Photo from SLOG
Photo from SLOG

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.

20 Replies to “Metro’s Emergency Routing Plan”

  1. Slick JavaScript! Metro’s newly hired webmaster is great at her job. And kudos to the rest of the staff-the information provided is organized nicely.

  2. Also, which buses are comprised of that magic 335?

    DE60LF: 252 total
    D60LF: 30
    D60HF: 274
    Breda: 59

    My guess is DE60LF + D60LF + Bredas, because while that adds up to 341, I can think of at least 4 of those off the top of my head that are out of service permanently.

    And I’m sure the hybrids will be collecting snow at the base–I remember hearing quite a few times last year that their brake lines were freezing. Thankfully it was in what would be the closed position.

    1. Don’t forget the ST artics too. Metro operates 24 DE60LF’s (9600-9623) Hybrids, and 31 D60LF’s (9500-9506, 9526-9552) So make that another 75 artic Metro has to deal with in the snow.

    2. I actually drove a 60 foot NF hybrid during last winter’s worst snow – routes from Woodinville and Issaquah to downtown. They did remarkably well. I had more problems a couple of weeks later when the roads were clear and we had a late night fog followed by an early morning freeze, creating black ice everywhere. That was my first experience having a 60 foot artic fishtail – and it was unnerving to say the least.

      On snowpocalypse day, I actually got the bus from Woodinville to downtown, braving 2-foot ruts on I-520 and later from Issaquah on I-90. I scooted right around the high-floor artics and other buses on 5th avenue, many of whom had gotten stuck after pulling into a zone (they slant towards teh downhill side) and not being able to get out, or jacknifing trying to get out.

      It’s an experience I’ll not soon forget.

  3. Actually, the thing I’m worried about most this winter transit-wise are the ticket purchasing machines at open-air Link stations. When those capacitive touch screens get a little rain on ’em, they just plain don’t work. That’s an epic fail on ST’s part.

      1. Fixed? It’s still impossible to play the video. What the heck do I have to do to make the computer understand these new “MMS” files now? Never heard of them before. I can see MPEG and MP3 and MP4, at least, that I know of, and MOV. How about something that will play on old computers too?

      2. The file type is the extension at the end, which is .wmv. In my Firefox browser it starts up WMP with no problem.

  4. a very intresting service plan. It would appear that it is designed for all standard motor coaches. Many of the Emergency service routes do not follow the regular or snow route of the same number. Now you will have 3 distint varations of the route, 2 being “on call”. Guess you will have to do your research to find out if your route is on Snow or Emergency Service routing before you leave in very inclement weather. I wonder if metro will mark the signposts in any way since the routing on some of the lines like the “1 ES” and “166 ES” are so vastly diffrent from the regular 1 or 166. Also i guess since most DART service is subcontracted out, they will let the DART providers figure out how to operate their respective service(s).

  5. i forgot to mention that some routes even have a set Flood reroute plan… yeech!

    So the 180…

    180 Regular
    180 Snow Route
    180 Emergency Service Route
    180 Regular/Flood Route
    180 Shuttle/Flood Route

    I bet there will be a lot of destination signs added to the coaches to cover all these diffrent routing varations.

  6. Is it me or are some of the enlarged section maps from Emergency Service Network Route Map not showing the tops of the maps?

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