The Seattle Sketcher is a blog by Gabi Campanario where he showcases his sketches of daily things. The site is great, and I particularly love the sketches of bus commutes, they really seem to capture the experience of commuting by bus. Here’s a couple of examples.


Looking through these, I start to come of with different bus rider types. The “playing with cellphone guy”, the “reading paperback guy” and the “talk to friend lady”. So, what are the different sorts of bus riders? And what type are you?

26 Replies to “Transit Commuter Types”

  1. I’ve just found out that there’s “drawing other people on the bus” guy. I’m the guy on the 545 reading a paperback.

  2. I’m also occasionally reading a paperback on the 545. I usually am listening to my zune unless the battery is dead, which happens a lot because I listen to it all day usually.

  3. I make up lots of names for passengers I see every day between Northgate and downtown. There’s quite a variety I see on the 316 and 41.
    “Make-up Girl” – applies make up on the bus
    “Newly Weds” – the adorable newly wed couple that moved to Greenlake last summer
    “Hat Guy” – has a very tall red hat in the winter
    “Annoying Old Dude” – Made me scoot over when the bus was empty. My friend at the next stop couldn’t sit by me.
    “Jackie-O-Lantern” – An early 20-something fashionista, always ’60s inspired clothes and Jackie O. sunglasses. One day she removed the sunglasses and revealed a very orange make-up line.

  4. I try to be the “reading paperback” guy but for most bus trips I take I’m the “sleeping and drooling on the window” guy. Something about buses just puts me to sleep. Luckily my regular commute is by bicycle.

  5. I’m the “reading paperback until he gets carsick and has to look up” guy. I’m also sometimes the “check out the cute girl and awkwardly look away when she looks at me” guy.

  6. I’m the one on the 230 in a wheelchair using my laptop to goof off on the short trips from Crossroads to Microsoft usually playing a game or listening to music (it’s my laptop, not a corporate laptop)

  7. I’m the guy with the iPod avoiding eye contact on the 15. For some reason, ever sine I moved to ballard people try to talk to me on the bus. On Capitol Hill, the 14 was “mind your own business” time. Not the 15!

    The “let me talk to strangers” guy is the worst. I also don’t like “let’s stare at the guy in the suit”.

    I do like “different crazy outfit each day” hipster girl, and the “I’m going to wear spandex even though it’s cold because that’s what I bought this bike for” guy.

  8. Yesterday I sat across from “uncomfortable sitting across from someone guy”. He ended up staring at the floor most of the time.

  9. I’m the standing because she works on the west campus and always ends up getting on the bus after it’s full chick, while listening to her zune while trying to read email on her phone and stumbling back and forth as the bus driver lurches through stop and go traffic.

  10. In the morning I’m the half asleep girl with the coffee thermos and punk rock on her ipod. Between the punk rock and the coffee, I’m mostly awake by the time I get to work. In the evening, I’m occasionally the girl reading a scientific journal, but more often that I should be I’m the girl playing solitaire on her ipod.

    Regulars on my route include the ‘young professor’ who might not be a professor, but the route goes to the UW, so I go with it. He has really awesome hair and usually reads a book. Last year there was the ‘guy with the little boy’ who seemed to be headed to preschool, but the kid has apparently to have gotten to old for that. Then there all the undergraduates with ipods and Uggs and ironic T-shirts.

  11. I am the old-fashioned newspaper-with-commuter-fold guy in the back of the bus who counts the load on the bus.

  12. I’m the sleeping guy on the morning 885 and evening 855 or 810. Because I have two large bags as a commuting college student, I usually sit next to my larger one when the bus doesn’t have a luggage rack.

    Since the suburban runs to Snohomish County tend to be quiet, I find more interest in observing those who make up the line waiting for the 885 in the morning. The two who stick out the most are the friend-to-all man and woman, who aren’t otherwise associated. Then there’s this lady running to the 511 every morning just as it leaves (or even after it’s left), pulling her wheeled backpack. Someone usually comments on her every few days.

  13. I wish I could be “reading paperback” girl, but I get motion sick, so instead I’m “quietly staring out the window and pretending you don’t exist while listening to music” girl. I’m really friendly, I swear, but I grew up in New York, where you don’t look at other people on public transportation!

    I’m generally bothered by the “let’s talk to strangers” folk (see above), but I will say that during our wacky snow last month, I had quite a few conversations of a commiserative nature with other stranded bus riders.

  14. I can be “reading a tech magazine guy,” “listening to NPR podcasts guy,” and “dozing while trying to not snore too much guy.” The joys of riding a late night bus. But I’m also the “casual biker guy” with a helmet and bright orange vest.

  15. The kind of rider I just don’t understand: They take the same route at the same time every day, and sit in roughly the same spot, and they NEVER have any sort of reading material with them, ipod, never work on a laptop, or talk on a cell phone. They just look out the window at the same scenery.

    “Well, some people just like to unwind or relax when they’re on a bus,” you may say. I get that. I really do. I like to do that too. But all the time? Never once reading anything? Never once listening to anything? 5 days a week, every week of the year, just blankly just looking out the window?

    1. Well, some people, including me, get motion sickness while reading on a moving vehicle. I can’t even use a laptop or a PDA on the bus, otherwise I’m ill for hours.

      Watching the scenery roll by can be somewhat entertaining, especially noticing the odd happenings each time. It’s also an easy way to calm one’s stomach.

      1. Wow. Maybe we just our different educational backgrounds. I like to have something to occupy myself, like a book, or even a book on tape. I could never just sit there slack-jawed and look out at the same scenery day after day. It sounds so boring.

      2. I’m almost always occupied on the bus with a newspaper, magazine, or cellphone e-mail… That said, I often take long showers in the morning, actually sitting down to let the water fall down on my head and shoulders and to slowly prepare myself for the day and let whatever thoughts need to wander through my head just do so. It can be about what I have to do at work in a couple of hours, about something on TV from the night before, something my husband said to me, or other things. Perhaps a passenger like that is just doing the same thing; sort of meditating?

  16. More recently, I’m the dozing guy listening to podcasts and music on his iPod. Sometimes, I’m the student working on his homework or reading up for class on his laptop. I’m the “shy guy” who avoids talking to strangers unless he feels like it.

    And of course, I’m the “camera guy” who sits at the very front in awkward position trying snap photos of the ride and scenery. Even though the bus takes the same route, there’s always something different to look at everyday

  17. I’m the chatting with her four-year-old gal. We have grand conversations!

    My least favorite is the “Can I hold your kid” type. Yes, someone did ask me this question. Geez, just ’cause you ride the bus with her doesn’t mean you aren’t a stranger!

    Sam, some people do get motion sick if they read in a vehicle – me included. It has to with equilibrium, not education.

  18. Well, now you know what type I am, the compulsive sketcher drawing my fellow bus commuters. One time someone yelled at me when he realized I was drawing him. He wanted me to give him the drawing. Good grief. I’m sorry if he (perhaps it was you?) got upset. I’m still trying to get the nerve to ask people first.

  19. I’m the bus driver who does his best to greet every passenger in a friendly and hopefuly non-threatening manner. Some daily observations I make are: The “I love you for stopping to give me a ride” passenger. The “I hate you for no apparent reason but especially for stopping to give me a ride” passenger. The “I ride this bus every day, but when you reach my stop I still look amazed and fumble for at least a minute trying to find my money or bus pass” passenger. The “I’m going to run along side the bus through the intersection until you stop and open the door” passenger. The “This bus is too hot/cold/damp/smelly/has a strange vibration/is burning too much oil/ etc.” passenger. The “If you board that wheelchair, I’m going to be really upset and just may have to get off” passenger. I’ve driven for miles and not heard one word from a bus full of passengers, then one gregarious person boards and suddenly everyone is talking. Never a dull moment driving the Metro bus.

  20. So I am moving to Oak Harbor to work at the Navy Hospital. My plans are to commute to work from downtown Seattle. Is that possible? Is it worth staying in Seattle and commuting each morning to Oak Harbor.

    Let me know your thoughts?

    1. On transit, you’ll have to catch the ST 510 at 5:55 am at 4th & Union to Everett, SKAT 90X from Everett at 6:50 arriving in Mt Vernon at 7:35, then transfer to the Island Transit 411W departing at 7:50 arriving in Oak Harbor at 8:40 am, then Rt 2 to near naval base depart 9:00 arrive 9:11 but the hospital is way deep inside the base. So unless there’s a shuttle from the gate or downtown Oak Harbor it’s pretty hard.

      Or take ST 510 to Everett, then ET 23 to Mukilteo, then the ferry to Clinton, and then Island Transit Route 1 to Oak Harbor, departing about every hour.

      Sounder and Amtrak Cascades can be used as part of the trip and are more direct than the bus but service is limited.

      For the return trip, the last bus is 5 pm from Oak Harbor arriving in Seattle around 8 pm.

      It takes a long time, 3-4 hours by transit (either over land or by ferry) but service is actually pretty frequent for an intercounty trip (via ferry). I don’t see it being very workable, depending on your schedule. Or you could try to find a vanpool/carpool.

      I wouldn’t do that myself on a daily basis or would at least drive for a part of the trip. Then again I’m the type who is not willing to commute that far even with a car. My threshold is 2 hours (one-way) by transit or 1 hour (one-way) by car.

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