KC Metro

Oran already wrote about some of the ORCA and fare results, but those come from a Metro-commissioned survey of riders on the A line, for which you can read the summary or the full survey results. The press release indicates that weekday boardings have increased from 6,000 on the 174 to 7,500 on the nearly identically routed A Line. Metro doesn’t regularly release route ridership figures but Spring 2009 numbers are here.

I don’t know what there is to say except that people like it when service improves. I was somewhat amused that the most popular suggested improvement was “less fare enforcement,” above.

42 Replies to “RapidRide Survey Results”

  1. I feel like people say less fare enforcement not so they can evade fares, but because it is really annoying to dig out your orca card or other proof after you’ve already put it away.

    1. This is kind of a controversial topic, but I think RapidRide shouldn’t accept any cash fare on-board at all. Granted, there are logistical concerns here (all stops need to have ticket machines; ORCA cards need to be much more available; etc.), but RapidRide seems (seemed?) like a good place to pilot that kind of program. (If SLUT-style mini-TVMs could be outfitted with ORCA readers, this might be something to really consider?)

  2. I wouldn’t read too much into 6% making fare enforcement their top complaint. 21% said there should be less fare enforcement. 22% said there should be more. So, it looks like Metro got that aspect *just right*.

    Those who complain most about the fare enforcement are likely the people who go into a loud tantrum when they get caught freeloading. If the level of fare enforcement makes the drama-queen/king con artists go away, I say good riddance.

    Of course, then, the survey sample would shift in favor of the people who had wanted more fare enforcement, putting Metro in a catch-22.

  3. Looks to me like 5% + 4% + 4% (less perhaps a point or two for new routes) speak up for more frequency, for a new chart-topping bar.

  4. How can RapidRide “stay on time” if there is no timetable? Could that really mean maintain headways?

    1. The late night and night owl runs have scheduled times, thank the Creator.


      They are so teasingly close to having half-hour or better headway 24/7/365 that I wish they would just go for it.

      Still, I don’t ride as much as I would like because (1) I have to take a circuitous two-bus ride or backtrack to downtown or Beacon Hill to get to it from South Park; and (2) I’m annoyed enough at Metro that I am attempting to make sure ST gets most of the revenue from my monthly pass.

      1. Brent brings up a good point(he usually does)about ‘division of revenue’ between Metro and ST on trips that are linked together.
        RapidRide is the logical extension of Link going down PacHwy. Eventually ST will get most all of it, but in the meantime, do the agencies just make a 50/50 split of the corridor ridership, from the ORCA revenue stream.
        Has anyone heard how that is done?

      2. Mike, that would be interesting to know. I just assumed it was done proportionally on a per-trip basis. So if I rode a Metro bus with a $2.50 fare and then an ST bus with a $2.50 fare, the split would be 50/50. But if I did Sounder at $4.75 and then Metro at $2.25, it would be about 68/32 with the bulk going to ST. That’s probably too straightforward, though. :)

    2. To some degree, sure. But more important I think, it means “Get where I’m going in the advertised elapsed time so I don’t have to add more than one headway’s worth of pad to my arrival.”

      That is, if the schedule says “it takes 17 minutes to go from Kent-Des Moines to TIB” (it does) and I want to get on a Link train to be at Nordstrom’s Westlake at noon (another 37 minutes plus a possible 10 minute transfer time) when do I have to leave?

      If I get the optimal trip: I arrive at my stop just as the bus is pulling up, it arrives at TIB 17 minutes later two minutes before a Link train departs (to give me time to climb the stairs), my elapsed travel time is 56 minutes (17 minutes plus 2 minutes plus 37 minutes). My “safe” time adds twenty minutes to that to allow for the times that the A line pulls away just before I get to the stop and Link pulls away as I’m climbing the stairs: 76 minutes.

      But if the A line is sometimes five minutes late I’ll almost NEVER make my “best trip” time (which was rare anyway) and I will frequently have the worst of all possible worlds (I’m climbing the stairs from the five minute late bus which has gotten seven minutes late because its dwell time has lengthened from being full of the next bus’s passengers) and the Link pulls away. And then the nearly empty next A line pulls in right after my bus.

      THAT’s what “stay on time” means for frequent transit. And that’s why, unfortunately, without signal preemption and exclusive lanes BRT is a chimera.

      1. It’s dumb to reply to myself but…

        In the next to last paragraph, it would be clearer to add another sentence. “I could have left ten minutes later and been equally late to my destination.”

      2. Very, very, very clearly explained, Anandakos!

        Every time I’m frothing at the mouth after a Ballard-to-Capitol Hill experience (using two of Metro’s supposedly most frequent corridors but with results that vary from 35 to 105 minutes), and the mouth-frothing gets in the way of explaining why the cumulative operational policies that allow this are unacceptable, I will want to link to your post.

        The only thing worse than “I could have left ten minutes later [and had the same result]” is “I could have left 30 minutes later [and had the same result].”

  5. After quickly reviewing the survey results, I had the following questions:

    1) Should the question about transferring from another bus have been did you transfer from a bus or train? I wonder if the transfer rates would have been a little higher.
    2) I wonder if the data could be cross tabulated to ask of those who use ORCA cards, if one response to improving the stops is more ORCA readers? I don’t think many Rapid Ride users ride SWIFT, so the topic of fare vending machines at stops would have come up.
    3) On frequency and reliability of buses, how can you have a bus arrive or leave early or late on a headway based schedule? It’s not like customers are out there with watches seeing how frequent the buses are.

    1. I know I pay attention to how long I wait for a train here in Chicago and they frequently are not within the timeframe allotted on their headway charts.

      People do pay attention. If you give us any semblance of a schedule, you need to hold to it. Period.

  6. Is there a Rapidride A budget available online?

    Does anyone on this blog know the capital cost and operating cost (for 2011) for RapidRide A? I have been trying to find this information online this morning with no success.

    1. I doubt you’ll find anything better than the 2009 route performance report, generalized data on the operating cost side.
      Interesting notes on the 174 shuttle, both peak and off-peak showed it performed as well or better than many of the trolley routes.(Effectiveness sum). Farebox recovery was nearly 50% in the off-peak and Rides/Revenue Hr. outperformed MT’s systemwide average of 48.2 by 70 in the peak and 85 in the off-peak.
      One more interesting observation was MT delivered both 3.4 million trips and 3.4 million hours of service in 2009, for an average trip time of 1 hour. Operating cost was $125/Hr, less $34 received in fares, for a net of $91 per hour.
      RapidRide-A doubled the number of trips over the 174 it replaced, with an increase of 25% in riders, on the same scheduled trip times per bus. You can do the math from there. I would have favored an incremental approach to building service hours in step with decreased travel times and increasing ridership to keep the performance numbers nearly the same.

      1. Keep in mind that route effectiveness sums are computed relative to other busses in the same subarea at the same time of day, and comparisons outside of that scope are meaningless. Which is not to say that the 174 was not a well-performing route — it clearly was, especially for a bus outside of the west subarea.

        I’m also rather skeptical of the “route effectiveness sum” in general. Any such score that gives route 70 a score of -3.1 and route 7 a 0.1 (Ranier) and -0.5 (Prentice St) should be treated with extreme caution, as those are two of Seattle’s hardest working busses.

      2. Thanks for pointing that out Bruce. The effectiveness sum is only useful within a sub-area, and time period. I missed that one.
        The hard numbers, like riders per hour, fare-box recovery are transportable between sub-areas. That still shows the 174 beat out some impressive trolley routes(7,7x,4n), but is only a middle of the pack performer compared to all West sub-area routes, instead of the poster child for the South Sub-area.
        The point I was making is by shoving a bunch of new hours into a route (double), and only getting a 25 pct increase in ridership, puts the new ‘improved’ route even further down the efficiency scale.
        That worries me, as the new policy directives from the ‘Task Force’ rely more and more on route efficiency when making service cuts that are on the way.
        Or is RapidRide the new sacred cow of transit?

      3. I too hope they don’t just cut mechanically based on those effectiveness scores: they need to ask the operators who run those routes how full they are and why they might have the scores they do.

        For example, the 12, 2 S, and 14 N all “underperform” on passenger miles per revenue hour on peak, but anyone who’s ridden one can tell you it’s because they sit in traffic almost all the time, which isn’t their fault.

        And then there are busses like the 70, which are routinely standing room only, but the vast majority of people on it don’t count, because they have U-Passes.

        Finally, any bus that goes through downtown is subject to a significant amount of fare-dodging that brings them down in these rankings. The 7 suffers particularly badly in this respect (I’ve seen this personally.) Some of the Queen Anne busses would probably make money for Metro if RFA were abolished.

      4. Great observations. When I drove the 3/4 it would fill up as soon as I hit Bell St. (start of RFA), then mostly empty out by Harborview. Few fares, and a ridiculous amount of time wasted for the paying passengers getting shoved around in the back to make room for some more free-loaders.

      5. is RapidRide the new sacred cow of transit?

        Pretty much. It was promised as part of a tax increase and since the Wiener Mobiles are a very visible sign of “your tax dollars at work” the edict has come down that Rapidride shall commence. One of the service changes coming for the B-line is elimination of the 256. Ah, sure… greater frequency between DT Bellevue and Overlake means we don’t need as many service hours on the 520 corridor, right?

      6. The hours are replaced by increased service on other 520 corridor routes, like the 255. Metro/ST agreed with the Feds to add 90 one-way peak period trips across 520 as a condition to receive federal funding.

      7. Metro/ST agreed with the Feds to add 90 one-way peak period trips

        But that has nothing to do with Rapidride-B. It’s a numbers game. They add maybe 90 trips and eliminate 10 in the case of the 256. I didn’t really recognize the other routes since I don’t use them but service reductions because of Rapidride-B should only come from routes that the B Line serves. Otherwise it’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul.

      8. What numbers game? It is a net increase of 90 trips. So if they take away 10, they have to add 100.

        “But that has nothing to do with Rapidride-B”

        Right and so is eliminating the 256. Its service hours are going to the 255, not the B Line. Metro says it right on their website: “Delete this route and use its resources to add more trips on Route 255 between Kirkland and downtown Seattle.”

        Route 256 has been failing the minimum performance threshold (by West subarea standards) for a number of years. Even by East subarea standards, it is below average.

        The only relation to RapidRide B is it’s part of an overall effort to reorganize the Eastside transit network to integrate with RapidRide and other high-frequency corridors.

      9. Oran, if what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt it is, then Metro did a really bad job with the fliers it sent out regarding Rapidride-B and service changes. I’m sure you got one (green) with the comment period ending 02/04.

      10. Bernie, I didn’t get a flier in the mail (I live in Kingsgate) but I did read the proposals online and completed the online questionnaire. The website was well done and explained where deleted routes’ service hours would go. It didn’t give me the impression at all that Metro’s “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

        As to Mike’s concern about “reduced efficiency on improved routes,” specifically for the A Line, keep in mind that Metro has a target to increase ridership by 50% in 5 years. They’re not going to be judging RapidRide an inefficient route in this round of cuts. So far, getting halfway to their 5 year target within months of introducing the A Line sounds pretty darn good to me. Or they were just too conservative in their estimates.

      11. Damn, and the flyer I got already went out in the recycling. Surely someone reading the blog has one that they can scan in? My employer is now in Totem Lake (which is the Kingsgate P&R/flyer stop). Service, you’d think, would be great on the I-405 corridor from oh say Houghton P&R to the Kingsgate Flyer Stop (given Totem Lake is Kirkland’s version of Bel-Red with respect to future development; with the distinction that Totem Lake is about 3 decades ahead of the curve)… NOT!

  7. I’ve been riding RapidRide from beginning to end for several months now, and I can’t help but notice one thing–NOT ALL the stops are called out by the computer system. Is this deliberate or a glitch?

    1. On fixed route systems, stops must be announced at:
      * Transfer points with other fixed routes
      * Major intersections, destination points
      * Intervals along a route sufficient to permit people who are blind or have vision impairments, or other disabilities, to be oriented to their location
      *Any requested stop

      I assume that announcements are made only when the conditions above are met.

      1. You forgot:
        * Put the mic 6 inches off to the side.
        * Say the required info as fast as you can.
        * A little mumbling never hurt anyone.
        * If anyone says anything, stare at them, saying “Excuse Me?”

  8. I forgot to mention…regulations regarding when stops must be announced are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  9. Have MEHVA run an unheated stinky MAN Artic with dim interior lighting on the Rapid Ride A once in a while to remind the kids how good they got it now

    1. John, I’m not trying to be a smart ass, but you want urban levels of service (brt, lrt), on Kent Easthill, which is very suburban. Wouldn’t it be better for you to move to where the urban services currently exist?

      1. It doesn’t have to be BRT (and if Metro is running it, it won’t be). Even a lenthened 101 with two tails, each with 30-minute headway, would be a big step forward. One tail for Benson/108th, and one roughly resembling the 102, but all day, would be a huge step forward.

      2. I’m pretty sure many of us want to tell him that when he complains about low service levels in the boonies, but I’d have to agree with Bruce.

  10. A bit of a concern to me is how RR will fare when the tunnel is built and all the tunnel avoidant cars hit the downtown streets. Will Rapid Ride get stuck with all the cars and become the Un-Rapid Ride?????? Maybe it will fly above the problems like Bud Cort’s character in the film Brewster McCloud.

    1. I’m sure 3rd Ave will remain transit-only during peak times. Maybe those hours will even be extended.

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