Navigating Transit in Seattle is as Easy as 1, 37, 12!

As the price of gas continues to fly higher than a bald eagle on LSD, more and more people are looking for ways to cut commuting costs.

With access to one of the world’s best mass transit systems, Seattle residents are in a great position to kick the disgusting habit of driving once and for all.

If you’re new to mass transit in Seattle, don’t fret! Just follow these easy tips and you’ll be clearing your environmental conscience and fattening your wallet in no time.

The best thing about mass transit in Seattle is all the choices. We’ve got bus, light rail, monorail, commuter rail, trolley, ferry, and much, much, more! Of course, all these choices can be intimidating to someone who is used to the boring one-trick-train systems in lesser cities such as Chicago or New York.

Here’s an example to show you how easy it is to select the right choice for your trip. Say you want to go from Northgate Mall to Pacific Place Mall. Piece of cake! Just get on the 75 to Ballard, then transfer on Market street to the 44, then transfer again on Stone Way to the 16, get off at 3rd and Pine, walk four blocks, and you’re there!

Thanks to the miracle of technology and internet, King County Metro has a great website that makes finding the right information super easy. Like say for instance you want to see if you can take a bus to get from Alki to downtown Seattle. All you have to do is pull up transit.metrokc.gov, click on “Travel Options,” then “Bus,” then “Regional and area maps,” then “Seattle,” then “Alki,” then “37,” then “Route Map.” Bam, that was easy!

If you really want to go crazy, the Metro website also has a handy “Trip Planner” that can do all the thinking for you. You just tell it where you want to go, where you’re starting, the precise time of your trip, how far you want to walk, and whether or not you want to get there fast, and click “Plan Trip.” The best part about the Trip Planner is how if you tell it you’re willing to walk up to a mile, it knows that you are lying, and plans your trip to include a transfer half a mile from your destination to a new bus.

If you don’t have access to the internet, don’t fret. Easy-to-read route maps and schedules are readily available at probably like three or four locations hidden throughout the county. You can also just walk to the nearest transit stop and ask the next driver that arrives to help you figure out your route. They are always cheerful and happy to assist you in any way possible.

Don’t be afraid to get familiar with mass transit in Seattle. Our world-class bus-rail-rail-boat-rail system is certain to meet all your needs.

About the Author

Martha Kostyra
Naked Loon Living Editor

14 Comments on "Navigating Transit in Seattle is as Easy as 1, 37, 12!"

  1. Ronnie Banana | June 27, 2008 at 8:28 am |

    One of the best things about riding Metro buses downtown is the ambiance that attends the wonderful ride this time of year. Temperatures in the mid 90’s, stale smells of cheap wine and fortified beer on the breath of the transients aboard the bus and there is always the odor of vomit from one of the drunks throwing up in the back. All smells are mixed in with Diesel fumes. Wow, what a combination! On the back of the older bus seats are some of the most intriguing poetry. Such as: Sally is a **ore and here is her number, great bl** *** from Fred at (then the number). In one ride, someone had a dog that promptly pee peed on one of the seats in back causing the Metro Driver to go off on a tangent on some poor lady who was sporting an Obama Tee shirt.
    On one ride we all played a game of counting the new bullet holes in the buildings put there by the rival ‘youth groups’ trying to establish where they can distribute their little plastic envelopes (they need to understand that plastic baggies contribute to ‘global warming’) to passersby who pay for them on the street corners. The Seattle Police Department’s Social Responsibilities Task Force has refused to call these groups ‘gangs’ for fear of offending the nice trial lawyers who meet each week as the ACLU.
    Isn’t it fun to put all those mean old Oil companies in there place?

  2. This article is the sheez nitz!

  3. Wow, Ronnie, are you traveling around with Bob Snakely?

  4. The map is the clincher. Free Greg Nickels plush toy!!

  5. trevor hoit(cheerful, happy driver) | July 8, 2008 at 8:18 am |

    I know you are joking, but you can take the 75,transfer to the 15 and get off at 1st and Pike. :)

  6. trevor (cheerful, happy driver) | July 8, 2008 at 8:22 am |

    Scratch that, I thought you were going to Pike Place Market.
    Anyway, just take the 5 straight from Northgate to 3rd and Pine.

  7. Riding the bus in Seattle: The smells, sounds, the people, oops sorry I thinking of something esle.

  8. Seattle public transit is about to force me to own a car for the first time in 12 years. Way to go, Metro! I especially like that catchy slogan, ‘We’ll get you there’. No promises it will be in this lifetime…

  9. Fred the Wonder Horse | July 9, 2008 at 7:58 am |

    Actually, the catchy slogan is “We’ll get you – so there!”

  10. Recently back from NYC and Paris | July 9, 2008 at 12:40 pm |

    I just got back from NYC and Paris and I can tell you, crowded subway trains during rush hours are hellish even if the routes are simpler.

    It must have been 110 degrees F in the subway in NYC this past June, and even hotter on the LIRR from Manhatten to Jamaica Station. The air-conditioning either didn’t work or it was ineffective in the heat and with the over-crowding.

    “Crush” load on a subway train during rush hours is a scary thing to experience. With bodies packed in so tightly, it’s hard to breathe. People push and shove their way onto already over-crowded subway trains, and one has to push and shove hard to get out again. One is sweating and getting sweated on, and breathing directly onto the back of someone’s head (or neck or shoulders) or into someone else’s face. Those “lucky” people who got a seat, had sweaty butts and crotches swaying in their faces.

    I can’t imagine taking children onto the subway at rush hour. They would get crushed. Everyone else almost gets crushed. It’s very uncomfortable, almost laughably so because it’s so bad. New Yorkers seem to tolerate the situation….lack of alternatives I guess. Everyone is in the same boat….an awful one from an outsider’s viewpoint. The NYC subway is clearly overwhelmed during rush hours and is a grim experience.

    The Paris subway at rush hour was worse, in terms of over-crowding, although it was not as hot as NYC.

    People fought their way into over-crowded trains, pushing and shoving even blocking the way off for people trying to get off the train. We were packed in so tightly that it was scary hard to get enough room to breathe. One could only take shallow breaths and hope for the best.

    There was constant pushing and shoving, as people who needed to get off at the next stop moved through the packed maze of people to get closer to the exit door.

    While waiting for the train to arrive, we were quite apprehensive about being pushed onto the tracks. One had to lean back and push back against the weight of humans piling and pressing onto the platform.

    Once inside the train, you stand there, sweating and getting sweated on. I even got my hair pulled as someone behind me reached into his pocket to try to answer his cell phone.

    The shiny poles and hand-straps used to maintain balance were unnecessary….one couldn’t even get your hands up to grab on, for lack of space. After that experience, we opted to walk miles to get places.

    An over-crowded subway system is truly an awful way to live and commute. It’s much better to be out in the open air waiting at outdoor bus stops, breathing air rather than someone else’s exhale.
    And better to carpool/vanpool or take one’s own car (hopefully electric or hybrid).

    People who look to NYC or Paris with nostalgia about public transportation by subway haven’t been there recently.

    I’d opt for a bus system operating on bus and carpool-only lanes during rush hour. And not allow over-crowding. Instead, I’d assign more buses to the over-crowded route. There is no excuse for Metro or Sound Transit not to have clean buses. There should be trash recepticles on the bus. Intoxicated persons should not be allowed on. Vomit or urine should be cleaned up immediately, and the offending passenger ushered off and lose his/her bus privileges for several months. Yes, bus drivers should be bouncers if Metro/Sound Transit doesn’t supply other employees to keep bus travel safe and hygenic and pleasant.

  11. local-native | July 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm |

    Martha, I know you were making a point, but unfortunately you picked the wrong example. 41 (northgate to downtown)…it’s arguably the easiest route into the city. I do know of tougher routes. Try getting from Queen Anne to anywhere! First, we definitely have transportation issues (poor planning, no coordination, etc), i’m not denying that…but the buses have been the only positive option – providing Seattle commuters transport for years. I’ve been around the US and the world…and Seattle has very good conditions compared to many.

  12. From the original article: “one of the world’s best mass transit systems, Seattle residents are in a great position”. Are you *kidding* me!? Have you traveled outside of Seattle, or outside of the country to experience a really good, extensive, well used and far reaching transit system? Where is Seattle in this list:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rapid_transit_systems

    Seattle is nowhere near where you are putting it. Yes, we are getting rail (light or otherwise) which is great, and I can’t wait to start using it, but don’t flatter yourself (or us).

    Don’t get me wrong – I don’t just support mass transit with lip service, I use it on a daily basis, so it’s not like I’m sitting on the sidelines and just bad-mouthing it. I experience it. Is it decent? Yes. But it will only get better if more people continue using it (for whatever reason), if it goes places people need to go, and more importantly, if it *does not require surface streets*. But is it ‘one of the best in the world’? I don’t think so.

    As for comment #10 above – that is exactly the mentality that contributes to the horrible traffic in Seattle and surrounding areas. I have nightmares about it. This writer suggests driving your own car, or adding more buses to an overcrowded route. Are you insane??? By driving your own car (Hybrid or not), and by adding more buses to a line, you are contributing to the congestion. This writer adds that “People who look to NYC or Paris with nostalgia about public transportation by subway haven’t been there recently”. It is not about nostalgia, it is about remembering how efficient the system was. Crowded or not, you got to where you needed to go in minimal amount of time (sure, there were delays here and there, but it was efficient way more often than not).
    I was there recently, and I *loved* taking the subway. And traffic is not *always* like that in NYC, or Tokyo, or Madrid, or Barcelona, or London, or Frankfurt. And yes, I’ve taken my little niece and nephew on a subway at rush hour, and guess what? I would much prefer to be in a crowded subway/tube/underground car [even with children] moving super fast and getting me to where I want to be in 20 minutes, than have my own seat in a Metro or Sound Transit bus that just *sits or crawls* on the non-carpool section of 520 for 45 minutes before it even *gets* to the carpool lane for a total of 1.5 to 2 hrs sitting in traffic to cover a distance of 12 miles. Absolutely ridiculous! In that sense, it is totally unreliable.

    In the cities I’ve mentioned above, I never had to worry whether or not I’d make it somewhere on time based on traffic. Why? Because the mode of transport I used was not sharing the road. It was basically a no-brainer.
    Traffic congestion is getting worse. We need to make Seattle mass transit, be *rapid* transit. We also need to make it a no-brainer, so that there is not even a question of whether you would drive or take the , because the latter option always makes more sense.

  13. ThatWasAGoodJoke@10 | August 26, 2008 at 5:21 pm |

    “I just got back from NYC and Paris and I can tell you, crowded subway trains during rush hours are hellish even if the routes are simpler.”

    @10, some perspective: Paris + ‘burbs = 10,000,000 people, Metro carries 4.5 million passengers a day

    London + ‘burbs = 7,500,000 people, Tube carries 3 million people per day

    Seattle + urban ‘burbs = 1,600,000 people, buses carry 400k per day (passenger miles much less than London or Paris)

    Both Paris and London subways feature 100+ year old systems, and outdated technology (hence, not so fun on hot days…but it’s good to know that diesel and gas emissions will only make the days hotter)

    And here’s where you want to cue the laugh track:

    “I’d opt for a bus system operating on bus and carpool-only lanes during rush hour. And not allow over-crowding. Instead, I’d assign more buses to the over-crowded route.”

    Not allow over-crowding, eh? What, with a magic wand? As a comparison, the new s-stock trains in London’s tube will hold 1,200 people per 8-car train set. An articulated Metro bus carries about 75…uncomfortably, with people blocking the narrow aisle. (the average speed of a Metro bus is 13 mph, while the average speed of those high capacity subways is above 20. And they don’t get stuck in traffic.)

    So, here’s the punchline: to equal the capacity of a SINGLE electric London Underground train, the author of those joke statements @10 would have to line up 16 (more like 25 when factoring in average speed and dwell times) of his super-uncomfortable diesel buses. AND find some space on jammed Seattle roads for them. Oh yeah, and pay for it all. For generations.

    Told ‘ya it was a good joke.

    If your goal is low-density cities, and lots of urban sprawl up in to the Cascades…buses are definitely the way to go…

  14. ThatWasAGoodJoke@10 | August 26, 2008 at 5:23 pm |

    @12: the original article is a spoof.

    The guy who wrote that crap @10 was serious, unfortunately.

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