A Couple Of Things To Catch Up On

Earlier this week, I received a lengthy reply from Metro Transit, about my latest complaint.

Once again, it said that the 47 didn’t show up because they didn’t have a driver for it.

The email also addressed, for the first time, my complaint about never receiving text alerts about service disruption on the 47. It said that Metro is hesitant to send out a notice that a trip has been cancelled, in case they find a driver at the last minute.

I appreciate that someone at Metro took the time to respond with such a lengthy email. (It was three paragraphs long!) I’m not buying it, though, and the next time this happens, I will complain again. The scenario of “not having a driver” tells me our bus is coming from the base – which should give enough time (however long it takes for a bus to drive from SoDo to Capitol Hill) to figure out a bus is not going to be sent out in time (or at all) and let the waiting passengers know.

Besides, if a text alert isn’t going to be used to let us know the bus isn’t going to show up, what’s the point of a text alert?

Ugh. Enough negativity.

Comics Grinder did not steer me wrong about Eternity Girl. I loved it!

The story is basically this: Caroline is seeing a psychiatrist. Caroline’s superhero identity is Chrysalis. She has the ability to shape shift. She was hired by a group known as Alpha 13 to stop a villain named Madam Atom, who has a machine capable of destroying time and space.

Caroline began having trouble controlling her power. Her inability to confine her matter-reconfiguring to just herself caused an incident at Alpha 13. She’s been placed on administrative leave until a therapist certifies her to go back to work.

Caroline is so distraught that she wants to kill herself. She’s immortal, however, and she can’t die. She doesn’t breathe, so hanging doesn’t work. She has no blood, so cutting herself has no effect. Jumps from high bridges won’t kill her.

Madam Atom offers to kill Caroline/Chrysalis.

I can’t wait until the second issue comes out!


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.

Those Back Doors

I’ve been noticing that the yellow “Touch here to open” strips on the back doors of Metro’s newest trolley buses have been blacked out – covered over with black tape.

I think I first noticed it on a trolley a couple of days ago. I thought the door was in need of repair, like the strips had broken, or something. Then, later, I saw it on another bus, and then another. This morning, exiting the 47 at Westlake Station, through the back door, I formed the theory that Metro has discontinued the passenger-operated back door feature.

I think it was a nice feature, but I’m not sad to see it go. (Assuming my theory is correct.) I personally liked it, but I empathize with my fellow passengers’ confusion. There’s not many doors we encounter that require us to touch a yellow strip to open. That drawing of a full hand was confusing, as well – it looked as if you needed to place your full palm against the door – or worse, push on the door – to make it open. (I’ve opened those doors with a light touch of a single fingertip.) I wonder how much damage those doors have suffered from the repeated, unnecessary pushing.

I haven’t found any information about why – damage on the doors, customer feedback, safety, or something else – but it seems I’ve opened my last bus door.

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.

End Of A Smart Era

I found an email from car2go this morning. (It was sent to an account I don’t check every day, so the email could be a few days old.) The email informed me that car2go is phasing out its Smart fleet in Seattle, and going toward an all-Mercedes-Benz sedan fleet.

I’m paraphrasing and reading between the lines here, but it sounds like two main things are behind this change. The Smart cars are nearing the end of their fleet lifespan (car2go has been in Seattle for about four years), and Smart is no longer offering combustion engine cars in North America. (I wonder if car2go is going to continue using electric Smarts in other cities.)

I don’t remember the last time I rented a car2go. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed one, and when I’ve wanted one, there are none is my area, and when there are cars2go in my area, I haven’t wanted one.

It’s the same want-vs-availability situation with ReachNow.

I haven’t used Zipcar in so long that I’m not entirely sure that my account is still active.

I’ve really enjoyed driving those Smarts.