54 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: SF Bus Stop Consolidation”

  1. Interesting conversation took place at a dinner party last night with a world class oil exploration exec. Good and Bad news.

    Good News: Peak Oil has probably been set back some 10 to 20 years by new drilling methods. Old oil fields yielded about 30% of its oil. Horizontal drilling can now capture up to 70%. They are evaluating most old fields for ‘re-drilling’ (going down the same hole, then branching out), extending the proven reserves.

    Bad News: Oil will remain plentiful, extending the amount of carbon dumped in the atmosphere, and exacerbating global warming effects.

    1. And you can customize your search from the “King County Snapshots” home page. I was looking for information on a Green River ferry, mentioned by Paul Dorpat in his May 30 Pacific Northwest Magazine ‘Now and Then’ feature. No luck, but I ultimately found terrific ferry photos that included one of a dragon motif DUKW.

  2. Preliminary ridership forecasts have been published for the SE King County Commuter Rail Study.


    The year 2030 preliminary forecast for DMU commuter rail AM/PM peak service is approximately 1,200 daily riders.

    The year 2030 preliminary forecast for the bus option AM/PM peak service is approximately 3,800 daily riders for the enhanced Metro routes 149/168 and the conceptual express route from Maple Valley/Covington to the Auburn Sounder Station.

  3. Grumpy Seattle Times columnist (and future editorial board member?) Danny Westneat lashes out at local public transportation options while lamenting the impending closure of the South Park Bridge.

    Because back in November 2007, I wrote a column questioning why King County was paying tens of millions for an indulgence, a Mosquito Fleet of foot ferries. While at the same time it had no plan to replace a basic necessity, the South Park Bridge that is a backbone of local industry and commerce.


    He means the institutional sort of bias, in which neighborhoods with power people like Paul Allen get pointless new street cars while South Park can’t hold on to a useful bridge.

    His points about the decades of neglect of the bridge get lost amidst his sarcasm, and Westneat comes across as somebody who never takes public transportation, let alone pays any attention to transportation issues. A more useful column, given his prominent bully pulpit, might have focused on a succinct analysis of what happened, with a practical proposal for getting the bridge replaced.

    1. I don’t see why they don’t just close the South Park Bridge to regular vehicular traffic, but at least keep it open to pedestrians and bicycles.

      They could even go a step further to allow buses to cross the bridge… but that’s probably harder to regulate.

      1. Can’t do it. What is forcing the bridge closure is the fear that the bridge will get stuck closed. Yes, there is much else wrong with the bridge, but the operation of the drawspan is the final straw so to speak.

      2. What Chris said … plus the decaying of the columns holding it up. The bridge isn’t really collapsing under the weight of automobiles. It is collapsing under its own weight.

  4. At 6;40am this morning I received this email from Sound Transit:

    “Due to a mechanical issue with a disabled train outside of the Beacon Hill station, please anticipate delays with service until further notice.”

    It is now about 11:47am, and no further emails.

    Does anyone have any details or updates on this? This is the first time I have heard of a “disabled” Link train, other than the derailment last year.

  5. Yesterday, I witnessed a good, civil, pleasant interaction between fare inspectors and two visitors (definitely not locals) on a southward Link train from Beacon Hill at about 1315. The inspectors boarded, announced their presence, and there were 2 folks in my car w/o proper “documentation” (as they say in AZ). One had enough cash, which the inspector would not take of course, the other had a KCMetro transfer. Both were asked to leave the train at Mt Baker, and were offered accompaniment to the TVMs and instructions on getting tickets. Neither was issued a citation, at least not on the train. Nicely, courteously done.
    I’d be interested in knowing who the very UNofficial person was I saw walking through my link train with a “clicker” counter and a notebook recording boardings and alightings – white male, balding w/ baseball cap, glasses for long distance vision, blue jeans and also carrying a copy of the SeattleTimes. This was about 1410 yesterday, northward from SEA to MtBaker.

  6. Everyone I talk to affiliated with the waterfront or the Seattle Streetcar I asked about the revival of the Waterfront Streetcar had the same answer–

    “There are no current plans to revive the WFSC, First Avenue has been identified as a possible streecar route, and the central waterfront will be an open space.”

    Is it worth it any more?

    1. Serial Catowner over at ‘Save the Waterfront Streetcar’ seems to think so, although SC does seem to be getting a bit discouraged lately. It’s going to take a coalition of interested “stakeholders” – which would include, among other, citizens, waterfront and Pioneer Square business owners, and a seemingly out-of-touch Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau (“metronatural™”) – who are willing to dig in and do what’s necessary, including putting lots of pressure on the city council.

      George Benson, though, was passionate about the waterfront streetcar, and none of the current members seem to care, so I think a major part of the process means proving to the council that reviving the streetcar is in council member’s and the city’s best interest. Also, the Port of Seattle appears to have quietly withdrawn its earlier offer of support that included land for a northward extension and a new car barn, so getting the PoS commissioners back on board – along with such businesses as Amgen (who would benefit from the proposed extension to the north) – would be helpful.

      1. We need to continually remind people who are involved in the First Hill Streetcar project at ST and the city to include space in the new streetcar barn for the old Waterfront streetcars. The FH line will intersect and even run for a short distance on the old WF line, so connecting these two lines would be easy. I say find real estate in Little Saigon (seems like there’s plenty right now and that area could use some revitalization) and build a nice building to house both the new and old streetcars. This would mean the WF line would be up and running by 2013 again and would run for a while until the Viaduct is demolished.

    2. The waterfront streetcar is pretty much dead. The antique cars were expensive to operate and maintain, and they were truly the only attraction to that line.
      It’s been cheaper for Metro to run 40′ diesels, on a longer route, at a higher frequency, without collecting fares.

      There’s virtually no chance anyone’s going to want to lay new rails for the streetcar during the waterfront project, because the original alignment hasn’t been useful for a long time. If Metro keeps the 99 as a low-frequency bus route, and maybe extends it north to hit lower Queen Anne, it can continue to be useful as a tourist route.

      A high frequency streetcar on 1st makes more sense; it gives good access to the waterfront via various hillclimbs, and because it would be in easy reach of people between Alaskan and 3rd, would probably get the ridership to justify laying down rails.

      Of course, a streetcar on 1st would require one hell of a TSP system to be reliable at all. I’m guessing that’s the main hurdle to getting a 1st Ave streetcar built EVER.

    3. @ SR Das
      “Is it worth it any more?”

      No – better to expend our energies on getting behind projects likely to be built; however each of us feels about the Waterfront/Benson line, it seems doomed.

    1. Why wait for robots when we could legalize regular jitneys and have them now? I used them a lot while living in Thailand. They’re not the safest or fastest mode but they get me to a major transit line.

    2. as long as there are non-automated cars on the road, fully automated vehicles will never succeed.

  7. Open thread, just wanted to rely my thoughts on transit this weekend from Bellevue-Seattle Center.

    I have a student Puget Pass which gets me on Metro for free and Sound Transit for a dollar each way. I take the 230/253 to the Bellevue Transit Center and the 550 to Westlake. It’s usually a 10 minute wait, but my driver on Saturday was fast and I had a 15 second layover at BTC :) then it was 28 minutes to Westlake and a quick monorail ride away. I felt like such a tourist on the monorail, but the faster and predictable service is worth $2, especially when I don’t know the routes and on the weekend. Saturday afternoon coming home was great too. Took a monorail and got the 550 just as I was coming down the stairs. Then a short wait on the 230 and I was off.

    Today was a different story. Coming back I was going to catch the 8:39 bus from Westlake, but was a few minutes late because Westlake Center is closed after 8 and they make you go down the stairs, get off at 5th Ave, and then into the tunnel. A person waiting there said the 550 was late. The 8:39 never came, even though it was supposed to show up per One Bus Away.

    Getting onto the 253 at BTC, there was no driver in the seat when I flashed my Puget Pass. He was just outside the bus smoking. He also drove over the bike lanes on NE 8th.

    I wish there was a way for Sound Transit to say the bus wasn’t going to come, I would have gone up to Starbucks and gotten a coffee. By the time One Bus Away had adjusted to show it not coming, it was already too late for a coffee run.

    I also noticed Link being slowed down because of buses in the tunnel. I think the tunnel should be a 24/7 pay as you leave zone, it would help Link. Even though the real slowdowns are for wheelchairs which won’t be fixed until the buses are out of the tunnel.

    While I’m ranting, does anyone know when the 1900’s come back? I hate riding the 249 to/from school. It always smells smoky and it’s too crowded. The extra seat would be nice to have.

    1. As far as the “never show” bus goes, it might have just gotten there 3-5 minutes early (see below). It blows my mind how often this happens.

      Re the tunnel, here’s what I’d like to see:

      – ORCA readers on all doors. Tap in, tap out.
      – Eliminate RFA. 24/7 enter from the front, exit from the rear.
      – If you forget to tap out, you’re charged the maximum possible fare.
      – In certain areas, if you don’t have enough money on your card, your balance goes negative, but you’re still allowed on. (This would include the current RFA, the U-District, and other high-traffic areas where usage is high enough that having to argue with non-paying customers would be really annoying.)

      1. Maybe it was there early, but I saw OBA say there would be a 550 “now” and 18 minutes later at 8:52. 5 minutes later there was only the bus supposed to show up at 9:09.

        And a problem I see with your tunnel idea is that some people don’t have ORCA cards. I don’t even have one because I get a Puget Pass and no amount of transfer time would make a youth ORCA card worthwhile.

  8. I was trying to catch the 16 today at 7:57 PM at 38th and Whitman (right off the bridge). At 7:53, I had just gotten up the stairs and was walking towards the stop, when I saw a bus whiz past me. By 7:54, the bus had already left.

    I know that buses are allowed to leave timepoints up to a minute early, but this was 3 minutes, and the next bus wasn’t for another half an hour.

    To make matters worse, the bus wasn’t reporting any data that One Bus Away could pick up. I left Fremont at 7:47 to make sure I’d get there on time; if I knew the bus was so early, I would have just skipped the walk and taken a different bus.

    This isn’t the first time that this has happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. At non-peak hours, I now regularly get to the bus stop 3 minutes before OBA says that the bus is coming, since I just don’t trust that it won’t show up super early.

    Does anyone else get burned by this? Is there anything we can do to get buses to stop leaving timepoints early? I think even a minute is too much, but 3 minutes — for a bus that only runs every half hour! — is ridiculous. Whoever instituted that policy clearly doesn’t ride the bus much…

    1. Do the computers in the bus communicate to the operator when they are ahead of schedule? Can they issue an instruction to wait at the next safe place to allow the bus to operate on schedule? It seems like some operators on weekends or nights, if they know the schedule has too much padding, either leave the starting point late, or operate early so they have more break time. It would be more predictable for riders if they stick to the schedule.

      1. Why do operators need a computer to communicate that they’re ahead or behind schedule? Is there not a time display? And do operators not have watches that they can synchronize to Metro’s announced times?

      2. I was thinking that the computer had a GPS and clock and could know the schedule, so it could track whether the bus is on-time or not.

        It’s not just a clock that the operator needs, they also need to know the schedule at each timepoint. With a GPS system there can be more timepoints and it can keep track of whether the bus is ahead, on-time or late and inform the operator.

      3. Don’t those rectangular sheets of paper that drivers usually have clipped to the backside of the farebox have arrival and/or departure times for each timepoint? Something as convoluted as GPS could be useful for Metro tracking drivers to ensure they’re not leaving timepoints early or late, but for simply letting the driver himself know if he’s early or late nothing more than a piece of paper and a watch is needed.

      4. That’s all we use – paper and a wrist watch. We’re required to have a watch in our posession as part of the uniform, as we’re continually told that the time on the DDU/ORCA is unreliable.

      5. I think the DDU syncs twice a day. And because it’s located on a battery operated vehicle and is subject to power interruptions, it can and will drift and thus should not be considered an authoritative time source.

        Fun fact: For Swift, CT has small battery operated “atomic” clocks where the farebox would be.

      6. “we’re continually told that the time on the DDU/ORCA is unreliable.”

        Ha. I don’t think I ever told the story here about my “time travel” with ORCA a couple of months ago. :)

        I rode Link at about 4:30 pm. Tapped in, tapped out. Normal ride.

        At 9:00 or 10:00 pm, I caught a bus on Third Avenue in the Regrade. Got on the bus, tapped on, and the ORCA reader said that I had a transfer!! WTF? I looked more closely and saw that the time on the reader said AM, not PM! The reader must have thought I was tapping in before my previous ride, but that doesn’t really make much sense.

        Then I got to the tunnel and tapped in for Link. It charged me full fare, not a transfer, so I knew that I hadn’t misread the ORCA reader on the bus.

      7. So if the system syncs, how could the 12-hour-off situation I ran into have occurred? It doesn’t make sense unless someone somewhere is changing the time manually, I would think.

      8. Do call ORCA customer service about any overcharge. We need to make sure they have an accurate count of problems.

      9. Andreas,

        We don’t use a computer to determine if we are on schedule – we use “run cards” (those “little pieces of paper” and our watch. Metro’s announced times are not always the same as what our watches say – we’re supposed to synchronize our watches with the clocks in the base bullpens.

    2. Similar thing happened to my son trying to catch the 255 from S. Kirkland P&R to DT a couple of weeks ago. He was walking toward the bus digging for his Orca card and the bus pulled out a good 3 min. ahead of schedule. He barely made his connection to Greyhound catching the next bus.

      1. Metro advises riders to be at their stop minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

  9. Seattle needs bus stop consolidation as well!

    Its absurd how many stop there are on certain routes.

  10. From King County Metro Re: Routes 3 & 4 stop consolidation – I’m struggling to figure out how this consolidation will “cut fuel consumption and emissions, and reduce Metro’s operating and maintenance costs” when routes 3 & 4 are trolley bus routes.


    Metro is planning to reduce the number of closely spaced bus stops on the corridor used by routes 3 and 4. This change will help buses move faster and operate on a more reliable schedule, Currently, the corridor has 116 stops north of Denny Way and east of Fifth Avenue, with an average stop spacing of about 700 feet. Metro will be removing 27 of these stops, increasing the average spacing between stops to about 950 feet.

    As a result of this change, approximately eight percent of riders will have to catch their bus at a different stop. When the project is completed, all riders should have a faster, more reliable trip.

    The stops scheduled for closure on June 26, 2010 are listed below. To view an interactive map of the stops and find out how to submit comments to Metro, visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/metro/feedback .

    Second Ave N at Blaine St, northbound and southbound
    Blaine St at Warren Ave N, eastbound
    Queen Anne Ave N at W Howe St, northbound and southbound
    Boston St at Warren Ave N, westbound
    A new stop will be opened on Boston St at Second Ave N, westbound
    Boston St at Third Ave N, westbound
    Smith St, northbound and southboun
    Fifth Ave N at Crockett St, northbound and southbound
    Taylor Ave N at Howe St, northbound
    Taylor Ave N at Galer St and at Garfield St, northbound and southboun
    Taylor Ave N at Highland St, northbound
    A new stop will be opened on Taylor Ave N at Prospect St, northbound
    Taylor Ave N at Ward St, northbound
    Jefferson St at Terry Ave, eastbound
    Jefferson St at 14th Ave, westbound
    Jefferson St at 16th Ave, eastbound
    23rd Ave S at S King St, northbound and southbound
    26th Ave S at S Charles St, northbound
    S Judkins St at 26th Ave S, eastbound
    E Cherry St at 21st Ave, eastbound
    E Cherry St at 26th Ave, westbound
    E Cherry St at 29th Ave / 30th Ave, eastbound and westbound
    E Cherry St at 33rd Ave / 34th Ave, eastbound and southbound

    1. While this route is a trolley route, on weekends I believe it runs on the non-trolley busses so that would save a bit of fuel/money, even if it’s just 2/7 days a week

  11. Just found this video on youtube about pedestrian safety at the Beacon Hill Station. Apparently they are getting a lot of foot traffic crossing at an unsignalized intersection. This isn’t my video but I am curious who is in charge of the crosswalks around stations. Maybe a good idea to contact this person on who they should contact if not Sound Transit.

Comments are closed.