Today marks the first day of Metro’s service change which, among other changes, has ended route 194. We should expect a uptick in light rail ridership going forward as airport riders switch to Link and as folks get familiar with the routes that now feed into the rail line.

The very final 194 bus departed the Westlake Center tunnel station last night at 10pm.

As per usual with service changes, services like One Bus Away will likely a few days where live bus tracking is down.

135 Replies to “Metro Service Change Retires Route 194”

    1. THE 194 LIVES!
      Metro is still running “Ghost Service” between S.FW P&R and DSTT.
      Check out the 174 or 179 schedule on trip planner, route map, and see the 194 listed in the box at the lower right corner of the map.

      1. Another example of Metro’s sloppy work. They even misspelled Transit Center on one of the timetables and left the 575 (Link Airport Connector) on a map.

      2. I presume they are manually updating all those maps as individual graphics, instead of using GIS to generate new maps for every service change. Probally a LOT of work for the maps. I like the fact they are so clean and simple, however Metro’s schedules are starting to look a bit dated.

      3. I think so and I like Metro’s style, it just looks right. I tried my hand at creating those things before. I think they were burnt out from updating all the maps to include the snow routes.

    1. Bus # 194 was a great way to get to Sea-Tac from downtown. Faster than the over-built, over-designed light rail. Much more convenient walk to the airline terminals.

      RIP 194

  1. I saw a northbound 194 on I-5 between the airport and downtown last night at 6:10pm and it had exactly one passenger on board.

    1. I rode the entire 194 yesterday.

      Took me 30 minutes on an “express” bus from Campus Pkwy in the U District, arrived Westlake 5:30 pm and then I waited another 30 minutes for the next 194. All the while 3 Link trains to the airport passed by. A lady let a train pass, asked for the 194 and then took the next train out. People were chatting about alternatives. Some didn’t know alternatives even existed like the 177.

      I fell asleep half way and arrived at Federal Way TC 53 minutes later. Hung out for another half-hour listening to the classical music they were piping to calm people down. Took the 574 back to the airport, then 560 to Bellevue and the 535 home.

      1. No, it was my own. I replied but didn’t hear back from him so I have no idea how it went or if it happened at all. Scott’s thing was supposed to start at 3:00 pm from the U District. Had it started at 5:00 pm, it would’ve backfired big time.

      2. We had fun on Scott’s adventure, though with a similar experience.

        Team A blithely departed Westlake on Link, receiving a call from Team B 25 minutes later saying the 194 never came. Team B got on the 4th Link to pass after Team A departed.

        We timed ~7 minute walk from the Link station to the middle of the airport upstairs and a ~6 minute walk from the middle of the downstairs to the 194. Team A returned on the 194; Team B grabbed a Link back.

        In the end, the (lone data point) 194 was about 4-5 minutes faster, though as Scott said “we probably won’t get a paper out of this”.

  2. Southcenter Mall is now a 5-minute bus ride from Link, on the straighter-routed 140! The bus comes roughly every 15 minutes most of the day, until 6 pm.

    You don’t have to take your chances getting stuck on the 150 in a traffic jam any more. Take the scenic route, via LINK, and see the beautiful sunrises over the Cascades.

    Take Link home to the valley, and stop to get groceries at any of several supermarkets right by light rail stations. Or pause for dinner at such wonderful eateries as the IBEX Cafe.

    But don’t bring American Express.

    ORCA: It’s everywhere you want to be.

      1. So true. Sorry Kemper, but until you change your attitude (like that’s ever going to happen)…

      2. Just dont want to reload it anywhere other than Online (with a 24 hr delay), at a Sounder or LINK station (Sorry suburbanites), or SAARs Marketplace (Hope you dont get SAARs there…)

    1. Love the new 140 route. Took me 8 minutes from the Southcenter bus stop to get to the station.

      The Link ride downtown was faster than scheduled. Only 34 minutes from SeaTac/Airport to Westlake. And that included getting stuck at a signal on MLK between Columbia City and Mt Baker. The operator really pushed hard on the acceleration.

      If you live in the Rainier Valley, it’s now faster to take Link to the 140 than backtracking to SODO for the 150. Too bad frequent service is only on weekdays. RapidRide Line F can’t come soon enough.

    2. Thats 15min until 6pm on the weekdays, 30 minutes on the weekends. Either way, that is spaced too far apart to service casual shoppers going to Southcenter.

      If you wanted a streetcar and the frequency of service it brings, routing one from the station down to the mall would be a good candidate. Straight shot and only a few intersections to re-time. Course, there is the freeway to cross and I’d assume you couldn’t use the existing underpass as it would eat all the space.

      1. I honestly thought that Southcenter might sponsor a shuttle bus to the station. A streetcar would certainly be handy there, with a circle route around the mall and Parkway shops. As a south-ender who has often had need to go to the Southcenter area, it would be useful. I go to Westlake now for some things, but there are some stores I need to go to occasionally that aren’t downtown.

        Jason suggested a sky ride like the old Seattle Center one, from the station right down to the mall. I like that idea.

      2. I’ve seen a number of hotels from the Southcenter area provide shuttle service to Tukwila International Blvd Station.

      3. I have seen several shuttles stop at the airport station stop on International Blvd too.

  3. Hey too bad there wasn’t an end-of-service 194 countdown (I think it was mentioned before)

      1. Yeah, thanks for fixing that. It wrapped in the comment box, but then it broke the STB.


  4. I miss the 194, used to ride it up to Seattle on the weekends all the time. Of course when i rode it, the equipment was breda’s and MAN’s.

    Today i tried out the 574 > LINK transfer at Sea-Tac Airport Station. Northbound the connection was good. The operator stopped at the station and several alighted.
    Southbound, Another story. The Stop southbound is horrible. Theres a flag, and thats it. I presume it’s going to become a RapidRide Stop, and get improvements that way (Or I hope).
    Waiting for the bus, as i saw one from the link station approach the airport, i looked around at the stop, again no timetables, RAs, seats, anything, and waited. And waited some more.
    20 minutes later i decide the bus isn’t going to show up, and must not be serving that stop i walk through the airport garage to the bus area. I see a 574 there, after getting on that, it did serve the aiport station.
    Oops, someone dident get the memo.

    So other than that, and the southbound stop being a total dump (I hope it gets improved with RapidRide (station awning, seats, lights, SCHEDULE INFO), and the bus dident make the detour right it was good.
    For next time, I’d suggest that ST should have changed the route in September to drive by the station site, than as soon as the station opened, the 574 could have started service there. I’m also a bit puzzed why it dosent serve TIB.
    You could route it up Intl Blvd, Through the airport and back out to 170th, than continue north to TIB, making the same deviation going SB. This would have allowed for better connectivity with Metro. Of course i think the problem at TIB
    may be lack of layover space. On the last days of the 575, it was quite apparent there wasn’t enough with the 174 and 124 terminating there. Also i dont quite understand the logic for the 156 from Tukwilla.
    Why does it go all the way to TIB instead of going south to 188th? Forcing a transfer to LINK (or the 174 if you paid in cash) to continue to TIB and continue your journey from there.

    And Finally, Even though the budgets are in a flux, now would be the time to press WSDOT/Amtrak for a Thruway from Tukwilla, to TIB and onto the airport for all Amtrak Cascades (and the C.S.)

      1. You must have came through just before i did. That guy with the stuffed animal was waiting there at the stop when i arrived. It’s better than some stops, however not what one would expect or want to have at a rail transfer stop like the Airport.
        Of course, It’s almost better to go through the garage to the terminal anyway, to get into the que line to board at the airport anyway, since the TSA employees seem to take up a good number of the seats on any given trip.
        The added local traffic from the loss of the 194 doesn’t help either. Hopefully this week metro will at least put timetable information up.

      2. On the dumpy nature of the Seatac station bus stops and lack of timetables – The last few times I’ve transferred from LINK to metro along MLK, there STILL has not been any timetable posted at the stops – mind you the holders are there, just no paper. Also, bustime was still claiming that the 8 didn’t run to Rainier Beach but WAS giving route 36 departure times from rainier beach as recently as last month. Budget problems or no, Metro should really seriously be ashamed. Thank GOD planning and implementing rapid transit was taken out of their hands.

      3. Metro’s information production & distribution has gone downhill. I don’t know if they’re overwhelmed or have no money or something but they’re making lots of obvious mistakes and typos.

      4. Regardless of the reasons why, there is a really simple budget-neutral concept that Metro seems to be unaware of – its better to say nothing than to give false information. When I follow the advice on a metro sign and call bus time and I’m given information that is over 6 months old that tells me to wait for a route that basically doesn’t exist anymore, its totally unacceptable.

      5. The online map for the 140 is the old unstreamlined route. That’s bound to confuse people.

        The schedule for the 191 which was discontinued half a year ago still exists and was updated for Feb 6!

      6. This photo shows that ST/Metro need to add a stairway from the southbound side of Int’l Blvd either directly to the Link mezannine or to the pedestrian bridge. The sign tells people to cross the street and then recross on the bridge! It’s ridiculous to force crossing busy Intl’l Blvd when you provide a bridge.

  5. There was no AVL data for the last 194 trip (194/20R) but the second to last inbound and outbound trips were on coach # 2618. Third to last in/out was 6844.

  6. More cheers for the new 140! Now there is a direct connection from Burien to Link, as well as speedier service from Burien to Southcenter and Renton. The 194’s elimination doesn’t affect me, but I know that I’ll be riding Link a lot more now that there’s a better way to get on it than taking the 140 to SeaTac and then walking a half-mile from the bus stop to the Link station. RapidRide F or not, both the 140 and Link just got a lot more useful.

    1. Joe,

      Would you be interested in seeing the 121, 122, and/or 123 re-routed to serve TIBS or Airport Station instead of having these routes go all the way downtown via the increasingly-clogged 1st Ave Bridge?

      1. Ooh, as a Burien commuter, I would hate that. The 121,122,123 are so fast to downtown usually ~20-25 minutes and I would much rather have than than a 40+ min ride via Link and a transfer bus. If it were that slow I would take the 120 to get to Burien instead.

      2. As a frequent rider on the 132, I am trying to find some way to get the route to make that extra stretch down Military Rd S to stop at TIBS. That stretch is more densely populated than the traditional jog down Des Moines Memorial Dr. The route is looong, and already the most scoliated I know of in the county. If it could be broken up into two parts, with the breakpoint at TIBS, the northern portion would be less zig-zaggy, and the southern portion would provide the first one-seat ride from downtown Des Moines to Link. It would also decrease commute times for many of the people who work near the airport, and have to suffer riding the 132 all the way down town.

      3. I agree with Drew. Discontinuing the 121 and 122 would make the commute to downtown from Burien more than twice as long, and there’s no good reason to do it when the 140 is providing 15-minute service to Tukwila all through the day.

        And the 1st S bridge is rarely so clogged as to slow the 121 or 122 down for more than a few minutes, unless there’s a crash.

  7. One Bus Away seemed to be working fine on the 48 today. Did you mean it wouldn’t have realtime on the buses whose schedules changed?

    1. Not sure who that was directed at, but I’ll respond because I complained about that earlier today on Twitter. I find it odd that it was working for you because when I used OBA this afternoon/evening all the 48’s (and most other routes) were “scheduled arrival”s. According to Dan Daily, one of the guys that wrote the software that pushes the AVL data from Metro to UW, there is some file that has to be copied from Metro’s to UW’s servers to make it work right. And since he does this as a hobby, he doesn’t like working on weekends. Or something like that, he wasn’t too specific because he couldn’t remember a lot of things (I was asking about the ITS_STATUS column and he couldn’t remember what the enumerations were).

      I noticed that this mapper toool (click “Metro bus mapper”) had about 50% of the coaches on the road today. That map is powered by some SOAP feeds on a Windows server that crashes regularly.

      1. Huh well maybe it was just that the 48 was actually on time this morning so I thought it was working fine.

  8. I took 20 one-way trips between Westlake and SeaTac airport on the 194 between Jan 12 and yesterday.

    Average trip time on the 194: 30 minutes

    My last 20 one-way trips between Westlake station and the airport station on Link averaged 39 minutes per trip.

    Average trip time on Link: 39 minutes

    So, the 194 bus was almost 10 miniutes faster than Link on that trip, on average. And my two longest trips on the 194 were each delayed a few minutes entering the downtown tunnel (coming from the airport) while the bus had to sit and wait for 2 separate Link trains to cross the bus’s path — one train in each direction. If there were no trains in the downtown tunnel, the average trip time for the 194 would have been less than half an hour.

    The average number of people either boarding or deboarding the 194 bus at the SeaTac airport bus stops was 10, on those 20 trips I took. So, whatever the total number of 194 trips per day there were total (both directions combined) times 10 passengers per trip, is about what I would expect Link to gain from the 194 being discontinued.

    From the 194 schedule I have, it looks like there just over 100 194 trips each day between downtown and the airport, both directions combined. I would estimate that, in the last month, there have been about 1,000 people riding the 194 bus to or from the airport each day. I would think that just about all those people will now be riding Link on those trips.

    So, it looks to me like discontinuing the 194 should add about 1,000 riders per day to Link, compared to whatever Link ridership has been in the past month.

    1. At some point it will become obvious that Link will never be the regional spine that it was billed to be.
      Extenting Link to S.FW PR, then cancelling the 177,577,578 so as to ‘not compete’ with Link makes the point. The 577/578 is 35 minutes from FW to Seattle, or 5 minutes faster than Link from the Airport to downtown. Link will never get much faster, and Express buses on I-5 will continue to experience 25% delays and 1% slower annual speeds, UNLESS, the state begins following it’s own rules for the HOV system. When speeds or reliability fall below 45mph for 10% of the time, the HOV lane must be changed to 3+ or higher, ensuring transit always has an edge.
      If the HOV system were managed properly, many of todays delays would go away.
      This same logic can be shifted to Link from Everett or Redmond to Seattle.
      Link is fine for short and intermediate distances, but will never comptete ‘fairly’ with express buses over longer distances.

      1. Damn, an edit feature would be nice. Extenting should be Extending. S. FW P&R should be FW Transit Center.
        BTY Norman, Thanks for the reality check for the 194 and Link. Excellent, non-emotional, post. I’m a train nut too, but at sometimes buses work better!

      2. One benefit of Link, as ridership grows, is that it will have a much lower cost per rider, with one train and operator being able to transport up to 800 people. Direct express buses, even if they are faster, may not be affordable. Plus if Link runs every 10 minutes and is highly reliable, but the express bus runs every 30 minutes, and is more variable, Link service with shorter wait times will be just as beneficial.

      3. Well sure Carl, that’s the trade isn’t it?
        Link is about 3 or 4 times as expensive as Metro bus (ST 2010 budget, Metro 2009 performance report), so Link has to get a lot more riders to be cheaper than the buses it’s replacing, or Metro has to get a lot more inefficient.
        You could get them by eliminating all competing routes, and growing the system with better performance and connections, but that’s a long way off, if ever.
        Also, IF Link runs every 10 minutes to FedWay,(max by ST long range plan), that is less frequent than current bus service during the peak on weekdays, which is about every 8 minutes for 177/577/578 headways combined. I agree, Link can carry more than a bus, but you have to induce butt’s in the seats to ever get there.
        What I’m saying is the transition for Link from FedWay to Seattle will never occur, if left to strictly market conditions, and assuming good HOV lane management. It only occurs when competing service is cancelled by policy, forcing riders to take the only option left, or vastly degraded HOV performance. Usually, combined ridership of both bus and rail will suffer, as other options are still available, such as car/van pools.

      4. Mike – do you want to run a lot of expensive, redundant bus service? Which taxes do you support raising to run that service? Freeway express service is expensive to provide and generates just one fare.

        Of course it makes economic & efficiency sense to eliminate parallel bus service. Just like we shouldn’t run express buses from Kent or Auburn to Seattle during hours when Sounder is running.

        If you really want to leave it to market conditions, you could charge the full cost of providing the express bus service, and it would be uncompetitive.

      5. Well, in the case of the 194 it’s a moot point. It’s gone by policy decision.
        The bigger point I was making is that Fed Way to Seattle, or Tacoma to Seattle, or Redmond to Lynnwood, or Seattle to Everett will be much bigger decisions for local transit operators to make. Express bus is currently cheaper per any metric you want to use, than Link over the same distances using todays numbers. I have no idea what 2030 will bring.
        The time penalty of being forced off a feeder bus or after parking your car, and boarding a Link train is not so great right now, but for longer distances it will be significant. Enough so that riders will squeal long and hard at council members to “Save Our Bus”.
        The 194 went quietly. Wait till your ‘shove em on the train’ policy kicks in for the 177 riders, or the 158 riders.
        Talking to CT planners, it’s a pipe dream that they will ever force riders to transfer to Link at Northgate. Unless overriden by political brokerage.

      6. Oran,

        Partly why Link is so expensive to operate can be blamed on Metro’s operating practices (2008, Muni League Report on Metro Transit).

        Since you didn’t provide a link to the info, I will:

        What in the report are you specifically referring to – and how does it apply to Link – particularly as the report doesn’t address Link operations or cost *at all*?

      7. Oran,

        The two main metrics in the report you referenced having to do with Metro service costs (according to the Muni League) were:

        • Metro’s cost per revenue service hour in 2005 was $120.30, compared to $114.80 for the average of the 15 largest transit agencies in the country and $98.70 for the average of all transit agencies nationally. Metro’s cost per hour is 22% above the national average.1
        • The cost per boarding for Metro was $4.10 in 2005, compared to $2.50 among the 15 largest agencies and $2.97, the national average. Metro’s cost per boarding is 38% above the national average.

        So to support your claim regarding the reason for Link’s high cost – what is Link’s cost per revenue service hour and cost per boarding?

        Other cost related issues have to dow with service area and scheduling – the fact that Metro must service areas with relatively low passenger volumes, etc.

        Other factors for increased costs identified in the report you cited:

        -Cost of operating the Downtown Transit Tunnel
        -The use of trolley buses
        -The operation of park and ride lots County wide
        -High cost of living in the region
        -Rise in fuel prices

        Aside from the DSTT cost – how do these concepts transfer to Link cost operations, and what does that have to do with Metro?

      8. Jeff,

        The report mentions Link, the streetcar and ST Express.

        High Cost Model is Being Transferred to Service Partners

        • Metro has been operating services for Sound Transit Express Bus since 1999 and for Seattle’s South Lake Union Streetcar and other service partners since 2007.
        • It will begin operating Central Link light rail next year and its cost model is already projected to be one of the highest in the country. [3]

        Metro’s higher operating costs will continue to expand to other entities in the region as the service partnership program develops and the County’s cost model is passed on to taxpayers.

        Note 3: Margie Slovan, “Central Link Will Be Costly to Operate,” Daily Journal of Commerce, 9/30/2008: “Sound Transit’s 15.3-mile light-rail line between Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport is likely to cost more to operate than almost any other comparably sized light rail system in the U.S. In 2010, Central Link will cost $43 million (2006 dollars) to operate and maintain, according to preliminary estimates prepared by Sound Transit staff. That breaks down to $290 per hour, per vehicle. Only Buffalo’s light rail system costs more: $300 per hour. In comparison, light rail lines in Houston and St. Louis cost about $200 per hour. In Denver and Portland the transit lines cost about $170 per hour. And in Salt Lake City, the price tag is under $100 per hour.” (To be fair, Metro represents only 60% of the projected total operating cost of Link; Sound Transit operating costs are high too.)

        Cost per revenue vehicle hour: Central Link $329.52. Cost per boarding: $7.65

        Portland has a lower cost of living but I’m sure it’s not that much less than Seattle’s. The lower cost per boarding ($1.92) reflects the ridership they get. Our cost per boarding will fall as ridership increases.

      9. Oran,

        Link wasn’t in operation when the report came out – and I still don’t believe that you answered the question regarding how it is due to “Metro’s operating practices”.

        HOW is it “Metro’s operating practices” that make Link more expensive?

        As issues of operating buses are different than operating rail what about “Metro’s operating practices” are specifically to blame for cost re: Link operations? Link operates only 1 line, Metro over 250.

        While the language you cited does say that the Central Link will be (and presumably is) more costly to operate than comparable lines – it (and you) doesn’t say WHY, or what that has to do with “Metro’s operating practices”.

      10. Oran,

        I’m not following you.

        You claimed that the high cost of Link operation was due to Metro’s operating practices.

        What about Metro’s operating practices cause Link operation to be high?

        What could Metro due to change its operating practices to reduce Link operation cost?

        It seems to me that operational cost issues relating to buses (cost of fuel, routing, layover times, etc.) don’t translate well to rail.

        Not to be difficult – but I guess I’m trying to get you not only to back up your assertion that rail is more expensive to run because of “Metro’s operating practices” (still unidentified with regards to rail), but to propose some possible solutions.

        Call me wacky if you must.

      11. These cost numbers average the whole system together – all-day routes, in-city routes, express commuter routes – to come up with a cost per revenue hour.

        Many peak period express routes have only a single in an operator’s shift – report, deadhead to start of route, run route, deadhead back to base. And even if they run a second trip, there is generally deadhead running and significant recovery time between trips because of the unreliability of traffice. The cost per revenue hour understates the cost of these part-time express routes.

      12. Jeff,

        call it a wild ass guess based on very little information. So I retract my statement that Metro’s operating practices is partly to blame for Link’s high operating cost.

        However, the report’s concern is valid and has been validated. The operating costs for both Seattle rail and bus operations are higher than peer agencies and something should be done about it. I don’t know enough about the internals to say why or how to fix it.

    2. I haven’t had Link take 39 minutes since the first few weeks of service. I don’t see how you’re *averaging* that high.

      1. I agree with Ben – my experience is that Link is faster than the 39 minutes you cite.

        Further, the 194 often took 4-5 minutes to load/unload at the airport as people struggle on/off with their bags and to pay. The 194 was also unpredictable as to when it would arrive at Seatac from Federal Way, sometimes being 10-15 minutes off its schedule.

        The increased frequency and reliability more than make up for the few minutes of ride time, and faster boarding and room for luggage work well. My observation is that there are far more people using transit to/from the airport than before.

        Now we need to get Sunday service hours on Link extended to match Mon-Sat.

      2. My trip times were as I reported. The official trip time for Link between Westlake and the airport is 37 minutes. You have difficulty believing that the actual average trip time is 2 minutes slower than that? Have you ever been on a Link train that had to stop at 4 or 5 red lights in the Rainier Valley, or stop to change drivers between Beacon Hill and SODO? These things cause delays. There are also occasional delays inside the downtown tunnel.

        I just spoke with someone who works with taxi companies. He said that taxi drivers reported that when the Link airport station first opened, taxi business between the airport and downtown fell noticeably. But, in the past couple of weeks, taxi business between downtown and the airport is back to about where it was this time last year.

        How are you judging that more people are using transit between downtown and the airport now than before the airport Link station opened?

      3. Completely concur with both Ben and Carl, and then some.

        Frankly, it is *beyond* dubious that someone so openly and adamantly opposed to Link consistently reports completely unverifiable anecdotal evidence that only supports his positions.

        Not only are “Norman’s” reported Link and 194 comparisons suspicious, I’m just not buying the persistent “run-ins” with always-anonymous tourists, ST employees, and cab drivers who all somehow spout opinions that magically dovetail with his Norman’s own positions.

        Maybe sometime, Norman, you would like to mention what company a cab driver works for and ask that driver if he minds being directly quoted, with attribution. The ability to verify your “reporting” would be most welcome. Because, let me tell you, man: I ran into this great gal from Curitiba on Link tonight, and she said our light rail was so much hotter than the BRT in her hometown…

    3. It’s not going to be a Straight across transferrance for a number of reasons. First, i think that the majority of the ridership was those seeking to transfer to another route at the airport, not for airport traffic. Although quite a few did seem to use it going to downtown from the airport. Infact, if you look at OD information, i think you will find more overall ridership, because… its rail!

      Infact, Grey Line has cut back on the Airporter in response to LINK’s opening as i’m sure many of the business riders are finding out that LINK is far more convient to get downtown than the Airporter.

      One of the biggest issues with the full scale opening the LINK station, and re-alignment of services is that there is no more central transfer point in the area. Services are spread out amongst the Sea/Tac Airport station, and TIB. And only 2 services of the five remaining lines service both. Here’s where the new transfer policies, and indeed LINK’s detrimental fare structure will come into play.

      For example, if you wished to go to Burien from Tacoma, you used to take a 574 than transfer at the airport to the 140. Pretty simple stuff, you could do it on a cash fare (lowest common denomiator, which should be the stanard for all public transit decisions). Now, you take the 574 still, however you must board a 174 at Sea-Tac Station, paying another fare, and ride the five minutes to TIB, where you can use your metro transfer to get on the 140 to continue your journey. Without an ORCA card, your cash fare costs have doubled over what was previously offered, making this trip probally 1/3 less likely for the ORCA user (Because of the added transfer) and 2/3s less likely for the cash fare user (because of both). So you have effectivly lost ridership as a result of both changes.

      Personally, I’d like to see a study of the policy and its effects on ridership. For example, where there more cash fare transactions in 2009 than 2010 (at the end of the year), % of ORCA card use vs. overall ridership, Ridership gain on alternative local routes over the course of calendar year, and if the information is available were they cash fare transfers. Cross agency transfers, did they go up or go down as a result of ORCA, and other similar calulations.

    4. It wouldn’t surprise me if Link, on average, took longer than the 194. The 194 schedule likely does take some traffic congestion into account. Of course, there are mitigating factors like shorter headways and faster loading and off-loading.

      However, I don’t think we can agree on any actionable conclusions from that. A few minutes isn’t reason enough to maintain 194 service. I suppose Norman would argue that we shouldn’t have built Central Link at all, which is both irrelevant at this point and ignores the fact that a faster scheduled time to the airport wasn’t really the objective.

  9. Yesterday, on my final trips on the 194, while waiting at the Westlake Station, I spoke with a man holding luggage who looked like he was going to the airport. He asked me which was faster to the airport, the bus or the train. I told him the bus was about 10 minutes faster than the train. So he said he would take the bus.

    Then I asked him if he had already paid for the train, and he showed me his ticket for Link to the airport. When I told him that ticket was not good on the bus, and he would have to pay $2 to ride the bus, on top of the $2.50 he had spent for the train ticket, he was pretty annoyed, and asked me if the transit board was elected. I told him they were appointed, and he said “that figures.”

    Then the 194 came, and I hopped on and left him waiting for the train. I probably beat him to the airport by 15 minutes, not even counting his 5-minute walk from the Link station to the terminal.

    1. Those transit boards are two separate agencies. You don’t expect your McDonald’s gift card to be valid at Burger King, so it shouldn’t be a huge shock that a ticket for one agency is valid on another. If it pisses you off enough, buy an ORCA card.

      1. Tim,

        The guy with a suitcase and a question about “the transit board” was 99 and 44/100% likely to have been a visitor. And he is now 100.0% certain that Seattle is filled with bureaucratic idiots.

        As a conclusion goes it’s not far off the mark, at least as far as the lack of interoperability on Metro and SoundTransit is concerned. The guy was progressive enough to want to use transit for his trip to the airport and found out that he needed to be in the transit tunnel to do it.

        He saw a ticket machine that said “how far do you want to go?”. He said, “the airport” and the ticket machine said “$2.50”. The ticket machine probably never asked him if he knew that the ticket he had just purchased was not valid on a public transit bus using the same publicly owned facility as that of the train he eventually took.

        Assuming you were a disinterested observer of this tale, what would YOU think? I know I’d come down hard for the “bureaucratic idiots” hypothesis.

      2. In other words, Metro needs a reorganization. Yes, we get it. You saw the piece about the Metro Transit Task Force?

      3. Had the PugetPass never been invented, and the Inter-Agency transfer agreements never been implemented, many of these complaints would have been non existant. But after ten plus years of having these agreements, especally with Inter-Agency transfers people have been disenfrancised in the process.

    2. …and the King County Council, who has control and made the decision on Route 194 is entirely elected. Norman, why did you not tell this person that?

      1. How many people does Link save more than ten minutes, compared to the bus? Between Westlake and the airport, Link is actually almost 10 minutes slower than the 194 bus.

        So, if 10 minutes difference on a trip is insignificant, which is what you seem to be saying, then for how many people does Link have any “significant” trip-time advantage over the bus?

        Remember, the 194 bus arrived before the Link train, also, so he may have had to wait up to 7 or 8 minutes just to get on the Link train, meaning he would have arrived at the airport up to 17 or 18 minutes after the 194 bus got there. Then he would have had a 5-minute walk just to get to the terminal from the Link station.

      2. Just how many people live/work at Westlake?

        Just because it was convenient for you doesn’t make it a great service. Link stops along the way, giving expanded, frequent service to the airport for many more people. Something that was never going to happen with 194.

      3. “How many people does Link save more than ten minutes, compared to the bus?”

        Easy. All of us who live in SE Seattle and can hop on Link directly instead of having to get to the 194.

      4. The number of people whom I have seen ride between an Rainier Vally station and the airport on Link is very tiny. Most Link trains don’t have any.

      5. Hmm. I don’t know about Rainier Valley, but I frequently see people getting on with suitcases from Beacon Hill. Also, you know what? Lots of people who work at the airport live in SE Seattle.

      6. I see people boarding and alighting at all MLK stations with luggage at all hours I work. I have seen a cab waiting at the loading zone on S Henderson ST on my trips that arrive at RBS around 9PM. Makes sense when it is a twelve minute trip to/from the airport station from there. Cabs at the loading area for MBS are not a rare sight either.

        Can’t be certain, but I bet that residents who live near New Holly or Rainier Vista are making good use of the pedestrian friendly walk to the appropriate station for a quick ride to the airport or King Street station. Wish I could afford to live there!

      7. Actually in the time he was waiting for the 194 there was probably a Link train waiting in the station for him to get on and sit comfortably.

        On my last trip to Seattle, I took a Sunday trip from where I was staying on Capitol Hill to visit some friends in Renton Highlands. Since I hadn’t rented a car yet, I mapped out a trip on Metro. This required 3 bus changes and took over 2 hours to go about 16 miles. I didn’t mind, in addition to the treat of the area’s natural beauty to look at out the windows, I had my trusty iPhone with all its content and toys to keep me occupied. My friends insisted on driving me back when it was time to come back. That trip took 20 minutes.

        My point in listing this story is that time is one of the ways we pay for choosing to drive less. The reality is, that even though there are terrible bottlenecks in some freeways in the region, and that cars contribute to both air and water pollution, and dependence on foreign energy sources, cars make getting around for casual trips very easy. Eventually, when Link Light Rail is built out in all phases about the time I am a frail old man, it might be possible to make such a Sunday trip in under an hour.

      8. Actually, Norman, I have often taken 45+ minutes on the 194 from the Airport into Downtown because of traffic on the freeway… And I don’t believe many commenters here would disagree that at some future point the route will have extended far enough South that an “express” bypass through Georgetown will make sense to construct.

    3. Norman,

      Are you suggesting that ST should have launched a costly software project to warn riders for the month and a half where both Link and the 194 went to the airport?

  10. I took link to and from the airport today … was full of people going to the airport … as well as the Tukwila station

    1. What does “full” mean? 200 passengers per car?

      On my last 20 trips on Link between Westlake and the airport, in both directions, there were an average of 7 people boarding or deboarding my car (not the entire train — just my car) at the SeaTac station. I would say about half of those were airline passengers, and the other half were people who live or work near the SeaTac Link station.

      Seven riders on one Link car entering or leaving SeaTac station did not seem “full” to me.

      1. I have found that on arriving at Seatac there are generally fewer people in the rear car, but many in the front car, and in walking along the passageway to the terminal it seems to me that there are 30-40 people per train going down the walkway, far more than ever alighted from a 194 trip

      2. This is greatly different from my experience. What time of day and day of week do you see 30-40 people per train departing at SeaTac station? That certainly is not the average over the 20-hour period during which Link trains operate.

      3. When I took Link to the Airport (to “gasp” pick up a rental car) I was surprised that the platform at Sea-Tac was rather full of people waiting to depart. I’d say about 150 people. This was about 10 am on a Monday. (after Christmas) And the walkway between the terminal and station was very busy.

        I was talking with someone who lives in Columbia city who is in her 60’s and she chose to hike it (about a 3/4 mile ) from the Link station to her home when she returned from an International trip. All kinds of people are giving Link a try that would not otherwise choose public transportation. I think the investment in Link will pay off in all kinds of ways.

  11. All the 3100 coaches (35ft Gilligs) were gone from Central yard this morning when I got to work. They are retired! (Well at least I think so…..they might go to the Eastside to help while the 1900’s sit idle waiting to be retrofitted with a new banana mirror, but I haven’t heard anything about it, I just think it might be a possiblity)

    Except the two Center Park coaches (3198, 3199), they won’t be retired yet. Other than the two wheelchair Center Park coaches there are only 13 3100’s coaches (3185-3197). Mostly used on Vashon routes and the 994,955 and here and there on some other Central routes. I kind of liked those buses. The last one was out on the night owl doing 55 shuttles and the (2) 280 trips last night. 3600’s went to Vashon today. Rarely have I ever seen a 3600 go to Vashon, but that will now be the norm.

    Also today, well maybe Sunday….(Saturday was the moving day for coaches between bases) 15 new 6800’s should enter service (6851-6865) With those new buses and South Base down to 3 tunnel routes now, South has to give up some of their original hybrid coaches (2600 series) to other bases. East and North will get some for their new tunnel routes, not sure how many and I counted 18 hybrids in the Central Yard and 2 in the Atlantic Yard when I parked my bus tonight, that came from South Base today.

    So overall, I’m sad to see some the 3100’s go, but the trade off is for the better. 13 35ft’s retired and 15 new 60ft’s into service. Making a little progress toward reducing overloads.

      1. Oh yeah, my good friend was driving it today. The weekday Center Park is alot of work, with all the doctor visits and grocery shopping, but operaters love Center Park on the Weekends. Lots of downtime waiting for the residents at Church or the movies or lunch.

    1. #3190 was in service this morning on the 118/119. I couldn’t tell if the other morning on-island shuttle was a 35′ or a 40′ (I do know it was a Gillig).

      1. 3190 is a 35′ gillig. Two buses are left over on the island everyday. In the mornings, both buses are swapped with two of the bus over doing the expresses, so they don’t spend the night more than one night before returning to Central Base. 3190 and one other 3100 coach would have been left over the weekend, but Monday morning would have be switch for 3600’s. That will be the new equipment for Vashon service.

  12. Good riddance. Twice in the last year traffic on I-5 has put me in jeopardy of missing my flight. Used Link to and from the airport over the holidays and it was such a pleasure not to have to worry about traffic jams.

    1. Reliability > Speed

      Metro says that freeway routes were the least reliable of all, with 25% of trips on average late (>5 min late or 1 min early). First that surprised me but after riding the 535 for years and missing buses (too early) and connections (too late) I’m no longer surprised.

      1. Five minutes late on the 194 to the airport is still a faster trip than the average 39 minutes that Link trains take. How often was the 194 more than 9 minutes late? That would make it equal with Link average trip times. None of the last 20 trips I took on the 194 between Westlake and the airport took over 36 minutes. Only 2 of the 20 194 trips I took (10%) were officially “late” — five minutes longer than scheduled. Most of those trips took under 30 minutes.

        Link trains are more than five minutes late a significant percentage of the time also, on the entire trip between Westlake and the airport stations. Two of my last 20 Link trips between Westlake and the airport were 5 minutes or more late. That would be 10% of those trips. I had another recent trip between the airport and SODO, which is supposed to take 26 minutes, but actually took 33 minutes on Link. When you are on a Link train which stops at 4 or 5 red lights on MLK Jr. Way (which happens fairly regularly), you can easily be more than 5 minutes late on Link trips.

        My longest Westlake/airport trip on Link was 44 minutes.

        My longest Westlake/airport trip on the 194 was 36 minutes.

      2. Under 30 minutes (i.e. arriving 1 minute early) is considered not on-time by Metro. Service running early is bad. It causes connections to be missed.

        Comparing a small sample of anecdotal data to properly collected data (well over 20 data points, randomly sampled) is statistically suspect. And I find it funny you ride these things so much and collect data for each and every trip.

        Bad metrics as it is but Link is 99.5% on-time.

        Link comes every 7.5-10 minutes, the 194 was every 15-30 minutes, (194 didn’t run when Link runs every 15 minutes). People won’t wait for the 194 if they just missed it and a Link train was pulling up. The travel time difference is not large enough to justify waiting for the next bus. See my waiting 30 minutes for the next 194 while 3 Link trains passed by at 5:30 pm and a lady who wanted the 194 took Link instead.

      3. Your first statement is incorrect, I believe. ARRIVING early is not bad, and is not considered “late.” It is DEPARTING early that is bad and considered “not on-time.” Arriving early hurts nobody, as long as the bus waits at that stop until its scheduled departure time, and that is exactly what the 194 does at the airport. That even gives people longer to board the 194 at the airport while allowing the 194 to depart on time.

        Explain to me how it hurts for the 194 to arrive at the airport 3 minutes early, and then just sit there at the airport for 3 minutes before it departs. It is certainly not hurting anyone who took it to the airport.

        I am not concerned with any trip times on Link other than between Westlake and the airport, which is the trip for which I compared Link to the 194. Between Westlake and SeaTack, Link was 5 minutes or more late 2 of 20 trips. If you are going from Westlake to the airport, who cares if Link is on time at University, Pioneer Square, International, SODO, Beacon Hill, or Mt Baker stations? That is meaningless. You only care about when you arrive at the airport. If Link is less than 5 minutes late at every other station on your trip, but five minutes late to the airport, that one officially “late” arrival is the only one that matters to you.

        The 194 could have come every 7.5 minutes, and it would have cost just a fraction of what Link cost. But Metro either saw no need for higher frequency on the 194 (note my average of 7 people per Link car using the SeaTac station), or didn’t want to spend the money to do that. For probably far less than $30 million, they could have run the 194 on 7.5 minute headways with all new buses. Metro just chose not to. But there is no reason why that could not have been done.

      4. Oran,

        Agree with Norman. Arriving early isn’t a measure for whether or not a bus is on time – only late arrivals and departures. Arriving early causes nobody to miss connections – providing that the early arrival isn’t due to an early departure on the other end.

        Perhaps you misspoke?

      5. Jeff and Norman,

        it is. Read the link to Metro’s Service Quality Briefing Paper.

        Reliability addresses whether a bus arrives when it is supposed to. On most routes, reliability refers to whether or not a bus departs on schedule. Metro considers service to be reliable if it arrives no more than one minute early, and no more than five minutes late. On very high frequency routes, some riders will be less concerned about whether a bus arrives on schedule, and more concerned with whether buses come by at regular intervals (headways).

        Freeway buses are notorious for arriving AND departing early, because they are “estimated timepoints” to make up for variable traffic conditions. I ride either the 257 or 311 to work and their arrival times downtown do vary by minutes (to be fair, a lot of it has to do with downtown traffic). Ditto for the ST 535, which seems to always arrive late at an estimated timepoint and then late at other real timepoints including its terminus. I’ve barely missed the 271 and 550 so many times even with 10 minute padding.

      6. But yeah that was arriving early. Arriving late sure can make me miss connections. Arriving early, it depends. It’s more a problem when I walk to the the stop as the bus zooms by.

        Norman, if it arrives at the Airport 3 minutes early then it could’ve have departed other stops 3 minutes early. People in Kent-Des Moines, Star Lake might have missed it. In any event, 3 minutes early is not on time. People expect service to be on-time not early or late.

        Who cares if Link is on-time at other stations? Well, the people who are riding to those stations of course which is more than the people who ride to the airport (by your numbers).

        Metro has no money to run the 194 more frequently even if it wanted to. The 194 had to be ended to free up service hours to improve other routes like the 140.

      7. Metro had no money for more 194’s because ST spent $2.7 billion on Link. Had that money gone to Metro instead of ST, there could have been many more buses on many more routes. The point being, if the money spent on Link had been spent on buses instead, even running some ST express buses between downtown and the airport to supplement the 194, there could have easily been 7.5-minute headways on express buses between downtown and the airport for a fraction of the cost of Central Link.

        I am talking about buses arriving early from downtown Seattle — not from Kent-Des Moine, etc. Buses arriving early from Seattle don’t inconvenience anyone. Again, how does it matter at all if the 194 from downtown arrives at the airport 3 minutes early? As long as it does not depart from the airport 3 minutes early.

        The people taking Link to the airport do not care if Link is on time at every other station on that trip, if it is late getting to the airport. If link is less than 5 minutes late to every station, except SeaTac, but more than 5 minutes late to SeaTac, that train had an on time percentage of about 92%, but it was 100% late for passengers going to SeaTac.

      8. Don’t blame ST for Metro’s own funding shortfall.

        Voters authorized ST to tax themselves to build 36+ miles of light rail with some increase in commuter rail and express buses, not to bail out Metro or give it that money.

        Your case of early is only valid for non-stop point to point routes otherwise it is not.

      9. I’m not sure why the 194 being late isn’t so bad compared to Link in your opinion since people tend to time their transit riding based on scheduled times, not total time. I don’t hop on any old transit vehicle expecting half an hour to the airport – if it’s late, I miss my flight, no matter whether it was supposed to take half an hour, an hour, or a day. Reliability is hugely important.

    2. Anyone with even a bit of common sense would factor in traffic or disruptions when going to the airport to catch a flight on any mode of transportation, including Link.

      1. Sam, maybe in your life you have the luxury of clearing your schedule for the entire day before flying, but not all of us can get away from work and other obligations as early as we might like for every single flight we take. On those days the reliability provided by frequent service running on dedicated right-of-way is even more of a blessing than usual.

      2. Your time may not be as valuable as theirs, but a lot of people with “a bit of common sense” have more important things to do than to fritter away praying they aren’t bogged down by traffic.

  13. While I appreciate your efforts to add some drama and contrast to your comment, the bottom line is you never once missed a flight on the 194 due to traffic on I-5. You just said a couple of times it was a close call, and considering your admission of often running late, I’m sure you’ll have a couple of close calls on Link.

    1. I love how reliability clearly does not matter to you as long as it’s not a Sound Transit bus or train…

    2. If something in either of my above comments seems “dramatic” to you, that reveals more about you than it does anything else. Also, please show me where I said I “often” run late. And the bottom line, actually, is that I wouldn’t have had any close calls at all except for traffic jams on I-5. So, again, good riddance to the 194 and a big hearty welcome to dedicated ROW train service.

  14. Some time, MEHVA should pull out the Breda and run a trip to Sea-Tac requiring all riders to have at least one suitcase to try to stow on the non-existant luggage racks.

    I will also ask that the turn from the busway to Spokane Street be done at high-speed so that the bus nearly tips over, and that the bus stop for at least t5 minutes each way to mimic the switchover at ID from Electric to Diseasel and v.v.

    Plus, the ramps from I-5 to SR518 sure were fun at high speeds!

    1. Ah, memories.

      Last but not least, the bus slowing to 20mph on the climb up SR518, delaying traffic behind and making riders wonder if today is the day the poor bus would just give up.

    2. That would be a hoot! I haven’t ridden the 194 since before the DSTT reopened. It was a D60HF (I think) using surface stops through downtown, and this was before ORCA, so of course I had to show my transfer as I fumbled with my luggage. The DE60LF buses, DSTT routing, and ORCA option made the 194 a more pleasant ride than it was before, but I still feel no sense of nostalgia for the 194, and Link is easily a more pleasant ride.

      1. I also will miss my memories of missing the last 194 for the day back when it stopped running at, IIRC, 7pm on weekdays and 5pm on Sundays. The 174 operated by MAN Artics sure was “fun”.

    3. Farewell and no regrets 194; I can hardly wait to see the back end of the 71, 72, 73 and 41 head east uphill from Westlake Station and out of the tunnel for the last time later this decade.

  15. Speaking of confusing, it took me and my boss, who rides the 194, about an hour to figure out what the new schedule is that replaced the 194. We scoured the website and ended up having to call ST customer service to find out that we had to download the entire 500 page pdf schedule for all routes.

    The notification of new service on the web site said something like, yes the 194 would be replaced. It then mentioned the 577 but it didn’t explicitly state that it would replace the off-peak hours of the 194 or what its new schedule would be!

  16. I loved the #194. It was great, fast service to and from Sea-Tac. On a nice day, the fresh air would blow through the bus. One time, I mis-read the schedule, and I only thought there was a #174 running. Big mistake. Milk run. Yuck!

  17. R.I.P Route 194
    It has come to an end. A bus route that was the best option for thousands. It was finally killed by positions who did not want it to compete with there precious Link Light Rail. Now South King County Residents are going to be stuck with either longer commutes or more expensive ones. Positions like Current King County Executive Dow Constitine, Former Executive Ron Sims and King County Council Members Larry Phillips and Larry Gossett who think that non-Seattle residents are second class citizens did not care that this would be bad for so many residents. Also the local Councilmember Julia Patterson who does what ever her Seattle Masters say. They say to it that this great bus route died. Sound Transit also was involved. They needed more transit riders to be forced herded onto Link. I hold out hope in what several Metro and Sound Transit operators believe. (All drive South end routes) that the 194 will be brought back. In the mean time route 194 you were taken too soon from us. We will miss you.

    1. My ability to now be able to get to SouthCenter without going all the way to downtown Seattle is thanks to Metro having the courage and common sense to move buses from where they provide duplicate service to where they provide a demanded new service. (This demanded new service is several miles from Seattle.)

      Likewise, I am grateful to the county council for giving my neighborhood 20-minute frequency on the route that gets me to Link fastest, and gives me access to the rest of West Seattle via a transfer at White Center, and a much shorter, quicker path to the airport.

      Gone are the days when we in south King County had only one destination we could reach without a day trip.

    2. LINK could have had a faster routing into Seattle if it hadn’t been twisted to serve those same “second-class” citizens you shed tears for.

      1. Ah, but THOSE “second class” citizens live penned up in the evil City of Seattle as opposed to the open fields and always blue skies of SW King County!

  18. I expect detractors here know better, but I’ll state a few obvious points here anyway:

    1) Link has shorter headways than the 194. Therefore, OVERALL trip time will be reduced for many riders — even if the bus would have run faster at a given time of day than the train.

    2) While Airport Station is less convenient to some travelers that the airport bus stop, it is actually more convenient for others, and certainly is a better connection for folks living and working nearby or heading to/from a couple of major hotel and convention centers. Therefore, OVERALL trip time will be reduced for many riders with Link.

    3) The key to “forcing” bus riders onto rail — and this requires vigilance by transit supporters! — is that at least some of those bus hours must be reprogrammed to create new connecting routes and/or increased headways on the truncated bus routes. When done properly, OVERALL trip time is drastically reduced for many riders and a whole group of new riders will now have convenient options for transit use.

    Win, win, win.

    1. They are very valid points, although for #3 to be realized to the full effect, all parties involved need to look at system intergration years before dirt is turned. Namely deciding what facilities along the potential rail line offer the best access for bus transit, and designing adiquate facilities to handle same (either on site or, even with off site layover space).

      It’s quite the obvious the shortcomings at Sea/Tac Airport, TIB, Othello, Mt Baker, and Beacon Hill. The Sounder stations fare better, yet it becomes obvious that whomever desinged the bus terminals at many of them had little experence in the industry (Kent, Auburn). Of course its hard to design something decent without making a large land grab, but even in the case of beacon hill, Intergrated shelters, better facilitys for crossing the street, etc should have been in the plans.

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