Safeco Field
Safeco Field, photo by Fusion Panda

You may remember that George Bush, Mary Peters, et al. implemented an immensely stupid rule that transit agencies cannot provide game-day service to sporting events if any private operator is interested in providing service. It doesn’t matter whether a private operator actually has a contract to provide service, as long as one is interested in bidding, public transit agencies cannot provide the service.

Fine, but Bush hasn’t been president since January, and there are still no buses for Mariners games. (H/T to Frank Friend) Hey Obama, LaHood, can I get a bus to a baseball game yet for chrissakes?

On a vaguely related note, I went to a game at Hiroshima’s brand-new Mazda Stadium. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp beat the Chunichi Dragons 2-0 (Kenta Maeda threw a shutout on his 21st birthday and went 3 for 4 from the plate). The stadium is beautiful, and what’s especially cool is that you can see Shinkansen, normal JR trains and Hiroshima’s streetcars all from the stadium, since it’s right next to Hiroshima station. Pretty cool! For some reason, in my mind at least, trains and baseball just go together.

32 Replies to “Why can’t I take a shuttle to the Mariners game?”

  1. 230 + 550 + Microsoft ID = Game

    But, back when I was in Federal Way, I did enjoy the shuttles. Please President Obama, let us have our shuttles.

  2. Metro, please beef up route 255 so I can use it to go to S. Kirkland after Mariners games. How about restoring 30 minute headways after 9pm which were provided before the 251 and 254 were eliminated? How about starting it one stop further south somewhere near Royal Brougham?

    1. This gets around the stupid rules (since technically it’s still “regular route service”)

      Great idea :)

    2. Carl, I presume you’re being semi-serious, but even if Metro weren’t suffering a budget crisis, replacing the shuttle with regular service doesn’t replace the cash that comes from the Mariners, nor does it replace the $3/head cash-only (ie, no passes accepted) revenue that comes with it.

      1. I think Metro was only breaking even. When this came up with the the Seahawks, Kevin Desmond said he was “indifferent” because the Seahawks only paid Metro for the cost that fare recovery didn’t handle. The price of $3 each way was artificially low however you look at it, and drivers didn’t always like running the routes.

      2. Breaking even on operations is better than the <20% farebox recovery for the rest of the system. I’m assuming the drivers aren’t forced to do this so it’s a way for them to make a little extra. Operational costs should be better than peak hour service because the buses don’t have to deadhead one entire direction of the route. If it’s a bus load full of the general public riding public transportation at a break even price point what’s not to like? Game day traffic creates backups for everyone during the work week so all those full buses are helping everyone; not just sports fans.

      3. deadhead is there – have to get to the pick-up points, then are out of service until end of gain, drop off and deadhead back

      4. Obviously fans aren’t riding from a Metro Base but I’d hope the buses are coming from the base closest to the pick-up and return point. That’s got to be a whole lot better than deadheading all the way back to Federal Way or the eastside. I’m curious about the game time “out of service”, do drivers get paid, paid straight time, OT or is there just a free admission bonus? The free admission might violate union rules but it seems like it would be a good deal for the Mariners and maybe a good deal for the drivers (free tickets that would count as nontaxable income since it is a work requirement that you attend the game).

  3. I heard this story on the radio. The report said the Mariners looked into private transport to replace it but the cost was too high. I believe the Mariners contributed to the cost in addition to the fare riders pay. I can understand a rule that required Metro to break even on the service (hopefully make a buck or two). If a private operator provides the same service for cheaper then perhaps they should get the job but I’d expect the Mariners would choose that option with out need for a law.

    How does Bellevue School district qualify as regular service and Mariners don’t. The school service is tied to the school calendar; the Mariners service is tied to the game calendar. The schools are public but game service transports people to a publicly funded stadium.

  4. I sent an e-mail to FTA in the spirit of participative democracy…but somehow I think we won’t get as good a response as we did from the legislature:)

  5. IndyGo in Indianapolis tried the waiver approach, no dice, the FTA turned them down and the motorcoach lobby rejoiced. On that one, there would be plenty of people for everybody to serve, the track keeps the attendence at the 500 a secret, but I am sure it is over 200,000 people, maybe closer to 300,000, and then you have the time trials, pit-stop competition, caroboration day(the little happy hour a few days before the 500 itself). Too bad IndyGo can’t plan for a Light Rail line to Speedway(the suburb where the Brickyard is), but I wonder if they can just happen to propose a stop at the track?

    I think this rule is stupid. If the bids are rejected, the public operator should be allowed to provide the service. If the BNSF mainline had an extra track dedicated for passenger operations in the Auburn-Kent Valley)assuming there is room), latenight trains could pick up some of the slack.

    By the way, as for Hiroshima, I heard they have some interesting vehicles in their museums, but not sure if I should post the reason they are interesting on this blog, but here is the link.

  6. This rule is stupid and needs to go. Sure the motorcoach operators have trouble competing with the public operators but so what? At least here in Seattle the motorcoach companies weren’t able to offer service at a price the teams found attractive.

  7. This is only going to make congestion worse!

    By the way, it would be nice to see Sounder trains servicing the Sounders FC matches – that kind of rolls off the tongue nicely!


    1. I believe the rail services are exempt from the rule. So Sound Transit could run special Sounder service for Sounders games (“ride the Sounder to see the Sounders”).

      Not sure what sort of agreements there are between Sound Transit and say the Mariners or the Seahawks for special Sounder service. I assume a similar agreement would need to be made with the Sounders FC for special service.

      The bright spot is in 3 months people will be able to ride Link to Mariners, Sounders, and Seahawks games.

    2. According to Starline’s CEO, can’t blame here, blame the Mariners for abandoning their fans.

      The Mariners are not required to provide transportation to games, but Starline complains the team is playing hardball.

      “I think the Mariners are motivated to walk away from any commitment to getting the fans to and from Seattle and their previous commitment to reduce congestion and traffic and parking,” Starline CEO Gladys Gillis said.

      Last year, she(the Starline CEO) insulted ATU Local 587, this year the Seattle Mariners. At least ATU Local 587 for better or worse fights for their members.(They have to represent them at disciplinary actions, even if the driver broke safety rules) Local 587 has done other things besides fight for higher driver pay, benefits, and that includes organizing the memorial service for a driver killed on the job.

      As for insulting the Mariners for refusing to take her offer, can’t she take a rejected bid. There should be other criteria. Now SF MUNI put out to bid restoration of Car No.1, only one bidder was allowed to bid, but that was because MUNI had some criteria, including a new one, a bond. THey want the car back next year, and they are worried about the company folding. (Brookeville Equipment won that one, by the way).

      1. This article “Metro to continue shuttle service to Mariners games” claims Metro breaks even on the special shuttles. One commentor in the King5 article claimed (with no supporting evidence) that the $3 ride actually cost $15 to provide and tax payers were making up the difference. The fares plus the Mariners $150,000 contribution netted Metro about $350,000. Starline was asking for $560,000. That would double the price of the tickets ($6) assuming the Mariners didn’t kick in additional money. Still cheaper than parking.

        Good ole Wikipedia provides the following:

        In 2007 it cost $3.64 per boarding to deliver service in the West (Seattle) subarea, $4.79 in the South subarea and $7.27 in the East subarea of King County.

        It seems ticket prices could go up and probably should be quite a bit more coming from the eastside (like a two zone fare). Still, it seems within reason that Metro, with the Mariners contribution breaks even on the deal. Metro of course has an advantage in the buses capital costs are being ignored.

        I have an issue too with considering a Mariners game a private event. This isn’t a Skull & Bones meeting, an Elks convention or even a Boy Scout Jamboree. Anyone can buy a ticket and there’s about as broad a cross section at a baseball game as you’ll find anywhere in America. The buses were bought with public money and clearly the public wants to use that investment to get to the games. I hear the arguement for unfair competition but is this any different than the State offering campsites at State Parks that compete with private campgrounds? Isn’t the stadium district public land?

      2. Plus, these stadiums are built mostly with Public Money, often using blackmail tactics(build it or we leave town, and the voters will blame the mayor), the public should be able to use public resources to serve them. Few stadiums in baseball are built cheap, unless it is a minor league park, like Midway Stadium in St. Paul where the Independent Northern League St. Paul Saints play, cost $3 million to build, only seats 6000 though.

  8. It is a stupid rule.

    On one side of the coin you can claim that the city/transit shouldn’t be allowed to subsidize sports. But look the stadium itself is a huge subsidy!

    And we could claim that businesses who employees ride transit to work are subsidized by Metro even though there are private carriers that “could” bid on it.

    On the other side of the coin, hasn’t the region already contributed enough toward professional sports by providing the stadium? So shouldn’t a private carrier be allowed to bid for the contract?.. Of course, I’d prohibit a private carrier from using a public park & ride without paying…

    Still, what is the point of public transit if we can’t ride it to the things we want to go see/do?

  9. The government seems to forget that we’ve already paid for Metro, Sound Transit, etc though sales tax. Why should we have to pay twice for the same service?

  10. Will this effect the extra buses they put on the 594 going north pregame and then south postgame?

  11. USS Mariner also has a post about this from a non-transit perspective. The comments are extremely pro-shuttle, which is encouraging. Still, I can’t wait until Link gets expanded to serve multiple shuttle P&Rs.

  12. I would just like to point out that this same rule also effects the Seahawks and UW football games.

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