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Yes Virginia, There Are Buses in Woodinville…

Bus1It All Began One Sunny Afternoon

This is a recap of my first experience riding the public transit system here in WA state. Prior to this past Monday, I had looked down upon those poor souls who chose to ride buses.  Little did I know at that time, how dramatically my life would change after the experience.

The Hypocritical Years

Before my two children learned to drive, I had the pleasure of being their personal taxi service.  As they got closer to their “age of independence” as I liked to call it, I started telling them to just take the bus.  They used to call me a hypocrite because in my 17 years as a resident in Woodinville, I had never ridden the local transit system here.

Growing up in San Francisco, I was an experienced rider. I took public transportation everywhere, often hopping from bus to bus, and even an occasional cable car to get to my destination.  I was even one of the first passengers on BART when service began in the 70’s, so I’m not sure why it was so hard for me to take the plunge here in WA. In fact, when I first moved to WA in the mid 1990’s, I lived across the street from my office at Microsoft. Instead of walking to work like a normal person might do, I drove the one block to work and parked in the underground garage.

I Used To Talk The Talk, But Now I Walk The Walk

As a Realtor who lives and works in Woodinville, I’m constantly extolling the benefits of living here.  We have great schools, an abundance of wine tasting rooms, walking trails, and lots of greenery. For some of my buyer clients, the only perceived objections are that a) We are too far from Seattle; b) It is too difficult to get to places without a car; c) Traffic congestion is bad.  I used to explain that there were trade-off for living in the suburbs.  In exchange for fresh air, green grass and trees, you had to put up with a longer commute.  But I would always preface that with an “It’s not as bad as you might imagine”.  As of today, I can personally attest that:

a)    It is not too far from Seattle.
b)    It is not that difficult to get around without a car.
c)    Traffic congestion is indeed bad.

On A Whim…

My inaugural bus ride took place this past Monday, a warm, sunny weekday afternoon.  Out of boredom and a desire to do something completely impromptu, a friend and I decided to hop a bus to Seattle.  After a few false starts which included trying to board the wrong bus (twice!), we hopped on a Sound Transit, paid our fares and sat back in the air-conditioned seats headed to Seattle. The bus was clean, the ride was pleasant, and traveling in the HOV lane probably shaved off several minutes from a normal trip time to Seattle, even if you include the stops along the way.

Walking Is Healthy (Just Don’t Inhale)

Walking in Seattle on a sunny day is an experience like no other! While my friend and I were walking by Pike Place Market and the park, she turned to me and whispered in my ear “Wow, it must be 5:20 because somebody is smoking Marijuana”. I looked back at her and started cracking up! Oh, what sheltered lives we lead on the Eastside of the lake.

Bar:Bus Stop Ratios

There are at least 3 restaurants on any given block in downtown Seattle, maybe more.  Bus stops average one per every two blocks. Given my fuzzy math skills, that’s a Bar:Bus Stop ratio of at least 6:1! Planning a bus trip to Seattle during happy hour is a perfect afternoon getaway. The money you save in gas, parking, and tickets more than pays for the afternoon!

Bus2Here are some tips to get you started:

If you have a smart phone, download the free app titled OneBusAway, created by UW students that give you the approximate times of bus arrivals at the nearest bus stop.
If you’re not sure about your route, ask a bus driver or a fellow passenger (but don’t wake them if they appear to be asleep or unconscious) for help .  I discovered that people are generally nice and want to be helpful.  Just be polite! FYI, The express bus from Woodinville to Seattle is #522.
Make sure you have EXACT change (including quarters) for the trip.  For example, if it costs $2.50 each way from Woodinville to Seattle, bring $4 in bills and $1 in quarters. Don’t forget this fact halfway through happy hour when you leave your tip.  Leave dollar bills, because you’ll need the quarters for the bus ride home!

Taking the bus to downtown Seattle was a fun experience.  There were no parking hassles, nor exorbitant parking fees. It was only a short walk from downtown to Pike Market and the many restaurants there.  After this experience, I can see how one might choose to commute via public transportation. Forgoing the 520 bridge toll ($7/day), gas, parking fees, would certainly reduce my stress level.  Now if only they offered wireless internet access on the bus…

Have you ridden public transportation here? Share your experiences!

When REALiTY BiTES, Bite Back!

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