Miami-Dade Transit wants to run Metrorail directly into Miami International Airport, a move that could potentially save the financially strapped airport $180 million, according to The Miami Herald.

However, moving the project from the airport's ledgers to Transit would also likely shift the burden of paying for it from gate fees paid by airport passengers to the half-cent local sales tax and other state taxes that underwrite mass transit projects, which could anger taxpayers, The Miami Herald reports.

Aviation would save approximately $180 million of the $260 million budgeted for the people mover and funded by gate fees that airlines pass along to passengers. The $80 million balance is being paid by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Transit consultants are trying to solve a number of operational problems, such as how to incorporate an automated farecard system so rental car patrons can ride for free to the intermodal center, while anyone who stays on Metrorail will pay a regular fare.

A people mover would connect to the third level of the intermodal center at the grand lobby to a new $440 million consolidated rental car facility. The other half of the intermodal center is envisioned as Miami's version of Grand Central Station, a retail, hotel and transportation hub where Metrorail, Tri-Rail, Amtrak, Greyhound, Metrobuses and taxis would converge.

Originally slated for completion in June 2004, the 3,800-space rental car garage is now set to open in fall 2009, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. But further delays are likely because FDOT is still negotiating prices with contractors.

Additionally, local car-rental firms and large operators like Alamo, Avis and Hertz are engaged in a continuing six-year dispute over how garage space at the new Miami Intermodal Center will be split up, Miami Today reports.

The larger firms came to an agreement with the state in 2000 that would divide office, garage and fueling space between rental companies based on marketshare, according to Miami Today.

Miami-Dade County Aviation Director Jose Abreu says the local companies demand about 25 percent of the space in the new garage although their combined market share in Miami-Dade is 1.2 percent. He says he hopes the companies will reach consensus before construction of the building's exterior is completed.