Although I’ve been traveling to Seattle frequently this summer, today was special because it included my first full day at a new job. I am in a part-time student position at University of Washington Commuter Services, and my job is to control access to parking lots, collect entry fees, and give directions during campus events. It’s not glamorous by any means, and is ironic given my views on urbanism, but it’s an easy way to earn some spending money my upcoming two years at UW.
Because I do not move to an apartment near the campus until mid-September, I will be commuting 2+ hours each way for a few weeks. Thanks to my recent travels, I am now well-versed in the public transportation systems I use to get to work. Today, I got a ride with my dad, who works near the SeaTac airport, to the Sound Transit Link Light Rail station. From there I rode to the end of the line at the Westlake Center tunnel station and transferred to an express Metro bus to the UW campus and walked a few blocks to work. After an enlightening 11 hour shift, I returned downtown via bus, took a Washington State Ferry to Bremerton, and hopped on the Kitsap Transit foot ferry for a short ride to Port Orchard.
(Normally in the morning I will take the ferries to downtown and walk to the tunnel station.)
What helps makes commuting via public transportation in the Puget Sound so easy is the ORCA (One Regional Card for All) card that is managed by regional transit agencies; ORCA works on all of the services I listed above and more, and works by loading money online and tapping RFID readers at stations or vehicles to charge whatever the fare is. The University of Washington’s student ID cards have a built in ‘U-PASS‘ that is essentially the same product, but after an annual fee allows unlimited travel on public transit. Of course, there are privacy concerns related to the system. But cities like Chicago and New York already have similar simplified fare systems, and Portland recently developed its own.
Work itself will be, from today’s experience, simple and often boring, but at least my fellow student-workers and full-time supervisors are great people. Everything is pretty laid back, I get to work outside, and get to help people even if they are destroying Mother Earth with toxic emissions and necessitating black seas of impervious heat-retaining asphalt. That’s a joke! I saw plenty of people driving hybrids and electric cars, not to mention the many bicyclists taking part in the RSVP ride to Vancouver, B.C. And I understand cars are often the best means of getting around, so if I get to make a paycheck off it, then okay!
The day was topped by a beautiful (15 minute delayed) ferry departure from Seattle, captured in the video below. The ferry was so full some drivers didn’t make the sailing, the sun was setting, Boeing planes soared overhead, and the gulls were signing. Ah, what it is to be home!