An Average Ballard Morning…

I snagged this video a week or so ago while waiting for the #18 Express into downtown Seattle. There are a lot of riders that board in Ballard at the main town center Market & Ballard Street Stop.

I really enjoy living in Ballard, with the connectivity it has. But there are other huge benefits too. For those smart enough to realize living near an Interstate is bad, Ballard is awesome. For those that want livability features like groceries nearby, parks and tree lined streets, community centers and community artwork, restaurants and public houses (i.e. pubs/bars/etc), and of course music with a round for all! Ballard is the pick of the litter!

Just wanted to post this short video, as a simple point of reference that Ballard, has got the whole livability thing going on. The roots of this can be seen in the market street core with just a few days of exploration. So if you’re into the transit, car free lifestyle, Ballard should be one of the places on the top of your list. Cheers!

King County Metro’s Best Website Enhancement Yet

I’m am not a big fan of King County Metro’s Website. It follows some really BAD UX and UI design standards and guidelines. Almost like a committee or a bunch of bureaucrats designed it. Some of it is obtusely idiotic. But there is hope, there is a gleaming gem among the dirge of a zillion clicks, oddball readability, poor SEO, hard to find routes, and other things.

King County Metro

King County Metro

King County Metro recently released the Annual Performance Measurement section of the site. I had been wanting a good, readable, easy to understand charting and graphing of the Metro Transit ridership statistics and King County Metro has given it to me! I’m stoked! These are actually readable charts that can be used to ascertain real and legit information about the bus system.

The financial section and the ridership section really have some great numbers. This is where you can go to really dig into how your tax dollars and fare are going to build, support, and operate the transit system. Seriously, go check it out.

I love that this information is readily and easily available. Sound Transit also offers some of this, but should really take a look at what Metro is doing with this and do some of their own charting and reports online like this. In addition they really should work together with Metro to determine real transit ridership for the entire Seattle + Tacoma Metro areas and respective routes. There are some good arguments, and good data there, that could seriously help move forward the Seattle area and transit in general.

So with that stated, cheers to Metro & especially the web team that put this part of the site together!  Great job.

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.