Media Contact:
Luis Espinoza

Statement from Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works on Metrorail Service

MIAMI (October 19, 2017)

Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) staff has been working diligently to resolve issues that have resulted in delays experienced on Metrorail.
Unfortunately, the age of our fleet is the root cause of most these quality of service issues. Our current fleet of rail cars is more than 30 years old and that has led to delays, as well as other quality of service setbacks that we are experiencing.

The Metrorail system first debuted in 1984. With any traditional rail system, the fleet should have been replaced after 10 to 15 years or received a midlife overhaul; however, that was not the case in Miami-Dade. Metrorail car assembly for the new fleet began in March of 2016.

In the meantime, DTPW is exploring every possible avenue to secure the resources needed to continue running a safe and reliable service with an aging fleet. For example, we are working with an outside vendor to repair or replace components that we cannot service in-house. An example of this is the shipping of axle, wheel, and gear unit parts for sent assembly to a vendor. In the interim, a wheel press machine and lathe have been repaired so that DTPW staff can also assemble the axles in-house.

Our Department has negotiated with Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMTA) to receive rail car components to be used as replacement parts on Metrorail vehicles. We will be receiving spare HVAC, propulsion and pneumatic components that they are no longer using and use them as replacement parts on our vehicles. We expect to begin receiving these components in a few weeks once their administrative governing body approves the transfer.

Motor control boxes on rail cars are being overhauled and replaced by a local company. These will be replaced on 40 cars. The number of motors in need of replacement or repair spiked from 129 in 2015 to 235 in 2016, which is an above average number.

We are also continuing our truck replacement and pneumatic change-outs for approximately two cars per month. An outside contractor is replacing our traction power switch gears and traction power substation, of which six have been completed.

In addition, operational staff has been reassigned to assist with troubleshooting Metrorail component malfunctions.  All available personnel are working overtime and shifts are working 24-hours a day. Maintenance process improvements have been implemented.  There was a 66 percent decrease in cancelled trips last week as compared to prior weeks because of the increased maintenance efforts.

The new Metrorail fleet, funded by the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP), will greatly improve the quality of service. These cars are undergoing rigorous safety testing now. Vehicle replacement is being expedited and the manufacturer has increased the number of crews performing testing. As new vehicles are phased in, riders should begin to see improvements in service, frequency, a reduction in delays, and a much more comfortable ride.

  • By November 2017, new Metrorail cars will be in service -- just 20 months after assembly began.
  • By July 2018, DTPW anticipates to have half of the cars needed to operate at peak levels replaced.
  • By February 2019, all the vehicles needed to operate at peak levels will be replaced, and by the end of 2019 the full   fleet of 136 new rail cars fully tested, operational, and in service.

Besides improvements with our rail cars, we have an on-going effort to improve our Metrorail infrastructure. For example, the Department’s FY 2017-18 Multi-Year Capital Plan includes Metrorail station and system improvements that will refurbish three of the 23 stations, four of the 43 escalators, and two of the 60 elevators. We also plan to upgrade the Tri-Rail Station power sub-station (total project cost $27.38 million in FY 2017-18, and $99.962 million in total). All these improvements and upgrades will enhance the current Metrorail stations and system reliability and safety, while reducing maintenance costs.

Further, the FY 2017-18 Multi-Year Capital Plan also includes various Metrorail track and guideway replacement and improvement projects that include rehabilitating existing track and guideway fixtures, and equipment, which includes the replacement of safety items, such as coverboard, fasteners, and insulated joints metal acoustical barriers (total project cost $188.389 million; $17.761 million in FY 2017-18). Likewise, these improvements will enhance the rail's guideway reliability and safety, while reducing maintenance costs.

The FY 2017-18 Adopted Budget and Multi-Year Capital Plan contains various Metromover improvement projects to include an overhaul of the Metromover wayside and refurbishment of escalators and elevators (total project cost $106.627 million, $20.017 million in FY 2017-18); these improvements will enhance the mover's system reliability and safety, which will reduce station maintenance costs.

We are also continuing to replace and upgrade our transit physical assets through normal replacement cycles with an Infrastructure Renewal Plan. This costs approximately $12.5 million per year, for a total of $87.5 million in the next five years.

We are upgrading our fare collection system with a cloud migration that will provide real-time data for improved customer service, reduce lines at ticket vending machines and enable customers to pay transit fares using their mobile devices. The implementation cost is approximately $15 million. In the next version of the mobile app we will facilitate EASY Card account lookup, add value and passes.

As you can see, we are working arduously to resolve our Metrorail challenges as quickly as possible. We are exploring every possible avenue to secure the resources needed to continue running a safe and reliable service with an aging and archaic rail fleet.

We have overcome many issues from availability of obsolete parts to electrical issues resulting from Hurricane Irma. These issues are almost behind us and the future of transportation is very bright. Our leaders and our community have made transportation a priority and that is a major step toward improving our transit system and providing better mobility options for Miami-Dade.