Seattle’s Bus Chick on the Rewards of the Riding Life
Carla Saulter pens a very eclectic blog called Bus Chick, Transit Authority, which you can find on the Seattle Post Intelligencer's website.
Carla, who lives car-free with her husband and young daughter, is all about riding transit and inspiring others to do the same. The bus has indeed figured prominently in her life: she met her husband on the bus; riding has provided her with a creative outlet for stories and interesting anecdotes; and she named her first child for the most renowned bus rider in history.
I was bowled over when I heard that Carla actually went by bus to give birth at the hospital (not to mention to also come home afterward). I knew then and there that I needed to profile her. I just wish I lived closer to the Bus Chick family so I could ride the bus with them more often.
Carla Saulter: [00:02] I’m Carla Saulter and I have been car free for six years.
Adam Edwards: [00:12] I’m the bus nerd and I guess that means I’m bus chick’s sidekick.
Carla Saulter: [00:21] This name is Rosa Caroline after Rosa Parks and my mother. I write a blog for the Seattle PI called “Bus Chick Transit Authority”, and I also write a column for a local street paper. I rode the bus a lot as a kid and I loved the bus but like most teenagers, as soon as I turned 16 I wanted to drive. I had a job in Redmond and commuted every single day across four freeways and I sat there everyday in traffic and just complained about how much traffic there was and how much pollution and sprawl. And then one day it just dawned on me that I was part of the problem and I was choosing my commute and the only thing I could control was my own actions, so I started taking the bus to work. You’re in this vehicle and you’re surrounded by all these people from all different walks of life. You don’t know where they’re coming from, you don’t know where they’re going. The only thing they share in common probably is this ride and, I mean, it’s just endless fodder for stories. I have lots of different categories in my blog and my favourite is the “overheard” category which is basically just random conversations I would hear on the bus. It’s not really advocating car freedom, although I would love it if everybody decided to be car free, it’s more about presenting a way of life, like you don’t… everybody doesn’t have to march down the same path, and my life is fun. I love my life. I do everything that everyone, all the middle class, married people I know do, professional people. I just do it differently.
[01:42] Well I’m certainly proud of her helping get the message out
that riding a bus and taking Transit is an easy way to live one’s
life, it gives you a lot of freedom. This is a bus system that
it takes a lot to get used to, you have to learn how to use it.
But once you know how it works, it’s kind of fun. It’s fun
to figure out how to from, you know, place to place and I guess that’s
part of what makes me a bus nerd.
[02:01] I’m always talking about how to market Transit. I had
this idea for promotion, why I ride, and you could have like all these
different people talking about, you know, I ride because it saves me
money, or I ride because I can read or whatever. But Metro had
this other idea where they wanted to show regular riders on the bus
and they contacted me and asked if I would be on it.
Adam Edwards: [02:19] Sometimes when I’m trying to catch a bus and I just miss it and it’s pulling away and I see her on the back of the bus, and that kind of hurts a little to see her smiling face because I’m running after it.
[02:27] Used to see this guy on the bus all the time and there’s just
something about him. It wasn’t as if I had a crush on him, I
just really wanted to know him. We both volunteered for something
where you teach high school kids about your career and he came up and
introduced himself to me and said, “I’m Adam”, and I said, “oh
yeah, you ride my bus, I see you all the time”. And he’s like,
“oh you ride the 545”. So then after that he came and sat
by me when he would see me on the bus, and basically we got to know
each other. He had this friend that he used to always talk to
on the phone and he was telling me all the names they had for people
and I said, “so, what’s my name?” And he said, “oh, you’re
bus chick”. So it just kind of stuck.
[03:00] At our wedding we did have a bus that we were using for our
guests, it was a historic, an older bus painted red and white.
[03:07] Metro has employee association that restores and maintains historic
vehicles, so we rented a cool vintage bus. Chicklet, I think either
one of my readers or one of my co-workers suggested that and I just
loved it, so… she’s actually bus chicklet, but I just call her chicklet.
She gets excited when we go on the bus, she’ll say… to her going
bye-bye and riding the bus are the same thing, that she sits on my lap,
we look at people, we talk to people, we look out the window, we read,
and I love that I don’t... if we were riding in a car I’d have to
strap her in the back and just sort of ignore her while we sat in traffic.
But this way we get to be together, we spend those rides together.
I do hear from people who say they started trying the bus because of
me or they tried riding the bus to a specific place and never tried
it before. One of the things I love about my blog is it basically
allows me to write about everything I like and one of my heroes is Rosa
Parks and she also happens to be associated with the bus. It just
seemed like a perfect name for her for many reasons.
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