Monthly Archives: April 2007

April Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to Bob Ferguson, King County Councilmember for District 1 and all-around bus booster. Ordinarily, I don’t play favorites with council members (except that I’m partial to my own), but in this case, I’ve decided to make an exception.

You might recall that Councilmember Ferguson (aka Bob) took the time to send us the scoop about the new reader boards and additional shelters. He understands the importance of changes like these, and not just because bus-riding voters appreciate them. Bob believes in transit, and he demonstrates that belief by riding the bus (the 41 from Northgate) to work every day. (I’m guessing that if he chose to drive, he’d get a pretty sweet deal on parking.)

Bob also demonstrates his interest in transit by his membership on the Council’s Transportation Committee, which, as you might imagine, reviews and makes recommendations about County transit policies.

And speaking of committees…

Earlier this month, Bob sent a member of his staff to sit in on the monthly meeting of the Transit Advisory Committee, a group of regular, bus-riding citizens who advise the Council and Metro staff on “transit issues and policies.” As one of the regular, bus riding citizens on the committee, I was pleased to see that he was interested not only in our formal recommendations, but also in our discussion and our individual perspectives.

And then there was the picture on one of his recent e-newsletters:

Who wouldn’t vote for a man who rides the bus?


Thanks, Bob, for demonstrating a true commitment to the transit system you govern–by listening to the voices of the people who use it, and, especially, by using it yourself.

Celebrating Seattle’s floating bus

Today, bus nerd and I attended the big Water Taxi celebration. Apparently, so did everyone else in Seattle.

12:30 ride from Pier 55:

First ride of 2007

Celebration at Seacrest:

Seacrest celebration!

2:00 Seacrest boarding:

2:00 boarding

Coolest parts of the day:
• The view from the deck of the taxi. (Our city is sexy, no?)
• The view from inside the taxi. We even saw a sea lion:

A sea lion on a buoy

• Free drinks on the ride west. Both were non-alcoholic, juice-and-syrup concoctions: a Seacrest Sunrise and a Dow Constantini. (Apparently, Dow Constantine is a big Water Taxi booster. Last summer, he had ads all over the boat.)
• Prizes! I won an Argosy lakes cruise for two. (That’s two in a row. When’s the next transit fest?)
• Hanging out with my dad and my brother Joel. They both came to the park, ate fish and chips (not provided by the transit fest), and hung out in the warm(ish) weather. My dad even accompanied us on our boat ride back downtown, taking the opportunity to regale us with stories of his 30 years as a Coast Guard reservist.

Uncoolest parts of the day:
• Free balloons at Seacrest. Every kid in the vicinity (and there were many) had at least one, and there was a clown making balloon animals on demand. Have I mentioned my fear of balloons?
• Crowds. There was a great turnout for the opening day celebration, and the EBWT was a victim of its own success. The boat we rode to Seacrest was completely full–so full that some people couldn’t find seats. By the time we got to Seacrest (at around 12:45), all of the refreshments–even the coffee–had been consumed. On the way back, there wasn’t enough room on the boat we wanted to take, so we had to stand in line for an hour to wait for the next one. (We couldn’t leave to go do something else, or we would have lost our place.)

Long line

My dad had the same problem trying to get back from downtown. All in all, we spent a lot of time waiting. I’m hoping that folks who were trying to the Water Taxi for the first time don’t think it’s usually like that. It’s not.
• Missing Mom. It was the first time I’d ridden my favorite boat without the promise of seeing her on the other side.

The thing about bus characters

…is that they tend to get around.

Today, I took the 48 to Greenlake to meet some friends–Donna and Tama for a walk, and then Tosha for brunch. Despite all the 48 bashing I’ve been doing of late, there’s no other bus that can get me to so many places I need (OK, mostly want) to go: south, to Casuelita’s, to the dentist, to Lowe’s; north to Scarecrow, to Star Life, to Ballard jewelry parties, and of course, to Greenlake. But, as I am wont to do, I digress.

After the walk, as I was headed to meet Tosha, who did I see in front of Greenlake Community Center, with the very same pinstriped suit and the very same shtick, plus a tambourine and a collection cup? Church Man–from last Sunday’s 2.

I guess he rides the 48, too.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Starting Sunday, the Elliott Bay Water Taxi (of September Golden Transfer fame) will be back in business. Service is free all day, and there will be a party (with refreshments, folks) at Seacrest Park.

From Metro’s site:

You are invited to the Water Taxi Kick Off event on Sunday, April 29th at Seacrest Park from Noon to 2:00 p.m. Enjoy entertainment at Seacrest Park in West Seattle, balloons and face-painting for the kids, free posters, refreshments and more! Service is FREE ALL DAY during the celebration event, so bring the family and friends!

I am so there. And since my dad lives across the street from Seacrest Park (and has never been one to turn down free food), I’m guessing I can talk him into going, too.

Not-so-great expectations (or, the joys of busing while pregnant)

• When you have the nose of a bloodhound, every bus is a funky bus. Perfume, lotion, hair products, food smells–to say nothing of the less pleasant scents associated with humans–all can cause an olfactory nightmare at least as offensive as that 27 ride last June.

• Walking? OK. Sitting? Very OK. Standing in one place for more than a minute? Not OK. Hence, benchless stops and crowded buses are not a PBC*’s friend.

• New, important addition to the bus chick bag: A sturdy, leak-proof plastic bag, to be used in cases of extreme nausea emergencies when exiting the bus is not possible. (Fortunately, I have yet to use mine.)

• Jeans are no longer a wise fashion choice, as opening a top button (or two) of one’s fly when seated is generally frowned upon by other riders.

• There is no event or destination (with the exception, perhaps, of a Prince concert) worth running to catch a bus for. Important meeting? Court date? Swearing-in ceremony? Eh. They’ll get along alright without you until the next bus arrives.

*PBC = Pregnant bus chick.

A bus nerd + a bus chick = ?

For the past few months, I’ve been a little (OK, a lot) distracted from this blog–in part because of recent losses, and in part because of a, well, a sort of gain. You see, Bus Nerd and I are (rather unexpectedly) “expecting,” and I’ve been spending most my spare time adjusting to the idea of becoming a parent. (Oh, yeah–and feeling sick. More on that later.)

Bus baby on the 3
This October, Seattle will count another bus baby among its natives.

Since we’ve started telling people our news, the most common question we’ve been asked (aside from, “Are you going to find out the sex?”) has been, “Are you guys going to get a car now?”

No, we’re not–and not just because we both believe in adhering to our convictions, even when they become inconvenient. (So far, we haven’t found living without a car to be inconvenient, and despite the many well-meaning arguments to the contrary, we’re not convinced that having a baby will make it so.) At the core, our decision is based on the fact that we both sincerely believe raising our child without a car will be good for the child. A few of the reasons why:

• It will be raised by financially secure parents. (College fund? Check!)
• It will learn to be self-sufficient (at least transportation-wise) at an early age.
• It will have exciting adventures. (What’s more exciting for a five-year old than pulling the bell or sitting in the bendy part of an articulated bus?)
• It will learn how to interact with people of different ages, cultures, and levels of income and education.
• If we’re very lucky, it will develop compassion for its fellow human beings.

If only answering all the other new-parent questions were so easy. We’re still trying to decide if we should find out the sex.

One more reason to love New York

Ever since my little brother moved to New York, I’ve started paying closer attention to what goes on there. What’s going on right now is worth sharing.

Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a series of measures that would accommodate growth (a million more people expected by 2030) and reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The most promising of the measures? A congestion charge.

Under the plan, the city would charge $8 for cars and $21 for commercial trucks that enter Manhattan below 86th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. The charge would be $4 for drivers within Manhattan, and several exemptions would apply. No one would be charged on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive or the West Side Highway. There would be no charge for moving cars to comply with alternate side parking, and there would be no charge for taxis.


Later, Mary E. Peters, the United States secretary of transportation, issued a statement praising the plan as “the kind of bold thinking leaders across the country need to embrace if we hope to win the battle against traffic congestion.” The Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, who has many constituents who commute by car to Manhattan, also was enthusiastic. “People’s first reaction is they don’t want to pay,” he said. “But getting them to switch to mass transit benefits us all.”

(Source: New York Times)

The congestion charge is also, for obvious reasons, the most controversial of the measures. NYC’s Streetsblog (easily my favorite transit blog) details some of the objections:

Representative Anthony Weiner:

While I applaud the mayor for focusing on a long-term sustainability plan for the city, in this case the cure seems to be worse than the disease. We must look at innovative ways to face the challenges created by the city’s own success, but a regressive tax on working middle-class families and small-business owners shouldn’t be one of them.

My take: The fact that this conversation is taking place at all is huge. If New York manages to move the issue beyond conversation, my Christmas wish might come true sooner than I expected.

Devil on the 2 bus

Today, after church, I hopped on the 2 and took a free, Earth Day ride downtown to meet my friend Aileen. Because it was early afternoon on a Sunday, many of my fellow riders–identifiable by their Bibles, fancy outfits, and “What did you think of Pastor So-and-so’s sermon?” conversations–were also coming from church.

One older gentleman sitting in the front section, who apparently wasn’t finished with his worship, decided to bring church to the bus. (He’s certainly not the first.) He sang songs, lectured everyone within earshot about Jesus (“Be thankful he woke you up this mornin’!”), and occasionally, demanded an “amen” from someone nearby. Some of the churchgoers joined in; most of the passengers did their best to ignore him.

I didn’t hear the bus driver ask Church Man to keep his singing and preaching to himself, but he must have, because about five minutes into the ride, Church Man started peppering his praise with, “I just can’t stop–can’t stop talking about Jesus.” Somewhere around Broadway, the driver stopped the bus and walked to Church Man’s seat, hands on hips, brow furrowed in exasperation. Without waiting to be asked, Church Man got up to leave. “You kicking me off?” he said. “That’s OK. They kicked Jesus off.”

Before the doors had even closed behind the enthusiastic worshipper, the outrage from the other passengers began.

“It’s none of my business driver, but why did you just kick that man off the bus?”
“Ooh! Did he just kick that man off the bus for singing about the Lord?”
“The devil’s on this bus.”
And, my favorite: “That’s the devil. I don’t give a sh*t what anybody says. That’s the devil.”

It was a ganging up I haven’t seen the likes of since about a year ago, when (also on the 2), the entire front section shamed a woman for talking on her cell phone. She was scheduling surgery. But I digress.

The frustrated driver didn’t handle the criticism well. He yelled back at the angry passengers, threatening to kick them off, too, and suggesting they refrain from critiquing his job performance. Their anger escalated.

“Just drive the bus, man,” they said. “Mind your business and drive the bus.”

A sarcastic “God bless you driver!” occasionally erupted from the crowd, often followed by a, “He’d better hope he doesn’t meet Jesus.”

Thankfully, I got off before they started pummeling him with their Bibles.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about…

A Dear John letter to the 48:

Let me start this by telling you that despite all your flaws, you’re a pretty cool bus. … And I know, it must be hard for you, trudging from Loyal Heights to Rainier Beach all day long. I know! But 48, things just aren’t working out between us. …


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I was wondering what to get Bus Nerd for his birthday…