Tag Archives: buses

How Does Mercer Island Commute?

Just saw an excellent post in the Seattle Bike Blog on how Seattle commutes. Which got me wondering how Mercer Island commutes.

I went to the Census American communities Survey, just released for 2012, and looked at Mercer Island versus Seattle, Bellevue and all of King County:


In only a few minutes with the data a few things popped out:

1.Islanders drive more than the rest of King County.

2. Our mean commute is lower than Seattle, Bellevue or all of King County, probably because of how central the Island is.

3. Almost 10% of Islanders work from home, quite a bit higher than the rest of the county.

4. Islanders take public transportation at a much lower rate than the rest of the county. I think we’d take it more if we could get to the Park & Ride more easily or find parking there. These days, it’s parked up before 8 am, causing a stressful morning for anyone planning to get a spot.

My husband and I have tried many of these methods– driving alone, carpooling, the bus, and biking– at different times. Basically anything other than walking. One of the nice things about Mercer Island is you can get almost anywhere, fast.

I wonder how these numbers will change when the Express Lanes give way to Light Rail. One would expect a dramatic drop in driving alone and a rise in public transportation. We’ll see in about 10 years.

Mercer Island Park and Ride Finally Open

The Mercer Island Park and Ride, a feat of engineering on a scale with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the Denny Regrade, and other wonders of Seattle-Area Engineering, is finally open:


Even though it looks like a humble two-story parking garage next to a bus stop, it must be more than that or it wouldn’t have cost over $16 million and taken two years to build. My guess is that the Park-And-Ride is secretly

  • A military bunker
  • Mercer Island’s only decent grocery store
  • Mike Huckabee’s campaign headquarters

The P-R was originally supposed to open last March. The new park and ride means that commuters like me don’t have to walk 15 minutes from the other side of the North shopping center, having parked somewhat illegally because too few spots are available at the interim Park-And-Ride, and potentially having slipped and fallen when there’s ice on the sidewalks. Yes, I speak from experience.

But Luckily There’s a Bridge

Almost exactly a month ago my fiancé and I moved to Mercer Island. We were looking for a place where we could have a yard, but in or close to the city. He was moving from Woodinville, and would miss all that Woodinville represents: horses, big yards, a low walk score. I was moving from Capitol Hill and would miss being able to walk everywhere, and culture.

Anyway, we were stuck. We couldn’t afford a real yard in the city, and neither one of us wanted an Eastside Mansion– not our style. Suddenly we realized Mercer Island was not just a great bike route.


This photo is from the MI Flickr pool.

Then my fiancé’s friend, who was raised in the area, started warning us off the place: It’s full of snobby people. It’s different from the rest of Seattle. Your kids will grow up to be horrible people.

We’d like to have kids, and we don’t want them to be horrible people. We briefly considered reconsidering. But the commute is great, and our earnest money was down. We were in.

Stepford wife

I imagined a place full of Stepford Wives, which was difficult because I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. Anyway, we wondered if we would be shunned by our neighbors. Or worse, we would be welcome but, over time, become horrible people ourselves.

But it can’t be that bad, right? Both of us know a few people here, and they’re nice folks. Even a hip college student from work lives here- with his family. And a nice lady even gave me a ride from the North shopping center when I had to get home for a delivery and discovered that the little Metro buses don’t go down the island in the middle of the day.


At least it’s not the Marina of Seattle- that’s Belltown.

So we moved in. And I looked for a blog about Mercer Island, like the great blogs in Capitol Hill and West Seattle. I found Richard Sprague’s blog, which I like, and which covers a lot of local happenings.

But I craved more, more, more about Mercer Island, and started this blog. Not that I’m promising I will bring so much more. I’ll write about what I see, and I hope some of you will help me out by writing comments and letting me know what else is going on. Ok, to be honest, I’m hoping I won’t have to do much work. But this is a special island, and something must be going on here.