Ride free area tile. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

King County Metro doesn’t think that eliminating the Ride Free Area in October 2012 will create delays.

“We tested this at several locations in downtown, including Third Avenue and it didn’t really create a serious problem,” Jim Jacobson, Deputy General Manager of Metro, said in an interview. “There are times when it creates problems, but that usually goes away after one signal cycle.” There will certainly be an increase in dwell times, Jacobson said, but there wasn’t much reason for alarm. “Two-thirds of people in the Ride Free Area have already paid a fare or have a pass,” so most riders won’t pay fare when entering the bus but will have to get used to boarding through the front.

Jacobson confirmed that “the tunnel will not be free” and he said that Metro has “simulated how this would work with increased dwell times.” One conclusion was that Metro could better stage buses before they enter the tunnel, to ensure that buses that stop in front of others enter the tunnel first. Another was that buses that are only dropping people off could pull as far forward as possible in the tunnel.

Another idea was that Sound Transit could improve its signaling system in the tunnel so that trains and buses could operate better in a shared environment. Metro and Sound Transit have clashed in the past over the shared operations in the tunnel, each agency saying the other is responsible for delays.

Metro plans to expand the enter through the front, exit through the back concept system-wide, with driver and consumer education campaigns to ensure a smooth flow. Most cities operate with systems like this, but for years different Metro drivers have had their own policies for the back door. It’s very encouraging that this change is planned.

There’s also good news on the revenue front. Based on surveys and other data, “the net effect of eliminating the RFA is on the order of $1.8 million a year,” Jacobson said. While none of that revenue is currently budgeted, “any dollar we have can be used to keep more service on the street longer than we could otherwise.”

Jacobson hopes that in the future, a day-pass will be offered by ORCA but said “we’re a long way from that.” A shame, that is, because a day-pass program would be perfect for casual riders and tourists, and the thing preventing its implementation is agency balkanization.

Correction: Readers have pointed out that Metro no longer sells day passes on the weekends. The story above has been edited.

82 Replies to “Metro: RFA Elimination Won’t Produce Significant Delays”

  1. Metro does not have a day pass on Sunday. We had all day passes on Saturday and Sunday until the beginning of this year, and then they were eliminated.

  2. How about a King-county daypass? The only agencies that would need to agree on that are Metro & Sound Transit.

    And it’s really lame to prevent a daypass because of agency politics. They already know how to split revenue from ORCA transfers and ORCA monthly passes. It can’t be that hard to add a method of splitting daypass revenues.

    The elimination of the RFA makes a daypass more attractive and more necessary – both for non-daily-commuters and for visitors. Heck the hotels could sell them at their concierge desks, pre-loaded onto an ORCA. (Or if they are implemented as a daily cap on ORCA, the hotels could simply sell ORCAs with some fare value loaded.)

    1. +1

      Most tourist-friendly cities offer some kind of transit day pass that is super convenient for tourists but usually isn’t a great value, meaning the transit agency makes more money off of the tourist using the day pass than the local user. Seems like a no-brainer for the transit community around here to make a little extra money off the out-of-towners, I mean, that’s what Seattle has done since the Klondike Gold Rush and even before.

    2. yeah … why can’t there be a pass (based on Orca or not) that only works on KC Metro buses? if it explicitly says that … then there shouldn’t be a problem

      1. It needs to work on ST buses & Link as well KC Metro, but it could be limited to King County. ST has taken over key in-county routes like 522, 545, 550, 554 and of course Link and they should be included in the day pass.

      2. There’s little getting in the way (aside from politics) of Metro agreeing with ST to have a day pass that only works on Metro-operated busses, including Metro-operated Sound Transit routes. Getting all the ORCA agencies to agree to anything is like pulling teeth, but if we can get the two ‘biggest’ (Yes, I know ST isn’t even in the top 4, but its the regional operator, which counts for somthing) agencies to try something, I’d like to think other agencies will slowly opt in.

  3. “Two-thirds of people in the Ride Free Area have already paid a fare or have a pass,” so most riders won’t pay fare when entering the bus but will have to get used to boarding through the front.
    Well, those riders are still going to have to stand in line to tap the ORCA reader or show a transfer to the driver. I think Metro is being a bit optimistic about the potential for delays on the surface streets. One huge cause for delay will be everytime the wheelchair lift is used. Currently everyone else uses the back door while the lift is used, but without the RFA, every lift movement is going to cause a delay that won’t dissipate after one signal cycle.

    It’s good news that there will be a better effort to stage buses in the tunnel. Can they start that program today?

    1. “Currently everyone else uses the back door…”

      Most do. Some stand like lemmings by the front door while the person is lifted in.

      “every lift movement is going to cause a delay that won’t dissipate after one signal cycle.”

      I don’t think it’ll be that bad for the diesel coaches. Provided the passing lane isn’t blocked by a turning bus, the trailing buses usually seem able to pull around. It might be bad for the trolleys.

      1. Because “Seattle is a special unique snowflake sith unique challenges and the way we’ve been doing things here is just fine thank you very much?”

  4. The tunnel signaling system is a culprit for bus delays, as is train priority. I have been in the tunnel the last two shake-ups, and I see the downfalls of having 1) Automated Signals and 2) over compensated Train Priority. In all my travels, heres the issues I have noticed:

    1) When a NB Train enters Stadium and is almost stopped, the Royal Brougham entrance to the tunnel is shut down. So the buses trying to enter must wait for the train to stop, open, unload, load, close its doors, the crossing gates to lower and finally proceed.

    2) The Royal Brougham entrance and I-90 entrance are first come first served after the train clears. Meaning if an I-90 coach arrives first, it gets let through first. If we could just get all the inbound coaches to pull all they way up, this really wouldn’t matter, more buses could serve the platform at a time.

    3) The IDS Staging area has bottom priority. It is NOT first come first serve. I have pulled up, triggered the light, and a train comes. Now usually at this point there is a bus in the station, so the train must wait. Once the train proceeds, if there are ANY coaches at all in the thru lane to IDS Station, they will go first over the long waiting coach in the staging area. Because of problem #1 above, buses will stack up on the SODO busway and I-90. I have seen my follower go thru the thru lane (it comes from the base) in a line of 6-8 coaches all coming thru together before I finally get let out. Its not unheard of those buses going thru, followed by another train, followed by MORE buses before you can finally get out. Sometimes you need to call so they will override the signals to let you out.

    4) Of all the security personnel I see wondering IDS, why can’t we have TWO on hand at WLS NB to walk trains, one per car. The operator comes out of his cab, walks the first car, waits for signal on the second, then has to walk back, get situated and finally depart. The tube between USS and WLS is where buses will once again catch up to each other because of this delay. The security officers can each walk one car, give the thumbs up and away the train goes. 30 seconds saved is 30 seconds, add it up.

    5) Trains will call their signals from Pine St Stub while buses are still backed up B/t Pine St Stub and WLS. This is fine and all, except that it shuts down that intersection, all NB buses are stopped, since the train can not move, its wasted time. If a train calls its signal it wants out, it should not stop up NB bus traffic until SB is clear. That intersection should not be plugged up with no train or bus movement just because the train wants out and can not yet get out.

    6) Like in Calgary Alberta, Trains and buses also share the ROW downtown. Buses will pull up behind trains, and vice versa. Now we have the luxury of being able to share the platform. Theres no reason why a train cant pull ALL the way up, and allow buses to pull up behind it and unload. Theres no reason why a train shouldn’t be able to pull up behind buses in the cut and cover and get out of the way. In reality, theres no reason why trains and buses can’t simply move together thru the tunnel (Except at areas where it needs to cross or enter the path of course).

    If trains didn’t have so much dead time priority, things would move. With all the dead time trains produce, they win the award of ultimately causing the backups and delays for everything behind it. If we could solve the issues above, I think it would help better movement for all thru the tunnel. Just my thoughts on the tunnel issues.

    1. 4783: #6, Silly Boy. What if the Link driver puts it in the wrong gear and suddenly lurches backwards, crushing the 3 cyclists trying to load their bikes, in turn sending a shower of carbon fibers through the windshield, blinding all patrons, resulting in multi-million dollar claims….
      See what you’ve started.
      Thanks for 1 thru 5.

      1. The same can happen for a bus. If a driver does not depress the brake all the way down until the doors are closed, you are met with a flashing “F”. The driver needs to hit “D” and continue, so what if he hits “R” instead? And Link driver hits the wrong gear? Its a switch, Forward, Reverse, HIGHLY unlikely. More likely to happen with a bus. Like I said, happens in Calgary, no issues there.

      2. #4 Skip the manual train clearing. Make an announcement that it’s the last stop and all need to disembark. Then close the doors and enter the stub. Anyone who didn’t listen will be back at Westlake station in 10 minutes and won’t make that mistake again.

      3. Carl, That’ll work great. But as someone who has been stuck on the wrong side of a door at a NYC train station, its not exactly something that I’d wish on someone else. It twas a wee bit scary.

      4. In reply to Eric,

        “And if the train is going out of service, that person is really screwed.”

        Why? Trains don’t go out of service to the north; they all have to pass back through the tunnel. Are you saying that they pass by the stations southbound?

        They don’t actually need to leave service until SODO, and running through the stations must really mess the buses up.

    2. i thought that the spacing requirements for trains/busses to share the tunnel was federal regulations … not something Metro/Sound Transit cooked up … am I mistaken?

      1. I think you’re right – in the tunnel buses are treated as if they were trains: one train per signal block

        Anyone able to chime in to correct me or anything?

      2. I’m pretty sure its an ST/Metro thing. The FRA has no jurisdiction over Link Light Rail, since its tracks don’t cross state bounderies, and its not connected to any rail tha does.

        This is the same reason the Waterfront Streetcar tracks had to be severed from the BNSF line right next to it, even though the two would never actually share ROW: the lines were technically still connected, which would have forced the early 1900s-era Melbourne cars to meet modern FRA safety rules.

      3. One point about trains and buses: in boxing, nobody would put them in the ring together.

        If a train rear-ends a bus even at station speed, people on the bus will die. Remember also that every bus has carries a tank full of diesel fuel.

        A bus hitting a train from behind would likely do a lot less damage. However, a bus stopping behind a train will likely have to stop again at the head of the platform.

        One part of the answer might be for Tunnel signal system to start dealing with inbound buses before they reach the portal. A half- minute “hold” at Rainier flyer stop might prevent either train or bus from having to wait to get into IDS.

        Mark Dublin

    3. #3, this explains why buses are late at their origination in the DSTT. This is pretty inexcusable IMHO. I know there is a lot going on inside the tunnel, but you’d think they’d want to get buses started off on time, or as close as possible.

  5. “Though Metro has a day-pass program on Sundays, Jacobson said the agency doesn’t want to expand that program to other days because the passes are agency specific. He hopes that in the future, a day-pass will be offered by ORCA but said ‘we’re a long way from that.'”

    San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, and Vancouver BC all have day passes. So does Intercity Transit in Olympia. In Vancouver, every convenience store sells them. The fact that our system cannot offer this simple common courtesy to its passengers constitutes a violation of an implicit promise made when Sound Transit was formed: a seamless, integrated regional transit system with a fare system to match.

    Measures to smooth out Tunnel operations are twenty-one years overdue as of the fifteenth of next month.

    Everybody reading this, copy and paste above paragraph, and email it to your King County Councilmember and your Sound Transit Board representative. Let’s see if we can’t make Mr. Jacobsen’s hopes for the future materialize a little sooner.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark,

      London’s Oyster Card has an automatic cap feature that functions as a day pass: you will never be charged more than the daily pass (“Travelcard”) amount for the zones in which you travel.

      And their zone system is a heck of a lot more complicated than ours.

      And no, that is not why London was on fire last week.

      Make ORCA’s easily accessible to tourists and occasional users. Market the capping feature — and its potential to save money as well as hassle — aggressively. And then phase out the paper transfers (starting with an emphatic push against giving out hyper-generous transfers or accepting expired ones).

      1. d.p.,

        It sounds from your description that London caps the fare for a day at twice the value of the most expensive ride. Did I get that right?

        That’s kinda what I was suggesting yesterday, but this sounds simpler, and means a little more fare revenue, while addressing the holy downtown lunch crowd.

        And it would only work on ORCA. :)

      2. Sorry, the way I wrote that was a bit confusing.

        The “Travelcard” was a pre-existing pass, using magnetic-strip technology (as well as printed text for show-and-go), which could be purchased in advance for travel within or between certain zones. It could be purchased in 1-day, 7-day, monthly, seasonal, or annual increments.

        The genius of the Oyster card is that, in addition to allowing longer-term Travelcards to be loaded (as with ORCA), it caps pay-as-you-go (i.e. e-purse) fares at the same price as the 1-day Travelcard for the relevant zones/modes you used that day.

        So if you don’t exactly know where you’ll be headed in a day, or how often you’ll be travelling, owning an Oyster card relieves you of the need to plan ahead: if your total daily usage is less than the equivalent zoned Travelcard, you pay the swiped amount. If your swiped fares would be higher than the relevant Travelcard, then your cost is capped at precisely the cost of the Travelcard.

        From TFL’s website, the Travelcard prices/caps seem to be set at about 3.5 journeys. For Zone 1&2 travel, for example, the peak fare is £2.50, with the cap (if you took a trip during peak) set at £8.00. The off-peak fare is £1.90 with a no-peak-usage cap at £6.60.

        Before you cry “expensive,” please note that buses and trams enjoy a £1.30 fare — yup, lower than our off-peak — and a £4.00 price cap. And while Metro makes it as hard as possible to go four places in a day using their system, the majority of Londoners use their system 3 or 4 times daily as a matter of course.

        Also, please note that cash payment in London will cost you nearly double, so, um, nobody does it.

      3. I can tell you’re kidding, but I can’t tell how much you’re kidding.

        Um… I do think you can still purchase a paper 1-day or 7-day travelcard for the zones you think you’ll be using. That way, if you don’t want to get an Oyster*, you can still avoid the whopping cash fares.

        But frankly, the Oyster’s pay-as-you-go + capping feature makes using it so much easier and more flexible, without the risk of ever overpaying, that it would be foolhardy to buy the paper version unless you’re only in the city for a day or two.

        (*Oyster, like ORCA, has an initial deposit price. Though unlike ORCA, it’s refundable.)

  6. I want to be optimistic. Elimination of it will certainly increase travel time through downtown. I would say my major concern with elimination of the RFA are people paying with cash fare, and particular the variability associated with it.

    1. I agree, and I hope for it to work well. But Mark’s comments about the implicit promises made about ST, and the continuing operational snags in the tunnel must be dealt with, the sooner the better. If not, Kyle will be proven correct: “Seattle is a special unique snowflake with unique challenges and the way we’ve been doing things here is just fine thank you very much?”

    2. I don’t think we should accept that efficiency needs to suffer over fare collection anywhere. Remember, delays themselves cost money. The Ride-Free Area was never “free”. Lost efficiency has simply been transferred elsewhere all these years, and never accurately accounted for.

      The way to minimize all the problems associated with cash fares is to move the financial transaction as far away from the bus as is practical. Passengers should enter transit property with their fares already paid, everywhere in the system.

      Existence of ORCA system removes any technical excuse for delay over fare-collection. Copy and paste that statement to elected representatives as well.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Does this mean buying thousands of ORCA readers and TVMs for all the bus stops in the county? Where would the money for that come from?

      2. CT’s ticket machines cost a fraction as much as ORCA VMs. However, they are only useful for a POP system, since, as Velo pointed out, they are really difficult and slow to inspect.

  7. “We tested this at several locations in downtown, including Third Avenue and it didn’t really create a serious problem”

    They tested having no RFA on 3rd during commute hours? How did I miss this? And how did they actually accomplish this – tell everyone that they have to pay as they board and hope they figured it out right away? Were there actors pretending to be commuters hired to do a dry run? Or by “testing this” did he mean that they didn’t actually test this – they just worked some numbers in a spreadsheet?

      1. How was the amount of delay determined. From my perspective holding buses will obviously increase travel time, but if you hold them the same amount everywhere it won’t creating unreliability. What concerns me more is the variability of fare payment. I would be surprised if they simulation accounted for this.

      2. I won’t believe it until I see an afternoon rush hour crowd of change fumblers on 3rd Ave.

    1. I suppose that’s better than nothing.

      But I really think they’re being optimistic. Already at 3rd & Pike I see buses waiting on the other side of the road, waiting through stop lights for their turn at a parking spot. And that’s with pay-as-you-leave.

      I predict a new mode of fare evasion: the hunting through your backpack for change guy that gets waived on the bus to speed up the line. The number of people in this group will exactly equal the refuse-to-pay-as-you-leavers.

      1. In that case the city of Seattle will be spending $400,000 less on supporting the mechanism of fare evasion.

      2. ? You mean KC Metro will be collecting $400k less from the Downtown Business Association. But the DBA will also lose out on the extra business that easy transportation brings. Lose-lose. But I’ve said enough about that.

      3. I thought Seattle said it would continue to pay the $X it’s paying for the RFA, but the money would be redirected to other Metro services (e.g., to purchase a new route or additional runs on existing routes).

      4. “Already at 3rd & Pike I see buses waiting”

        This does happen sometimes in the PM peak. What you seem much more often though is routes that turn on Pike (14, 522, 306, 312) blocking that right lane for multiple light cycles.

        “The number of people in this group will exactly equal the refuse-to-pay-as-you-leavers.”

        Metro already did a fare evasion (/non-payment) study. Partial or non-payments were counted both for PAYL and PAYE routes and PAYL were consistently slightly higher, which suggests your claim here isn’t true.

        My feeling is that this will make congestion on 3rd worse, but there are unrelated things that could and should be done on 3rd to improve flow that will mitigate these effects. I’m more worried about the tunnel.

      5. [Bruce] The details of that study would be important, since we’ve only tried one system over the past 30 years (unless you count weekends, which wouldn’t be comperable). If it was really just existing PAYL/E routes, then you’re comparing different routes and riders. That said, I could buy those results.

        Oh, and mine wasn’t a “claim” – it was a *wild speculation*.

      6. (expanding on my point a bit: PAYE in the ‘burbs is very different than PAYE on 3rd & Pine at 5pm – it’s only in the latter case where the *searching backpack guy* would be a good fare evasion strategy)

      7. “This does happen sometimes in the PM peak. What you seem much more often though is routes that turn on Pike (14, 522, 306, 312) blocking that right lane for multiple light cycles.”

        I wonder if the 522/306/312 should be moved to 2nd/4th or the tunnel. I’d also advocate moving the 14 and 49 to 1st (aren’t they both trolley routes?) but that might lower the effectiveness of 3rd as a transit mall. (The 11 would also be in play if it were a trolley route.)

      8. I wonder if the 522/306/312 should be moved to 2nd/4th or the tunnel.

        +1 to moving I-5 routes off of 3rd.

        I’d also advocate moving the 14 and 49 to 1st (aren’t they both trolley routes?) but that might lower the effectiveness of 3rd as a transit mall. (The 11 would also be in play if it were a trolley route.)

        I’d go a step further, and just live-loop them – skip the downtown N/S segment. I bet that 99% of people taking the 14 and 49 from Capitol Hill get off at 3rd and Pine anyway.

      9. I don’t see why fare evasion has to take so long.

        On the handful of occasions I have skipped the fare (yes, I’ve done it. Late for work, can’t find my pass, etc. It’s a dickish thing to do, but sometimes to make an omelet you have to kill a few people.) I haven’t needed to waste anyone’s time with an explanation. I simply say “sorry, I don’t have the fare today”, walk past the farebox, and sit down.

        Operator pushes the No Pay button, feels insulted and maybe gives me a dirty look, but the bus hasn’t been delayed and the driver hasn’t violated any policies.

        It’s a dickish thing to do

    2. The simulation was actually fairly involved. At almost all the major stops downtown they had a counter who counted people getting on both front and back door, a timer who took that amount and figured out the additional amount of time to hold the bus, and a supervisor to make sure the bus didn’t go anywhere until it was time.

      I don’t remember what the additional time per person was but it wasn’t insignificant. A few of the buses that I dealt with were held for over a minute before being released. At the stop I watched there was a little more of a delay for coaches getting into it but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

  8. I’m old enough to remember before the Ride-Free Area, when the Seattle Transit System had “loaders” stationed at the busiest bus stops in downtown Seattle during the PM peak. They would stand at the back door of busy buses and accept fare payments (and tear off transfers) for boarding riders. And this was back in the days when transit made change, so the loaders had coin dispensers strapped around their waists (boy, I am dating myself…)

    Metro could do something very similar but they’d have to develop a body-mounted ORCA card reader, and I don’t know how tough that would be. No, the loaders would not be new hires. They could be service supervisors with a special task for an hour or so each afternoon.

    1. Just use the handheld readers that Link fare inspectors and Water Taxi fare collectors use and put it in a special pouch if they get tired of holding it up.

      1. Hmmm, I think the Fare Inspectors’ device is just a reader, it’s inert in and of itself; it doesn’t activate the fare-charge mechanism like the on-board card reader does.

      2. When you board the West Seattle Water Taxi the conductor uses the exact same device to deduct fare from your ORCA card. Same for Kitsap Transit’s Foot Ferry between Bremerton and Port Orchard.

    2. Yes this is doable. This was implemented in Stockholm while I lived there last year. People were posted at major bus-rail transfer stops and let people board at rear doors.

    3. Just thinking through efficiencies, if they’d had the service supervisors there already doing something, wouldn’t it also be faster for them to get to any calls they had to attend to?

    4. Loaders with ORCA card readers will be an absolute neccesity at the 3rd Ave stops during rush hour.

  9. I think the only acceptable answer here from every agency involved is:

    “Changes in fare collection policy will speed up boarding, in every part of the transit system and system-wide, because we will specifically design the new system to achieve this result.”

    Across the political spectrum, every elected official in charge of transit shold readily agree: In times when every penny counts, every minute counts double.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I was amazed by your calculation the other day, that every minute spent accommodating slow cash payment costs the agency $1.67 (was that the number?).

      That’s the most palpably I’ve ever seen that waste quantified. A single cash payer that causes a bus to miss a light it otherwise would have made negates 2/3 or his or her fare in an instant! And that’s something I see 15 times a day!

      Irrefutably excellent case-building, Mark.

      1. There are other benefits too. Double the average speed of a bus and you both double its capacity and double its frequency. It’s like adding an entire new bus and driver to the system for free. This is why it’s so important to give transit its own lane and signaling (and beyond).

      2. It’s more than that. Current Metro bus O&M cost is ~$130/hr. Divide that by 60 minutes and it’s $2.17/min. Of course that assumes nothing is made up via scheduled layovers or faster than scheduled travel between timed departure points which obviously it is or we wouldn’t have 27% farebox recovery.

      3. True, but how much of the schedule padding is to accommodate change fumblers? That would be the true cost. I don’t know that it’s a big issue vs. traffic delays but it might be factored in by Metro. Something to ask next time one of you wonks has a planners ear.

      4. At least on the in-city routes, the cash-and-missed-light routine is absolutely a major reason for padded schedules. Thus the late-evening outbound buses whose riders are mostly ORCA pass-holders or have transfers from a prior leg, which routinely arrive 3 or 4 minutes early at their timepoints.

        Not so on the generally cash-paying mid-day runs.

        And you know it’s not “traffic” causing the discrepancy, when there’s rarely anyone ahead of you as the light goes from green to red.

  10. ““We tested this at several locations in downtown, including Third Avenue and it didn’t really create a serious problem””

    Doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence…

  11. Possibly slightly off-topic, but still related to bus movement through the CBD:

    A co-worker of mine who has one of the last annual passes on an RRFP told me there are no annual pass stickers left.

    Each transit agency could unilaterally pass a policy requiring the use of ORCA product in order to get the RRFP discount, and could do so as soon as they want.

    Kitsap already has this requirement for youth fares. And you have to use ORCA product to get onto a train with the RRFP. Extending the requirement to all RRFP usages is not without precedent.

  12. I think it’s worth pointing out that the single best way to speed up the tunnel is simply to have fewer buses.

    For example, suppose we made the following changes:

    – Kick out all the peak-only routes that don’t have corresponding all-day routes, as well as the 255.

    – Terminate the busway routes at Stadium station, forcing a transfer.

    – Don’t charge fares on inbound buses once they’ve entered the tunnel.

    At this point, the only buses left in the tunnel that charge fares are [a] the 41 and 70-series northbound, and [b] the 550 southbound. With proper scheduling, you could space these buses so that they’re staggered with Link, and thus you have up to 3-4 minutes of possible fare-payment delay before you have a problem.

    Of course, there are other possible reasons not to do this, but it’s worth considering…

    1. – Kick out all the peak-only routes that don’t have corresponding all-day routes, as well as the 255.

      Sorry, I paid for the bus tunnel and the 255. Buses still move more people than Link. Kick out the trains if there’s a capacity issue. Really, you’ve got a big window on getting to the airport for the occasional trips per year. Don’t alienate the daily commuter until Link does something more useful.

      1. Bernie, the lack of a direct connection from the Convention Place/I-5 bus access point to 520 means that the 255 barely gains anything from going through the tunnel.

        4th and 5th are relatively smooth sailing for buses; the 545 arguably does better on the surface (when not on that Capitol Hill detour) than it would in the tunnel, snaking around Convention Place’s entry ramps, waiting for the light at Olive, and subject to bus/train delays.

      2. Oh, and I just checked. The 255 is apparently charged to both the North and East subareas. The farebox recovery ration maxes out at 30% peak and is abyssmal off-peak.

        You’re one of those expensive 3-times-the-subsidy-for-50-cents-more passengers. I subsidize you. And 90% of my city has no access to routes using the downtown tunnel either. So suck it.

      3. When the Montlake Freeway Station goes away, should the 255 just be charged to the East subarea?

  13. The best free-ride bus would actually be the RapidRide. Given no impediments, it would move faster through downtown than the pay-as-you-board buses. But with other buses on the same street and serving the same stops, it will be sitting and waiting for other buses to move. We may as well let it take up the slack of all the free riders. It would be the easiest bus to remember for the purpose, and have very decent frequency.

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