Transit’s budget is being cut. Help us fight back.

Your View is a recurring series of opinion pieces from members of The New Tropic community. To share your ideas, goals, and work about with the community in a Your View piece, please submit it to [email protected].

We can all picture it: a Miami where biking and walking is safe and comfortable along a well-connected network and taking a bus or train is cheaper and more convenient than driving. Even if you need or choose to drive, it is still easy to imagine a friend or neighbor getting around Miami in these ways.

Instead our growing city continues to be one of the most dangerous places to walk or bike, where public transit is often unreliable and inconvenient, and where owning a car is pretty much a necessity rather than a choice.

There’s no good reason for the reality of transportation in Miami to fall so short of this vision. While Miami-Dade was originally designed around auto-centered mobility, a majority of residents and leaders know that it’s time to shift away from the emphasis on cars and begin providing a diversity of good options for getting around.

Given our need for connection, health, resilient and sustainable development, and equitable growth, we have no option but to build this version of Miami for ourselves.

To get there more quickly, we’ve launched Transit Alliance Miami to unite residents, organizations, and businesses in advocating for walkable streets, bikeable neighborhoods, and better mass transit.

Our work is urgent. Despite the number of times transportation has been identified as a critical priority, Mayor Carlos Gimenez has proposed reducing the transit department’s budget by almost $25 million, which directly affect Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metromover services. In early September, the Miami-Dade County Commission will vote on it.

In addition to the cuts, nearly $10 million dollars in identified needs (many of them related to operations and maintenance, such as repairs to aging train cars and buses) will go unfunded and unaddressed. The county’s disinvestment in transit will bring us  longer wait times, even less reliability, and worsening service.

Several reasons have been given to justify these cuts. There’s a belief that some transit riders have chosen to switch to Uber and Lyft. Transit ridership has in fact declined over the last 12 months, but so has transit service. Metrorail wait times are longer and breakdowns or service disruptions have become more frequent.

There are also a number of Metrobus routes with ridership too low to justify the cost of servicing them. Making changes to these routes to minimize inefficiencies is certainly important, but any money saved needs to go back into improving and expanding other services, rather than being stripped out of the department.

In response, Transit Alliance Miami has organized the #StopTransitCuts campaign. The ask is simple: restore the $25 million being cut from the transit department and start immediately with $5 million to restore 5 minute wait times on MetroRail. The current budget proposes cuts to only one other department aside from transit while doubling the county’s reserves to $100 million.

[infobox_default_shortcode header=”Transit Jam” img=”” color=”71, 105, 142, 0.1″]If you want to fight back against the proposed transit cuts, join us for Transit Jam. When: Aug. 31, 7:30 to 9 p.m. Where: Venture Café (Deering Room), 1951 N.W. 7th Avenue [/infobox_default_shortcode]

Given the immense need for continued investment in transportation, Transit Alliance Miami strongly believes that fully funding transit is crucial. We know this campaign can be successful because our community realizes how critically important mass transit is to our city’s future, but we can’t reverse the cuts without your involvement.

There are several ways you can join us in this effort. Start by visiting the #StopTransitCuts campaign page. Tweet to your commissioner. Text transit to 444999. But most of all, join us at Venture Cafe on Thursday, Aug. 31 to learn more about Transit Alliance Miami and the #StopTransitCuts campaign.

The future of our community is our hands. Help us in moving Miami forward, together.