The Florida Influencer Series

Transportation: Solving traffic gridlock requires political will and public buy-in

Chairman: CHRIS CAINES. Members: WENDY SPENCER, MARGARET LEZCANO, MICHAEL FINNEY,CARLOS GARCIA PEREZ, EMILIO ESTEFAN

THE QUESTION: How should Florida’s elected leaders prioritize and incentivize transportation solutions to reduce traffic congestion and spur smart growth and economic growth?

Summary of the survey findings of 50 Influencers:

The Florida Influencers believe boosting resources for the state’s public transportation system should be a top priority. Asked to rate several proposed solutions to fix infrastructure and transportation problems, 80 percent said increasing funding for buses and local mass transit projects was “very important.” Greater investments in public transportation, the Influencers argued, would help reduce traffic congestion in major cities and spur economic growth across Florida.

The Influencers ranked facilitating private funding for high-speed rail to connect cities second among potential solutions, with 46 percent of Influencers saying that was “very important,” followed by increasing funding for building roads and highways with 32 percent, limiting population growth with 24 percent and allowing private toll projects for highway construction with 17 percent.

More than half the Influencers said they were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with how well Florida as a whole in funding infrastructure to support its growing population. Only one in five said they were “satisfied.”

The Influencers were even more critical of their local officials: 63 percent said they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with how their region was providing for its infrastructure needs, while 17 percent said they were “satisfied.” None of the Influencers said they were “very satisfied” with the level state or local government

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Florida Influencer Chris Caines (left) of FIU leads a breakout session on transportation and infrastructure on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 during the Florida Priorities Summit at the University of Miami. The Florida Influencer Series, is the beginning of a conversation among leaders, decision makers, and voters to put a sharp focus on a shared vision for Florida. PATRICK FARRELL pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Statement summarizing the views of the working group regarding the issue:

Transportation is an issue that affects all people and commerce in our state. For the betterment of social and economic conditions in Florida, our legislators should embrace innovative approaches to improve our transportation infrastructure. Robust public education and enthusiasm building for mass transportation options are critical to boost demand from a historically low ridership citizenry. Adjacent to education efforts, Florida must develop measurable goals that can be monitored, evaluated and enforced in short and long-term efforts to improve public transit service delivery.

We also believe continued investment and incentives for transit-oriented development, for example favorable tax treatment, financial incentives, and density bonuses, should be pursued. As a short-term traffic alleviator, telecommuting, flexible work hours and public transit subsidies could help.

Potential solutions:

  • Robust public education and enthusiasm building for mass transportation options, similar to the enthusiasm around the Port Miami tunnel.
  • Measurable goals that can be monitored, evaluated, and enforced in short and long-term efforts to improve public transit service delivery. For example: An incremental percentage of community uses public transit.
  • Continued investment and incentives for transit-oriented development, for example favorable tax treatment, financial incentives and density bonuses.
  • Encourage employers to embrace telecommuting, flexible work hours and public transit subsidies for employees to reduce peak hour traffic congestion.

What questions will the new governor and legislature need to answer to make progress on this issue:

  • How might we embrace SMART city infrastructure, specifically synchronized signals and traffic control?
  • How might we redirect toll road revenues and otherwise raise revenue from automobiles to pay for public transit?
  • How can we change transportation funding priorities to be competitive in business attraction and retention?
  • How can the state of Florida improve transportation provider collaboration for transportation solutions?
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