Monthly Archives: April 2006

April Golden Transfer award

Golden Transfer (designed by Zach Tucker) Golden Transfers are monthly awards that are granted–by yours truly–to bus riders of distinction. In the future, I hope to give the winners lots of cash and fabulous prizes (including, of course, a sexy t-shirt). For now, all I can offer is a thank you–and five minutes of fame on the Internets.

And so, without further ado, I announce the winners of the inaugural BCTA Golden Transfer award:

Juantonio (aka Tony) and Anita Rush

Tony and Anita moved to the Seattle area from Detroit three years ago. They got jobs at Microsoft (Anita as an FTE, Tony for a different company that initially placed him at MS as a vendor) and, like many ‘Softies who are new to the area, bought a place on the Eastside–in this case, Sammamish. As two young professionals with busy lives (two young professionals from the Motor City, no less), they settled into a two-car lifestyle.

About a year ago, Tony decided to go back to school (he’s working toward a master’s in public affairs) and started attending classes at Seattle U. Lucky for Tony, the 216 stops right in front of their house. He quickly learned that taking the bus across the bridge was easier than driving and started taking the bus (216 + 12) to school. Recently, Tony’s job transferred him to their main office downtown, and he started taking the 216 to work.

Picture Being the intelligent and wise (did I mention cool?) couple they are, Tony and Anita have decided that it doesn’t make sense for them to continue to own two cars. Only Anita uses a car to commute, and on the weekends, they are either together or their schedules are flexible enough for them to share a vehicle. And so, they have decided to sell their 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and make a go at life as a one-car family.

Not only are they looking forward to the financial benefits (I’m thinking they even qualify for the city’s One Less Car Challenge), but they are also enjoying the changes to their lives. Here’s what Tony had to say about his new life as a (nearly) full-time bus rider:

“…I really love it. I’m finding more free time to relax, prepare for class, sleep or just chill out listing to some tunes. I’m really excited about this whole process, as it not only saves money but allows me the opportunity to experience Seattle for the little intricacies that we take for granted while driving. Trees, flowers, skylines–all these sorts of things kind of put you in awe when you are able to sit back and embrace them. This will definitely be a lifestyle change but it is one that is worthwhile and I totally embrace this opportunity.”

Congratulations, guys. Here’s hoping that Transit Now passes, and the 216 starts running more often.

Considering a career change?

If only driving the bus were this easy!
Yesterday was, apparently, take your daughter/son (or nephew) to work day. This young man (cheeks? check!) was learning how to be a bus driver. Unfortunately, according to his aunt, the lovely (and fortunate–see today’s earlier post) woman at the wheel of the 39, there’s a bit more to it than taking a nap in the sunniest seat on the bus.

Bus fouls

Last week’s Real Change column was all about bus fouls. (What can I say? It’s playoff season, and I’ve got basketball on the brain. Go Pistons!) In case you forgot to buy a Real Change last week, here’s the entry:

In the NBA, a player who commits six personal fouls is ejected from the game. A player who accumulates16 technical fouls in a season is suspended (without pay) for a game and then suspended for every other technical foul he commits (the 18th, the 20th, and so on) thereafter. If only Metro would institute similar rules for those who consistently commit bus fouls!

For those who don’t know, a bus foul is an action or behavior that negatively impacts other riders. Think of it as the bus equivalent of a party foul.

Here are some examples:

• Not having your fare ready when you get on or off. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t wait until you get to the fare box to dig through your pockets for your transfer or ask your fellow passengers for change. Get yourself together before it’s time to pay.

• Asking the bus driver for a free ride while carrying any of the following items: a four-dollar Starbucks extravaganza, an iPod, or a handbag that comes with its own registration form. It takes money to buy gas and pay drivers. If you have some, give it up.

• Getting personal with your SO. Let’s keep this simple: Hands to yourself.

• Performing beauty rituals. OK, so using a compact to touch up your lipstick ain’t exactly a crime against humanity, but since when did it become acceptable to get ready for work on the bus? If you regularly ride with a head full of hot rollers and a carry-on-sized make-up bag, you need to start getting up earlier.

• Holding personal conversations. For those of you who seem not to mind sharing your personal business with 30 strangers, please trust me on this: The rest of us would prefer not to know about the three women you got pregnant last year or the amount of money you need to borrow from your mother.

• Turning up your music loud enough to turn your headphones into speakers. Ever think you might be the only one on the bus who’s “into” Yanni? Please start.

• Opening windows without asking the permission of your fellow riders. Those of us not raised in Siberia would prefer that the bus remain at a comfortable temperature.

• Stopping the bus at a green light to interrogate the driver. Please note: The bus driver has probably not memorized the schedule of every route operated by Metro. He or she might know which bus you take to get to Federal Way, but that’s what maps, bus schedules, Web sites (, and rider information lines (206.553.3000) are for. Don’t have access to a computer or a cell phone? Ask someone else who’s waiting at your stop.

Too many of my fellow riders are committing bus fouls — sometimes multiple offenses in a single ride. If conditions don’t improve soon, I’ll be forced to start riding with a striped shirt and a whistle.

I was expecting to get tons of e-mail from Real Change readers about the fouls I neglected to mention, but I haven’t received even one. Luckily, I have this blog, which is all about conversation. So, all you bus-riding PI readers, I’m counting on you. Tell me about all the bus fouls I forgot. If I get enough good ones, I’ll write “Bus Fouls, Part II.”

Thanks, Brian!

Brian Nussbaum, a mechanic from Atlantic Base, is Metro’s Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year.

“…the vehicle maintenance group plays an important role is attracting riders to Metro’s routes by making the system reliable, efficient, and clean. It’s not only having clean seats, windows and floors inside the bus, but also running buses that operate with clean-burning fuels and the latest technologies.”

Frequently asked questions

One of the best things about riding the bus is that you get to talk to strangers. In my years as a full-time bus chick, I have gotten to know the people I share this city with in a way that would simply not have been possible from the isolated bubble of a car.

One of the worst things about riding the bus is that you get to talk to strangers. Strangers are often annoying, or pushy, or rude. Sometimes, strangers are nosy. Several times a week, I am asked one of the following questions:

Where are you from? [Seattle] No, I mean where are your parents from? [Seattle and Pittsburgh]
What’s your nationality? [American]
What’s your background? [Let’s see…I majored in English…]
What’s your last name? [Saulter]
You Creole or something? [Nope. I’m a fan of New Orleans, if that counts.]
Habla espanol? [Si, un poquito]
And the most popular: What are you? [A daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer, a human, a carbon-based life form…]

All those folks should have taken lessons in directness from the man I sat next to on the 4 today (P.S. – Smooth Jazz was driving). Before my butt had fully hit the seat, he asked, “Are you black or white?”

The answer, for him, and for all others I might encounter on a bus in the future, is: both.

Earth Day is also a great day for a wedding

My friend San Juanita (known to those who love her as Janie), whom I also met at Rice, fell in love with Washington on a summer visit many years ago. Lucky for me, the fond memories of that visit came back to her when she was planning her wedding, and she decided to get married here.

The wedding was at Snoqualmie Falls (speaking of breathtaking beauty), and, using my trusty Trip Planner, I learned that you can actually get there on the bus. My parents were invited, too, so we cheated and rode with them, but for those of you who are interested in bussing it to the falls:

1. From downtown (2nd Avenue), catch the 554 Issaquah Express.
2. Get off at Issaquah Park & Ride AcRd (I think this means access road) and 17th Ave NW. The ride should take about 30 minutes.
3. Get on the 209 North Bend. This route takes you right to the entrance of the lodge and also takes about 30 minutes.

Bus Chick and the bride
Bus Chick and the bride

From what I can tell, the 554 and the 209 line up well, so there isn’t a lot of waiting in Issaquah. The entire trip from downtown takes an hour and five minutes, which isn’t much worse than driving.

Another consideration: The Falls have a 90-minute parking limit–unless you want to pay the Salish valets $5 (plus tip).

Earth Day is a great day to be a bus chick

The single most important thing you can do to reduce your impact on the environment? Drive less. Even if you’re not willing (or able) to become a full-fledged bus chick/bus boy, you can still make a difference.

Taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972 This Earth Day, sign up to participate in the City of Seattle’s One Less Car Challenge, and give up one of your cars for a month. Not only will you be helping to reduce pollution (and congestion, and sprawl, and dependence on fossil fuels) in our (breathtakingly beautiful) corner of the world, you’ll also be eligible for all of the fabulous prizes and incentives the program offers.

I’m guessing that, come May 22nd, you won’t want to go back.

Some empathy for those stalker guys

Today I sat across from the cutest baby I have seen on the bus since…Monday. His father moved seats three times. In retrospect, it was probably because I was staring like a kidnapper for the duration of their ride. What can I say? I’m a fan of cheeks.