ALT.NET Day #2 Transit

The second day heading to the conference I rode nothing but transit. I did this for a couple reasons:

  • I wanted to leave a little later and wouldn’t have wanted anyone waiting up for me just so I could be lazy and get a ride.
  • Second, I wanted to get a little coding and blog writing done on my way out. On the bus that’s easy (relatively – I still have my bus ride quality complaint).
  • Model On The Bus

    Model On The Bus

    Third, there are super models on the bus sometimes *.

  • Fourth, as the transit sleuth that I am, I kind of wanted to see how the trip would be since there are a number of required transfers to get out as far as the DigiPen Building/Campus is.

Today’s Trip

I started out with the intent to board the #44, transfer to the #542 in the University District area. Then upon arrival in Redmond transfer to the #930, which I suppose is a short hop “Dart” bus. I’m not really sure how these buses work out on the outer regions of the Seattle area, so thought it would be a great learning experience.

However, the minute I was walking around the corner the the Market and Ballard Street Stop, the #44 came rolling by. It stopped, for a longer time than I would usually suspect. Almost like it was teasing me. I almost started running, but I generally won’t do that. The #44 drove off and I was perplexed. Would I make the next #44, should I take the express into town and transfer to something else? Time for some good ole’ Google Maps routing.

I opened up my Android Phone and got the logistics figured out. My new trip had turned into a strange morass of almost completely different buses. Then I realized two things that struck me as funny. The first was that the re-route had me boarding the #17 Express to downtown and transferring to the #256. But then the remainder of the trip was actually on the same two buses; the #542 and #930. Google Maps had actually found a route that leaves, literally 2 minutes later, that got me caught back up with the #542 – hilarious! I’m not sure why it didn’t suggest this trip anyway.

When I switched to the #542 at Yarrow Point/92nd Ave I had a few observations.

  • Interstate Stops suck. They don’t contribute to community, comfortable trips, and in general they’re dehumanizing. The string of faceless traffic just streams by screaming loudly. A conversation is next to impossible to have. It degrades one to peep in different cars attempting to communicate – which is technically impossible in 99.99% of cases. We’re damned to nothing more than apes, meat sandwiches sitting among the greatest dehumanizing creation the world has ever seen – Interstates (or also known as Superhighways, Autobahns, Autostransa, and by other names). These roads were not designed to have people standing in, around, above, or anywhere near them. Absolutely horrible places.
  • The stop times for the #542 are “Arriving at X” and “Departing at Y”. This however isn’t true. The bus arrives and leaves immediately after embarking or debarking passengers. The idea that there is a layover of some sort is ridiculous. My next task is to determine if this is a Google construct or a King Metro construct of information that’s misleading. Considering the difficult to use information that comes from Metro, I’d hedge my bets there, but I’m not ruling out Google for doing something silly.
Anyway, I finally transferred to the #542 and made it out to Redmond. It wasn’t really clear where the #930 stops so I decided to just walk the rest of the way. It took 45 minutes to get out to Redmond, then 45 minutes to walk from the transit center out to the DigiPen Campus Building. Fortunately it wasn’t raining so the walk was nice, but it was a bit long. It’s unfortunate that the connectivity basically ends in that area, but that’s what society gets when it goes auto-centric and not people focused.
Well, off to another day of brain crunching.

Ok, some people might not have seen the ads all over Seattle on the buses, so let me explain. There was an ad with reasons to take transit, one of the reasons was “see/meet a super model”. Now, you may not meet a super model, but there are many beautiful women that ride the bus. Be sure to do them all a favor and not be creepy and hit on em’. That’s not cool.

Attending the ALT.NET Conference in Redmond

Today was a wild ride about and out to Redmond to attend the ALT.NET Conference. I won’t bore my dear transit readers with what that is, but suffice it to say it’s a top tier nerd conference.

In the morning I boarded the #44, which at that hour provides a gorgeous view of the waterway once it starts moving up onto the Fremont Hills. I got off however and headed down into the neighborhoods to a friends house. There we met up and he drove myself and another programmer from out of town out to Redmond for the conference. The conference takes place over Thursday, Friday, and gets into full gear for Saturday and Sunday. Each of these days will be a different trip to get to the building the conference is in.

On the return trip today I boarded the #545 from Redmond town center after a few drinks with my programmer cohorts. I arrived downtown after the quick express ride of about 25 minutes and boarded the north bound #17 to Ballard.

The #17 is a beautiful ride at this time of the evening. The sun is just setting and everyone is almost silent. With the sun distant on the other side of Queen Anne Hill the trip along Westlake and South Lake Union is almost a blue tint. The water is still and the traffic is slower paced. The bus ride is much more calm than the morning ride. Everybody is pacing at a rate that is opposite of the wired feel of the AM commute.

I arrived back in Ballard and called it a day. It’s been a long day and I look forward to figuring out a few more of these routes, what exactly they can deliver me to, and seeing more of the absolutely stunning Seattle neighborhoods and northern views.

Until then, cheers and g’night.

Day 3 of the Commute, Some General Observations

#18 – Departed at 5:46pm from 3rd and Vine. I’m not sure when exactly the bus arrived, but it pulled up on the beautiful sunny day that it is and I jumped aboard.

Pulling into the Queen Anne area around the southern cool area of Queen Anne, the bus got snagged a number of times from the cluster of confusion. Other buses, cars, and people traversing the streets caused the bus to be slowed and go knocked clean off of its schedule. Once we got thru that cluster of sluggishness the bus rolled on and made decent time getting out and onto Elliott Avenue.

Bus Right of Way?

Elliott doesn’t really have a bus right of way, not in the sense of Bus Rapid Transit, but it does have a “Bus Only” Lane that offers a quick way for the #15, #18, and other routes to traverse this corridor quickly. Eventually Elliott turns into 15th and the 15th Street Bridge into Ballard. This is where another issue comes up for timely routing. The 15th Street Bridge is two lanes each way, which breaks the continuity of the bus way and merges it back into regular auto based travel lanes.

The Funnel and the Draw Bridge

The 15th Street Bridge not only acts as a funnel, but also acts as a complete stoppage point. Considering that high boats generally have right of way over all modes of transport, a boat coming along requires the 15th Street Drawbridge to lift. When this happens everyone is stopped cold.

Amazingly Smooth Flow

Even with the road block that the 15th Street Bridge is and the funnel effect that it causes, buses and cars generally flow easily into and out of Ballard. The delays are usually no more than 10-15 minutes when the bridge lifts, and during rush hour those delays only account for 5-10 minutes also. Of course, that turns a 25-30 minute trip into a 35-60 minute trip. However on the bus, that’s no big issue at all for those of us living the transit friendly lifestyle.  Until another observation or two, cheers!

Day #2 and Day #3 of the Ballard to Seattle Transit Commute

Yesterday I made the #17 at a spot on 7:53am. The driver was awesome, had a great attitude, and just put smiles on the passengers faces as they boarded. Also he worked diligently informing the boarding passengers that the ORCA card reader was busted, and to keep moving. All the while with a big grin, and a jovial retort. My gal and I did notice he was a bit heavy footed on the gas a break. I did notice as he handled the bus, that it was more out of precision and stupid drivers on the road than him being heavy footed.

People in America drive cars horribly, it is that simple. If you think you drive well, you’re most likely wrong. With automobiles we tend to kill each other at a higher rate than most developed nations too, a stat that I’d rather us not have. But I digress.

Today I boarded the #17 Express again. This time the bus was spot on at 7:47am. Unlike day 1 when I mistakenly thought it should arrive at 7:43am, which only made the bus about 6 minutes late on Monday (thanks Jeff, work on your delivery though, you come off as a complete asshole online, but a teddy bear in real life). As soon as we arrived at the turn on Denny into the Belltown area, we hit some sluggish traffic.

At 8:06am we finally pulled into the Belltown 3rd Street bus corridor. On this street things always seem to move along well. Day 3 commute started well, and with that I’m off to the work day.

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 OneBusAway.org 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!