Monthly Archives: December 2007

Busing with baby, part I

This morning, Chicklet and I hopped the 48 to the KUOW studios so I could chat with Jeannie Yandel, host of Sound Focus, about life on the bus with a baby. (After the interview, I learned that Ms. Yandel, who hails from Chicago, is also a bus chick.) If you’re interested in knowing how my first five weeks of bus motherhood have gone, you can tune in to Sound Focus tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:00 PM. I’ll be posting a more extensive version here sometime around the New Year.

Update: For those who are interested, here’s a direct link to the interview.

‘Tis the season: car-free shopping, revisited

One of my favorite readers, Chris from Port Townsend, recently wrote to request a post about shopping on the bus. Fortunately, I’ve already written one. (Actually, it was originally a Real Change column, but I posted it here, too.)

For those who missed it last year, some tips on car-free shopping:

Ah, the holiday season: the time of year when we gather with family, give thanks for our blessings, and spend as much money as humanly possible. What better time to review my bus-chick-tested shopping tips?

Tip 1: Buy less. The simplest and most effective way to avoid the hassle of shopping without a car is to stop shopping so doggone much. Your decision to try life as a bus chick means you’re probably interested in conserving — your money, the world’s resources, or both — and spending less time at the mall will surely help you accomplish this.

Tip 2: Use a different kind of highway. If you don’t need a particular item immediately, consider ordering it online. If it’s a gift that has to be shipped, you save two trips: the first, to the store to buy the gift, and the second to the post office to mail it. In cases where you want to see an item before you buy it (or you don’t want to pay shipping costs), you can still use the Internet to research products and prices. That way, when you’re ready to buy, you’ll only have to make one stop.

Tip 3: Concentrate! The bus-based life is not well-suited to the “running around” that has become the norm in our consumer-oriented, car-centric culture. (And who says that’s a bad thing?) Shop in places that have a wide variety of stores concentrated in a small area, so you can take care of several purchases each time you make a trip. I tend to shop downtown, mostly because it’s the concentrated shopping area that is most easily accessible to me. And speaking of downtown…

Tip 4: Shop on your way. The next time you’re in the center of our fair city waiting for a transfer, try using that time to take care of business. When I’m downtown and in need of a particular item, I decide how much time I’ll need, check the schedule of the bus I’m waiting to catch, and then head to the nearest store that has what I need. If I’m not in the market for anything in particular but the wait between buses is especially long, I’ll use the down time “pre-shop” for stuff (greeting cards, vacuum-cleaner bags, printer cartridges — whatever I’m closest to) that I know I’ll need in the future.

Tip 5: Be Flexible. Most of the items people regularly shop for can be easily reached and carried home on the bus. (Note: If it’s big enough to take up a seat of its own, consider traveling during off-peak times.) For those times when you want to purchase an item that is outside the bus’s coverage area or that exceeds your carrying capacity (and the limits of your fellow riders’ patience), rent a Flexcar. For all you Craig’s Listers and garage salers: They even have pickups.

In this particular column, I was constrained by word count limits–and the fact that I happen to loathe shopping. Bus-riding shopaholics: Feel free to add your own tips here.

An evening of firsts (and one second)

Last night, on the way to her first Transportation Choices Coalition meeting, Chicklet took her first ride on the 27. The ride was definitely more thrilling for mother (whose favorite bus happens to be the 27) than it was for daughter, who slept through the ride. During her nap, Chicklet missed the chance to witness her first bus mack, one of the relatively rare driver-on-passenger variety.

At the meeting, my little chicklet received her second award in a week (the first being the November Golden Transfer): a lifetime membership in TCC. Check it:

Rosa became a TCC member at not quite five weeks old

She was less than grateful, fussing for most of the meeting and generally leaving a bad impression on the other transit types who attended. At least she was quiet on the 27 ride home.

And while you’re providing feedback…

The King County Transit Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, has started working with Metro’s IT staff to find ways to improve the agency’s Web site. In addition to providing our own suggestions for improvements, we’re collecting additional suggestions from the folks we know. So…

Got ideas about how to make Metro’s Web presence more useful to customers? Post them here.

To start the process, the TAC will receive a presentation from a Metro staff member to learn more about how the IT group at Metro works. TAC meetings are open to the public, so if you’re interested attending (note that you won’t be able to provide suggestions for specific improvements during the meeting), here’s the info:

Tuesday, December 11th, 6pm
King Street Center, 8th Floor Conference Center, 201 S Jackson Street

UPDATE: The presentation about the Web site is scheduled to start at 7:20 PM.

About that fare increase…

As many of you know by now, there is likely to be a bus fare increase this spring. Given the price of fuel and transit funding constraints, I don’t think Metro really had a choice, so I grudgingly support the increase.

On the other hand, I think it’s time for the state and the county to rethink the way transit is paid for. Currently, Metro’s has two major sources of funding: sales taxes and fares. I’d like to see us explore other options (congestion pricing, tolling, gas taxes, etc.) and explore the possibility of making transit free. My hope is that doing this would have two benefits: reducing fare disputes, thereby making buses faster and safer, and encouraging more people to ride. I talked about this a bit (a very little bit) on KUOW’s Weekday a couple of weeks ago.

Your turn. Should Metro increase fares? If so, is 25 cents enough? If not, how do you think the agency should address the funding shortfall? (One idea, of course, is more bus wraps. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)