Monthly Archives: November 2008

Busing this Friday? Check your schedule!

Schedule memorizers (and folks who plan to ride the bus on Friday), please make note: The day after Thanksgiving will be a “partial holiday” for Metro.

On the day after Thanksgiving, a new “partial holiday” schedule will be in place. It features more bus service than on weekends, but less than normal weekdays. Many routes that will not run on Thanksgiving will be in operation on Friday – but with fewer trips than a regular weekday. Both the printed and online bus schedules indicate whether each trip on each individual Metro route will operate on a partial holiday. Look for the “H” symbol next to individual trip times to see if a specific trip is cancelled on Nov. 28.

The easiest way to find out which routes are affected is to check this list.

Also note:

Metro is using the new partial holiday schedule on Nov. 28 because it’s more cost effective, since traditionally ridership on the day after Thanksgiving is about 40 percent lower than a normal weekday. Metro also plans to operate with this partial holiday schedule on Dec. 26, Jan. 2, Jan. 19 and Feb. 18.

Limited bus service on my favorite holiday? At least this year I’ll be ready.

My new favorite bus rider

Last night, on a late-evening 71, I sat next to a man who was really into cigars. He was carrying a handful, which he had apparently just purchased at a nearby smoke shop.

“They’re rejects,” he told me. “Maybe they’re rolled too tight or something. They normally sell for 15 bucks* a piece.”

Of course, that prompted me to ask about the qualities of a cigar that costs the equivalent of eight peak-hour bus rides (not including transfers) which prompted him to explain about fine tobacco, and timing, and hand-rolling. It was quite an education.

Somewhere in the course of the conversation (as I am wont to do), I mentioned Bus Nerd. The cigar aficionado, who was definitely my elder, but not by more than a decade (decade and a half, tops), raised his eyebrows.

“You’re old enough to have a husband?” he asked.**

Were it not for said husband and my own unwillingness to commit a bus foul (oh yeah, and those cigars), I would have kissed the man.

* Apparently, $15 is nothing. They can (and do!) go much higher, and (as with everything else expensive) there are people who actually buy them.
** And how! Perhaps it was my neon-green 12th Man gloves (thanks, Luke!) that cast a youthful pall–er, I mean glow.

Off peak is the new peak (or, At least Chicklet’s still free)

As expected, the King County Council has approved a phased fare increase, which will begin in February of 2009. The details:

Metro fare increases

(Sorry for the bitmap; I couldn’t get the table format to work when cutting and pasting.)

$2.25? Yeesh. When I started my bus-riding career, peak fare was 55 cents–for a minute, before it got raised to 65. My parents, concerned by my tendency to leave jackets, umbrellas, and et cetera on bus seats, passed up a pass in favor of a book of bus tickets, which they doled out as needed. Come to think of it, Metro didn’t even have student fares way back then. Or maybe it’s just that it was so long ago, my memory has faded. I digress.

There’s not too much to do about this. KC Metro is underwater and has very limited options for getting out of its current jam. I don’t mind using some of my tremendous transportation savings to pay my fair (pun intended) share, but I hope Metro makes good on its promise to distribute more free-ride coupons to the county’s low-income residents. And I really hope there will be an easier way (or better yet–no requirement) to upgrade annual passes this time.

Another cool bus tool

A couple of months back, Ron from Queen Anne (a fellow 3/4 rider and fan of Smooth Jazz) sent me a link to a website that I’ve just gotten around to checking out. (So far, I’ve only had time for a cursory evaluation, so all of my observations should be considered with that in mind.) The site’s called One Bus Away, and it’s basically MyBus with a few improvements:

• Arrival info for every bus stop, not just a few timepoints.
• A telephone number you can call to quickly get real-time arrival info when you’re waiting at your stop.
• An updated website that makes it easier to find arrival info when you’re waiting at home.
• Enhanced mobile tools for iPhones, text-messaging and other mobile devices.

The phone number is useful for those of us who don’t walk around with our faces in PDAs (a la Bus Nerd) and are too cheap to pay for Internet service on our phones. The system works like Metro’s automated schedule information line, except it provides–hallelujah!– real-time information. Like Metro’s schedule line, it helps you identify your stop number if you don’t know it, but the process is necessarily tedious. It works best for stops you use often enough to memorize the number.

One Bus Away’s other claim to fame is the fact that it provides information for every stop in Metro’s system. This is definitely cool. As for the other stuff:

I’m not sure how the SMS option differs from the one MyBus offers–MyBus’s query actually seems easier to type–and while the website may be easier to use than MyBus, I wouldn’t call it easy. (To be fair, the person who created this site is a grad student donating his time, and–as Bus Nerd can attest–Metro doesn’t expose its data in the most bus-tool-developer-friendly manner.)

Bottom line: One Bus Away is worth checking out. Thanks for the tip, Ron!

Buses are for everyone

Earlier today, our bus fam headed over to Volunteer Park to raise our voices in support of other families’ rights. (We were not down with the three-bus trip–48 + 43 + 10–to a park two miles from our house and so took the 48 north and made the rest of the trip on foot.) At the rally, we saw many folks who had been on the 48 with us and recognized many of our favorite bus regulars. (You know you’re a bus chick if…, item #21: “When you’re at a big gathering [sporting event, festival, concert, fair] you see several people you remember from the bus.”)

I have to say, all the clever, 8-themed signs had me wishing (yet again) that my third-favorite route, which would have gotten us within spitting distance of the park, ran on weekends. But I digress.

For Chicklet-related reasons, we left the festivities early. We weren’t the only ones.

Southbound 48, 2-ish: A sign-waving bus chick

Speaking of tolls…

The Daily Score recently posted an excellent analysis of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s study on tolling. The study investigates the effectiveness of tolls at reducing congestion but also tackles the issue of tolling fairness head on. From the DS post:

But the benefits of tolling aren’t spread around evenly. Instead, congestion pricing would create “winners” and “losers.” The biggest “winners” would be drivers whose time is worth a lot of money: commercial truckers most of all, but also wealthy private citizens. (If you make $100 per hour, spending $5 to save 15 minutes is a bargain!) Transit riders would also win, since they’ll face shorter travel times at no personal cost.

The “losers” would include people priced off the roadway–folks who’d prefer to drive, but can’t afford to–as well as those who would keep on driving, but pay more in tolls than they receive in time benefits. Perhaps worst-off would be the folks who succumbed to the “drive ’til you qualify” phenomenon: families who moved to a distant suburb where housing seemed more affordable, but where transit simply isn’t an option and car-dependence is the norm.

But as the PSRC report points out, road tolling creates a stream of revenue that can be used to address these fairness questions head on.

The author goes on to point out that our current system (of providing free road space) is also unfair.

So in the end, the real debate isn’t be about whether congestion pricing can be fair. It’s about what kind of unfairness we’re willing to live with. Do we want the perceived unfairness of a system that asks people to pay for a limited resource? Or do we want the undeniable unfairness of a transportation system that makes it next-to-impossible to get by without a car?

Excellent question.

Driving takes a toll

Got an opinion about tolls on 520? Take the 520 Tolling Implementation Committee’s survey before November 30th. According to the committee’s website, “Your suggestions will be included in a report to the state legislature in January 2009, setting the stage for legislative decisions.”

The ultimate ride read

After five long years, Ms. Chloe Anthony Wofford (aka Toni Morrison), the writer for whom I gladly miss stops, whose books I actually buy (to avoid the library waiting list and because I want to keep them) and occasionally even sleep with, has released a new novel. The reviews are glowing, but I don’t need reviews to know I’ll love it. Bring on the drawbridges, long lights, multiple bikes and lift passengers (no disrespect), slow payers, and ride-delaying bus foulers! I need some time with A Mercy.