In the spirit of the holidays, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to think about the sentimental value transit often offers us. To do this, a little digging is required, exercising our past memories to elicit those experiences we often had aboard, or sometimes off-board, transit. While I’m not that old and didn’t have the fortune of developing a nostalgia for things like the Interurban and the early streetcar trolleys, many of you, our readers, have had such experiences far and wide.
Many of my nostalgic memories around transit occurred in the early to mid-90s– the DSTT was new, Metro ridership was on the rise, the RTA was preparing to go to the ballot, and many questions were being asked about the future of rapid transit for the Puget Sound region. But what I remember most were the daytime trips my grandmother would take me on from her apartment in the International District to Seattle Center: a ride on a dual-mode Breda trolley through the bus tunnel, and a transfer to the Monorail at Westlake, with a chocolate ice cream cone on the 4th floor food court to boot.
Over time, it’s been the little things that have stuck out at me as I ponder my old perceptions (and misconceptions) of transit. Like many of you, I was particularly fond of being the one to pull the stop request cord; to hear a real ‘ding’ aboard a bus today is considered a novelty. And since I never continued beyond Westlake in the DSTT, I somehow wound up with the belief that the tunnel continued onto Vancouver B.C. with a station underneath the Seattle Center House.
I blinded myself with some other self-concocted myths over the years– when I was in middle school and didn’t care particularly for transit, I thought that Sound Transit bus drivers were far meaner than Metro drivers, only to discover a number of years later that they were all the same. And for the longest time, I would never board a Seattle-bound commuter bus at Eastgate because the long queue gave me the impression that riders had to have a special pass or eligibility to board.
What are your special memories of transit? Did you ever fabricate naive falsehoods that turned out to be wrong?