I just waited 45 minutes for a bus. Thank God it’s public transit day.
Friday was Miami-Dade’s first ever Public Transit Day, a county-wide event aimed at encouraging people to use public transportation.
“In the long term, strengthening public transit is for the vitality of the entire city. And we believe in order to make the kind of changes necessary our elected leaders are going to need to make this a top priority,” said Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, one of the co-founders of Transit Day, who works for a civic innovation group that partnered with the county for the project.
And so, locals, public officials and community activists took to Metrorail, buses and trolleys. Commuters were asked to use the hashtag #PublicTransitDay on social media as they journeyed.
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I had a ball doing just that.
But I wasn’t the only one making my way through cyberspace. City leaders populated the internet with selfies as they hopped aboard.
Others, however, weren’t as excited.
Miami-Dade Public Transit spent the morning retweeting commuters’ comments and photos. This post was one of them. Well, before it got deleted.
It’s no secret that Miami’s transit system needs lot of work. That’s why Friday’s initiative to get people was so important, Transit Day co-founder, Marta Viciedo said.
“What we really want to feel is that the community is really galvanizing behind transit and giving their support to our elected leaders, to our transportation department to make the changes that are necessary,” she said.
Last year, the Miami Herald examined the database of complaints of the the county’s bus system. The top #busgripe was the bus not being on time.
While riding the 87 bus in Doral this morning, I was greeted by a jolly 75-year-old who was in route to a medical appointment. The bus is his escape, he says, adding he had no clue it was Transit Day.
“Transit day or no transit day, I am on this bus every day,” Jose Luis Rodriguez of Hialeah said. “The bus, the driver, everything may need work, but this is all I got; I can’t drive. It’s the only time I really get to see people.”
Next to Rodriguez was a sleepy Carlos Gutierrez of Little Havana. His head bopped back and forth as the bus traveled over speed bumps. I kindly tapped him and asked about his experience.
“You tell those government people to please put benches and roofs at the bus stops. If you can’t afford a roof at least put big umbrellas,” Gutierrez said. Sweat trickled down his face. “I don’t like sitting in the grass under the sun, but I have to. How else can I get to work if I have no car?”
Small businesses also took part in the festivities by offering discounts and freebies for hopping on public transit. Ride-share companies also offered generous discounts for new users.
I would have gone to get my freebies it it weren’t for the missing bus on the consistently troubled route. After waiting endlessly, I gave up and took Uber.