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This is an open thread.

131 Replies to “News Roundup: Vote by Feb. 8th”

  1. I just called Metro information- 206-553-3000, and asked about replacement for a high-school ORCA card, specifically whether King County Metro HQ at Second and Jackson, or maybe Westlake Station counted as “agencies” for card replacement.

    Answer- affirmative. Girl would have to show up in person, just to verify her age. It’s important I know these things too, since same applies to my senior card if I lose it, which was a problem even before I got old.

    Considering all the pictures of buses on a certain web-page, can’t believe the chief editor needs directions to either of the above locations. Guess this is an inevitable result of permanently separating the Tunnel from trolleybus driving. To many Atlantic drivers, Westlake Station is just an urban legend now…

    Mark Dublin

    1. But why would the minor need to show up to “verify age”? Presumably this happened when she first got the card, and since you’re deactivating and replacing that card there’s no need to worry that its some sort of scam. Which goes back to the question of why they can’t mail a replacement.

      It just seems like an absurd bureaucratic hassle from an agency that in other circumstances doesn’t seem to care about giving free rides to any cheapskate leaving the RFA who’s willing to stare down a driver when asked to pay.

      1. Maybe the agency- in this case, KC Metro- would like to have somebody come see them who’s nicer to look at than people who lose their senior card. Maybe it’s to encourage peole in both age groups to get out and familiarize themselves with the transit system in person, instead of living their whole lives online.

        If KC Metro didn’t care about fare evasion, it wouldn’t pay a driver full wages for filling out in incident report on a fare problem on return to base. And if Sound Transit was cool with stealing rides, they wouldn’t have fare inspectors issue citations.

        No question there are stupidities and inflexibilities that need to be gotten out of the ORCA system, for the transit agencies’ own sake. The region should have been flooded with machines and outlets before interagency transfers went away.

        All-week day passes (or a daily maximum fare) should have started with ORCA’s first card- Vancouver BC and Portland have had them for decades.

        And everybody in a position to demand better online service might want to think about how constant direction to the Internet looks to the very large percentage of long-time transit passengers who don’t have computers at all.
        And therefore in too many official minds, obviously have no complaints.

        For blog readers, by definition: got a beef with ORCA? King County Council and Sound Transit Board are both online.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Actually Metro *doesn’t* care about fare evasion. Drivers don’t fill out paperwork every time someone evades a fare (Route 7 Operators would spend hours each day filling in paperwork if this were the case). Instead, they tell drivers to “use the ‘3’ key”. But then – nobody looks at the data from the fareboxes anymore. Other than logging in – drivers pretty much ignore the fare box buttons.

    2. If it’s a card issued through the public school in Seattle, I’m almost 100% certain that the student needs to go through his or her school administrators to get a new card. This is because the cards are under a special deal between the school district and Metro. However, for normal youth ORCA cards not through the school, Westlake and King Street Center are the only places to get one in King County, an issue which needs to be dealt with as it can be very hard for youth to get to Downtown Seattle during business hours to get a bus pass.

      1. One idea is to allow online registration and ordering if a youth has a state identification card. The process would work similarly to online voter registration. They enter their ID card number and the system verifies against the state database to prove the youth’s identity.

    3. Guess this is an inevitable result of permanently separating the Tunnel from trolleybus driving. To many Atlantic drivers, Westlake Station is just an urban legend now…

      Starting next week, there are a bunch of tunnel trippers down at Atlantic. I’ll be driving a 73 out of ATL and there has been tunnel training as well as training coaches on the 71, 72, and 73.

  2. Sadly, the South Lake Union Urban Design Framework event which I’ll be at is also Feb. 8th.

    If anyone wants to have a competing unofficial STB meetup in SLU beforehand then reply here or shoot me an email at yahoo, prefix joshuadfranklin. We could meet an all-ages location that also serves beer and wine.

  3. Regarding the Park and Rides by Link stations — I think that Publicola’s story might be slightly misleading, because the change in the land use code that would allow those stations has not occurred yet. See this DPD notice regarding a hearing on February 23 to discuss the proposal. This is the hearing that El Centro is asking people to show up at to support their proposal.

    The interesting thing about this is that many Beacon Hill neighbors came out to say that they did not want parking lots in the station area, and so, after considering their comments, the city’s proposal specifically states that no lots would be allowed in the “station area” on North Beacon Hill. But El Centro, which is directly adjacent to Beacon Hill Station, is not defined as being in the “station area”. It is probable that many Beaconians did not realize that El Centro is technically not in the “station area” and that this proposal would allow a parking lot to go in next to the station. So I expect that some people are feeling blindsided by El Centro’s plans. Others are supportive. But it will be an interesting time on Beacon Hill while this is being discussed.

    1. How is El Centro’s vacant lot not in the “station area”? It is litterally across the street.

      1. The “station area” as defined in city policy is not the same as what most people would consider the station area. See the map here, for example. I don’t recall why El Centro would have been left out back when the area was defined.

        The other interesting issue about this is that El Centro is planning an 80 space lot. The new land use code, if approved, will only allow a 40 space one.

    2. Generally speaking I’m in favor, just because a parking isn’t much worse than the open lot thats there now. The fact that the “station area” includes the lots south of the station (blocking parking) also helps – I’m fairly confident that El Centro will redevelop as soon as possible, but have no such faith for those lots if they get even a tiny revenue stream.

      I do have two concerns:

      1. Fencing. I hope the fenceline around El Centro is at the north end of the parking lot. It should be open between the lot and the Festival Street to facilitate any events like Beacon Rocks, food trucks or (hopefully) farmer’s markets.

      2. Mud/Rocks. If the lots stays gravel, which seems likely, I’d want El Centro to have some sort of plan for occasional cleanup. The gravel “alley” behind the station tracks lots of rocks out onto the Festival Street even with the low traffic from transit cop parking. I can only imagine what a park and ride lot will generate.

      1. Tim, please take this as a legitimate disagreement rather than an attack…

        Isn’t RapidRide still running only 5 minutes faster than the 174 it replaced (despite Dow’s unverified 1/3 claims)? If so, then “81 percent overall satisfaction [with trip speed]” is not a badge of honor — it’s actually sort of pathetic. It suggests how abysmally low expectations have fallen over the years, such that the most scant improvements score rave reviews. It also suggests, to me, that not a lot of the increased ridership comes from modal switch (as former drivers know a slow bus when they see one).

        “88-90 percent satisfaction with Metro’s new coaches and on-board features” also sets off some red flags. Almost nothing has changed about the internal layout, so what are they commending?

      2. And on that last note…

        Whatever happened to the “trial” seat removals Metro was supposed to be doing?

        Wait, don’t tell me… Did they run the trial for 5 days and then take a straw poll to decide against the change?

        The majority will always choose the familiar over the unfamiliar, no matter how much evidence stacks up that the familiar is counterproductive. Sometimes, the majority needs to be overruled.

        That they couldn’t even streamline the bus floorplan for the “brand new, totally fresh, super-special” RapidRide rollout suggests how screwed we are for making this change elsewhere.

      3. “Whatever happened to the “trial” seat removals Metro was supposed to be doing?”

        I think they decided to replace them with even wider seats with little hooks that snag your bag and clothing as you try to shimmy your way up to the front door.

      4. D.p., I take the opposite conclusions from this data. This shows us that we can increase bus ridership by a lot with just some relatively small improvements that don’t cost much money. Of course if it were higher quality it would get more riders, but in this time of fiscal constraint, it’s important to find ways to increase ridership cheaply, and we should be looking at applying the lessons learned from RapidRide to all bus routes.

      5. Isn’t RapidRide still running only 5 minutes faster than the 174 it replaced (despite Dow’s unverified 1/3 claims)?

        During peak, yes. Mid-day and early evening it was 30 minutes, waning to an hour(ish) after midnight. Now, off-peak it’s 15 minutes until 22:00, going to 25-30 minutes until 1:50 and hourly until the start of the next service day at 4am. That’s all in the northbound direction; if you’d like to crunch numbers for southbound, download my spreadsheet. Please do not use this to compare end-to-end travel times–all of the RapidRide numbers came from run cards which Metro admitted were written with extra padding because they really didn’t know how fast/slow RR would be. The reason they didn’t know is because deleting stops, 3 doors and having partial off-board fare payment would speed things up, yet the newness and unfamiliarity of these things would slow it down. Rather, compare the times listed at the terminals, and know that the schedules may have changed for RapidRide. The spreadsheet was compiled before the official, erm, schedules were published.

        If so, then “81 percent overall satisfaction [with trip speed]” is not a badge of honor — it’s actually sort of pathetic. It suggests how abysmally low expectations have fallen over the years, such that the most scant improvements score rave reviews.

        Again, this is all speculation. You don’t know how the question was worded. For all we know, the question could have been asking riders if they are satisfied with speed as compared to the 174. Riders that used to use the stops that have now been deleted may not be satisfied with the speed as it takes them longer to walk to a stop, and some riders may have compared this to the old, old 174 that stretched from FWTC to downtown. Those riders may refuse to take Link and/or have starting/ending points north of TIBS so the transfer penalty makes them think and/or causes their trip to be longer due to having to use both RR-A and 124 instead of just the 174. I didn’t take the survey so I don’t know how the question(s) were worded.

        “88-90 percent satisfaction with Metro’s new coaches and on-board features” also sets off some red flags. Almost nothing has changed about the internal layout, so what are they commending?

        WiFi, automated stop announcements, next stop information board, more little black domes which we assume to be cameras, guys in white shirts periodically boarding (no they’re not flight attendants)…

      6. The quick takeaway from this positive feedback on the new features suggests to Metro that they should be a little more aggressive on improvements for the next lines.

        d.p. & Tim, have you read the survey results? You’ll find all the details there. They break down the larger questions into individual components. Or get the complete report.

        Tim, they did a survey on the 174 in December 2009 before it got spilt. 78% of the respondents previously rode route 174 and 81% of those found RR to be better. Top reasons are “faster, quicker; comes more frequently; reliable, on time”. The question was simply rate 1-5 your satisfaction on trip time for the A Line.

      7. “This shows us that we can increase bus ridership by a lot with just some relatively small improvements that don’t cost much money.”

        I don’t know, Alex. You can’t put the cart before the horse.

        By which I mean that it’s really important to distinguish between real improvements that can be achieved cheaply (stop consolidations, route consolidations, disincentivizing of cash payment) from hoodwinking attempts to improve ridership without actually improving the service enough to handle those riders.

        2007-2008 — when the first spike in gas prices led to an influx of new riders, and before the rise in unemployment softened demand — stands as the worst period of Metro service in recent memory. Why? Because Metro’s routes and its operational manner were ill-equipped to handle the major demand spike. It seemed that for every new rider, speed and reliability degraded five-fold.

        (I had a joke that if I had a nickel for each light I missed thanks to a single cash-payer, my monthly pass would have been free! In the absence of pervasive ORCA adoption, it’s still true. Under RapidRide policies, no change.)

        I guess I don’t think absolute ridership numbers are the goal. Quality — including both frequency and speed — needs to be paramount. High ridership inevitably follows from quality, and it won’t be to quality’s detriment.

      8. Uh oh, Oran. You probably shouldn’t have posted those links.

        1. My first response is that the survey pool just seems really tiny.

        2. The high refusal rate, though inexplicable, makes it hard to draw generalized conclusion from the <50% who did respond.

        3. That the surveys were all administered on one day, at unspecified times of day, and on-board (to those whose trips had yet to be completed) suggests a lot of problems garnering a representative sample.

        4. I'm inclined to see a certain neutrality to administering questions about frequency/wait time to passengers en route, but questions about trip speed can invoke the subjectivities of mood and memory when your respondents have yet to reach their destinations/make or miss their transfers.

        I'm usually "satisfied" up until the point that the single cash-payer or bike-loader holds the bus up for 5 minutes and I just barely miss my connection too.

      9. d.p., do you ever have anything positive to say about area transit agencies? Maybe I’ve glossed over your more light-spirited comments, but you constantly take shots at them. They are far from perfect, they make mistakes, and are certainly bureaucratic, but behind the scenes, these are real people who work at these agencies. One of them came to the last meetup and was sharp and obviously cared about his job. The tone of your comments is presumptuous and you generally come across as a know-it-all.

        Maybe you should change it up a little…pick one day a week and try to say something nice about Metro, ST, etc.

      10. OranTim, have you read the survey results?

        I haven’t even read the PR yet.

        d.p. I’m usually “satisfied” up until the point that the single cash-payer or bike-loader holds the bus up for 5 minutes and I just barely miss my connection too.

        Thankfully, you didn’t assign any blame here (you’ve been doing real good today sticking to the facts and being less negative; this feels much more like a debate than an argument). Those two situations can only be blamed on the individuals causing those delays and are beyond the control of everyone else. I find it hard to believe that a cash-payer would cause a 5 minute delay since the bus can start moving after the cash-payer(s) have boarded.

        d.p.My first response is that the survey pool just seems really tiny.

        Still not having read it, I’m going to speculate it was administered by a Metro employee physically on the bus. That gets a bit expensive after a while.

        d.p. That the surveys were all administered on one day, at unspecified times of day, and on-board (to those whose trips had yet to be completed) suggests a lot of problems garnering a representative sample.

        We have a few things here:
        A) One day: Definitely not ideal, but again speculating: this isn’t meant to be an answer-to-everything performance measure. Just a quick and relatively cheap way to gauge general reactions of the people using it.
        B) at unspecified times of day: If my above speculation is correct, it is probably within the normal worktime of one or more Metro employees. I don’t know if time of day would significantly alter the results and think that the best survey would be at multiple times on multiple days.
        C) on-board (to those whose trips had yet to be completed): So how else are we going to survey people about the service? If they’re on board, we know they’ve used it and can provide feedback about it. We could give it to them at the stop, but that doesn’t mean they’ve used it. And we could give it to them after they get off, but you’d either have to delay them to their destination by forcing them to stand there and take it, or risk an even lower response rate by asking them to mail it back in. That last option is also more costly and lengthy. Sure, we could put the survey online, but what’s to stop people that have never used it from skewing the results? I think on-board surveys are the best way to get the opinions of people that have actually use it, which is what I believe the intent was.

        questions about trip speed can invoke the subjectivities of mood and memory when your respondents have yet to reach their destinations/make or miss their transfers.

        True, but in addition to the points I mentioned above, we can infer that a sizable portion of the surveyed have used RapidRide-A before since this thing has been in operation for almost 4 months. I don’t know if they asked “Is this your first time riding?”, and if so, whether or not the threw out some answers if a respondent answered yes. While in a scientific study you’d do that, it seems like this was more of a feedback survey than scientific study. Even if it was their first trip, you could still keep their answers for what they like about the amenities. If working, they would have noticed the real-time info (unless they were at a non-station stop or a terminal, the second of which is absurd), the on-board stop announcements, maybe the WiFi, and maybe the guy in the white shirt walking down the aisle taking drink orders.

        Maybe I ought to take a look at that PR now…

      11. Ah, well, we’re both wrong. Surveys were administered by The Gilmore Research Group, and not Metro.
        RapidRide “trips to be surveyed were selected to provide a variety of peak and non-peak riders.” and “Onboard survey dates for RapidRide A Line were January 4, 2011 when 263 surveys were completed (46% of total) and January 5, 2011 when 312 surveys were completed (54%).”

        575 RapidRide users were surveyed compared to 452 174 users, so the sample size is greater. In a perfect world, we would have only surveyed the exact same people.

        Among RapidRide respondents who previously rode Route 174, 81% indicated RapidRide A Line service as better than Route 174 service. Thirteen percent indicated it was about the same, and 6% said it was not as good.

        And we’ll never know for sure, but I wonder if some of those 6% were comparing it to the old, old 174 for reasons I mentioned above.

        The trip time statistic in my opinion is misleading. It’s a sum of two very different questions: number of stops and trip duration. The second facet is comparing the same thing, but the first facet could be judged differently. Dissatisfaction on the number of stops for RapidRide could indicate that a user wants more stops (since some were deleted), but dissatisfaction for 174 might mean that a rider wants fewer stops. However if you look at just the mean for trip time, RapidRide scores much better, at 4.15 verses 3.28.

        Safety jumped up across the board. A good sign. More jumps throughout, I don’t feel a need to comment on each.

        While the transfer penalty went up, satisfaction with transfers also went up.

        The survey is much more scientific than I originally guessed. And satisfaction jumped across the board.

        Interesting reasons for not using ORCA.

        Overall I see these as good signs, as most all categories surveyed showed a notable increase. On both surveys there is some noise due to people artificially inflating their ratings because they think “that’s what the agency wants me to say” or deflating their ratings because they dislike the agency for whatever reason. But since a good chunk liked it, I’m going to call it successful, because we built this for a huge chunk of people, not just one person. I don’t think that made sense.

      12. d.p., would love to see you at meet ups especially the ones with Metro or ST employees attending. Try talking with one of them.

        1. statistically, the sample size is sufficient.
        2. high non-response rate is an issue but you can generalize for the population that completed the survey (demographics)
        3. the surveys were conducted over 2 days (RR) and 3 days (174) in the middle of the week. “Trips to be surveyed were selected to provide a variety of peak and non-peak riders.” On board surveys guarantee that the people completing the survey are actually people who use the service.
        4. the survey didn’t ask the person to rate their current trip but to rate RapidRide in general. On average, over 20 trips were taken by a respondent within the last 30 days prior to the survey.

        Tim,

        the survey was conducted by a research company hired by Metro, not Metro themselves.

      13. “However if you look at just the mean for trip time…”

        Even if we disagree about what the 81% means, I’m glad you wrote this.

        It’s not about parsing each individual’s opinion about stop spacing vs dwell time vs wheel rotation; it’s about the cumulative effect that these factors have on the transit experience for all.

        Forest>trees, always.

        “Those two situations can only be blamed on the individuals causing those delays and are beyond the control of everyone else. I find it hard to believe that a cash-payer would cause a 5 minute delay since the bus can start moving after the cash-payer have boarded.”

        I was doing my best to choose examples where Metro doesn’t bear all of the blame. But you can’t overestimate the effect of Metro’s policies on those (again, cumulative) experiences:

        – Bike racks on the front of RapidRide rather than on board.
        – Failure to incentivize ORCA and penalize cash and paper transfers.
        – One-door emphasis.

        As for the 5-minute delay, that’s a good example of excess operator discretion being unwise. The majority of drivers will safely drive while completely the transaction. But I’ve seen some just sit there, and sit there, and sit there while the passenger digs for change — it should be an infinitely more rare occurrence than it is.

      14. Bike racks on the front of RapidRide rather than on board.

        “2” somethings wanted more seats on RapidRide, and an interior bike rack (patent-pending by CT) takes up 2-4 seats, depending on configuration. 82% of RR riders people were satisfied with being able to get a seat. Since RR actually has less seats, I’m assuming that’s because of higher frequency. What I take away from this is that riders value being able to sit.
        And since CT patented it, I don’t know if New Flyer would have to pay royalties to use it, which would increase the cost.

        Failure to incentivize ORCA and penalize cash and paper transfers

        46% surveyed don’t know what ORCA is or where to get it. While we can never reduce that number to 0, I don’t think incenticizing ORCA and penalizing cash are the only answers. 51% essentially indicated they won’t get one, and you’d have to make all of those methods look really unattractive to sway those people (Not convenient to obtain an ORCA card 32% + Can’t afford to buy one 7% + Pay cash 4% + Don’t want one 2% + Use tickets 2% + Don’t ride often enough 2% + Have a U-Pass 2% = 51%). Some would be pretty easy, like discontinuing the sale of tickets. But then you have to ask whether the gain of ORCA is worth disrupting ticket-users (as one example).

      15. ORCA cards are available at at least three locations along the RapideRide A line. If they would simply do away with transfers and hand out free cards for a week ORCA adoption would be near universal. They’d obviously have to do something about the lack of reload stations, but they’re going to have to do that anyways. From my casual observations ORCA use on ST is somewhere near 90%.

      16. “46% surveyed don’t know what ORCA is or where to get it.”

        Metro never actively advertised the fact at Tukwila Intl Blvd that “Hey! Don’t have an ORCA card? Just go upstairs and buy one from the ticket machines. Skip the front door.” It’s that easy.

        They didn’t have to buy any TVMs of their own. They don’t have to give away cards. The issue isn’t affordability (only 7% said can’t afford), it’s information. All they had to do was put a up a giant attention grabbing sign.

        Epic fail from Metro.

      17. See, Tim, what I’m always trying to impress upon you — and this is crux of why I feel unable to waver in my criticisms of Metro (sorry, Brett!) and may unfortunately seem to disregard the nice drivers and well-meaning administrators (I know most of them do the best they can in their limited-influence roles, Oran!) — what is most vital to understand when discussing the faults and fixes of transit in Seattle, is this:

        Every problem that Metro and its sibling agencies face has already been solved elsewhere!

        Really, it’s true! No challenge is unique to us, and the “best practices” of global public transit are well and truly established! I know that some part of you understands this; I’m sure you’ve read the many links to Jarrett Walker’s work, noticed that certain problems tend to form in regions of certain size, density, and geography, and seen that solutions proven somewhere can be tailored to fit elsewhere.

        Seattle in general, and Metro in particular, have more difficulty acknowledging this than anywhere I’ve ever been. They mistake boring old inertia for “unique cultural quirks.” They form a blue-ribbon committee to re-study the wheel. And more often than not, the anti-wheel Luddites triumph.

        “What I take away from this is that riders value being able to sit.”

        A perfect example! What you should take away from it is that riders here are accustomed to sitting. But they’re also accustomed to transit being slow and laborious, something for which you need to “settle in.”

        …And yet open floorplans, with their wider aisles, increased maneuvering room, and less time-consuming “getting up from settling in,” are proven to make transit move faster. Evidence has to trump familiarity. Riders will understand the value of the trade-off once they’ve actually experienced it.

        “An interior bike rack (patent-pending by CT)…”

        Is not the world’s only interior bike rack on a transit vehicle. There is no monopoly there. Purchase the rights to use whichever design offers the best value, or pay the negligible cost of designing your own. Metro has 5 supposed flagship routes riding on decisions like this.

        “I don’t think incenticizing ORCA and penalizing cash are the only answers.”

        Except that they are. Everywhere else. Literally. No new research required!

        “Not convenient to obtain an ORCA card = 32%.”

        Forget the 4%s and 2%s! Fix this and you’ve got 1/3 of riders paying 10 times faster than before!

        I’m with Zed on this one: just blow them out like candy. It’s a one-time expense with almost incalculable benefits! But Oran’s right as well: if the convenience trumps the cost, sell them in grocery stores and convenience stores and shoe stores and every municipal office of any sort in the region. Disincetivize cash and you’ll have (by your cited data) 85%-93% of riders.

        As for the trickiest 7%: I’m not trying to penalize the poor. But fares have gone up $1.00 in the last four years, so the poor — who have no option but a perpetually slow ride for all that extra money — have already been penalized. I’d argue that we’ve hurt all of the poor just to spare the feelings of the poor and stupid and stubborn. No one exists who can’t scrounge up $5 to save dozens of dollars on fare discounts in the future.

      18. [CT’s] Is not the world’s only interior bike rack on a transit vehicle.I’m not up to speed on interior bike racks and didn’t know others were out there…never really thought about it.

        No one exists who can’t scrounge up $5 to save dozens of dollars on fare discounts in the future.

        Great point. Now let’s drop ORCA fares by $.25 and keep cash where they are. (However I disagree with the use of the phrase “no one” as this is usually the way someone starts off an argument when they have no facts to base their opinions on, like the folks in Bellevue that say “no one is going to walk to the Link station!”).

      19. No one exists who can’t scrounge up $5 to save dozens of dollars on fare discounts in the future.

        But we’ve found a person that can’t afford $4 to cross a bridge!

      20. Tim. You’re an insider (not sure what dept), but one of my on-going internal debates deals with transit efficiency in general, which is the logical side of my brain, against the other side, which deals with societal judgments.
        Adding capacity to a corridor, more riders, improving the overall transit experience, creating jobs, TOD, preparing for certain energy crisis’ in the future all play to the greater good in me.
        The logistician says wait a minute bub! Metro’s mostly about efficiency these days, right. RapidRide-A doubled the number of trips, and by your graphs, didn’t change the schedule much, so that’s double the service hours for 25 to 50 pct more riders. That’s a pretty big drop in efficiency.
        I suppose the answer lies in the hope that speeds will increase to the point where the number of buses assigned to the route can be reduced, making my whole brain happy – same efficiency or better than before, with a lot more people riding transit.
        So how’s the inside jury judging all this?
        I guess the bigger question would be the other RapidRide lines. Can they achieve both better efficiency and more riders?

      21. @d.p.

        You said: “I’ve seen some just sit there, and sit there, and sit there while the passenger digs for change ”

        The reason for this is that moving a bus while a passenger – who is standing near an open stairwell and door without a hand-hold – could fall and injure themselves if you move the bus.

        Your claim that this is inappropriate or that there is a “safe” way to move a bus while a passenger is unsteady on their feet is nothing short of ridiculous.

      22. Quoting d.p.: “Every problem that Metro and its sibling agencies face has already been solved elsewhere!”

        This is untrue. This more or less implies that most other agencies are perfect and Metro does nothing better than other agencies and generally nothing right at all. This is what I mean about the tone of your comments, and I’ve experienced attitudes of similar ilk around other subjects. Fellow college students, for example, lived to complain about everything that our undergraduate college did wrong and how life was so much better at other colleges. Same thing with my current employer.

        d.p., what is frustrating is that in between the belly-aching and pot shots you make some good observations and have some valid criticisms. The manner in which you present them and argue them, however, is prone to make those who should be listening defensive and make people like me simply skip your comments. Even if a know-it-all really does know it all, no one (sorry for the pun) wants to listen to them. Mix it up, try another approach to delivering your criticisms. A little tact goes a long way.

      23. @Oran – agree fully on the Metro ORCA fail. Despite ORCA shortcomings, it could work for most people most of the time, and I think over the next several years it will. But they need to make it more available and advertise said availability.

        @Zed – yes, free ORCA cards and a small pamphlet on how to use them and where to charge them.

        More TVMs would help, as would making them available at convenience stores. Perhaps even some kind of points system or prize giveaways for frequent ORCA users. Get creative ORCA! I bet we could get double-digit percentage usage growth with a little marketing.

      24. “This is untrue. This more or less implies that most other agencies are perfect and Metro does nothing better than other agencies and generally nothing right at all.”

        It doesn’t imply that at all. What it implies is that somewhere, out of the tens of thousands of transit agencies worldwide, someone has faced whatever problem you can think of and come up with a solution for it. It doesn’t imply anything about the “perfection” of other agencies or the “imperfection” of Metro, just that there are plenty of examples out there to learn from and assimilate. I like Metro as much as anyone, but they’re hardly a model of efficiency and innovation, which is sad because they once were.

      25. “The reason for this is that moving a bus while a passenger – who is standing near an open stairwell and door without a hand-hold – could fall and injure themselves if you move the bus.”

        Then why is there a hand-hold next to the fare box if it’s expected that the bus will be stationary when the fare box is being used? And fewer and fewer buses have a stairwell for someone to fall down. I mean hell, go to London and ride on a Routemaster.

        “Your claim that this is inappropriate or that there is a “safe” way to move a bus while a passenger is unsteady on their feet is nothing short of ridiculous.”

        That little yellow line doesn’t keep anyone safe. Most bus drivers step on the gas the moment people are past the yellow line, leading to plenty of unsteady passengers grasping for handholds or falling in to seats. At least the person standing at the fare box can see what the driver is doing and prepare for it.

      26. Tim. You’re an insider (not sure what dept)

        I do not work for any transit agency in any capacity.

        RapidRide-A doubled the number of trips, and by your graphs, didn’t change the schedule much, so that’s double the service hours for 25 to 50 pct more riders. That’s a pretty big drop in efficiency.

        Allow me to re-state what I’ve already stated about the schedules listed in that file: “do not use this to compare end-to-end travel times–all of the RapidRide numbers came from run cards which Metro admitted were written with extra padding because they really didn’t know how fast/slow RR would be. The reason they didn’t know is because deleting stops, 3 doors and having partial off-board fare payment would speed things up, yet the newness and unfamiliarity of these things would slow it down. Rather, compare the times listed at the terminals, and know that the schedules may have changed for RapidRide. The spreadsheet was compiled before the official, erm, schedules were published.”

        Further, you can throw out 174’s schedule because more often than not, it was delayed.

        And, you’re missing the point. If we double headways on a route, the amount of people on each trip will instantly halve. As ridership builds, the number of people on each trip increases. Metro has shown an approximate 25% increase. The route isn’t even four months old yet, and already you’re calling it inefficient. Ridership doesn’t build overnight (although were are building overnight ridership!)

        I suppose the answer lies in the hope that speeds will increase to the point where the number of buses assigned to the route can be reduced

        If we remove buses, headways drop. If we look at how long it’s taking for them to get from point A to point B and determine their layovers are longer than expected, we might be able to tweak the operator’s schedules to allow them to run more trips in less time.

      27. Can we get MEHVA to run a MAN Diseasel Articulated on the RapidRide A line, preferably with the lights in the trailer on very dim, with the heat off, and maybe with the exhaust temporarily partially re-routed into the cabin?

        Then we can have a real 174 vs. RapidRide A comparison!

  4. That picture is my desktop background now. I love it!

    I have some questions about Metro’s routing and numbering choices. I hope they don’t sound petulant, I’m just honestly curious about some of the decisions they make.

    Why does Metro do a weird alternating routing on the 5 versus taking the unused number 6 for the Northgate routing and keeping 5 for the Shoreline routing? Other than the (also slightly confusing) Night-Sunday routing on the 4, this is the only Metro bus that has a variant routing that’s not turnback or express — both of which are easier for casual users to get their heads around.

    Why isn’t the 48 split at the U-District like the 44/43, with through-routing off peak? The south segment performs much better than the north segment, and it’s a reaaaally long route; I imagine splitting it on-peak would improve on-time performance. The number 47 is available. The only people who would seem to lose a bit from this change would be those traveling on-peak from Loyal Heights and Greenwood to east Capitol Hill, Montlake and Madison Valley or vice versa.

    Also — and I know this is slightly quixotic given the funding and ETB situation right now — you could electrify the the “47” for the cost of about 1.6 miles of wire from Thomas to Cherry, Dearborn to Plum, and a hundred yards of wire into the east side of Mount Baker TC.

    Finally, why does route 38 exist?? It performs terribly and covers a tiny area.

      1. Beavis the 359 is the route that Mark McLaughlin was killed on and that’s why that number was retired. Not sure what happened to the 6.

      2. No, the plan was to replace the 6, 359, and 360 with the new 359. A couple weeks before the changeover, McLaughlin was shot while driving the 359. Metro renumbered the new 359 to 358 in his honor, and that’s the 358 we have now.

        FWIW, the 6 was really local, and went to Seattle Center, Aurora, Bridge Way, Stone Way, southwest Green Lake, Linden, Winona, Aurora to Aurora Village. It took quite a long time. The 359 ran in the daytime (except Sunday?) and was pretty much like the 358 is. The 360 ran at rush hour straight up Aurora, with limited stops till 145th. If Rapidride E ditches Linden, it’ll be closer to the 360 although with more stops.

    1. That picture is my desktop background now. I love it!

      Thanks! Comments like these keep me going back out to shoot more.

      Finally, why does route 38 exist?? It performs terribly and covers a tiny area.

      Before Link opened it was longer. Could be enough people complained about it to save some of it.

      1. People said the hillside was too steep to walk so please keep that part of the 38. I’d like to know the result. Are people still riding it rather than walking to a station? Are there a significant number of elderly/handicapped people in that corridor?

    2. I’ve often thought about the 48 splitting, and I think it would be a great idea. The 48 is extremely unreliable because it is so long. While splitting the route at the U District would force some people to transfer (including myself; I ride from the Roosevelt neighborhood to Garfield High School every day along with dozens of others), it would greatly increase reliability, and, as you said, allow the southern half to be electrified without that much extra wire. And I agree about the 38. It seems to not be getting much use at all. If people really can’t walk up that steep hill from Mount Baker, they can get off the light rail at Beacon Hill and walk down.

      1. If the 38 really is just to get people up and down that hill, then it should be turned into a scheduled DART shuttle. Able-bodied people can walk it and the van will serve everyone else cheaper than a bus.

      2. DART is a variable route contracted service. Vans might be cheaper but their engines aren’t as tough to pull people up the hill.

        Fun fact: There is only one operator that runs route 38. The same operator with the same bus running every trip all day.

      3. Is 38 a trolleybus? If not I would expect the power/weight to be the same on a van compared to a diesel bus. In any case, I suspect paying a driver is much of the cost of running the service, and given the option of taking Link to the top of Beacon Hill, I’m inclined to axe this bus.

      4. They split the 43/44, 7/49 and 124/A to improve reliability. The 48 has long needed it too but for some reason Metro hasn’t done it.

  5. How about this for stupid.

    Last night I was traveling back from my daughter’s grandmother and came back via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which is not how I normally go, but I met a recruiter in Gig Harbor. I used the correct cash lane but my credit card was declined due to lack of funds. The toll man let me through but photographed my license plate and told me to call the ‘Good to Go’ number to work out payment.

    I called them today and was told I had to either sign up for Good to Go which would be $40 and include a $12 transponder fee, OR wait for a traffic ticket which would be $52 if upheld by Pierce County District court. Doesn’t this sound absolutelty stupid and a complete waste of tax payer money to take a $4 toll to court when I made a good faith effort to call and pay after the fact, only to find out that WSDOT is not set up to take people’s toll fares retroactively.

    If I had refused to pay, I could understand the ticket, but not when I called in less than 14 hours in order to pay, only to find that I could not. I am so pissed, I shall defend the matter in court because it is a complete waste of everyone’s time and money for an honest mistake that I attempted to rectify as soon as I could look at my account. I am sure that many people can call their bank before they use the toll bridge and besides which we are also not supposed to be talking on cellphones or using them without a bluetooth.

    Anyone just as pissed as I am that government should be so inefficient like this?

    1. I made a good faith effort to call and pay after the fact

      Sadly, this isn’t how it works. The law says you pay when you use it, not after the fact. The toll is required to use the highway, and by traveling on the highway without paying the toll, you broke the law. Our current laws do not allow forgiveness.

      What would you say in court, anyways? Your honor, I tried to pay the toll, but I didn’t have any money! A credit card returned as NSF is deemed as refusal, since you didn’t use another card or give them cash. I can understand you not carrying cash–I don’t either. But I do carry one bill in my wallet at all times for reasons just like this. Or you could tell the judge that you disagree with the law and that it’s a waste–that’ll surely get your ticket dismissed!

      And isn’t that $40 the “credit” (AKA balance) in which stays on your account? Just like the e-purse value for ORCA?

      And what’s this about calling your bank? Like you call the bank and say “Yo bank, do I have $4?” Maybe it’s just me, but I always have a pretty good idea if I’ve got $4 in my account or not.

      1. OK, you clearly have little or no sympathy for those of us who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more and may not always have money on hand. I didn’t break the law because I made a good faith effort to pay and did not drive and run. Yes, the law isn’t forgiving, but it is also true that the United States is one of the most litigious societies on earth and not the better for it in my opinion.

        Any reasonable judge would acknowledge an error, a good faith attempt to correct it and dismiss the case as a stupid waste of tax payers money. Now, if I had driven through the good-to-go lanes and then not paid or left the state, that would be a legitimate breaking of the law. I don’t think that realizing I had no money only when I went to pay is breaking the law and trying to rectify the situation after the fact is not considered a good faith attempt, then it is not part of any humane society worth living in. Its ridiculous.

      2. OK, you clearly have little or no sympathy for those of us who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more

        Same boat.

        I didn’t break the law because I made a good faith effort to pay and did not drive and run.

        http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.690

        Please explain how you didn’t break the law.
        “The person does not pay, refuses to pay, evades, or attempts to evade the payment of such tolls…”

        You didn’t pay. Law broken. Law doesn’t say anything about attempting to pay. Your credit card got denied. That’s on you–not the state. Not giving them their money is your fault. Credit cards aren’t the only way of paying.

        Any reasonable judge would acknowledge an error, a good faith attempt to correct it and dismiss the case as a stupid waste of tax payers money.

        If I were your judge, I would see it as a failure to pay the toll and make you pay the cost of the ticket and the court costs. By taking the ticket to court you cost the state more money than by just paying the fine, and waaay more than just paying the toll. Whether you will acknowledge it or not, you broke the law.

        I don’t think that realizing I had no money only when I went to pay is breaking the law and trying to rectify the situation after the fact is not considered a good faith attempt

        I’ll apply the same logic below:

        Officer: I clocked you at 55 in a 45.
        Me: Officer, I didn’t realize I was going that fast. As soon as you let me go, I’ll make sure to drive 45, and hopefully you’ll let me off.

      3. This seems like a no-brainer, but I’ll give some advice anyways.

        The most obvious solution would be to set up a Good To Go account. The minimum account balance is $30 (not sure why they told you $40. Could be because your account automatically gets replenished when it falls below $30). A transponder costs $11.07. If you set up an account before your infraction gets processed, you can avoid the infraction (so says WSDOT’s page). Grand total: $41.07 (or $51.07). We’re at or below the cost of the ticket, and the bonus is that you never have to deal with this situation until your balance runs low.

        Or, you could do nothing and wait for your infraction to come in the mail. Looks like the infraction will be out of Pierce County, and not Washington State, and the court will likely be governed by IRLJ. This is much different than criminal court, and that’s important. More on that later. Once you get the infraction, you’ll probably have three options:
        1) Pay up. It’ll just be the fine amount, but realize it still costs the court (“the government”) money to mail and process your payment.
        2) Request a mitigated hearing. In this, you plead guilty and appear before a judge with an opportunity to explain the circumstances behind the infraction and the judge may consider a reduction in the fine. May is the key word here. Guilty is also a key word.
        3) Request a contested hearing. In this, you’re saying you did not commit the infraction and want to contest the hearing. This is the most expensive option for “the government” so if you lose, you may have to pay court costs. Once you do this, you might get a pre-trial conference. This is another chance for you to skip the contested hearing and pay up or go mitigated. It saves the court money and it saves you hassle. If you don’t have the option for the conference or waive it, the next step will be the hearing. You get all the standard legal rights, like the right to a speedy trial, the right to demand discovery, the right to subpoena witnesses, and everything else you’d expect. Once the hearing comes up, you get to show up (thankfully won’t have to take time off from work) and present your case. The most important part here is that the prosecution only has to prove its case by preponderance of evidence and not “beyond a reasonable doubt” as in criminal cases. This actually makes it easier to convict you.
        Once you go in, your case will be called and the prosecution will present their evidence. They’ll show those 24 8x10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against you. The judge will then have an opportunity to comment on any bumper stickers you might have (kidding). They’ll also present the infraction notice which will state the law you broke (I don’t know if it’s RCW 46.61.690, that’s just what I found in some quick Googling). Then you’ll get the chance to present any evidence, call witnesses, and give a testimony. In your testimony, you can pretty much say whatever you want so long as it’s relevant to the case and true (remember you’re under oath). The prosecutor will have a chance to cross-examine you and any witnesses and can address your evidence (the term for this proces escapes me at the moment). Finally, you’ll make closing statements and the judge will issue their ruling. In this ruling, the judge will, fundamentally:
        A) Look code the prosecution claims you violated
        B) Determine if the evidence proves, by a preponderance, that you committed the infraction
        C) Issue a ruling, and a sentence if you’re guilty.

        You’re guilty of violating the law if you failed to pay. Attempting to pay is not discussed in the law. Failure to pay is failure to pay.

        Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine.

      4. To ‘Tim’

        You are just being plain ridiculous right, giving me all of that information which just goes to prove how insane the whole thing is. How is it breaking the law to pay after the fact when it was a clear error of circumstance that I arrived at the Tacoma Narrows with a card that the last time I checked had enough to pay the $4 with. I don’t carry cash and it was a last minute decision to use the Bridge anyway as I was in Gig Harbor. The State needs to only go after those who refuse to pay before, during or after they go through the toll lanes. If I had intended to break the law, I would have used the regular toll lanes and not proceeded through the cash/credit lanes.

        The whole thing just goes to show just how screwed up we are as a society. The United States when it gained its independance from my mother country, England, just gave itself on a platter to lawyers and it has been the same ever since!

      5. all of that information which just goes to prove how insane the whole thing is

        Sounds like you’re just upset you got caught. Our legal system insures fair treatment to everyone and you’re just pissed you have to deal with it.

        The State needs to only go after those who refuse to pay before, during or after they go through the toll lanes.

        You did refuse to pay.

        The whole thing just goes to show just how screwed up we are as a society.

        If you don’t like the way we run things in this country, why do you live here?

      6. Now you are really pissing me off – how can you say I refused to pay and then quote me the section of the RCW to prove it, when I made a good faith effort to pay after the fact. I have no objection to paying tolls on the Narrows, only to the existing set up that doesn’t allow me to correct an unintended mistake. Don’t forget that the law is also about intent and not just fact and as there was no intent on my part to break the law, then I did not in fact break the law whatever you might think. I hardly ever use the Narrows to get home as I prefer the ferry system, but once in a blue moon I do.

        I don’t have the money to afford a transponder. It is not easy being a 99-weeker – I have to juggle being willing to pay the $4 toll retroactively and being asked to pay for a $11 transponder which I cannot do right now. Then you lecture me about stupid rules and the law, neither of which make any sense in this instance.

        Please apologize on this Blog for accusing me of breaking the law by telling me I refused to pay when in fact, I attempted to pay after the fact and got caught up in a customer service web of dysfunctionality.

      7. how can you say I refused to pay…when I made a good faith effort to pay after the fact.

        Because the RCW says you pay before the fact. Not after.

        . Don’t forget that the law is also about intent

        Source, please.

        as there was no intent on my part to break the law, then I did not in fact break the law whatever you might think.

        Are you kidding? Every defense lawyer in the country would use that if it was possible! “Your honor, my client didn’t mean to kill him, but he did!”
        Your intents do not change the fact that you violated the law that is written.

        I hardly ever use the Narrows to get home as I prefer the ferry system, but once in a blue moon I do.

        So that justifies it? Ignorance of the law is no excuse to commit a crime.

        I don’t have the money to afford a transponder. It is not easy being a 99-weeker – I have to juggle being willing to pay the $4 toll retroactively and being asked to pay for a $11 transponder which I cannot do right now.

        Sounds like poor planning on your part. If you know you can’t afford $11, why did you even risk going over a toll bridge? If you knew you might be short $4, why not take PT route 100 over the bridge?

        Then you lecture me about stupid rules and the law, neither of which make any sense in this instance.

        Change this to: “I diagree with and/or do not understand the law, therefore I should not be subject to its penalties.”

        Please apologize on this Blog for accusing me of breaking the law by telling me I refused to pay when in fact, I attempted to pay after the fact and got caught up in a customer service web of dysfunctionality.

        Absolutely not. What you did is no different than driving two miles per hour over the speed limit.
        The law, though you refuse to accept it, states that you pay before you cross. You may have intended to pay, but the fact is WSDOT did not get their money before you crossed the bridge. The law does not say you get to pay after the fact, and you don’t accept that.

        Further, you did not attempt to pay after the fact. You called up the Good To Go office. They won’t accept post-payment because they can’t. That would be illegal.
        There’s a loophole that allows you to establish an account and deduct the toll before the violation is filed. You chose not to take advantage of this.

        Just sit and wait for the ticket and contest it. You have a small chance of getting off, but it’s not likely. When your sentenced to a $52 fine, take the community service option. It pays $11/hour.

      8. I know this is an open thread, but what does any of this have to do with transit?

        PT routes 100 and 102 go over the bridge. Other than that, nothing.

      9. I’d make the case in court that I knew I had the money at the time of travel, and that my bank shafted me, making it a case of being forced to disobey the law. And that I would have been happy to turn around and drive back the other direction, but (ahem) the toll booth operators don’t allow that….

        (Which in my opinion is actually a serious misdesign in tolled roads. If you hit an international border and the next country decides not to admit you, they can turn you back at the border, not traditionally at your expense; traditionally if you are caught on a train with enough money to get on the train but having travelled further than your ticket will pay for, you are simply thrown off at the next stop. Both arrangements account for error without additional penalty, and are plenty harsh enough for those who wish to be harsh.)

    2. I believe WSDOT and the Legislature are working on allowing post or pre travel toll payment by phone. It should be working when tolling begins on the SR 520 bridge as there are no toll booths.

      1. From what I’ve read about the 520 tolls, going through without a transponder means you get a bill in the mail. They add $1.50 to the toll. If you call them and pay before they bill you, I think they knock 50 cents off of that.

        Not sure how pre-payment works, my impression was that it was only for commercial vehicles. I could be wrong, though.

      2. I was posting from a mobile so I didn’t have more info but now that I’m home, here’s the Q & A from WSDOT’s website:

        Drivers who do not have any type of account can Pay By Mail. Within 72 hours of a trip across the bridge, drivers can call, go online, or go to a customer service center to pay the toll. If the driver does not initiate the payment, a bill will be sent in the mail to the registered owner of the vehicle. The owner will have up to 80 days to pay the toll before a Notice of Civil Penalty is issued. There will be signage in the SR 520 corridor alerting drivers on how to Pay By Mail.

        The issue has been in the news.

      3. I read the Seattle Times article and it seems that now that January has come around that we can just pay the ticket when the letter comes. The woman I spoke to on the phone didn’t seem aware of this and was probably keen to get me to buy a transponder.

      4. Tim, I suppose there were delays since that article was published. I’m reading from the WSDOT tolling pages and it seems that photo tolling is not yet functional on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It starts this Spring.

        My recommendation would be to get the transponder and account instead of sending $52 to the courts. At least you get $40 to spend on tolls (SR 520, 167 HOT lanes, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and potentially I-90 and I-405) and avoid future hassle.

      5. now that January has come around that we can just pay the ticket when the letter comes

        That option has been available since before the second bridge was built.

      6. Sorry to hear that you don’t have any money to pay for the transponder and account, Tim. In that case, follow Mike’s advice. They may be more lenient if you say you thought you could pay after the fact as WSDOT has been talking about. I can’t say for certain as I have never gotten a traffic ticket in my life and have zero court experience.

      7. They may be more lenient if you say you thought you could pay after the fact as WSDOT has been talking about.

        That is not set up anywhere. WSDOT has been pretty clear that that option will be for 520.
        Ignorance of the law is no excuse to commit a crime.

      8. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse to commit a crime.”

        Tim, people say that a lot, but legally, it often is pretty much a defense.

        1 – the vast majority of crimes require intent. For a crime which is not malum in se, but merely malum prohibitum, ignorance of the law may well eliminate the element of intent entirely.
        2 – ignorance of the facts is a defense, again due to the element of intent. If you are under a misapprehension about the situation, such that you believed you were complying with the law to the best of your ability, this may be a full and total defense.
        3 – Many laws require that people be provided with notice of them. For instance, I’m fairly sure that the time when I was cited for going above the speed limit while going less than the speed of the last speed limit sign I passed would have been thrown out, had I shown up in court (I had to leave the state the next day, unfortunately.)
        4 – If an official who ought to know, such as a police officer, tells you that something is legal, you cannot generally be convicted for following their instructions.
        5 – The principles of equity demand that people not be punished for actions which they could have no reasonable way to know were illegal or wrong, and courts have discretion to be sensible about this.
        6 – Laws which are extremely infrequently enforced and known to almost nobody, while being contrary to common social standards, may even be declared to be in “desuetude”.
        7 – Again with the matter of intent, people who are mentally incapable of understanding that what they did was wrong generally can’t be convicted.

        In other words, there are so many loopholes in “ignorance of the law is no defense” that it’s not really a general rule, more of a rule of thumb. The only place it applies consistently is in malum in se crimes, which were of course the main category of crime back when the “ignorance of the law is no defence” phrase was invented; practically every common-law crime was considered “malum in se”. Since these are “wrong in themselves”, it doesn’t matter whether you knew it was illegal, you should have known it was *wrong* (assuming you are capable of such understanding).

        The “ignorance is no excuse” rule also applies consistently to crimes where it would be laughable to claim that you didn’t know it was the wrong thing to do, such as driving on the wrong side of the road, or where you clearly should have known enough to take the time to inform yourself of the law, as with the well-publicized licensing conditions of practicing various professions.

        On the other hand, when it comes to obscure points of tax law, ignorance of the law is generally enough of an excuse to completely avoid penalties (which are otherwise unavoidable), though not to avoid the raw tax liability. The maxim is far from a hard-and-fast rule, because nobody can rationally be expected to know the entire, massive, burgeoning, overloaded federal, state, and local lawbooks, let alone the judicial glosses on said lawbooks, and judges realize that.

    3. That sucks — I’d definitely be frustrated too. Sounds like bad customer service to me.

      1. Tim, I want you to apologize on this Blog and I appeal to the moderators to intervene and ask you for one too. You only break the law as you claim it, if you are intent on breaking it and make every effort to remain uncaught. I called the customer service line they gave me in under 12 hours and made an attempt to pay it. I instead got caught in a dumb procedural web that just leaves me yet more disenchanted with both this recession and government response to it.

        Please retract your comments. I am not in denial and I don’t appreciate in your other comments to other commenters referring to me as someone who cannot afford $4 to cross a bridge. I can afford it when I have balanced what non-existing income I have coming in right now. Perhaps you were to offer me a job instead of ridicule, we wouldn’t bne having this conversation which is humiliating enough as it is for some of us without you spouting the law at me which isn’t even true anyway. If the RCW you referred to, said ‘could not pay’, not ‘refuse to pay’, it would make more sense, but it doesn’t. Therefore my situation doesn’t fall under its provisions and it is insulting to say that it does.

      2. I’d fight it, if nothing else on the principle of it. WSDOT has been flooding the airwaves and media with ‘good to go’ hype, in anticipation of the not too popular tolling of 520. Any citizen could reasonably expect the rules to apply equally to all bridges.
        Pay after the fact has been one of their talking points.
        I can’t imagine a judge in this state willing to side with “ah, it’s the law” don’tcha know argument.
        Case dismissed. Next.

      3. Appologize? Nope. Read my full rebuttal here.

        I appeal to the moderators to intervene and ask you for one too.

        LOL, whining to “the mods” because someone is diagreeing with you.

        You only break the law as you claim it, if you are intent on breaking it and make every effort to remain uncaught.

        Are you trying to say that you’re only breaking the law if you try to not get caught? So anyone who turns themselves in for a crime they commited would not be trying to “not get caught”, and thus not guilty?

        I called the customer service line they gave me in under 12 hours and made an attempt to pay it.

        Post-payment is still not possible.

        Please retract your comments. I am not in denial

        Even after I showed you the exact text of the law that you broke, you refuse to accept it’s true, which is the same thing as denial.

        I don’t appreciate in your other comments to other commenters referring to me as someone who cannot afford $4 to cross a bridge.

        The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

        Perhaps you were to offer me a job instead of ridicule

        I would never hire someone that won’t accept responsibilities for his actions.

        …you spouting the law at me which isn’t even true anyway.

        LOL! Now the lawbooks are incorrect!

        If the RCW you referred to, said ‘could not pay’, not ‘refuse to pay’, it would make more sense, but it doesn’t.

        You gave them one form of payment and they couldn’t take it. Then, without giving them anything else, you drove through. Let’s look at the law one more time:

        The person DOES NOT PAY, refuses to pay, evades, or attempts to evade the payment of such tolls

        Only one of those has to be true because it says “or”. You did not pay when you passed through the tollbooth, and therefore, broke the law.

      4. I’d fight it, if nothing else on the principle of it.

        The principle of what? Failing to pay is failing to pay.

        Any citizen could reasonably expect the rules to apply equally to all bridges.

        Except that there’s only one bridge being tolled.

        Pay after the fact has been one of their talking points.

        Right, they’re talking about adding it, but it hasn’t been added YET.

        I can’t imagine a judge in this state willing to side with “ah, it’s the law”

        Nor can I imagine a judge, making an impartial decision as to whether or not the law was violated, siding with the correct side.

      5. Tim

        You are not an asset to this blog with your comments and hostility and I ask that you retract your accusations immediately. It is NOT a crime to go through the correct lane at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, discover that your credit card is $2 short and to be told to drive on through by the Toll Booth guy who is a government official and is instructed to say this in these circumstances because a delay ties up the lane. Following your screwed up logic, you are assuming I am saying that if someone shoots someone and the police officer says go ahead then it is not breaking the law. No one is saying that and it is highly unlikely to happen unless the policeman can be bribed. Normally when a card is declined you don’t go off with the goods. In this situation, the issue I am raising is that the tolling is silly when they both let you have the goods and then accuse you of stealing! You need a change in paradigm here and all I am asking is that the law chase and ticket only those who ‘refuse to pay’ and otherwise do not take up any opportunity to pay. This does not apply in my case as I have now called Customer Service twice and the second time, I got a sympathetic guy who said he would accept payment over the phone if he could but as he couldn’t he recommended I do what most people do which is to contest by mail, accept you couldn’t pay and then send in mitigating circumstances which is everyone’s right to ask for under the law.

      6. You are not an asset to scoiety by breaking the law and not taking responsibility for it.

        Of course the “Toll Booth guy” is going to tell you to drive through. If your card doesn’t have the money, and you don’t either, what are you going to do? Wave your hands around expecting money to magically appear?

        Normally when a card is declined you don’t go off with the goods.

        But you did, so it’s a theft of service.

        they … let you have the goods

        Again, what else are you going to do? By continuing to drive past the sign that says “TOLL BRIDGE AHEAD” you knew there would be a toll. You bypassed the exit that prevented you from not paying. The second you pass the gore point for that offramp, you’re commited to paying the toll. And you didn’t.

        all I am asking is that the law chase and ticket only those who ‘refuse to pay’ and otherwise do not take up any opportunity to pay. This does not apply in my case…

        Chase? What? Let’s look at the law ONE MORE TIME:

        Any person who uses a toll bridge… commits a traffic infraction if: The person does not pay. You didn’t pay. End of story.
        Basically, you’re asking for an exception to the law. You feel you are above the law. You’re not. I’m not. None of us are (except congresspersons going to/from a session).

        The current law DOES NOT mention anything about “attempting” to pay. If you feel it should, that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion. But your opinion does not change what the law says. Whether or not you feel it’s right does not matter. Be thankful that WSDOT is considering allowing people in your situation to correct their errors without receiving a citation (Oran’s link).

        I got a sympathetic guy who said he would accept payment over the phone if he could but as he couldn’t

        Basically, he told you what I told you: You can’t pay retroactively. Finally we’re making some progress.

        Go for the contest by mail. Be aware that some judges don’t fully read every defendant’s statement.

        Remember that by providing mitigating circumstances, you’re pleading guilty.

      7. @Tim

        I am not above the law but am asking to correct an error within the scope of a decent humanitarian interpretation of the law. By contrast, your rigid interpretation of the law belongs more to some dictatorial society outside of the realm of normal humane legal jurisprudence. Yes, the toll guy let me through the lane after telling me how to contact the customer service desk to discuss how to pay. He mentioned nothing about a traffic infraction and so I did as requested and called the desk twice, once getting a woman who couldn’t have cared less for me or her job, and the other a pleasant guy who cared for both. At issue here is poor vs. good customer service, observable everywhere in life, and the odd nature of this particular law that does not allow for cicrumstances like mine in which I had every reason to believe my credit card could sustain a paltry $4 charge and when it embarassingly proved not to be case. I subsequently moved to correct the error. If your child steals an item from a shop and the parent susbequently returns it, one would assume that the shop keeper would rejoice at the return of his goods and leave the necessary parent-child lecture to the parent. Your lecturing on and on about the letter and not the spirit of the law just makes me think that you are just being a contrarian for the sake of being one and no other reason.

      8. the odd nature of this particular law that does not allow for cicrumstances like mine

        Finally, you’ve acknowledged that you did break the law!

        I am not above the law but am asking to correct an error

        So you acknowledge that you broke the law, but you’re saying we shouldn’t find you guilty. Buddy, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

        At issue here is poor vs. good customer service

        And here it is–you’re not responsible for your actions, the poor customer service given by someone else is responsible. This is exactly the reason why we live in “a litigious society”. It’s people like you that won’t take responsibility for their actions that feel they have to put the burden on other people. You’re even considering taking this to the courts to prove that.

        I had every reason to believe my credit card could sustain a paltry $4 charge

        And yet you say you can’t afford $11.

        If your child steals an item from a shop and the parent susbequently returns it, one would assume that the shop keeper would rejoice at the return of his goods and leave the necessary parent-child lecture to the parent

        So you’re a child?

    4. Being from Portland, I once knew someone who was ticketed and removed from the transit system for fare evasion for paying the wrong fare (a difference of 30 cents). They went to court, where the judge upheld the ticket and the fine. I also once knew someone else who was pulled over and was written up for several thousand dollars in infractions. The judge reduced the fine to something still hefty, something like $500. His only other option was to pay for an appeal, which would’ve cost more than the reduced fine.

      I’m not a lawyer, I’m not going to try to give any sort of legal advice. However, if I were in this situation I’d be quiet about it until after taking whatever course of action I decided to take.

      1. Talk to ‘Tim’ – he seems to be our resident lawyer here. He could probably tell you about infractions in Icelandic law if you ask im sarcastically enough!

    5. @Tim Whittome:

      You live in an earthquake zone and you don’t keep an extra stash of cash (preferably in small bills) somewhere in you car along with a blanket, waking shoes and some food and water?

      You have a lot of faith in infrastructure!

      1. That’s not the issue here – are you prepared for everything in your life? You would be better than all of us if you were. Maybe, you should have your divorce papers ready and signed just in case you might need to drop them off somewhere.

      2. Bottom line here is that my bridge (I’m a taxpayer so I’m an owner) has a fee associated with it to use it. If you don’t pay the small fee before you cross, no problem, there is a second higher post crossing fee I charge after the fact. My higher post crossing fee is designed to encourage you to save money and pay my pre-crossing fee.

        You agree to pay either the pre-crossing fee, or the post-crossing fee, when you chose not to take the last exit I conveniently give you and mark well so you won’t miss it.

        Why you choose to decide which fee you want to pay is of no interest to me. It is your choice to make. Heck, I even give you three ways to pay the pre-crossing fee, and two ways to pay the post-crossing fee. How much more customer service should I be expected to provide.

  6. “Metro is ditching the “waterfront streetcar” bus wrap.”

    You can’t fool me. I knew it wasn’t a streetcar.

      1. Well, since it’s being re-routed onto First Ave. and will go as far as 1st & Broad, it will be useful for getting to Seattle Center from ID Station, so it could be a bus I would desire.

      1. I like it when drivers are pulling into ID Station and they say “…Waterfront Streetcar BUS…” with the extra emphasis.

  7. I think the changes on Nickerson worked out rather nicely. I drive and bike through that area quite often, and pretty much like the article says it seems like things move a tiny bit slower is all. As far as I’m concerned it’s a nice change, it was getting to be like the Nickerson Motor Speedway over there before.

  8. Growing up in the Paris region, the Navigo student passes could be ordered by mail or in person only. You had to send in a dosier with a photocopy of your current student ID, a passport sized photo, and fill out a big form (I think the school even had to sign on it, I know parents did at least). I thought that was an arduous process but it sounds like ORCA is worse.

    If they’re so concerned about fraud, the cards should have photos on them like the senior/disabled passes do. And all of these cards should be able to be ordered by post.

    1. Does anyone know if ORCA customer service (over the phone and on-line) has taken a noticeable turn for the worse since CUBIC purchased ERG’s US operations?

  9. Tolls on 520 likely to change behavior.

    What people say and what people do are often quite different. A lot of smokers said they’d quit when the price per pack reached a $1… didn’t happen. There certainly will be a change but I don’t see anything like 50% of the traffic on 520 going “away”. As I-90, I-405 and SR522 become more congested some people will switch to 520. If you’re a tradesman making $20-30+ an hour are you going to spend 15 minutes (plus the extra ga$ for your truck) to avoid a $5 toll? Probably not. Much of the day the tolls will be the same or less than the cost of a bus ride. Even at the peak it’s only a 50 cent difference. Is that really going to push people that are already paying the cost of gas and parking to add at least 1/2 and hour to their commute? And since S. Kirkland and Overlake (Bear Creek?) are already at capacity adding more peak hour buses isn’t going to make much difference.

    1. “If you’re a tradesman making $20-30+ an hour are you going to spend 15 minutes (plus the extra ga$ for your truck) to avoid a $5 toll?”

      That may depend upon who’s paying for the travel time.

      1. And if the tradesman chooses to spend the company’s money avoiding the toll, the customer loses in the form of higher prices.

    2. Well, um, smokers are addicted to the second-most-addictive drug ever discovered (heroin is #1, nicotine is #2), so don’t be surprised if they don’t quit when they want to.

      Perhaps car drivers are also addicted :-), but I doubt it’s nearly as strong an addiction. It’s probably not even as strong as sugar addiction.

  10. Okay, in an earlier conversation I mentioned the (imaginary) idea of Metro eliminating the Ride Free Area to make up for lost revenue (even though it is highly unlikely). Someone (I forget who) suggested that the RFA elimination should be compensated for by adding a free cross-downtown shuttle.

    I bring this up because I remember reading about Route 90, the “Tunnel Circulator” of the early 1990’s. Thinking out loud here, but maybe this “free shuttle” could also be a DSTT circulator (Convention Place to International District and back). What are your thoughts?

    1. If you’re going to make a short-distance circulator like that it needs to be on the surface, as the couple of minutes walk down into and up out of the tunnel offsets the faster pace of the bus. Also, keep in mind that the 99 is now on 1st Ave in addition to Western and probably meets some of the goals of such a shuttle.

  11. Just for the record, becoming a former driver didn’t result in my becoming a former passenger- though I miss being able to always get the only seat on the coach comfortable for the length of much of my average day’s travel.

    Has Metro gotten worse? For people, especially drivers, who have stayed with the system for all the years since I left, I think that like wear and tear on any machine, prolonged time behind the wheel makes it all seem worse. Like much else about life after same number of decades,

    By Federal law, a full-time bus-driving shift should be six hours max, five days a week, absolutely no overtime, with two months of paid vacation every year from the get-go. Drivers’ outlook- and service on every transit system in the country, would greatly improve.

    Mark Dublin

    1. By Federal law, a full-time bus-driving shift should be six hours max, five days a week, absolutely no overtime, with two months of paid vacation every year from the get-go.

      And public sector unions wonder why everyone else thinks some of their members are lazy buggers who don’t earn their pay.

      1. In France, those hours and vacations are approximately what every worker in the country, private or public, gets.

        Sounds like a nicer place to live, eh?

      2. Funny, I didn’t read “lazy” in anything of what was posted above. I read “this is a thankless job, and prolonged exposure serves only to remind the operator that it’s a thankless job.” Perhaps the proposed configuration could be coupled with hourly pay, where working less hours would mean less pay but less stress and a happier employee.

  12. Residents of award-winning transit-oriented development say no to transit

    So much for the widely-touted concept of “transit-ready” development. The residents of an acclaimed New Urbanist village built around planned light rail (or bus rapid transit) stops have decided that they don’t actually want the transit their community was designed for. So let’s be more careful about the claims we make for master-planned suburban development, shall we?

    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-02-03-residents-of-award-winning-transit-oriented-development-say-no/

    1. This shows that promising to build a transit line “later” — and not advertising it to the people moving in — is sure as hell not going to attract residents who want a car-free lifestyle. But then I could have told you that.

      “Transit-ready” is a stupid idea. The streetcar-suburb developers of the late-19th and early-20th built the streetcars first and the buildings second. King Farm sounds like a bit of a scam.

      Kaid Benfield, the article author, comes to the same conclusion I do.

  13. Oh Oh!

    Looking at this week’s Sound Transit Picture, is it me, or do the moles look kind of small? The link to see them is… http://www.soundtransit.org/x78.xml

    I hope there wasn’t a FUBAR,and a messup between feet and meters. (If I remember correctly, NASA had one of those, a while ago.)

    Just look at the picture. See the scale with the forklift in front. Imagine a Link train barreling through the space. IT JUST LOOKS KIND OF SMALL!!

    1. The forklift and people are quite a distance in front of the TBMs. Perspective will cause the forklift to appear bigger in comparison. Even so, it looks like you could stack about four people up to equal the diameter of the TBMs. So, minimum 20 feet in diameter.

      Interesting how the business ends of the TBMs are painted in contrasting ST colors.

      1. Isn’t perspective funny? That photo completely loses perspective as we can’t tell how far it is from the people and trucks to the TBMs and gantries.

  14. Why are people talking about the wrap rather than the fact that this is a ONE-WAY COUPLET that’s THREE BLOCKS apart with a STEEP HILL in between? It’s not a circulator or shuttle, it’s half a circulator or shuttle. This is clearly an attempt by Metro to put something on 1st Ave without increasing service hours. What are people going northbound on the waterfront supposed to do? Go up to 1st Ave and come back down? Ride the route all the way around? The same thing for people going southbound on 1st. Are they supposed to go to Alaskan Way or 3rd and then come back? Tourists will take one look at it and say, “What the hell? Is Seattle too stingy or poor to run a two-way bus on one of its most important downtown streets and two of its main tourist streets?” I didn’t think Metro could do worse than hourly buses in huge swaths of area, but here it is. And it will probably be half-hourly too.

  15. Early election night results are in…
    Pierce Transit Prop 1 overwhelmingly rejected… :(
    Jefferson Transit Prop 1 wins.

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