RV Boys & Girls Club (northshoresheetmetal.com)
RV Boys & Girls Club (northshoresheetmetal.com)

[UPDATE 9:10am: Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke writes to inform me that there has not been a net cut in SE Seattle Metro service.  Chart is below the jump.]

[UPDATE 2: An explanation of the numbers below is at the end of this post.]

On Tuesday the 20th I attended a very small portion of a Seattle City Council Town Hall at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club.    Because the event was held on the second working day after a major service change that removed entire routes, the dominant emotion was anger at Metro’s “inequitable” decisions.  Fortunately for the attending politicians, an entirely valid response was to say they’d look into it and otherwise pass the buck to the King County Council.

I bring this up because the County Council is going to try the same thing, at the same place, tonight at 6pm.  This may be too much to hope for, but it’d be nice if the Council listened respectfully, but stood behind their staff and raised a few good and important points:

  • There are sins on all sides in Metro debates, but let’s not conflate the addition of a transfer, especially when one route runs every 8 minutes, with a total loss of service.
  • For every person demanding that their service not change at all, there’s a different Rainier Valley resident asking for a connection to the Link station.  In a world with finite resources you’ll have to take away some existing service to make the new connection.
  • Metro had a massive outreach program that I saw up close.  There were at least three mailers sent to every household, dozens of open houses, internet outreach, advertisements in foreign language media, and so on.  People will still miss all that, but there’s not much else Metro can do besides knock on each door individually with 7 interpreters in tow.
  • It’s true that in terms of Metro service the Rainier Valley saw a net loss. However, it makes no sense to look at Metro in isolation. Specifically, there’s a light rail train that already is the most productive route in the system and is still growing.  Before there were any service changes, something like 7,000 round trips were subjectively improved, because people chose to take the train.  More would probably like the train but were afraid to try, or couldn’t get to the station.  Those 14,000 boardings were about four times that of the 42; other routes that were cut (32, 42X, 126) had trivial ridership.  So, from a utilitarian perspective it’s clear the overall transit situation in the Valley has objectively improved.

All that said, Metro was really strong on outreach pre-decision, but now people are actually paying attention.  It might not hurt to have a few (multilingual) open houses in conjunction with Sound Transit where experts work out for people how their commutes will have to change.

UPDATE: Here’s the chart I got from Metro, below the jump:

King County Metro
King County Metro

The February stuff comes from shutting down the 194, but I’m not really sure where the 5,500 hours in September came from, or how to square this with the fact that the 42 cut was partially used to pay for Streetcar operations.  I’ll update here when I get the answer.

22 Replies to “Editorial: Stand Behind Your Agency”

    1. The question isn’t where the money came from, it’s where the service hours went – it didn’t seem like any service saw this purported increase.

      1. That raises the question of what’s being counted as the Southeast. Some of those 8 hours are actually helping improve things on Capitol Hill and through the Central District. The 48 doesn’t really run through the Rainier Valley anymore, although obviously a lot of residents ride it.

        You can really go down the rabbit hole trying to tease this out.

  1. Wow, that is a massive 1 year service increase. 100,000 total new service hours is nothing to sneeze at.

    But you know even if you point this out there will still be people convinced their service hours are going to Paul Allen and the North End.

      1. Figures, I’d seen comments to that effect elsewhere. I’m not sure what can be done to convince SE Seattle and SW King County that they are actually gaining service hours not having them “stolen” by areas that are perceived to be richer and less diverse.

  2. So clearly with University Link and other Link parts from Sound Transit 2, the bus changes will be way more huge, like, one would guess, truncating some routes in the University District. Hopefully someone is studying this event carefully to apply what can be learned to the next go-round.

    1. I’m pessimistic they’ll be able to do much for University Link. The 71/72/73 would have to go down to the stadium and get stuck in the Montlake traffic. I’d like to transfer from Link to the 30 but I guess I’ll have to ride another bus between them. I guess the existing Pacific Street routes won’t change much. Hopefully there will be a station entrance extending to Pacific Street, because it would be another traffic nightmare for the Pacific Street buses to cross Montlake Boulevard and back to stop at the station. The routes that terminate at the UW could be moved to the station.

      I wonder what will happen to the Campus Parkway “transit center”. Logically I can see moving it to the stadium, but it would be less convenient for a lot of transfers (anything involving the 30, 49, 31, etc). Maybe they’ll leave it as-is until North Link opens, but then it will still be not-quite-at the Brooklyn station.

      With North Link they’ll probably truncate the 71/72/73 at Brooklyn or Roosevelt. Although I don’t see where they’ll be able to park that many buses for layovers.

      What other meet-the-train routing could they do, that isn’t already being done to bring people to the UW?

      1. I suspect as well there won’t be huge changes in the University District when U-Link opens, the same thing goes for Capitol Hill. Once North Link opens there will likely be a large amount of transit re-routing. I’m guessing many buses will continue to turn around at Campus Parkway and the 71/72/73/74 will probably be truncated there.

        One way to serve the UW station might be to have routes that cross campus via Stevens Way and Pend Oreille Road go via Pacific St. and Montlake Blvd. instead.

        It will be interesting to see if they do something like the Mt. Baker Transit Center near the Brooklyn Station. In theory this might allow the Campus Parkway transfer/layover point to be moved there, though I suspect it will be kept more or less as-is. Some of the routes that don’t currently go near the Brooklyn Station might be routed to it as part of their runs.

        The 41 and peak express service is most likely

      2. Oops, hit “Add comment” too soon.

        The 41 and peak express service like the 76, 77, 79, and 316 are the routes most likely to either be eliminated or truncated at the nearest Link station when North Link opens. The CT and ST routes using I-5 to points North will probably be truncated at Northgate as well.

        But this is all speculative because we have at least 6 years until U Link opens and 8-10 until North Link opens to Northgate, then Lynnwood 3 years after that.

      3. If the SR-520 rebuild stays on schedule to be completed in 2016 it will mean the removal of the Flyer Stop at Montlake. That coupled with the increased demand on the DSTT for Link I’m pretty sure means all routes from the eastside that previously terminated downtown will end at UW instead. Pretty much a win win as far as I see it.

  3. Metro had a massive outreach program that I saw up close. There were at least three mailers sent to every household, dozens of open houses, internet outreach, advertisements in foreign language media, and so on. People will still miss all that, but there’s not much else Metro can do besides knock on each door individually with 7 interpreters in tow.

    This depends entirely on who you are. I went to several of those open houses. Staff members were dismissive of people’s ideas, even scoffing and snubbing their noses at them.

    Outreach, in my opinion, was not about listening to residents but telling them what was good for them.

    That isn’t outreach; it’s a way to defend themselves later by saying, “well we did … “.

    Regarding the additional hours to SE: The powers that be could add thousands and thousands of hours, but if it doesn’t meet the needs of the community, they are all for not. Having a pretty graph that says “look, we’re not cutting your hours” doesn’t help a rider who is transit dependent navigate their daily lives.

    I think the changes largely benefit commuters, and that’s fine. But then they should just say that.

    1. As an example, there were no changes made to the 34, yet almost all of the 34 overlaps with either the 7 or the 39. But wait, commuters from Seward Park can’t transfer at the Mount Baker station like everyone else can. It would make for longer commute times, and we can’t have that.

      The 34 makes the case for the politics of it all. It highlights that outreach efforts worked for commuters, a completely different demographic than a lot of SE riders (myself included).

      1. pds,

        Obviously, wealthier people are going to have an easier job of organizing campaigns to “save” particular routes. Personally, I agree the 34 should have gone away.

        On the other hand, your lamenting of the “politics” of it all implies that there’s some sort of pure, absolutely apolitical solution to the problem. There’s no such thing — just a different, equally political weighting of priorities that gets you a different solution.

        Regarding being dismissive, some staff people are more diplomatic than others, but there are lots of ideas that really do deserve to be dismissed out of hand.

        As for the commuter/noncommuter weighting, the initial Metro proposal eliminated all express buses from SE Seattle. It was community protests that brought back the 7X and 34.

      2. There were also the protests of ACRS and the VA that caused some revising of the proposed SE Seattle service changes.

      3. Yes, some comments should be dismissed, but that is far different than staff being dismissive. I’ve found that the higher up the chain, the less “customer-friendly”. There are a couple of people who were honest in saying, “wow, that’s a great idea, but we don’t know how to implement it” or “we haven’t figured out how to solve that problem yet”. Those people, however, aren’t the decision makers.

        And yes, ACRS and VA did some lobbying, but it was largely ineffective. I’m also not convinced that the 42 was the route worth saving. The 8, which is supposed to be more predictable than the 48 or 42, isn’t working well at all. There are drive-bys in the morning commuting hours as well as buses running up to 25 minutes late. I’d prefer to see a route entirely dedicated to going up and down MLK as opposed to appending it to the 8.


      4. pds,

        I think the VA and ACRS were effective. The 42 wasn’t in Metro’s plan but was reinserted by the council. It serves ACRS during business hours. The VA got exactly what they wanted, retention of the 39. I agree with you that the 42 is a waste.

        Interesting feedback on the 8. That’s not my experience, but perhaps you ride at a different hour.

        One early Metro plan was to run a Route 109 basically along MLK only, as you suggest. The alternative was having all the 48s run to Rainier Beach, and the latter won decisively.

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