108 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Don’t Try this at Home”

      1. Yes, that’s the most amazing thing — they have Light Rail in Grenoble:

        “The population of the city (commune) of Grenoble at the 2006 census was 156,107 inhabitants. ”


        So here you have a “mass transit” system for what is essential a very small city (Kent has 80,000 residents, about half).

        Kind of lays the whole “high density” argument in its grave…

      2. Well I’m sure it isn’t that simple. Might help to do some quick fact checking on wikipedia.

        Density of Grenoble (21,930 /sq mi)
        Density of Seattle (7,136/sq mi)


      3. Blue Swan/The Riddler/Crazy Guy, I really don’t know why I bother, I guess so that others don’t fall for your idiocy.

        Grenoble – Density 8,466 /km2 (21,930 /sq mi)

        Kent – – Density 1,095.4/km2 (2,836.7/sq mi)

      4. Oh and just as I expected. This city has significant physical constraints because it is built in a valley between three large mountains that forces most transportation to travel along three corridors that look a bit like a “Y”. Check it out here.

        This means that just two tram lines could effectively serve the entire urban population. And take a look at this. Just a tad dense.

      5. http://www.lightrailnow.org/lrn_austin/myths.html#density

        Claim: The density along the proposed light-rail route is anywhere from a half to a fifth of the density that is generally required to support a rail system.

        Fact: This is an inaccurate and misleading claim that puts the cart before the horse.

        One of the primary goals of light rail is to motivate smart residential and commercial growth along the entire rail line corridor. This counteracts the otherwise naturally occurring phenomenon of clustered and creeping downtown development that leads to loss of middle-class neighborhoods.

        The success that Dallas has had with DART has demonstrated this desired effect, with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in new residential development within previously low-density and undesirable neighborhoods.

        Use of light rail will eliminate the commute “penalty” for living in outlying areas by delivering predictable and convenient transit (as far north as McNeil road) directly into the downtown corridor.

      6. “In Phoenix, Weekend Users Make Light Rail a Success”

        Check out the foto…yep, real dense:


        “The light rail here, which opened in December, has been a greater success than its proponents thought it would be, but not quite the way they envisioned. Unlike the rest of the country’s public transportation systems, which are used principally by commuters, the 20 miles of light rail here stretching from central Phoenix to Mesa and Tempe is used largely by people going to restaurants, bars, ball games and cultural events downtown.”

      7. “Kind of lays the whole “high density” argument in its grave…”

        “The success that Dallas has had with DART has demonstrated this desired effect, with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in new residential development within previously low-density and undesirable neighborhoods.”

        I don’t understand your position, you seem to say one thing one day and the opposite the next day.

        I certainly agree that rail is viable for small cities. Germany has been building streetcars with downtown tunnels (U-Stadtbahn) in medium and small cities. My German friend was excited to tell me that his hometown Bielefeld was getting a subway. (This was in the late 80s or early 90s.) I can’t speak for others on STB, but I don’t think many people want to write off the suburbs and small towns. I’d like to see more transit and microdensity in Everett and Spokane and Mt Vernon. Those places are pretty opposed to it right now, mainly due to the capital cost, but I predict they’ll change their minds in the future the way King County residents have recently changed their minds.

        As for density, what are the goals? My goal is to make it easy to do all daily errands on foot or transit, and to be able to reach anywhere in the region anytime without a car. This can be high density (towers) or medium density (2-4 story units mixed with houses). The streetcar suburbs of the early 1900s were not high density, they were something like your Phoenix photo.

        High density is more energy efficient, there’s no question about that. But walkable medium density is OK too. And rural houses will always be with us because certain activities are only possible with that much land, not to mention people who like to live away from cities. The problem is these in-between houses on 1/4 acre lots in pure residential areas that are accessible only by car. These gobble up land and energy: they’re the ones we’re subsidizing without getting a benefit. (Unlike a farm, which gives something back for its subsidy, or a rural house, which preserves the land around it.)

      8. I think that even most small and medium size cities in Europe have much higher density then say a city like Sammamish or Everett. So transit works much better even in smaller cities.

      9. So as not to gum up STB with this debate, I started a thread on my own BBS called

        “Low Density Rail”


        Have been recently debating with commentators on the notion that rail, far from promoting density, can and has promoted sprawl.

        Because it makes it easier to travel long distances without the traffic of auto transport, it allows people to have housing much further away from work.

        Plus, the “heavy” or commuter rail systems typically have adequate parking in remote suburban areas, making it easy to live a low density lifestyle while retaining a high salary job.

        So a typical argument is that Rail is needed because people want to give up their cars, and move into 8 story condomiums. A counter argument is that rail — even light rail — makes it ever more possible to stick with the single family home, continue to have a car for short trips to the mall and grocery store and to get what people really want: low cost parking so they can travel and enjoy the cultural centers. Light rail then becomes more like an airport shuttle from the parking lot.

        This thread explores the issue.

      10. I agree with blue Swan. The faster you make a rail line the more it promotes sprawl. I think this idea can also be applied to buses. When you have a bus that makes stops that are few and far between before coming into an employment center it is the same idea to get people from sprawling neighborhoods into an employment centers.

      11. I replied to Swan on his site.

        Rail may make metropolitan areas bigger, but this is dwarfed by highways. Rail encourages a different kind of development: walkable neighborhood centers around stations. Highways encourage garages and parking lots, and enabled big box stores to exist. The Interurban created a linear strip of (sub)urbanism and enabled farmers to get to town. 520 and 405 created the Eastside sprawl.

        In any case, we’re not building a new city from scratch. We’re trying to make it easier to get around the existing sprawl without a car. People with 5-mile commutes are not going to switch to 20-mile commutes because of Link. Even if they do, so what? The train is running anyway whether they’re on it or not. And even if the train makes the 20-mile commute feasable, it enables people to do their incidental errands without a car.

      12. Any type of rail is better then nothing but if you look at the different types of rail (ranging from street car to commuter rail) in our region the farther the stations get about the more auto dependent it gets. As you progress from Slut to Link to Sounder the stations get farther apart. Slut has no park and rides, Link has some parking around stations and Sounder has Park and rides at every station except King Street Station.

      13. The reason the statement “rail promotes sprawl” bothers me is it produces the opposite effect than intended. If we agree sprawl is bad, we can’t spend our energy going after a miniscule sprawl producer while ignoring the mammoth sprawl producer on the other side. It’s like saying tax cuts for the rich help the working man, when they obviously have the opposite effect. The extra money does not produce jobs, it goes to mansions and speculation. So voting for “tax cuts and deregulation” is like shooting yourself in the foot, because it won’t bring you income or jobs or freedom.

        The opposition to the Vision line, and moving rail from I-90 to 520, is the suspicion that they aren’t sincere proposals. They’re attempts to make the rail line so unusable or unfeasable that it’ll be canceled, never built, or doomed to run empty. In other words, they appear to bring rail along but do the opposite. Every successful rail line in the world serves the existing population centers. It may serve anticipated growth areas too, but it doesn’t bypass existing centers for phantom growth that may or may not occur.

      14. “Any type of rail is better then nothing but if you look at the different types of rail (ranging from street car to commuter rail) in our region the farther the stations get about the more auto dependent it gets. As you progress from Slut to Link to Sounder the stations get farther apart. Slut has no park and rides, Link has some parking around stations and Sounder has Park and rides at every station except King Street Station.”

        So you would rather have a streetcar from Seattle to Tacoma? The spacing did not cause the auto dependency. Auto dependency caused the park n rides. If there were lots of housing near the stations, and lots of buses throughout the suburbs, there would not have been park n rides.

        Wide station spacing decreases auto dependency. People drive because it takes too long to get somewhere on the bus. Wide spacing lets you make longer trips on transit that you’d otherwise need a car for, because it would take two hours to get there by bus. Of course it also means people between the stations can’t use the train. But people will have more of an incentive to live close to stations and demand more rail lines, if it gets them to their destinations faster than a bus or driving.

      15. I think there are two misunderstandings that are confusing some people.

        1) Any growth in population outside the city (aka the suburbs) is ‘sprawl.’ This is incorrect. You need only look at one of the first ‘streetcar suburbs’ a city originally named Breuckelen, now known as Brooklyn. While it experienced most of it’s growth as a suburb of New York City, I think you would have a hard time calling it sprawl.

        2) That the rail construction (or in the case of Sounder, increased usage) is happening in a vacuum. As much as I and many others would like to turn back the clock on the last half a century of autocentric developement, we can’t. These sprawling suburbs already exist. It’s not like Link is bulldozing fields and forest to build stations outside of the Seattle Metro Area. Instead it is connecting already built areas to the core. The hope is that this will help guide/confine future growth to these already existing areas and not just continue out, out, out.

      16. When there was a streetcar between Seattle and Tacoma, it did promote clusters of walkable density around its stops.

        Some of that can still be seen nearly a hundred years after the Interurban stopped running, in densely-platted neighborhoods surrounded by “modern” quarter-acre car suburbs.

      17. “Wide spacing lets you make longer trips on transit that you’d otherwise need a car for”

        This is where I have a problem. When you have stations far apart, long distance trips take a shorter amount of time because trains don’t have to stop as much. This can encourage people to live far away from where they work.

        I’d like to add that Sound Transit can help break our auto dependency by not building so many park and rides.

      1. Odds on they are, but that is only because natives are even harder to find in Portland than in Seattle.

      2. Y’all should be glad to get the transplants that you do. Where I am from (AL Gulf Coast) we only get retired Yankees that contribute almost nothing to the local economy (unless you happen to own a 3.99 All You Can Eat Buffet) but put a huge strain on our social services. At least Seattle gets mostly young professionals, hardworking, intelligent, good looking, well mannered, humble… er… where was I going with this? :p

        Oh yes, at least your transplants are producers and just users.

      3. You wrongly assume that Californians aren’t by and large braindead. And if they’re not, then they’re working in the Silicon Valley anyway.

      4. Natives aren’t dumb enough to drive on a steep hill when there’s no traction. I should know, I grew up in Portland on a steep hill.

      1. Let me vote a very loud NO! I hated that every time I hit a link in my RSS reader I’d get the mobile version when reading STB on my iPhone. I rather strongly prefer the “normal” view of STB even on the iPhone.

        I’d have no problem with it if you had to go to a special URL to get the mobile version of the site and the site view didn’t default to the mobile view whenever you hit the site from a mobile device.

      2. Along those same lines: Properly designed HTML and CSS will degrade nicely to older browsers and small screens or paper without having to write a separate print or mobile version.

  1. Back in December I sent this message to the King County customer comment e-mail:

    Are there any plans to look at alternating stops for the buses that
    go on NE Pacific St and 15th Ave NE by the University of Washington?
    There is literally a stop every block in this area. This causes
    northbound trips to take a long time, so much so that it is probably
    faster to walk this distance. Southbound trips are even worse–at peak
    hours southbound 15th Ave NE gets totally snarled with traffic. Buses
    make a little bit of progress, then they stop due to the traffic, and
    then they have to stop again because they’ve reached another bus stop.
    My perception is that southbound peak trips often become very late due
    to this effect.

    It seems like it would make sense to alternate stops for different
    routes much as is done downtown on 3rd Avenue.

    Here is a list of where the 48 stops in this area going northbound:

    NE Pacific St & NE Pacific Pl
    NE Pacific St & 15th Ave NE
    15th Ave NE & NE Pacific St
    15th Ave NE & NE 40th St
    15th Ave NE & NE 41st St
    15th Ave NE & NE 42nd St
    15th Ave NE & NE 45th St

    It seems like half of these stops could be eliminated without anyone
    having to walk very far.

    Please let me know if you will consider alternating stops here.

    Many thanks,
    Michael H.

    I got an e-mail saying it would be forwarded to the correct department. My questions for the commenters here is (a) whether alternating stops here would be a good move, and (b) if so, how to get Metro to carry it out. I think it would be a big help here.

    1. Increased stop spacing (whether or not the road also has alternating stops) would be a good idea.

    2. I’m generally in favor of removing stops if they don’t make sense but I think that most of the routes that operate on 15th might be better served by increasing stop spacing at other locations along the route where demand is lower.

      It would be interesting to look at is TSP along the corridor from Pacific to NE 45th.

    3. I have no problem with the number of stops…..I just wish we didn’t have to wait 2011 for 15th Ave NE to be resurfaced

    4. Alternating stops might work, but I’m not sure it would work well with all the buses leapfrogging each other; unlike 3rd downtown, I don’t think you could reasonably close 15th to non-transit traffic at rush hour. Stop removal & relocation would be better.

      It seems to me that the stop by Gates Hall (the Law building, btwn 42nd & 43rd) could be removed, as the Parrington Hall (41st/42nd) stop is just ~600′ south of there. Cutting that stop would make it around 1/3 mi from Parrington to either 45th & the Ave (westbound routes) or 15th & 45th (northbound). It would also give the westbound routes more time to get over to the left-turn lane.

      In fact, I suspect that left-turn is responsible for a lot of the slowing up the whole street. During rush hour, all westbound routes have to sit behind I-5 traffic and it can easily take three or four light cycles just to make that one turn. Maybe remove all parking along the southbound side of 15th btwn 45th & 43rd, then extending the left-turn lane for most of the block. That way more buses can wait without taking up a through lane. But until Metro & SDOT figure out how to make that better, I think that whole area’s going to stay slow.

      Anyway, I’ve also always thought that second stop on Pacific St between Pacific Place and 15th, under the pedestrian overpass, could be removed with no problem. Unfortunately the B-G would become the primary route for folks to get to the other stops, which could be problematic around rush hour, but some “All Users Keep Right” and “Use Voice or Bell When Passing” signs might go a long way.

      1. So… that memo was written two years ago. Has there been any progress toward making this a reality?

      2. One of the big problems on 15th is the pay lot on 43rd at 15th–behind the bookstore. It’s not as much of a problem during “rush hour” as it is mid to late afternoon.

        43rd between the lot entrance and 15th backs up horribly, and it can take several cycles to turn west onto 43rd from 15th.

        The reason why it’s bad is because the bookstore will validate parking with any purchase. And there’s only ever one guy that is working there, and he has to hand out tickets to people coming in and process the ones going out.

    5. Metro does have a policy of increasing the stop distance. A third of the stops on University Way were eliminated in its last renovation. And even on 15th, the two stops on 42nd and 43rd were combined into one stop. I agree that maybe the 41st stop could be eliminated. Not sure about Pacific; I avoid going down there because of the Montlake traffic.

      1. Yes, right under the skybridge that goes across 15th. That stop, and the one on The Ave at the same latitude, are some of the more popular stops, especially due to that skybridge.

    6. I definitely agree about increasing stop spacing. But a lot of those routes duplicate each other. If you make alternating stops, you’d want to keep routes with common destinations together. That way you can wait for any of several buses without having to guess which is coming first or run to catch it.

  2. Question about the Bellevue-Redmond RapidRide. On their website, Metro says RapidRide will replace the routes 230 and 253 when they overlap or share the same street. “RapidRide will travel on major arterials – NE Eighth Street, 156th Avenue NE, NE 40th Street, and 148th Avenue NE, replacing Metro routes 230 and 253 on these streets.” Looking at the map, it looks like RapidRide will most closely resemble the route 253. http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/sc/plans/2008/012008-belred-rr-map.html

    My question is, will there be no local Metro service with more numerous bus stops on routes where RapidRide runs, like in Snohomish county, where Community Transit’s route 101 travels along the same road as Swift for much of the journey?

    1. That’s my question too.

      Are they going to run a “local” along side an “express” ?

      That’s what they do in the MTA.

      They have the express E and F trains with the GG running all the little stops (although in off hours the E can become a local to).

    2. I’ve been trying to get an answer to this because my mom lives on the route, and the answer seems to be that the local buses will be eliminated. That means my mom will have to drive because she can’t walk uphill to the Rapid Ride stop. Fortunately she finally qualified for Access after applying multiple times.

    3. I don’t believe Metro’s Rapid Ride will be anything like Community Transit’s SWIFT line. Looking at the Route B map, it would appear stops would be about every eight blocks. Nowhere near the over one-mile spacing of SWIFT stops.

  3. According to the union newsletter, all 1900 vans were pulled from service on January 20th and “other equipment” was assigned to the work. The reason was due to a safety issue for many operators, especially the shorter operators, could not see the area in the front of the van very well.

    1. Really! I’ve been on vacation for two weeks, so this is the first I’ve heard. That’s good. Many operators don’t like them and feel that the 1900’s are unsafe. I haven’t driven one yet, since they don’t have them downtown, but I did sit in the driver seat, and wasn’t comfortable with the 1900’s. Around East base a few new names have popped up refering to the new vans……Milk Truck, Taco Truck, Urban Assault Vehicle

      I still wish they would have replaced the van with 30 footers, but I know for political reasons Metro went with new vans.

      I have also heard, that Metro planned to put new Vans on some Bellevue Base routes such as the 209, 222, 248, 236, 238 and some others on weekends and on some runs during the week. This has pissed off many drivers, because they thought when picking their runs that 1100’s (30′ Gilligs) where assigned….but in the contract, Metro has the right to change equipment.

      So in the mean time, I guess the 1200’s will be back in force and I’ve seen some 1100’s out on some van routes. I wonder if starting next week, the new shakeup, when the 3100’s (35′ Gilligs) from Central that were going to be retired, might actually show up on the Eastside to help, while the 1900’s are sitting.

  4. I seem to remember an experiment that Metro did in the 80s with playing music on some busses, especially bus routes that had unruly people(i.e. #124). It seemed to make the bus ride a bit more calm for everyone. Does anyone else remember this from years ago?

    1. A lot of supermarkets in high crime areas are doing that…playing pop songs from the 60s and 70s.

      I don’t know if it works, but its sort of cool to be able to shop with Sly and the Family Stone playing in the aisles.

  5. Does anyone know why exactly it will take so long to build Link? Vancouver’s Canada line was approved in 04 and started running in 09.

    1. If you are referring to University link it is because it is a bored tunnel. If you are referring to full build out ST2 (what we voted on in 2008, proposition 1) it is because that is 36 miles of track where as the Canada line is 11.8 miles.

      1. Does that mean that, sense most of the Link line to Ballard and West Seattle will be above ground, and that the line is relatively short, that it could be built in a shorter time frame?

  6. One question that seems to bug me—Why is South Base always the first to get the newest buses?

    1. Because they are the base that is trained (maintenance) on all the new equipment. But it’s not always like that. East got the Gilligs first. Ryerson got the 3600’s first, and is the only base with 2800’s. South just got 6800’s first because they are different that the other Hybrids, and the Rapid Ride coaches, because the first Rapid Ride line will be on Pac Hwy.

    2. Although at the same time, I don’t feel the same way. I wish I could drive the new equipment more. Beside, there is about 15 new 6800’s that should enter service next week. They will probably go to South, and South will send some other 2600’s somewhere else, but you never know. We might be surprised to 6800’s at another base. At least I hope so.

    3. We don’t know for sure who is getting 6851-6865 (the newest teal hybrids), but here’s my speculation:

      1) South has a boneyard. Boneyard can also be a storage area. No other base has room to store stuff that isn’t being used.
      2) South Base does the new vehicle inspections
      3) The Fleet Engineering Group is located at South Base, and they probably has a say of what goes where. They definitely have a say in what gets purchased.
      4) RapidRide A Line, the first to open, will probably be out of South Base
      5) A bunch of the new Workhorse vans are sitting at South right now. But South doesn’t have any van routes right now. All of the Workhorse and Ford vans that are in service are running out of East base as Casey mentioned. South is probably holding on to the vans (see #1) until East gets rid of the Ford vans, which, by the way, I heard will be auctioned off. 1226 is being used for security crew transport and can be found at IDS.

  7. Since this is a wandering thread, perhaps we can wander east. Spokane a week ago finished playing host to 10 days of the national figure skating championship, and by all accounts it did so quite well. Attendance broke the record set three years ago (in Spokane), and the city lavished care and attention on the visitors, which the figure-skating crowd particularly finds in its favor.

    A major reason for the success was a system of twin bus STA shuttles that connected the Spokane Arena with about a half-dozen stops throughout downtown, mostly hotels but also including River Park Square (the downtown mall), which housed the event’s Fan Fair. Two lines (red and blue) operated with what were officially 10-minute headways, but rarely did riders wait that long. And it seems STA’s entire fleet of articulated buses was on standby for the end of major events, like the free skates or long programs. At peak times I’d count four in line; one would load up and pull away, the next will pull up and start loading anew. I rode a couple of times during off-peak periods — the nature of figure skating is fans/coaches/athletes/parents are always coming and going — and never saw fewer than a dozen riders on any one trip.

    The fare was 75 cents, compared with $1.25 normal STA fare. As for operators, they pulled in retirees, tour-bus drivers, pretty much anyone with the necessary qualifications. They were generally courteous and patient with a crowd that probably doesn’t do transit often; my quibble is sometimes drivers would stop at all the designated shuttle stops, or sometimes they’d stop at none unless signaled. Once I pulled a cord and the driver pulled over at a regular STA stop instead of the designated shuttle stop, about two blocks distant. But all in all it was pleasant; the new articulated fleet (came in last year) rides remarkably smoothly given Spokane’s chronic issue with freeze-and-thaw potholes.

    It wouldn’t surprise if the shuttles offered a statistically significant bump to January ridership. And it seemed a bus was in sight everytime I gazed around while walking about or hanging out. It’s enough too make one all tingly inside, but in a G-rated way, you know.

    1. I was in Missoula for First Night in 2000. First Night is a citywide collection of arts events on New Year’s Eve, mostly in small cities. Missoula around 40,000 and I don’t think it has any transit. Most businesses and the houses among them are within a half-hour walk or ten-minute bike ride of each other, although Reserve Street on the west side is surprisingly long (it’s mostly industrial or empty though), and there are more houses on the periphery. But for First Night they used school buses as shuttles. They were supposed to come every half hour, but I ended up waiting an hour and they were packed. So the don’t-drink-and-drive strategy worked, but they needed twice as many shuttles as they had.

    2. AND they repeatedly publicized to ticketholders coming from out of town that we could buy special passes ahead of time for the length of the competition!

  8. My wish for 2010- you guys who are posting long URLs that make it so the text won’t screenwrap- learn how to html that stuff. Pretty please with cream and sugar on top.

      1. Or a link on OpenStreetMap.org, the shortlink feature is an easy “copy this link” and “paste this link,” solves the whole third-party middleman and extra step, too.

      1. To link to a website, use this format:
        <a href=”http://google.com”>what you want your link text to say</a>

        Assuming my codes worked.

        Or there’s some instructions

      2. Yeah, Josh got it exactly right. I couldn’t figure out how to do that without having it just turn into a hot link. Still don’t know how Josh did that, but it’s right.

      3. He used “smart quotes” instead of normal quotes. The WP text parser didn’t recognize them so it just threw it in as a regular link.

      4. My sample? I just used character codes for the less-than/greater-than signs. That’s &lt; and &gt;

        I’m not sure why it turned them into smart quotes…I used regular quotes.

  9. I’ve been going down to Olympia a few times lately, and I was just thinking, would it be possible for ST and Intercity to work together to create a direct Seattle-Olympia bus, at least until Sounder can get down there? I think it would get quite high ridership, as I know quite a few people already transfer from the 603 to the 590s every day, and I have seen several Intercity vanpools in Seattle.

      1. …or, Intercity Transit would need to prioritize a service to fund it similar to how Pierce Transit funds the service to Gig Harbor.

    1. At one time Sound Transit had a plan for the 596 Seattle-Olympia Express (the route destination sign was shown to me when an operator was doing the 592, pulling into DuPont and I was waiting for my ride). This was using PT’s old 800 series Orions which had the rolling-signs instead of electronic signs.

      The operator said he heard that the route was too long.

      1. If I recall, Sound Transit bought those buses from Pierce Transit. I believe it was Pierce Transit who were looking towards the future.

      2. Actually, I think they were replaced with some MCI’s and the latest Gillig purchase (pink lights).

    2. I have thought this for years – there definitely needs to be better connections with the largest city in the State and its legislative capital.

      As my namesake says above, it would require a massive expansion of the RTA as Thurston County is not in the ST taxing or any other transit boundary outside of its own.

      Would be nice though.

    3. Alex, I’ve wondered this since 1994 when I started working in Olympia. I’m on one of those Intercity vanpools which I hate for several reasons, not the least of which is its utter inflexibility. I coach youth sports and my son plays two sports and take drum lessons so most of the year, I can’t even ride with my vanpool. But it’s there and it takes six people out of their cars (when I ride it–five most of the time). The bus (or ideally a pair of Sounder runs) would better fit my professional life and lifestyle. But the last 603 north (which I can walk to from my office) to Lakewood runs around 3PM and I still wouldn’t get home in time to grab my kid and get to baseball practice. These are the real life concerns of a wannabe good-transit citizen, with real life commitments not matched by regional transit capacity, but the agencies just haven’t responded (I’ll never forgive Thurston County for avoiding participation in the RTA in the 1990’s). That’s also why I get excited here in the comments everytime we discuss growth of light rail (and other modes) in the context of regional *system* rather than mere “lines” (to answer a troll from several days ago).

  10. As part of our goal here of helping to create a lively pedestrian and transit-friendly downtown, I wanted to take a moment to thank the City of Seattle for their colorful use and implementation of all of those directional signs that sprang up like mushrooms throughout 2009 at most downtown intersections and tourist spots. The make a nice addition to downtown and must have taken a while to coordinate. I am guessing that SDOT did these, but I do not know for sure. Thank you though!

    Also, a thank you to Metro which has to coordinate and implement so many Rider Alert signs throughout the year as streets and other places close for festivals, sporting occasions and other events. Again, having to identify all of the requisite stops must take a lot of work and coordination. Thank you to them for getting this information out there.

    Lastly, if you are traveling north on 4th Avenue, please be aware that most of the bus stops from the King County building to past the Library are out of commission because of the road construction.

  11. For a long time I thought the local transit agencies were run by idiots. I now have proff. This Saturday Feburary 6th 2010 we are going to under go one of the biggest changes is a long time. Several transit changes. Routed like the 194 being unjustly canceled. Routes changing where there going. It is less than a week away. The real problem is every one knew that this was coming and the new schedules will not be issued until Thursday. I mean this is just stupid. Not everyone can get online. Clearly the local transit boards know nothing about the rules of the 7 Ps.


    I know that the excuse is budget cuts. However, if than planned for this they could worked it out.

    1. OK two things:

      1) Use spell check
      2) You comment just about everywhere that the 194 being canceled is bad in some way. You’ve posted the same complaint so many times, I know exactly what your situation is. You catch the 194 late at night (which isn’t that late since the 194 is off the road by 10) at the Kent-Des Moines Road Park & Ride. You work downtown. It was a good fit for you, and you’re complaining to anyone that’ll listen and even to people that don’t want to listen that this holiest of holy routes is being discontinued. Let me explain how public transit works:
      The word “public” in public transit means transportation funded by the people–all people. The goal is to spend the money in a way that benefits the most amount of people. We have routes like the 7, 48, or 358 that carry thousands of people each day. It doesn’t work perfectly for each rider–everyone has to transport themselves a few blocks to a few miles off the route of the bus. It’s not a door to door thing. But this much you understand; their are no houses within a few blocks of KDM. The closest residential dwellings are past the 7-11, or even further if you’re looking down the other end of KDM. So you probably drive, walk, bike, or get a ride. I really don’t care how you do it.

      Previously we had the 194. It served three purposes: 1) Getting people between Downtown and the airport as quickly as possible. It did a good job of this. 2) Getting people between Downtown and Federal Way. It kind of sucks at this, however there are worse choices. 3) Getting people between Federal Way and the airport. It did a decent job of this.

      The Star Lake and KDM stops are, in my opinion, purely opportunistic stops, and if anything, they’re a nusiance since neither have HOV ramps. Between 272nd and 317th the bus has to weave across all lanes to get to the ramp because those two are on opposite sides. But I digress…

      So let’s take a look at the three segments I pointed out above. #1: Downtown-Airport. Surely you’re aware of Link light rail. It travels between Downtown and the Airport. Yeah, it’s a tad bit slower than the scheduled time than the 194. But as a 194 rider, you are well aware that the 194 cannot always stay on schedule. Link has a much higher on time percentage. Another thing to look at is capacity. The 194 can carry 100ish people on any given trip, and that’s a very uncomfortable ride. Link carries 400-800 people at a time depending on how many cars they stick on the train. That’s 400 people for every line in the timetable, all controlled by one operator. For that capacity, you’d need four operators and four buses. It seems Link has an advantage here.

      #2: Downtown-Federal Way: The 577 has the 194 beat hands down. The 194 takes between 49 and 65 minutes to get between Westlake and the FWTC depending on the time of day. For the 577, that same trip is 36-45 minutes. Not only does it provide a more direct trip (and thus more enjoyable) but it does so quicker. Win win win here. The 577 is also a good route because it’s a great option for “choice” commuters–those who would spend about the same amount of time and money on the bus or car. It has super quick service and I can’t wait until it starts service. Nobody is allowed to ask why the 577 doesn’t connect to Link. The reason why is that it’s not the same type of service. The 577 provides quick transfer-less ride between FW and DT. If you force a transfer at SeaTac or Tukwila, not only is the duration going to double, but the quality of the ride significantly decreases due to the forced transfer.

      Now I can make the comparison between the 577 and the 194 because the 577 gets used. A lot. Almost all trips, especially the later morning trips, are standing room only. The 194 is not. On that last trip (which I have used many times) you will notice that 3 people–at most–get on at KDM.

      Finally, #3: FW-Airport. The 574 provides identical service to this segment. Sound Transit is doubling the frequency of the 574. I don’t think I really need to explain anything here; it’s just another selling point to getting rid of the 194.

      As you probably know, King County Metro has less than no money. The same goes for Sound Transit, but they’ve been able to sustain and expand service levels somehow. Metro is trying desperately to make sure they have at least the same amount of buses on the road.

      So the question is: should we keep the 194 running so that you and two other people can have your one seat ride downtown? Or should we shift that money into providing, say, service on the 2 where 30+ people will use it? As the ShamWow guy would say, “I don’t know, it sells it self”.

      So, Mr “RennDawg”, stop complaining here. Not only do we not care (OK maybe it’s just me that doesn’t care), but many people are strongly opposed to keeping the 194. If you have a complaint, send it to the people that actually make the decisions, ya know, Metro. But keep in mind while you’re writing your poorly spelled letter that they are not going to do a damn thing no matter how many letters you write. Hell, go out and make a petition and get signatures. I’m sure that sheet of signatures will fit nicely in their recycle bin. The decision has been made and they are not going to change it. May the 194 (and your incessant complaints) rest in peace

    2. Don’t listen to that guy. You absolutely do not need to use spell check here. This is just a blog’s comment section, not a doctoral thesis.

  12. Well, first, your right I am a bad speller. My spellcheck does nor work on this. I do tend to type fast so I lose track.
    Second, I do not ride the 194 anymore. As I pointed out months ago I moved to the Kent Valley. No where the 194. I still thionk that it is a dumb decision to end the 194. As I have also pointed out the Kent/Des Moines area where the 194 stopped is not getting a bus replacement. There are people who cannot afford Link. I know I’ve talked to them. So the only option is a longer commute. Let us be honest, the only reason the 194 is being canceled is because it is seen as compition for Link. I’ve talked to drivers about this. That is what I am told evertime. Since we in the south end are considered as second class to Seattle our conserns are placed on the back burner. However I noticed you ignored my main point. The sheer stupidity by local transit agencies about putting out the ney schedules.

    1. “Let us be honest, the only reason the 194 is being canceled is because it is seen as compition [sic] for Link.”

      We have seen this argument before, that discontinuing MT 194 will “force” people onto Link, or that the future U-Link ridership will be “artificially inflated” by people who would have ridden a 70-something Metro bus. Our local and regional transit agencies do not have the resources to run duplicate service just because a minority of people want them to. If most of the people riding the 194 can be better served by alternate bus routes, Link, or some combination of the two, then the 194 should be discontinued for the sake of efficiency and thrift. Is Link better than the 194 for all riders? Probably not. As Tim so eloquently pointed out, however, public transportation is not a door to door service.

    2. No, it is not a competition. It is a duplication.

      As to why it takes so long for Metro to get rider alerts out, I can’t address that. I don’t work for Metro. But you’re getting overly alarmist. “Routes changing where there going. It is less than a week away. The real problem is every one knew that this was coming and the new schedules will not be issued until Thursday.” I’m not really sure what that means, but if I replace “there” with “they’re” it makes a little bit more sense. To answer that concern:
      a) The 140 is changing its routing. Rider alerts were probably posted last week at the stops. I saw a bunch of them on Friday. And don’t act like this is the first time you’ve heard about it changing. I’ll let this page do the explaining for me.
      b) The 564/565 are becoming the 566. It won’t affect many users (that’s why it’s changing), and even so I’m pretty sure I saw rider alert signs last Thursday at Sumner when I caught the 564.
      c) Everything at SeaTac Airport Bay 1 will now move to the stops outside the SeaTac/Airport Link station. Don’t even try to tell me this is bad. Benefits: it cut at least 5 minutes off each trip, it provides a direct link to get downtown. Catch the 180 from Auburn, transfer to Link downtown. Auburn doesn’t have much direct downtown service besides the 152 and Sounder. Disadvantage: it’s different from before. Many people, such as yourself, want things to stay the way they are forever and will whine incessantly about it. Change will happen. Accept it. Oh, and some people might have to walk a bit further to the stop. It’s an airport, OK? You have to walk there.
      d) 5 routes are moving to the tunnel. But those are all routes that operate in North Seattle, so you have no reason to complain about them. To further underscore that point, I’ll let you know that rider alerts were posted last week at the stops. Which means riders have about a week and a half to adjust.
      e) About 40 routes have trip reductions. Most of the time these reductions are combining the two least-used trips into one that comes halfway between each. I’ll agree that this will inconvenience some people. But as mentioned about 500 times already, Metro has no money and needs to cut costs somehow. Be thankful it’s only 40 routes.

      Yes, I’ll agree that Metro could get it service change information out faster. You’re brining this up two posts below here, and I hope I don’t confuse anyone by answering it here. Anyway, the delay is probably delayed due to two things:
      1) It takes time to figure out what needs to be changed. Once that’s done, the information needs to be compiled and the service alert created. Then that goes to press, and a few days (or weeks) later Metro gets a few boxes of those brochures and can begin distributing them. That’s why information shows up online faster than offline. Sound Transit can do this faster because they have about 90% fewer routes than Metro does.
      2) If we publish information a month in advance, you’re going to confuse some people about which information is right for the current day. I could come up with about five examples, but I’ll stick with just one because I’m tired of responding to this BS. So the example is that Metro has everything published on January 1. On Jan 1 both red and purple timetables are available. A customer grabs a red timetable, unaware of the difference between the two. If you’ve ever worked with the public, you know that people only read what they want to, and many people won’t look at the text on the front stating what dates the timetable is valid. And a big sign near the timetables would go unnoticed. After reading the timetable and figuring out what time the bus is coming (which is actually what time it will be coming 5 weeks from then) the customer waits at a stop. Due to the schedule being different and possibly other factors, the bus is delayed many minutes. When it finally arrives, a cold and irratated passenger boards the bus and takes their anger out on the operator. Definitely not good. Could be verbal or physical abuse, but not good at all. Let’s keep our timing the way it is, though I wouldn’t mind if it was advanced a half week or so.

  13. Maybe, but last time I checked this was America and I can fight for what I think is right. Even if most think I am wrong.

  14. Now that I think about it, I should have not broughtthe 194 on this blog. It has become a distraction from my main point, that the local transit agencies dod a poor planning job for printing and distrubiting the new schedules. They should have been released to the public weeks ago. Right or wrong massive changes are less than a week away. They should have done a better job of getting the information out.

    1. See my response above.

      And sure, they’re “massive” changes. But how many routes does the average rider use? 1? 2? 3?

      Those that do ride many routes are probably well aware that at least one of them will change and are aware of how to find out about these changes.

      1. I can often bitch about the terrible public outreach of the local transit agencies (mostly due to their ever smaller budgets than actual incompetence)… but I just don’t get this one RennDawg.

        If you’re a regular, expert commuter you already know changes are coming — and you know when the service changes occur.

        If you’re a casual user, you don’t want to see these changes weeks in advance — because that would just confuse the hell out of you. On the other hand, if you’re planning ahead and call or go online to create your schedule, these time and routes changes are already changed for future planning.

        So I don’t really understand why you’re complaining that the new schedules aren’t printed sooner, since I don’t expect that would help these theoretical riders you’re so concerned about.

        And, on a side note to another comment you made up above. How is it less affordable for people to ride Link than a bus? If they use ORCA, they get a full transfer now onto Link from the bus.

      2. I was able to pick up my schedules today.

        I think Sound Transit had their schedules out a week ago.

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