One Hour and forty minutes – that is how long my commute was this morning from Coral Gables/Coconut Grove to my office in Doral. Utilizing the 37, 36A, and 41 buses, I seamlessly (for the most part) was able to get to work before the 9 AM arrival time goal.
My day began at 7 AM with a 17-minute walk to catch the 37 bus in Coconut Grove. The morning was cool and the lush shade trees in the grove provided a wonderful canopy that shaded much of the walk (Really, walking Miami would not be terrible if we had an adequate canopy cover.) Standing, waiting for the bus to arrive, I watched as car after car of single occupant vehicles began their daily commutes while joggers utilized the main highway multi-use path. The 37 bus arrived about 3 minutes behind schedule. Once aboard, I began to realize the biggest downfall of the entire MDT system; route alignment. Route 37 meandered in and out of the Douglas Road Metro station, Tri-Rail station, and all of the concourses of Miami International before finally reaching my stop at NW 36th Street about 40 minutes after I had boarded.
The transfer to the 36A was perfect. The bus had pulled up behind the 37 as I was disembarking. The 36A was standing room only and one of the passengers was a fellow coworker of mine who was also attempting to go car-free for the day from Miami Beach. The 36A was filled with Doral employees including some Carnival and city employees. The 36A transported us to the Doral Center on NW 53rd street where we (and nearly everyone else on the bus) transferred (yet again) to the 41.
As we boarded the 41, the bus operator immediately warned us not to photograph her or her bus, after she spotted us snapping a couple of pictures before getting on. The route dropped us off just across the street from our offices on 97th avenue, leaving us to cross the treacherous 41st intersection that lacks pedestrian signals.
From my experience this morning, the biggest flaw with MDT’s system is the route alignment and unnecessary transfers. The MIC-MIA connector will alleviate some of the problems for many of these buses, eliminating the junket to the terminals for several routes. MDT also needs to introduce a cross-county route that transports passengers across Doral, rather then leaving us at its doorstep and expecting us to transfer to another route.
The whole point of this experiment was to illustrate how difficult it is get to the second largest employment district in the County, Doral. As I shared with my coworkers, this type of on-hands research is critical to understanding what types of problems we face in the planning industry (from transit to land use.) Disturbingly, I know of several transportation planners who have never stepped foot on a public bus, let alone walked across a busy street and yet these are the people we designate to design our public spaces.
I cannot wait for my ride home – on paper it should only take an hour, if all goes well…
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