Tag Archives: Golden Transfer

How to make a bus chick proud

Line to testify - image by Jenn Olegario

My current heroes: Every one of these 500700+ people, who stood in line for hours on a Tuesday night to testify before (some members of) the King County Council about what 700,000 hours of bus cuts would mean to them.

If you couldn’t make it to Tuesday’s historic hearing, you have another chance: Let’s do it again in Burien on Thursday!

January Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer* goes to Laila B., a Wedgewood resident and fellow TAC member who managed to complete her entire library passport by bus. That’s right–Laila, accompanied by her two-year old grandson, Leo, took Metro to all 27 of the public libraries in Seattle. They did it in time for the January 2nd deadline, though was touch and go near the end. Says Laila:

On the Friday 2 January deadline day I still had three libraries left to visit (snow caused delay) — all quite a distance away from where I live in North Seattle: South Park, Beacon Hill, and New Holly. But four hours and eight bus rides (65,49,60,60,36,106,510,73) later we had made it back home for Leo’s nap and had turned in the completed form at the Central Library downtown.

Now if that ain’t deserving of an award, I don’t know what is. Apparently, the folks at SPL agreed with me; Laila was one of the winners in the prize drawing. She didn’t win lunch with the city librarian (this library lover’s fantasy prize), but she did get a goodie bag. (Correction, 2/4: Turns out, she did win a date with Susan Hildreth; all four drawing winners get to meet her.)

Like me, Laila was impressed by the passport program’s support of bus travel.

[I] had wanted to mention at the drawing interview that I’d visited all the libraries via Metro, but they went on to the next person before I had a chance to do so. I did, however, mention to the couple who started the project, Marsha Donaldson and Bill Ferris, on the special Libraries for All day back in October, how pleased I was that Metro routes were included in the description and addresses all the libraries.

(Marsha and Bill: Thank you!)

Unfortunately, Chicklet and I were not as successful at completing our passports as Laila and Leo. We petered out just shy of the halfway point**–in part because of weather setbacks, but mostly because I got sidetracked by other obligations. The good news is, the program hasn’t ended. There won’t be any more prize drawings, but, according to Laila, anyone who turns in a completed passport will get a signed certificate.*** How does she know this? She volunteers at the Central Library one afternoon a week.

Laila, Leo, and George
Laila, Leo, and Leo’s riding partner, George

Thanks, Laila, for your support of the bus and the library, but also for giving your grandson a heck of an experience in Fall ’08/Winter ’09. Here’s hoping some of it sticks with him.

*Yes, I know it’s been a few months since I’ve awarded a GT. Sue me.

**13 libraries: Central (27), Ballard (27 + 17), Capitol Hill (8), Columbia (48), Douglass-Truth (no bus necessary), Green Lake (48), Greenwood (48), Sally Goldmark (short walk + 3), Montlake (48—-Anyone picking up on a theme?), Northgate (27 + 41), Queen Anne (27 + 2), Rainier Beach (48), and West Seattle (27 + 55)

*** And you know how we library geeks love certificates. Chicklet can put hers next to the one she got for completing the summer reading program last July.

September Golden Transfer, continued

There’s another deserving co-recipient of Cari’s award: her employer, Children’s Hospital. Thanks to some incredibly creative and hardworking Commute Services employees (and, I assume, a strong commitment from management), Children’s is a leader in encouraging (and facilitating) its employees’ alternative commutes.

Children’s was the very first Transit Now partner and worked with Metro to increase the frequency of the 75 and 25, two routes that serve the campus. (It’s the frequent service of the 75 that makes Cari’s bus commute possible.) The hospital also runs a shuttle, called the Green Line, which transports employees to and from downtown (simplifying some bus commutes) and to and from Children’s satellite clinics (eliminating the need to drive for work-related daytime travel). Last month, the good folks in Commute Services launched Children’s InMotion.

As I mentioned yesterday, I met Cari at the “Car-free with Kids” event the hospital hosted, which was open to employees and patient families and aimed at helping parents explore options for getting around with their children. (I found this event especially impressive, since alternative commuting is often seen as the province of young, single types–not for people with precious cargo to transport, or daycare drop-offs and clarinet lessons to facilitate.)

All these efforts are paying off. Even before the InMotion launch, almost 65% of Children’s employees were using alternative commutes.

“Children’s staff has really embraced the health, community and financial benefits of leaving the car at home,” says Matt Bullen, a car-free parent who also happens to be a member of the hospital’s Commute Services staff. “We understand that, in a sense, Children’s ability to grow responsibly depends on us all.”


September Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to Cari A.: nurse, mom, and alternative commuter extraordinaire. I met Cari back in August (and she would have won the GT in August, had I managed to post the entry on the 31st), at a “Car-Free with Kids” event hosted by her employer, Children’s Hospital. Cari was one of the event panelists, so I got to hear firsthand how she buses to work with her two children, four-year old Ava and one-year old Grayson.

Ava and Grayson, who attend the Children’s on-site daycare and must commute along with their mom, deserve to share equally in this illustrious award. Ava, like most four-year olds, is obsessed with buses, and her repeated requests to ride eventually motivated Cari to try (and like!) leaving the car at home. Grayson, despite occasional attempts to, as his mom puts it, “lick the pole,” is a well-behaved bus passenger, who brightens the commutes of more than a few fellow riders with his squeezable cheeks (see below).

Cari and her kids live in Bothell and ride the 75 from a Children’s park & ride in Lake City to the hospital’s main campus in Laurelhurst. The 75 runs every eight minutes during peak hours, which means they don’t have to adhere to a strict schedule. And as for the actual bus time? The coolness factor (driver! bell! lift!) keeps Ava entertained for the 12-minute ride; snacks and toys keep Grayson in check.

Says our winner, “It’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s actually harder to get organized to go to the zoo for half a day than it is to ride the bus with my kids.” (Source: Children’s Hospital internal website [article author: Alison Link])

Cari, Ava, and Grayson wait for the 75 (Photo credit: Children's Hospital)
Our three winners, waiting for their ride home

Thanks, Cari, for showing us (and your children) that getting around–even for a busy, working mom–doesn’t always mean hopping in the car. After all, “a bus is like a massive, pimping SUV with 4000 horse power and lots of 45 inch wheels.” And you never have to fill up the tank.

July Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes (for the second time) to the city I’m proud to call home, the S-E-A double-T L-E (don’t trip; you know you have that CD lurking somewhere in the depths of your music collection), Seattle, Washington, USA. On three consecutive Sundays this summer, Seattle will close some streets to cars.

• On Aug. 24, 14th Avenue East will be closed from East Republican Street to Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill from noon to 6 p.m. The park’s Western Loop will also be car-free.
• Rainier Avenue South will be closed between Orcas and Alaska streets on Aug. 31 from 3-6 p.m.
• Alki Avenue in West Seattle will be closed to motor vehicles from noon to 6 p.m on Sept. 7

Pinch me…I must be dreaming! The only way this could be better is if one of those streets was the one in front of my house. (OK, there are many ways it could be better–more streets, more hours, more Sundays–but I can definitely work with this.)

Some business owners are feeling salty (not to mention caught off guard) and are afraid they’ll lose business if their customers cannot drive to them.

“We might as well close for the day,” said Joe Fraser, general manager of Duke’s Chowder House on Alki. West Seattle is one of the neighborhoods affected.

“Closing the street for construction, I can understand. But closing the street just for the sake of closure, that does not seem well thought out,” he said.

Fraser said summer Sundays are among the restaurant’s best days, when customers come from throughout the region for dining on the deck or sidewalk.

(Source: Seattle PI)

I’m guessing they’ll be surprised by the number of people (people who actually live in the neighborhood, for example) who come out to enjoy our streets on foot, bikes, skateboards, and et cetera. I, for, one, will be hitting up all three of these events, and, as we learned earlier today, car-free types have plenty of cash to spare.

So thanks to my city, for stepping out there just a little bit, and for giving me hope that it will be a place little Chicklet will grow up to love as much as I do.

Not a bad way to travel
The 2-0-sickness, as experienced from the EBWT

How you like us now, Portland? (Sorry–that just came out. It’s all love.)

June Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to a man who’s been getting folks there for 38 years, the driver of all drivers, Mr. John “Busfather” Fabre. Some of you might remember Busfather from his Operator of the Year award ceremony back in May of 2006. Here’s a little bit from Metro about why he won:

“John has received multiple commendations from passengers, always the sign of an exceptional bus driver,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. “In this case, the commendations have a common theme – that John is extraordinarily kind, courteous and helpful towards his passengers.”

After a long career driving every vehicle (and darn near every route*) that Metro operates, John has decided to hang up his uniform. Last Friday was his last day driving. Here are some photos from his retirement celebration, held at Ryerson Base this afternoon:

Busfather shrine
Cake for Busfather's retirement

Busfather got his name from his Operator of the Year “championship” ring (which folks were actually kissing at his award ceremony), and from his I’m-cool-but-don’t-cross-me vibe.**(This is a very good quality in a person responsible for maintaining order and for keeping things running on time.)

Our hero (third from left) showing off his ring with some fellow OOYs:

Metro Operators of the Year

John drove the 2 waay back when I rode it to school in the 80s (yes, I’m pretty sure he was my driver a few times), but in recent years, he’s driven routes I don’t ride very often. Lucky for me, he lives down the street from our little bus family, so I see him around the neighborhood once in a while. He’s always cool and friendly, taking the time to shoot the breeze and share a few tidbits of Metro news.

Thank you, John, for your kindness, your commitment to excellence, and, especially, for spending 38 years of your life getting folks like me where they were going. Enjoy your well-earned rest.

* * * * * * *

*John has promised to e-mail me a list of all the routes he has driven in his career. As soon as I receive it, I’ll post it here.
UPDATE (6/3)
Here is John’s list:

74,99,ST570, monorail. [Metro used to operate it.]

…these routes have changed over the years. Just a few that I remember:
The #8 was the old Ravenna
The #6 was the Stoneway.
The #12 was the 12 E cherry and 12 26th Ave. So.
The #22 was the Roosevelt
The #48 went from Rainier and Martin L. King Jr. Way to 45th and Brooklyn. It was a short route compared to now.

He also sent some great photos–much better than my bus-chick-come-lately pics. I’ll post a few of them if I ever get a moment.

**Then again, a fair number of people at his OOY ceremony and at today’s party asked if I was his daughter (even I admit that we do kind of favor), so it seems that one could interpret it in another way.

May Golden Transfer (or, Speaking of reading lists…)

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to the Contra Costa County [California] Public Library, a library system that’s doing its part to encourage public transit use among readers–and reading among public transit users.

Earlier this week, as part of the new, rather unfortunately named, “Library-a-Go-Go” program, the CCCL installed a vending-style book-lending machine (the first of its kind in the nation) at the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station.

[The machine] will hold some 400 books that can be checked out for free by anyone with a valid Contra Costa County library card. A patron will insert the card, get access to the available titles and check out up to three books. A robotic arm will retrieve the books.


The county public library plans to install three other machines at the transit village at the BART station in Pleasant Hill, a site in Byron/Discovery Bay and another location, not yet determined.

(Source: Mass Transit)

I’ve only been to the Pittsburg BART station once (to visit my sister back when she lived there), but I’d gladly go back just to get a crack at that machine. I love it, and not just because it will reduce car trips among East Bay readers. I love anything that makes the experience of riding transit more convenient and enjoyable, and I can’t think of anything more convenient or enjoyable than grabbing a (free) ride read anytime the spirit moves. (Well, one thing: settling in with the latest TC Boyle novel while someone else does the driving.)

A book-lending machine
A lending machine somewhere in Scandinavia (Source: SFist)

So thank you, CCC Library, for strengthening the relationship between public libraries and public transportation (two inherently complementary forces), and for giving people one more reason to ride.

Now, when can we see one of these things in the bus tunnel?

April Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to my good friend Char (yes, the same Char who hipped me to the life-size pictures at Greenfest and to the height-adjustable heels) and her husband John, an Eastside couple committed to reducing their car use.

In 2006, Char and John moved from two vehicles to one. They didn’t need cars to commute, and they usually spent their weekends together, so it made sense to share. Even when the car was available, Char would ride the bus “just because”–to head downtown or even to visit friends. (She’s visited me on the bus more than once.)

Earlier this month, Char and John decided to take their car-lite lifestyle to the next level. They turned in the vehicle they were leasing and committed to living without a car for eight weeks. At the end of the trial period, they will decide whether to remain car-free indefinitely or purchase a used car with cash. (Guess which outcome I’m hoping for?)

Char and John, heading downtown on the 545

Car-free life on the Eastside has its challenges (to make errands easier, they’re considering using a grocery delivery service and buying a bike), but, like car-free life anywhere, it also has many benefits. Char gives these reasons for dumping her two tons of extra baggage:

For me it’s a combination of motivators:
1. Minimize my carbon footprint
2. Decrease demand for fossil fuels
3. Save more money and simplify my lifestyle
4. Increase my overall physical fitness level
5. Enjoy the social benefits of riding public transportation

I couldn’t have said it better.

Thank you, Char and John, for your efforts. Even if you decide to return to car ownership, you will do so with a clearer understanding of your choice, and (I hope) a few lasting behavior changes. In the meantime, I’ll see you on the bus!

Each one, teach one

I didn’t award a Golden Transfer for February–not because there weren’t deserving candidates, but because I couldn’t make it to my computer on the last day of the month–so here’s a bit of good news that I think deserves recognition.

From Laura in Eastlake, a bike-riding bus chick (or should I say bus-riding bike chick?):

I want to share a positive Metro experience with you. Last week, from Saturday the 23rd through Friday the 29th, my sister visited me here in Seattle from Richmond, VA. In Richmond, the automobile is king and bus service is paltry, especially in the suburbs. Prior to her arrival, I gently reminded her that I am a bus/bike chick with the occasional Flex/ZipCar and this would require some patience and good humor on her part. After her heavy sigh, I crossed my fingers and hoped Metro would put on a good display.

Holy heck.

We rode buses all over the place and never once waited more than 5-10 minutes for the entire week. We nailed all the transfers effortlessly and buses were on schedule. It was the most freakish thing that has occurred to me in my 6+ years of riding Metro. From the airport on the 194, the Museum of Flight via the 174, 71/2/3 express buses to the U-District, 33 to Magnolia, 44 across the city, and many others, we maneuvered throughout Seattle effortlessly. It was a golden moment, one that I don’t expect to have replicated anytime soon, but I am glad it worked out for her visit. She is now “into” the concept of public transportation and I think that is a testament to the importance of a good, fluid, well-organized system. If it works smoothly, people may seriously consider replacing a good portion (if not all) of their driving with public transit. If my suburban transit-snob of a sister can be hooked by a week of good Metro service, well, anything is possible.

Good job, Laura (and Metro)! When I have out-of-town guests, I often feel I have to accommodate their transportation preferences by renting a car. How cool that you showed your sister the city buschick-style, and you both had a great time. (If she wasn’t put off by the 174, she definitely has latent bus chick tendencies.) Now maybe she’ll use her new transit enthusiasm to advocate for better options where she lives. Here’s hoping…

January Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to the citizens of King County, who stepped up in 2007 and got their behinds on the bus:

King County Metro Transit bus ridership increased a record-setting 7 percent last year with an estimated 110 million passenger boardings in 2007.…

These preliminary estimates will be finalized in March, but it is believed to be the largest annual ridership increase for Metro in the past 10 years.

(And I thought 2006 was a good year.)

Busy Bellevue Transit Center (Photo courtesty of King County)

It’s good to see individuals making changes (taking advantage of new Transit Now service, perhaps?), despite the fact that our region has been (and is being) more than a little slow to move beyond the car.

County Kingpin, on the increase:

This shift in driving habits not only helps in the fight to reduce global warming, it increases the capacity of our roads and highways during the high-demand commute times,” Sims said. “With more buses and improved service coming on-line from our voter-approved Transit Now initiative, it will be easier every year for even more people to include the bus as their travel choice.

To all the new riders: thanks, and happy busing. I guess everybody really is doing it.