Get Back on That Bus

I waffled a bit on whether or not to take this assignment but I’m glad I did. The mission, if accepted, was to board a Seattle bus, preferably one facing changes this June, and make a public proclamation addressing exactly that. There are two bus routes that I use regularly which are being cut completely from service, and one of them runs to the UW. I pick up this bus midway through its route from Magnolia, but after investigating the changes, I noticed a potentially significant impact to those who may ride the 31 from the north end of the Magnolia peninsula. Presently the bus crosses Interbay near the Ballard Bridge, but with the proposed cut, riders will have to take an alternate route to the south end of Interbay and make an extra connection to get to the U-District. This route, the 31, was the target for my public address, and the results are in.

After a brief internal debate on the type of approach I wanted to use, I decided on discrete activism and direct questioning using a simple survey. Below are the three questions I posed, as loud as I felt was decent, to the phone-gawkers on the bus asking for a show of hands. The bus was about half full on Tuesday afternoon heading west. I started with a quick introduction and then asked:

  • How many of you ride this bus every day? Easily 10 hands.
  • Who here rides this bus from north Magnolia? 3 hands.
  • And who here knows that this bus is being cut from service this summer? Silence.

Ultimately I think this change in bus service will significantly affect those who rely on getting east from north Magnolia. By adding a connection and a detour, trips will undoubtedly take longer and some riders may be forced into unfortunate situations. Outlying areas may be affected more than others, and I only hope that once knocked off, those riders will get back on the bus.

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