Introducing The Morning Commuters

I boarded the bus again on a not so normal bright and sunny morning in Seattle. Day #X of my Ballard commute into Seattle. The #17 Express and #17 came spot on time. The #17 Express, as usual, packed em’ in and filled every single seat at this stop. I waited the extra few minutes for the #18 Express. Upon boarding I saw a lot of the familiar faces. It is, in some ways, reassuring to board the bus in the morning and see a lot of familiar faces.

Biz Magazine Gal – One young lady is always reading a magazine of sorts. Looks sort of like a business magazine, but she always folds it back at the spine. This makes it impossible to really see what it is.

Rich Red – Another young woman is always reading a thriller or some type of exciting top 40 looking book. She raises it up so barely a soul could see her face.

Grumpy Frunk – A fella in the back is always sitting, partly stooped over from lack of sleep, and makes a failing attempt everyday at catching sleep on the bus.

Chicky Shades – Another gal boards the bus, and always strikes me as having hit the bong or maybe drank a few to many rounds the night before. Fortunately she’s plenty professional, as everyone aboard this express bus at this hour is.

Suit Guy #1 – This guy usually read a newspaper. That’s this thing made of paper, which is made from a dead tree. It looks like he has transit experience because he politely folds it up via the “quadruple fold” method and reads it that way.

Suit Guy #2 – Almost the same guy, except looks a little more like the “business suit killed the rock star” guy. He’s always got his face pulled into his phone, reading whatever it is that he reads.

Serious Fighter Guy – This guy probably doesn’t fight at all, but one never knows. He looks like he was built for fighting championships. Strapped like a guy out of 300.

Burlesque Lady – Often a girl, looking shockingly hot and wearing a coat over her burlesque outfit is off to ?? I’ve no idea in Seattle. Wasn’t sure the city had anything like this that a young lady would be going to at 7:52am in the morning.

Spunky Hair Dude – This guy is some type of office worker. Has great taste in shoes, but the worst taste in the history of men in shirts. Usually some nonsensical assault on the eyes like pink (salmon? whatever, it’s pink) stripes. One has stripes with dots!? I’m appalled that a designer of any sort would have the notion that this is a good combination to put on a single piece of clothing. Blagh!? 😦

Condom Man – Yup, we have one of those guys get aboard. Loads his bike and boards in about 3 seconds. Real military like, but always wearing the funny look bicycle spandex cloths (or whatever the material is, I’ve no idea). He looks like a man wrapped in a condom. Thus I’ve dubbed him the Condom Man.

Those are all the notable people, that I see, almost everyday riding the #18 Express into Seattle.

In the near future I’ve been pondering taking a more round about trip, just to enjoy different scenery and see who the “regulars” would be on that route. Until then, cheers!

Day #15 of the Ballard Commute

Today the sun is out and shining bright in Seattle. This always brings more people out by an order of magnitude. The sidewalks have all sorts of people out and about, in addition it also brings those people out that the rest of society would rather not see. The entertainment factor also increases. People and all their silly pet tricks get into full swing.

But I do digress. It’s nice to see everybody outside wandering and playing around in the sun. I however am going to ramble on about the actual Ballard commute some.

The commute generally stays the same as it did the first few days, except a slight bit faster in the morning and a little bit more cumbersome in the evening. It seems, when their isn’t rain pouring everywhere that people manage to not wreck as much. At least, they aren’t wrecking on roads that I’m riding the bus on.

The Market Street & Ballard Street Bus Stop has been immensely useful. With the #17, #18, and #44 running through that stop, it is very easy to get anywhere that I need to be in a reasonable amount of time. Even the run to the airport isn’t really that bad. Albeit, it would be nice if it were a single seat ride.

The ride out of downtown is the only part of the daily commute that has a little bit of a problem. The Denny to Elliot Street traffic is a complete catastrophe most of the time. It only amounts to about 3-4 blocks of traffic, but the bus lane doesn’t begin until the bus manages to get through that 3-4 blocks. Amazingly I don’t have any solutions for this bottleneck and obviously Seattle doesn’t either.

Anyway, just a few observations from the last few days of the commute.

A Smile For The Commute Home

The commute home today has been an interesting one. I really dug the Coffee Bean Espresso Shop in Belltown when I visited a couple weeks ago. I got a coffee card, a mug, a pin, and other nicknacks when I first visited – because I dug it just that much. Today on the way home I decided to go by again and have a coffee while I waited for my bus.

You might wonder, “why would you go way over there to wait for your bus! That’s the other end of downtown!” Well my main stop that I board the bus to return home, 3rd and Seneca, has so many buses coming by in addition to the #17, #18, or #15 that I usually ride. I decided to board one of the dozens of other buses coming by that exit downtown through Belltown and get off to finish my wait at the Coffee Bean. I boarded a #1 and was down to the Coffee  Bean with a solid good few minutes before my next bus arrived.

I egressed the #1 and a few others also did too. I walked under the construction awning that is setup as I walked to the corner. Out of the peripheral of my eye I saw someone following me. I thought nothing of this, it is the city after all. However I walked across the street and I looked behind me to see who it was. Not that I expected it to be someone I’d know, but just wanted to see. When I looked around I saw a young lady walking behind me. I thought “meh” ok, no threat, no concern, nobody I knew.

Well I walked on up to the front door of the Coffee Bean Shop and she says jovially, “yes, I’m following you…” with the expected sarcasm one would have when not really following someone. To her surprise though, me being who I am, I decided I’d open the door for the young lady. So I took the door and stepped back pulling it open letting her walk in. She got a smile from this and said thank you as she entered. I jokingly retorted, “and now I’m following you”.

She walked up to the counter to order and I followed in. As she ordered the guy at the counter asked, “is that all?” She responded with, “for me, and whatever he’s having.”  So I piped in with, “A small cappuccino, wet.” He responded “cool”. I said “thanks” to the young lady and walked over to my corner and plunked out the Apple Mac Book Pro to work on. I got my coffee, finished up what I was doing, and checked on the arrival time of my next available bus.  I had 4 minutes, which was perfect.

I packed up, and walked over to the young lady. I figured, after such a nice gesture, I should introduce myself. One never knows when they may run into a familiar face again. She introduced herself as “Laura”. After a rather long day, thanks Laura for being such a good soul and making my trip home a pleasant one.

I exited the coffee shop and headed to the stop. A #15 rolled up and I boarded. Again, I whipped out the laptop and decided this entry on the Transit Sleuth needed typed up, so here it is. The remaining trip went well, with no traffic congestion.

I sure hope everybody else had a good trip home with the smiling faces of friendly people. Until the next sleuthing about…  good travels.

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!

A Few Not So Great Shots of the Snow

…with of course a transit focused emphasis.  🙂

A Little Bit of Commentary

So almost every single bus line is either shut down, on snow routes, or almost non-operational.  Same thing happened to TriMet when it snowed and they got slammed for it.  A few people in the community even ranted and raved about how TriMet had done a horrible job keeping the buses running.  They noted that “Seattle didn’t have this problem and Seattle does way more to keep the buses running”.  I can officially say that is not the case.  The simple fact is, “BUSSES CAN’T RUN DURING THE SNOW!?!?!?!!!!”

Meanwhile in the reality of the realm of physics and serious infrastructure, Sounder and Link Light Rail are running just fine.  There was a small delay on a Sounder run this evening.  Thousands of people used this non-auto, non-bus based transport to get home without interruption or “alternate routes”.  In inclement weather (which it seems we’ll be getting more and more of over the next century) rail absolutely rules.  Rubber on road is an absolutely inferior technology for this type of situation.  Also to add, the streetcar in Tacoma and Seattle are running without interruption.  Seriously, American cities desperately need more rail.  Not BRT, not extended buses, not all wheel drive buses, but rail.  Hard care, large scale, massive infrastructure with trains and light rail on rail.  It doesn’t stop during snow, heat, or otherwise.  It is only minimally hampered in all but the most harsh weather.  But I digress, on to more winter wonderland fun…

…with two last links…

Some news about all the snow on the Capital Hill

…and some sledding/luging down Denny.

The Existing Commute, The New Commute

On the 15th I’ll start a new commute route for a new job.  I’m pretty stoked, as this one is more what I like.  I used to have a commute in Portland like this:

…or like this…

Then I changed that one for greater opportunities in Seattle and my commute turned into this:

…and I’ve again made a move for a great opportunity and an awesome urban commute of this:

…or this one.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to spending 10-15 minutes getting to work each day versus the hour long commute each way before.  I’ll have more about these locations in the future.  For now I just wanted to post these commute maps for reference.  Interesting changes that I’m really stoked about.

I still, have the big wopper of a blog entry coming on Vancouver, BC.

Metro (and Sound Transit) Rock Star Drivers!

I made perfect connections this morning!  I was stoked!  After boarding the Metro #5 to cover a few quick blocks to downtown I then transferred to the next #545 coming down the street.  To make matters even more awesome, another #545 had just come by running late.  So when I boarded this bus I was the first rider of the route.

This is when the rock star maneuvering of empowered drivers took effect.  We were bunched so closely with the leading #545, it was picking up customers that would normally have been riding this bus.  The driver decided proactively to circumvent the twisted street up off of Olive way and instead head to Montlake.  This would serve two purposes, relieve some of the packing on the first bus, and enable a reasonable pickup for this bus.

The idea worked beautifully!  My commute was looking to be a record 19 minutes flat on the #545.  I’m impressed.  TriMet, eat your heart out on that maneuverability!