In previous AutoSlash blog posts, we've spoken about ways of navigating once we get to our destinations, including downloading maps for offline use with GPS when visiting areas with limited (or expensive) cell coverage. After all, we're not fans of paying the rental car company an exorbitant fee to rent a navigation device when unnecessary! Yet in one major jurisdiction of the United States, there's still a legal requirement for rental car companies to create, promote, and print paper maps for any interested renters. These maps have to meet precise requirements defined by the local government; the current listing of rules is 16 pages without five necessary language translations. Rental car companies spend thousands of dollars designing and printing these compliant maps, raising rates for all local renters. Welcome to Miami-Dade County, Florida!
Miami-Dade County promotes specific attractions in their maps.
Rental car companies have to produce these maps and the requirements -- most recently updated in 2009 -- have fortunately only changed once since 1999. The maps have to accommodate six languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German). The county's requirements that the rental car companies individually make these maps (and seek approval from the county) means the stated mandates are followed precisely, even if outdated. The only requirement for updates by the rental car companies are if the formal policy changes or if a neighborhood incorporates/unincorporates.
As a result, the county finds themselves in a bad situation of their own creation; they can't really make the maps themselves because their own rules require deciding which sites to promote. Neighborhoods, major roads, visitor centers, airports, ports, and rail stations aren't going to be protested much, but ...
The rules require the rental car companies to list 48 specific tourist attractions and museums, 24 shopping malls, 7 sports and entertainment facilities, and 24 cultural/convention centers by name.
- Build a new site since 2009? Not going to make the map
- Renamed facility since 2009? Map's not going to be updated.
- Closed location since 2009? It's still going to be on the map
Our personal favorites relate to the sports and entertainment facilities. The home basketball court of the University of Miami is to be labeled as the BankUnited Center but is now the Watsco Center (Cooling the Americas). Then there's the requirement to label Landshark Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and named after the Land Shark beer. A lot's changed since the policy was updated in 2009 when the stadium was named after a beer affiliated with Jimmy Buffett but owned by Anheuser-Busch (now Anheuser-Busch InBev).
- In 2010, the stadium was renamed "Sun Life Stadium"
- In 2016, the stadium was renamed "New Miami Stadium"
- Later in 2016, the stadium was renamed "Hard Rock Stadium"
Yet if you pick up a map from a rental car company, one might still have directions to "Landshark", if the rental car company follows directions from the government. The county's tourist promotion entities could seek sponsorship from tourism-related entities and create frequently updated maps. That would be a more economically efficient (and frequently updated) process than requiring rental car companies to duplicate efforts in making maps that are quickly out of date. Otherwise, the cost of developing and printing maps -- which most of the population can't effectively use -- will continue to be embedded in every rental car contract issued in Miami-Dade County ...