All of King County is on snow routing. Check out the Metro’s transit alerts here. I’ll be retweeting information furiously over at our twitter account. Remember tracking tools like OneBusAway do not work when buses are on snow routing.

66 Replies to “Snow Open Thread”

    1. How much do you want to bet the Seattle Times runs one of the more dramatic post-snow pictures of the train, with the implicit visual message that “trains can be dangerous in adverse weather” overriding the facts of the story (no snow on the ground when the incident occurred, stupid driver blew through a red light at ramming speed, no one aboard was hurt)?

  1. About an hour ago I saw a 49 in SLU on Fairview Ave N. That’s not the snow route, are they just shuttling people to the U-District or something?

  2. It would be interesting to see a study: Do articulated buses in a snow storm lower the number of passengers carried due to their difficulties in the snow as compared to an equal number of single buses on the same routes. Observation indicates that the big buses stall out and cause more traffic issues than the single buses. But, assuming an articulated carries double the passengers, are they really more efficient in the snow measured in passenger trips? Yes, I know double the buses means double the drivers and so on. It’s an intellectual exercise that might lead to better service in snow storms.

    1. The problem is that more than half the fleet is articulated buses. Metro simply doesn’t have enough 40-footers to go around.

  3. I was in Chinatown around noon and there were a ton of unchained Metro buses in the area trying to get back to base, mostly 3600 D40LFs.

  4. Snow story: I left on the 30 at about 2:30 pm going from Fremont towards Ravenna. At that time, the KCM Snow, Ice, & Flood map ( was entirely green, apparently indicating that NO BUSES WERE ON A REROUTE. But at 2:55 pm, and near Campus Parkway and the Ave, the bus driver says, “Hey everybody, we’re on a reroute.” And so I went up to him, showed him the link to the map on my phone, clicked into the link, and showed him the entire green map. He was like, “Yeah, what do you want me to do about it, huh? I’ll file a memo for you, ok? Now get off my bus, guy.”

    The Snow, Ice, & Flood map is apparently fixed now (it’s all red). But if you’re going to use the internet to communicate rerouting issues, why not do it correctly? I walked the route back home (about 1.5 mi from the Campus Parkway and Ave stop) and tried to tell the 10 or so people (waiting for the 30) that it was on snow rerouting, and they’d need to walk a half mile or so to actually catch it.

    1. Wow. You mean sometimes those smart phones aren’t so smart? I’ll buy one when they predict the when, where, and how much snow. Weather happens.

      At least you will be able to tell your kids: “I walked 1.5 miles in the snow…blah, blah, blah.”

      1. Don’t be an asshole. And yes, actually, I did get a smart phone exclusively for way-finding buses. Buses come once every half-hour where I live — and come early or late capriciously. And I don’t own a car. The tools aren’t perfect, but they help.

        And this IS NOT a matter of trying to predict the weather. This is a matter of KCM trying to (or not trying to) indicate whether or not buses are on a reroute. They rely on the internet to communicate these sorts of things. And this time they failed, at least intermittently.

      2. I boarded a 358 In shoreline at 200th and Aurora going southbound. the driver was nice enough to pick us up but reminded us that north king county was rerouted. my map showed all green, so I thought no reroute. By the time

        boarded, I saw all red for our area which meant I should have walked to Aurora village transit center. at any rate by 12 the whole map was red. So make sure you press refresh on your browser. simply turning pages doesn’t reload the map.

      3. Jason,

        Not an asshole. A high-tech AM-hole. Smart phones. LOL

        I bet the driver just looked at you and thought to him/her self: Wow. What a dork.

      4. Rod,

        You’re missing the point. If KCM is going to offer a website to communicate when snow routes are in effect, they need to make sure the information is timely and correct.

        If they aren’t capable of providing accurate information on their website, they would be better off taking it down so that riders aren’t misled.

      5. Jason – so why did you flash your internet at the driver? What exactly did you expect him to do about the fact that the information on your smartphone was wrong?

    2. “Yeah, what do you want me to do about it, huh? I’ll file a memo for you, ok? Now get off my bus, guy.”

      Can you imagine someone at Nordstom speaking to you like that? Or even McDonalds.

      Very unprofessional. Drivers like that deserve to be paid much less than what they are paid.

      1. If someone at Nordstrom were piloting a 30 ton cashmere sweater through an ice rink filled with moving clothes racks and some doofus flashed a smartphone in their face for some bizarre, unexplainable, and useless reason – I’m doubting that the response would be all warm and fuzzy.

      2. Beavis, you just made my point. If Metro drivers are going to be rude to the public every time they feel a little stress, then they are not professionals, and should be paid less than they are.

      3. Sam, even professionals are human and when pushed to a point, will act in human ways. That in no ways mitigates the wage they should receive. But the expectation that drivers should be courteous remains. And at the same time, the driver is the master of that vehicle and if he wants to throw the guy off the bus, it is within his authority.

        I was getting on a bus downtown on Saturday where the driver was refusing to allow a person she considered drunk to board. Held the doors closed and motioned for people to board at the back door. The doors actually smacked me in the butt when they suddenly closed after me. When I looked back, the “drunk” had moved to attempt to board behind me. The driver was very determined to not allow this person on board. She is to be commended for considering her passengers and worth every paltry penny we pay her.

      1. The control center has it’s challenges. However, even @kcmetrobus got things wrong – initially reporting that only North Seattle was on reroute – even when Central/Atlantic went to snow routes by 10:30 am.

      2. The minute they go to snowroute someone needs to update the map. Done. If they can’t then the map has to be replaced with a message saying “If it’s snowing or cold or it’s slick out you’d best stay home”.

    3. One challenge I’ve had with the KC Metro site is you sometimes need to reload it to get updated info. From my laptop I saw North Seattle red this morning and then the whole county go red around noon.

      Sorry you got stuck.

      The challenge I’ve had with Metro on snow routes is the opposite – where the website tells you it’s on snow route and then the driver decides to take the regular route.

    4. What did you want the bus driver to do about it? Obviously he has no control over when that map gets updated, so what was the point of showing him? Don’t you think he’d know best whether his bus was on a reroute or not?

      1. Rod N – Sure, I’m a dork. And you’re an Am-hole who shuns smartphones? The pot calling the kettle black?

        Kevin – Yes, I saw the same thing. N. Seattle was Red as of about 9am. And the entire service area was Red by 9:30 am. But sometime in the afternoon, everything turned green for at least an hour (2 pm – 3 pm)

        Zed – I couldn’t expect the bus driver to do anything, obviously. And I told him so. At best, he could call in to base and say something to the effect that they (they, as in KCM) were doing something inconsistent.

        Whether or not a bus is on reroute makes a half-mile difference in terms of bus stops, in my case. And to ascertain whether or not a bus will come on regular route, without the internet, takes at least a half-an-hour worth of waiting — plus a half mile worth of walking if you’re wrong.

        Today, there were plenty of people waiting for a bus that would never come. How is this not just plainly wrong?

      2. A general rule of thumb (which I have learned the hard way) is that when I see snow on the ground, I will not ride any bus with headways exceeding 15 minutes unless I happen to see it coming. I will also avoid any bus that is scheduled to go up or down a steep hill (e.g. route 43) no matter how frequently it’s scheduled. Most trips are either non-urgent enough so I can simply put them off to another day or close enough so I can just walk. On snow days, my walking distance typically increases significantly from other days, both because there’s not much going on, and because, although not very fast, walking through snow is much more reliable than any other mode of transportation.

      3. Eric,

        And, given the rarity of snow in the Northwest, a LOT MORE FUN!

        In Buffalo? Not so much.

      4. In Buffalo, I would presume they are better at driving on snow and plowing the roads than they are here, so hopefully, the reliability effect is less. Of course, the mode-share of transit in Buffalo is probably substantially less than it is here too.

      5. Guys, ever consider that the operations division notified all the drivers of the reroute before calling the I.T. department to tell them to update the webpage? Jason, I’m sorry you got caught in the changeover but someone was going to get screwed and today it was you. But what if the website was updated to show snow routing before the busses started using the route? How ticked would you be to be at the wrong stop? Cut the Metro staff some slack.

      6. Of course, residents of Buffalo proper (few as they may be) also have a subway bisecting their city, with stops every 1/2-3/4 mile.

        Yes, really.

      7. To all the “subways should be regional and our in-city stop-spacing plans are fine and feeder buses are the bomb” people…

        Tell that to all those along 43 whose buses have just been re-routed as 49s — i.e. absolutely nowhere near them and useless as future feeders under similar snow conditions.

      8. Jason – you didn’t answer the question. Why did you show the driver your smart phone? His response to you was pretty unsurprising. Did you really expect him to call into the control center and report your smart phone inconsistency? Or were you really trying to be some kind of wise-acre trying to convince him that he was wrong about being on snow route?

        Get out of the driver’s face and let them do their job. Your smart phone’s inability to deal with reality is something you should take up between you and the folks who manage Metro’s web site. The driver is busy trying not to hit things or kill people. Keep your dang phone out of their face.

      9. Beavis, displaying some more of that renowned Metro Customer Service attitude?

        Why would someone show them the phone… Umm b/c at that time the driver was the closest Metro person TO inform of the inconsistency?!?! Should the consumer need to know how the Metro chain of command works or should they just be able to go the nearest employee/representative and have it passed up that way?

        And from his story, the driver wasn’t driving when he showed him the phone?

      10. DP, that’s what happens when your segment of a bus route is adjacent to a steep hill or its street is not plowed. The 14,43,49 all act as if they were 49s. The 30 is routed far away from 55th; it goes around Pacific Street and Montlake Boulevard to Sand Point Way. I always wonder what happens to those people on 55th who lose bus service whenever it snows: how do they get to work or go to the store, or do they just stay home until it melts? Do they often move to some place flatter because of it?

      11. @Matthew,

        Telling a bus driver – during a snow event no less where he obviously has a few other things going on – that there’s bad information on the Metro web site is like me flagging down the nearest cop (who is in the middle of pursuing a robbery suspect) to tell them that they’re using the old logo on the SPD web site.

        Get real.

      12. Ah, Mike! So I see that we agree that it’s kind of dumb to tunnel directly under the 15th, Montlake, and 55th walksheds and yet provide no way to access the lines without a web of unreliable feeders.

        This is only slightly less insane on a daily basis than it is when (a comically small amount of) snow eliminates the feeders entirely.

        Please note that the Buffalo subway — which everyone mocks as too basic, too short, and too devoid of networked connectivity to be of much use — nevertheless enjoys ridership roughly similar to Central Link’s despite being barely 2/5 of Central Link’s length in a much smaller city!

        Why does that anemic line’s numbers match ours? Because if you live anywhere near its corridor (or along a cross street it intersects), you can get to it and use it. Link — present and future — fails this basic test, and its usability will continue to suffer for it.

      13. Why would the system that notifies the drivers not be integrated with the system that displays the map? It shouldn’t require calling the IT department to make a data change. The responsible manager that calls for a snow re-route condition should with the same push of a button that notifies the system of the change, also send a data update for the website.

      14. “Today, there were plenty of people waiting for a bus that would never come. How is this not just plainly wrong?”

        It is wrong. It is also wrong that Metro put “Snow Route in effect. B-Line not serving this stop” on the signs along B-Line a couple of months ago when there obviously no snow. I was able to call that one in because the control center wasn’t busy. But on a snow day they are too busy to respond to us unless we have an Emergency or a breakdown. Even then, it can be a very long delay.

        I don’t like it any more than you do but frankly, your best bet is to get on Twitter and send a Tweet to @KCMetroBus letting them know their map is wrong. The person who monitors that account is closer to the people who work with the web site than we are – Heck, they might even be just a few cubes away.

      15. So sometimes, yes, you have to hit ‘refresh’ to get the map to show properly — this all depends on cache settings. Just happened to me now. There must be a better way to store the map on the webpage — such that it forces the map to update in the browser every time you ‘link in’ to the webpage.( I have no idea if this was an issue or not on Sun).

        VeloBusDriver: Twitter – I don’t use twitter. I tried calling KCM five times, but I got a busy signal each time as you might expect.

        The way we communicate these bus reroutes is hokey. I was never targeting any particular employee or anything. And I’m sure that snow changes are more stressful for transit employees. But this is a large city in the year 2012 and I’m not sure that we’re communicating these changes in the best way possible.

    5. When I looked at the map this morning, North Seattle and East King County were both red, and the list of routes below the map all detailed the stops that were being missed/skipped, like the little stretch on Lindon for the 358. Perhaps that didn’t show up on the smart phone.

      Both the 16 and the 30 have been rerouted since this morning. I saw the 16 heading up Stone north of 45th at 10:30 this morning, and the 30 heading east on 45th. Later on when I took the 16 downtown, then picked up the 30 to head back north to Sandpoint Way, both drivers were extremely patient with the questions and accommodating towards people trying to figure out where to get on/off and find their transfer point. And both drivers made it exceedingly clear that they were on snow routes, announcing the different stops and where they were heading next.

    6. Matt,
      As smart as your smart phones, etc, are, they will never predict weather. Never. A small band of heavy snow hit today. It was predicted. Let me know when your high tech can predict when, where, and how much. I have heard this crap for 50 years. The predictions are better. But never fool proof. So…Jason chooses to whine to the bus driver. Others will call for a recall of the mayor. Others will realize it IS WEATHER. JUST WEATHER.

      1. Thanks for retroactively applying all that hyperbole to my above comments (recall of the mayor etc).

        All I want is clear communication of the when the buses are on reroute. THAT’S ALL.

        Why do you believe this is not possible? Do you see a better low-tech of doing this sort of thing? Do you believe that riders should have to spend hours outside divining the route and direction of the buses?

      2. Jason,
        Uncle. I say uncle. Honestly, nothing against you. But weather will be weather. Even on little or no notice.

        Good night.

    7. When I checked at noon, the north end was red on my PC at work, and by 2:00 the whole map was red. I’d not blame KCMetro, at least from my experience today

    8. “And so I went up to him, showed him the link to the map on my phone, clicked into the link, and showed him the entire green map”

      Um, yeah, please don’t come up and try and convince us that the coordinator is wrong. Keep in mind that the map on the web site is likely updated from information received from the control center so there can be a delay.

      I won’t speak to the driver’s reaction other than to say driving in snow is way more stressful than the usual chaos we deal with. Try to keep that in mind.

      1. What Velo?! I expect that data to be updated instantly, sent via 1’s and 0’s to a satellite and beamed instantly to my phone before I even know to check for these updates.

        first world problems

    9. Hmm. As of when I posted this at around 12:30 all areas were on reroute and I highly doubt they would have changed the page between 12 and 2. Maybe you needed to refresh your browser as it might have just used the cached page?

  5. My 49 driver (stunningly kind and patient) just told straight up on her radio that the drivers had some problems with their mgt’s plans today: the decision not to prep with chains b/c they expected mlk weekend travel to be light, and their rerouting policy. She said most of the 49’s disappeared for the day because they turned into Route 7’s and got stuck in Rainier Valley. So even though the 49 roads were ok, nearly all 49’s were awol. Drivers, according to her, have been advocating for a policy to drive one route only on snowdays. Good luck to them!

  6. one of the great things living on First Hill (or Capital Hill for that matter) is that everything is in walking distance and you don’t have to go up or down any major hills … made the snow that much more fun today

    1. One trick is that Pine Street is almost flat from 1st Ave all the way to 14th, so it’s easier than the other streets for east-west walking. Going over the freeway is the most trecherous part, where the bridge makes it the most icy. One year after being stuck in my apartment for two days, I walked down to Pike Place to hang out there for a while.

    1. Didn’t help SDOT doesn’t have the extra funds for these nice-to-do things that could have come from increasing the car tabs.

  7. Went on a bike ride from Lake City to Downtown and back today, around noon. The snow really made me thankful for fenders and knobby tires.

    On the way home I rode the 66 from Eastlake to Northgate pretty much without incident, although a lot of people were shocked that I was riding my bike around.

    Sad to hear about the 73, that happened not very far from where I live….

    1. I rode it late PM, all the way downtown then all the way out to airport and back to RV. No problems and indeed, cosily packed single cars running at brisk speeds.

      I heard there was an (possibly Link involved) accident at Othello late this PM that delayed trains but that was after I got home.

  8. Are drivers supposed to stop and pick up passengers during local snow re-routes? I waited for the 125 on Delridge instead of 21st this morning, and a 125 driver passed me by (she definitely saw me: she waved to me, signaled that she wouldn’t stop, and then pointed up the road). I ended up walking the half-mile north to Oregon st where the snow route rejoins the regular route, and caught the next bus a half hour later. I was pretty perturbed, to say the least…

    1. Were you on a steep part of Delridge? Snow route or no, a 60 footer won’t stop on a slick slope for fear of not being able to get going again.

  9. I’m sure its probally a fairly complicated process to change the map, depending on many layers of operations and management to check the situation, verify the reroutes, notify the operators, notify management and other parties at the agency, have the e-mail or phone call go around a time or two for clarification, send out and post updates to various media outlets, and get everything updated and do it all over again as things change. And i’m pretty sure whoever was in charge of the website probally updated it on a schedule, as doing “real time” updates would have resulted in mis-communication with the public as the situation changes early on.

    Aside from that, i think that snow route stops and re-routes should be better marked at the individual stop. For stops that are closed during snow events, a small sign (mabye a timeable holder mounted to the pole with a paper sign) indicating if a stop is closed, or planned route changes during a snow event. I also like Los Angeles where their headsigns also change to indicate “ON DETOUR” when a route is indeed On Detour. I think thier AVL system does this automatically. We could use ON DETOUR for when a route is indeed On Detour, and “SNOW ROUTE” when a route is well, on a snow route.

  10. I’ll chime in and report that Whatcom Transit Authority is running normally. The older buses have chains, the new ones do not.

  11. Is everyone familiar with Metro’s Emergency Service Network routes? If tomorrow’s snow is bad enough, Metro may reduce it’s to its core 52 ESN routes.

    1. If the foot of snow predicted is true, Mayor McGinn might just as well pack his bags and get out of Dodge.

  12. Has anyone gotten alerts from ST about weather delays/snow routes on their bus routes? I signed up for 556 alerts a year or two ago but haven’t gotten a single email from ST about the 556 being on snow route this week (trips originate/terminate at Issaquah TC) and am wondering whether my subscription was somehow dropped or if they just haven’t been sending out alerts.

    1. I received an alert regarding the 555/556 on Sunday that said it would be on snow routing until further notice. I haven’t received an update since then, so I’m assuming it’s still in effect.

Comments are closed.