110 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Metro’s New Rules”

  1. A semi-article about downtown Bellevue.

    I rode the 550 Saturday and noticed that the tallest buildings in Bellevue are around the transit center, not Bellevue Way. A visitor who knew nothing about Bellevue would conclude that the transit center is the center of downtown. The tall buildings look like downtown Seattle, though obviously smaller and cleaner. There’s a pedestrian plaza next to the transit center like all downtowns should have, and City Hall is just across the street. The library is a few blocks north.

    Bellevue Way looks like driveable sub-urban: isolated apartment buildings and strip malls, and it’s a long way to walk between them. Bellevue Square, the park, and the apartments on 100th form a secondary cluster, but it doesn’t look like the center of town. It looks like a regional destination on the edge of downtown, like the stadiums in Seattle. The Meydenbauer building looks like TOD, but it’s just one building and shorter than the office buildings further east.

    Historically, we know Bellevue Way was the main street, and Bellevue Square looked like the center of town for a couple decades. But I think the center has already shifted east, not to 405 or 116th, but to the transit center. The transit center used to look so out-of-the-way, but that’s only if you assume Bellevue Square is Bellevue’s present and future. For the many people just going through downtown Bellevue, the transit center is the transportation hub.

    This argues that Link should go to the existing transit center. On the other hand, if the Vision Line is built, the distance from 114th to the new center of town is much less than from 114th to Bellevue Square.

    1. Why is 2000 feet an acceptable distance to walk between Link’s airport station and the airport, but not an acceptable distance between 114th Ave and the BTC?

      1. I’m sure most people wouldn’t say the distance at the airport is acceptable. It was just something forced onto us. Also, besides the escalators, the walk at the airport is flat. The walk between 114th and the Bellevue Transit Center is NOT flat.

      2. Further, the walk from Link to the airport is protected from the elements and does not have crossings with busy roads. Bellevue has some very busy streets, meaning that crosswalk wait times can seem like forever.

      3. Sam, it’s 1400 feet from Airport Station to check-in. That’s pretty different.

        The big reason: When you’re going to the airport, most of your other options are 500-1000 feet of walking from your car anyway – or parking offsite and taking a shuttle. When you compare the actual alternatives, Link isn’t really much more walking. In fact, some of the check-in counters are a shorter walk to Link than they were to the bus.

        There are a lot of other factors that affect alternatives – when you’re considering driving to work or taking the train, it’s likely that you have free or cheap parking. Parking at the airport is expensive, so users’ willingness to walk is greater.

        It’s also a lower-frequency destination than a workplace. People flying have already chosen to accept significant inconvenience in the form of the TSA. Link’s portion of their total inconvenience for the trip is tiny, so it’s not a big factor in the decision.

        The reality here is, all the whining about the “long walk” came before it was open, and actual users are finding that they don’t care.

      4. The Long walk isnt too bad in all realities since it has wayfinding (to an extent), can be indoors (to an extent), and is lit. I was staying at a hotel near the airport last month, and on a free afternoon i had i ventured to seattle. I made use of the Hotel’s Airport Shuttle Service to LINK light rail transfer. It worked out fairly well. I have to wonder if im the first to try this. Of course the Hotel’s shuttle service was a bit awkward to use, i had to call the hotel to confirm their bus was running but sure enough a few minutes later it came around. Has the airport ever thought about consolidating all these rental car/3rd party parking/hotel shuttle services into one more efficently designed transit system. Seems like a lot of vans running around with few people aboard and no schedule to speak of. Probally not very “green”. Of course i’m sure all the hotels and 3rd party car parks would complain about having to fund sea-tac’s bus and not theirs, with their large advertisement all over it.

      5. Yes, there were talks about it about a year and a half ago. I used to work for one of the valet lots, and we ran our shuttles on demand. Except Sunday nights–when everyone comes back home–we ran all of them non-stop, and every time one pulled in it was full.

      6. I like what the Sacramento airport has done: consolidate rental cars into one large facility on airport property. That way a single shuttle line can run at high frequency and avoid having 20 different companies running mostly-empty vans all over SeaTac.

    2. Because 108th Ave NE is the highest street in Bellevue those buildings look even taller – but there are tall buildings on 106th and Bellevue Way, too. The geographic center of the central business district it NE 6th & 106th Ave NE.

      Office buildings are not the only destination in Bellevue. Shopping, entertainment, and residences are also important, and those tend to be farther west of the Bellevue Transit Center.

      I agree that the transit center is the best stop for Link

  2. Slow buses vs fast trains.

    Thursday evening I was going from MLK/Graham to Summit. I took the 8 rather than Link because I was tired and would have had a 20-minute walk from Westlake station. The bus came twice an hour but I only had to wait two minutes for it. Two Link trains passed in the ten-odd minutes while I was deciding what to do. I felt dirty riding a bus on a train route, but I justified it saying that I’d only ridden the 8 on MLK once before Link opened, and I had to research this route post-Link.

    The 14 left the Mt Baker transit center right when we did. It was literally just in front of us and I might have been able to transfer to it, but I figured it would take longer going through downtown. So I stayed on the 8.

    Somehow the bus took 45 minutes to reach Summit & E Olive Way. I could have taken the train and walked from Westlake station in that time. This confirmed my general conclusion from San Diego and San Jose, that light rail tends to be twice as fast as buses for some typical trips, even if it’s surface rail, though it’s hard to understand how.

    Of course, I would have had to get to Othello or Columbia City station to get onto the train, so that would have added time. (And a bus going every half hour just doesn’t cut it for that. What if I’d had to wait 28 minutes for it? But that’s another issue.) I’ve been growing less and less opposed to a Graham station. I still don’t think it’s necessary (walk south, not north), but Link takes such a short time to stop and start again that a station at Graham or Boeing Access wouldn’t make much of a difference.

    1. A Graham stop would be great, it would be about a mile from one station and three-quarters of a mile from another, and would encourage more of a continuous line of TOD all along MLK. However, the more I think about it, the less I see the point of a Boeing Access Road Station. There is nothing around it and there can never be anything around it; the only point of it would be to transfer to Sounder, and I don’t really know who would want to transfer to Sounder. I guess for like Kent-Airport trips or something…

      1. Instead of the BAR station then, some intermediate station that the 150 can connect to. Or extend the 180 in the evening. Currently the 180 goes from Burien-SeaTac station-Kent-Auburn until 7pm, then just Kent-Auburn. So I can now get to ShoWare Center on Link, but coming back I’d have to take the 150. The 150 takes an hour to get from Kent to Seattle even without traffic, because of the lights and turns in Tukwila and SODO.

      2. How about all-day frequent Sounder service! Does anyone know if it would be possible for ST to build an extra track though there in exchange for BNSF letting them run all the time?

      3. It seems to me that if Sound Transit were to make a significant amount of track that is should be owned directly by Sound Transit or Amtrak. Eventually Amtrak and Sounder will have enough trains in the Puget Sound that they will need a entire track to them self’s.

        Just out curiosity will the third main line wsdot wants to build for Amtrak near Kelso be owned by BNSF?

      4. Actually you would want the BNSF owning and dispatching the track. That way the train can be put on ANY of the 3 tracks, and get through. If you had a “track” for yourself and dident use the existing BNSF ROW you’d have to rebuild your stations, and have sidings and it would be a big mess. And besides, if BNSF owns the track, they also pay taxes on it…

      5. I looked at some alternatives for Kent. When the Highline CC station opens, BRT on Kent-Des Moines Road would make sense. When 200th St station opens, a bus could go there although it’s a pretty long way on Military Road. Logically, Metro would move the bus to each southernmost station as it opens, until it finally hits Highline CC. But I expect Metro wouldn’t agree to that many repeated changes on the same route.

    2. The train stops a lot less, and doesn’t interact with cars. The bus is constantly dealing with traffic – even when it’s slow traffic, it drops the average speed considerably.

      This is why I roll my eyes when people claim surface rail is the same as a bus. It’s easy now to just point out your scenario.

      1. The main difference in speed is due to stop spacing and off-vehicle fare payment.

        Dedicated ROW is helpful, but unless the roadway is very heavily congested, dedicated ROW is not the key factor, stop spacing is. You could run a bus up and down MLK right next to Link in mixed traffic and keep up just fine if the stops were 1 mile apart rather than 300 feet.

        People really underestimate the critical importance of stop spacing, which is one of the reasons “rapid ride” is so frustrating. Everyone is focusing on off-vehicle payment and dedicated ROW, but rapid ride still stops every 1/4 mile. You can never achieve car-competitive speeds for trips over 2 miles with that kind of stop spacing.

        The other key is off-vehicle payment, but stop spacing is critical here as well. With fewer stops, you need fewer payment kiosks, making it much cheaper to deploy off-vehicle payment with wide stop spacing.

        This is why we need to tiers of transit: local and rapid. Local means 1/4 mile stop spacing; rapid means 1 to 2 mile stop spacing. There is, quite simply, no excuse for having a transit vehicle, of any kind, in any circumstance stop more frequently than 1/4 mile.

        Ideally, both of these tiers should be rail-based (light rail for rapid transit, streetcars for local transit) because rails are more comfortable, but rail everywhere is quite a ways off and there is no reason we should not bring out bus system into the 21st century in the meantime.

      2. Dedicated ROW is a huge factor (and by dedicated ROW I mean grade-separated or at-grade with all crossings gated like SODO). It lets you go twice as fast as if it’s running in or along the street.

  3. Digesting the Numbers – Bus, Commuter Rail, Light Rail, and Streetcar
    Now that all of Sound Transit’s (ST) business lines are in full swing for Phase 1, it’s important to examine the 2010 ST budget as a snapshot for choices made in the past and maybe a chance to refine choices going in the future. Realistically, I don’t see much change occurring in ST2 from the current plan adopted by the voters in 2008, and I’m not advocating here for change. However, proponents for future service levels should be prepared to measure success, against past plans and projections.
    As this blog’s name implies, it should be all about the best transit options for Seattle, including the Puget Sound area, rather than pitting bus against rail or one agency against the other. Of course they all have a place in the hierarchy of services, but without knowing what each mode costs or delivers, it becomes difficult to ‘check your prejudices at the door’, and look at what’s working best. Being able to select from a palette of options should ultimately lead to the highest transit ridership possible. This was evident in the previous post mortum on the 194.
    Something we can all agree on is that eliminating many SOV trips in the region is in everyone’s best interest for a better place to work and live.
    So, with that said, I tried to boil down ST’s 2010 operating budget into something that is useful for discussion in a forum like this and hopefully is non-controversial when presenting key data from the report, and in a way that doesn’t make everyone’s eyes glaze over. The first table looks at total operating budget, by service, excluding expected farebox revenue or depreciation and amortization.
    Table 2 includes both revenue and depreciation according to ST, when calculating the cost per boarding. Dollars per boarding isn’t the only metric that is important, and I’m sure some here will argue it isn’t even close to THE most important, but it does serve the purpose of being able to compare ST’s budget, using publically available data and a generally accepted transit performance measures.
    TABLE 1. ST 2010 Budget (Expenses and Annual Boarding in millions)
    Express bus…$97.2…………..13.3……………….$7.30 each
    Comm. Rail….$36.1…………….2.7……………….$13.37 ea
    Central Link…$45.6…………….8.1………………….$5.62 ea
    Tacoma Link..$ 4.1……………..1.0………………….$4.22 ea
    Obviously, Streetcar and LRT provides the least cost per boarding under this presentation.
    When farebox revenues are deducted from expense as income, and depreciation is added to the bottom line, the picture changes dramatically. This is a fair step to take, even for government, to acknowledge the capital cost of the investment, and debt service required during construction and bonding repayment.
    TABLE 2. (adds depreciation, amortization, and gives credit for farebox revenue generated)
    Express bus…….$96.5…………….13.3……….……….$7.30 each
    Comm. Rail……..$46.8……………..2.7…………………$17.33 ea
    Central Link…..$108.1………………8.1…………………$13.35 ea
    Tacoma Link……..$7.0………………1.0…………………..$7.22 ea
    Now, express bus and Tacoma link are clearly favored, with commuter rail and light rail nearly double, reflecting the higher capital cost of each. Of particular importance in the budget are the projections for Central Link. 2010 will be the first full year of operation relying on modeled data, while all the other services are mature enough to make more accurate estimates from year to year.
    A logical question sure to arise is the current cost of Metro bus service, which to some degree is replaced by rail. Metro’s “Highlights for 2008” reported $3.67 per boarding. This figure would be comparible to Fig. 2 numbers, reflecting both operating and capital expenses, along with farebox revenue.
    Central Link is projecting to have 8.1 million riders in 2010, or about 26,600 average weekday riders, followed by 33,800 per weekday in 2011, then rising to 40,000 by 2016. Meeting ridership projections of 10.3 million annual riders in 2011 would result in Light Rail cost per boarding to fall to $4.42 and $10.78 respectively for Table 1 and 2. Only time will tell on Central Link ridership and more importantly on ST2, and it is not the purpose of this posting to predict future ridership or choose one mode over another. Better than expected ridership will clearly improve LRT’s bottom line, no matter what the metric you choose, but lower works in favor of the other modes.
    Other performance measures include trip cost divided by average trip length, giving a different perspective, or boardings per mile that reflect shorter trip length of the dense urban areas. Others might argue that new transit riders are more important, getting some of those SOV’s off the road. I’ll leave that for others to discuss.
    What is important, in my opinion, is that assumptions made in the past over costs and benefits must be continually evaluated to make wise decisions going forward into the future.

    1. Mike,
      Shouldn’t the ST Express expense be higher in Table 2 to take into account depreciation of the capital cost? At the very least, wouldn’t it should include the buses and I am not sure how you would take into account the expanded facilities and direct access ramps?

      1. Yeah, I thought that was a little weird myself, but the capital cost and depreciation expense was nearly the same as farebox revenue, so it was a wash.
        I’m pretty sure the transit centers and HOV direct ramps are in that number. I only reported what ST did. You should ask them.

    2. Yeah, Mike, you’re not counting the ST Express capital investments, but to make an accurate comparison, you have to.

      Also, farebox recovery will increase with the increased ridership on Link – I’m not sure if you’re counting that.

      And I’d have a look at 2020 numbers with U-Link. It makes the average even better.

      1. Yes, more riders makes the cost per rider go down. Of course more investment and depreciation will get tagged on for U Link, less farebox. I just used ST 2010 numbers to avoid speculation, and assumed cost for 2011 will not go down, but ridership would go up.
        After that, who know for certain?

    3. To me what this shows is that a well designed and efficient systems uses a mixture of modes. Also don’t forget that each mode in this general context has very different characteristics. For example Tacoma link is the cheapest for both tables but that certainly doesn’t mean that all we should use are streetcars. Same logic applies to all other modes.

      Can you link to the report. What were that assumptions for depreciation and amortized costs? I ask because usually I believe that depreciation is determined by tax laws, so the trains might fully depreciate in 20 years according to tax laws while they still have another 30 years of service. Same with amortized costs.

  4. Alright so I need some help for a project I am trying to put together for next weekend.

    So the wife and I are going home next weekend for the President’s Day 4day. On Sunday she and bunch of the other wimmenz is going to a friends salon in Belltown for a day of drinking and getting their hair did. I was trying to think of something to do and came up with ‘Drunken SLUTting.’ Basically me and the other guys are going to walk to Westlake, hop on the SLUT and get off at every station and grab a pink at the nearest pub. As someone who has never used ORCA or the SLUT a few questions.

    Will I be able to pay for everyone with one ORCA card? I’m willing to bet I am the only person with one (they are Eastsiders and pretty transit phobic, part of the reason I am organizing this). Since we’ll be getting on and off at every stop, how will I prove I bought all these tickets? A ticket will only last 2 hours correct, and then I will have to buy everyone a ticket again no? How strict are the transit cops when it comes to PI? As long as we are only drunk and not disorderly (we’re all 27-35, reasonably mature adults ;)) should there be no problem? Any particular bars you would suggest?

    1. My best guess is that you can’t “pay” for multiple people on the SLUT using ORCA. Either start at Westlake tunnel station and get everyone an ORCA at the ticket machines (they’re still free until the end of the month), or just go the regular ticket route. Can anyone back me up on this?

    2. I don’t see how you could pay for multiple people w/one ORCA card — they’re free for now, just get them each one — who knows, maybe they’ll need them once they become committed transit users.

      The big advantage is that Orca will automatically give you the two hours credit, so you won’t have to worry about when your boardings cross the threshold, if you cross, you pay, if not it’s a free ride. I love being able to get the round trip for one fare when I have to go downtown for an errand!

      I wouldn’t worry too much about PI unless you’re really far gone…I mean, have you ridden transit in Seattle?

      I’d love to hear what you come up with for bars! I think the Stranger did a transit pub crawl when the line opened, and actually found something by the Tukwila station, you should check it out on their web site. For my own part, I like Elysian by the ID station, Hooverville at the Stadiums (or you could fudge and call that the SoDo bar), and the Ale House for Columbia City. I don’t know the other Rainier Valley stops at all.

      1. Don’t forget Beacon Hill Pub! And in Tukwila, the Sloggers stopped at Trudy’s, mainly known for being the place where the Green River Killer picked up his victims. Good times.

    3. The SLUT doesn’t have ORCA readers, you just flash your card when the occasional fare inspector comes through. So you should just buy tickets for everyone.

    4. You can’t pay with ORCA on the SLUT, yet, but they will accept it. Not sure how that works but I think they assume you have a pass.

      Another option is the Metro Day Pass for $4.50. It’s good all day on Metro buses and the streetcar. That’s equal to 2 streetcar fares. You can only get it on buses though and it doesn’t work on Sound Transit.

    5. I’ve paid on a Metro bus with ORCA with something the driver called a “group fare,” and those words did indeed appear on the reader. Presumably it comes with a group transfer, but how that can be transferred to Link and/or SLU Streetcar is a mystery to me.

      I have ridden the streetcar with my ORCA with e-purse before. Since there’s no way to pay with ORCA, it’s essentially free – a fare inspector just sort of looked intently at my card for like ten seconds and that was it.

    6. I would recommend having an ORCA for each person. I’ve had SLUT inspectors look at my card but never anything more.

      For bars there’s not a whole lot right on the route: Jillian’s by the lake, at 2200 Tutta Bella and Sea Star have bars I think, Mistral Kitchen though I’m not sure if that’s open on Sunday. If you’re willing to walk up and down the hill you’ve got Feierabend, Paddy Coyne’s, and Laadla too.

    7. ORCA cards are still free at the TVMs. Buy enough for each and put the minimum cash value on them. You may as well do it now.

      The people standing in the line at the customer service desk will still be astonished that you could get a card out of the TVM. (Sigh.)

    1. I have seen one that asks people to keep it down. I’m always amazed by folks who can talk for the entire duration of the trip (and still seem not to say anything of consequence). I never use mine beyond something quick like – “I just got on the 16 so I’ll be home in about a half hour – do we need anything at the store?”

      1. I was once on a 358 in which there were two people yelling into their cell phones for five or ten minutes until they realized that they were on the same bus about four rows away from each other.

    2. On JR East trains (at least from the videos I watched) they actually tell you to switch phones off in the priority seating area (concerns on EM interference with medical equipment like pacemakers) and elsewhere set it to silent mode and refrain from talking on the phone. A big complaint on transit there is the noise from chatty people, people on their phone, and noisy children.

      1. Oh I’ve never been on the sounder. But there’s no rule regarding cell phones on Link. I see people shouting into their phones all the time. Is sounder quiet?

      2. The South line is pretty noisy. I always seem to attract chatty ladies (blah blah blah blah heh heh heh heh blah blah blah) or kids. North line was pretty quiet, most people sleep. On the reverse commute train one morning, I only saw 5 people on my car between Seattle and Sumner.

      3. Sounder hasn’t had quiet cars for quite a while (and I know a couple of commuters who are still unhappy about that). According to a 2007-04-15 story in The Seattle Times:

        Where did the “quiet car” go?

        Added in 2000, the “quiet car” was a place where riders sought sanctuary from the din of the daily commute. It had such an ardent following that some riders would shush others, according to customer-service accessibility manager Cheryl Huston.

        Alas, the quiet car is history. As ridership increased, Sound Transit needed to make the space available to everyone, Huston said. The car’s dim lights also had to go because they weren’t bright enough to meet federal regulations.

        Sound Transit gave riders six weeks’ notice before discontinuing the car earlier this year, but Huston said some regulars still sit in the same seats, their lips, predictably, zipped.

        But wait, there’s more:

        […]Will the quiet car be restored?

        A: Sound Transit spokesman Lee Somerstein says the regional transit agency has received its share of complaints about that. But there are no plans on the table to restore the quiet car. Because ridership has nearly tripled since the Seattle-Tacoma Sounder was started in 2001, the agency decided dropping the quiet car would make more room for all riders and make all things equal.
        “With all cars open to all riders, no one has to worry about special areas or rules that make them avoid a car or an area of the train,” he said. “We provide access and a respectful environment throughout the entire train.”

      4. I’ve found that they do a good job on the Amtrak Cascades service. There’s an announcement that brief (and quiet) conversations are ok at your seat but for anything long go in between the cars. I’ve seen the conductors tell folks to hang up or move a few times.

      5. yeah we don’t play with loud cell phone use. people get snippy about it sometimes when we tell them to move it to the vestibule but 1 angry person is better than the other 30 people in the car being inconvenienced by a loudmouth.

  5. General nitpick here:

    Why does Convention Place Station have a “Yellow Textured Strip” announcement broadcasting over its loudspeaker when THERE IS NO yellow textured strip???

      1. Wow, I transfer there every day and I just assumed there was one because of the announcement. Never bothered to look near my feet.

      2. Because it is run by the goverment. They think we are to stuipd not to notice.

    1. CP Station has the announcement that “doesn’t apply” because the other stations were fitted with the yellow bump strips and CP wasn’t in the retrofit. ST vehicles don’t stop for passengers at CP Station. Last LR station is at Westlake.

    2. I think the VMSes (Variable Message Signs) in the tunnel are linked. That’s why you see “Downtown Transit Tunnel” on all signs in the tunnel whereas the other stations have their station name. There’s an equipment closet for each of the other stations (I know SoDo’s quite clearly; it’s on the east side of the station; the large gray boxes). The tunnel has one closet somewhere in University Street station.

      I wondered why we even needed a VMS at Convention Place, but then I remembered that they’re used to give emergency instructions to passengers.

      1. Train arrives at time X at Westlake, +2 minutes for University Street Station, +4 for Pioneer Square, etc. They’re linked, but not in the same sense as the TV wall at Fred Meyer.

  6. The one rule I’ve been having some problems with lately:

    Wheelchair Priority Area

    I mean, think about it: there’s only two spots on a bus that I can be secured to, please allow me to be secured.

      1. I get dirty looks sometimes from “I sat here first” crowd

        Usually, people get up when they see operators deploy the lift or ramp, but it does happen. It’s pretty sad that there has to be a law that says vacate the wheelchair space (it should be common sense)

      2. That is pretty sad. Part of it could be the bystander effect — if everyone near the front of the bus sees you but no one else moves, it might be harder (mentally) for one person to get up and move, or to say, “Hey, we need to move so this person can secure her wheelchair.” Sometimes I see the driver tell people to move if they don’t move on their own.

      3. I don’t usually have a problem on my 230 when heading to Microsoft (or coming home); they know I ride the bus every day.

        It’s when I venture elsewhere when I sometimes have problems.

      4. I usually ask for folks to “please make sure that there’s a wheelchair accessible seat available” when I see a person using a wheelchair getting ready to board. If nobody moves – I assume they didn’t understand/don’t know which seats are accessible (it does happen) and indicate who I need to move. I do not present it as an option, and I try to make sure that this happens quickly, before you board, and without making a big fuss about it.

        There are drivers out there who really object to having to use the ramp, which I find bothersome. Having worked for 20 years with people with disabilities I have a particular bias about accessibility: if I live long enough, I will need to use that lift myself, and I darn well want to be able to do so without anyone giving me any crap about it – because it’s my right.

        I treat every person with a disability who rides with the same respect – and courtesty – that I accord all passengers. If you encounter drivers who treat you differently, I encourage you to let someone know.

      5. Hey Jeff, I ask ths because I saw this happen once. What would you do in this situtation? Your driving a bus that is over crowded. You pull up to a stop and there is a guy in a wheelchair. The people sitting on one of the disabled seats get up and move. One person even gets the seat ready. You use the ramp to let the guy on. He sees the open seat for him and says “no, I want the other one.” When I saw this happen the driver told the people on the other seat to move. I myself would havr told him its this or nothing. I am all for the disabled seats. However, I do not think that means that you are entitled t owhich one you want in acrowded bus unless there is a good reason. Like you cannot back up into the open seat. That was not the case here.

      6. Mathew: That is utter BS!

        There’s an open seat for that passenger; me personally, I would take whichever side is opened up for me (I have a preference to the right side if I’m on a bus I’m not familiar with so I can look out the front window for my stop, but I could care less if the left side is made available)

        That’s just me personally, not sure what Metro’s rule book says on the subject though

      7. Mathew,

        That does happen – that the person with the disability may request to sit on the left or right side. Sometimes there are good reasons for this – a wheelchair user is sometimes less flexible than the rest of us, and it can be harder to see where the bus is. This is especially true of the accessible seat right behind the driver’s cab as vision on the left is more blocked than seats further back. If you’re a person in a wheelchair who needs to get off at a particular stop not normally called out, or need to be aware of landmarks, etc, this can be very important.

        I normally try to accomodate these requests, or at most will ask the person using the wheelchair if they’d mind using the one that’s ready. But again – because of limitations of vision or other issues I may be unaware of, I’m inclined to do what I can to accomodate them, including asking folks to shuffle around to make it happen.

      8. Jessica,

        Metro has no specific guidelines for accomodating requests for a particular side of the bus, and in my view provided woefully little accessibility training – even to new drivers – outside how to use the securements.

        If I were King of Metro, I would have a person with a disability come to class to speak with new drivers in training, as well as the class for those drivers who go from part to full time – to talk about accessibility issues from the perspective of someone who relies on them to access the community.

      9. Considering I can hook myself in (or at least know how or can have Adam do it), I would love to be able to come to a Metro base, take an out-of-service bus and show trainees (and any operator who wants a refresher) how to secure me to the bus properly (my brother is a pro so he could do it)

      10. Jessica,

        That’s just mechanics. I’d love to see driver trainees get a larger customer service perspective from people with disabilities who regularly use public transport – how to address people, what’s bad service, what’s good service, etc. The rest is just pushing buttons.

      11. Jessica that was an event that happened on the 174 a few years ago. TYhe guy in this case was just being a jerk. It does happen. I am all for having seats set aside for the purpose of helping the disabled. However, it does not give you the right to be a jerk. If there is a reason yes make the change.

      12. A couple of months ago (and I don’t remember if it was a Kitsap Transit or Metro coach – I wish I had made a note), a fellow with a cane refused to move for a wheelchair even after the operator told him to. Based on the look on the operator’s face, I think that was a first for him, especially after the fellow just sat there and stared at the operator after the second “request.” I think it was the angry passengers yelling at the passenger that finally shamed him into very grudgingly moving to a different seat.

        The vast majority of public transit riders*, in my experience, are loathe to give up their seats to the disabled, and operators (in my experience) won’t force the issue unless it involves a wheelchair. This is a very real, and rapidly growing, problem.

        * especially parents with massive strollers, diaper bags, shopping bags, etc. who are taking up three to five seats.

      13. That hasn’t been my experience. Usually I see folks move when the driver starts lowering the ramp.

      14. I would have bounced that guy from my bus. I have no patience for those type of people. It works on some routes…..if someone like that refuses to get off, or move, I just announce to the rest of the bus over the PA, why we are waiting, and the passengers will do the rest of the work. Peer pressure. I don’t do this on a regular basis, but have a few times and it works. Once the whole bus has taken a side against this person they usually have no choice but to get off.

      15. Once I was on a bus and a guy refused to move for a wheelchair, although a woman next to him with a baby did move. Then the woman with the baby got up for a second to get something she left under the front seat and the guy jumped up and took her seat. He then refused to move from there until the driver went over the intercom and asked someone to give this man a seat. I really commend the driver for defusing the situation.

      16. I really commend you for that. That is what everyone should do. It is not only polite but also speeds things up. I really do not understand people who refuse to give up there seats. It is basic politeness.

  7. I rode a DART route for the first time today. Yes, they do take ORCA. They have a PFTP to validate fares and calculate transfer credits.

    Here’s more about what’s inside the van.

    Also, the operator had a “Hopelink” hat on; not sure about the jacket. It is definitely not Metro in any way.

    1. Metro provides the vehicles for DART and ACCESS services. Hopelink and Seattle Transit provides the drivers. Seattle Transit drivers are represented by ATU 587 (the same union as Metro Operators). I don’t believe that Hopelink drivers are represented.

      1. All the vans have standard truck plates, so Hopelink is paying taxes on them, unlike all of Metro’s and Sound Transit’s exempt vehicles.

      2. Seattle Person Transit/Solid Ground provides the ACCESS drivers in the Seattle area and Vashon while ATC/Veolia provides the drivers for the rest of the county. Hopelink provides drivers for the DART routes.

  8. Anyone know if there have been any developments, small or large, on the Everett Streetcar in the last two years? I know a study was approved a couple years ago but I can’t find any evidence of one online.

  9. Sorry to go off-topic, but has anyone been able to get Google maps to give correct transit direction data? My iPhone app and Google maps page haven’t been able to plan any bus connections all day. Is something wrong with the data that Seattle transit’s feeding to it?

    1. Metro probably hasn’t e-mailed the data to Google yet. Metro also has it published online behind a password, and I don’t know if Google has access to this, knows it even exists, or has grabbed it yet.

      1. You’re right. It should only pull up info from the scheduled data, which it isn’t. Metro just went through some schedule changes this weekend. That could be a factor. Still not working on Monday morning, though. I sent Google a message about the problem, as this is pretty paralyzing.

  10. Suggested signs:

    No body odors that waft more than 25 ft.

    Gun play only in rear of bus.

    If you must mention your felony conviction, do so in a low voice.

  11. Suggested signs:
    Soap is not an option
    Metro drivers will enforce collecting fares so no budget cuts are required

  12. I’m really surprised there isn’t more outrage by King County residents at the proposal of running Link through the middle of the Mercer Slough Nature Park. Imagine if a Seattle City Councilman proposed running North Link over the middle of Green Lake. Do people not care because, compared to Green Lake, almost no one visits the Bellevue park? Or are greens just conflicted? They want to preserve nature, but they want light rail even more.

    1. Some people (NIMBYS) living close to the are against light rail running next to their houses so as long as it stays away from their neighborhoods, like running it through the wetlands, they are happy, even if it comes at an environmental cost.

    2. Always the provocateur, “Sam.” Obviously no one is expressing outrage because the proposal doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving. Why bother?

      Although one could also ask what quantifiable means you have of measuring outrage among “King County residents.” Did I miss a UW poll somewhere?

  13. I was just reading the master plan for the Tukwila South development (a strange thing in itself – it claims it will support 25,000 jobs and it looks like it is quite a huge project, but it is very hard to find any information about it) and I came across something that said, “The Cities of Tukwila and SeaTac, the Port of Seattle, and Sound Transit have undertaken a feasibility analysis to develop a people mover system from the Airport light rail station through Tukwila South to the commuter rail station at the Tukwila TOD.” This sounds awesome! Has anyone heard anything about this?

    1. If that new 577/578 plus 565 airport service is at all successful, which I think it will be, they will have every reason to delay and take their time about the LINK extension.

  14. I would like to see Metro enforce rules already in place before making new ones. For example: If linsting to the radio or a music player you must use headphone and you must keep them at volumes that only you the user can hear.

  15. I wonder who was driving the car marked on the back with “Transit Security” that was driving south on I-5 near Northgate tonight at just before 11:00 pm. He was going about 80 mph, and weaving from lane to lane without ever signaling. But he (she?) was moving so fast that I didn’t see the side of the car and don’t know what agency he worked for.

    At any rate, on the off-chance he’s reading this, STOP IT. Signaling lane changes is not an option.

      1. Oh, weird, I didn’t even think of that. I’ve done that before, too.

        Admittedly my brain was a little fried after driving to Vancouver BC and back to get Olympic tickets and scope out the area for my Olympics trip.

        Speaking of the Olys, since there is still no train or bus returning from Vancouver to Seattle after 7:45 pm that I can find, I will have to drive, darn it.

        This map is sort of useful.

        There is also a Google Map of temporary park-and-rides set up for the games. I won’t link to it here because it will trigger the spam filter. I’ll add it to the next post.

        But between those two maps, it looks like my strategy is to head for Surrey or New Westminster on 99A and park in one of the temporary park-and-rides, then take the SkyTrain downtown. (Can also get off the train early and transfer to the Games Express to go straight to the Coliseum, but that seems less fun than going all the way downtown where the action is and transferring there.)

        Incidentally, a post here on STB on getting from Seattle to the Olympics via transit might be handy. I would volunteer to write it but not sure I’ll be able to this week as things are a little crazy at the moment. (I have a deadline coming up, the Olys next week, and a family member in the hospital.) If I can pull anything together I’ll submit it, though.

    1. Did it look like this? If so it would have been a Securitas employee. And FYI, Securitas will hire anyone with a pulse. They are one of the worst security companies in the Puget Sound.

      1. Securitas must own those vehicles since they have commercial plates on them. I do agree about Securitas as well, of course Wackenhut is not much better. I have to wonder with all these Transit Police, what business the transit agency is in. /me thinks that if you rigoursly enforced the fare policy your crime problems would be at acceptable levels.

  16. A little bit above on this page I posted a link to a Vancouver Olympics map.

    Here is also a map to the temporary park-and-rides being set up for the Games. I couldn’t post it in the other post because it would cause the message to go to the spam queue. So here it is.

    Temporary Park and Rides in the Vancouver area

    I wish I could take transit all the way, darn it! But as long as these P&Rs don’t fill up I think I will be OK. I am afraid they will fill up, though.

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