A bus ride is the best way to have a feel of the local community first hand. Get close to the regular folks, their conversations and the neighbourhoods along the way. It beats driving any time where parking in the city can be expensive and difficult to find.
No. 5 brings me from Phinney Ridge to downtown Seattle. The fare is US$2.25, valid for 3 hours within the same zone. If I plan my trip properly, I can ride any bus in town and return on a single fare.
The highlight of my ride came from a cheerful gentleman who asked people around him where he could find a Sherlock Holmes cap. Of course no one knew. He went on asking and talking about random things. Some were really amusing and kept us entertained. Before he got off the bus, he asked the driver,
“Why did the turtle cross the road?”
“To go to the shell station!”
We burst out laughing as we watched the old timer walked away in a spirited gait looking for his fancy cap no doubt.
The bus pulled off and we went back to our own thoughts, conversations, apps, books and whatever kept us occupied before. The landscape rolled past and the city came into view.
What I find really useful is the location and landmark announcements ahead of each bus stop. It’s like taking a tour bus rather than the public transport – a little extra makes a big difference here.
Seattle is the biggest city in King County, named after two ‘Kings’ – William Rufus King from 1852 till 2005 and Martin Luther King, Jr. from 2005 till now. King County has a total area of over 2,000 sq miles (10 times Singapore) and a population of 2 million (38% of Singapore’s !!! ).
Public transportation is operated by the King County Metro with about 220 bus and trolley routes serving over 110 million passenger trips per year. That’s a lot of stats but the interesting thing is, it doesn’t feel as jammed, stressed or rushed when using the public transport.
In fact, the driver and commuters will wait patiently when someone was mounting and dismounting a bike on the bus, and when elderly passengers were taking a bit more time boarding or alighting. The bus somehow runs according to schedule and brings us to our destinations on time.
I highly recommend taking the Metro if you are in Seattle. Plan your trip here.