Another Way Home

I set out on a very round about alternate route home today.  Events and scheduling of the day had lined up perfectly for such an alternate trip.

My normal trip home from Redmond, Washington is to board the #545 at Overlake Transit Center bound west for Seattle proper, once there I just walk about towards home, sometimes from the downtown core or sometimes down Denny or through South Lake Union.

Today I’m heading south from Overlake Transit Center on the #566 headed for Auburn, Washington.  The bus takes a trip south down through Bellevue, then on down I-405 toward Kent.  From either Kent, or a stop before then, I intend to transfer and hopefully catch a north bound Sounder Train.  Since this is a rather spontaneous effort, I could be stranded at any random location.  However, I’ve no fear, so “meh” I say.

I ended up realizing I wasn’t going to make the Sounder, so decided to get off at the Renton Transit Center in downtown Renton.  It seemed I had good timing as I got off the bus and walked right into the Renton Farmer’s Market!  Kettle corn was smelling great, freshly cooked up, and all sorts of tents offering various things.  I love these bits of community, absolutely great!

I however skipped out on the farmers market and went into a local establishment called Best Burger.  It was located directly across the street from the transit center.  Further along 3rd the Italian Joint almost caught me, but I wanted something along the junk food line of American Burger.

Route #106

Afterwards I scoped out a return trip to Seattle proper.  I ended up with deciding on the Metro #106 Route.  It has a winding route from Renton, by Rainer Beach a ways, and up and over Beacon Hill.  Unfortunately it doesn’t pass by the actual Beach, I’m still curious to see the area.

The bus wound up over steep hills, twisting and turning through the streets.  We left Renton without much to notice we did and onward toward Rainier Beach Area.  The skyline was beautiful, with trees reaching up broke the spears of sunlight.  Each ray of light flashing as the trees gave relief to those sitting by the windows of the bus.  However several people still shielded their eyes from the brightness.

Once the bus made it to the top of the hill, one could look back and see off into the distance as we turned.  The bus stops seemed like they were every block or two now.  If you’ve checked out the link for the #106 route, you’ll see that there are a great number of stops along this route.  This is one of the reasons that I chose it, as I knew the run would be a bit slower, making it easier to take in the view of the route.

Moving along the spine of the hills we entered Skyway.  Once on this rode I knew I had picked a gem of a route.  This part of town was pretty sketchy.  Businesses along the way were open, but just as many were shuddered.  Some of the single level buildings, and some two story buildings weren’t shuddered, but could easily have been mistaken for being so.

We rolled further along the route through residential and commercial districts.  Along the decline of Skyway I looked out and could see the southern stretches of Lake Washington.  Highway 90 was in the distance, with cars the size of ants zipping across.  The water looked smooth glimmering in the sunlight.  The tree lined shores of the island broke the water with vertical ease.  With the sun and blue  skies this was a rare sight for this area I’m sure!

A little further along the route intersected with the Link Light Rail at the Rainier Beach Stop.  From this intersection the route zigzagged back uphill.  Some of the views down on Lake Washington are awesome from up here on this route.  At this point, I’m glad I decided on this one!

Georgetown!

After a bit further a plane came SCREAMING overhead!  I bound across the bus to see where it was in bound for.  Sure enough we were by the Boeing Airfield south of downtown Seattle.  We pulled up at the first stop in Georgetown and I saw a cool music shop and next to it a coffee shop.  I then commenced to walk along the street in Georgetown and be wowed and the coolness of the area.  Absolutely loud, being sandwiched between an air field, the Interstate, multiple rail lines, and other industrial nitty gritty, but awesome atmosphere for rock n’ roll, biker bars, and the like.  Very rock star is what I’m saying.

I walked around for about 45 minutes and then headed onwards toward downtown.  That was my commute home for today, slightly different than the norm.  :)  Cheers!

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Seattle’s I-5, 520, and I suspect 90

These are all poorly designed roads leading into the core of Seattle.  Why the United States indirectly gutted its cities is beyond me, I’m sure someone out there has their conspiracy theories.  I must say though, learning the history, effects, affects, and various permutations of the actions over the last 60 years has been disturbing.

Seattle has a lot of infrastructure changes to make, this is without doubt.  The largest problems with the city as I see it are the Alaskan Viaduct, I’ve smashing right through downtown, and the way 520 and 90 are only auto based, without priority for BRT, LRT, or other options.

The smartest infrastructure elements I’ve found in Seattle so far are elements that have nothing to do with modern Seattle, but were built by the previous generations.  As it seems in most cities, our planners, industrialists, capitalists, and other men of that nature thought out things far better than the modern politicians.

  • The Downtown Transit Tunnel, for one is genius, and I think it should be extended in more than one way.
  • The Link Light Rail, finally provides infrastructure that was destroyed about 50 years ago that should never have been.  Connecting the airport to the core of the city is smart.  I think that the University and other districts should have been connected first, but it is a start.  The best idea, going with the statement above, is to rebuild and reconnect what the previous generations built.
  • If played right, the Seattle Streetcar can play a HUGE part in adding a much needed human oriented element back to downtown.  The monorail is novel, and the shopping district downtown is great, but there is just a slightly missing human element after about 5 pm downtown.  But that leads me to the next points…
  • Fremont, Ballard, Wallingford, Greenlake, Capitol Hill, and the other neighborhood areas of Seattle are absolutely awesome.  The bus connectivity for a transit advocate as myself is excellent.  Of course, I can’t go without saying that it could and should be much better.  These neighborhoods all have great character, built by previous generations, and carried on today based on the people of the areas.  Absolutely awesome.
  • Belltown is moving forward.  There are some minor legislative changes that need to be made to clean up some of the violence, but otherwise the area is spot on for what should transpire from a business, infrastructure, and human perspective throughout more of downtown.
  • West Seattle & Alki Beach both need a significant transit right of way option.  Otherwise the area is also one of my favorites in the city.  The infrastructure that was destroyed to give auto users their free ride is fine in many ways, but with any primary arterial like the routes here there should be a dedicated transit option to complement it.  It would be good for west Seattle and it would be good for the rest of Seattle.

There are other areas I’ve yet to discover.  Any suggestions from some Seattlians?

A Smack In the Face

Today I decided on a bit of a round about way to get to work.  First a view of my commute (this is for the local office, not my Redmond Commute).

Instead of just heading along on the walk shown above (or one of the multitudes of routes (358, 5, 26, 28, or even the 30, 17, or otherwise with a little bit of a walk before) I went for the following trip.

First I boarded (at Dexter and Denny) the King County Metro #8 (Click the #8 to see the route map) headed east and went to Capital Hill for a coffee at Stumptown.  It had been a while since I had one of their brews so I felt it was a good Friday idea.  I got off the bus at Broadway and headed toward the Stumptown at 616 East Pine Street.  Saw a few buses roll by heading into Seattle proper packed to the rim with people.  The #8 route is shown below.

I enjoyed a capacino and once I finished a bit of blogging and reflection I walked down a block and boarded the #11 heading into town.  A short ride and I then walked over and boarded the #17 out to 1515 Westlake for the end of my morning journey.

A round about way to get to work, but fun in the end.  It’s always nice to get a little bit of a different view of the city and all the morning flows of people to and from.  For the evening commute, I may walk, may bus, or maybe zig zag across the city street, I’ve no idea yet.  With that, I’m off.

I Felt Spontaneous

Because of that, I got off the bus at Montlake Expressway Stop instead of getting all the way into the city on #545.  I didn’t know where I was, but figured “what the hell, I’ve got 2+ hours before I have to be somewhere.”

I got off and walked up the sidewalk to the main street.  The bus pulls off a side stop, called and Expressway Transit Stop or something, and people can get on or off the stops and walk up to the primary surface streets.  I got to the top and immediately saw about 50 bikes (ok, I didn’t count but there were a lot of them).

I walked across the overpass and to the south bound (toward downtown Seattle) and boarded the next bus that came along.  The #48 pulled up and I flicked my newly received Microsoft ORCA Card and off we went. 

After just a few minutes I got off again, not being sure where the #48 actually went, to check were and what route I needed to be on.  The #43, which I knew goes downtown, runs parallel to the #48 route along this road.  I could at least board it.  However I saw a Fuel Coffee Shop a second ago and decided to walk back to it.

I arrived and purchased an ice coffee.  I pulled the laptop out to figure out where I was, and where I needed to go to arrive at Fado in downtown Seattle by 6pm.  I first looked up Fado to be sure of the address ”801 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104-1404”.  That looked good so then I looked up what routes I was near to figure out where I was actually at.  I found myself near E Lynn St and 24th on OneBusAway.  So now I went back to Google Maps and threw in the two address I knew of “801 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104-1404” to “24th Ave E & E McGraw St”.

This is where I didn’t like the results.  Google Maps told me to go back to the Montlake Expressway stop and get on something from there to go downtown.  I didn’t want to do that so I figured I’d board the next #43 and just enjoy the scenery.  So with that I finished this entry up and…  vroom, off I went.

Point to Point, Beautiful Seattle Transit Routes

Here’s a question or two for the Seattle Transit Traveler.  Which transit trip has a truly beautiful route?  I’ve been a fan, so far of #28.  however I know there have to be a number of other routes that have beautiful scenery.

In other topics, which route goes through the most happening area, which goes the farthest, and otherwise?  Got any route trip trivia for me?  I’d love to see it.

#545 Redmond Bound

Today the bus had wifi and I was seriously grateful.  I had a few key things I wanted to research before getting to work today and needed to send and receive a few e-mails.

Today I got to thinking about a number of transit related questions I haven’t verified or researched lately, the most important being a verification of transportation costs for multiple modes.  I’d like to get a baseline, and the extreme costs for $5k, $13k (cheapest option), $22k car (median family car), and $40k car (the cheap BMW or something) and pair that to the same trips on transit for the average commuter.  Then break that down to trips that are transit friendly and trips that aren’t.

The other cost factor I’d like to see is how much we pay the Governments of our respective areas for transportation, infrastructure, etc., and how much we paid out of pocket 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and about 130 years ago (when streetcars were taking off).  My hypothesis is that transportation is actually more expensive today in net societal cost than the disciplined approaches of yester year, but for about 50% of the population it is cheaper out of pocket.  I’ll get to the bottom of this eventually.  Anyone else have some opinions to interject, I’d love to hear others’ hypothesis on the matter.