The E Line

This year’s Combined Fund Drive ceremony was held in the Shoreline Convention Center. I wasn’t pleased with the choice of venue.

I started thinking back on all the places the CFD ceremonies have been held since I’ve been going there with Phillip. There was the Horticultural Center at least twice. There was the UW Tower, and the Burke Museum (maybe twice). There was the Washington State Convention Center, the Swedish Club, a Lake Union yacht club, some place in the Mount Baker neighborhood, Golden Gardens Park, and a brewery near Safeco Field. There were probably other places I’ve forgotten.

(He’s been doing this for a while.)

I get that the CFD’s choice of venue is limited by availability and by their budget, and that they cover all of King County, and not just Seattle. I won’t rant on about why I didn’t like this choice, though. This is a blog post about me getting there.

Phillip left early, as he always does, with the car, to help set things up. And it was up to me to get myself there. On the plus side, it was a challenge – a puzzle to figure out.

Metro’s Trip Planner gave me this: Take a 41 bus from Pioneer Square Station to the Northgate Transit Center, then transfer to route 348, then walk about a third of a mile to the Shoreline Convention Center.

The thing that concerned me about Metro’s plan was that the 348 runs only twice per hour. I could have a long wait at Northgate.

I thought about renting a car2go or a ReachNow and driving myself there. (That thought gave me a memory of renting a Zipcar to meet Phillip at that brewery near Safeco.) The problem with that plan was the Shoreline Convention Center is well outside of both car share companies’ home area. I’d have to continue renting the car during the meeting, and then drive it home afterwards. (Which is what I did with the Zipcar, back in the pre-car2go days.) It wasn’t impossible, but I would prefer not driving out of Seattle during rush hour.

Google Maps gave me a plan even better than the previous two: Catch a RapidRide E from Downtown to 185th Street, then transfer to the 348. The transfer point is only a mile or so from the Shoreline Convention Center. If the wait for the 348 is too long, walking is possible.

Then, a question came to me: From Downtown to 185th is a two-zone trip. How do you pay for the extra fare on RapidRide’s off-bus ORCA readers? I don’t think you can – judging by what information I found. (The zone system is going away in a few months, so I gather that this isn’t a major issue for Metro.) It seemed that you have to pay inside the bus, telling the driver you’re paying for two zones.

I boarded the RapidRide E at 4:37. I told the driver that I wanted to pay for two zones. “What’s that?” “I want to pay two zones.” “Just pay one zone. I don’t have time for that.”

I hoped that any Fare Inspectors believed my story. As we made our way up 3rd Avenue, it became clear that the bus was too crowded for anyone to check fares. The bus was jam-packed all the way to Green Lake. Then it cleared out a bit.

At 5:36, I exited at Aurora and 185th. I walked around the corner, on 185th. OneBusAway told me I had a 7 minute wait for a 348. I decided to wait. The 348 arrived 7 minutes later. Including myself, and the three people who boarded with me, there were five people on the bus when it left the stop.

I accidentally exited one stop early.

I got to the event at 5:58. It started at 6:00, but everyone was running late, due to traffic and getting lost trying to find the place, so it didn’t start until 6:15.

It was a fun event, although shorter than in past years. I was the first raffle winner. I won a selection of candies.

Phillip drove us home. I-5 was moving swiftly all the way to Capitol Hill.