I decided to try an experiment for my commute home this evening.
First, I sent an email to Phillip, letting him know I was taking the streetcar home. (I expected him to reply with a joke along the lines of “You can’t take it home, we have no room for it”, but he didn’t make that joke. He missed the opportunity.)
I noticed that neither Google Maps nor OneBusAway are showing the First Hill Streetcar stops yet. The Seattle Streetcar website showed me where the stops are.
I walked over to Marion Street, and waited for the 12 bus, between 4th and 5th Avenues.
During the eight minutes I waited for the 12, I lost track of how many near collisions happened on that block. Marion Street is two lanes there, but mid-block, they both jog over to the left to create a third, right-turn-only, lane. Time after time, drivers in the left lane went straight into the center lane, over the white line, nearly hitting a car in the right lane as it was following the lane over to the left. (The city could generate a lot of revenue in traffic tickets right there, if it wanted to.)
The 12 was packed, standing-room-only, in one of those new trolley buses. Phillip sent me a text message, asking if the streetcar was still free. I replied that I think so. (I discovered that I’m fairly good at texting with one hand and holding on a bus strap with the other, as long as I don’t try to correct typos.) Phillip asked if I was still waiting. I replied no, I was on the 12 heading up to Broadway.
I realized that there had been some confusion. Phillip had assumed that I was going to go south, to either the International District, or maybe Pioneer Square, and ride the streetcar from there. It was beyond my texting skills to explain on the bus.
I was intending to ride the First Hill Streetcar the way it was designed – as a way to get from First Hill to the Capitol Hill Station.
As the 12 bus approached Broadway, a northbound streetcar (a pink one) went by.
I exited the bus at Madison & Broadway, across the street, sort of, from IHOP, and walked around the corner to the streetcar/bus stop near the Seattle University parking garage. A 9 bus was leaving as I approached.
The “Next Arrival” sign wasn’t working yet. (It’s still the “soft launch”.) The sign said only that the streetcar was running every 12 minutes. (Which, it turned out, wasn’t right.) The ORCA reader and ticket machine were both covered up. It’s still free to ride.
There were four other people waiting at the stop with me. Across the street, six or eight people were waiting at the southbound stop – until a white, flower-patterned streetcar picked them up.
I had a four-minute wait for a northbound streetcar. It was olive drab – the same color as the one Phillip and I rode on Sunday. (It was probably the same one.)
There were people standing inside the streetcar, but also a few empty seats. I took a seat.
I sent Phillip a text message, letting him know that I was on the streetcar. He replied that he thought I was taking the bus. I cleared up the misunderstanding.
The streetcar had to make a sudden stop at Pike Street, as a car turned in front of it, making a right turn from the left-turn-only lane. Fortunately, our driver avoided a collision. Our driver apologized over the PA, and reminded us to hold on when the streetcar is in motion. Other than that, it was a nice, smooth ride.
I thought the automatic stop announcements were easier to understand than they were on Sunday. (That may be because I wasn’t trying to hear them over a crowd of people.)
I exited at the end of the line, at the Link station.
I stopped into Phoenix Comics, at Phillip’s request, and then walked home.
I got home about 20-25 minutes later than I usually do. It was not the most efficient option (for me, personally), but it was a good commute.
I like our new streetcar.