Methods of Traveling Between Ballard and SeaTac, Ranked

Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives, CC BY 2.0.

I was at Norwescon this weekend, which meant I made the round-trip between my Ballard apartment and the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport (yes, that’s its real name) three times.

This trip covers roughly 22 miles, depending on which route you take.

I tried five unique routes, ranked as follows:

#5. Taxi

Cost: $80.88

Time: 45 minutes, including the 15 minutes I waited for the taxi.

Why I did it: I thought about using Uber or Lyft, but figured taking a taxi was better somehow? For the economy and workers’ rights and everything?

How I felt about it: Thank goodness it’s a tax deduction.

#4: Lyft from my apartment to the new Link Light Rail University of Washington Station; Link Light Rail from UW Station to SeaTac Airport Station; 0.8 mile walk from SeaTac Airport Station to the DoubleTree

Cost: $20.48 to take a 6.75 mile Lyft ride; $3.25 for the light rail.

Time: Two hours.

Why I did it: If I had taken the bus to the light rail station, it would have been a 35–40 minute ride on the bus followed by a 45-minute ride on the metro. I assumed I’d save time by taking Lyft to the metro, while also saving money because I wouldn’t be taking Lyft (or a taxi) all the way to the hotel.

How I felt about it: This was a terrible idea. I might have saved 10 minutes by taking Lyft. As we were navigating our way to the light rail station, I said “wow, it takes forever to get out of Ballard,” and my Lyft driver said “that’s because Ballard isn’t connected to I-5.” (If you’re not familiar with Seattle geography, imagine a neighborhood that’s a 15-minute drive from the major highway that connects the rest of the city.)

#3: 0.8 mile walk from DoubleTree to SeaTac Airport Station; Link Light Rail from SeaTac Airport Station to University Street Station; #40 bus from 3rd and Union to the stop nearest my apartment; 0.4 mile walk from bus stop to my apartment

Cost: $3.00 for the light rail and bus transfer.

Time: Two hours.

Why I did it: I didn’t want to pay for a taxi or a Lyft.

How I felt about it: I want to support public transportation, but a two-hour trip that would take 30 minutes via car isn’t sustainable.

#2. Uber

Cost: $36.36 from my apartment to the DoubleTree; $34.86 from the DoubleTree to my apartment.

Time: 30 minutes.

Why I did it: I had already tried the civic-minded options of “taxi” and “public transportation.” I wanted to get where I needed to go, and I wanted to do it fast and cheap.

How I felt about it: I felt a little badly about using Uber, but not enough that I didn’t do it twice. I still cannot believe that I made the round trip for less than the cost of a one-way taxi ride—or that I paid $20.48 to ride 6.75 miles with Lyft and $36.36 to ride 22 miles with Uber.

I’d be curious to know what the taxi driver, the Lyft driver, and the two Uber drivers each earned for their respective rides.

#1. Ride with friend

Cost: Nothing, although my friend had to pay $21 to park her car for approximately six hours. My friend also had to pay for the gas and, ultimately, the car. (I, in turn, paid for the ice cream.)

Time: 35 minutes, including time in the parking garage.

Why I did it: We were both going to Norwescon at the same time, so why not ride together?

How I felt about it: After learning how much my friend paid to park her car, I said we should take Uber next time.


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