Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Taste of Sound Transit in Seattle...

While on vacation this past week, I had the opportunity to give Sound Transit's bus system a try. While there is local bus service provide by the counties such as Metro in King County and Community Transit in Snonomish County, Sound Transit was created to build light rail, commuter rail, and to provide a regional express bus system.

On Wednesday I arrived on Amtrak's Cascade service from Portland. My hotel was the Extended Stay in Bothell which is north of Lake Washington and Seattle. First I headed for the Seattle Bus (and now Light Rail tunnel) which recently reopened after two years of retrofitting. I got on Sound Transit route 550 which was packed even though it was 1:30pm and transferred to route 535 which took me to the Canyon Park Park N' Ride which is a freeway exit but turned out to a very short walk to my motel.

I took the same buses to get back to King Street Station the next day but this time had to walk all the way through the parking lot of the Park N' Ride lot, take an elevator up to a bridge to take me over the freeway to an on ramp with a bus stop next to it.

The 535 Route was assigned Gillig Phantom buses (UTA bought these from 1995-1997) but in a suburban configuration. The 550 on the other hand is assigned Hybrid Articulated buses (basically the same buses used on UTA's 200 Route except hybrid and in a suburban configuration). These buses were bought to be used in the bus tunnel when it reopened to replace the troublesome dual mode diesel/trolley buses that were bought to use in the bus tunnel originally.

The trip was 26 miles involving 1 transfer and took us only 54 minutes.

However, for those that complain about UTA drivers should spend the day with Sound Transit Drivers. I thought Los Angeles had some of the unfriendly drivers but Sound Transit is worse. The drivers are provided by the various county agencies but all four drivers were bad. It is clear Sound Transit needs to work on their drivers.

Otherwise I was very impressed with the system and it got to where I needed to go and it did it quickly, efficiently, and with little hassle.

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