Monthly Archives: June 2007

Eastbound 27, 12:45 PM

In the front, a 27 regular: an elderly gentleman with a white beard who is never seen in public without his (rather tattered) Navy cap. Folks sometimes call him Captain.

In the back: a curly haired, two-year old boy, sitting on his mother’s lap, thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Little boy, giggling: “Whee! Whee! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!”

Captain turns toward the noise once, twice, three times, then rolls his eyes (twice) and sucks his teeth. The little boy, oblivious, continues.

LB: “Whee! Whee! Mommy, whee!”

Captain, turning again toward the back: “Shut up.”

OK, what if they were partially wrapped?

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this for over a week, but I was away on vacation, enjoying a laptop-free existence.

It seems that the folks at Metro have found a creative solution to the wrapped bus visibility issue. From a recent County Kingpin news release:

Last fall, the Metropolitan King County Council directed Metro to phase out its full-wrap bus advertising program due to concerns expressed by some passengers that their views were obscured and the bus interiors were dark. If the advertising program that was restricted to 25 buses – less than two percent of Metro’s fleet – is eliminated, the agency estimates it will lose $743,000 of revenue in 2008.

“We always strive to be innovative and entrepreneurial to find revenues that help keep bus fares low while increasing our service,” said King County Executive Ron Sims. “That is why I asked Metro to develop a modified wrapped-bus advertising program that still brings in critically needed revenue while addressing the concerns of our customers.”


Under the proposal, only a portion of the bus side windows would be covered. This will provide potential advertisers with enough coverage to justify the premium rates for such advertising, while preserving unobstructed, clear window space along the entire length of the bus for improved passenger visibility and comfort.

I can’t front: I love this idea! At a recent Transit Advisory Committee meeting, I talked with two people who had actually sat on a test model; they both were able to see fine. And I don’t know about you, but I want more service, stops and shelters, so I’m all about pain-free sources of revenue.

Of course, partial bus wraps won’t generate as much revenue as full bus wraps, and not just because less of the bus will be covered. There is currently only one template for wrapped buses, and it’s used by all other agencies that participate in the program. Hopefully, Metro’s model will eventually become the standard (customers in other cities would probably like to see, too), but in the meantime, advertisers who want wraps on King County buses will have to pay for custom designs.

The County Council hasn’t voted on the new proposal yet. I bet they’d like to know what you think. Would you tolerate bus wraps if you could see out the window?

Car-free vacation: Friday Harbor/Victoria

Last week, Bus Nerd and I took a little vacation, the majority of which we spent in one of my favorite places on Earth, Friday Harbor, Washington. We also spent one night in Victoria, BC.

It was a perfect trip, spent reading, resting, and enjoying the beautiful views. Here’s how we managed it, sans voiture:

Friday Harbor:

1. We took the 27 from our house to 3rd & Pike, the closest stop to the Convention Center.

2. We took a shuttle (operated by Bellair Charters) from the Convention Center to the Anacortes ferry dock. (Note that we could have taken public transportation but decided to simplify for this trip. For those hardcore bus nerds who’d like to try it, here’s the Human Bus Schedule‘s suggested itinerary:

• From downtown Seattle, take Sound Transit route 510 to Everett Station.
• Transfer to Skagit Transit route 90X (I’ve ridden that one before). Get off at Mount Vernon Station.
• At Mount Vernon Station, transfer to Skagit Transit route 513 (westbound). Get off at 10th Street & Q Avenue.
• At 10th Street & Q Avenue, transfer to Skagit Transit route 410. Get off at the Anacortes ferry dock.

Also note: From the beginning of July to the end of September, you can take the Victoria Clipper directly from Seattle to Friday Harbor.)

2. We took a (Washington State) ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor.

3. To get around town, we walked. Friday Harbor is one square mile, and (aside from some strange crosswalk issues near the ferry dock) very walkable.

4. To get around the island, we used San Juan Transit‘s shuttle. The name is a bit misleading, as it’s optimized (and priced) for tourists, but since we were tourists, we found it extremely useful. We took it to Lime Kiln State Park (aka Whale-Watch Park) every day we were there. (Sadly, we didn’t see any Orcas this time.)


1. We took a (Washington State) ferry from Friday Harbor to Sidney.

2. A few blocks from the ferry dock in Sidney, we caught a Victoria Regional Transit bus (a double decker!) to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. The bus stopped about two blocks from our hotel.

3. To get around Victoria, we walked, but we could have purchased VRT day passes and ridden the bus.

Back to Seattle:

We took the Victoria Clipper to Pier 69, walked up to 3rd Avenue, and took our beloved 27 home.


• The scenery on San Juan! To this bus chick, the Pacific Northwest is paradise.

View from Lime Kiln


Lime Kiln View


View from Lime Kiln

• The San Juan Transit shuttle driver who shared his knowledge about the history of the island on the way to Lime Kiln.

• Cool Sidney bus stop signs. They included full schedules and maps. (They also included ads. More on that later.)

Bus-stop sign in Sidney

• The double-decker bus we rode to Victoria. Talk about great views!

Sidney double-decker bus
A VRT bus just like the one we rode

• Sidney bus (stop) luh:


Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria. The carvings (especially the masks) were exquisite.

• Tea at the Empress. (Yes, I know the place is designed to separate tourists from their money, but I liked it. Sue me.) I would fight someone for another one of those curry sandwiches.

A brief layover

I’m leaving town in a few hours (for Friday Harbor!), so I won’t be posting this week.

In the meantime…

1. Guess these routes. Jack W., a super-smart transit planner who also happens to be a Transportation Choices Coalition board member, prepared his own form of bus Jeopardy (Jeopardy Haiku) for TCC’s last house party.

Here are a few I liked:

On this road, run routes
Eight, Forty-two, Forty-late;
This County, Sims-led

Redmond – Overlake
Five twenty will toll for thee
Seattle and Montlake

Route one ninety four’s
Faster; has twin Beacon bores
And freeways crossing

Jack says these are easy, but I don’t mind easy. Who knows the answers?

2. Share your bus knowledge. To complement his gorgeous photographs of Seattle parks, Matthew from Fremont* is planning to take pictures from Seattle’s most scenic bus routes. Right now, he’s compiling a list. Got any suggestions? (A few of mine: 39, 53, 46, 209)

3. Ride Thursday. Don’t forget to Dump the Pump on the 21st!

Dump the Pump, 2007


*This is a correction from my original post. I originally misreported Matthew’s neighborhood as Capitol Hill.

Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road (please!), part II

Congratulations, Shannon!Last night, we left work early to attend Bus Nerd’s Godson Shannon’s graduation from Ingraham (545 + 41+ 346). Thanks to Friday evening traffic, we were running late, so late that we were afraid we were going to miss Shannon’s walk. Fortunately, two young men who rode the 346 with us were also late to the graduation. They used their Sidekick to keep in touch with their graduate, and I used my eavesdropping skills to figure out just how much we had missed. (“She says it’s hella crowded–oh, the principal just gave his speech.”) Thank goodness for modern technology (and teenage texting trife).

Unfortunately, the young men with the Sidekick weren’t the only folks making use of handheld devices. Our 346 driver spiced up the ride by driving one-handed while chatting on his cellie.

Come on, man. If you’re going to go there, at least get a headset.

Sounder on Saturday

This Saturday, I’ll be participating in the Komen Puget Sound Race for the Cure. Happily, so will Sound Transit. They’ll be running a (festive) Sounder train, so those of you coming from Pierce and South King counties can ride to the race in comfort–without fighting (and paying) for parking. The train heads out from Tacoma at 6:30 AM (arriving at the race at 7:30) and returns from King Street Station at 12:30 PM.

Ride for the Cure (photo courtesy of Sound Transit)


I won’t be on train, but I sure hope my race day transportation works out better than it did last year.

Is this seat taken? (or, What a bus chick will do for love)

Bus Chick, with the man she commits bus fouls forBecause Bus Nerd and I “met” on the bus we ride to work, our early courtship was supplemented by some infatuation-enhancing bus conversations, the kind that actually made me look forward to my commute. Pre-Bus Nerd, I relished my mornings. I loved that I didn’t have to be at work at any particular time, and I never rushed. If I missed my regular bus, well, there’d be another in 15 minutes. More time for NPR. After I got to know him (and which departure time would likely result in an encounter with him), I warmed up to rushing and regularly found myself running up the hill toward the bus stop, coat unbuttoned, bus chick bag half packed.

The problem was, there was no guarantee we’d get to sit together. Back then, I got on downtown (about midway down 4th Avenue), and he got on several stops later, at Montlake. Folks, I’m not proud of this, but it’s time I came clean: I wanted to sit by Bus Nerd so badly that I regularly (and intentionally) committed a minor bus foul: I saved him a seat.

I used the standard tactics: leaving my bus chick bag on the seat next to me (a shocking transgression by a woman who prides herself on her impeccable bus etiquette) and pretending to be busy digging through it each time new people boarded. Sometimes I even resorted to feigning sleep to avoid being asked to move it.

In my defense, I never held the seat if there weren’t others available (remind me to tell you about the time my sister, a much braver soul than I, almost started a bus riot by saving a seat on a standing-room-only bus), and I didn’t turn down anyone who directly asked to sit there–OK, one woman, but that was because Bus Nerd was right behind her and there were several seats open in the area. (Yikes. That one might actually be a sin to confess to Busfather.)

I still look forward to my rides with Bus Nerd, but I don’t miss those nerve-racking seat-saving days, and I still haven’t forgiven myself for breaking the bus riders’ code.

Your turn. Ever intentionally committed a bus foul?

One thing I actually miss about driving

Today I rented a Flexcar (for the first time since January) and brought along two of my favorite CDs for the ride. I have to say, there’s nothing like rollin’ through the streets of your city on a sunny(ish) afternoon, windows down, blasting Erykah Badu’s “Cleva” as loud as it will go.

Somehow, the Schmipod (which has its uses but which I rarely listen to on the bus, as it distracts me from reading and prevents me from eavesdropping) doesn’t compare.

Fellow car-free types: What do you miss about driving?

Northbound 48, 8:55 AM (or, At last!)

As I board, I greet one of my regular drivers.

Driver (grinning): “Hey, you’ve got priority, right?”

Me (grinning harder): “You noticed.”

No one’s offered me a seat yet, but these days (second trimester and feelin’ fine), I don’t really need one.

I look forward to the day when I’m big enough for a driver to make the bus kneel for me.