March 12, 2008

Another "I rode the train" Blog

I just want to clear up something; yesterday was NOT my first trip on TriRail. I rode it daily about ten years ago while I was between cars.

Back then, cost wasn’t a factor. I took the train while I shopped around for a new car, and if it had been convenient, I would have kept using it. Back then, I was commuting south into Miami; in fact, it was the exact opposite of my current commute! I dealt with the hell that is I-95 south of the Golden Glades interchange on a daily basis. It was a bumper-to-bumper grind of drivers trying to figure out how to pass each other, and no fun at all. But even then, using TriRail simply wasn’t a workable option.

It wasn’t just the fact that the trains only ran on the hour; that was something that could be dealt with. Mostly, it was getting TO the train in the morning using what Broward County tries to pass off as a bus system. Ten years ago, they had a shuttle that ran in the morning, took a break, and resumed an hour or so later.

Guess when the train I needed to catch left the station?

This gave me two options: either I left much earlier, and sat outside a carpentry shop in one of the worst sections of Miami for an hour, or I could be twenty minutes late.

I did try riding my bike to the station a couple of times; it was a near death experience crossing I-95 on Broward Boulevard. I don’t recommend it.

Here we are, 2008. The trains run about every 30 minutes. Broward has a bus that runs all day from the station through the downtown business district. And gas is worming its way up to four bucks a gallon. Now, taking the train makes more sense than ever

This morning, I’m on one of the fancy new trains. It looks much larger than the old ones, inside and out. I’m in a seat that has a power outlet next to it; I don’t need it currently, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

I have to be in an hour earlier today, and the walk to the office took longer than usual, so I’ve taken a train slightly earlier than the one that gets me there “on time.” I expect I won’t see light in the sky until my coffee break at the office. S’allright.

A couple just sat down across the aisle. They take this particular train every day, and there’s a exclamation of joy as they discover that the center seats (the ones facing each other) is available to them yet again. Over the course of the trip, I realize that they are just “train buddies,” and not romantically involved.

Ah! We’re at Opa-Locka again. I can read the sign out the un-fogged window, but it’s still too dark to see the minarets of the station. I saw them on yesterday’s return trip, which I should write today, but this new train has captivated me.

No table in this car, so my laptop is in my, well, lap. No place to perch a coffee cup, but I did have a cup before the train left the station. Now I’m jonesing for it just a little. My body is waking up, and my bones are protesting the hour and the lack of caffeine. Bastards.

I’m debating putting the laptop away and having coffee, but in my gut I know that that’s a Bad Idea. Let’s face it, it’ll slop all over the place, and mostly on me. I’ll tough it out.

The couple across the aisle greets a passenger who’s just boarded. Chalk that up as a fringe benefit; community.

Ticket check! We’re leaving the Golden Glades. Damn! The cars are already stacking up!

As we cross Hallandale Beach Boulevard, the couple across the aisle read the signs at the Raceway Station; $3.29. “It keeps going up!” he says, “I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it anymore” she replies.

You know what this train needs? Cup-holders.

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