Sunday Open Thread: the 7,000 Miles of Metro

Presenting the 1983 Metro transit system map featuring a dark background and white/green lines in high-resolution. Don’t miss the other side with downtown maps, night owl map, rider instructions, and a frequency table of all routes! It was scanned from a copy in UW’s Suzzallo Library. This is one of Metro’s more non-traditional map designs. (Click “View original” on the linked pages to download the full images.)

Comments

  1. Erik G. says

    (See the back side) The 3-day pass ($5!) included one roundtrip on the Monorail.

    And ORCA e-purse cannot be integrated into the Monorail today because…?

      • Erik G. says

        Many (All?) CT routes are contracted out to a private operator. The West Seattle Water Taxi is/was contracted out to a private operator.

        Both the City of Seattle and the public transportation agencies behind ORCA suckle at the public teat.

        There is thus NO EXCUSE for not making the publicly owned transportation infrastructure of the region integrated and seamless when it comes to fare collections and ticketing.

        STOP MAKING EXCUSES!!!

      • Brent says

        The city would have to fork over some serious subsidy money in order to make up for ORCA revenue sharing. Metro would take a hit, too.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Would the city have to fork over money? Perhaps the Monorail could operate like WSF where it is an e-purse only option.

      • Brent says

        By “e-purse only”, you mean they don’t accept monthly passes. That’s not completely true, since a monthly ferry pass, separate from the transit pass, is offered on ORCA.

        But the idea of offering to accept e-purse at the monorail is intriguing, if the city pays for installation and bookkeeping. There could also be a separate monorail monthly pass. Something tells me, though, that neither option will have many takers, unless e-purse users get a rebate over cash ticket purchasers, and I don’t see why the operating company would want to do that.

      • says

        All we need to do is transfer. The Monorail already breaks even at $2 a ticket. Most Metro services are higher than that and taking ORCA would be increased business. I can’t see how the monorail people would need any subsidies or lose money. I for one am not going to pay to get on the bus then pay again to transfer to the monorail but I would use it if it took ORCA.

      • Brent says

        This is something to consider when the monorail operating contract comes up. For now, allowing transfers means losing revenue for the operating company. As it is, they are making a profit, and I’m sure they intend to keep it that way.

  2. Evan says

    Interesting that 2-zone fares were 50% more than 1-zone back then, as opposed to only 20% more now.

  3. TRU believer says

    Well, as long as we’re strolling down memory lane, what happened to riders since 1983. We doubled our numbers, so that’s good, right? But our fares went up a hell of a lot more than inflation.
    Base fare of 60 and 90 cents for Peak 1 or 2 zone is now $2.50 or $3.00 If it kept up with inflation it should only have risen to $1.36 or $2.05.
    An annual 2 zone peak pass was $313.50. Inflation should have jumped it to $712.68, but it’s a whooping $1,296 (108/mo)
    How have the non-rider tax payers been doing? (There the ones that pay most of the bills around here)
    In 1972 transit got 3/10% of sales tax. That doubled in 1980 to 6/10ths. Now we’re up to 9/10ths on not one, but two transit agencies stumbling over one another to drum up business. So in just a generation, transit extracts six times the tax revenue from everyone, and just 50% over inflation on riders.
    IS SEATTLE SPENDING IT ALL WISELY?
    (queue the 100 year building chorus and loss of Mvet finger wavers)

    • Mark Dublin says

      The Seattle Transit Riders’ Union will also have to settle for support from transit workers of an extremely critical habit of mind, and a conviction that belief unsupported by technical reality is dangerous.

      But it would be a good start for the new organization to provide a good short answer to the above questions on why our fare system still contains so much inconsistency and irrationality: “No reason that passengers should accept!”

      I know every excuse why last weekend in Portland, five dollars bought me a day-pass valid on four light rail lines, a streetcar line, and every public bus in the system and we can’t get the same pass for any price here.

      I’ve been hearing said excuses for over thirty years. Not one of them constitutes a reason why this basic simple passenger convenience should be out of our reach. The ORCA system is not just not an excuse for lack of these passes, it’s an indictment.

      Considering the hardships and penalties associated with not having the cards themselves, continued lack of outlets could indeed be legally and is certainly politically actionable, if not indictable. In 1996, we were promised a seamless, integrated transit system.

      This matter will be an excellent opening for what I see as TRU’s first task-at-hand: to establish that administrative inconvenience and interagency non-cooperation are not the paying public’s problem. Call it Cultural Change.
      Or in the Seattle Times’ phrase, call it “Re-Set”.

      Mark Dublin

    • Mike Orr says

      It was 40c and 60c in 1981 when I started riding Metro in junior high. There was no peak surcharge. Yes, we’ve gotten a lot more service since then. There were only a few 15-minute routes: 7 (now 7/49), 43 (now 43/44), 71/72/73, and maybe 10 are the only ones I remember. The 15 and 26 were half-hourly shuttles evenings. The 8 did not exist at all. the 74 (now 30) duplicated the 71/72/73 on Eastlake but turned onto Fairview. The 75 I think started later.

      Suburban routes were extremely long milk runs and ran hourly. 6 (dt-Greenlake-Aurora Village; half-hourly), 150 (dt-Southcenter-Kent-Auburn), 174 (dt-SeaTac-Federal Way), 210 (dt-Mercer Island-Newport Hills-Issaquah-North Bend; less than hourly), 226 (dt-MI-Bellevue-Crossroads-Northup Way-Overlake), 235 (dt-MI-Bellevue-Kirkland-Totem Lake), 240 (Bellevue-Renton-Burien), 340 (Shoreline P&R-Bothell-Kirkland-Bellevue-Renton-Burien; express version of 240), 253 (dt-Medina-Bellevue-Crossroads-Redmond), 305 (dt-Eastlake-Northgate-Richmond Beach), 307 (dt-Northgate-Lake City-Bothell). No 101 or 194. Bellevue TC did not exist. The P&Rs were just getting underway. From Bellevue there was half-hourly service to downtown and hourly to UW.

      • TRU believer says

        Extrapolated from the Nat’l Transit Data Base for Metro, King Co.
        Since 1980:
        Population grew at an average annual rate of 1.5%
        Transit riders grew at 1.8%
        Service Hours grew at 2.2%
        So, all the boats rose about 2% a year.
        Fares and regressive sales taxes grew by leaps and bounds.

      • Brent says

        How many of those service hours were urban, and how many suburban? In other words, what was the effect of 40/40/20?

    • Mark Dublin says

      Some advice to the Ballard Spur campaign from a very strong supporter of the idea:

      Before you say or post one more word, come up with the following:

      1. A plan view showing tracks and stations of the entire line in relation to at least major streets involved.

      2. Detail views at important points along the line, meaning what would you see looking straight at approaching and departing trains. For underground sections, using X-ray vision to show relation of trains to dirt.

      3. Most important of all, graphic evidence that you have walked- in addition to driven or bicycled- the entire intended route- or the surface over it.

      As a 26-year resident of Ballard who has driven trolleybuses on the 44, I think this corridor deserves better service than a half-hour bus ride at the mercy of traffic and weather.

      But that same background prevents me from giving a minute’s attention to anyone unaware of the Market Street Hill and street conditions through Wallingford.

      If the recent unfortunate experience with the monorail project taught us nothing else, it’s virulent suspicion of transit engineering by colored lines and dots.

      Seriously: looking forward to those drawings.

      Mark Dublin

      • Kyle S. says

        Mark, that would require money, time, and expertise, which I don’t think anyone behind the Ballard Spur initiative possesses. And I don’t think engineers are all that inclined to donate their time.

    • says

      My biggest question (at the level of this diagram, which is a very vague map and not an engineering document) is how the demand will line up. We’re talking about a spur here, which means splitting trains from the south into a north line and a west line. Does that split the ridership the right way? Currently we’re talking about having a north line that will split into east and south lines after downtown — we’re assuming lots of riders from the north. So this only works if the heavy ridership is really only through Brooklyn.

      For ridership on the spur itself, we’re probably looking at basically the ridership of the 44, plus people that would ride the 44 if it were a fast and/or a train, minus people that are now too far from a stop (as drawn it works out to ~1mi stop spacing). If the spur somehow managed to serve both lower Fremont and the Wallingford commercial district it would probably gain some riders. I’d go to lower Fremont for mixture of uses. And I’d use closer stop spacing where that makes sense (I’d do 45/Latona, 45/Wallingford, ~40/Stone, lower Fremont somewhere, and then I’m not sure what to do west of there). If it’s not worth building all those stops it’s probably not worth building at all. I’ve taken buses all over this area, and there are a few on/offs at every stop. The density is really pretty uniform, with some little nodes in Ballard and lower Fremont.

      I basically agree with Mark Dublin that supporters of this idea will have to fund their own more detailed studies. The city/county/regional agencies don’t seem likely to put a dime into it, which might actually be the right thing — we have a lot of other things to do, and not much money to do it with.

      • Aleks says

        Al,

        First, a little bit of math (and ST’s ridership projections) will tell you that the demand lines up just fine. 8,500 people are projected to use Roosevelt station, and 15,200 for Northgate, every day. In contrast, Brooklyn, UW, and Capitol Hill will have combined ridership of 51,300. In other words, significantly more capacity is needed between downtown and Brooklyn than between downtown and Northgate. Obviously, this is a rough calculation (since it assumes that everyone is going to or coming from downtown), but I do think that it’s mostly accurate.

        Second, the spacing you’re proposing is, to put it lightly, incredibly close. Quarter-mile spacing is about typical for bus stops. For a grade-separated rapid-transit line, it’s totally overkill.

        It’s not that your observations about on-offs aren’t correct — I know they are from my own experience with the 44. But the whole point of rapid transit is that riders are willing to walk further to stops with a higher level/quality of service. Doubling the number of stops from Ballard to UW will pretty much double the time, thanks to acceleration/deceleration.

        If you assume that people are willing to walk 1/2 mile to a rapid transit stop, then the walkshed of a 45th/Latona station is pretty much completely subsumed by the 45th/Wallingford and Roosevelt stations.

      • says

        My stops aren’t at 1/4 mile spacing. I actually used Google Earth and drew measurement lines, with the goal of 1/2 mile spacing and maximizing transfer connections. Through lower Fremont, it works out almost exactly at that, and west of there I think you probably widen out the stops until the dense part of Ballard (I don’t know that area all that well). I think 1/2 mile spacing is appropriate through Fremont and Wallingford. The stations just have to be small-footprint — I’m picturing the quite modest L stations in most of the outlying areas of Chicago, where there’s typically 1/2-mile stop spacing (except on the Red Line, where spacing is absurdly close on the far north side).

        UW-Ballard is not that long of a distance, and even with 1/2 mile stop spacing a new train would likely become the fastest and most convenient way to get from Ballard to UW and Cap Hill overnight. We’re not competing with a freeway here (yay!). With longer spacing you’re simply passing over too many people. The extra stops are basically Latona, Stone Way, and probably one extra Ballard stop. 45/Latona and 40/Stone both have significant bus network connections; 40/Stone would be near some interesting new development (Brooks HQ and the big new apartment building going up), and is more than a 1/2-mile walk from either 45/Wallingford or lower Fremont.

        We’re talking about a subway here; subways are expensive. If we can’t justify real urban stop spacings it’s probably not worth building a subway at all. At 1-mi stop spacing in an area like this, you have to run a lot of parallel bus service, and areas stuck halfway between stations probably get worse service than they had before, perhaps for no reason other than where established, named neighborhoods happen to be (there’s not much of a difference between “downtown Wallingford” and many of its peripheral areas in terms of density and diversity of use, but if there’s one stop in the neighborhood you know it’s going by the big WALLINGFORD sign).

      • Aleks says

        Al: You’re right, my apologies. I don’t know why, but Google was showing 45th/Latona and 45th/Wallingford as 1/4 mile apart.

    • Chris Stefan says

      My thoughts:
      1. This would have to be underground for much of the alignment. There’s no room for surface and a big hill on Market. Wallingford is never going to put up with an elevated transit line on 45th.
      2. Don’t assume cut & cover will save any money over a bored tunnel. Bored tunnel costs have come down and require less labor. Utility relocation and construction mitigation will eat what little savings there are.
      3. The only way this makes sense is with some form of connection to the rest of the link system, even if that connection is only used for getting to/from the O&M base.
      4. It may be more practical to do this as part of a Downtown/LQA/Ballard line.
      5. This isn’t going to be cheap no matter what. I have no idea anywhere other than possibly ST3 there is any money to pay for this.

      • Mark Dublin says

        I can see reserved street running from Ballard to the foot of Phinney Ridge at Eight NW, bored tunnel to University Village, street running to Sand Point, and a rail bridge across Lake Washington’s narrowest width to Kirkland.

        Time frame, of course, will depend on how fast the population along this corridor will develop to the point where it both justifies and is able to pay for the cost.

        Shorter time-frame, it could be possible to add a University branch along the north side of Lake Union to a projected South Lake Union line to Ballard.

        Also, new trolleybus procurement could be a good occasion for improving existing electric bus corridors, including the 44 Ballard to the U-District. Transit lanes and signal pre-empt through both Wallingford and the District, at least during rush hour.

        I certainly would like to see action on this corridor, long-term and short. But there’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be done before even talking about an election.

        Mark Dublin

      • Matthew 'Anc' Johnson says

        Unless of course you add to it. I see the Ballard Spur as just the first phase of a new line. Ballard, Brookyln, Sandpoint, Kirkland, then a split with half going to Redmond and half down to Bellevue and on to Issaquah.

      • zefwagner says

        But as Aleks already pointed out, the demand north of Brooklyn is much less than the demand between Brooklyn and downtown, so branching and reducing frequency is not really a problem. I would love to see such a line continue east, but let’s be honest that that’s a very long ways away. I’m not sure the eastside would ever support a line that doesn’t even go downtown, frankly. I also haven’t seen the numbers that support your contention that capacity will be an issue. Trains should be able to run a couple minutes apart.

      • Aleks says

        First, like zef said, branching is totally fine. If trains start out empty at Northgate (or Lynnwood) and are more than half-full by the time they get to Brooklyn, I will be shocked. (And the ridership estimates agree.)

        Second, it’s highly unlikely that a second Lake Washington crossing isn’t going to happen any time soon, nor should we be pushing for one. Bellevue will already be well served by East Link, as would Overlake (which is primarily a commute destination anyway). Kirkland does not represent enough demand for its own multi-billion dollar lake crossing; more likely, it would be a spur off of East Link. On a dollar-for-coverage basis, we would be providing better service to many more people, for much lower cost, by focusing on expanding rail on land, rather than crossing Lake Washington again.

        Third, the downtown tunnel is already projected to have 3-minute frequency at peak. If that’s divided between two 6-minute lines — Ballard to Bellevue (via I-90) and Lynnwood/Northgate to SeaTac — that would not create any capacity problems downtown. And I totally think that 6 minutes is enough frequency for Lynnwood through Brooklyn.

        And finally, as d.p. has said many times in the past, I think it’s a mistake to be so eager to tie a short, cheap rail line through a highly dense urban area (UW-Ballard) with a super-expensive line, including a lake crossing, to low-density suburbs with very diffuse demand (520). The obvious routing for the Ballard spur would serve the 7,000 daily riders of the 44, and a noticeable subset of the tens of thousands of daily riders of the 18/15/28/5/358/16/26 and other buses, as well as an equal number of new riders who don’t ride the bus but would take a train.

        In contrast, any routing along 520 would, at best, be a direct route for less than 1/3 of 520 riders. (If you go to Bellevue, then it’s a long haul to Redmond, and you skip Kirkland. If you go to Kirkland, you miss Bellevue and OTC.) So you’re spending buckets of money, and still missing out on most of the riders.

    • says

      If we’re going to ever pull off this sort of thing in the future, we ought to be boring those tunnels at slightly different depths right now, so it’s possible to tie new tunnels relatively easily. I don’t mean in the stations, but in between the stations it’d seem to me that you could have the bores diverge a tunnel’s diameter, and then bring them back to the same depth in time for the next station.

      The only tricky thing I could see about that would be that the crossover passages would be a little weird. Aside from that I don’t know that there’d really be any increased costs associated with it, and it’d sure save you money someday down the road.

  4. Kevin says

    Great scan. I’m a little bummed out to realize my neighborhood (Wallingford) had better service to Downtown in 1983 than it will in 2012 should the Metro changes go through.

    Changing the 43 into the 43/44 was a good move by Metro. The old 43 used to take forever and could get delayed at a couple of points along the route (Montlake being the worst). You’d wait forever and then there would be three of them at once. I used to commute from Ballard to the U District and in the mornings it was great but in the evening I could often walk home faster.

  5. SR Das says

    Okay, this has to be asked–What is it with Metro and diesel/electric hybrid propulsion?

    There is a fine line between “interested” and “overly obsessed,” and Metro passed that line about ten miles back.

    Metro’s hybrid obsession comes as a surprise to me, since the first 60-foot hybrids were supposed to replace dual-mode Bredas–single-purpose vehicles that were not too often seen operating non-tunnel routes or when the tunnel was closed all day long.

    As far as the use of hybrids on non-tunnel routes goes, here’s my analogy: “Sure, electric guitars are great, but they’re not necessarily a substitute or replacement for acoustic guitars.” In this analogy, the hybrids can be thought of like the electric guitars, and the diesel buses can be thought of like the acoustic guitars. I see NO difference between operating a non-tunnel route with a hybrid vs. a conventional diesel bus. And if Metro is hurting for money, they should stop buying expensive hybrid buses and stick to conventional diesel buses.

    And another thing…can anyone name at least 5 (or more) cities in North America (outside Washington State, let alone the Northwest) that are equally hybrid-obsessed as Metro?

    • says

      According to an independent study for Metro, they save up to 30% in fuel consumption and greenhouse gases and are more reliable which means operating costs are less.

      How can you “see” benefits like those? The hybrids are well suited for urban stop-and-go operations in places that don’t have trolley wire. I’ve heard the new Orion hybrids are performing better on hills than the Gilligs they replaced.

      Fuel consumption is a big deal. While the purchase cost of a bus is fixed, fuel costs are not, so purchasing hybrids could be considered a hedge against fuel prices. Some of the extra cost of the hybrids are offset by federal grants, meaning Metro’s getting hybrids for the price of a conventional diesel. So why not?

      In my experience, ride quality on a hybrid is far better than a regular diesel. There is no jerking, less engine noise and vibration, and smoother acceleration.

      In short, I prefer hybrids over conventional diesel buses.

      • says

        Don’t forget the maintenance advantages for the hybrids: They go far longer between brake jobs as well as oil changes than the diesels do. I rarely use the brakes except to actually stop. Slowing the coach is done almost entirely by the regenerative braking which is a lot easier on my knee as well as the brakes.

      • Bernie says

        The Metro report I read peg fuel savings at ~30% but overall operational expense at only 19%. Maintenance being about equal and fuel being a minor part of the O&E budget. But the buses were $200,000 more expensive (2006) which would never pay back. The only reason the hybrids were required was for tunnel operation. The thing that distorts the market though is federal bonuses for buying hybrids.

      • Zed says

        The report I read on New York’s experience with hybrid buses said they expected to save 50,000 gallons of diesel over the life of each bus, at $4 per gallon that covers the extra expense of the hybrid system. I also think the price difference has shrunk significantly since Metro purchased their first.

      • MrX says

        I had heard the Cat C-9s in the large order of hybrids were quite thirsty, compared to the smaller cummins engines in the prototype and in later orders. Also TTC and NYCTA have large fleets of Orion VII hybrids.

      • Bernie says

        expected to save 50,000 gallons of diesel over the life of each bus, at $4 per gallon that covers the extra expense of the hybrid system.

        Not even close. If you put up $200,000 up front and save $200,000 over 15 years it’s a huge loser. And in 2006 when the study was done Metro’s cost for deisel was $2. You’re probably saying “but yeah I just saw it at over $4 a gallon today” but Metro doesn’t pay pump prices. That $4/gallon is close to half taxes of various sorts at the federal and local level which transit agencies don’t pay. Motorists and truckers fund the roads the buses use with these taxes and the rest of the road funding comes from property taxes.

      • Charles says

        Other than Oran’s comment, the value of reduced GHG emissions seems to have gotten lost in this discussion. Any time we have an opportunity to choose a mode that reduces GHG’s we should be looking to implement it.

        If we must use a fossil fuel vehicle, then a hybrid is certainly preferable. And if there is a cost difference then the value of that carbon that would be emitted from a straight diesel vehicle IS that cost difference.

      • says

        Charles got it. What’s gotten lost in this discussion is intangible benefits.

        There is value to reducing GHG emissions, reducing noise to surrounding neighborhoods, improving ride quality for passengers, less stress on operators’ health, etc.

        Same for the trolleybuses.

      • Zed says

        “That $4/gallon is close to half taxes of various sorts at the federal and local level which transit agencies don’t pay.”

        Hardly. The total tax on diesel in Washington is ~62 cents per gallon.

      • Bernie says

        OK 50% is an exageration but Metro’s budget for 2011 itemized diesel at $2.54 per gallon. Beyond the federal and State per gallon fuel taxes are a slew of other fees and expenses that Metro doesn’t have to pay. Stop for fuel some time at the Skokomish reservation down around Shelton. They probably still have a full listing on the pump of how much of the purchase price goes where.

      • Zed says

        Plus I didn’t say that Metro was paying $4 per gallon, it was just a quick calculation of what diesel would have to cost to break even.

      • Lack Thereof says

        At retirement, assuming current diesel costs, daily mileage, and fuel economy* for the original batch of C-9 powered hybrids, they’ll have only saved about 47,000 gallons of diesel vs. the conventional buses, about 39,000 gallons shy of the 78,000 they’d need to save to break even with just fuel costs.

        But that’s neglecting the fact that there’s a lot of cost savings in the hybrids, most notably from increased reliability (and thus fewer road-calls). They’re better hill climbers, they are quieter, and they have a much better greenhouse gas footprint.

        And while the price of diesel is a small part of Metro’s expenses, it’s by far the most volatile part of it. Metro has seen their cost for diesel more than double over the past 15 years, and they likely would have seen it triple if the recession hadn’t hit when it did. Who knows where it will be in another 15 years, or what spikes and dips it will hit in the meantime.

        For what it’s worth, the Orion 40′ series hybrids aren’t nearly as expensive. Some of that is just because series hybrids are cheaper to make, and some of that is just because New Flyer is ripping us off.

        5 other cities switching over to hybrids? OK. San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Baltimore.

        *Metro’s C-9 powered hybrids are getting 3.2 MPG, whereas their C-9 powered conventional diesels are getting 2.5 MPG, and a typical Metro artic clocks 3000 miles a month. The numbers would look better if Metro would shuffle the hybrids onto stop-and-go Seattle crosstown routes, where they’d get the biggest fuel economy benefit, and shuffle the conventional diesels onto freeway running routes where they get the best fuel milage. But I’ve complained about that before, and and consigned to the reality that when Metro’s last non-hybrid is retired, it will be running route 48.

      • Bernie says

        Break even isn’t when they recover $200,000 in fuel savings. With the cost of money at 5% they would have to recover $285,000 over 15 years to break even. At 3,000 miles per month (that sounds low, only 100 miles/day?) the savings at 2011 pricing is only $870/mo; about half the break even return. These buses were bought because of the requirement for tunnel operations which means they can’t just be put on routes to maximize there fuel economy and other other attributes.

        Metro has seen their cost for diesel more than double… Who knows where it will be in another 15 years

        But high oil prices are good for Metro’s bottom line. Marginal cost only increases slightly but ridership soars because drive alone commuters see a direct increase in marginal cost.

      • Zed says

        “These buses were bought because of the requirement for tunnel operations which means they can’t just be put on routes to maximize there fuel economy and other other attributes.”

        Initially yes, but the majority of the fleet is now hybrid, and they’re operated on many non-tunnel routes.

      • Bernie says

        According to Wikipedia (which may be out of date) 14% of the 40′ fleet is hybrid and 15% are ETBs. In the 60′ fleet only 34% are conventional diesel, 7% ETBs and the remaining 59% hybrid. Overall 40% of the fleet is hybrid. I would venture a guess that the reason more hybrids aren’t pressed into service in severe duty (mega hills, stop & go traffic) is because these routes A) are better suited to 40′ buses and B) a large percentage of these routes are served by the trolleys. It seems like Metro may have gone overboard with the 60′ hybrids when the money may have been better spent expanding the coverage of the trolley network. Rapid Ride buses for instance probably gain little to justify the staggeringly high cost.

    • Brent says

      The tunnel requires hybrid buses. You can’t run diesel through an enclosed space like that. And now, without the bus catenary, trolleys are no longer an option.

      At least buses aren’t taking a couple minutes at the tunnel entrance and exit connecting/disconnecting from the catenary.

      • Gordon Werner says

        Oran … to be fair though … if the tunnel was still using ETBs … they’d still have to cross over those security barriers today

    • Zed says

      1/4 of NYC’s fleet is hybrid, and the fraction is growing every year. They’ve seen a 45 percent increase in fuel-efficiency over their diesel fleet.

    • Gordon Werner says

      the question is do the buses make use of the hybrid capabilities when in normal use (i.e. not in their “hush-mode”)

      • Bernie says

        When the tunnel was closed for construction Hush Mode was disabled. I’ve never heard a good explanation of why if it is indeed useful (used?) outside the tunnel. The new serial hybrids are a different animal and definitely have full time benefits. How great a benefit is largely determined by the route with heavy start stop being the greatest. On long freeway runs it’s a negative.

  6. Gordon Werner says

    so the 13 went to Interlaken Park and the 12 looped at 15th and Pike/Madison … and the 43 went all the way up to Marion/Madison and 6th Ave … the 60 looped on Capital Hill like the 9 currently does (instead of what it does today) … and it looks like today’s 36 (Beacon Hill) was the 1 …

    actually I was surprised at how much is more or less the same (but I would imagine that has more to do with the ETB infrastructure than anything else)

    • Mike Orr says

      The 1 went Kinnear-downtown-Beacon. The 13 went SPU-downtown-Interlaken Park. I don’t think the 60 has changed other than it used to terminate in Georgetown.

  7. Gordon Werner says

    Android users … there is a new version of One Bus Away available for download … biggest change is that you can now see the route-path of a selected route on the map with the bus stops

  8. Gordon Werner says

    According to the map, Metro had 7,000 miles of Bus routes in 1983 … what is the number today?

    • says

      I don’t know how they arrived at that number (used for marketing purposes) but the easiest way is to sum up the total length of every route, including variants of the same route. Doing the same with available GIS data (including Metro-operated ST Express, Link and SLUT) equals over 33 million feet or around 6,300 miles. That’s likely a result of service consolidation, cuts to unproductive service and ceding the Snohomish County routes to CT.

    • MrX says

      Its also intresting to see how much has stayed the same. Even though routes have been reconfigured, many of the same streets retain service to this day.

  9. says

    Interesting to see that the Wedgewood/Sandpoint routes (25,32,65,75) went along MtLake Blvd, and not over campus.
    I hope a frequent route directly connecting the NE to the Montlake freeway stop comes back in some form (southbound bus lane on Montlake). Obviously there is huge demand for travel along montlake and then going either east or west on 520. My guess is an overwhelming majority of the SOVs going south on Montlake in the morning then east on 520, have their destination within an easy walk from a 520 route. But as it is, it’s no worse sitting 20 minutes on Montlake in your car, waiting to get on 520, than trying to get there by bus from the NE corner. Heck, even I usually drive when I go after 9am, because connecting
    through the U-district is such a time drain.

    • Brent says

      The SR 520 freeway stop is going away. That is one of the ways WSDOT is helping to improve transit.

      • Eric says

        The best I can say about the Montlake/520 freeway stop going away is that given WSDOT’s funding situation, I don’t see that closure happening until after 2016, by which time, Link will be available as a high-speed downtown-UW option.

        Best case, Metro truncates eastside 520 routes at the Link station off-peak and everybody rides the train into downtown. The time saved by avoiding the stoplights getting into downtown should cancel out the wait for the train, so the increased frequency made possible by the truncation makes this a win for everybody.

        Worst case, buses keep their current routing, with the 271 being the only off-peak connection between the Eastside and the U-district, essentially forcing people to ride the 255 or 545 downtown, wait at all the stoplights downtown, then backtrack on the train. I am going to be extremely pissed if Metro chooses this option.

        Middle case, I think it will be possible for buses to stop on the lid, then continue on downtown. However, doing such would subject the buses going downtown to traffic delays on the exit ramp, especially eastbound. During Husky football games, this would amount of a 15’ish minute delay for anyone going from downtown to the Eastside over service today. While not great, this option is far better than force people to transfer to the 271 at Evergreen Point, or backtrack through downtown.

      • Kyle S. says

        Eric, I vaguely recall something on this blog about ST explicitly refusing to truncate 520 bus routes at the Link station.

        Might’ve had something to do with their steadfast refusal to build transfer stations that are amenable to intermodal transfers.

      • Carl says

        The 520 Montlake Flyer Freeway station going away is not widely understood and the most transit-unfriendly infrastructure development of this decade.

        This stop has to be one of the highest ridership non-Link stops outside of downtown – perhaps the single highest ridership. It’s a great connecting point with frequent east-west and north-south service intersecting. It’s required to provide efficient transit service evenings and weekends. The 520 corridor is marketed as a bus transit corridor.

        Given that the 520 bridge is a $4-6 billion project that we only get to do only once in 100 years, there are only two choices that make sense:

        (1) Maintain the Montlake Freeway station as a connecting location for riders who want to transfer north/south – keep a freeway station, 520 buses go downtown, even Link is a short walk

        (2) Optimize everything toward terminating 520 service at the UW/Husky Link station. Build a transfer station atop the Link station. Provide dedicated lanes so buses can go there directly without traffic interference and passengers can go to Link without crossing streets.

        The current design does neither of these. The transfer at the Husky station is a joke. Coming from Link going to the Eastside your bus stop is in front of UW Hospital. And in the inverse direction it is across the street. There isn’t an underground entrance in the triangle area. And the Freeway station is gone.

        The current plan does not lead to a good system or infrastructure for transit. It’s not good for riders, and it’s not good for efficient system operation.

      • Lack Thereof says

        Yeah, this is actually very old news, I’m surprised so many people missed it.

        To summarize: In the new Montlake interchange, the current freeway stops will be eliminated to make room for HOV lanes and a new east-facing transit ramp. There will be bus stops on the ramp, which will be served by buses running between the UW and the Eastside (currently only the 271 all-day, but also a half-dozen peak-only routes).

        These ramp stops have been pitched by WSDOT as a complete replacement for the freeway stops, and for the most part, all the politicians involved have accepted this claim. The biggest impact is to the transfer to/from route 48, oft cited as the highest ridership route in the county. The current frequent, all-day transfers between the 48 and the 545/255 (Redmond/Kirkland, respectively) will be impossible, but comparable replacement transfers will be available at peak times via the 542/540.

        Although there’s no plan to actually do it, the design theoretically DOES allow buses passing through on the freeway to serve the new stops on the ramp, but it’s ugly, especially going eastbound. In that direction it would require the bus to get off on the GP ramp, zig-zag through the congested interchange (waiting through two lights), and get back on at the transit ramp. The westbound direction is pretty painless, though.

        Hopefully by the time the interchange is actually built (Totally unfunded! No plans for funding the Seattle side of the 520 project at all!), most of the cross-lake 48 riders will have shifted to East Link anyway. The Kirkland connection is the only one that suffers terribly in the long term.

      • Aleks says

        The demise of the 520 freeway stop is greatly exaggerated.

        If you look at the most recent EIS reports, you can see that there is a dedicated transit ramp between 520 and Montlake (on the south side).

        Last I heard, the plan for 520 service, post-rebuild, is:

        – During peak, there will be two sets of buses. One set will go downtown (skipping the ramp diversion), and the other set will go to UW.

        – During off-peak, the UW buses will not run, and the downtown buses will divert via the ramp. Thus, it will be possible to connect from 520 to UW/U-District buses, though reaching the Link station will involve walking across the Montlake bridge.

        Is this ideal? Hell no. But it’s what we’re almost definitely getting.

      • Brent says

        SR 520 remains a scary place to make a transfer, so I won’t really miss it.

        WSDOT is designing inner HOV lanes to swerve onto Pacific. Some of us have been begging to have the HOV lanes on the outside, instead, to enter the station (northbound) and to stop in front of the pedestrian bridge elevator (southbound). Sadly, we can’t have both without banning SOVs on Montlake (which I wouldn’t mind);>

        If we wait until Metro and ST decide on new route paths in 2015, it will be too late, as the street layout will dictate the route paths. We need to keep hammering away at the need for that transfer, both post-2016 and post-2021 (when the 555/556 would presumably serve UW Station), and therefore the need for dropping and picking up passengers reasonably close to the station.

        Simultaneously, we need a plan for that transfer not to add significant time to those continuing onto campus. Rainier Vista, I could swear, is designed to prevent UW Station transfers from ever becoming smoothe. No wonder WSDOT poured money into it.

        I’m not a traffic engineer, so I don’t have ideas how to fix the situation other than have a bus circle just south of the station, or an underground passage from south of Pacific slanting into the station.

        The argument about more passengers going to UW Medical Center isn’t a reason to not serve UW Station south/eastbound on the return trip, since passengers would already be on the bus, and presumably, not in a rush to get to work. But if they are, they’d still come out winners with the UW Station stop because of the increased frequency.

        So how do we get out of the bureaucratic loop where WSDOT says go talk to ST, and ST says go talk to WSDOT?

      • MrX says

        @Kyle S. Ever notice how nearly all of ST’s intermodal transfer points are lacking? Even the ones that have facilities built are usually too small and poorly laid out with tight turns and tight clearances for buses, or are gafted on “around the corner” afterthoughts. My guess is that their design standards lack any meaningful sections about bus facilities, and that basic route planning, connectivity, and traffic flow is not taken into consideration when projects are first layed out.

      • Aleks says

        Brent: Agreed. If WSDOT’s long-term plan is that I-90 is the transit bridge, and 520 is a commute bypass, I wouldn’t actually be heartbroken. The Montlake flyer stop is pretty much the definition of an inhospitable transfer point. We need less of those, not more.

        If East Link ends up with 6-minute all-day headways, or even 10, then the average door-to-door time from UW to Bellevue might actually be faster than it is today, and from UW to Redmond will only be a bit slower (but much more reliable). I have no problem giving up a tiny bit of speed for a much more pleasant wait and trip.

      • says

        @Aleks: Making I-90 the “transit bridge” would be insanity. I’m pretty sure more buses run on 520 today than I-90. Why? Because even though traffic is usually much faster on I-90, if the west-side destination is north of DT Seattle or the east-side destination is north of Bellevue, 520 is faster. It sounds like you’re saying someone going from north of the ship canal to Kirkland or Redmond should be routed over I-90. I don’t think that makes any sense.

        520/Montlake isn’t a fun place to wait for a bus; neither is I-5/45th. But what other options do we have? We could not run buses on freeways, conceding long trips to the cars that created them. We could build large, expensive bus stations that force buses to spend lots of time going in circles (see most suburban P&Rs) before going on their way. We could not send buses on their way, and instead consider every freeway exit to be essentially a terminal, which means cutting frequency. We could overbuild our arterial streets to allow faster buses and destroy pedestrian environments.

      • Bernie says

        I’m pretty sure more buses run on 520 today than I-90. Why?

        WOW, I’d love to see a blog post that addresses this. My guess would have been that more buses cross I-90. Even though the rational for why more should perhaps use SR-520 my thought is that because of a complete lack of HOV/transit lanes west of Evergreen Point it’s just not practical to use 520 in it’s current configuration. Tolling starting next month (“This time for sure Rocky”) might change that. HOV lanes is a game changer.

      • Lack Thereof says

        Aleks:

        You got a source on that off-peak diversion? If they’re going to do that, it’s a big help. My understanding was they weren’t even considering it.

        Oh, I hope this is right.

    • Eric says

      I personally avoid the time drain of connecting through the U-district by biking to down the Burke-Gilman trail and catching the bus right at 520/Montlake. Since I live within two miles of Montake/520, I sometimes jog it as well. Travel time to Montlake is 10 minutes by bike or 15 minutes by jogging. I never take a local bus to the U-district and transfer there, and if I did, travel time to Montlake would have been 25-30 minutes.

      The result is a door-to-door travel time that’s essentially a wash compared with driving – the wait for the bus going down 520 cancels out with the avoidance of the traffic jam on Montlake Blvd and the long line of cars getting on the freeway. In the afternoon, the bus becomes a significant win on time thanks to the 520 westbound HOV lane.

    • Aleks says

      Metro currently doesn’t run any routes on Montlake (except the 243) because average speed on that corridor is below the acceptable level of service. Fixing that would require dedicated lanes.

  10. Brent says

    It’s official: Metro has now achieved 30% fare recovery. (I’m not sure what time period this covers.) This is their record level of fare recovery.

    Presumably, this number will only go up as a result of the route restructuring and the elimination of the Ride Free Area.

  11. Bernie says

    Link ridership for September and October is out. While the fall decline is again in effect, year over year is on pace for a 10% increase. That’s above what I’d expect given minimal structural changes and an economy that is still stalled. When U Link opens there should be a reversal of the October decline with the ridership patterns going forward being a mirror of overall Metro Transit.

  12. Tim Willis says

    The 10, 14, 43, and 49 are all being routed outbound via Pine for the next 10 days because of construction. Might be interesting to see if that affects travel times at all.

    • Aleks says

      I wish the routing change was permanent! It would be so nice if the outbound 8th/9th stop was right in front of Convention Place. And as a frequent rider of the 10/11/49, I would *love* to avoid that awkward turn on Bellevue. (I know it’s not so helpful for the 14/43, which now have to double turn, but I still think the Convention Place connection makes it worth it.)

    • Aleks says

      Update: Oh man, is Metro seriously rerouting the trolleys but not the 11? Pardon my language, but that’s a major fuckup. I routinely wait for the 10/11 and take whatever comes first, and this change makes it impossible (at least for 10 days). This is like if you moved the 71/72 to 3rd Ave and left the 73 in the tunnel. What are they thinking???

    • Andreas says

      According to Metro, the reroute isn’t until the end of the month, it’s till the end of the year: “Construction Reroute – Eastbound Pike St closed between 6th Av & Boren Av, 11/21-12/31, at all times.”

  13. Eric says

    Based on back-of-the-envelope time calculations, the ability for East Link to replace 520 buses during the off-peak depends on how quickly they can get from north Seattle to the Eastside. The fact that they go through downtown and have 10 extra miles to travel vs. a bus on 520 doesn’t exactly help things. But it does help that the train will run very frequently, and that people coming from north of the U-district will most likely already be on a train, thereby allowing the all-train option to eliminate a transfer.

    Under optimistic assumptions, going 50 mph over 19 miles, with dwell times of 30 seconds per stop, travel time between the UW station and Overlake could, in theory, be as little as 30 minutes. Given unpredictable wait times caused by random delays in getting out of downtown, I believe a reliable 30 minute travel time from the UW station to Overlake would be good enough to justify making the train the only Seattle->Redmond service during the off-peak. Of course, if actual travel times turn out to be more like 45-60 minutes, then you start to feel obligated to continue to run buses on 520, at least during the day.

    The tunnel through Bellevue is a huge asset towards making the optimistic travel-time assumptions closer to reality, and if it works out, the service hours saved by not having to run off-peak buses from Seattle->Redmond could, over the long run, pay a significant portion of its cost.

    • Bernie says

      There’s no need for back of the envelope calculations. ST has already publish (optimistic) travel times from BTC to UW as being 30 minutes and an additional 10 minutes to Overlake TC. That doubles the time of an ST Express bus. The trade off though isn’t about bus vs light rail; it’s transit vs driving. If a Microsoft employee is looking at a 30 minute total commute (leave on your schedule == infinite headway) vs transit that eats up at least an hour and a half with wait times plus the time to get from the station to home what’s it going to be?

      • Aleks says

        How do you get from 40 minutes to 90? It’s like that old joke where a kid asks his dad, “Can I have twenty dollars?”, and the dad says, “Ten dollars? What do you need five dollars for?” ;)

        But seriously, I think your calculations are off in both directions. First, 30 minutes is extremely short for a peak SOV commute over 520. Depending on how bad traffic is on 520, it can easily take over 30 minutes to get from I-5/45th to NE 40th, and that’s not counting the time it takes to get from home to I-5/45th. And second, if we expect peak frequency on East Link to be 7.5 minutes, that’s an average wait time of about 4 minutes — pretty minimal, really.

        So we’re really comparing a 30+ minute car trip with a 44 minute (guaranteed) train trip. And that’s not counting intangibles, like being able to relax, rather than dealing with rush hour traffic.

        Also, the bus comparison *is* worthwhile. When there was absolutely no traffic, the 194 could in fact get to the airport in less time than Link does. And yet airport ridership is way higher on Link than it was on the 194. Why? Because of the reliability and frequency.

        During peak, the 542 is scheduled to take up to 27 minutes from Brooklyn to OTC. Headways are 15 minutes, so that means an average 7.5 minute wait time. So we’re talking 34.5 minutes for a trip that would take 44 minutes on East Link, *given normal traffic*. Can terrible traffic on 520 delay a bus by 10 minutes? Oh yeah.

    • Aleks says

      As far as off-peak goes, there just aren’t that many people who ride the bus between UW and Redmond/Kirkland during off-peak. That’s why the 542 and 540 are (extended) peak-only. The 540 used to run more frequently, but ST decided that the ridership simply didn’t pencil out.

      I don’t doubt that an off-peak express bus at 15-minute frequency would be a much faster way to get between UW and Redmond/Kirkland than East Link. But given the ridership, is that actually the best use of money? And once you’ve dropped down to 30 minute frequency, the long way around is probably faster. (At the very least, it’s less annoying.)

      • Brent says

        So, here’s a modest proposal: End all SR 520 bus service after East Link opens. UW to Redmond is East Link + 566, until East Link reaches Redmond. UW to Kirkland is East Link + a short but frequent bus route coming out of one of the East Link stations (probably Overlake TC?).

        Longer ride. Shorter wait + travel time in all cases, I bet.

        And fuggetabout widening SR 520, since there won’t be any buses.

      • Aleks says

        Exactly! Now you see where I’m going. Take the billion dollars we’re spending on rebuilding Seattle’s portion of 520, and spend that on *really* improving transportation — by building trains in the city.

        For people living in Ballard/Fremont/Queen Anne, you better believe that a Seattle Subway would shorten their commute to the Eastside by way more than using I-90 would lengthen it. (And for folks in West Seattle, I-90 is the shorter way anyway.)

      • David Seater says

        Assuming that the 566 finally gets extended from OTC to downtown Redmond (which seems reasonable if the 542 and 545 are cut). There’s also RR B.

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