213 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Tom Vanderbilt”

  1. Earlier this week I caught the 372 and rode to the terminal at Campus Parkway in the U-District. As we turned left off 15th a girl went to the front of the bus to ask the operator to get the attention of the 70 that was turning in front of us. The 70 operator didn’t notice our operator honking, and the girl told him that she needed to catch that and transfer to a 2 or 13 to “get down to Seattle center real fast”. Since I was sitting a few seats back I said “You know you can catch a 30 and it’ll take you right there” and she yelled back “leave me alone please thank you”. I kinda wanted to yell something else back but didn’t. But the joke’s on her though since it took her about 25 minutes to get downtown on a non-express bus and then *at least* another 15 to get back to the Center on a 2 or 13, whereas if she had waited another 10 minutes for the 30 she would’ve been there 20 minutes after it picked her up in the U-District.

    Anyone else have any fun stories of helping out fellow passengers? I’ve done it before and this was the only time it’s been negative.

    1. I’ve noticed that phrasing really helps on the bus, as many people still assume that bus riders are up to no good.

      I wonder how she would have reacted if you said “I’m pretty sure the 30 will get you to Seattle Center faster, if that’s where you’re trying to go” instead of what you said. We have to fight the stereotype of transit riders.

    2. I had an interesting one a few summers ago on the 4 to Queen Anne. We arrived at Queen Anne Ave & Boston St and a woman asked the driver if this was the closest he got to 10th Ave W (it is, but 10th is still 10 blocks away – she should have taken the 1 from DT, but she didn’t). The driver thought for a minute, and said she should go back downtown on the 3/4, and then catch a 1. This would, of course, take at least an hour.

      I said it was only 10 blocks away and a nice 20 minute walk. The driver just exploded on me. “You can’t tell me what to do. I know this area. You people (not sure what he meant by that) just think you know everything, but you don’t. Why would she trust you?”

      He kept yelling/arguing, with the woman just standing there, until I decided to cut my losses and get off. The woman went across the street to go back downtown.

      Now I only help people if directly asked or if the driver asks everyone. No point in risking a massive blowup.

      1. Alex,

        Just one facet of Metro’s sad state of affairs is that its drivers get so immersed in the agency’s “this is how we do things culture” that they don’t even think before doing what this driver did to both you and that woman.

        I’ve seen drivers direct people to routes that won’t come for an hour. They announce destinations (post office, monorail) long after they have closed.

        I got yelled at recently for crossing “the white line” as the driver pulled into a stop, even though it was obvious I was trying to run across the street to catch a connection. I caught the 2nd bus driver’s attention just as he pulled out of the stop; had I followed white-line protocol to the letter, I would have missed it. In the 1st driver’s mind, it is better for the passenger to wait 30 minutes in the rain than to apply logic to his job.

        Just one of many incidents that has me considering car ownership for the first time in my life.

      2. I think one of the reasons why some operators continue to announce landmarks after they’re closed is because they’re landmarks. Maybe I’m meeting my friends at a bar and one of them told me “it’s two doors down from the post office.”

      3. D.P.

        The reason we call out landmarks even after they are closed, is because we have ADA announcement card. Metro has one for every route with what Metro wants the drivers to call out. The driver must call out everything on the card even if it’s closed. Metro management will ride from time-to-time to check and if you call out less the 70 percent of whats on the card, you will be written up. I got marked down for not calling out “Last stop in the ride free zone” one time, even though it was after 7pm….It was corrected when I pointed it out to my chief.

        And the part about the white line….I’m assuming your talking about the yellow line on the floor that you are REQUIRED to stay behind. If that is what you are talking about……I’d like to mention that yes, it pisses me off too when people step over it before the bus stops. That whole area is the drivers field of vision and we like to look over to the right as we pull into zones. And when you step past then yellow line then you block our view. While it may seem no big deal to you because you want to catch the other bus….but to say “the driver should apply logic to his job” is just dumb…..the line is there for a reason and when you step forward of it, it can be a safety hazard. I woud have yelled at you too.

      4. Well, I guess I should re-phrase my last sentence above. While I probably wouldn’t yell, but I would say something about it to you.

      5. Casey, thanks for the explanation on the chosen landmarks. Although it’s pretty bad when announcements include Metro routes (or the Monorail) that are no longer running for the day.

        This is pretty low on my list of complaints about Metro, but it is pretty illustrative of Metro’s tendency to write a rulebook that is fairly arbitrary and then adhere to it as if it was handed down from some deity.

        Is not the purpose of ADA-compliant audible announcements to provide useful information to the blind and others? How is calling out a pre-determined list of items (including non-functioning transit options) the most useful way to go about this?

        As for the line/yelling situation: that’s is one of the thousands of problems that just don’t arise in a city with fast/frequent/reliable transit. Breaking the yellow-line rule and running for the connection just becomes unnecessary!

      6. Have you ever tried asking the operator to help you make your connection? Sometimes it doesn’t work (see the first post in this thread), but usually it does.

        And you really have no excuse to violate the law standing forward of the yellow line. The safety of everyone on and near the bus depends on the operator being able to see, so you’re actually being pretty selfish saying that your transfer is more important than everyone else’s safety.

      7. This was a #5/#44 connection. No amount of honking was going to get the 44 driver’s attention. The 5 driver was inching lethargically into a perfectly safe, tidy, grassy stop — and because I’m not an idiot, I was nowhere near blocking his line of sight.

        But it’s a typical Seattle attitude to demand the sacrifice of any and all expeditiousness in the name of an arbitrary rule with specious claims to “improve safety.”

        You know what is the world’s most fantastic boon to urban mobility? Jaywalking!! And we all know how Seattle feels about that!

      8. Yeah, we have laws for a reason. If you’re going to try to complain that you have to obey the law, expect your incessant complaining to fall on deaf ears.

      9. And if you feel a law is overly outlandish, write your congress critter and ask them to do something about it.

        Or organize some stupid protest, because we all know how well those work!

      10. “Yeah, we have laws for a reason.”

        I’m increasingly convinced that in Seattle, the “reason” is that the lawmakers are morons and presume everyone else is equally moronic.

        Remember, we have the most regressive tax structure (law) in the nation, and polling telling the powers that be that Washingtonians are too stupid to accept the switch to income tax!

      11. Wow. The elitist attitude.

        I’m done arguing with someone that thinks he’s better than everyone else. I urge you to pack up your stuff and move back to the East Coast where you belong.

      12. Yes. Desiring a rational basis for decision-making is “elitist.” Good argument, Tim!

      13. D.P.,

        You know what is the world’s most fantastic boon to urban mobility? Jaywalking!!

        It’s been quite a boon for E.M.T.’s and funeral directors as well.

      14. D.P.,

        And enjoy your life of carefully cultivated mediocrity!

        The benefits to a life of carefully cultivated mediocrity cannot be overstated.

        You should try a little mediocrity at least some of the time. You’ll live longer.

      15. Jeff,

        Despite its aggressive driving and rampant jaywalking, my home state of Massachusetts has among the lowest rates of automobile and pedestrian deaths in the country.

        Because both the drivers and pedestrians are actually on point (no acquiescence to mediocrity there!).

      16. Alex,

        It’s unfortunate that you had this experience with a driver whom you perceived as being short/rude. One reality of public transportation and being a bus driver is that like our passengers – we’re human. Nevertheless, we owe it to our riders (who are also our friends and neighbors) to deliver better, even during times of stress.

        I’m often asked for information “on the fly” and try and help when I can. Given that there are over 300 different routes, sometimes I fall short. Also given that my attention is highly focused on the task of operating the bus safely, a question about how-to-get-where/when is kind of like tapping a computer programmer on the shoulder when they’re knee-deep into troubleshooting a bad piece of code. Not only does it necessitate a major shifting of mental gears, it make cause them to jump three feet in the air as they’re starteled out of their focused reverie.

        When I’m unable to answer a passenger’s question – or I answer poorly due to being less familiar with routes than my own passengers are – I welcome (and sometimes request) assistance from other passengers. To me this is good customer service, and I don’t mind humbling myself to the knowledge of those who as regular commuters not chained to the seat of one route at a time for 4 hours, darn well know more than I. It’s O.K.

        But again – it’s unfortunate that you happened to catch a driver who may have forgotten the importance of positive interaction with folks, even when such affords an opportunity to represent the rest of us well.

        So – here’s hoping (and assuming) that most of your interactions with drivers – direct or observed, have been more positive.

        I did a piece recently on my own blog you may want to check out:

        Investing in Professionalism: A Bus Driver’s Manifesto. While a bit eager-beaver, I think some old timers in particular will see some value there.

      17. Alex,

        I’ve seen drivers direct people to routes that won’t come for an hour.

        This mayt come as a surprise to you – but bus drivers don’t have schedules of routes other than the one they’re driving memorized. Customers have better access to scheduling information (iPhone apps; web; the customer service phone number; the ability to look on the bus stop at the schedule there) that driver’s don’t have. If someone asks “which bus do I take to get to the Issaquah Park and Ride?” I’ll tell them that they can catch the 214, but I’m damned if I know when it runs. Do you figure I should have that knowledge?

        They announce destinations (post office, monorail) long after they have closed.

        LOL. You do realize that those landmarks are still THERE, right? We’re required to announce landmarks – including often used destinations for folks, regardless of time of day. What difference does it make if they’re open or not? If they’re looking for an address near the post office, or plan on hitting the Monorail tomorrow morning, or have been told to get off on First Avenue across from the Seattle Art Museum (the Lusty Lady isn’t on my ADA card oddly enough), then it obviously does no harm to announce those landmarks, and may in fact be extremely helpful, particularly to people with disabilities and folks less familiar with the area.

        I got yelled at recently for crossing “the white line” as the driver pulled into a stop, even though it was obvious I was trying to run across the street to catch a connection

        I not only would have yelled at you – I would have leaned on my horn at you. Hard. People get killed pulling that crap. Running late for a bus? Too bad. Catch the next one. Never risk your life to catch a bus.

        In the 1st driver’s mind, it is better for the passenger to wait 30 minutes in the rain than to apply logic to his job.

        Logic dicates that running in front of a moving bus is an extremely stupid thing to do, and that the ability to see your kids grow up is probably worth an extra 30 minutes.

        Your mileage may vary.

      18. Jeff,

        Like any driver who would take the time to peruse and respond to this blog, you are clearly highly conscientious and good at your job!!

        But I still don’t understand the urge to defend the status quo. Instead of presenting a litany of reasons why you can’t know routes/schedules, is it so hard to admit: “Yeah, our system’s pretty convoluted and arcane, with a lot of extremely low frequencies, and maybe it could use some improvement!”?

        As for “never risk your life to catch a bus,” have you never in your entire life had an absolute deadline — a time when you simply could not be late? Because riders of Metro find themselves precariously close to those deadlines far more than most people!

        Ask the 80% of Seattleites who elects not to use Metro — or the 90+% who use it only for commuting while driving everywhere else — their reasons. I guarantee that most will tell you they just can’t afford the uncertainty, or that their time/sanity/ability-to-get-home-and-go-to-sleep is more valuable than Metro seems to appreciate.

        Of course, Tim would call every one of those people an “elitist.”

      19. The reason I called you an elitist was this line right here:

        I’m increasingly convinced that in Seattle, the “reason” is that the lawmakers are morons and presume everyone else is equally moronic.

        Elevating your own opinions higher than everyone else’s is very selfish.

      20. D.P.

        You keep describing the transportation system here as “convoluted and arcane” – yet you have yet to describe exactly what you mean. The Seattle area is complex geologically, socially and economically. The type of “simplified” transportation structure that I *think* you’re expressing a preference for (it’s a bit hard to cut through the whining) relies on a greater level of density and deliberate planning. If I’m not mistaken, you’re reading a blog right now dedicated to those very concepts.

        I’m still not seeing how that ties into what I view as some pretty unrealistic – and vague – expectations you’ve expressed regarding what information driver’s should have committed to memory able to selectively recall at the drop of a hat.

        Drivers don’t plan routes. Drivers don’t design communities. Hell – drivers don’t even scare up funding to impact change. Drivers – well, drive. We want to do our jobs well. What is it you’d like us to do that would not fit your definition of “convoluted and arcane”? Memorizing gigabytes of information seems unlikely. Not calling out landmarks even if the post office is closed at 5 is just – well – a silly thing to whine about.

        And no – I’ve never had a deadline so vital it was worth getting squashed for. Not once – and I never will. Getting pissed at drivers for refusing to run your sorry ass over? No sympathy here.

      21. D.P.

        I’m sure you can contribute to these comments with a slightly less obnoxious tone. We try to keep the comments decent here, so please be respectful.

      22. Dear all,

        I just returned to my computer, fully intending to apologize for my lapses in temper, for expressing exasperation in my replies when I should have exercised patience.

        My original post was written from the very ends of my wits. Nowhere will you find a more adamant advocate of the car-free urban lifestyle than myself; that I have accumulated such a pile of horrible experiences to give serious thought to car ownership is, in fact, irrefutable testament to the failings of Seattle public transit.

        I did not write of this on Seattle Transit Blog for the purpose of venting; I can do that on my own time. I needed to express to you, fellow loyal advocates of smart and workable transit options, just how dire this city’s transit situation is — to impress upon you that if I am considering defection, there will be no hope of converting the ambivalent unless drastic changes are made in this community’s attitude and approach to solving our transit woes.

        A few voices responded with empathy and constructive rejoinders.

        Others responded with a complacency that I find sadly typical of Seattle.

        Tim, in particular, infuriated me with his vociferous rationalization of each of Metro’s defects — blind to my point that those defects, cumulatively, had pushed me to my breaking point, and that I am not alone in this.

        I tried not to parse extraneous details; when I acquiesced and did so (with due diligence), I got rewarded with more reactionary intransigence.

        At first I thought it was just Tim who had his head in the sand. But I just returned to find “selfish,” “sorry ass,” and “obnoxious” piled atop the accusation that I am “elitist.”

        Jeff, I don’t need to tell you how our system is arcane; dozens of posts from those who run this blog have already elucidated that. Geography is a tired excuse; the world is full of functioning cities with sharper hills and odder-shaped bodies of water than us. And I don’t need to tell you that bad advice is off-putting; I applaud you for enlisting the opinions of your riders when you don’t know how to answer a question, but still crave a system so usable that the questions wouldn’t be asked in the first place. Whoever called that impossible has never lived in a place where it always exists.

        Congratulations, all. You have managed to make my already-dire feelings about Seattle and its transit viability even worse!

        I bid you all farewell. Enjoy paying $2.25 to ride around with your heads up your asses forever.

      23. D.P.,

        You STILL haven’t addressed what you mean by “arcane”. What would YOU do to “simplify” the system? Eliminate routes? Which ones? And how does all of this apply to your targeting drivers’ lack of knowledge of the umpteen routes and schedules have to do with any of that?

        What would YOU do to make the system more “usable”?

        Not sure what your deal is, but Seattle is one of the greatest cities in teh world to live – and to commute – in. Were that not the case, folks would be leaving in droves. Room for improvment? Let me count the ways. But a condemnation of the entire system without any constructive advice for enhancement, wrapped in personal attacks and a rather odd insistence on the right to risk your life to catch a bus is well – bizarre.

        I guess the best advice that I could leave you with at this point is quite simple, and perhaps the most constructive offered on this entire thread:

        Try decaf.

      24. D.P.

        I hate to call you out on this but if you hang out here a bit longer I think you’ll find most of us can be very strong critics of how our local transportation and transit agencies do things.

        Even as transit geeks, we often find the fare structure or route structure at worst confusing and at best arcane. There are many suggestions here on how to improve both. We get frustrated by how the agencies provide rider information and communicate with the public. See the recent posts on Metro’s maps or the discussions of real time arrival info.

        We’re hardly cheerleaders here for the status quo at the transit agencies.

        On the other hand we realize it isn’t practical to demand that drivers have detailed knowledge of every route and schedule. We know that due to squeezed budgets any improvements in service have to be taken from somewhere else, a result of savings, or using money outside the current budget.

        At the end of the day you’d do much better if you kept the invective in check and focused on constructive criticism. You also need to keep in mind the current political and budget realities and went after the low hanging fruit first.

      25. Jeff, I’m sorry if I have come across as aggressive and insensitive. Tim has legitimately infuriated me with his litany of excuses for every one of Metro’s failings and blindness to the bigger picture, but I have not meant to take it out on others.

        I have certainly not meant to lay undue blame at the feet of Metro operators — from my experience, I’d estimate about 50% of operators to be good, conscientious, decently efficient drivers with problem-solving abilities and a willingness to try to make the system work for their passengers. I do think the other 50% could use some retraining, in a few cases extensive retraining.

        But aside from Oran, Chris Stefan, and a couple of others, most of you seem to have skirted my central point: This system is — not on paper, not in theory, but in daily practice — so deeply flawed that a lifelong transit user/advocate/enthusiast such as myself has now thrown up his hands. Why would anyone less committed to transit than I am elect to use such a system? Our ridership numbers — abysmal for a medium- (but not low-) density coastal city that lays claim to environmentalist attitudes — demonstrate that they won’t! And Tim’s “put up with it” attitude certainly won’t convince them!

        This very blog is packed with ideas for improvement — the administrators seem incredibly adept at separating fact from spin, refuting the counterproductive political maneuvering that blight’s our system, and peering around the world to find solutions with potential for adaptive implementation at home.

        But to counter your claim that I am nothing but a complainer, here is a terse list of 33 things I think Metro could do, at little net cost and to great effect:

        – ORCA fare discount
        – Weekly passes (rather than the monthly/pay-per-ride dichotomy)
        End of paper transfers
        – Goal of 90-95% ORCA usage
        – End of the Ride Free Area
        – Pay as you enter, always
        – Rear-door exit, always
        – Off-board payment (non-ORCA users) for all tunnel buses at all times (this compensates for the end of the RFA)
        Consolidate redundant routes running within 1/2-mile of one another or partially overlapping (yielding immediate high frequencies on remaining routes)
        – Reduce stops on every line
        – Reassess stop placement across the board (to eliminate the 2-light-cycles per block phenomenon)
        – Eliminate route deviations as much as possible
        Maps of all-day frequent service, distributed widely
        – Eliminate trolleybus zig-zags, even if it means new wires on Denny (1st-3rd) and on Pike (west of Broadway)
        – Reduce trolley-wire forks and intersections to improve downtown speed
        – Low-floor everything (stimulus money currently available)
        – High-frequency, no-turns east-west network to complement a high-frequency north-south network (there’s no reason the 8, the 44, and buses on the 85th and 105th corridors shouldn’t travel Sound-to-Lake, as long as the various north-south transfers work)
        Separate Metro’s city operations from county operations
        – Remove operations decisions from political hacks, hand them over to experienced professionals hired out-of-system
        – Through-routed express buses at rush hour (express service in multiple directions and no more deadheading!)
        Complete interior redesign of vehicles
        – Less seating, less wide seating
        – Wider aisles, more standing room
        – Better-designed wheelchair egress
        – No folding seats; wheelchair space remains open/standing room at all times
        – Wheelchair belts redesigned and relocated for easier access
        Procedures for dealing with bunching (drivers encouraged to announce a switch to express for 7 or 8 stops when immediately followed by another)
        – Fix late-evening schedules so that buses aren’t waiting 3 minutes unnecessarily at time-points
        – Stagger remaining medium-frequency routes to eliminate the “29-minute wait for a transfer” phenomenon
        – On consolidated super-high-frequency routes, eliminated schedules and time-points altogether
        – <15 minutes does not count as super-high-frequency; I mean <10
        – Make sure the raw data provided to OneBusAway is as glitch-free as possible
        – Put stop-ID numbers in printed schedules and wherever possible

        Please don't nitpick my list, Jeff; nothing on there is infeasible. Think big-picture!

      26. – Separate Metro’s city operations from county operations

        I think this is one of the big reasons Metro provides so little for so much (relative to other comparable cities). It’s not a “metro” system at all; it’s a mix of urban, suburban and rural. Rural or small town transit systems often have zero fare recovery and that’s OK because their budget is a tiny fraction of total government spending. Metro’s budget on the other hand is on par with the entire general fund.

        Unfortunately the political system that forced Seattle’s transit system to be county wide isn’t likely to change. One bright spot of the current “budget crises” is that it’s forced some meaningful efficiencies. I guess we’ll find out in August how many tax payers feel the answer is to continue to rein in spending rather than increase taxes (heard on the radio that the proposed sales tax increase is DOA).

      27. D.P.,

        What would you suggest that 1400 drivers receive “retraining” in?

        It’s nice to finally see some concrete suggestions for improvement of the system. None of htem are new ones of course – people talk about that stuff here all the time. Implementing your list would also cost billions and billions of dollars.

        For the record, I while everyone sees room for improvment – particularly in a place like STB where such folks gather for that purpose – I don’t believe that you’re “throwing up your hands” and giving up attitudes is representative of many folks at all. While elements of your list do exist in systems elsewhere – I know of no system in the entire world that incorporates them all, nor any that could. Neither the money, the consensus, nor the political will exists anywhere in any human society to bring all that about, certainly not in the dilated timeline you appear to be demanding.

        Meanwhile, do think about that decaf.

      28. Sorry, Jeff, but you’re wrong on a number of counts:

        1. Most of what I’ve written involves significant streamlining of operations. The result: more and better service for at the same cost, not “billions” more.

        2. As I’ve said about a dozen times now, transit ridership, even in Seattle’s so-called transit-friendly areas, is extremely low for a city like ours. The majority votes for transit initiatives on principle, but when it comes to actually using the service, they have already voted with their feet.

        3. The world is full of cities where getting around on transit barely requires a second thought. They incorporate most, if not all, of what I listed above. Seattle is not one of them.

        Tonight I had a 21-minute ride home from downtown on the #18. Had it not arrived early at time-points, it would have been 19 minutes. This is how long a ride from Ballard should take.

        So why does it work at midnight on a Tuesday? Not really because of lighter traffic (that accounts for a minute or two of savings). And not just because it’s emptier — but more because of what that emptiness permits: fewer stops and faster boarding times.

        Nearly everything I wrote above addresses stop frequency and dwell times. And the fluctuating passenger load caused by low and unreliable headways. Fix those things and the battle is halfway won.

        I’m sorry if you’re offended by my 50% statement, but I won’t back away from it. Half of Metro’s drivers drive either like they don’t give a damn or like just learned to drive yesterday (most Seattleites drive like they just learned yesterday, but these are supposed to be professionals). Fix that and you’ve won the rest of the battle.

      29. Sorry, DP, But most of what you’ve suggested would cost billions of dollars (of nothing else your suggestions about mass retrofitting of buses with different seating configurations, etc.), and much of what you’ve suggested would disenfranchise and disengage tends of thousands from ready access to public transportation. One of the reasons that our system is as complex as it is, is that we serve an area of thousands of square miles, and a myriad of places where people live, work, and play. Again – room for improvement? You bet and lots of it, but your expressed exasperation and condemnation of the entire system (while asking for a sytem that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world to be put in its place) is disproportionate to the balance of functionality actually in place. Thousands and thousands of folks commute everyday – and do so just fine without managing to pluck the tops o their heads into baldness.

        One more time: think ‘decaf’.

        I never said that I was offended by your 50% comment. I just asked what you believed that half the workforce (1400 drivers) need retraining ON. You said that 50% need “retraining”. What do you believe that they need to learn more about? You still haven’t said. Are you saying that – beyond your original complaint that drivers don’t have all bus schedules and routes committed to memory that half of all Metro drivers driver as if they “learned yesterday”?

        I’m trying to respond to this aspect of your ongoing rant to attempt to find the concrete issues and identify potential solutions that may be helpful, but again you’re not being specific. What exactly do you beleive that 1400 of the 2800 bus drivers at Metro need “retraining” ON, and why???

      30. Jeff, I like you, which is why I’m still here engaging in the back-and-forth (and drinking a caffeinated beverage as I do it).

        My original complaint had nothing to do with breadth of driver knowledge — search for the post that begins “Dear fellow Seattle transit users” — but you are correct that I jumped (after the fact) into a conversation started by Alex in which he described a driver giving bad advice and jumping down his throat for piping up.

        I did not claim lack of comprehensive knowledge was the root of any problem. I called it a symptom of two problems: the convoluted state of Metro’s network, so crisscrossed with infrequent and counterintuitive routes that no one could have comprehensive knowledge of it; and, more pointedly, driver allegiance to Metro’s prevailing “this is how we do things, don’t question it” attitude.

        When you claim that “much of what you’ve suggested would disenfranchise and disengage tends of thousands from ready access to public transportation,” you are sadly showing your own allegiance to that attitude.

        As has been well-explored on this blog, you simply cannot milk-run to every doorstep in town; the result will be woefully inadequate service that, I repeat, 90% of the public avoid at all costs.

        But 90% of the public can walk a 1/2-mile to a stop. And if the transit they find at that stop is as easy and stress-free as driving, they will use it! (Note: people will readily walk up to a mile for really good rail service. They won’t usually walk 2, which is the problem in S.E. Seattle right now.)

        So in fact I’m enfranchising the majority who currently feel inadequately served. Only the very elderly are likely to feel disenfranchised by a slightly longer walk. That’s unfortunate, but could and should be remedied with much better (perhaps separately funded) ACCESS service!

        As for interior redesign costing billions… aren’t they redoing interiors as we speak? I’ve seen lots of new seats lately, but sadly they remain in the same unfortunate configurations. This expense would be one-time-only, and is a actually pretty frugal in the grand scheme of capital expenditures!

      31. D.P.

        I guess I feel like there’s two conversations going on here: the one where folks are traying to engage you with what you say; and the one you appear to be having with yourself.

        I guess I’ll ask again (because I’m a masochist, perhaps): what exacctly do you believe that 1400 bus drivers need “retraining” in?

        Regarding ACCESS service, the concept of “separate but equal” is the antithesis of American value, and ACCESS service is no substitute for universally accessible public transportation. At any rate – ACCESS, even when well-funded, doesn’t remedy anything. It’s incapable of offering spontaneous or universal travel in the same manner as accessble public transportation.

        Aside from being inteested (that masochistic streak again, I suppose) in what you think that 1400 bus drivers need “retraining” in, I’m about done here.

      32. D.P.,

        And FYI:


        Your search – “Dear fellow Seattle transit users” – did not match any documents.

        Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
        Try different keywords.
        Try more general keywords.

      33. Jeff,

        I guarantee you that I am not here to have a conversation with myself. In fact, when my original wit’s-end post — do a “Ctrl-F” and search for the aforementioned “Dear fellow Seattle transit users” text within THIS very thread — met with such defensiveness and hostility (from Tim in particular), I attempted to throw up my hands and walk away. Yet, with each new reply that clearly stems from a misinterpretation of something about which I thought I’d been completely lucid, I feel the need to remain and to further clarify.

        ACCESS/accessibility: Before you pull the disability card to defend milk-run Metro routing, you might want to know that I spent the last five years of my life with a permanently-disabled woman. She refused to use Metro under any circumstances — the unreliability, illogical routing, and 29-minute transfer windows that plague all Metro users are even worse when you’re in a chair, wheels soaked and clothes ruined; then your wheelchair boarding makes the already-slow bus yet five minutes later, as you feel the stare of the frustrated passengers, implicitly blaming you for their lateness and wishing you hadn’t chosen their bus to board.

        In East Coast cities, she has been able to get around with no car at all. Here, she considers her car a necessity.

        She might also explain to you that accommodating disabilities requires recognizing that real and tangible impairments exist that do require a difference in treatment. When you announce the stops for a blind person or leave your seat to help buckle in a passenger, you are not providing “equal treatment” — you are making an accommodation. Even the lifts themselves are accommodations: when “separate-but-equal” racial bus segregation ended in the South, the buses required no modifications to the bus itself; they did not become accessible to the disabled until lifts were installed.

        Accessible transit, both under common sense and under the law, demands that public transit services and facilities make the necessary accommodations to be able to be available to all. But it in no way demands that a mass transportation system inhibit itself from providing effective transportation to the masses in order to stop at every doorstep in the city. At that level of impaired mobility, ACCESS vans — a different type of service accommodating a different level of need — make a great deal more sense.

        I found it quite ironic that you described ACCESS as “incapable of offering spontaneous or universal travel” — my entire point on this thread has been that Metro, as designed and run, fails to offer spontaneous or universal travel to anyone at all!

        As for the “retraining” issue — I’m sorry you’ve taken such offense, and I fear that anything I say will cause you further offense. But for the sake of forthrightness: Jeff, Metro is molasses-slow. There are days when I spend hours on it, without ever leaving the northern half of this city or travelling further north than the 50s. This gives me a lot of time in which to compare the habits of the drivers that contribute to the lethargy with the habits of drivers who seem to progress as fast as the routing will allow.

        Just one example for now:

        A driver eases into a stop like he intends to parallel park the thing. Someone requests the rear door, and the driver yells “front door only,” even though only two people are waiting to get on and appear to have no interest in sneaking on the back. The driver then holds his hand up, ordering the two — who could have already boarded and paid by now — to wait while the guy from the back ambles up the length of the bus. The two new passengers board. The driver notices that walk-light countdown, which suggests that he has 10 seconds left to make the light. But instead of going, he checks his time-points sheet — apparently, he’s the only one on the bus who doesn’t know that he’s already running 10 minutes late! He finally checks his mirrors, shuts the door, and pulls out just in time to miss the light.

        Repeat ad infinitum.

      34. D.P.

        A driver eases into a stop like he intends to parallel park the thing.

        A common complaint from customers is “driver stopped suddenly”. You complain here that a driver pulled into a zone too gently.

        As we approach bus zones, people are often/frequently standing and approaching the door to exit. We are trained to avoid operating the bus in a manner that can cause folks to fall and injure themselves. Pulling into (and out of) zones gently is one of the ways to enhance rider safety.

        Someone requests the rear door, and the driver yells “front door only

        If you were travelling outbound (leaving the CBD), then payment is “pay as you leave” and in ost circumstances drivers are required to have you exit through the front in order to pay your fare. After 7pm this has been the policy as well. Drivers don’t need “retraining” on this issue. They’re doing what they’re expected to do.

        The driver notices that walk-light countdown, which suggests that he has 10 seconds left to make the light.

        From a dead stop, it’s unlikely that bus could accellerate enough to completely and safely clear that intersection in 10 seconds. Drivers are trained to recognize a “cold green”, or a green light that is going to turn yellow then red soon. The reason for this is to avoid killing pedestrians and avoid collisions with perpendicular traffic that may be rushing their light as it changes from red to green.

        You appear to be arguing that drivers should be “retrained” to drive less safely – which coincides with your complaint that you were chastised for putting your self at risk by trying to rush to a connection.

        Sorry pal – that’s just nuts.

      35. She might also explain to you that accommodating disabilities requires recognizing that real and tangible impairments exist that do require a difference in treatment. When you announce the stops for a blind person or leave your seat to help buckle in a passenger, you are not providing “equal treatment” — you are making an accommodation. …

        Accessible transit, both under common sense and under the law, demands that public transit services and facilities make the necessary accommodations to be able to be available to all. But it in no way demands that a mass transportation system inhibit itself from providing effective transportation to the masses in order to stop at every doorstep in the city. At that level of impaired mobility, ACCESS vans — a different type of service accommodating a different level of need — make a great deal more sense.

        Hear, hear!

      36. Oran,

        Your bias and ignorance of issues faced by people with disabilities is already established on a different thread so your chiming in with the [ad-hominem] D.P. here isn’t much of a surprise.

        I don’t recall insisting on system wide door to door service. I am however against having a separate transportation system for people with disabilities. ACCESS has many limitations that serve to further disenfranchise people with disablities from society not hte least of which is the need to schedule rides in advance, and the segregated nature of the transportation option itself. While ACCESS may have a place in serving people with the most significant need, it is not, should not be, and need not be the preferred alternative to supporting people with disabilities in being able to access tehir communities and public transportation.

        I again encourage you folks to get in touch with or better yet attend a meeting of the County committee of, by and for people with disabilities organized around transportation issues the Accessible Services Advisory Committee (ASAC). One fo the first thing that I’d recommend that you do is send the folks on this comittee your thoughts on accomodation and public transportation as you’ve expressed them here and get their feedback.

        Info here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/MetroTransit/AdvisoryGroups/ASAC.aspx

      37. Jeff,

        I strongly agree with the underlying principle of your last post:

        ACCESS should exist to serve those with most significant impairment, and need not be the default mode for those with less severe mobility constrictions.

        I believe that some of its limitations could be addressed through expanded service, expanded hours, and alternate funding sources to keep it with compete with other transit dollars. In a perfect world, it might operate more like a taxi service and less like a plane ticket.

        But you conveniently ignored my most personal experience with Metro and disability, a permanently disabled girlfriend who has had little trouble with East Coast public transit but finds Metro unworkable to the point of car ownership. (She has a milk-run bus stop feet from her doorstep; she was never that close to transit back East.) Sorta directly negates your argument that the status quo works for the mobility-impaired, huh?

      38. Jeff,

        I reject your label of bias. The facts on the rear-facing, passive restraint system, for which my support you used to judge me as biased and ignorant, prove otherwise. I still maintain that you simply overreacted to something you’re not familiar with. I don’t think you read my last comment on that thread. You’re calling people biased and ignorant because you think your experience with disabled people and your opinion is the only one that’s correct and matters. So even with D.P’s own personal experience with a disabled person, on why she does not ride Metro and drives instead, you still dismiss his opinion. D.P.’s mention of door-to-door service is extreme but your past comments, especially on bus vs rail, seem to support that notion.

      39. As for our operator disagreement:

        My example was a hypothetical assortment of things I witness on a regular basis. So let’s say, for the sake of the hypothetical, that it was after 7:00. Sticking blindly to the front-door policy (when logic would have dictated opening the back, as no one was there to sneak on) is just one of many decisions that can cost 15-20 seconds. My other examples of frequent driver behavior (checking timepoints when they should be aware they’re super-late, etc.) cost just a few seconds here and there.

        But taken cumulatively, the effects of poor Metro policy-making (even minutia such as boarding procedures and timepoint management), combined with the… lackadaisical… driving habits of some operators, lead to an awful lot of missed lights. 10-second delays thus become 2-minute delays, which compound as more lights are missed, headways effectively become longer and passenger loads heavier, leading to super-late arrivals and bunching.

        Just a smidgen of cautiously-offensive driving goes a long way. This is not a foreign concept: the other 50% of Metro operators drive that way. I’m increasingly inclined to thank them, verbally, for making my life easier!

        (BTW I can walk, leisurely, across an intersection in 10 seconds; your excess of caution on that one borders on egregious.)

      40. D.P.,

        Checking time points takes a fraction fo a second, and often it isn’t about seeing how late you are – but making sure htat your’e not EARLY.

        Sorry – but clearly you don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about. An “excess of caution”? There’s a number of dead, injured, and maimed pedestrians out there who would beg to differ. Training drivers in “offensive driving”?

        D.P. – you’re just [ad hominem]. I’m done talking to you. It isn’t drivers that need “retraining” – it’s you.

      41. Oran,

        Reject away. You’ve earned the lable just the same.

        So are you going to look into htat committee, or do you figure that the study module that you had on the ADA has you “all set” in the knowledge department from here on out?

        FYI, I am a great deal more familiar with the issues that people with disabilities care about in pulbic accomodation than you are. That situation is one that can be remedied – by your acceptance that you have gaps in your knowledge and attitude that can only be truly remedied by seeking out people with dsiabilities themselves.

        The Accessible Services Advisory Committee would be a great place to start.

      42. Jeff,

        I wrote this just a few hours ago: “With each new reply that clearly stems from a misinterpretation of something about which I thought I’d been completely lucid, I feel the need to remain and to further clarify.”

        You wrote this just a few minutes ago: “Checking time points… often it isn’t about seeing how late you are – but making sure htat your’e not EARLY. … clearly you don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.”

        Jeff, clearly you can’t read! Your wind up making straw-man arguments, not out of malice but out of misapprehension. My calling you out on it is not an ad hominem attack!

        Jeff, why are you checking the time-point to make sure you’re “not early?” You are 10 minutes late! Everyone on the bus knows you’re 10 minutes late, because they’re 10 minutes late too! You are the only one present who appears ignorant that you are 10 minutes late! And while you check the time-point unnecessarily, you miss the light and make everyone 12 minutes late!!

        Remember when I reminded you that “despite its aggressive driving and rampant jaywalking, my home state of Massachusetts has among the lowest rates of automobile and pedestrian deaths in the country” (because people can do both of those things conscientiously)? You never responded to that, did you? Perhaps because it challenges your carefully constructed illusion that “the Seattle way” is infallible?

      43. Jeff,

        Earned from you, which means nothing to me. I never said I knew it all but you’re just as ignorant by refusing to accept the facts I pointed out and let your experience override everything. Look into that? When the time comes, I will but for now, just for the sake of arguing with you, no. Given that you continue to ignore D.P.’s personal experience with a disabled person, I don’t think you’ll agree with me even if I did what you suggested and learned something and adjusted my attitude/opinion/etc.

      44. “That situation is one that can be remedied – by your acceptance that you have gaps in your knowledge and attitude…”

        Pot calls kettle black.

        Jeff, you have made clear that you have no idea how thing work — actually, truly work — in parts of the world outside navel-gazing Seattle.

      45. Interesting side-note: Seattle is one of the few large U.S. cities with no Disability Services office. Disability services are handled, poorly, by the Office for Senior Citizens (as if the needs of all disabled people intersect perfectly with those of the elderly). There is nothing about this city/region that is a model of disability-friendliness.

      46. D.P., is it possible for you to make a comment without insulting the entire populace of Seattle? Believe it or not, we’re not a bunch of ignorant, navel-gazing rubes.

      47. Zed…

        Honestly and from personal experience…

        Not all Seattleites…

        Not even most…

        But more than most places.

    3. As a driver, I am happy to help people. When I was in college, I was kind of a transit nerd, so I know alot of the routes, and now as a driver I know even more. And safe to say probably more than most drivers. So I can usually direct people giving them a coule options and usually pointing out which would be the fastest of them. I also try and think about where the transfer might go down, and if at night let them know the faster way might not always be the greastest because of the place they need to wait, meaning I might not even feel safe waiting at some stops. Or try and think of the day of the week and time, because of the frequencies or lack of some routes on certain days and times.

      So I love it when I tell them where they need to wait for the bus and which bus to catch and some passenger tells them something different or wrong. And then they try to convince the pasenger needing directions that I am wrong.

      I think its great when a passenger tries to help another, but I just wish some would just keep their mouth closed unless they really know and are giving the correct info. Sometimes I hear someone telling another passenger the wrong info, so I will try and give them the correct info before they leave the coach.

      1. Casey, the problem with being a “transit nerd” is that you may be inclined to think in terms of route-maps, neglecting the human scale of the city and it topography.

        From your description, it sounds like you are thoughtful and take great care in considering your advice. Trust me that you are in the minority. I have seen no shortage of bad advice administered by both drivers and transit-geek passengers.

        Of course, the best solution would be for Metro’s route structure to be dismantled completely and reconstructed with fewer, better, more obvious routes so that people won’t even have to ask (and we can all get there faster).

      2. Nope, doesn’t matter how the routes are structured, there will always be people that will have to ask. One of my favorites, on a 31 on its last stop on campus:

        Passenger boards bus
        Passenger: Where are you going?
        Operator: Magnolia.
        Passenger: Where’s that?
        Operator: West.
        Passenger: Oh.
        Passenger disembarks

      3. Tim,

        Honestly, you don’t see this as much in cities with better transit systems!

        Metro is so fractured that even frequent users — and many drivers — only know a portion of the system well. Thus the conflicting and frequently flat-out bad advice.

        In a better-run system, the preponderance of the riders waiting at the stop can accurately describe to a tourist or newbie how to get where they’re going. So when a bus comes, there’s no need to waste everyone’s time peppering the driver with questions.

      4. Allow me to explain this to you, since you’re unable to put yourself in anyone else’s shoes.

        Metro operates out of 5 bus bases. Each route is assinged to a single base (there a few exceptions). For the most part, operators only move between bases at the end of a shakeup (the exceptions being extra/system board and the like). Due to the geographic separation of many bases, operators tend to stick to the same base. For example, South Base, in Tukwila, is a long commute if you live in North (or north of) Seattle. Therefore, operators would not need to know much about the routes from those other bases. If you’re not going to drive it, why qualify on it? If you operate routes that don’t go anywhere near those routes, when is a passenger ever going to ask you about it? We do have people that know all the routes–they work in Customer Service. You can talk to them by calling (206) 553-3000. They’re actually better than the trip planner, Google, and blind route planning by looking at timetables. But wait! I know what your next complaint is going to be! They’re not open long enough! or I have to wait on hold too long and I could have been at my destination by the time a representative was finally able to help me! Realize that Metro gets all of its operating revenue from tax revenues, and to a lesser extent, fares. Tax revenue is down, so Metro has less money to work with and thus can’t provide as much service.

        With your next complaint, please try the following:
        1) Determine what is your fault and what is someone else’s fault.
        2) If you believe something is the fault of someone else, think about the situation from their viewpoint.
        3) Repeat step 2.

        “Problem”: Operator told you not to stand forward of the yellow line.
        Their viewpoint: You are in violation of federal law, and it is the operator’s obligation to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.
        Solution: Chill out and stand back.

      5. Tim, I’m not incapable of putting myself in other’s shoes.

        But anyone who tells me I should just sit back and accept/rationalize Metro’s suckiness is failing to do just that for me. Or for the 90% of Seattleites who will never become active transit uses under current conditions.

        Why should any rider give a shit about five bus bases and fractured knowledge? All they know is that their trip home just took 2 hours and may have resulted from bad advice!

        Frankly, I care less and less about why service is bad, arcane operating procedures are in place, and drivers are ignorant. The only thing that matters is that service is bad, arcane operating procedures are in place, and drivers are ignorant.

        Think outside your box, Tim! And definitely travel more!

      6. D.P. I think you missed Tim’s point. The point is not that there are five bases, it is that it’s difficult for everyone to know everything. It’s like going into Target and asking the fitting room attendant the difference between two TVs. They might know, but since that’s part of their primary job duties, you can’t expect them to know everything about every product they sell.

        And I think you should care about *why* service is bad, because just knowing that it is bad doesn’t do anything but give you more stuff to complain about.

      7. D.P.,

        arcane operating procedures are in place, and drivers are ignorant.

        Let’s try something constructive. What I hear here is a complaint, but it’s non-specific, making problem solving a bit difficult. “Metro sucks” as well as the above observations don’t really point in the direction of solutions.

        So let’s start by defining what your two beefs here are:

        What “operating procedures” do you see as “arcane”? Let’s make sure that you are actually perceiving operating procedures that actually exist first, then look into why you believe that they are “arcane” and what would be an improvement?

        “Drivers are ignorant” – so far, this seems to be an impression based on the idea that you believe that all drivers should have tens of thousands of lines of schedule covering over 300 routes County-wide committed to memory, and be able to recall them selectively on-demand in response to customer questions.

        Is that about right? If not – then please feel free to re-state. If so, then when do I get my cybernetic implant? Will it be covered by my “Cadillac health insurance plan”?

    4. When I drove for Metro(now retired,) if I didn’t know how to get somewhere when asked by a passenger(which happened more than I care to admit to), I’d play my little game on the PA system, that went something like this:
      “OK folks, for 100 points, and a chance to win our grand prize drawing today, Who knows the best way to get to Jack and Jill’s Water Hole, or Zombie Drive”.
      Amazingly enough, the combined knowledge of the whole bus never failed me, and the passenger trying to get somewhere generally accepted the concensus opinion with some assurance that bogus advice would be vetted by committee.
      Plus it was fun to play!

      1. As someone who gives information all say in a professional capacity, I’m leery of sharing info on the bus UNLESS an operator asks for help. We would rather that bystanders not amend the info we give out and I’d bet most transit operators feel the same way.

      2. I live in Portland, but have spent some time using the transit system in the Puget Sound area on visits.

        From time to time, TriMet here in Portland sends extra board drivers out on routes they are unfamiliar with, and passengers wind up giving the driver instruction on what streets to turn on, etc. Can’t help but wonder how that must look to those who are of the mind set that the driver must know everything about every single route in the city.

        For doing the ADA announcements, they spent the last few years installing GPS systems into the PA system, so that the PA system will announce automatically the bus route, the location of an upcoming major stop, etc. It works OK now (most of the time), but when first set up the system would get really confused sometimes as to what bus route it was making announcements for. There was one route I was on that the announcements were for stops about 10 miles off.

        Just because it is past normal operating hours for a particular facility doesn’t mean that people couldn’t be trying to get there anyway. For example, back in December I took a bus into downtown Seattle from a friend’s house to the Seattle Art Museum. Normally, the art museum doesn’t operate on Tuesdays, and isn’t open in the evening. However, during part of this past December, the Michaelangelo exhibit was popular enough they decided to keep the museum open until 9 every night, even on Mondays and Tuesdays.

    5. Several weeks ago I was waiting at 3rd & Union for a northbound bus during evening rush hour, and I overheard a woman on her phone telling someone that her car had been towed and she was waiting on the 76. I wasn’t used to seeing the 76 at that stop; it operates in the DSTT (when it’s open). I said to her, “Excuse me, ma’am, are you looking for the 76? I think you catch that bus down in the transit tunnel.” She looked at me quizzically, then asked the driver of a just-arriving 358 whether the 76 would be going through the tunnel or operating above ground. I don’t know if she found her 76 or not, but at least she didn’t tell me off.

    6. I usually help people if they’re sitting near me or the driver gives them wrong information. But I don’t like to shout across the bus so I try to wait until they sit down and then tell them, “I think X is faster/more direct/more frequent”.

      But sometimes I tell somebody something and then realize I was wrong, because I’d forgotten about route Y or a new schedule or something. So it pays to think twice about whether your information is really up-to-date.

    7. I was at Lakewood [Mall] Transit Center one time and someone was trying to get to the Convention Center (Downtown Tacoma) and started walking towards the #2 (it being the first bus to pull in).

      The operator on the 2 said, “It would be a lot faster to take the 574 to the Tacoma Dome Station and transfer to the Tacoma Link.”

      The Passengers Who Know Buses Like the Back of our Hands Committee (myself included) all agreed with the operator, but the passenger (who needed to make no pit-stops) kept insisting they should catch the 2 since that’s the way they always took from Lakewood to 10th & Commerce (note to PT regulars: as we all know, taking the 3 is far faster if you’re going straight to 10th & Commerce and don’t want to transfer – the fastest way which involves a transfer would be the 574 to the 594)

  2. I am constantly amazed by how few accidents I actually see while driving. There are so many people in cars and trucks speeding down the road, many on phones, or mobile devices, many eating or fiddling with their makeup or shaving, arguing with their passengers or angry at other drivers. This video increases my wonderment, we are lucky to be alive. Why aren’t there more accidents?

  3. Federal Way has a new high density development proposal.

    At least one City Council member opposes the height of the tallest buildings. Roger Freeman said Friday that two 45-story towers would look out of place and be shocking to the community. He said he’d be happy with 35-story buildings.

    Freeman, who grew up in Nebraska, said the project’s design “reminded me of these huge icons in the middle of a cornfield.”

    There’s nothing to indicate this is TOD, but perhaps it’ll work out that way in the end.

    1. This new proposed site appears to be directly across the street from the Fed Way Transit Center. Can’t get too much more TOD than that.

      1. Maybe this will speed up the push to Federal Way for Link. Federal Way may at some time eclipse Tacoma.

    1. I could have sworn I saw one outside the consignment shop on 24th Ave NW a few weeks ago.

  4. Recently while driving zipcars I’ve tried to be more aware of my driving, mostly because of this book. It’s really hard. I failed to stop for a pedestrian waiting to cross Eastlake by the Hutch, even though I’m regularly in that situation myself.

    Another time heading to Fremont on Westlake I glanced down at my speedometer and I was going almost 50. The posted speed limit is 30, but the road is designed like a highway with few marked crosswalks and only a couple traffic signals.

    1. Don’t Stop for pedestrians, We don’t like it when you do!!! It confuses us!!!! Even if we are at a crosswalk. (of course I only mean un-signalized crosswalks)
      IT is honestly easier if traffic just flows and we go when there is an opening, because when people stop (especially on 4+ lane streets) it just gets hard to tell what the heck is going on.

      1. My approach is more of a “pedestrians, don’t stop for cars”. Provided that I’m a) at a marked and unsignaled crosswalk/intersection and b) that any approaching cars have ample stopping time (5-10 car lengths depending on speed is my general rule) this works quite well. I do this based on the presumptions that the cars are legally obligated to stop for me, many times if I were to wait for an opening I would be standing there in excess of a minute, and that waiting for a car to stop ends up causing the exact confusion you’re referring to (such as getting a car in a the far lane to stop but none of the cars in the near lanes). Sure I’ve almost been hit by a few incompetent drivers, but it’s fairly easy to take a few quick steps forward and avoid the collision. This seems to keep things moving and get everyone on there way rather than the C.F. that ensues when neither a pedestrian nor driver have the balls to cross!

      2. I also almost always wave on drivers who stop for me, especially on 4-lane streets. Even if Car X stops, most drivers behind him will not bother to figure out why he’s stopped, they’ll just try to pass him. And since Car X is now at least partially blocking my view of traffic behind him, there’s no way I’m going to cross and risk getting mown down by one of those other drivers. It’s always safest to just wait for a clear break in traffic from both directions.

      3. …and these are the reasons why road diets, like the one proposed for Nickerson, are good things.

  5. My folks are visiting next week, from Wednesday through Thursday. What’s the most economical way to pay for their fares around town? They’ll need to take Link to/from the airport, but I imagine the rest of our time will be spent exclusively on Metro. It looks like day passes are only available on weekends or holidays?

    Why isn’t any of this stuff available on ORCA? Why is the fare situation in this region so disjoint?

    1. Depends on how they want to spend their money. They can pick up an ORCA card at $5 a pop from a Ticket Vending Machine at the airport. They’ll each need a Link ticket ($2.50 one-way to Downtown) but they can buy two tickets with the ORCA card. They can also pay for two people with one card on a bus. I believe ORCA will only give one transfer credit though. I also don’t believe you can buy a day pass with ORCA. The reason for this is that Metro’s day pass is a paper flash pass; 1) if you bought it with your ORCA card, you’d get a $4.50 transfer credit, and the pass that you’re buying is only good on Metro and 2) Metro can’t set its readers to pay for something that expensive. It tops out at 2-zone peak charges, and that can only be set on a trip that travels 2 zones during peak.

      The reason why “the fare situation in this region so disjoint” is because we have 5 agencies operating in overlapping areas. They all offer different services and thus charge differently for them.

      1. I’ll be buying their passes to avoid confusion. I was hoping I could buy each of them an ORCA card and load it with a day pass every day, but day passes don’t even seem to be an option. As for buying them with ORCA, it seems silly to me to use the ORCA on board to purchase a flash-pass; if Metro wanted to support an ORCA day pass, wouldn’t it be a lot more sensible to pre-purchase it? Or, if they still wanted to offer on-board purchase, they could add a function to deduct $4.50 and credit a day pass, no? Since that would be built into the ORCA fare logic, it could avoid issuing a transfer credit.

      2. Right now, it’s not possible. Best to just buy them each a card and load enough E-purse value to last them. You may not be able to do day passes, but you do get transfer credit.

      3. Plus five other transit agencies coming into the service areas of the first five transit agencies. When will the madness end?

      4. I don’t even mind if all the different agencies have their own fare structure. It’s the matter of what can and cannot be done on an ORCA card that bugs me.

        But if everyone can get together on PugetPass, I’m of the opinion they should also get together for daily passes. Barring that, at least Sound Transit and Metro. Barring *that*, just Metro!

    2. You can buy the ORCA cards back from your folks at the end of their trip to keep for future guests, or have them mail them back to you.

  6. I thought the readers here might be interested in this. MOHAI (The Museum of History and Industry)in Seattle is hosting a fair amount of walking tours this summer. The two most pertinent to the Transit Blog are a walking tour of the Alaskan Way Viaduct (August 21st) and a tour of the 520 bridge (September 4th) There is more information about tickets and the other pretty awesome tours at http://seattlehistory.org/plan_your_visit/calendar.php.

    1. I wonder if the Metro Employees Historical Vehicle Association will ever repeat their interurban tour?

  7. What is going to happen to the convention place station after the buses get kicked out of the DSTT?

      1. Why is nobody complaining about it closing? Does it just not get much use? (I certainly don’t use it, but it is close to Capitol Hill.)

      2. I read that that’s one of the reasons it’s closing: it never got the expected ridership, especially by conventioneers. Another of course is that it turned out to be in the wrong location for Link. I suspect the bad design was also a factor: you can’t stand at one location and take the first bus southbound because they come in on different lanes. And if your route terminates at Convention Place, you have to wait for it to loop around and drop you off. Plus the fact that there was no sidewalk on that side of Pine Street until recently, so you had to cross the street to go to Capitol Hill (and then maybe cross it again).

    1. There’s been a proposal to build an expansion of the Convention Center over it, although maybe by the next economic boom there’ll be a proposal to build something more like a skyscraper. It’ll still be great for layover space and for its I-5 Express Lanes access. I was thinking it would be a great place to put a new Greyhound Station since the current station a block away is going to go away for a huge skyscraper at some point, although I’ve heard talk of trying to find an even better location near King St.

    2. Are there any plans for where a high-speed rail station could be built in downtown Seattle?

      1. There are no plans at all even for any high-speed rail to Seattle. We really gotta think about getting started on that planning. I was thinking maybe HSR could use one of the decks of the SR 99 tunnel because no one at all will be using that by the time we’ll be building HSR (not many people will be using it in the first place) and they could have a big underground station near the tunnel portal down at the southern edge of Pioneer Square.

      2. That would be the coolest thing ever. Unfortunately you probably couldn’t fit HSR into there but it would be awesome anyways as a commuter rail hub.

  8. Dear fellow Seattle transit users,

    I only discovered Seattle Transit Blog recently. I want to thank you all for your thoughtful, considered, and uncharacteristically (for a blog, as well as for all-opinions-should-count-even-if-they-are-deeply-flawed Seattle) well-researched views on all manner of Seattle transit issues.

    Sometimes, however, I fear that in debating the minutia of stop placement, trolley cost/benefit, funding politics, and density statistics, the forest may get lost in favor of the trees.

    There is only one true metric by which to judge a transit system: If I want to go somewhere, can I reasonably expect the trip to be, more often than not, a painless endeavor that fits so seamlessly into my day that I barely think twice about it? Or will it be so arduous, unpleasant, and fraught with uncertainty that I am rendered catatonic with fear just anticipating it?

    Ladies and gentlemen, my life story in 3 sentences: In my mid-30s, I am I lifelong urbanite (with multiple cities to my credit) who has never owned an automobile. A lifelong advocate of transit with a distaste for cars, I have chosen not to own one, though I could (easily) afford to. After five long, unpleasant years at the mercy of King County Metro, I am finally considering such a purchase this week.

    I’m just too tired of having entire days ruined by Metro. I’m tired of missing events. I’m tired of watching all my goodwill and positive attitude evaporate in the course of a single journey, and of watching lowest-common-denominator Metro not appear to care.

    If I need to be downtown by 1:00 on a Saturday, and I miss the 12:14 bus for any reason, I’m tired of knowing that I WILL be late. In a car, this is an 11-minute journey.

    I’m tired of skipping evening events on Capitol Hill because my return journey will be a minimum of an hour, and as much as two hours. In a car, this is a 14-minute journey.

    I’m tired of seeing a Metro driver do something so incredibly unprofessional — just today, I saw a 33 driver change her bus to a deadhead (“Ryerson Base”) before even reaching Belltown so that she wouldn’t have to pick up any more passengers; being minimal-service Sunday, I was able to walk all the way downtown before any other buses came — that I feel the need to call customer service, and having customer service tell me they don’t like my attitude and hang up on me. (For the record, my tone was clearly exasperated, but my words were unfailingly polite.)

    Basically, I’m tired of being treated like a 4th-class citizen because everyone — from government officials to the operators themselves — presumes that no one uses the system outside of rush hour unless he or she is a 4th-class citizen.

    Recently, while back East, I met up with a friend (also a lifelong non-driver who had moved to Austin, Texas and was having similar frustrations to mine). She had a great term for our shared experience: “travel anxiety.” I’ve heard this term applied to the fear of flying, or to the stress of packing, but I had never heard it applied to daily urban mobility. It perfectly captures the stresses of whittling down my to-do list because Metro won’t allow me to get as many places in a day as I need to; of making sure that when I leave my apartment, I won’t need to be back for 12 hours for any reason because Metro makes “stopping by home” an impossibility; of choosing not to go to visit a certain part of the city or attend a social outing because any benefit derived from it will be obliterated by the process of getting home; of dreading the ride itself (there is an enormous difference between lucking onto a crowded, dirty, or foul-smelling vehicle in another city that you know you will only have to endure for 10 minutes and a crowded, dirty, or foul-smelling bus in Seattle that you might be stuck on for 45).

    In the time I’ve lived here, Metro fares have risen to the highest in the nation. TransitNow kicked our sales taxes into most-regressive-in-the-nation territory; the tax will remain even as those promised service hours get axed. Rumor has it that existing service will be slashed by 1/6 as well — and there seems to be no political will to find alternate funding, to confront the nightmare that is “sub-area equity,” or to make any wholesale streamlining improvements to the service that remains.

    I used to call Metro “benignly incompetent.” But in the last round of cuts, its less benign side began to show. In my neighborhood, they announced major Sunday cuts to one route, then changed 2 evening runs to deadheads with no notice, leaving me stranded the next time I tried to take one of those runs.

    I know funding is scarce; I know times are tough. But Metro’s “we don’t care when — or if — you get there” attitude now pervades everything it does.

    Metro does not work, not anywhere, not any time, not at all. The sooner every one of us admits it, the sooner the agency will be forced to admit — and rectify — it as well.

    1. (Clarification for the 3rd-to-last paragraph: they announced extensive Sunday cuts to the route. The highly problematic — and totally unannounced — run-to-deadhead changes then suddenly appeared Monday-Saturday.)

    2. I applaud you for up to this point refusing to buy a car and travelling everywhere on transit. I think, however, that your assessment of Metro not working “not anywhere, not any time, not at all” is completely incorrect. It sounds like you live in a part of the area with poor bus service, but there is great service in the denser parts of Seattle, even on Sundays. I would say that Metro is by far the best bus-only agency I have seen in the nation. It offers frequent service on many routes (if not enough), and works to serve the most important routes with the best service. In this economic time, yes, of course there are cuts, and they hurt, but there is no avoiding them. Every single agency in the country is going through this, most a whole lot worse than Metro. Metro is of course not as good as the East Coast rail systems, but we are working on creating a rail system that will be as good as those, so give it time. It sounds like you’ve had a few bad experiences, but there are experiences just as bad on the fantastic East Coast subways, and awful experiences in cars. I think here we take for granted a lot of the time the high quality of our bus agency, and we should remember that it could be so much worse.

      1. Alex… I live in downtown Ballard, spitting distance from the 18, 17, 44, and 75, and sprinting distance from the 15.

        Have to catch a 44 right now.

        Check back later for why I disagree with you.

      2. I too live in downtown Ballard. Of all the routes to pick to defend yourself, the 44 is not the one I would choose.

      3. Kyle, I didn’t choose to “defend myself” with the 44, whatever that means. I was literally running out the door to CATCH a 44.

        But since you bring it up, the 44 is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with Metro. Despite it’s so-called high frequencies — at sort-of-but-not-exactly 15-minute intervals, it’s among the most frequent in Metro’s entire system — it is operated so poorly, so inefficiently, and with such disdain for the idea of getting there (read: sitting in the right lane at 15th for 7 light cycles while the other lane sails through the intersection in one) — that the actual travel time is frequently twice the published time, which is already twice the driving time.

        So despite it’s “frequency,” you risk being horribly late if you don’t catch the bus before the one you really want. And if you need connections at either end, its just as useless as anything else Metro does.

      4. D.P., I’m really interested in hearing you elaborate on what do you mean by poorly operated and inefficiently. How much of it has to do with Metro’s operations and service/system design? And how much of it has to do with street operations (SDOT’s responsibility)?

        I am aware that SDOT is working on improvements for transit in the Route 44 corridor, including transit signal priority, queue jumps and bus bulbs. Perhaps you could send them and Metro some suggestions.

      5. Oran,

        I was hoping not to parse any route/operations minutia, because doing that runs contrary to the very point of my original post — that such things do not matter when the status quo is miles from adequate and the prevailing attitude at Metro is to resist self-examination.

        But because you asked…

        You are, in short, correct that Metro’s failings and SDOT’s poor choices amplify each other to the deleterious detriment of many routes, of which the 44 is a prime example.

        Metro’s issues:
        1. Putting their primary north-of-the-canal east-west corridor on the street that already contains a few of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the city.
        2. Unreliable equipment and wires that encourage drivers to “take it slow” — our trolleybuses are half as fast and infinitely more clumsy than those in SF, Vancouver, and Boston.
        3. Pavlovian “front door only” — Riders are trained to head to the front door, just in case a driver refuses to open the back (even though roughly 50% are willing). Riders waiting at the bus stop are trained to do the “is someone coming off” neck-twist, and to generally be slow about boarding. The 44 has a lot of riders and many high-volume on/off points, so the effect of this is multiplied.
        4. Bad driver training — Tonight, Oran, I had a driver who took 60 seconds (no exaggeration) to pull out of each and every stop, squinting and oddly staring at the sidewalk-side mirror as he did it. I’ve had more than a few drivers who drove as if they’d never operated a vehicle before.
        5. Uniquely dumb choices — See my above example (sitting in the right lane at 15th for 7 light cycles while the left lane flows freely). This happens at 24th as well. How can anyone drive the route every day and not anticipate this? If one 44 driver makes this mistake, and the next driver makes the smart choice (the left lane), the 2nd driver is liable to catch up to the 1st before the two even leave Ballard!!
        6. Driving like they just don’t care — Hard to describe this. But sometimes, when your driver repeatedly misses lights that needn’t have been missed, is 10 minutes late only 3 minutes from the route terminal, and yells about “front door only” even when opening the back door could be the difference between making/missing the next light, you can just tell.
        6. Or, misplaced attempts to be nice — You have a bus with 60 people on it. How about you DON’T wave those three SOVs to merge in front of you?

        SDOT’s main issue:
        Really long light cycles, everywhere, all the time. Especially the ones where SDOT “declares” one street the priority and gives them a 2-minute green to the cross-street’s 10-second green. Guess what type of vehicle is most likely to wait at every one of those long red lights?

        Issues out of both Metro and SDOT’s control:
        1. Seattle has the world’s slowest pedestrians. This is the main cause of that blocked right lane.
        2. Passengers’ “hold the bus for my friend” expectations, which are understandable given Metro’s infrequency. In cities with routes running at 5-7 minutes, it’s okay to just say no.

        To be honest, Oran, I’m not particularly hopeful about the SDOT improvements. One of their ideas is to make those blocked right lanes in Ballard “right turn only — except buses.” That means that the street signs with encourage buses to get in the perpetually blocked lanes!

      6. You rightly point out that the NE 45th/15th NE turn situation, which is the overwhelming problem spot for the 44, is not a Metro problem but an SDOT problem. But they can add all the bus bulbs and queue jumps they want—until they fix that turn, afternoon 44s will never run on time.

        But I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t run a 44 Express on 50th between 15th NE and Green Lake Way or Phinney. You’d avoid not just the turn onto 45th, but also the excruciatingly slow Wallingford stretch. Avoiding those two things is why the 46 can be such a great alternative to the 44.

      7. Oh, I thought DP was talking about the left turn at 15th NE, but (s)he’s talking about 15th NW.

        Personally I don’t fault the drivers there, since I think the alternative is quite dangerous. While some drivers do move to the left lane to pass right-turning drivers, there’s no guarantee that all cars in the right lane are going to turn right, and the stop is immediately after the intersection. So drivers who move left invariably move back over to the right in the intersection, cutting off the occasional driver who wants to go straight. I don’t think it’s illegal in WA to change lanes in an intersection, but it’s certainly dangerous nonetheless and I fully support operators who refuse to do it.

      8. It’s worth noting that at Market/24th NW, the stop is about a block after the intersection, which probably gives operators enough time to move back over safely. So I can understand getting annoyed at drivers who sit in the right lane there. But at 15th, safety first.

      9. Well I’ve got nowhere else I need to be, and even if I did, there aren’t any buses running to get me there! :)

      10. I’ll have the Rolling Homeless Shelter #81 rolling by my place any minute now.

        I’ve always found it a little funny that Metro is so late so often, but that one’s always right on time — and full of people with no need to get anywhere. <— This is the first thing I've written on this blog all day that is not intended to be imbued with a tone of frustration/outrage.

      11. – Primary east/west above-canal bus
        There’s also the 48

        – 45th is slow.
        Yes, but the bus goes where the people are. And, there aren’t many other streets that go east/west without being interrupted, and since you deemed the 44 as the “primary” bus to traverse this, I don’t know where else they’d put it.

        – Miscellaneous front door only crap
        Last point on this page. There’s also signs on both sides of the door to remind you.

        – Miscellaneous safety issues
        Have you ever driven a 60 foot electric vehicle? I doubt it. These Bredas are old pieces of crap. They don’t move the way a car does. Not only are they electric, which means they have a limited top speed of somewhere in 30-40 MPH, but are limited to 5 miles per hour in special work (any place wires cross). Here’s why.
        Also, I don’t understand why you’re criticizing drivers for not running red/yellow lights. As mentioned above, these vehicles are big. When an operator sees a yellow light, need to make sure that the vehicle can proceed all the way through the intersection before the light turns red. And, they need to minimize “panic stops”, so sometimes they’ll actually come close to running a red. The latter doesn’t happen much in Ballard because people suck at driving there.

        – Night Owl routes
        You’ve obviously never used an owl route before. Yes, there are homeless people there, but they are not the only ones. There are plenty of people that either a) work nights b) go out drinking and don’t want to drive c) go out clubbing and don’t want to hail a cab d) got stuck somewhere and need to get home.

        – Turn lanes
        No, this actually speeds it up. It already works very well on Aurora, SR-522, and plenty of other places. Since you don’t believe me, read about it here.

      12. The 44 is a great canidate for full-on BRT type service. Give the buses at least a BAT lane all the way from Montlake to Ballard. Increase the stop spacing to 1/4 mile or so. Make the remaining stops have bus bulbs and off-board payment with real-time arrival info. Replace the Bredas with some nice low-floor trolleys. Put in real signal priority on the entire route. Run with 10 minute or less frequency weekdays and no less than 15 minutes evenings/nights.

        Of course the enhanced rapid trolley network addresses the corridor the current 44 serves along with much of the rest of the trolley routes. Furthermore in some of the options it proposes electrifying the 48 along 23rd, the Madison Park end of the 11, and the Denny/John portion of the 8.

      13. I haven’t actually ridden any European trolleybus systems but from videos I’ve seen it looks like their overhead is much better than the one we have in Seattle. Buses go through switches and special work at normal speed. I’ve even seen one accelerating through a bunch of special work.

      14. That’s pretty typical in Vancouver and in Boston (by which I mean the Cambridge/Watertown trolleybuses, not the dumb Fort Point bus tunnel). San Francisco’s could use some work, but still aren’t nearly as painfully slow as here.

      15. “Miscellaneous front door only crap” — “Last point on this page”

        They say it’s for security. But I never noticed any difference in security or number of unruly passengers when that rule went into effect. But because it has the magic word “safety”, it’s impossible to convince Metro to change the policy.

      16. Some of it may also be due to equipment malfunction on the Frakenbredas, rather than spite, as D.P. is so quick to assume.

      17. [sigh]

        >>Primary east/west above-canal bus
        >There’s also the 48<

        You mean the 48 that's two more miles to the north? The 48 that travels a stretch of Wallingford Ave north of Green Lake where buses literally cannot squeeze past each other, then curve around the lake, encountering multiple 4-way stops? The 48 with some of the lowest headway reliability in the city? Next!

        >>45th is slow.
        >Yes, but the bus goes where the people are. And, there aren’t many other streets that go east/west without being interrupted, and since you deemed the 44 as the “primary” bus to traverse this, I don’t know where else they’d put it.>Miscellaneous front door only crap
        >Last point on this page. There’s also signs on both sides of the door to remind you.>Miscellaneous safety issues
        >Have you ever driven a 60 foot electric vehicle? I doubt it. These Bredas are old pieces of crap…>Night Owl routes
        >You’ve obviously never used an owl route before. Yes, there are homeless people there, but they are not the only ones. There are plenty of people that either a) work nights b) go out drinking and don’t want to drive c) go out clubbing and don’t want to hail a cab d) got stuck somewhere and need to get home.>Turn lanes
        >No, this actually speeds it up.<

        Your link is irrelevant, and because you clearly don't get out of the U-District much (Metro's so freeing, remember?), you don't understand the circumstances of the example. The right lane backs up incessantly because pedestrians in Seattle are slowpokes and only one 1 or 2 right-turning cars make it through per long-ass light cycle. 90% of those in this line are trying to turn right, but the bus is going straight! So a lane marking or rule that requires the driver to stay in the right lane condemns it to waiting through half a dozen light cycles just to do what anyone in the straight lane did with ease!

      18. [double sigh for weird mark-up issue that destroyed my replies]

        –Primary east/west above-canal bus
        -There’s also the 48

        You mean the 48 that’s two more miles to the north? The 48 that travels a stretch of Wallingford Ave north of Green Lake where buses literally cannot squeeze past each other, then curve around the lake, encountering multiple 4-way stops? The 48 with some of the lowest headway reliability in the city? Next!

        –Miscellaneous front door only crap
        -There’s also signs on both sides of the door to remind you.

        For crying out loud, Tim! Where is your knee-jerk defensiveness of Metro coming from? I dare you to name a functional transit system with a one-door-only policy. On nearly any other bus in the world, those “reminder signs” would say “Please exit off the back!” or “Hey, riders, when you exit off the back while others enter through the front, it makes everything faster, and aren’t you glad you don’t live in Seattle!”

        –Miscellaneous safety issues
        -Have you ever driven a 60 foot electric vehicle? I doubt it. These Bredas are old pieces of crap…

        And I’m supposed to be okay with paying the nation’s highest transit fares for this because…??

        –Night Owl routes
        -You’ve obviously never used an owl route before. Yes, there are homeless people there, but they are not the only ones. There are plenty of people that either a) work nights b) go out drinking and don’t want to drive c) go out clubbing and don’t want to hail a cab d) got stuck somewhere and need to get home.

        Actually, I’ve been (a), (c), and (d) on numerous occasions. I’m glad that the Night Owls are there, and I feel fortunate to have one across the street from me. But it’s ridership is 80% homeless. And handing out all-night transfers like candy does not a solution to homelessness make! Tim, have you ever lived in a real city?

        –Turn lanes
        -No, this actually speeds it up…

        Your link is irrelevant, and because you clearly don’t get out of the U-District much (Metro’s so freeing, remember?), you don’t understand the circumstances of the example. The right lane backs up incessantly because pedestrians in Seattle are slowpokes and only one 1 or 2 right-turning cars make it through per long-ass light cycle. 90% of those in this line are trying to turn right, but the bus is going straight! So a lane marking or rule that requires the driver to stay in the right lane condemns it to waiting through half a dozen light cycles just to do what anyone in the straight lane did with ease!

      19. >45th is slow.

        Indeed. And the 44 is even slower.

        Some have argued for “BRT-ing” it as much as possible.

        And in the long term, that full-fledged deep-bore Link spur is probably in order (four stops, journey drops to 5 minutes).

        But for the real and immediate solution, please re-read Chris Stefan’s “allocate the bulk of the Seattle service hours to a grid-style (at least as much as our topography allows) frequent service network” comment.

        The 46, as Andreas mentioned, is a godsend — the 4 times a day that it runs! Under Metro’s current slavishly hub-and-spoke model, there’s a great deal of north-south redundancy and an equal number of too-low-frequency-to-be-useful east-west routes.

        But make both the Dexter/Fremont corridor (currently NOTHING goes straight on Fremont) and the 46 corridor all-day and frequent, keep improving the 8 and throw in some kind of Mercer service, and you’ve eliminated the need for the current 26, 28, and 30. The 31 can be truncated in Fremont as well (and the frequency doubled on the remaining portion).

      20. I dare you to name a functional transit system with a one-door-only policy.

        I dare you to compare King County Metro to another agency that uses a pay-as-you-leave situation. It’s not a fair comparison otherwise.

        I’m supposed to be okay with paying the nation’s highest transit fares for this because…??

        WTF does that have to do with anything? Also, if you could read this and explain how we have the highest fares, I’d love to listen.
        Metro’s operating costs are also some of the highest in the nation. Some of this has to do with our geography in which we’re squished in on the east/west sides and have to fan out north and south, whereas other places fan out somewhat equally in all directions. This post, as well as a few others on this blog, explain some of that.

        On BAT lanes: go ride the 358 from terminal to terminal. Sit in the front so you can watch traffic. Once you’re back downtown, hop on the 522 and do it again.
        And yes, I do get out, but not to Ballard. There’s really nothing of interest for me in Ballard.

      21. Just sucking me back in…

        > Also, if you could read this and explain how we have the highest fares, I’d love to listen.

        Um… the only other $2.25 U.S. local bus fare on that entire list is San Diego — and they have a $5.00 daily maximum.

        The only fares that appear higher are in Canada. The Canadian dollar has an exchange rate floating around $0.92 U.S. cents, but the real wages of Canadians date from a time when the exchange rate was more like $0.75; those fares are still cheaper than ours for someone who is paid in Canadian money.

      22. Also, many of the cities with $2.00 fares on that list have deep discounts for multi-rides (New York is 15% off, Philadelphia is only $1.45, and so forth).

      23. Because I had nothing better to do, I looked at that fare comparison doc. I’m not sure what the use is of looking at a three year old comparison that doesn’t even include KCM, despite its being one of the ten largest systems in the country. But I decided to look at the systems listed that were listed at $2 or more and see how they compare to Metro at present.

        San Diego is $2.50 base fare with no transfers. They offer a $5 day pass.

        CTA is $2.25 cash base fare with no transfers. With a farecard, it drops to $2.00. First transfer is 25¢, second is free (two-hour window). They also offer a $5.75 all-day pass.

        Sacramento is now $2.50 base with no transfers. A day pass is $6.

        Monterey-Salinas Transit is $2.50 base, 25¢ transfers, with a $6 day pass.

        Bowling Green’s transit is $2. They offer passes for $5, $10 or $20 that are good for 5, 10, or 20 rides respectively.

        Transit Triangle is still $2, with one free transfer. A day pass is $4.

        MTA is $2.25, with a free transfer. Loading $8+ on MetroCard gives you 15% free (e.g. $20 = $23). $8.25 all day pass.

        LANTA is $2 base fare, with a 25&cent transfer. $2.50(!) all day pass, and 10-ride ticketbooks for $13.

        SEPTA is $2 cash; $1.45 by token. Transfers are 75¢. $6 for an 8-ride pass, $10 unlimited.

        Milwaukee is $2.25, with 10 tickets for $17.50. One-hour transfer.

        Loudoun County Transit’s commuter buses (40 miles, an hour and a half) cost $8 cash, $7 card. Non-commuter routes designed to connect up with transit to DC start at $1.75.

        I didn’t notice anything on any of these systems’ websites about peak fares, and most majority offered all-day passes and discounts for using tokens or cards. On average, it seems likely that despite a quarter or two more for a base fare, with passes & discounts they probably wind up costing the average rider less than Metro does.

        Metro’s cost per hour is 22% above average and its cost per boarding is 38% above average. It’s reasonable to ask how much of that is due to things that can’t be fixed like geography, and how much due to things that can be fixed like the RFA and staff salaries. Is our region really so unique that our transit has to cost so much more than average?

      24. One huge difference between ST/Metro and many other transit agencies is there isn’t a premium charge for peak-hour express service. Sure there is a surcharge during peak hour and zone fares only apply on Metro during peak hour, but there aren’t the sort of “soak the commuters” fares you see elsewhere.

      25. Andreas,

        I had posted much of your same (up-to-date) info in a prior thread where someone challenged my claim that Metro, with no multi-ride discounts and an unusually high monthly pass, is among the highest fare in the country.

        In this case, I responded to Tim’s antiquated document because directly refuting his chosen links is the only way to deal with him.

        Chris Stefan,

        I disagree with your assessment that higher-priced express buses, running one-way from far-flung suburbs and deadheading back, shouldn’t be considered a premium service and priced as such. Commuter rail is more expensive; why shouldn’t high-cost express buses be?

        Metro IS however, one of the few transit agencies nice enough to charge a peak-hour surcharge even if you’re stuck on the ultra-local in the counter-commute direction, where service is much worse at rush hour!!

      26. Chris,

        Follow-up thought: I recently had a conversation with a U-District resident, in which he said that what he found most frustrating about living in Seattle — which Metro exacerbated — was the sense that you can experience all the drawbacks of urban life without reaping any of the benefits.

        Someone who chose to live in Issaquah did so to be away from smog and noise and screaming winos, to have access to better schools, to get more square footage for their money, more open space, lower insurance rates, and so on. And then Metro gives them a bus into downtown faster than I can get there from Ballard? Why should that service not have a premium attached?

      27. I’ve never understood why we don’t “soak” commuters more, since they can often afford to pay more and often made a decision to live far from their work. A case in point is the study that WSF did a while back that showed that the overwhelming majority of their fares were paid by one-off average-income riders like tourists or locals taking day trips. Commuters, on the other hand, had an average income well above the median and were a minority of total riders. Yet the commuters got discounts. The only explanation that anyone in the system could give for why this made sense is that it’s politically impossible to charge commuters more. Since they use the service more, they’re more apt to whine when it’s threatened in any way. So everyone else winds up subsidizing people who can afford to pay their own way. Brilliant.

      28. D.P.
        You have me wrong. I think Metro (and Sound Transit) should charge more for peak-only express buses, especially if it lead to lower base fares.

        That people in Issaquah or Duvall get a nice on-seat ride for only $2.75 while someone in Ballard gets to stand on a packed bus that takes just as long for $2.25 doesn’t strike me as terribly fair. Especially since the person in Ballard is much cheaper to serve with transit.

      29. Alex,

        Metro has, over the past five years, single-handedly squelch my goodwill toward Seattle and smothered my patience for its denizens. And I have long since lost the ability to tolerate “Metro defenders.” I’m not frustrated with these specimens so much as perplexed by them. Are they getting defensive out of a misplaced civic pride, the way one might vouch for a sports team that has your city’s name on it even as it prepares to pack up and leave?

        Determining the adequacy of in-city transit is really quite basic: Can you make an impromptu trip somewhere without a master’s degree in bus cartography, an extra hour to kill, and enough all-weather gear to survive (potentially multiple) 30-minute waits? In Metro’s case, the answer is an emphatic no.

        And you don’t have to look to the East Coast or to San Francisco to find such a system. Both our immediate neighbors to the north and south run a system with usability in the logical fore. (Even with massive cuts, TriMet has been careful to preserve a frequent-service network that actual works as advertised.)

        I specifically chose to omit where I live in my original post, because I wanted to emphasize the universality of Metro’s failings. But believe me, living at the nexus of multiple major routes has done little to mitigate the horror that is relying on Metro. Go back and re-read the example in which missing a 12:14 bus means that I will be latefor a downtown event at 1:00.

        My other favorite go-to example: On weekdays, if I miss the #17 at 5:40 pm, I can not be in Capitol Hill before 7. That’s 80 minutes for a simple PEAK HOUR journey between two of the city’s busiest neighborhoods, Alex!!

        (Why is this the case? Because Metro, in its infinite wisdom, actually reduces and unevenly spaces their peak-period buses in every direction other than toward downtown in the morning and away from downtown in the evening. After the 5:40 #17 and the 5:45 #15 — if I miss the former then I won’t catch the latter either — the next bus of any sort is the 6:06 #18. But this comes after the day’s first 32-minute gap in #18 service, and it’s still totally rush hour, so the 6:06 is packed to the gills, stops at every stop in Interbay, and gets downtown 15-20 minutes late every day. Even if I sprint up the Hill, I’m not making it by 7:00.)

        Trust me, the U-District only has it slightly better. And Capitol Hill residents, despite having the densest service network in the city, mostly know they’re better off walking. (Even worse, that won’t change for most when the poorly sited Link station comes on line.)

        But now I’m parsing the minutia of routes and scheduling, something I meticulously avoided doing in my original post. Because it’s quite beside the point.

        Alex, I haven’t had “a few bad experiences.” I am at my wit’s end nearly every time I get to my destination. The “best bus-only agency” cliché is particularly irksome, when there are cities with negligible rail systems that still manage to fill their streets with easy-to-use buses at frequencies that Metro doesn’t even bother to dream about (see: Los Angeles).

        And you know what? I’ve experienced those “severe service disruptions” on East Coast subways, and they’re a lot less irritating than the “severe service disruptions” you might encounter here after you’ve already been stuck for 45 minutes on “normal service.”

        I really can’t think of any other agency with such warped service priorities; I have no doubt that this will beget service-cutting choices far more disastrous than many cities will witness. We don’t need to “remember that it could be so much worse,” because it will. If that happens, I like every other person in Seattle who values their own time and sanity, will find myself in an automobile.

      30. missing a 12:14 bus means that I will be latefor a downtown event at 1:00.

        Duh? If you miss a bus, you’re going to be late. I think a 4th grader could tell you that if you leave late you’re gonna arrive late. And if you suck at catching buses, get out to the stop earlier.

        After the 5:40 #17 and the 5:45 #15 — if I miss the former then I won’t catch the latter either — the next bus of any sort is the 6:06 #18.

        I’m not going to analyze the trip details on this one, but Ballard –> Capitol Hill is NOT something that a lot of people are doing at PM peak (or AM, I’m not really sure what you’re talking about here). The transfers that most people are making are timed at transfer points. Yeah, it kinda sucks that you can’t always make it. But Metro simply does not have the money to run routes from everywhere to everywhere else. Furthermore, lots of people work downtown and want to get home after work. Peak service addresses this.
        Side note #1: Have you looked into the #8?

        I don’t know why you’re hating on the U-District. I live here and I love it. I’m going to miss it when I move out. I can get pretty much anywhere I need to, and if I can’t, I’m a short ride to downtown where I can transfer to something that gets me there. Yes, that transfer does suck, but as mentioned before, there is no way Metro can run a route from everywhere to everywhere else. Even for getting somewhere close–like U-Village–I have about a dozen choices on a weekday.

        If you’re getting stressed literally every time you ride the bus you’re either A) going to a different destination every time you ride or B) doing something wrong. If you’re going on the same trip every day, you’ll notice that delays are relatively constant. Unless some localized event (accident, construction, parade, etc) is going on, traffic should be relatively the same from day to day (except Friday. Traffic always sucks on Fridays). So why don’t you just sit back and relax? Stressing out isn’t going to make the bus go any faster.

        Can’t really compare LA to Seattle, since there’s a ton more people and the geography is vastly different.

      31. Tim, this almost makes me too furious to respond.

        IT’S 12 MINUTES IN A CAR. It is NOT unreasonable to demand a public transit system that can connect two such major transit points in less than 46 minutes!


      32. And I wasn’t “hating on the U-District.” I was pointing out that the U-District has some of the “best” service in the city, and it’s not all that great.

        How’s your post-7:00 trip downtown, when the 71/72/73 corridor drops to supposed 15-minute intervals (unreliable because it’s actually 3 merging routes) and makes all the local stops in Eastlake/SLU?

        Of course I’m going different places all the time. The Seattleite tendency to fall into such spatially constricted routines is proof of the failure of our transit system!!

        When did I ever argue for “everywhere to everywhere” direct buses. But anywhere to anywhere should be feasible; you won’t find any other city where it actually gets harder at rush hour. Transfers are great, but both legs must be frequent, fast, and reliable! In any city where transit works, they are.

        And transfer points are timed? Don’t make me laugh!

        (BTW, I LOVE advice about “getting to the stop earlier.” Because clearly I’m intentionally getting there late. Just like I’m missing my “timed transfer point” because I caused the first bus to drive so slowly.)

        (Oh, and that 6:06 #18 ALWAYS just misses the 6:31 #8. Which is pretty embarrassing, since Lower Queen Anne isn’t all that far away. And the next #8 gets to Capitol Hill… [drumroll]… after 7:00!!)

      33. The 28/26 used to be timed to intersect Denny Way a few minutes before the 8, making it a viable option for getting to Capitol Hill if you were in east Ballard. And then Metro changed the 26/28 schedule and blew that to hell. I’m pretty sure none of the Ballard buses link up well with the 8 anymore.

      34. I hear your frustration with Metro but I do have to call bullshit on 12 minutes in a car from Ballard to Capitol Hill – especially in the early evening. Maybe at 1am. That trip will easily take twice that time and then you’ll need to spend another twenty minutes looking for parking (putting you close to your 46 minute transit trip).

      35. D.P., I feel your pain. I think for the most part our bus service is mediocre, though it is extensive. One reason my family moved closer to where I work last year was to avoid unreliable or poor service, especially on Sundays when we often go places with the kids. Case in point: no service between Seattle Center and the U-District after 6pm! There’s no direct service to Eastlake anytime–that’s a 10min car trip (and not too much longer on bike, and yes I’ve ridden on Mercer).

        Also, many of the core routes like the 44 have literally not changed in 80 years. I cannot believe that Metro has put significant resources into improving these routes; to me it the seems they competently maintain current service, but don’t have any vision for continuously improving service wherever possible.

        Now, I don’t know why you live in Ballard and it may be the only place that works for you, but if you’re often going downtown or Capitol Hill you might consider looking for a place in Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, or Belltown. It doesn’t free you from travel anxiety but if I miss a bus I can always walk. Also, sounds like zipcar might be a valuable addition to your transportation portfolio… feel free to be referred by me (we each get a bonus $25/$25 credit):

      36. Sorry D.P. I misunderstood and thought you were using the 44 as an example of where service shines. I agree that it is one of the poorest examples of service in the city, which is the point I was trying to make.

      37. IT’S 12 MINUTES IN A CAR.

        Please correct the starting and ending points here and try and convince me that it is 12 minutes. I’m having a tough time believing you. I’m with Kevin, I doubt you’ll make it there in 12. You have red lights (the bus has to stop at those too), and most importantly, the bus stops to pick up people. Please try driving the bus route in your car stopping for 30 seconds every 2-3 blocks and tell me how that 12 minutes works out for you.

      38. On my post-7pm trips to downtown from the U-District, the buses are actually very reliable. Usually a 2 minute delay at most. Mid-afternoon is when they bunch up. One bus gets stuck loading a wheelchair, having a fare dispute, unruly passenger, or some other random incident that slows it down, and it ends up getting a minute late, 2 minutes late, 3 minutes late, and 4 minutes late by the time it gets to the last stop. And then the bus behind it is “batting clean up” and has nobody to pick up so it’s either right on time or early. So yeah, that screws with headways. Also, when they fill up a couple of stops before the last stop they have to pass stops (there’s really nothing more you can do–if you’re full, you can’t add more people) so that screws with headways too.

        The non-express versions of the 70s add about 5-8 minutes to the trip. It feels like 15, and I feel your pain. It drives me absolutely insane when I get a non-express, especially when the express lanes are going the direction that I am. What I also don’t understand is why the last few express trips nearing 12pm use Eastlake instead of the express lanes. The lanes are still open and southbound, and yet we roll down Eastlake. It’s not operator choice–they’re specifically told to take Eastlake and could be punnished for not doing so.

      39. One thing that would really help would be to allocate the bulk of the Seattle service hours to a grid-style (at least as much as our topography allows) frequent service network. Have Metro and SDOT focus resource on speeding the frequent service routes up. Bus bulbs, BAT lanes, signal priority, increased stop spacing, off-board payment, whatever it takes. Ideally the frequent service routes will run often enough that timing transfers where they intersect shouldn’t be necessary. Real time arrival info at major stops should help with making people more willing to transfer.

      40. If you click and compare driving vs public transit on that Google map link you gave, it takes 18-22 minutes (assuming no traffic) to drive and 49 minutes using Metro + walking. Google dosen’t factor in the time spent looking for parking which on Capitol Hill can be hard to find.

        If you change the end point to Seattle Center, it takes 23 minutes by the 18 versus 12 minutes driving.

      41. But, more importantly, everybody read what Christ Stefan wrote!

        Because that is the only thing that will make the system work, and at this point, the only thing that would make me (and anyone less transit-committed than I am) think twice before plunging into the world of auto ownership.

        Which is why the defense of Metro’s status quo — and the rearranging of bus bulbs on the Titanic — is so darn irksome to me!

      42. Assorted responses — still rearranging bus bulbs on the Titanic, but I appreciate those who addressed my examples with some sympathy and would like to clarify:

        My examples involved the maximum time that it will take to reach my destination if I just miss the previous bus. One of the primary Seattle Transit Bloggers had a great term for this, which is unfortunately escaping me.

        Those 46 minutes were never from Ballard to Capitol Hill. That example involved Ballard to Downtown. You’re never on the bus itself for less than 23 minutes or more than 45 (regardless of what the schedule says, I’ve had more 40+ minute journeys to downtown than I can count) — but up to an hour of your “planned time” is required when headways and disruptions are factored in.

        Try persuading an automobile owner to switch to Metro — after explaining that they might be screwed for a 1:00 arrival even if they leave 46 minutes early!!

        I had two Capitol Hill examples:

        The very specific post-5:40-departure rush hour example is 80+ minutes thanks to the headway problem. (That’s 15 maximum in a car for me. When I do drive, I drive like an East Coaster.)

        The general not-spending-the-evening-on-Capitol-Hill-because-the-trip-home-will-be-a-nightmare was much more universal: Any time after 9:00, the return trip is 60-75 minute, and usually that’s with the buses running on time! The connections just don’t exist!

        Tim, my worst experiences with the 70s tend to be outbound in the first couple hours after they stop running express and dramatically reduce their frequencies. Packed to the gills, zig-zagging from the tunnel to Fairview, Denny and Mercer, and Metro’s beloved “one door only” idiocy.

        Joshua, I already have Zipcar and like it quite a bit, but only use it occasionally because it forces you to “think hourly” about your usage (make a mental justification for each hour you pay) and that can be hard to justify when I’ve already plunked down my $80 on a bus pass.

        Yes, I know that actual car ownership is exponentially more expensive! But it allows you freedom of movement without having to overthink or overplan. Just like transit systems in functional cities do!

        Also, I wish I liked Lower Queen Anne, because it is indeed convenient. But the neighborhood itself leaves much to be desired — it’s ugly, the food is pretty bad, and it gets overrun by douchebag-types on a nightly basis (at least they only come to Ballard on weekends). And the rents are really exorbitant considering that it’s not all that nice.

        It’s important to me to live someone that exhibits the best of urbanity rather than the worst. Ballard is neither all that far nor all that remote, and there is no rational explanation for why living in a busy neighborhood less than 5 miles from the center of the city should make my transit life such a living hell.

      43. Also, Joshua, what DOES it say about Metro that they have the 1, 2, 13, 15, 18, 24, and 33 running between Lower Queen Anne and downtown yet it can still be easier to walk!!!!?

        Still, I really do wish I liked Lower Queen Anne more!

        (Total brain-fart: Do you ever wonder why Metro doesn’t pay a nominal fee to the Seattle Center Monorail to let people with monthly passes use the thing? It’s not as if it’s running at capacity. Tourists and Bumbershoot attendees from the suburbs don’t have monthly passes, so it wouldn’t eat into their revenue. And it would make life so much easier somethimes.)

      44. Tim, seriously…

        How many “public-private” partnerships did Metro enter into with our TransitNow funding? (“Hey, let’s match Children’s Hospital dollar-for-dollar to add service on the 25! Even though that route’s labyrinthine and useless!”)

        Paying a small fee to the monorail to allow passholders some flexibility would more than pay for itself with increased 1/2/13/15/18/3/4/16 reliability. The monorail might readily accept the additional cashl I’ve already explained why it wouldn’t see any farebox loss. It would just require some creative thinking and some initiative on Metro’s part — two things of which it is sorely lacking!

      45. DP and Chris: you’re right about the grid system and all that. The problem is that we live in a democracy where the car drivers and those who want one-seat rides downtown outnumber us. If we downplay the grid system and hub-and-spoke, it’s not because we think it’s not important, but because it will take a long time to achieve, so we have to think about alternatives in the meantime. Also, we can only antagonize the drivers and one-seat riders so many times before they start voting against every transit improvement and complaining louder to the city/county council. So we have to think carefully about what we must have now and what can wait, and what’s more important vs less.

      46. “And Capitol Hill residents, despite having the densest service network in the city, mostly know they’re better off walking. (Even worse, that won’t change for most when the poorly sited Link station comes on line.)”

        Poorly sited? It’s near the busiest intersection in the Capitol Hill shopping area (Broadway & John, also the transfer point for the 8 and 43), and the biggest traffic generator on the Hill (Seattle Central), plus it’s “almost” near the transfer point to the Pine Street buses. From Summit it’s a 6-minute walk to the station, which is shorter than walking to Westlake even if you have to backtrack. Well, it may not be worthwhile if your destination is Westlake, but if your destination is any other station, it will be.

        The only other plausable location is Broadway & Harrison, but that would miss the major college market.

      47. Mike, as I’ve said elsewhere, Capitol hill is an extensive enough expanse of medium density that 2 stops would have been well-advised, despite the cost.

        One stop for the whole hill still leave thousands of residents bus-bound for all eternity, and encourages those whose destination is a part of the hill far from the subway to keep driving.

        Two extremely well-placed stops could have put the entire hill within a 10 minute walk of real rapid transit.

        I would have suggested Broadway a 1/2-block north of Pine (where a new building was just built on a parking lot, which could have been a combined station/building) and 15th & Mercer (where the gas station is).

      48. There was going to be 2 Capitol Hill stops, but shit happens and the 2nd had to go. You can read all about it in the library or the Seattle Times archives, or try being humble and actually ask someone about it here instead of assuming you know everything.

      49. Yes. Of course! Inadequate transit for billions of dollars because “shit happens.”

        Maybe I don’t need a car. Maybe I just need to leave this stupid town.

      50. They couldn’t build a second Capitol Hill station because of the soil and the huge cost, but that’s okay, because the one Capitol Hill Station is going to be within walking distance of thousands and thousands of residents, as well as dozens or hundreds of businesses, thousands of jobs, and SSCC. It is the perfect location for a light rail station. There will be a streetcar in a few years to serve parts of Broadway not served by the light rail station, and I expect our streetcar network to grow to serve more of Capitol Hill in the future.

      51. And Zed, are you referring to the First Hill stop?

        Or one of those early tentative routes that followed the Broadway/10th corridor toward Portage Bay and may or may not have included a stop further north than the current one?

        “Shit happens?” Seriously!?

      52. Right…

        Say I’m a lifelong car-dependent who lives a decent-but-doable walk from the future Roosevelt station. I want to visit someone who lives on the hill around, say, 19th.

        Will I walk to the train, take it 3 stops, and then waste my life waiting for a bus as if the train had never been built?

        Will I walk to the train, take it 3 stops, and then walk another 1.5 miles in inclement weather?

        Or will I just continue to drive?

        For all of the interest in transit on this forum, I sometimes fear that the resident commenters just don’t get it: No other equivalent city seems to work so hard to exacerbate the “last-mile” problem, even in its densest areas. Divergent bus routes! Shiny new streetcar transfers!

        Fast, frequent, logical, useful, effective transit should be in reasonable walking distance (not every 1/4 mile, not ever 2 miles) from as many places as possible. It is a near-criminal waste to build something as expensive as Link and actually make things harder!

      53. BTW, Alex [softening my tone because you’re one of people here whose input I appreciate most],

        There are two ironies:

        One is that Denny/Broadway was the most logical place for a single stop (if there could be only one) — until they decided to tear down the entire area for a 3-square-block staging area! So excessive! That one has still never been satisfactorily explained to me.

        Secondly, the streetcar will be helpful for Seattle University, the hospitals, and Little Saigon, but it’s always going to be easier to walk to Aloha/Roy or Pike/Pine than to use the thing — both are well within the walkshed. It’s the other 80% of Capital Hill that will see virtually no benefit from the rapid transit being built below their feet.

      54. Thank you. They had to tear down the whole area because they are digging a huge, four hundred+ foot long, fifty-hundred foot wide, hundred+ foot deep hole in the ground. It’s still the center of Capitol Hill, though, and will become even more so when the TOD projects open there with the station. There will be a couple ways to get to 19th from that station, if they keep the current bus service (which hopefully they won’t, I’m hoping they’ll wipe the Metro system map clean and completely start over once North Link opens). One could take Link from Roosevelt Station to UW Station, and there get on the 43 or 48, which combine for 5-10 minute frequencies pretty much all the time, then get off on 23rd up the hill and walk four blocks to your destination. You could also take Link to Capitol Hill and get on the 43, which even by itself is very frequent, to either 19th & John or 23rd, and go to your destination on 19th. These options are both great. Maybe if they completely redo the bus system, the 12 along 19th could be eliminated in favor of much better service on the 10 along 15th and the 48 along 23rd.

      55. It’s more like 1.5 blocks. The Capitol Hill site is not just the station. It is where all the spoils from boring the tunnel between Capitol Hill and downtown will be stored and removed. It is where the tunnel boring machines for that section of tunnel will be assembled and launched.

        Jarrett Walker just wrote a piece on how planners do a bus network redesign. I strongly support Metro doing a “blank slate” network for North Link. Actually, I wish they could do it now. It’s long overdue. Many of the major Seattle routes haven’t changed much since their streetcar days.

      56. Hear, hear to blank slates!!

        I am fully convinced that nothing short of this will work!

      57. Yes, shit does happen. You can thank Paul Schell for that. If anyone has a right to be disappointed it’s me, I’m one of the people who actually helped get Sound Move passed on Capitol Hill back in the mid-90’s, specifically because it promised 2 stations on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, in the late 90’s, Sound Transit was broke and no one in the city gave a crap about transit because they were making bank off the dot-com boom and too busy driving around in their new Mercedes to care about anything else. The death of the 2nd Capitol Hill station barely made the news. If it weren’t for Joni Earl turning things around at ST there would be no light rail anywhere, let alone north Capitol Hill. Decisions are made and things move on, no amount of complaining on a blog ten years after the fact is going to change that.

      58. Oran,

        I am aware that they will be pulling a very large quantity of bored-tunnel dirt out of the ground at the Capitol Hill Station site, but the block between John & Denny, Broadway & 10th is enormous!! Full-fledged subways are being dug all over the world by way of much more constrained staging areas, and yet somehow that block wasn’t enough?

        I remain convinced that tearing down one of the few truly attractive buildings Capitol Hill had to offer (the former Espresso Vivace space) to let the staging area spill over Denny had more to do with the ego of station architecture than with the demands of tunnel boring.

        And I said “3 blocks” because there will be tear-downs west of Broadway as well (not sure if they’ve happened yet).

        This will always be the ideal layout of convenience:

        This is misdirected civic ego:

        (For what it’s worth, ego transit-architecture is not limited to cities that are new to rapid transit. Even cities where this has worked for a century: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Park_Street_Station_1898.jpg have recently succumbed to the temptation to build this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MBTA_Courthouse_Station.jpg )

      59. P.S. Of course, I’m not suggesting that there would be any way to put the Capitol Hill tunnel immediate beneath the payment as in Budapest.

        The point is that the shorter the street-to-platform-edge journey, the better. No giant surface plazas (L.A. subway, Washington Metro). No giant mezzanine levels (Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel).

        To Sound Transit’s credit, Beacon Hill station is a great example of doing this right. Small platforms, just a few feet from the elevators, which emerge pretty close to the thoroughfare.

        And per Google Maps (satellite view), the staging area for Beacon Hill was smaller than the Broadway/John/10th/Denny block alone!

      60. DP: Ah, you’re the person who wanted a Capitol Hill stop between 15th and 23rd. I agree it would be useful, but the time to push for it was several years ago when the route was designed. I don’t recall anybody suggesting a stop there until this past year.

        As for multiple stops on Broadway as some people earlier have suggested (Pine and Roy), that’s too close stop spacing for me.

      61. D.P.,

        Beacon Hill had a smaller footprint because 1. the TBM and spoils were hauled out the end of the Beacon Hill tunnel, not through the station access shaft; 2. the station platforms were bored and mined out, not cut and cover like Capitol Hill.

        They could’ve put the station under Broadway. They considered that. Through public input during the planning phase they decided not to. It’s too late to change things now.

        The tear downs west of Broadway already happened. That’s where the project office is and where the west entrance will be.

        I’m aware of how other cities build subway stations. I was around when they built the Bangkok Metro and the stations were under the street. They planked the street and continued digging underneath. Those stations do have huge mezzanines but they’re also used as retail space.

      62. Oran,

        Remember that they have construction staging — and presumably dirt hauling — at Husky Statium and next to the Paramount as well.

        My gut tells me that the “demand” for a Broadway Station staging area that “forced” the decimation of multiple blocks has more to do with your reason #2 than reason #1. And the cut-and-cover area only “needs” to be huge because the station itself will be oversized. Which was precisely my point.

        Mike Orr,

        I was indeed the one who thought there should have been a station somewhere between 15th and 23rd. The parts of Capitol Hill that will be significantly outside the walkshed of the Broadway station maintain a density of both residences and destinations that puts the Beacon Hill Station area to shame. And yet no one suggested omitting the station from the Beacon Hill tunnel, which is more or less the result of the final Capitol Hill routing.


        I know that shit does happen. But at Link’s price-tag, shit really shouldn’t happen, and I wish that there were more political will for 100% optimal function and usefulness. Nickels is still gloating about “light rail all the way to the airport(!),” a soundbite he gets whether or not the route along the way enhances people’s lives in the myriad ways it should (from ridership numbers, it is not). See my prior Roosevelt-to-upper-Capitol-Hill example. If my hypothetical traveler is an automobile user in the present, I guarantee you Link (as routed) will not be prying him from his car!

      63. So pointing out a reason (whether you personally agree that it is a good idea or not) is automatically defending an organization? I’ve seen several people point out various reasons that things might be a certain way, and all you do is get all “RAWR stop defending them! Seattle SUX!”

        “I think that law is stupid and I will not follow it – therefore anyone else that supports is is lame and a mindless defender of the moronic status quo! Go, Rebel Me!”

        Did I get that right? If not, I guess I must be another mindless defender of Metro, or King County, or the state RCWs, or something.


        I think you have some valid points where Metro and others can stand some (or a lot!) of improvement, but really, a bit heavy on the drama today, are we?

        (Besides, everyone knows that Ballard sucks to get into and out of in general, and has some of the worse connections of any area of the same size in this town. Move out of Ballard if you hate is so much, maybe…)

    3. Here in Portland we have a bus route 33 that TriMet calls “frequent service”, but operates half hourly after 6 pm, and hourly soon after that.

      Late night routes such as Seattle has between midnight and 5 am simply don’t exist here, for the most part.

      By sometime next year, some 1/3 of TriMet’s budget is expected to be for medical insurance payments for employees, which will likely force even more vast cutbacks in service beyond what has already been cut during the past two years.

      Many of the most frequent bus routes should have been converted to trolley bus years ago, but instead we are told to wait another 40 or 50 years until those routes can be converted to some form of rail transit. In the meantime, expect cutbacks any time diesel fuel gets above $3 a gallon.

      TriMet’s 3 zone fare is $2.30, which means you have to hunt for that extra nickel rather than use a quarter to pay Metro’s $2.25 two zone fare. Metro’s 1 zone fare goes all the way to the edge of Seattle city limits, and if TriMet were running things there you would be paying $2.30 for anything past the ship canal, most likely (TriMet’s first fare zone boundary is approximately 34th on the east side of the river, and another one at 92nd).

      We don’t have a regional pass like ORCA or PugetPass. TriMet can get you halfway across the river, but then you get nailed for the full cash fare once you switch to Clark County transit in Washington, even if you are only going an additional 1/4 mile into downtown Vancouver.

      Certainly, there are things about King County Metro that I’m not fond of, but outisde of a very few select cities in the USA, transit really isn’t that great here. It is really easy to find a lot of troubles on any transit system in the USA. The basic problem here is that in almost all transit agencies, route planning, operations, and outside consulting are all done by people who never actually use transit, or even know what it is like to drive a bus in traffic. In Europe (and some of the big east coast systems), the people who plan and operate the transit systems actually use them, and therefore have at least first hand observation experience when it comes to what does and doesn’t actually work.

      My own opinion is that any transit agency that really wants to improve its service should have written into the contracts of any mid-level or above management that they must get by with at least two weeks per year without an automobile or agency issued vehicle.

      1. “Late night routes such as Seattle has between midnight and 5 am simply don’t exist here, for the most part.”

        Actually, it looks better if you compare by corridor rather than route. The only “routes” with 24-hour service are the 7, the 70/71/72/73/83 combo to NE 65th St, and the 124/174. If you include routes with one trip between 1:45am and 2:15am, you can add the 36, 44, 49, and 120. If you count one trip after 1am, you can add the 11 and 43.

        But most of the night owl buses make a special loop rather than shadowing a particular route. But if you frame the question as, “Which streets have 24-hour service?”, you can include 15th NW and Aurora north to 85th, Madison & Cherry, something in West Seattle, etc.

        Or if you frame the question as, “Which neighborhoods have no service between 1 and 5am (7am Sundays)?”, the answer may be “Magnolia and north of 85th.”

        If you ask, “Which parts of the suburbs have buses after 1am?”, the answer is Bellevue Way, Renton-Southcenter, Pacific Highway, and Burien.

    4. D.P., I often have a big mouth and an arrogant attitude… but you’re really pushing the limits here. You act like you know better than everyone and you toss around some incorrect facts and assumptions based purely on your own personal viewpoint.

      As was pointed out by others, many of the complaints you raised are well-known. Some are even in the process of being corrected; but it was also pointed out that these changes will cost a considerable amount of money that is simply not available right now.

      It also bears repeating for you — and others — that Seattle ranks amongst the Top 10 cities for transit use per capita; and that was before Link opened its initial line.

      We actually have very high ridership here, that meets the needs of most of the folks using it. And you just can’t compare us to San Francisco or New York or Boston. We don’t have anywhere close to the density they have or the population. And the extent of the ease of use and commuting patterns are largely affected by having rail systems that have been developed over decades and decades.

      We’re really just getting started here in Seattle. We’re making good strides, but we have a long, long ways to go. How about thinking of some more ways to work for the change you want to see instead of just bitching about it and calling people stupid or moronic?

      1. Remember this gem from a while back?


        Chicago, the original laterally-built medium-density city (trust me, most Chicagoans are quite far from a rail line) massacres us in transit usage.

        D.C., with its endless suburbs, does so even more.

        Atlanta, only slightly larger than Seattle and the epitome of sprawling low-density, has similar numbers to ours (minus the ability to bike-commute).

        But that only measures rush hour!

        Any statistic that has ever been cited to suggest “high” transit usage in Seattle refers to once-a-day, work-and-back commuting, and retains the presumption that people will (or even should) adhere to their cars for all other functions. In fact, uni-directional transit at rush hour is some in some places reasonably good. Perhaps in that way, it “meets the needs of most of the folks using it” — in the limited manner that they current choose to/are willing to use it.

        But look outside of rush hour, and the percentage usage is abysmal. The reticence to use is enormous. That’s what all of the defensiveness fails to recognize.

        I’m sorry, my friends-with-whom-I-have-become-more-cantankerous-than-I-intended, there is really no good way to spin Metro usage as anything other than fringe.

      2. Annual transit trips per capita, from APTA 2008 statistics.

        NY 233.7
        SFO 137.0
        DC 122.5
        BOS 93.7
        CH 78.2
        SEA 72.1
        PDX 70.5
        PHI 70.2
        LA 59.2
        ATL 46.5
        MSP 39.7

        APTA ranks us 8th in the nation for total annual transit trips, even though we’re 14th by population and the other cities in the top 8 all have extensive rail systems.

      3. I’m a bit wary of those numbers.

        I’ve gotten the impression that Metro logs each bus entry as if it were a separate trip. Need three buses to get somewhere? Congratulations, you just made three trips!

        Most of the other agencies listed definitely do not do that.

        Secondly, the list leaves me wanting to know where they draw the statistical boundaries.

      4. I mean, that list suggests that we have more than 3/4 as many annual trips per capita as Boston. Every been on the T late at night (never mind at rush hour)? The comparison is laughable!

      5. Doesn’t surprise me that you hold your own personal opinion above statistics from APTA and the USDOT!

        You can find the statistics yourself here;



        Transit statistics are always collected as unlinked trips, everywhere in the country, its the only way to do it and has been the norm for decades.

        I don’t know what overcrowded trains in Boston has to do with anything, if anything it suggests that they’re doing a crap job and need to run more trains to alleviate crowding. It’s not as if the MBTA is a smashing success lately, with the Silver Lie, chronically late commuter trains, stalled expansion projects and massive debt.

        And no, I’ve never ridden a late-night train on the T. The one time I tried to use it after going out it was closed by 1:00 am! And there’s no owl bus service so I had to take a taxi.

      6. Not that 70 or 90 or even 100 annual per-capita transit trips is anything to crow about anyways. Zurich, Switzerland is over 600!

  9. i was in the tunnel on saturday right after the sounders game, and saw a few buses going Northgate and S Kirkland P&R, i thought special sounder bus service was cut and i was surprised to see them in the tunnel

    1. I’m confused… the Sounder is the commuter train, which doesn’t go in the tunnel. ST Express is the bus service, some lines of which do enter the tunnel.

      1. This is referring to Sounders FC, the local soccer team.

        For Dennis, the special shuttles have been cancelled, but there are extra buses used on game days that will get folks out of downtown quicker, to Northgate, S. Kirkland P&R and Eastgate P&R. I don’t know about the others, but the service on the Eastgate route operates as ST 554 at least as far as Issaquah TC.

      2. Oh. You’d think I’d have made the connection between the two sentences. Do they add more service to teh 15 and 18 on game days? My bus was packed both to and from the game.

      3. Thanks, but it’s very vague. There’s no mention of which lines get the extra service. But I can only assume the 15 and 18 are included, since they do pass by the stadium.

        Either way, they get so ensnarled in traffic that I hop off around Jackson and walk to the stadium.

      4. No extra serivce on any routes except 41,255,554. I drive 15/18’s and I wish, because I get slamed.

      5. Do you happen to be my morning driver? I usually get on the southbound 18 at 61st St NW around 10:30AM.

    2. It must’ve just been the 41 and the 255, regular Metro buses that are always in the tunnel. One of the big reasons that they cut the special Sounders buses was that there are other easy transit options to get along those routes.

    3. They cut the special service, but they add extras on the 41,255 and 554 to address overloads. The extra for the 41 will say “Northgate” so that is will only go to Northgate, and not the full route to Lake City, just as the 255 extra will say “S Kirkland P&R” and will do the 255 route just to S Kirk P&R. Not sure what the 554 extras say, but I do know there are extra buses for 554 at 5/Jackson.

      1. Because technically it’s not a 41. It’s an overload tripper.

        I wonder what the 554’s say as well. Do they run the whole 554 route? Or just part? There’s 03A8 “Issaqua P&R” (no ‘h’) and 0790 “Eastgate P&R”

      2. Two weeks ago, the 554 I boarded had a destination sign of Issaquah TC, but the supervisor told the operator to change it to Issaquah Highlands before we left, and some people who were waiting for the regular 554 got on.

        On last Saturday, it said Issaquah TC (possibly misspelled). It served the regular stops from 5th S and King to Eastgate where I got off.

      3. Does the 41 have any intermediate stops before Northgate?

        If you saw a “41 Northgate” — or a “73 NE 65th Street” — you’d expect it to make the intermediate stops.

  10. Seattle’s most rabidly pro-car state senator is retiring. Ken Jacobsen is calling it a career, citing health reasons.

    I would like to thank David Frockt for stepping up to the plate to help Ken reach this decision.

    1. kind of apples and oranges – this is talking about a tax to deal with cleaning up oil spills. Not the same thing as the gas tax.

  11. Hey – guess what?

    “Rts 21, 22, 35 & 56 to West Seattle may be delayed due to a current Spokane Street Bridge opening. Thank you for your patience.”

    Metro is busy turning it’s alert service into a SPAM machine.

    1. Seriously, Jeff… I unsubscribed because I can’t imagine hvaing this happen several times a day for the next couple of years.

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