Sandra is back on the island for the summer. She started riding Island Transit when she was 13 and living in Greenbank. Sandra, her brother, and the neighborhood kids preferred to take Island Transit rather than the school bus to school in Coupeville. They did this because, “It’s cleaner. There’s less noise. Everybody is well-behaved. And it’s free!”
Sandra’s all grown up now, with a son of her own, and living in Seattle. She doesn’t take her toddler on the King County buses, but she doesn’t hesitate to take him on Island Transit. “Everybody is pretty good on the island. People are friendly,” she said, “and the drivers are super-duper friendly and nice.”
She recalled when she was living on the island as a student and sometimes would fall asleep on the bus – the drivers would remember her stop and make sure to wake her. “That would never happen in Seattle.” She likes all the drivers. “It’s like they know you!”
In Seattle she usually takes Lyft, which costs from $5 and up depending on the destination. “Taking my son to daycare was $15 each way. Now, with the price of gas, those fees have gone up. There’s a different driver in a different car almost every time.” During the pandemic she opted to stay home with her son. She worked from home and had food delivered.
When I saw her on the bus, she had her shopping bags full and her playful son in her lap. When asked about her favorite places to go by bus, she said, “Langley, the gardens, the shops, the whole town.” She likes to go and just hang out there. Or she’ll take her very active little boy to the playground.
“Who taught you to ride the bus?” I asked. But she could not remember. “My parents, I guess.”
By bringing her young son on the bus, she’s giving the next generation a head start. I asked if she had tips for young mothers like herself. She thought for a moment. It seems like something that has been ingrained in her from an early age, like a natural part of island life. “It’s pretty easy,” she said.
She recommended using the online schedule that she can access on her phone. “Less things to carry.” As her toddler climbed into her arms, I laughed. She already has her hands full.