It's rush hour and I despondently walk under the inclement Miami sun. One gets no shade from the airy/flimsy row of interspersed trees planted along this portion of SW 37th Avenue Avenue (check as "decorative greenery"). When I finally reach the bus stop, I see an old man so tired he is clinging to the metal pole. He looks alienated. An old woman sits -not on a regular bench- but on a concrete sill dividing the unkempt lawn of a Spanish radio station. She maneuvers not to fall back on the ground while keeping an uncomfortably prudent posture. I ask the old man how long they've been waiting: "More than 45 minutes. It's always like that." Other than the stop sign, this is an indistinct middle-of-the-block between-so-and-so: No tree to lean on or go under, no bench to sit on, no roofed structure to protect the public from the weather: Welcome to Miami-Dade!
Walking under the blistering sun can screw up any pedestrian's immediate goal. In Miami, your Bus Stop destination is just more of the same. This is Homestead: At least one can sit, but no roof structure either, (the stop sign is cut in the photo). Beyond the cookie-cutter project gone sour by unscrupulous lending, the barren site reflects a public transportation policy:
Could we dream of something like this for our city?
Alright, admitted that our local government has better things to do with our money than provide comfort for the public. How about this Estonian vernacular structure?
Or this colorful shack-like paragem de autocarro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?
Or this 1950's Havana-Mo?
Transportation comfort is an important urban contract, which reflects on our commitment with the "so-called" new pedestrian-friendly policies. Waiting for the bus in Miami is proof of why our version of capitalism does not work. The received notion is that people don't take the bus because they prefer the car, but given the impoverished state of our public transportation, one has no choice but to drive. You want the truth? Bus riding in Miami is for poor people and the elderly.*
*There are several motifs ingrained in the mind of the late-capitalist city dweller: 1- The myth of status disguised as comfort: Riding the bus is for people who cannot afford a car. 2- The myth of intoxication: Bus-riding is dangerous. 3-The myth of speed: A bus takes forever! True in Miami, but not in New York, or Portland. Miami's Metro Mover shows that an efficient system can get you from point A ---> B quickly and safely, only that being Miami, our Metro is crippled with poor access (it doesn't service the Miami airport). Click here for a possible expansion. Late-Capitalism has created a far/near paradox: An out-of-town shopping mall reachable by motor car is now perceived to be nearer than the local shop to which one can walk. In fact, public transportation carry its share of history: In 1953, nearly four decades after the Plessy Decision relegated blacks to the back of the bus, African Americans in Louisiana, staged the nation's first successful bus boycott. African Americans accounted for the overwhelming majority of Baton Rouge bus riders and two-thirds of the bus company's revenue. In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks ignited the modern civil rights movement. Transportation was a central theme in the "Freedom Riders'" campaign in the early 1960s. Greyhound buses were attacked and some burned in 1961.