I’ve long been unconvinced of the convenience and necessity of the City of Redmond’s “Loop” transit program. Living on the hill it has always been easier and more convenient to get in my car and go where I need to go, when I need to go.
As I care for children on a daily basis (I nanny for 3 families), my regular routine is to take several children to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. I also have a 6-month-old infant I care for during the day (while the others are in school). Today, the infant was not with me, so I decided to take my car in for detailing. The dog frequently likes to go on the drop-offs and he’s shed all over the seats; plus, kids and snacks and cottonwood tree fluff have taken over the floor of the vehicle.
I took the car to Acme Auto Detailing in the ‘south’ Marymoor area. Friendly and they could get me in right away; the owner drove me home with a promise to have the car finished by 3 pm so I could do my afternoon school pickup. I could have called a friend, borrowed or rented a car or even called Acme to arrange for a pickup. Instead, I decided to ride the Loop Shuttle service.
I checked the Loop schedule by planning my bus trip through King County Trip Planner. The trip seemed easy enough – according to the schedule I would leave the bus stop at 2:22 pm and arrive near my destination at 2:37 pm. This gave me plenty of time to walk to the service shop, get my car and make it to school pickup on time.
Making sure I had the correct change of $2.50, I arrived at the bus stop on 166th and 95th at 2:12 pm; just as the 221 (northbound) was pulling away. This was 10 minutes before the Loop was ‘scheduled’ to arrive. It’s always a good idea to be early to a bus stop. I waited, waited and waited. At 2:38 pm (yes, I was taking notes), the 221 came by a 2nd time (northbound). I told the driver I was waiting for the Loop. This same drive waved as he passed me on 166th while heading southbound at 2:55 pm. The shrug and a grimace of empathy as he drove by was illustrative of how I was feeling about this time.
I waited until 3:00 pm – looking at the schedule at LEAST one Loop should have been at the stop by this time. After 48 minutes of waiting at the stop with no sign of the Loop, I walked down the hill from the bus stop, picked my grandson up from school and called for an Uber driver to take us to the Detailing shop. The Uber drive from app to drop-off took less than 15 minutes, including wait time. It cost me under $7 with a tip.
I had hopes that this experiment would work out; and I’m disappointed (but not really surprised) that it didn’t. Will I attempt to ride the Loop again? Probably not. I am exceedingly glad it was a cloudy, yet not rainy day or I would have been soaked. I am thankful that I wasn’t late for an interview or a job or another appointment. And, it’s convinced me more than ever that Uber (and the likes) are much more reliable for this type of situation than the Redmond Loop program.
The City of Redmond is fond of telling people to “bike, walk or bus” instead of driving. For those of you that do this on a regular basis, you have my praise and encouragement. I occasionally feel guilt at my choices in driving, although this is mostly alleviated by my justification that I’m ‘carpooling’ several kids to school and I try to run my errands in an efficient way. I am not that person that even considers dragging 3 school age children and an infant up and down Education Hill to schools or errands by using the bus or by walking.
However, based on this, my first, and likely last, attempt at using the Loop, I am more convinced than ever that driving my car from my home to anywhere I need to go is more convenient and efficient than waiting for a bus for nearly an hour.
A shortened version of this was sent to the Redmond Reporter, Letters to the Editor on Friday, May 25th.