Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Travel Related Rant

My daily commute gets more interesting all the time, When I first joined this downtown Seattle hospital they offered a free shuttle for employees to the trains and ferries to encourage the use of mass transit and to provide employee safety.  Hard economic times forced them to discontinue this very popular benefit.  Now we get to add over an hour a day to our commute and have some very interesting stories to share.  From people who think the Public bus is their personal limousine and they don’t have to share space with anyone, to the family today who upon leaving the clinic lit up a joint at the bus stop and proceeded to smoke it in close proximity to their young child in a stroller.  I can only imagine it was medical marijuana and they felt entitled to smoke where they pleased.  But many of us did not appreciate the exposure. 
I have spoken with other employees who are now sporting walking casts because they broke their ankles trying to walk down the hills to the train or ferry, so much for employee safety.   Then there are the folks who ignore the no smoking within 25 feet of a bus stop or shelter law, also endangering those around them. 
The King County Metro seems bent on discouraging ridership by anyone who would choose them over say a root canal or a total Joint replacement surgery without anesthesia.  The buses are routinely over crowded, unclean and notoriously off schedule.  By contrast the Sound Transit Sounder train is always clean, crowded only on special event days and always encouraging ridership with perks like seats with tables and power for electronics, and even free Wi-Fi on some cars.  The North bound Sounder follows the Puget Sound shore north to Everett with gorgeous views of the Olympic mountain range and varied wild life. Sound Transit buses are always cleaner and more accommodating than the Metro not to mention happier drivers.  There is a Metro driver on the 152 route in the morning that routinely closes the door on folks entering the bus and drives off, then yells at riders for pulling the stop bell.  As more folks turn to mass transit in the face of rising gas prices we need to rethink our ideas of personal space and convenience.