1. Kenny says

    Shame there’s no where near enough money available or density to ever justify building one in Seattle.

      • d.p. says

        No, we didn’t. Not even close. Not even a bad carbon copy of same.

        Unfortunately, the troll’s trolling contains a kernel of truth.

  2. says

    The fact that I see so many people show the bus driver their paper transfer on RapidRide, when they don’t have to, tells me Metro has failed at getting the word out how the RR fare system works. There’s really no excuse for this. When an agency like Metro or ST gets the little things wrong, how on earth are they going to get the big things right?

    • asdf says

      It’s the force of habit – when you board a bus, you show your transfer. That’s much easier to remember than a rule like “when you board a bus, you show your transfer, except when it’s RapidRide during certain hours of the day…”

      I’m not at all surprised.

      • says

        I agree with you about people and their habits, but Metro has done a very poor job of even trying to educate people. In fact, I don’t think they have done much of anything, aside from bury the info in RR pamphlets. Some on and off-board marketing ads would go a long way in helping people understand they don’t have to line up at the front door to show their transfer. It slows things down and defeats RR’s purpose. My point isn’t that passengers are dumb. My point is Metro is doing a poor job of educating and explaining. When you’re dealing with the masses, information shouldn’t be subtle and in fine print. It has to be big, bold, blatant, and concise.

      • says

        The “certain hours of the day” thing is what kills it. We had rules about which doors you could use to enter and exit the bus for years; how many people were confused by that all the way up to the last day?

    • SMP Belltown says

      Sam, this seemes like a common sense thing to me, especially for folks who onmly ride the bus a few times a week or less.

      Showing the driver the transfer means that the rider has the transfer handy while boarding the bus. That transfer may be required at any time if the bus is boarded by Rapidride fare enforcers, and it could be a tad awkward and embarassing to have to fumble for a transfer while standing or sitting on a crowded bus.

      • asdf says

        Back when the ride free area existed, I would sometimes swipe my Orca card when I entered the bus, even when the bus was in pay-as-you-leave mode. And this is true in spite of the fact that I have ridden the bus for years.

        When policies are different between this bus vs. that bus, lots of people are going to error on the side of doing what works for all buses, which means show the driver the transfer.

    • Brian Hodges says

      I wish Metro would do away with paper transfers. They have an alternative technology, and what better way to encourage its further utilization?

      That or at least make the peak hour cash fare $5.

      • Brent says

        Ideally, elimination of paper transfers ought to shortly follow the rollout of a low-income ORCA, and the resulting service efficiency be part of the funding package for the rollout.

        Same with the implementation of a cash surcharge.

        Keep in mind that Metro’s Low Income Fare Options Advisory Committee will be submitting a want list in June, and Metro will be proposing a fare restructure in July or August.

      • adam says

        I’m also waiting for single-use ORCA cards to be introduced. As far as I can tell, single-use RFID tickets exist in at least a few other transit systems around the country. (San Francisco comes to mind first.)

      • Simon Says says

        Is their a high income Orca in the works to? I think anyone who makes good money should pay more!

      • Brent says

        I don’t think there is such a thing as a single-use smart card in any agency. There are limited-use — meaning shorter life span — but certainly not meant for single use.

        I believe there will be single-use tickets printed by machines downtown within a year or so, but I don’t know whether any agency other than Metro will accept them as transfers.

    • Brent says

      If there is no off-board ORCA reader, or the ORCA reader is broken, or it is outside POP hours (6 am to 7 pm) then passengers still have to present their transfers.

    • d.p. says

      Perhaps the problem is that fewer than 1/5 of the stops in the entire “BRT” system are set up and working to allow/favor all-door boarding. Drivers are barely in the habit of opening all doors at these stops, never mind letting people on without visual proof at all the others.

      This is a (major) failure of the RapidRide program, not a (minor) failure of communication.

      That said… Death to paper transfers. Burn ’em all.

      • Brent says

        Please write you county council member, and urge that the elimination of paper transfers and institution of a cash surcharge be included in any legislation creating a low-income fare, and that such fare require use of loaded ORCA product. This battle will be fought and won or lost this year.

        The low-income fare system needs to be both pro-poor and pro-rider. With cheaper fares comes the responsibility to make the effort ahead of time to load value on an ORCA. Get the farebox out of the way of both the poor and the bus.

      • Brent says

        The operator’s job description is not that brief. The operator is still responsible for the vehicle’s safeness to drive, and for the safety of the passengers. She/he isn’t driving an empty bus.

      • Lack Thereof says

        The operator is still responsible … for the safety of the passengers

        Man, what buses is that on.

        Get mugged on the bus and the driver will yell at you for causing a commotion when you shout for help. I’ve never seen an operator even try to protect rider safety.

      • political_incorrectness says

        When you transfer in LA, you pay per use of bus even if your trip requires two buses. That makes single use fares expensive. Honestly, we would be best off to utilize the Translink model. One ticket, all modes 90 minutes.

    • d.p. says

      Contiguous urban area: 1.4 million, averaging 9,300 people/sq mi over that area.

      Extended Metro area: 2.1 million, including all of the detached and isolated towns and villages.

      The point, of course, being that maintaining a high density over an area that comprises most of your region’s population makes it SIGNIFICANTLY easier to comprehensively serve those people with public transit.

      That’s the point you were trying to make, right, John?

      • Mike Orr says

        “Ours” is being stifled by people preferring low density and putting car infrastructure before transit infrastructure. Since Seattle is heading toward 900,000 we should built a transit infrastructure like Stockholm’s so that we’ll be ready for it, and so that it will be easy to get around the city without a car. But not enough people support that yet to vote overwhelmingly for it and make the politicians do it. Eventually as people realize what they’d gain by walkable neighborhoods and comprehensive transit, they’ll support it. But it may take a long time, and we just have to hope there will still be enough steel and affordable energy by then to build it.

      • Mike Orr says

        This is a good time for a reminder that because Sweden and Europe built significant transit infrastructure before the 2008 crash and current recession in many European countries, the impacts of it don’t affect them as much transportation-wise because they have that infrastructure.

      • d.p. says

        Unfortunately, our contiguous urban area arguably falls far short even of our 600,000 municipal boundaries. And literally none of our city is built-up in the way much of Stockholm’s contiguous urbanity is.

        Thus the catch-22 of insufficient service on an insufficient transit grid pushing people into their cars and further lowering the demand to unsustainable levels. (Thus Jarrett Walker’s rule that doubling density far more than doubles transit demand and sustainable usage patterns.)

        Even more unfortunately, we’re rail-building for disparate commutes, rather than to aid and bolster what urban continuity we have. And no, toy trains over 1.5-mile distances doesn’t help either.

        John is correct to identify Seattle’s failings in c

      • d.p. says

        John is correct to identify Seattle’s failings in comparison to Stockholm as a problem. Of course, his desire to respond by dispersing everyone unsustainably to the far corners of the metro area doesn’t make a lick of sense.

        But one out if two ain’t bad.

      • John Bailo says

        From wiki:


        • City 188 km2 (73 sq mi)
        • Urban 381.63 km2 (147.35 sq mi)
        • Metro 6,519 km2 (2,517 sq mi)

        Population (31 December 2011)[1][2]
        • City 871,952
        • Density 4,600/km2 (12,000/sq mi)
        • Urban 1,372,565
        • Urban density 3,597/km2 (9,320/sq mi)
        • Metro 2,119,760
        • Metro density 330/km2 (840/sq mi)

        Meaning that very similar to Seattle the vast majority live in a low density metro area.

      • d.p. says

        Reading comprehension, John.

        More than 3/5 of the population of the entire region lives at densities of 9,320/sq mi or greater. That’s (significantly) denser than Queens!

        Needless to say, those 3/5 are the people beat served by comprehensive transit.

      • d.p. says

        (And even the very outer villages of the Stockholm metro area, where the other 2/5 reside, tend to have walkable cores surrounded by woods, allowing most to live where longer-distance commuter transit can serve them well. There is no sprawl. There IS no sprawl. There is NO sprawl.)

      • says

        Thanks for posting these stats on Stockholm. Here are the comparable numbers for Seattle:

        Land Area

        City 84 sq mi (217 km2) (115% of Stockholm)
        Urban 1,010 sq mi (2,617 km2)(685%)
        Metro 8,186 sq mi (21,202 km2) (325%)


        City: 620,778 (71% of Stockholm))
        Density: 7,402/sq mi (62%)
        Urban 3,059,393 (223%)
        Density: 3,028/sq mi (32%)
        Metro 3,500,026 (165%)
        Density: 428/sq mi (51%)

        The cities of Stockholm and Seattle are broadly comparable, Seattle’s population being 62% as dense. The big difference is in the suburbs: Stockholm’s urban area including the suburbs have an average population density higher than the CITY of Seattle, while Seattle’s urban land area is nearly seven times larger.

        Despite having a decent core city, the Seattle metro area is Sunbeltishly sprawly, and those suburbs contain 80% of the urban area’s population and votes. From a mathematical point of view, Stockholm’s suburbs aren’t much different or larger than the city.

      • d.p. says

        True, and made even worse by the failings of language and taxonomy.

        Stockholm’s “urban area including the suburbs”, much like the entirety of Greater London or the inner-ring suburbs of Boston, is fundamentally urban.

        Seattle’s “urban land area” is fundamentally suburban, including much (if not most) of the city proper!

      • Mike Orr says

        “Thus the catch-22 of insufficient service on an insufficient transit grid pushing people into their cars and further lowering the demand to unsustainable levels”

        That’s why we need to get transit up to Stockhom’s level, to get people out of their cars. Of course it will cost more per passenger or per mile, but that’s not the transit’s fault, it’s the fault of building this low-density car-privileged landscape in the first place. When we have comprehensive transit that makes it convenient to get around without a car, people will start riding it more and density will start to fill in. If you throw away the solution because “we’re too undense” or “we can’t afford it”, you’re locking in the problem further. That is what we can’t afford.

      • d.p. says

        As is your usual wont, you are molesting otherwise interesting information with such extreme cherry picking and confirmation bias that your “findings” bear almost no resemblance to reality.

        Swedish cities do, indeed, have a network of small town centers and concentrated nodal developments in their orbits, designed with high-quality commute transit in mind.

        Some of these satellite towns are ancient, but most appeared during the Miljonprogrammet push of 1965-1974. In short, this is what Sweden did instead of sprawl. Not in addition to sprawl, or to justify sprawl, or to mask the deleterious effect of sprawl, or to relocate economic activity away from the core cities, or whatever the hell you think Kent Station is trying to do. These projects were designed solely to house new metropolitan residents without sprawling in the slightest.

        Other inconvenient facts you continue to ignore:

        1. Well over half of each Swedish metropolitan area’s residents continue to live in the contiguous, highly dense, traditional core city that you like to decry. These are the most walkable areas with the most complete networks of public transit. These are the economic centers, the destinations, the places every single Miljonprogrammet resident heads every time they go anywhere. Swedish cities are able to be transit cites because the city-parts still dominate.

        2. Nobody lives at Kent Station. Your comparison dies there. In Vällingby, the square surrounds the subway entrance, the commercial surrounds the square, and the residential surrounds the commercial. Everyone can walk easily from their home to the shops, and more importantly, to the escape-hatch-on-rails. Again, there is no sprawl. Meanwhile, no one lives around Kent Station, few can walk to Kent Station, getting to Kent Station is a separate trip in itself. A “town center” in a sea of parking and sprawl is as fake and useless as a $3 bill.

        3. Many of the Swedish satellite towns are ghettos. Sad, but true. Despite the dedicated transit access to the core cities, many of these areas have suffered the same social isolation and lack of economic opportunity as their peers on the outskirts of other European metropoles. The almost willfully isolating “tower blocks in parks” architecture has been part of the problem, as has the failure to proactively assimilate the immigrant populations… made harder by those populations being stuck “way the fuck out there at the end of that train line” rather than in the center cities where they would be better able to mingle as they engaged their new city on foot and on criss-crossing public transit lines.

        There are many worthy lessons to be learned from the way Swedish cities approached their late 20th-century growing pains. But “unequivocal success” is not one of them. “Decentralization ho!” is not one of them.” And “Kent Station is the future” is definitely not one of them.

      • John Bailo says

        Are Satellite Cities the Key to the Future?

        Satellite cities, like those that circle Stockholm, Singapore, and Tokyo, typically have a population ranging from 30,000 to 250,000. These planned cities are surrounded by greenbelt areas and are connected to the greater metropolitan area by an efficient rail system.

        Satellite cities differ from suburbs, subdivisions, and bedroom communities in that they have municipal governments distinct from that of the core metropolis and employment bases sufficient to support their resident populations.

      • d.p. says

        Are Satellite Cities the Key to the Future?

        No. Better than pure sprawl, but… still no.

        Thanks for playing.

      • d.p. says

        Whoops… didn’t even see the part where the author pictures these future satellites being designed around/enabled by hundreds of miles of PRT guideway, rather than by, say, walking and traditional density-enabled transit.

        That elevates the article from run-of-the-mill wishful thinking to full-on Futurama Dreaming.

        Those miles-of-PRT-guideway dreams fail on every level, because they’re specifically designed to enable relatively low density. Thus, the available riders per foot of guideway will forever be too few to justify the cost of construction and maintenance.

        Dumb-diddly-dumb. Let it go.

      • John Bailo says

        So here’s an example of a managed Sat area, but they manage their jobs 1 for every apartment! How they do this is beyond me, but in this case the residents can stay there.

        So to answer your question in a blanket way, when you have policies that move jobs away from the one central area (the opposite of what we seem to have now) you get the ability to build Satellite Cities which can be independent, have some density, but also be surrounded by nice countryside AND for those things that have to happen in a big city (symphonies, art exhibits) you can jump on a train.


        The 34,000 inhabitants live in roughly 17,000 apartments. The industrial policy of the municipality is to provide one job opportunity for every apartment, thus 17,000 jobs. So unlike other municipalities in Metropolitan Stockholm, Sundbyberg is not a bedroom suburb wherefrom people commute to Stockholm, but also a place commuted to from outside. In total, 12,000 commuters travel to or from Sundbyberg every day.
        [edit]Public transportation

        Sundbyberg is well served by the Stockholm public transport system. There are several metro stations as well as one Stockholm commuter rail station and plenty of bus routes. Even some main line trains call at Sundbyberg. 1925-1959 Sundbyberg was served by trams. Trams are expected to return to Sundbyberg in 2013 when Tvärbanan will be extended from Alvik. Tracks are already laid and overhead wires installed through Central Sundbyberg. A northern tramway branch from Ulvsunda to Kista will pass through Rissne.[3] Construction is expected to start in 2014.

        If you look up “Planned Cities in Sweden” you will see quite a few variations of this.

        As far as Kent Station, there are several neighborhoods right in the city which are made up of mostly SFHs, however, by bike or bus you can easily go to towards the Green River Trail and there are many, many large apartment complexes. Additionally, you can take a five minute bus ride up the hill.

        I am a believer in not having loads of density “directly” around the transit station. Reason? It clogs up access by bus, taxi, car! Why not simply have a short hop transit trip or bike ride and you can then have moderate density close by?

      • d.p. says

        Sundbyberg: A 19th-century market town less than 5 miles from central Stockholm, which gradually grew in the 20th century to become fully contiguous with the Stockholm urban area.

        Sundbyberg = Ballard. Complete with two-way commuting. But actually more urban. It’s 100% part of the larger city.

        You fail reading and logic yet again, John.

      • d.p. says

        Jakriborg = Yay for fake history!… I guess.

        Listen, good on the developers for learning from the past what makes a place aesthetically pleasing and for mixing all of its (planned, sterile) uses together. But, it seems pretty silly to plop it down in the middle of nowhere, and disingenuous to call it self-sustaining when you know your entire population will commute to Lund and Malmö (only 3 and 5 miles away, respectively) daily.

        Unless your target market is boring shut-ins who will eat in one restaurant for all eternity!

        Lund is a tiny (though very old) city already. There’s just no reason why this shouldn’t have been built on the edge of the existing urban area, helping to get Jimmi’s family out of their taxicabs by helping to give Lund proper the critical mass for better urban transit infrastructure.

      • d.p. says

        I am a believer in not having loads of density “directly” around the transit station. Reason? It clogs up access by bus, taxi, car!

        You are objectively wrong.

        Try building the transit station at a place with a grid and some cross-streets! Novel idea! Except not… because Chicago and New York and every city with functional transit has worked that way from the start!

        Northgate Transit Center and Kent Station are the worst of suburban landscaping dictating station design. Thus your “clogs”.

        But learning from disasters of your own making is not a strong suit of Suburban America, is it?

    • phil says

      It took a long time to build their system as well. The car lobby has ruled the politic scene for so long, it will be a constant uphill battle to get our share of state and federal money dedicated to public transit, not rebuilding/widening Seattle roads for the suburban crowd.

      The decision to build a metro was made in 1941. The following years, some routes were built with near metro standard but operated with trams. The first part of the metro was opened in 1950, when an underground tram line from 1933 called Södertunneln was converted to metro standard.


      • John Bailo says

        The geography of Stockholm, with the high degree of water permeating the land is alos an interesting parallel.

        I guess that with everyone and his brother always saying how Seattle should be more like NYC, LA, SanFran, Copenhagen…here’s a city that seems quite like our own and has many of the things we long to have in infrastructure, culture, business, transportation, housing.

      • Mike Orr says

        It’s not because of sprawl. It’s because of people’s unwillingness to fund transit infastructure. Seattle voted for two multi-faceted development plans, one in the 1910s and the other in the 1970s. In both cases almost all parts were approved, except for rapid transit. That’s the historical reason why we lag so far behind Stockholm or Chicago. Sprawl did not cause either of these votes. Rather, it was the same mindset that caused sprawl that caused these votes.

      • Lenny says

        “Rather, it was the same mindset that caused sprawl that caused these votes.”

        Re-education camps needed?

      • d.p. says

        Whoops… didn’t even see the part where the author pictures future these satellites being designed around/enabled by hundreds of miles of PRT guideway, rather than by, say, walking and traditional density-enabled transit.

        That elevates the article from run-of-the-mill wishful thinking to full-on Futurama Dreaming.

        Those miles-of-PRT-guideway dreams fail on every level, because they’re specifically designed to enable relatively low density. Thus, the available riders per foot of guideway will forever be too few to justify the cost of construction and maintenance.

        Dumb-diddly-dumb. Let it go.

      • d.p. says

        You walk to the train, you go home, and you have IKEA deliver directly to your doorstep the larger items you’ve purchased.

        Just like I’ve done in the States.

        Having a single IKEA delivery truck make the city rounds is infinitely more efficient than forcing every customer to drive a pickup truck to an un-transit-serviceable quadrant of Renton.

      • d.p. says

        Dumb to use the internet for IKEA’s small stuff. The big stuff is best seen in person, before you decide to live with it.

        If you weren’t stuck in the Sprawlpocalypse, John, perhaps you’d discover the world outside the internet yourself.

      • Lenny says

        “You walk to the train, you go home, and you have IKEA deliver directly to your doorstep the larger items you’ve purchased.”

        Bet that makes your products more expensive, forces you to wait around a few days for delivery and hope they are on time, plus the high VAT in Sweden. Nope, I’ll stay in Seattle, thanks. When you moving to Sweden?

      • d.p. says

        Bet that makes your products more expensive…

        Nope. Especially since all that parking infrastructure is built into U.S. prices.

        forces you to wait around a few days for delivery and hope they are on time…

        Delivers Saturday. Most reliable delivery I’ve ever had.

        plus the high VAT in Sweden…

        Sweden: High VAT, quality services, one of the world’s highest standards of living.
        Seattle: Most regressive tax structure in the western world, government still cries broke all the time, nothing works properly, education stinks, strung-out junkies everywhere.

        When you moving to Sweden?

        Any time I can.

        By the way, Kenny, do you think you could try your sock-puppetry with a creative name at least?

      • John Bailo says


        “Bet that makes your products more expensive, forces you to wait around a few days for delivery and hope they are on time…”

        As opposed to walkable Seattle where…what?

        Do you have a furniture store with a full showroom that each and every resident can walk to?

        And then…do you put a mattress, box spring and bed frame on a bus and haul it up by yourselves to a studio condo on the 25th floor?

        But please, keep on spinning a yarn about this urban lifestyle which doesn’t exist and which cannot exist for all the impracticalities.

        At some point a truck or car is going to have to drive with stuff to your residence, apodment or McMansion, whether in Goteborg or Ballard. Maybe if we all got real we’d have a better system instead of designing for an impossible abstraction!

    • aw says

      I do like the interior finishes in the photos. No need for Italian marble, just seal the rock walls and paint them. And with 1% for art, you could get the artists to do the painting, instead of having them build something in their studio and then pay extra to install it.

      But that would all depend on soil conditions. I doubt that would work here because it’s nunlikely we’d have stations blasted out of solid rock. It could probably work for SAS though.

      • says

        Haha, 1% for art. I’d rather have 100% for design and craftsmanship.

        How about instead of building ugly, barely functional buildings that hog too much of the stations’ walksheds and have lousy street activation, then shelling out 1% of the budget to an artist to drop some funky-yet-inoffensive sculpture or mural in the thing, we build small stations that are attractive and easy to understand for people walking in, are made of quality materials and built well, facilitate easy, efficient transit connections, and otherwise get the hell out of the way?

        Oh, well. Maybe if we don’t get mixed use stations from the beginning we’ll get them eventually.

  3. SR Das says

    I used to strongly question Metro’s apparent hybrid obsession, but now I’ve come to accept it a little more. I totally get that Metro thinks “conventional” diesel propulsion is going the way of the steam locomotive. And I understand that Metro will operate hybrids for years after bus operations in the DSTT eventually end. But one thing still bugs me, though…

    Do they really need to plaster “Powered by Hybrid-Electric” above the rear side windows of every bus? Seems like overkill, or (dare I say it) “shoving their hybrid obsession in our faces.” Moreover, there is one point I want to make clear: this lettering will become obsolete and unnecessary as the need to differentiate the hybrids from “conventional” diesel buses vanishes.

    What do you guys think?

    • Lack Thereof says

      Most of the lettering you describe comes on the buses from the factory. It’s just like the Orion, New Flyer, Cummins, Caterpillar, and Allison badging, also plastered all over the buses.

      It’s purpose isn’t to promote Metro’s green cred, but the manufacturer’s.

    • Matt L (aka Angry Transit Nerd) says

      Don’t forget the superior hill-climbing ability of diesel-electric hybrids. That’s another big selling point in a city like ours.

      • SR Das says

        All valid points, guys, but I’m just saying that when the fleet becomes 100% hybrid (saved for the ETB’s, obviously), it’s like listening to a skipping record. I mean, even the manufacturers will eventually stop producing “conventional” diesel buses. Imagine if railroads kept saying “this locomotive is powered by diesel-electric” when steam locomotives have left the scene over 55 years ago!

      • Orv says

        My favorite thing about them is how much quieter they are pulling away from stops. The newest buses in the fleet make less noise than my car.

    • David L says

      Why do you particularly care?

      Hybrid technology is a perfect fit with urban transit bus operations. Even if you completely ignore the fuel economy difference, Metro’s hybrids just work better than their conventional diesel buses, in pretty much every respect. They are quicker, quieter, smoother, better-stopping, cheaper to maintain, and much happier on hills.

      • SR Das says

        I thought the first hybrids were “tunnel route-only” buses like the Breda’s they replaced, but when I started seeing them on non-tunnel routes, that’s when I thought something suspicious was going on.

        But now, I’ve come to accept Metro’s hybrid obsession for what it’s worth.

      • David L says

        I don’t understand why a decision to stick with better-performing, more reliable buses is an “obsession” or a problem.

        You seem to be very focused on the word “hybrid” rather than the actual costs and benefits of the technology.

    • Mike Orr says

      There are two possible answers. One, “hybrid-electric” still has eco-marketing cachet. Two, the signs are old and nobody bothered to paint over them. Yesterday I noticed that the Capitol Hill station wall still has a poster up for a public meeting last September. But I bet marketing is the main reason. The point that matters is not “when all buses become 100% hybrid” but “when most passengers think all buses are 100% hybrid”. Thousands of passengers still think all buses are traditional diesel. As for hybrid’s hill-climbing abilities, I bet hardly any passengers know about that. I didn’t.

    • Brent says

      Paratransit ridership is not way down, only the share that ST pays for when they cut the check to Metro. They’ve footnoted this in previous reports.

    • aw says

      Previous reports noted that there was a change in how paratransit trips were allocated between Metro and ST.

  4. Alexander says

    As the new service changes began almost a week from today, I was expecting to see more of a change for Arbor Heights after the changes Metro promised after the September service change. The double loop of the 21 takes more time than restoring service to the Arbor Heights loop would. Route 22, as predicted, looks like it is headed for a restructure or cancellation. Maybe, the 125 could be reduced from 45 to 60 minute Headways and extended from Westwood Village via Route 22 to Alaska Junction. Based on the buses needed, it could operate Sundays as well for no additional cost.

    • David L says

      Restoring service to Arbor Heights would take the 21 away from Westwood Village, which is Metro’s new transfer point for all of West Seattle.

      Linking the 125 and 22 is not a bad idea at all.

    • Paul says

      Aren’t the 21 buses driving this circuit anyway after dropping people off at Westwood? I would think they’d do it to get queued up for their next NB trip.

      Anyway, I will appreciate this if I’m not feeling up to walking up the hill on 35th between Barton and Roxbury. Otherwise, I can probably hike those couple blocks faster than the bus.

      • David L says

        No, to this point (and continuing in the morning) they just drop passengers at the layover point opposite Westwood Village, lay over, and start the northbound trip from the same layover point.

        This change is most likely in response to the recent crime and safety problems in Roxhill Park, which southbound passengers have had to cross to get from the layover point to Roxbury.

  5. curious says

    Honest dumb question:
    Is the intended route of the coal trains to Bellingham the same tracks that frequently disrupt Sounder trains due to landslides?

      • Whining Crybaby says

        No. If the coal trains come off the old GN, and turn North at Everett, they avoid most of the slide prone areas which are between Seattle and Everett.

      • Jim Cusick says

        The reason the loaded coal trains take the route they do is because of the more level grade of the route through the Columbia Gorge, and north from Vancouver(WA).

        The empties travel back over the passes. (Stevens or Stampede)

  6. Brent says

    Returning to the topic of impending service cuts if Metro doesn’t get more funding, for which Metro is preparing by decribing what would happen if the most-used routes take a cut, don’t the new service guidelines mean Metro should be cutting service from the lowest-ridership routes first? Certainly, the 158 and 159 should get truncated, and the 61 cancelled, before any peak runs get taken off the C Line. I’m wondering what a 1/6 cut in service would look like if the guidelines were followed.

    Also, paper transfers should be eliminated and a cash surcharge instituted before neighborhoods start losing service completely.

    • asdf says

      The 158 and 159 fall into a very special category that, even if they are packed, their duplication with the Sounder means they should still be cut. It’s the natural consequence of the train not only being faster than a bus, but also offering so much capacity that the effect of the additional load from a group of 158/159 passengers would be negligible.

      But if Metro’s performance metrics say that a half-full 158 is better than a quarter-full bus somewhere else (which is actually providing a unique service), then the 158 remains while that bus somewhere else gets cut, and everyone is all the worse off.

    • David L says

      Metro is subject to the reality that the suburbs have a council majority.

      This is why routes have been artificially divided into two categories — “Serves Seattle core” and “does not serve Seattle core” — which are independently benchmarked, even though there is nothing about the “Seattle core” that should subject a route to higher standards.

      The very highest-performing routes in the “does not serve Seattle core” category would be average or slightly better in the “serves Seattle core” category. All but one or two of the bottom-performing routes in the “serves Seattle core” category would be average or better in the “does not serve Seattle core” category. Yet the council would not be able to accept only “does not serve Seattle core” routes getting cut. Thus, we identify cuts to Seattle core routes that may take place even though the routes to be cut perform better than half of the routes in the suburbs.

      For anyone who actually wants transit to be effective rather than a district spoils system, this is infuriating.

      • asdf says

        The reason behind this is that transit serves two purposes – to carry as many riders as possible and to maintain geographic coverage to as much land area as possible for as many hours of the day as possible. Without these two standards, a large number of neighborhoods would completely lose their bus service.

      • Brent says

        “The joys of having council districts. And some suggest we do that inside the city, too?”

        Yes, the leaders of the effort are mad about money being invested in high-capacity transit, transit-oriented development, building all the big projects downtown, bike lanes, bike paths, bus lanes, HOV lanes, anything that doesn’t serve King Car. And they’ve drawn maps to load the lefties into two districts.

        I hope the STB Board has the far-sightedness to oppose this anti-reform.

      • Brent says

        I think early morning, late evening, mid-day, and weekend runs will get cut before any routes are eliminated. Still, the truncatable routes should be truncated before the eliminations start. The notion of routes being truncatable is, unfortunately, not contemplated in the service guidelines.

        And of course, burning the paper transfers and eliminating the hidden subsidy for cash payers (less inconvenience for them at a cost of inconvenience for every other rider and taxpayer) should be the first service efficiencies.

        If we are lucky, Metro might even land a grant to fund the first couple years of low-income ORCA. If there is one thing they are good at, it is getting available federal grants. If that succeeds, a general fare increase becomes more palatable.

        At any rate, a 16% cut in operations should not result in a 16% cut on each and every route. That would be a violation of the service guidelines, and look like Metro throwing a temper tantrum. A serious look at what can be done if a 16% cut actually happens is in order.

      • David L says

        asdf, I know we’ve disagreed on this before, but I continue to believe that extra geographic coverage is more of a luxury than having enough service available to accommodate demand in high-demand areas.

        I don’t like any cuts, but let’s cut service to neighborhoods that don’t ride before we cut trips that are already overcrowded.

      • asdf says

        If we can squeeze by for 4 more years, a lot of U-district->downtown service could be truncated to Link, saving a ton of service hours in the process. That would be much better than cutting service completely to certain neighborhoods on evenings or weekends.

    • Mike Orr says

      Kent is due for a reorganization this year. The grant that’s funding part of the service on the 164 and 168 is expiring, and these routes have become popular and pretty full (at least west of Lake Meridian). So Metro will have to take hours from other routes in order to keep these at their current frequency. That means the 158 and 159 might be targets. There aren’t a lot of other choices, although there are some other peak-only routes Metro could cut, or the less-used all-day routes (Kent – Federal Way and DART service).

      • David L says

        The 157 and 161 could also be rerouted and truncated into Sounder feeders.

        The all-day network in Kent is very well used. There is pretty much no all-day route that underperforms. About the only ideas I have for cutting all-day service that wouldn’t impose major pain would be selective cuts to DART, taking away the 168 tail, and reducing span on the north half of the 180 (that extra span we just got last year).

        If we expand our scope to the entire south end, there is more deadweight both north and south of Kent.

      • Brent says

        “The 157 and 161 could also be rerouted and truncated into Sounder feeders.”

        Not necessarily. The 157 and 161, unlike the 158 and 159, provide local service as they approach I-5. The 157 could be truncated at Airport Station, and later at 200th St Station. The 161 could be truncated at Rainier Beach Station.

        Neither the 157 nor the 161 serve Kent Station. To do so would require a significant re-route.

      • David L says

        I was thinking that both of them would serve Tukwila Station. That’s easy for the 161 — it already does it — but there might be better options for the 157.

      • Brent says

        The 161 provides unique local service to a stretch of businesses between Tukwila Sounder Station and Interurban. But if it stopped at Interurban, riders south of there on the residential portion of the route would transfer at TSS if headed to downtown Seattle.

        Re-routing the 157 would remove a chunk of east-west local stops in the warehouse valley. I don’t know how much those stops are used.

      • Brent says

        The biggest source of redundant bus service that could be on Sounder is ST’s 592, especially after South Sounder goes to 20-minute headway in October. Of course, removing that duplicative service does nothing for Metro’s conundrum.

      • David L says

        Think about the implications of your position for a second. In effect, this is what you are saying:

        1. Metro’s network is too centered around peak hour.
        2. Further cuts will, of sheer political necessity, increase Metro’s peak-hour focus.*
        3. But, out of frustration, I’d rather have the cuts than the status quo.

        It makes no sense.

        The way to make an all-day-friendly restructure possible is not to create cuts that pit peak-hour riders against everyone else. *The peak-hour riders are far more numerous, and richer, and will win that fight. It’s to change the network, bit by bit, by demanding restructures and increased service on the corridors that work. You may not be happy with the pace of progress in that direction, but the fact is that today’s network is FAR closer to working well than the one ten years ago, during the day. We have three times the number of 15-minute corridors, we have gotten quite a few stop diets, we have eliminated quite a few nonsensical deviations, and we’ve created several big new crosstown routes. Keep doing it; don’t throw it all away because it’s been way too slow.

    • asdf says

      If we’re going to cut service, I think it’s important to think outside the box to look for ways to do it that would minimize the impact. In particular, many routes that have good ridership statistics, on paper, have weak tails which are significantly overserved.

      For example, my regular work commute is on Sound Transit buses serving the Seattle->Redmond corridor. Based on observed ridership patterns on my everyday trip to work, I believe ST could make the following cuts, if they wanted to, with minimal impact:

      1) On weekday afternoons, during the hours when the 542 is operational, truncate the westbound 545 to begin at the 51st St. freeway station, not serving any stops in downtown Redmond.

      2) Between 7 PM and 8 PM on weekday evenings, westbound headways on the 545 would increase from 10 minutes to 15 minutes.

      3) Cancel route 542 and run route 545 on Saturday schedule for weekdays which are Microsoft holidays, but not federal holidays (these days are also UW holidays too).


      1): There are tons of people traveling between Microsoft and Seattle, but demand in downtown Redmond, especially in the reverse commute direction is much lighter, so a 545 every 10 minutes and a 542 every 15 minutes leaves the area way overserved. Furthermore, the 542’s bypass of OTC saves about 5-10 minutes, which effectively cancels out the time riders who want to go from downtown Redmond to downtown Seattle would need to spend waiting for either a 545 or 255 at Evergreen Point. Hence the total travel time from downtown Redmond to Seattle would remain effectively the same as taking the 545 all the way. Given that the 542 has excess capacity, while the 545 is often overcrowded (once leaving Microsoft), this change would lead to a better load distribution between these two routes, which is also good.

      2) After 7 PM, demand on the 545 is a lot less than during the peak and the bus is usually only half-full at this time. Reducing service from 10 minutes to 15 minutes still leaves plenty of capacity to meet everyone’s needs.

      3) On weekdays that are both Microsoft and UW holidays, ridership between the corridor is tiny – there is no reason to operate the 542, nor the 545 every 10 minutes. A Saturday level of service is plenty for these days.

      By thinking outside the box and making cuts similar to my example here, Metro can save service hours without telling whole communities that their serving is going to run hourly instead of half-hourly, or that their service is going to stop running on Sundays, etc.

      • David L says

        This sort of strategy creates the problem that the network becomes hard to use, but you’re right: that problem is likely preferable to losing coverage. An example could be shortening the 33 during 31 service hours and allowing the 31 to cover Thorndyke and Gilman.

        Another place where there is a lot of redundant, overlapping service: downtown and nearby streets. We might be forced back into some night and Sunday “shuttle” service patterns to avoid loss of coverage. For instance, you could end up with the 28 feeding both 26 and 40 shuttles.

        Yet another unappealing option is to combine routes in such a way that coverage is not lost even if convenience is sacrificed. For instance, you could combine the 10 and the 12 into a single route that used Madison and 15th, with transfers to the 11 at Pine and (soon) to the FHSC at Broadway/Madison. The wire exists today to do this, although with an awkward jog at 13th/Madison northbound.

        The best thing, though, is to loudly tell your legislators that we need the ability to vote on replacement funding, so none of this comes to pass.

      • d.p. says

        There is not nearly as much redundancy at night as there is other times of day. Dropping back to shuttle services means leaving even the highest-demand segments (e.g. downtown-Fremont) with hourly service, meaning service that no one in their right mind will use voluntarily.

        This is already the case in way too many parts of the city: thus choice evening usage to and from central Ballard virtually disappearing ever since RR and the 40 conspired to make post-10pm returns like root canals.

      • David L says

        Back when Metro used shuttles, most of them were half-hourly. No, of course they’re not appealing, and of course they’ll cut down ridership, but if the choice is making a shuttle or losing the service altogether, I think the shuttle wins.

        At least this time the pain won’t be only in the city. Metro is already talking about cutting the 245 and combined 164/168 back to half-hourly when grant funding ends.

      • d.p. says

        The example you cited was hourly when I moved here. After 10 or 10:30, you’d have to wait up to an hour downtown, then wait another few minutes in Fremont.

        I think the hourly started even early on Sundays.


        What Metro fundamentally seems to miss, when it refuses to support even a network of core services that don’t suck after 10 or 11, is that shitty late-evening service trickles down to shitty early-evening demand. Why would you ever bother to use the bus to go out — even for something as basic as dinner, a movie, or a gathering at a friend’s — when the return trip is a guaranteed pain or cab/car2go expense?

        This is a big part of the reason that even Metro’s loyal commuter crowd doesn’t consider using the bus in the rest of their lives. Chances are they’ve tried it, and found it not to be worth their while.

        Metro is already far too inclined to skip on evenings and weekends when in a bind. The last thing you should be doing is to encourage that proclivity.

        Would you have them just give up and run nothing outside of rush hour, à la Pierce? Perhaps that would be a more honest reflection of what this city really thinks of car-free livers.

      • David L says

        On the 28, you’re right; it was one of the routes that was reduced to hourly in the Great Night Purge of 2006 or so. I drove the 28 shuttle regularly in 2003 and 2004, and at that time it was half-hourly until 12:15 a.m. with an outbound stinger trip at 1:15 a.m. (Those last two trips were the same bus, and I drove it every Saturday night for a whole shakeup.)

        In general, no choice is going to be a good choice when you’re cutting 17% of service. The result is going to suck no matter what. My first priority is to keep service that is already overcrowded from getting to the point where people are being turned away (and to fix situations where people are being turned away). Like it or not, 90% of that service is at rush hour, and almost all of the rest is either in the afternoon or the early evening. Attracting prospective riders is great, but I don’t think we should turn away current, actual riders trying to do so. Unfortunately, that means I would continue to chip away at nights and Sundays first, despite knowing full well that each such cut takes Seattle further away from what we want it to be.

        Again, what needs to happen is that we need to forestall these cuts.

      • d.p. says

        I’m sorry, but I couldn’t disagree more. Yes to prioritizing successful routes over poor ones. No to prioritizing the White Collar Commute over all else.

        Metro completely botched what might turn out to have been its only chance this decade to restructure its network around legible core services that work to get you to, from, and between all busy parts of the city.

        The advantage of a successful restructure would have been to eliminate the diametric choice you are now claiming must be made! When 18 in-city corridors can get you most anywhere, you can use those 18 corridors to respond to all sorts of needs. Rush-hour buses overcrowded? Run those 18 corridors every 3-5 minutes. Evening service too sparse? Keep those 18 corridors running at 15 minutes until 12:45, and most trips are possible and relatively painless.

        But when you maintain your unrestructured — or halfassedly restructured — spaghetti soup, you find yourself throwing 47 expresses at your rush hour problem, while non-express commuters still crawl at 4 mph or less on overcrowded vehicles. You find yourself still running 50 hourly routes at midnight, uncoordinated, empty, and useless.

        I, for one, will not vote to give Metro one red cent to maintain the status quo. And if they propose cutting in ways that makes them even less useful (for my $90/month), they’re forfeiting that $90 too.

        When they’ve grabbed the low-hanging efficiency fruit, when they’ve proven they give two shits about using funds wisely and offering a usable product, then they can come back to me with their hand outstretched.

      • d.p. says

        The short answer is that I really don’t care.

        I just cannot bring myself to vote for more money to maintain things exactly the way they are.

        I already voted for an massive “expansion” initiative that yielded CrapidRide and saw the rest of its supposed hours permanently — yes, the TransitNow tax is permanent — plowed back into the business-as-usual money pot.

        I already watched Metro blow the last restructure, then pledge to waste money avoiding restructures for the foreseeable future.

        I’m not giving them yet more money — again — for them to waste. That ship has sailed.

        If they’re so spineless as to cut everything else so that the Free Employer Pass people never have to feel an ounce of torque, then they deserve mass abandonment by all others.

        In short, fuck ’em. They’ve dug their own grave.

      • d.p. says

        p.s. I’ve happened to be on a bunch of 17x, 18x, and 15x trips right around 5:00 lately.

        They’re fast. I’m jealous.

        But one person on a rush-hour bus maybe not getting a seat for a small part of their journey is not a capacity crisis!

        Peak-hour vehicles the world over have people crowding them to SRO. Including trains with like 50 times the capacity of a Metro bus.

        You want to address “capacity concerns” on trips of less than 5 miles? Remove some of the motherfucking seats so people have some space to stand, move around, and get to the exits.

        I am through subsidizing Metro’s endless litany of own-goals.

      • David L says

        Well, I suppose anger has won out over reason and there’s not much that can be done about it.

        But, just for the record, when I refer to capacity problems I’m not talking about occasional standees. I’m talking about routes like the 8, 9, 36, 41, 48, 120, 358, etc. where people regularly get passed up. Peak-hour riders on those routes have good reason to be angry if their service is cut further to ensure someone at night has a bus, however empty, within 15 minutes.

      • David L says

        Only anecdata. Those events don’t show up in APC data because, well, the passengers don’t actually board. But it’s safe to assume that any route with high frequency that regularly reports crush loads in the APC data (say, >60 passengers/trip on a standard coach or >90/trip on an artic) will pass people up on a reasonably regular basis.

        The ideal average load from an efficiency and service effectiveness standpoint is seating capacity plus a few standees.

      • Bernie says

        While there’s rarely crush loaded buses on the eastside it does happen. Every time I’ve seen it though (255) it’s associated with bus bunching. The crush loading continues until the following bus can pass. Unfortunately that’s pretty much impossible with trollies. FWIW, the 255 during peak always seems to come in platoons. You get no buses for 20 minutes and then two or three back to back. Really fun at S. Kirkland where NB and SB use the same stop. You can have five 255 buses pull up in a row all waiting for the one in front.

      • d.p. says

        The 8 is a perfect example.

        Obviously, there’s tons of demand both to climb up the Hill from SLU jobs (Westlake stop) and from Eastside/545 jobs (Stewart stop).

        If the 8 were a functional core route, it might be running every 5 minutes or less in the afternoon rush.

        Of course, at present it doesn’t make sense to do so, because those 5-minute buses would be stuck in the same Denny gridlock as the 15-minute buses are. In fact, demand is somewhat suppressed because many realize it’s better to transfer downtown than to fight Denny between 4:00 and 6:00 pm.

        That said, you occasionally see a few people passed up because a traffic-delayed bus physically has no more room. Not a busload’s worth… just a few.

        If the 8 had a 2+1 seating arrangement, those people would have plenty of room!! No pass-ups ever, even on the current delay-prone schedule!

        A seat is not a god-given right, and placing as many butts as possible horizontally is not a goal in and of itself. When “capacity” is 60 rather than 100, you do real harm to your ability to run a sustainable service. I’d wager a guess that our Big Chair Obsession contributes to our worst-in-the-country passenger-subsidy metric!

        “I need a seat” is a political problem Metro has created for itself by being a slow and laborious service for ages and ages. Again, why should I support failure to learn from past mistakes?

      • David L says

        For every 8 there’s a 120, which is a reliable and extremely frequent (at peak) service that just doesn’t have enough trips to meet demand, either in the morning or the evening.

        d.p. gives me the impression of being so upset by the issues with the Ballard and Capitol Hill portions of the network that he forgets the rest of the network exists.

      • d.p. says

        The 120 is also long and way too slow and full of people demanding chairs.

        Metro is the only urban agency on earth that tries to run something approaching “mass transit” with 95% of the floor space taken up by seats.

        The onus is upon you to prove that a bus with more open floor space would still be passing people up on Delridge Way. I have every reason to believe that it would not.

      • asdf says

        If we’re looking for things to cut, chipping away at service hours on a Sunday evening isn’t going to make that much difference because there are 5 weekdays in every week and only one Sunday.

        Simple math dictates that the bulk of the service budget is spent on weekdays, so cuts are going to have to be found on weekdays to make the budget pencil out. Weekdays are also when the system has the most redundancy, allowing serving cuts to happen without leaving whole communities either without coverage or with crappy, hourly headways.

        There is one idea for the Sunday schedule that might be worth considering though. If budgets are tightly, how about declare Christmas Day a Transit Furlough Day, meaning no bus service that day whatsoever. I suppose there’s still enough downtown->airport demand to justify running Link at 15-minute headways, but that can be it. Demand on Christmas Day is way lower than an ordinary Sunday, and the few that need to travel on that day will still have Car2Go, cabs, and Zipcar available. Thoughts?

      • asdf says

        Here’s another idea that thinks outside the box – if the 8 is going to be bogged down so much in traffic every rush hour, how about just truncate the 8 in capitol hill during rush hour and only serve Denny Way during the off-peak period?

      • d.p. says

        I appreciate your brainstorming, but I’m afraid that your well-reasoned criticism of focusing cuts on weekends (where there are scant total hours to cut) applies to holidays as well.

        Even one day a year of no service / no support stuff / no expenditures whatsoever is kind of a drop in the bucket compared to the redundancy and waste that could be trimmed year-round.

        (And yes, that definitely includes the Downtowner Obsequiousness Fleet. For every bus that “passes people up” (who would probably fit if there were any standing room on Metro), there are dozens and dozens of express runs in the the shoulder peaks with maybe a dozen people on them. Why these people are so special is beyond me.)

        In addition, you happen to be wrong about Christmas being a dead day for transit. This Jew happens to know that Chinatown is an amazingly happening destination every December 25th. I’ve never been on a remotely empty bus when headed in that direction.

        The goyim seem also to have adopted our Christmas moviegoing tradition; good luck getting a ticket to nearly anything at the downtown multiplexes that evening.

        I’ve seen many a random winter Sunday or long-weekend Monday with much, much deader transit than Christmas Day.

    • Mike Orr says

      You get more value for your taxes in Sweden, so paying twice as much taxes there is not the same as paying twice as much taxes here. The government is more honest and transparent and there’s less corporate welfare, and the public wants society to succeed rather than trying to get something for nothing for themselves. Because social services are more comprehensive and efficient, less of your remaining money has to go to basic things so it’s available for other things.

    • Mike Orr says

      The Economist had a special report Februrary 2nd on the innovation in the Nordic countries. The most interesting thing I’ve found so far is school vouchers. In Sweden they actually work nationwide. In the US they are riddled with shyster companies that want to take the money but not put resources into education, parents who want to isolate their kids in religious schools that don’t teach evolution or sex ed, and proponents whose real goal is to eliminate public schools, bust teachers unions, and drive salaries down to minimum wage.

      • John Bailo says

        I was reading that Sweden has privatized parts of their transit system services (like maintenance).

  7. John Bailo says

    U.S. Birth Rate Hit Historic Low in 2011, CDC Says

    In 2011, 3,953,593 babies were born in the U.S. — 1 percent fewer than in 2010 and 4 percent fewer than in 2009, according to Brady Hamilton, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues at the agency and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

    That number, combined with population data, yielded a crude birth rate of 12.7 per 1,000 people, the lowest rate ever reported for the nation, they reported online and in the March 2013 issue of Pediatrics.

  8. says

    Hey Car2Go people! Wondering where all your cars are disappearing to? Check out my neighborhood in Outer Wedgwood, where your blue-and-white smart cars are accumulating like dust bunnies, after a one way trip to nowhere.

  9. Brent says

    Remember to vote Tuesday on the Seattle Public Schools Levy. I wasn’t completely convinced on Proposition 2 until I read this op-ed opposing it. It seems some nimbys will even fight against having adequate school capacity in their own neighborhoods.

    • David L says

      They’re seniors and got theirs. Why would they care about education? Especially when it might result in the dreaded MORE TRAFFIC.

      Seriously, vote for it. It’s a great way to get good things built and at the same time give the worst kind of reactionaries a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

  10. John Bailo says

    White House Petition:

    Build The Hydrogen Economy!
    This nation needs a new energy infrastructure based on Hydrogen. Hydrogen storage and use augments the capture of green energy from solar, wind and tides. Cities can build fuel cell power plants running on hydrogen right in their densest cores. Fuel cell vehicles can travel hundreds of miles and their tailpipes leave only water vapor. Let us now allocate not thousands, but billions and billions of dollars towards jobs and technology in research, development, investment and infrastructure that complement the new commercial businesses creating product for the use, storage, and creation of Hydrogen.

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