With luck, day 2 should be better than day 1.
So, my observations from today:
Not horrible, but a few issues. Some minor delays getting into the tunnel on Link, but that’s not entirely unusual, and it wasn’t longer than one minute. My own inability to leave the house on time meant that I missed my bus, so I got to watch things at 4th Ave S/S Jackson for a bit.
Loading was slow, but no one tried boarding through the back doors, and only one or two people exited through the front. The biggest crowd occurred when a Sounder arrived, and many of the riders swarmed busses at the stop for a ride closer to the CBD or First Hill. SoundTransit had two staffers at the stop, armed with schedules, logo jackets, and loud voices; every arriving bus accompanied by a cry of, “Pay as you enter! Exit at the back! Have your fare ready!” The ‘attendants’ also worked to spread loads out across multiple busses when possible, which helped keep things moving. Grabbing a moment during a short lull, one noted that, “People are far more prepared than I expected…but loading is still a bit slow.”
Overall, things were delayed a bit (~5 minutes at my stop), but moved well.
Minus the delay from missing my bus (again, my fault), I was only held back by 10 minutes or so. Not bad.
…Evening didn’t go as well. My southbound 301 was about 15 minutes late, mostly due to northbound traffic on I-5, which was pretty heavy. Such delays at the start of the route aren’t unusual.
The tunnel was messy. Not a disaster, but there is clearly a lot of confusion, and short tempers. People seem to have grown accustomed to ‘bad behavior’ by drivers, such as opening doors multiple times in a tunnel station or waiting for runners, and having all that (mostly) stripped away didn’t sit well with some.
On Loaders: Bus drivers seem to have a hard time seeing them, and often a loader would be in place, but the back door would remain shut. The LCC had a message playing almost constantly telling riders to pay as they enter at the front, or to tap their ORCA card at the back if an attendant was present, but few headed it. People tended to stick in a line, even if there’s a loader with no line 10 feet away, and the announcement was too quiet to hear well most of the time. There are also far too few loaders to be effective, especially as platoons get backed up and more and more busses fill the platform space. Additionally, the loaders seemed to vanish rather quickly once the peak ended, despite the tunnel still being really busy and crowded.
On Drivers: Aside from the aforementioned issues seeing loaders, many drivers are still failing to follow some tunnel operation protocols, such as not opening a coach’s doors more than once, waiting for runners, or stopping multiple times. At the same time, many drivers (certainly more than ‘usual’) did their best to keep things moving, even if it meant making a few late or entitled (for lack of a less loaded phrase) riders unhappy.
On Passengers: Many got the memo, and had their fare ready to pay at the front door. That said, it only takes a few to muck things up, and plenty did. One passenger on the 550 managed to board via the back door – said door slammed shut on his backpack, and the cluster of riders behind him planning to do the same looked rather scandalized at being redirected to the front. Even better, the rider who made it in then proceeded to push through to the front of the bus to pay his fare. Another rider on my Link train somehow missed his stop at IDS. As the train pulled away, he shouted, “Wait, hold up!” at the air, and slammed the door button as if either of those would do anything. He proceeded to mutter profanities, and topped it off by kicking the door rather hard as it opened at Stadium station.
Total delay in the evening: about 30 minutes. I left work half an hour earlier than I normally do, and got home as if I hadn’t.