Tuesday, May 3, 2016

West Seattle to downtown Seattle: The rematch

Volumes up; commuters should stay vigilant in week two

By Steve Peer

Last Friday you may remember that a fellow bus rider and I took part in a race to see whose #99closure commute was faster: mine by King County water taxi or her's on a King County Metro express bus.
Carrie Richards has won all 3 races by taking a
King County Metro express bus.

She won, by 13 minutes. We decided we needed a rematch.

This is the first full week of the #99closure. There are definitely more people on the road this week. If last Friday was a quiz, this week is a test. And next week just may be the final.

Carrie again was aboard a King County Metro bus (the 21X) and I stuck to the West Seattle Water Taxi.


Start: 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Trenton Street, West Seattle
Finish: Third Avenue and Seneca Street, downtown Seattle

Last Friday our commute times were 39 minutes for Carrie on the bus and 52 minutes for me on the water taxi. Here's what happened Monday and Tuesday.
Traffic on a King County Metro express bus
was slow headed into downtown Seattle.


Carrie's bus commute: 42 minutes
My water taxi commute: 51 minutes

Carrie's bus commute: 37 minutes
My water taxi commute: 43 minutes

Carrie's bus report

It works out well to catch the bus that comes right before my usual one (leaving home about 15 minutes earlier than usual). I was nervous that I wouldn't leave myself enough time, but I've been pleasantly surprised. The buses aren't crowded at all and, except for a choke point getting onto the West Seattle Bridge, it's a decent commute until we hit Fourth Avenue South in SoDo.

On Monday there was a Seattle Police Department officer on hand to help manage traffic as we exited the West Seattle Bridge onto Fourth Avenue South. Tuesday we took a different route, using a transit-only street (the SODO Busway), and that saved time. Here's hoping that #99closure flies by and I can start sleeping in a little later again. In the meantime, I'm going to stay on my car-free commuting A-game!

My water taxi notes

The bike racks are full on the West Seattle Water Taxi
Believe it or not, I've reduced my commute time this week as compared to a normal day by leaving my house five minutes later. I've been near the end of the water taxi line and have had to park farther away from Seacrest Park. I'm sure not going to push my luck any more by leaving any later.

The water taxi hauls. There were more passengers on board this week than Friday (221 Monday and 205 Tuesday) and the bike rack in the back has been full. Still, the crew is very good at ushering the crowd, even as many passengers snap pictures of their new commuting experience. The water taxi has several crew members answering questions as people wait in the long, snaking line waiting to get onto the speedy craft. On Tuesday, they took our payments as we waited in line instead of as we boarded.  That was smart. It's kind of fun riding the taxi although I sensed the regulars are rolling their eyes at their new friends.

Steve Peer reduced his usual commute time despite leaving 5 minutes later by using the King County Water Taxi.

Riding the bus continues to be the faster choice from West Seattle but if you can correctly time the water taxi, she hauls across Elliot Bay much more quickly than the bus – leaving a boring commute in her wake.

Up next: We'll continue to record our daily commute and report back in a week or so.