Here’s a pretty enlightening op-ed piece from Karen Steinberg, a Snohomish resident, about taking the bus downtown. The summary: parking downtown sucks (big surprise), the bus to downtown is convenient (another big surprise) and park-and-rides facility easy bus rides from the suburbs. Some highlights (and nothing I am saying is meant to be facetious):
My 11-year-old son had never been on a bus, so he was excited. We easily found a spot in the Park & Ride lot, walked over to the clearly labeled bay, and waited to board.
As we zoomed down Aurora Avenue North, stopping occasionally to drop off and pick up passengers and chatting with seatmates, I realized that although I’d grown up using buses and trains in Chicago, my son had never interacted with his communities in this way and was having a great time.
You know, I grew up on Capitol Hill and in Wallingford, so my experiences with the bus are clearly different than an eleven-year-old who grew up in Orange County and Snohomish. But it’s great to see that modern-day kids love the bus, even from Snohomish. It’s a different experience, and you never really get to see your neighborhood if you’re in a car the whole way.
Our day cruise was splendid, with crystal-clear views of the Olympics, Mount Rainier and the Cascades, and after doing some shopping, we found the northbound bus stop for our return trip. Within five minutes, the 358 pulled up, and we hopped on. On our trip back, a fellow rider offered us a newspaper he’d finished, and we had an interesting conversation about the paper.
Yup, you can enjoy your environs from the bus in a way you can’t when you are staring at the breaklights in front of you.
But, the gorgeous weather on Martin Luther King Jr. Day tempted me, especially when I contemplated a day cruise out on Elliott Bay. I logged onto Metro’s online Trip Planner, spent half an hour figuring out my options, and decided to go by car to the Park & Ride at the Aurora Village Transit Center and take the No. 358 downtown. (Had there been more time, I could have caught Community Transit’s 131 just a block from my home to the transit center — or, during regular weekday rush hour, taken CT’s 416 all the way downtown, no transfer or car required.)
Now, I hope Ms. Steinberg takes the bus when she commutes as well. But the point is great: the bus can be convenient, and even, dare I say, more convenient than driving. And, I think, the article gives more credence to the mayor’s center-city strategy: put more people and jobs downtown, and it becomes easier to plan infrastructure.