Connecting Downtown, the International District, and a swath of neighborhoods in the Rainier Valley, Route 7 is one of Metro’s most important routes. Along with many of Metro’s trolleybus routes, it was originally a streetcar, and also like many of those streetcar routes, it was put in to help spur development in what was previously untamed land: transit- and pedestrian-oriented urban sprawl, circa 1890. In a previous post, I discussed some of the problems suffered by the current incarnation of Route 7, and discussed one possible improvement. In this post, I’ll focus mostly on current ridership patterns.
First, some notes on the chart. As I discussed at length in the aforementioned post, Route 7 has a split service pattern, with most trips turning back at Rainier Beach High School, and others continuing to Pentice St. This manifests itself as a discontinuity in the data in the outbound (right) pane. More importantly, Metro’s APC system assigns both the outbound and inbound legs of the Prentice St loop to the outbound trips. So, reading upwards in the right pane, from Rainier/Hend to Prentice/64th the bus is heading south; subsequently it is heading north.
Analysis after the jump.
- Blockbuster demand on Jackson St. At all times of day and night, riders are traveling both directions on this segment; we saw the same thing with the 36 and 14. Other than 3rd Ave, no other route segment can touch this one.
- Relatively weak between Mount Baker Station and Dearborn. Even though that area is densely built up, it doesn’t have the pedestrian-oriented streets found elsewhere on the 7.
- Service workers going from the RV to the Eastside? One interesting quirk: lots of inbound pre-6:30 riders get off at Rainier/I-90; presumably they’re heading east. We don’t see this in any other time period.
- High turnover inbound at Mount Baker Station. The two stops closest to MBS, Rainier/Forest and Rainer/McClellan, exhibit a strange asymmetry, with far more rider churn inbound than outbound. I can’t explain this.
- Mixed main-street/neighborhood pattern out to Henderson. The route exhibits steady turnover at each stop in this segment, somewhat like the 358, but overall, the bus is gradually unloading.
- Complicated after Henderson. Looking at the right pane, in all time periods, the bus still has five to ten riders heading out to Prentice St. Those riders deboard heading south, but virtually no-one boards heading north. This is presumably due to the inbound trip being interrupted by a layover, as discussed in my prior post. My take on this is that there’s latent demand on the Prentice St loop that is served reasonably well by the outbound 7, but not by the inbound. This is part of the motivation to fix the south end of the 7.
- Surprisingly low average loads. Bredas nominally seat 56, and my limited anecdotal experience riding the 7 on Rainier suggests those buses are usually not standing room only, but certainly feel more full than the average of 25 shown in the chart. My guess is that buses are getting bunched, and full leading buses are offset by nearly-empty trailing buses.