News Roundup: Happy Thanksgiving

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This is an open thread.

About Martin H. Duke

Martin joined the blog in Fall 2007 and became Editor-in-Chief in 2009. He is originally from suburban DC, but has lived in the Greater Seattle area since 1997. He resides with his family in Columbia City and works as a software engineer in Lower Queen Anne.




Comments

  1. GuyOnBeaconHill says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    The article about Lakewood Sounder ridership delves into the issue of whether ST should have purchased DMUs for the north line. I haven’t seen a DMU design that features low level boarding, so if ST wants to switch to DMUs on the north line, they will have to build station facilities that allow high level, roll-on/roll-off ADA compliant platforms. That would be expensive.

  2. If Metro wants to speed up Rapid Ride by moving cash riders to ORCA, Metro needs to provide incentives to cash payers moving to ORCA instead of disincentives.

    Paper transfer is still more valuable than the transfer embedded in ORCA
    Bonus or discount on ORCA use, or raise the cash fare
    Daypass onto ORCA at 2 one-way fares
    Or… eliminate paper transfers

    Any of these might give cash payers a good reason to move to ORCA

    Right now takes extra effort and ties up cash.

    • Good comment.

      I happen to agree. When I’m in Seattle for Washington Coalition for Open Government’s 2013 conference, I plan on just using an e-purse (gosh, how I hate that term) Orca card instead of having to fumble for cash at every station for every use of transit.

    • The disincentives are really ridiculous. Last night I rode a 44 whose driver was for some reason waiving folks off who tried to pay with cash, but the ORCA reader was on and he didn’t stop anyone from tapping. While I’m a fan of operators waiving fares from time to time (e.g. running 45 minutes late and they know everyone is already annoyed with them), drivers should figure out a way to do this evenly. Either turn off the reader or put a hood over it. Thankfully I had a pass, but if I hadn’t and had instead paid a full fare from my e-purse, I would’ve been quite pissed rather pissed to see these other folks getting a free ride.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        We have no way to turn off the reader. There could have been a problem with the fare box. When this happens, we’re instructed to continue collecting fares via ORCA. The opposite when ORCA isn’t working.

      • @Andreas: I’ve seen the ORCA reader malfunctioning several times and had several free rides as a result. Anyway I’d hardly count an occasional thing like that as an incentive or disincentive of any kind and it’s completely silly to criticize drivers for it on a blog.

      • Why does someone else getting something free make you mad? Or mean that you should get it for free too? You are supposed to pay, them getting it for free doesn’t change that expectation. I am sure you will get a free ride every now and then…

      • John Slyfield says:

        the cash farebox is more likely to break down that orca. i have a pass but if i had epurse id be pissed if someone else got a free ride because they had cash.

      • I guess if it’s a farebox malfunction, I can’t blame Metro for not turning off the ORCA reader too. But as John says, the older, mechanical fareboxes are far more liable to have issues than the ORCA readers, which makes this a disincentive for ORCA use. And I’ve ridden on plenty of buses where the driver has clearly made the decision to stop charging fares, usually because of system-wide delays. And, honestly, I’d like to see more of that with Metro: it’s pretty much the only thing they can do to garner some goodwill from customers when they’ve otherwise completely screwed them. But if they only do it for cash fares, it becomes yet another disincentive for ORCA use.

        And, yes, Al, it doesn’t happen all that often. But back when I was a daily (cash) rider, I got free rides at least once a month. Just last night, the farebox on the 48 I was on stopped working, so cash payers got free rides. So in just 24 hours I would’ve lost $5 if I’d been using an epurse. Along with the “occasional” 4-hour paper transfer, or the “occasional” OWL transfer being given out at 7 pm, it adds up. If the one-time $5 purchase fee is a disincentive for some users, do you really think getting dinged for $2.50, even only occasionally, wouldn’t be at least as much of a disincentive?

    • “Paper transfer is still more valuable than the transfer embedded in ORCA”

      Absolutely not true. ORCA embedded transfers have more value as they accepted by both Metro and Sound Transit, whereas paper transfers are not accepted by ST.

      • Depends on where you want to go. Paper transfers are often cut for more than 2 hours and operaters give you a lot of slack. A heck of a lot more than ORCA which dings you for another $2.25-3 if you are a minute over. If you don’t need ST, get a paper transfer, esp for your trips around downtown now that the RFA is gone.

        Passholders don’t care, but occasional riders do since they have no all day pass.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        Paper transfers are usually cut for 1 hour longer than an ORCA transfer.

        There is no ORCA equivalent of an “Owl” transfer.

  3. RapidRider says:

    So I learned last night that taking the RapidRide D, reverse commute from Ballard around 5 is a very bad idea. I probably waited at the stop longer than it took to get downtown, at a time when they are supposed to come every 10 minutes. It probably didn’t help that three buses, back to back, went by going north. And the marquee kept jumping up after counting down, which was kind of trippy. Next time, I take the 40…yeesh.

    • Yep! Though this certainly isn’t new. As d.p. will attest, the reverse commute from Ballard around 5 has always been unreliable.

  4. I hate the idea of the ads. More corporate intrusion into public space.

    • Stephan J. Cox says:

      And they’re usually destroyed by drunks, junkies, and low-lifes anyway.

      • I’ve considered destroying some ads (manipulative ones designed to play on people’s insecurities). Never actually done it. Maybe I’m not enough of a low-life.

    • But it provides $$$ for transit without raising user fees/fares or other forms of taxes… I can’t gripe about that.

    • alexjonlin says:

      If there are ads in every shop window along the street, how do ads in bus shelters make a difference?

      • The store ads are in privately controlled spaces that are also typically oriented parallel to the street wall. The bus shelter ads I’ve seen in most cities are oriented perpendicular to the street and create a new place for increased advertising that creates a new visual interruption along the street.

    • A couple years back SFMTA had all of its 1100 shelters replaced with solar-powered lighted maps and real-time arrival signs for free, thanks to an ad contract with Clear Channel. Clear Channel also pays for maintaining the shelters, and pays SFMTA a minimum of $15.3M per year for 15 years.

      Meanwhile, Metro monitors shelter usage and removes shelters that are underused because it can’t afford to maintain them. We even stopped our adopt-a-stop program because we can’t afford that. Yep, we can’t afford to operate a program where VOLUNTEERS clean our shelters.

      The same law is why those fancy toilets Seattle tried were such a fiasco. Every other city that has them, the city makes a deal with an advertiser: in exchange for the right to advertise on these crappers, the advertisers have to maintain them. The city doesn’t buy anything, doesn’t pay for anything. The city makes money. But in Seattle? The city had to buy the toilets, then pay to maintain them, then sell them at a huge loss.

      I hate outdoor advertising with a passion. I call the city about A-boards that are illegally set up too far from the business, about illegal sidewalk ads; I remove yard signs that are illegally posted in public rights-of-way; etc. But the outdoor ad ban is insanely restrictive, and it hurts transit tremendously. If there were another way to raise the funds, I’d say keep the ban. But there isn’t. We need to change the law.

      • So 49 square mile San Francisco has 1,100 bus shelters while there are only 1,610 shelters in all of King County. There’s something wrong with that.

      • Part of the reason SF has that many bus shelters is that it has too many bus routes with too frequent stops, which is to the severe detriment of MUNI service quality. There’s a happy medium between SF and SEA, but SF is not solely to be emulated. MUNI is a bit of a disaster in terms of service quality and reliability, in spite of the density of stops/service.

      • David Seater says:

        I think the point was not that King County needs more stops, but that we need more of our stops to have shelters.

      • Michael Arnold says:

        Love it!! It’s a win-win for this area. Been in contact with Sally Clark’s office for some time about this and she has said that the council was going to be considering it as well. If we can have the same set up as SFO with the nice shelters and real-time bus arrival information, I can put up with the ads.

      • Handing over a big chunk of our public right of way to a huge company like Clear Channel for private advertising seems like a bad deal to me. I don’t think McGinn is thinking of having any of this funding directly benefit transit – it sounds like it would just disappear into the City’s general fund.

        If the City needs money they should come up with a proposal and ask for it. Parcelling off public resources for private gain is a shitty exchange in my opinion.

        The bus shelters that have been removed in my area have been taken down due to neighbors requesting them to be gone to discourage homeless folks from sleeping in them. I’m not aware in any crisis of missing bus shelters or challenges around Metro maintaining them.

      • “I think the point was not that King County needs more stops, but that we need more of our stops to have shelters.”

        And djw’s point is that Oran’s observation may have as much to do with sheer number of stops as the ratio of stops with shelters.

      • djw’s point makes no sense. That San Francisco has too many bus stops does not explain at all why they have so many bus shelters in a smaller service area (shelter to stop ratio).

      • How many total stops does each county have?

      • @Morgan: According to Wikipedia (citing a dead Metro page), as of year-end 2008, Metro had 9,549 stops. Using Oran’s number of 1,610 shelters, that means ~17% of stops have shelters. (With a land area of 2,126 sq mi, that means 4.5 stops per square mile, and 0.76 shelters per square mile.)

        SF Muni, on the other hand, has 4,000 stops, according to a 2010 Examiner article. However, that’s both bus and rail, so with 1,100 bus shelters, apparently more than 27.5% of Muni bus stops have shelters. (That’s nearly 82 stops per square mile, and 22 shelters per square mile!)

        Metro definitely shouldn’t emulate Muni’s stop frequency/spacing. But I definitely wouldn’t mind if we went from 17% to 28% sheltered stops. Especially if they were all lighted, had real-time arrival info, and had nice maps like all the Muni stops do.

      • Clarification, obviously not all Muni stops are lighted, have maps, etc. All the shelters do, but many of their stops are nothing more than a bit of paint on a pole. And yet there’s always a stop number and sticker with information on how to get real-time arrival info.

  5. Maybe been discussed to death but I haven’t seen it: On the entrance/exit door topic I was really surprised to see international symbols for entry (green) and “do not enter” (red circle with white bar) that are colored on both sides and they’re mounted on clear glass portions of the Metro coach doors so it looks to the careful observer that the back doors are not to be used for exiting or entering. I hope there’s a plan in the works to fix this. The stickers are small enough so the partially see-through perforations are not needed (not a security concern) and it makes them harder to comprehend. Just make opaque red and green stickers and place them over the confusing ones.

    • I honestly don’t think they even need to make the side facing the bus look red, though I don’t know how the physics of light propagation actually work here.

  6. Just a thought… do any of you besides me please raise the options of transit when your friends or media contacts talk about travel? Especially through “social media”. I know I pitch Amtrak Cascades, the Airport Shuttle and light rail to my friends and get some positive responses.

    :-)

    The more we can do to encourage transit use, the better.

    • Oh I do that all the time. Every once in a while I get through to someone, but it’s an uphill battle that’s for sure.

      • Good for you! Yes, it’s an uphill battle but I feel if we can grow ridership we’ll keep transit as a priority!

      • I went so far as to get an extra Orca card that I keep in my wallet, so if I’m hanging out with a friend of mine(or occasionally a lady) and we want to go somewhere I can shepherd them through the transit process. I took a sharpie and wrote ‘Guest’ on the back of my spare card so I wouldn’t get them confused. My card says ‘ODTC’ on the back of it, which of course stands for Old Dirty Tugboat Captain.

      • “Good for you! Yes, it’s an uphill battle but I feel if we can grow ridership we’ll keep transit as a priority!”

        Or to put it another way, if you think simply getting people on the bus is an “uphill battle”, imagine how much more difficult it is stopping Big Dig West, making sure the 520 Bridge is built for more than cars, making sure Ballard has real rapid transit sooner, getting Metro and other transit agencies the funding they need, getting bus lanes on RapidRide corridors…

    • I regularly pitch them to people and get some low to moderate response, as I’d expect. It’s a big decision for people who have never taken a train or light rail to do so once, so it may take several years of hearing recommendations before they suddenly decide to.

      One thing going for Amtrak is that so many people use it for vacations or to attend a conference or go to their parents’ house on holidays. So people who aren’t ready to take it for a must-be-on-time business meeting can include it in a vacation and it becomes one of the vacation’s experiences.

      Also, most people don’t realize that the Seattle-Portland travel time (3:30) is already comparable to driving (3:00), and approaching flying (including TSA time and getting to/from the airports). When they start thinking about a three-hour train trip as a viable alternative, then it just becomes a matter of whether the train’s schedule fits theirs.

      As for light rail, I think visitors are most willing to try it if they know about it before their trip.

  7. West Seattle Rider says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. West Seattle Rider says:

    Puget Passes are good for people who take public transportation to work every day. They usually work out to a discount (though not large), especially if you also use public transportation at times other than going to and from work. And you never have to worry about transfers running out.

    However, they’re monthly, and might be cost-prohibitive to some folks – - I remember not getting one at times when I couldn’t spare that much money at one time. Of course paying as I went ended up costing more.

  9. One of the most important things mentioned with regard to RapidRide and riders: Stop exiting from the FRONT! It’s so frustrating to see people make their way to the front just to hold up everyone. And Metro needs to get drivers to enforce this. Even in cities where this has been the norm drivers have to enforce this frequently and tell people to exit the rear.

    • Stand at the rear door and maybe it will open, maybe it won’t. Stand at the front door, you know it will open. As long as this is true, it’s easier to just exit through the front.

      • You can’t just say “BACK DOOR”, walking to the front is really easier than that? Yikes.

        But that is true, the fact that drivers aren’t opening the back doors reliably is not helping at all.

      • We can “train” the drivers. Whenever they don’t open the door, we can keep chanting “Back Door, Back Door, Back Door, Back Door!” and annoy them into opening it. Even if they don’t notice at first and proceed to the next stop, I guarantee you they will quickly stop the bus and open the back door.

        And on the design of the RapidRide buses, I think that the second door is placed so close to the front door for a reason. Even if you are a few feet from the front door, you don’t have much of an excuse to exit from the front (unless you are in a wheelchair or have a bike) because the middle door is only a few feet further.

      • So true Alex, with 3 doors, and the 2nd one being so close to the front there is very little excuse on RapidRide.

      • I’ve noticed the problem of drivers ignoring their back door, especially on non-RR routes. Almost all of the articulated buses I’ve been on have that stop button on the post next to the rear door so they could hook that up to a special stop signal (similar to what happens when wheelchair users request a stop) that would remind the driver to open the rear door. Heck, you could hook up the entire back of the bus that way.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        Oh for crying out loud, if you want the back door opened just ask.

      • Bob the bus rider says:

        Riders shouldn’t need to ask for the back door. Some drivers are great at this and other details of the job, others aren’t (in other words, some are great at their job, some aren’t). The ones who aren’t should be retrained and if that doesn’t work, reassigned or fired. But Metro rarely, if ever, fires drivers for lackluster job performance. Successful services and businesses strive for excellence – or at least competence.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        Many operators simply refuse to open the back door in certain neighborhoods. I can stand back there and shout “BACK DOOR” until I’m hoarse and all that happens is I miss my stop.

        So for me it’s two shouts, then elbow my way to the front before the driver has a chance to shut that door.

      • “You can’t just say “BACK DOOR”, walking to the front is really easier than that? Yikes.”

        You should not have to say “BACK DOOR”. Even before PAYL ended, I had a personal rule that if the bell had rung and the back door wasn’t opening, there was a reason for that. And there can be; sometimes the crowd at the stop can be absolutely massive. The RFA existed for so long, and Metro put those back-door boarders on in the tunnel, for a reason.

    • Back in the early days of RapidRide, I told a couple who were exiting via the front door “Exit at the rear, folks.” The bus driver had the gall to tell me off, saying “Actually, they don’t have to.”

      I was too stunned to get his info so I could inform his superiors to re-train him.

      • Yeah, honestly I think this is all on Metro. That really is ridiculous. You’d think drivers would be on board with making it run smoother.

      • Jason Mitchell says:

        I do think we should also be clear that there’s nothing wrong with exiting in front if it’s closer and no one or barely anyone is boarding.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        They DON’T have to. Many customers have complained about being told by drivers to use the back door, and Metro has responded by telling us that rear door use is optional, and that we’re not to push the issue.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        No retraining necessary. The driver was correct.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        I love that some buses turned from “shove your way to the front” to “shove your way to the back”. All doors are fine for many situations.

      • John Slyfield says:

        Just like drivers don’t enforce fares they don’t enforce doors. they can encourage rear door exit but they can’t mandate it. Of course exiting through the front won’t get you a fare evasion citation if a law enforcement officer is actually on board :p

      • I am gonna file a complaint every day I ride about the inefficiencies of exiting through the front.

        And yes, if you are right at the front door, or it isn’t busy just jump off the front. But for gods sake it is much better in most situations… Especially downtown when i see 90% of people getting off up front… even walking from the back. Absurd.

      • Metro has no place encouraging rear door use when it’s more of an inconvenience for the user for the sake of boarders when they seemingly actively discourage ORCA use when it falls in the same category.

    • Beavis McGee' says:

      We have been specifically told NOT to “enforce” the rear exit policy.

      • Thanks for the info. Complaint sent.

      • Listen, there are people that are just plain uncomfortable exiting through the rear because of safety concerns. Even though it’s perfectly safe, it might be best to let the relatively few people exit at the front if it makes them feel any better.

      • So we are supposed to cater a system to any irrational concern people may come up with?”

        I also think it is really easy to argue a blanket issue like this by saying “What about this one small exception? Or this one? Or this one?” Let’s talk about the general wide issue, the exceptions are the same as they have always been and your personal story should not affect Metro policy.

      • Bob the bus rider says:

        I wonder whether the apparent decision by Metro to take a more relaxed approach was driven by customer whining or, alternately, by Local 587, which has demonstrated many times that they would prefer drivers never need to speak.

      • Beavis McGee says:

        Bob, nonsnse. ATU has never voiced any such position. The non-enforcement policy is driven by customer whining about having their feelings hurt by being asked to use the rear door and Metro’s lack of interest in providing any sort of onboard security.

      • “ATU has never voiced any such position.”

        Bob said no such thing. He said they’ve “demonstrated” that position. And actions speak louder than words.

      • To be precise, the drivers’ union has made clear, with Metro’s support, that they’d prefer drivers interact with passengers to the least extent possible. After all, so many of them are picking up the poorsies and we all know THEY can’t be trusted.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        Beavis McGee’ou wish. Local 587 has DEMONSTRATED no such position. Most drivers would be happy to take a more active role in passenger management, rule enforcement, etc. – but as we’re not permitted to defend ourselves (even verbally) and risk discipline, suspension, and even termination for doing so, we are at the mercy of Metro management and an increasingly accessible customer complaint system that treats even the nuttiest customer feedback as gospel.

        By the way, if you want to find advocates of drivers never saying anything to customers, you need look no further than some of the authors on this blog, who have posted articles espousing that very position. Pointing fingers at the driver’s union demonstrates an a cute lack of knowledge of the subject.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        [Expletive]

    • East Coast Cynic says:

      I sit in the front in the morning which results in getting out at the front–it’s easier to get a seat in the front plus if I sit in a seat in the middle or the back, I end up on the outside seat since it is crowded and at the first downtown stop, I literally have to get out of the bus to move out of the way when moving for the person on the inside seat since there are so many people getting off. Sitting in the front seat and getting off at the front saves me a great deal of hassle.

    • Another suggestion: If you are going to be riding the bus for a long period of time (and especially if you are riding to the end of the route), sit in the very back. It’s the right thing to do.

    • One idea is to have a voice message saying “Please exit at the rear of the bus” like they have a door message on the light rail.

      • That recording exists, Dean. I’ve heard it more than once.

        Honestly people getting off in front doesn’t bother me when there is no one waiting to get on, or if it’s only one person (often elderly/mobility-challenged) sitting at the front anyway getting off in front. It does bother me when it’s downtown during rush, and that’s when I have heard operators playing the “please exit through the back door” message.

        Re-educating an entire rider population takes time, even if Metro wanted to spend a lot of time and energy doing so. It seems pretty clear from the drivers posting here that’s not going to happen.

      • “Re-educating an entire rider population takes time, even if Metro wanted to spend a lot of time and energy doing so. It seems pretty clear from the drivers posting here that’s not going to happen.”

        Which makes you wonder why Metro ended PAYL in the first place. They clearly never put any effort into anything, so why they would undertake something that would take a lot of effort to remotely work is beyond me. Oh that’s right, because the King County Council fancies themselves transit planners without the burden of actually having to learn anything about it and blames Metro when it doesn’t work.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        JohnS,

        When the announcement is played, would you say it is taken seriously by even that able bodied? Or do you see people ignoring the announcement and blockading front door boarders anyway?

  10. West Seattle Rider says:

    Andy, some people may have physical problems that don’t show (like knee problems) that would make it hard for them if the back door is far from the curb. Not saying they all do, but some of us do.

    This is why I hate the “get off the back” thing. I constantly worry someone is going to challenge me about getting off at the front. I don’t even get on if I know I’ll be near the back. The drivers simply can’t always get the back part of articulated buses close to the curb, though they try. Some people can’t step that far–they either just can’t make it or they hurt themselves.

    I hate having my choice be either “be a bad bus rider” or hurt myself and not even be able to take a bus for awhile, since I do have to walk a ways to my stops. Hate it and it’s really adding a lot of stress to something that shouldn’t be that stressful. And I feel bad every time I read something like this.

    • RapidRide buses are low floor. They are close to the curb in the back and front. If its a matter of being far from the curb, well yes that could be a problem. I would never have a problem with someone with physical need…. but thats not whats going on en masse. No one has a problem with people of need using accommodations, and neither should you… honestly you need to be more confident in yourself and learn to just live your life. It should be assumed you aren’t the one being addressed here. But everyone who can needs to get their butt out the back.

      Also, you know what happens if someone unfairly challenges you? You get to make them feel really bad and stupid when you inform them you have a physical difficulty. I wouldn’t be too worried… we live in the most passive aggressive place in the world. I don’t know what you possibly have to fear from anyone. So the accommodation exists for you and others to exit the front… we are not gonna change the whole system and make it less efficient so your feelings aren’t hurt. The accommodation is already in place.

      And I have a pretty severe knee injury, I am not an outsider to this concept.

      • It’s not always easy to tell at a glance who does and doesn’t have a physical difficulty. If we encourage people to challenge others about the door they use people with physical difficulties will be constantly challenged.

        I’ve been on buses in plenty of cities and I’ve never seen any where passengers tell other passengers which door to exit from. People will figure it out, just like in other cities.

      • Having drivers not enforce it by simply say, ‘exit to the rear’ is what encourages riders to step in. If Metro would step up and take responsibility for it then riders would’t have to. But now riders have to, so it leads to these issues and confrontation. However, if the driver were to say ‘exit to the rear’ and the person didn’t you can assume they have a need for the front and just shut up. Enforcing these things is Metros job, which is good cause they can do things like training and have policies to accommodate those with needs, but if they choose to not do their job a bunch of random people will take it up and not be so nice about it. My point is to not leave it to random riders…

        You know why people in other cities get it? Because the drivers say, as you try to exit from the front, “exit to the rear.” It doesn’t just come about. People will always try and be oblivious, and it is a constant battle to keep it working properly. Did people EVER figure out pay as you enter/exit?

      • This is especially true as we just switched from a really convoluted system where we were often forced to exit through the front. A lot of people simply don’t know they are supposed to get off in back.

    • Heck, I’m obviously disabled, and I can’t exit by the rear door (check out how different the railings are also) and I had a RapidRide driver yell at me for exiting in the front. No one was even waiting to board. It makes me very nervous to take the bus if I don’t know the driver.

      There must be some way to announce “exit to the rear if you are able.”

  11. West Seattle Rider says:

    Another thing about exiting at the back : This may be an unwarranted worry, but because if I did exit at the back with a high clearance, I’d have to do it sloooowly. 1. I’d worry about the door shutting before I get out, and 2. The driver would have to wait to drive off until I got out anyway. It’s quicker, I think, for me to sit at the front and hurry off.

    • You literally are speaking about your particular situation vs how it works for thousands others. The thousands others are the concern, you do what you gotta do.

      The door issues is simply an unwarranted worry. As for the speed? Again, do what you gotta do. You don’t have to be physically put out for this… if it doesn’t apply to you, stop worrying about it. But it applies to a LOT of people who are oblivious and in their own world.

    • West Seattle Rider: the doors have sensors that refuse to let them close if someone is standing there.

      I discovered this when I got on a standing-room-only RR D bus and proceeded to unintentionally keep the doors open at every stop. =/

  12. West Seattle Rider says:

    Thanks Andy. I guess I need to calm down a little about this. I do know what you mean about many people going to the front.

    Though I actually did have a problem getting off the C in back on the hill on Seneca between 2nd and 3rd, even with the low clearance. I didn’t know what to shout to get the driver to lower the floor, which might have helped.

    • Never be afraid to ask the driver for something in whatever verbiage you can. Our drivers are so great and accommodating. That hill is scary no matter what shape you are in.

      Also, I think drivers enforcing the back door exit would help your situation. All the driver has to do to “enforce” this is say “exit back door” when people start coming to the front. If you keep on, it can be assumed you are doing so out of need, which means everyone needs to keep their mouth shut. If the driver is enforcing it then riders have no real right to speak up. Right now, drivers won’t enforce it so some frustrated riders may be out there trying to do so themselves.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        We have been told that rear door use is optional and that we are not to push the issue.

      • That’s an absurd policy. It is optional, but you should push the issue enough to simply say “exit to the rear”. If people don’t follow along, fine, you aren’t officers. But these conventions need to be put in place so everything runs smoothly. I don’t know why people seem to think enforce means you are gonna force people to do anything…. if you need to exit from the front, fine.

        Fine though, if Metro doesn’t want to make simple choices, that cost nothing, to make service better I, as a rider, will have to make a ruckus about it. I will start being rude to people and saying “EXIT TO THE REAR” over and over again when its time for me to get off/on. I will bring a little NYC to Seattle, if you wanna be a putz and hold the rest of us up then I will treat you like a putz and yell at you… you really are messing with everyones day cause you want to live in your own little world when you do these things.

        I much prefer the driver simply saying, without requirement, “exit to the rear”.

      • The issue of drivers asking people to exit the rear door would be easily solved with an automated announcement saying “Please exit through the rear doors (thank you)” every time someone pulls the stop request cord. They do it in San Francisco. I’ve heard that announcement on Metro only once this week.

      • Exactly Oran. Simple as that, thats all I was looking for from operators… not yelling at individuals, simply saying so it is heard “please exit to rear”. And now that the announcements are becoming ubiquitous that sounds like a great solution.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        I got tired of playing the announcement only to see it blatantly ignored. It also flat out pisses some people off for some reason.

      • We need to get over the sensitive Seattle emotions thing. They won’t cry for long. It’s like having a baby… do you spoil them as they cry or let them cry it out and be done in 10 seconds? The latter is better. You argued against the driver alerting passengers and you won’t play the announcement either? Which totally takes it off your back? I mean this is just silly. We are trying to make a good metro system, why is everyone so concerned with their feelings? Clearly we have to make this automatic since now it is at the whim of the emotions of the riders and the operators.

        Are 90% of Seattleites only children whose parents raised them to think they are beautiful snowflakes who can do what ever they want? Seems like it when an issue like this comes up. What a stupid thing to cling to… the front door offers no benefit for people who don’t have a physical need. Except the joy of inconveniencing a bunch of people.

      • Beavis McGee' says:

        Because people convert their hurt feelings into customer complaints, which we have to discuss with our supervisors every time, and that become part of our record and grounds for discipline.

      • I’m utterly fascinated by the mentality that Seattle is so different and special than everywhere else that the experience of other cities somehow couldn’t apply here. Lots of other cities have a culture of rear exit, and it buses run more efficiently as a result. When I’m not in Seattle I’m in Dayton, Ohio, and it works well here. The automated voice tells us, and most of us listen most of the time, and buses spend less time at stops as a result. This isn’t some crazy theory that hasn’t been thought out, it’s functional transit 101. I love Seattle; it’s a special place. But it’s not *that* special.

      • @djw: It’s not that Seattle is intrinsically different from other places. It’s a good thing that we’re moving to rear exit. There will always be some people that can’t exit to the rear. And there will be some cases where people that can exit to the rear might as well use the front anyway (particularly people sitting near the front of articulated buses — and one way Seattle really is different from other places is that we have more articulated buses than most cities). And then there are tourists, and you can’t account for tourists. We’ll never have perfect order but neither does any other place.

  13. West Seattle Rider says:

    Thanks, that’s good to know about the buses, Kyle.

    Andy, I agree that the driver should do this *if* it’s that big an issue. The only thing is, then people who have some physical issue that doesn’t show will get mean glares from the others if they don’t exit from the back.

    I know it’s selfish, but I really, really dread having to justify myself *every single time * I take the bus. Because that’s what it’ll come down to if they start enforcing “exit at the back”.

  14. Ever notice that the SUNDAY schedule on most neighborhood Metro Transit routes (like the 187) looks a lot like the WEEKDAY schedule on many Pierce Transit routes?

    This is crazy. Why are people in Pierce County completely intolerant of transit? I really don’t think there is much hope for Pierce County. Hopefully when the cuts roll out, it will be such a blow as to “snap them out of it.” They have no idea how important it is, and I hope they will realize it when weekend and evening service gets cut, and headways reduced.

    The only long term hope I see for Pierce Transit would be if it folded Pierce Transit altogether, and instead extend (or create a sect of) King County Metro to cover Pierce County in the area that Pierce Transit had back in 2010.

    You see, KCM is doing wonderfully, and most areas of the county are well covered. But this would be a “hard sell” to the voters of Pierce County because such a wonderful system is expensive; it actually requires the full 0.9% that Pierce County voters refuse to tolerate.

    So I don’t know. They just don’t make sense. They say that the extra 0.3% will drive people out of the county, but these bus cuts are going to drive even more people out of the county, especially when it’s next door neighbor, King County, has a much better system.

    • Once the cuts are made, transit in Tacoma (excluding ST express) is going to have less frequency an span then places like Mt. Vernon, Port Townsend, Port Angelas, and Whidbey Island. According to Human Transit, even Great Falls, Montana, with a population of 58,505 has hourly bus routes on weekdays and Saturdays. For Tacoma to be considered less worthy of transit than that is truly mind-boggling.

  15. West Seattle Rider says:

    Beavis McGee, that’s wonderful news!

  16. West Seattle Rider says:

    And thanks to Metro too.

  17. West Seattle Rider says:

    If you got in my face like that I’d get right back in yours, and I don’t usually do that. I know you don’t mean people who have to exit at the front for physical issues, but how the hell would you know?? Not everyone with leg or foot problems carries a cane or crutch, or limps, as you probably know since you mentioned you yourself have knee problems.

    If the driver says “exit at the back” and some person with leg or knee problems who doesn’t limp continues on to the front, one of the other riders being pushed to the back will challenge them, or at least bitch out loud under their their breath, you know how people do some times. You know they will. People don’t like to see someone getting a privilege they can’t get, for no visible reason. It’s like when people see someone parking in a disabled spot who doesn’t look disabled. (Which I don’t do because I don’t have a car, and wouldn’t if I did because I can walk blocks and don’t consider myself disabled. But stepping off a steep step hurts my knees and feet.)

    I just do not want to have to put up with being challenged and hassled every damn day about where I get off the bus.

    I have already written to Metro about this. I don’t know what the percentage of people who want to exit at the front (or who don’t want the rule) vs. people who want the back exit rule. I guess we’ll see.

  18. West Seattle Rider says:

    Does it really make that much of a difference where people exit? Does it really save that much time?

    Also even the middle exit on Rapid Ride can be too high if they park in front of a restaurant driveway, as sometimes happens at 35th and Avalon southbound if there is another bus in front.

    Also when I ride downtown in the morning on the 21 local, I sit in the front and usually there aren’t that many people up there – - the bus is never full. When I’m ready to get off downtown, I walk up as close as is legal to the door and hurry off as fast as I can. I hope that isn’t creating a problem for anyone.

    • YES. It does. And as far as you being confrontational, why are you willing then but you are so wounded by someone possibly thinking to themselves that you shouldn’t be using the front because you don’t seem to need it?? Again, I have argued over and over for the operator, or announcement, to simply say “Please exit to the rear” so it ISN’T left in the hands of riders who don’t know if people are disabled or not and will not handle as well as that simple statement. I specifically addressed this. We can be all rude and self police like NYC, which works really well, but that is hassling. A simple statement by the driver/announcement is not hassling. You just don’t want the concept to exist at all, but clearly Metro believes in the efficiencies it provides, it is just reacting way to sensitively to people whining about change.

      Again, I don’t care about your knee. I have a major knee injury and have no visible indication of it. I have had to get off buses slowly and etc. Again, this isn’t you being able to use the front door, cause you will always be able to do that, it’s about everyone making you feel better. Which I don’t think is a relevant issue to public transit. People can have all sorts of feelings, catering to them is not the worlds job.

      We spend so much time arguing about making service changes and not having enough money to improve our system. This is literally a free improvement, that may not change everything, but DOES improve efficiency, especially when dwelling at a stop and having enough space at stops is one of our systems biggest issues. It cost no money, it is simply a behavioral thing. And I can’t believe how many people find the front door to be so essential to their public transit experience. This shouldn’t be about what people want. People want stupid irrational things all the time, this is about what makes the best sense, not peoples desires.

      And as mentioned by another above, RapidRide has no excuse for people without a physical need… 3doors, and the second is so close to the front.

      Again, I am also tired of the arguments of “well I ride this one bus at this one time and it isn’t busy and I sit right by the front door and…” Well then just get off in the front, I do all the time when people aren’t boarding or the rare time I am right at the front and can slip out with only a person or two boarding. No one is trying to make this some sort of hard rule that you are gonna get a ticket for or something. It is a behavior that needs to be reinforced and made clear it is the expectation in general. Seriously the biggest whining I have ever heard over something that takes no effort on anyones part. Again, maybe this isn’t about you. You have a need for the front, FINE. But lets not cater the system to your particularities, we already have accommodations in place to address it.

      • West Seattle Rider says:

        I would answer back once or twice but don’t want to have to do it constantly. I’m not usually argumentative but I’ve had other bus challenges this year and to be honest, this just seemed like the last straw.

        I don’t see a problem if the driver says it, as long as riders don’t harass others if they don’t do it. You’re probably right, in Seattle they might not say anything, and I probably shouldn’t give a damn what people on the bus say/think as long as I’m not hurting anyone.

  19. West Seattle Rider says:

    I’m sorry to keep pushing this, but I think people who do have physical issues but aren’t really disabled and don’t really look like they have them, and can’t handle the higher clearance, shouldn’t have to explain themselves every day, possibly get in verbal fights with people, in order to get off the front of the bus. And then probably be vilified on Twitter or blogs because they don’t limp or have a cane.

    I don’t know what the solution is. I just don’t think people should have to go through that every day. I bet I’m not the only one either, though I’m not sure.

    • I would think people with physical issues would sit near the front in the priority seats and thus naturally would exit through the front. That isn’t the issue.

      The issue is people walking all the way from the back to exit in the front. That’s a waste of time when they could be off the bus as soon as the back door opens.

      And please use the Reply link in the bottom right corner of the comment box to keep conversations grouped together. It’s hard to follow the discussion when everything’s all over the place.

    • What if you faked a teensy bit of a limp when you got up to exit the bus? It sounds kind of silly but it might be a good way to handle your concerns.

      • West Seattle Rider says:

        I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable doing it, but I guess it’d be better than having to explain myself all the time.

  20. West Seattle Rider says:

    Andy: How does anyone know who needs the front door??? Why is it ok for someone to get challenged Every Single Day? If you saw me walk, you would challenge me. You said you would start challenging people.

    Why should people have to either hurt themselves physically or fight every day? That’s an inconvenience too. I certainly don’t want to make things harder on people. And it isn’t like there aren’t a lot of people who seem to want to get off at the front, for whatever reason.

    • Why do you keep arguing the same things that have already been addressed? I can’t keep answering the same concern.

    • Could I suggest that you limp to the front, even if you don’t need to? You seem concerned about the possible confrontation. If you give some visible demonstration of your need, no one with any manners should complain.

  21. Matt the Engineer says:

    Black Friday isn’t quite as dark in Seattle for retail workers. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett is the #1 large metro area in terms of retail worker wages.

  22. John Bailo says:

    Spending week in Fort Collins, Colorado.

    They have a very half-baked transit system…missing a lot of obvious things.

    No transit at all between here, Loveland, Boulder and Denver.

    The light rail only runs in one direction, south of Denver!

    No Sounder — even though several train lines run right through North Colo all in a straight line.

    • I was just in Fort Collins for lunch today! The light rail is supposed to make it as far as Longmont at some point in the future, assuming that they can find funding to get it through Boulder first. I doubt it will ever make it to Fort Collins though, since it’s about 65 miles away—that’s about twice the distance from Seattle to Everett.

      It’s rather perplexing that Amtrak seemingly has no idea that Colorado exists—the only train we get is the once-daily train from Chicago to San Francisco. That’s a shame, since a high-speed train from Cheyenne—Fort Collins—Loveland—Denver—Colorado Springs—Pueblo would cover most of Colorado’s population, run essentially straight north-south, and have relatively few obstacles in between cities.

    • There’s been an on-and-off push for decades to re-establish passenger rail service along what is now the BNSF line, which runs Denver-Boulder-Longmont-Loveland-Ft Collins. And a separate on-and-off push to establish passenger rail service along I-25.

      Unfortunately, everyone in the state outside the Denver metro area is allergic to actually paying for service. The Boulder area is suffering due to some poor planning, too.

      I was forced to rent a car last time I visited Ft. Collins. And I went to Denver by train.

      • You can, if you do some googling, find the old studies by Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins regarding passenger rail service from Denver to Ft. Collins. They were interested, but not interested enough to spend money on actually getting it done.

  23. Pierce Transit Tomorrow: A look at tomorrow’s Pierce Transit today.

    A story told from the future.

    After the second failure of prop 1 in 2012, Pierce Transit once again found itself in a downward spiral, completely abandoned by the rest of the county. Finally, in October 2019, they made the hard decision to eliminate everything but 5 routes.

    Those are routes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 500. All of these routes terminate at the edges of Tacoma, except the 500, which extends to Federal Way, as the system’s only “Outreach route.” These routes expect zero farebox recovery, and are therefore sustainable forever. This can be forever funded by the 0.6% tax collection, which now only comes from certain parts of Tacoma.

    The first 4 stop every 4 blocks, and never exit Tacoma. The second goes from Downtown Tacoma to the Federal Way Transit Center, making no stops in between due to lack of funding.

    Each of these routes make only 6 trips per day: Two in the commute direction in the morning, with a one-hour difference, and two again for the commute back, and in addition, one trip around 1 pm in each direction.

    One citizen says “I can use it for work, but absolutely nothing else. If there’s an emergency at home, I might be able to catch the 1pm trip back.”

    Some kids say “We can walk for 5 miles to catch the bus to the YMCA. And when we are done, we just walk the entire way home.”

    A teenager says “Because of Pierce Transit, it is impossible to use the transit system, so now I get to get a driver’s license. Thousands of other teens can enjoy the road now that transit is basically no longer an option.”

    A man in Fife says “Even though there’s no stops, I can catch the 500 easy. I just stand right in front of the bus as it’s approaching, and the driver will grumpily jump aboard. When I need to go home, I can say ‘Driver! Please stop the bus!’ Just like blast from the past!”

    Pierce County also say an 8% migration of its population to King County, seeking public transit there. But cars still cost less in Puyallup!

    Annual operating costs are $990,000 a year, and PT sees a daily ridership of 42 people per day. Cost per boarding system wide is $62.53.

    ^^A worst-case-scenario for the future of PT.

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