Strategic Plan for Public Transportation

Yesterday Executive Constantine released The Strategic Plan for Public Transportation. Since his election, Constantine has shied way from the spotlight, focusing on making county government operate as well and efficiency as possible. The Regional Transit Task Force (RTTF) was a key element of this with relation to transit. In general the strategic plan shouldn’t be a major surprise. It lays out what should be expect from Metro as an agency, i.e. safe operations, access to service countywide, support economic growth, etc.

More interesting is the updated accompanying Service Guidelines, which outlines the process by which Metro plans service. Before this point service proposals to the RTTF didn’t had firmly defined performance thresholds, it was more about the general approach not the actual numbers. Specific performance thresholds are now proposed. Also Metro has carried forward the “screen process” for planning with several changes.

First Metro looks at land use and social equity. Next service is added back that surpasses certain cost recovery, load or connection threshold or requirements. The next step is the largest change. Peak service is then added over the previously defined all-day network with the requirement that it is more than 20% faster than all-day routes and riders per trip is 90% of a competing route. The document also outlines service design guidelines that are very similar to what the RTTF recommended.

This is all very promising and exciting.

79 Replies to “Constantine Moves RTTF Recommendations Forward”

  1. The greater focus on performance is very welcome and the insight into the processes is fascinating. Thanks for this.

    1. Cut the Line C first. West Seattle has given RapidRide a cool reception. Fine. Let West Seattle move to the back of the line, and install RapidRide, as the money actually becomes available, in pro-transit neighborhoods first.

      Maybe Delridge would be a better coupling with the Line D down the road. They might be more receptive to RapidRide, and for the same cost, I bet it could hook up with the Line F.

      1. Not to stray off topic, but the D Line is paid for by non-federal funds, it is not in Jeopardy.

      2. Unclear how the conclusion has been drawn that WS is cool on RR. Has a survey been run on this topic? I’d really hate for the conventional wisdom about WS to be based on the commentary of a couple business owners who are facing changes to their parking.

      3. West Seattle has not been cool on Rapid Ride. There are plenty of us who support it. There have been alignment challenges as there is anywhere.

        And the D line is also in jeopardy as is the whole Rapid Ride program if the Republicans get their way. It is all the same pot of money. There is no magical funding source for Ballard. It is simply accounting.

    2. When I think of all the TransitNow sales taxes we’ve paid since 2006, and all the West Subarea TransitNow funds they’ve wasted “public-private partnering” on routes like the 75 and 25 — the worst kinds of route imaginable — the watering down and now potential nixing of RapidRide just makes my blood boil.

      1. Does that explain why the 25 is such a stupid and unproductive route? What was the back story with that one?

      2. You are underestimating the depth of this recession and its impact on sales tax revenue.

        As for “public-private partnering” waste, you may want to look up the term “leverage” in the dictionary. I don’t have a lot of experience with these kinds of routes, but I suspect cutting routes serving either Microsoft or Children’s hospital would put you into a bigger heap of hurt.

        If you have real numbers regarding “waste”, please do tell… Inquiring minds want to know.

      3. I can’t speak to d.p.’s “waste” but I will say that the 25 is the worst performing all-day route in the west subarea (excluding shuttle routes and other weird stuff.) Moreover the only parts of its alignment that isn’t served (better) by other busses are Montlake between the bridges and the half-mile loop south of Children’s. I’m interested in what d.p. may have to say in case it sheds light on such a strange choice.

        For all that it doesn’t fit my idea of what a good Seattle transit system should look like, the 75 is comfortably in the middle of the pack.

      4. If you look at the 25’s path, it’s no surprise why it performs so poorly. Most of it runs through single family Montlake and Laurelhurst and skirts along I-5 on a cliff with very little housing.

        I sometimes take it if I have time to spend and want the scenic route.

      5. The only time I’ve ever taken the 25 has been when I’ve been waiting for another bus, and it just happened to come first. This despite the fact that a friend of mine lives right next to a 25 stop.

        I imagine the same would be true for the 46, but I have yet to actually see one.

      6. Bruce and Vélo:

        In the complete text of the 2006 proposition put before voters (conveniently not available online), the hundreds of thousands of new bus-hours TransitNow was supposed to enable were divided into three categories:

        1. Hours devoted to RapidRide, once implemented.
        2. Hours devoted to bolstering “core” services, bringing as many of them as possible to 15-minute all-day frequencies. (There was a map of intended targets, and most any vital in-Seattle route you can think of was on it.)
        3. Hours devoted to “public-private partnerships” — services augmented at the behest of private interests. The costs of these additional trips were to be shared roughly evenly between the private party and the TransitNow funds.

        Tellingly, the very first new trips implemented under TransitNow were in category #3. Vulcan development signed up to have 8 and 70 trips increased during the afternoon rush hour (even though the 8 was already slated for expansion under category #2). Children’s Hospital, meanwhile, got trips on the 25 and 75 augmented (the latter at significant cost).

        These funds became essentially first-come-first-served propositions. As in: anyone who propositioned first got served with our tax dollars, regardless of the logic of the proposition. I don’t know if it was Children’s or Metro’s lack of creativity and rational thought that got the funds allocated to such asinine routes, but the fact remains that the 25 and the 75 are exactly the wrong kinds of routes on which to be spending funds of any sort.

        Children’s could have been infinitely better (and infinitely cheaper) served by, say, extending the 44 straight to its doorstep (rather than insisting that it overlap 47 other routes down 15th and Pacific). Heck, there could be a shuttle bouncing between it and the U-District all day for a fraction of what they — and by extension, taxpayers — wound up paying for hours of wasted 25/75 service.


        As you see, this at no point involved a question of service cuts, but about unwise and wasteful service expansions at the behest of a handful of institutions. So are you suggesting is that, in order to “leverage” the goodwill of such institutions, Metro is right to squander voter-approved funds (that apparently could never have delivered as promised without significant Federal subsidy)?


        The 75 “performs” decently in terms of ridership and fare recovery because its 75-minute-plus crawl around North Seattle contains within it no fewer than 5 segments that would be vital to a hypothetical gridded, not because it’s a good route as is. It’s routinely 35-45 late at rush hour. The trip-time fluctuates wildly the rest of the day. Riding more than any 2 consecutive segments means enduring some absurd detours and calculating the risk of any number of externalities.

        It’s well used because it is the only bus that exists along many of those vital corridors. It’s not a good route, and nobody (who hasn’t had their expectations beaten out of them by a lifetime of riding Metro) looks forward to using it.


        “You are underestimating the depth of this recession and its impact on sales tax revenue.”

        No, I’m not. But that doesn’t change the fact that we agreed to raise our sales tax to the precipice of 10%, that fares have nearly doubled since TransitNow passed, and that, with the cancellation of most of the expansions, the scaling-back of RapidRide plans to the point where the “rapid” and “frequent” are essentially lies, and now the threatened outright deletion of the RapidRide program, we have received precisely nothing for our extra money!

        It’s not just about overselling and underdelivering. It’s about doing so while perpetrating wasteful error after wasteful error on a daily basis — I’m talking about all the things we regularly disuss on S.T.B. (incentivizing cash, refusing to mandate multi-door usage, wasting countless service hours on poor route design and overlapping service near “nodes”). The sense that they have no problem wasting taxpayer money while putting zero effort* into making things function better on their end makes the “inevitability” deep-recession outcomes like cancelling their flagship funded-for-the-last-5-years service ring totally hollow!

        *I do mean zero effort. Where’s the route 44 stop diet that was proposed nearly a year ago!? It’s obscene that the bus is still taking 12-18 minutes just to leave Ballard. Do you know how many minutes of my life — and of their own service hours — if they had enacted the diet long ago?

      7. Oran & Aleks:

        The 25 has, curiously, survived essentially unchanged since the streetcar era: (25+24)

        Even though its entire Boylston Ave walkshed was replaced with an interstate highway, which presumably required some slight re-jiggering of the route.

        Regardless, it’s a stupid route now, it’s probably been a stupid route since the highway was built, and allowing Children’s to waste limited voter-approved funds on it was deeply stupid.

      8. [Got a bit antsy to hit “post.” If only I could go in and fix all those typos and fill in the many missing words, especially in the long post’s last paragraphs. Let me know if any of the “implied” sentence fragments aren’t obvious. It’s really important, especially Vélo, that you don’t take this as a personal attack yet realize that sometimes the incessantly-repeated “rationale” for a scaling-back can’t redress the larger bait-and-switch.]

      9. Interesting.

        The 25 is easily the juiciest of Metro’s poor-performing routes, followed by the 42. Axing those two routes and using the hours to express the 7xs all evening, add a couple of 7X runs to replace the 42, and put in a short extension to another route (say the 67?) to serve the little bit of Montlake that would lose out otherwise would be a downpayment on performance-based transit planning. I live in hope.

      10. “we have received precisely nothing for our extra money!”

        Nonsense. The “extra” money has served as a cushion to prevent even further service cuts during a massive downturn in revenue. I’ve seen plenty of inefficient service cut; more needs to be done and you can count on me to gripe about it when I drive inefficient routes. Surely you recall my rants about the Metro 219?

        Stop diets appear to be an ongoing process. I drive a lot of random service so I occasionally run across situations where I think a stop will be at a certain location but arrive only to find it’s been removed. Metro does need a little bit more backbone though. I drove the 14 last shakeup after it had gone on a diet – MUCH BETTER. But during the shakeup two of the removed stops returned because of customer requests. It’s a little bit of a “two steps forward, one step back” exercise but progress is being made.

        Ideally, Metro would create a streamlined system for drivers to submit inefficient stops for removal. Most drivers know of inefficient stops and we have plenty of incentive to submit stops for removal if we believe there is a reasonable chance the stop will be removed.

        As for the public/private partnership money, I’m saying I don’t know the details. If Metro is still lighting money on fire as part of those partnerships, by all means cancel those routes. But if Children’s or Microsoft is paying the majority of those costs, then that’s their business. If you have data, post it, please…

      11. Vulcan and Children’s are kindly putting money in to double peak frequency on the 8 and 75 — something that benefits all riders and not just their employees. I’ve benefited from the 8 and 75 expansions (although I only ride them occasionally). I don’t know about the 25 but again, companies donate to the routes that run by their businesses, not to other needs like the 71-73X.

        Yes, the 75 can be improved, and the 25 can be replaced with an all-45th route. But that’s not the responsibility of these companies or Transit Now.

        It does appear that voters have gotten nothing for their money, but that fails to take into account the record gas prices in early 2008 and the loss in sales tax revenue since late 2008. It’s not Metro’s fault if the Feds yank RapidRide funding.

      12. How would the 67 serve Montlake? Would it double back after heading down Pacific St to UW Station? Or would it turn onto Fuhrman after the University Bridge and terminate at Husky Stadium after crossing back over the Montlake Bridge? The latter would be more direct, but it could test my patience.

        This could be a job for the 49 if it stays in something resembling its current form.

      13. Vélo wrote:

        “Nonsense. The ‘extra’ money has served as a cushion to prevent even further service cuts.”

        I’m sorry. Not good enough. I’ll vote for pretty much any transit-oriented tax increase in existence (even a horrendously regressive sales-tax one), but if I knew then what I know, there’s no way I could have justified voting for it.

        Here’s the hindsight:

        1. Metro had no business proposing TransitNow as long as 40/40/20 was still in place

        2. Metro had no business promising a flagship BRT that couldn’t be
        A) fast and frequent enough to replace 3 routes each (rather than 1)
        B) iron-clad and buffered in its funding/implementation; unable to be threatened by any economic event

        I feel like all of the extra nickel-and-diming since 2006 has just flown out of my pocket and into the suburbs, where I’ve used it essentially never. And all we get out of it is RapidRide A? Sure, it’s nice to have 10-minute service anywhere, but a strip-highway through the outer exurbs with zero potential spontaneous trips in its walkshed is not where 10-minute service is most needed. In the city it is, and we have none of it.

        Meanwhile, the 44 stop diet has been “zero steps forward, one step back.”

        Bruce, I see your point about keeping uber-isolated Montlake in (token) service. Have you ever been there? Highly douchey neighborhood full of people in thorough denial that they live in a city. The only way these people were ever going to take transit would be if they’d planned a north-Cap Hill/Montlake stop for Link — the 10-minute walk + 4-minute ride would have been hard to ignore. But these people are never going to set foot on a bus in a million years.

      14. Oops. Forgot the most important part…

        “But if Children’s …is paying the majority of those costs, then that’s their business.”

        I strongly recall cost of the public-private hours were to be split 50-50. So it’s still a lot of money for the taxpayers to shell out for inefficiency. It’s also symbolically very bad to use any new funds to expand precisely the kind of contorted, unreliable, everywhere-to-everywhere-via-everywhere local service that Metro should be phasing out!

        Mike: “But that’s not the responsibility of these companies or Transit Now.”

        Bull. The voters voted for transit improvement. What they got was more of same crap.

        If Metro insisted, for godknowswhatreason, that public-private partnerships could only bolster service on existing routes (eliminating the possibility of working out a streamlining strategy as part of the partnership), then they had the responsibility to reject partnerships this wasteful.

        Mike, I live at one of the 75’s nodes, and every trip on it is just as much a nightmare as before. Doubling frequencies on terribly-designed routes is literally throwing good money after bad.

      15. I feel like all of the extra nickel-and-diming since 2006 has just flown out of my pocket and into the suburbs,

        Check your pockets; the money actually flys the opposite direction. That’s why 40/40/20 was instituted in the first place.

        And all we get out of it is RapidRide A? Sure, it’s nice to have 10-minute service anywhere, but a strip-highway through the outer exurbs with zero potential spontaneous trips in its walkshed is not where 10-minute service is most needed.

        Ironic that the B Line will have the type of walkshed and potential spontaneous trips you’re talking about.

      16. “Check your pockets; the money actually flys the opposite direction.”

        Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong-diddly-wrong. The non-partnership TransitNow hours (the vast majority) were entirely considered “new service,” and therefore subject to 40-40-20. (The minority “partnerships hours” category did include routes for which the city of Seattle kicked the matching funds — meaning that I, as a resident, paid for that other half too.) But the bulk was 40-40-20 allocated.

        If we end up with RapidRide in South King and nowhere else, it’ll be beyond 40-40-20.

        And even regarding existing service (i.e. all funding, not just the 2006 levy), you’re still wrong to claim “the money flys the opposite direction.” Exurban service fares so much worse on a per-rider subsidies — and worse yet on the much fairer per-rider-mile subsidy comparison. Meanwhile, urban fares have risen by a higher percentage than suburban ones over the last five years. In every respect, I am the subsidizer and they are the welfare queens.

        “Ironic that the B Line will have the type of walkshed and potential spontaneous trips you’re talking about.”

        I call b.s. Where along its route are any of the types of housing/services/workplaces/functions that truly inspire urban-style spontaneous transit use? Maybe they’ll be there someday; they’re not today.

      17. I actually tried to make a back-of-the envelope estimate of what the inter-regional transfer is. The east side is indeed a donor, on balance.

        I would be interested to hear better numbers if they exist. No-one has been able to give me any better, hence my effort. I shall leave the the Mortal Kombat over whether this is fair or not to others, but I will say that I’d be willing to pay 10% more transit taxes to avoid the kind of Eastside vs Westside pissing contests we see all the time.

      18. And even regarding existing service (i.e. all funding, not just the 2006 levy), you’re still wrong to claim “the money flys the opposite direction.” Exurban service fares so much worse on a per-rider subsidies and worse yet on the much fairer per-rider-mile subsidy comparison.

        It only makes sense to look at all service hours. Dispite the crappy metrics on most eastside routes the revenue exceeds the cost. The shear bulk of the hours devoted to Seattle puts them in the hole.

        Meanwhile, urban fares have risen by a higher percentage than suburban ones over the last five years.

        Not really, a one zone fare on the eastside has risen exactly the same amount as a one zone fare in Seattle. Two zone fares have not risen by the same percentage and certainly there’s a lot more people commuting into Seattle from the south but on the Lake Washington bridges it’s pretty close to balanced.

        I call b.s. Where along [the B Line] are any of the types of housing/services/workplaces/functions that truly inspire urban-style spontaneous transit use?

        DT Belleve, Microsoft campus, and DT Redmond? And then there are a few folks that live, work, eat, shop at Crossroads. But if you define “urban-style” to mean only hipsters on Capital Hill then yeah, nothin’ out there but blueberry fields.

      19. No, Bernie [and his ad hominem], I don’t just mean “Capitol Hill hipsters.”

        I mean the medium-distance errands/excursions that take place within and around a contiguous, multi-faceted, built-up area of the sort that only exists in cities. In fact, the above might be considered the functional definition of “city.”

        Those are the sort of trips that require the capacity and reliability of 10-minute-or-less frequencies, as well as the expectation that you can walk to a stop and a vehicle will soon arrive… especially since urban mobility is more likely to require transfers (in potentially inclement weather or on a darkened street corner).

        A longish-distance trip/commute between, say, an office park and a mall, does not carry that expectation. A timely 15-minute printed-scheduled frequency (that allows you to avoid any waiting outdoors) is perfectly adequate for that sort of suburban service, even on a high-demand route.

        In short, the further (and more point-to-point oriented) your trip is, the more planning is inherently required, and the less important it becomes to provide spontaneous mobility. Trips in the suburbs are inherently further, and the service is inherently organized around nodes. (Yes, it’s node-focused in Seattle too, but it shouldn’t be.)


        “A one zone fare on the eastside has risen exactly the same amount as a one zone fare in Seattle.

        Which seems incredibly unjust when you consider, as I urge you to, the per-rider-mile disparity in subsidy (rather than the already-significant per-rider subsidy).


        Your total-operations calculations seem solid, so I guess I’ll east my words regarding the ostensibly-donor Eastside. Although when you combine East and South, it seems like the subsidy numbers come out roughly even between Seattle and everything-but-Seattle.

        That doesn’t necessarily excuse us only getting 20% of the not-insignificant TransitNow tax increase, with its possibly-cancelled city RapidRide routes. We voted for an improvement, and 20% of that money simply did not represent a discernible improvement! Oversell and underdeliver and your constituents won’t be so generous next time…

      20. I mean the medium-distance errands/excursions that take place within and around a contiguous, multi-faceted, built-up area of the sort that only exists in cities. In fact, the above might be considered the functional definition of “city.”

        Every inch of the B Line is in either within the City of Redmond or the City of Bellevue. By your definition the Microsoft Campus and surrounding multi-family housing and retail is it’s own “city.” If DT Bellevue doesn’t meet your criteria of a “city” then only the Seattle CBD possibly can and it already has not only all day service with less than 10 minute headways everything but Link free and in the tunnel it’s not just transit priority but transit only. What mythical RapidRide route do you want that only serves a contiguous, multi-faceted, built-up area in Seattle with more employment, housing and retail than the walkshed of the B Line?

      21. Bernie, your regional myopia is showing.

        Seattle may be more node-like and less well stitched together than many cities, but it is for the most contiguous.

        Bellevue and Redmond are not. They comprise a series of fundamentally disconnected nodes that are quite far from one another.

        Do you really think anyone on the Microsoft campus makes an utterly impromptu, bolt-out-the-door quick trip to downtown Redmond or downtown Bellevue, the kind that absolutely requires a constant stream of schedule-less transit? No — because they are quite far from one another.

        In cities — even in Seattle — that sort of spontaneity happens all the time.

        And there just isn’t much walkshed between suburban nodes, significantly reducing the possible permutations of spontaneous trips (or the sort that successful urban transit can offer.)

        That’s why any transit system worth its salt provides no-need-for-a-schedule, high-frequency lines throughout the urban area, but trends towards precisely scheduled services in the ‘burbs. That’s what works. Parochial Metro likes to bend over backward trying to rewrite the rules of what works, but that’s why they kind of suck at what they do!

      22. “…but it is for the most part contiguous.”

        “…of the sort that successful urban transit can offer.”

  2. A few reactions having read the whole thing:

    There’s nothing in the scoring (that I can see) about reducing service levels downward for poorly performing routes, like route 51’s night service (2% farebox). I get that social and geographic equity is important, but running service that cost-ineffective is just lighting money on fire and it’s inexcusable.

    The initial process of laying out routes based on land usage and residential and employment density apparently manages to miss the fact that Fremont and Ballard are both pretty dense, and people just might want to travel between them on weekends.

    I get what Metro is trying to do with peak-only routes, but so many of the all-day routes aren’t running even close to the maximum headways that we should be adding service to those all-day routes, or running express variants that cover a very similar route but with fewer stops. Metro knows how to do get this right (15/15X), I wish they’d do it more. Instead they come up with busses like the 45, that run three times a day in each direction, sorta like the 30, but not really. These busses are confusing to people not intimately familiar with the system and are often useless to anyone who doesn’t happen to live on them.

    This document also doesn’t indicate a willingness to prioritize longstanding logistical complaints like the 48, 44/43 and 8 being too long, too infrequent and with terrible on-time-performance, and my biggest single complaint, about overcrowded 7x’s being in local service on Eastlake in the evening.

    Do drivers have a button on their console to indicate a passenger has been denied boarding due to it being physically impossible to fit another person on the bus? I have seen this happen multiple times off-peak on the 7xs. A large number of reports like this should require increasing service (or in this case, restructuring service to separate the Eastlake riders from the much more numerous U-District riders) on those corridors.

    I know everyone has a laundry list of complaints with Metro, and I want to make clear that I like what’s in this document, I just want to see more performance-orientation and less blather about social equity in the way the county allocates resources.

    1. From reading the Service Guidelines document I actually think some of the issues you bring up are addressed in a way you would agree with. I don’t have time to dive in point by point but I think you should read this document with the assumption of good intent. Metro has good planners and a plan like like this allows them to go in the direction we all want them to go in.

      1. To be clear, I think Metro’s planners have excellent intentions and broadly do a good job, although I’m not so sure about the council to whom they answer. I agree (or can live with) virtually everything in this document. I’m not not sure it stresses performance enough, or that it communicates a sense of urgency or willingness to override the howls of protest that will inevitably arise when all three people who ride the 51 once a week at night show up and raise hell at public meetings.

      2. Bruce is spot-on about the political inertia of bus routes. Remember when Metro tried to straighten the 21? Two — count them two! — people opposed it while many supported it. Instead of spending a little money to move on-street parking (the valid but solvable point raised by one of the opponents), Metro is instead spending a lot more to make the still-kinked route safer. Aaargh!

        I share Bruce’s pessimisim about the political will of the council to say “No” to keeping very-unperforming bus routes. Heck, we still have the 42.

      3. Question about the 21: One argument I heard for keeping the current routing was that the roads are actually wider where the bus currently runs, precisely because that was the old streetcar routing. Does anyone know if this is actually true?

      4. The road is wider where the 21 runs, and then narrows through the use of on-street parking. That’s not a reason, in and of itself, to not straighten out the route. The parking could have been rearranged or moved with a cheap paint job. Metro chose a much more expensive option to keep the route as is.

    2. There’s a route 51? [Looks at schedule, sees it’s a West Seattle loop between Admiral and the Junction.] What night service? You mean from 6-7:15pm?

      1. Hmm, that is puzzling. I’m looking at the last performance report (’09) so there may have been night service that was axed, in which case I retract that particular example, although I’m sure we could find plenty more.

      2. Actually, yes. :

        Guide Time: time periods defined for route evaluation
        Peak 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. weekdays
        Off-peak 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. weekdays; 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. weekends
        Night 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. all days

        They are measuring the last 15 minutes of service on a silly route in a neighborhood with poor intra-hood transit usage.

      3. Metro also reduced the evening 14 to hourly last year. So that’s another performance-related cut.

    3. We do not have a “button” but we are supposed to call in overloads to the control center. If the control center has time to take the call, we report the stop where we started passing up passengers and how many we could not accommodate.

      It’s far from perfect, but it’s another data point for the planners to look at along with APC data. I wonder how much passengers reporting overloads to customer service would help? Can’t hurt I suppose.

      1. Thanks, that’s good info. And I KNOW you KNOW how bad the 7xs can be! Those must be a hard shift.

        I’ve never actually seen a driver call in an overload, and I’m fine with that, as I’d rather they focus on driving, and ensuring that the 85+ people mashed into the bus don’t end up as part of a modern-day bus plunge story.

  3. Is the document going to be available in a printed format?

    I’m concerned that Metro will look inward too much, at internal performance measures, even when their actions reduce the performance of sister organizations (e.g. Sound Transit). Internal quantitative goals will trump common sense.

    If none of the following happen, then I will conclude that Metro is still missing the forest for the trees:

    1. The 71-74 get re-routed to serve Husky Stadium Station and the UW campus, and no longer use Eastlake or I-5.
    2. The 101, or some successor route, eventually serves Rainier Beach Station.
    3. Metro comes up with a plan to add runs to routes that are already beyond fire capacity (e.g. the 306 and 312, if timed properly to have even headways with the 522) on an ongoing basis.
    4. My neighborhood (South Park) gets a shorter bus route to TIBS to replace one of the long, scoliated routes to Burien TC.
    5. King County yanks a RapidRide proposal when the neighborhood that would be served by the RapidRide offers a lot of resistance.
    6. Auburn and Kent bus routes are redesigned to take advantage of Sounder, instead of forcing riders to ride up and down I-5 or ride milk runs (e.g. the 150). On this point, the document kinda sorta seems to get it, but misses the existence of Sounder.
    7. Free paper transfers are abolished, in favor of near-universal ORCA usage and faster routes everywhere.

    I’ll be impressed as soon as one of these happens.

    1. Where would you route the 7x if not on I-5? I’m all for radically restructuring that corridor to make it better, but it needs to be comparable to the I-5 routing in terms of downtown-UW time.

      1. Presumably, it would just terminate at Husky Stadium, and not need to cross the ship canal at all.

      2. *Once* Husky Stadium Station opens, I hope to see the 71-74 head along Pacific Way and then the Ave, preferably coupled with other similar-frequency routes headed the opposite direction from UW Station and campus. For example: 71/43, 72/south-48, 73/49, 74/44.

        The key travel-time benchmark is getting to campus, not getting to 45th & the Ave.

      3. that was for bruce, “How do you get from downtown to Husky Stadium without crossing the ship canal?”

      4. Oh, right, but I’m talking about service revisions in the next year or so. Once UW station opens, the 7x busses can take a hike for all I care.

      5. I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear I meant by using U-Link. BTW, Can anyone count the number of times Link is mentioned in the RTTF document?

      6. But while we are on this (hijacked) topic, if Metro thinks serving UW Medical Center is so important, why not run half of the 7x’s down Pacific Ave and on east, and the other half of the 7x’s up the Ave, like now. I bet ridership would go up substantially.

      7. Something will have to serve Capitol Hill north of Aloha and provide night service that shadows Link from Downtown to the U-District. I’d expect the 43 to die in favor of adding more E-W 8 service rerouting the 49 up Olive, along John, up 12th Ave and rejoining the existing route around Volunteer park.

      8. The Capitol Hill reorganization will be interesting. The trolley routes are the most non-grid-like, so a lot depends on how much wire Metro is willing to add, or whether they’d instead dieselize the routes which would devastate the trolley network.

        – Delete the 49.
        – Keep the 11 and electrify it.
        – Reinstate the local 9 from 45th to Mt Baker (or Rainier Beach).
        – Keep the 10; or combine the 10/14 for a 15th-John-Summit route.
        – Delete the 43; or truncate it at 23rd.
        – Put the 60 on 12th.
        – Keep the 8 but split it around Madison. (Or delete the Madison to Mt Baker part.)
        – Build a pretty transfer station at 23rd & John or 23rd & Madison.

        The 43 is within 5 blocks of the 10 all the way from downtown to 20th. That’s a good reason to eliminate it. Although the high ridership on Capitol Hill is a counterargument.

        Keeping the 9 on Rainier to Rainier Beach may be redundant, but the trolley wire’s already there so it’s less expensive than the alternatives.

        Alternatives for N/S include 10th E-12th-Beacon Hill; 10th E-12th-Rainier; Summit-12th-Beacon-or-Rainier. But they would require adding extensive wire.

        I wonder if the 8 between Madison and Mt Baker is really necessary given that the 48 is six blocks away, and a full-time 9 would be a Mt Baker-Broadway alternative.

      9. Rearranging Capitol Hill bus service is a marvelous parlour game. We should make it a board game, patent it, and license it to Hasbro.

        I would agree with most of your suggestions, and add that I’d axe the 12 north of Madison, and that the south part of the 48 needs only a mile and a half of wire to be electrified. South of Madison, the 12 seems to work pretty well in its current pairing with the 10. I’d sooner make the 14 lay over and turn back in Belltown.

        I don’t get why everyone wants to delete the 49 though. It’s the ONLY route that serves 10th Ave north of Aloha (the only other nearby service is on the other side of the freeway), and it’s the ONLY route that can be a decent Link shadow at night. Just bump it over to 12th Ave.

      10. Brent: All of your proposals have a trolley at one end and a diesel bus at the other…

        Bruce: I don’t think the 49 will be deleted — the segment north of Aloha does have some ridership. I agree with Bruce that it’s most likely to be rerouted down 12th. Metro and Seattle have already promised to put some service there once the streetcar goes in, and the 49 seems like the most logical candidate.

        Mike: I actually don’t think that the high ridership numbers are as compelling a case for maintaining service as you do. What they indicate is that ridership in Capitol Hill is high. But it’s entirely possible that, if you replaced the 43 with a doubly-frequent 10, the combined ridership would be even higher than it was before, because the extra frequency makes up for the extra 3 block walk. Is that actually the case? I don’t know. But it’s a possibility.

      11. It’s hard to keep track of the changing environment when the First Hill Streetcar, University Link, and North Link open in different years. Some of the proposals are feasable now, while others will only be feasable after FHS or University Link (or maybe Brooklyn). Sorry for mixing those.

        The 11 can be boosted now. So can replacing the 49 with the 9; 10th E would still have service, it would just have to transfer at Bwy/Pine. But combining the 10 and 14 depend on Capitol Hill station. Moving the 60 depends on the FHS. Eliminating the 43 may depend on keeping the 10 as-is. Truncating the 43 may look better after Capitol Hill station (or even Brooklyn) opens.

      12. The 43, in my view, would actually be a BETTER Link shadow than the 49 because it goes by Husky Stadium. We’re talking about the 49 being more vulnerable than the 43 because the 43 serves other purposes as well, whereas the other purposes the 49 serves are trivial at best. If you’re talking about the owl run, it should be trivial to replace the 49 owl run with a 43 owl run, or (this approach is immune to cutting the 43) incorporate the 43 routing into a revised 83.

        I don’t push cutting service on 10th, but I have proposed ending the 15th leg of the 10, or whatever provides service on 12th, in a 15th-Boston-10th loop around Volunteer Park. Think outside the box, people.

        The 9 seems a more logical candidate for a move to 12th than the 60, because of the latter’s milk run through Harborview; this also helps with the “restore to the U-District” idea, though I still doubt people would or should use it for U-District-Cap Hill, or even U-District-Mount Baker, trips. On the other hand, 12th doesn’t have any trolley wire… (Also, Mike, are you familiar with the “cut the 7” idea floating around here a while back?)

        Because of the First Hill Streetcar, there isn’t much need for service on 12th north of Cal Anderson, except to serve the Link station. (South of there, topography is more challenging and the Seattle U Campus is a psychological barrier.) I’m tempted to delete the 10 (once you delete the 15th leg it’s redundant with the 11). That’s how I got my “Volunteer Park loop” idea.

        About splitting the 8: Are you proposing making the 48 the Link shadow? Do you really want to make it even MORE unreliable? That’s the whole reason the 8 is the Link shadow in the first place.

    2. 1. Metro usually publishes proposals a year before, maybe 18 months at the most. So we probably won’t hear anything about the 71-74 until 2015.

      2. A good idea for off-peak.
      3. The 71-73X are also beyond capacity.
      4. I don’t know about South Park’s needs.
      5. Maybe, but RapidRide is not just about the adjacent residents, it’s also about people who work in or visit those areas.

      6. It’s more important to connect Kent to Link, and Auburn to Federal Way. Beef up the 180 and 181. Sounder runs only a few times a day to essentially two destinations. If three express runs overlap Sounder, it’s not that big a deal. If there’s no frequent bus from Kent to Link, that’s a big deal. The 180 serves SeaTac station half-hourly, but not at all after 7pm (6pm weekends).

    3. 1 & 6. The Service Guidelines’ explicitly mention extension or enhancements to Link, Sounder, or ST Express services as a trigger for restructuring service in an area. What form such a restructuring will take will be determined in the service development process.

      See page SG-10 for triggers for restructures.

      2. Only if they make it time competitive with the service it replaces with seamless transfers.

      3. See page SG-9. Passenger loads

      5. RapidRide investment improves the speed and reliability of bus service, benefitting everyone who uses it along with network-wide effects. Some people in a neighborhood opposing it should not hurt the majority of riders on that service.

      7. See goal 5 and 6, strategies 5.1.1, 5.1.3, 6.2.1, and 6.3.2. While specific actions are not listed in the plan, Metro’s headed in the right direction.

  4. Comparing the King County Strategic Plan with the Seattle Transit Master Plan, I see more hubris in the TMP. The TMP claims to cover through 2030. The King County plan only claims to cover through 2021. Both will need a major overhaul before 2016 arrives.

  5. Brent–the plan is a huge step forward. Currently Metro has two policiesfor service allocation–40/40/20 for new service, and cuts come by proportion to service–Seattle 62%, East 17%, South 21%.

    This plan attempts to prioritize productivity and land use while balancing it with social and geographic values for all taxpayers.

    And I suspect that designing a bus system just might be more complex than you make it out to be.

    1. I agree that both plans are huge steps forward. I think my point though, is that desiging a bus system is indeed more complex than the plans make it out to be. Both plans are too accepting of route intertia.

  6. Here’s a couple of gripes after digging in a bit more:

    “No matter what community they live in or whether they have special needs because of age, disability or income, people can use public transportation throughout King County.” – This sounds like a recipe for continuing grossly inefficient service in outlying areas. There needs to be an acknowledgment of the need to balance cost with access to the system. Paying me > $100 to drive a 219 around for 4+ hours to pick up less than 15 people is a prime example of waste. I’d be better utilized driving a 40 foot bus to provide 15 minute headways on the 240 or some other such route.

    “Metro has quality employees who enjoy their jobs.” – Yup – Like that part. :)

    Performance measure: “% minority population within 1/4-mile walk access to transit” – Who cares? Focus on “% low-income population within 1/4-mile walk access to transit” instead. This isn’t an anti-minority rant – I just don’t care how many rich minorities ride my bus and frankly nobody should.

    “Provide travel opportunities for historically disadvantaged populations, such as low-income people, students, youth, seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, and others with limited transportation options.”

    “Support bicycle and pedestrian access to jobs, services and the transit system.”

    No surprise I support this item. A lot of inefficient service could be consolidated if people were willing and able to walk or bike a mile to a transit center or park & ride.

    “Fare parity with other providers in the region” – How about “Fare compatibility” instead? Yeah, I know it’s a pipe dream but a guy has to have dreams, right?

    Under Public Engagement performance measures:
    “Public participation rates” and “Customer satisfaction regarding their role in Metro’s planning process”

    Something should be done to temper the involvement of the vocal minority – Who cares if the 2 or 3 people who yell loudly about keeping the 42 service are satisfied? Frankly, a measure about how pissed off the vocal and irrational minority vs. the mildly satisfied majority is would be more effective.

    1. Ugh… Remove the “Provide travel opportunities for historically disadvantaged populations, such as low-income people, students, youth, seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, and others with limited transportation options.”

      I covered that under the item above and including that as a “gripe” makes me sound like a bigot. Really, I’m not – except when it comes to pretty little white girls batting their eyes at me to get a free ride :)

    2. I think the feds may care. There’s a whole section in the performance report about hours delivered to minority and low income areas (as separate categories.)

      I agree entirely about the rural routes, although I mostly confine myself to complaining about Westside routes on STB, as doing otherwise seems to cause food fights.

      Less social equity, more performance, find the balls to take on people who whine at public comment periods. That’s really all I ask of Metro.

  7. There’s something about the Service Guidelines that’s been bothering me, and I finally felt the need to say something about it. The “corridors evaluated for all-day and peak network” seem to assume existing corridors.

    For example, Ballard-Downtown via Nickerson, Westlake, and 9th. This is the route of the 17, but who says this has to be one corridor? Considering the best route to downtown would be to take the D line (assuming RR cuts don’t affect it), why should we have this corridor on top of that one? Why does Ballard-Downtown use Westlake and Fremont-Downtown use Dexter rather than the other way around? Does Nickerson St need a one-seat ride to Downtown at all aside from the area near the 13 terminus? Even if so, why even have Ballard-Downtown rather than Magnolia-Downtown?

    Speaking of which, Discovery Park-Downtown via the east side of Magnolia? Considering how circuitous this is, why not make it an intra-Magnolia route or something? Cap Hill-Downtown via 15th Ave E? Who says the 10 has to keep its current routing? Who says 15th service can’t connect to 12th service? The trolley wires? Where’s Ballard-Fremont via Leary Way? Why is it Greenwood-Downtown instead of Greenwood-Fremont? Lake City-Downtown via 125th, Northgate, and I-5? With the 522 in place, why not just evaluate the Lake City-Northgate corridor on its own, or even separate corridors on Northgate Way and 125th for separate evaluation?

    Why are Cap Hill-Downtown and Madison Park-Downtown both listed with Madison St as the in-between? What’s with the two Northgate-U-District corridors? Rainier Beach-Seattle Center via MLK and John/Denny? So is splitting the 8 out of the question? U-District-Downtown via Broadway? No one even USES the 49 to go all the way from the U-District to Downtown! Couldn’t you have at least kept it Cap Hill-U-District? U-District-Downtown via Lakeview? That’s not an accurate description of the 25; shouldn’t the run through Montlake be considered separately from the run on Lakeview?

    Having too narrow a definition of a “corridor”, or an overly long one that actually includes several corridors, or one that’s biased to node-to-node routing, can blind you to outside-the-box solutions, and without changes to this list Metro won’t do as much as they could when U-Link opens – or heck, in some cases even as RapidRide opens.

    1. Yes! This has really bothered me, too. I would have been much happier to see corridors that looked like these:

      – Pike/Pine from downtown to 15th
      – Montlake/24th/23rd from UW to Mt Baker
      – Pacific from UW to Fremont
      – Leary from Fremont to Ballard
      – 45th/46th/Market from U-District to Ballard
      – 45th from U-District to Sand Point/Children’s


      Instead, like you said, we simply got a list of existing bus routes, but without the numbers. Not cool.

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