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.

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!!!

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.

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.



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.


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.


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!!

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.


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.


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


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


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:


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.


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…


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


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


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





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.


We’ve got the sound to keep you getting downtown

(With apologies to Quad City DJs)

Ding-dong. Bzk bzk bzk bzk BNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNnnnn

In the coming years there will be new trains on Miami’s Metrorail. I kinda seriously love some of the sounds the old ones make, so I’m trying to get good clean captures of them.

The first and foremost: door close chime. This is two notes played on a synth that sounds like retro-futuristic outer space. A similar sounding note of different pitch used to play on PalmTran buses when a stop was requested.

But that’s only the theme music, of sorts….

Once all the doors clatter shut and the train interlocks clear, the operator may set the train in motion. The trains accelerate quickly but first they do a test to see if the brakes have cleared yet – a tone chatters on and off at low duty cycle.
Next the tone comes back loudly and stays with you a while as the station begins to fly away into the distance. It will fade away for a while as the control system (Westinghouse automatic train control or bipedal bag of colorful water) applies 100% motor power, then it quickly fades back into action once full speed is reached.

But then it also just goes silly.

Anyway, here are some recordings of it doing what it does. I would like to also try recording it via a magnetic pickup…!! I’ve heard urban folklore that the motor does have curiously strong magnetic leakage. Maybe I’ll even be able to hear track circuit tones.


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