Romanticizing the Bus in Miami

I love Downtown Miami. And I’m experiencing something in the city — it’s nothing new, not something I haven’t done before in other cities, like New York, San Francisco or something thousands of other Miamians don’t do on the regular — I’m taking the bus to work.

If you live in South Florida you absolutely need a car, right? We’re spread out, the public transport is far from interconnected. You just need a car in South Florida, no duh, right?

Maybe not.

My lease just expired on a  Honda CRZ — a super cool hybrid sports car. I thought about buying or re-leasing, but really didn’t want a car payment. I heard the concerned catcalls from the old fogeys up in Broward (my lovely mom and dad who live to worry).

“What! Taking the bus? You’ll get mugged!”

What? My ATM card? Shoes? Phone? Take them.

“Riding a bike? Taking the bus? No car? You’re crazy!”

Am I?

Four out of my last six roommates have not had cars. Between a lease payment, insurance, tolls, parking, tickets, repairs and gas, my car cost me over $600 a month, more than my rent. Not to mention stress associated with parking, towing, road-rage, gridlock, DUI’s — forget about it.

Is MetroBus for Everyone?

Downtown Miami has now progressed as a corridor to a point where unless you work out west there is ample public transport to commute. Taking the bus is also a real experience. It feels good being around people, traveling through Downtown and colorful Little Haiti into Miami Shores. I feel alive and out of my (sometimes) stupid ivory tower condo life.

I’m excited to not have a car and the bus isn’t a shame-train. Although it’s perplexing and antiquated that they don’t take credit cards, or have WIFI. And it’s sort of depressing that I counted five signs for HIV clinics, but, hey, so is our reality; it’s inspiring to feel a part of it.

I missed the chanting of: “Back door, back door,” as a bus patron struggles in vain to exit.

Of course, I have to be careful not to romanticize this issue.

For many, taking the bus isn’t possible. They work too far. It takes too long. The routes are inadequate. Also, the bus could be a depressing reminder that we live in a city filled with poverty, income inequality and, apparently, a lot of people with HIV.

But for now, riding the bus is cool.

I even have more time to write; in fact, I wrote this on the bus.

The question now: Do dare I take the Jitney?

Bring it on!

This article was filed by J.J. Colagrande, author of Reduce Heat Continue to Boil and Deco 2.0.

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J.J. Colagrande

Has written about Miami culture for almost twenty years, first with The Miami Herald, then Miami New Times and Huffington Post. He's the publisher of The Jitney and a full-time professor.