Instead of finding a way to properly fund Miami-Dade Transit, Mayor Carlos Gimenez and some county officials are trying to balance the Miami-Dade Transit budget on the backs of the poor.
Miami-Dade Transit bus operator positions offer a path to the middle class. You won’t get rich but you can raise a family and retire with dignity. Bus operators make $23 an hour. Their average income is $49,000.
But Mayor Gimenez and county officials last year gave 14 MDT routes to a private company, Limousines of South Florida (LSF). They are now proposing to give more work to LSF, which pays from $11.60 an hour and $13.60 and to drive a bus or smaller vehicle on the routes. That’s $24,000 to $28,000 a year.
Those are poverty wages, plain and simple. Why is Miami-Dade creating jobs that ensure our residents struggle? Can’t we do better than this?
The household incomes for Latino and Black families lag behind those of whites in Miami-Dade, as they do on the state and national level. Public bus operator jobs have helped Latinos and Black-Americans enter the middle class.
This push to privatize public transit reduces real economic opportunities for county residents and increases income inequality.
Instead of finding a way to properly fund mass transit, Gimenez and some county officials also have cut service.
This disproportionately impacts low-income workers and families. They are far more reliant on Metrobus and Metrorail.
Workers making under $25,000 per year account for 42 percent of the work force, but they comprise over 62 percent of transit commuters.
Have riders received better service with privatization?
No. Privatization has failed to improve service and has fallen well short of the mark.
According to the mayor’s own report, dated April 13, 2018, on-time performance has stayed the same at about 76 percent.
Ridership on the routes operated by Limousines of South Florida have continued to decline.
So why is Miami-Dade pushing privatization?
Mayor Gimenez and other officials are unwilling or unable to do the tough work of finding ways to fund this vital, public service. Instead, they cut service and abandon the responsibility to a poverty-wage contractor.
LSF makes profits by paying poverty wages. LSF is part of a conglomerate owned by the Gonzalez family that in the last 10 years has given nearly $200,000 to the mayor’s political campaigns and to those of other county elected officials.
Anyone who drives should be fuming. Without better mass transit, the horrendous traffic situation will only get worse. That’s hard to imagine but it’s true. Miami-Dade has to stop abandoning its responsibility to fund and manage a robust Metrobus and Metrorail system.
The privatization of Miami-Dade Transit bus route has not come close to achieving the savings the county predicted. County officials have lowered expected savings by 53 percent in less than 12 months.
Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works Director Alice Bravo predicted contracting the 14 routes would save the county $6.4 million annually in a May 2017 presentation.
Now, Gimenez, in this April report, has reduced the projected savings by more than half – down to $3 million annually.
But even those figures seem inflated.
Privatization of public bus service is bad policy. It’s nothing more than a race to the bottom. It’s not good for residents or riders.