About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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In criminal court, you see bad people at their best; in family court, you see good people at their worst.

Eugene Volokh (attr. to others)



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 9/23/2017

Totals
Posts - 2453
Comments - 2558
Hits - 1,984,654

Averages
Entries/day - 0.47
Comments/entry - 1.04
Hits/day - 382

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 11:04 PM Pacific


  11:05 PM

I've taken the bus three times this week. My round trip is 40 miles, so I have not driven 120 miles, so to speak. At an average of about 30 mpg in commuter traffic, this means I've saved 4 gallons of gas, around $12. (We have subsidized bus passes, so the bus is free (!) to me.)

Driving takes me anywhere from 35 minutes late at night to an hour on Fridays when there's a Mariners game. Let's say an average of 45 minutes each way, so 90 minutes a day. The bus (which is actually two buses, one transfer) takes 1:15 best case, and 1:40 worst case (so far). Let's call it 1:25 average each way, or 170 minutes a day. 170 times 3 days is 510 minutes by bus; in the car, we'd be talking 270 minutes. So I spent 240 extra minutes commuting by bus -- 4 hours.

In both the car and the bus, I can listen to the radio (in the bus, on the MP3 player). On the bus I can read, assuming I don't forget to bring a book, like yesterday. I can work on the laptop, like now. In some but not all of the ST buses (half the trip), there's even wireless, in which case I can also do email or whatever. In the bus I can nod off, like half the other people.

No books, laptops, wireless, or sleeping in the car. But if I drive, I can run errands before or after work. To take the bus, I need to be out of the house by 8:10 am, and I need to leave work between 5:00 and 6:00, practically speaking. The buses run outside of those hours, but the intervals between buses -- hence overall commuting time -- become significantly longer.[1] If I drive, I can come and go as I please.

The buses run on a schedule, of course, but it's hardly rigid. For example, in the mornings, the ST bus is supposed to come every 10 minutes. This morning it was more like 15 minutes, with the result that it was mob scene and some people who got on at subsequent stops had to stand all the way.[2] Fortunately, I have not had this misfortune; it's a long time to stand.

It's an interesting tradeoff. Saving $12 but spending 4 hours doesn't seem like a great deal. But I don't actually mind the time hit, since I do manage to stay busy. The thing I really don't like is the inflexibility of the bus schedule. Given my druthers, I stay up late and I get up late (I get to work late and I stay late). The bus doesn't really allow this. And I don't like that I have to essentially go all the way home and then turn around and run errands if I need to.

I'll keep trying this, because it seems like the right thing to do. But I have to say that at the moment, taking the bus is akin to going to the gym -- virtuous, but not necessarily pleasant.

[1] We actually have a "guaranteed ride home" program whereby if you commute by bus and can't make your bus due to working late, you can get a voucher for a taxi. I am so not going to ever do that.

[2] There are undoubtedly traffic studies with big equations that can predict the clumping behavior that occurs when buses do not come at regular intervals.

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