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13 Replies to “Holiday News Roundup”

  1. Is the Amtrak train being held in Pierce Co. jail for murder?
    Unfortunately our society breeds individuals who either loose hope or reason, placing themselves into ‘known’ peril. I’m not sure we can fence them out of all the danger spots, but the impact of traffic accident investigations, car/train/bus/pedestrian/bike collisions and such really takes a toll on system efficiency.

  2. “The … bus came to a stop about a quarter-mile from the impact site”

    I’ve often wondered if I would have enough time to get out of the seat in a situation like this. Once you’ve set the parking brake there isn’t much you can do, other than warn passengers of the coming collision so I don’t see why not. Something to ask training I suppose…

    FYI: I just posted pictures to the Flickr pool of a coach hit by a car rumored to have been traveling 40 mph. The driver in that accident was also injured but not critically. She was back at work within a week (actually, she was at the base the next day filling out the accident report).

    1. I love how the article says it hit a “packed” bus. Is 35 people on an articulated bus really packed? It’s a fair amount, but packed?

    2. Do you mean that the driver saw it coming and stopped? I interpreted that to mean that the impact happened and then the bus came to a stop in 1,320 feet.

  3. Martin,

    Your post says:

    [i]”What the post misses is that for the most part anyone using anything other than a standard adult fare ORCA has to buy it the hard way.”[/i]

    Actually that is acknowledged (though perhaps without enough detail):

    “The automated ORCA stations (technically: Ticket Vending Machines, or TVMs) take cash, credit, and debit, and they can be loaded with either monthly or e-purse amounts. (They can’t dispense reduced-fare passes.)”

    I’m in agreement with the Publicola poster that a lot of people were and continue to wait in line unnecessarily. I’m also in agreement that this rollout is about as organized and effective overall as a soup sandwich.

    Still waiting on many unanswered questions about Orca, such as the issue of why purchasing a group fare doesn’t result in issuance of group transfers; why e-transfers potentially expire before paper transfers (the “tap on the way into the CBD, “tap on the way off of a bus running late” scenario), as well as other glitches.

    Most notably for drivers, the following two issues continue to plague me:

    -when Orca hits a surge or “dead spot” or whatever gremlin causes it to go “out of service” for no apparent reason, it can’t be fixed by any means other than a complete shutdown of the bus – requiring the driver to get out of the bus, shut off the main battery switch, wait 30 secons, then power everything back up again. Depending on where the system goes out of service, this may mean boarding dozens – or more – of Orca passengers who can’t tap/aren’t charged because it’s impractical to do this anywhere other than a layover spot. Solution: have a re-set button INSIDE the bus – or fix the glitch. Neither solution is in the offing to my knowledge.

    -slow CPU issues. When customers tap their card, there are sometimes delays of 1-5 seconds or so for their card to register. When multiple passengers are boarding, this can mean that when customer “A” boards, the error for them does’t appear until *after* customers “B”, “C” and “D” have boarded, resulting in a “Please Try Again” or “Owe +.25” or “Insufficient Funds” or other error that the driver can’t tell belongs to passenger “A”, “B”, “C” or “D”.

    -database for buses only updates when the bus returns to base. There should be more repeater stations – perhaps at layover sites – for the databas to update througout the day. Shortening the delay on loading money to the e-purse from Debit or Credit card and subsequent database update would be helpful as well. More options for autoload would be helpful too. Currently your only option for autoload is to load $ when there isn’t enough $ for the next fare – you should be able to choose autoload when the balance gets down to a certain dollar amount.

    -can’t get them at enough retail locations. Folks are going from being able to get a bus pass at their local Bartell’s and lots of other places to having to go online (scary to some and impossible to others), use the machines (annoying, complex or inaccessible to many) or the haggard understaffed customer service offices at the transit agencies or few retail locations that are emerging.

    Overall I like the technology, and am generally supportive of the system and try to be helpful to passengers in overcoming the “wrist English” (where/how to tap), weird errors, beeps that sound like an electronic raspberry, odd errors, etc. Until more of that gets cleaned up, I expect the reviews to continue to be mixed.
    I would advice any driver out there to get an Orca card for a family member so that they can experience first hand how they work or don’t work. My father, a long-time businessman, followed the central advice of a business motivational speaker named “Zig” Ziglar, who always said “don’t just be a salesman for your company – be a customer”. Drivers as first-line customer service folks should both ride and use public transportation, and get an Orca card so that their advice is based on experience, rather than memoranda.

    1. I’m sure if Zig was in charge of the early ORCA implementation meetings, things would be a lot different.
      Most of what were seeing in the way of problems exist because all the transit providers forgot about their pledge to make riding transit ‘seamless’ in the region.
      We still have confusing multiple layers of fare, tranfer, time, distance and RFA policies in place, which only makes ORCAs job more complex.
      I think the agencies never resolved the basic dispute of “How to divide the ORCA revenue at the end of the day”.
      Sure they have formulas to let the program do its thing, but with each agency clawing for its maximum share of the pot, things like integrated fare structure, and bus route truncation for Link are dificult to accomplish.

  4. We still have confusing multiple layers of fare, tranfer, time, distance and RFA policies in place, which only makes ORCAs job more complex.

    Not just Orca’s job – but the job of every transit operator, customer service person and “ambassador” (I still hate that one) out there.

    So yeah, we have a ways to go, and while the technology and the goals are sound and worth working to implement properly – it could have been and could still be handled better.

  5. Re the sharrows, I’d argue that’s at least as much as everyone needs to know. The state driver guide still has no mention of them, and I don’t know how SDOT or WSDOT expects new drivers, much less those already licenced, to know what they’re for. And most of my fellow bicyclists don’t realize that they’re as much for them as for the drivers (note that the top two uses given in the MUTCD are to tell cyclists, not drivers, what to do).

    1. I keep hearing that sharrows are supposed to guide bicyclists to the safest part of the lane, but on 45th, following the sharrows would put you in prime territory to be hit by a door…

      1. Aleks – that is the confusing part. Sharrows are NOT supposed to guide the cyclist to use any specific part of the lane. SDOT is doing this. The MUTCD is clear that Sharrows are to be used on roads in which there is NOT room to share a lane and that they are to let cyclists and drivers know that cyclists will be IN the roadway. To quote from SLB:

        “There’s really a subtle difference which confuses many people, drivers and cyclists both. The MUTCD essentially states that Sharrows are to assist with lateral positioning, i.e. taking the lane since the lane in which sharrows are to be used is too narrow for a vehicle and a bicycle to use the lane at the same time. All the points describe this situation.

        The Seattle guidelines are somewhat different. They state that sharrows are to let cyclists know where the best place in the roadway is to ride, i.e. subtly giving the impression that where the sharrow is placed is where to ride. The bullet point drives this home: “Use the sharrow to guide where you ride w/in the lane” which is incorrect.”

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