Sunday, September 21, 2014

BUS STORY # 411 (Sound Transit)

Photo by Busboy

Mrs. Busboy and I were in Seattle visiting the grandkids and their families. This time, however, we were staying north of the city and did not have direct access to King County Metro as we did last year.  What we did have was Sound Transit, an excellent regional public transportation system that includes bus, light rail, and train.

This may be to our future advantage since King County Metro will be cutting its service starting next week; the state legislature declined to pass a funding bill this past legislative session. (A subsequent attempt to raise taxes in the county was controversial even among public transportation advocates, and while the city of Seattle supported the tax, the outlying areas of the county predictably did not. As of this writing, a new tax proposal is in the works.) Bus Chick has discussed some of the hardships commuters are suffering because of the cuts. As usual, those hardships fall largely on those members of the community with the least resources. Busboy is saddened to see one of the nation’s best public transportation systems being undone by political intransigence.

This time, we stayed in Edmonds, north of the city, and could walk to most places. But one morning, when the kids were in school and their parents were at work, Mrs. Busboy got a hankering for one of those bread pretzels made by the Three Girls Bakery in the Pike Street Market.

We’d had more than enough driving in Seattle when we arrived, coming across I-90 to I-5 and turning north on a late afternoon weekday. Generally speaking, Seattle drivers are still polite compared to most other places, but both of us agreed this was not the commuting environment either of us would tolerate well.

Thanks to last year’s good bus experiences and this years on-arrival traffic, Mrs. B needed no persuading. I used the Sound Transit trip planner  and came up with two options: walk to a bus stop three-quarters of a mile away and ride to the Lynnwood Transit Center, then transfer to an express run to a stop five blocks from the market. Or: drive to the transit center and park, then take the transit. That would save us some fifteen minutes each way plus wait times.

We drove to the transit center. And if we hadn’t, we would have missed the traffic-stopping parade of geese from a pond on one side of the road to a park on the other. And no one honked! Well, none of the humans honked...

We’re used to the Albuquerque park and ride lots being relatively small and empty. So the Lynwood park and ride, huge and almost completely full, came as a shock. Mrs. B was about to abandon all hope when I found an empty spot.

Google maps told us the next bus to Pike Street was the 512, leaving in less than 10 minutes. A woman overhearing us talk quickly deduced we were out-of-towners, and after telling us about the fares, told us a little about herself. She was on her way to work. There were close to a dozen boarders, all of them looking either like students or employees.

We were at our downtown stop in an hour. Five blocks later, we were in the market. The fare? The senior rate was $1.50 for each of us. Total round trip cost: $6.00, compared with the roughly $3.00 per hour parking rates in downtown -- if you can find an opening anywhere close to where you’re going in the middle of a work day. What a deal!

Mrs. B got her pretzel at the Three Girls Bakery. Then she persuaded me to ride the Seattle Great Wheel.  I am not a ferris wheel kind of guy, so I got big points with Mrs. B here. And also some pictures.

Afterwards, we wandered around several shops, then headed to Japonesse, a sushi restaurant a couple of blocks away, for our fresh fish fix.

Highly recommended!

The only trouble we had getting home was Google Maps’ instruction to catch our bus at the corner of Fourth and Pike. It was actually closer to Fourth and Pine, between Pike and Pine. So while we missed our first bus, we saw where it stopped. The next one was there in less than fifteen minutes.

We were home in time for a quick nap before joining one set of grandkids and their parents for dinner at Evviva’s Woodfired Pizza -- within sight of the Transit Sound buses coming and going from Edmonds Station.


Blogger Heather said...

I would have waved from across the water had I known you were coming :)

1:41 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

I'm thinking you must live either near Kingston, or over on Whidbey Island. We have friends living in Indianola.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Great photos (sorry for this late comment). We visited Seattle back in 2003. Spent a few days there before taking the bus over to Vancouver to get on our Alaska cruise ship. Seattle is one of the cities I plan to re-visit (on my retirement bucket list) ;>)

1:54 PM  

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