Tag Archives: Bus Chick tested

Foot ferry fireworks

Yesterday, we went to West Seattle to spend the holiday with my parents (because we love them–not their great view). We took the 4 downtown, stopped at the Market for food and flowers, and then headed down to Pier 55 to catch the Elliott Bay Water Taxi. We got to my parent’s place at about 5:45 and spent the evening cooking, watching soccer, and eventually, watching the fireworks shows. When the shows were over, we ate ice cream, said our goodbyes, and caught the last ferry back downtown. Lucky for us, the ferry lined up perfectly with the 4, and we were in the house before midnight.

Even without Elliot-Bay-adjacent parents, the water taxi is a great way to see the fireworks. The ferry takes you right to Seacrest Park, which is a prime firework-watching location (you can see both shows). Yesterday it ran on a Saturday schedule, which means it ran once an hour, leaving Pier 55 on the half hour, and leaving Seacrest park on the hour. The last run out of Seacrest Park left at 11:00–about half an hour after the show was over.

Try it next year. I think you’ll find it preferable to driving. There’s no searching for parking, no leaving before the show’s over to beat traffic (I actually saw lots of people doing this yesterday), no camping out all day just to claim a decent parking spot (unless, of course you feel like barbecuing or people-watching, in which case you can take an early ferry). The best part: A nighttime boat ride across Elliott Bay is pretty romantic. Instead of paying Argosy for their fireworks cruise, you can get all the romance (minus the touristy silliness) for the low, low price of $3–free if you happen to be one of those fabulous types with a bus pass.

A yoga studio combats carism

Yesterday I went to a lunchtime Yoga class at 8 Limbs with my friend Donna. A few hours before the class, I went to the 8 Limbs Web site, intending to find the street address of their Capitol Hill location and then use Trip Planner (or my fairly extensive knowledge of central city bus routes) to figure out to get there. Instead, I found that they had done the work for me by listing the bus routes that serviced each studio. (I can’t link directly to that page, but if you want to see it, go to the site. In left navigation bar, click Reach Us, and then click Maps and Directions.)

I’m guessing it didn’t take much effort for the folks at 8 Limbs to add this information to their site, but it spoke volumes to this bus chick about how they think about the world and participate in their community. It also made me feel welcome.

I felt the same warm fuzzies at the end of the class, when the teacher, who wanted to continue for five extra minutes, asked, “Does anyone have to catch the bus at 1:15?”

Somebody did.


Yesterday, I took the Elliott Bay Water Taxi (aka “the foot ferry”) to visit my parents. Considering the crappy bus service to their new place, it was reasonably convenient. But convenient, shmonvenient. It was also a lot of fun!

The ride takes about 15 minutes–long enough to settle in and enjoy the view (and what a view–I am jealous of all those West Seattle commuters), but not so long that it becomes tedious. The main part of the boat is enclosed (with lots of windows, of course), but there is also an open deck upstairs.

The good:
• The price. The Water Taxi costs $3.00, but it is totally free if you have a bus pass of any denomination.
• The convenience. Drop-off and pick-up locations (Seacrest Park and Pier 55) are easy to get to, and there is a free shuttle van (DART route 773) that takes riders from Seacrest Park to other destinations in West Seattle, including Alki Beach and Alaska Junction.

The bad:
• The timing. Schedules are, apparently, approximations. The ferry on the way over there was a bit late, but there’s only one boat, so it’s easy to see how that could happen. The ferry on the way back (the last one of the evening, mind) left a full four minutes early. We (me, my parents, my aunt, and some friends of my parents) were eating fish and chips at the restaurant right next to the boarding dock as my ride home pulled away.
• The limited availability. Of course I would like to see the hours expanded, but I have no idea whether that makes sense, given ridership, costs, etc. My mother told me that the boat does run late on Mariner nights, so for now, I’ll try to time my visits to coincide with home games.

Car-free vacation: Vancouver

This weekend, Adam and I took the train to Vancouver for a short vacation. We were in the city for only two days, and though we used TransLink (Vancouver’s public transportation system) quite a bit during those two days, we didn’t have enough time to get a feel for what it’s really like.

For what it’s worth, here’s my quick and dirty assessment:

What I liked:
• The fare system: One ticket buys you passage on all the TransLink services (the SkyTrain, the buses, and the SeaBus). Tickets are available at convenience and grocery stores, and at SkyTrain stations.
• Mini-buses: The buses for some routes were smaller than standard buses (picture an airport shuttle). Instead of limiting the frequency of routes with lower ridership, TransLink limited the size of the vehicles.
• Rail: Public transit that’s not dependent on traffic or gasoline and always runs on time? Yes, please! As it happens, construction on Vancouver’s newest rail line (the Canada Line) begins this month.
• Hybrid cabs: We saw these everywhere.

What I didn’t like:
• Signage at bus stops. The bus schedules were often incomplete and confusing.
• Feeling like a newbie. I love riding public transportation in other cities, but, as a self-proclaimed expert on Seattle’s bus system, I’m always slightly uncomfortable in the role of ignorant newcomer.

What I’m still trying to figure out:
The SkyTrain honor system: Both times we rode the SkyTrain, we bought tickets but were never required to use them. We got the impression (from the text on the back of the ticket) that someone from TransLink might board the train and ask people to prove they had paid, but I find it difficult to believe that this is really the only method used to ensure that folks actually pay the fare. Is there anyone out there from Vancouver who can shed some light?

Even with a limited knowledge of Vancouver’s public transit system, I am convinced that it is relatively painless to live there without a car. The city (not by accident) is small, densely populated, pedestrian friendly, and (mostly) freeway free. There are grocery stores, pet stores, dry cleaners, and pharmacies in almost every neighborhood. We took public transit because we wanted to see how it worked, but we could have easily made it to all of our destinations (with the exception, perhaps, of Stanley Park) by walking for 10-15 minutes.

We enjoyed every minute of it. When you’re in a busy, vibrant, international city (that just happens to be surrounded by stunning natural beauty), walking is not just a method of getting from A to B; it’s part of the experience.