Although the ones later this year are a much bigger deal, there are a few changes that begin today:
Route 149 changes to new DART Route 907
Some Route 186 trips change to new DART Route 915
Route 251 changes to new DART Route 931
Metro hopes the DART conversions will save a little money and are appropriate for the demand. The complete list of altered routes is 149, 186, 221, 224, 240, 251, 910, and 917, and new routes 907, 915, and 931.
Not to be confused with Bellevue’s Transportation Facilities Plan, or Seattle’s TMP, Bellevue is gathering initial input for its Transit Master Plan process. Their first step is to get ideas from this survey, open to anyone who spends time in Bellevue, transit user or not. You might win a gift certificate to one of Bellevue’s fine restaurants.
Critical issues to be addressed include:
Identifying the city’s most important transit corridors that carry high ridership today, as well as potential new ridership markets that will emerge as Bellevue grows in jobs and new residents;
Integrating transit capital facilities and services with walking and biking infrastructure, and using transit to make great places;
Enhancing bus transit performance through roadway investments such as traffic signal priority; and
Coordinating with Metro and Sound Transit to create a seamless, fully integrated, and user friendly network of transit services.
Another update just came in from Metro Deputy GM Manager of Services Development Victor Obeso:
The proposals Metro presented for feedback were designed to improve the efficiency of our service to serve more people to more places. Talking with you and others helps us understand how existing service is an important part of your lives and neighborhoods. When proposals include long established high ridership routes within a diverse and multifaceted setting, public outreach helps Metro weigh technical considerations with human factors.
We have received valuable feedback. We’ve heard that there are factors that deserve further review, analysis and understanding. As a result, Metro has decided to postpone the route 2, 4 and 27 proposals. Issues were raised of coverage and traffic congestion on Madison Street, and more information about the unique travel needs of those that live and work in the area is needed. For now, we are not proposing to change existing routing of this set of routes. Instead, we are proposing to just make small adjustments to the frequency and running hours of routes 4 and 27 consistent with demand.
Backing off the changes Route 2 and 4, by necessity, returns the Queen Anne-Madrona corridor more or less to its current structure, complete with the 4′s vestigial tail to Judkins Park. This is an extremely regrettable decision that abandons one of the most promising, pro-rider parts of the Fall restructure.
Last week, the New York Times penned a rather fascinating piece on New York’s Pennsylvania Station– no, not the architectural masterpiece that was once the city’s crown jewel, but the modernist hellhole that sits there now, buried under the bowels of Madison Square Garden. While the city has been trounced with guilt, grievances, and lamentations since the demolition of old Penn Station, a decades-long plan to evoke the neoclassical grandeur of Penn has been in the works for some time now.
The Moynihan plan, as it’s known, would convert the adjacent post office to a new rail terminal. Yet the plan is not without its drawbacks:
It’s true that the Moynihan plan will eventually improve a few access routes to subways and commuter trains. But it will add no new tracks and have limited effect on the congestion and misery of Penn Station. New tracks aside, the challenge is at the bare minimum to bring light and air into this underground purgatory and, beyond that, to create for millions of people a new space worthy of New York, a civic hub in the spirit of the great demolished one, more attuned to the city’s aspirations and democratic ideals.
King County Metro has been a hive of activity this week. Without further ado, here’s the news:
Contrary to widespread reports, the status of Route 2 has not changed. Yesterday, in widely-circulated emails and reports on Capitol Hill Seattle and Central District News (presumably from the same source), it was claimed that the current proposal of splitting Route 2 had been taken off the table. This is simply false. All options for Route 2 remain on the table, including the current proposal, a return to current conditions throughout the Queen Anne-Madrona corridor, or some possible alternative that maintains the current alignment of the 2S while still streamlining service in the rest of the corridor. (Since the publication of this post, Metro has released a statement saying that the Route 2 changes have, indeed, been taken off the table. We regret the error.)
Feedback from Ballard, West Seattle and Delridge. In an effort to get a sense of what non-STBers think of these changes and promote STB to a wider audience, I attended Metro’s open houses this week. Of the attendees in the Ballard, many seemed to be from North Beach, Blue Ridge and West Magnolia, areas where all-day service is being cut or restructured to (effectively) require a transfer to get downtown. West Seattle was relatively quiet, with the excellent suggestion of scheduling the 128 and 20 to provide a timed transfer for Admiral District riders losing the 55 being all that stands out in my mind.
Weak sauce in Delridge. At the Delridge open house, local transit advocates complained vigorously — and, in my view, absolutely correctly — that North Delridge has been shorted in the Fall restructure proposals, with most of the new service proposed for their neighborhood abandoned in favor of maintaining service in much less productive areas, on top of the 125 being cut on weekends. Delridge is a growing, top-performing corridor with lots of transit-dependent riders; in a rational transit planning universe, it would have been the southwest Seattle RapidRide route. Instead, that area will arguably be worse off after the Fall 2012 restructure than today.
37% of ORCA sales from vending machines occurred at Westlake Station
On Monday, the ORCA Joint Board met for its monthly meeting to discuss the regional fare collection system’s technical, operational, and policy issues. There were a lot of things discussed which I have omitted for this report since I didn’t find them too interesting for the general public.
After a late start due to a special press conference on federal transit funding (which STB received very late notice of and no one made it there), the meeting started with one public comment, probably the first ever to the Joint Board. Deborah Seymour, a resident of Belltown, commented on the triple-fold increase in senior pass prices, the loss of the annual pass and resulting inconvenience of having to buy a new pass every month. King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond responded that the King County Council made the decision to increase fares and pass prices. Seymour had written to Councilmember Larry Phillips but didn’t receive a response. Desmond suggested she try the e-purse which may cost less than a pass depending on how often she rides and requires a single load for a year’s worth of rides.
Vix, the system vendor, reported that the migration of operations from Cubic in California is now complete. Cubic bought the US assets of ERG (now Vix) related to the Bay Area’s TransLink (now Clipper) Card project, some of which were shared with Seattle’s. All of ORCA’s operations are now in Seattle, fully under Vix’s control. This means better communication and support on the vendor’s part. For example, on-board card readers and driver display units (DDU) at the new Seattle-based workshop are now repaired in 2 days compared to 9 days from a year ago, on average.
On the ORCA Vision, key questions are how to fund additional work and how to move towards new technology. Desmond said Metro has hired the IBI Group to write a white paper to figure out “what would it take [for Metro] to go cashless?” The paper would answer what sort of policy, equipment, and direction they need to move towards a cashless system. Phase II of the work would be to write a business plan to place a dollar figure on potential changes for a budget request this summer. Work on the white paper is almost finished and is expected to be presented to the Joint Board in April.
The next Joint Board meeting is on March 12, 10:30 am at King Street Center 8th floor Conference Center.
Update on new work, ORCA statistics, and ORCA’s annual budget are below the jump. (more…)
Yesterday, the Transportation Choices Coalition (and the Kitsap Sun the day before) wrote about a most unfortunate component of WSDOT’s plans to upgrade and retrofit Colman Dock. From TCC:
WSDOT is undergoing a process to plan for the replacement of the Colman ferry terminal. We fully support preservation projects and our state’s ferry system, but the current replacement project will eliminate the existing passenger ferry dock, which will threaten the King County water taxi and other passenger ferry services in and out of Downtown Seattle.
In addition to the Vashon Island and West Seattle water taxis, the Sun notes that, within the next few years, there will most likely be three cross-Sound public agencies operating passenger ferries to Colman Dock, from Port Townsend, Kingston and Bremerton. After 2015, where those services will dock, and how the money will be found to construct or upgrade such a dock, is not at all clear.
The Federal Way Mirrorreports that unnamed city officials are dissatisfied with ST bus service to their city:
City officials have expressed concerns about overcrowded buses, especially the ST Express Route 577 to Seattle. Commuters fill those buses at peak morning times, standing in line before sunrise, often waiting through one or two boardings before scoring a seat.
The chutzpah of this complaint is breathtaking. The 574, 577, and 578 all serve Federal Way* and cost ST a total of $12m a year. Federal Way politicians were last heard complaining that their city was paying in $13.5m a year in taxes “to not get rail”. Their legislative strategy consists of adding administrative overhead costs to ST and withdrawing from the district, which would solve the problem of overcrowded buses by eliminating them altogether, and keep light rail as far from Federal Way as ever.
* The 577 is almost exclusively for the benefit of Federal Way; the 574 and 578 have shared benefits.
It’s been a long time since I have done one of these updates but there has been plenty of work going on in our region. With the increase of rail traffic between Seattle and Portland, passenger train reliability has taken a noticeable hit. So what’s going been going on?
1. Recovery from the snow and ice storm added several slow orders. The on-time performance of most trains have mostly recovered and repairs along the BNSF Seattle Subdivision, Scenic Subdivision and Bellingham Subdivision are completed. Snow, ice, mudslides, downed trees, a small sink hole, and heavy wash from the Puget Sound all took its toll on the right of way. With these problems now fixed, track maintenance has ramped up. Those that ride Sounder and Amtrak should notice several pieces of Maintenance of Way equipment working between Tukwila and Tacoma for a tie replacement project and a rather rocky, rough ride on the corridor as the work progresses.
Continuing their ideological attack on government spending, the GOP-controlled United State House over the last week has now decided to target dedicated transit funding. Streetsblog Capitol Hill has had up-to-date coverage of the events over the last week or so, as the house has blazed through the legislative process. Larry Ehl report that congress has now cleared 9 out of the 10 procedural hurdles it needed to pass a transportation authorization bill.
Today, Metro begins its second round of open houses to gather feedback on the revised Fall 2012 service change proposal. These open houses are a great opportunity to share your thoughts on these proposals directly with Metro planners. The schedule is as follows:
Monday, Feb. 13 – Ballard High School
Wednesday, Feb. 15 – Madison Middle School, West Seattle
Thursday, Feb. 16 –Chief Sealth High School, Delridge/White Center
Tuesday, Feb. 21 – Union Station, Downtown Seattle
Thursday, Feb. 23 – Queen Anne Community Center
Monday, Feb. 27 – Washington Middle School, Central Area/Mt. Baker
All of these open house meetings will be held from 6 PM–8 PM., except the Feb. 21 meeting at Union Station, which is from 12 PM–2 PM. There are also a raft of other, smaller presentations to neighborhood organizations on Metro’s calendar. If you are a resident of one of those neighborhoods, those meetings are another great chance to make your opinions known. If you can’t make any in-person events, you can submit feedback via the survey on Metro’s Have a Say website, and email Metro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The spring ST schedule book is on the street, or at least on the web. Changes take effect February 18th. Nothing earth-shaking this time around, but a bunch more trips to Snohomish County:
Route 510: Five afternoon trips added and schedule adjustments
Route 511: Two morning trips added and schedule adjustments
Route 513: Minor schedule adjustments to make better connections with Everett Transit
Route 522: Minor weekend schedule adjustments
Route 532: Schedule adjustments
Route 540: Minor schedule adjustments
Route 542: Minor schedule adjustments
Route 545: Stop change in downtown Seattle
Route 560: Significant schedule adjustments; more trips running between Burien and West Seattle
Route 566: Significant schedule adjustments
As ambitious as Bellevue’s plans are for growth in the Bel-Red and Eastgate/I-90 corridors, investments will still need to be made to ensure that infrastructure to support development are up to par. As such, this means that there are a lot of transportation projects that need to be funded, and Bellevue, not immune to the recession, will have to figure out which ones to prioritize. Luckily the public can weigh in on the matter, which is a plus given the broad support for light rail and the Bel-Red plan in the city.
There will be four open houses in February along with a survey to solicit input on the Transportation Facilities Plan (TFP). According to the City of Bellevue, the prioritization of projects in the TFP helps inform the development of the capital budget, which will be critical in providing the funding needed to build major projects:
The public can weigh in on what should be funded in the future. Those interested can respond to an online survey, beginning Feb. 20, available atwww.bellevuewa.gov/transportation-facilities-plan.htm. Or, they can attend an open house, from4:30-6:30 p.m., on one of the following dates:
Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Highland Park & Community Center, 14224 Bel-Red Road
Thursday, Feb. 16, at Factoria Mall, 4055 Factoria Boulevard SE
Thursday, Feb. 23, at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Avenue NE, Rm.1E-108
Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Crossroads Mall, 15600 NE 8th Street, Community Meeting Room
This is a good opportunity to make sure Bellevue maintains a progressive attitude towards its transportation future. Even if you’re not a resident but still frequent the city, I’d encourage you to attend. Some of these projects will be making good on big regional investments, so it’s fair to say that a lot of people, both in and outside Bellevue, will have a stake in the process.
One of the most notable social interfaces that we make in the realm of transit is with the driver. Chances are there will be some kind of greeting when you board, maybe a “thank you” or “bye now” when you de-board, and occasionally you might find some passengers will strike up a conversation with the driver during the ride*. None of these verbal interactions are actually necessary; all they really do is foster politeness and social civility. Of course, there are instances that do require the driver’s speech**: announcing stops, rules, and answering passenger questions.
However, sitting on a delayed bus while the driver is answering the question of a passenger who’s standing outside the front doorway can be infuriating for passengers already on board. But beyond just the interests of the passengers, sometimes this can throw buses off schedule, cause bunching, and even break connections. To be sure, there are times when driver assistance is necessary– visually-impaired passengers, for example, might need the route number read aloud. Most of the time, however, the driver is asked information which is already readily available elsewhere.
Good transit systems actually minimize driver-passenger interaction, which does two things: 1) information about the route/system is clearly conveyed, either online, in paper, or posted at stops, requiring less reliance on the driver; and 2) precious minutes on the schedule can be saved to boost system reliability and efficiency. And it’s not like we don’t already do this– train drivers and engineers, for example, are hidden away from public view entirely on our rail modes, simply because you can trust passengers to know what they’re doing without needing assistance.
As mentioned at the top of the post, there is also social component of driver-passenger interface, which can be good or bad. Driver attitudes, for one, tend to rub off on passengers. Any regular transit rider will know that a sour driver is more likely to inflame your own tempers, while an amiable one can spruce up your day. While the trade-off is there, I’m a big believer that we shouldn’t have to intertwine drivers into our social lives, and that it’s best to just let them get on with their jobs.
*King County Metro actually discourages its drivers from casually conversing with passengers. This rule is often broken.
**Many of these functions are disappearing as Metro installs its new on-board system with automated announcements.