Yesterday, Metro unveiled the emergency service network, a route system intended for times when heavy snow or severe flooding renders regular service impossible. This is a level beyond the standard snow routing depicted on schedules for 180 routes, designed for when the occasional hillside is a little too slippery.
The 70 routes are basically a core set of Metro’s most important routes, minus some that are obviously impassable in severe weather. However, there are interesting tidbits for armchair planners, like a new Route 90 that serves as Capitol Hill/First Hill/Downtown Circulator, and a modified Route 39 that is truncated to run between Seward Park and the two nearest light rail stations.
Veterans of last winter’s “snowpocalypse” will recall the basic impossibility of adhering to any sort of schedule. Indeed, spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok explains that “given the emergency conditions that would be in effect, these buses would not have regularly scheduled service. However, Metro would deploy as much service as possible on the core routes to move customers.”
With many buses likely out of commission (and about 335 of the usual 550 articulated buses sidelined for safety) Metro envisions a minimum frequency of 2 buses/hour, with certain busy routes like the 48 running as many as 4/hour. This is all, of course, subject to the roads being passable.
To that end, there’s been a coordination effort with road departments to prioritize these routes for clearance. Metro also has a new type of traction tire.
Here’s hoping this isn’t put to the test this winter — with Link’s switch heaters not yet installed, and GPS-based bus tracking coming in 2011, we’ll be much better equipped in a couple of years.
You can watch Metro GM Kevin Desmond explaining the new plan in a 15 minute video. Next: how you can find out when the snow plan is in effect.