This one’s about the physical act of driving the thing. It’s time for tech talk!
Two recent posts dealt with psychological and existential problems of doing this route.
Another post offers tips on fights and other security issues.

Introduction
I first drove it in 2009, and have stuck regularly to it since, including several stints of consecutive years driving it nightly. I’ve gone down those streets more times than most operators will in their lifetimes, and with the regular blog coming to a close I wish to pass on a thing or two I may have picked up on the way–because it’s good to help each other. And because the night 7/49 is the lowest-seniority route. If you’re on it, it’s because you’re nuts like me and you like it, or because you’re new. If the latter–welcome. It’s going to be fine. 

Assumptions

  • You’ve got a 4500-series 60-foot trolley. 
  • You’re doing the full 7/49. 
  • We’re going to do one full loop, starting with a road relief eastbound on 5th and Jackson. This post goes from 5/J south to Henderson. 
  • We’re not going to do the Virginia street turnaround because that’s rare at night, and you may already know it from the 36 and 70. 
  • We’re going to ignore passenger stuff completely–refer to, well, the whole the rest of my blog. Here’s a good starting place.
  • And–these are my suggestions, not the official rules. I’m only one person, but these tips have worked for, if no one else, at least me. 

On Jackson Street at 5th

  • Here’s your coach pulling up. Have your bag ready to put behind the driver’s seat. Ask the driver you’re relieving how they are, thank them for the bus, and ask if there are any reroutes or issues with the coach. 
  • Enter the coach, put your bag away, set your mirrors, and start driving. Everything else can be done later. All you need right now are your mirrors. 
  • Make sure you’re not early–5th is a timepoint that is often checked–and wait for that green light. Are you early? Great. Red lights are the perfect place to work on setting your seat, working on the interior mirrors and logging in. But otherwise, you’ll get to all that later. Wave in the passengers with ORCA cards–it’ll take too long to figure all that out right now.

Crossing 5th

  • Don’t rush this. If the hand is counting down already, consider waiting out the cycle. I assume your coach is on the side wire because it’s always nice to use the side wire (allows other buses to pass), especially when a relief is taking place. If you’re on the side wire, you should hear 4 deadspots as you cross the intersection (if not, you’ll hear 3). 
  • I measure the location of deadspots by where the front of the coach directly beneath me (the middle of the front doors) is during the moment of the beep. 
  • Green light. Accelerate to 9mph before reaching the middle of the intersection. 
  • Do not activate your right turn signal as you cross the intersection, as this will set your poles to turn right. Merging? Use your 4-ways.
  • Deadspot 1 (as your poles return to straight wire): your front has just passed the middle of 5th Avenue.
  • Deadspot 2: as you hit the farside crosswalk. You will need enough momentum to clear both these deadspots at once; there isn’t enough space between then to accelerate. Remember, you only need 9mph to do this. 4500s coast quite well.
  • Accelerate for 6 feet or so. 
  • Deadspot 3: (this used to be by the Western Union sign in the window. Stand by for update; I’ve been doing it by rhythm lately!)
  • Accelerate for 6 feet or so. 
  • Deadspot 4: as your front doors pass the neon sign of the pho place.
  • You made it. First day? You probably powered through all the above and jerked the bus around. That’s okay for now. But each time you go through, try to memorize these locations a little more so you don’t power through deadspots (it’s bad for the electricity), and to give a smoother ride. Remove your foot from the accelerator before the deadspot; if you’re new, the back of the coach where the poles are is slightly further back than you think. 

Maynard

  • Cruise up to Maynard and get the people. No need to rush these lights; the cycles are quick. Watch those cars parallel parked on the right–many are momentary deliveries to the grocery store there. 

8th 

  • Do not put on your right turn signal as you cross 8th; doing so will activate the right turn wire. Take the intersection at 9mph, removing your foot from the accelerator at the crosswalk on the far side of 8th–that’s where the deadspot is for your 60-foot coach. (In a 4300 today? It’s just after the halfway point of the intersection). Ask me in person why I suggest 9mph for all deadspots. 

Pulling out of 8th

  • You will need control of the left lane, due to parked cars on the right. I often merge into it entirely; if you do, be mindful that enterprising car drivers may try to squeeze past you on the right. Consider splitting the lanes to minimize this. 

10th

  • Slow down to 9mph for the special work. Don’t use your left turn signal, or you’ll activate the switch above. Do you need to merge left here, or otherwise use your turn signal for traffic maneuvers at any time when they conflict with what you want to do with the wire? 

Merging during switches

  • I recommend using your 4-ways in that scenario. 4-ways do not affect the wire, and let cars behind you know you’re about to do something weird. They don’t know what, but something. 
  • You can also do Straight Override, but keep your hand on the switch so you remember to switch it back to “N” right after. 
  • Eventually you’ll know where all the switches are, and will likely take the easier path of doing your merging maneuvers before or after them.

12th 

  • Approaching–return to the right lane. Is there a coach in the zone already? Wait. This zone only holds one coach. 
  • Green light. Expect 3 deadspots. Do not use your right turn signal, or you’ll trip the 36 wire. 
  • Deadspot 1: As your rear wheel crosses the nearside crosswalk. You need to hear this. If you don’t, you’re on the 36 wire and need to stop immediately. 
  • Deadspot 2: As you’re crossing the farside crosswalk. 
  • Deadspot 3: front of your coach lines up with “Bac Sam” on the grocery store sign on the right! 
  • Check your time. 

Leaving 12th

  • You’ve got your crowd, and are ready to take them to the Valley. Great. Watch the crosswalk for the streetcar island. Notice the wire splitting above, about a block and a half past the 12th Ave zone. There’s a wooden telephone pole on the right. 
  • You need to be hitting your right turn signal before you reach it–you want to trigger the right turn wire. You will hear a click of metal. 
  • I drive with my front roof hatch open (use the “rear” switch by the signage to activate), so I can hear the wire better. First night(s) on the route? Consider driving with Climate Control off, so you can hear the wire and learn where the switches are and what to listen for. 
  • You’ve passed that wooden telephone pole and heard the click. Fabulous. Slow down to 9mph. Listen to that satisfying soft ker-klunk as you get onto the right wire, about 10 feet after hearing the click above. You really are the 7 now. 
  • If you hear a deadspot beep, you missed the switch. It’s okay. I know, you don’t want to have to go out there and do this with all these people sitting here. But you have to. Just do it. Stop, safely get out, and move your poles. 

Resetting your poles from one lane of wire to another

  • Pull the parking brake. 
  • Be sure you pulled the parking brake. 
  • Step out the doors with your vest in hand. Be mindful of cars. Put on your vest as you walk or jog to the back of the bus. You walk quickly to the back, to show the passengers you care about being expeditious, but once you’re back there behind the bus and with the ropes–take your time. Rushing it will take longer. 
  • Grab the rope of the pole closest to the lane of wire you’re moving to, but don’t pull the pole off the wire yet. While still holding the rope, walk over to where you’re directly beneath the pole, then pull the pole off the wire. This will prevent the pole from swinging around wildly. 
  • Still holding your pole, and being mindful of cars, walk the pole over to where you are directly beneath the wire you want to let it gently rise to the wire. Do it slowly. Use both hands. 
  • Is the shoe at an angle where it doesn’t want to slip back onto the wire? Raise the shoe up to the side of the wire and use the wire to knock the shoe back into something approaching straighter alignment. Then try again. Take a deep breath while you’re doing this, and remember to be mindful of cars. 

Resetting your poles after losing your poles

  • I try to be aware of where the poles are at all times, and the minute I’m not sure, I check visually, either by the mirror or by actually stepping out. You want to be sure. This way, you only ever have to move poles from one lane of wire to another, rather than having them fly off and go everywhere. But let’s just say that’s just happened anyway, because sometimes it does. The poles have just flown off and are swinging around, settling on top of the coach. 
  • Pull the parking brake.
  • Be sure you pulled the parking brake. 
  • Jog out there while being careful of cars and putting on your vest.
  • Rack each pole. Hot tip: first rack the pole you’re going to reset first. This saves you a second because it takes a second for the air pressure to build back up.
  • Is it raining? Don’t stand directly beneath the pole, but just to its side, as you pull the pole down to tap the coach as you and get it out of the hook. This way all the raindrops on the pole don’t fall on your face! 
  • Continue as in the above section.

Preparing to turn right on Rainier

  • So you’ve just gotten on that lane of right-turn wire, and you know it because you didn’t hear a deadspot. You’re getting good at this. As you drift toward the light, there’s a tiny deadspot about a coach-length after the switch you just negotiated. These tiny deadspots are called sectional insulators, and although you should not power through them, you do not have to slow down for them.
  • Wait for the green. Yes, you’re no longer in the CBD so you’re allowed to make a right on red, but look at that blind curve on Boren to your left. You’re a bus. Do you really think you can turn fast enough here before a car comes flying around that bend? Wait for the green.
  • Is the light already green? This is a long green. Chances are you’ll make it. Rock and roll hard; a slight right turn like this one has more potential for blindspots with regard to crosswalks. Watch those oncoming left-turn vehicles from westbound Jackson. 
  • Doesn’t it feel great to make this right and land on Rainier, with that beautiful view of the mountain, knowing you’re really doing this, grabbing the bull by the horns and thriving? Maybe not yet. But one day it’ll feel like that.

King

  • That’s Labor Systems on the right. No one cares about this at night because it’s closed, but a morning run will have passengers asking for it; it’s a day labor place for enterprising jobless people. Watch for cars passing on your left to turn right in front of you; this is an awkward location for a zone. 

Runners

  • There’s a runner, coming up from Dearborn way down there. Are you on time? Consider waiting for them. They’re coming from Goodwill, which is nearly a mile away of walking, and for decades the stop for them was right at Dearborn; now they have to hike all the way up to King, and you’re breaking their heart. Are you late? If your follower will be here in less than 5-10 minutes, I would consider leaving them. Your follower will get them, and if you wait for everyone you’re defeating the purpose of frequent service. The southbound 7 has approximately 10 minute service until 19h00 and 15-minute service until 23h30, daily. After 23h30? Don’t be mean. Wait. They may not look like they need the bus, but there’s one chance in 10 that they do, and it’s worth it just for that one chance. You never know, and 30-60 minutes is a long time to wait for the next bus.

King to Dearborn

  • Merge left soon after leaving the zone. There’s a small deadspot (sectional insulator) right around where you cross King. You need to be in the left lane until after crossing Dearborn. Notice how the wire is drifting to the left–stay roughly under it. 
  • (You can be 12 feet on either side of a lane of wire. 12 feet is the width of one regular lane of traffic.)

Driving When Late

  • I don’t advocate for driving faster when you’re late. Try to drive at the same speed even if you’re late. A colleague told me, “if you become late–slow down.” Why? Because when you’re rushing, you’ll have an accident, or you’ll get moody with the people. Being in a hurry magically makes you angry at everything.

King to Dearborn (continued)

  • However, I do advocate for different decisions regarding expediency depending on how you’re doing on schedule. Are you early or on time? Use lane 2 as you approach Dearborn and wait for the regular traffic light. Are you late? Without hurrying, use lane 3 and take advantage of the special bus lane light. Horizontal white light means stop; Vertical white light means go;the flashing white triangle in the middle is the equivalent of a yellow light. 
  • Try to avoid rushing up to this lane 3 bus lane light, in an effort to keep it smooth for your passengers. You want to trigger it before those northbound cars finish turning left, I know. But it’s better to be smooth and safe. It’s not that big of a time savings, and your priority is safety. You want to keep your job. 
  • As you cross Dearborn, carefully begin merging right immediately after you’ve crossed the intersection. This is complicated: be mindful of the stopped northbound cars just to your left, especially if you’re coming in from lane 3. Also be mindful that cars will be turning onto southbound Rainier from eastbound Dearborn, and your right mirror may not see them very well. Glance over there as you cross Dearborn. The wire eventually wants you to be in lane 1 or 2. You probably have passengers at Charles; go for lane 1, unless there’s weird traffic.

Charles

  • People will ask you where to catch the 554 to Issaquah. This is it. After servicing the zone, merge into lane 2, which becomes lane 1 as you go underneath I-90. The next zone is after the intersection that’s beneath the bridge. The next several zones are straightforward: no special work, no need to merge. Slow down to 9mph for the special work near Plum St. 

Bayview

  • Check your time. Remember, your timepoints, with the exception of the first timepoint on any trip, are arrival timepoints. You want to arrive at Mt. Baker down there at the appointed time. Watch the special work as you approach McClellan; it lines up (always front of the coach, unless otherwise indicated) with the tree right after the QFC driveway.

Mt. Baker

  • Special work–slow down to 9mph as you cross the utility pole that lines up with the back of your coach hitting that trailing wire. You’ll know which one after a trip or two. I like knowing exactly where the special work is, so I don’t need to slow down for great big stretches of roadway. I only want to be going 9mph for the brief moment that is the special work. Do it smoothly; don’t be rough on your people. These new Excelsior models are extraordinarily sensitive to your braking. Don’t make somebody’s grandmother throw up back there.
  • I tend to pull just past the zone flag at every zone, so I can know if they actually want my bus. Maybe they want the 106; this will tell you. Are you early? Maybe you are, because you tried to wait at Bayview but somebody yelled that they were trying to make a connection to rail here, so you chose to come down here and wait instead of back at Bayview to be nice. As long as you weren’t more than a minute early and you wait it out, the supervisor across the street probably won’t give you any guff. 
  • Is there a 106 behind you? Is it nighttime with no traffic? If both are true, leave the zone by pulling dramatically into a position splitting lanes 2 and 3 (mostly in 2, bleeding a little into lane 3) so the 106 behind you can safely cruise by you in lane 1 to make his right turn. His light turns greens before yours does, and (s)he will appreciate it. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Way

  • Somebody got on at Mount Baker and literally already wants to get off. Why? This intersection is famously hard to cross. People have died here, including my friend Milard earlier last year. It’s either spend almost 10 minutes walking down, up and onto that pedestrian bridge, or hop on a quick 7. 
  • This is a camera light. Your bus needs to cross the stop bar before the crosswalk while the light is still yellow, or else the camera will flash. Ideally, you’re better than that and you just stopped, because you’re a professional and you stop at all yellow lights unless it is unsafe to do so. But I thought you should know just in case. 
  • Also: I know, the people at the zone don’t exactly look inviting. But these guys always have destinations–often Letitia (for Safeway) or Graham (for 7-11 or the smoke shop). If they’re sitting in the shelter over there, they don’t need you. If they’re standing by the flag, they do. 

Walden

  • A little slower, to see if anyone’s in that shelter–

Letitia Street S-Curves

  • This stop is good for Safeway. You can do 20mph safely through these curves, which include the curve at Andover as well. There’s a slow order through all of this of 25mph, but it used to be 20, which I recommend. There’s the zone, then a tree. Stop where you like. 
  • After that tree is a telephone pole, and right after that telephone pole is another tree. In between the telephone pole and the tree just past it is a sectional insulator. Remember, you don’t need to slow down for it, but you do need to coast through it. It’s right at the midpoint between the pole and tree.

Andover

  • Yes, you probably have runners from Safeway. Do you wait? Don’t you? I use the rules of thumb above (“Runners” section), but it’s your preference. I tend not to wait for people who are across the street from where I am.
  • This light turns red quickly (which may decide the above for you).
  • Watch the curve after you leave the zone; you just barely fit, and on hot days you may lose your poles on the straightaway if you’re far to the right. Is it nighttime with no traffic? Before crossing the intersection and starting the curve, you can see the lanes behind you pretty well in your left mirrors; you might consider splitting for ease. This is why you picked nights–you get the whole road to play with!
  • I split as I approach Genesee to avoid parked car doors on the right. 

Genesee

  • Transfer point for the 50. On your side right now, it goes to Beacon Hill, Sodo, and West Seattle. In the other direction, toward Seward Park and Othello St, passengers need to catch it eastbound on Genesee by that Shell gas station. 
  • Check your time. Are you headed only to Henderson? Congratulations. This is your last timepoint. If not, you still have Graham and Henderson (remember, you can always arrive at your trip’s final timepoint early).
  • Merge left to split as you leave the zone, the better to avoid parked car doors. The cars on your left won’t like it; boo for them. You’re bigger. Plus, this is Rainier Avenue; they’ve likely been on buses before, and likely been behind buses. They’ll let you in.

Alaska

  • On hot days you may lose poles crossing the intersection. Why? When the temperature gets over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the wire starts to expand and sag a little–not a lot, but enough to make staying on the wire finicky. To mitigate this, keep it below 10mph while crossing the intersection and hug the left of your lane. 
  • The closer you are to being directly beneath the wire, the more likely you are to stay on. This is why you never lose poles on the 49; all the wire is directly above the coach. On Rainier, the road often tilts to the right, causing the top of your coach to be at an angle farther away from the wire; the bus thinks something’s going wrong, even though nothing is, and will drop your poles in a fit of excessive caution. This is why I miss those Bredas! This will be a bigger issue on your northbound trip; we’ll get to that later.

Edmunds to Brandon

  • Pull all the way to the stop bar to serve the passengers. This way, when the light turns green, you’ll trigger the bus light (if it’s active). 
  • Watch those cars coming and going from the Hummingbird Saloon on the right side just past Hudson. 
  • After 39th (which OBS calls out as “Dawson”), there’s a sectional insulator that lines up with the middle of the second driveway on the right.
  • You don’t have to slow down for these curves, including the one up there past Brandon, other than to drive safely. But as regards the wire–you’ll stay on because, as you can see, there’s a lot of support wire built in, making the curvature of your lane of wire smoother and less kinked, allowing for quicker passage.

Orcas

  • This zone only holds one coach. 
  • This is a camera light. You are more likely to get dinged here than at MLK because at MLK you just left a zone and you’re going slowly; here, you’re cruising in at a decent speed. You see the counting hand; no need to rush. Just stop. Try to stop for yellow lights; you’ll find yourself less stressed, and with a lower heart rate. At least I do when I’m not flooring it all the time. I like to drift down Rainier; brain science reveals that driving over 25mph puts you in a different mental state more keyed for panic and apathy. 
  • 25mph or under is scientifically proven to elevate your mood, which, since you’re doing this for 8 hours, you care about. 

Graham

  • After Kenny, I start splitting. Either that or I go slow. You’ll fit in lane 1, but if there’s no traffic you might just split to get those parked car doors off the mind.
  • After servicing Graham, I definitely split for the curves going toward Holly. You don’t have to, but it’s easier to stay on the wire if you do. I continue splitting until halfway down the straightaway toward Holly, then I drift back into lane 1 to service the zone at Holly. I put my 4-ways on when splitting, so the cars behind me know I’m up to something. 

Holly

  • We’ve all lost our poles here. Every last one of us. Especially in the summer. Especially all the time. With Bredas the only time you lost poles was driver error, but the purple bus is sensitive. It’s okay to be sensitive, right? Your cute little bus is just trying to help. As I mentioned under “Alaska,” the tilt of the roadway in combination with the poles being a little farther to the left are what cause it. The macro solution is obvious: King County needs to move the wire to the right, and this headache would go away instantly. Clearly that must be more complicated than it seems. Until you and I run Metro, let’s not stress about it and go for the micro solution: split lanes immediately after servicing the zone. Slowly and smoothly get out there. If it’s busy, the cars will hate you. I say, who cares. I like you. 

Nathan on cars

  • Plus, as with all cars failing to signal, cutting you off, being absent-minded, making incomprehensible decisions: You’re a professional. It doesn’t bother you. I don’t tell myself car drivers are stupid; that may be true, but I’ll lose my faith in humanity in about an hour if I think that. I can’t think that. I think, they’re absent-minded. They’re concentrating on other things. If they were actually focused, they’d do an okay job. This isn’t an excuse, but an explanation. It doesn’t matter to me if this explanation is true or not; I just need to believe it as my truth, so I can stay reasonably sane. Also, I’ve noticed if I actively look for safe drivers (wow, that car signaled!), I start noticing more of them, and more of them, until I’m convinced there’s a ton of really terrific car drivers out there. It’s all in your perspective.

Holly (continued)

  • You don’t have to do the above. You can also get through it just by doing 10mph for a while. But if splitting is doable, I go for the split. The real estate is there; you may as well take it. It’s a smoother ride for your people, avoiding all those bumps on the right edge of the lane, and you don’t have to sit there doing 10mph for what feels like a quarter mile. 
  • While passing the gas station on the right, you can back in lane 1. Be aware of a dip in the road as you cross Willow, the street right before your next zone at Frontenac.

Frontenac

  • Careful getting out of here. Somebody will want Othello, so you’ll choose lane 1. 

Othello

  • Is your follower behind you? Consider pulling past the zone, all the way to the end of the last driveway, to make room for 2 coaches at this zone. I split the lanes clear down to Rose after servicing Othello, not for the wire (you won’t lose poles here) but for those pesky car doors. Speaking of leaders and followers:

Skip-stopping in a trolley

  • We’ll talk about skip-stopping on Third Avenue when we get back up there. This is different. 
  • Let’s say you’re the 7 to Henderson, and the 7 to Prentice has caught up to you. The upcoming zone has a passenger waiting, but you don’t have dropoffs. The 7 behind you is visible to the waiting passenger. I say, skip the passenger. Your follower will get him. However:
  • Let’s say instead you’re the 7 to Prentice, and the 7 behind you is the one that only goes to Henderson. I say you do have to stop for this guy, even though you have no dropoffs. Why? Because he might need Prentice. The bus behind you needs to go everywhere you’re going in order for you to skip people. Otherwise you might be screwing the passengers. 

Henderson

  • Check the DDU or your signage to see what you’re supposed to do here. If the signage code on the DDU says “20A,” you only need to go to up to Henderson and turn left. You’re a “7 to Rainier Beach,” and after servicing Cloverdale you’ll get in lane 2 and go up to the split in the wire, activating your left turn to trip the poles onto the left wire, no deadspot. Take the turn deep and square to stay under the wire and have greater visibility in this area. 
  • For the love of all things holy, please pull far enough forward that a 2nd coach can pull in behind you. That means going past the 987 zone and up to the utility pole that has a sign which just says, “BUS.” I don’t care if you park here and use the restroom; just please pull far enough forward that I can fit behind you. 
  • If your signage says “7 Prentice St,” and your DDU reflects that by showing the “AF” signage code for that, you instead get to go straight (either way your DDU says “7 to S Henderson St,” so don’t go by that). Somebody will yell out, “are you turnin’ or goin’ straight?” and you’ll get to say, “goin’ straight!” and they’ll be thrilled. They like it when you go this way. 
  • You remain in lane 1, slowing down for deadspot which is at the far corner of the driveway that’s blocked off, the last driveway on this block before the intersection. You cross Henderson and drop off most of your folks; at this zone they can transfer to the 106 or 107 for service to Skyway and Renton.
  • Bummed that you have to do the Prentice Loop? Comfort yourself with the thought that it’s 15 minutes of bus driving where nothing ever happens. How lovely!
  • Did you forget to go straight? Did you forget to do the Prentice loop? Get back out there and do it. Right on Seward Park Ave, Left on Rainier, put your poles back up and Just Do It. Why? Two reasons: 
  1. Some little old lady might be up there crying her eyes out waiting for you. There’s always that. And: 
  2. Take some pride in your work. Don’t do the easiest thing; do the best thing. Be good at what you do.

51st

  • Somebody asked if you go to the Safeway in Rainier Beach; this is it.

54th

  • You can use this Taco Bell for Comfort Station if you’re feelin’ desperate.

57th

  • There’s a slow order of 10mph through this turn and the following kinks as you get onto Waters Avenue, which I find amusing because nobody in their right mind would ever drive through here faster than that! You’ve got the hard turn, the guys in front of the bar (wave hello!), the joggers congregating across the way, kids playing on the right and again up there on the left, plus some characters switching cars on the right for reasons we won’t ask about. 

61st

  • Okay. I know that “Do Not Enter” sign looks like it refers to you, but it’s actually for the left side of the island. You’re fine to continue to the right. Simply follow the wire you’re on; contrary to that annoying adage you’ve been hearing at the Base (“just follow the wire!”), which makes no sense downtown, here the phrase really does ring true, because there’s no other wire in sight

62nd

  • Turn right on 62nd while rockin’ and rollin’ like the professional you are. Is someone getting off here? Ask them if they need to cross in front of you, to eliminate awkward confusion. I split all the way up 62nd and down 64th, with my 4-ways on.

Prentice

  • Every sensible bone in your body thinks you should drive the bus up to that Stop sign at Renton Avenue, but the 7 is an ancient route, and in ancient times they planned routes to go down tiny streets. Follow the wire: your turn is onto lil’ old Prentice Street, which is 1 block before the Stop sign. Square off the turn.

64th

  • Your square turn here will be deeper than the shallow turn the wire performs; slow down at the end of the turn to stay on the wire. As with any turn in a trolley, wait until your bus has completely straightened out before accelerating. Why? The back of the bus hasn’t finished turning yet, and that’s where the poles are!

Waters

  • Creep forward at the stop bar. Creep slowly. When you have a clear line of sight–the road is yours.

Waters to 57th

  • Slow to 10mph for this curve, in accordance with the Slow Order.

57th to Rainier

  • I split this turn, because if I try to do the whole thing from lane 1 into lane 1, I’ll lose my poles–like the situation back at Prentice and 64th, the wire turns more shallowly than my bus, and I solve this here by splitting.

Seward Park Avenue

  • The deadspot is as you cross the “porchfront sidewalk” of the Deli. They’ll let you use their restroom if you ask nicely! Pull your poles if you do so, but remember you’ve got your own Metro Comfort Station at the Henderson terminal. 
  • Between here and Henderson, I usually don’t pick up passengers because they all want the 7 to Downtown. To clarify this for the sake of concern for the passengers and minimize frustration, I may sign my coach up as “To Terminal” (3EE), so they know I’m not actually a 7 to Downtown. Your signage defaults at this point to say, “7 to Rainier Beach,” but no one reads that. 

Henderson

  • As you approach Henderson, split the lanes for your right turn. Signal right to trip the right-turn switch. I usually drop my passengers after I’ve made the turn, and will sometimes tell them so by way of explanation (“I’ll let you out after I make this turn!”)
  • You made it. Beautiful. As I mentioned above, For the love of all things holy, please pull far enough forward that a 2nd coach can pull in behind you. That means going past the 987 zone and up to the utility pole that has a sign which just says, “BUS.” 
  • When you pull up to the layover down there, pull all the way up. Pull forward at all terminals as soon as it’s possible to do so. Notice that there are 2 sets of side wire, allowing for 2 coaches to park here and for the 2nd coach to leave 1st if necessary. Be mindful of where you stop with relation to the wire, so you can get out. 

Sleepers

You did it. Enjoy those precious minutes. Use that Comfort Station, stretch it out, and eat something besides junk food. See you on the next trip!

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Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.

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