I am turning the spotlight to an issue which affects all residents of Miami-Dade County, particularly those who ride the Metrorail. I would like to thank Grant Miller, Publisher of Community Newspapers, for bringing this issue to the forefront. He contacted me to share his concerns regarding the security and cleanliness of the Metrorail stations; particularly, the overpasses which connect both sides of the road to the Metrorail station and platforms. There have been many rider and neighborhood complaints about cleanliness of the stations, particularly the Dadeland South station, and the Douglas Road (37th Avenue) station. Hotel management for the Dadeland Marriott Hotel, which is adjacent to the Dadeland South station, has expressed concerns about the effects of the lack of sanitation on hotel occupants and visitors. There has also been an ongoing issue of chronic homelessness, which has affected many stations, including Dadeland South and Douglas Road. Oftentimes, the homeless have used the stations, their platforms, and surrounding areas as a gathering place, or as shelter. My office has taken steps to address this issue in the Dadeland South community, working with all direct stakeholders to come up with an appropriate solution.
We have been working directly with Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) Director, Ms. Ysela Llort, in order to communicate all of these concerns from the community, as well as discussing various options and potential solutions, which would include revisiting security contracts for the stations. Additionally, we have been discussing ideas and potential programs to establish better levels of monitoring of the 15 overpasses found countywide.
Director Llort has communicated to us the current transit policy of cleaning the overpasses daily, with a deep cleaning scheduled every month. Furthermore, she indicated that MDT is working on addressing the lack of lighting around these areas in order to improve the existing security issues.
Upon direct examination of the Douglas Avenue (37th Avenue) station, my staff noticed some disturbing issues:
- Many of the lights on the overpasses and throughout the station, are currently out or need to be updated/replaced.
- Although a cleaning crew is contracted to clean daily from 5:30 am for approximately four hours, by the early afternoon, the station and its associated facilities (elevators and restrooms) are again in dire need of cleaning and maintenance. Many of the elevators for both the platforms and overpasses have paint on the windows, and more troubling, have strong foul odors emanating from various sources, which can be both a health and safety hazard to pedestrians using these to cross the road via the overpass.
- From a visual point of view, many of the stations and overpasses need to be repainted and/or re-paved in terms of the cement on the walkways and the stairwells. There are many cracks present and there is a great degree of rust visible – this is rather unsightly, and does not present the best possible image for businesses, tourists or local riders, on behalf of MDT. Miami-Dade Transit and the County, overall, can and must do better.
- Security – Many stations only have one security guard working and patrolling the grounds at all times – some have two, including the Douglas Avenue station, but this is not sufficient – more is needed, in order to properly patrol and maintain the cleanliness and working conditions of the elevators for the overpasses, as well as the stations, themselves.
On November 7, 2013, I sent a letter to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, asking for his support and vigilance in addressing the need for constant maintenance and cleaning of all of the Metrorail stations and overpasses, countywide.
With the help of the Dadeland Marriott through a strategic partnership, we have been able to address some of the maintenance and paint issues at the Dadeland South station, but it is only a start. This alone, is not the solution.
Much more work is needed – Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) as well as the County, overall, can and must improve. We bear a responsibility to our community, our tourists, our businesses and our residents. Our future as a world-class community, featuring world-class mass transit and infrastructure depends on the success of this, along with other strategic initiatives, going forward.
Xavier L. Suarez
Miami-Dade County Commissioner