"More RapidRide buses in the boneyard", by Oran

2009 was a red-letter year in Greater Seattle’s transit history, but there are some things to look forward to in 2010:

  • In June, the long-awaited opening of RapidRide Line A, from Federal Way to Tukwila/International Blvd. Station.
  • Starting today, Metro fares go up a quarter and transfer policies change.  By the end of the year the physical PugetPass will have disappeared.
  • A Seattle-only rail measure may go to the ballot in November.
  • A major revision to Southwest King County bus service in February, including the end of the 194.
  • A USDOT decision on the TIGER grant in February could cut years off the opening of Link’s S. 200th St. Station.
  • The first two rounds of “low-impact reductions” to Metro service occur in February and September.
  • Metro starts installing a new communications system — to include GPS — in the third quarter, with completion in 2011.
  • Hopefully, next train signs start working at Link stations in January.
  • The Sound Transit Board makes a final decision on the East Link alignment in March.
  • Route 542, from Redmond to NE 65th St (Seattle) via the U-District, begins October 4th, at 5:45am.

173 Replies to “What’s Ahead in 2010”

  1. I’m very interested to see what a Seattle-only rail vote will like: what will be the alignment, how much and how paid for, and what will the eventual opposition group look like. I can’t believe that a measure of this magnitude will be ready in ten months.

    1. I agree. One of my greatest fears is that a poor plan is rushed to the ballot, it’s approved, and poisons a “real” light rail connection to Ballard/W Seattle in the long run. I’d rather wait for a line that the area deserves (e.g. light-metro style with undergrounding through Belltown/QA) rather than some trumped up streetcar.

      1. I agree – a well thought out plan, w/ lots of pre-election groundwork carefully laid, makes 2012 seem more sensible.

      2. We’re not getting a new tunnel, we don’t need a new tunnel, we need 2-3 light rail lines on the ballot this year, not just one. Transit-friendly cities (ie, every major west coast city besides Seattle) routinely put several light rail lines on the ballot at once and finish building them in less than 10 years. Without the suburbs and rural areas involved, we can do it too. Seattle deserves as much light rail as Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Jose, Portland, Vancouver, San Diego, Los Angeles, or even San Francisco.

      3. Misha,

        We’re fundamentally limited by what revenues the state allows us to raise. If you want a big bang of rail you’re going to switch out almost the whole Puget Sound legislative delegation, for starters.

      4. Martin: the final East Link decision isn’t anticipated until late Fall 2010 – or possibly later. Identifying the East Link Downtown Bellevue preferred alternative is what may be re-assessed in March.

      5. Actually, I do think that we need a new tunnel in DT Seattle for the WS to Ballard line.

        My greatest fear is that McGinn will rush a watered down LR plan onto the ballot and the WS to Ballard line will end up being little more than a glorified streetcar line. If you believe the ridership estimates that have been done for this corridor, then the city really needs to build Central Link caliber LR and not SC. Building SC just wouldn’t satisfy the demand and would actually delay the implementation of real LR in this corridor – once again short-changing Ballard and WS.

        Also, I don’t see going to the ballot this year as a good strategic decision. I’d develop a real plan and then put it on the ballot during a presidential election year when voter turnout will be higher (and more liberal/progressive).

      6. It will likely be a Seattle-only vote so the Presidential election year thing is less of a factor.

        The real problem is any sort of 100% grade separated West Seattle to Ballard line would be hugely expensive.

        I suspect the best we can hope for in the near future is a Link-compatible line from SODO to the WS Junction with a mix of at-grade (MLK style) and elevated segments, with perhaps a very short tunnel just big enough for a station in the Junction area. As for how to get across the Duwamish, I have no idea. It depends on what is possible engineering wise with both bridges, what is possible politically as far as taking lanes from cars, and what the overall project budget is vs. the cost of either a new bridge or some sort of tunnel across the Duwamish.

        For Ballard the best bet at this point looks to be the Fremont/Ballard streetcar line. It would most likely cross the Ship Canal over the Fremont Bridge. There is a good chance the line would mostly grade separated (at least to the MLK level) along Westlake and possibly between Fremont and Ballard. This in no way would preclude doing a light rail line in the Uptown/Interbay/Ballard corridor. Any more so than having the 17, 26, or 28, precludes the 15 or 18.

      7. Ryan – for both West Seattle and Ballard, there’s a clear “high” and “low” corridor. For West Seattle, that’s up Admiral and then down California for a low corridor, and down 35th for a high corridor. For Ballard, you can go Interbay or you can go Fremont.

        Putting a streetcar (or “heavy streetcar”) in the low corridors would provide good service and not duplicate RapidRide, and in the future, we can upgrade the RapidRide corridors to a high capacity system.

      8. I agree – I think it’s just important that any vote this year takes a longer-term plan into account. We shouldn’t be voting on something that only provides 60% of what we need now, at the sake of the remaining 40% later.

      9. I’d think heading up Admiral first would add to much backtracking for anyone South of Admiral.

        What of Conlin’s proposal for light rail between the Junction and SODO over what I assume to be more or less the Green Line alignment? Still the point is well taken, any HCT/ICT service to West Seattle will need some sort of high-quality feeder service, a streetcar would fill that bill.

        I also agree that Uptown/Interbay/Ballard/Crown Hill is an entirely different corridor than Westlake/Fremont/Ballard.

      10. I think heading up Admiral first might be the only thing affordable – something on the high bridge would require a lot more earthwork. While it doesn’t serve everyone, it gives good service to those who aren’t getting service with RapidRide.

      11. Avalon Way would also be an option. It was an old streetcar ROW back in the day. The line could even duck around the steel mill like the Green line to provide better service to the North Delridge area.

        Unfortunately for West Seattle using an existing bridge likely won’t be an option. The streetcar study claimed there were geometry problems with putting rail on the low bridge. While the high bridge could likely take the load of either a streetcar or Link that can’t be done without taking some lanes. I’m guessing a new rail bridge will have to be part of the plan.

        Don’t get me wrong, with all of the multi-family stretching along California there needs to be some sort of decent feeder service between Admiral and the Junction.

      12. Interesting thought about going to Admiral. I wonder if Metro will consider restructuring the California Ave service when they implement Rapid Ride. Hopefully they will look at some kind of route restructure with Routes 22, 55 and 128. Basically, is there still a need for Routes 22 and 55 when Rapid Ride is running? Or could you operate a combined Route 21 and 128 to California and Atlantic with each route operating a combined 10 minute daytime and 15 minute nighttime frequency? Since both of these routes go to Morgan, the Rapid Ride route could skip some stops between Alaska and Morgan.

        Also, what about Routes 56 and 57? Should both those routes feed the Rapid Ride or rail service at Spokane and Chelan? Would it be worth a trade-off between a one-seat ride to downtown Seattle versus a more frequent service along Admiral Way (say 15-minute all day long)?

      13. The “lowest” corridor in West Seattle also has the highest transit ridership: Delridge. The 120 is the highest ridership route in West Seattle, and the only one that currently runs at 15 minute headways all day long (and fills up articulated buses all day long too). The route is flat, straight, and not too congested with traffic. Perfect for a streetcar. A branch could be extended to the west Seattle Junction when money for tunnelling was available.

      14. The density is highest around the Junction and Avalon though. For that matter I think the area along California from Morgan to North of Admiral may actually be higher average density than Delridge even though the MF is mostly in a thin half-block strip on California.

        I wonder how much of the ridership of the 120 is actually coming from White Center and Burien.

      15. I agree that we hope for light-metro service between Ballard and Downtown, but it is going to be a long time before this becomes feasible, since digging a new tunnel Downtown is no small or cheap thing (plus a new ship canal crossing). A “heavy streetcar” line can help in the meantime, and will provide the Fremont connection that an Interbay line wouldn’t. There may be the fear that such a line would poison the possibility of a light-metro line in the future, but on the other hand it will induce more transit ridership (and development) which may help build the pressure for more options.

      16. I’m curious how this heavy streetcar would cross the ship canal. I’m particularly concerned with the Ballard bridge and Fremont bridge – both are saturated at rush hour as it is. For instance, on Westlake there is often a large backup headed northbound approaching the bridge – especially when the bridge raises. How would a streetcar be able to avoid this congestion?

        I like streetcars as much as the next person, but simply building them to build them is not a solution. I think the westlake/fremont corrdior deserves and needs better transit, but I don’t think a streetcar sharing ROW for the entire corridor (and over the bridge for that matter) is any solution.

      17. For most of Westlake I believe it is planned to be in its own ROW at the side of the street. Perhaps when it gets to the Fremont Bridge it will have a signal that will allow it to go in front of the traffic.

      18. Alex,
        That is what the old streetcars did along Westlake. The old right of way is now the parking you see along the west side of the street.

      19. You can still find small stretches of the old streetcar track along the waterfront, especially at the north end.

        I wonder for a new streetcar ROW if they can reclaim part of the parking lot, or if they would have to take lanes out of Westlake Ave.

      20. Actually that track you see is old freight ROW, I’m pretty sure the streetcar tracks were elsewhere.

        Still given the ROW available along Westlake it makes a lot of sense to give any rail transit its own lanes rather than having it run in mixed traffic.

    2. I agree too – I think it is highly unlikely but I guess we can hope, right? That said, I think that this was an election gimmick more than anything else.

      1. Yes I know I am – I remain unsold on the new mayor and the timing of the new package but as time moves on, and with the right priorities, I am ready to change my mind on both. I am just not a huge fan on change where it is change for politicians’ sake and not out of any necessity for it. This is the inherrent flaw in democracy. It would be like someone at Microsoft turning around to Bill Gates and saying: “You know what Bill, you have been here two years, I want your job now”. I’ll probably feel the same way when someone comes to challange Mike McGinn in the years to come – that is I will support him if he will have done done anything worth defending. Outside of the wretched tunnel, as I have said before, he is probably a great choice for Seattle.

        Speaking of continuity versus change, is it just me, or has Dow Constantine done or said anything of note since arriving in office? I don’t think he has had any press coverage other than appearing for the opening of Link to SeaTac?

      2. Tim, The Ballard/West Seattle light rail proposals may be the proper response to dealing with traffic if the Alaskan Way Viaduct is decomissioned.

        I still believe monorail is the better technology through the corridor. Run it along the downtown waterfront in place of the AWV. Fast and what a view!

      3. It could serve freight on the waterfront just fine, Tim… And if congestion is a problem, you could create a dedicated freight lane.

      4. Far more important for freight is the connection at S. Atlantic Street. While I tend to favor grade separation from 99 here it really doesn’t matter as long as the trucks don’t have to make a zillion long stops between the waterfront and the overpass on 4th Avenue.

  2. Yesterday at Mt. Baker Station, I heard and saw on the reader boards “The train is approaching, please stand behind the yellow textured strip.” Maybe Sound Transit is beginning to roll out arrivals info to stations.

      1. How “not new” is it? I’ve been riding Link at least 4 round trips per week to and from Mt. Baker since it opened, and I’ve never heard that before yesterday.

      2. Maybe you were thinking about “For your safety, please stay behind the yellow textured strip until the train comes to a complete stop.” which isn’t the same message as the new one up there.

      3. I ride Link Monday to Friday and had never heard the announcement until I took the 12:10 PM train to Sea-Tac Airport. I did a double take when I heard the announcement and quickly looked at the overhead LED sign. Sure enough I just caught the tail end of the word ‘approaching’ scrolling across, plus the verbal announcement was somewhat clipped at the very end.

  3. Did anyone ride Link light rail in the wee hours of January 1, 2010, when hours were extenede past normal operating hours? How about a report?

    Were many people making use of the trains leaving Seattle after 1 am?

    Who was on those trains?

    1. I was on those trains and they were full of excited families and others who had witnessed the great New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the Space Needle – huge thanks to Sound Transit for laying these extra trains on. People were all calm and well-behaved and most of us all got on a Tukwila. I ended up ‘educating’ my seat neighbours with anecdotes and art work pointing out as we passed the various stations. One lady promised that she would use Link during the day time hours!

      1. Well I was using ‘full’ to describe the emotions of the ‘excited’ families using the service, not their physical capacity. That said on the 12.48am or thereabouts from Westlake, the trains were comfortably full. I prefer my trains to be comfortably but not oppressively full – in other words, everyone who wants a seat can get one. I hate standing room only on buses as it shows a flaw somewhere in the scheduling – a bus too late or not enough of them for example onany one route.

        The monorail is all too often overly full and not everyone has a seat, but that is not necessarily a bad thing because it is such a short trip.

      2. Standing-room-only is okay, people can deal with standing for a few minutes. And because of the cycle of people getting on and off at each stop, you can usually get a seat after a few minutes.

      3. Oh, please. You blog masters need to get a thick skin. Clearly you are moderating this guy because he’s prompting you to admit some uncomfortable truths or is otherwise critical of the Mighty Rail.

        Pretty pathetic. Grow up and let the man say his peace. If you have a specific disagreement or refutation – voice it rather than just shutting the guy down. Cripes, Sam gets more consideration.

      4. Full is a subjective term and each person’s perception is different.

        We just recently had an extensive discussion about Link car capacity in the Why Transit post. Interestingly, Norman didn’t continue to respond to refutations and disagreements from other commenters. We don’t need to repeat it again here.

      5. Jeff, Norman is trolling. The repeated, snide remarks are not useful to any conversation.

      6. How did those families get from the Westlake Center to the Space Needle, and especially, how did they get back from the Space Needle to Westlake Center after midnight?

      7. Then for people from Tukwila or SeaTac, that would have been $9 each, round-trip? $5.00 round trip on Link, and $4.00 round trip on the monorail? Or, $36 for a family of four?

        How much does it cost to park in the evenings in a pay lot near Seattle Center?

      8. I don’t know but good luck finding parking. The Seattle Center didn’t seem to have rates but they say they are set according to demand, which means it must be very high. Last night I went to a friends party in Lower Queen Anne by bus and carpooled home, my friend parked on top of the hill (for free).

        Traffic also sucked after the show. We could see the taillights from our balcony.

      9. Right Oran! Yes, good luck finding parking if you are even silly enough to drive into the city. I just walked back with a friendly crowd of merrymakers and apart from about 20 police cars roaring off to the Seattle Center, nothing untoward happened. I usually enjoy walking Seattle at night.

      10. Not to mention that anyone silly enough to drive downtown on NYE would have had the joy of fighting traffic when the show was over.

      11. There’s these things on the end of your legs called “feet”. They allow you to do what scientists call “bipedal locomotion” or “walking”.

      12. With the crowds I’d rather walk. Example: On the 4th of July the streetcars were crush loaded on the way to Lake Union Park. We and a lot of other people walked back to Capitol Hill and downtown after the fireworks.

      13. Yes, I walked too – it allows you to get the feel of the city more. Everyone was very goodnatured

      14. Then what is the point of spending $50 million-plus on a streetcar which only goes about one mile, like ths S.L.U.T., if walking is such a great alternative?

        These comments favoring walking would seem to confirm my view that the S.L.U.T. and Seattle monorail are nothing more than tourist rides.

      15. It’s a special occasion. Most people wouldn’t walk that far on a daily basis. If they did, we have great potential to reorient our transportation system, which we should be doing anyway.

      16. Norman, you’re clearly trying to set up no-win scenarios for our commenters. This will be the last time I ask you to stop.

      17. Ben,

        Are you really saying that any comments posted here must create a “win” scenario for all other commenters?

        What does that mean, exactly?

      18. Jeff,
        The person in question keeps moving the goalposts and jumps on the most trival things in other’s comments as confirming his views.

        For example taking an innocent comment that many preferred to walk from the Seattle Center and SLU to Westlake on NYE as confirmation of his view that the SLUT is an expensive and useless boondoggle good only for tourist rides.

      19. SLUT is an expensive boondoggle but it’s not really much of a tourist ride := I haven’t followed the person in questions comments but I’ve never been “moderated” (although there’s many times I wish I had ;-) so I think I can say truthfully that disagreeing will not get a comment deleated; but being truly disagreeable will.

      20. Chris,

        SO WHAT??

        You don’t like the guy’s opinion – got it. Hell – I AGREE that the SLUS is an expensive and useless boondoggle only good for tourist rides, and it’s not inconceivable that people choosing to walk that distance isn’t partial confirmation of that.

        You gonna censor my post too?

        Disagree, certainly. Present your own argument as to why – definitely. That’s how folks learn from one another, by exchanging information. And for those whose views don’t change, well there’s still productivity in communication regardless of outcome.

        This tendency to threaten, delete, and otherwhise shut down folks who disagree with the Rail Uber Alles agenda however is hardly supportive of the pro-rail position, or frankly demonstrative of the concept of this kind of forum being a useful tool to promote it if voices that don’t toe the line are going to be shut out. This is hardly the first example.

      21. Speaking as a person who has been moderated, and accused of being a troll, I say, You Go, Moderaters! This scene rocks, and I think it’s because of great moderating.

        Yes, it would be great if we could all ignore the trolls and not need moderation in that regard. Even then, though, they would clog threads, and the people you really want to hear from decide not to waste their time wading through it. I’d rather get deleted myself once in a while than find the comments were just trolling and not worth reading.

      22. I have to agree that it is the poster’s attitude and not his opinions. He’s big on the hit and runs, and then when proved wrong never admits it, just shifts his attacks. *shrug*

        I’m not calling for the banhammer or anything, but a little moderation to try and teach him good behavior isn’t that unreasonable IMO.

      23. IMO, I have observed that “good behavior” seems to often correlate with adapting to/agreeing with/stroking the dominant views here.

        Having been an internet communicator since e-mail meant something called PINE and a love for the colors green-on-black, it seems heavy-handed to me to delete the comments and/or openly chastise someone on an aspect of communication as ambiguous as “style”.

        Best tactic is to either rationally engage (to a point), or not to engage if it’s a style you find distasteful – particularly when it’s a view you’re in disagreement with.

        Meanwhile, IMO there has been a tendency to bring down the moderation only on those with an expressed view which is critical to rail while letting pro-railers with similar style (but views in line with the board moderators) walk.

        My .02, and my last on the topic as ultimately it’s not what folks are here to talk about, methinks.

      24. Jeff, I don’t know if you followed the “Why Transit” thread but the person in question was obviously not interested in engaging in a rational discussion.

        Attitude is quite important. I have no problem with people who disagree with me, I certainly don’t always agree with everyone who comments on this blog nor those who post articles here. However I do have a problem with those who’s main goal seems to be disrupting discussion or engaging in name calling.

        You’ll note that John Niles is quite welcome to comment here and doesn’t get moderated. He’s certainly a critic of rail transit but he is also interested in having a real dialogue and he doesn’t engage in personal attacks.

        Disagreement is fine, but people need to do so without being disagreeable.

        I suspect you’d likely have a different attitude toward this poster if he was attacking transit drivers or the ATU in the same way he’s been attacking rail.

        I too have been on the internet for a long time (nearly 20 years) and I’m pretty good at separating trolls from those who have opinions counter to the majority of the group. Frankly it does mostly come down to attitude.

        Frankly I think the owners of the Seattle Transit Blog do a very good job of moderation. They give people plenty of chances to engage in productive discussion before they start moderating their comments. In many cases people who acted like trolls when they first started commenting here have become valued contributors to the comment threads.

        I’m pretty sure you’ve been around here long enough to remember when STB first posted their moderation policy and to remember how out of hand the comment threads were getting at that point. I really don’t want the comments here to degenerate to the point that they resemble those on Horsesass or the Seattle Times.

      25. Chris,

        I suspect you’d likely have a different attitude toward this poster if he was attacking transit drivers or the ATU in the same way he’s been attacking rail.

        Your suspicion is incorrect. Having both participated in and moderated various online communities over the years, I see a huge difference between someone being a TOS abusing PITA and someone whose views and communication styles don’t always mesh with the dominant voices on the board.

        If this guy were doig exactly the same thing – and by the way he, and you and anyone else are welcome to on my own Google Group list for transit drivers – so long has he/she followed the TOS their comments would continue to be welcome, if for no other reason than the discussion that they’d generate.

        I didn’t see any “name calling” here – just posts of leading questions. You may not LIKE that sort of thing, and it may even annoy you particularly if it’s coming from a rail-critical perspective, but pesonally I don’t see it as worthy of zapping a post or public admonishmet – both of which this poster was subjected to.

        And now I’ve violated my own pledge. I think the moderation was out of line (stated), I don’t get to decide those things as this isn’t MY blog nor am I empowered as a moderator (acknowledged) and none of this is probably what we’re here to talk about. Personally I would have much rather have seen some thoughtful responses to what you and some others have viewed as thoughtless posts than seeing “comment deleted – troll” or the guy being admoished like a 2-year old, but again, that’s my own bias and preference neither particularly important or relevant – it just is.

        Back to more important stuff, and happy 2010!

      26. I saw bulletins at Atlantic base yesterday about bus shuttles that were to run from Seattle Center to Westlake. I have no detail on the number of shuttles or how late they were running since I wasn’t driving one. The bulletin was simply routing instructions to the drivers.

      27. Is that a special overtime rate or is that the regular union pay rate for Bus drivers here?

      28. That’s overtime for a full-time driver at the top of the pay scale – and those are the folks who are able to pick that extra work.

      29. That work would only go out at OT if there aren’t enough board operators to do the work at straight time. Yes, that is frequently the case, but it doesn’t automatically go out at overtime. I saw plenty of specials go to the board at straight time when I worked at East base.

        FYI: When work like that comes along, we (part-timers) tend to get more ATL since the Full-timers have their plates full. I’ve driven chunks of Full-time work plenty of times – usually during the pick – because there weren’t enough operators available. I tend to look at the part-time workforce at Metro as a pressure relief valve. We’re there when needed but the bulk of the work goes to full-time drivers. It’s a complicated mess that I’ve also griped about from time to time. But in general, full-timers are rewarded for working nights, weekends, and holidays by getting first crack at OT. It ain’t perfect, but I can live with it. Eventually, you’ll be able to go full time. I didn’t sign up for PT to FT this time so I’m not in your way.

      30. Velo,

        I see no practical or fiscally responsible reason why part-timers shouldn’t be able to work extra work at straight time that would normally go out to full-time drivers at twice the rate.

        The reason – the ONLY reason – that the union (not Metro) prevents part-timers from working after 8pm or on weekends is to make sure that there’s a lot of overtime available for full-timers.

        And no, I don’t believe that overtime is a reward for working nights and weekends, as most overtime goes to the most senior people – who tend not to work evenings and weekends because they have the seniority to pick more favorable shifts.

        I understand why full-timers do this – who doesn’t like earning good money? However the purpose of overtime is/was to prevent employers from forcing over-work on their employees without compensation, not to pad the already pretty decent salaries of full-timers.

        I pay the same amount of union dues as full-timers (as do you), yet don’t get the same representation. Personally I NEED more work – the ATL list isn’t as favorable to someone with my lower level of seniority as it is yours or others. I don’t need overtime to make a payment on my new boat – I need to pay my danged electric bill, and would have LOVED to work some shuttles on New Year’s Eve, to fill in when the Link is down, or for other events. You may not be aware of this, but every time that Metro tries to make this happen – the union shoots it down.

        Most recently, Metro wanted to offer part-timers 6-hour shifts doing customer service during the holidays and during bad weather. They had an announcement and application information at the bases.

        That all disappeared one day.

        Guess why?

      31. I always thought that both the Metro and the Union could better use the part-time work force. One example includes giving part-timers an option of working three eight-hour days. As an example, choose one eight-hour night run that could be worked by five part-timers (one on Monday, one on Tuesday, and so on). Then on Saturday and Sunday, these five part-timers would work a split shift (with a guarantee of 24 hours per week). The number of three day shifts could be limited by contract to avoid full time work erosion.

        More choices in a schedule for part-timers
        Less night and more weekends off for full timers
        Metro saves money by being able to assign split shifts on weekends

      32. I’d be opposed to giving 8 hour shifts to part-timers as an 8 hour shift is by traditional definitoin part of a full-time day. As it stands, specific contract language prohibits part-timers from working any shift longer than 7:59. There really should remain substantial incentive – contractual or otherwise – to the County (or any employer) to provide full-time work, otherwise you’d likely see the entire workforce being part-time and no full-timers at all. What you describe would not only “erode” full-time work, it would displace/eliminate a significant number of full-time operator positions.

        On the other hand, again there’s no practical reason why part-timers shouldn’t be able to work evenings, weekends, holidays, shuttle and other pick-work that would otherwise go to full-timers at the overtime rate, usually just over $40.00 an hour.

        Velo said he see’s part-timers as the “pressure valve”. At other employers I’ve worked at it was OVERTIME that was the pressure valve, teh option of last resort, doled out only when available straight-time employees schedules were exhausted.

        At Metro, the ATU has ensured that part-timers see substantial restrictions on when they can work and how much for the express purpose of protecting overtime availability for full-time drivers. As a strictly economic matter, there is no good reasons for this, and I believe that Metro shouldn’t pay out a dime of overtime when there are folks willing and available to fill work at straight-time.

      33. Jeff,
        The contract could be revised with limits as to how many alternate part-time shifts. Again, I think the benefits of more full-time drivers having nights and weekends off, potential savings for Metro, and an alternate part-time schedule that does not involve weekday peak hours Monday through Friday would be worth a discussion between the union and management. If the alternative to resolving the budget issue is to reduce service and lay people off, then it is worth a demonstration trial at one base (limited to five part-time positions).

      34. Kaleci,

        The current contract is already designed to maximize a full-time vs. part-time ratio. What you suggest would – without exception – displace full-time workers. I’m against that.

        Allowing part-time workers to take work normally reserved for full-timers at overtime would substantially reduce the Metro budget all on it’s own without eliminating full-time positions, as your suggestion would.

      35. Well, I think the union would be able to include a provision that would prevent full-time positions from being eliminated. The savings for Metro would be in eliminating overtime. I believe I heard at one time that they tried this at Tri-Met and it was a win-win-win for all.

      36. Kaleci,

        Not sure how they could, as any combination of 8-hour shifts represents a full-time position (or several).

        Metro can eliminate/reduce overtime simply by allowing part-time workers to work past 8pm, to work weekends and holidays, etc.

        Metro is game. The union (despite the fact that we part-timers pay the same union dues as full-timers) is not.

      37. Found this on Trainweb http://www.trainweb.org/amtrakflorida/dictionary.htm

        “Extra Board-Group of individuals (usually with low seniority numbers) who fill in for open work assignments when needed, the order of the board depends on the last time you worked or when you came off your day off, whoever is at the top of the board is the next person called for an open job”

        It would appear that this setup might give part-timers more chance at 40 hour weeks with what would be ‘overtime’ jobs otherwise. However, then I would think it might change the benefits picture. Of course, that would be up to the union to negotiate. Along with how holidays would get worked.

        Although I don’t think it would be very easy to plan your life around a schedule as described above.

      38. Jim,

        Metro has that for part-timers. It’s called the Additional tripper list, or ATL. However, ATL eligible shifts are limited to to part-time shifts only. In other words – a part-timer can only be assigned to an ATL piece of work if it is vacated by another part-timer on leave or otherwise unable/excused from their shift. ATL assignments are seniority based. As a result, people higher in seniority (like VeloBusDriver) get assignments practically daily, while people like me get them more rarely. At any rate, no part-timer can work any shift or part of any shift if that shift occurs after 8pm, or on a weekend or holiday. Hence – even if someone who is full-time calls in sick or is on vacation on a Saturday or Sunday and I am available to work that shift at straight time – I can’t, because of the union contract. They must assign that work to a report operator or give it to someone on the call list as overtime.

        Part-timers may not work holidays at all. Ever. Even if they’re available. Even if they want to.

        And no, it isn’t easy to plan your life around this kind of schedule, but split shifts are the norm even for full timers for what can be the first several years of employment. As it is, since I work the ATL in the afternoons, I usually don’t know until the morning of that day that I have to come to work that afternoon, and it can be to drive a shift as short as an hour long (though the paid minimum is 2.5 hours). For Velo, whose regular work is in the afternoon, he may need to call in on Sunday to find out if he has work Monday morning, providing he has made himself available for Mondays. Otherwise, he finds out if he has work the next morning when he reports for work the evening before.

      39. Jeff,

        There are several part-time work assignments that go past 8pm. I’ve worked one and remember being surprised by the quit time. I was never able to find the contract language that had a specific cutoff time.

        As I mentioned above, we also can work full-time work (halves of combos and overtime trippers) but only if no full-time operators are available to work them. It happens but FT drivers get first crack at Overtime.

        In general, however, what you are saying is correct. We part-timers are reserved for the rush hours except for the rare mid-day assignment. The system is pretty much setup to make us the most expensive employees that metro has when you include benefits. Figuring out a system where we can take on more of the tripper work makes sense.

      40. I just walked – it is not very far – only about a mile or so and avoids all of the crowds trying to get onto the monorail

    2. I was thinking about it, but wouldn’t have gotten to Westlake until 1:05a. Not knowing *specific* times of Westlake departures, I didn’t want to risk missing the train (eg: is 1:30 the last time a train leave Westlake, or the time it arrives at TIBS?).

      Since I was taking the 26 from work, I decided to stay aboard the through-route 124 to get to TIBS, where I was parked.

      A lot of people aboard the 124 who wanted to transfer to the 174 were angry. Being 20 or more minutes late, the 174 was literally pulling out of the TIBS parking lot as we were pulling in. I had slight hope the 174 would find a way to loop back for the bus-load of people, but the driver didn’t, and they were stuck waiting more than an hour.

      1. Ah, Joshua, that’s why we posted the specific times! You would have been fine.

    1. More draft designs will come out over the next few months. We’ll be covering it for sure.

  4. Okay, some of you many have seen this…..I posted this at the bottom of an older Bolg post, so most probably didn’t see it….so here it is again.

    In addition to some of the changes happening in Metro service in February, mention in this article above, we are getting NEW Tunnel Routes!

    Now that the 174 and soon to be 194 are gone, a little space has become avalible in the DSTT. So in February Shake-up, Routes: 76, 77, 216, 218 and 316 will be added. Now don’t worry just yet about the tunnel getting busier, because it shouldn’t.

    Here’s how I see it.
    In the PM Peak 3-7pm…..
    174 in the past operated :30min service…..8 N/B trips, 8 S/B trips
    194 currently operates at PM Peak…….15 N/B trips, 9 S/B trips.
    So combined deletion of 174/194 during PM peak is 23 N/B trips and 17 S/B trips.

    In February in the PM Peak 3-7pm(I’m going by current service levels on these routes)
    76 operates 9 trips (N/B)
    77 operates 9 trips (N/B)
    316 operates 8 trips (N/B)
    216 operates 6 trips (S/B)
    218 operates 14 trips (S/B)
    Total of 26 N/B trips, 20 S/B trips

    Current 174/194 = 23(N/B),17(S/B)
    February 2010 = 26(N/B), 20(S/B)

    So over the length of the PM Peak (4 hrs) that is only 3 extra trips in each direction. Should not be an issue.

    1. How did you find out about this? I heard the same from my friend who rides the 316, but I can’t find any information about it on Metro’s site. I probably just don’t know where to look…

      1. I know because I’m a driver…..and the work for next shake-up is avalible for us to look over before we pick. I don’t believe it has been posted to the public yet….it will come a couple weeks before shake-up, along with all the other changes.

      2. It’s a flaw in the ATU web site, which is about as much of a joke as the Orca site – only more dangerous. This information should probably be posted in a more secure manner. They only have one “behind the login” section, but it is a universal login and password (doesn’t require user verification or registration). If you known the direct URL – the login is completely useless, as none of the “behind the login” pages are themselves secure (they won’t ask you to log in if you go there directly) Other things on the site that are labelled “confidential” – such as the enire Orca manual – aren’t even behind a login.

        I’m not entirely comfortable with having all run cards posted so openly, or some other information and until the Union gets its crap together and joins the 21st century, we’re still going to have a website with ancient information, missing information, and unsecure information.

        At any rate – anyone looking for information you probably shoudn’t have access to – just hit the ATU web site, http://www.atu587.com .

      3. I don’t think there’s any information on the site that I couldn’t get from a public records request.

        It’s not on the site, but I do have a copy of The Book.

      4. The Orca operations manual is labelled as follows:

        “This material is delivered to the Contract Administrator under Contract No. 229944, a Contract for the Development, Operation and
        Maintenance of the Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination System. The material is copyright protected and, except as
        provided in that Contract, may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means in whole
        or in part without the express written consent of ERG.

        At the bottom of each page of the Orca manual is the statement:

        “ERG Confidential © ERG 2008
        To be disclosed only to Agency personnel who
        have a need to know”

        At the top of each page are the words:

        “Security Level 3”.

        As far as the run cards go – I’m not sure having them online for all to view is the best security arragement, should someone want to target buses for terror attack, for example.

      5. Why would run cards be needed for a terror attack? Most of the information they would want to know, like where the bus will be at a given time, is easily accessible from public timetables, Trip Planner, Tracker, OneBusAway (which can show the next and previous run of a given bus), Google Transit, etc.

        The locations of Metro Transit facilities (bases, communication center, etc.) are also on the web.

      6. Yeah, quite frankly, Metro shouldn’t even be allowed to have ‘security levels’ when they abuse them like this.

      7. Oran,

        Layover times and locations for one are not mentioned on timetables. When a bus lays over, they’re often left unattended by the driver – and there’s no way to lock the doors to keep someone from say coming on board and planting a package. Just one example.

        Most timetables don’t list through-routes or add-on routes either.

        We can debate whether this is truly a security issue or not (I can see both sides), but I do see a risk – and the County chooses not to post this information online itself. It’s the union doing it.

        Were I the webmaster for the union (if they have one), I’d set up this information behind a secure login, with logins given to registered members with active employee ID numbers with either Metro or the Union itself only having access. If folks want to get the info from County with a FOIA request – or convince the County to put it online for direct viewing, then so be it, but I see no reason for the union to put the information up behind faux- or no security at all.

      8. Ben,

        The ‘security level’ mentioned on the Orca manual is from the vendor (ERG Transit Systems), and it isn’t Metro violating it (presuming that there’s not permission to have this stuff online), but ATU 587.

        Match up the Orca manual with employee seniority lists and run cards and you have a situation where someone can actually impersonate a bus driver – all you need to log in to Orca is an employee ID number (passwords are the same as the ID number).

    2. I wish they would put an Issaquah bus in the tunnel – such as the 214 or 215. It would help during Mariner traffic days. Perhaps also the 554 at weekends and nights and then we could have a choice when parking at Mercer Island what bus we can take to get back – 550 or 554. At present, they are no longer aligned in their stops.

      1. There aren’t enough ST hybrids to run two ST routes in the tunnel. 13 more are coming in the summer though. Plus keeping 214/215 on surface to stop at same stops as 554 is more convenient.

      2. Yes I agree that the 214, 215 and 554 should all cover the same stops, but at weekends and evenings, when the 214 and 215 are not running maybe we could switch the 554 to the tunnel in the future to coincide with 550 stops in the tunnel?

      3. That’s an interesting idea, but having a bus stop in different places on different days of the week would be really confusing.

      4. The level of service on the 554 isn’t high enough to warrant the articulated New Flyer DE60LFs.

      5. I see artics on the 554 pretty often now. I wish they would have used them when I rode that route regularly, it gets pretty full to/from Eastgate at rush hour.

      6. They seem to use those mainly at weekends when there are spare buses from other ST routes left over to lend out.

      7. Yes, there are more 60 footers on the 554 now…during the week, there are a couple inbound trips from Issq TC during PM rush that are on Hybrids, but those buses become 550’s the rest of the night. The outbound 554’s on weekdays on 60 footers about 7pm-8pm are there because of overcrowding because most Metro Peak hour service is done and have either been 545’s or 522’s on previous trips and are now doing the S. Samm 554’s, then returning to base. Next shake-up I believe, a 60 footer will be assigned make an inbound trip from Issq TC in the late AM rush.

        On weekends, the 60 footers are clearly not needed, but 40footers aren’t enough during Mariner or Seahawk games days. So rather than switching back and forth depending on whether there is a game or not, Metro decided to run 60 footers all weekend….plus the driver knows what coach is assigned to the run when he/she picks it.

      1. Save this as a CSV file. Helps tremendously for finding a route and/or run.


  5. Do you have any more information on the 542’s schedule? That’s going to be my main commute bus once it starts, so I’m very excited to learn anything I can about it.

      1. Yeah, that’s all I had seen too. October 4th at 5:45 AM is a very specific date/time, though, so I’m hoping that maybe the rest of the schedule has been decided as well.

  6. So is Mike McGinn now officially Mayor of Seattle?

    Just after a few minutes into the new year, I checked Seattle.gov and it now said Mayor Mike McGinn.

    It’s like WhiteHouse.gov changing from Bush to Obama at the moment of inauguration.

  7. I think this whole McGinn Light Rail thing has been an interesting experience in Seattle politics, and I’ve been wondering how he’s going to play this. My current thinking is that he’s guessed that somebody else will take the blame if it doesn’t get on the ballot. I don’t know how things of this nature “get on the ballot” in Seattle, so maybe someone can explain that, as a helpful introduction as to how this all might work.

    My own thinking on the matter suggests that Ballard to West Seattle will be very expensive or very slow if you are unwilling to take traffic lanes away from vehicular traffic.

    Maybe STB would be willing to host some ‘possible’ lines posts, by those who believe that such a thing can be done, so we could see how the various obstacles were dealt with. I’ve seen any amount of hopelessly vague optimism here, which of course is needed for any great plan, but how about a few nuts and bolts too? I think costs have to be estimated, and planned benefits enumerated, in the roughest sense, but more specific than “TOD! Yay!” or “Transit good!”

    I have seen it mooted that the Ballard service would be E-W to the university. I’m guessing this might be a good idea as I have the vague feeling that lots of people connected to the U of W reside in Ballard. Of course, this line itself would either deal with grades or squeeze around along the Ship Canal, so again it’s possible to play “Can this be done?”

    What would be really interesting would be to see two or three plans posted here, commented on, adjusted, and voted on through several iterations. Most of us hope we know something about transit or rail, and, what the hell, I even think it would be fun to move a project like that through here and come up with a proposal eventually.

    Also, it would be interesting to know what thoughts, if any, ST has given to Ballard and West Seattle linkages with Link. Kinda think ST may end up doing this job, and doing it in their own sweet time- which is not to say they wouldn’t work faster if we gave them more money.

      1. Being very skeptical about a Ballard-West Seattle route, I would be a poor proponent. I’ve never seen any convincing proof that a lot of people want to go from Ballard to West Seattle or vice versa. To me the major interest are the substantial problems involved, and where it is you decide to just bite the bullet and spend the money or live with the shortcoming.

      2. Cat,
        Whenever these routes have been proposed (monorail, light rail, bus) I always thought it wasn’t because of the people wanting to go from Ballard to West Seattle, but more of a way to connect two neighborhoods, which might have similar ridership characteristics, with downtown Seattle. The alternative would be to create two routes and having double frequency through downtown Seattle in addition to creating some kind of capacity to turn a train/vehicle around.

      3. Well, this is the kind of question I have. For example, building a “West Seattle-Ballard Line”, in my opinion, creates a whole crop of problems you might not have if you built two lines, one to each neighborhood. And you don’t double your goodness by putting an outer neighborhood at each end of the line- each line separately already has an outer neighborhood and a good destination at the city center.

        I think you’ve come closer here than most people, in identifying a “known unknown”. There’s nothing wrong with having some x’s and y’s in the equation as placeholders, as long as you recognize they’re still unknowns. But in too much of what I’m seeing people are assuming a bunch of “we always thought” and proceeding to (to them) perfectly logical conclusions!

    1. The route along 45th (AKA 46th) isn’t terribly hilly. I’m pretty sure a streetcar could do it no problem. A Ship Canal route is definitely possible; I’ve biked along the Burke-Gilman trail many times beteween the UW and Ballard and except for a couple of places, it’s flat.
      Also, a streetcar doesn’t take away any lanes, save for the time that the streetcar is actually occupying them. If you’re grade separating it, you can always take away curb lanes, which impacts it less than taking away a travel lane.

      Yes, there are a fair amount of people associated with the UW that live in Ballard. But if the line went from Ballard to the UW, don’t think it wouldn’t have any stops along the way. Besides terminating in Ballard, the 44 hits a lot of places in Wallingford an Fremont, and also provides a connection to SR-99.

    2. I think it is way too early to advocate for one route over another. I think at this point it would be most interesting to think about what all of the possible alignments can be.

      1. The advocacy I’m suggesting is a design exercise, the way architecture students do projects to learn how you do projects and what kinds of constraints you do projects in. The object is, indeed, to think about all of the possible alignments- and then to subject them to some reality testing.

  8. A Ballard to West Seattle light rail is desirable but I hope it’s done right. If rushed through it has the potential to become Monorail part II. I believe Norm Sigler (not sure if I spelled his name right) suggested such a line during the mayoral primary. His off the cuff estimate was $2 billion in cost.

    If McGinn wants a vote in November the safest bet is to make it an advisory vote to see what real interest there is in pursuing such a line.

    1. I think we have four monorail votes to let us know that there’s interest. :)

      I also don’t think a $2 billion project is feasible. I think this’ll be “heavy streetcar” or something, more like Portland, and we’ll do really high capacity in the future.

  9. Look for Community Transit to make major service cuts, including all Sunday and holiday service. Not sure when this is going to be announced or implemented, but I’ve heard it from someone who said it’s definitely going to happen.

    1. Hmmmm

      Interesting. Considering CT just implemented the such a move might be considered a bit hard hearted towards the less well to do.

    2. CT cut Sunday service? I’ll believe it when I see it (then again, this economy isn’t too great)

      1. If I recall, that is what they did when I-695 and the following not-so-necessary legislative action took affect in 1999/2000. It came back when a Snohomish County sales tax vote was approved.

        Perhaps they feel that making service really bad on one day is better than making service kind of bad every day.

  10. I’m excited for the new regional transit map book coming out in a couple months. I saw something that suggested it will come in February. That’s the most helpful transit publication in the region that I’ve seen. Although a Metro snow route book adapted for just the regular routes with tables for service frequencies would be really great. They could even charge a couple dollars for that.

      1. It’s missing things. It makes no mention of the ST 545 capitol hill leg, which is kind of ridiculous given that it’s that stop the 545 cuts when it snows…

      2. No, what I mean is that the blue “Snow Route Guide” is the route map book. The route maps inside are virtually the same as the ones you find in the individual timetables, with a few modifications to fit the page size. It has maps for nearly every Metro bus route from 1 to 952 (except school routes) and all Metro-operated ST routes.

  11. we are going to have some cuts, (both permanent and temporary) in service, some routes may be eliminated, but not running sundays and holidays is something that nobody has brought up at work. All the new drivers hired this year were told that they may be laid off if economic conditions do not improve.
    Service cuts will be in shakeup that starts this summer. Swift is funded largely through state/federal grants and is separate from regular budget.

  12. It seems that route 195 fell victim to the “low-impact reductions”. It was supposed to start up in February as all-night OWL service to Seatac when Link isn’t running, but doesn’t appear on the Feb 2010 pick sheets.

    Any other info on the February cuts?

    1. I don’t think the 195 even made it to the final service change plan that was presented to the county council. It was a proposed service like the Route 50 that was dropped for whatever reason, most likely limited resources.

      Come to think of it, I’d rather put the service hours for more frequent 124/174 night service. That would serve more people than a downtown-airport freeway express at 3 am would.

  13. Random tunnel question:

    Is it totally up to the drivers whether or not they open up their doors early when their bus is temporarily parked at a spot that’s several buses away from their normal bay stop?

    Thanks to Link, I’m now one of those people who are sometimes running back and forth at the tunnel platform in an attempt to get onto my bus. Sometimes the driver will open the doors even though they aren’t yet at their bay, sometimes they won’t (meaning people then dart back to their original waiting positions).

    1. It’s frustrating to be on the bus and have a 20 to 30 people try to board when the bus isn’t quite at the bay yet – because the first two buses leave and there is the third bus still loading people. Then the bus pulls up to the bay and stops again. People, the third bus will make another stop – let the bus come to you. The drivers who won’t open their doors are probably trying to keep things moving in the tunnel by not getting the “herd” situation where people walk one-at-a-time back to the bus.

      I don’t know why you think this is because of Link. It has been happening for as long as I have been commuting to Seattle from the north end (about seven years now).

      1. I am fine letting the bus come to me, but in reality that’s not always the best thing to do.

        Sometimes the driver will open the doors early to let people off. Then other people go over to the bus and get on it. Then when it moves forward a few spots to where I’m at the bus is super packed. I’d rather get on the bus before it becomes super packed.

        And I think Link definitely plays a part here. I’ve used the tunnel on and off for over a decade and I’ve never seen the buses *consistently* bunch up around/during rush hour as they do now. It’s the same thing every day. No buses, no buses, Link comes, you see a bus paused in the pre-platform area (waiting for Link to leave), Link departs, and then 5 or 6 buses drive on up. People then bob their heads back and forth trying to read the route numbers on the slowly approaching buses before the buses bunch up (making it a little harder to find out which bus is which).

    2. I know what you mean. Here is kind of an answer…..

      When I drive in the tunnel, I usually will roll through the station really slow or stop short of the 2 or more coaches in front of me so people won’t start walking towards me. Then I will pull up and load everyone at once. Its faster that way. There is no rule about opening doors early but if you are the 3rd, or more coach in line, you are required to make a second stop at the head of the zone. That goes for any stop, not just the tunnel.

      I know it sucks because drivers do it both ways, but the third bus and so on should make another stop up closer when the 1st and 2nd bus clear. And then rule has nothing to do with Link. It has been like that for a long time.

      But a rule that was made because of Link…… Once you stop and close the doors you need to leave. We are not to wait for runners because that can cause delays. But if you are not the 1st or 2nd bus, then stop again in the head of the zone, look for anyone who didn’t see you back in line, then go….but again, no waiting for runners. “If you’re not at the bus stop, then you don’t want this bus”

    3. It is a tough call. Because most passengers are unaware that a bus is required to make a 2nd stop if they’re 3rd bus or more back in the zone (and some drivers blatantly ignore this requirement), it can be a bit of a dance to keep everyone happy. If I’m sensing that the bus in front of me will be moving fairly quickly, I’ll switch on the external speaker and tell folks I need to move up before boarding. If on the other hand a whole pack of folks rush back to my bus and give me dirty or confused looks when I don’t imediately open my door – I’ll go ahead and let ’em on and make my 2nd stop. It’s easier than trying to explain.

      1. I’ve seen a real problem with drivers not following the 2nd stop rule during PM peak on 3rd, especially if there is a problem that has delayed most of the 3rd ave buses. Some will pull in at the rear of the block with only enough room to open the front door then pull out without making a second stop closer to the zone. This ends up with a lot of people left at the stop as they don’t realize their bus has made a “stealth stop”. In particular there was one woman in a wheelchair who was left at the stop a number of times as she waits up by the zone sign and she’s not about to try to zip through the crowd to get her bus.

        I’ve seen less of this since the last shake-up so I don’t know if Metro put additional emphasis on following this rule or if it was just the particular set of drivers on Third this summer.

      2. Chris,

        Don’t be afraid or hesitant to get the number of that bus and drop a note using the online coment system. Not to bust drivers, but to enhance customer service. My prior career was as a social worker at noprofit organizations serving people with disabilities, so this is a particular sore spot for me, particularly when you mention folks getting left behind.

        Note the number, make a comment, and the driver will get a reminder. Usually it will take the form of a “service request”, which won’t ding the driver from a disciplinary standpoint, but they will get a face-to-face with a supervisor about it.

        It’s definitely “not cool” for drivers to be forgetting this, and makes me look like a nitwit when I remind folks that they don’t have to run back because we’re required to make a 2nd stop if 3rd bus or back in a zone and the next driver ignores that.

      3. I’ll try to do this the next time I see it. While I can forgive the third bus back not stopping a second time, especially if the coach at the front of the zone is having a problem or otherwise is delayed, past that it becomes a real problem. I can also forgive not making a second stop on inbound legs when the coach isn’t continuing past downtown as another route.

        FWIW the tunnel drivers are really good about following the second stop rule in the tunnel especially on the outbound leg, in fact many won’t open the doors until they are one of the first 2 or 3 coaches in the zone.

      4. It’s not a matter of forgiveness – but good customer service, and following proper procedure that’s there for good reason.

        People apologize to me for running for the bus – and I tell them it’s no problem, I’m in the “transporting people” business, not the “driving past people as they should profanities” business. :)

  14. Casey,

    Thanks for mentioning the 3rd coach back rule. I will often tell passengers above ground at 3rd and Pike or 3rd and Union this so they don’t get freaked out or dash to the bus if I’m back in the line – as I have to stop again anyway (can slow things down) and sometimes they put themselves at risk of injury dashing around one another there.

    And thanks too for pointing out that some drivers don’t follow this rule – it bears reminding. Most notably. I am often passed by a particularly rude #16 driver who has a tendency to pull around me at 3rd and Pine soutbound in the mornings. 2 things wrong with this: they’re not making their 2nd stop; and they’re blocking me (and sometimes the bus in front of me) from getting to the left for skip-stop lane change. Third thing wrong with this come to think of it is that you’re not supposed to pass buses headed for the same zones as you.

    I will wait for runners usually – anyone “at, near or approaching” the zone I assume is someone wanting the bus. Guess I’m a softie that way. I’d probably do different in the tunnel though – gotta get that bus out of the way.

    1. I do wish the Union would implement some sort of internal complaint system. I’ve had other drivers pull various stunts over the years that impacts me, our customers, or both. My favorite was a 550 driver who was on my tail all the way through Bellevue because I was running late (due to a mechanical breakdown). When we reached Mercer Island, I pulled off since I had passengers who wanted to get off on MI but I didn’t have room for everybody waiting to board there. My follower skipped Mercer Island entirely. That particular stunt ticked me off enough that I actually called the coordinator and gave him the coach number. I have no idea what, if anything, the coordinator will do in that situation, but I sure hope that bozo was written up.

      1. Matt,

        I believe the unspoken “union code” is that you don’t make official complaints about other drivers.

        As an FYI, the Metro site has a pretty nifty online form that allows you to complain anonymously, and even anonymous complaints will generate a “See Me”.

        So take my example of the #16 bus that had been skippit it’s second stop in the zone and cutting me off every morning (some dieel drivers don’t like waiting behind us pokey trolleys cause we have to slow down for special work and all). Someone – say, my dog whose name is “Harvey Finkelstein” – *could* have gone online, noted the bus number and time of day, and described the driver’s behavior.

        I’m just saying.

        Another time I was tempted to call the coordinator on the spot – when a diesel bus running the 2X actually passed me going up the counterbalance while I was stopped in a zone. Zone spacing rules (for the uninitiated) allow for 2 buses on the counterbalance at a time with a spacing of 1 stop between buses headed either up or down. Ultimately I decided I didn’t want to deal with the beef, but there’s no saying that some savvy passenger (or dog) couldn’t go online and send in a comment.

      2. Yes, that is the unspoken “union code” although I think it’s B.S. If a driver is a slob, a jerk, or dangerous, we should have a system to deal with them in a respectful way. (And no, I’m not thinking of a “Code Red” as in “A Few Good Men”).

        Anonymous complaints can get the system rolling. But using that system for something only I as the driver could notice would make it obvious where the complaint came from. I don’t make a habit of complaining about drivers since most of us are a pretty good bunch. As for the few bad apples, well, I don’t really care – unless they someday make it into supervision or “gulp…” to Base Chief :)

  15. I think the new transfer policy is unethical, elitist, and possibly racist. Minorities, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, and out-of-towners are disproportionately affected by this new policy. These many in these groups aren’t going to have easy access to a computer, or even have a credit or debit card in the first place. ORCA is a system designed by college grads, for college grads. This isn’t affordable public transit anymore. Here’s an example of what a rip-off our public transportation system is. Let’s say I live on NE 8th in Bellevue, near 130th Ave. I have in 3 guest from out of town. While I’m at work, they decide to go to downtown Seattle for lunch. If it’s off-peak, each one of them will have to pay $2 to get on a Metro bus to take them a short 2 miles to the BTC. There, they will transfer to a ST 550. Their Metro transfers are worthless on ST buses (confusingly for my guests, driven by a bus driver in a METRO bus driver uniform), so they will have pay another $2.50 each to go to Seattle. There aren’t given a paper transfer because ST has done away with them. After lunch downtown, they board a Bellevue-bound route 550 and each pay $2.50 again when they get off. Then they board a route 230 or 253 for the two mile trip home, and because their original Metro transfers have expired, they each have to pay $2 again. So let’s total the bus fare for this lunch trip on public transportation. I get $27. $27 in bus fare for 3 people a quick 3 hour lunch trip on public transportation. THAT is a crime and THAT is unethical.

    1. Sam, you could talk to a lawyer about going after a Title VI lawsuit. But seriously, saying “that is a crime” about people choosing to ride the bus just makes my eyes glaze over.

      If you have 3 guests from out of town, use group fares on your ORCA.

      1. Although as noted, using Orca to pay a fare for a group of say 3 people doesn’t mean you get 3 transfers.

        Not to placate Sam’s arguments, but there are flaws in the system, and that’s one of them.

      2. Sam’s example is a fringe case and doesn’t reflect a majority of riders. I could make up more likely scenario in which ORCA makes riding the bus easier and cheaper.

    2. I’m not in agreement with your statements. It costs our transit agencies to continue to handle cash. The ORCA system is not too complex a system to use. You don’t need to own a computer to use it and if you want to use one, there are numerous access points including all public libraries where they can be found.

      The system actually makes transfers easier and boardings quicker. As for debit cards, you can get debit cards at any convenience store or supermarket. But they aren’t needed to use the ORCA card.

      Some of the people that you are concerned that would be affected by these policies may qualify for reduced fare solutions and I’m sure the social service agencies will be able to assist their clients in getting the transportation passes and solutions needed, just as they’ve done in the past.

      Please don’t fear change.

  16. Sam,

    I’m in general agreement that the policy disproportionately affects economically and culturally disenfranchised groups. I’d add that ST/Metro overall has done a poor job of ramping up Orca, in particular in making sure the vendor met deadlines for making the entirety of the technology available, in not addressing ongoing glitches, and in not making the passes available at more retail outlets before elmination of paper transfers in-system (outside Metro) and inter-system.

    However – there do continue to be options. Cards continue to be free until Februar 1. No credit or debit card is necessary to obtain or load one. If you want to accomodate guests – get a few extra cards while they’re free, otherwise, temporary Orca cards are in the works.

    You may think it’s unethical. You may think it’s incompetent – but your refusal to take advantage of options available to you (or to deny their existence) isn’t a “crime” – it’s just self-flagellation.

  17. Jeff, I’m not speaking for myself. I’m not refusing to partake of options that are available to me. I’m able to figure the system out. I’m able to comprehend what an “e-purse” is. But there are many riders out there who will be unable to ever grasp that concept, or understand how to add value to their card. I have easy access to a computer and phone. I’m speaking for others.

    1. Sam, all these people can grasp gift cards. You’re putting words in other people’s mouths.

  18. Sam,

    All due respect – you’re not qualified to speak for anyone but yourself and frankly you tend to do a pretty glitchy job of THAT at times.

    By the way – trolley buses ran on Queen Anne hill on Christmas, New Year’s, and are running there TODAY.

    Just so ya’ know.

    1. It has been lovely to see those electrics all over town all 3 days both holiday weekends – so there, Sam!

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