Observations this afternoon and evening:
1. There are some A-Line buses being used on the C/D Line. The C/D Line, FWIW, is much less full than the 120 off peak.
2. The ORCA loading assistants are getting better at using the hand-held readers, as are the passengers. The loading assistant at the southbound platform at ID Station had the drill down really well, tapping at a rate of about one card per second. I’d suggest filming him for training purposes.
3. Platooning still has some kinks to be worked out southbound and is totally not happening northbound.
4. Headway control is not happening with tunnel routes. I saw two 106s go through together, two 255s go through together, two 550s go through together, two 41s together (which is hard to avoid), and three 41s a little bit later all on the same platform at once. These were all in their outbound direction. I hope it would be easy to implement a rule that only one bus of a particular route can be deployed per platoon.
5. One of the big slow-downs was drivers opening doors for runners. I watched as a supervisor reprimanded one of the drivers for doing that. One of the 41s at the head of the block of three waited for a runner, and then his bus stalled for a couple of minutes. There ought to be a “No running on the platform” rule, in addition to clear instructions to operators to only open the doors once per platform.
6. A couple inbound buses kept their doors closed while waiting along the platform, and then opened them once they got to the front, turning themselves from the back of one platoon into the front of the next platoon, and blocking Bay A buses, which leads me to …
7. The big source of slow-downs northbound in the tunnel is that Bay A is overwhelmed. Even if platooning were happening right, passengers were boarding quickly, inbound drivers were only unloading once per platform, and the hand-held readers were functioning as quickly as the ones on the buses, there would still be delays caused by too many buses using Bay A. That list includes the 41, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, and 316. Given the rule that only two buses can be considered to be at a bay at once, and any bus further out must stop again at the bay, Bay A cannot handle the peak volume — 29 buses in one hour — unless they are spread perfectly evenly among the sixteen platoons that should be going through in that hour. And it would require all inbound buses going northbound to queue up behind a pair of Bay A buses and use the space at the south end of the platform, which is not happening.
A better distribution of the northbound peak load would be 41/77/316 (19 peak buses per hour) at Bay A, and 71-74, 76, and 255 at Bay B (18 peak buses per hour). This would require some training, rider alert signage, and a little duct tape to cover the old numbers. But I think it is a fix that can be executed quickly.