So, I thought I'd join all the Seattle hipster bloggers and blog about my Sound Transit experience. Yesterday I decided I would leave the bike at home and have a little Monday morning adventure on my way to work.
My ride to work rocked, in fact I spent the rest of the day oohing and aahing about how much I loved ST (i'm so cool I'm nicknaming it). I got on at the Mount Baker station. There was no one there. No lines at the ticket booth. Buying tickets was easy, the same price as the bus and unlike the bus could be accomplished with just a swipe of my debit card. Unfortunately, after a week of being open the escalator seemed out of service, but I just had a little jog up the stairs and the train arrived the second I got to the platform. And the trip was smooth sailing from there. It was quick, quiet, clean, air conditioned, empty. I was dropped off a couple blocks from work. It was a dream commute. I arrived home from my dog walk about 7.10 and was sitting at my desk at work by 7.45. That included clothes changing, hair doing and the walk to and from ST (which may say a little something about my prep time).
Unfortunately, the ride home was a little more challenging. I arrived at the station and immediately noticed quite a few more people. It seems Mariners fans are excited to try a Sound Transit adventure as well. At the top of the stairs, there were two ticket machines. One had a large 'out of service' sign electronically displayed across the screen (how long has this thing been in operation??) The other had a line. At the front of the line was an ST staffer helping someone buy an Orca ticket. This seemed to involved a lengthy conversation before the screen was even touched. Finally, they started the ticket buying process, the rider swiped her card and then nothing. The machine just started processing and processing and processing (envision a time clock on a computer). I was standing there holding exact change and beginning to think that maybe there is such a thing as too much technology. Finally, I piped up from the back of the line and asked the staffer if I had other ticket buying options. Turns out there were more machines way way on the other side of the station. Not a problem though I ran over, bought my ticket and was back before the machine finished processing the Orca card.
Next was the train ride. This time I had to wait a bit and was able to see the front of the train to notice there was actually a driver (I hadn't been sure). This particular one looked very dour. But undeterred, the Mariners fans and I hopped on and headed off through the tunnel under downtown.
So yesterday was 90-95ish. And yes ST is air conditioned, but I'm not sure the ST planners were planning on 95ish. And DAMN, it was hot and UNDERGROUND. There was just about zero air circulating in that train. At one point we stopped. Just stopped for about 10 minutes. After about 5 the chipper electronic lady announced we were waiting for 'traffic' (mind you we are still underground in a tunnel with no cars). So we waited in the dark, very very very hot train (okay maybe it wasn't dark). I personally was about to get up and rip the doors open and run screaming down the tunnel to safety. I think I might not have been the only one a bit panicked because as soon as we got out of the tunnel at least three people were on their cell phones describing the situation. (One person said we were stuck for 20 minutes, one said 5. I chose 10 as a nice middle number).
Anyhow, we finally get out of the tunnel and rid ourselves of the MFs. However, the train never sped up. On the way to work we were whipping right along. But on the way home it was a painful 15 mph or so the whole time.
As an extra adventure, I decided I would try the Lander street station on the top of Beacon Hill as my exit. The Lander station is 3 stories underground. You have to load yourself in a really creepy elevator with way too many people to get to the world again. It was, creepy and claustrophobic. I was happy to end my adventure. The ride home was longer. I arrived at the downtown station at 4.35 and got to Lander around 5.15. And there was no clothes changing involved.
One extra note, they don't have ticket machines. People - guards - come swooping on the train at random and ask to see your pass. It's rather odd. Oh, one more note. I live 4 blocks from the station and can hear every time it pulls in and out. It's not loud, but it's certainly not silent.
In general, I am very excited to take the train to the airport!!!!!! And I will hope that it can handle snow better than those stupid metro buses. And I will never ever get off in the Lander street tunnel again!