Miami’s Metrorail stations are bulky with a heavy, Brutalist-style design. It’s almost the nature of the beast. Metrorail is a heavy-rail system designed to handle thousands of passengers daily. The stations are designed for maximum wear and tear. Being elevated, these stations are also exposed to the conundrum of Miami’s harsh and oftentimes, bipolar weather. Miami’s sun is strong and it rains a lot. This wear and tear calls for a design that is resistant and strong. The stations are supposedly designed to address issues of weather, connectivity and mobility, but how well do they achieve these?
The stations are massive. They are large structures that include numerous staircases, elevators, escalators, bus platforms, train platforms and walkways. Many Metro stations are built along main roadways, such as US-1 or NW 27th Avenue. These are highly-traveled roadways (moreso US-1), so Metro service along them makes sense. Their presence is definitely felt by their size, but their lack of beauty and accessibility can make them somewhat unattractive to a passerby.
The above photo shows the transfer area of the station from the Tri-Rail platforms (area with the blue roof) and the Metrorail station to the left. When you arrive here off a Tri-Rail train, most passengers transfer onto the Metro to get to Downtown. For starters, the transfer from the Tri-Rail system to the Metrorail system is not completely smooth. If you don’t have an Easy Card, you need to buy a Metrorail fare ticket at the kiosk which creates massive lines and delays at the turnstiles. But that’s for another post. Otherwise, the transfer is straightforward. You arrive off the Tri-Rail train, pass through the turnstiles and go up two flights of stairs and voilà, you’re at your platform waiting for the Metro.
On a sunny day, this transfer is smooth, painless and efficient. On a rainy day, this station turns into a wet mess of puddles and waterfalls throughout the station. The open-air design of the stations is great for cross ventilation but gaps in the roof bring excessive amounts of rain which are annoying and dangerous. The interior of the stations are quite bland. Plain concrete walls, railings and seats are throughout with little decoration. The overall feeling of the stations is heavy. Very heavy.
The last issue is less about the architectural style of the structure and more about its configuration. To enter most Metro stations, you must access it through the center of the ground floor. Usually there are turnstiles on either ends of this center lobby. However, the stations are quite long and sometimes your destination may be closer to the northern end of the station where you just got off the train, but the layout of the station requires you to go down towards the center of the station on the ground floor and then walk back north. Stations with higher ridership perhaps warrant greater access and in these cases it could be worthwhile to provide more entrances and exits. After all, we want to make riding the trains as simple as possible to encourage Miamians to get out of their cars.
Overall, Metrorail stations work well. Their architectural style is exemplary of trends of the late 1970s. In most cases, station layouts are simple enough that it’s almost impossible to get lost. Some issues could be addressed to make riding the Metro more pleasant:
1. Make sure rain does not enter stations. Let’s keep passengers dry, no one wants to get to work wet.
2. Provide better accessibility. Escalators and elevators should not be broken for months at a time. More entrances and exits could provide a sense of openness and greater access.
3. A paint job here and there would help the Metro’s exterior and interior appearances. Instead of appearing like a dilapidated structure, let’s spruce them up and make them look nice!
4. Lastly, let’s fix the broken clocks in every stations. The clock hands have been stuck at 1:32pm since 1996!