Bus-ted Dreams

Can someone please explain to me the appeal of mass transit? Maybe it works better in different parts of the world, but it seems to me that here in the Great Northwest it makes absolutely no sense at all.

The rising everything prices have made mass transit seem alluring, but when you actually try to use it, the innate inconvenience of it all is enough to make you glue your bottom to the seat of your sedan and sweat your way through another awful bout of traffic. For example?

I work in a nearby town, and my commute is about 25 minutes each way without any construction, accidents, or mayhem. If I were to take the bus to work, it would more than double my commute time. If my time is worth what my employers seem to think it’s worth, taking the bus costs about 10x more than driving does (on account of the solid hour of wasted time every day.)

This leads me to believe that mass transit is either the biggest con ever pulled off amongst the suburban masses (current or ex city-dwellers seem the most pre-disposed to an inordinate love of mass transit) or there are better ways of doing it that Seattle has either not mastered or isn’t interested in mastering.

If it’s the latter, I must admit I’m a bit shocked. If the denizens of Seattle care enough about the environment to pass a city-wide ban on plastic take-out containers, you’d think they’d care enough to make mass transit a viable option in their city. Think of all the baby dolphins just crying out for change, people!

This, right here? Is probably why I don’t often blog this late at night. I’m ever so slightly snippy, and even the chocolate peanut butter ice cream I had earlier isn’t going to do a darn thing that a hot shower and a cozy bed won’t take care of.

I go to dream of a place where Chinese food restaurant owners aren’t trying to figure out how to package up egg drop soup in a recyclable cardboard box. I go to dream of a world where I can buy groceries in Seattle and not be charged for my plastic bag. Most of all, though, I go to dream of a mass transit system that is actually a realistic alternative to driving my car to work.

10 thoughts on “Bus-ted Dreams

  1. I ponder the mass transit issue as well. Truthfully, the problem is that we don’t live IN Seattle. SEATTLE has an excellent system that works wonderfully. Want to get into SEATTLE? Perfect, we can accomodate you. Want to get around in places other than SEATTLE – or really just get within your own town…. you are royally fucked, let me tell you.
    Getting from Sammamish to Downtown Bellevue is near impossible in the middle of the day. Getting to Redmond in the middle of the day, forget it. And if you live in Klahanie, you are screwed.

    There is an assumption that if you are living in the suburbs, you are going to just drive yourself to the park and ride and ride into the city.

    Oh goodness… getting me started on this is bad. I get all flustered and stop making sense because it insights me so!

  2. -Genay, That is a rather forward assumption, isn’t it? That all of us suburbanites just LOVE hopping into our spacious SUV’s and sitting in traffic for hours on end.

    I’m pretty sure the hippies who pull the strings in our state would be surprised to find out how many suburbanites would trade in their $500/month gas habit for a bus pass if it made any sense whatsoever.

  3. Oh, trust me, I know that quite a few people would just love to be able to do that…there isn’t the opportunity. That’s part of my point. But I do know quite a few people who live on the Eastside who do refuse to commute or travel by mass transit, whether there is a good system or not.
    I think that the issue comes up that there isn’t an outcry from this end of the world to get the transit system stronger – or at least not that I’ve heard. So the assumption will stay that the Eastsiders don’t want a healthy and vibrant system. Now, I’m being hypocritical because I can’t say that I’ve stepped up to the plate and said something about my needs to Metro. But I do vote and make my statement that way.

  4. -Genay, I present to you the age-old question: What came first, the crappy mass trasnit system or the suburban disdain for it?

  5. This is a true connundrum…. I think that it ends up being a catch 22 situation. But changing American minds is not an easy task – either for or against any issue. But what it comes down to is that someone has to make the first step to make the change….

  6. -Genay, I’m not sure one person can make a change for everyone, but maybe everyone can come to the collective realization that walking 1/2 mile to the bus stop won’t kill them and that it will save them money.

  7. In order to have an effective mass transit system you need not only buses but trains. Trains are the key. Back in the day when federal funding was plentiful, Seattle decided they didn’t want money for a mass rail system. Now, this is where we are.

  8. -Dane, I do love a good train. I get motion-sick as heck on them, but they’re so very wee and old fashioned. Do you think Washington is a feasible place for trains, though? With it’s sprawled nature, I’m not sure what a train system here would look like.

  9. It would look a lot like DC. Lines out to Redmond, Issaquah, Renton, etc. Stops in between for Bellevue, Mercer Island, et al. And then once you got into Seattle, you’re good to go. But there needs to be a central station, like Penn Station (NYC, Newark NJ) or Union Station (DC)

  10. -Dane, The central station should be in Sammamish, if for no other reason than that it is convenient to me and me alone.

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