218 Passengers – A breed apart
Early in my career at Metro I drove the 218 from Issaquah Highlands to Seattle. In the world of Metro routes, this is about as easy as it gets. I quickly determined that 218 passengers are the gold standard against which all other passengers that we serve are to be measured. Why you ask? Well, these folks ALL pay their fare, they are polite, genuinely thankful, and they are organized.
What do I mean by Organized? Here are a couple of examples: On several days I arrived late to pick up my passengers. I typically would pick up about 60 passengers but since I was late, there were easily 100+ people waiting at the Park & Ride since the next bus was only 10 minutes after mine. Normally when this happens, on a route like the 550, the passengers all crowd onto the bus – sometimes even when they can see the next bus arriving. But not the 218 passengers. Nope. I marveled at how they seemed to know when the last seat would be gone and would simply stop boarding. Maybe one or two people would jump out of line to board my bus but the rest would patiently wait for the next bus.
Another example: The 554, 555, 556, and 218 pick up passengers from the same stop at Issaquah Highlands. On several occasions, I would pull my 60 foot bus up behind a 40 foot bus that was late pulling out of the zone. Because I was behind another bus, the head of the line was 40+ feet in front of me. Normally when I open the front door in this situation, it’s a free-for-all. The line breaks apart and folks scramble for the door from the middle of the line. Not 218 passengers though. I’ve watched several times in amazement as the front of the line snakes past the bus in front of me and onto my bus.
Now, it’s been over a year since I’ve driven the 218 so why am I bringing this up now? Well, as I was waiting for the 550 tonight, a woman on her bicycle walked up to the stop where I was waiting. This is also the stop for the 212 to Eastgate park & ride. She realized that she had just missed the 212 so she pulled out an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper with the arrival times of the 212, 554, and 218, that had been LAMINATED. These are all express routes that service downtown Seattle and the Eastgate park & ride so it was obvious that this woman was SERIOUSLY organized – a CLASSIC 218 passenger if I’ve ever seen one. (Yes, I know, she also takes the 212 and 554 and doesn’t have anything to do with Issaquah Highlands park and ride, but you get my point)