Monthly Archives: November 2006

November Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to Sue Mariconda (aka “Susiepooh“), a New York City native who sold her car earlier this month (on 11/14, to be exact), and (wisely) signed up for the city’s One Less Car Challenge. Here’s what she had to say about her decision:

I didn’t even have a drivers license until I was 23 … didn’t even own a car until I was 30. Then I met a guy in NJ in the suburbs and needed a car. I became a car addict and drove places I certainly could’ve walked to or taken the bus to. Two years ago we moved out here and were living in Lynnwood, which is also a very car obsessed suburb … I got to work by bus (CT413) but still had to drive to the park & ride …

We moved to West Seattle right on the 120 route in March. I was very excited to not have to take my car out to go to work at all. Then it just sat there. I figured I was averaging 4,000 miles a year, and it was hardly worth holding on to it. When the apartment management decided to start charging $25 for the extra parking spot (monthly) … I finally decided to get rid of the car.

Our winner, enjoying one of the many good reasons for her decision

West Seattle is, apparently, a good training ground for bus chicks. Less than two weeks after taking the plunge, Sue has already graduated to advanced bus riding skills.

My husband has a car also, and I realized that most of the places I go to are either reachable by bus, or I’m carpooling with him somewhere. So I thought we’d be able to coordinate our schedules. But I’ve been very impressed with myself that even though he’s away on business and the car is in the garage, ready for me to use, I still took the bus today to the West Seattle Junction (120/128) to run some errands.

She’s even made a few discoveries that might prove useful to the rest of us.

I … got myself a nifty bus chick bag (Victorinox Flex Mini Backpack in red) that converts to a messenger bag if I so wish, is low profile, and holds my gazillion bus maps and supplies for while I’m on the run. Then I found these cool snowflake shaped reflectors online at so I can stay safe while out at night walking to and from buses.

Welcome to the fold, Sue. We’re very happy to have you.

From the horse’s mouth

Yesterday, Bob Ferguson, King County Councilmember from District 1 and Transportation Committee member, sent me some 2007 budget information that just might interest you:

The Council voted to phase out and eventually eliminate the “wrapped” busses where the windows are covered with advertising. … I received many complaints from riders who said they had a hard time seeing outside in the dark mornings and evenings. For others, the ride became disorienting without being able to see outside. … These wrapped busses will be gone by the end of next year.

Looks like Orin was right about this. No word yet on whether the wrapped buses with “clear” windows (like the 4 I rode recently) will remain. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back from Metro.

The Council voted to increase the rate of creating bus shelters. There is a backlog of hundreds of approved bus shelter locations, and the Council is putting up funds to get these built sooner than our current, slow pace.

What can I say? “Hallelujah!” doesn’t come close to expressing my level of elation.

Remember that fancy, digital sign Bus Nerd spotted on the 48? It appears that we’ll be seeing a lot more of them very soon.

The Council voted to add reader boards. Each bus will have a scrolling, electronic sign (one on 40′ coaches, two on 60′ coaches) in place of the current “stop requested” ceiling signs. The signs will be programmed with a next stop message as well as other information such as time of day.

Here’s a thought: Now that we have the reader boards, we can keep the wrapped buses, since people won’t need to see out the window to know when to get off. :)

Eastbound 3, 7:20 PM

A coworker conversation:

“I have, like, negative four hours of sick time. I think they’re going to take it out of my vacation, which so pisses me off. The next time I’m sick, I’m going to show up at work, put my head down on my desk, and like, breathe all over everyone.”

Weather weary

I was planning to use this evening’s post to write about all the snow-related bus craziness that has occurred in the last 24 hours, but I am easily bored with weather news and can’t bring myself to spend much time on the subject. As we all know, Seattle is hilly and not equipped to de-ice roads especially efficiently. This makes it difficult for folks to get around, in cars and on buses (even on foot), when it snows. Though I’d much rather ride than drive in bad weather (OK, in any weather), I will say that there are several ways the folks at Metro/Sound Transit could have prepared and responded more effectively than they did. I didn’t experience any problems firsthand, though–only vicariously, through Bus Nerd and a few friends. My own bus travel has been surprisingly painless (with working heat and everything!), considering the conditions. If anyone else has a good bus story from yesterday or today, feel free to share (I’m hoping Bus Nerd will), but I don’t have much in the way of snow talk.

P.S. – In case the cold continues, Metro’s adverse weather page has some useful information.

A good day for Puget Sound transit advocates (especially this one)

On the same day the Secretary of Transportation announced federal approval of the light rail extension to UW (another step on the way to federal funding), I was officially introduced to Car #2, the first of the Link rail cars to arrive in Seattle. (Car #1 was initially sent to New Mexico for speed testing and will be arriving shortly.)

Hey, good lookin'!

Sexy, no?

Richard Eacker, an electrical engineer on the project (and, incidentally, a faithful 255 rider), was kind enough to show me around the brand new maintenance building where it’s being stored.

Richard with Car #2:

Richard and Car #2

Me with Car # 2 (and the edge of Richard’s finger):

Bus Chick and Car #2

I was diggin’ the hard hat and safety goggles.

The auxiliary equipment is on top of the cars, so maintenance is performed from platforms.

Maintenance platform

Richard also gave me a tour of the construction progress.

This is an erection truss, a ridiculously huge contraption that connects the trackway:


I’m sorry I didn’t take notes on how exactly this thing works, but I’m hoping a transit nerd (possibly Richard) will comment and explain in more detail. (Google the term at your own risk.)

Here’s the Tukwila station:

Tukwila station

I never get over the hugeness of this project–both in terms of the amount of energy and brainpower required to make it a reality, and in terms the impact it will have on the future of transportation in our region.

Of course, it won’t have an impact unless we actually use it. Who wants to fight me to be first in line?

Bus Chick returns … merchandise

Sometimes, despite meticulous measuring, a bus-based couple buys two cabinet organizers that don’t quite fit into the cabinets that need organizing, and that couple must return said cabinet organizers to the store where they bought them. Fortunately, Saturday is a lower-ridership day for the 48, which means there’s plenty of room for bus-riding couples and their unwanted Rev-a-Shelf purchases. Unfortunately, empty 48s sometimes run ahead of schedule, which means that they arrive at stops slightly earlier than expected.

As if yesterday’s walk with the boxes wasn’t enough of a workout.

The things she carried, part III

This afternoon, Bus Nerd and I took advantage of the empty buses (weekday schedule, not many people working) and headed down to Lowe’s to purchase some home-organization equipment. (Lowe’s is across the street from McDonald’s, so we got off at the same stop as the little girl from today’s earlier post. But I digress.) There were only three other people on the bus we took home, which meant there was plenty of room for the enormous boxes we had carried the two plus blocks from the Lowe’s exit to the closest northbound stop.

And they wonder why bus chicks have such toned biceps.

The things she carried, part II

‘Bout to get on the 4 (Thanksgiving = holiday schedule in the middle of the week) to head over and kick it with the fam. I don’t have time write anything new (not that anyone’s reading today), so I thought I’d share last year’s Thanksgiving post (with a few minor edits) from my “old” blog:

Back when I lived in Houston, I spent several holidays in Baytown, Texas with my friend Monique. Baytown is about an hour east of the Big City on I-10 and is mostly known for its oil refineries and cheap gas–hardly bus-chick friendly. Still, I loved spending time with Monique’s family. Their daily contact and generations of history in the same state was exactly what I, a college student far from her own roots, needed. And it didn’t hurt that Miss Rachel (aka Moni’s grandmother) could cook as well as any human being ever to walk this earth.

My first holiday with my Moni’s family (Thanksgiving during my junior year) was also the first year I ate friend turkey. For those who don’t know, fried turkey is not breaded and cooked in individual pieces the way fried chicken is. It is injected with special seasonings and then deep-fried whole, so it comes out unbelievably flavorful and moist. It is so much better than traditional Thanksgiving turkey that once you’ve had it, you simply can’t go back. For the past 12 Thanksgivings, I’ve done my best not to.

Luckily, since I’ve moved back to Seattle, there have always been a handful of restaurants that will prepare fried turkeys for those of us who don’t have the skills, equipment, or fire-extinguishing capabilities to do it ourselves. I have been buying turkeys from Catfish Corner for a several years now, picking them up the day before and reheating them on Thanksgiving. This process has worked well for me every year but one.

Last year, I picked up my turkey when it was still just-fried warm. As I stood outside waiting for the 3 in the November cold, a wonderfully fragrant steam seeped through the plastic covering into the night air. Unfortunately, that steam kept right on escaping when I got on the bus, and although I sat in the front near the driver, everyone, including the people in the very back, could smell it. Folks started craning their necks to peer into my pan and calling to each other, “Mmm, mmm, mmm! That sure does smell good!” When we got to Harborview, a man drinking directly from a bottle of cough syrup sat next to me and asked if he could have a leg. Three nurses caught a whiff and started discussing their cooking plans for the evening. That 10-minute ride was excruciating for this painfully shy bus chick, who prefers to observe–not be the subject of–bus-wide discussions.

But oh, how I am wishing for those excruciating 10 minutes now! Today, I went to Catfish Corner to order a fried turkey only to be informed that they are not making them this year. Bus Nerd suggested we get a deep fryer and make one ourselves.

Is it too late to buy a ticket to Houston?