PT bus stop closed, photo by Zach

We’re finally at the turn of Fall, which means that transit agencies region-wide will be rolling through their last service change of the year.  There are some pretty major goings-on in this shakeup, some good, some bad.  Here are the highlights from the Big Four (King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit):

  • King County Metro is inaugurating service on RapidRide B Line and an accompanying restructure on the Eastside.  Major changes in Seattle will constitute moving 1st Ave S routes to 4th Ave S because of Viaduct construction.  Elsewhere, there are a few service adds and revisions here and there, so check out Metro’s page on the October service change, which is a vast improvement on what was available to the public before.
  • Sound Transit will not see earth-shattering revisions.  Across the board for ST Express, there will be schedule adjustments, a few trip adds, and a few trip discontinuations.  Link and Sounder will go virtually unchanged.
  • Community Transit‘s service change will be even more unassuming, the only revision being the routing of the 110 and 116 to serve Edmonds Station.  All the revisions to ST service in Snohomish County will be trip adds and more service.  Unfortunately, looming cuts are on the horizon and coming next February.  We’ll be posting more on this as it approaches.
  • Pierce Transit proceeds with draconian and hard-to-swallow cuts as mentioned in the News Roundup; this will be the last 15% of an entire 35% reduction of the entire system, thanks to the failure of Prop. 1 at the ballot last February.  Sixteen routes will be eliminated along with the shuttering of hundreds of bus stops.  The PT website has all the gory details.  The only silver lining is a likely increase in productivity, which is usually the case with massive service reductions.

Don’t forget to check schedules and detailed route information, especially if you live on the Eastside or in Pierce County.  And of course, we will be having our informal RapidRide B Line group ride this morning 10AM at Bellevue Transit Center.

41 Replies to “Fall Service Change Starts Today”

  1. Tomorrow’s the big day :(

    PT buses off the road by around 5 PM on Sundays. One wonders what PT weekday & Saturday schedules would look like if they followed in CT’s footsteps (that is, shuttered for a day on Sundays). I spoke to PT staff who was at the Tac Dome open house who told me that the hooting and hollering would be even louder

  2. On weekdays, If I’m on the bus, I can’t be in DT Tacoma any later than 8:00 with the new PT schedule. I only live 3 miles from DT. Definitely within the city, and within easy walking distance of two different bus routes. I’m better off than alot though. Many are losing bus service completely.

  3. So combining Pierce and Snohomish Transit with Metro and Sound Transit wouldn’t help? I’ve heard all the arguments on this blog over the years as why to and why not to do this, but I would think a combination of transit systems would save money overall and help to stop some of these routes being cut.

    1. Only to the degree that a combined agency would be willing to shift capital expenses into operating expenses. That already happens a lot, even within ST, as revenues go down even they have to prioritize keeping buses and trains running, or spending the money on new construction.
      Adding the revenue woes of our local bus systems to ST would only exacerbated that dilemma.
      On the other hand, the region as a whole knew what they were getting into when it doubled local transit taxes to start a very aggressive building campaign. Tunnels and trains aren’t cheap and it’s way too late in the game to change gears towards transit investments that cost less.
      No silver bullets for Puget Sound transit riders.

    2. You wouldent save much, the elimination of a few back office jobs, save a few service supervisors in foregin areas (downtown seattle, etc) the higher operating costs of the biggest agency would probally spread regionwide, and the political structure managing it would probally become so unmanageable that it would be a disaster. Not to mention dealing with union contracts intergrating technology and on board systems (this would be very expensive). Not to mention that you are than putting even more people out of work by combining the operations in which you might not save much if anything anyway. The real solution is finding a fair and stable funding source for our transit agenvies that will prevent this type pf drastic cuts from happening in the future.

      1. “Not to mention that you are than putting even more people out of work by combining the operations in which you might not save much if anything anyway. ”

        I don’t see the logic in this sentence. If they’re out of work, you’re no longer paying them.

      2. So if you combine the agencies and the largest agency (metro) asorbes the smaller agencies (which would be logical since st doesent have a bus operations divison) their higher cost per hour would spread to the smaller agencies and negate any svaings you would have by eliminating some back office staff. This is of course figuring that the price they quote to st to provide service must be at or near their actual operation cost per hour. Further they would still have to expand to asorb the operations componets of the smaller agencies so at the end of the day you might only save a few figurehead staff as nearly everyone else would probally transfer over to the new orginization – that would have inhearantly higher operating costs.

    3. If something like this were to be done, I think what is going on in the Raleigh area is the best bet. Local agency DATA (Durham Area Transit Agency) is contracting out all operations to Triangle Transit (Regional Transit Agency). Durham will still own all the bus stops and buses, and the council will still approve the budget and provide the funding, but everything else will be done by Triangle.

      So basically you get some of the benefits of a unified transit system (marketing, scheduling syncronization, economies of scale etc) but without some the negatives (money being shifted out the area, Triangle Transit [much like Sound Transit, also building out HTC] being pressured to divert capital funds to operations, etc).

      1. I remember riding the buses in the Research Triangle a couple years ago. Comparing that dystopic miasma of uncoordinated systems with Puget Sound is unwise.

        That having been said, all that is accomplished by TTA running Durham’s bus routes is an additional layer of management. Unless the eventual goal is for TTA to take over Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh’s systems (hahaha), there is no functional benefit.

        Durham would have been better off having Veolia directly operate their system.

  4. With all of the reroutes we will have down in Pierce County, and as addicted to onebusaway as I am, I’m just guessing that I’m gonna have a problem. Does anyone know if OBA has anyone left to code in new routes and such?

  5. The RapidRide ride was cool and pretty fast. Of course, we weren’t in rush-hour traffic.

    One detail I noticed needs redress: The q-straint attachments above the rear-facing slot are low enough than anyone sitting there can bean themselves when they stand up. Can padding be added to cover that device and prevent concussions?

  6. The best thing about RapidRide B is the nice, new buses. With so many stops removed and oddly spaced, it’s a line that designed to get you somewhat close to where you want to go a tiny bit quicker. And the big selling point? They come more often! Whoopee!

    1. You forgot about the WiFi, which enables one to troll blogs while riding the smoothely less stop-and-go RapidRide.

    2. Sounds like Link light rail. Although between downtown and SeaTac airport Link is actually slower than the buses it replaced — not quicker.

      1. But its a lot more reilable and frequent service than the 194 ever was…. anyone see the new sawtooth bays being built at the airport? Is that for the 560 and 574?

      2. Ooops, I forgot about those nifty cell phone/tablet devices that allow one to spend the day trolling blogs using 4G, with or withou WiFi, while riding back and forth all day on Link, for lack of anything else going on in one’s life.

        Now your comment is less of an off-topic non sequiter, Norman.

      3. The 194 was only really faster on paper. Factor in wait time (including watching a crush-loaded bus go by and waiting for the next one), plus the pay-as-you-exit line, plus occasional random traffic delays on either I-5 or the airport drive and Link starts to look at least as fast, if not faster, in practice. And Link also runs on Sunday nights when there was never a 194 and, even on paper, the old 174 was slower than Link.

      4. Still, Norman was able to get to the airport in 28 minutes on a Sunday morning, and now we forever hear that “Link is slower than the 194”.

  7. Z: “anyone see the new sawtooth bays being built at the airport?”
    Those are the new Stretch Limo loading bays :)

  8. Yikes…not many Kentians going up to Overlake I guess (566 discontinued entirely).

    Did you see the report that they will spend money from the $60 tab fee for Bicycle-Pedestrian Greenways?

    I would actually support at $60 tab fee in King County if it were used for similar bicycle-pedestrian projects that focused on isolating bicycles and feet from cars and major traffic.

    Seattle plans side-street pathways for cyclists

    SEATTLE (AP) — New pathways for cyclists and pedestrians could be one result from Seattle’s proposed new $60 annual car tab fee.

    The plan is to outfit a network of residential roads with speed bumps, landscaped curbs and narrower spaces for cars to give cyclists and pedestrians priority.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Seattle-plans-side-street-pathways-for-cyclists-2198106.php

    1. Look at the schedule for 566. The ST update said that some trips were deleted. It still has 30 minute headways off-peak from Kent Station.

  9. Question about the RapidRide B: does anyone know why Trip Planner is giving “Ne 40th St & Sr 520 Ramp” (1996) as the stop to get off at to transfer to 545 to Seattle (in five minutes, no less)? Surely RapidRide B doesn’t stop on the actual ramp at the same stop as the 545. I guess the issue for me is that Trip Planner thinks that transfer is possible in five minutes.

    1. That should be an easy transfer in five minutes even if you walk really slowly. I’d guess about a less than a minute if you’re on RR headed toward Crossroads/Bellevue. If you’re going the other way the longest bit is waiting on the crosswalk light to change. Even 51st would be 2-3 minutes tops to get to the freeway stop (plus the crosswalk signals).

      1. Huh, I’ve never made it in less than seven (that is, from Overlake to the freeway stop to Seattle). I’m disabled, but the main problem is always waiting at the multiple lights. Other people don’t seem to go any faster than I do, I dunno.

      2. As far as I know the RR stop is brand new. But yes if you’re not on the south side of 40th waiting for the light to cross could add a couple of minutes.

    2. From the map, it looks like the stop you would want to use is at 152nd Ave NE. From there it should be straightforward to get to the freeway stop if you’re on RR-B toward Bellevue. If you’re on RR-B going toward Redmond, you would need to cross NE 40th which might cost you 90 seconds, but it would be a lot better than from OTC.

      1. Exactly. You’re getting off at the stop on the west side of the freeway, not the stop right in front of OTC.

        The OTC transfer could be useful, *if* you’re coming from the south, and it’s after noon on a weekday. But honestly, the 545 takes so darn long to pull into/out of the loop that you’re probably better off staying on B, letting it quickly cross the freeway, then walking to the freeway stop.

        (And anyway, I predict that the 545 will stop serving the OTC loop within the next year.)

      2. I tried it today, took about 2 minutes at a brisk pace. Didn’t have to wait to cross 152nd, did wait briefly to get over 40th. It would be nice if the stop were on the east side of 152nd.

        For comparison, the 545 to Seattle was pulling into OTC when my RRB northbound stopped outside. I waited at the freeway stop for a few minutes before the 545 caught up.

    3. Maybe it’s a shorter walk than getting off on 156th, crossing, and making your way to the last bay at Overlake Transit Center. I noticed on the printed maps at the stations that they specifically marked the 40th/520 stop as the transfer point to Seattle buses, probably because that’s the only stop that’s served all the time (and has both the 542 and 545). The OTC stop only gets served on weekday afternoons.

      1. Also, that’s the only stop in the OTC loop that’s currently served by a through bus. I’ve heard a rumor that ST would really like to keep the 545 on the freeway full-time in both directions.

      2. I can see the logic in that, and if I’m being objective it makes sense operationally. There are a lot of people using the OTC stop, though, and it’s a much better transfer location (for the MSFT shuttles) and place to wait than the freeway stop.

        Plus, being selfish, that’s where I catch the 545 to get home! :)

      3. I used to use the OTC stop to catch the 545, not because the walk to the freeway stop was any particular hardship, but because if I was going to end up on the same bus anyway, going to the freeway stop wasn’t going to save me any time. However, boarding at OTC put me ahead in line of anyone boarding at the freeway stop for seats, so my using the OTC stop was really about the difference between sitting and standing.

        Last year, I switched over to using the freeway stop. With the option to take new 36th St. bridge to the 520 trail, the trip home is about 5 minutes faster this way. Plus, I can take the 542, rather than squeeze onto a crush-loaded 545. If the 545 ended it’s detour into the OTC loop tomorrow, I wouldn’t miss it.

      4. David: That’s my stop too, so I feel your pain. :)

        First, a lot of people transfer to the Connector, which originates at OTC. There are also smaller numbers of people who transfer to long-distance MS shuttles (like Bellevue/Seattle/etc.), or the 566, or Metro buses. So not everyone will abandon the loop if the 545 moves.

        Also, with RapidRide B, things become more interesting. Anyone who works in one of the buildings that’s right off 156th can take RapidRide, rather than waiting for one of the MS shuttles (which, depending on the time of day, tend to be either massively delayed, circuitously routed, or both).

        And Microsoft themselves could potentially create/modify a fixed-route shuttle with an on-street stop right before/after 520. They recently came to an agreement with Metro/ST that lets them stop at the eastbound OTC freeway stop rather than pulling into the loop, so maybe they could do the same thing for the 152nd St stop.

        Eric: No, I don’t. :) Someone mentioned the rumor in an STB comment ages ago.

      5. True, but in my case I’d be taking the 545 into Seattle and coming back in the afternoon, so I’ve never been able to catch it at OTC.

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