My evening commute, as a BASIC program

I’ve already posted this as a comment at Seattle Transit Blog, but it was fun to make so I thought I’d share here as well.

My commute is less than 3 miles long.  The 2x would take me directly from my work to my home, but is infrequent, packed, and slow.  Here is my actual commute, in the form of a pseudo-BASIC program, which will almost always get me home faster.

1 hop on the 11, 15, 18, 15X, or 18X
2  if either of the X’s, transfer at Denny to 15, 18, 1, 2, 8, or 13
3   if 1, 15, 18, or 8 get off at Seattle Center and walk to the Met
4    transfer to 2, 2X, or 13
5  else if 15 or 18 get off at Seattle Center and walk to the Met, GOTO #4
6  else if 11, hop off near 3rd and Pine and walk to the bus stop there
7   transfer to 1, 2, 2X, 3, 4, or 13
8    if 1, get off at Seattle Center and walk to the Met, GOTO #4
9    else if 4, ride to what used to be Blockbuster, walk home
10   else if 3, ride to Starbucks at the top of the hill, walk a bit further home
11   else, ride home
12 end

This took me a few months of commuting to figure out, and I have all of the bugs worked out.  But what if I needed to go somewhere other than home?  I’d have to take their version of an inefficient “one seat” route – if one even exists.  Why is our bus system this way?  Because bus planners probably think we all value a one-seat ride.  But one-seat rides make for terribly inefficient, complicated systems that doesn’t serve anyone well except commuters (and even then, only if you consider “serve well” to mean a one-seat ride). 

Using a transfer-based bus system is not only more efficient, but easier to understand. It would be something like: I take the 1st Ave line to the Counterbalance line. Done. Not only that, but the 1st Ave line could be a very frequent trunk line.

6 responses to “My evening commute, as a BASIC program”

  1. Duncan Watson

    I agree with you. I miss the NYC subway system which is basically what you describe at the end.

  2. Frank

    Metro is obsessed with one-seat rides largely because their ridership prefers it, I’d guess.

    But how does information technology change this dynamic? Transfers are more tolerable if you know the connecting bus is going to be there for you. With more real-time arrival screens at bus stops, will riders become more accepting of transfers?

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  4. Mickymse

    In fairness to Metro, we don’t exactly have a well-planned grid system around the City, not to mention all the hills, valleys, and bodies of water that tend to get in the way….

    But, yes, it would be nice to designate a few trunk routes as fast, efficient rapid routes with <15 min. headways.