As if the proposed September 2012 restructure weren’t news enough, on Thursday Metro released its proposal for the June 2012 service change, and it’s another round of good news for those of us who advocate for ridership- and efficiency-oriented improvements to the bus network. This service change is simultaneously broader and narrower in scope: it covers the entire county rather than focusing on the Ballard-Downtown-West Seattle corridor, but involves only incremental cuts and improvements to the network instead of wholesale changes to the network structure; Metro is billing this as “transit reinvestment”, an apt description.
As with the last restructure, I shall provide links to Metro’s descriptions, and a discussion of the highlights, after the jump.
- Have a Say: June 2012 transit reinvestments (homepage).
- PDF of proposed deletions and reductions.
- PDF map of proposed changes.
The list of cuts will feel somewhat familiar to those who followed the $20 CRC debate closely: the routes slated to be cut or reduced seem to be a subset of those slated for elimination in the 100k cut initially proposed for February 2012, but then formally withdrawn after the passage of the CRC. I have sent questions about this to Metro’s staff to clarify some specific points, and I’ll probably make a short followup post with the responses next week.
The proposed changes break down into five categories:
- Deletions. Metro swings the axe on nine of its most underutilized routes: 38 , 42, 79, 129, 162, 175, 196, 219, the unique 600, and two Eastside DART routes, 912 and 925. In all but one case (177 extended to serve 196 riders), no replacement service will be added; riders are directed to existing service.
- Reductions. Routes 25, 119, 139 and 935 lose some trips due to poor utilization. While Metro doesn’t specify duplication as a reason for cutting the 25, its unique walkshed is limited and little used; in my experience, much of its ridership is opportunistic, to or from the U-District.
- Route 99 reduced to peak-only. This belongs in the previous category, but, knowing the proclivities of my readers I suspect this will dominate the comments and probably deserves its own bullet point. Beyond having a farebox recovery of 0%, Route 99 has performed poorly off-peak for as far back as I can find performance reports; hence the deletion in those time periods.
- Adding trips to address overcrowding. Routes 1, 8, 9X, 41, 44, 128, 169, 218, and 372 will gain more weekday service; routes 36 and 73 will gain more Sunday service. The site is vague on the details and quantity of added service; I have asked Metro for more information, although an improvement in baseline frequency seems unlikely, so this is probably just additional trips at times of high demand.
- “Schedule Calibration”. 65 routes are identified failing Metro’s criteria for on-time performance and in line for investment to improve, which presumably means adding service hours to more accurately reflect the time taken to drive the route. The list is tentative, including a number of routes which may well be eliminated or changed in the Fall 2012 restructure, and not all routes on the list will receive the recommended investment, presumably due to lack of resources.
- Extending evening service on Route 180 to Burien. Metro has identified this corridor as underserved; it currently has no service in the evenings. Trips that currently terminate in SeaTac will be extended to Burien.
In all, this is another laudable step towards a bus network that serves more riders, serves them better, and gets better value for money. Several of the routes receiving additional service are trunk routes in corridors that will become high-capacity transit corridors in future (41, 73), or will complement those corridors (8, 44); money spent there is an excellent investment.
Feel free to discuss this proposal in the comments, but even though Metro’s staff do read this blog, I recommend sending feedback directly to Metro via the comment form on the “Have a Say” page. Metro staff read every single comment that is submitted.
UPDATE: One thing I forgot to mention. The level of detail in the discussion of these route changes is excellent, but on every PDF, Metro erroneously claims that Link operates at 30 minutes at night, which has never been true since the creation of Central Link.