photo by Oran

If you haven’t read STB since before Christmas, shame on you.  To help you out, here are some highlights since the holiday began:

39 Replies to “Last Week’s Highlights”

    1. I was going to same the same thing! You all should see the great video he created showing people leaving Westlake Station how you can transition to the Streetcar so easily. Actually the video also shows how easy it is to get from Link to the Monorail as well. Good job Oran!

      1. You were busy last weekend! You need to let us all know when you go on one of your excersions because I am sure a few of us would join you, namely me!

  1. First (week) day of Orca in-service observations:

    -many employers – including Microsoft and the City of Seattle – only loaded January Orca at the OLD peak rate of 2.00, which is now the off-peak rate. Result: these employees showed confused looks when drivers (me) said that their pass showed “Owe +.25” when they tapped the reader.

    -many (way too many – I’m skeptical) users claimed “ignorance” of the fare changes, despite nearly a year of warnings, publicity, and on-board announcements. “I didn’t know the fares had changed” said more than one daily rider. Riiiiiight.

    -WAY more cash customers than usual, I believe due to inaccessibility of Orca card vendors, procrastination, or “I-don’t-give-a-shit-itus”. Almost ran out of tranfers, unusual for a 3.5 hour run.

    -most fare ‘evasion’ (people saying they didn’t have enough for the new fare) I’ve seen in almost 2 years of driving.


    1. This is how people learn. We’re not proactive until someone inconveniences us – which means the day of the changeover. The cash fare users will get ORCA in the coming months, as their friends do it and they realize the benefit.

      1. We’re not proactive until someone inconveniences us

        Who’s really being ‘inconvenienced’ tho. . .?

        All points conceded regardless. Change requires patience.

    2. I witnessed each one of these incidents on my #11 commute this morning – bad first work-day of the month.

    3. Hmm.. I work at the City and when I signed up for ORCA, the various emails and the internal website said fares were going up, even the lady at the pass counter told me I had to get a new value pass.

      Then again, I saw a huge line of people (at work) getting their card a few days before New Years. I got mine two weeks ago.

      1. There have always been long lines at the Metro customer service kiosks at the end and beginning of each month, but it’s probably a madhouse today.

        Fortunately, I got my ORCA card last April or so.

      2. BTW I was in Westlake station yesterday and I noticed there were signs up both in the customer service windows and on the TVMs telling people they could buy passes self-service at the TVMs. There were a bunch of confused people crowded around the TVMs. I told them they could get ORCA cards if they didn’t already have one and then proceeded to show them how I load my card.

      3. Interesting, in my travels to Asia, most of the TVM’s are manned (generically speaking) by men and women who help you understand their machines. They stand there and help explain to people how to use the machines and purchase tickets. I thought they were there for us American’s who don’t speak the language, but there is always an English option. However I see a lot of native speakers not understanding them either. Their machines are just as confusing as ours to use at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to understand.

      4. Nobody with an existing corporate/employer issued Orca card should have to get a new card – I believe that the loading of the new off-peak fare value (the former peak value) is a result of screwups in the HR departments of the impacted companies simply purchasing pass value at the former (vs. the new) rate and not paying attention to the fare increase.

      5. Ha! My employer (actually the company that outsources this function from my employer, along with flexible spending accounts) still has the fares from before the previous increase, e.g. one-zone vanpool $63, two-zone vanpool $81. I’ve called them twice and written a letter as well, to no avail.

      6. I’d wager good dollars that these folks are also responsible for a lot of people having the old peak value (which is now the new off-peak fare) loaded. I’m also hearing buzz that there’s folks who have had one-zone passes loaded instead of two-zone, along with combinations of issues relating to peak/off-peak and zone fares.


    4. Re Microsoft: Are you sure about that? I have a Microsoft ORCA pass, and I’ve had no problems using it to get between Seattle and Overlake in 2010.

      Besides, Microsoft passes are much higher than a one-zone peak fare — it’s at least a two-zone peak, for employees coming from Seattle, and I’m pretty sure it’s enough to cover Sounder too.

      1. Aleks,

        I did have some MS employees with passes set to off-peak. Could be folks working this side of the water.

        I’m also hearing from a user/blogger out there that his goof stemmed from a “voucher” that his employer provided, which he normally used to add value (from the default provided by the employer) to his existing monthly pass – i.e. to “upgrade” from the default on-zone peak that the employer paid 100% for to a two-zone for an extra $60.00, which the employer provided a voucher for.

        It could be that some of these folks didn’t update the use of their voucher to compound confusion, just paying what they normally did – which would reflect the old peak value vs. the new off-peak.

        Today, a lot of those folks showed up with an extra quarter and didn’t say a word – so I’m guessing they may have talked to someone.

  2. From Slog:

    Cabs now wait outside of the tunnel entrance. They wait for a race of people with luggage. Downtown is now flooded with the lug-pulling people. Downtown has become the latest addition to the airport.

    Good! Looks like Pine Street between 5th Ave and 6th Ave. Is this the best tunnel to get a cab in downtown?

      1. Then they need to designate a cab stand near by. When I arrived at Westlake Station on Link on Christmas day, I cabbed it to Capitol Hill. While Seattle is my old haunt from 14 years ago, I was not about to brave trying to find a bus that would get me close to my destination on a desolate holiday service and not yet knowing exactly where I was going.

        The cab worked out just fine. And now armed with mobile phone tools, I’m getting around just fine as well.

      2. Didn’t there use to be a cab stand on 6th Ave for the Westin (between Olive and Stewart)?

      1. A cab stand there makes good sense there for folks that want to make a quick transition to N Seattle. I am contemplating grabbing a cab from my North Seattle home to Westlake so I can catch the first Link train. Unfortunately the first 5 bus does not seem to be synchronized with Link and arrives at 3rd and Pine about 3 minutes after the first train leaves. So I have to wait an extra 15 mins to catch the next train at that hour. Unfortunately even catching the first train is cutting it close at Seatac, esp. given the additional security going on lately. The second train is out of the question.

        Who can I talk to about the synching of the 5 schedule? :)

    1. Notice the comment on that page about people putting their luggage in the handicapped seating area. Since the Airport station opened, I’ve noticed lots more luggage on the train — and people putting it on the seats, in the bike area, and in the handicapped seating area. And these weren’t even full trains. I wish they would have put luggage racks on the trains after all.

      1. Add to that the increase in people asking for the use of the lift aboard buses to get their luggage on the bus on the way to the Link train.

        Guaranteed to get a dirty look from me, but that’s all I’m allowed.

      2. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve heard that the luggage racks on Minneapolis’ Hiawatha Line that serves their airport go mostly unused.

        I don’t see people use the racks on ST Express buses either.

        I read that CTA put racks on their trains to O’Hare and later removed them.

  3. Here’s a study I would like to see conducted:

    As more people become more dependent on ‘mass’ transit and the use of personal transit (bikes,cars,taxis) is reduced…does the overall transit fare price trend upwards? It seems that Seattle — which has been (a) running bikes off the road (b) making it difficult to park cars (c) taking away taxi fare livelihood with the airport station — now has been quietly moving fares upward, thus concentrating power into the hands of a centrifying bureaucracy.

    1. Why would transit use lead to a decline in bicycle use? If anything, transit makes it more convenient and practical to use a bike for commuting or day=to-day use. Without transit I wouldn’t be able to bike to work and would be forced to use a car. Being forced to use a car would be a limit to my personal freedom.

    2. I think our fare increases have much more to do with the decline in tax revenue due to the recession than they have to do with increased ridership.

      1. Keep in mind as well that the current round of increases was under heaviest contemplation during the gas price spike of ’08.

        Increased ridership should in theory have a nominal effect (if any) on revenues. Since increased ridership rarely results in increased service capacity – at least in the short term – a rise in ridership should if anything increase revenues.

    3. Gee, I dunno, ‘Blue Swan’- why don’t you just assume that what you want to believe is the case? That shouldn’t be too much of an effort, considering that your entire comment is composed of unproven assumptions.

    4. Another conspiracy theory by Blue Swan.

      Bus fares went up in early 2009 because of the spike in fuel costs. They went up this month because of the precipitous drop in sales-tax revenue after the crash, which decimated Metro’s funding source.

      The fare is set as a percentage of the operating cost, I think 25% or 33%. With inflation the fare gradually covers less and less, so when the difference reaches 25 cents the county raises it. There was no increase for several years until the gas-spike increases.

  4. Yesterday I was in a Link train and it opened the doors to the wrong side of the airport station. I used the emergency intercom to inform the driver, and he then closed them. They were probably open for about 30 seconds total. I’ve never seen an operator open the wrong side doors on any train system ever. Should I report this?

    1. This happened to me on the streetcar once, at the Fairview stop where the other side of the streetcar faces a lane of traffic. Fortunately, the driver realized his mistake quickly enough to tell us not to walk into traffic.

    2. Yes, report it. What if there had been a blind person or a small child?

      I’m sure that it was an innocent mistake on the part of the driver, but if Metro knows that this kind of thing is happening, they can institute more safety procedures.

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