The sad state of south Florida's public transportation system

When we lived in San Francisco, Amy and I took the Muni and BART systems all the time. Amy had her truck, but my Jeep started dying on the trip there and was good only to donate by the time we were settled in The City, so I just did without. It was easier than moving cars around twice a week to avoid parking tickets, and I didn't really need it anyway.

This comes up because of the latter half of this post at Obsidian Wings about Rep. Tim Ryan's goal of surviving on the typical food stamp allotment for a week, and how he's down to nothing but cornmeal after 5 days and a brush with the TSA at an airport. Hilzoy describes the public transportation system in Phoenix, and except for the lack of afternoon rainstorms, it sounds a lot like Broward county. Irregular service, hot weather, and not many routes.

And the worst part is that it's not even worth taking if you own a marginally fuel efficient car, even though gas prices are at an all time high, even factoring in inflation (heard that last bit on NPR this morning). For instance, to get a round-trip Tri-Rail ticket from Fort Lauderdale to Boca Raton costs $5.00. Even with the Employee Discount plan, that's $60 a month. But Amy and I carpool, so make that $120 a month. My car gets 26-30 mpg depending on how much I run the AC, and a round trip is 24 miles or so, so figure 2 gallons per round trip roughly. Right now, that means it costs me about $6.50 a day round trip to go to and from work. Fortunately, I only work in Boca 2 days a week in the summer, and will be there 3 days a week this fall, but even so, Tri-Rail is only a deal if I'm the only one going in, and only if gas stays this expensive, and even then it's only a marginally better deal, certainly not worth the aggravation of using public transportation. (If I want to get picky, I can factor in driving to the train station, since it's not convenient.)

And forget the bus, unless I want to be on it for 2-3 hours one way every day, and no, I'm not exaggerating. I've had students who depend on it, and you wouldn't believe the horror stories.

So I drive, because I have no other real choice, much as I wish I did. I'd use Tri-Rail if it were even close to being reasonable, but right now it makes no sense, and there's a part of me that believes it was designed that way, designed to fail so south Florida would remain a driver-only metropolitan area.

But hey, there's still talk about a taxpayer funded stadium for the Florida Marlins.

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