Less than 24 hours after I say wonderful things about trends in Metro’s rider communications, alert commenter aw proves me wrong:

**UPDATE: Due to lower than expected ridership, Seattle Sounders FC and Metro have announced  that beginning May 1 special shuttle service to Sounders games from Northgate Transit Center, South Kirkland Park & Ride and Eastgate Park & Ride will no longer be provided.  However, extra coaches will be added to accommodate Sounders fans attending games at Qwest Field on regular Metro routes during periods of heavy ridership.**

As aw points out, this information exists solely as an update to the original March 29th press release.  There is no separate announcement, and Jeff Welch observes advertisements for the service are still posted in some buses.

I have no trouble believing ridership was lousy.  That said, bailing on this experiment after two games seems awfully premature.  According to Metro, it was the Sounders that made the call to cancel.  As sports teams are expected to make Metro’s participation cost-neutral I’d speculate fares fell short of the plan and the club didn’t want to make up the difference.

42 Replies to “Metro Rider Communication Minus”

  1. Sorry – it was 4176 this morning. 4185 was yesterday evening. I remember 4185 ’cause that’s the bus that has security cameras on it, but where the red ‘mark’ button should be there’s nothing but a hole.

    As these runs represent extra work for full-time bus drivers, I’m surprised I haven’t heard or seen anything on the announcement boards (though I work at Atlantic) about it.

  2. Did they decide to ignore the ridership graphs that Sound Transit puts out for the (special event) Sounder? It always starts off low, but by the end of the season it’s at or near capacity.

  3. It didn’t make sense to me why someone would pay $5 to get on a special shuttle instead of taking the normal routes that head into the tunnel and drop people fairly close to the north Qwest Field stadium entrance.

    In the case of the baseball games, it is not that far of a walk around Qwest Field, and not that big a deal to transfer to Link and get out at Stadium Station,
    saving about $5 per person on the round trip.

    1. I plan to take regular buses for afternoon games, but for night games, my normal bus comes at hour intervals, with one arriving at 5th and Jackson not too many minutes after the game normally ends. After that, ther are only a couple more runs on the route. And if lots of people did it, the bus would likely be crush loaded.

      I was happy to pay $10 round trip for a quick, convenient trip to and from downtown.

      1. After the 5/1 Sounders game (~9:40pm), I took a 71 home from the tunnel and saw a “Northgate TC” (not a 41) bus pull in right behind it. Both buses had crush loads and took several minutes for everyone to load through the front.

        I suppose if the Northgate bus has a single destination they could load both doors and pay as you leave (except the ride free zone doesn’t extend past 7pm).

      2. The specials were cancelled, but Metro will still have stand by coaches for the 41, 255, and 554 to handle the extra passenger loads after the game. I don’t understand why you would pay $5 to ride a shuttle that picked up just above IDS, the same distance as the 41, 255, or 554 when regular service wouldn’t take much longer.
        I think this might actually work out better now having extra standby coaches that will go through shortly after the game, and it won’t cost $5 per person.

      3. If I can depend upon the regular service, it should work out better. Metro’s note didn’t give any details about how the extra coaches would work. If I know that the 554 is one of the routes with extra service, that should work for me.

      4. Great to hear about the standby coaches! Metro should do this for more special events. I had to wait for an hour and barely squeezed myself on the next 255, an articulated bus, after Bumbershoot.

      5. But Bumbershoot isn’t sponsored by a corporation like our sports teams that can fund special service. Certainly the City of Seattle promotes Bumbershoot and the Seattle Center is a quasi independent organization that could fund special service. I agree that additional bus service should be added but I’m not sure who’s responsible. I would say that it’s not Metro. This sort of special scheduling should not impact regularly scheduled service (meaning it needs a separate source of funding).

      6. Bumbershoot is organized by One Reel, which although it is a non-profit, could potentially fund special Metro service.

      7. I’m not expecting special shuttle service, just additional coaches on regular service in the event there are overloads, especially on routes with hourly headways in the evening.

        Sometimes, I wish that bus was a larger train.

      8. One Reel is an organizer, not a sponsor. It seems to be a hired entity (non profit doesn’t mean the people running it don’t make money). Obviously the Seattle Center wants to attract people and the City of Seattle likewise has a stake. Special shuttle service seems really to be the way to go. Especially if you want to draw from outside the usual transit served domain.

      9. It doesn’t matter if One Reel is just an organizer or a sponsor. One Reel takes in money from Bumbershoot tickets and sponsors, and spends that money to make Bumbershoot happen. There’s nothing to stop them from spending some of that money on Metro service to boost attendance.

      10. Well, I don’t profess to understand how it all works but the thing that would stop them is their employers. You need to drill back to who is paying the bills. It doesn’t sound like One Reel has any discretionary input on this.

    2. I think the issue is late at night, on a Saturday, headways are not so hot.

      1. Not to mention the people who may not be familiar with riding the bus normally. Having a ‘shuttle’ that is guaranteed to take someone right where they need to go is friendly to non-regular bus riders.

        For example, my dad took the SLU shuttle from Qwest field to SLU during the boat show. Obviously there are a dozen regular Metro routes that could have done that, but he took the shuttle because he knew it’d be reliable.

        Same sort of reason there are people who take trains but not buses.

    3. Why would you transfer to Link? All the buses that are going south in the downtown tunnel also stop at Royal Brougham Way, dont’ they? And that bus stop is closer to Safeco Field than the Link Stadium Station by about a block.

      1. Not all of them do, Norman. Some buses from the North (255 is the only one I know of for sure, but I think the 70-series do as well) turn at International District. You either walk from ID or transfer to another southbound vehicle

      2. From my experience, International District is the last stop for all inbound buses from the north and the 255. The I-90 buses obviously don’t stop at Royal Brougham. So the only tunnel buses serving Stadium Station are the 101, 102, 106 and 150.

        If you’re going to Qwest Field and your seat is in the north end, International District station is closer.

      3. Oran, the 41 continues south on the busway. I don’t know where it turns but it’s south of Royal Brougham.

      4. A block closer? The bus stop is directly across the street from the light rail station.

      5. A block is about 100 yards. A 2-car Link train itself is about 60 yards long, or more than half a block. If you are in the front of the train and get off at Stadium Station, just to walk to the rear of the train is 60 yards.

        The middle of Stadium Station is about one block from Royal Brougham Way — about 100 yards. So, just to get to Royal Brougham Way you have to walk a block, before you can even start walking towards Safeco Field.

        The bus stop is not a full block from Royal Brougham Way, and it is already on the west side of the SODO Bus Lane.

        Also, from Stadium Station you have to cross the SODO Bus Lanes, which from the south-bound bus stop, you don’t. So, you don’t have to worry about waiting for a red light at the Link tracks or the SODO bus lane if you take the bus.

      6. Give me a break. It’s amazing the lengths you’ll go to to find fault with light rail. The bus stop at Royal Brougham is directly across from the beginning of the train platform. No sane person would look at the bus stop, and then the train platform, and then say that they’re a block apart. They are right across the street from each other!

  4. Giving up after 2 games seems really silly. It’s not as though the Sounders aren’t rolling in cash.

  5. Thing is, Seattle Sounders FC isn’t having a problem filling seats. If game attendance was dismal then it wouldn’t be surprising that special transit service would be yanked. Obviously it’s not needed. Of course 37k (I’m guessing on the exact numbers) is a lot different than 60k for pointy ball games. And weekend games are an entirely different “ball game” than the Mariners that play on weekdays and contend with the commute traffic.

    1. My entirely unscientific theory is that the Sounders draw more from within the city than the Ms and Seahawks do, so special service to the suburbs is not that important.

      1. I agree. I tend to see a lot more FC fans out across the city than football fans. I mean once I saw the 49 absolutely packed with fans going up to Cap Hill. That would never happen with the Seahawks at least.

      2. I would totally agree with that too. Last season I did the 28 on Sundays and it was always packed with Sounders fans. And at the beginning of this season so far I drive the 15/18/21/56 on both Sat/Sun and it seems a ton of people ride from Ballard… much more than West Seattle. Alot come from Northgate, but why would you want to pay $5 per person, even your children who could ride for free or $0.75 on the 41. Its my opinion that those who do come from the eastside, a small number ride the bus, but most are the people who fill the parking garages. Too bad, would be nice to see them on a bus, but then again, it would be nice to see the shuttles be $3 dollars like they used to be. But we know the new system of shuttle service will be like that.

      3. I’d agree with you, Martin, except the Sounders must have a very clear picture of where their fans come from. The current Qwest configuration has a capacity of about 36,500 and SSFC has sold nearly 32,000 2010 season tickets: they should have mailing/billing addresses for almost 90 percent of their fans. Either it made sense in the start or didn’t, and if it made sense it deserved more than a couple-few games to prove itself.

      4. I don’t think it was about filling seats. Mass mailing people on their well-targetted list is much cheaper than buying lots o’ ads. Rather, I think they are targetting transit riders to buy tickets. The specialty service really didn’t achieve that purpose.

      5. In some sense, the shuttle was operating against the economic interest of Sounders FC. They presumably get some cut of the parking revenue from the North Lot and the Exhibition Center garage. If they have to guarantee the revenue for the shuttles, that’s a potential money sink.

        For the Seahawks and the Mariners, the situation is a little bit different. For Seahawks, they can fill the stadium and the parking lots (at a higher price), so if they can offer a service at no cost to mitigate traffic, it helps their fans get in and out of town. For Mariners, the bus boarding areas are right outside the stadium, yet they have easy access to the freeways. The buses are in the face of the fans, and they’re right there for folks who don’t care to walk far.

        I had a parking pass last year, and it was a good deal as far as the cost went, but getting out of the North Lot after the game was a nightmare. I don’t mind walking a ways, so getting to 5th S to catch a bus, or a bit further to find some cheap, easy to escape parking is fine with me.

  6. As a huge Sounder FC fan and commuter from Bellevue, this is a real downer. I’ve used the bus to get to a game this season and the bus looked fairly busy to me. Maybe not the football or baseball busting demand that they were hoping for, but enough.

  7. Did anyone else know about the downtown tunnel closure on Sunday? Buses were running, but link went only as far north as SoDo (this was at noon). Pretty aggravating — no signs at all, just one Metro employee that was there to field questions, so I only realized what was going on after waiting for a while and then noticing that other people had confused looks after talking to the Metro staff.

Comments are closed.