Metro Releases New System Maps

To cap a week of pleasant surprises from Metro, the agency unveiled its new system map yesterday – and it’s beautiful, split into five overlapping components for greater clarity. Many readers will geek out on this for hours; I know I will.

I expect people will split over whether geographic accuracy was the right choice, instead of systemic clarity, but I think it was unavoidable.*

What’s great about it?

  • Color is liberated from showing the service provider — which no one cares about — to what matters: service quality, indicated by mode and frequency. Blue-green is Link, orange is streetcar, light blue monorail, red RapidRide, black is 15-minute all day headways, blue is all day, DART is brown, and white is peak-only.
  • It shows ORCA vending machines!
  • The map is simply beautiful to look at, although I miss the light green of the last Eastside map.

What nitpicks are there?

  • A good principle of map design is that the most important lines are thickest and most prominent. RapidRide is correctly shown as king of the buses, but that line shouldn’t be thicker than Link, no matter the agency to which it belongs. Sounder is almost invisible, as it should be.
  • This isn’t the map’s fault, but Metro’s route network is still too complicated (compare to Portland). Perhaps as Link is built out and RapidRide becomes more BRTish, Metro can make its reduce its network to a series of gridded, intensely served corridors. For the time being, I would like to see a version that, like the last Eastside map, leaves peak routes out entirely.

What are your impressions?

*Within the next week you should see Oran’s latest shot at a schematic map of frequent Seattle transit service.

Comments

  1. Gordon Werner says

    What about the new Seattle Downtown Frequent Service Map … opinion on that one?

    My only gripe is how pale routes like the 27 or 60 are displayed. While I get the fact that they aren’t frequent enough for colors … I wish they were a bit more visible. At least they included some of them.

  2. reyes says

    This is a huge step from previous maps! If only this kind of ingenuity could be incorporated through the rest of the system’s method of distributing information, then Metro may catch up to as sense of modernization!

  3. Schuyler says

    “Color is liberated from showing the service provider — which no one cares about”

    Except when you’re a cash user (aka the people who will probably need to use this map). If you’ve shelled out for an ORCA, you probably already know where you’re going 99.999999% of the time.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      If a rider is sophisticated enough to know the fare from the service provider, they’re sophisticated enough to determine service provider from the route number.

      I disagree that this map is primarily for the uninitiated. Heavy Metro users have ORCA cards and are more likely to try to use the system to go somewhere new.

      • djw says

        Right. When I was a heavy metro user, I knew three things very well: how to get from my home to a) Downtown, b) the U district, and c) downtown Ballard. Other trips, I’d probably look at a map.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      Great map, Metro.

      I never realized how much express service runs through Maple Leaf and Lake City. Are all riders there just commuters? I guess it wouldn’t be a pleasant place to live car-free.

      • David L says

        Yes, commuter ridership is much, much higher than all-day ridership up there. For example, if you drive a 77, you’re stopping at every stop to pick up multiple people. If you drive a 73 outside of UW commute hours, you’ll stop once every few stops. It’s wealthy enough and car-centric enough that almost everyone has cars.

      • Bruce Nourish says

        It’s also not “old” single-family density in the way that much of Ballard is; north of about 95th St, you may as well be in the suburbs.

        There’s a lot of fat which could be cut out of the network in NE Seattle, places which don’t need a one-seat all-day ride to downtown, and could be served more cheaply and effectively in other ways.

      • asdf says

        I’ve met people that live car-free in Lake City and I agree it would not be pleasant. It might be tolerable if you live right at the corner of 125th and Lake City Way and you hardly ever need to go outside the area that you can get to from there with only one bus.

      • Elbar says

        It would be great if the ST 522 would make an additional stop in Maple Leaf, at 80th and Lake City Way, to compensate for the infrequent Metro service evenings and weekends.

      • David L says

        Elbar, I think that could well happen as part of a deal to get rid of the 73 entirely and turn the 72 into a shuttle between Lake City and Roosevelt, once North Link is open.

      • says

        A short-run shuttle would be a waste of money. I’d rather reroute the 372 or 522 (or a merger of the two) to Northgate TC. The 522 would become a bit redundant anyway; see “places which don’t need a one-seat all-day ride to downtown”. On the other hand, goodbye 522 stop at 80th; this is why I keep saying we should have built a station at 5th and 85th and now we’re tunneling under Maple Leaf anyway, thus obviating the main reason not to build one.

        Get rid of the 73 entirely? I had thought the 73 would be the route that would survive the most intact, even if extended into Shoreline as an all-day 373 (which actually zigzags too much in Shoreline en route to Aurora Village, and a better option would be to extend it into Mountlake Terrace along 15th and the 347’s route, but nevermind). The 77 I could see with Link and a (3)73 that’s frequent at least as far north as 145th, but the 73?

      • David L says

        The 73 is entirely redundant once you have Link and an all-day 373 (which is something that’s been on Metro’s mind for a long time). There’s no trip that’s uncovered.

        The 72 has a lot of kids riding to both Roosevelt and Hale in both directions, and many of those trips wouldn’t be covered adequately by any other service–at least some of the trips would require either a three-seat ride or a long walk. Other trips on the 72 could be covered by some combination of the 68 and the 372, but in most cases they would get much longer.

      • Mike Orr says

        I had thought both the 72 and the 73 would be replaced by the 372 and 373. However, there’s a huge overlap between the 372 and 522, so it depends a lot on what ST does with the 522.

        As for the 373, I’m troubled by the many turns between 145th and 185th. Are these necessary? Or are they just serving small park n rides that would best be replaced by crosstown buses going to Link?

      • Chris Stefan says

        I’d love to see the 522 serve at least the first/last 312 stop on Lake City Way. I don’t think diverting either of these routes to Northgate would be a wise idea. Traffic North of the Northgate TC is often a real bear and the trip between Northgate TC and Lake City is a huge source of delays for the 41 (and the 307 it replaced) as well as the 75.

        As for the 73 I don’t think you can eliminate it entirely as it provides some non-duplcated coverage. The best proposal I’ve seen is to replace service with the 373 having at least the same span and frequency. Though I’d also get rid of all the meandering the 373 does between Jackson Park and Aurora Village. The 373 would need to serve the same stops as the 73 or at least stops every 1/4 mile. Another thought would be to combine with the 347 to make a route the length of 15th between Montlake Terrace P&R and the University District. Besides it is a logical element in a grid network (which is what I’d love to see Metro evolve toward as much as practical). Though a combination with the 347 means loosing the direct connection to Northgate or a time wasting diversion to Northgate Transit Center.

        I believe most of the 72 could be replaced with the 372 as long as the 372 served stops every 1/4 mile between Lake City and the University District. Again the span of service and service frequency would need to match the 72. I’m not convinced there is much need for the 68 beyond the service it provides along 25th ave NE which could easily be replaced by the 372. There is some ridership from NE 75th (and some ridership on the 72 along NE 80th), but other ways can be found to provide that coverage.

      • David L says

        Yes, by all means straighten out the north half of the 373, once it’s all-day. And, for that matter, rationalize the 347, 348, and 373 — there is some duplication there.

        I still don’t think it’s possible to replace the 72 with the 372. The only place they overlap is in Lake City, and many of the 72 riders from Lake City are riding to the Roosevelt area rather than to UW.

        And, Chris, the riders disagree with you on the 68 — it’s one of the most productive routes in the north end, and while the crush loads come from 25th, it has meaningful ridership throughout its length. Looking at a map, it seems like it’s redundant with the 67 and the 372 — but the riders disagree, and we’d have to have a better look at why before getting rid of it.

      • Mike Orr says

        I don’t think a 73+373 route has much chance based on vague noises from Metro. 15th has hardly any destinations, so it would be a long milk run. People would be forced onto a 45-minute bus ride to the U-district when they really wanted to go to Northgate or a Link station or a closer shopping center.

      • says

        The 373 is fundamentally a commuter route and so any calls to unite it with the 73 have always made no sense and appear to have been based solely on looking at the shared bubbles on the old system map.

        A crosstown route on 75th or 80th would seem to be an important part of a grid system. If the 68’s leg on Roosevelt is popular too, it may be a combination of people taking the closest bus to minimize walking and the grid between 5th and Roosevelt not always being continuous, especially near Northgate.

      • says

        The 72 seems more redundant than it is because it heads down Ravenna Ave some distance like the 372 does, then turns onto 80th to go through some light-density single-family housing, before merging with the 73. I wonder how those Lake City-Roosevelt trips would compare with a Link+revised!522 transfer, especially considering the revised!522 would probably be frequent and the 72 isn’t.

        I used to have track practice at Nathan Hale HS and would sometimes take the 72 if I wasn’t coming directly from school. I don’t know how well revised!522 would work for that since it would turn onto Northgate Way before that. On the other hand, on the way back I’d take the 65 all the way through the UW as it turned into the 67…but then I lived significantly south of Roosevelt…

  4. Doug says

    Vast improvement, but falls short (especially in comparison to Oran’s maps). Biggest error is how small the symbol for ORCA vending/customer service icons are…they should have greater prominence if we are to get people to switch over…

  5. d.p. says

    Too bad that anyone who thinks the words “all day” extend past 6:30 pm will find these to be gigantic slabs of lies and doom.

    • Matt L (aka Angry Transit Nerd) says

      Perhaps I’m mis-remembering, but I had thought that the 40 was supposed to have 15-minute frequency evenings except for Sunday.

      But instead it promptly drops to 30 minutes at 6 PM and then hourly at 10. Lame.

      • d.p. says

        But they had already cut RapidRide frequencies and decreased total night service in the RapidRide corridor.

        They needed to come up with some fresh new ways to penalize and torment anyone who supported the restructure, believed that grids and two-seat rides could be work, or dared to use Metro to live a normal urban life!

      • David L says

        40 evening frequency is clearly the single biggest miscalculation in the whole restructure. Anyone who has ever been on a night 18 knows that.

        I bet it will be fixed as soon as there’s even a bit of money, where “fixed” is 15 minutes until 8 pm and 30 minutes until 11 pm. Metro is still completely convinced that hourly service is good enough in every corridor after 11. There are only a few exceptions.

      • d.p. says

        Actually, David, the single biggest miscalculation of the restructure was not simply making RapidRide D come every ten minutes, 7 days a week, until at least 8pm, thus destroying its intended effect as a trunk line worth walking distances to.

        Once they reduced RapidRide from “magnet transit” to merely the 15+, the who rest of the restructure was sunk.

        Dropping RapidRide to 30 is just an additional kick in the teeth, a reminder that Metro has no intention of being “transit you can use” any time in the forseeable future.

        Fixing the 40 would make life much easier for me, but the terribleness of the night 40 is a symptom problem rather than the root problem.

      • David L says

        d.p., that’s not a miscalculation, but just a failure of the money fairy to shower money upon Metro. I’m sure they’d love to make C/D 10-minute service, if they had an extra 5 or so all-day buses to make it happen.

        But the financial impact of adding two more 40 trips in each direction to keep half-hourly service going until midnight would be much, much smaller, and probably manageable with minimal other changes. Thus it’s a miscalculation.

      • d.p. says

        The first “money fairy” was the 2006 sales tax hike. This was the signature service we were supposed to be buying with that money.

        The second “money fairy” was the federal government, to whom Metro lied when they said this would be just like “rail on wheels”.

        And the rest of the “fairy dust” was supposed to be found by enacting efficiency-oriented consolidations, restructures, and revisions elsewhere. But Metro screwed that up royally.

        So now we still send thousands of near-empty buses on their meandering one-seats all throughout the midday. We still send a dozen buses to sit on their brakes on Spring and James every hour. But our flagship service torments people with 15 minute waits in the day and 30 minute waits well before midnight.

        When you pee in the money fairy’s shoes, she might not come back next time!

    • Mike Orr says

      Some of Metro’s maps explain that Metro’s definition of “frequent” is weekdays until 6pm, and no guarantees beyond that. I would much prefer 5-minute frequency until 10pm seven days a week, but you have to start somewhere. Jarrett Walker makes a point that agencies need to make some definition of frequency to distinguish their best routes from the others. Even a minimal definition serves as a starting point to build on.

      Some of Metro’s other maps explain what frequent means to set people’s expectations appropriately. It was a big mistake not to do that on this map, the one map that people will become most familiar with,.

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        Metro does define service levels (see page 9). Frequent service routes offers 15 minute headways (or better) during peak hours and 30 minute service middays and at night. That definition may not agree with the avrage STB reader’s concept of frequent service, but you’ll will have to take your quibble to someone with more authority than the weekend readership of the Seattle Transit Blog.

      • d.p. says

        …offers 15 minute headways (or better) during peak hours and 30 minute service middays and at night.

        Well, then the 40 shouldn’t be on the map, because it doesn’t fucking do that “at night”!

        And actually, you’re wrong. Because Metro’s formal definition requires 15 minutes during the midday. Which is why only a few routes qualify by even their own standard. Otherwise, the billion midday half-hourly one-seats to everywhere (overlapping each other and causing so much waste that we supposed can’t afford non-shit evening service) would all be on the frequent map, rendering it pointless.

        Urban service could SO be streamlined into a serious of all-day frequent gridded corridors that would save Metro a ton on mid-day redundancy and open hours for evening service you can ACTUALLY USE… if only Metro gave a shit. Which they clearly don’t.

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        Very Frequent service is defined in the Service Guidelines Report as 15 minutes peak and off-peak (day) and 30 minutes or better at night. Frequent Service is defined as 15 or better peak/30 minutes middays and 30 minutes at night.

      • d.p. says

        Also, that’s a relevant “frequent service” definition for Bozeman, Montana.

        Or a route to outer Snohomish.

        It has no business defining anything in a major urban area!

      • d.p. says

        The new maps, by the way, only show the “very frequent” daytime services by those two definitions.

        Which is why they’re so extra useless at night, when many of the clearly highlighted routes go hourly or disappear into the void.

      • Mike Orr says

        They are still useful for their intended purpose: to highlight the most-frequent routes for those who don’t want to bother with the less-frequent ones. This includes many tourists and residents who choose their destinations based on the most-frequent routes. Over the years it will encourage people to move to the most-frequent routes and to choose jobs near the most-frequent routes if they want to drive less. That was impossible before when all routes were one solid mass and you didn’t know which corridors would be emphasized in the future.

    • Andrew M says

      I agree, “All Day Service” is misleading when I often don’t leave work before 6 PM only to find that I cannot connect to a 31 or a 33 with a reasonable wait. An hour headway is insane! If I want to do something in the evening, transit is useless. With the removal of the 17, my morning commute time has gone from a 30 minute ride (when the transfers, like stars, align) to 40 minutes plus a 3/4 miles walk. Guess I’ll be riding less.

  6. says

    Great:
    • They were able to eliminate insets for crowded areas like downtown and the U District and improve overall readability by nearly doubling the scale of the map and breaking the whole system into smaller regions.
    • Being clever with eliminating street designations (and explaining the street naming convention) to reduce label clutter.

    OK, But…:
    • Metro’s making a bold proclamation through the system map that certain routes are “frequent all-day”. That is good but not all of those routes meet the definition, which is vague (unlike Portland’s pre-recession standard of every 15 minutes until 10 pm everyday).
    • ORCA vending machines are great but what about the more extensive retailer network? You don’t have to show all of them, select some to cover areas that lack VMs.

    Nitpicks:
    • RapidRide route should be RapidRide line
    • Some of the labeling needs work. Ballard label straddling the D Line was entirely avoidable. The E Marginal Way label opposite from Alaskan Way Viaduct label on 99 is confusing. Text on curves can get cramped.
    • Street labels could use some hierarchy corresponding to the level of service on the street.
    • Colors: they seem to lack contrast and I’m not sure how well this will read in low light.

    For comparison, two other major transit cities released new maps this year: Vancouver, BC (simplified geographic) and Washington, DC (fully schematic)

    • Gordon Werner says

      I think the police stations should have a little badge instead of the star
      I think the fire stations should have a little flame instead of the first aid cross

      this would put them more in line with international iconography

      • says

        Those really threw me off. I didn’t read the legend and I thought: there’s a hospital on the Waterfront? What’s so special about this point in the Denny Triangle?

    • says

      I prefer that multiple routes combined on a street to make frequent service be shown in black instead of blue. It would make these segments stand out more, such as the 3/4 up Queen Anne hill.

  7. Brent says

    The maps don’t show where one can obtain an ORCA without forking over five dollars for the card itself. I bet Saar’s would appreciate the free advertising, and it might get other locations interested in selling free ORCA.

  8. Brent says

    One other observation, more about signage than maps: The driver alerts on Market St in Ballard list alternative service to downtown as the routes that go all the way to downtown, and say nothing of the concept of transferring to the D Line.

      • Brent says

        Well, for the handful of riders on the 61 (which I predict will be gone within two years, though the 17X will stick around for commuters), transfering to the D might be better than transfering to the 62, but it probably varies depending on the time of day and direction.

  9. John Bailo says

    Speaking of maps, I used OBA on Thursday. My car was in the shop so I took the 168 down the hill to KEC for the Skynyrd concert. I was almost going to scream when OBA said next bus in 3 minutes and a bus saying South Base passed me by..but it showed up on time and on the way back to (which is helpful as the bus schedules peter out at night).

    But as far as maps, if you zoom out even two levels the little circles representing buses are so large that they crowd out the entire map! Seems like some sort of clustering (like they do with houses on Redfin) is needed.

  10. David L says

    I’d like to see greater contrast and more focus on the all-day network. Not as cartoonishly thick a line for RapidRide; a thicker line for Link; slightly thicker lines for the frequent-service routes; and no white outline where there is a peak-hour-only route.

    But this is such a monster improvement over the previous map that I just don’t really feel like complaining about anything. My mom, who doesn’t like maps, could use this map. The previous one would have just left her befuddled.

  11. says

    Information overload. I think for a small percentage of people this map will be fairly easy to understand. For the rest it will be almost incomprehensible.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      That comes from the nature of this map. It’s an almost complete system map, showing where every single (daytime) bus in the system goes. For something easier to read and use, wait for Oran’s map.

    • Mike Orr says

      It is still difficult to read. For instance, where does the 8 go? But it’s more readable than Metro’s previous maps have been.

    • Bruce Nourish says

      Indeed. For example, the CD would be way more comprehensible if the 4 was axed and those buses sent to Madrona. That would also fix one of two big holes in frequent service grid, namely N-S in Queen Anne and E-W in the CD. I guess that just made too much sense.

      • David L says

        They have yet to solve the issue of the Madrona layover. It can’t handle frequent service at the moment. Fixing that will just be a matter of removing some parking, but they haven’t yet girded their loins for the monster political battle that will be 4 spots of parking in Madrona.

  12. alexp says

    I think this is awesome. Having said that, while they were working on this, the route maps accelerated their decline into sloppiness, inaccuracy, and illegibility. Forgive me for what I am about to do, but I think it is important – I think more people use the route maps than would use this great new system maps. Here we go with some greatest hits:

    Route 50: 1)Labeled as route 56 in Alki. 2) Shows transfer to non-existent route 51, but not to the 128 or C Line. 3) Inexplicable “first stop outbound” label 4) Does not show Delridge routing 4) Omits ALL of the many transfers available in SODO 5) Completely omits MLK Way, LINK, and the 8 in Columbia City

    Route 22: Cover map still shows it as serving downtown.

    Routes 31/32: Cover map omits the 32 branch entirely. No transfers shown on the 32 branch in interior map. Routes 45/46 still shown (which they are in many other route maps)

    Route 5: No transfer to 40 shown, despite the fact that the 40 is replacing an entire branch of the 5. Routes 45 & 46 of course still survive here.

    Routes 61 & 124: Maps are wildly out of scale. In the case of route 61, 24th and 15th ave wind up lining up between the top of the map and the bottom. The short loop west of 15th is so exaggerated that it seems like the route almost ends where Wallingford would be.

    Routes 2/13/29: Far to cluttered and confusing. They manage to clearly label the seldom used snow routes, but provide 0 labels on the regular routes. The line style typically used by metro to denote express routing is used on the entirety of route 29.

    Metro absolutely MUST focus on at least proofreading these maps!

    • says

      Probably shows how little resources they have to work from if one product has to suffer in order to work on another. King County Council, please increase the budget for information production!

      I think legibility of the route maps took a turn for the worse with addition of the snow routes. The 2/13/29 map is bad. Why do the red snow routes get black route boxes? There’s a typo in the legend! “zzMakes all regular stops.”

      I actually like the enlarged parts for clarity but it looks wrong when they add geographical features that establish a sense of scale.

    • Matt L (aka Angry Transit Nerd) says

      It gets better.

      Unlike the A and B lines, Metro put the “route_short_name” as 673 and 674 in their GTFS feed. Ta-da! Google Maps is now telling people to take the 674 to Ballard. They also neglected to remove the 81.

      I saw the 33 passing through 1st & Denny tonight, and its headsign said “E Magnolia via Sea Center.” Except that with the new routing, the 33 in no way serves Seattle Center.

      On the other hand, on the new routes Metro has abandoned its asinine way of writing headsigns. The D Line is signed as “Uptown” switching to “Ballard.” The 40 is signed as “Fremont” switching to “Downtown Seattle.” The 61 is signed as “Sunset Hill” switching to “North Beach.” Finally, the major destinations are given priority on the headsigns instead of the obscure neighborhood names at the termini. The fact the 61 inherited both two of the dumb names shows someone at Metro realizes it’s a stupid route.

      • David L says

        What else would you put on the 61 sign? Northbound, it doesn’t go anywhere *except* Sunset Hill, Loyal Heights, and North Beach. Since North Beach is the final destination and Sunset Hill is the most prominent neighborhood it goes through, it makes sense to me.

      • Kevin R says

        Is “Uptown” really a name a lot of folks are familiar with? I’m used to hearing folks refer to that area as “Lower Queen Anne.”

      • David L says

        People who aren’t transit geeks don’t know street names. I think “Sunset Hill” means more to more people than “32nd Ave NW.”

      • says

        “People who aren’t transit geeks don’t know street names.”

        I disagree. Neighborhood names are not used in addresses, street names are. Car drivers use street names to navigate. And I’m sure many people have asked you whether your bus goes to/on such and such street. I’ve seen it many times myself.

        32nd Ave NW encompasses the corridor served by the route instead of a vague name like Sunset Hill. Where in Sunset Hill? 24th Ave? Seaview Ave? You can tell me those are in Loyal Heights and Shilshole but that’s my point. Seattle’s neighborhoods don’t have definite boundaries and some don’t even have a definitive name.

        Also, using the street name reinforces the concept of a simple grid system (even though Metro botched it).

      • d.p. says

        To me, Loyal Heights is more prominent than Sunset Hill.

        But that information misses the point, Morgan.

        Loyal Heights is centered around 24th, between 75th and 90th. And you’d be much better off using the 40 to get there.

        Sunset Hill is centered on 32nd Street, between 65th and 85th. Identifying this bus as the one that goes to Sunset Hill tells you, for sure, that it will be heading far north and far west. Signing it Loyal Heights/North Beach does not tell you this.

        On a larger scale, the mistake you suggest is the same one Metro actually made with the 40.

        “Fremont-Northgate.” Are you kidding me?

        No mention of Ballard at all, even though this is now the only bus that goes all the way there!?

        Who does “Fremont-Northgate” help? If you’re downtown, there are any number of ways to Fremont. This signage tells you nothing about how it gets there, nor distinguishes it in any way from the 26, 26, 5, or 16.

        And if you’re in Fremont (or pretty much anywhere shy of downtown Ballard), the 40 is your worst possible way to get to Northgate, because it detours two more miles to the west before it even thinks of heading in Northgate’s general direction. Which you would know if Ballard were on the fucking sign.

        The 40’s signage is truly retarded.

    • says

      It sounds like they basically slapped together the new route maps from the corpses of the old with zero consideration for how any information other than the routes themselves might change with the restructure.

  13. Bruce Nourish says

    Rather obvious error on the downtown map — Route 1 not two-way on denny, it follows the pathway of the 2/13 two-way on 1st/Broad.

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        Maybe the 48X buses might are also operating some 29 and 62 runs and deadheading down 32nd NW, but the 48X schedule and maps don’t show any service on 32nd NW.

      • David L says

        For a little while, they had some 48X trips carry passengers to Ballard along 32nd, along what is their deadhead route anyway. Looking at the current runcuts it looks like that practice has stopped, probably because it only helped a few people and was too confusing.

    • Kevin R says

      I looked at a couple of different times of day and if you’re going to 15th & Leary (where both stop) the Rapid Ride is about 4-5 minutes faster.

      If you’re going to Ballard & Market which many folks would consider Downtown Ballard the Rapid Ride gets you to 15th about 5 minutes faster than the 40 gets you to Ballard and Market but then you have to walk .5 mile or transfer to the 44. So unless you walk faster than a 10 minute mile the 40 would be faster to Ballard and Market than Rapid Ride. If you’re headed to 15th and Market the Rapid Ride wins. I guess you could also transfer to the 40 at 15th and Leary but the transfer penalty would likely offset any time savings.

      • Mark Y. says

        Did that today. The 40 was much faster, but that was due to crush loads on the RR D, a wheelchair that took a long time to load due to the new restraints, and a ton of questions. Oh, and none of the off board readers or RTIS signs were working.

        The 40 was a dream in comparison. I think once the novelty wears off and Metro actually turns on the infrastructure, it won’t be as bad. But man, it was a bus full of complaining passengers. Heck of a way to debut the service.

      • asdf says

        I think the running times of the D and 40 are close enough so trying to nitpick over which paper schedule is faster is pointless. Rather, choosing between the D-line and 40 ultimately comes down two questions:

        1) Is the 40 more likely to get bogged down at the Fremont bridge than the D is likely to get bogged down in Lower Queen Anne?

        2) Which bus happens to show up at your bus stop first?

        I would personally opt for the 40 if there’s anything big doing on at the Seattle Center, since it at least avoids Mercer St. Otherwise, I would just hop on whichever bus happens to come first.

      • d.p. says

        [Reposting my own experiences and observations from yesterday, from a prior thread:]

        My 40 made it from Ballard and Market to 3rd and Bell in all of 19 minutes, which was an amazing surprise. We sailed right by a backed-up Ballard bridge approach, and had mostly ORCA payers who either understood where the bus went or were able to have it explained to them successfully in just a few words. RapidRide ate our dust.

        The only slow part of the trip was the last 6 blocks in Belltown; that’s when all of the cash-fumblers appeared.

        I wouldn’t count my chickens, though. Traffic was sparse along the route, and the lights were on our side. On most days, I’m sure the trip will be similar in length to the former 17, and perhaps worse when NSCC and Aurora bottlenecks and increased demand from being the sole service on 24th Ave NW come into play. Still, it will be nice to never fight the Nickerson overpass again.

        While running errands downtown, I popped my head into University Street station to refill my monthly pass, and wound up deciding to hop on a bus to Convention Place. PAYE did not prove to be a problem. It helped that every single person getting on my UW-bound bus had an ORCA. And it was expeditious for all to get let off the back at Convention Place (contrary to prior “one-door when PAYE” policies downtown).

        My errands were geographically scattered enough, and the afternoon nice enough, that I didn’t catch another bus until 6:30, by which point I was at Mercer and Queen Anne. And that’s when the day went downhill.

        By this point, OneBusAway was working… for every single route except RapidRide. The digital displays at the LQA “station” (which is big enough to protect perhaps 2.75 people from future rain and wind) told me only that the bus was coming “every 15 minutes”. Helpful! The ORCA readers, when not sheathed in regal velvet, displayed “out of order” warnings. Synecdoche!

        In the end, a bus came in only 9 or 10 minutes, but it was already quite full — at least 20 people standing, what a Seattleite might even describe as “packed”. I couldn’t help but be reminded that this service was originally supposed to be every 10 minutes, 7 days a week, and that the demand for real frequency actually exists.

        Although the driver tried to be generous with his gas pedal, the trip up 15th was infuriating. We had cash-fumblers and bike-loaders galore. We had lots of trouble pulling out into traffic, especially at Dravus. And best of all, we got passed by a 32! “Rapid” my ass.

        Oh, and nearly half the bus got off at Market and started walking west toward actual Ballard. Because that is the kind of place where people who use transit actually want to go!

        I wound up going out again later in the evening. While I was able to connect to RapidRide using 40s and 61s in both directions (by sheer luck), I was struck anew by just how unpleasant it is to wait in the dark, by a pile of manure, with literally no idea when the bus will come, and how offensive it is to be asked to walk significantly further to do just that.

        My later trip involved a broken “stop request” system — “Please come to the front so I know you want off” — among other little hilarities.

        Crucially, though my later trip also involved many fewer riders than I’m used to seeing on the evening 18s. Could it be that people in “sprawl Ballard” mostly commuted on the former 15, while people in “urban Ballard” used the 18 all the time (like I’ve been saying all along)?

        I also noticed an unusual amount of traffic and circling-for-parking in central Ballard last night. Could it be that people looked at the night schedules people, decided “fuck this”, and returned to their cars…?

  14. Zach Shaner says

    Such a great improvement. My only major quibble is the inconsistent designation of X as an express route suffix. On the I-90 service bubble, what distinguishes, say, the 211X and 205X from all the others that don’t have an X (202, 212, 214, 215, etc…)?

    • David L says

      “X” or “Express” in Metro terminology doesn’t mean the bus uses the freeway, it means the bus actually passes up a stop somewhere. The 205 and 211 miss stops along their routes, and the others don’t.

  15. AlexKven says

    I see they finally realized that the 61 route (Pierce Transit) to downtown Tacoma / Northeast Tacoma is discontinued (in October 2011). The 61 was still on the map until now!

  16. Limes says

    Is there a standard definition of what “frequent” means? I note that here and the Vancouver map that Oran linked to both define frequent as 15 minutes or better. For me, 15 minutes vs 7-10 minutes is enough for me to change my behavior. Am I alone in that?

    • says

      You are not alone.

      Empirical research suggests that at headways below 10 minutes, most people just show up at the stop instead of consulting a timetable. Above 10 minutes, more and more people start to coordinate their arrival at the stop with the schedule. Above 30 minutes (or somewhere around there), nearly everyone checks a schedule.

      • asdf says

        Part of it also depends on how reliable the bus is. For instance, if a bus runs every 15 minutes, timing your arrival to match a paper schedule (assuming no OneBusAway for simplicity) often means arriving at a stop 7 minutes early bus a bus that actually arrives at that stop 7 minutes late. Which means your attempt to coordinate your arrival at the stop with the schedule actually means you have to wait the full 15 minute headway interval. Which means you wouldn’t do any worse on average if you just show up at the stop and not even bother looking at the schedule.

        In general, the more frequent a bus route is, the more reliable the bus route has to be for looking at the schedule to be worthwhile. If a route is reliable enough, schedules become useful even at 10 minute headways. However, may of our bus routes (e.g. 48) are unreliable enough to make paper schedules almost useless even at 15 minute headways.

    • GuyOnBeaconHill says

      Metro’s definitions for various service levels (see pdf pg 9)

      Very frequent service: 15 minute headways during peak hours/15 minutes or better off peak/30 minutes or better at night

      Frequent service: 15 or better peak/30 minutes off peak and nights

      Local: 30 minutes of better peak/30-60 off peak/nights ????

      Hourly: 60 minutes peak and off peak

      Peak: 8 trips minimum per day

  17. mephistopheles says

    Maybe someone can answer this question: If Metro is using platooning in the tunnel, does that mean they’re eliminating bays entirely, since each bus will simply pull all the way forward? If yes, why does the Downtown frequent map have bay numbers listed for the tunnel routes?

  18. Chris says

    EEEEK!

    Routes 3/4: E Jefferson St is labeled “E Alder”!

    Oh well, maybe that’s a crowd control measure… :)

  19. says

    Just the fact of highlighting frequent routes is a great leap forward. Now people can see the gaps in the frequent network, start a discussion about its Seattle- and now Bellevue-centric nature (which hopefully doesn’t result in new frequent routes in places that can’t support it), give serious consideration to deleting the 19th Ave leg of the 12, and wonder if people who want to delete the 4 might have a point. On the other hand, I doubt it’ll win any new converts for the aborted 2/3/12 restructure by itself. And yes, the white highlights for peak routes show horribly warped priorities.

    For the record, the shared legs (like 3/4 or 131/132) are sometimes pretty clear (the 372/522 in particular stands out), though that can be inconsistent. Part of it may just be how the map translates to a PDF file on a computer screen; the 26/28 looked clearer on the paper version I saw at I-90/Rainier on Friday compared to this.

    • says

      Also, it looks like the downtown map went with consistency in which routes to highlight (aside from the odd separation of the 1 from the 2/13 and the separation of the 14) at the expense of coherence of line colors (especially obvious with the 2/3/4/13). It’s also emphasizing getting places from downtown as opposed to getting around downtown, though the subtitle still says the latter.

      Other frequent-route debates this’ll help with: the redundancy of the 43 and the number of closely-spaced parallel frequent corridors in the U-District. Though I would have liked to see “all-day” in the frequent category be more specifically defined.

  20. anon says

    I noticed on the new downtown Seattle map the label “Retail Core” is used to label the shopping area of downtown. The City of Seattle also uses that label on city maps, like the ones on the “i” information kiosks downtown. I think “Retail Core” is a planning term used by planners that should stay with planners. The term has unfortunately made its way onto maps and other types of customer information, like the South Lake Union Streetcar stop signs for southbound stops. It shouldn’t be used on maps or any other customer information because nobody uses that term. Nobody says “Meet me in the Retail Core”.

    • Limes says

      While nobody says “meet me at the Retail Core”, they do say Pacific Place or Westlake Center or Nordstrom. And yes, that is the retail core. This is specifically differentiated from the downtown government area – like the courthouses, library or city hall. I have also traveled a bit this year and have really appreciated the distinction. When I’m traveling, I don’t need to go to city hall, but I might need to buy myself something special.

  21. says

    This map is much more approachable than the old one. Seeing the super bold RapidRides caused me to give them a little more attention. What’s the story behind the super loop at the north end of the D? Looks like Greenwood is the destination, but Holman Road is the fast route back downtown. Don’t like those wide loops.

    • David L says

      They need to finish some construction at 7th Ave NW/NW 100th St to allow the bus to get to the terminal that way. Until they finish the construction, the bus needs to use 85th to 8th to get to the terminal.

  22. Alkibkr says

    50 eastbound leaving Alki at 3:10pm Sunday not only did not turn right off Avalon Way onto Genesee (driver said the turn was too sharp), but also went right onto the freeway with no stops on Spokane at 26th or Chelan. I submitted a complaint. With this routing, unless I go during peak hours/directions, I would have to go downtown or to White Center to get to North Delridge from Alki.

    • David L says

      Oops! That’s really bad. Definitely submit a complaint every time that happens, if it happens again.

      The reroute skipping Genesee is currently in effect westbound, but not eastbound. (Until they put in the light at Avalon/Genesee, visibility for a bus trying to make the left turn from Genesee onto Avalon is dangerous.)

  23. says

    Don’t like the symbol for the Sounder/BNSF tracks. Looks like a highway. Sounder service could use a simple color coding along the line.

    Regarding RapidRide C: map helps me to see that the south end is a few blocks short of downtown White Center. That’s too bad. Congestion issue?

  24. Lightning says

    Perhaps I am being unreasonable, but I was in Westlake Station today and went to pick up some paper schedules–I like to keep them handy when I ride. 95% were “out of stock”. I realize there would be a run on them, but could Metro not have anticipated that and made sure–at least the first weekend–that refills would be done? It was Sunday, but still. That said, I am pleased that the 17 and 18 morning express buses have the last express about a half hour later than previously. I live off 28th Avenue NW, so RapidRide D really doesn’t do me much good. Besides, I loathe the fact that it makes the “Mercer jog”. I avoid that like the plague. And I much prefer express buses over locals, so I am appreciative that I have an extra half hour to catch the last 17X or 18X.

    • Mike Orr says

      I checked Westlake Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evening, and every day the numbers 1 to about 65 were empty. In comparison, the University Book Store still had the old schedules. I didn’t bother checking Thursday or Friday. On Saturday we walked through after our RapidRide trip, and I noticed they had been replenished but emptied out again, because there were some lone 47 schedules left that hadn’t been there earlier in the week (or I would have gotten one on Monday).

  25. Alkibkr says

    C line was supposed to end at the Vashon ferry dock, the community begged and Metro extended it to Westwood Village. It is too bad they couldn’t have stretched it to Delridge, then 17th with a stop at 17th and Roxbury (budget problems, I think). Westwood Village offers mostly chain stores you can find in any mall. White Center is the westside’s “international district” where you can find a wide variety of ethnic shopping and restaurant experiences you will not get at WWV, as well as a major hardware store (McClendon’s) where you can find items not available at Home Depot or Tru Value. Hopefully sometime they can correct this shortcoming in the C line, but I wouldn’t count on it. Kind of reminds me of the Link going near the airport, but not to it.

    • David L says

      As usual, planners are a bit behind the times.

      The resurgence of White Center is a very new thing, just happening within the last two years or so. Before that, Metro decided to shift the focus of bus service in that area from White Center to Westwood because Westwood had more destinations people wanted and because there was a perception (not entirely inaccurate) that White Center was dangerous.

      All is not lost, though. From most of the C Line’s territory, the 128 can be used to get to White Center. From Westwood itself, the 60 took over the connection previously provided by the 54. From Avalon, it’s a short walk to the 120. The only place where there is no longer direct service to White Center is Fauntleroy.

  26. Alkibkr says

    Gosh, I am noticing maps that are so out of synch with the announced changes that there may be major problems with the Monday commute. The Alki 56E map (as well as the system map) still shows a transfer stop under the bridge on Spokane Street, though the service changes state it will go straight to the freeway and not offer a transfer to the north Delridge area. That coupled with the confusion about the new 50 route means there may be a lot of disgruntled commuters trying to get from West Seattle to North Delridge and possibly ending up downtown instead.

  27. Nathanael says

    I’ve been staring at the map and trying to figure out where the trolley wire is.

    It seems to me — as an outsider — that stringing some trolley wire along 23rd from John St. to Alder St. would be most useful. Once the University of Seattle Link station is open, it would seem logical to cut the 48 there, and trolleybus-substitute the portion of the 48 south of there for frequent local service, following the circuitous route of the 4, and for the final section, the 7. (Then delete the “southern tail” of the 4, since it would have been replaced.) Yes, you need a turnaround at Mt. Baker, but do this all after the new trolleybuses with battery capability arrive and you don’t need much special work.

    Obviously make a point of ordering extra trolleybuses in order to “trolleystitute”; it’ll save on diesel bus orders later.

    If it wouldn’t create too much unreliability you could combine this new “southern 48 / southern 4″ route with the 44, and call it an “orbital route”.

    With that providing local service, make the 8 run with limited stops (only at intersections with east-west bus routes) along 23rd from Mt. Baker to Yesler Way, since so many people are using it as a through route to Capitol Hill:
    http://seattletransitblog.com/2011/08/26/ridership-patterns-on-route-8/
    One might do this from 23rd to John St. too, but that might get complaints from the people living near MLK in that area.

    Of course, combine this with the proposal made earlier to separate the slow Denny section (“8 north”) from the rest of the 8:
    http://seattletransitblog.com/2012/08/27/a-budget-neutral-fix-for-southeast-seattle/

    It would also seem desirable to have beefed-up service on the 3, 27, 14, and 11, in order to make transferring more attractive.

    In any case, my basic throught is that the deployment of trolley wire to “connect the gap” in the Central District would allow for a more rational, gridlike use of the existing trolley wire (as well as more use of electricity and less of diesel/gas, which saves money).

  28. seriously? says

    Really? Link is invisible on these maps. They make you think RR is the primary service in any areas. Very misleading. Very disappointing they choose not to emphasize connections to the high capacity, most reliable, most frequent mode.



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