A Wash on the Wild Side

Can things get any worse at the Miami-Dade Transit Agency? In early February county Mayor Carlos Alvarez killed a bailout plan that would have used $143 million from the half-penny transit tax to cover a decade's worth of operating deficits and looming shortfalls at the beleaguered agency. That came after county officials revealed last year that the transit tax won't generate enough money to fund all the items promised to voters in the People's Transportation Plan (PTP), which includes a major expansion of Metrorail by more than 88 miles, and doubling the Metrobus fleet.

Of lesser long-term portent but of great immediate concern, the twenty-year-old automated bus washer has now gone kaput.

With no cash on hand to buy a new machine, the agency has resorted to using handicapped workers from Goodwill Industries of South Florida, a nonprofit organization that trains and finds jobs for people with physical and mental disabilities. Miami-Dade Transit already has an existing contract with Goodwill to provide cleaners at bus stops and at Metrorail and Metromover stations. Tapping into that contract allows the agency to keep its fleet spic-and-span, says spokeswoman Tarnell Carroll. She also notes a request for proposals to buy a new bus-washing system, which is set to be funded through the PTP.

In the meantime, Carroll says, the agency employs workers who are "accustomed to simple repetitive tasks" to clean the exterior of Metrobuses. "We understand this work is labor intensive and automation is probably the best alternative, but we are committed to keeping our bus fleet presentable at all times," Carroll says.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.

Latest Stories