Today is the fifth anniversary of a bus stop that happens to be extremely popular with employees of our friendly neighborhood software giant. (In fact, it’s used by more Microsoft employees than any other bus stop in our region.) It’s a 545 stop, of course (Bellevue & East Olive), and it exists because of the dogged persistence of Anirudh Sahni (my original Bus Hero). Here’s a chronicle of his multi-year campaign.
Whew! I plan to use it as motivation in my own efforts to make a difference.* I’m hoping you will, too.
*Currently, I’m obsessing about the intersection at 23rd & Yesler, which is particularly dangerous for pedestrians. An intersection that includes a library (with a popular story time), a nonprofit, senior housing, and three bus stops should prioritize pedestrian safety. I’ve been pestering the city a bit, but I really could take some lessons in persistence, organization, and providing supporting data (!!!) from Anirudh.
From Anirudh (aka Bus Hero), who recently spent time in his hometown of Mumbai:
So what’s with the timid Metro drivers passing folks up? :)
Today, I had coffee with Anirudh Sahni. I first heard of Anirudh several years ago, back when his efforts to change the 545 route were getting a lot of attention. At that time, I worked at Microsoft and rode the 545 every day. Though the changes he was advocating wouldn’t have affected me, I thought they made sense, and I was impressed by his (please excuse the Microspeak) “drive for results.” Anirudh researched. Anirudh organized. Anirudh met with transit officials. Anirudh wrote letters to the editor. People like me responded to surveys and said stuff like, “I hope ‘they’ hurry up and make those changes.”
In the end, all that work changed the route only slightly, but it changed Anirudh fairly dramatically. What started as an attempt to make his commute to Microsoft more convenient became a full-fledged crusade, and the crusader became, as he puts it, “obsessed with transportation.”
Anirudh no longer rides 545; he no longer works at Microsoft. These days he spends a lot of his time working on transportation issues, and (lucky for me) he is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about public transit in this region. Two (of the many) things I learned from him today:
1) Fully 79% of Metro riders own cars.
2) During peak travel times, the average car rider takes up 25 times the amount of space on the road as the average bus rider.
People are choosing to ride, and they’re choosing to do so for good reason.
Anirudh with his “545 file”