I decided to post another chapter of Far From Perfect as a blog post. I'll probably post additional chapters throughout the year. The below chapter is Chapter 24, titled: "Public Transportation."
I've taken public transportation a good portion of my life. Partially because of financial difficulties. Partially because of many years of car troubles. Though, mostly because public transportation is an efficient, enjoyable form of transportation.
I've lived in the city most of my life. I've always felt living close to work was a benefit. I use to like driving, yet, even when I enjoyed driving, I knew driving long distances in traffic is unhealthy for both the driver and the environment. Plus, driving in traffic isn’t fun.
Driving is also very expensive. Car repairs, gas, insurance, accidents, and stress are eliminated or at least reduced with the aid of public transportation. I feel I’ve always made better use of my time riding on a train or bus, than behind the wheel.
Though, like most things in life, public transportation isn't perfect. Sometimes the trains and buses are overcrowded, creating uncomfortable situations. Other times they may experience mechanical problems causing them to run late, sometimes not at all. Bad weather can make taking public transportation difficult.
With that said, public transportation does have plenty of benefits. Public transportation gives drinkers the opportunity to drink responsibly. Riders don't have to worry about driving if they have a few to many drinks.
During the holidays, I always felt a sense of comradery with other passengers. I've taken public transportation on New Year’s Eve several times, often celebrating with a variety of different passengers.
Miami offers multiple forms of transportation. Downtown Miami offers a type of train called the People Mover. The People Mover is free for all passengers and rides on futuristic looking elevated tracks routed throughout the city.
The tracks even go through a high-rise building, with a stop within the building. The People Mover also has large windows offering passengers incredible views of the city.
In general, People Movers arrive at their stops often and usually aren’t crowded. Though, during events they can become extremely crowded.
I remember taking the People Mover home from work during the ING Marathon. The ING Marathon is a foot race held downtown Miami. Thousands of people participate and watch.
The day of the marathon, the People Mover stations and the cars were jam packed, to the point where there literally wasn't any room to move. After waiting on the platform, I squeezed into one of the cars. Luckily, I'm not claustrophobic. Once I entered, I wasn't able to move an inch.
Miami has trains routed through the city called the Metromover. The Metromover is probably the fastest mode of transportation within the city. The Metromover has many stops, including stops located in downtown Miami, the Hialeah Horse Track, Miami International Airport, a variety of malls, grocery stores, and hospitals, just to name a few.
Because of the variety of stops, riders can maneuver throughout the city easily without a car. They also provide riders access to necessities needed for everyday living, in addition to access to different events.
Miami has hundreds of bus routes. Many of them are designed to funnel riders to train stations. Some buses run 24/7. Buses cover all areas of the city.
Many, travel frequently between Downtown Miami and South Beach. Many, if not all city buses allow passengers to bring their bikes via bike racks located on the front of the buses. Trains also allow riders to take their bikes in the last train car.
I've always felt using public transportation was a thrill. I've witnessed plenty unusual, interesting and sometimes just plain crazy events on buses and trains. I never knew who I was going to meet, what I was going to hear or see.
When I wake up late, running to catch the train or bus really got my adrenalin going. Even though running late isn't the perfect situation, having to hustle to catch a bus does start the day off with a bit of excitement, usually giving me a jolt of energy. The energy helped get me through the day.
Being able to sit and read, chatting with a total stranger, people watch, looking out the window while enjoying the scenery are many of the different possibilities I faced each day.
When I was living at Overlook I decided to take the bus to the beach. I walked a few blocks South to West Flagler Street to catch the 11 bus to the Government Center. Once I arrived at the Government Center, I could take any number of different buses to South Beach.
Before I left, I packed a duffle bag with a couple towels and sun tan lotion. Then, I walked to the bus stop. It was the middle of the summer, the middle of the day and smoldering hot outside. About ten minutes later the bus arrived.
The bus was packed, standing room only. To make things worse, the AC wasn't working. The second I stepped in the bus, I felt the heat overtake my body. I don't think I ever experienced a temperature as hot.
As I entered the bus, an older man was standing in the front, yelling, “THE AC ISN’T WORKING! THE AC ISN’T WORKING!” in both English and Spanish. I smiled at his sarcasm. I looked around at all the passengers. They were all dripping in sweat. I kept having to wipe the sweat from my face with my beach towel as the bus headed towards downtown.
After a few stops, the towel was soaking wet. During the ride, the older man in the front kept yelling, “THE AC ISN’T WORKING! THE AC ISN’T WORKING!” Sometimes he turned around, facing all the passengers in the back to let them know the AC wasn’t working. He seemed to especially enjoy telling new passengers about the AC issues as they boarded the bus.
The passengers on the bus were barely moving. Many were older and probably just trying to make it to their stop without passing out. We all knew the AC wasn't working. We were just trying to survive the heat. Though, as bad as the situation was, he put a smile on a few of the riders faces. And he certainly made the bus ride memorable.
With that said, we were in a dangerous situation. Older people were in the passenger seats. Many of whom probably couldn’t take the heat for an extended period of time.
Given the circumstances, the bus driver pulled over a few miles into the trip. He asked everyone to exit the bus, letting passengers know another bus with working AC would arrive shortly.
Eventually, I arrived at the beach. Finally, I could cool down in the ocean. When I arrived, I didn't waste any time getting in the water. Today, I still smile when I think about that ride.
When I first moved to Miami, I frequently took the bus down NW 36 Street. From where I lived at the time, 36th street was the best way to get to downtown.
One day I was on the 36 bus heading west. As the bus was pulling away from a stop, I heard a little thump from the back of the bus. When the thump occurred, the bus driver stopped the bus. Then, he immediately began talking on the CB radio.
I didn't know why. I don't think most of the passengers did either. The driver asked everyone to exit the bus. When I exited, I found out why. A car hit the back of the bus. Apparently, the car was trying to go around the bus as the bus was stopping.
Even though we barely felt the collision, the car sustained substantial damage. I walked the rest of the way to my destination. The other passengers either waited for the bus driver to fill out an accident report or waited to catch another bus.
The Flagler Street buses are almost always packed. The Flagler Street buses are where I’ve seen a number of characters with charisma and unique personalities. I’ve also seen plenty of passengers who've put down a few to many drinks. That was the case on this day.
I was riding the 11 bus heading West on Flagler Street. When I took my seat, I smelt an odor of stale alcohol. I also noticed a man sitting a few seats in front of me swaying in his seat from side to side, though, just slightly. When the bus came to a stop I realized he was quite intoxicated.
The bus stopped at the corner of West Flagler and 42nd Ave. He tried standing. He had trouble getting out of his seat. After a couple tries he finally pushed himself up with his arms. As soon as he stood in the isle, he fell backwards hitting his head on the seats behind him.
He bounced off the seats into the isle, landing flat on his back, staring at the ceiling. He was in and out of consciousness. If I remember correctly, a few passengers lifted him to his seat where he stayed.
I use to take a bus at the Miami International Airport to get to and from work. One day, while the bus was pulling out of the Airports bus stop, I saw two younger adult ladies running after the bus.
They caught the bus as it was pulling away. As they were running alongside the bus they were knocking on the door. The driver stopped the bus. Though, he didn't open the door.
The bus sat for a few seconds. The ladies stood in front of the door waiting. They weren't sure if he was going to let them board. They knocked again. The driver got a little upset with their impatience. He put the face of his hand to the door, yelling, "RELAX!" at the same time in a disgruntled tone.
He set those two ladies off. A few seconds later he opened the door. He probably wishes he hadn't. The ladies entered with a fury, yelling at the driver in both English and Spanish, letting him know their distaste for his tone.
The driver didn't sit back and take it. He jabbed back and forth with the two ladies. The driver and two ladies kept arguing even after the two ladies paid, and took their seats.
Most of what they were saying was in Spanish. Regardless, even with my limited Spanish, I didn’t have any difficulty recognizing the wide array of curse words spoken with anger.
The argument escalated. Neither the driver or ladies stopped yelling. The bus driver had enough. A few minutes later he threw the ladies off the bus. He pulled over before exiting the airport. He opened the door and told them to get out. They did.
Before leaving, bus the driver reported the incident. He was told to wait at the scene for a transit official to arrive. Once the transit official arrived, the driver filled out an incident report. After the report was filled, out he was cleared to continue his route. The entire tabocal took about a half hour.
I took the bus to and from work for many years. I often rode with the same passengers every day. Over time I got to know different people on the bus.
There was a guy who always sat in the front of the bus with the newspaper. He enjoyed sports. During the ride he talked about different teams and players with another dude sitting a few rows back. I think I joined in on their conversation a few times.
Another lady on the bus worked in the same area I worked. Her company helped design the Intermodal Center. The Intermodal Center is a massive transit hub within the Miami International Airport.
At the time, the city just started the construction for the hub. The project was very expensive, often shown as featured news stories and with plenty of merit.
When the Intermodal Center was completed a few years later, a Light Rail, connecting airport terminals to the Intermodal Center was added. The Intermodal Center added stops for the Metrorail and Tri-Rail trains, additional Metro Bus routes, a Greyhound Bus Terminal, and a Rental Car Center.
Hearing about the project before it was completed from a person involved with the project, was very interesting.
One of the sickest things I ever saw in my life, was when I was waiting for a bus on NW 36th street. The bus stop was across from a few car dealerships, just west of 27th ave.
That day, I saw a car slam into a dog. I don't remember for sure the type of dog, maybe a Pitbull, almost defiantly a stray. She looked like she might have just given birth. I was at least a 100 yards away and on the opposite side of the street.
The dog seemed to be in distress. She was pacing back and forth across the street in front of the dealership. There was only light traffic. A few people were standing outside the dealership as the dog paced back and forth in the street.
A couple cars drove by, saw the dog, slowed down, letting her pass. Then, another car drove down the street. The car wasn't going very fast. The dog was in the other lane walking towards the cars path. As the dog approached, the car didn't slow down. I don't know how the driver didn't see her. He just kept going. The dog kept walking.
I kept thinking the car was going to stop. The car didn’t stop. There was loud bang. The car slammed into the dogs head and shoulders, spinning her around, knocking her into the middle of the street.
The seen was sickening. The car kept going. One of the people outside the dealership went out into the street to carry the dog away.
I think the dog was still alive, though she was in bad shape. Seeing the dog get hit by the car is something that stays etched in my memory. Just the thought of that day still makes me a little sick when I think about it.