Friday, August 18, 2006

Public Transportation

When we weren't driven around Seattle by Jennifer and Phil, we used the public transportation system. The Metro bus system is well developed and a wonderful way to travel in this large city. We traveled from our hotel near SeaTac airport to downtown Seattle, made bus transfers in town to go to other parts of the city, learned about the different zones of the city, and experienced free-ride areas during certain hours.

This mode of transportation was good for us to experience and gave us confidence about trying this means of travel in other places. The bus drivers were super nice, patient, and helpful in explaining where we should depart the bus to best get to our destination. Other riders on buses were helpful the same way.

We used the Metro system Online help desk while in the hotel room. When we were out and about, we telephoned the help desk and spoke with a live person. I'd tell the help-line attendant where we were, our desired destination, and time desired to travel. They responded with street corner address nearest us to catch a bus of a certain number, where we should get off, which number bus to transfer to, the total travel time, and cost.

The cost was usually $1.25 or $1.50 per ride within a zone area. If a transfer to another bus was required, there was no additional charge. Exact change was required. Many riders had a pass or card to swipe through a reader when they boarded. Buses we rode might be near empty when we boarded and completely loaded with aisles full with standing riders when we reached our destination.

We saw wheelchair riders and watched the bus unfold a ramp to permit their entry or exit. The buses also had capacity to lower the right front corner to reduce the distance from the curb to the first step. This lowering and raising the bus' body was accomplished through air pressure or hydraulics when the driver pushed a button on the dash.

The buses also accommodate bike riders. Each bus is equipped with a bicycle rack on the front (see above picture). We observed bike riders as they secured their bikes to the rack before boarding the bus. The Metro bus system encourages citizens to combine bicycle riding with the public transit system to travel around and within the city. There are bicycle parking accommodations in certain areas.

I began to notice signs along streets indicating bus-stop points. We learned to read and decipher the bus schedules posted at bus stops. This is something I never paid attention to as a car driver. It's interesting what can be learned when we step outside our paradigm and experience something different as we did on this vacation trip.

Parking did not concern me nor did heavy traffic.
Our bus drivers used the carpool lanes on Interstate 5 as we sped past slow moving motorists in the other lanes.

Return here on Sunday, August 20 for an update.

Have a good day!



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