Monday, July 10, 2006

Have you tried the Tri-Rail?

I had an afternoon meeting in Hollywood on Saturday, and my wife and I were going to the Davie Barn Dance that evening, so I didn't want us both to have to drive up from our place near the Falls. So I caught the Metrorail ($1.25) at 1 p.m. at Dadeland South, transferred to Tri-Rail ($2 for a senior ticket) in Hialeah, and stepped out of the train in Hollywood at 2 p.m. From the platform I had just a few blocks' walk to the new Hollywood Public Library.

The train ride was swell! The coaches are clean and comfortable, and for gawking at the scenery those upper-deck seats are the best. Not that the scenery was much to brag about. As you might expect, the train runs through what's left of Miami-Dade County's industrial zone -- not exactly throbbing with commerce. But I loved the ride, and I'll do it again at my first opportunity to avoid the familiar I-95 headache.

Hollywood is an interesting enclave in this car-focused metropolis. Along and around Hollywood Boulevard, the street immediately south of the Tri-Rail station, things are close enough together to make walking or bicycling comfortable. I did find crossing the southbound I-95 exit ramp to be awkward -- as if whoever built the sidewalk imagined that pedestrians would levitate across the traffic lanes. That place would be intimidating, even dangerous, for anyone with impaired mobility.

Along the way to my meeting I had several choices for refreshment, from a neighborhood donut shop to a Miami Subs store and a very busy I-Hop. And further east, there is the lively downtown strip with restaurants, music venues and other diversions.

OK, enough about me. Try the train. In a place as dense as South Florida, it's the way to go!