Okay, who just broke Miami?

Over the past year or so I’ve constantly heard people saying that the transportation problems in Miami are the worst they’ve ever seen… Day after day, as it keeps progressively getting worse.

Well, I’ve never seen it this bad either.

The Venetian Causeway is gone. The MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways have nightly reductions to one lane. I-95 is probably closed more than it’s open now. The Palmetto Expressway has dangerous lane shifts causing constant accidents as it is hacked and slashed to bits to turn it into a corridor of Lexus lanes and fail.

The alternative is kind of failing royally though. Today, I was treated to the sight of Tri-Rail sailing away seven minutes early yet again after being delayed for about ten by a Hollywood public works crew closing an entire four lane road to painstakingly remove small pieces of litter from the wide median.

At that point I checked Waze, it’d be 1 hour 25 minutes to drive to work or about 1 hour to catch Metrorail directly. Upon arrival there, I found the system stalled due to a broken down train.

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Not shown here: the cherry red glowing dynamic brake grid on the fourth car that I just couldn't get a photo of.

Metromover breaks down on a daily basis, if not more, and the buses are of course at the mercy of the plugged roads.

I think this sprawling mess has just about had it… and that’s even before any dumbass developments like Krome Gold, Lennar Parkland, American Dream, Green City, Ludlam Trail, or anything like that goes live.

Actually, speaking of Green City….

"Green City", which I colored in Slightly Rotten Tomato Red
“Green City”, which I colored in Slightly Rotten Tomato Red

Green City is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. The plan is to use this big plot of land currently occupied by seasonal farms and a weird old deep well injection / aquifer storage and recovery (ASR, also known as Complete and Utter Bullshit) site. The development proposals call for this to be a transit oriented development.

Only problem is……. there’s no transit.

The nearest transit is a couple of bus routes that run every 30 minutes during daylight hours and then cut off. WEEKDAY ONLY. The very southernmost part of it is somewhat near-ish to a park and ride and transit hub south of Kendall Drive, but not within walking distance as that thing’s set WAAAY back in the middle of nowhere.

I recall a few years back reading about how there were certain guidelines for transit oriented development; you were not qualified for certain funding and other benefits unless the transit line was already in place and offered 24 hour service with a reasonable service frequency. I can’t find those rules again today. Are those still in place? Or, is the developer simply not actually counting on this thing actually being qualified as transit oriented development and just slapping that buzzword on it in hopes of getting a foot in the door towards pushing the Urban Development Boundary more easily?

I don’t know. All I know is, well, fuck this and the Cadillac Escalade it rolled in on.

AnsaldoBreda MetroFAIL!!!

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Dude this is some dank-ass Budd

I’m mad about our trains. Doesn’t help I tripped on messed up flooring this morning and twisted and bruised my ankle. I can just walk that off, but in the future, I might be better off walking?

For no good reason I looked at the specifications on the new AnsaldoBreda cars they’re getting for that line.

Right in the specs, it says “Maximum speed 75 Km/h”. This is 46.6 miles per hour. That’s just barely more than four tens. And that’s horrible.

The current fleet of old Budd UTV transit cars are capable of greater than 70 miles per hour. The ancient Westinghouse control system on them has a top speed of 65. If you look through the window at one of the cab panels you’ll see a row of colored lights corresponding to colored bands on the speedometer, this is the cab signal system that tells you how fast you can go or what the automatic train operation system will be set to in ATO mode. The speeds are 0 (red), 5 (blue), 15 (yellow), 35 (orange), 45 (green), 55 (orange), 65 (green).

The final green light was last seen lit just before September 11, 2001, when Miami-Dade Transit probably realized all their maintenance and parts funding was gonna be siphoned off for the Department of Homeland Stupidity so they cut back the operating speeds to save on maintenance. Ha ha, “maintenance”, that’s a good one. I’d slap my knee but it’s a little sore from hitting a row of seats when I went over.

Needless to say, further reducing the top speed to 45 will probably require timetable changes and break all of the ALREADY utterly broken bus connections throughout the system even worse.

Please remind me again why AnsaldoBreda was even considered in the running for the new Metrorail vehicle project? AnsaldoBreda has an unbroken, perfect track record of always, without fail, delivering railcars that are unsuitable to enter revenue service, requiring months of field rebuilding and reengineering before they’ll even reliably stay on the damn track let alone actually go anywhere.

The sad part? I get the feeling that even if we suffer through about two years of practically nonexistent Metrorail service due to Breda breakdowns, we’ll STILL be coming out better than this. UUUUGGGGHHHHH.

This is yet another reason Miami-Dade County can simply never be taken seriously as a world class…. anything.

Common Sense vs. American Dream.

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The existence of this warning label is also evidence that common sense is starting to wane as a human trait

Some stats came out that made me even more mad about the American Dream mega mall project. Developer Triple Five put out some rough stats on how they expect traffic flows to and from the mall, FDOT ran simulations on it, and what remains of The Miami Herald miraculously decided to publish an article about it with a useful infographic. (It’s very rare that the Herald will report at all on controversial development plans, and even rarer that they won’t just make the article a giant pail of whitewash.)

Sorry if this got unusually compressed – once in a while that happens with mobile downloads due to a proxy being too “helpful

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“.

I’ve driven through this area a lot as a result of having a zombie strewn commute that required me to get creative to get home in the evening at all.

I can assure you the roads in this area cannot take the kind of traffic volume estimated here.

Common sense alone would have told anyone that the area just can’t support this beast. There is simply no way – no transportation infrastructure, no water, no power…

Is this just an elaborate investment scam?? I really, really hope so.

Otherwise, we’re really quite doomed, to be perfectly honest. Or at least those who have to do anything on the west side of Miami-Dade County or southwestern Broward are. I’m still lucky enough to have a reasonable excuse for mass transit that will get me to and from work without massive delays, but I suspect that those housing developments up in western Miami Gardens are very quickly going to become effectively unlivable due to complete lack of timely access.

This is so stupid as to be impossible to believe. This has to be a bad dream. A bad American Dream.

I salute…. the ashes of American flags.

The rail welder

It’s construction time again!

This is some sort of funky diesel hydraulic tug with a big welder sitting on top for work on the Metrorail track. It’s actually kinda cute.

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Now with even MORE couplers! The one with the array of Pogo Pins on it matches the Metrorail trains. I’m not sure if, or how, the electrical interface would be used. Third rail power certainly isn’t. It might even be built to be able to tug the Budd UTV cars around where the onboard motors can’t be powered.

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This rig is usually seen in action only on weekends when closing a track to perform maintenance does not affect the train schedule too badly.

We need our BayLink.

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I’m not standing in front of the yellow line aboard this bus just to live dangerously. I’m standing in front of it because the bus is at a crush load and there is no space left behind the line.

Almost every bus from downtown Miami to Miami Beach runs packed like this.

So who keeps deciding we don’t need a high capacity train service connecting to Miami Beach?

You eeeeediots!!

That weird patch by Northside

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I don’t entirely understand what the developers are doing here. An old trailer park containing many of the area’s residents was removed to build a Walmart to serve the residents who aren’t there anymore.

Like most Walmart stores, it’s set far back from the road in a sea of parking lot. Unlike most, it’s adjacent to a rail and bus terminal. No effort was made to make access to this convenient.

This is really just typical of South Florida development. There is no urban planning, it’s basically spray and pray. Only in the last few years has there been any effort to go back and increase density and rebuild outdated areas that were previously developed, but it’s being done again with no consideration to infrastructure, access… Nope, we’re just spraying high rises now.

What a derpcastle.

Distrust in law enforcement, or the Miami Beach Urban Police State Week

* PICTURE RELATED to my state of mind right now *

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I’m a native of South Florida. I was born and raised here for 32 years, for better or for worse. This morning, however, according to a Polk County police officer and the Florida Highway Patrol, I woke up as a fresh off the boat illegal immigrant from Guatemala with a fake ID.

 

So a little bit of background on this. This is Memorial Day Weekend. There’s an unofficial South Florida tradition that Memorial Day Weekend and the week following are Urban Beach Week on Miami Beach. During this week, there are a lot of events on the week centered around hip hop and rap music. While these aren’t my cup of tea, usually, I totally respect anyone’s ability to enjoy their culture and music as much as anyone else.

Unfortunately, our local officials (which we MIGHT have elected, but who knows anymore) see the crowd Urban Beach Week brings in as an undesirable, criminal force, just a pure stream of thugs driving stolen cars packed to the gills with drugs, leaving just enough space for a few high powered firearms in the glovebox. Plus, *gasp*, they’re not Caucasian. THE HORROR!

The solution? Temporary police state.

So it didn’t entirely surprise me when I was driving down to work this morning and saw a row of traffic cones squeezing all the traffic on I-95 just north of the Macarthur Causeway exit into one lane, then fanning back out into a police checkpoint. Officers were stopping everyone momentarily and letting them go again, I figured they were checking for proper paperwork so I pulled out my license, registration, and insurance card, and plopped them on the dash ready. When it was my turn, the officer, whose badge identified him as being from Polk County, Florida, but had black electrical tape over the name and badge number. This seems, sadly, to be VERY COMMON practice when officers are brought in from out of the area. It originated as a liability limiting and intimidating measure with the Miami Model we’re… uhhh… so proud of. So very proud of. So very proud—

The officer takes one look at my ID and says “Please show me your actual ID, or are you fresh off the boat?”

At this point I was both furious and a bit nervous. I told him to request backup and have it verified, because, well… it’s a real Florida state driver’s license. It may not be REAL ID act compliant but that’s because it predated REAL ID and I haven’t gone through the process of updating it yet. It’s still legally valid in Florida as proof of identity, as a driver’s license, and works for everything except getting past airport security and into certain U.S. government facilities.

The lack of the REAL ID star in the corner wasn’t what bothered him, though, it was that the print is blurry.

Here’s the thing. The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles uses these shitty old Datacard printers to produce our IDs and driver’s licenses. These printers are never cleaned, maintained, or calibrated, and they’re run until they just plain die outright in a cloud of foul smoke (it happened right in front of me when I got my first driver’s license!). On mine, there’s both a C/M/Y/K print registration problem, likely due to worn feed rollers and/or guides, and the print is kind of light and foggy looking due to a temperature calibration problem.

But it’s the real thing. That’s the important part.

This officer, however, refused for almost 15 minutes to actually radio in the info from my ID for verification or do anything useful like calling over another officer as I was repeatedly and politely asking him to do. Instead he kept going on about how much trouble I was in for using a fake ID and asking me how I snuck in from Guatemala and telling me how INS would probably keep me in jail for months before finally sending me back.

FINALLY, another officer came over to see why he was holding up his line so badly, scanned the barcode on my ID with a PDA of some sort, looked at my license plate and VIN number, and told me everything was good. I explained to him what the other officer was doing and… he just laughed it off.

Some laughing matter.

To say this left me shaken is an understatement; now I’m kind of worried I’m going to face this kind of bullshit consistently throughout the week. Thankfully it’s only on weekends that I actually drive all the way in to work… for the week I usually use public transit, and buses don’t get stopped at the checkpoints.

Because, you know, no criminal element ever takes the bus. They all take stolen cars.

Miami………………

There’s a lot being said now about the public’s growing distrust in law enforcement….. here’s another story in the mix. Le sigh….

I kind of wish I’d filmed the whole thing in retrospect, but I’m really nervous that someone who isn’t even willing to stop a moment and verify a perfectly legal Florida ID as proof of valid US citizenship would also treat being recorded as a severe offense.

 

Gateway to the ghetto.

If you were to arrive in Miami as a visitor, on a trip to the beach starting from Miami International Airport, your experience could be like this.

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Then if you got on the MIA Mover, you’ll see giant billboards, stalled expressways, and a few junk yards out the windows before pulling into Miami Central Station and possibly getting on this:

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Bus #03198, this is a 12 year old bus that was made to last 11 and will be kept in service until 16!

It’s like a perfect, gradual descent into something noticeably closer to third world. I’d say “hell” if I believed in one, but I don’t, so “Liberty City” will have to do.

There’s a lot that needs cleaning up in this megapolis, but alas, the priorities are all wrong. Miami will never be able to be taken seriously as a city.

This user interface can suck an F40PH through 30 feet of garden hose

Okay, don’t get me wrong, even being kind of half of a regional rail system, Tri-Rail is great for what it is… But it’s got issues.

This is what their newer stations look like. The hazard of having passengers cross the tracks at grade has been eliminated by fencing between the tracks and a very tall overhead bridge. Due to this, you really need to know what track the train will be on, and this is not necessarily consistent because the line is shared with CSXT freight.

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There’s no way to get across that bridge on short notice if your train isn’t where you expect it.

I had hoped that, like many first world (ha!) transport systems, I could turn to the Internet for more information, as the remains of the station’s public address systems are not working at all.

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First stop: the Tri-Rail website, which is very informative ….

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Okay then. Guess there’s just a broken image and download links.

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What the— look at the size of that app!! That’s got “we used a clunky app converter” written all over it.
The fact it isn’t willing to install to SD card and play nice off in .android_secure land further supports this theory. Okay, let’s get a train schedule:

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You have to fill in all these fields. There is no simple full schedule view. Note the superfluous back button. Android devices have a hardware back button so you don’t have to do this. Suck it, fruit child.

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The schedule does not intuitively land near the current time of day.

There’s an alerts section which in theory would tell me of platform changes, but it pulls a blank. Since Tri-Rail got its own dispatch system, this doesn’t work anymore either! I’ll have to find their frequency again. If you listened to this in the past you’d hear signal call outs, like “631, clear to Iris, track one”, thus answering the mystery…

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Meanwhile, if you keep messing with the app you can find links into the mobile site that now just deliver a mobile friendly 404…

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Don’t forget, putting explosives on boars is prohibited. Thanks.

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The Skybus ran out of gas!

This Metromover tech is awesome. He’s very friendly, helpful, and rescued us from being stranded on the line…. And he wasn’t adverse to me being a colossal nerd and admiring the wackadoodle relay logic and stuff. The VFD panel simply refused to photograph, “rolling shutter” effect. Alas

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The vehicle is a Bombardier CX100 automated people mover. These are in use in many airports as shuttles. It’s based on the old Westinghouse Skybus, originally.

But alas, Metromover is not moving me today. Pooop!

Picture unrelated: why. Why did you do this to yourselves? That’s entirely unflattering.
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“Spaghetto”.

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