Monthly Archives: January 2008

January Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to the citizens of King County, who stepped up in 2007 and got their behinds on the bus:

King County Metro Transit bus ridership increased a record-setting 7 percent last year with an estimated 110 million passenger boardings in 2007.…

These preliminary estimates will be finalized in March, but it is believed to be the largest annual ridership increase for Metro in the past 10 years.

(And I thought 2006 was a good year.)

Busy Bellevue Transit Center (Photo courtesty of King County)

It’s good to see individuals making changes (taking advantage of new Transit Now service, perhaps?), despite the fact that our region has been (and is being) more than a little slow to move beyond the car.

County Kingpin, on the increase:

This shift in driving habits not only helps in the fight to reduce global warming, it increases the capacity of our roads and highways during the high-demand commute times,” Sims said. “With more buses and improved service coming on-line from our voter-approved Transit Now initiative, it will be easier every year for even more people to include the bus as their travel choice.

To all the new riders: thanks, and happy busing. I guess everybody really is doing it.

And speaking of the 48…

From Auryn on Capitol Hill, a Craigslist “missed connection” to Seattle’s longest (and latest) bus route:

Dear Bus Route 48:

Let me preface this by saying that I love you. You know exactly what I need. When I lived in Greenlake and had those random appointments in the Central District, you were my savior. And you go right by Ezell’s Chicken! Score!

Remember that one time I was in Greenwood? I forget why I was there, but my friends called me to hang out with them at Teddy’s off Roosevelt. At first I thought “how the hell will I get there?” Then I remembered you. Because of you, I was able to hang out with my friends and get wasted.

Oh God, let’s not forget when I had to go to Golden Gardens for a volunteer event. You were spot on that day. Just what I needed.


Bus 48, you’re everything I need. You’re awesome in almost every way. You go everywhere! You connect people of varying economic and social backgrounds too! How noble! I really, really love you, please know this…

but, [expletive] can you please be on time? like ever?…


Read the rest here.

A lot like that Dear John letter last April, no? The route gets around.

Speaking of bus music…

DJ Sabzi and Emcee Geologic, chillin on the porch (photo credit: Gabriel Teodros)Way back in November, Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars released their digital-only EP, Joe Metro (thanks for the heads up, Zac!). Last week, I finally got around to listening to the title track.

Love, love, love! This is a good song, and I’m not just saying that because it’s about the bus. Seattle OG Emcee Geologic is an excellent storyteller. He describes a ride on the 48 (aka forty-late), the perfect bus for a “Posse on Broadway”-style tour of the city, in a way that truly captures the flavor of the route.

Take six quarters out of the pocket
Drop it in the box
Hop the 48, off to pay homage
It stops often, I jot my observations, watchin’
Citizens walkin’ off of the Joe Metropolitan
Proletariats and wayward sons
With old Filipino men speakin’ in they native tongue
And the day is just begun
A brother in Girbauds in the back all alone
Marinatin’ in a pair of half-broken headphones
Muddled in rhymes
Same time begin to pen mine

He also reminds us of the good reasons to ride. A sample:

And I ponder if it’s time to save up and get a car
And pay for the gas that we’re takin’ from the war
I’d miss all the colorful faces
The spaces and places I’ve embraced…

Check the video if you’re of a mind. There’s a good shot of the 43 in the beginning, and lots of good shots of my (I mean our) city.

Did I mention that the beat is funky? Guess what’s going to be playing on the Schmipod (Bus Chick style: on repeat) for the entire month of February?

Southbound 48, 3 PM, cont’d

A continuation of last Thursday’s post:

Girl 2 asks to play the guitar, to show the boy a song she’s been describing. She takes it and plays for a minute, until Girl 1 grabs it and announces, “I’m going to play a song for the bus.” She starts strumming and sing-talking from her seat. Some sample lyrics:

“We’re on the bus.
“Look at all these people.
“There’s a guy with a hat.”

You get the idea.

The only people (besides me, ever in others folks’ business) who seemed to be paying her any mind were Girl 2 and the boy the guitar belonged to.

By the time we reached Cherry, she had tired of her song and turned her attention to the length of the ride.

Girl 1: “Are we there yet?”
Girl 2: No, we’re not even in the South End yet. This is the Central District.”
Girl 1: “Where are we going again?”
Girl 2: “The 2100 building. It’s down on Rainier.”

I’m going to have to find out more about this 2100 Building. It also happened to be the destination of the lost passenger I rode with earlier this month.

Ridin’ solo

Today , I rode the bus alone for the first time since Chicklet was born. (Yes, I realize that this makes me a bit pathetic, considering that my child is 12 weeks old. What can I say? She’s cute.) I have left the house without her twice–once for my birthday dinner and once for my friend Donna‘s birthday party–but Bus Nerd was with me on both occasions.

Today, I traveled solo to attend the King County Transit Advisory Committee‘s annual retreat. I wouldn’t necessarily call an extra-long meeting in our regular meeting room a retreat, especially since the room doesn’t have heat on the weekends. But I digress. It was good to commune with my fellow transit geeks without the distraction of a baby (Chicklet attended the last meeting with me), and it was especially good to ride by myself. I didn’t realize how much I missed:

• Running for the bus–not so easy with an 11-pound human strapped to one’s chest.
• Using my bus legs, also not easy (or safe) with a baby strapped on.
Reading! I used the short rides to (27) and from (14) downtown to make progress on Acacia, a novel I started way back at the end of October.

Come March, I’ll return to work and regular solo travels. Then I’ll surely miss these months of bus adventures with my miniature riding partner.

Runs on sun

What’s better than a solar-powered trash compactor at a bus stop? A solar-powered bus!

Chris from Port Townsend sent me a link to this post from the Inhabitat blog:

Tindo, a solar-powered electric bus, was introduced just last week in the city of Adelaide in Australia. The best part? It’s free to ride the supercute, supersolar Tindo.

Designed and manufactured by New Zealand-based Designline International, Tindo is charged by a photovoltaic system installed at the Adelaide Central Bus Station. It’s the largest grid-connected solar photovoltaic system in South Australia and charges the bus’s 11 batteries, which power the fully electric zero-emission engine. The bus has a range of 200 km between charges, more than enough to accommodate services within the city. It carries up to 42 passengers, a number that includes 25 seated passengers, 2 seats for disabled passengers, and 15 standing persons.

A bus that runs on sun (Source: Inhabitat)


Australia is, of course, the perfect place to test this technology. It might be a minute before anyone’s brave enough to try it here.

Southbound 48, 3 PM

A group of teenagers is sitting in the elevated, side-facing section of an articulated bus. Most of them seem to know each other, except one of the boys, who is holding an acoustic guitar as if he’s about to start playing. This sparks a conversation with two of the girls across from him.

Girl 1 (gesturing to the other kids sitting near her): “These are our roommates.”

Boy: “You live with all those people?”

Girl 2: “Yep. Up in the U District. It’s a queer house. Everybody who lives there is gay…oh, except for Paul, and Annette, and Julie*. Actually, I guess everybody’s straight but me and [pointing to Girl 1] her.”

Girl 1: “Yeah, and I’m a halfie.”

Girl 2: “Yeah. You’re a halfie. You hit with both sides of the bat.”

(*These were not the actual names used–not because I’m adhering to any journalistic principle–but because I can’t remember them. ;)

Transportation safety, part IV

Near the Kirkland Transit Center, those crosswalk flags we’re experimenting with:

Crosswalk flags in Kirkland

They’re supposed to make pedestrians more visible at dangerous intersections. I’m all for measures that make walking safer (especially since, according to this article, 55 Seattle pedestrians were hit by cars last month), but this one seems a bit impractical. Do people seriously not steal those things?

Along NE 40th Street in Redmond, all the bus stops have two buttons:

Bus stop on 40th

The one on the left controls a light, for people waiting in the dark. (I would have said, “for people waiting at night,”except it’s January in Western Washington, and dark is any time of day.) The one on the right controls a bus signal (like those at Montlake and Evergreen Point), so the bus driver knows to stop.

Two lights

Perhaps one of those would have prevented our mishap on Monday.

MLK Day, ’08 (or, Maybe Chicklet looked suspicious)

Yesterday, Bus Nerd and I celebrated our favorite holiday in our usual fashion: by busing to different events around the city. This year, Chicklet celebrated with us, and all went well (48 to Franklin for the annual rally and march, another Laura “Piece” Kelley sighting)–that is until we tried to catch the 8 from King Memorial Park, where the march ended, to the Center House, where the CD Forum was presenting a staged reading of “Our God is Marching On.”

Unfortunately, the 8 driver wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit. He drove past the sheltered stop (on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, I might add), where the three of us (and two other riders) were waiting, without so much as tapping the brake.

“Maybe there’s another bus right behind him,” one of the other would-be passengers suggested.

Maybe not. We waited in the cold the 20+ minutes until the next 8 arrived, our attitudes growing more bitter as our fingers grew stiffer. We were even denied the satisfaction of complaining, as Metro’s rider information line was closed in observance of the holiday.

New rider, new driver

Yesterday, I rode the 48 with a young woman who was very new to Seattle. When she boarded the bus, she first asked the driver if we were traveling south (having been told by the northbound driver that she was headed the wrong direction) and then asked if and at what time we would get to 24th Avenue South. Oddly, the driver of our bus didn’t know if he passed 24th Avenue South, despite the fact that it’s one block east of 23rd Avenue South, a street the 48 travels on for some distance. When he suggested she get off and retry the northbound 48, I decided to intervene. I told her that the bus we were on would get her where she was going.

“Can you call the people you’re supposed to meet and find out the cross street, so you’ll know where to get off?” I asked.

“I could if this bus had a pay phone.”

Perhaps trying to make up for his lack of route knowledge, the driver handed the woman his cell phone. “You have to dial the area code first.”

She looked at him blankly. “What’s the area code here?”

(Did I mention she was new to Seattle?)

She eventually completed the call and found out the cross street, which the driver knew. He told her she’d make it there before 6:30 PM, her scheduled meeting time. She thanked us both for our help and, after a pause, asked the driver one final question:

“Hey–how come some buses are pay as you leave and some are pay as you enter?”

“Oh,” he said, “we just do that to confuse people.”