Monthly Archives: May 2006

And speaking of church…

Forgive me Busfather, for I have sinned. Over the long weekend, I coveted two classic cars: a 60s-style Oldsmobile Rocket and 50-something Chevy Bel Air. I didn’t want to ride in them Busfather, but I couldn’t help staring. They looked so beautiful, with their rag tops and candy paint and whitewall tires, the bass from their sick stereos shaking the shelters under which I stood.

OK, maybe I did want to ride, but just a little bit.

And while I’m on the subject, I might as well confess: Over the weekend, I rode in cars to destinations I could have reached on the bus. I’m usually very strong in my refusals, Busfather, but what’s a girl to do when well meaning people all but insist on transporting her? You see, they haven’t yet found the faith and do not know the spiritual benefits a bus-based life can provide.

As penance, for my sins, Busfather, I promise to sit in the back of the every route I ride (subjecting myself to bus luh and extra-loud headphones) for a full week. I can only hope that this will earn your forgiveness.

May Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer award goes to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in the Central District–and not just because it’s the church I happen to attend.

Good Shepherd’s congregation has adopted a bus stop (on 23rd Avenue near Union), which means that, starting after the first major cleanup this Saturday, they will keep it free of trash and graffiti for all of the lucky 48 riders who use it.

Mrs. Annie Lamb, the force behind the stop adoption, has been riding the bus for longer than I’ve been alive. And she’s not the only one. Many of Good Shepherd’s members ride the bus. At least once a week, I see someone from church on one of my regular routes. Did I mention that the Golden Transfer logo was designed by GS member Zach Tucker?

So thanks to everyone at Good Shepherd, for your loyal ridership and for your contribution to the bus-riding community. I have it on good authority that God looks favorably upon those who support public transportation.

Another “ism” that plagues our society

This week’s Real Change column is about “carism,” the ways in which the infrastructure and attitudes prevalent in American cities (ours included) force the use of cars as the primary mode of transportation. (A more accurate term would probably be something like “transportation mode-ism,” but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and I think mine’s more fun.)

Some examples of carism I mention in my column:
• The lack of sidewalks and bike paths
• The amount of our city’s land that could be used for residences, services, businesses, or even open space that is instead used for parking lots and garages

Do you think that Seattle is “carist”? If so, how does the carism affect you? If not, tell us why not.

To transfer, or not to transfer?

OK, so I’m getting a little tired of talking to myself. What happened to all the interesting comments? I know I have readers, and not just because the PI says so. You actually send me e-mail. I love the e-mail messages, but I’d also like to see my blog become more of a conversation than a monologue. I realize that some of my entries aren’t exactly conversation starters. Still, I’d like to have them (conversations, that is) sometimes. If I blog about riding the bus to a house party, I’d like to know if any of you’ve ever done it–or why you wouldn’t.

Today, to make it easy, I’ve got a topic that often incites heated debate among bus-riders, a topic that has been the subject of an ongoing argument between my beloved fiance and me: the controversial transfer.

I prefer to avoid transferring when possible. I find it interrupts the flow of the ride and prevents me from settling in (to a book, a nap, a conversation–whatever). Also, I’m cold-averse and hate the idea of going outside after I’ve acclimated to the warm, dry bus. If I have an option between a single, slow bus and two (or more) that get me there faster, I’m probably going to choose the single bus–unless it’s August or I’m pressed for time.

Adam, on the other hand, says the most important factor is how long it takes to get where he’s going. If transferring 18 times would get him someplace faster than not transferring at all, he would do it.

My instinct tells me that an efficient bus system involves a lot of short, fast routes and lots of convenient transfer points, though the super-smart transit planner I met yesterday (Hey, Jack!) would probably know better. Still, my ideal ride is transfer-free.

What do you think? Assume it’s January. Assume the ride is faster if you transfer. Do you prefer to do it, or take a single, slower bus? How much is enough time to save to make a transfer worth it to you? How many transfers are too many?

“He’ll get you there”: Bus Chick meets the Busfather

Today I got to attend Metro’s Operator of the Year ceremony. Since childhood, I’ve been seeing the pictures of winners in the ad slots inside buses, but I’ve never actually met an Operator of the Year, or (that I know of, anyway) had the privilege of riding on a bus that was driven by one.

To be selected as Operator of the Year is a huge honor. Winners are chosen by their peers (all of the operators of the month from the past year) and are celebrated (and roasted) at a fairly big ceremony, complete with blown-up photographs and specially printed napkins.

Operator of the Year John Fabre (aka the Busfather)

This year’s winner, John Fabre, is an OG Seattleite and has been driving buses in the city since 1970, back when Metro was still Seattle Transit. He currently drives route 99, also known as the Waterfront Streetcar, but he’s driven every type of vehicle that Metro operates–including (back when it was still under Metro’s jurisdiction) the Monorail.

John Fabre and Ron Sims
The Busfather and the County Kingpin

John’s family (including his grown son*, who flew in from the East Coast) attended the ceremony, and so did the county exec, lots of Metro muckity mucks, and most of the previous operators of the year. Each of the different Metro departments gave John a gift (from Maintenance, a clean bus every day, from Facilities, a prime parking space with a special sign, etc.). He even got a ring, and (I kid you not) several people kissed it.

Bus Chick and the Busfather
Bus Chick (that’s me!) and the Busfather

I got to meet John after the ceremony (didn’t kiss the ring, though). Today was also the first time I actually got to go inside a Metro base. (I can’t tell you what I saw, or the Busfather might send someone to rough me up.) Did I mention there were three kinds of cake? Except for the abundance of balloons (which I happen to have an irrational fear of), it was this bus chick’s fantasy party. I hope they put me on “the list” next year.

* This post was corrected on December 4th. I originally wrote that John had two sons.

On twentysomething men: volcanoes, hurricanes, and the breaking of things

I’m already home from the party, and the last bus hasn’t even left my brother’s street yet. Shoot, the second-to-last bus hasn’t even left. The party was fun, even though I was the only woman there for the first two hours. One of Jeremy’s friends (who also happens to be a bartender at Flying Fish) made a big tub of hurricane punch. I only had one cup, but that was enough to make me grateful for the designated driver (one of the may perks of the bus-chick lifestyle).

The guys
From left: Robbie (aka Caligula), Birfday boy (aka Saulty), Billy (aka Biker Boy), Dale (aka Hurricane Maker), and Marty (aka Pyromaniak)

At my transfer point on the way home, I met a guy named Archie. He was waiting for the 128 and wanted to know if I had seen it pass. I hadn’t. Archie took the opportunity to strike up a conversation, and, as is the custom of many people I meet at bus stops, he started with one of those questions. Despite this, and despite fact that he had a hard time keeping his eyes on mine, Archie’s cool people. He’s 25. He lives in White Center. He works construction. He likes music and really liked the Goapele song I downloaded yesterday and have been listening to on my Schmipod (aka affordable MP3 player that actually has a radio tuner) nonstop since.

When his bus finally came, Archie gave me a hug goodbye and suggested I write something about him. “Write about how I break it down,” he said.

And so, I am honoring that request, even though, to be quite honest, I am not sure exactly how Archie breaks it down. I do know this: He certainly knows how to make the time pass at a bus stop.


Birthday boyToday is my little (actually younger–he’s not so little) brother Jeremy’s birthday. To celebrate the 26th anniversary of two equally cataclysmic events (his arrival on the planet and Mount St. Helens’ eruption), he’s having a house party, and he was kind enough to invite his old, almost-married-lady sister. What screams old lady louder than even the most sensible pair of bus chick shoes? Leaving a party before midnight. Unfortunately, the last bus leaves his street at 11:57, so that’s just what I’ll be doing.

Perhaps if I found a cute pair of glass slippers…