Monthly Archives: March 2006

From bars to bus shelters

After a legal review of Initiative 901, the county health department has concluded that it is against the law to smoke within 25 feet of a bus shelter.

Bus stops have always been popular places to light up, but I noticed an immediate, marked increase in the numbers of smokers at my stops as soon as 901 went into effect. Folks were smoking as many cigarettes as they could suck down before their buses arrived, and even non-bus riding smokers, cast unceremoniously out of their usual haunts, were showing up. There was (and continues to be) a defiant …

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How GM made this chick a bus chick

Last night I finally watched Taken for a Ride,–only 10 years after its 1996 release. The film is only available on VHS, and even then, copies are scarce (I got mine from the library), but if you haven’t seen it yet, you should make the effort.

Taken for a Ride is a documentary about how General Motors, through the holding company National City Lines, purchased streetcar and trolley systems in 40 American cities (not sure if Seattle was one of them, but I do know we used to have streetcars) and purposely altered operations to make them …

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Category: car culture, media | Tagged , ,

A perfect bus storm

This is how my fiance, Adam, referred to his commute yesterday. His first morning bus, a route that runs every 10-15 minutes, was 30 minutes late (the result of a rare combination of frequent lift use and an abundance of school children). Of course, this meant that he missed his transfer at Montlake–a few times–and was later than he wanted to be to work.

He left his office in Redmond at 8:10 (yeah, tell me about it), but thanks to last night’s 520 closure, his 8:17 bus didn’t arrive until well after 9:00. The rerouted bus got him …

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And speaking of school…

It looks like Ballard and Franklin students will be riding Metro to school, starting in the fall. Metro’s official position is positive, but it looks like some bus drivers have misgivings. From the March 3rd PI article:

“Marc Auerbach, a 10-year Metro Transit operator and former Seattle school bus driver, urged the board not to meet just with Metro executives but to sit down with drivers as well. He noted that Metro drivers aren’t able to deal with discipline problems or other potential emergencies.”

They aren’t the only ones. Though I am positive about the idea in theory, …

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Old school meets new school

Buses may be old-school technology (rapid transit now, please!), but at least the folks running our bus system are embracing the future. King County Metro has won several national awards for its Web site, and it ain’t hard to figure out why. The site has a bunch of cool tools, including a video about how to ride the bus (seriously) and a trip planner. The latest is a real-time bus viewer called Tracker. Tracker lets you locate any route, anywhere in the city. This is useful if you’re (for example) leaving work and want to know …

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Category: transit technology | Tagged , ,

If it wasn’t for Octavia Butler…

If it wasn’t for Octavia Butler, I would not know my friend Coby, a deep thinker, a gifted artist, and a good soul. We met on the 545 over a year ago. I noticed him because he was a fellow brown person (not especially common on that route) and because he was reading an Octavia Butler novel a mere two weeks after I had finished Parable of the Sower, my first exposure to Butler. I struck up a conversation with Coby and discovered that he was an MFA-student-turned-video-game-script-writer who had also chosen to live a car-free life. We have had …

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Category: people, transit culture | Tagged , ,

The world, according to Bus Chick

In April of 2003, I made a choice to sell my car and use the bus as my primary form of transportation. (To find out why, read my first Real Change column.)

In these first three “car-free” years, I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Seattle has one of the best bus systems in the country.
Though there is certainly room for improvement, having ridden the bus in many other cities (including Houston, Detroit, San Francisco, Boston, and Aspen), I can honestly say that King County Metro leads the pack.

2. It is possible (if not always …

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Category: living the life | Tagged