Poles, The Next Day

It’s actually very rare that I see a trolley bus in Seattle lose its poles. So, to be inside a bus while it loses its poles is remarkable. To be inside two buses, losing their poles, in one day, as I was yesterday – that it was blog-worthy.

Today, I experienced the opposite effect.

I caught a 1 bus up 3rd Avenue this evening. At 3rd & Union, we were stopped by a crew doing something on the overhead wires. As our driver waited for a signal to proceed, I saw a 47 bus passing through the intersection, moving up Pike. I was going to miss it.

While we waited, our driver lowered the poles from inside the bus. (That is so cool!) Just as he switched the motor over to battery power, a wire worker signaled for us to proceed.

I exited the bus and walked around the corner.

There was a 10 (a trolley bus) in the middle of the stop, with nothing ahead of it. I don’t know what was going on.

That 47 (another trolley bus) I’d seen earlier was in the center lane. It lowered its poles, and pulled around the 10. The driver got out as passengers were boarding, returned the poles to the wire, returned to his seat, the light turned green, and we proceeded.

The 10 was right behind us. Whatever it experienced didn’t last long.

A New Bus Schedule

There was a Spin bike in the rack inside the Link train this morning. I wondered if someone had picked it up a station to have transportation from their destination (not a bad idea), or if someone had dropped it off there (a bad idea).

I caught a 7 bus up 3rd Avenue this evening. The driver had an odd pattern of speeding up and slowing down – in places where trolley bus drivers don’t typically speed up or slow down. Then I remembered that Metro started a new service schedule last Saturday, and I realized that there were a lot of new drivers out there.

(There wasn’t any change to my morning 47, so I’d forgotten about the service change.)

Just as she pulled into the stop at 3rd & Pike (the last stop for the northbound 7), our driver lost the poles (pulled them off the wires) and she coasted into the stop.

I got to the stop at 4th & Pike. Just as I started to check OneBusAway, I saw a 47 bus approaching.

The 47 loaded its passengers. The traffic light turned green, the lane ahead was empty, so the driver floored it. I thought to myself: “He’s going to lose his poles speeding through the switch ahead like this.”

And he lost his poles.


The 47 bus didn’t show up this morning, again. I didn’t receive a text alert about it, again.

I walked up and over to Olive Way, and just missed a 10 bus. OneBusAway told me I had a 10 minute wait for the next 10 bus. So, I continued walking up to Capitol Hill Station, and rode Link light rail to work. I got to work on time, as always.

When I boarded Link, a guy was getting a lecture from a Fare Inspector, because the guy didn’t have a ticket. The Fare Inspector also gave the guy directions on how to get to King Street Station.

I’ve filed a complain with Metro, again, about not being alerted when the 47 doesn’t show up.

The last time I filed a compliant, Metro told me the 47 hadn’t shown up because they had no available drivers. They also advised me to sign up for text alerts. This morning, in my complaint, I referenced both of those things.

I told Metro that there were about a dozen people at my stop this morning, relying on Metro to get them to work. I asked that the next time their drivers don’t bother showing up for work, at least let us know whether we should keep waiting or seek out another route, because we want to show up for work. I told them that I want this service repaired.

I told Metro that I’ve been signed up for text alerts for years. I’ve signed up for alerts for the 8, 10, 47, 49, 60, the streetcar, and light rail, and that I receive timely alerts for all of these – except the 47. I told them I want to know why I don’t receive alerts for the 47.

(I forgot about the 43 in my compliant – I also receive text alerts about it.)

My complaint this morning was angrier in tone than my previous one, but I was in a bad mood.

Light Rail Rides

I was waiting on the platform at Westlake Station this morning when I saw a guy in a leather jacket with a cool Bela Lugosi movie poster sewn onto the back. I had an urge to photograph it, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I could just ask him, but how would I explain why I wanted to photograph it?

The guy in the leather jacket was among a group of people with suitcases, obviously waiting for Link light rail to take them to the airport.

I decided that he was in a public space, and I was taking a photo of the station. Besides, you don’t wear such a large decoration if you don’t want people to notice it. I figured that as long as I cropped people’s faces out, and I framed it so the jacket was part of the overall scene, it would be OK. I took the photo holding my phone vertically, so it wouldn’t be so obvious that I was taking a photo. (Later, I cropped the photo horizontally.)

The train arrived, and I went through the same door as the leather jacket guy and his friends. As we passed I said to him, “Nice jacket!” He nodded, but gave me a blank look. Either he didn’t hear what I’d said, or he didn’t speak English.

I hardly ever ride light rail home these days. Link has become more of a tool than a toy to me, and that’s a good thing. With the addition of Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations, our light rail system has increased its usefulness, and I no long feel that I need to support it. I am pleased to see the system grow.

Link light rail gets me from Pioneer Square Station to Capitol Hill Station faster than the 47 bus gets me home, but it also gets me farther from home. I discovered, long ago, that the time it takes me to walk home from Capitol Hill Station is exactly equal to the time I spend waiting to transfer to the 47 at 4th & Pike, so I get home at the same time with either option. So, unless I need to be on Broadway, to pick up a book at the library, or food at QFC, or I have a chiropractor appointment, I’ve been opting for the shorter walk home.

Maybe when the weather becomes more pleasant, I’ll opt for a light rail ride home more often.

Snow, Here Or There

It started snowing on Capitol Hill last night. It wasn’t enough to cover much more than the grass, the tops of trees, and the tops of parked cars. Neither one of us seemed motivated to go outside and play in the snow. I don’t know if it was the measly amount of snow, or a feeling that the season was over, or what.

We woke up this morning to the same amount of snow. There wasn’t any more accumulation, nor had much melted away.

My office tends to close down in “inclement weather”. The same goes for Phillip’s office. I couldn’t imagine the amount of snow on Capitol Hill could close either office down, but Seattle is known for its microclimates. It could be snowing there, but not snowing here.

I went to the SDOT traffic web site – the “SDOT Travelers Home Page”, they call it. Traffic cameras showed bare streets in both Downtown and the U District. (Isn’t the internet wonderful?) Our offices would be open.

A coworker sent me a text message, asking if I’d heard whether our office would be open. Apparently, they had an inch or two of snow, south of Seattle. I sent them a screen shot of a traffic camera a few blocks from our office. Our office would be open, and we’d both be coming in on light rail. Neither one of us would be getting a snow day today.

Phillip left for work, heading up the hill to catch the 49. I left a few minutes later.

I didn’t trust the 47 to show up. (I can’t shake the feeling that Metro is still trying to kill that route, and will use any excuse to disrupt it.) So I walked up the hill, taking the less steep hills since sidewalks had patches of ice here and there, to Capitol Hill Station, and rode light rail to Downtown.

The streets were oddly empty when I left work this evening. I kept looking at my watch, checking to see if I was actually leaving work at the right time. I guessed that a lot of people had taken a snow day today.

I caught a 70 bus up 3rd Avenue, to the stop at 4th & Pike. OneBusAway told me a 47 was due in 2 minutes.

A trolley bus turned the corner from 3rd, into the bus stop. Its sign read “To Terminal”. The only time I see buses turn from 3rd like that, they turn out to be a 43. Except those 43 buses are always diesels.

The driver of that mystery bus sat at the stop, behind a 10, with the doors open. He was studying the schedule card intently.

Then he changed the bus signs to read: “47 To Summit”.

Obviously, that driver had come directly from the bus station as a last-minute addition to the 47 route. So, maybe, Metro cares about the 47 after all.

Different Commutes

Today was the 10th anniversary of the Seattle Streetcar. In celebration, both streetcar lines were free all day. This didn’t mean a whole lot to me, since my employer pays the full cost of my ORCA card, so technically, the streetcars are always free for me (unless you factor in the cost of the labor I put in to get that ORCA card – which I don’t). Still, I love our streetcars, and I thought this was pretty cool.

It’s been too long since I last rode the First Hill Streetcar, and a whole long longer since I’ve had the opportunity to ride the South Lake Union Streetcar.

I left work this evening and walked down to Jackson Street, getting stopped by “Don’t Walk” signs the whole way. (I was in no hurry. As always, I’m a fan of the slow commute.) I got to Jackson just as a streetcar was pulling into the stop. (Oh well, I’ll wait for the next one.)

I stepped onto the platform as the streetcar was loading passengers. I reached the back of the streetcar as the “Doors Closing” signal started sounding. (Oh well.) But the doors stayed open. It seemed that the driver was waiting for me. I quickened my pace and stepped into the streetcar. (Thanks, driver!)

I wanted to snap a photo or two on my commute home, but I had no waiting time on the platform, it was too crowded inside the streetcar to get a photo without someone’s face in it, and it was too dark outside to get a reflection-free photo out the window. (There were empty seats here and there, but many people seemed to prefer standing.)

It was a quick ride home, but with the walk down to Jackson, I got home a little later than usual. (It was not one of the more direct ways home.)

Yesterday, Phillip and I met up at Pacific Place after work, to see a movie. I rode a Link train from Pioneer Square Station to Westlake Station. Then I went up through Nordstrom, and over the sky bridge to Pacific Place, where I found Phillip waiting for me.

It was an hour until the movie started, so we had dinner at Johnny Rockets.

Cristina met us at the theater, early enough that we could have waited dinner for her, but we didn’t know when she’d arrive. (Sorry, Cristina.) The three of us hung out in the lobby and had a nice chat.

Michael found us after we’d found seats in the theater.

The movie, by the way, was Coco. It was wonderful. I highly recommend it. I’d love to own the DVD someday. I’m pretty sure all four of us were crying by the end. (There’s a little more to the crying, which I may, or may not, expand on later.)

After the movie, we all said goodbye, and Phillip and I walked over the bus stop near The Paramount, where, we learned, Hilary Clinton was speaking. We just missed a 49 bus, and had a 13 minute wait for the next one. (It was a pleasant night out, so it was a nice wait.) Then we walked home from Broadway.

And, of course, last Friday I rode home via the U District on the 74 bus.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll have a more typical commute home.

I Made It To Work

Yesterday afternoon, Phillip notified me that, according to the Seattle City Light map, power was out in our neighborhood. Neither one of us were home, so there wasn’t anything we could do about it.

Three hours later, I checked the map. Power was back on. That’s the way power outages typically occur in our neighborhood: When power does go out, it’s never out for more than an hour or two. (Well, except for that night when it was out for eight or nine hours.)

We got home and reset the clocks in our apartment. These days, that’s only two clocks – the bedroom clock and the microwave. We’re content to let the VCR blink 12:00. (Having no cable TV, there’s nothing to set to record.)

My weekday mornings have four important times: First, when I wake up; then, when I get Phillip out the door if he’s riding a bus to work; then, when I get Phillip out the door if he’s driving to work; and finally, when I get myself out the door.

The bedroom alarm wakes me up, and then my phone’s alarms remind me of the other three times.

I woke up this morning before the alarm went off. Then something – I have no idea what – told me something was wrong. I looked at the clock. It was the time I’d normally be getting Phillip up to catch the bus. The alarm hadn’t gone off. We’d set the alarm incorrectly.

We both rushed through getting ready. Normally, we’d have our own times without getting in each other’s ways, but not this morning. Phillip managed to get out the door, catch a bus, and get to work on time. I managed to get myself out the door on time, with my hair still wet.

On the Westlake Station platform, a stranger asked me if this was where the train to the airport stops.

“Yes, it is,” I answered.

“Well, how would I know that?” he asked.

“There are signs, like that one,” I replied, pointing to the sign above our heads. Then, worried that that might have sounded sarcastic, I added, “Or you could ask someone standing around.” The stranger laughed at that.

A moment or two later, that same stranger asked me, “Do all the trains stop at every station? I mean, are there express trains?”

“No, they all stop at every station. From here, the train will get to the airport in about thirty-seven minutes.”

“Oh, that’s perfect.”

I got to work on time, of course. A coworker, who typically arrives before me, arrived a few minutes after me. Her bus had broken down. She was on time for work, however. (She, like me, allows for a flexible commute.)

Right after my coworker and I exchanged stories of our atypical commutes, I received a text message. Link light rail service was temporarily disrupted. Five minutes after that, Link service was back.

My Commute

I had to fill out a survey at work today. It was a survey about my commuting habits. It was required by the city. (I don’t know if “required” or “requested” is the right word.)

I actually enjoy completing surveys, especially when they help my city understand overall commuting trends. It likely helped my employer get whatever benefits it gets from reducing traffic Downtown.

It was a short, quick survey – all multiple choice. It asked only about my trips from home to work last week.

I worked five days last week, Monday through Friday. I don’t telecommute. My one-way commute is two miles.

I rode either a bus, train, light rail, or streetcar five times. I used two transit agencies: King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit. I used a single-occupancy vehicle zero times. (I’m assuming that excludes a bicycle or motorcycle, but even if it didn’t, the answer would still be zero.)

I was asked to pick up to three reasons why I didn’t commute in a single-occupancy vehicles. My employer subsidizes my transit pass. Parking is expensive. It’s good for my physical and mental well-being.

The Bus Route That Must Not Be Named

The 47 bus didn’t show up again this morning. And, once again, I didn’t receive a text alert about the service disruption.

I got to work on time, of course. I walked over to Olive Way and caught a 10. A couple of people from my bus stop did, too. Another rider caught up with the 10 on Pine Street. I saw one other person walking to Downtown.

I filed a complaint with Metro Transit when I got to work. My complaint was not that the 47 didn’t show up. (With the narrow streets in my neighborhood, all it takes is one delivery truck to bring the 47 to a halt.) My complaint was that I never, ever receive text alerts about the 47, and I wanted to know why. I added that I’ve signed up for text alerts for several routes in my general area, as well as Link light rail and the First Hill Streetcar, and I receive those with no problem. It’s only the 47 that Metro seems to forget.

Metro Transit’s complaint system is so automated that I don’t expect a reply that actually addresses my concern. I just felt the need to complain.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve voiced this concern. I added it in a comment in a recent Rider Survey.

Last week, I received a text alert that read: “Transit service will be rerouted during the Mercer x Summit Block Party on 8/19”. This is my point: There was only one route rerouted by that block party, and it wasn’t specified in the alert. Metro can’t even name the 47.

That’s the end of my rant. For now.

I was moved into my new cubicle today. I’m now on a lower floor, and farther away from the bathroom, the lunchroom, and the coffee pots. Those are the only negatives.

I’m in a much nicer space now – even better than any desk I had before the temporary move into the conference room. I sit with my back to the window, as I did before the move, but now, for the first time, there are no cubicles between me and the view. The view is more interesting than before, too. (There’s more variety of things to see.) And when I do stop admiring the view and get back to work, my group is in a better layout than before.

After a not-so-happy commute, my workday turned into a nice change of scenery.

Just As I Thought

I’ve gotten into the habit of riding the 47 bus home for the past couple of weeks. Today, I had a hold waiting at the library, so I rode Link.

Pioneer Square Station felt different. It seemed noisier. There was an aura to it that I couldn’t quite identify. I went down the stairs from the mezzanine, and saw that the platform was packed with people.

There was either a transit disruption or a sporting event somewhere, I figured.

A northbound 2-car Link train was just leaving the station. I made my way down the platform, but before I got halfway, a northbound 3-car Link train arrived. I didn’t have time to get to the third car, so I boarded the middle car. Despite having a train less than a minute ahead of it, this car was packed. I managed to find a seat, however.

It had to have been a game, and judging by how happy everyone seemed, we must had won.

Just as I thought, the Mariners played the Orioles this afternoon, and we won 7-6.

Meanwhile, we received an email at work today, telling us the final phase of the move will start in two days – or maybe a day and a half. I’ll be moving out of a cramped meeting room and into a proper cubicle on another floor.

They never did move a third person into our room, and my roommate and I have gotten along well, but I will be very happy to get out of there. I’ll be happy to have a window again. I’ll be happy to have a proper filing system again – one other than papers stacked on a table top. I’ll be happy to find my scissors again.

But, really, it hasn’t been bad.