In Praise of Public Transportation

I’m very fortunate to live in Seattle, where we have a healthy bus system. Having access to convenient buses has revolutionized the way I commute around the city and in many situations it’s actually faster than driving myself – and it’s always more relaxing.

Taking the bus was never a viable option for me before, and even after moving into the service area of King County Metro, taking the bus from Redmond to anywhere was quite inconvenient. It was great for getting downtown, but not much else. Since moving into Seattle proper, however, I now have easy access to dozens of bus routes all within a block or two of my apartment. I’ve been able to reduce my commute-related driving from ~1 tank of gas per week (~300-350 miles) down to less than a single tank per month. If I head up to the mountains for skiing, that adds a bit, but my baseline consumption has dropped significantly.

Not only that, but taking the bus has freed up a large amount of my time. Seattle is separated from the Eastside cities (Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond) by Lake Washington, and there are only a few choices: around the top or bottom, or one of two bridges across the center; one services the northern half of the city and one services the southern half. State Road 520 backs up badly for miles during rush hour when three lanes merge to two between an on-ramp and the floating bridge across the lake – it can take over an hour to travel the short distance from Redmond to Seattle at the end of the day, but on a bus taking advantage of the restricted lane, it typically only takes about 20 minutes. In the morning, the commute is the same length by bus or by car – and I don’t have to drive!

I spend, in total, about 1 hour in transit between my job and home per work day. I used to have to spend this time paying attention to the road, but now that’s a professional’s problem and I can kick back with a book or my laptop – or just take a short nap! And I understand there are some environmental benefits as well, which weren’t a major deciding factor but are very positive. Switching most of my commuting over to public transit is one of the best decisions I’ve made, I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do the same!

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