Things that might confuse a Metro newbie (or, “Because we said so!”)

If you catch a northbound 43 at 23rd & John, you pay as you leave; however, if you catch a northbound 48 at 23rd & John, you pay as you enter. Similarly, if you catch an eastbound 545 at the Montlake Freeway Station, you pay as you leave, but if you catch the (much slower) 242 from the same location, and headed in the same direction, you’ll have to pay as you enter.

If you catch a southbound 48 at Montlake (the street-level stop) at 6:39 PM, it will take you all the way to Rainier Beach. If you catch a southbound 48 at Montlake at 6:53 PM, it will take you only as far as Columbia City.

The eastbound 3 from downtown goes all the way to 34th and Union…except when it terminates at 21st and Cherry.

Metro’s Trip Planner includes Sound Transit routes in its itineraries. Metro’s Tracker can tell you where any Sound Transit route is at any given moment. But, if you search for a Sound Transit schedule on Metro’s site, you will get a message telling you it doesn’t have that information; check Sound Transit’s website.

Of course, those of us who take pride in our transit geekdom know which routes originate downtown (and are therefore “pay as you leave”), or, at least, to check the sign by the fare box when we get on (better have the fare ready, just in case). We also know where to go to find the route and schedule information we need, and that the destination on the front of the bus is far more important than the number, even though we can’t explain why there aren’t different numbers for routes that go to different places.

But can we really expect newcomers and bus virgins to try this hard?

Bus Nerd recently took a short trip to Chicago and got around just fine (by using the system maps and information at stops and stations), without ever making a call, checking a website, or asking a driver. As I’ve mentioned before, much as I love taking the bus around here, we could use a little help in the “discoverability” department.

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