Thoughts On A Morning Commute

I’m working the now standard month’s end overtime this week. I walked out of our apartment 20 minutes earlier than usual this morning, and a 43 came by a couple of minutes after I got to the bus stop.

Our driver seemed to be in a hurry. I have no idea if he was running behind schedule.

I suddenly realized that we were passing my stop at Westlake Station, between 6th and 5th. I’ve become so used to a lot of other commuters exiting there, that I didn’t think of pulling the cord. I started to pull the cord for the next stop – at the other end of Westlake Station, between 4th and 3rd – but someone else pulled it.

I thought about how odd it is for Metro Transit to have two stops for the same route a block from each other. Equally odd is the fact that both stops connect with the same tunnel station.

I exited the bus, crossed the street, and walked into the west entrance to Westlake Station. It’s very different from the east entrance. On the east side, graffiti is rare, and tagging is typically small – hidden in the details. On the west side, graffiti is the rule rather than the exception – it’s everywhere you look. This morning, I couldn’t think of another tunnel entrance as graffiti-plagued as that west entrance to Westlake Station. It’s not even interesting graffiti – just ugly tagging.

I walked through Westlake Station, and down to the southbound platform. I continued on the east end – the back end – and waited for a Link train. I typically wait at the back end of the platform, and board the train at the back, since that’s the direction my exit is at Pioneer Square Station.

While I waited for the train, I passed the time by studying the transit system map. When I’ve taken my solo vacations to Portland, Oregon, I’ve spent a majority of my time joyriding on the Tri-Met system. It’s a great – and cheap – way to tour a city. You can see daily life in a city without having to focus on the unfamiliar streets ahead of you. I’ve never felt comfortable doing that on Metro Transit – the system is too infrequent, irregular, and haphazard. Tri-Met alerts you ahead of time to the “Frequent Service” routes, and buses don’t change route numbers in the middle of a route.

(I’ve taken joyrides on Link, but that’s Sound Transit, not Metro. Besides, finding a light rail station is a lot easier than finding a bus stop.)

This morning, studying the transit map, I came up with the idea of joyriding on each of Metro’s six RapidRide routes. Now ,that’s something that I could feel comfortable doing someday. (RapidRide is Metro’s version of rail-less light rail.)

(To be fair, this was not an entirely new idea. Phillip had once asked me, after I’d taken RapidRide A to NorWesCon, why I didn’t ride the A line all the way to the end, just for fun.)

The C and D lines, from Westwood Village to Crown Hill, would be the easiest, since they run through Downtown Seattle. Besides, since Metro loves to have routes change numbers (or letters) in the middle of a route, the C and D are actually the same route, and I could knock out two RapidRides in one joyride.

The A line, from Tukwila International Blvd. Station to Federal Way Transit Station, would be an easy one, too, since one end is at a Link station.

The E line, from Downtown to Aurora Village, starts and ends in Downtown Seattle, making it an easy one as well.

The F line, from Burien to Renton, stops at Tukwila International Blvd. Station mid-way through the route, making that one easy. It also stops at a Sounder (commuter rail) station. Depending on the Sounder schedule, that’s a joyride option.

The B line, from Bellevue to Redmond, would be the tricky one. It would require some planning, to get a bus from Seattle to the Eastside, and to make sure I don’t get stranded over there.

It was something to think about, on my commute in this morning.

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