March 2021


unHelpful Answers

So, as part of a business trip in June, I might be landing in Seattle for a couple of nights. I wrote the following email to a bed and breakfast in the city:

Should I make it to Seattle, I will want to spend June xx through xx. I have two questions: 1) What availability and rates do you have during this time; and 2) How easy is public transportation to/from your B&B to the city centre.

The answer that came back:

Thank you for your inquiry. We have available with private bath in the Capitol Suite $199, Clipper, Garden and Fountain Rooms $149, Venetian Room $154, Rose Room $144 and with shared bath in the Iris and Cabin Rooms $114. Breakfast and parking are included and the tax rate is only 8.8%. Let us know if you are interested or have any additional questions or would like one of the rooms.

So they managed to answer my first question, but not my second. Now, based on the first answer, I don’t think I’ll be staying there–but I amused by the fact that in the States there is the presumption that one will be using a car to get around.

After having travelled around Europe without a car, I’ll be damned if I am going to rent a car in Seattle–a major city with a populaiton of over half a million (3.8 in the metropolitian area). If they don’t have a decent public transportation system, it only means that my €uros/Dollar$ won’t get spent in the city.

However, maybe my impression of city transit has been screwed up by getting around Germany, Prague, Madrid, London, and Amsterdam using only public transportation. Heck, I even got around America’s New York City using only public transportation. (And, to some extent Louisville, Kentucky, which was a bit tricky, but I managed to do it–although friends with cars helped out.)

In any case, not answering my question… means I’m not staying.

Too bad, so sad.

8 comments to unHelpful Answers

  • chris

    Adam, your spoiled;) I have to say that Denver is finally getting the idea of public transportation with the development of the TREX project (light rail), but it is far from anything experienced in Europe. I am impressed by one city , Reno, NV of all places, that has a very good system. Maybe its because the route systems are similar to the “Euro-style”??

  • IUMike

    I noticed that you spelled “center” the British way…you’re not getting all European on us, are you? 🙂

  • mateo

    Perhaps the bed and breakfast just sent a copy of information that they send to everyone, without actually reading too closely what you had written them, and then would answer further questions when necessary? When I stayed in Seattle, I thought the public transportation system was pretty decent, although I do remember that trying to look at their bus route map online was a bit difficult since the maps were too big to fit on the computer screen. But they were supposedly fixing that problem, so who knows??

  • Actually, as US systems go, I tend to think Denver’s is pretty good. It might take awhile, but you can get where you’re going. It’s also pretty forward thinking with more light rail and commuter rail coming online in the next few years. The Economist had an article comparing Denver and Phoenix last December–and Denver’s public transit came out miles ahead.

    Re: Centre — This was unintentional, a typo, but I decided to see if it might prompt better service from the B&B–or at least cue them that I am not a “local.”

    I do want to take the monorail — assuming its been fixed. Hmmm….

  • You were helpeed in Louisville by staying downtown and (it seems) going to locations near downtown.

    You would have gone mad if you had stayed in a suburb hotel.

    I took a trip to Seattle and the hotel had a shuttle that took you downtown and a few other places. You could call for a pickup. The cabs weren’t expensive either. But I didn’t find public transportation up to Eastern American city standards.

  • ChrisC

    Does the monorail in Seattle actually go anywhere?

    Oddly, you mentioned that and I got the image of the monorail episode of The Simpsons stuck in my head.

    monorail… Monorail… MONORAIL!

  • Surprisingly the Monorail does go somewhere–from Downtown out to the Space Needle and other attractions. Unfortunately it’s closed for repairs until the summer after an unfortunate accident sometime last year. The trains going opposite directions hit each other on a curve and were wedged together–as I recall.


    Re Louisville: I was helped by staying downtown and going only to the university campus. Had I not had friends who took me to Maker’s Mark, and then to the Mall (when my stay was extended), it would have been been a whole lot less smooth.

  • With a metropolitan population of 3.8 million, the Seattle area has the unfortunate distinction of being the largest urbanized area of the United States without a rapid transit system (the Monorail, with total track length of one mile, can’t really be considered a full-blown system). Luckily light rail begins operation in 2009: http://www.soundtransit.org/projects/svc/link/