Monthly Archives: July 2008

July Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes (for the second time) to the city I’m proud to call home, the S-E-A double-T L-E (don’t trip; you know you have that CD lurking somewhere in the depths of your music collection), Seattle, Washington, USA. On three consecutive Sundays this summer, Seattle will close some streets to cars.

• On Aug. 24, 14th Avenue East will be closed from East Republican Street to Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill from noon to 6 p.m. The park’s Western Loop will also be car-free.
• Rainier Avenue South will be closed between Orcas and Alaska streets on Aug. 31 from 3-6 p.m.
• Alki Avenue in West Seattle will be closed to motor vehicles from noon to 6 p.m on Sept. 7

Pinch me…I must be dreaming! The only way this could be better is if one of those streets was the one in front of my house. (OK, there are many ways it could be better–more streets, more hours, more Sundays–but I can definitely work with this.)

Some business owners are feeling salty (not to mention caught off guard) and are afraid they’ll lose business if their customers cannot drive to them.

“We might as well close for the day,” said Joe Fraser, general manager of Duke’s Chowder House on Alki. West Seattle is one of the neighborhoods affected.

“Closing the street for construction, I can understand. But closing the street just for the sake of closure, that does not seem well thought out,” he said.

Fraser said summer Sundays are among the restaurant’s best days, when customers come from throughout the region for dining on the deck or sidewalk.

(Source: Seattle PI)

I’m guessing they’ll be surprised by the number of people (people who actually live in the neighborhood, for example) who come out to enjoy our streets on foot, bikes, skateboards, and et cetera. I, for, one, will be hitting up all three of these events, and, as we learned earlier today, car-free types have plenty of cash to spare.

So thanks to my city, for stepping out there just a little bit, and for giving me hope that it will be a place little Chicklet will grow up to love as much as I do.

Not a bad way to travel
The 2-0-sickness, as experienced from the EBWT

How you like us now, Portland? (Sorry–that just came out. It’s all love.)

More on (not) spending

As I said before, we bus chicks aren’t just sexy; we also have big bank accounts. From an APTA press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – A person can save more than $8,000 per year annually by taking public transportation instead of driving based on today’s gas prices, according to new analysis released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). According to APTA’s “Monthly Transit Savings Report” a person can save an average of $672 dollars per month based on today’s gas price of $3.909 as reported by AAA. The savings are more than the average household pays for food in a year.

And there’s more. Out of the 20 cities with the highest ridership, Seattle ranks #4 for savings (over $8,400 per year), based on the cost of a monthly transit pass and the price of gas in the region.

You can calculate your own savings (with or without car ownership) at the APTA’s website.

The biggest transportation subsidy

A tidbit from an interesting (read: transit-friendly) article in Slate:

You think the government is wasting a few billion a year on mass-transit subsidies. But what about the huge subsidies for cars and trucks?


What hasn’t been acknowledged is that the automobile is supported by a government subsidy that dwarfs anything provided to mass transit. How big is the subsidy? By my (admittedly extremely crude) calculations, it could total nearly $100 billion per year.

Can I get an amen?

There’s more to it, of course–but that’s what the link is for.

Wasteful subsidy


Another class III bus foul

This one, like the first, took place on the 27, which, remarkably, still holds the top spot on my list of favorite routes.

Dog on seat
He was elderly.

Dogs on buses? OK. Dogs on bus seats? Not OK.

Did I mention that he was licking the headrest?

Custom dictates that I close out this post with a basketball metaphor–one that doesn’t exactly apply but at least gives me an opportunity to squeeze in a shout to my favorite sport. (An example: “A foul of this magnitude might result in the whole dang team getting sold out from under its loyal [yet stadium-weary] fans.”) Unfortunately, I can’t do that today, as I am officially boycotting the NBA. Hmph!

Chicklet and the 27, part I

It seems that little Chicklet is a bit of an early talker. At eight months and some change, she said her first word (aside from “dada” and “mama,” that is): “kitty.” This is somewhat of a surprise, since we don’t have any pets, and she’s only seen a few living, breathing cats in her short life. (Our neighbors’ cat, Otis, is apparently pretty inspiring.)

My first word (at about the same age) was “more.” It is a concept that has defined my life ever since (you can never have too much chocolate ice cream or listen to “If I Was Your Girlfriend” too many times in a row), so it will be interesting to see how (or if) “kitty” comes to define Chicklet. Maybe she’ll grow up to be a cat lady. Or a veterinarian. Or a person who’s into leopard prints.

But I digress.

What I want to tell you about is Chicklet’s second word, which–I swear on The Book–was “bus.”

This morning, as she breakfasted on homemade applesauce and pseudo-Cheerios, the 27 stopped at a light outside our kitchen window.

Me (for the kajillionth time since her birth): “Rosa, see the bus?”
Chicklet (for the first time ever): “Bup.”
Me (incredulous): “Bus?”
Chicklet (emphatic): “Bup!”

She repeated it all morning. “Bup,” when she wanted more applesauce, “bup,” to get out of her high chair, and again (perhaps to restore my belief that she actually understands what the word means) when the 942 passed. Since then, she’s been saying it every time she sees or hears a bus, which, given the location of our home and our preferred mode of transportation, is pretty much constantly.

Such a smart girl. Before we know it, she’ll be memorizing schedules.

Speaking of the future…

Last week, Sound Transit released its new 15-year plan. The ST board is expected to decide whether to put it on the November ballot by July 24th.

Yes, please.

As you might have noticed, I’d much rather write about what’s happening on buses and (Lord willing!) trains than the nuts and bolts of transit planning. Fortunately, the folks at Seattle Transit Blog are doing an excellent job of covering this. They have all the detail, discussion, and analysis a transit geek (or concerned citizen) could ask for.

Some of my best friends drive cars

Another term for the glossary:

HBC, n: Honorary bus chick. A person who, usually because of circumstances beyond her control (living or working in an area not served by transit or physical limitations that preclude excessive walking), does not regularly ride the bus, but who otherwise supports the bus chick agenda. Some examples of this support:

• Advocating for more and better transit in her area
• Happily riding the bus when the opportunity presents itself
• Planning events and gatherings that are accessible by bus
• Possessing generally good feelings about the bus
Purchasing a cool bus t-shirt for a bus-riding daughter-in-law

Like full-fledged bus chicks, HBCs often feel out of step with the car-dominated communities in which they live. They, too, look forward to a pollution-, traffic-, and sprawl-free future.

Your bus is pwned

A warning for bus wireless users: Bus Nerd suspects a hacker.

This morning I was on the 545 (coach 9549) that left Montlake around 9:30 (yes, thanks to the 48 I was running late). When I tried to connect my laptop to the coach’s wireless Internet connection, I saw an unsecured network, identified as “bus_pwnage,” in the wireless network list.

Translation of “pwn” from hacker-speak (leet-speak) is “own,” the concept of “owning” a victim’s laptop, web site, etc. by hacking it. The bus has likely been pwned by some hacker (h4x0r). [This means that] a connected user might try to visit, but the compromised bus could redirect her to a hacker site that hands control of the machine to the attacker.

Note that a suggestive network identifier is not definitive proof of breached security, but a hack is the simplest explanation for what I observed. Other supporting evidence: The signal strength for “bus_pwnage” was a constant 100% the entire ride, meaning the originator was travelling with the coach, consistent with the normal bus wireless scenario.

Bus Nerd’s visual aid

How could this happen? Presumably some bus rider with a laptop + skills + nothing better to do exploited a vulnerability in the access point that ST uses to provide wireless Internet access on the bus. The attacker gains control of the access point and, among many resulting powers, she could change the name of the network from something like “Sound Transit” to “bus_pwnage” to announce to the world (well, maybe just the passengers) her defeat of the oppressive regime of Sound Transit. Such a feat isn’t that hard since IT security professionals consider unsecure wireless networks (the kinds found in cafés and yes, public busses) to be as safe as Clay Bennett at Seattle Center. [You had to go there?]

If this was indeed a hack, is the vulnerability limited to just this vehicle? That’s better than a fleet of vulnerable coaches. I let the driver know what I saw, and he seemed hep to the danger and indicated he’d take some (unspecified) action.

As for the alleged bus hacker, will she / he be satisfied with coach 9549, or will she tag every bus ST wireless-enabled bus? Is this a vanity vandalism ploy, or a real threat to bus riders’ computer security? And think of the pandemonium that would ensue if hacked wireless were the jumping-off point to taking over a coach’s external route display – 43’s that advertised themselves as 48’s and other such tricks would be the bus apocalypse.

My guess is it’s just vandalism (for now). I like bus wireless, so I hope ST can demonstrate that my incident was actually benign or let us know they’ve taken steps to prevent intrusions. Until then, bus web-surfers must watch for sharks…

I don’t know, I’m kind of digging the idea of changing (and not just the numbers on the front) some of those ubiquitous 43s to 48s.

Good lookin’ out, Bus Nerd.

Speaking of trickling…

This was the scene when a young BCiT lost her lunch (actually, it was probably more like a between-meal snack, judging from the bags of popcorn I saw the other kids holding) on the 554:


I can sympathize with the poor dear–and not just because of those enjoyable months I spent busing while pregnant. I experienced a similar episode back in my early bus chick days–except that I lost my breakfast (I was on the 2, on my way to school) and, because buses had windows that opened sideways back then, there was no caution tape involved. But I digress.

The driver warned us to stay in the front half of the bus until he switched coaches at Eastgate. He didn’t have to tell us twice. We passengers stayed bunched together in the front with the windows open, practicing one of the most essential bus riding skills: breathing through our mouths.