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Monday, January 20, 2014

How lack of trolley service hurts business

Aside from the knucklehead prejudiced reasons for not having the trolleys, Coconut Grove has been hurt a lot. The businesses suffer as well as residents who wish to use the trolleys. It would be a big convenience for many of us to hop on and off to get to Coral Gables, Marlins Stadium, Midtown and everywhere else the trolleys go. It sort of reminds me of the 3 am/5 am bar argument -- "Same AM." Make everyone close at the same time, same with the trolleys, if one City of Miami neighborhood has free trolleys, then give it to all the City of Miami Neighborhoods; after all, doesn't Coconut Grove pay a big chunk of the City's bills through taxes?

How can you have a city and that city picks and chooses who gets mass transit? Can you imagine if the NY subway was not put into all the neighborhoods because some of them are not up to par? How stupid is that?

When I asked the Commissioners office about this, I was given these four reasons for Coconut Grove not having the trolleys. I asked many times and these were the answers given to me four of the times I asked:
I was told that there aren't enough to go around, that if we added trolleys to the Grove, it would add eight minutes to the route schedule and that would slow it down too much, that we have the Circulator bus so we didn't need the trolley and we didn't need a trolley since we could walk from one end of the Center Grove to the other.

Most losses from lack of trolley service are obvious, so many people could be coming into the Center Grove to spend money. Something like the Coconut Grove Arts Festival could benefit from the service by bringing many more people in; people who avoid the festival now due to lack of parking and all the traffic. Imagine a fun trolley going back and forth between the Grove Arts Festival and the Wynwood Arts Festival the same weekend. Imagine the Grove even being part of Art Basel every year by having a trolley shuttle people back and forth.

But one large loss of business comes from the regattas, which happen right here in Coconut Grove. We have so many of them on our waterfront during a six month period. It's always been a project to get the sailors to leave the area and come up into the village. They sail all day and are exhausted by nightfall. They just want to stay put. Usually they eat and drink on site of the many clubs where the regattas are held and they then just go back to their hotels.

In the past there has been the Sail the Grove group who did everything from theme nights to offering restaurant and bar discounts to having an Amazing Race-type night and even scavenger hunts to get the sailors into town. Even Grove Bucks were printed and handed out as a way to get the regatta people to spend money in the Center Grove. Everything but a shuttle service was used, and the trolleys are perfect for that.

The reason this came to mind is because during the Orange Bowl Regatta, last month, I saw Coral Gables trolleys on South Bayshore Drive, right here in Coconut Grove, shuttling the sailors around. I tried to get answers, but of course no one would tell me the reason. I am assuming they were either taking the sailors back to hotels in the Gables or what I really suspect is that they were nabbing these people from the Grove and taking them to shop, dine and unwind on Miracle Mile. And you see, if we had a trolley here, the sailors would be apt to hop on and take the quarter mile ride into the Center Village. 

As for the Gables trolley, they want their maintenance facility in the Village West, but when residents asked if they could take the trolley into the Gables they were flatly turned down. Now get this, the trolley facility is here, people were willing to walk to the facility to take it, they didn't expect it to change routes to pick they up, they just wanted to hop on and get off in Coral Gables. They were told flat out "no." I suspect if the trolley facility was on Brickell, the answer would have been "yes." But of course, the trolley facility never would be anywhere near a neighborhood like Brickell. It's not even in its own neighborhood of Coral Gables. That would mess up the new Epicure Market area.

If we had a trolley service that hooked up with the Coral Gables service, many of us would go to the Gables more often. I avoid it mostly on weekdays due to the traffic and lack of parking. 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides providing timely News, Entertainment and Community Feedback, the Coconut Grove Grapevine continues to be the “Conscience of Coconut Grove”.

January 20, 2014 10:58 AM  
Anonymous AM said...

I know myself and many of my neighbors in "Center Grove" would visit Brickell and/or The Gables more often for a night of "fun" if there was a Trolley available.

I prefer not to Drink and Drive!!

Using the Metrorail, late night, with my kid and wife, to visit Brickell is not an option. Our safety comes first, and the Metrorail at night is NOT safe.

January 20, 2014 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There needs to be much better Coconut Grove transport options, but I think we need to start thinking outside of the box more. A trolley really isn't the answer- have you seen the traffic along S. Bayshore? Sitting in a trolley in that traffic sounds miserable, and will make i even worse.

How about encouraging more development (and sidewalks) along 27th st. from the Metrorail stop to the Grove center? People don't use the metro rail to go to the Grove now because there's no easy/safe way to walk from the station into the Grove.

How about setting up a water taxi along the bay front that can transport between downtown, the Grove and then south? This seems like an obvious solution, I wonder why it's never been done.

January 20, 2014 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in the Grove and use the free trolleys often in Coral Gables. Yes there is traffic but who cares when you are not driving or have to find a place to park. Anon above doesn't realize that the trolleys are already on Brickell and the rest of the City of Miami just not the Grove! The City of Miami trolley runs down Miracle Mile and drops people off at the corner of Douglas and Miracle Mile. So why can't the trolley connect to the Grove. It's beyond annoying at this point and now the reasons coming to light are disgusting. Since we know City Hall reads this amazing blog this is a message directly to the Commisioner's : Do the right thing for a change listen to the people and the businesses of the Grove and implement the Trolley ASAP. No one cares if it's takes eight more minutes it's free. I expect Trolleys running through the Grove by Feb. 10 right before the CGAF weekend! They can connect to all the other areas they will be successful and help the Grove. Why don't you want to help the Grove? DO THE RIGHT THING FOR A CHANGE. Just do it!

January 20, 2014 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should city commissioners do the right thing? It isn't like the citizens of Miami will get off their lazy duffs and vote them out, for not doing what their constituents ask of them.

January 20, 2014 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious, which trolley route would they consider even running to the Grove? Because the Brickell and Coral Way routes both run nearby, so when they say it would add 8 minutes to the route, which one would be affected?

In my opinion, they could could advantage of the Grove to join these two routes by having a connector trolley running from Mercy, through the Grove, and onto the Coral Way stop.

Also, I'm curious about the accusation about a certain group not wanting those from Village West in their areas. There's trolley routes through Allapattah and Overtown. Aren't the Brickell folks afraid of residents of those areas coming to their neighborhood? Or is this Sarnoff's doing?


January 21, 2014 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom for continuing the trolley fight for sanity and justice... every time i see the trolley on Bayshore it makes me sick... to add that extra mile or so to center Grove would be so simple... last year it was said that there would be a trolley or two available (from Canada I believe) and that it was being considered to close certain routes that aren't being utilized... but alas, same BS... no trolley, same sad reasons why... the public has to really want this... then demand it... then march on Pan American drive to get some action and some answers... thanks for keeping this in the conversation on the changing Coconut Grove...

January 24, 2014 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. Yes, it is necessary to connect the Grove w/ trolley service. Not sure why the disconnect. I heard someone say local officials/businesses did not want residents to go outside the community to spend their money. Not sure how true, but if so-what of the money that would be coming in? Moreover, what about the residents who commute for work? We can be a part of free trolley service when current trolleys are nearby?

Lastly, I live in Village West and can't stress how offensive some (many) people are about the 'dividing line'. All residents should have equal access.

January 24, 2014 5:14 PM  

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