Updated
May 2nd, 2018
First Posted
May 2nd, 2018

The Wave: A Streetcar Named Disaster

UPDATE 5/2/2018:

The Wave is officially Dead.

On the evening of May 1, the commissioners voted 3-2 to officially pull Fort Lauderdale out of The Wave project.

UPDATE:

The Wall Street Journal published an article the other day about how Virginia Beach's version of The Wave is sucking taxpayers dry. Here's an excerpt:

The Tide first picked up passengers in 2011, more than a year later than scheduled and $100 million over budget. A federal transportation grant and stimulus money funded the project, and by the end transit officials were under investigation for fudging cost estimates. A Federal Transit Administration profile predicted 10,400 weekday riders in the Tide’s opening year. The train doesn’t crack half that, even now.

The Brookings Institution last year bestowed on the Tide the dishonor of losing more money per ride—$6.63—than any other metro rail system in the U.S. Lamentably, the light rail in Santa Clara, Calif., sneaked past the Tide to steal the title of Biggest Loser before this tidbit could appear in Norfolk tourism brochures. But the race is still competitive. Tide fares contribute about 15% of operating expenses; the 2014 shortfall was $9.5 million.

The pitch for light rail is always the same: Businesses will pop up along the route, which is good for the economy; plus, millennials love riding trains. A city fact sheet suggests the Tide and other transit projects have spurred $600 million in development. But the methodology seems to count everything built since the rail opened, regardless of the train’s role. For instance, did light-rail riders demand a new $70 million medical office? As for millennials, their already dismal ridership is expected to decline. Young people grow older and do the unthinkable: Buy cars.

The Tide clogs roads, as drivers idle at intersections waiting for a train to pass. Another irony: “Because the light-rail cars are so empty,” the Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole says, “they use a huge amount of energy per passenger mile”—nearly 7,200 British thermal units, or BTUs, in 2014 compared with 3,600 for the average SUV. Wonderful news for Norfolk’s Chevy Suburban drivers, who can buzz by the train with the smug superiority once reserved for people who bike to work.

You can read the full article here

There is SO MUCH EVIDENCE that building a donkey car system is a HUGE mistake.

Original Article

With the City of Fort Lauderdale running budget deficits every year, what possible justification can there be for moving forward with The Wave Streetcar; a project that might have had some merit when conceived 10 years ago, but that serves no realistic purpose now?

Mayor Jack Seiler says "We have to start somewhere" Really? They're now saying that this project won't START until late 2017. Meanwhile, we wait, wait wait. Why not Trash this project and put together a transit plan that makes sense? For the amount of money we're spending on this, we could fund free Trolly service for decades.

It seems that "We have to start somewhere" is the talking point for The Wave; I've had 3 people use the exact same phrase.

There's no business case for continuing with The Wave; None. So why are we moving forward? There are a few possible reasons; none of which have to do with the best interests of the residents of Fort Lauderdale.

Some Background

The Wave is a project conceived 10 years ago, in 2003, when Downtown Fort Lauderdale was just an idea. Las Olas was just becoming a hot spot, but there were no big condos yet. The Riverfront Complex was the big pull to get more tourists and foot traffic downtown. Money was flowing into city coffers; Real Estate values, and tax revenues, were expanding. The city was spending money like water.

The expectation at the time was that Downtown Fort Lauderdale was going to explode into a major metropolis. Demand would overwhelm supply, and the population, and the economy, would grow with abandon.

The Wave streetcar was conceived with the expectation that Las Olas would reach capacity and that the "suburbs" would sprout in surrounding neighborhoods. People would be bidding up real estate "close" to downtown; close to the action.

Also in the mid-2000s, downtown Fort Lauderdale was the financial center of the city, with Real Estate and Real Estate financing businesses booming along with the banking centers. Big shots lunched at Jackson's Steak House. High rise condos were starting to open; the Big Idea that was downtown Fort Lauderdale was in full bloom.

What We Know Now

We now know that much of the "vision" in 2003 has not come to fruition or has already failed. The Riverfront complex is a ghost town with an uncertain future. Huizenga park is a waste of valuable real estate that's used a handful of times a year for beer-drinking events. Himmarshee Village has decayed into a downscale hangout for kids and partiers. There are zero upscale restaurants west of SE 3rd.

By now, the second Riverhouse tower was supposed to be up, as well as the ICON. Morton's was supposed to be the retail anchor where there's now an empty lot and no plan. The connection from Las Olas to Andrews Avenue is a barren corridor with no real chance of near-term development. With the FAU Campus and Museum taking up 2 blocks of real estate and a dead-empty Riverfront, the area has regressed rather than progressed.

3rd Avenue was envisioned to be a "Vibrant, Active Spine". 3rd Avenue has no commercial development south of NE 3rd and no foot traffic at all.

The truth is that the vision from 2006, when I moved here, has failed to materialize in any way, shape or manner. Yet they're going ahead with the same plan and criteria that they cited 10 years ago. What adjustments have been made to address the realities of today? Not much. This is what's wrong with governments. They have so much invested in this project that they're not willing to face the fact that the idea is no longer plausible.

The city is wasting millions of dollars developing Sistrunk; as if anyone with a job is ever going to want to live there in the next 25 years. It's the ghetto; a slum. They're building shopping centers in a place where people are living in cardboard houses a block away. It's what rich, delusional cities do. Meanwhile, the areas closer to downtown remain undeveloped. While Fort Lauderdale planners are clearly delusional; we're no longer rich. We can't afford these frivolous projects.

The big question is Why is the City going forward with the most predictable failure since the M Bar? Nobody with any business sense can possibly believe that it's going to be anything but a black hole for taxpayers. The only possible reasons are Greed, Corruption and Desperation.

Greed

The Wave advocates are largely business interests that will profit from the project moving forward.

Corruption

Politicians have made promises to developers and owe them. The fact that the project is a sure loser is not a concern.

Desperation

The City Planners are out of ideas. Beach Place and The Riverfront are disasters. Expensive condos at the beach have not transformed the area; it's as seedy as ever. Without the Wave, there's no hope for Andrews Avenue. The only development there in the past 5 years has been the opening of Tap 42 and a PNC Bank.

The Route

In a real city, transit systems connect people to points of interest. The point of mass transit is to connect places where people live to places where people want to go. They connect the suburbs where people live to urban centers where people work. Within cities, they connect campuses with neighborhoods and entertainment districts. They connect Hotels to restaurants and tourist attractions.

In Fort Lauderdale, we have limited points of interest. The Beach, Las Olas Blvd, Himmarshee, the Airport and Port Everglades. The wave doesn't connect the hotels at the beach to any attractions. The route connects desolate areas with downtown, the court house and a hospital. Great if you have Jury duty and you happen to live along the line. Otherwise, it's largely useless. They tell us that the Airport and Port will be connected "some day", but it's still wrong. People don't want to load their bags onto a streetcar to go to the airport. Why is there no streetcar being proposed to connect the hotels to the points of interest? Because the Beach and Las Olas are already developed. The developers can't cash in.

The Wave is not a plan to connect existing populations to existing points of interest. The Wave is a pipe dream; the hope that if we spend $142 Million, they will build points of interest and people will move there.

The route of the wave will be it's downfall. The only existing residential center, at NW 6th and 3rd Ave, will not use The Wave to go to Las Olas, because the streetcar route takes it up to the bus station.

So the 3 minute trip to Las Olas turns into a 15-20 minute trip, with a stop at the creepy Bus Station; a place where nobody want's to go.

Cost of the Wave and other Streetcar Systems

The marketing literature tells us that The Wave will cost $142M to implement. This number comes from a 2011 study, which means that it's 2 years out of date. In 2009, the number was $123 Million. Meeting minutes already reflect "Capital Cost Overruns". It's likely that the number is closer to $160 Million by now. By the time they're done? Who knows. Maybe $200 Million.

What's most important is that this is only the "starter" line of multiple streetcar projects. The City plans on spending many more 100s of millions of dollars on streetcar projects.

Other streetcar projects are citing huge cost overruns. The cost of an extension to the much ballyhooed Portland Streetcar jumped from $600,000 to 2.1 Million. Cost overruns in Cincinnati are jeapordizing the project. And not only are the costs of building the systems rising; operating costs are higher than expected. Taxpayers end up footing the bill for operating cost overruns.

What's really comical is that they don't even know how much they're going to charge. They can't get anyone to ride the Sun Trolley for free on their "Courthouse Link"; how can they estimate ridership if they don't know how much they're going to charge? If it costs more or as much as parking, who is going to ride the street cars?

They estimate that first year operating costs will be 3.01 Million dollars with a very generous 3200 average weekday riders. That comes to about $3.50 per ride.

Now if you've ever ridden the busses, you've noticed that most people who ride the busses don't pay anything. Students, poor people; the homeless. So the idea that everyone who rides is going to pay isn't the case.

We also know that if they're estimating 3.01 Million, then it will be 4 Million, at least.

The First Assessment

Two weeks ago, downtown residents received an assessment letter; real estate and home owners with several blocks of The Wave project are being assessed $99 per year for 25 years; meaning that the streetcar project is going to cost residents $2500 at least. This is only the first "Wave" of assessments. This is a typical political trick; don't worry voters, it will only affect a small number of people. But the assessment authority can expand to the entire city, and they can assess us more. And as cost overruns mount, the city will have no choice but to raise taxes and assess more and more people. Want to pay $300 towards a useless streetcar?

The Scam Uncovered

The Wave, like all streetcar projects, are political scams. It's a game to get the public to agree to higher taxes. Our property values will rise, they tell us. Economic development will add more options to your lifestyle. More restaurants and "cafes". More opportunity. It's just a pack of lies.

The Cato institute did a study on streetcars:

The real push for streetcars comes from engineering firms that stand to earn millions of dollars planning, designing, and building streetcar lines. These companies and other streetcar advocates make two major arguments in favor of streetcar construction. The first argument is that streetcars promote economic development. This claim is largely based on the experience of Portland, Oregon, where installation of a $103-million, 4-mile streetcar line supposedly resulted in $3.5 billion worth of new construction.

What streetcar advocates rarely if ever mention is that the city also gave developers hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure subsidies, tax breaks, and other incentives to build in the streetcar corridor. Almost no new development took place on portions of the streetcar route where developers received no additional subsidies.

Get to Know The Players

In order to understand what's going on, you need some background on The Players.

DDA - Downtown Development Authority

The DDA is the main proponent of The Wave. The Downtown Development Authority is chaired by Tim Petrillo, who owns Tarpon Bend, VIBE, YOLO and soon to open Fork & Balls. His "group" just also bought Mango's. Also on the DDA board are real estate development company reps from Ropes Associates and Stiles (Stiles is also a partner/investor in Petrillo's restaurants ) and the Las Olas Company, who own the Riverside hotel and much of the Real Estate on Las Olas. Add USA Parking and a couple of law firms and you have a lot of downtown businesses that will benefit from a publicly funded transit project.

The Sun Trolley Propaganda Project

We all know about those funky looking trolleys we see driving around, usually empty. Remember when they used to run from the beach to Himmarshee Village on Friday and Saturday nights? Those were the days. Now they only run 4 days a week and they stop at 6:30pm.

The Sun Trolley is run by the DFTLTMA, a "non-profit" organization which is chaired by Alan Hooper of Hooper Construction, another partner of Tim Petrillo. The vice chair is Greg Stuart, who is the Executive Director of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization. The Secretary? Stephanie Toothaker, who is not a dentist, but rather an attorney at Tripp Scott. She's director of the firm's land use, governmental relations and procurement practice.

So why are all of these business titans running a loss leader Trolley Service? Because the entire idea of Sun Trolley is to create propaganda for The Wave. Without the cross routes; without a connection to the beach, The Wave can't be justified. The directors list of the DFTLTMA is a virtual who's who of those who will benefit from The Wave.

And who runs the day to day operations of Sun Trolley? Chris Wren, who is the executive director of the DDA. What a tangled web we weave.

Any suspicion that these business leaders are just altruists who are "giving back" to the community can be quickly dismissed. Anyone who gets out of their condo in Fort Lauderdale knows that the Sun Trolley is a complete joke. A farce. They don't run on any useful schedule, and they don't run when they're most needed; like late at night when people are drinking and shouldn't be driving.

Sun Trolley is the center of The Wave propaganda; using embellished "ridership" figures to promote the false premise that The Wave is needed and that the public wants it.

Sun Trolley has been issuing press releases on PR Web to pump up the propaganda. Why does a small, local not-for-profit need to tell everyone about how it's ridership is growing? They keep touting ridiculous ridership numbers, but where do they get the numbers from? Anyone who has ridden on a Trolly knows that there is no accounting for riders. Most of the routes are free. There's no receipt. They don't really care if you pay or not. They've cut back their hours and they no longer run the only times when ridership was high; on weekend evenings. So how could ridership be up? The truth is that they have no idea what the ridership numbers are. They're just making them up. The Sun Trolley is just a propaganda tool for The Wave.

They know they're Lying

Below is the testimony of Mike Saba before the Portland City Council, where he asks for development subsidies because the rail lines didn't create any economic development over a 10 year period.

Now Fort Lauderdale has been using Portland as an example of the great success of streetcars, and the president of the Downtown Civic Association, Stan Eichelbaum, has ties to Portland. So there's no reason to believe that the City of Fort Lauderdale doesn't know fully well that The Wave Streetcar will not create economic development by itself; they clearly know that massive public subsidies will be required to spur the economic development that they cite as justification.

The truth is that it's well established that rail systems by themselves won't spur economic development, and The City knows it.

The Truth about Street Cars

Streetcars, jokingly called "Donkey Cars" in communities that have them, were a preferred method of transportation 100 years ago, until all cities ripped up the tracks and discontinued them. Why did they do that? Because Street Cars were inefficient, poor forms of transportation.

Streetcars run on fixed rails. When there is any obstruction on the track, such as a car, the streetcar cannot go around it. If there is a problem ANYWHERE along the track, the entire system shuts down, because there is no alternate route.

Streetcars are slow. Unless your starting and ending points are near a streetcar station, it's probably faster to walk. At best, streetcars offer no real advantage over busses. And if you've ever ridden the busses in Fort Lauderdale, you know that only people who don't have cars ride the busses.

Streetcars are built on the roadways, following the same traffic rules as Automobiles. Because they are slow, cars must go around them, or wait behind them. While Streetcars are supposed to relieve congestion; streetcars actually create congestion.

Streetcars run on overhead wires, which are ugly and which get damaged in big storms.

Streetcar tracks are hazardous to bike riders. When bike wheels get stuck in the tracks, the rider is usually thrown over the handle bars. In Portland, they have warning signs all over the city.

No this is not a joke. That's an actual sign.

Problems with The Wave

The biggest problem with The Wave is that is a complete mismatch with Fort Lauderdale. The difference between Portland and Seattle and Tampa and Cincinnati is that those are real cities. They have actual Downtown Centers and population centers. They have points of interest. They have traffic congestion and parking problems. We have none of those things in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. The only place we have parking problems are at the Beach.

A streetcar system can have great value if it connects things that need to be connected. I see the following major problems with The Wave:

1) The Wave is only part of a larger project; a project that was to be extended to the Airport and Port Everglades. These other projects will never be completed, at least not in our lifetimes. Once the first leg turns out to be a complete waste of money, public sentiment will be against any proposed expansion. Politicians will be voted out of office. Want to get elected? Be against The Wave.

2) Without the other legs of the project, The Wave serves no purpose. It doesn't connect anything useful. Transportation infrastructure is supposed to connect areas that are difficult to access due to traffic and parking issues. We have no such issues in Fort Lauderdale. If people aren't taking cabs and busses and using free trolleys, they're not going to pay to ride a streetcar. Now that we have UBER and Lyft, nobody is going to pay to take a street car unless they live right on the route and are going someone right on the route.

3) The most expensive part of the project is retrofitting the rails onto the draw bridge on SE 3rd. The first "leg" of the project includes this piece; the first loop to be built connects the court house to the bus station. I guess a lot of judges and lawyers take the bus, right? Why not avoid the SE 3rd bridge for the "trial" leg. Why not connect Las Olas to the population center on SE 3rd first to see if anyone will use the stupid streetcars? Is it really too much to ask people to walk over the bridge to get to the courthouse? It's not that much further than the garage.

There is no realistic business case to be made that The Wave will increase property values, which is the justification for the Assessment. To the contrary, it will reduce property values during construction. Construction of The Wave will disrupt traffic flows for years and create a huge eyesore. While it may increase the value of "some" real estate along the line, it will do so at the expense of real estate values elsewhere. Nobody is going to pay more for a condo in downtown Fort Lauderdale because there is a streetcar that can take them to the Bus Terminal.

The truth is that The Wave is a Pipe dream; a false hope. Those who created the "vision" of Downtown Fort Lauderdale refuse to admit that their vision is not going to happen. Blame it on the Economy if you must, but things have changed in 10 years. The Wave is a colossal waste of money that could be used for things that make much more sense.

The Cato institute came to the following conclusion about the proposed Milwaukee Streetcar lines.

The plan to build a streetcar line in downtown Milwaukee is a pure and simple scam. The only beneficiaries will be the engineering and construction firms who design and build the line.Downtown landowners and developers will benefit only if the city decides to throw hundreds of millions of dollars of additional subsidies to development along the line.

Everyone else in Milwaukee will pay. They will either have to pay higher taxes or accept a lower level of urban services to make up for the costs of providing urban services in the TIF districts. They will also pay in the form of lower property values due to developments that might have taken place elsewhere being attracted to the TIF districts.

Opportunity Costs

One of the few useful things you learn in college are terms like "opportunity costs". What it means is that the cost of a project is not necessarily the only cost consideration. A major problem with The Wave is that it's going to suck funds away from other needed projects; it's going to be a black hole for a city that is already in financial trouble if the economy doesn't turn soon. The $142 Million+ that this project will cost could be used for other projects; projects that won't even be considered. In Portland, the city has diverted funds from paving and other infrastructure budgets to keep the streetcar project going:

In order to subsidize streetcars and transit-oriented developments, Portland is letting its most valuable asset in its 5,000-mile street network crumble. A recent inventory found that more than a quarter of the city's major roads and nearly half of neighborhood streets are in very poor shape, and at least 60 miles of streets have never been paved at all. Yet the city has deferred plans to repave any rutted streets until at least 2017. While Portland's light-rail lines are built by the region's transit agency, the city builds the streetcar lines, and it has made a conscious decision to put streetcars and bike paths ahead of street maintenance

Conclusions

Anyone who is familiar with the proposed route for The Wave and the traffic patterns of Downtown Fort Lauderdale can easily deduce that The Wave serves no purpose. It connects a handful of low-rise residences to nothing more than Las Olas Boulevard where there's abundant parking and relatively little traffic congestion.

The big question is why are all of these wealthy developers pushing so hard for The Wave? If they were so high on developing the areas along the route, why is there virtually no development there now? The only possible conclusion is that the subsidies have already been promised. The developers know that once the money is committed to The Wave, the City will have to offer subsidies along the route to justify the expense. While 10 years ago I could understand the enthusiasm of developers; now it simply makes no sense. The last thing we need is a $142 Million streetcar that doesn't go anywhere or connect anything. So the only possible conclusion is that there's some wink and a nod that's already occurred between the City and Developers.

I'm not against public transportation. If they were proposing a streetcar that looped down Las Olas to the Beach to Gallaria Mall, I'd probably be for it. But not this. This is a Disaster. There's no other word to describe it.

How About a Vote

Chris Wren of the DDA was quoted as saying that he "feels" 60% approval for this. Really? How about 10%? I've been asking people I run into the past couple of weeks, and I haven't found anyone who knows about the project who thinks its a good idea. The DDA claims to have done neighborhood outreach, email blasts. They had a facebook page. Did you get any emails about The Wave? I know I didn't.

The problem is that they've only done "outreach" to people who they know agree with them. The idea that 60% of people are for this project is patently absurd. It has no value, it costs a fortune. Why would anyone be for it unless they are going to profit from it? Sure, business owners who are renting near the line are "for" it. They don't have to pay for it, and their businesses will benefit. But the few thousand people who live downtown aren't going to benefit. I'm already paying extra so I don't have to drive when I go to Las Olas.

How about letting us vote on this debacle? Is the cost of organizing a public ballot really not justified for a $142 Million project? The truth is that they don't want you to know about it. If you get to vote you might actually try to find out about it. And if you find out about it, you'll likely be against it.

Can We Stop The Wave?

I think the question is "Should we stop it". Without truly knowing what public sentiment is, it's hard to make a judgement. Maybe most people are for it. But how many of those people know the actual facts? How many just buy into the BS being propagated by the Planners? How many know how much it will really cost? How many of them realize what a disaster it's going to be while they're building it?

My personal opinion is that The Wave is going to severely damage the City. Ask yourself this question. If we could "wave" a magic wand and make it appear, would you use it? Forget about the 3 years of traffic nightmares and eyesores as they rip up downtown streets. If we could just write a check for $142 Million and the wave could be available tomorrow, would it be worth it? Would you open a "Cafe" on Andrews Ave by Grady's if there was a streetcar stop in front of Mr Nick's?

The big problem with the Wave is that it will fuel years and years of desperate, wasteful spending. The $142 Million is just the beginning. The City will have to give many more millions in subsidies. It will create false hope; hope that all of the spending will result in something. It will divert millions away from other, actually necessary projects. In the end, it will be a big mistake.

Read the Report

I urge you to read the full Cato Policy Analysis on "Modern Streetcars". It cuts through the myths and lies that the City Planners and other advocates have been dishing out for years about The Wave.

July 9 Public Hearing

The hearing on the Assessment is on Tuesday July 9, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale City Hall at 6pm.

Fort Lauderdale City Hall
100 N Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

It might be the last chance to stop the wave. Spread the word. Ask your friends what they think. Let's find out what people really think.

How about getting some really cool Double Decker busses and saving $100 Million? Remember, its the subsidies that spur development, not the transportation.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Maureen
Reply
Imagine the traffic if they were tearing up SE 3rd for the Wave tracks? How they did they expect to make that work?
mike
Reply
does this mean we will be getting refunded for that $99 assessment for that few years i hope?
Mike
Reply
Yes we are! I got a notice and they are refunding all 5 years, you don’t have to do anything, checks going out in a couple weeks or so.
Administrator
Reply
They got the extra penny of sales tax to pay for it.

Let us know when you get it so those of us who don't use snail mail anymore can check our boxes.
Administrator
Reply
The jury is out on that one. I wouldn't buy anything with the money yet.
Administrator
Reply
The Wave is Dead. The commissioners voted 3-2 last night to officially kill the Wave Project.

Our votes really do matter.
alan
Reply
I was at the meeting where the city commissioners voted for this waste. The first, the very first, audience member to get the floor asked what research, metrics, analysis, etc. of current ridership on busses and trolleys was done in advance of this vote. At least one of the five looked down and answered sheepishly "none", while the others were silent. And then they voted 5-0 in favor of this crap.
Administrator
Reply
I watched it on tape. All of the people "for" the project either owned businesses along the route or worked for an engineering firm. A bunch of plants. Word is that even if they shelve the project, the existing contracts have to be honored. At least we won't be losing money for a decade and they won't be digging up the streets.
Administrator
Reply
The Sun-Sentinel reports that the cost of this project has now ballooned to $270M; it was predictable years ago when I wrote this article that this unnecessary streetcar was going to cost a lot more than the original budget.
Dan
Reply
After the voting for mayor yesterday, hopefully it's a sign that people in Fort Lauderdale are tired of the over development, lack of planning for sewers and traffic, and absolute wastes of money like the Wave. I'm not one of those 'no progress' types, but things have been getting way out of hand and ruining Fort Lauderdale. Hopefully we can finally push this boondoggle to the side for good, and stop greasing the palms of a select few.
Administrator
Reply
Trantalis is anti-wave? I read that he's against over development, but haven't seen his position on The Wave
Dan
Reply
Actually, I don't know. I may have been assuming (or hoping) his position on over development tied into being against the Wave. It would certainly seem hypocritical to voice concerns about a lack of traffic planning but then support the Wave. With both it's construction and operation it will make traffic even worse. Will be interesting to find out his view on this.
Administrator
Reply
Maybe we should make him tell us? Nobody knew about the "election". Lets make sure everyone knows about the runoff so the candidates actually have to campaign and sell themselves to us.
Administrator
Reply
Just to update this, Trantalis has signed a pledged to terminate The Wave project at the first meeting after he's elected. Roberts is the only candidate who didn't sign the pledge. I'll be writing something up next week.
BrandyWhine
Reply
Great news. How much could the city have saved if they listened to you 5 years ago?
Dan
Reply
Excellent. Thanks for all your hard work in a lot of ways. Great website.
Todd
Reply
Why would I wait even 5 minutes for a streetcar when I can just get an Uber?
Administrator
Reply
This project is NOT ABOUT TRANSPORTATION. It's about funneling millions of federal dollars into the pockets of donors of local politicians. These projects are guaranteed to bleed money, even if they are needed. What we need is a movement to get congress to DEFUND the project. Anyone know Trump?
BB
Reply
I just heard about this today. I said... 2.7 miles long, that's it? Why not just make a bus loop and save 200 million dollars?
Administrator
Reply
Because Fort Lauderdale is corrupt.
Trish
Reply
So to get from The Edge complex to Las Olas you have to go all the way up to the bus station? It's faster to walk!
Disgusted
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I own 15 rental Apts in the Wave zone and have been paying this extortion fee of $99 on each Apt the last 4 years for a total paid of $6000 already....When this stupid project is shelved will i get my money back or has it gone into a black hole or a developers pocket....Thanks Seiler for nothing!!
Administrator
Reply
But you'll profit Big League once it's complete and people will be bidding up your units so they can take The Wave to the train station 4 blocks away.
Kenny
Reply
They never mentioned in the article the onset of Uber. It's the millennial's dream ride they are a fairly lazy bunch. Why would the city build mechanical infrastructure when it's cheaper to let the people in the city benefit from the riders and handle all maintenance payroll licensing etc. also Uber comes to your front door and takes you to the front door of where you're going. The wave does not. If the city forefathers had some for site they would see how lucky they are that it took so long to get this underway and table it, and then scrap it.
Administrator
Reply
There is a subsequent article about The Wave and Uber Here
Rick
Reply
This is a brilliant article, highlighted by the WSJ article that virtually mirror your points. Why aren't the people of Fort Lauderdale up in arms about this obvious debacle?
Administrator
Reply
People are afraid to blow their car horn around here; much less make noise about government waste and corruption.
Concerned Taxpayer
Reply
So Petrillo is pushing this stupid streetcar while he's buying up property and businesses near the route?
Administrator
Reply
It's a group of people. Who knows who the people behind the scenes are. Petrillo, Hooper Halmos, Refrain. They're paying an absurd amount of money for these properties. $4.2M for Maguires Hill? I'd be laughing at them if I didn't think this Wave BS was going to ruin the city. Nobody is going to ride it. It's going to be a total disaster.
Administrator
Reply
Did Everyone hear about the 2 trolly cars in Philly that crashed, injuring 12 people? Coming soon to Fort Lauderdale.
John
Reply
Mayor Jack isn't a bad chap at all, but very inflexible once his mind is made up.

What I hate about the Wave is that BROWARD COUNTY pays for all the maintenance and operational costs going forward. Fort Lauderdale won't pay which is one reason why Jack is such a proponent of a bone-headed idea.
Administrator
Reply
They're doing this for 1 reason; the federal funds that will pour into the coffers of local developers who have installed Seiler in his post.

They don't care about maintenance going forward. This is a one-time money grab. Trump knows that Streetcars are a scam so hopefully these programs will dry up and we can Uber around like the rest of the world.
Administrator
Reply
Note that the estimated costs of this project have risen from $142 million to $195.3 million, just as I predicted. They've moved up the date to 2020.

With the Obama subsidies about to leave office, WHY has this project not been killed? We need to END THIS NONSENSE NOW.
Lou
Reply
I've been on this site all day. Nice job on this piece. Truth is so hard to find.
Watcher
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It appears that the DDA is bleeding cash and there's some funny business involving grant money and city coffers.
Concerned
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For those who don't believe the Admin or others about this situation check out Lauderdale By The Sea's "Pelican" shuttle.

It's never used and is always empty and the town is spending hundreds of thousands on empty shuttles. No one Black, White, or Brown rides that boondoggle and it will drop you off and pick you up at your house.

The WAVE is a giant WASTE
Michael
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All of these programs like the Wave, The "Pelican " shuttle in LBTS, the Sun Trolley are funded by the "Tourist Bed Tax" and the funds must be used for "Tourist" purposes only. If, no tourist ever uses it, the money must be spent on tourist programs only. This is why the Miami-Dade voters needed to approve it in an election.
Jake
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You don't know what you're talking about. The Sun Trolley is funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Fort Lauderdale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and the City of Fort Lauderdale Transportation and Mobility Management division.

Bed taxes are used for tourism promotion, not any service that a tourist might use. And the argument here is that the city is taxing residents for a system that nobody except greedy developers want.
Michael
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The tourist "Bed Tax" money is money that is supposed to be used exclusively for tourist related marketing and development. But just like the Lottery money that was supposed to be exclusively for schools, everyone is envious and wants some of it. No Man is an Island and those of us in the hospitality business need the support of the community in order to improve this industry.
Rich
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If you think a trolly system is good for your business, then I don't understand how you own one. How about not relying on stupid gimmicks that the city wants to build independently of your establishment? How about putting out a quality affordable product at your place of hospitality? It's just a thought.
Administrator
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A characteristic of Fort Lauderdale is that business owners have been riding the RE and tourism wave and haven't had to run good businesses. It's why service is so bad, and why there are few good restaurants. If any sloth can open a restaurant and have it filled with customers, why bother offering a good value or good service?

It's the biggest problem we face.
Rich
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Yep. I agree. But I don't think it's unrealistic..to not complain about us not wanting the wave but wanting quality restaurants to go to.
Michael
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Clearly business owners are operating, with the best people that they can find, for the amount of money that they can afford to pay. I am willing to give them the benefit of a doubt. I just think that the quality of employees is commensurate with the level of remuneration.
Administrator
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That's ridiculous. Ownership is responsible for the bad food, high prices and rude service. You enable the bad behavior by defending it.
Administrator
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You clearly don't know what you're talking about, so why continue? There's strict legal control of the use of the tourism tax. The county has to make a request to the state in order to use it. It's not a general fund that they can allocate any way they want.

Supporting the bad actors that control the hospitality industry in this town isn't a good strategy. The same handful of bad operators open one bad restaurant after another. That's not good for the workers or the community in general.

Good venues are what we need, and we don't get good venues when so much corruption exists in the business environment.
Garrett
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You can't reason with people like Michael. They're programmed by the government to be loyal servants. You just hope we can fix things before they get to more than 50% of the people parroting their doublespeak nonsense.
Administrator
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There's something patently ridiculous about people who argue that if we don't waste money on stupid projects that the money will just rot in the City's coffers. How about reducing that tax so tourists have more to spend?
Administrator
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Frankly, it's not a terrible idea for LBTS, because parking really is a problem there. The fact that nobody uses a shuttle that's needed is indicative though. The people who go to the beach either live walking distance or are staying walking distance.
Kathy
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Who voted for these idiots for commissioner? Not one of them has a 3 digit IQ. They're all talking like they think Fort Lauderdale is Seattle or something. It's a one road town. You can't turn it into a city by building a train.

Does the black dude know that the bus system has no white or middle class ridership?
Michael
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The one big thing missing in Fort Lauderdale, is a tourist district. In Baltimore it is Fells Point, in Montreal it is Old Montreal and China town. Every good tourist destination, from Key West to Saint Augustine has an area devoted to serving the tourist. Fort Lauderdale must have a section of the city just for this purpose as well. Figure out where that should be and do whatever it takes to make it happen This will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars initially but will return hundreds of millions maybe even billions, in the long run.
Administrator
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So what the hell is the Las Olas Beach area? It's where the beach, hotels and tourist traps are.
Michael
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Not Big enough. There needs to be 10 or 12 blocks of nothing but tourist shops, restaurants, clubs and souvenir shops. The offerings here in Fort Lauderdale suck.
Administrator
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What you propose is bigger than the city. We fill the hotels for the entire season, so why spend billions to create an artificial attraction? The Riverfront complex was supposed to be the tourist center; how did that work out?
Michael
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Tourism is the number one industry and collects most of the income, in the form of taxes, than any other form of business in this state. This is why every professional athletic team wants some. The area south of the New River around Andrews Avenue is a slum hole anyway. Why not redevelop it into the tourist district. That way it will bring in more tax money to the city than all of the other businesses could possibly bring in. Everybody that lives in South Florida, owes the tourism industry, for keeping the property taxes affordable.
Joe Tourist
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You sound so silly. If the area south of the New River is a "slum hole" why do you think Tourists are going to want to go there? Because we call it "Andrews Place" or throw a few bars together?? It would take Billions to redo this area which is nonsensical. Why not use our Beach and River areas which already attract tourists?? The point was to not throw resources away on public transportation which is chronically underused already. "The Tourist District" is not going to be south of the New River!!!
Administrator
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People go to Tap 42 because it's a good venue; with or without a street car. People don't go to Copper Kettle because it's a creepy dump. Most people have cars in Fort Lauderdale and there's no traffic on Andrews Avenue. If something good opens up, people can and will go there.

Public Transportation is a handout to the poor. It's wealth redistribution, paid for by those with jobs and used by those without. While this may be worthy, busses are good enough. You're not going to get upscale riders to ride The Wave.
Administrator
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Your logic ignores what I said, which is that we already fill the hotels in season, so there is little to gain by creating a fake tourist attraction. And trying to get people to come to Florida in the summer is probably a bad idea. Do people flock to Montreal in the winter?

If you read my article on sunny.org, the point was that we don't need to spend millions of dollars to tell people it's warm in Florida. We have a built-in tourist attraction: good weather in the winter. We could get a more upscale crowd; and thus more $$$, if we focus on upgrading the bad restaurants and hotels instead of marketing to cretins and gays.

Paul Bishop
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[removed for violating TOS (fake email)]
Steve
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I saw 2 Sun Trolleys today. One at Oakland Park and A1A and one on the Las Olas Blvd bridge. Tons of traffic, and both Trolleys were completely empty.
Shiela
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What's most maddening is the dishonesty of everyone involved in this process. They're putting out articles about how the Wave is the reason they're rebuilding the courthouse and that they updated the hospital. Is the Wave the reason that they built the Riverhouse? Has Las Olas turned into a hot spot because of the prospect of The Wave?

It's sickening. It's like living in a communist country.
JohnC
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Reading that report, it's like word for word what they've been telling us. It's like a script. How to bamboozle your citizens.
Mike
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Thanks for finally laying out the sheer cope and breadth of this impending horror. I will be there on July 9th, and I hope a lot of others show up as well. I knew this project was dirty, but now I fully understand the chain of self interest and lining of pockets among the connected profiteers that are driving this madness. As many downtown condo owners who bought in the boom and have seen property values plummet in the collapse, I truly fear this tax assessment, which will surely grow over the years, could be make it much more difficult to ever sell our units. What a complete nightmare- please everyone wake up and let's do what we can to stop this disaster.
Sheri
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Other cities are debating whether or not to build streetcar lines to connect their inner-city attractions, while Fort Lauderdale is planning on connecting an upscale dining area to a bus station where you'll never see a Caucasian.
Jack Horner
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Jack, oh Jack, do you ever listen to yourself?

Do we need the Wave?

Nope.

Wanna bet no one rides it?

Why don't we see if we can borrow the Parrot's trolley that no one rides on instead??
Greta
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Wow. This explains why the Trolley stopped serving downtown. They're trying to sell this project to the rest of the city. The people who aren't getting assessed this time around! But the reality is that Sun Trolley is the biggest argument against public transportation. It's so poorly run. Who would want the city running public transportation is they can't even run a simple trolley system?
Rob
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Holy crap, Man. What took you so long? This project is going to kill the city!

Next: Burger King