Monthly Archives: October 2006

October Golden Transfer

Golden Transfer

October’s Golden Transfer goes to the Tuckers–Sterling (aka “Daddy Tucker”), Danuelle (aka “Mommy Tucker”), Little Sterling, Shaun, and Steven–an Eastside family who put down the keys to their SUV and got on the bus this month.

It started with Daddy Tucker, who took an evening class in Seattle and chose a comfortable ride on a Sound Transit commuter bus over the bumper-to-bumper insanity on 520. Bus Nerd and I (both separately and together) ran into Daddy Tucker on the 545 on his way to class.

And then, at the Douglass-Truth extravaganza on the 14th, we ran into the entire Tucker family. They came all the way from Kirkland for the occasion, and–this time, at the insistence of Mommy Tucker, who had some Metro free-ride passes–made the trip without a car. Mommy Tucker felt it was high time for the boys Tucker to take their first bus ride (255+48, for those who care to know), and this bus chick agrees. Here’s hoping it won’t be their last.

The lovely Tucker family at the Douglass-Truth bus stop, triumphant after a successful ride

Bus driver envy

From the Associated Press:

A 15-year-old boy stole a bus, drove it along a public transit route, picked up passengers and collected fares, authorities said Sunday.

Wow. And I thought I was bad for dressing up as an old-school Metro driver for Halloween.

“I drove that bus better than most of the LYNX drivers could,” the teen, who is too young to drive legally, told a deputy after he was stopped and arrested. “There isn’t a scratch on it. I know how to start it, drive it, lower it, raise it.”

Evidently, he stole a decommissioned bus that was about to be sold at auction. I wonder how he decided which route to drive.

Some historical perspective

From an article in the April, 1967 issue of the original Seattle Magazine (“Just This, or Rapid Transit, Too?”):

[Seattle Mayor] Braman makes it no secret that he wants to be remembered as the mayor who brought rapid transit to Seattle… His attempts to arouse public interest in the project date back to the spring of 1965…

If you want to get some real context, HistoryLink has several interesting articles about the history of transportation in Seattle. (You’ll find more if you use broader search terms than I did.) For a quick-and-dirty overview, they also have a nice, high-level timeline.

No time like the present

Today I ran into my friendly neighborhood county councilman in the grocery store. We got to talking (brace yourselves for this shocking news) about transit and its importance in his (my) district. He told me that transit regularly ranks among his constituents’ top three priorities.

After I returned from the store, I got around to reading the Sound Transit E-Wave newsletter that’s been sitting in my inbox since Friday. (More shocking news: I sometimes get behind on my transit agency newsletters.) The “headline” story was a summary of the public comments Sound Transit has received about ST2 thus far. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

The public comments reflect strong support for additional transit investments and an extension of the light rail system as far as possible throughout the region. People shared a strong sense that the region has waited long enough and are eager to make these investments as quickly as possible. A minority opposed additional transit investment, for reasons ranging from concern that the options are too expensive to overall opposition to public transit and/or light rail investments. Among the themes expressed by transit supporters:

• Puget Sound residents are tired of traffic. People clearly understand that an effective regional system will make a significant difference in their daily lives.
• There is excitement and momentum behind light rail. Most comments reflected preference for rail rather than bus service.
• The top reasons identified for support of transit are to provide more ways to get around and to take cars off the road.
• Comparisons to other cities’ rail and transit systems are frequent, along with opinions that the Puget Sound region is being left behind economically.

I still have love for buses (despite their bad rap) and don’t think rail will eliminate the need for them. Still, it sure would be nice if Seattle’s buses could one day become an excellent complement to an extensive, well-used rail system.

Truth be told, I’ll take transit in any form if it will get more cars off the roads. In my lifetime, “progress” in this supposedly green city has been accompanied by more and more and more (and still more) cars. Smog hangs in the air in late summer. Puget Sound is a toxic stew. Former farmland is overrun with new subdivisions. The percentage of obese Washingtonians has more than doubled since 1990.

And still, we drive.

Speaking of funk…

A reader from Milwaukee sent me this interactive “smell map” of the NYC subway system. Eww.

She also sent this comment:

What someone should do is have a map where it lists at this stop you have to get the oatmeal cookies from this bakery, from the next stop there’s a place that makes the best doggie biscuits, another stop has a place that’s infamous for its half-priced Monday night sushi… or something of the like. Now that would be grand!

In fact, there is such a map. There’s even one (perhaps in need of an update) for our very own MT route 44. (Thanks, Emily!) I’m going to start working on some similar maps for the routes I frequent. Stay tuned…

Rule reinforcement

On my way home today, I had the rare good fortune to find an open double seat on the westbound 545. The seat was just a few rows back from the reserved section, a perfect location–except that it happened to be directly in front of one occupied by two of the funkiest individuals (stale cigarettes + alcohol + BO) ever to ride the route. I had to hold my breath (with the exception of a few desperate gasps inside my jacket) all the way to Montlake.

Note to self…

Another rule of the ride

Bus Nerd encountered this lopsided seat on his ride to work yesterday:

A broken seat on the 48

He didn’t notice it was broken until he tried sitting in it and instead almost found himself lying in aisle. For the rest of the ride (from a safer location), he watched as person after person attempted to sit in the broken chair. Each time was the same: a brief moment of surprise, a struggle to remain upright, and then a sheepish, red-faced dash toward the remaining empty seats in the back. (A side note: The man sitting on the stable side of this hazard chose not to warn any of his would-be neighbors about the danger they faced.)

Lesson: If you see a wide-open seat on a crowded bus, approach with caution.

Northbound 48, 8:45 AM

It is a rainy morning, and the articulated bus is packed with soggy people. Hot breath is fogging up the windows, and coats and umbrellas are dripping water on the already slippery floor. At John, there are at least eight more people waiting to get on.

Instead of shouting at folks to make room, the driver tries a different tactic. He gets on the mic, and in his most pleasant voice, says, “If you are standing on this bus, and you are good looking, move back. If you are standing on this bus and you are not good looking, stay where you are. If you are not sure, ask the person standing next to you.”

Folks immediately get to moving back. Told you bus riders are sexy.