Monthly Archives: March 2008

Japanese “etiquette police” take on bus foulers

Yokohama transit types, beware the Smile-Manners Squadron!

From a recent BBC article:

…transport authorities in Yokohama – a port city south of Tokyo – have appointed a team of manners enforcers, the Smile-Manner Squadron, to try to curb … bad behaviour.

The team is mostly made up of over-60s, well acquainted with the standards of conduct associated with the “old Japan”.

But many of these enforcers will be accompanied by younger bodyguards, should their etiquette advice – diplomatically given, of course – not prove welcome.

(Thanks for the link, Chris!)

Apparently, Yokohamans commit some of the same bus fouls as residents of our fair city.

… failing to offer your seat to pregnant and elderly people, chatting loudly on mobile phones, applying make-up in public, and listening to music on “leaky” headphones.

I’ve been itching to issue citations for these (and other) transit transgressions for years. Anyone down to play bodyguard?

Lady Liberty marries Mr. Transit

Streetfilms has the video.

Thousands of people flocked to the NY International Auto Show at the Javits Center on Saturday. In the midst of it all, Lady Liberty ended her 100 year “spectacularly combustible love affair” with the automobile. Lady Liberty said, “Frankly, this relationship has just gotten to be much more work than it’s worth. My health, liberty and freedom have suffered greatly, and now I hope that my new relationships will finally give me security and happiness.”

Score another one for the bus nerds.

Eastbound 3, 1:45 PM

An off-duty driver is sitting in the front section, chatting with the on-duty driver. Both are apparently part-timers who work out of the same base (Atlantic).

On-duty driver: “I’m finally getting enough hours to cover everything; it was a struggle for a while.”

Off-duty driver: “That’s good. It’s always good when you can meet your bills.”

On-duty driver: “Yeah–for a while there they were calling, talking about they were going to ruin my credit. I said, ‘How are you going to ruin something I don’t even have?'”

Just in time for spring…

One of the most common reasons Seattle people give for not getting rid of their cars is that they need to drive to get out of the city*. It’s one thing to give up driving to and from work and for the odd errand, but it’s hard for Northwesterners to imagine a life without hiking, camping, skiing**, snowshoeing, or just getting closer to some of the beautiful scenery that surrounds us. Fellow transit types, I have good news. I have just been introduced to my new favorite Web site (OK, so it’s not my all-time favorite, but I’m prone to hyperbole), Hike Metro. As the name implies, it provides a comprehensive guide to hikes in Western Washington that you can reach by bus.

An excerpt from the introduction:

Despite the limitations of the current transit system, it’s quite possible to use public transit right now to get to the outdoors. This guide shows you how to make use of King County’s extensive bus system, as well as other transit options, to get out and enjoy many hikes without a car. And these hikes aren’t necessarily all just strolls in the park, although some walks through city parks in Bellevue and Seattle are included. Full day outings are emphasized in this guidebook, and quite a few of the hikes are strenuous. Some multi-day backpack trips are included as well. These trips are real wilderness adventures, and proper wilderness skills and equipment are needed to accomplish them enjoyably.

This is a great resource. It includes lots of day hikes (some right in the city), and even multi-day excursions for those brave enough to bring their gear. Our little bus family will definitely try one of the day hikes this summer. The longer ones will have to wait until Chicklet can carry her own pack.

* Though Bus Nerd and I have always rented a car for our annual pilgrimage to Tahoma, we have managed several car-free out-of-town excursions (Mount Vernon, Friday Harbor, and a fall foliage tour of the Cascades, to name a few).
** I posted a few resources for bus-based skiers back in December of 2006.

Busing with baby, part III

The first 20 weeks of busing with Chicklet have worked out pretty well. I love traveling around the city with her, especially now that she’s alert enough to take in her surroundings and enjoy the ride. Of course, we’ve had our share of challenges. One of the biggest is getting ourselves ready to leave the house. This is partly because timing–Chicklet’s needs with Metro’s schedules–is an issue, and partly because we always get held up figuring out what to wear. Check it:

Because I carry Chicklet in a front-pack carrier, I have to stick with clothing I can wear with it. This is not as easy as it sounds. It’s been cold and rainy since the little one was born, which means we both must dress warmly. None of my coats is big enough to zip up over her, so the shirt I choose must be warm enough to compensate for an open coat. It also must be thin enough to fit under the carrier (so much for sweaters) and–since at least half of the time Chicklet’s facing inward, and she’s especially fond of spitting up on her mother–machine washable. All of these constraints leave me with a handful of viable outfits, which I constantly rotate. Just when I had mastered the art of bus fashion!

Bus chicks in training must also accept some wardrobe restrictions. Because Chicklet’s outside a lot, I tend to focus on keeping her warm. Most of the time, I put her in a snowsuit, to make sure she stays nice and toasty while we’re walking or waiting. (Of course, once we get inside she’s invariably too toasty, and taking her out of the carrier to remove and then replace her layers is decidedly inconvenient. I digress.) When Chicklet wears a snowsuit, she has to wear an outfit that will fit well under it, which means no bells or whistles. So much for that Easter dress.

On days when it’s warm enough for her to go without the snowsuit, she must wear an outfit that covers her feet, which dangle below the carrier, exposed to the elements. Socks and shoes don’t stay on and are silly at her age, and bare feet are, of course, out of the question. Unless it’s a special occasion or she’s posing for pictures, she, like her mother, is forced to rotate the same few outfits–mostly one-piece, pajama-like numbers. This wouldn’t be so bad (after all, Chicklet’s only concern is that she’s warm and comfortable), except that we have to do laundry a lot. Also, thanks to the generosity of family and friends, our little BCiT has an extensive (and adorable) wardrobe, most of which rarely sees the light of day. I guess some lucky baby’s going to get a lot of very lightly used hand-me-downs.

Chick and Chicklet at the Market

Waiting time (or, Timing the wait)

WaitingWhen it comes to waiting for the bus, I’m more than a little bit anal. I like to get to the stop early, have my pass ready (on “pay as you enter” rides, that is), my book out, and be standing right next to the sign by the time the bus arrives. (Yeah, yeah–just call me the driver’s pet.)

Bus Nerd’s approach to waiting is a bit (OK, a lot) different from mine. (I wrote about our differences in a recent Real Change column about riding styles.) He’d rather not waste time waiting at a stop, so he rushes out the door at the last minute — often just as the bus is arriving, occasionally after it has already passed. If you added up my daily 2-5 minutes and his occasional 15, we’d probably come out just about even.

Your turn. Where do you stand on standing (and sitting) at stops?

Upcoming events for transit types

1) Post-Proposition 1: The Future of Transportation in Seattle

What: A panel discussion sponsored by Friends of Seattle
When: Thursday, March 20, 2008, 5:30-7:30PM
Where: Spitfire (2219 4th Ave)
How much: $10 suggested donation (includes a drink)

After the failure of Prop. 1, we’re all asking: what’s next?

Join us for introductory remarks by Mayor Greg Nickels, and stay to hear from our panel of speakers:

Members from both sides of the Prop. 1 debate, including…
*Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago, Chair of the Transportation Committee
*Tim Gould, the Sierra Club’s Transportation Chair
*Rob Johnson, Transportation Choices Coalition’s Regional Policy Director
*Greg Walker, Sound Transit’s Policy and Planning Officer
*Moderated by the Seattle Channel’s C.R. Douglas

2) Ride the Lunch Bus

What: A bus tour of Sound Transit’s light rail construction
When: Friday, March 28, 2008, 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Where: Meet at the southwest corner of 5th Ave S. & S. King Street
How much: Free, but you have to buy your own lunch
RSVP: To Wilbert Santos (206-398-5300;

Take a guided tour of Link light rail construction on Sound Transit’s Lunch Bus. Tour the Link light rail initial segment followed by lunch at a local eating establishment. Next tour:
SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Tukwila and Airport

I’ve taken this tour, and I found it profoundly interesting–worth the 3+ hours it cost me. If you can’t make it this time, check Sound Transit’s site to find out the dates of future tours.