JUNE 15, 2015
IS AT 7:30 PM

Like the overwhelming majority of folks in Miami-Dade County  I know that public transportation sucks and that except on rare occasions I don’t use it.

On Saturday night, I was the Location Manager on a photo shoot and one of the locations that we were using was a Metrorail Train that we had rented and that was parked at the Palmetto Station.

The Palmetto Station is the last Westward station for Metrorail located on the West side of the Palmetto Expressway just North of 74th Street.  Years ago that would have been considered the boonies, but now it’s in the City of Medley surrounded by large warehouses and industrial kinds of businesses.

At approximately 7:45 PM, I was walking to the entrance of the station when I encountered a large group of women and girls looking bewildered.  One of the women asked me if I was familiar with the area, and I responded by offering to share what information I could.

It turned out that the group were from Orlando, had come to Miami for the weekend and were staying in a hotel in Doral. That morning they had taken a City of Doral Trolley from the hotel to the Metro station to go downtown, and had expected that when they returned in the evening, there would be a City of Doral trolley available to take them back to their hotel.

They were wrong.  Even though the Metrorail Trains run to midnight, the City of Doral Trolley makes it’s last run at 7:30 PM.

Even worse, Miami-Dade County Transit doesn’t provide much in the way of bus service.  In fact there is only one bus that comes to the Palmetto Station - Number 87 - and it’s last trip South from the station is at 6:48 PMIt’s last trip from the North arrives at the station at 6:47 PM.

In short, there is only one bus that services this station, and while the trains run till midnight, the buses quit running at 6:48 PM on Weekends.  During the week the last bus leaving this station going South is at 8:47 PM.

The discrepancy between the arrival of trains, and the availability of Metro buses - even a single bus - doesn’t make sense.

If you live, or need a bus from the Dadeland Station - which is the Southernmost station for Metrorail - there are several bus routes that start or end at this station, and they run till at least 8PM on Saturday night.

There is a bus called the Midnight Owl that starts at 12:32 and runs till 5:00 AM, 7 days a week.

Now I’m sure that there were any number of smart county employees who labored over computers figuring out this complex system - and I would agree that it is complex - but somehow it seems to me that one guiding principle at the center of those who public transit services are provided in this county.

There should be at least one bus available for the people who take the Metrorail from the time the first train arrives at each station in the morning, until the last train arrives at night.

A gap of 5 hours - from 6:48PM until midnight - without any bus service at the Palmetto Station is really unacceptable. Many people who use Metrorail don’t have a car. That’s why they use Metrorail to begin with. As an example, one of the extras on our photo shoot didn’t, and used the Metrorail to come to work. 

It can be argued that local folks should be aware of these problems and arrange their lives and schedules around this gap of transportation service, although the way that decisions get made about the provision of services says something about the disparity involving income inequality in our community and the way that that impacts on mostly poor folks, but what about out-of-towners and tourists who come from communities that provide better public transportation and somehow much the faulty conclusion that a city that touts itself on being a center of tourism would have a public transportation system as good as the one where they live?

And let’s not forget the City of Doral Trolley Service.  One of the reasons - if not the only reason that cities like Doral and the City of Miami have started their own trolley services  - is because of how poorly the county’s transit system operates.

At the very least the City of Doral should work with all of the hotels and motels in Doral should provide their visitors with a notice about the pitfalls of using public transportation, and also look at the trolley schedule when it comes to servicing passengers arriving at the Palmetto Station.

For the folks in the photo above, the good thing was that they didn’t arrive on the last train of the night.  The lady you see in the photo wearing the safety vest was the Metro-Transit employee assigned to our project - Ms. Robinson -  and she was able, with the staff at the station to work out how these folks could take a train back to another station that would let them take a bus that would take them about 5 blocks from their hotel.

So this turned out to be a reasonably happy ending, and the possibility of 17 women and girls getting stranded at a Metrorail station in Medley on a Saturday night might not seem like an earth shattering event, but given the number of serious issues that the Gimenez administration has failed to address, starting with his refusal to deal with the increasing number of illegal billboards and murals on both City and County property, to the parking lot that the Miami Heat has made of Parcel B, to the harebrained scheme of using the emergency airstrip in the middle of the Everglades as the location for an Air Show that’s been seen as nothing more than a way to take a junket to Paris for him and a close number of his staff and lobbyist pals, as well as his persistent efforts to remove transparency from the expenditure of public money a failure to provide bus service to compliment Metrorail service is just serves to remind everyone that no matter where you turn,

It’s Miami, Bitches!