courtesy of our retired good friend.


    Dayngr said...

    Great idea, great post and great blog.

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