This week, I assembled the answers to a handful of Metro- and SDOT-related questions that’ve been floating around in my head for a while. Perhaps others will find the answers interesting. First, I wanted to confirm that Metro’s new trolleybuses will have A/C. I understand there was some internal debate at Metro as to whether the traction power substations could handle the additional power drain of running the A/C in certain sections of the trolley network. Metro’s Rochelle Ogershok:
I’ve heard there was some doubt about whether the replacement trolleybuses will have A/C. Has this decision been made? Is there any more information you guys can share about the progress of the trolleybus replacement project?
All new buses, including the trolleys that will start arriving in 2014, will have air conditioning. The replacement project is on schedule. Metro has put out an RFP, and expects to award a contract next spring.
Much, much more after the jump.
Second, about the Bredas falling apart:
I’ve noticed a number of equipment changes on the trolleybus routes during the weekday. It seems like I’m seeing, on a daily basis, diesel coaches on routes that in the past were 100% trolleybus, or 40′ trolleys on routes that used to be 60′ trolleys. Is my assessment accurate, and if so, what’s the cause? I’m willing to bet the root cause is the unreliability of the Breda trolleys. Is there any specific information you can share about these problems?
You’re right about seeing more diesels on trolley routes and also swapping out 40-foot trolleys for 60-foot coaches. This is due to a maintenance backlog related to keeping the aging trolleys on the road. When they do need repairs, Metro mechanics salvage the parts from Bredas kept in storage. Those parts then need to be refurbished before they can be used to make repairs. That is adding time to the repair schedules.
Regarding Metro’s proposal for “Alternative Service Delivery” in rural areas. I hear Vashon service is particularly expensive to operate (among other things, Metro has to garage buses on Vashon for the early morning trips). Replacing the current Metro service with a contract service that operates as a shuttle to the Vashon ferry terminal at the north end of the island seems to me like it could save Metro tons of money and work pretty well, but as we all know from the Fall restructure process, nothing is guaranteed to elicit howls of protest from the current user base like taking away a one-seat-ride to downtown.
There are however, substantive issues with forcing a transfer, namely capacity issues with some of the peak trips on the Vashon Water Taxi, and that WSF does not provide transfer credit for passengers using ORCA, which
would significantly increase makes the cost of commuting via the Vashon-Fauntleroy ferry versus the current express buses significantly more expensive than the water taxi.
I realized the comment period has now ended, but can you guys share any information about Metro’s ideas for alternative service delivery on Vashon Island? I understand the routes are very expensive to operate under the current arrangement, and that there’s a possibility of contracting with an entity residing on Vashon to provide that service more cost effectively.
Work is still underway but I can tell you Metro is considering Vashon Island and several other rural communities as candidates for future alternative services.
3rd Ave, between Wall St and Vine St is falling apart (see photo at the top), as anybody who regularly rides a bus on this street is probably well aware. It’s particularly treacherous if (as I do) you ride a bike on this street on a daily basis. The pothole rangers at SDOT have been busy trying to patch up the street, but the surface is so bad in places as to be unsalvageable. SDOT’s Rick Sheridan has good news:
As part of our spot paving program, SDOT will repave select portions of Third Avenue between Lenora and Cedar. This work, to be completed by SDOT paving crews, will allow us to improve small stretches of the road’s surface. As we have other locations scheduled before Third Avenue, such as several places along Rainier Avenue S, we tentatively expect to address that section of Third within the next several months.
Finally, this is a little esoteric, but I found out an interesting thing about Metro’s new On-Board System (the electronics that do the new GPS-based stop announcements, passenger counting and position reporting). For the next several months, I shall be unable to publish ridership charts in the format I’ve used previously, because for those charts I rely on a field called “Average Arriving Load” (i.e. the number of people on the bus as it approaches a given stop) in Metro’s data files that won’t be available. Metro’s Ruth Kinchen:
This is a temporary problem due to the fact that our legacy APC system provides the load on the bus at it arrives at the stop, while the new APC system measures the load as it leaves the stop.
I realize that one can easily derive one from the other by adding or subtracting the ons/offs at the stop, but it fact it’s been fairly difficult to combine data from the two systems. While we’re in the middle of transitioning we cannot easily summarize this particular data point because the two systems are measuring different things.
As soon as we’ve completed the transition to the new system, we will change our summary files so that we’ll provide the average departing load/trip, rather than arriving load. I believe we should be done with the transition by the end of this year.
The total number of ons and offs at a given stop is, however, still valid, and next week I’ll have a discussion of RapidRide’s Uptown deviation using that data.
This is an open thread for anything Metro-related.