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TRANSIT COSTS SOAR: Operating costs per passenger trip on Miami-Dade Transit rose 20% last year to $8.33 per trip, rising from $6.94 per passenger to $8.33, according to a Transportation Update that the Transit Department published Monday. The $2.25 Metrorail and Metrobus fares, which are due to be reinstated June 1, were suspended for much of last year during the pandemic. As costs per passenger rose, the number of trips fell 16.1%, a total loss of nearly 12.8 million trips during the year period to just over 66.3 million. Loss of passengers plus free trips during the pandemic combined to show a total operating revenue loss of 43.8% – a total operating revenue drop from 2019 of more than $52.2 million. As riders and vehicle trips fell, however, operating costs for the system actually rose 6.1% to above $552 million.
BEACH NAMING RIGHTS: The City of Miami Beach and Spectra Partnership are at work to identify possible partners for convention center naming rights and sponsorship opportunities, says center General Manager Freddie Peterson. In November, Spectra Senior Vice President Bryan Furey told the city’s Finance and Economic Resiliency Committee that naming rights for the center could be worth $1 million per year. Naming rights were up for grabs, he said then, at 10-11 other convention centers around North America, and the naming rights process could take 12-18 months. Since then, Miami’s professional baseball and basketball arenas have come under naming rights deals.
TOLLS IRONY: Florida sent mixed messages to cash-strapped Miami-Dade motorists in July 2019, when it opened up express toll lanes on the previously all-free Palmetto Expressway just weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to dissolve and replace expressway agency MDX as a punishment for raising tolls here, said Commissioner Joe Martinez, whose ordinance to use the county’s unique home rule powers to abolish MDX replacement GMX passed Tuesday. “The 826 never, ever had tolls,” he said. “While [state lawmakers in Tallahassee] were fighting this toll increase MDX did, we had tolls on 826 with the ‘Lexus lanes’ for the first time ever.” State interference over the tollways led to all three major bond-rating agencies downgrading MDX bonds last year. That, he said, hurt a project for which MDX had already spent tens of millions of dollars on land acquisition, the southwestern extension to the Dolphin Expressway known as the Kendall Parkway. “It has hurt so many different things,” he said, “because MDX is going to be here, [but] so is GMX.”