Monthly Archives: August 2006

Speaking of football…

OK, so the Seahawks lost yesterday, but we all know the preseason ain’t about winning. For this bus chick, the preseason is all about Seneca Wallace. But I digress.

I can’t believe it’s about to be football season again. It seems like just yesterday that Busnerd and I headed off on our Super Bowl XL adventure, carrying with us the hopes of our fellow Seattleites, including (and especially) a very enthusiastic 2 rider.

January 23rd, 2006

At least one of us never had any doubt

A couple of Saturdays ago, DBH [aka Busnerd] and I headed to Capitol Hill for dinner and a movie. It was the weekend Seattle had a bye and no one in the city was talking football, but the young brother (we’ll call him 12th Man) who got on the bus at 19th and Union had something to celebrate. 12th Man’s hair was parted down the middle and freshly braided, and he was sporting a Shaun Alexander (#37, for those who don’t know) jersey and the requisite baggy jeans (Are those ever going out of style?).

“What about them Seeeeeeeeeeeeeahawks?!” he hollered at the bus driver in that accent peculiar to natives of this city. (Folks from the 2-0-sickness know of what I speak: the high-pitched, whiney tone; the randomly emphasized consonants; the s’s that sound like sh. In this accent, Seattle sounds like She-at-o.) The bus driver ignored the question.

As 12th Man walked down the aisle toward the back of the bus, he asked the rest of us: “What about them Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeahawks?!”

There weren’t many passengers on the bus (it was after 8 PM on a Saturday), and the few who were weren’t feelin’ 12th Man, who had clearly hit the herb a little too hard before leaving the house. While everyone else looked out the window, I decided to show him some love. (I appreciated his enthusiasm and was still giddy at the prospect of a team from my city in the actual playoffs.) “Go Hawks!” I said.

12th Man was all for it. “See? She know about them Seahawks.”

Despite the fact that he received no further encouragement, 12th Man continued his attempts to rouse his fellow passengers for as long as we were on the bus. As we got off, he called to me, “Make sure you tell ’em about them Seahawks, girl!”

As it happens, I’ll get a chance to do just that. Who knew when we planned the trip to XL to celebrate DBH’s city that we’d be celebrating mine as well?

We’re headed to the D, baby!

Here’s hoping the Hawks take it all the way again this season. Busnerd’s brother lives less than an hour from Miami…

One bus I’ll be glad to miss

Jerome “the Bus” Bettis, Seahawk destroyer

Yes indeed, ladies and gentleman, the NFL preseason has begun, sans Pittsburgh’s “Bus.” Just for fun, I went to the Allegheny County Port Authority site to see if the city has a real #36. In fact, it has four:

36 A: Mount Lebanon-Banksville
36 B: Virginia Manor
36 C: Green Tree
36 D: Westwood

Don’t ask me why they name their routes like bra sizes instead of just using different numbers. I guess Pittsburgh can’t have everything.

From a 7 to three sixes

Despite the fact that I am not a fan of advertisements or of horror flicks, I am totally digging Sound Transit’s creative new ad campaign. The ads, which I’ve seen on billboards and the sides of ST buses, show pictures of monsters and zombies, once-normal people who turned to the dark side after one too many hours in traffic. The slogans are reasonably clever pseudo horror movie titles, stuff like: It Came from Issaquah, Phantom of Tacoma, and The Creature from Edmonds.

Here’s the one that was on my bus home tonight:

Rosemary's Commute

Take the 7 to travel back in time

Most people hate going to the dentist, but I always look forward to it. Of course, this is probably not a surprise to the people who know me, since my preferences trend outside the mainstream. (My brother Jeremy once said to me, “Carla, your ‘cute’ is everyone else’s ‘daaaaaaaaaaaaang’!”) In this case, though, I have a good reason to like my dentist: She is also my friend.

I’ve known Kelley since I was six years old, back when her father was my dentist and she and I were first-grade classmates. Back in the day, I liked going to her father’s office (now her office) because there was a TV with cable in the waiting room, and I could watch videos. These days, I like going because I get a chance to catch up with my girl. So yesterday, I hopped on the 7 and headed down to Kelley’s clinic.

First grade friends
To my left: the fabulous dentist herself. To my right: another fabulous friend from first grade.

The best thing about the 7 is that there’s always one coming. No need to check a schedule; just head to a stop, and you’re almost guaranteed to be on one within 10 minutes. This level of frequency is infuriating when you’re waiting for another bus–when you might see four 7s (and about 400 36s) before you see yours–so it’s nice to be able to take advantage once in a while. The worst thing about the 7 is the old-school style of coach that usually runs that route. These are the same buses I rode when I was a kid–in fact, I think they were around back when I first met Kelley–and while I’m all for Metro getting our tax dollars’ worth out of the vehicles that are still running, I can’t say I enjoy the ride. In fact when I’m on a 7, I can’t really say anything; those dang things are much too loud for conversation. ;)

Beyond buses

Real Change recently interviewed Anthony Flint, author of This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America. Here are some excerpts from the discussion:

Real Change: What are the effects of sprawl on the environment?

Anthony Flint:
Twenty-five million acres of land between 1982 and 1997 succumbed to suburban development. That is a lot of wildlife habitat [and] farmland that has disappeared. It is a lot of pollution from cars, which are necessary to get around in these dispersed environments, though it has not been enough to change anybody’s mind about sprawl until now. On a personal level, people are discovering that it is inconvenient and actually very expensive to live in sprawl.

RC: …some commentators have said that sprawl is a sign of a good economy. What is your response to that?

These critics are not addressing the real issues that communities all over the country are wrestling with in terms of planning for future growth… Sprawl has been so popular, not because it is driven by affluence, but because it is seen as affordable, at least initially, by the middle class. The initial sticker price is very attractive and within reach, and then of course [with the price of a car and gas] it doesn’t turn out to be the bargain it’s cracked up to be.

I haven’t read the book yet (on the waiting list at the library), but I appreciate Mr. Flint’s perspective. As we move further and further from walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods in pursuit of our “American dreams” (good schools, cheap land, “nature,” or a nearby Wal Mart) we trap ourselves in automobile-dependent, unhealthy, isolated, unsustainable communities.

Incremental improvements (more frequent bus service, a couple of new bike paths) are better than none at all, but unless we fundamentally change the way we live, including (and especially) the way we build our neighborhoods, we will never have true transportation alternatives.

What’s the opposite of a Golden Transfer?

Whatever it is (I need to marinate for a few days to come up with just the right name), the guy who drove my morning 48 today certainly earned one. He was just plain mean to a poor, innocent newbie who asked (politely) how to use the bike rack, barking unclear instructions at him and then honking–angrily and repeatedly–when the newbie’s performance didn’t meet with his approval. When the honking failed to convey his crystal-clear message, he stormed off the bus and (I will assume, since I couldn’t see) performed the job himself. I am certain that there was more shouting involved.

Here’s a question: If a person can’t ask the driver for help with something like this, exactly how is he supposed to learn it? Yes, it slows the bus down (yet another reason not to blame the driver when your route is late), but unlike schedule times and fare structures, which can be learned by using the Internet or the telephone, this is not something one can “figure out” without trying at least once. Unless there’s a special practice rack I haven’t heard of.

Seafair weekend, Bus Chick style

Saturday, 8/5

Umoja bus
Metro on parade at Umojafest

Umoja parade
This year was more of the usual: classic cars, kiddie drill teams, and frats and sororities stepping. One thing that was new to me (perhaps because I rarely sit through an entire parade): Metro participated, providing decorated, articulated, hybrid buses to transport parade officials–at least I think they were parade officials. Whoever they were, they were passing out balloons to the kids.

• Errand at Northgate
I rode the 41 for the first time. So apparently, did everyone else in Seattle; it was one crowded bus.

• Dinner with our (very fabulous) friend Tony
We took the 16 from Northgate to his place, then (gasp!) rode in his car to Dinette. It’s a small car, and there were three of us, if that counts for anything.

Sunday, 8/6

• Church
After the service: trash emptying duties at Good Shepherd’s adopted stop. Hot gum is not a stop adopter’s friend.

Parental visit
The westbound 27 was crowded with all the people coming from the lake. In the confusion, an older gentleman, who was standing (and probably shouldn’t have been) near the front, somehow managed to start a confrontation with a couple sitting in the reserved area with their two babies. The confrontation resulted in the couple angrily exiting the bus and the old man calling the cops on his cell, alerting them to the dangerous family on the loose downtown. The driver, despite his obvious irritation, followed procedure and pulled over at the next stop, to await the arrival of both the police and a Metro supervisor. The other passengers, less than thrilled about the idea of sitting on a parked bus (and apparently not bound to any particular procedure), began yelling at the older gentleman, calling him names and telling him to sit down and shut up.

Sadly, I can’t tell you how the story ends. I had a water taxi to catch.

• Return from parental visit
On the water taxi ride back downtown, a couple got engaged…sort of.

A few minutes into the ride, a guy named Mike got on the PA system and announced that the six months he had spent with a Miss Brea Youn (I’m guessing at the spelling, of course) had been the best of his life. Would Brea, he wanted to know, be willing to spend the rest of hers with him? A lovely young woman three rows from the captain’s booth (I’ll assume it was Brea) stopped digging in her purse long enough to give Mike (and all of the curious people watching) the “thumbs up” sign. Mike ran over to Brea, hugged her, and then returned to the group of friends he’d been standing with before the announcement. Brea finally found what she had been digging for–her pink Razr phone–and made a call, which she continued for the remainder of the ride. Meanwhile, her intended stayed huddled at the back of the boat with his friends.

Right before we docked, Mike asked Brea to take a picture with him (and, of course, his friends) to commemorate the moment. She obliged, pausing her conversation only long enough to say cheese.

A bus chick’s nightmare

No doubt due to the recent rash of extremely (and inexplicably) late buses, last night I dreamed I was waiting for the bus.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

In the dream, I had convinced one of my bus-averse girlfriends to ride with me, and she had brought a date. (Of course, the woman in the dream did not in any way resemble the girlfriend in question, but somehow, I knew it was her. You know how it goes.) So there we were, standing at a bus stop I didn’t recognize (not even in the dream), waiting for a bus that never came. Lots of other buses came, but they were all strange numbers headed to places I’d never heard of, and none of them were listed on the sign at the stop.

I woke up before the bus we were waiting for showed up. I believe I will be haunted for the rest of my life.

Public transit agencies: Get your Betty Wright on!

Betty Wright album pic, from CD UniverseAccording to the Pew Research Center, Americans are finding their cars “less enjoyable” these days.

Today 69% of American drivers say they like to drive, down from 79% in a 1991 Gallup survey. And just 23% say they consider their car “something special — more than just a way to get around,” barely half of the 43% who felt this way in 1991.

Sounds to me like a good opportunity for sexier option (a metaphorical clean-up woman) to lure some of those dissatisfied drivers…

P.S. – Other transit nerds are talking about this. There’s even a PI Sound Off on the subject.