Metrorail Makeover: Panel OKs $478M for replacing fleet
By Lou Ortiz
The Miami-Dade County Commission's Transit Committee has reluctantly endorsed a plan to spend nearly a half-billion dollars to replace the county's aging fleet of Metrorail cars.
After spending $5.4 million on consultants and embarking on a proposal in 2004 to rehab Metrorail's fleet of 136 rail cars, the plan was stopped in its tracks last week after another $3 million analysis suggested a different route.
The fees draining coffers of $8.4 million came on the heels of the Transit Department's failure to overhaul the aging feet in 1999, 15 years after buying the cars.
"We don't have this kind of money to waste," said Commissioner Dorrin D. Rolle, during a county Transit Committee meeting Feb. 11 in which the panel voted to back the new plan.
If the Transit Department had overhauled the vehicles in 1999, it would have extended their life another 15 years, according to a county report. But the department didn't have the funds at the time to do the work.
Rehabilitation of the vehicles approved by the county commission in September 2004, at a cost of $211 million, would have extended their reliability by 20 years.
The rehab cost was adjusted to $258.4 million in 2005 and the county performed another analysis in 2007, after bids for the work ranged from $354 million to $408 million.
More than three years after the commission approved the rehab project, the administration is now asking commissioners to scrap the rehab and buy a total of 198 rail cars for $2.4 million per car, totaling more than $478.9 million. The 62 extra cars are in anticipation of the Metrorail expansion
"This is a situation in which I'm very frustrated both as a commissioner and a taxpayer," said
Commissioner Sally A. Heyman.
Administrators estimate that buying new rail cars would save $40 million to $140 million in the long run.