This morning I read the same article Daimajin did, but I noticed something that I see from our local papers all the time: Ridiculous small ‘errors’ making Sound Transit look bad. It should be clear that I don’t think these are unintentional.

Have a look at part of today’s article:

But it’s a choice between cost and time. Layovers and travel times are far longer, but riders can get from town to town on a bus cheaper than by car or even private coach. The one-way, nonrefundable Greyhound fare from downtown Seattle to downtown Tacoma is $11.50 for a 45-minute trip. The same trip on a Sound Transit bus is 30 minutes longer but costs $3. By car, the trip is about 40 minutes without traffic tie-ups.

Did you notice? Larry Lange claims Sound Transit takes 30 minutes longer than Greyhound from Tacoma to Seattle? I checked the schedule to be absolutely sure – nope, Sound Transit’s buses actually take 46 minutes to get to 4th and Union – and they’re faster than Greyhound if you’re going to get off in south Downtown. Sound Transit pads their schedules up to 58 minutes during peak times to account for congestion, but the fact that Greyhound doesn’t bother doesn’t mean Greyhound is faster – just more inaccurate.

ST’s 590 (and similar) don’t stop between Tacoma and Seattle, and they get to use the HOV lanes the whole way. For downtown to downtown trips, they are almost always faster than driving alone, especially considering you don’t have to park.

But it’s the 30 minute difference thing that gets me. Larry Lange knows perfectly well no such difference exists.

14 Replies to “It’s The Little Things.”

  1. Northbound at least, many greyhound buses are coming all the way from California, so they have all sorts of extra places to get delayed.

    They also generally don’t run nearly as often as ST express, so if there’s a mechanical problem, you’ll be in for quite a wait (assuming the next bus isn’t sold out).

    I once had to wait > 2 hours outside the Olympia greyhound station in the middle of the night surrounded by crack addicts because the bus was late due to a problem on I-5 through Portland. If a bus is delayed, greyhound doesn’t keep their station open, the attendant just kicks everyone out and drives home. In general I’d take a ST station and bus over greyhound any day. Among everything else, this article fails to mention that greyhound can be quite disgusting.

  2. Are we focusing on how great transit is in comparison to greyhound…or to driving one’s self?

  3. I was shocked by that error as well!
    Obviously he’s never ridden sound transit to Tacoma! It’s faster than Amtrak.

  4. either way, Wesley. Of course, a three bus trip wouldn’t be that great, but if we’re talking Tacoma city core to Seattle city core, the ST bus or Sounder beat any other option.

  5. Very likely you are all giving Lange too much credit.

    He likely just sat at his computer and wrote the story without doing any primary research.

    Bloggers 1, print media 0.

  6. brad, given the last couple of years, and how much time I and others have spent trying to educate him, I think it’s intentional.

    Someday I’ll write a post about where the crazy cost numbers last year actually came from.

  7. Did anyone bother writing a letter to the editor so that there might be a correction in print, or an edit to the online article?

  8. When you look at Lange’s comparison, he seems to be comparing a Greyhound trip from 9th/Stewart to the Greyhound station in Tacoma, located at Tacoma Dome Station. For ST Express, he must have used 9th/Stewart and 10th/Commerce (downtown Tacoma). It will take a long time for a Greyhound to make it 10th/Commerce.

    To be consistent, he should have compared the travel time from 9th/Stewart to Tacoma Dome Station, or about 67 minutes. While it does take more than the Greyhound travel time since it actually goes through town, it certainly is not 30 minutes more than the 45 minute Greyhound trip.

  9. antakya, even that trip is not 67 minutes when you look at the uncongested parts of the schedule – early morning and late night. Greyhound’s schedule says 45 minutes all day, which is misleading.

    On the 594 schedule, from Tacoma Dome Station (which is where Greyhound starts too), to 9th and Howell (close to Greyhound), is 48 minutes. I don’t even see where you’re getting 67 minutes.

  10. Ben,
    Any midday trip on Route 594 going south.

    Leaves 9th/Stewart at x:20 and x:50, arrives Tacoma Dome at x:27 and x:57 the following hour. That is 67 minutes.

    I’ll give you 60 minutes at night.

  11. King Street Station to Tacoma Station is 45 minutes via Amtrak. That is slated to decrease in 2 weeks.

  12. antakya, those are adjusted for congestion. Look at the first trip in the morning – 48 minutes. You know perfectly well that any congestion that’s going to affect the 594 is going to affect Greyhound OR your car, so it’s utterly pointless to pretend the later schedule is any different. Even Lange, in the article, specifically calls out “without traffic tie-ups”.

    The asterisks on the later timepoints in the schedule also indicate that they are estimates. The bus is usually much earlier than that.

  13. Ah, I’m looking at trips going north. I see that going south is several minutes longer – that’s interesting. I wonder why it is longer for ST, and the same time for Greyhound?

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