Metro Transfer Mockup by Oran
Metro Transfer Mockup by Oran

After reading Martin’s post about the SW Seattle service changes here, here and here I wanted to add a few comments about transfers. Basically, not all transfers are equal. I know this is pretty basic but this point gets overlooked a lot, especially in places like Seattle, where few routes have less than 10 minute headways. Ever ask how to get somewhere by bus and be told to “take route # to ___  and transfer to blah blah blah blah blah”? Yeah you kind of glaze over and zone out  when they say transfer. In these circumstances lots of people decided to drive, take a taxi or don’t even make the trip.

In technical circles this is call a “transfer penalty” and is a number that is factored into a transportation demand modeling disutility function (for more info go to one of my old post on mode choice modeling over at Orphan Road). This transfer penalty is relatively high and is why many small and medium sized transit systems try to maximize the number of trips that can be made without transferring. This is also one reason, among many, why many transit planners don’t believe in circulator routes. They force riders to transfer and riders hate that. So its pretty easy to see why both riders and transit planners trend to be skeptical about changing one seat based systems to transfer based systems.

However, like most things, its not that simple. First, the mode has an impact on transfer rates. Riders are more likely to prefer a rail-to-rail or bus-to-rail transfer over a rail-to-bus transfer even if rail and bus take them to the same place. Riders are simply more comfortable on trains. You might become acutely aware of this while you are traveling. Tourist hate buses and love trains. While in NYC a few weeks ago, I took the subway from Brooklyn into Manhattan, and then back out to Brooklyn. I know there were buses which probably were faster, but it was so much easier and I knew I wouldn’t get lost.

Much more significantly though, the headway length of both transit lines has a huge impact on the willingness (or disutility) of riders to transfer.

Transfer Types by Headway, from Vukan Vuchic "Urban Transit Operations, Planning and Economics"
Transfer Types by Headway, from Vukan Vuchic “Urban Transit Operations, Planning and Economics”

When transferring to a line with short headways (ie it comes often, generally less than 6-7 minutes) from a line with short or long headway (Case A and B) the transfer will always be quick and easy. If there is no transfer coordination the average transfer time will be 1/2 of the destination line’s headway. When transferring from a line that has short headways to a line with long headways (Case C) the transfer becomes more problematic. In these circumstances rider information is critical because the total trip duration is determined by the transfer time which is a function of the destination line headway. This would be akin to a trip from Downtown to Seward Park in the afternoon. The last possibility, Case D, can only be address through timed or coordinated transfers. Transfer coordination can be very extensive requiring significant planning or it can simply favor a travel direction.

I point all this out because smart  transfer planning and rider information can go a long way in solving some of the concerns that riders have, especially when making significant changes. The major transfer “pain point” for most riders will be the afternoon transfer from LINK to buses (Case C). By providing coordinated transfers between LINK and local buses (with priority in peak direction) and pre-trip information about which LINK train riders should take to minimize transfer time, the transfer experience can be significantly improved without improving bus service headways. At the very least Sound Transit and Metro should work together to provide real-time information at LINK stations for riders not only transferring to LINK but also to buses. OneBusAway already provides this information and hopefully Metro will finally wake up and appreciate how important a service OneBusAway provides. Metro should keep in mind that it is selling a product and tools like OneBusAway, especially in this context, add significant and tangible value for riders. I know it does for me.

61 Replies to “Classification of Transfers by Headway Length”

  1. Ever notice the control number in red at the top? Each transfer is unique, at a pretty penny to run all those printed transfers through a seperate numbering machine. I asked Metro over the years “how much extra does that cost to print?”, but never got an answer.
    Supposedly it’s to control inventory and theft – but, the numbers are NEVER logged, anywhere! Drivers don’t, the bases don’t, and maybe the print shop doesn’t. So, why do it. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for stealing a transfer, using the ‘smoking transfer’ as peoples exhibit A. OK, rant is over, more coffee!
    What’s your pet peive about government waste?

    1. Worst example of government waste? Department of Homeland Security, especially the TSA – hands down.

    2. I doubt it’s that big of a cost. For print shops they do this all the time for invoices so it’s a common request. One thing it would do is help discourage someone from counterfeiting. Although with today’s computer technology rolling the numbers wouldn’t be very hard it’s still a lot more sophisticated then just using a scanner to make a copy. Just the fact that they are numbered might make someone along the supply chain think twice about stealing a crate or two.

      1. It’s no extra cost at all, except the cost of the ink. Adding a small inkjet head at the end of the machine which prints the transfer sheets would cost maybe $50-$100, one-time cost, and the software that controls commercial printers does indexing very easily. It’s the same way the print expiration dates on milk cartons and whatnot.

  2. Another question. As transfers are phased out, with ORCA doing all the math, and charging for transfers as ‘appropriate’, will the same transfer rules remain in force? As they stand now, and acknowledging Adams point above, the rules are quite loose to accomodate the worst case scenerio for transferees.
    Here’s an example: Transfers are cut 1:59 from the expected arrival time at the destination. For a long route, say the 150, thats 2.5 hours away from when you boarded. Also, drivers are to allow the headway time between coaches, up to an extra 3 hours. That’s a lot of time!
    Will ORCA do all the math? The reason for asking is this. A lot of riders expect the transer to be long enough to effectively be a round trip ticket.
    Will ORCA be smart enough to know you went downtown, and rode the same bus back a couple of hours later? Two fares, right. A paper transfer gets you home for free.

    1. Also in the evening it seems they give out transfers that last for 3 to 4 hours.

      A few times I do this to go to Seattle for an errand, with ORCA I will have to pay 2x.

    2. I verified last night that my ORCA transferred properly between a 594 and a 49, after about 45 minutes of in between time. :)

    3. I have wondered about this as well. Say my trip is going through Seattle, and I tapped in when I got on the bus in the north end of town, ride the (non express) bus downtown, waited for my connecting bus to arrive, then headed out to the south end of the county. As I don’t tap my card to the scanner until I deboard, it could be quite possible that 2 hours have transpired since I first tapped in, depending on time of day, bus headways, and traffic delays. With transfer usage it’s generally understood that if you got on the bus before the transfer expired, you’re OK. Will ORCA do the same, or will this legitimate transfer be charged as 2 trips?

  3. I don’t recall a policy about allowing headway time between coaches. Basically, if you’re on my bus when that transfer expires, as in you board with a valid transfer but it expires before you pay as you leave, it’s still good. If you board with an expired transfer, you’re out of luck (technically at least – I’m not always going to know when you boarded). Also, transfers for Metro are cut at 1:59, ST is 1:29.

    The rumor is that ORCA transfers will be valid for 90 minutes so I’m not sure how they plan to deal with the pay as you leave scenario. If it’s 90 minutes from when you tap your ORCA pass on the two different trips, that’s a pretty big takeaway. That will be fun to explain to passengers – time to get a stack of those ORCA customer service cards to give away.

  4. Most transit planners I know actually believe in transfers as part of a good system. However, they don’t push useless transfers on to short circular routes. When people start circumnavigating 180 degrees their final destination in a car, bike or bus (beyond just looking for parking) and admit they enjoy traveling out of direction in circles all the time, then maybe it would make sense for transit. Even if Rainier Valley riders have to transfer to rail to go downtown, the other bus routes should be purposeful; going to SODO, Beacon Hill, the Central Area, etc. Creating routes that 100% rideres have to transfer means that the bus has less utility and therefore less ridership.

    Vuchic’s table above references the headway not the mode as this post argues that bus to rail is more favorable than rail to bus. It is frequency, waiting accommodations and real time information that can make or break a transfer. That said, most people expect all of the above of rail and therefore are more willing to transfer to it than bus.

    1. Great point about the transfer direction. That is absolutely true.

      I think you miss read or I accidently overstated the importance of mode. This whole post is about headways and it is by far the most important deciding factor.

  5. Interesting argument. My morning commute can either be non-stop or Case B transfer, ideally I like the non-stop because I’m guaranteed a seat but it takes an extra 15 minutes. My afternoon commute again can be a non-stop that comes every 20 min and takes longer to get home, or a Case C transfer. Frequently I find myself just deciding to wait for the next non-stop rather than risk that Case C transfer at Northgate. My transfer at Northgate is approximately every 20 minutes, if I miss that window I should have waited for the non-stop downtown. Anything that would mitigate those afternoons I’m stuck at Northgate for 20 minutes mad that I didn’t take the non-stop bus would be great. Even the espresso stand shuts down before I get there at 5:30 and the arrival time monitors “just like the airport” are usually broken/vandalized/BSOD.

    1. You’ve just given a case example of why I think Metro needs to build up amenities like coffee carts and vending machines and such, especially at major transfer points like Park-and-Rides.

      1. Some of the P+Rs in Portland have coffee/snack carts during commute times, and vending machines are nearly universal at stations in Japan. They had beer vending machines when I was an exchange student, but I understand they’ve phased those out.

      2. The Old Federal way P&R used to have such amenities available, however the new transit center does not.

  6. What bothers me is the number of people who save their transfers and use them over and over. I have seen two people in Ballard with envelopes marked with the color of the transfer, each envelope stuffed with expired transfers. I spoke with one of the drivers who declined to say anything to the perp. I confronted the perp in Ballard. His idea was that anything to cheat a government agency is OK, since the government supposedly rips us off anyway.

    1. I get a fair number of passengers who will go back to “set down their bags” before paying their fare. This gives them an opportunity to get a look at the day’s transfer and thumb through their portable transfer filing cabinet. Even though I know what they are up to there is little I can do since they have a valid transfer. Confronting a passenger in this situation is just asking for a fare dispute, something drivers are absolutely supposed to avoid. Policy dictates that we are not enforcers.

      I really hope paper transfers disappear ASAP.

      1. Amateurs!

        I lived in Seattle for the last time 2002-3 and knew a *professional* transfer cheat. He had no need to look at the day’s transfer because they are changed in a rigid order. There are 8 letters and 6 colours. The letters were done in alphabetical order and the colours were always changed in the same order (which I forget as I had a pass and didn’t participate in these nefarious activities). There were 24 combinations in all (not 48 as one would think, since a 6-wheel and an 8-wheel together disallow half of the apparently available combinations). The only time this guy got tripped up was when B was retired and replaced by D (something Metro apparently does to stop this foolishness but it’s clearly not enough).

      2. Oh I’d be willing to bet there’s a website somewhere that you can look up today’s transfer color/letter, so you only have the correct one on you and leave your “library” of transfers saftely at home.

      3. You can get a scanner and snoop in to the announcements they make on the radio announcing the correct time and transfer color/letter but then you’d spent $100+ on a scanner.

        Just today I saw someone trying to give away a free transfer at the bus stop (“Why pay when you can ride for free!). One guy with cash in his hand for the fare took it within sight of the stopping 73 and successfully boarded the bus, cash still in hand.

        I used to collect transfers but never reused them before I got U-PASS, that was 4 years ago. Now my Mom collects them for me but she has moved to tickets and now ORCA.

      4. Transfers should be replaced by either single rides, or daypasses. No more questions, no more problems. Phasing out the transfers will cause a lot of hate and discontent at first, and really a lot more work for the occasional rider to have to procure an ORCA card and learn how to use the system, which dosent seem all that easy as it may have been intended (inactive timeouts, what happens if you tag in as your getting on your sounder train that dosent leave for 30 minutes, or your train runs late, so on so forth.) Technology is a great thing, but sometimes the human brain can compute things like this so much faster and easier.

    2. I recycled transfers non-stop for about a year. At the time I didn’t have lots of spare money and saving $3+ a day was helpful. My employer, a fairly large and well-known locally-based company, offered no assistance with transit costs. I had a pretty large transfer library so I made use of them. On the cheat scale, using a transfer (that I originally paid for) seemed more honorable than making fake passes and day tickets (as others do).

      I knew the pattern, but I always liked to confirm the color before boarding. With some coaches it was a bit harder to get a clear view of the transfers before boarding.

      Nowadays I use a (real) pass. It’s always amusing to spot the recyclers.

  7. The major transfer “pain point” for most riders will be the afternoon transfer from LINK to buses (Case C).

    The rail-to-bus transfer is already a “pain point” for Sounder riders. If the train is running just a couple of minutes late, you can hear people start to mutter curses, phone spouses for rides, etc. That’s part of what turned me from a train/bus commuter to a train/bike commuter — if my train was three minutes late to King Street, I was 20 minutes later to work. Biking across I-90 is five minutes slower than the bus when the train is on time, 15 minutes faster than the bus when the train is a little late. And that’s on a route with reasonably frequent bus service.

    If Link encourages better transfer coordination between Sound Transit and Metro, I’d hope that trickles back to Sounder/bus coordination, too.

    1. That’s why the Sounder schedule has a couple minutes’ padding, to prevent that kind of problem. Arriving two minutes early is something no one minds!

  8. I take the 242 to work, but have never taken it back. I usually take the 545 and get off at mountlake and have a transfer to the 48, 44 or 43. Luckily the all have short headways so I don’t have to wait long, otherwise I’d always take the connector.

    1. You won’t be able to do that when the new 520 bridge is built. The Montlake flyer stop will be eliminated

    2. You’re lucky you have your choice of all three routes…folks who can only take the “forty-late” don’t really get much benefit from relatively short headways given the bunching on that route in peak times.

  9. “transfer reform” is really needed at all transit agencies.

    many if not all transit agencies are struggling financially and the best way to make up for this is by drastically reducing the time given on transfers, so that people use them only for transfering and not for round trips or multiple trips. so instead of paying $2 a single one way trip they are paying $2 for 2 or 3 trips so that works out to $.67 – $1/ a trip. we all try to get as much as possible out of our fare but if they fixed it so that you had to pay the full fare for each independent trip, the farebox recovery would be higher and there would be more money flowing to the transit agency reducing the need for service cuts or fare hikes. they are losing at least an additional whole fare or two or three with transfers given for two hours let alone when a bus driver is over generous and gives you a transfer good for 5 hours or the rest of the day. the agencies need to drive this issue home about being over generous on the transfer time to the drivers/operators who issue them, because sometimes i get a transfer good for the rest of the day despite paying the standard one way fare in the middle of the day. transfer policy changes are easy low hanging fruit, and fixing transfer abuse is a much better option in dire financial times.

    i remember less than 10 years ago in san francisco you could pay a student fare of 35 cents and a bus driver would be over generous and give you a transfer for the rest of the day and on top of that, few operators even checked the transfers away. no wonder the farebox recovery is so low on so many systems.

    Steve Hulsizer, he thinks he is screwing over the govt but he is actually screwing everyone over on the bus and who use the transit system. because of him there is less money going to metro and therefore service has to be cut and fares for everyone else raised.

    1. This really only works if there’s a way to enforce the transfer time. On Metro buses, the drivers rarely look at the time on the transfer, or even the size, to see if it’s valid. You just wave the crumpled up piece of colored paper in the general direction of the driver and get on. I moved here about a month before grad school started and used cash until I registered for the UW and go the U-Pass and never even realized that transfers were supposed to expire. I just used the same one at 9am and 5pm, not knowing any better. None of the drivers said anything about it.

      I get that drivers aren’t supposed to be enforcers and there are good reasons for that, but if policy held that you were supposed to hand your transfer to the driver and the driver hands it back, a lot of people who might try to board with an expired one wouldn’t, just out of shame. If someone insisted on boarding with an expired transfer and the driver backs down, that’s fine, but a lot of people would never be assertive enough to try.

      1. Not sure on inside Metro, but cross-service paper transfers to Sound Transit are supposed to go away in May, which is like, RIGHT NOW!

      2. Intersystem transfers supposedly go out with the June service change.

        Figure that if ORCA isn’t working like its supposed to, you’ll see the transfers come back by September, if not sooner.

        Oh well, no more OWL transfers.

      3. Yeah, paper transfers aren’t the problem. Toronto bus drivers are insanely eagle eyed for checking them. I never got away with it once, and I tried (I was a poor student, okay?).

  10. Even Metro’s own trip planner isn’t perfect. When I’m planning a trip on the 194 to Federal Way, I often grab the paper timetables for it and the combo timetable for the 71/2/3. If I plug in the “now” time it’ll usually give me the very next 7N bus and a 20 minute layover in the tunnel. Instead, I take the next bus after the next bus and have a 5 minute layover.

    And speaking of transfers, I know somebody that rides the 197 and always catches that even if she doesn’t have class until later in the morning. I told her how easy it is to ride the 577 and then transfer to a 7N, but she’d rather get up early instead of transferring.

  11. Wait, so with ORCA there’s a hard limit of 2 hours for transfer times?

    If I’m waiting to board a bus that’s scheduled to arrive 5 minutes before my transfer window expires and the bus is 10 minutes late, am I simply out of luck? Or is ORCA going by the scheduled time?

    1. The point is that you’re paying for use of the transit system in 2 hour increments. ORCA does the timing automatically so you don’t have to argue with the driver. There’s even an optional autoload feature to automatically recharge your ORCA via credit card if your balance is not enough to cover the fare on your current trip.

      1. Instead of “arguing with the driver”, I typically see the opposite. The driver doesn’t adhere to a hard two-hour rule and gives the rider some leeway because the bus may have been late (or the person may have missed the previous bus, etc.).

      2. How will Metro’s policy of extending transfer validity in an inclement weather event be applied to ORCA?

  12. The Sound Transit light rail system we have collectively approved for construction between now and 2023 is modeled to increase the transfer rate from 29% of all transit trips today in the region to 49% in 2030, according to Prop 1 documents disseminated for voter education.

    A bus-to-rail transfer for a round-trip commuter in the morning becomes a rail-to-bus transfer in the evening, to state an obvious but sometimes overlooked point.

    Tonight in King County Council Chambers and live on King County TV there is a Public Q & A with Metro Transit staff 5:30-6:30 p.m. and a Public Hearing: 6:30 p.m. in Council chambers, 10th floor, King County Courthouse, Third and James Streets on the bus routing changes that are being made to feed passengers into light rail stations. See http://www.kingcounty.gov/council/news/2009/April/transitmtgADV.aspx . It will be recorded for later viewing.

    1. 49%? That’s the number of transit trips that have transfers in the county or in the three-county district?

      1. 49% is a forecast for 2030 in the three county Sound Transit district, according to the ST2 Plan document.

        That hearing I mentioned is NOT being broadcast live, apparently. I can’t find it on the Internet live speed.

    2. It would be important to know how much of that increase is because of new ridership (bus options we’re simply too time consuming or not available) and how much is from one seat bus rides being replaced by a transfer to rail. Of the one seat rides that are replaced what is the expectation for improvement with respect to on time transportation and total trip time vs. the previous bus only option?

      1. Bernie,

        Last September I partially analyzed your question about where the regional transit ridership resulting from Prop 1 would come from. I compared Sound Transit’s computer-generated forecast of 2030 transit ridership to result from the Prop 1 passage that indeed occurred, and also without that passage. The latter scenario is now moot, but by recalling how it was modeled by ST in the Prop 1 (ST2) plan presented to voters I am able to estimate the new transit ridership resulting from expanded light rail that you are asking about.

        The analysis for region-wide transit ridership (3 counties) I did is a small four page pdf posted at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/2030transitRidershipFractions.pdf . There is a spreadsheet with calculations behind the analysis that I can share on request.

        My analysis heavily depends on the Sound Transit claim in its Appendix C of the ST2 plan, Table 2, that in 2030 65% of all transit trips will include use of a Sound Transit vehicle, which would have been 40% if Prop 1 had failed to pass. I also need to use trip data, boarding data, and transfer rates, plus the Sound Transit (only) boarding data.

        Daily 2030 regional transit ridership (both ST and non-ST vehicles, all trips) is forecast by ST to be 544,000 per day, made up of 808,000 vehicle boardings. The 49% transfer rate comes from dividing 808 by 544 and subtracting 1. I make a simplifying assumption in what follows that two-transfer transit trips are rare.

        Based on my analysis, I answer your questions as follows:

        “Increase because of new ridership because bus options we’re simply too time consuming or not available:” approximately 62,000 trips per day, which is the difference in transit trips between 2030 with ST2 and without ST2.

        Q: “One seat bus rides being replaced by a transfer to rail:”

        A: A maximum of about 99,000 per day, which measures what I call Sound Transit cannibalization or takeover of Metro/Pierce/CT ridership. This is a measure of the difference in 2030 between pure local transit ridership and ridership with some ST involvement, first with and then without the Prop 1 investments, as modeled by Sound Transit. I concede that some of these 2030 ST riders with ST2 completed would be former two-bus local transit passengers who have switched to ST-involved service which may or may not involve a transfer.

        (Note that fast direct service from the southern Rainier Valley to SeaTac Airport is about to become sensationally faster by Link light rail, because a trip to downtown by bus and a wait/transfer to the 194 will no longer be required. One of the dirty little secrets of Sound Transit’s justification for $500 million in Federal grant funding is including time savings like this.)

        Q: “Of the one seat rides that are replaced, what is the expectation for improvement with respect to on time transportation and total trip time vs. the previous bus only option:”

        A: I don’t have any time savings, but I would presume that these time savings are enjoyed by approximately 161,000 per day made up of nearly all 99,000 of the cannibalization, plus all of the 62,000 in new ridership; otherwise, if time savings did not occur, the switch to ST vehicles for all or part of the trip wouldn’t occur.

        While composing this note, I was listening on King County TV to the feedback to the County Council from many present day bus riders who think they are going to be negatively affected by the bus schedule/routing changes coming later this year as a result of light rail introduction.

        What I just heard makes me think that the ST forecasts of last July for 2030 that I used here are speculative because of the underlying assumptions of what 2030 local bus service will be, and that my calculations on top of the forecasts are even more speculative!

        I did however use the same modeling that is behind Ben’s claim noted frequently that the transit passenger miles in 2030 on ST will be more than aboard all the local bus services combined.

      2. Thanks John for the response. It’s all highly speculative but you’ve thrown out some rational that is at least plausible.

        presume that these time savings are enjoyed by approximately 161,000 per day made up of nearly all 99,000 of the cannibalization, plus all of the 62,000 in new ridership; otherwise,if time savings did not occur, the switch to ST vehicles for all or part of the trip wouldn’t occur.

        If this is true then, and as you noted the primary drive toward riding public transit in the first place is time, we really have no losers. I would hope that in addition to the vast majority of trips being faster (if perhaps a little less convenient) on a per passenger mile basis they will also be cheaper to provide which makes everybody a winner.

  13. In Toronto, planners rigorously apply a system of weights to approximate the impact of travel time changes associated with proposed service changes.

    For example:
    Each minute of in-vehicle traveling time = 1.0
    Each minute of waiting time = 1.5
    Each minute of walking time = 2.0
    Each transfer = 10.0
    (taken from http://www3.ttc.ca/PDF/Transit_Planning/service_improvements_2008.pdf).

    So, in an insanely simplified hypothetical proposal, lets say change x reduces waiting time by 5 minutes for 1000 people while forcing a new transfer for 200 people. This would pencil out as:

    -5 (waiting minutes saved) x 1000 (trips) x 1.5 (weight) = -7500 weighted travel times savings

    vs.

    200 (trips) x 10 (weight) = 2000 units of inconvenience (my paraphrase)

    Overall, proposal x would still have a net of -5500 minutes saved and would be considered viable. Toronto seems to make a real effort at quantifying the concept of making changes based on benefit for the greater good in a practical matter. Although it duly considers the inconvenience of transfers (at a rate of 10 to 1 over minutes saved!), it still allows for the possibility of a change that would benefit many while inconveniencing some.

    What makes this especially interesting is that Toronto relies VERY heavily on transfers as it has an almost perfect grid system.

  14. I disagree that bus-to-rail is better than rail-to-bus. When I start a trip, I’m impatient and take the first vehicle that comes. If I have to transfer in the middle, that’s not as big a deal because it’s just part of the trip, and anyway I have been sitting down rather than standing and am probably in the middle of a good Economist article. At the end it matters least if I have to walk a way because I’m already at my destination.

    To put it another way, the best time to wait or walk is always later rather than now.

    The silliest example of this is the 14 to Summit, which is scheduled three minutes after the 43 instead of fifteen minutes after. So many people will just take the 43 because it goes most of the way there, so the 14 gets underused. And worst is, you never know if the 14 is going to be five minutes late or ten minutes late, you just know it’s never on time. So all the more reason to take the 43 instead. They should set the 14 to go fifteen minutes after the 43, then you’d have a choice of taking one bus or the other every 15 minutes rather than having to wait half an hour for the next 14.

    Oh, and the 23 and the 174 on 4th Avenue South also need to be coordinated. They both go every half hour, but they both pass within five minutes of each other, which leaves a 25-minute wait in the worst case. Why not coordinate one to go fifteen minutes after the other?

    1. Route 23 and proposed new Route 124 (Tukwila International Blvd Station – Downtown Seattle) will be through-routed with routes 26/28 in September 2009, thereby achieving 15-minute service through SODO along Fourth Avenue South until approximately 10 p.m. seven days a week. Route 124 will be a 24-hour service replacing Route 174, which will be truncated to operate between Tukwila International Blvd Station and Federal Way from September 2009 until June 2010 with the A Line RapidRide begins service.

      1. Excellent. My only question to Metro staff is why does this nugget appear here and not on the “outreach” material nor in the the legisearch info on the county’s site? For that matter, why are maps for the changes available here but again not on the county’s “outreach” site? I feel strongly that it is not a good situation that the public has to wait for material to be smuggled out to the blogs rather than placed prominently in Metro’s “outreach”. To be clear, I am grateful and thank you Mr. Latterman for the valuable info – I just wish that it wasn’t being posted in your free time. Out of curiosity (and I’m really surprised no one else has asked this yet) – are the revised routes 106 and new route 124 intended to operate in the tunnel as their predecessors do?

      2. Since they’re through-routed with routes 26/28 (Green Lake/Broadview), it seems unlikely they will run in the tunnel. I’ve never heard of any through-routes running in the tunnel, recently. 106? maybe.

  15. Metro does have the most lenient policy with transfers I’ve seen everywhere and it’s nice. Some places stamp which direction you’re going and frown on you making a round trip. But sometimes you’re just going to the library to return a book. It’s no more expense to Metro than somebody going from downtown to Federal Way, so why should you pay double?

    The other thing I’ve noticed in Canada (Vancouver and I think Toronto) is they have these big signs saying it’s illegal to give somebody a transfer. Talk about stodgy bean counters. TransLink has already gotten money for the 2-hour block, why should they care whether you use it or somebody else? The argument that they’d lose out on the other person’s fare is a little bogus since you have already paid for it and they would’ve let you transfer for free.

    It all makes Metro seem laid-back in comparision, which makes it a more pleasant city to live in. (And yes, I do buy a pass now every month, so they’re not losing revenue on me.) The plush seats help too. Has anybody noticed that Metro has the most comfortable seats of practically any bus system? San Francisco MUNI has these hard plastic seats like McDonald’s seats, ugh. In Vancouver many of the seats are just one seat wide, which means more people have to stand. (Although the newest series of Metro buses have harder seats; hopefully not the start of a trend.)

    1. I think the point being made that the transfer is block purchase of time is bogus.
      The transfer is solely for the purpose of continuing your trip from A to C. Sometimes it’s direct (one seat ride), and sometimes you have to transfer at B. As transit systems begin to force the transfer upon more and more riders, the means to accomodate transferees becomes even more important.
      To simplify the system, ORCA just uses a flat time, thereby penalizing riders that have a long trip to B, then another long trip to C, where they tap out, and get dinged for being over 2 hours.
      Conversely, short hop riders can ‘game the system’, as they do now, knowing ORCA is based on a flat time.
      Keeping things simple has a lot of merit, but the inequities imposed on rural to rural Origin/Destination pairs is significant, especially when the buses don’t show up on time, or the wait for the next bus is really crappy.
      Oh well, nothing in life is always fair!

      1. I guess the basic problem is that most cities that have gone to a sea-critter card have large subway systems, so most people are waiting only five minutes to transfer to another train, and the buses run every 15 minutes. (Well, actually, train-to-train transfers are usually free anyway.) Seattle may be the first city using it that will have mostly bus-to-bus or train-to-bus transfers, with 30-60 minute headways in most areas. So it’s kind of like restricting the system without providing the service.

        But hopefully the transit boards will be flexible enough to make adjustments once the system is rolled out. For instance, tapping out of buses, making the back doors useless. They still haven’t addressed the issue of overcrowded buses, broken-down buses, or people running out to catch a connecting bus that’s about to leave. Is the system going to automatically charge a default (higher) fare in those cases? I assume there’s nothing technically preventing Metro and Sound Transit from going to a flat rate, tap-in-only policy in the future like Chicago and NYC have, if they decide to.

      2. You don’t have to tap out on a bus (at least not on Metro this weekend).

        I’m not totally sure how it works if you’re going a short distance on a intercounty bus–maybe in those cases you do have to tap out. I haven’t ridden an intercounty bus with an ORCA card yet, but you can set your “Zone fare preset” on the ORCA website to charge a one zone by default. I guess in that case maybe you have to tap out if you actually want it to charge you for a two zone fare!

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