Tag Archives: 48

Multimodal Monday: Link, then lake

Waiting for the trainOne of my close girlfriends lives in Renton. Not Renton as in, near the Renton Transit Center. Not even the Renton Highlands. No, this friend lives deep in Renton–miles from the nearest bus stop, a long way even from a sidewalk.

Every once in a while, I take a Zipcar to visit her at home, but usually, we meet somewhere–either for dinner near RTC or downtown, or with our kids at a bus accessible park, library, or similar.

For our most recent get together, we agreed to meet at Coulon Park, because she had somewhere to be in Renton right after our visit; the kids and I had the whole day free; and when the weather is good, I am always (always) down for a transit adventure. Especially when the adventure includes a train.

On the big day, we got up early to pack a picnic lunch, swim suits, towels, and a few toys, then headed out the door at 8:30 for a long-ish walk to our first bus: the 48. We took the 48 to Mount Baker Transit Center, where we transferred to Link. (Just for today, I’ll refrain from complaining about how horrible that transfer is.) We rode the train all the way to Seatac–easily the best part of the adventure–then transferred again to the 560. Our stop in Renton was less than a half mile from Coulon, and we arrived at the entrance about an hour and twenty minutes after walking out our front door–a few minutes early for our 10 AM meeting time.

Yes, 80 minutes is a long time to travel from Seattle to Renton (twice the amount of time it would have taken to drive with average traffic), but we really did enjoy the trip. Our waits were short, our rides were smooth and air conditioned, and we had plenty of interesting scenery–inside and outside of the vehicles–to entertain us on the way. When we go on transit adventures, we think of our travel time as part of the fun.

The rest of our Coulon adventure was even better than the ride. The kids played on the playground and the beach for hours while I caught up with my girl. After she and her daughters had to leave, we played for at least an hour more. And after everyone had thoroughly exhausted themselves, we made the long trek home. Chicklet insisted on the exact same itinerary, so we could have one more chance to ride the train.

Perfect adventure. Perfect day.

Did I mention that they closed my stop?

This will teach me to choose a home based on its proximity to bus stops.*

Stop closed!

Dear bus rider: You’re screwed.

I’m more than a little irritated that Metro posted this notice in August and then never even responded to the feedback they requested–mine or anyone else’s.

I get all the stuff about stop consolidation and blah, blah, blah, and I will even admit to being a bit of a NaMBS (as in, “Not at my bus stop!”) about this. But there are legitimate reasons (other than the fact that I really need it) that this stop–and the one across the street from it–shouldn’t be closed.** If Metro doesn’t consider the reasons legitimate, they should explain why.

 

 

***

*I should have gone with my instinct and moved near a Link station. Call me crazy, but I wanted to stay in my neighborhood.
**And hey, if they’re looking for stops to close, there are two stops less than a block apart slightly further north.

Speaking of busing with babies…

Today after church, at a southbound 48 stop, I spotted one of my bus parenting heroes, a man I’ve never actually met. Back in ’08, when Chicklet was but a wee lass, I saw him playing Connect Four with his kid at a northbound 48 stop (in the shelter that advocates for what Bus Nerd refers to as “the right to safe trife“). Having already begun my bus reading adventures with young Chicklet, I was inspired by the concept of bonding in transit–and by the way the two of them interacted. Also, I love Connect Four.

But I digress.

Today, Bus Dad Extraordinaire had two children with him (the boy he’d been playing with that day, and a little girl, who was probably around two). By the time I realized who he was (and started elbowing Bus Nerd like I’d just spotted a celebrity), I heard the boy say something about Crazy Eights. There was no doubting BDE’s identity after that.

On the ride, the three of them sat near enough to the four of us for me to keep my eyes (and ears) on them. And you know I did. By the time we were getting off, the boy was shuffling.

BDE then, plus one:
Connect Four

 

 

 

 

 

BDE now, plus two:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Update, 10/11: Kathi from Ballard just emailed to tell me that she knows BDE. Even crazier? So do I! Her description of him made me realize that I have met him–at a transportation event, of course. (Yes, I realize it is beyond odd that I remembered seeing him at a bus stop three years ago but not meeting him in person much more recently. I blame it the short-term memory loss related to sleep deprivation.) Back when we met, he mentioned that he lived not far from me, and later, we emailed about getting our families together for dinner. It didn’t happen, but now, of course, I have to follow up.

How much do I love my bus community?

Transportation as civil right, OG Seattle edition

A few Saturdays ago (around the same time this article was making the rounds on the internets), I participated in a Civil Rights walking tour of my neighborhood, sponsored by the Squire Park In Motion program. The tour was a lot of fun (thankfully for Chicklet and Busling, many parks are named for Civil Rights heroes), and I even learned something new.

In the early 60s, the Central Area didn’t have any crosstown bus routes. This, of course, made it difficult for the neighborhood’s residents to travel to other parts of the city*, including (and especially) the University District. Members of the Seattle chapter of CORE identified the issue and started looking for a solution.

In 1966, Seattle CORE launched an action project to get the Seattle Transit system to run a bus along Twenty-Third Avenue, connecting the Central Area with the University District and points north and south… When CORE negotiators discussed the need for this … the transit authority told us, “There is no need. No one would ride,” so it would “not be profitable.”

CORE and other organizations formed the Crosstown Bus Committee. CORE members set about gathering facts about rider patterns … as well as the numbers of people transferring downtown to the University District… I rode the bus at 1 AM while my husband was home with our young son.

[…]

Armed with these facts, and after additional meetings with transit managers, CORE prevailed. Seattle Transit initiated a route using Twenty-Third Avenue directly to the University District. This was known for some time as the crosstown bus. It is now taken for granted as the number 48 bus, frequently full and clearly a success.

– Maid Adams, coauthor of Seattle in Black and White** and founding member of the Seattle chapter of CORE

That’s right folks, our beloved “doctor,” the vehicle version of Tiger Woods, was born from the hard work (and persistence!) of some committed people who believed that a community could be better served by public transportation.

I am always inspired by stories like these. (And I’m not the only one; Ms. Adams was honored by some modern-day transit activists late last year.) They remind me that change can and does happen, that citizenship involves responsibility, and that people in power do sometimes listen to reason–or at least, really loud voices.

***

*This, it seems to me, is an ongoing PT issue citywide. We’re still working it out.
** Our tour guide is the one who told me I could find the information in this book. (That’s what I get for not attending the library’s reception with the authors in the spring.) She also mentioned the Douglass-Truth soul pole.

Southbound 48, 2:45 PM

Two high-school age girls are chatting in the seat facing the back door. The conversation is lighthearted, until one of the girls casually checks the ingredients of the “juice” concoction she is drinking.

Girl 1, staring at the bottle: “Skim milk? What’s skim milk?”

Girl 2: I don’t know. “Maybe it’s like soy milk. I can drink soy milk.”

They discuss for a few minutes but neither seems to know for sure. Girl 1 starts to become agitated. Both start looking around for someone to ask and finally tap a boy about their age, who is listening to his headphones.

Girl 2: “Excuse me, do you know what ‘skim milk’ is?”

The boy looks at them blankly. Since I’ve been eavesdropping (per usual), I butt in.

“It’s milk without fat in it.”

Girl 1: “Does it come from a cow?”

I confirm.

Girl 2, giggling: “You’re going to Hell.”

Bus Chick’s heavyweight

Not too many years ago, the bus I took most often was the 48, also known as “Forty-late,” “Dr. 48” and “the Tiger Woods* of the system.” I rode it south to Judkins Park (NAAM), Columbia City (dentist/homegirl), and Rainier Beach (friend visits), north to 23rd & Union (church, beauty shop), Montlake (545 transfer), the U District (pseudo-intellectual/artistic coffee joints, various readings and events), and Green Lake (Friday play dates).

They don’t call it Metro’s heavyweight for nothin’.

Of course, a few things have changed since then. The two biggest: the 48 stopped running south of Mount Baker Transit Center when Link opened, and I stopped commuting to the Eastside. A few other minor (but relevant) changes: my beautician moved to a shop near 15th & John, and we changed health insurance providers.

And then there’s the fact that the route I’ve had a crush on for years, the amazing 8, (finally!) started running on evenings and weekends in my neighborhood. I am not exaggerating when I say that this seemingly minor service addition has changed my life.

These days, 7 out of 10 of my bus trips are on the 8. Unlike the 48, it still goes all the way to Rainier Beach, so I can take it for southbound trips (and avoid the inconvenient transfer to Link at Mount Baker Transit Center). I also take it to Madison Valley for various errands (mostly kiddie resale shopping and home and garden stuff); to Miller Community Center for toddler playtime; to 15th & John for doctor visits, haircuts, trips to the framer, and a few of my favored (as in, “August Wilson drank here”) coffee shops; to Broadway(ish) & John for Dick’s fixes, Elliott Bay Book Co., Value Village, and Cal Anderson Park. We take it to Seattle Center for visits to PSC, PNB, the Children’s Museum, Children’s Theater, The Rep, etc., etc, etc.

And I’m not finished.

We recently hired a part-time babysitter who I’m absolutely thrilled about—and not just because her help will mean I can actually complete work during normal business hours. She’s a talented musician and performer/generally cool person who also happens to be a bus chick (coincidence? I think not!). Guess which route she’ll be riding for her rendezvous with Chicklet and Busling? Uh huh.

If it weren’t for somewhat spotty performance–it’s common for one bus to be several minutes early (!) and the next to be 15 minutes late–I’d be in love.

Now all I need is a good nickname.

***

* These days, the nickname has slightly different connotations, but I think it still applies.

Southbound 48, 2:30-ish

Somewhere near Blanchet, two black, high-school age girls board. They use the back door, because it’s closer to them when the bus stops.

The driver immediately starts hollering at them to come to the front and pay. His tone is harsh, definitely out of bounds for the level of infraction. The girls do as he asks but do not comment until they find their seats, at which point they begin whispering to each other in earnest.

At UW Medical Center, a blonde, twentysomething woman boards through the back door, presumably for the same reason as the girls. Again, the driver starts yelling.

“You need to come up here and pay. Do NOT get on at the back!”

The woman looks surprised but shrugs and complies.

One of the high school girls mutters to the other, “At least we know he’s not racist.”

48 + 75 = disappointment (or, One way to spend Veterans’ Day)

Still no swine flu shot for Chicklet. [Sigh.]

Pharmacy: 700 doses
Line outside pharmacy: 1,000+ people (probably closer to 2,000)

Line for H1N1 vaccine in Sand Point
Line for H1N1 vaccine in Sand Point

I’ve never seen a line so long–not even the time I waited for half a day to score New Year’s Eve Prince tickets. It was up to four blocks before the walk-in clinic even opened.

No more shots today

There’s supposedly another walk-in clinic tomorrow. It starts at 9:00. 5:48 (AM!!!) 75: Here we come!

A whole new world

There was lots of shakeup talk on the buses today: rider-to-rider chatter, cell phone conversations, bus-wide discussions, and endless questions for drivers.

The new 48
Metro’s less-heavy weight

I have to say, as much as I loathe change (and as much as I will surely miss hopping the 48 for all my southbound needs), the New Bus Order actually seems to be working in my favor. Some examples of the goodness:

The 8 now runs in my neighborhood on weekends. Folks, I have been dreaming of this day for most of my car-free life (six-and-a-half years and counting), and I cannot believe it’s actually happened. Capitol Hill (specifically, the north end of 15th Ave) will be seeing at lot more of me on Saturday afternoons.
• The 27 now connects with the 17 instead of the 25. I love this for several reasons, the most important of which is that my brother Jeremy recently moved to Ballard, and Metro now provides what amounts to a door-to-door ride from my place to his. (Much beloved) brother aside, I have a lot more reasons to go to Ballard than I do to go to Laurelhurst.* And honestly, the connection just seems to make more sense. While the 27/17 combo eliminates an already necessary transfer between the Central District and Ballard, the 27/25 combo is slower and less direct than the two-bus options (48+75 and 48+30) between the CD and Laurelhurst.**
• Now that the 14 stops at Mount Baker Station, I have four ways to connect with Link: 27 to DSTT, 4 to DSTT, 48 to Mount Baker Station, and 14 to Mount Baker Station. I don’t go to the airport all that often, but when I do, I’ll have more control of when I come and go.

I’m sure I’ll discover more things to like (and not) as I ride more.

Your turn. How have Metro’s latest changes affected you?

* No offense to all my former school buddies who lived there back in the day–I do miss our excursions to the Mr. Peepers-era U Village–or to the very alt-commute friendly Children’s Hospital.
** Really, though, there’s no fast way to get from where I live to Laurelhurst, despite the fact that it’s not all that far.