Traffic Time Bomb

It’s 7:20 a.m. and I am exhausted, ready to go home. My right ankle hurts, me left butt cheek is numb, I’m sure my blood pressure is high just from the incessant honking from the lady in the car behind me.

I haven’t been working a night shift. Actually, I woke up a little over an hour ago, but if this car could drive itself while I slept an extra 30 minutes life would be complete.

By the time I get to work I’ve already been sitting in traffic for 2 hours. I stretch my knees, roll my ankles, and wake up my butt cheeks. The only consolation is that I won’t be in the car for the next eight hours. Then I remember I must return to hell again at 5 p.m..

These are the perils of Miami’s daily commuters. I like to call it the “Traffic Time Bomb,” because by the time you’ve flexed your left foot to press the brake and accelerator, you’re on the verge of blowing up. Sometimes I’ve been sitting in the same spot for so long that I wish my car could spread wings or just climb over the rest of the cars as if I were a transformer.

The worsening traffic issue in Miami seems to stem from a combination of factors: too many cars–too little space; consistent construction of highways; bad drivers (especially distracted drivers); and a deplorable public transportation system. The U.S. Census Bureau ranked Miami among the top 10 cities in the country with the worst traffic, with plenty of reasons why.

Public Transportation is a Joke

Miami-Dade County’s Public Transportation System may be among the most inefficient in the country–and I dare say the whole world. The county provides Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metromover services for anyone who is patient enough to figure out at what time each of these will arrive, whilst dealing with its inconsistencies. 

According to the Miami Dade County Public Transportation System’s 2017 February report,  1,453,732 people ride the Metrorail during the average weekday, showing an 8% drop from the previous year. The report also shows that on average 203,600 people ride the Metrobus (some of these combine Metrobus services with Metrorail and Metromover).

The issue seems to be that the public transportation system is not easily accessible for Miami commuters. For example, I work in Downtown Miami, but I live in a suburb called Kendall. When I drive to work, it takes me on average 2 hours to get from my home to the office. I spend about $8 daily on Sun Pass toll expenses (round trip) for using the highway. That is a total of 20 hours a week spend driving, plus $40 in tolls, and insurmountable strain on my sanity.

Therefore, I take the metrorail to and from work every day. It seems like a good idea, since it cuts my driving time from 2 hours into 40 minutes, but the inaccessibility of the public transportation system continues to add strain to the already tumultuous traffic, as those of us scramble to get to the station on time.

If the public transportation were more accessible to commuters, then  it is more likely that Miamians would consider switching their cars and the stress of driving for buses or other modes of public transportation.

There is an argument among Miamians I’ve heard often which says that the reason why Miami can’t have an efficient public transport system, is because Miami does not have the means like London or New York City to build. I call bull on that, since….

We’re building a highway every other day (why don’t we build something else?)

Since I moved to Miami fourteen years ago, the Dolphin Expressway (836) has been under construction. They’ve built under, above, on the side. They have even drained lakes to make more highway space! Soon enough, you’ll be able to step from your main door and into traffic.

Oftentimes when I sit in traffic, I contemplate all the ways in which this city could invest in building a train that ran right next to the highway. Or what if they built a system similar to that of Elon Musk’s Boring machine? (Elon, if you want to bring your ideas to Miami, I’ll have my abuela make you Cuban food).

The point is, building more highways is not doing anything to assuage the heated traffic, and seems to be making it worse. Every time there is highway construction, a four lane highway turns into a three lane highway with a speed limit of 45 mph. This. Does. Not. Help.

We need more innovative methods of decreasing the amount of time we spend behind the wheel and turn it into quality hours of life.

Imagine if we could turn those four extra hours of traffic into something productive.

I don’t know about you, but whenever that alarm clock rings at 6:30 a.m. I want to run back into my mother’s womb.

Now that our city is growing, it is time to ask for more options. Think about all the things you could do with an extra four hours a day? You can sleep more, spend time with your family, walk your dogs at a reasonable hour, go to the gym, make dinner, make breakfast, who knows what else.

Elon Musk said it best during a TED interview regarding The Boring Company “..right now, one of the most soul-destroying things is traffic. It affects people in every part of the world. It takes way so much of your life. It’s horrible.”

What’s it going to be, Miami? Are you going to keep being a part of the traffic time bomb?

Traffic on Miami’s Dolphin Expressway. Photo by: Manuel Robles Villamarin

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