Public Transportation
8:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Get On The Bus: How Miami Is Like L.A.

Several times a week, Miami reminds me of Los Angeles. For better and worse. We're both the land of sunshine, palm trees (theirs are taller) and beautiful beaches (ours are nicer based on ocean temperature and clarity, but we're missing out on the mountains). And both places have much beneath the surface of our beautiful things. Extreme wealth and poverty pressed up against each other, but rarely mixing -- largely because both places are so deeply devoted to the automobile.

Get on the bus, Gus.
Get on the bus, Gus.
Credit interbeat / www.flickr.com

Liz Shannon Miller's post on the Thought Catalog blog, 10 Things To Know About Taking The Bus In L.A., with just a few exceptions, easily applies to Miami.

Taking the bus, writes Miller, makes her an "aberration amongst my friends in this city." Sing it, sister! I take the bus (see the second photo). 

Miller notes the obvious boon and great joy of public transit riders everywhere: we get to read on the way to and from work. She also noticed that the hottest people on the bus are tourists. And that most people don't get it. She's been asked more than once if she has a DUI. No one's ever asked me that, but now that she mentions it, I bet they wonder. 

One thing not in this list that all Miami bus riders should be aware of--you have to hail the buses here, like taxis. If you don't, they're likely to just blow right by you, assuming you're waiting for a different bus (oddly,  this also seems to happen even at stops with just one bus line). 

As Miller points out, there are few places in our society where we routinely encounter people who are very different from ourselves: "Nothing will open your eyes to the incredible diversity of Los Angeles like taking public transportation."

One of the most e-mailed articles from the New York Times this week has been Tim Krieder's You Are Going to Die, from the Opinionator blog. It's mostly about the inevitability of aging and death, but near the end, Krieder writes a few lines about the ways in which taking the bus can foster empathy--and maybe something even more elusive: 

"The sheltered prince Siddartha Gautama was supposedly set on the path to becoming the Buddha when he was out riding and happened to see an old man, a sick man and a dead man. Today he’d be spared the discomfiture, and the enlightenment, unless he were riding mass transit."