Day 1 of the Ballard to Seattle Commute

Today I’m 100% back in the transit commute, so I’ll have plenty more to write these days. It is a short commute, from Ballard to downtown Seattle, but a commute none the less.

I get up pretty much the same time I used to when living at 567 John Street, but instead of walking to work I’m riding the bus.

So this is how the commute went for day number one.

Morning Commute

I managed to get out of the door at 7:30am, and headed for the NW Market Ave and Ballard Street Transit Stop.

This stop is great, with the #17, #18, #44, #46, #75, and #81. The #17 and #18 both have express service in the morning which rocks, pretty much the fastest way to get in and out of downtown. Matter of fact, with some of the priority lanes and such, I actually think the #17 and #18 express routes probably beat driving on many days. The #44 and #46 both travel east to the University District, which of course has a host of things that interest. The #81 provides late night service in and out of downtown (such as 3am service, ya know, for those late night outings for a rock show or such). The #75 goes around a big loop through north Seattle all the way over to the Pontiac Bay on Lake Washington, by Sand Point and Warren G. Magnuson Park, and on down into the University District.

The site of course has the arrival times for these buses going into Seattle and the University District and the same routes arriving on their way back into Ballard.

Once arriving at the stop the time for the #17 Express’s Arrival flew right by. 7:42am turned into a 7:53 arrival, which put the arrive downtown at 8:09am late, but amazingly fast. The driver pretty much made heavy use of the gas pedal and lucked out on almost every light into town.

For the departure home, I needed to get back in time for the Comcast Cable Guy’s arrival sometime between – ya know, the whole flippin’ afternoon – so I departed at 11:24am. I got down and around to University & 3rd in time for the 11:31am arrival, that ended up being the 11:35am arrival of the #18 north bound to Ballard. The bus had a handicap pickup, which tacked on another 8 minutes overall to the trip, giving me an arrival time into Ballard of 12:09pm. A little late if the Comcast Guy was arriving on time, but that never happens!

Again, I ended up taking a round trip on the #18 back into town to return the keys to the Taylor 28 Apartment Complex. So at 2:14pm I tried to make the trip back into town, but just missed the bus and caught the next one around ~2:30. This time the trip only took about 28 minutes flat. Making it a bit better than the trip out. I returned the keys and headed back to Ballard. Boarding the #18 back and getting a short 29 minute trip. Overall, not a bad day of commuting, but I sure hope that the 12+ minute late #17 Express isn’t an everyday thing.

I’m not sure if anyone from Ballard reads my blog, but it would be interesting to know of others commutes along the Ballard to Seattle Routes of the #17, #18, #28, #15, or any of the others. I’m curious, will the #18 express average better times? Is the #17 Express the best way to go? Should I just leave 10 minutes earlier and get a few more minutes of reading or coding done on the bus en route to downtown on a regular #18 or #17? Is the #17 along Westlake a bit more scenic in the mornings? All questions to be answered.

Until Day 2 or beyond, cheers!


  1. Looking at the schedule for the 17 (, there is no 17 Express leaving from Ballard Ave and NW Market at 7:43 (the times on the timetables are LEAVE times, not ARRIVAL times), however there is a 7:47 listed. There is also a 17 Local scheduled to leave that location at 7:53 – the time you claim to have boarded.

    The 17X that is scheduled to leave Ballard and Market at 7:47 has an ESTIMATED arrival time of 8:06 downtown. Check your timetables for symbol meanings. Most Express buses have estimated arrival times to allow for known traffic choke points, such as Elliot/15th/Western for the inbound 17 during rush hour. As 8:06 is listed as the estimated time, your claim that arrival of 8:09 is “late” is completely bogus, and even if that were a “hard” time point would still be considered on-time by transit standards. You also don’t mention WHERE that bus arrived downtown. The run card for that trip lists time points of 8:07 at 7th and Bell, but 8:10 at 3rd and Union. If the time of 8:09 you mention was when the bus arrived at 3rd and Union – it was actually a minute EARLY, not late.

    In addition – that run of the 17 deadheads to the beginning of the line (North) at Loyal and View Ave (just above Golden Gardens). The base route has the bus deadheading from Central Base north on I-5, giving the bus 30 minutes to get there. That involves traversing I-5 from the Edgar Martinez on-ramp, going North (stopping at the flow traffic light before entering the freeway), getting through the convention center; past the Mercer and Roanoake exits; past the 520 interchange; north across the ship canal bridge and existing onto 85th then West. LOTS of choke points there that can make that 30 minute deadhead not enough time to get to the terminal on-time.

    A little info for the “sleuth”.



    1. Well, when I checked, which I understand is NOT the schedule it showed the expected arrival as 7:43am. This could have been the bus that should have arrived even EARLIER than the intended 7:47am departure. The reason I check though is because of the horrible on time performance and the bullshit on time standards that US transit systems measure themselves by. In Japan, as one knows, most of their measurements are by half minutes. More than 30 seconds, and you’re late. Here though whole quarter hours are game for considering “on-time” and that’s pathetic.

      As for the 7:43 am departure, that bus ended up losing time for whatever reason and showed up well after the original calculation and estimate – and I’m a customer and do NOT care what the excuse is, that’s Metro’s problem and responsibility – not mine. My responsibility is to be at the stop on time, pay my fare, pay my taxes (which pay for most of the cost anyway), and follow the rider rules. I do ALL of these things. In addition I help fellow riders and even bus drivers when they’re lost, confused, or unsure of the route or system. I go out of my way to work with the system, and it still regularly fails me. I won’t stop, and I’m merely pointing out an observation above. By the schedule, by GPS estimates, or whatever measure, the King County Metro System has a horrible record of being on time or timely between points. Just because their standards are low (by US transit standards) for measuring on time performance doesn’t mean I’m going to use those lax standards to measure on time arrivals. Either the bus is on time, or it isn’t.

      Either way, I’m not blaming bus drivers, I’m blaming the system & management. Namely our political and Union leaders are primarily to blame. They’re the ones responsible for making the system work, and they continuously fail – as you yourself point out all the time on your blog.

      Simply, I’m just a rider.


  2. “Either way, I’m not blaming bus drivers, I’m blaming the system & management. Namely our political and Union leaders are primarily to blame.”

    Here’s an alternative: maybe your expectations are the problem. This ain’t Japan, and buses ain’t trains. REASONS are not EXCUSES. Buses are not aircraft – they don’t fly, and can’t consistently meet time points on the dot. Ain’t gonna happen. EVER.

    If you want to get your unerpants in a wad about a bus arriving 3 minutes past the SCHEDULED time (FYI, onebusaway isn’t a function of Metro, the system, management, drivers or union leaders), then you truly, madly, deeply need to get a freaking life. Apparently you also need to learn how to read a timetable.

    And what in the world to “union leaders” have to do with anything? On-time operation isn’t remotely a function of our labor union.




  3. I didn’t want to drag it out…

    But I’m an American. America used to have the transit that the world stood in awe of. Now, it’s a joke. That’s pretty much a fact. I’m perfectly in my right to think if this country got its act together it could again, I don’t have high hopes of this being achieved, but it could be done.

    I am aware of the fact that buses suck as a timely transit mode. But we’re stuck with that in the US, there is rarely a more timely option available in this country. The private automobile is also a shambles of responsible time management. As is our now Government run rail systems. Sounder however is a prime example of what a private public partnership CAN accomplish with their 97%+ on time arrival rate.

    Also, just because America sucks compared to Japan when it comes to disciplined transit options doesn’t mean I have to stand by and just be “ok” with being sub-par. I mean, maybe you’re ok with things that way, but I am not. I prefer to work toward improvement of the condition.

    …and the last note, since you’re writing these statements almost on the verge of ad hominem, I’m going to stoop down myself. If you don’t realize the implications, and can’t see from other points of view what effect unions have on worker behavior and other things, that are directly contributed to in regard to schedules and timelines, then you need to read your own blog. You rant day in and day out how the union sucks and isn’t democratic (as if that myth should ever be believed). No shit sherlock. The unions haven’t EVER been truly democratic. They have notoriously been run by the mob in some situations, which I hear isn’t very democratic either.

    Anyway, point is, the bus was late. It was an observation and I enjoyed my ride to work. It was the frequency BEFORE the 7:47am or 7:43am departure… so it wasn’t 6 minutes late, it was more to the tune of 30+ minutes late. In addition, I stated that I know onebusaway isn’t the schedule or related to Metro before (retain what I’ve written in the past, you’d note this), it just helps make the system more bearable and user friendly, since Metro can’t seem to get their heads around it (TriMet, SkyTrain, NJ Transit, and dozens of others already provide this service, and have for years – Metro however doesn’t).

    Anyway, I had a good ride. Don’t get so upset by my observation that the bus was horribly late. I’m not pissed about it, it just makes YOU and METRO and the UNION look bad to the riders. Between you, me, Al, and whoever else we’re not enough to explain to the population that it isn’t the bus drivers fault. So fact is, you’re still gonna get blamed. In the end, sometimes, it is your fault too if you’re late to work or otherwise.

    So really, get off your high horse and just live with all us regular riders. I’m not pissed and you shouldn’t be either, but you seem to be rather sensitive to my observations. In other news – I’ll keep making them.

    Cheers! …and chill.


  4. “America used to have the transit that the world stood in awe of.”

    America has always had a transit system where things run a few minutes late from time to time. Get a grip.

    Meanwhile – you get all bent out of shape because the timing of a bus doesn’t conform to YOUR idea of what it should be. You claim that a bus was late – when it wasn’t. You claim that a bus should run based on what Onebusaway tells you – not what the actual SCHEDULE tells you (if you were bright enough to read one – which apparently you’re not). You rant and rave against drivers, politicians, managers and “the union” because your bus is “late” according to a source that ISN’T EVEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE TRANSIT SYSTEM AT ALL other than processing raw data into an open-source application.

    Get off MY “high horse”? Get off your apparently psychotic thing to complain about things that aren’t problems, lie about things being one way when they’re really another, and for some bizarre reason satisfy some need to vent against things your target of blame can’t do a damn thing about.

    You’re no “regular rider”. I encounter regular riders (and am one, as are my own family members and friends) every day. Regular riders don’t go on line and bash drivers the way that you have or bitch that buses don’t come when THEY ALONE think they should. “Regular riders” don’t seem to believe that the Transit Universe revolves around them as you do.

    So good luck with that, Adron. Being a moron seems to be something you’re truly good at. Time to drop the “sleuth” thing though, as you truly don’t have a damn clue.

    And again – what does the fucking union have to do with anything?

    Damn, you sound like a ranting, psychotic idiot.


    1. I’ll just leave you with that. Obviously you aren’t paying attention, and seriously, settle down, your gonna have a coronary. I made an observation, nor have I been the only one to do so.

      So keep ranting, you aren’t helping your argument. Buses are late, a lot. Often just a few minutes, but they are. If you don’t like that fact, stop reading.


  5. “It was the frequency BEFORE the 7:47am or 7:43am departure… so it wasn’t 6 minutes late, it was more to the tune of 30+ minutes late.”

    Horse shit:

    Loyal Av NW Ballard Av 3rd Av W 9th Av N 3rd Av
    & NW & & & & To
    View Av NW NW Market W Nickerson Aloha Union Route

    5:14am 5:25am 5:33am 5:40am 5:50am
    5:49am 6:00am 6:09am 6:17am 6:27am
    6:10am 6:21am 6:30am 6:38am 6:48am 27
    6:23amE 6:35amEH — — 6:51amEH§
    6:34am 6:46am 6:56am 7:05am 7:15am 27
    6:40amEH 6:52amEH — — 7:11amEH§
    6:50am 7:02am 7:12am 7:21am 7:31am
    7:06am 7:19am 7:29am 7:39am 7:49am 27
    7:10amEH 7:23amEH — — 7:42amEH§
    7:21am 7:34am 7:44am 7:54am 8:04am
    7:35amEH 7:47amEH — — 8:06amEH§ CB

    E-EXPRESS to Downtown: No stops from Ballard Ave NW & NW Market St to 3rd Ave & Bell St EXCEPT at 15th Ave NW & Leary Ave NW and Denny Way & Warren Pl. To Sunset Hill: No stops from 4th Ave & Bell St to Ballard Ave NW & NW Market St EXCEPT on Denny Way at 1st Ave N and 15th Ave NW & NW Leary Way.

    §-Estimated time.


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