Transfer The Transfer

I covered in the University District this morning. Phillip and I were going to ride in together, but he called in sick. (Another migraine.) So I caught the 43.

I hadn’t read the schedule before I left the apartment. I had plenty of time. As I was walking toward Olive Way, I saw a 43 going up the hill. I’d just missed it. I walked past the stop at Olive & Summit, and continued to the stop at John & Broadway. I like that stop a little better. The sidewalk is wider, and it’s level. It has a more interesting view – more activity to observe.

I had the stop to myself, for a while. OneBusAway told me the next 43 was due in 7 minutes.

An 8 bus arrived, and a man got off, and retrieved his bicycle from the front rack. Then, when the bus left, he began pushing something against the schedule on the bus stop sign. Was he trying to stick something to it? Was he trying to deface the schedule? Should I say something? (He looked like a guy who wouldn’t readily back down in a confrontation.) Whatever he was doing, he was having a difficult time getting his task done.

Finally, he finished whatever he’d been doing and walked his bicycle toward Broadway. I could see a piece of paper sticking out of the corner of the schedule. I walked over to it, intending to remove whatever religious or political message he’d posted.

It was a bus transfer. The guy had left it behind for some other rider to use. He was “paying forward” a bus ride for someone. It probably wasn’t strictly by Metro Transit’s rules of ridership, but I saw no harm in it. Phillip and I have both done something similar when we’d left still-valid parking stickers on pay stations.

Instead of removing it, I took a photograph of it for my other blog. I’m not sure if anyone is going to understand what’s going on in the photograph, but I like how it turned out. I appreciated that stranger’s act of kindness.

The 43 bus arrived, with a sticky front door. The bus driver had to get up a couple of times to push the door open, and a few times had to open and close all the doors to get it to work. The driver seemed to be taking it in stride, and so did the passengers along the route. But I suspected the driver was not going to have a good day – unless a replacement bus could be sent.

When it came time for me to leave the U District and head to Downtown, I had been thinking about walking over to the medical center and taking the employee shuttle to First Hill – and either busing or walking to my office. I checked OneBusAway, however, and saw that a 25 was due in 12 minutes. I love the 25, and it’s the best no-transfer option for me between the two offices.

There were no more than six or seven riders on the 25 the whole way. It’s really too bad that Metro can’t come up with some micro-bus or van for routes like the 25. It’s being used by riders, but just not enough for a 40-foot bus. I was also thinking about the downward spiral of routes like the 25. I don’t know all the decisions that go into scheduling decisions, but I see the effects. A route like the 25 has low ridership (probably because it serves mainly residential areas), so Metro cuts its schedule back to once an hour, or worse. Then fewer people ride it, because of its infrequent schedule (it’s why I rarely ride it from the U District), so Metro deletes the route, citing declining ridership.

One thought on “Transfer The Transfer

  1. It is too bad that Sally Clark has left City Council. She was against the big articulated buses, and in favor of smaller buses with more frequent schedules. I feel that shuttle vans are the only way to make Light Rail work, so that people can get across-town to get to the Light Rail Stations. People need routes like the 25. Recently I waited 45 minutes for a 16 — two of them should have come within that time. As I rode, I saw that part of the problem is that the bus is too big to squeeze through the tight streets with cars parked on both sides in Belltown, Green Lake and Wallingford.

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