Photo by Oran

One thing somewhat vague in the press event about the $20 license fee was the disposition of the 100,000 service hour cut that was included in it. Would the CRC “save” this generally inefficient service? Well, I asked Metro spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok:

If the congestion reduction charge passes, Metro would reexamine the 100,000 service hour reductions currently being proposed with an eye toward reinvesting rather than simply cutting service.  That assessment would require additional time and work.

So there you go. In other news, PubliCola reports Bob Ferguson is no longer undecided on the $20 fee, meaning with four solid yes votes. Julia Patterson, number five, is reported to be “100% willing” to put it on the ballot, if not to do it without an election. Five’s enough to at least get it to election day.

49 Replies to “About Those 100,000 Hours…”

    1. Some of those routes may be politically saved (like the 42, if ACRS puts the sign back up). Don’t blame the politicians, though, since we have the opportunity to put in more con than pro comments for these routes. Write now. Write often.

      Democracy is about who speaks up.

      1. Every time I see the 42, I start muttering to myself. I’d much rather they cut that route and add more runs of the 8. There is no reason that people from downtown can’t take the train to Mt. Baker and transfer to an 8. That was, I thought, part of the purpose of the 8 – to take people to/from stations to their home stops.

        However, in order to do that well, there should be more frequent service than every 15 minutes. The 36 runs every 7-10 minutes, as does the 7.

      2. The 7 and 36 tend to be much more heavily loaded than the 8 (south of Capitol Hill). Adding 8s would make that transfer more convenient, but there are other routes in the city (7x’s, 41) that suffer regular overloads in the peak. It doesn’t make sense to put heaps of hours on the 8 when other routes need it more.

        The 8 also has a much longer run time than the 42, so you wouldn’t be able to buy many 8s even if you abolished the 42. There are also major reliability problems with the 8, particularly in the PM peak. There’s no point adding more busses if they end up driving around in mobs of three.

      3. The 42 riders aren’t going from ACRS to downtown. They’re going from ACRS to north Rainier or Jackson. So that would require a transfer from the 8 to the 7. Going to Link would be out of the way, unless they’re starting from close to Intl Dist station.

      4. Google maps suggests it’s a sub-five minute walk from ACRS to 7 stop on Ranier at Walden.

      5. Bruce,
        For some of the population ACRS serves that walk to Rainier and Walden is really far for them.

        Of course one wonders why ACRS built such a pedestrian unfriendly building that requires almost entirely circling the property to get between the front door and the bus stop on MLK.

      6. Whenever anyone says that, I always want to know what these people who can’t walk five minutes to a bus stop do on the other end. Have they hitherto had the goood fortune to live less than two blocks from the bus stop by their house? I don’t, and I live downtown, which has more bus service than anywhere else in the state.

        By the way, anyone taking the 42 to get to Jackson is on the wrong bus, as it goes down Dearborn.

      7. I just don’t understand why a bus route exists solely for one non-profit. Are there statistics about how many people cannot walk from Rainier and Walden to ACRS? And if they are so severely disabled, wouldn’t they qualify for other forms of transportation?

        As for the 8, it’s crazy at peak hours (often driving past some stops) because it is the only route that goes from the south end to Garfield and Washington. Some do transfer to the 48, but the 8 takes the brunt of it. The 7X is not significantly faster than the 7, so I’m ok with it going away or keeping it at current levels.

      8. One thing the 42 does do is connect MLK to the future Rainier Link station. That might be a corridor worth preserving, not necessarily with the 42, but maybe with a MLK-Broadway route or a MLK-Boren-SLU route. We need strong north-south crosstown routes of some sort, and good connections to the Rainier station to leverage East Link. The Capitol Hill reorganization is still up in the air, but it’s clear that at minimum the three tails of Beacon, MLK, and Rainier will have to connect to some combination of Boren, Broadway, 23rd, and MLK.

      9. By 7x I meant 71/2/3, rather than the 7X. The 7X is worth keeping if only to avoid adding peak traffic to Jackson and the part of Ranier north of Dearborn.

        By my estimates, Metro spends about ten hours per weekday serving the loop at the VA hospital on routes 60 and 39, versus about 5.3 running the 42. There’s no way ACRS can be generating enough limited-mobility ridership to justify expenditures that close.

      10. Mike Orr,

        Indeed the I-90/MLK connection is why I often find myself on the 42. When Rainier Station is built, though, there will be direct access from 23rd, meaning Metro could simply switch MLK service back from 8 to 48.

      11. The problem with the 48 is that you can’t make it any longer — it’s too long already — and there’s no more layover space available near the Montlake Triangle. A Metro planner showed me a nifty way it might be possible to split the 48 in future without having it lay over there, which would allow the 48S to be extended south. Once University Link opens, it would be possible to do that, and then the whole of the 8 south of (say) Union is basically redundant and can be axed in favor of more 48S/48X service.

      12. I liked the Rapid Trolley Network plan for the 48 which would have electrified it and had it run between the U-District and Rainier Beach via Rainier.

        There still would need to be some sort of service on MLK between Rainier Beach and Mt. Baker. It might also be best to split the Southern half of what is now the 7 from any other route and turn the buses at Mt. Baker.

      13. Bruce, could you share the details of how the 48 might be split? I’m curious.

  1. Shucks. The work of the RTTF is becoming a threat to the historic character of our bus service. We need some empty buses to go along with the empty parks around our single-family and low-rise neighborhoods next to rail stations.

    I can’t believe I’ll have to walk an extra three blocks from the 131 to get to 4th Avenue in north Burien when the 134 is gone. Oh, woe is me! Save the pristinely quiet historic character of the 134!

    Obey Newton’s First Law of Bus Routes and Newton’s First Law of Neighborhood Planning.

    1. Can we just leave the empty buses parked on the side of the road rather than moving them every day? That would save a lot of oil and carbon emissions. And entrepreneurs could even turn them into restaurants!

  2. I’ll try asking this again, how does this add up?

    $60m translates to a 600,000 service hour shortfall

    There is no bus service that metro operates that only costs $100/hr. And you’ve told us that even if they had the money they need another $100 million to buy the buses since the capital replacement fund has been raided? Sorry, “reinvesting rather than simply cutting service… would require additional time and work [money].” just confirms my believe that from top (County Exec) to bottom (metro management) they are still convinced that this is purely a “revenue problem”.

    1. Actually the cost of Metro service is about a $100/hr. This was well documented in the task force discussions. If you have proof otherwise, you should offer it instead of making definitive statements.

      Metro has cut costs, laid off over 100 workers, tightened schedules, negotiated a good labor contract, and more. They are working on both the revenue side and the cost cutting side.

      1. The latest document I could find on the Metro website is the “King County Metro 2009 Year End Report” (pub. April 2010). It lists the cost per platform hour at $123.80 and obviously cost per service hour will be higher. If you have links to documentation in the task force discussions showing Metro has decreased it’s operating costs by more than 20% since this report please share. In the 2010-2011 KCDOT Budget it says, “The combination of reduced revenues and higher costs has resulted in a $213 million deficit for Transit
        operations for the 2010 / 2011 biennium.” It goes on to list Cost Per hour – Bus $124.91 in 2010) and $133.27 in 2011. So if they are really able to do it for <$100 per hour why do we need this tax increase?

      2. OK, if there’s 25% fare recovery you get service at $100/hour and Metro has increased that from <20% by raising fares (and union concessions). But the costs are rising every year (6.7% from 2010 to 2011) so if it's business as usual there would need to be corresponding fare increases every year to maintain service.

      3. Fares have gone up 80% in the last four years. Currently there is a proposal to raise youth fares before the council.

    2. Bernie, I’m not sure, but $100 may be the marginal rather than total cost.

      1. Isn’t marginal cost the basically the O&M less the fare recovery? If they keep the lowest performing routes aren’t those the ones with the highest marginal cost (and least benefit). And regarding marginal routes;

        Rides/Rev.Hour FareRev./Op.Exp.Ratio Pass.Mi/Rev.Hr Pass.Mi./Plat.Mi.
        SOUTH OffPeak 118 TB Vashon 15.4 7% 61 2.0 -6.0
        SOUTH OffPeak 149 Black Diamond 13.6 7% 84 2.6 -5.9
        SOUTH OffPeak 119 SH Vashon 11.9 6% 50 1.7 -6.4
        SOUTH OffPeak 118 Vashon 8.9 4% 49 1.7 -6.7
        SOUTH OffPeak 912 Covington 3.6 2% 19 0.5 -7.5
        average OFFPEAK – SOUTH 39.8 22% 236 11.63 -1.1

        Three of the bottom five are Vashon, further subsidized by the KC ferry district. And shouldn’t Vashon be in the West subarea; it’s only connections are to W. Seattle and DT. I doubt there’s many Vashon commuters going to Kent or Federal Way.

    3. Where did you hear about the youth fare increase proposal?

      Given how Seattle Public Schools is giving students free passes, I can see how the county would see this as a clever way to get more money from Seattle, using a youth fare increase as the vehicle to get the money.

      If this is on the table, it is an opportunity to say no to increasing the ORCA fare and yes to increasing just the cash fare.

  3. What I’d like to see is a graph showing showing two things. The increase in service hours over the last 20 years. Right now Metro is at 3.6 million service hours. How many service hours were there in 1991? And the graph would also show the increase in the population of the county of the same time. I estimate the population of the county has grown around 20% in that time. I wouldn’t be surprised is Metro’s service hours has doubled or tripled the population growth.

    1. I would be surprised myself if Metro’s growth has outstripped population growth. But isn’t that the wonderful thing about the internet. You can make an assertion without facts and demand somebody debunk it.

      1. Didn’t Initiative 695 lead to about a 20% service cut?

        If that number’s correct, than I’d be willing to bet the service hours are still BELOW those of 20 years ago.

      2. After I-695, Metro cut 160,000 service hours and postponed starting another 70,000 hours. Metro’s ridership in 1992 was about 75 million. Metro’s ridership in 2009 was about 112 million, but the 2009 ridership doesn’t include riders that were riding ST routes that were operated by Metro in 1992 (like ST 550 which was Metro route 226 in 1992).

      3. Also, I looked through APTA archives, but I couldn’t find any numbers for Metro service hours 1991-2009.

    2. The oldest document I found on the Metro website is the 2002-2007 six year plan (why isn’t it called the five year plan?):

      Complementing the focus on congestion relief [emphasis mine] and mobility is a continued focus on service efficiency—improving capacity utilization, reducing duplication, improving unproductive service or reallocating resources away from it, and creating transit-oriented development projects.

      Sound familiar? There was also the goal to achieve 25% fare recovery which never materialized, if fact it continued to drop until the recession forced action.

      Platform hours for the 2001 baseline were 1,663,000 (Section 3: Plan Objectives and Managing the System). I couldn’t find service hours for 2011 but if it’s 3.6 million (looks close based on expenditure) that’s a 116% increase. From King County experiences strong population growth according to 2010 census results “the county gained just under 200,000 residents, an increase of 11.2%, since the last complete census in 2000.”

    1. I think that’s pretty obvious, they want to get reelected and outside of Seattle voters soundly rejected any tax or fee increases.

      1. Fine, if the fee doesn’t pass cut service in the areas that voted against it first.

    2. A bunch of blather about a $20 annual fee, while they spend $90 three times a week to fill up their Suburbans.

      1. I overheard this person at my work who spends a month on 2 SUV’s $800 on gas. LOL. One word: Sucker

      2. I spend about $30-$60 per month to fill our Prius and maybe another $40 every other month to fill my Subaru. We are hardly a unified bloc of SUV drivers over here.

      3. Given that logic, you should be standing near the drive through window at Jack in the Box, and randomly paying for someone’s Sourdough Jack meal, because you spend so much on food for yourself.

      4. In other words, John, Republicans have no conception of the common good? I’m not surprised, but they usually don’t like to ADMIT it.

  4. Just raise the fares .25 cents.

    There are plenty of people leeching off of public transit who can afford to pay a lot more. Those who can’t can have subsidies or other welfare.

    1. “There are plenty of people leeching off of public transit who can afford to pay a lot more.”

      Exactly why $20 tab fee should be enacted. The bus commuters likely own cars and pay plenty of taxes to support their mode of transportation – They also pay an additional ~25% of the cost when they, or their employer, pays their fare.

      All those SOV drivers are “leeching” off of the space freed up by bus commuters can likely afford $20.

    2. If we want to cut the subsidies, then most of the suburban bus routes will go away, since they don’t get good fare recovery.

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