Tag Archives: Montlake Freeway Station

After you

On occasion (I’m guessing because I tend to have strong opinions in this area), people come to me with questions about bus etiquette. One I receive quite frequently and wish I had an answer to:

If there are a lot of people waiting at a stop, how do you decide the boarding order when the bus arrives? After all, not everyone has the same beliefs about who deserves deference, and (as drivers can attest) politeness isn’t common among folks in a hurry to get where they’re going. It makes sense to have some sort of neutral, bus-boarding system.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any rules (or even generally accepted practices) for boarding buses in Seattle. As far as I can tell, it’s every bus chick for herself. People stare straight ahead so they can pretend they don’t see the other people (old folks included) who are also waiting to get on. When the passive-aggressive tactics don’t work, they often resort to pushing . Those who say no to rudeness usually find themselves at the end of the line.

Some people have suggested that boarding order should be based on order of arrival–the first person to arrive at the stop is the first person to get on the bus. I appreciate the simplicity (and apparent fairness) of this system, but it’s mighty hard to put into practice. People don’t usually line up at bus stops the way they line up to get into a movie, and trying to keep track of who arrived when is too complicated.

The only place I’ve ever seen any kind of boarding system (loose though it may be) is at Montlake Freeway Station, where I wait in the mornings on my way to work. At Montlake, people stake out positions based on where they think the doors will be when the bus stops. This system favors those who get to the stop first, because they tend to choose the best positions, but it doesn’t require people to remember, acknowledge, or defer to those who arrived before them.

Of course, choosing the best position is a challenge in itself. It’s never clear exactly where the bus is going to stop, and even the slightest miscalculation can result in disaster. Then there’s the door dilemma. If you choose a position near the front door, you might have to wait for other passengers to get off, and by the time you get on, all the open seats have been filled by people who waited by the back door. If you choose a position near the back door, you might get one of those drivers who inexplicably refuses to open it (it’s pay as you leave) and find yourself behind all the front-door waiters.

The Montlake system also favors those who are willing (and able) to stand for the entire wait. Come to think of it, there is one constant for bus-awaiters across our fair city: Bench warmers (like yours truly, these days) almost always get on last.

Your turn. Seen any effective systems for crowded-stop boarding? If not, in your ideal world, how would it work?

Montlake: a pedestrian’s nightmare

To get home from the Eastside in the evenings, I usually take the 545 to Montlake and then transfer to the 48. I say “usually” because sometimes I ride the 545 all the way downtown to transfer just to avoid the tedious and time-consuming trip from the bus stop on 520 (where I get off the 545) to the bus stop on Montlake Blvd. (where I catch the 48).

I am OK with walking all the way up a long hill from the freeway stop to Montlake and then down the block to the corner of Montlake & E. Lake Washington (see black line below), but what’s with the crosswalk situation? There is no crosswalk directly across the street to the southbound bus stop (green line), so I have to either:

• Cross three times–and wait for three separate lights (orange line), OR
• Walk down a few flights of stairs to the eastbound side of the 520 (see label), walk a block or so west, and then walk up a couple more flights of stairs to the west side of Montlake.

Neither option works well when one is in a hurry to catch the bus, and missing a forty-late can mean a 30-minute wait on an isolated island surrounded by cars. No likey.

Three lights to cross one street: no likey

(Click the picture for a larger view.)

I was hoping that Greg Nickels would add this insane intersection to his list of streets that need improvements, but I think it will probably be left alone until we figure out what we’re going to do with 520. On the plus side: Stair climbing is good for your glutes.

Recently spotted in transit

Either a bus veered way off course, or some sad souls have too much time on their hands.

Broken sign
At least the schedule’s still intact.

So much for the cool, new signal light at this freeway station.

Speaking of cool…

Relief for bus riders who want to know where the heck their bus is already:

Tracker at OTC
Time to install those updates!

This monitor at Overlake Transit Center shows Tracker’s location view for all the buses that stop there. The monitor is displayed through a window of one of the OTC buildings. Here’s an attempt at some context:

Tracker at OTC
That’s Bus Nerd in the reflection.

Love it! Maybe I’m dreaming too big, but I’d like to see something like this at every major bus stop.

Speaking of bus stops…

Printer in trash
E-waste at the 8 stop on Yesler & 23rd

Maybe they thought the sign said, “Bottles, cans, and printers only.” The saddest part: There was a monitor on top of a trash can at one of the later stops on the same ride. Just foul.

Speaking of fouls

Feet up on bus
Getting comfortable on the 27

Who needs a sofa when you can put your feet up on the bus? Not feelin’ this situation at all.

I am, however, feelin’ this situation:

Zune swap
Hipster-geeks swapping music on the 545
Zune swap
Wonder what song it was?

I’ve been saying that the bus would be a great place to test Zune’s wireless file sharing. No word on whether this particular test was successful.