It's something Miamians don't like to think about, but it's true: There exist a few unfortunate souls who are forced to periodically travel to Broward County for reasons related to work, Panthers games, and ex-wives.
Now they have a bus. Miami-Dade Transit recently launched the 95 Express Bus, which travels on I-95's express toll lanes from this county to Broward. It's the first link between the two warring provinces.
Feeling masochistic and plum out of hot wax, Riptide decided to travel roundtrip to see how long the ride actually takes. Knowing Miami-Dade Transit's ability to make a three-legged dog look faster than Usain Bolt, we brought along a wee book: Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
On a Thursday afternoon, we boarded the 3:53 bus at SE First Street and First Avenue — the epicenter of Miami's batshit-insane homeless-person district — along with about a dozen other riders and paid the $2.35 one-way fare. As the hybrid bus chugged along, we got to know about half of them. It was like a really boring version of Speed, sans terrorist and hunk making out with Sandra Bullock at the end.
A hard-hat-clad construction worker named Phil Redstone, sitting with a co-worker on the way home from a 7-to-3 shift, was enjoying a cheese sandwich despite a very large placard ordering passengers to refrain from eating. "Man, I've eaten this same sandwich every day since the bus started running," Phil protested cantankerously when Riptide pointed out the sign.
His pal Tim nodded knowingly. "He has," he confirmed before adding that Phil has never once offered him a bite.
Phil and Tim used to carpool from Fort Lauderdale suburbs to their job site. Now they claim they save $100 a month. Score one for the government.
Also on the bus sat sullen 24-year-old Aisha Fleming. She would have been driving her Honda home from a Starbucks shift if her license hadn't been suspended on "pretty bullshit" charges involving a state trooper speed trap. Minus one, government. Later research showed Aisha had been driving 96 mph. Score one, government.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 4:40, almost on time, and immediately caught a bus making the return voyage, on which we promptly fell asleep. We were back in downtown Miami by 5:20, Russian literature untouched. Not bad, Miami-Dade County municipal services, not bad. Read that sentence twice because you might never see it again in these pages.