It's summertime in Miami, and those of us who remain in this sultry city are here because we have to be. There's no house in the Hamptons or lakeside cabin in Minnesota for us to escape to. But that's no reason to sulk. It's time to embrace the heat and explore our town while it's a little less crowded. For the first field trip of summer, we recommend taking a ride around Miami Beach on the Electrowave, those slow-moving, buzzing vehicles that are not polluting our South Florida air. Since we see them all the time, but never bothered to hop on, we decided to splurge for the 25-cent ride.
As we waited for the Electrowave at Nineteenth Street and Meridian Avenue, we were approached by a security guard from the Holocaust Memorial. "Are you tourists?" he asked. "You know that [shuttle] only goes about four miles an hour." We smiled and said that we just wanted to go for the ride. "Well, enjoy it while it lasts. The county is taking over the route and they'll probably raise the fares."
Jeff Bechdel, marketing director of the Miami Beach Transportation Management Association, was happy to discuss the Miami-Dade Transit Authority takeover and dispel rumors about rising fares. "The fare will stay 25 cents and the bus will have its own identity," says Bechdel. "There will be a new name and a new logo, but the [Miami Beach] City Commission and [MDTA] are still negotiating." The new buses and expanded shuttle route probably won't roll out until Thanksgiving, he says.
A recent ride on the shuttle was shared with senior citizens, locals on their way home from work, and a few sunburned European tourists. Two girls in town for the Memorial Day parties loudly discussed hammertoes (we can't make this stuff up) and what to wear to a "hooker party" as they sipped milkshakes from Johnny Rockets. (The sign on the bus says no food or drinks, but the drivers will probably overlook that rule as long as you're not making a mess.) The Electrowave brochure boasts that "the shuttles breeze through the heart of South Beach, providing access to 22 points of interest," including the Jewish Museum of Florida (301 Washington Ave.) and the Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Dr.). But the large windows provide an unobstructed view of limitless amusement, from the colorful characters who populate South Beach year-round to the thriving kitschy shops along Washington Avenue. Bring your camera and act like a tourist in your own town; we promise you'll want to document your adventure. And as long as you leave your car at home and take a ride on one of these bright and whimsical works of public art on wheels, you can enhance the experience with a pretour tropical beverage, a toke of sticky icky, or maybe some magical mushrooms. Just keep the crazy acting to a minimum to avoid causing a ruckus.