“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Glorious Seattle! Our trains and buses and bike lanes are the envy of the world. We cascade from one end of the city to the other as swift as red blood cells. A man can step off his porch and be whisked downtown in a matter of minutes, as if walking from the kitchen to the living room. All traffic is eased, all meetings are punctually met, and never a minute is wasted as we travel to conduct the daily business that binds this city together. But changes are coming dear Seattle, for no age is left untouched by restless bureaucrats looking to squeeze their populace (too much?).
King County Metro Transit (please get a shorter name) is introducing their biggest service overhaul in years, though no one really keeps track of these things. Among the changes, the one with top billing is the plan to shut down Seattle’s downtown free-ride zone. This is an outrage, because I had no idea we had a free-ride zone. No one tells me anything. Well, that’s what you get for being a recluse.
But the change that concerns me the most is that passengers are now expected to pay before boarding and leave at the back. Whoa, slow down there King County Metro Transit, otherwise known as “the bus,” that’s quite a tall order. As you know, the current downtown system allows Seattleites to board without paying, and then have their friend distract the bus driver while they make a run for it at their stop. He usually chases you for a while, but if you throw a bunch of cash in the air everybody crowds around, which prevents further pursuit.
Apparently there was something wrong with this system, so now Seattleites are expected to join the rest of the world and pay before boarding like a sucker. Payments may be made with change, tickets, transfers, or the Orca card (like the whale!), though you are free to offer the driver a good story or a can of tuna. Critics charge these changes will dramatically add to loading times and congestion, to which Metro representatives respond, “Yeah, totally, but what are you going to do?”
Let me offer a few suggestions to ease the worry. Cyclists should no longer be allowed to load their bicycles onto buses. They made their choice. One form of transportation per person – that’s my motto (I like mottos!). We also ought to put a drill sergeant at every bus stop to make sure passengers have their payments ready. This may sound like a harsh approach, but it’s much more effective than the impatient passive aggressive sighs we all know and love. Finally, it must be said that if only one person is getting on or off at a stop, the driver should skip it. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I read that somewhere.
Of course that’s just one of the many changes Metro is implementing on Sept. 29. I happen to have a copy of the other ones right here (rustling papers), and am happy to tell you about a few of them.
-If a passenger finds him or herself on a bus that features a large elaborate advertisement, they are expected to take part in the ad as means of endorsing the product. This can be done through positive gesturing, like a thumbs up or a handmade sign with an arrow which says, “Great product!”
-The yellow line will be extended 3 feet backwards, to prevent any casual chatting with the bus driver. If a passenger has a question, they can submit it by mail and have a response within one to two weeks.
-When a car lets a bus into its lane, everyone on the bus is expected to give the car a courtesy wave. This will improve the relationship between buses and cars on the road.
Boy (sound of papers being folded), those are some crazy rule changes! I sure hope everyone is able to adapt to the new system.
Many are wondering why Seattle decided to drop its downtown free-ride program. Some attribute it to costs, safety, and fare evasion, but we all know the truth: Seattle cut it because Portland did the same thing a few weeks ago. You know what they say: as goes Portland, so goes Seattle. Stop trying to be Portland, Seattle! I don’t even know who you are anymore.
With all this concern about delays and congestion, I think we ought to take another look at the validity of arriving on time. What is so good about punctuality? The least interesting people I know are those who are never tardy. If one is 5 or 10 minutes late, is civilization really going to break down? On an unrelated note, I should probably go, because if I don’t turn this article in soon, my editor is going to kill me.