No more bus bunching on purpose

King County Metro silently fixed a major scheduling mistake for routes 71, 72, and 73 in the February 2011 service change. Those routes together provide frequent service between Downtown Seattle and NE 65th St in Roosevelt via the University District. Buses are supposed to arrive at evenly spaced intervals (headways), about every 7.5-10 minutes during most of the day and at least every 15 minutes from 5 am to midnight. However, the combined schedule for those routes in the past six months had buses arriving at irregular intervals, leading to bunching and long gaps in service. The new schedule restores the even spacing (actually more regular than the Feb 2009 schedule) on weekdays. For some reason, the combined timetable is not available online but the new blue timetables are already out (photo excerpts: weekday 1, weekday 2, Saturday).

For example, people had to wait 18 minutes in the middle of the morning rush hour for a 72 and 73 to arrive simultaneously. If they missed those two, then they had to wait another 12 minutes, then another 5 minutes, and so on. This is a service that’s supposed to always arrive every 7-8 minutes during that period. Another frustrating case was having the last non-owl trip of the night arrive one minute after the trip before it, leaving people waiting an hour for the owl bus. That pair is now 15 minutes apart like the other late night trips.

When you design a high frequency trunk line created from less-frequent branches, it is important to have evenly spaced service to minimize wait time and bunching on the trunk. With this irregular schedule, buses are both bunched on purpose (by schedule) and unintentionally (by delays), leading to a reduction in usable capacity by having overcrowded buses trailed by relatively empty buses. This cannot be called “efficiency”, if that was the original intent. Intentional or not, Metro realized its mistake and fixed it, likely after a bunch of customer and operator complaints.

94 Replies to “Metro Fixes Scheduling Mistake”

  1. Perhaps more of an auditor driven computer trumping good human judgement at the time. Looks like the humans won. Hooray!

    1. Where in the audit does it say to bunch buses? Seems like the audit and HASTUS are the goto scapegoats for what are really Metro’s human errors.

      1. When this was first brought up, someone said something about the computer treating the routes as separate entities. Everyone has some blame here for not saying, “Wait a minute, this is stupid.”

      2. As the bunching didn’t occur before the audit-ordered HASTUS scheduling module, and won’t be occurring now that humans have been put back into the equation – what “human errors” are you referring to?

  2. This is great but still won’t alter the fact that those busses are packed like sardine cans much of the time, and thus are mortifyingly slow on The Ave and when they’re in local service on Eastlake. It’s telling that the anti-rail brigade on STB never posts comments like, “Look at the 7x busses! Aren’t they great? Wouldn’t that be just as good as light rail for a fraction of the price?”

    1. I think the 71/72/73 should either run on I-5 between downtown and the U-District all of the time or at the very least have no stops on Eastlake between Convention Place Station and Campus Parkway. It is stupid to turn these routes into Fairview/Eastlake locals in the evening.

      1. I agree. It’s not just stupid, it’s confusing, as those bus stops will list 71/72/73 but they will usually not stop there.

      2. I see what Metro is trying to accomplish with the 70+71X/2X/3X/4 peak and 71/2/3 off-peak scheduling, and I’d be willing to accept the confusion if it actually worked well. The problem is that U-District’s traffic peak is not the same as Downtown’s: it’s partly an entertainment district like Belltown, and quite a lot of people have night classes and other non-9-5 activities up there. The peak scheduling: or at least the expressing of 71/2/3 and local service on the 70 should extend until at 9 PM or later.

      3. Certainly these 3 routes should continue in I-5 through about 9:30 or 10:00 PM – perhaps they could be renumbered 91,92,93 after 10:00 when they run in local service on Eastlake. And yes there should be at least 4 an hour more runs south of 65th to downtown.

      4. “there should be at least 4 an hour more runs south of 65th to downtown.”

        … until North Link is extended to Roosevelt Station.

      5. I think the 71/72/73 should either run on I-5 between downtown and the U-District all of the time or at the very least have no stops on Eastlake between Convention Place Station and Campus Parkway. It is stupid to turn these routes into Fairview/Eastlake locals in the evening.

        Find us a way to get more service hours for the 70, and we’re there.

      6. Taking the 71/72/73 home from Downtown between 7 and 9 PM is just the worst. There seem to be a similar number of riders as at peak times, and yet the buses are at 15 min frequencies and stop everywhere along Eastlake, making for an incredibly packed, uncomfortable, 45 minute journey from Downtown to Roosevelt.

      7. Stop running empty busses through the suburbs and rural King where no-one cares about them?

        If that’s politically infeasible, how about we simply axe each westside non-shuttle route that underperforms on every single performance measure at every time period when it runs. I nominate 51, 25, 38, 35, 42 and 53. Problem solved.

      8. I agree that that the 71/72/73’s should run express service later as well as part of the day Sunday. I also agree that there should be more than 4 buses per hour (2)71’s, (1) 72, (1) 73 at night and on Sunday’s

        @ Michael H- Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think its confusing. The bus stops have to list 71/72/73 because they stop there as locals. Not only that, but the schedules posted only list the times of 71/72/73’s that stop there. There are not times listed for most of the day M-Sat. Also, Express buses only stop at the stops that list the route number on the flag, w/ an Express / Local and Express under the route number. Maybe the solution would be to redo all the bus flags between Campus Parkway and Convetion Place w/ Local Only listed under the route number.

        @ Lloyd- Why renumber the buses in the 90’s? Doesn’t a bus with 2 green dash signs saying “Express”, the destination signs in the front and side saying “via Univ Express” and the route number displays saying “71X” tell the different between a local bus with no green dash signs, the “via” signage not mentioning express routing and the number 71 w/out the “X”? I think adding new numbers would be more confusing.

      9. “Doesn’t a bus with 2 green dash signs saying “Express”, the destination signs in the front and side saying “via Univ Express” and the route number displays saying “71X” tell the different between a local bus with no green dash signs, the “via” signage not mentioning express routing and the number 71 w/out the “X”? I think adding new numbers would be more confusing.”

        This doesn’t seem to always be the case. In the photo accompaning this post, the two buses are both showing the green EXPRESS placard, one is displaying the “via UNIV EXP” destination, but neither are showing the X in the route number.

      10. I hate hate HATE riding the 70-series between 7 and 9. (And during the express period too, actually.) I think part of the reason Metro won’t extend the express hours is because it would produce an asymmetry in how many trips each direction get to use the express lanes. Stupid reason, I know, but it makes sense to me somehow.

        “If that’s politically infeasible, how about we simply axe each westside non-shuttle route that underperforms on every single performance measure at every time period when it runs. I nominate 51, 25, 38, 35, 42 and 53. Problem solved.”

        25 provides lifeline service, though the service to Frat Row and Laurelhurst could also be provided by other routes (*cough*44*cough*gridsystem*cough*). The 38 needs to be made part of a longer route as it provides critical service on a steep hill. The 35 actually looks like it could be pretty useful, delivering people from downtown and downtown-serving buses to Harbor Island; I wonder if it could actually use more service. The 42 I’ll agree with you on. Circulators like the 51 and 53 are generally bad ideas, but the 51 provides service difficult to provide otherwise (peak-only 57 notwithstanding), and the 53’s service needs to be compared to the 37. Some routes could use service cuts or reworking, but I’m not sure about wholesale eliminations.

      11. I don’t care if the service is “difficult to provide otherwise,” “lifeline” (what does that even mean?), “critical” (how?) or “seems… pretty useful:” these routes have been around for a while, and people have chosen not to ride them, and that is the end of the matter. They’re sucking resources away from people who want and need them more, and that is inexcusable.

        If the goal is to subsidize some industry or group of people then the city or county should appropriate funds from elsewhere and put the routes on the exempt list.

      12. Once North Link is in place, I would love to see the 44 rerouted to go straight along 45th, to U-Village and beyond. Until then, as much as I love grids, there’s just so much ridership between points west of Roosevelt and south of 45th that a truncation just wouldn’t make sense without a massive frequency upgrade.

        And Bruce is absolutely right; every bus service can be justified on paper, but the numbers show that people aren’t using these services, and thus the money would be better spent elsewhere. That doesn’t mean the services that would be cut are bad; as I’ve said many times, I’d love to have a bus every 5 minutes on every arterial in Seattle. But we have limited resources, and it’s important that we don’t squander those on poorly-performing routes.

      13. @Bruce: Part of the purpose of transit is to serve transit-dependent populations. That is why many of the routes you listed exist; the problem is that many of them don’t serve much in the way of transit-dependent populations. That’s what I mean by “lifeline”. And that’s why the 35 and, much as some people would like it otherwise, 25 will never be cut entirely.

        One way to respond to underutilized routes is to cut them. Another is to try and remedy their underutilization. Besides the 45th leg, the 25’s Lakeview leg would be rather well used if it went straight across the University Bridge instead of meandering through Montlake. I don’t know if the West Seattle circulators are salvagable.

        Further discussion on the 38 is on one of the threads when we had the eliminate-the-7 Rainier Valley service revamp suggestion a while back.

      14. To expand on my Lakeview comment: I can’t imagine the 66 would be much slower if it provided local service on Lakeview rather than skip-stop service on Eastlake. It’d be less redundant with the 70, revitalize the Lakeview corridor, and possibly save some version of the 66 from the chopping block when UW station opens. Extend the 44 to Laurelhurst when Brooklyn station opens (trolley wire notwithstanding – or the 75 to Frat Row), and all that’s left of the 25 is the Montlake segment.

    2. New Soap Opera – As the Wheel Turns.
      Enter Norman (stage left). “Look at the 7x buses! Aren’t they great?”
      Tim: “You [Ot] so and so.”
      Me: “Well, in some cases maybe”
      Ben: “Idiot!”
      Eyman: “Is that an initiative I smell”
      tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga of Bus v. Rail

    3. “This is great but still won’t alter the fact that those busses are packed like sardine cans much of the time, and thus are mortifyingly slow on The Ave and when they’re in local service on Eastlake.”

      If only someone would build a fast high capacity transit system between the two neighborhoods.

  3. I still want to know how this happened so we can make sure it never happens again with other routes.

    I haven’t paid much attention to the peak hour or midday scheduling but on evenings and weekends it is quite frustrating to see the 71 and either the 72 or 73 arrive right on top of each other. As you point out this cuts the service frequency more or less in half and leads to crowded buses.

    The other annoyance is the rather low frequency of the 72 and 73 compared to the 71, especially evenings and weekends. My gut feeling is the “tail” of the 73 past 65th/15th has more transit demand than the “tail” of the 71. Demand on the “tail” of the 72 seems to be at least as much as that of the 71. Of course the overall demand is effected by service frequency, so if frequency is increased on the 72 and 73 ridership should go up as well.

    If I was Metro I’d cut the frequency of the 71 in half and move those service hours to the 73.

    1. The 71 has always been half-hourly, and the 72 and 73 hourly, at least for the past thirty years. That always seemed like a bad deal for people who live on the north half of the 72, but I just avoid the area for that reason so I don’t know if 15th or Ravenna is “really” more deserving than 65th. Although it would make sense to run a half-hourly bus straight up 15th from the U-district to Mountlake Terrace instead of the patchwork coverage it has now.

    2. Anecdotally, the 71 seems to get a whole lot more ridership past Roosevelt than the 72 or 73, at least up to 35th. Once it turns off of 65th on View Ridge, though, it has hardly any ridership and should probably be truncated, or, ideally, routed down 65th to Magnuson.

      1. Much of the 72’s route duplicates other routes – the only unique part of it is on 80th and Ravenna. If we had a grid system, the 72 would not exist in any form – the 68 would work almost as well if it didn’t divert to Northgate.

      2. I agree, hopefully when North Link opens the 72 (and maybe 73, is it really necessary to have north-south service on 15th and on Roosevelt) should be eliminated, as should the 68, with much better service on the 66/67, 372, etc.

      3. If you cut the 68 you’d need to end skip-stop service on the 372, which might make it too slow for out-of-Seattle commuters. The alternative is to run it to Lake City instead of providing service on Roosevelt through Maple Leaf that’s redundant with routes on 5th AND 15th. That’d allow you to cut the 72.

        The 68 is more redundant than the 73. Remove the 68 from Roosevelt, and the only segment where you have service on Roosevelt AND 15th is through the Roosevelt neighborhood. Make changes to the 66/67? Maybe. But the 73 to the city line provides servide that isn’t redundant with anything (except maybe the 373) and more important than anything on the 66/67.

    3. It’s also historic. In the old days, the 71 had two tales that operated hourly. One tale was the routing you see today. The other tail went on 65th and then turned north on 35th Ave NE at night and on Sundays and covered what is now the 65 (but back then was the 25).

      1. Well, I think that 35th branch was only for a few years. If I remember right, in the 80s the 71 went half-hourly on 65th as it does today. Then half the runs started going up 35th to Lake City. Then it went back to just 65th.

  4. Thanks for the info! It’s a great news, especially when heading into the Mariners season. I noticed the spacing issue about 6 months ago, and I was anticipating that it would get craziER after the game with this spacing problem.

    Also, can’t Metro tell the bridge operators to stop rasing the University Bridge when buses are approaching? It is a major disturbance to the on-time operation.

    1. As for the drawbridge, vessels have priority over road traffic. It’s not up to Metro, it’s a federal issue.

      A bridge operator will occasionally have a vessel slow down a little if they’re trying to clear cars off the bridge, but about the only other time they ever have us wait is if there’s an ambulance or a fire engine trying to get across, which is a pretty rare occurrence anyway.

      1. Humm, I see. It’s still frustrating though, given that most vessels are leasure boats or yacht. When the regulation was made, most vessels were probably working boats like passenger ferry and freight boats, but the time has changed…

      2. A long-then-short signal means the bridge will open; five short signals means the boat has to wait.

      3. The waterway was there first. If a DOT wants a ROW easement they either build a high level bridge or agree to yield to watercraft. Note that during AM and PM peak the bridge will only open for commercial vessels.

      4. Actually Bernie that’s not quite correct. During the morning and evening rush hours the bridges won’t open for any vessels, commercial or otherwise. The only exception is for those vessels over 1000 gross tons. Anything over 1000 gross tons can get through anytime they want.

        Gross tonnage has very little to do with how large a vessel actually is. It’s an archaic measurement of a vessel’s cargo carrying capacity, that’s so deeply entrenched in the rule book that I doubt we’ll ever get rid of it.

        Oh, and the Colregs, otherwise known as the navigation rules, don’t differentiate between commercial versus pleasure traffic. The only place around here where that makes a difference is at the locks, where commercial traffic has priority over pleasure boats.

      5. The rule is unfortunate, but the tradeoff is that trains also have priority over cars. Otherwise Amtrak would be stopped at intersections all over the place.

        But the injustice on the Ship Canal has gotten really outrageous. 99% of people nowadays travel on land to their necessary appointments, yet they have to wait because a luxury sailboat wants to take a day out.

      6. Actually, someone in a previous thread — sorry for not remembering whom — had worked in the maritime industry and thoroughly researched and reported on this matter.

        The most interesting revelation was that the Ship Canal’s drawbridge operators are allowed a 10-minute discretionary window once a boat has honked its request for opening!

        My response: I’ve never once seen them use that discretion.

        So the question becomes, how can these professionals be convinced to let high-capacity vehicles take precedence over small pleasure crafts.

      7. Thank the nice bridge operator on the Fremont bridge. There have been many, many times I have been driving a 26/28 and while at the zone at 34/Fremont Av, I can see the pedestrian walk signs on the bridge change and then he/she will usually wait for the bus to pass the gate, then close it right behind me. Thank You to whoever that is up in the tower. As for the Ballard bridge, there have been many times they close it right as I’m about to cross the drawspan. That bridge operator is just rude!

      8. Most of my rider experiences with the Ballard Bridge have happened that way too. I’m more likely to be crossing the Fremont Bridge on foot, so I haven’t had as many chances to see how the operator uses his or her discretion.

        Thanks for making the point that there are probably only a handful of bridge operators in total. There needs to be a way to replace absolute discretion with a policy that guides the Ballard operator to be more like the Fremont operator.

        A lot of people’s time — and, of course, “RapidRide” being worth a damn — depends on it.

      9. Casey, that’s funny you mention the difference between the different bridge tenders. I was just bringing a boat back in from a job yesterday afternoon and we were in the wheelhouse talking about what a grouch the guy who’s usually on Ballard sounds like, especially compared to the always cheerful woman who’s normally on Fremont.

        And as for that discretionary period, they use that all the time. They’ll often ask us to pull it back a little bit so as to let traffic clear. If anyone’s really that interested bridge to bridge radio traffic is on channel 13. Feel free to listen in, assuming you can come up with a VHF.

      10. I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in a sailboat way off peak when coming back from a regatta in the middle of the night. Some (most) operators will be in touch with the locks and other bridges to minimize the number of openings; especially Fremont in the summer since you never really know if it’s going to close again. The other exception is a tug and tow which for obvious reasons has priority at all times.

      11. Well, if it was between 11pm and 7am, there’s only one bridge tender on to cover University, Fremont, and Ballard during that shift, so the guy has to drive from bridge to bridge and keep catching up with you. If you keep it at about 4.5 knots he’ll usually beat you to the next bridge, but any faster and you just wind up waiting.

        As for a tug and tow having priority, that’s only at the locks. From a navigation rule standpoint there are a couple ways a tug and tow can get the right of way over another vessel, aside from the normal issue of who’s on who’s port side. If your tow is so uncontrollable that you can claim ‘restricted ability to maneuver’, then you’ve got the right of way over everyone for all practical purposes. The only exception would be a vessel ‘not under command’, that one trumps restricted ability to maneuver.

        The other applicable rule, which comes up a lot more often, goes something like this ‘A vessel of less than 20 meters in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway’. That one pretty much gives any tug and tow the right of way over most pleasure boats in the ship canal. Of course from a practical standpoint that doesn’t matter a whole lot, as the people driving pleasure boats invariably don’t know any of the nav rules, and can thus hardly be expected to follow them. This is why professional merchant seamen, like myself, tend to get ulcers.

  5. Bus bunching makes sense at certain times. Specifically buses that are due at Campus and Brooklyn 15 minutes before classes start as well as 15 minutes after classes dismiss. Certain class hours have more bus commuters as well. The biggest problem is the fact that u passes are flash passes. Metro has no idea how many u pass holders are riding at any given time. Hopefully they will switch to the Orca as soon as possible.

    1. “Bus bunching” does not mean relief runs like the short 73s. It means accidental bunching when the first bus is so late it arrives just before the second bus. Surprisingly this is the most common form of lateness after “5-10 minutes late”. Scheduling buses together is a separate problem, which Metro always gets complaints about (71/72/73 the past six months, and 23/124 at various times). I’m convinced that the main reason for low ridership on the 14 is that it’s scheduled three minutes after the 43, but it often comes 10-15 minutes late, so people take the 43 because they’re afraid the 14 won’t arrive on time.

      “Metro has no idea how many u pass holders are riding at any given time.”

      They know how crowded the buses are every day, and they know how many paid cash/ORCA compared to the fullness of the buses. The difference is the number of flash passes (and non-payers).

      1. Also, the driver hits a key on the farebox to denote some type of payment other than cash/ORCA. While it’s true this does not specifically count for U-Passes, there are few other types of flash passes still in existence.

      2. It also doesn’t account for cases when the bus is so packed and late that the driver just gives up and starts letting people board and deboard at both doors outside of the RFA.

      3. @ Tim- Driver’s do not record the number of flash passes by pushing a button on the farebox. You may see some drivers do it still, because I think that’s how it was done a while back, but not anymore.

      4. The 14’s problem is that the run to Summit is one half of a run that also includes the run to Mount Baker. The former is short, mostly duplicates the 43, and (I believe) runs through an area that is not prone to ride the bus. I’d split the routes and continue it up Belmont to Lakeview Blvd to inherit that part of the 25 and end in the U-District, but I believe that would require taking it off wires.

      5. The 14 is on the western slope of Capitol Hill, an area that loves their busses, but it’s quite close to the 43 and 49 and not as frequent, so people choose those instead (the 12 north of Madison is a bit like this too). That said, the north segment (CH to DT) performs better than the south segment, and in some respects better than the 49 (although that’s not an apples to apples comparison as the 49 goes through other less-dense areas. There’s a lot of busses I’d cut first though.

        When the FHSC goes in on Broadway, it might be worth rerouting the 49 off Broadway at John (the Link station) along the alignment of the 43, and getting rid of the 14 in favor of better evening and weekend service on the 49 (which, at 30 minute headways, its surprisingly crappy for such a dense area).

      6. I’ve brought up the 14 before, and I’ve been told (and the numbers verify this) that the north half is a phenomenally productive route. In fact, it’s one of Metro’s best performers.

        The 49 is an extremely popular bus, too, but its numbers are artificially deflated by the 10th Ave segment. The number of riders who get on/off between Roy St and Campus Parkway, on most trips, is approximately 0. People ride the 49 because it’s the best way to get from Broadway to the U-District, and so when U-Link/North Link comes online, its ridership will plummet.

        All that said, the popularity isn’t necessarily a reason to keep the service. It’s still possible that two straighter buses (a 5-minute Pine St bus, and a 5-minute Broadway N-S bus) would add up to greater ridership than the current hodgepodge of services (10, 11, 12, 14, 43, 49). But this isn’t the area to focus cuts on — especially given that U-Link/North Link will prompt a huge refactoring anyway.

      7. “It also doesn’t account for cases when the bus is so packed and late that the driver just gives up and starts letting people board and deboard at both doors outside of the RFA.”

        Why does it matter if it’s five people or thirty people? Metro knows this happens several times a day on the 71/72/73. Do you think Metro blindly says, “Those riders don’t show up on the counters so they don’t exist.” I’m sure Metro has a good estimate of the average number of people on those buses, and it clearly shows that the number of runs is inadequate.

      8. @Aleks: More like “between Roy St and the Eastlake/Harvard intersection”. I regularly transfer between the 49 and 66 therre and I’m not alone in using the 49’s stops there. St. Mark’s Cathedral is popular as well, especially at night, I’ve noticed. Still, it sounds like the idea I had in another thread of routing a variant of the 10’s 15th leg into a loop around Volunteer Park might actually be a viable way to cut the 49 as it currently exists. The 49 is dead, dead, dead when U-Link, the streetcar, and maybe North Link come online.

        @Bruce: I’m confused. So, the people along the 14 alignment love their buses, and the north leg of the 14 is “phenomenally productive”, so you want to simply bend the 49 up Olive Way and cut the 14? (That people on the 14 alignment should be connected to the Link station is a point taken, though. Hmmm.)

      9. The 14 (Summit part) runs through the densest apartment district in the city, and in the mornings the seats fill up in just the first three stops. However, evenings have only a few people once it turns onto Summit, and Metro has reduced evening service to hourly. I reiterate that ridership would increase if it were scheduled 15 minutes after the 43 rather than 5 minutes after, and if it were punctual.

        Some have proposed sending it east to Capitol Hill station instead of west on Pine Street, and then perhaps joining it to the 10 or 9 or another route. That with a Link transfer would retain a similar travel time to downtown, although the bus would have to make a sharp left and backtrack a bit on Denny or East Olive Way. Most of the trolley routes on Capitol Hill could do with a change when CH stn opens, but it’ll mean adding new wire and I’m afraid Metro might just dieselize them instead.

  6. I’m a bit confused… The changes that are being made to fix these mistakes… Are these actual schedule changes? Or something hidden on the back-end to keep them on schedule more? Because I don’t see any schedule changes for those routes on Metro’s website for tomorrow.

  7. Congratulations to Metro on getting this right. Next, will they fix the impending mistake of not having the 71-74 serve Husky Stadium Station when it opens for service? If the 7x’s aren’t terminating there, what will happen with them?

    1. The thing is, the Ave is a huge producer of ridership to Downtown. It would be tough to get all those people on buses to Husky Stadium, which is fairly inconveniently located and would probably make for around the same trip time as the 71/72/73 from the U District to Downtown, even though Link will only take 6 minutes. So I don’t think they can truncate those bus routes until North Link.

      1. People have said this before, and I agree that it sucks to have to walk, but I don’t see how they can afford to run 22 busses an hour to and from downtown to the U-District OR get all those busses on 3rd Ave without turning it into a parking lot. 3rd Ave will already be crowded because of all the other tunnel busses.

      2. I would assume most of the 7x’s would serve Brooklyn Station once it opens. But wouldn’t they also cross campus, to get riders to close drop points? Won’t some of them reach Husky Stadium Station after 2011?

      3. Bus lanes on Pacific Street are a good idea. Routing them through the campus could work, but they may need to be through-routed with other routes.

      4. Metro hasn’t said the 71/72/73 won’t be changed in 2016. It hasn’t said anything either way. If they do decide to change, you probably won’t hear about it until 2015 when they start the public meetings. In the meantime you can write Metro and tell them you favor the change, with a bus lane on Pacific (it’s not feasable otherwise), and please ask them to send the U Village routes down to UW station too.

        But I don’t think it’s likely before 2021. You’d have to get city and UW approval to add a bus lane, and they’ll prob’ly say traffic is too thick to fit it. Truncating the 71/72/73 at Campus Parkway sounds really unlikely: when has Metro ever forced such a large number of people to walk the distance from the Ave to UW station or take a 43/44/48 shuttle? A lot of people are coming from campus, but a lot of people are coming from the apartments and businesses around the Ave too. Especially if they stop for lunch on the way to/from school.
        75 down to UW station too. But I think it’s doubtful they’ll change until Brooklyn opens. It’s only three miles from UW to downtown, so the cost savings aren’t as much as it’s not that much overhead compared to other express routes. or Seattle-Shoreline. I can’t imagine Metro forcing people to walk or take the 43/44/48 from the Ave to UW station. When has Metro ever done anything like that? Maybe you can put more buses on Pacific Street by adding a bus lane, but you certainly can’t do it without a bus lane. As for the cost of the 71/72/73, Metro is already paying those costs so it’s not an increase.

      5. Most of the U-Village routes already go through the campus and drop people off a relatively short walk down Rainier Vista to the station (the 25 is the exception, but it eventually comes back to UW station anyway).

    2. I was curious about the thought of truncating all the 7x’s at Husky Stadium in 2016. It turns out to be a wash, time wise, when looking at the Metro timetable from 45th/Univ-Pacific Pl, crossing Montlake, waiting an average of 3 minutes for Link, and an 10 min. ride to University Stn. It’s about 25 minutes for either mode. There’s not enough time saved during the day to convince riders it’s a good deal for them, even though it’s a good deal for Metro to not run the service into downtown. Besides, that the 70,000 ridership number for adding two stations to Link comes mostly from 7x riders, so they get the transfer nod by both agencies.
      When reading through the N.Link FEIS to get the travel times, I found the part where the tunnel only gets rid of buses when Link gets to Northgate, not Husky Stadium, as many think will happen.

      1. The FEIS does not bind ST not to kick out busses in 2016, and I hope they do kick them out then (and there’s a lot of well-informed people running around who seem pretty sure they will.) Link will continue to have terrible on-time performance until the busses are gone.

      2. At least they should kick the peak-only buses out and only have core all-day services. I’m thinking, keep the 41, 255, 550, 101, and 106 from 2016 to 2020.

      3. Yeah, I’d support a limited number of all-day busses in the tunnel. Right now the tunnel on-peak is often a parking lot.

      4. I doubt frequency of trains will change much until 2021. Bringing ULink online just keeps the current trains running a little further north, albeit, with a lot more people getting on and off. Maybe some tweaks on how many buses per hour can use the tunnel is all I see happening until Northgate and Bellevue come on line.

      5. I think a reasonable compromise would be to retain the 70 as an all-day route, and reroute 70x non-express buses to Husky Stadium. This saves Metro money, and provides riders with a less agonizing (if not much shorter) way to get to the U-District from downtown.

      6. The key in travel time for the 7x’s is the transfer at Husky Stadium Station. If Metro forces riders to cross Montlake, then, yes, it will be a wash. If Metro allows the buses to stop at the station elevator, then the total trip time will be faster.

        I don’t think the DEIS adequately covered the effect of adding more buses to downtown traffic. If riders can get a shorter two-seat ride downtown, the gridlock should force the decision for a transfer-based ride.

        Additionally, there are ways to maximize route couplings along Pacific. And by then, UW could put up Good-to-Go tolling on Pacific to make some money off of those who choose to bring their private vehicles through campus.

        Interestingly, Metro makes a big deal of UW Medical Center being a bigger destination than Husky Stadium Station, in justifying why the 520 routes won’t serve the station. But if the 7x riders have to transfer west of campus and take a 2-bus ride to get to UW Medical Center, it would suggest that UWMC is only an important destination when Metro can use it as an excuse to keep a bus route away from the foot of the station.

        Where I come from back in Texas, we have a word for that kind of reasoning: “Baloney!”

      7. Have to agree with Brent, except when I lived in Texas the word was BS. The only way transfers make any sense at Husky for 7x’s riders is the ‘forced solution’ by policy makers, under the current stop plan.
        That plan is currently in wet cement, and getting harder by the day.
        Brooklyn station will be the last to be finished, as the TBM and spoils will all have to come out of the Northgate Portal.
        In short, riders get the boot at the Med Ctr, until at least 2021.

      8. I apologize, Mike S, for dumbing down the jargon.

        Consider, though, what the 7x’s would be doing on their way to 45th & University under the two competing plans:

        Under one plan, they are clogging the tunnel, and then giving students a neat view of Queen Anne, the canal, the Olympics, and the Cascades, on their way to a shopping district one block away from the west edge of the UW campus.

        On the other, they would be serving Husky Stadium Station (which could have been a major transit hub had the competing agencies and UW not let turf considerations get the best of them, at the expense of roughly the same set of taxpayers), UW Medical Center, and the south central portion of the University of Washington. The view may be lesser, but there is more useful neighborhood service along the way (the neighborhood being UW).

        And that brings me to my second point, which is actually a point about points: Isn’t the main point of the 71-74 to get students to the UW campus, not 45th and University? Shouldn’t the time points be locations on campus, not 45th & University? If those time points involve a two-bus ride, the non-scenic view wins the service-utility comparison hands down.

        Am I missing something here?

      9. No you’re not. The optimum solution is to make the transfers at Brooklyn (if you don’t count the one at the Hub that is really optimal), so we’re talking about what to do with the 7x’s between 2016-2021.
        I’m not sure how many riders would appreciate being dumped off on the W.side of Montlake, and told the station is ‘that-a-way’ if you want to go any further.
        Routing the buses next to the station would be best, provided some exclusive lanes and signals made the trip tolerable. I wish I had a nickel for every break I missed, slugging my way between Montlake and 45th/Univ during the traffic clusterf*ck days on the 43/44.
        All that said, I suspect Metro will keep some of the service going to the tunnel, and some going to the current stop plan near Husky Stadium.
        Ridership? Who knows. People have a way of voting with their feet. We’ll see.

      10. Both Campus and the Ave are huge destinations, but I would argue that the Ave is a more important one because it is all day, every day, while Campus is mostly just a destination during the day. But really, everything would just be so much easier if they opened U Link to Brooklyn Station… It’ll be tough to balance direct service with redundancy between 2016 and 2021.

      11. “everything would just be so much easier if they opened U Link to Brooklyn Station”

        This is the real problem. We’re going through all these hoops only because UW station is such an out-of-the-way terminus. My conclusion is to just accept we’re going to suffer a lot of inconvenience for five years, and then things will be much better.

        “UW could put up Good-to-Go tolling on Pacific”

        Pacific Street is owned by the city, not the university.

      12. “I think a reasonable compromise would be to retain the 70 as an all-day route, and reroute 70x non-express buses to Husky Stadium.”

        If “70 all-day” means transferring the 71/72/73’s Eastlake segments to the 70, this would work. Otherwise Eastlake wouldn’t have any evening/Sunday service at all.

        Some people have suggested truncating a lot of routes at Link stations in off-peak hours. That way you don’t piss off commuters who have to be at work on time, yet you can still gain some efficiencies in off-peak travel.

  8. Most people don’t know about this, but the 510/511 provide a combined 15-minute all day 7-day-a-week service from downtown and the U-district (going the other way, you have scheduled bunching – two buses go by back-to-back, then nothing for 30 minutes). 5 minutes on the freeway + 10 minutes walking is much faster than 30 minutes on a 7x bus.

    1. The 510 and 511 are great (I live a few blocks away on the Wallingford side and catch them if I miss the 26) but they don’t serve the U District during peak times – before 9am Southbound or between 2:30pm and 7pm Northbound.

  9. Metro, I’d love to save you in timetable printing costs by only picking up timetables when they change, but if you won’t publicize every single one of your changes in the Rider Alert brochure (or adopt Kitsap Transit’s system of only publishing new timetables when they change) I have to pick up new copies of every timetable to be sure they’re all accurate.

    The “University District/Downtown Seattle” timetable is not online because it isn’t the timetable for any specific route, which is how Metro’s timetable lookup feature works.

    1. Yeah I’ve always wondered why they don’t put the U District-Downtown schedule online. I guess it’s not all that necessary because they come so often, but still, if you publish something in print, you should have it available online as well.

  10. I took the 73 today and it took 25 or 30 minutes to get down town form the U district. Keeping the headways under 10 minutes isn’t so important when the bus take forever to load and get downtown.

    1. Those are the situations when I just think, god, why does it have to be so long until U/North Link… But until then, we should do things like put TVMs at Campus Parkway and maybe the Ave stops up to 50th, and put in other “BRT” elements to speed it up.

  11. When you design a high frequency trunk line created from less-frequent branches, it is important to have evenly spaced service to minimize wait time and bunching on the trunk. For many cases, including this case (the 71/72/73), I agree. However, that’s not quite always true.

    In Bergen, there are three (or so) main routes in to town, and lots of bus routes that funnel onto those three routes. Instead of trying to spread them out evenly (which would result in service more often than every 5 minutes at rush hour, and I think midday as well), they deliberately bunched them up to run as many as 6-7 buses every 10-15 minutes. While it was annoying outbound, it was really nice inbound; the group of buses together made really fast progress because, at a stop, the front bus would peel off and pick people up while the rest passed by.

    The one I’m most familiar with, from the main dorms of the University of Bergen to downtown & the main campus, is one of these, but it was replaced by light rail last year.

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