Monthly Archives: March 2007

Sonics lost, but Seattle won

Tonight, in keeping with our annual tradition, Bus Nerd and I attended the Pistons/Sonics game. My team lost (Pistons: 101, Seattle: 97), but since the Pistons are my second-favorite team (and Tayshaun Prince is my favorite player), I wasn’t too disappointed. Aside from a return ride on one of the funkiest of funky buses (both of us smelled skunk), fun times were had by all.

We returned home to this fabulous news:

“No and no: Voters rejecting both viaduct options”

“Mass transit may end up as biggest winner”

Transit + Streets is still alive, baby! Now, let’s see how much clout this “advisory vote” actually has.

Viaduct day

Thanks to Adam Hyla and Tim Harris (my boys over at Real Change) for this very real editorial about today’s viaduct vote:

If we continue to act as though our car-dependent present is the only imaginable future, progress toward an environmentally sustainable future will come too little, too late. Adopting a Transit + Streets solution begins the process of meeting the 2012 Kyoto Protocol goal of cutting emissions back to 1990 levels, the equivalent of getting 130,000 cars off the road.

We are amazed that tunnel proponents and viaduct rebuild advocates who all claim to be looking out for future generations don’t see the writing on the wall. Our days of auto-dependence are numbered.


If we keep using the (unacceptable) status quo as an excuse to perpetuate our car-centric infrastructure (everyone drives, therefore we must continue to accommodate driving as the primary mode of transportation), we will never see change. Well, we will, but it won’t be the kind of change most of us are looking for.

And counting

From today’s American Public Transportation Association press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – If you thought you were seeing more riders during your daily public transit trips, it’s not your imagination. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans took 10.1 billion trips on local public transportation in 2006 – the first time in 49 years. Over the last decade, public transportation’s growth rate outpaced the growth rate of the population and the growth rate of vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s highways.

“This significant ridership milestone is part of a multi-year trend as more and more Americans ride public transit to get to destinations important to them, while realizing the benefits of saving money and avoiding congestion,” said William W. Millar, president of APTA. “Public transit ridership helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and decreases our contribution to global warming; but ultimately, this milestone represents 10 billion reasons to increase local and federal investment in public transportation.

Yes, please.

Busfather and I represented Seattle (which, by the way, saw a 12.1% increase in bus ridership) in APTA’s video release about this same issue. It’s intended to play on local news programs across the country. I don’t know when or where it’s airing, but if I can find it online, I’ll post it here.

Speaking of busing to work…

Google, it seems, is providing free transportation to its employees. Yesterday, Bus Nerd’s friend Alex sent me this article from the New York Times:

In Silicon Valley, a region known for some of the worst traffic in the nation, Google, the Internet search engine giant and online advertising behemoth, has turned itself into Google, the mass transit operator. …

The company now ferries about 1,200 employees to and from Google daily — nearly one-fourth of its local work force — aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless Internet access. Bicycles are allowed on exterior racks, and dogs on forward seats, or on their owners’ laps if the buses run full.

I love that Google is taking responsibility for how its employees get to and from work (and I’m loving that their efforts are apparently reducing the number of people who drive to Mountain View), but I have a hard time believing that a system with 1,200 passengers spread over roughly 200 miles is especially efficient.

They pick up workers as far away as Concord, 54 miles northeast of the Googleplex, as the company’s sprawling Mountain View headquarters are known, and Santa Cruz, 38 miles to the south. The system’s routes cover in excess of 230 miles of freeways, more than twice the extent of the region’s BART commuter train system, which has 104 miles of tracks.

Employees who live in far off towns where very few other employees live probably have very limited travel times. If they don’t, the shuttles are probably taking a lot of two- and three-person trips.

Google could probably make a much greater dent in Bay Area traffic (if not as great an impression on potential employees) by:

1) Partnering with local transit agencies to increase/improve service in areas where it has high concentrations of employees.
2) Giving employees free transit passes (it’s highly possible they already do this).
3) Allowing employees who are willing to share office space to work from home at least one day per week.

Ideal system or not, one thing’s for sure: Employees who spend their commutes kicked back in leather seats with free wi-fi get a lot more work done than those who are stuck staring at other folks’ tail lights.

Ridership has its privileges

Today my employer sponsored Bus to Work Day, a morning celebration at Overlake Transit Center to promote fabulous alternatives to driving to work. Those of us who bussed to OTC today were rewarded with:

• Information from Metro, Sound Transit (“Public Transportation Adventure Jim” was there), and other alternative-commute reps.
• Prize drawings (crossing my fingers for the Zune).
• FREE FOOD! (Folks, nobody appreciates a free bagel/chocolate muffin/croissant/Krispy Kreme doughnut/cinnamon dolce latte like a bus rider.)

As if it isn’t hard enough to get a seat on the 545.

Bus to Work Day festivities

Another Saulter goes car free

Sorry for the scarcity of posts of late. I’ve been distracted by illness and broken internets and a (thankfully) final modeling engagement and a happy-sad (or is it sad-happy?) development:

Today, Jeremy (aka Saulty), the older of my two younger brothers and the funniest person I know, moved to Manhattan to start a new career and a new life. Because he’ll be living in a public-transit mecca, he sold his car (to my other little brother, who takes the bus to school and hopefully won’t be driving it much) and prepared himself for life free of his money-sucking, stress-inducing, CO2-emitting habit. Of course I am excited and thrilled and proud and and and but …

Miss you already, kid.

Speaking of adopted stops…

Recently, Metro removed the trash can from Good Shepherd’s adopted stop without even attempting to contact the church’s members. (I found out when I showed up for garbage duty a few weeks ago.) Now, I know why. Sometime between my attempted garbage duty and today, a shelter was added to that stop. Bus stops with shelters can’t be adopted (and, apparently, can be “un-adopted” retroactively) because they have large, free-standing trash cans that are emptied by Metro. The addition of the shelter is, of course, a good thing, but what’s with the covert operation? A little communication would have been much appreciated.

And oh yeah: Can we get a bench in there?

A new shelter at Good Shepherd's former adopted stop