Nina Shapiro at the Daily Seattle Weekly makes the first journalistic attempt to figure out how Rainier Valley-Downtown Seattle bus service is competing with Link, and throws in a racial angle. She also makes a fairly big factual error.
First the error:
One possible railway deterrent: It’s not free to transfer from train to bus, as it is from bus to bus.
This is simply not true. From Metro’s website:
A valid transfer from Community Transit, Pierce Transit, or Sound Transit can be used as payment for a one zone fare on Metro Transit, regardless of how much you paid on the other system.
Going from the Rainier Valley to elsewhere in the city, as in the example this draws from, is a one zone fare and therefore a free transfer. This took approximately 20 seconds for me to look up, and it’s a shame Ms. Shapiro didn’t bother to do the same.
Another point worth making is that attracting new transit riders is a good thing, and illustrates the “rail bias” that helps make rail transit’s long-term cost per rider more competitive than buses for high-ridership routes.
Finally, a lot of the minority population in the Rainier Valley is also an immigrant population, with limited English skills. For many of them, it was labor-intensive to figure out how to get around in the first place, and it’ll take a bit more of a nudge for them to try out a new mode that may get them places faster. After all, I’m both a fluent English speaker and a transit wonk, and I don’t pretend to fully understand all the intricacies of our interlocking fare systems. Beyond that, there’s a ton of misinformation out there, as the Weekly piece shows, partly due to Sound Transit’s last-minute convergence on its fare policies.
That “nudge” will occur in September, when the 42 and 42X effectively cease to operate.