Observations of Krakow

Today I’ve gone out and ridden several of the Krakow tram lines. The map shown below gives you a good idea of a well built transit system with appropriate redundancies, requency, and overlapping lines to actually connect inner core city areas with outerlying areas, all crisscrossed with appropriate cocnnecting bus service for lower ridership local style service and a lot of 60 foot bus service.

The trams operate almost entirely in dedicated right of way, except in the old city inner core. Everywhere else they operate in medians, dedicated routes, tunnels, and other pathways that allow them unencumbered travel. This makes for easy frequency and timely travel that rivals that of auto-travel along similar routes. In rush hour it is easily the fastest, except for bicycling, way to travel throughout the inner core and immediate outter regions of the city.

A thought for comparing Portland to Krakow is, don’t. The comparisons really aren’t even close to apples to apples, however there are many things each city could learn from each other. Let’s take a look at a few of those learned lessons, by looking at each city. Not to compare competitively but to see from a learning perspective. (If we can do that) 😉

The trams and Portland’s streetcar and light rail operate in similar ways, at certain times. Both have some tunnel, but not much. Krakow has a tunnel that has two stops near Krakow Glowny, the main train station. In Portland we of course have the tunnel with the elevator to the Zoo and a minor cut and cover style tunnel at Gateway.

Both tram/light rail systems have street running, that is theoretically dedicated, but often mixes with traffic. Both also mix heavily with pedestrians, which honestly in both cities is much safer than the actual automobiles mixing with pedestrians. One major difference I noticed however was the delivery vehicles that come into the city core aren’t the type that would dismember or kill people the way they do in American cities. Anything coming into or out of the pedestrian heavy city core is generally traveling slow speeds and operated in an extremely safe manner. This is something Portland could very well learn and adapt a few rules on.

{Operational Observation}

The 3rd day I was in town some jack ass driver ran into the tram. I noticed an immediate difference in how things get resolved here versus in the United States. In the US, the police would likely need to come, some supervisor would need to show up, and in the meantime that entire tram/light rail vehicle would have to just sit there causing congestion among the entire transit system. In Krakow however the tram driver cursed at the driver to get out of the way, and then the driver took their dented and damaged Mini Cooper and got out of the way. The tram then continued on it’s way since both vehicle were still operative. As should be the case, the Mini Cooper driver would just have to deal with all of their stupidity and cover the costs of damage themselves without interupting the entire transit line! I was impressed!  (I also know, from hitting a pole with a Mini Cooper once, that the damage would be about $3000 dollars!)

Population and Geography

Both cities have unique landscapes to build around, as do all cities. Portland has many hills, two rivers, ancient volcanoes, and other geographic terrain to build around. Krakow is relatively flat, with thick forrests and greenery with a twisting river running through the city.

One city is hundreds and hundreds of years old, the other is barely over a century old. Portland has about 600k people living in the inner core and about 700k living outside of the inner core in town centers and sprawling suburbs of single family homes. Krakow has about 430k living in the core, with barely a measurable amount of people living in the surrounding area. Most in Krakow live in flats, or what Americans would call apartments.

{short rant start}
…and dont even look down at that notion, they’re doing just as good as single family home owners in life with those flats. If you scoff at that notion as Americans do sometimes, you’re showing your damnable ignorance. If anything it shows how deeply suckered you are by the marketing for “space space space!” Space doesn’t get you a loving family, a vibrant life, or otherwise.
{short rant over}

In the inner core of Portland, as in the inner core of Krakow everything is very walkable. There is zero need for a car in this city, albeit about 50-60% of the population uses a car on a regular basis to do something. Around 40-60% use a car to commute. In Portland of course, about 40-60% also use a car to commute into and out of the city inside Portland city itself, however outside the core about 95% commute into the city by car.

Portland and Krakow both have job centers distributed throughout the urban core of the city. In Portland the metropolitan area includes other town centers and job center areas such as the west side like Beaverton, Hillsboro, Intel, Nike, Vancouver also has several sprawled out job centers. This is something that does set Portland apart, in the number of jobs that are located well outside of the actual city itself.

Another key thing I’ve notied is the city of Krakow is an atomic city. There’s a huge Soviet Atomic energy plant just to the south eastern section of the city. It’s barely 1-2 kilometers away from where I’m actually staying. I have to admit it is somewhat forboding, however I know it’s doing volumes to keep the air clean compared to the horrid coal plants that would prospectively be here otherwise.

Even with the clean energy of the atom being provided, the city manages to get some strange toxic smells and is even smoggy on some days. When I say smoggy, I’m talking about Los Angeles level smoggy. I’m not sure what plants or other pollutants are cast into the air, but they are definitely there.

People

Polish people have a diet similar to that of Americans, albeit they eat dramatically less food. By proxy, I’ve seen two people that could be termed obese by American standards. Only two. Honestly, this is kind of a surreal experience because everyone simply looks very different because of this. Albeit we’re an extremely similar people, there are after all there have been many Polish immigrants come to the United States. Everyone else looks extremely healthy and fit in comparing to the average American, which makes me wonder what differences in lifestyle allow this. Again, this is just merely an observation of all the people I’ve seen so far here in Krakow. So just like Portland isn’t like the rest of the US so may Krakow be and outlier in Poland.

People in Poland also dress conservatively. Portland people dress however they want with all sorts of absurdities thrown in for good measure. In America in general people dress frumpy like they’re a walking catastrophe that don’t know how to purchase cloths that actually fit on their respective bodies. The difference at first glance might seem small, but the differences become very noticable after a couple of hours.

But Polish men generally dress in fitting jeans or slacks (for business), with tshirts or other comfortable and casual button
ups. Often wearing nice shoes of fair quality that look good.

Women dress very attractively in Poland. Pencil skirts, leather skirts, conservative leather jackets, blouses, jeans, shorts, tshirts, and the like. There is a distinctive cut off however right around 45-50 where women seem to shift entirely to long soft colored pencil skirts that run to the ankles and blouses that easily classify these happy ladies (that to Americans might seem grumpy, but they’re not, Communism fell after all and they’re real aware of this fact) remind me of merry grandmothers going about their business without a care in the world about the modern rat race.

Languages

Another thing I’ve noticed, that obviously differs from Portland and also other trips to western Europe.

In Portland, people speak English almost entirely. If you don’t speak english in Portland you basically are going to have an extremely hard time doing anything on a regular basis.

In Krakow you can speak english or polish and get by very very well. You could also speak russian and probably do very well too, just from the similarities in many words and such. Also, if you know Italian words for food, you’re also not going to go hungry if you eat out. There are Italian Coffee shops and places to eat everywhere. Italian food is easily more popular in these parts that Polish food actually is!

The difference in languages that I’ve seen between Poland and western european (north western I should add: Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, etc) countries is that most conversations start in Polish here, and almost the entirety of conversations in northern western european countries start in english. Often even conversations among locals in those countries start in english but in Poland you know when locals are speaking to each other beccause it is very clearly Polish.

I assume, again I have to research this theory, that Poland having english as a signficant language goes back to the formation and inclusion of Poland in the European Union. Where as the north western european countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and other countries had started speaking english far before (likely in a significant way after WWII, but really even before that) Poland did. Also, Poland had to deal with decades of russian influence where english was absolutely not a preferrred language to know. With that in mind, the youth in Poland today (< 30) are the first generation(s) that actually had the opportunity to learn english as a core language.

Other Notes

A few other things that I have noticed that I find fascinating. Some of these are just interesting to me and others I’ve noted as they would drive me crazy since some things in America have me spoiled.

Note: Grocery Stores

{partial rant start}
Oh my god I want my natural, organic, non-mutated farm produce and meat! I want it now! Krakow, from what I’ve been able to determine, has no actual fresh food and produce. I realize America generally doesn’t either, but living in Portland has me ridiculously spoiled and dammit I want some fresh fish, some vegetables that were picked a few hours ago. I want something I know hasn’t been flash frozen!

The grocery stores here are the equivalent of Wal-mart style … how should I put it? Shit? The food just isn’t good in the grocery stores. The restaraunts are pretty good, I wonder where they get their food? Maybe they just inject tasty into it somehow? I don’t know.

But the last thing, which is such a small thing, but it makes me nuts. I don’t care about needing to buy a bag, or expectation that I should have my own bag for groceries (because in portland that’s how I roll anyway because I’m not a wasteful asshole). But what does bug me, is I have to hurriedly bag my own stuff (in my bag or the one I just bought) and quickly get out of the way myself at the grocery store.

That by itself might not be so bad, but combine that with the lack of a smile and a hello (even a Polish one that I only recently understood) would be an improvement, but instead the cashier just sits there like a machine, poking the buttons quickly and shoving you along to bag your groceries. This makes me miss New Seasons or even *gasp*
{partial rant complete}

Summary

So far I’m thoroughly impressed by Krakow. In the coming days I’ll be trying out many of their cycle tracks and river runs. So I’ll have a lot more to add to all of this, as biking is a legitimate and regular thing that people make use of here in Krakow. So stay tuned… more to come!

Sprawling Milwaukie (South of Downtown Milwaukie)

Only 24% of Portlanders Want Suburbs, But 48% are Stuck Living There From Lack of Options!

Recently another article came out via OregonLive, “Most metro-area residents live in suburbs, but wish they didn’t: study“, that actually reflects something interesting about our living style here in Portland. The key measurement I’ve noted is that this article differentiates between town center neighborhood living versus suburban living. This is one of the biggest differentiators that often doesn’t come up between suburban and urban living. You see, town center living is dramatically more comparable to urban living versus suburban living.

Continue reading →

Transit Sleuth TV : Episode 2 “To Orenco, Mobile Ticketing, Powell’s and Introducing Jonathan Scheff!”

In this episode I’ve added a new segment around an interview with one of our local Portlanders. This episode I’m talking to Jonathan Scheff in the middle segment of the show.

Adventure Segment

This episode starts off with an adventure that Paul Peterson and I took via the Trimet #4 with a transfer to the Blue Line MAX out to Orenco to check on how that neighborhood has been developing. It’s grown a lot and changed for the better in just the last couple years. These days one can even see the cranes working on the Intel complex. Paul and I also have a chat about what to do or not to do at Orenco. We grab some Sushi at Yuki’s and then head back.

During our trip Paul and I battle with trying to figure out where his tickets went on the Globe Sherpa Mobile Ticketing Application for Trimet. It seems he was able to get it figured out via their support, as he’d hit a bug of some sort. The other things that was interesting was that he had the iOS 7 beta and it was actually working great. However Trimet and Globe Sherpa have offered differing information on iOS 7 working with the application or not. The verdict – it’s confusing whether one is doing the right thing or not with the application.

Interview Segment *new*

After that I interview Jonathan Scheff about his move from New York to Portland, bike commuting and bike adventures. Jonathan is the first of many interviews that I’ll have on Transit Sleuth TV talking about biking missions, transit rides and other adventures! Jonathan kicks this off for us with some tales of moving woe and risky bridge traversals.

Something Useful Segment

This useful segment is a simple life suggestion. I cover a cool place to just chill out, watch a streetcar roll by on the flanged wheel or just watch the fascinating individuals of Portland passing by.

When you’re done watching, subscribe to the blog and or to the Transit Sleuth TV video channel too.

Average American Lifestyle, What’s Your Excuse?

I’ve left the rat race of the car driving, fast food eating, sprawl living, Nintendo/Xbox/Playstation playing, boob tube watching day to day – or what millions in America call life – and even though there shouldn’t be excuses for living so poorly, I’m collecting what people have heard. So, what have YOU heard people say as an excuse for not living better? For not taking transit or riding a bike to take care of more things in their life? What about for eating fast food, what’s the excuse there?

Please leave comments and such!  Cheers!

Yup... rat race racing...

Yup… rat race racing…

Ballard to Bellevue to Redmond to Seattle to Ballard, Done!

A couple weeks ago Ro and I made a trip to check out the B-Line. The B-Line is the latest BRT type route between Bellevue to Redmond on the east side of Lake Washington (I really don’t want to call it east Seattle, because it isn’t anything like Seattle). We left early in the day boarding the #44 at Ballard & Market Street.

#44, in Diesel Operation (Usually it runs a Trolley Bus)

#44, in Diesel Operation (Usually it runs a Trolley Bus)

The #271 can be seen hiding behind the #49.

The #271 can be seen hiding behind the #49.

From there we rode to the University District and transferred there to the #271.

As we rode the #271 I saw an activity, that when I drove would cause me serious rage and concern over safety. But here on the bus, it was almost endearing to see a fellow rider making good use of their bus riding time. A young lady sat politely in her chair doing some of that fancy make up doing that young ladies do.

An appropriate time to put on makeup.

An appropriate time to put on makeup.

Once we arrived in Bellevue we spent some time to get a bite at Chantanee Thai Restaurant and Bar. After a good meal and some pretty snappy drinks, we headed over to the Bellevue Transit Center to board one of the new B-Line Buses. Behold, before us stood Chad (aka punkrawker of punkrawker4783 videos)! We talked for a bit about the new route. He told me about how part of the line was super busy while the other part was moderately so. After a few minute Ro and I left Chad to go his way and we were off on our way.

B-Line to Redmond

B-Line to Redmond

We boarded the next bus, when it showed as ready. They sit there at the transit center, off with a driver usually standing nearby in preparation for departure. On this day, since it wasn’t a weekday, the frequency was only 15 minutes. This made it really not like BRT. But I wasn’t expecting too much, as BRT is rarely setup the way it is talked about by advocates.

B-Line, Side Shot

B-Line, Side Shot

B-Line to Redmond

B-Line to Redmond

Once aboard we took our seats and enjoyed our departure. We pulled out onto the main street, into traffic, with barely a dedicated lane in site. As expected I thought to myself. But it wasn’t bad. The ride was smooth, as far as buses go, and vastly superior to the ride quality of buses that actually travel most King County Metro Routes. Part of this was the roadway, which is newer than most of the roads in Seattle proper, and part of it was the bus that has better suspension and ride quality.

On our ride we also were entertained by some of the colorful characters of the east side. One guy had a strange cat hat thing on with a girl who, well, simply had odd attire on altogether. But to each their own, it brought a chuckle and props for being different!

Cat Hat

Cat Hat

The east side, I will admit, is a beautiful area with a lot of nature. It is however a massive lifeless suburban sprawl. Everyone has their ticky tacky houses and with cookie cutter restaurants with barely a unique characteristics to the whole place. The only way to tell you’re in the north west is by the trees and natural surroundings here and there, plus the continual spurts of rain every hour or so. Other than that, you might as well be in Texas. The east side, with almost every house, apartment, and building carries an almost triumphant lack of culture and art. But again, this is something I was prepared for. Want art, go downtown to Seattle. Want some grass that you can mow, go to the east side.

The stops along the way, that are dedicated to the B-Line, are pretty neat. They’re just like the A-Line stops for the most part. With the rich red color and simple design.

B-Line Bus Stop

B-Line Bus Stop

I did grab one shot that I thought was just so stereotypical of the east side. The irreverent and disrespectful by their mere existence, H2 Hummer. Not the real Humvee, but no the superficial and fake H2. The thing that only pretends to be a real truck and is by no means even related to a military vehicle in any way other than mockery. The marketing on this sure worked for those of lesser income that have issues with their big truckness of manhood.

East Side Superficialness in Full Effect

East Side Superficialness in Full Effect

When we did get into the small town of Redmond the bus pulled up to the Redmond Transit Center. There we walked to the area that literally has the MOST life of the entire area. The local skate park. Of course, there were some kids there breaking the law while having fun riding their bikes. But as with the respect among young people, everyone was honorably taking their turns at runs on the park. Bicyclists, skooter riders, and skaters alike. It was very chill. Several of the kids were pretty bad ass on those bikes too. I’d hate to see an officer have to enforce the law and bust those kids of biking on the skate park. Something seriously should be done to change those laws – these parks should be available to skaters, skooters, inline skaters, bicyclists, or whatever non-powered fun ridable things someone wants to ride on it.

Here’s a few shots of the dudes riding bikes that were tearing it up good.

Flying High

Flying High

…and another…

Airborne Again

Airborne Again

After a while watching, we grabbed some food and then headed off to the heart of Redmond (which is about 4 square blocks of more ticky tacky, but I won’t go into that). On the way back I grabbed a few more shots of the buses serving the Redmond Transit Center.

Redmond Transit Center - B-Line Buses Queued Up

Redmond Transit Center - B-Line Buses Queued Up

#248 Redmond

#248 Redmond

Bus Stop Sign

Bus Stop Sign

After all that riding, it was time to head back to the cultural heart of this metropolitan area. So we boarded the next #545 bound for Seattle!

Once downtown, with a breath of life back in our souls, we then transferred and rode the trusty #18 back to Ballard.

Ride Complete! 🙂 Cheers!

Cafe Fiore, Route #17 and #48, and a Long Narrative!

I’m sitting here at Cafe Fiore. Watching the clientele come in and out, here at 85th and 32nd. It’s a nice little coffee shop with seating outside on the side walk in the sun. Outside there is the junction of two bus lines; #17 and the #48. Just the other side of the junction is a road that goes downhill through forrest to a Golden Park along the waterfront. This, is an absolutely gorgeous area. Not for me, but absolutely stunning in so many ways.

Considering the ridership of the #17 and #48, many people in this area ride the bus on a regular basis. I gather this from several observations. There is not much density here, as everything for many blocks is single family homes and there are plenty of garages with more than a few cars here and there. However, just from the ridership numbers one can assume that the express busses probably get 80-90% of their patronage from this area, with another 10-20% along the Market Street area. Further, much further down the street between Market Street and 60th there are a lot more apartments, where I assume a large part of that 80-90% come from. Leaving about half or less of that percentage coming from this area… which concludes with about 1-2% of the households in this area riding the bus. Considering the suburban layout of this area, this isn’t all that bad of a number.

One major positive for this area, is this coffee shop garners heavy foot traffic on a day like this. As does the park below near the waterfront. This is encouraging, as people aren’t riding around in their automobiles cluttering up the streets with traffic and wasting fuel. It is a very community oriented neighborhood, very unlike the far flung suburbs of Bellevue, further north in Everett or other outlying suburbs. This is a more traditional style “streetcar suburb”. Considering where the streetcars used to travel, it once was, so it all makes logical sense that it continues to be this way.

The #17 travels along 32nd avenue down and onto Market Street in Ballard. There it cuts a turn down the parallel to Ballard Street (I can never remember this street) and then travels across the 15th Street Bridge. Here is where it gets tricky. The #17 express continues along 15th, which becomes Elliot or Interbay (I hate it when cities give a street multiple names, or it continues along and just has multiple names for different stretches), and then into downtown. The express only runs on weekdays. The regular local route runs along this same stretch until the southern end of the 15th street bridge where it turns and runs along the canal and onto Westlake, then getting into the city. The whole route, of course, with many more local stops. One trip takes a total of about 35 minutes forms end to end, and the other takes about 45-50 minutes end to end.

The #48 travels along 85th, then cuts south somewhere and heads into the University District. I’ve never ridden the entire length, but at some point I intend to, maybe later today. It has good patronage I hear, from conversation, from the college crowd.

Which leads me back to the excitement and thought, that when Seattle finally opens their extra few miles of light rail to the University District they’ll finally see massive ridership increases on a scale they’re not yet imagining. I at least hope, because ridership on everything else that has been built out like this (the current line, the commuter rail, etc) has been appalling compared to other Northwestern Cities like Vancouver, San Francisco, and Portland (in that order matter of fact).

But again, back to the #48, this route acts as a great local route into the University District area. In the future, when the light rail opens, it could provide as a major feeder along with another dozen lines straight to the light rail. I know some transit enthusiasts will scream at me for this, but they could even cancel some early morning frequencies and replace them with express routes straight along this route to the light rail. The express route could then provide faster travel along 85th and along the north south of its route into the University District, doubling as a fast light rail feeder, university express, and more. Combine both the express and regular route and the area will have one of the fastest methods of getting into University and into Downtown Seattle.

Anyway, onwards route #48. This deserves riding, so now that I’ve pondered it, I’m off to give it a ride. So between now (12:30 on Sunday) and the next time stamp I’ll have given the bus a ride. 🙂

#48 Narrative, A Sunday Ride during the “lowest ridership” part of the week!  😉

1:00pm, departing on time with my “English Driver” as he referred to himself. We chatted a bit about the route, when it is busy and when it isn’t, week days vs. week ends, and more. As we moved along it was a pretty standard Seattle Route (beautiful along the way), with standard Seattle Streets (deteriorated and bumpy).

We got to the 24th Street stop and boarded 7 guys, all appearing with bandannas and such, carrying on and having a good time. I couldn’t help but ponder if they had gang associations with their “cali” style appearance. They also had a standard American disregard for simple speaking etiquette, but one can never really expect that except in the morning when the working America is headed into or out of work for the day. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me, I’m not offended but do make the observation.

Total Person Trips so far: 7 (I’ll be excluding myself and adding me at the end of the trip)

At 15th Street I note the numerous Swedish and Norwegian Flags along the Safeway. It is very interesting the pride in the Ballard area in regards to these origins. The patrons on the bus however seemed completely unrelated to those origins in a number of ways. Fortunately, their slight annoyance left with their presence as the de-bussed.

This was good since a small girl with a soccer ball, her mother, an elderly gentleman, and one other boarded at the 15th Street Stop. This makes for a much more comfortable ride for them, since these faux gangsters left (I say faux, since they obviously don’t live in poverty, northern Seattle isn’t exactly poor).

Total Person Trips so far: 11

Just a few streets further we have two elderly asian ladies board, with big smiles on their faces. They were speaking a language that I could not identify in any way. It struck me odd, as I can usually identify languages with a fair amount of accuracy. After a few minutes though, I realized what language they were speaking, which struck me as really odd, German! Yes, these two ladies were speaking German!

Total Person Trips: 13

Another man boarded, another man with his mother boarded, and several got off along the next few blocks.

Total Person Trips: 15

We reached Palatine Avenue North and one could see a number commercial establishments, little dives and grocery stores, basically a small town center of sorts. It appears to be a nice area that has at least a half dozen or more decades of history behind it. Again, another one of those “streetcar suburbs” which becomes very appareling with its character and presence. These suburbs always tend to go in stark contrasts, either beautiful and lively, with character or violent, downtrodden, with character and barely scraping by.

Getting into the core of this town center just a bit we boarded another 5 young people and another fella. This got our person trips up to 21.

While boarding one of the individuals, who was handicap and thus takes a minute or two, we boarded another 2 gentleman, which again bumped us up to 23 before we even pulled away from the stop.

We passed more streets; Dayton, Evanston, Fremont, Linden, and more. Along the way we picked up another 5, all younger people. Giving us a wide age range of people on this bus.

The bus finally arrived at Aurora, the major arterial to downtown where the #358 runs frequently (every 10 minutes? not sure how often but it is often). We moved on thru the light at Aurora with a few more boarded while passing another dozen or so higher density residential areas. The Aurora Corridor always kind of trips me out. It’s busy commercial and then quickly goes from moderate density to practically single home density within 4-5 blocks, with very little walkability, or enjoyable walkability along Aurora. However the residential areas are beautiful with sidewalks, small parks, schools and more.

Total Person Trips: 28

We rode further and I noticed another strange bit, the ladies speaking German behind me where also speaking Chinese now. Wow, my mind was being blown away by these two ladies just chatting away. It was really cool to hear them both switching between languages like that.

We arrived at Green Lake via Wallingford, turning onto the street slowly while dozens of people crossed. Another individual boarded the bus at this intersection stop. We then rolled on with the gorgeous lake view and hundreds of beautiful people jogging, walking, and families enjoying the Green Lake and surrounding park area.

The route was easy going along this segment. The trees stood still with no real wind to speak of, except as the bus passed we caused a slight stir. As we headed into the town center area near Green Lake along the eastern side of the lake, the route cuts onto Ravenna. In the median of Ravenna there are more jogging and bicycling on this gorgeous day. Very few cars are out at all, one of the beautiful things about the northwest. When it is nice out, in areas like this, people actually get out and get going within their communities.

We then cut onto 65th and pass underneath Interstate 5, the blight that it is here. Even though it poses all of the problems to a community and neighborhood that an Interstate does, the city and community has done its part to clean up, and keep clean, underneath the Interstate. Making it as appealing and as negligible an impact as possible. Just a few blocks further the town center area of Green Lake, even though divided by the Interstate, continues on into the University District Area. There we board another 2 people.

Total Person Trips: 30

A short ride further and we board another 3 after a turn onto 15th heading south into the University District core. Passing Cowen and 15th we get another person, a let off one person who travelled a whopping 1 stop with us.

The buildings in this part of town are interesting, with an almost European Elegance to them. Interspersed with College Dormitory style apartments that show a slight wear and tear. The route continues on 15th, heading uphill into the area. Another 1 person boards.

Total Person Trips: 35

We arrive at 50th, which gets us about as close to the core of the University District to make a walk around easily done. The bus clear 47th, 45th, and so on. It appears some of the blocks just skip altogether in this part of the city. Another 1 person boards.

While heading down 15th street through the University District I note that the construction of the bus stops is going well. They look nice, open designs, easier to keep clean and unmarked by the mischievous. It doesn’t appear they’ll be completely enclosed, green style stops as is traditional in Seattle like King County Metro has built them in the past.

A bit further on, another rider boards. The sun shines in brightly as we come down to Pacific Avenue. One of the riders that boarded earlier continues, after more than 10 minutes already, to frantically put on lotion. I suspect, considering her light complexion that she’s preparing to be outside for a while. However I keep noticing since she has this frantic gusto about her efforts to get this lotion on. In a way, it’s sort of comical, and even though she doesn’t realize somewhat awkward for her activity. Others are watching her every few moments, her activity triggering an instinctual response to look and see what the frantic action is about!

I just sit there, straight faced as I always do. We pull along, on Pacific Avenue and then across the canal bridge into the Montlake area. While passing one can see the cranes and walls surrounding the future light rail tunnel stop.

As the bus travels along 24th avenue through Montlake, I see a few funny sites. One is a couch, in typical northwest fashion, sitting on the sidewalk with a big sign that has “free” written across it. Further up the way, in the heat of the this sunny day, I see two standard bearing “Goth” kids walking along a sidewalk with big bags of colorful recyclables. It isn’t haha funny, but curious funny, with a little touch of entertaining.

Our current load of passengers slowly starts to trickle away as we move up the hill while still on 24th. We travel thru some extremely rough spots in the road. This bumpiness, another of my frustrations with buses, is frustrating. Flinging the monitor on my laptop forward. The display almost hits its back against the seat wall in front of me. I can’t help but ponder how much nicer this would be if it were light rail, a streetcar, or something on solid, flanged wheels. I’d even suffice to say a nice Mercedes BRT style bus would do exponentially better. But oh well, life will go on, I’ll straighten my display, and I’ll just suffer the bus life with it’s better livability versus the other options (auto-based dependent nooses, I mean lifestyles, for those that may read this and not know what I speak of).

We arrive at Madison, 23rd, and Denny, and a young girl holds her arms out to her sides, as if forming a cross, and rotates her torso. Apparently exercising or doing middle of the sidewalk yoga. Something of the sort, one more funny bit to note.

During these few stops we trickle away a few more riders and gain another 6 over time.

Total Person Trips: 41

As we move further into the core of downtown Seattle, we pass a Church with patrons lined up outside heading inside. We board a few African Americans, taking pride in their church going activities and wearing very stylish proper Sunday attire. Further on we board more youth, a few more elderly, and a loud mouthed mother. She spurts out commands to her child making half the bus look at her. Being she’s a “loud mother” people just look down and ignore her. Not particularly concerned with her or her disruption. Another person boards, we roll on.

To the right, facing west, the city buildings can be seen from about the 40th floor and up. The First and Capitol Hills and the angle we ride upon them, block the view any lower than that. We head thru an African American dominated part of town into another Asian dominated part of town. The divide, in my opinion unfortunate, is clear from one part of town to another. Hopefully the divide continues to decrease over time as it has been. The horrors of Seattle’s past between these two communities, and the Irish and Asian Communities is something to be left in the past.

Riding a long further one yard has the flames of a super hot barbecue alive with the efforts of the cooks. Several in the yard focusing on attaining those tasty morsels.

The route cuts along a S in the road as we draw nearer the end of the route. It makes me wonder, with the ridership on a Sunday like this evenly spaced in this short end of the route equal to that of the long 85th to the University District end. I had thought earlier that this would be a great route that could act as a feeder into the light rail station, and it absolutely can, but this southern end of the route will probably maintain a pretty significant ridership that may or may not feed into the light rail, but instead just in and around the area. It does however serve to some degree as a feeder into the Baker Station Stop of the existing light rail station. This however brings up another thought, “do the bus routes act very much as feeders to the light rail or is the light rail mostly derived from other sources?”

The bus pulls onto Rainer Avenue, where the loud mother and her mother de-bus, a friendly reminder from one passenger asks them, “is this your stroller” under the front seat. To which the mother’s mother replies, “yes, thank you” as they all line up and de-bus. Always nice, that even the noisy, what appears to be uncourteous individuals, can be respectful and polite. Just because they don’t cover the full gamut of what one might think is or isn’t polite, doesn’t mean that individuals don’t have their redeeming qualities and polite aspects.

We arrived, just a few minutes behind the intended arrival. Pulling into the Baker Transit Center stop at 2:08pm. A great ride, interesting sites, beautiful scenery, and a very wide slice of Seattle’s Population. Asian, African American, Philippine, Mexican, and more. Always great to see transit, where the real melting pot of the United States is.

I got off the bus, while some people asked the driver questions about where they were going. I pulled my bike from the bike rack on the front of the bus. Officially, the trip is complete.

Total Person Trips: 41 <- Anyone know the peak person trips per frequency? I’d love to know what the range is.

End Narrative

I walked across the street to the Baker Transit Center Light Rail Station. Up the escalator and along within 2 minutes was my ride back into town… and this is where I leave this blog entry.

Cheers, happy riding!
Transit Sleuth

 

PS – The geoposition on this blog entry, which is the address for Zeitgeist Coffee (1 of the best in Seattle) isn’t showing up on the Bing Maps properly. It shows like it is in the stupid stadium, it however is clearly in the old town part of Pioneer Square Area! Not cool Bing Maps, not cool.

Out of Pocket Savings w/ Transit vs. Auto Usage

 City  Monthly  Annual
 1  New York  $1,120  $14,643
 2  Boston  $1,131  $13,575
 3  San Francisco  $1,088  $13,060
 4  Seattle  $995  $11,939
 5  Philadelphia  $977  $11,729
 6  Chicago  $976  $11,716
 7  Honolulu  $945  $11,377
 8  Los Angeles  $891  $10,692
 9  Minneapolis $ 884  $10,610
 10  San Diego  $863  $10,360
 11  Washington, DC  $863  $10,350
 12  Portland  $859  $10,312
 13  Denver  $857  $10,279
 14  Baltimore  $843  $10,113
 15  Cleveland  $823  $9,877
 16  Miami  $803  $9,634
 17  Atlanta  $789  $9,469
 18  Dallas  $785  $9,425
 19  Pittsburgh  $780  $9,366
 20  Las Vegas  $762  $9,146