Tag Archives: 4

2010: the bus year in review

Best ride of 2010: Easy: first ride with my sweet boy. (It didn’t hurt that it was on the 27.) More on the joys of busing with Busling in a few weeks, on his birthday.

Worst ride of 2010: Also easy: that terrible, terrible, morning-after-MLK-Day 4 ride. That one just might qualify as the worst bus ride of my life.

Driver of the year (really, every year): Smooth Jazz, of course.

Route of the year: ST550. Thanks to my role on the Regional Transit Task Force, I rode the 550 more times between March and October of this year than I did in all of my previous years buschickdom. I give the “7 of the Eastside” props for speed and frequency–even if it is always way too crowded.

And speaking of…

Most inspiring transit-related experience: My participation in the Regional Transit Task Force. It was amazing to see such a large group of people—with many different perspectives and priorities—come together to do what’s right for the citizens of this county. I’m proud to have been a part of it.

Most depressing transit-related experience: My participation in the Regional Transit Task Force. As we task force members were made painfully aware: Metro is going to experience deep cuts in the very near future. It was our job to find the fairest way to make the cuts, but “the best we could do under the circumstances” won’t mean much to the thousands of people who depend on transit to get around–or to the many who’d like to see this region provide some real alternatives to SOVs. Hard stuff.

On a happier note…

Best (personal) ride enhancements:
1) Bus info on the go. I resisted for many years, because I generally avoid buying “stuff” (especially electronic stuff) just because there’s something new to buy. (Folks, if you saw my laptop, you might feel inclined to pray for me.) But, I finally broke down and got a smart(ish) phone with a data plan. With two kids in tow, being able to use the internets to find out when the bus is coming (et cetera) is really, really useful.

2) Two-wheeled transportation. The bus is great for a lot of trips, but there are occasions–like when I have to get somewhere that’s too far to walk in a reasonable amount of time but not at all convenient by bus–when I wish I had some bike skills (and, in the absence of separated bike lanes, more courage). Earlier this week, after years of saying I should, I finally swallowed my fear, dusted off that Dahon I won three years ago, and rode to the tailor to take some pants in for repair.

The distance (about a 30-minute walk) was perfect for a trial trip. I stayed on back streets and hardly dealt with any cars, which made me wonder what, exactly, I had been so scared of. Plus, it was fun! I zoomed down hills (though I didn’t much enjoy struggling up them), and I didn’t have to wait (no disrespect to the bus) or (my peeve) rush. My goal for 2011 is to ride the bike (solo–not ready for the big leagues yet) for at least one trip per week. Come to think of it, maybe once every other week would be more realistic. Every month for sure. Hold me to it.

And now, I will return to my glass of Cristal(ino) and my Bus Nerd.

Happy 2011, everyone!

And counting

Earlier this month, I celebrated my car-free anniversary. As of March 5th (or was it the 6th?), I’m officially seven years in.

It’s been an eventful seven years. I bought a home, got married, lost my beloved mother to cancer, and had two children. Navigating so many major life events without a car in a city that all but requires one has certainly had its challenges, but it has also integrated the bus into all of my significant recent memories*–and made it impossible for me to imagine my life without Metro. As I wrote in my Real Change column back in 2006, buses have associations for me.

Riding the Water Taxi reminds me of the days I spent with my mother during her last months of life. The first time I rode it to my parents’ Seacrest Park condo the spring after she died, I cried. Sometimes I still do.

The 545 will forever feel romantic to me, since it’s the route Nerd and I rode together in the early days of our courtship. I don’t think I’ve ever looked more forward to a commute–or for that matter, to anything.

The 4 and 27 are my baby buses–the 4 because I rode it to all of my obstetrician appointments–and home from the hospital with Chicklet; the 27 because I rode it to the hospital to deliver Chicklet and home from the hospital with Busling.

And there are many more. The Ballard buses (17, 18) take me to my brother, Jeremy (and also remind me of my rather unfortunate adventure as a ball-gown model); the 55 takes me to my Joelie and the place I still consider home; the 14 is all about TAC meetings, Top Pot (Summit side), and writing group get-togethers at my friend Marchel’s house (Mount Baker side); the 194: Paris, Detroit, and airport goodbyes with Bus Nerd; the 8: Mom again.

And the 36, though it’s not one of my regular routes, reminds me of why I ride: to be a part of my community, and to share my travels with the people I share the world with.

Bring on the next seven.

*The bus is also integrated into many of my not-so-recent memories, like this one and this one.

The morning after

This morning, at about 9:30, I hopped on the 4, headed to my bazillionth obstetrician appointment. (Due date was Sunday and BB2B, who is apparently taking after Big Sister, does not seem eager to make an appearance.) It started out as an uneventful ride–a crowded and quiet (wrapped) trolley inching its way west on Jefferson toward downtown–until we pulled up to the stop at 12th.

Even though I had brought my bus read, I chose to spend the ride staring out the window and daydreaming, so I immediately noticed an odd woman standing at the stop, pulling her t-shirt up over her nose and flailing her arms (as if preparing for a race) while everyone else was boarding. Just as the driver was about to take off, she ran to the back entrance and grabbed both doors, leaving her sweatshirt and bag on the bench behind her. She held the doors for at least 30 seconds, then rushed aboard the bus and attacked the woman sitting directly behind me. It became clear almost immediately that: 1) the attacker did not know her victim and 2) she was completely out of her mind.

She grabbed a fistful of the woman’s hair and yanked, slapping and hitting her anywhere she could reach, all the while yelling and ranting at the top of her lungs. Another woman tried to stop the assault and was hit several times for her trouble. To our shero’s credit, she didn’t let up. The attacker continued to lunge at her victim, only letting go of her hair long enough to fend off the shero and to slap a man sitting nearby.

SPD arrived within a minute. The woman ran off the bus as soon as she saw the cops, though whether it was to get away from or confront them, I am not sure. Whatever the case, they apprehended her without much effort, though not before she managed to tear off her t-shirt and toss it at them. She was arrested, face down on the sidewalk, in nothing but her bra.

I’m still rattled, for so many reasons it’s hard to isolate why.

I’ve been riding Metro buses for 30(+) years, and I’ve witnessed my share of drama, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt afraid on a ride. I should say, of course, that this attack wasn’t specific to the bus; it could just have easily happened to someone walking by this woman on the street. (And Lord knows, crazy people attacking at random, in all kinds of settings, is far too common of late.) But, since this particular act of violence did happen on the bus, while I was riding, it’s worth discussing.

This wasn’t a fight between people with a specific beef, which can be disturbing but rarely feels threatening; it was a random attack on a woman who was minding her own business on her way to work. (It also happened to be a woman I’ve been seeing on buses for years–and who I consider to be part of my “bus family“–which made it hit closer to home.) I travel on the 4 with Chicklet all the time. What would I have done (and how would I have been able to protect her) if that woman had come after us?

I take normal precautions to stay safe (don’t travel alone at night except to places with substantial foot traffic, don’t wait at isolated stops, stay aware of my surroundings), but I’ve always felt that broad daylight on a crowded bus (or street) is about as safe as it can get. All of a sudden, even though I know intellectually that these types of incidents don’t happen often, I feel vulnerable in ways I haven’t in the past.

And that’s another thing: Only one person on that entire crowded bus lifted a finger to help the woman who was being attacked. Yes, we were all in shock (and many of us–especially big, lumbering, off-balance me–wouldn’t have been of much help), but mostly, I think, we were just worried about our own safety. I wanted the attacker to stop hurting the woman, but I was spending most of my brain cycles figuring out how to keep her from hurting me.

And that, after all of yesterday‘s celebrating and marching and talking and thinking and teaching my kid about peace and justice and concern for one’s fellow human, is more than a little disappointing.

Southbound 4, 1:55 PM

Two early twentysomething women are talking relationships in the seat directly in front of me.

Early twentysomething woman 1: “He even helped me clean up the apartment. Like, I asked him to put the dishes away and give the dog some water, and he did it.”

ETW2: “That’s really cool. John would totally have been watching TV.”

ETW1: “I know. He’s a good guy, from a nice family. They’re atheists, but he’s a really good person.”

Nameless shero?

On Saturday, Bus Nerd and I spent an evening out alone (thanks, Dawn and Juanya!) and decided to check out a restaurant we’d been meaning to try on Queen Anne. On the 4 ride home, we sat directly across from the latest Operator of the Year/Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year photos, and Bus Nerd pointed out that the blurb next to the OOY’s photo doesn’t include her name. Check it:

Picture
Fabulous bus maintainer, Rich Green
Picture
Exceptional bus driver with no name

I assume this was an oversight that was simply too expensive to fix. So, for those who are wondering: It’s Ineke DeBoer.

Happiness is…

Sliding onto the 4 in a basic black dress and your favorite vintage shoes* after an evening of Dwele and chocolate cake at Triple Door with your love, only to find that that 4 is being driven by none other than Smooth Jazz, who’s broadcasting just the right tunes to help you (and your love) continue the Triple Door/Dwele vibe all the way home.

* We won’t speak of the incident running for–and almost missing–the 27 (pregnant!) in said vintage shoes on the way to Triple Door.

You know you’re a bus chick if… (part II)

A bus chick
You have a date with your husband at a holiday party in Bellevue, one which requires a fancy dress and high, high heels, and even though the temperature is below freezing and it’s expected to snow, you pass on Zipcar or calling a cab in favor of the warm, weather-ready 550.

You know you’re too much of a bus chick if…

After the party, when the temperature has dropped and the snow has begun in earnest, and you’re in a hurry to make it to your warm house to kiss your little chicklet, you are stuck waiting downtown on sore feet (for the 4, no less) for 15+ minutes.

***

Some updates to the original list:

• You have “stop sense”: On your regular routes, you know when to pull the bell to get off, even if foggy windows, darkness, or distance from the window prevent you from seeing outside. And speaking of bells…

• When riding in a car, you reflexively reach for an imaginary bell when you begin to near your destination.

Westbound 4, 6:05 PM

Two medical professionals (lab technicians, I think) are passing the time on the ride home from work.

MP 1: “It should be ‘variety is the spice of life,’ but really, experimenting is the spice of life–or splice of life, depending on the experiment.”