Three things you are bound to encounter while visiting Seattle: trees, hills and rain. We have lots of these, and if there’s a slight chance you haven’t experienced all three, you may not have officially been to Seattle. Due to our varying terrain and love of water (both coming from the sky and surrounding our city), we have a wide array of transportation options.
The most basic is the Seattle bus system, formally known as the King County Metro Transit, which (especially the express buses) usually has open seats that are pretty comfortable. Occasionally, you’ll get a few exotic aromas that may be hard to place, but generally the bus system is reliable, and you’ll never know what kind of people you’ll meet. If you’re taking the bus for a general tour of Seattle, it is probably best to start out at Westlake Center in the underground tunnel, where you’ll get the best variety of buses to catch.
Due to our city’s consistent growth (especially in the recent years), we have a few new modes of transportation that Seattleites are very proud of. Running from the bustle of downtown to the sleek, up-and-coming South Lake union neighborhood is the South Lake Union Transit system. This trolley-esque train is also fondly referred to as the SLUT, and yes, t-shirts with the logo are for sale. The Seattle Light Rail is also a part of the train system in Seattle, and conveniently begins at the Seatac airport, offering visitors a quick and traffic-less way of getting to the city. Seattle is expanding the Light Rail into various neighborhoods, creating yet an additional way to make the city more accessible.
The Puget Sound offers a unique mode of transportation for Seattle–ferries. Many island dwellers commute to the city almost daily via the ferry boats, and many city folk use the ferry as a quick, beautiful getaway. The ferries are consistent and timely. If you are expecting a laid-back time schedule where you can be a few minutes late to catch the boat, this is definitely not the place. As someone who has taken a day trip on the Bainbridge ferry just for a change of scenery, there is something very unique about traveling by boat. When you’re out at sea, even just for 20 minutes, you never know what may happen.
Regardless of the wonderful selection of transportation in Seattle, we are most well-known for our eco-friendly transportation. Many people rely on their (usually gas-friendly) car and (always gas-friendly) bicycle. As a gas-friendly car user, I am consistently impressed with the amount of bicyclists climbing up the daunting Seattle mountains also known as hills. Since there are so many bicyclists, Seattle’s drivers are very cautious and biker friendly. We really do “share the road here”, with our time-tested bike lanes and the plethora of new lanes being created for biker’s safety.
Whether you choose to weather the storm on a two-wheeled vehicle, ride the waves or join the crowd on the train, there are many ways to navigate the city. With excellent roads, easy access to suburbs and islands, there’s little excuse to not explore!
Image by: Mark Stewart (Seattle Bicycle Expo 2013 winner hosted by Kenmore Camera)