Another update just came in from Metro Deputy GM Manager of Services Development Victor Obeso:

The proposals Metro presented for feedback were designed to improve the efficiency of our service to serve more people to more places. Talking with you and others helps us understand how existing service is an important part of your lives and neighborhoods. When proposals include long established high ridership routes within a diverse and multifaceted setting, public outreach helps Metro weigh technical considerations with human factors.

We have received valuable feedback. We’ve heard that there are factors that deserve further review, analysis and understanding. As a result, Metro has decided to postpone the route 2, 4 and 27 proposals. Issues were raised of coverage and traffic congestion on Madison Street, and more information about the unique travel needs of those that live and work in the area is needed. For now, we are not proposing to change existing routing of this set of routes. Instead, we are proposing to just make small adjustments to the frequency and running hours of routes 4 and 27 consistent with demand.

Backing off the changes Route 2 and 4, by necessity, returns the Queen Anne-Madrona corridor more or less to its current structure, complete with the 4’s vestigial tail to Judkins Park. This is an extremely regrettable decision that abandons one of the most promising, pro-rider parts of the Fall restructure.

109 Replies to “Another Update on Route 2”

  1. Who might have standing to sue the county for failure to abide by the agreement that led to the passing of the CRC?

    1. There’s probably going to be a repeat of intense County Council debate for this round of service restructure like the one over the 42.

      Note Obeso saying “for now”. I hope they revisit this area again, no later than U-Link’s opening in 2016.

      Still, I’m feeling encouraged to write my councilmember (Hague) to keep up the fight for implementing the CRC and RTTF recommendations.

  2. Ouch. If we’re limited only to changes that 100% of the people agree with, nothing will every change.

    1. I think this is good news. Changes are needed, but it’s important for Metro to hear from the people. I don’t remember Metro doing any outreach to the community prior to presenting the proposed changes. There will have to be changes and they will be for the better. Everybody needs to calm down, think through their ideas and be ready to listen to others. The end result will be a better transit system.

  3. In one very particular way, I understand Metro’s decision. Nominally, this restructure is about Ballard and West Seattle. The changes to the 2, 4, and 27 had very little to do with RapidRide. So postponing these changes until later, and doing a broad revamp of East/Central Seattle bus service, is not terrible.

    Also, the proposal was far from perfect. The proposed 3 turnback meant that one of the obvious benefits of route consolidation (higher frequency) wasn’t observed. And Metro’s definition of frequent service, i.e. every 15 minutes, is not high enough to make transfers painless.

    Still, I think this proposal would have made things better. It’s a shame that Metro (and cities in general) are so biased against change.

    1. I don’t think Metro was biased against change here – the planners were the ones who suggested and fought for this change. At least in the case of the #2, a bunch of neighbors who (as has been written here previously) believe the #2 is the only route Metro operates united to oppose any changes, and frankly did a good job of reaching the powers that be. The pro-change folks were not so organized.

      1. I understand that’s the system, but it shouldn’t be. Planners should absolutely take time to listen to community input, but should make their decisions based on the best plan – not the loudest voices with the most clout.

      2. See also route #42 which will stick around until at least next year. Also the result of a vocal group who believe the #42 is the only route Metro operates.

      3. Matt, in a perfect world perhaps, but for a transit system controlled by a political entity, I don’t think you’ll ever see that. In the world we live in today, the only way forward I can find is for people who understand the benefits of the changes to get organized and lobby to see them implemented. Metro (obviously) can’t get this through on their own.

    2. Part of the 27 changes were due to the fact that the the 18 would end up serving Yesler to 12th Ave as its decoupled from route 56.

      But Buschick put together a very simple argument in a petition that the route had sufficient ridership until 23rd Ave. Its its long and winding tail that pushes its ridership numbers down. Plus the proposal had frequencies often pushing an hour, which is a way to destroy transit demand.

      1. And so now the tail will be retained, while Metro will “make small adjustments to the frequency and running hours”, “consistent with demand”?

        Well, we can hope Metro will revisit their decisions and come up with a new, improved restructure plan. Rather than just letting inertia rule.

  4. Score another one for inertia. SeattleU students and residents of adjacent neighborhoods could have really benefited from this change. The central problem of public outreach is that existing riders who would suffer are tangible and vocal, while the greater number of new riders induced by a change will always be theoretical and therefore silent. I’d be interested to see who complained back in the late 70s when the 2 was switched from Madison to Seneca in the first place. I’d bet the same kinds of arguments were in play.

    Furthermore, this means that the RTTF and CRC mandates don’t really have much teeth. If Route 4 can survive, with parallel and more frequent service 1-2 blocks away on both east and west, what hope is there for rational reorganization based on efficiencies? If we can’t move a trolley 2 blocks to double frequency and avoid I-5 traffic, I’m not sure what we can get done.

    1. I commute from North Seattle to Seattle U and back every day, and I spend almost as much time riding and waiting for the 12 as I do riding the 522/312. If I don’t see the bus coming, I’m usually better off just walking up the hill. Doubling frequency on Madison would’ve helped people headed to the University and hospitals. Thanks Capitol Hill neighbors for screwing me and all of my fellow commuter students over.

      Does no one understand the frequency/coverage trade-off? Because some people don’t want to transfer or are afraid of walking two blocks, we continue to be stuck with a bus that is slower than walking during peak hours. I was looking forward to less time waiting for the 12, I really was.

      TL;DR: not everyone in the community was against the changes.

      1. But did you show up to the meetings?

        Increased frequency on Madison would be nice, but the live-loop where I have to walk to/from different stations in each direction to transfer to/from tunnel buses, and transfer at all to get anywhere beyond the Madison/Marion corridor downtown, muted any enthusiasm I might have had.

        Most of the benefit of merging the routes, at least for SU students, could be had if Metro reversed which side of 12th Ave the 2/12 stops were. Right now there’s a shared stop eastbound and separate stops westbound, but the 2 and 12 go to different destinations heading east so no one gains anything by being able to take whichever comes first. By contrast, if I want to go downtown, I have to decide which stop I want to wait at, whereas I could catch whatever comes first if the westbound stop was between 12th and 13th.

    2. I think Metro could sell moving the 2 to Madison Street when it’s reconfigured into a transit corridor. I’ve wasted some time lately watching the 2 and 12 on Metro’s bus tracker app and it’s interesting to see how quickly the 2 gets to 14th Ave, but then it just crawls from there to downtown. Moving to Madison would get it through the bow-tie quicker. Also, there wouldn’t be the wait to cross Broadway or the long light at 6th Avenue. It would also help if the 2 would turn onto 3rd Avenue and continue to the Seattle Center. From watching the tracker app it looks like the live loop to 1st Ave and back will be a black hole. If you can catch a 2 and 12 that are arriving downtown at approximately the same time, you will see how much faster the 2 moves up 3rd Ave while the 12 just gets stuck in 1st Avenue traffic. Call me crazy, but I think the move to Madison is a good idea, but the live loop isn’t going to fly.

      1. BeaconHillGuy,

        I think you misunderstand what the live-loop meant. It eliminated the need to travel on 1st Ave through-lanes at all.

        Buses would have sailed down Madison, turn around, sailed back up Marion. Problem solved.

      2. d.p.– I understand the live loop is planned to go down Madison, left on First, then left on Marion. What I’m saying is that if you spend some time watching the bus tracker, it’s pretty clear that the trip down to First can be real slow. Watch the progress of the 12s on Madison (west of Third), First, Marion–even with Bruce’s bus island the live loop is going to be a black hole. Then compare that progress with the progress of the 2 that turns onto Third. The 2 will usually be deep into Belltown while the 12 is still stuck on First Avenue. I definitely don’t see any buses sailing down Madison, turning around and sailing back up Marion.

        It was once pointed out to me that bus loops are a bad idea because riders generally don’t like to travel in circles.

      3. @GuyOnBeaconHill: As for loops, this isn’t the Detroit People Mover (which only runs one way around a single loop. It’s just a turnaround, representing a tiny portion of the route. It doesn’t matter if few people ride it, the bus has to get turned around somehow.

      4. GuyOnBeacon,

        The bus tracker does not show second-by-second or block-by-block information. The trips you were tracking were NOT getting stuck on those two blocks of Madison, period.

        The delays you observed were from the routing ON 1st Avenue, which the proposal explicitly fixed.

        Intentional or not, your argument is a red herring.

        (p.s. Try following the 2 buses south/eastbound from Queen Anne to First Hill sometime, and then get back to me about how fast they “move.”)

      5. You said: “you will see how much faster the 2 moves up 3rd Ave while the 12 just gets stuck in 1st Avenue traffic. Call me crazy, but I think the move to Madison is a good idea, but the live loop isn’t going to fly.” That doesn’t sound to me like it’s the progress of the buses on Madison that’s the issue.

      6. I don’t think Metro did a good job of explaining that moving the 2 to Madison would include a complete reconfiguration of Madison into a transit priority corridor. If the 2 riders knew that the trip on Madison was going to be faster and more efficient, then I think the move to Madison would be more widely accepted. I hope Metro goes out to the community and explains the plans for Madison Street and how a move onto Madison would give most riders a faster trip to downtown. I think the community also wants the bus to connect to Queen Anne via 3rd Avenue so that riders can make transfers without having to climb a steep hill.

        But here’s something that Metro needs to put into their “lessons learned” file: bus routes that serve hospitals are going to serve a more vulnerable population than other routes and forcing a transfer to those routes on a steep hill won’t be enthusiastically accepted by those populations. Because of downtown’s steep geography, a forced transfer to the hospital buses requires transferring on steep hillsides, which isn’t easy for many people.

        And don’t forget–these proposed changes are timed to coincide with the end of the RFA. More transfers downtown = slower transit. How do you spell klusterfluk?

      7. BeaconGuy:

        You’re correct that Metro didn’t do the best job of explaining directly to the 2’s constituency how they intended to make Madison a bus-priority corridor to the great benefit of speed and reliability.

        So STB writers and many, many people in other public forums took great pains to do so. In great detail. Exhaustively.

        Many people got it, and said they looked forward to faster trips. But here’s the response we got from Joanna and her ilk: “La la la la la la la la la I’m not listening!

        When that’s the sole “discussion” strategy of one side, it can become very frustrating to “discuss.”

        As for the hospital constituency, that it precisely what the revised 27 plan perfectly addressed. It would have given Harborview, Swedish, Virginia Mason, and Horizon House front-door service for much lower cost than the 2 did so for just the latter two, while allowing everyone else the faster trip on Madison. That plan was better for vulnerable populations as well as for the majority of riders than the current situation.

        But from Joanna and her ilk: “La la la la la la la la la I’m not listening!

  5. Arrgh. I for one would have loved seeing this revision go through, and I commented through the survey as such. I also had planned to go to the Downtown outreach session, though the fact that they decided this now sort of makes me wonder why I should bother.

    I live in N Belltown, and work in S Downtown by Columbia. I would have loved seeing the extra frequency on the 13, since it would be through routed to the 3S and ran all the way to James.

    I understand that Metro wants to do outreach, but when people’s opinions are not based on fact but on ridiculous preconcieved notions like “transfers are hard” and “downtown is dangerous” then you just end up making dumb decisions like this.

    Sometimes I wish the word “tough” was in their vocablulary.

    1. They still have to answer to the County Council, remember. They can be as tough as they want and still get smacked down.

      1. Yeah, but in some ways I could excuse that more. I expect politicians to pander. I expect Metro to propose plans that are efficient, productive, and based on data.

      2. Does this mean the COUNCIL is going to tell METRO to be more aggressive? Quite a reversal of roles.

      3. At least the suburban councilmembers who managed to end Seattle’s Ride Free Area. Their areas got RapidRide/Link restructures. Why should Seattle get away with little change, when it obviously could be made to run better?

      4. I think Metro did a good job of proposing the best plan they could with zero new dollars, and as stated here many times by many there were definite advantages to the plan. The people who oppose the changes were well-organized and had Council’s ear, from what I could see. Every single #2 stop with a shelter east of I-5 had flyers and maps on it. It was great community outreach.

        @Morgan, perhaps – or perhaps Metro saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to have another 42 experience with Council. I’m not that inside the loop to know for sure either way.

      5. JohnS: Someone on Metro needs to read the section on the duck. :)

        Give the Council a “duck” to get rid of (like the 42), and the rest of your proposal stands a much better chance of getting through unscathed.

  6. I don’t see how we can ask taxpayers to fund speed and reliability improvements when bus riders don’t seem interested in them.

    1. How do you draw that conclusion from this?

      Critics of the Route 2 changes weren’t against speed and reliability. They were instead against changes they perceived as coming at their expense.

      Speed and reliability improvements don’t have to come at the expense of existing service. Insisting that they do is a road to ruin, since there is very little political support for such an approach.

      Anti-transit voters and politicians don’t care whether a route is “efficient” or not; they blindly oppose funding transit no matter what.

      Most pro-transit voters do not support improving speed and reliability on some routes at the expense of other routes. They reject the notion that this is a zero-sum game.

      It does not appear to me there is a base of voters who support the kind of changes Metro had initially proposed for the September 2012 revision. In a democracy, that is usually a pretty big problem for any public policy proposal.

      Transit advocates ought to be allying with people like those who came out to defend the existing Route 2 and work with them to get more and better bus service for everyone. Otherwise we just fight amongst ourselves and get nowhere.

      1. It IS a zero-sum game.

        Time wasted on one slow route = buses/drivers/money that can’t be used to increase frequency on that route or any other.

        Slow transit for some begets slow transit for all.

      2. This isn’t about defending any route. Its about making a transit system more efficient. Metro tried to do that, and you killed the more efficient routing that we could have had for some general feeling you had that you were being shortchanged.

      3. Metro has essentially changed the rules of the game for long-term transit riders. When folks voted for Transit Now they were voting for the existing system with additional service prioritized for high frequency corridors. Metro has had a number of pretty rough years and is currently having to balance coverage vs. frequency with the current policy guidelines suggesting more of a move towards frequency on high volume corridors. Metro’s current revenues are based on sales tax receipts during the worst economic slump in 80 years and will rebound as the economy improves (as well as provoking a good discussion about how we should be funding transit).

        What you’re seeing is push back from riders who don’t care about frequency in other areas but want their convenient local service even if it does take a while. I think Metro complicated this by talking about “The Network” which immediately turns off a lot of riders and by proposing “frequent” service that isn’t much of an improvement in either speed or frequency over the service it’s replacing. One thing they are doing successfully so far is creating a lot of drama around changes to some popular routes that they are able to cut some less popular ones. I noticed in my neighborhood the brouhaha over the 26 made it possible for them to pretty quietly cut the 45 and 46 without a lot of pushback (at least so far).

      4. Kevin R says: “One thing they are doing successfully so far is creating a lot of drama around changes to some popular routes that they are able to cut some less popular ones.”

        Which leads to my question: why on earth would anyone support cutting a popular route? That’s nonsensical from the perspective of maintaining public support for a transit system.

        The fact is that while transit geeks may like efficiency planning, the public at large doesn’t. In a democracy, you cannot simply impose a plan against the will of the people. Metro lost the public on this and has no choice but to back down or face much more serious political problems.

        I continue to argue that speed and reliability improvements do not have to come at the expense of existing service, and I am frankly stunned that so many people want to resist this common sense solution. Some may claim that Metro has no choice due to limited revenues, but those revenues can always be increased. Of course, to do so you have to generate public support. Which means alienating other transit riders by telling them they are wrong to want to keep their existing service is a monumentally foolish thing to do.

      5. Popular does not mean fast.
        Popular does not mean perfect.
        And popular certainly does not mean “well-liked in its current form”.

        All it means is that it serves a place or places that need service.

        And no one was “cutting” anything. On what planet does “faster and better” mean “less”, you mechanical red-herring generator?

        Go ahead, Will. Get on a popular route and take a survey of who wants faster service and who wants slower service. I dare you!

      6. Kevin R: The economic recovery does not mean Metro will suddenly get all the money it expected from Transit Now back. That money’s gone forever, unless Metro’s sales tax rate dramatically goes up or more revenue sources are found. Look at the chart.

        It’s a failure on Metro’s part in not communicating how an improved transit network allows people to go anywhere in the city on transit, not just within their neighborhood or to downtown and back. I can’t blame them for trying with the limited resources they got. The long-term goal is a system that can be a reasonable alternative to driving for most trips for the masses. Running slow routes everywhere will not get us there.

        Will Douglas: First, the popular parts of routes are not being cut. Why do we support change? Because it’s a revenue-neutral way of improving service. We can increase ridership, speed and reliability on multiple routes without spending more money.

        If you think otherwise, show me the money.

        Where were you in Olympia when hundreds of us went to ask our reps for more transit funding? Did you write or talk to your rep?

        Until then, transit can’t wait for imaginary money to fix its problems. Transit must make the most out of what it has to survive. Or Metro will suffer the same fate as Snohomish and Pierce counties, who did not get emergency funding and is making another round of cuts tomorrow, on top of cuts. We wouldn’t be having this discussion had the $20 CRC failed last year because things would be far worse (forced cuts).

        Nothing dictates that bus service cannot be restored once transit gets more revenue. You should stop wasting your time fighting these changes. It’s a distraction.

      7. Oran-

        I understand that Metro will have some catching up to do but that blue line at the bottom of the graph will start shifting (if it hasn’t already) as the economy improves. While Metro won’t be able to deliver on the Transit Now promises the economic black hole isn’t going to continue forever.

        Fundamentally I think Metro and many of the bloggers on this site are missing that there isn’t widespread support for the “network” if it comes at the expense of the service most folks use which is primarily to and from Downtown and to/from locations within their neighborhoods or in adjacent neighborhoods. I recall one Metro planner talking about how the proposed changes in my neighborhood would make it easier to get to Magnolia – a place I’ve been perhaps 6 times in the 22 years I’ve lived in Seattle – while reducing my options to Downtown where I go 6 times a week.

      8. Kevin — Magnolia is just an example. For many transit users, most of their trips are downtown because that’s the most convenient place to get to. If it becomes as easy to get to other neighborhoods as it currently is to get to downtown, then those other places become much more accessible.

        And conversely, people who currently make trips between two non-downtown neighborhoods are much less likely to use transit than people who go downtown. So that’s a whole bunch of potential transit users who currently have much less reason to use the network.

        Right now, for example, I don’t go to Ballard or Fremont very often because of the unreliability and length of the transfer. If I could transfer from an every 6-minute #8 to an every 10-minute #5/26/28 to Fremont, I’d make the trip much more often.

        I don’t mean to suggest that downtown transit is unimportant. It’s just that we have much more downtown capacity than crosstown capacity, and we could easily trade off a bit of the former for a lot of the latter.

        And FWIW, I fully understand that Metro’s proposal did not offer nearly as much crosstown capacity as it should, mostly because 15 minutes is not “very frequent”. I think that if Metro had proposed the creation of a real frequent network, with major routes running every 5 or 10 minutes, they would have gotten a lot more support for the change, especially from people who moved to Seattle from cities with better bus service. Instead, their proposal wasn’t exciting enough for the masses, but was unnerving enough for the current transit-riding population that it got them worked up.

      9. As much as I generally consider myself part of the STB “cause”, I have to admit that to someone who’s not one of them, it must feel like Metro planners and the Jarrett Walker devotees who populate STB are primarily concerned with inconveniencing people as much as they can without driving them off the bus entirely, all in the name of “efficiency” (a word that has a lot of negative connotations for some people related to totalitarian regimes).

      10. Aleks-

        The reason people have so many trips to Downtown is because it’s the regional employment and cultural center along with a major retail and tourism destination – not just because it has a lot of bus service. Plus, the City has done a good job of restricting the availability of parking so that there’s a financial incentive to use transit. I don’t disagree that it would be good to have more inter-neighborhood connections but I think that’s as well as (not instead of) one-seats from neighborhoods to Downtown. Given a limited availability of resources I think we need to prioritize trips people are already making on transit over trips people might theoretically make in the future based on more connections. We’re potentially jeopardizing our relatively high transit commute share by reducing the usefulness of the system to current users.

      11. Really, Kevin? Because we just had a gigantic knock-down-drag-out fight about some Central Districters not wanting to relinquish their ability to get to Queen Anne without a transfer… something they can’t even begin to fathom doesn’t exist for everyone.

        There’s clearly an awful lot of pent-up non-downtown-oriented demand. The only way to serve that demand for everyone is to make transfers WORK!!

      12. Kevin:

        In an old article that Martin wrote about streetcars, he included a very interesting map: the top 100 origin-destination pairs of all non-work trips in Seattle, all modes. These are not just bus trips.

        Right away, you can see some very interesting facts:

        – Outside of work, most trips in West Seattle are within West Seattle! Even from Alki, the Junction is a much more important destination than downtown.

        – Lots of trips on this map are unreasonably difficult to make by bus. Ballard-Fremont, Fremont-Wallingford, Greenwood-Northgate, Belltown-Broadway, Capitol Hill-First Hill, Ballard-Phinney Ridge. And yes, Magnolia — according to this map, Magnolia-Ballard is more important off-peak than Magnolia-downtown!

        – For more than a few neighborhoods, the most important non-work connection is *not* to the CBD. Ballard-downtown doesn’t even show up. Fremont-downtown is one of the weakest pairs for Fremont. There are many more trips between the U-District and North Seattle than between the U-District and downtown.

        – There’s no question that a ton of trips are made between the various center city neighborhoods. But those neighborhoods are relatively close together, so that’s not much of a surprise.

        In other words, this map shows what should be obvious: outside of work, people are more likely to go to nearby destinations. People don’t cross the ship canal or the Duwamish unless they absolutely have to.

        The fact is, bus riders are relatively more likely to have origins or destinations downtown than non-bus riders, simply because people making crosstown trips aren’t nearly as well-served by the current bus system. The map above proves that those people exist. We ignore them at our peril.

        Finally, as far as your argument about commute share goes: I have no problem with running fleets of express buses, charging a premium fare, to get workers to their downtown jobs. But you shouldn’t design an all-day network based on the needs of commuters. The most successful urban transit systems are the ones which get used for all trips. As d.p. can attest, the Green Line in Boston is so darn convenient that people treat it like a horizontal elevator. I used to use it up to 6 or 7 times a day when I was running errands. Yes, it’s busier during peak, but it’s useful (and busy) all day. Our current commuter-focused network just can’t be.

      13. @Aleks-

        The Green Line (all branches) goes where? That’s right – Downtown Boston. That means that folks can simultaneously use it for local errands and trips to Downtown where the majority of the rail and transit connections are. I don’t think that’s a bad model for Seattle. A route like the 7 already works like that – if you ride it folks are getting on and off along the corridor.

        I share your belief that it would be great to provide good connections within neighborhoods and between adjacent neighborhoods, but I also think we shouldn’t do that at the expense of Downtown connections. Also, the total trips map you posted includes only a limited universe of trips that might convert to transit – the total number of trips doesn’t necessarily correlate to unmet transit demand.

        You mention the Wallingford-Fremont connection as one you think needs to be improved. That one is actually not bad right now – it would have become far worse under Metro’s initial proposal for the 9/12 restructure. Currently the 26 brings folks from the northern part of the neighborhood directly to Downtown Fremont – Metro would have added a transfer for those folks headed to Fremont and another transfer for folks along the 40th corridor who then wanted to go Downtown. Does that seem like good bus service for anyone?

      14. In no particular order:

        1) Grade-separated and high-frequency downtown connections do not come with a whopping transfer penalty.

        This couldn’t be more different than a system based on meandering routes to and from every destination, each infrequent, each fighting its own resistance into and out of downtown, and all so poorly coordinated that even if three of them head in your intended direction (say, First Hill or the Central District), none will necessarily serve you well or soon.

        If you’re stuck downtown for 15 minutes — never mind for 29, 44, or 59 — on a trip between two non-downtown locations, your system is doing things seriously wrong.

        2) “Transit spines” are much more likely to offer myriad destinations, connections, and hop-on-hop-off opportunities along the way.

        You are 100% incorrect to imply that Boston transfers are entirely downtown-centric. Need to get to Watertown? Hop the Red Line to Harvard Square and switch to a bus. Catching a Commuter Rail? Switch at Copley. Or Ruggles. Heck, even the latest competitor to the Chinatown buses leaves from where the western train termini meet the highways.

        Meanwhile, each spine connects at least a dozen destinations that, as Aleks describes, you might have the need/opportunity to use your entire day in varying combinations.

        Metro doesn’t have transit spines. Nowhere are the corridors well-enough served or the connections reliable enough to make hop-on-hop-off-get-stuff-done trips work.

        If I want to run a quick errand up in Greenwood before meeting someone in Fremont, Metro makes that too hard. Dinner in Madison Valley followed by a movie in the U-District? Good luck.

        You’re right to describe the 7 as being about as close to this as Metro comes, given high frequency and even distribution of demand along its route. But it’s reliability is nonexistent: last night, my 7-come-49 was a full half hour late!

        2b) On your specific example: the Green Line has heavy on-off demand at every single stop for two miles west of downtown.

        That’s the equivalent of downtown Seattle to the top of Queen Anne. From the in-out connections at Kenmore to perpendicular high-frequency bus route at Mass Ave to the the heavy demand generators across the Back Bay, the line succeeds precisely because it doesn’t force you downtown for everything transfer and every need. But try using Metro’s 13 for any other purpose than going precisely where the 13 goes, or try transferring from it to anything or from anything to it, and I guarantee you’ll be sorely disappointed.

      15. On 2): I forgot to make explicit that Metro’s 2/12 interlining and live-looping was precisely about building a solid spine between downtown, First Hill, and south Capitol Hill to the edge of the Central District. For the first time ever!

        And you just argued in favor of those who killed it!

      16. d.p.-

        You seem to have taken the liberty of changing my point that a “majority” of the connections are in Downtown Boston to saying I’m asserting that the system is “entirely downtown-centric.” Nice troll move. You are certainly correct that there are other transfer opportunities but you can’t seriously be asserting that Boston system isn’t highly radial. I’m from Boston – I’d happily argue that point with you.

      17. Radial… with myriad additional connections and demand points elsewhere.

        Perhaps you should address the distinction between the meeting of four highly efficient trunk lines at the city center versus Seattle’s assortment of dozens of poorly coordinated and maximally laborious downtown connections.

        I’m from Boston too, as is Aleks. Neither of us can begin to imagine the equivalency you’re trying to draw between this and this.

      18. d.p.-

        Actually Aleks started the Boston comparison – I pointed out that his example of a neighborhood connector (the Green Line) actually works so well because it also goes Downtown and accesses a myriad of connection opportunities.

      19. Kevin: I brought up Boston to illustrate my point about designing all-day networks. The best commuter networks will get at most two trips per day per person, but the best all-day networks — like Boston — can get half a dozen trips or more.

        I firmly disagree that the Green Line’s utility comes solely, or even primarily, from the fact that it goes downtown. Many trips on the Green Line, if not most, never make it to the downtown stations.

        The power of the Green Line is that it runs so frequently that making half a dozen trips becomes practical. On even the most frequent bus routes in Seattle, half a dozen trips would imply 30 minutes of waiting. On less frequent routes, that could be 45, 60, or even 90 minutes.

        Infrequent buses with direct service to downtown works great for commuters. But super-frequent service (i.e. 5-10 min or less, all day) on straight, simple routes with lots of connections is what you need if you want to enable car-free lifestyles for as many people as possible. As the map shows, aside from commuting, downtown isn’t where most people are even going!

        Two other points:

        – Yes, it’s easy to get from parts of Wallingford to parts of Fremont. But if the 44 ran every 5-10 minutes, and so did the 5, then it would be easy to get from anywhere in Wallingford to anywhere in Fremont. Single-seat-based networks inherently prioritize certain trips over others.

        – No, I don’t know that every trip on that map is a transit trip waiting to happen. But I think it’s a mistake to assume that many/most of them are not. People choose their transportation mode based on lots of factors, but very few people are die-hard “car people” or “transit people”. If you make transit more attractive for those trips, more people will take them. If we continue to make transit attractive only for current riders, then of course only current riders will keep riding!

      20. Three Bostonians! Crazy. :)

        Kevin, I’m really surprised to hear you say that the Boston system is highly radial. It makes me think that you missed out on a lot of useful connection opportunities. :) I can say, from lots of experience, that the fastest way to get from Hynes to Central Square is the #1 (or CT1). In high school, I frequently traveled between the BU student union and the MIT student union, and by far the fastest way to make the trip was to take the B line to Hynes and transfer to the #1. The train was slower, precisely because of the unnecessary downtown detour!

        It’s true that the four downtown stations are major transfer points. But there are also 10 direct connections between the subway and commuter rail. Kenmore, Copley, North Station, Haymarket, and JFK are important transfer stations between rail branches. Harvard, Sullivan Square, Haymarket, and all the park-and-ride stations are major bus transfer points. And one of the most eagerly-awaited transit projects is the Red-Blue connector at Charles/MGH, precisely so that people can go from Cambridge to the airport without needing to divert downtown.

        The most radial part of the system, unsurprisingly, is the commuter express bus network. A fleet of buses runs inbound in the morning to take people to their jobs, and outbound in the afternoon to take them home. This network is almost completely disjoint from the rest of the system — as it should be. A good commuter network is not a good all-day network.

      21. Aleks-

        This might be a different conversation if Metro was actually proposing 5 minute frequencies on any of it’s routes. I like many riders have had consistently negative experiences transferring on Metro and frankly don’t trust the agency to deliver the needed speed and/or capacity to make transfers work. I think one idea behind Rapid Ride was to help convince us skeptics but the pitiful frequencies is not likely to make them a good test case.

        I’m still curious about why you folks are characterizing the Boston system as not highly radial. There are multiple opportunities to move between areas but no matter where you are in the system the center of gravity remains the State, Government Center, Park, and Downtown Crossing Stations for the subway and North and South Stations for the commuter rail. I think that makes it highly useable – particularly for tourists and folks making infrequent trips (you might be tempted to use the Red and Green lines to go from Central to Hynes because you don’t have to worry about how you’ll know when you get there).

      22. I agree with you that the frequencies Metro is proposing are, in general, not nearly good enough. However, the shared segment of the 2/12 on First Hill was going to have 7.5 minute frequencies. Likewise for the shared segment of the 3/13. At that point, you actually have service that’s frequent enough for a transfer-based network to be meaningful. A single 7.5-minute corridor is much, much better than two side-by-side 15-minute corridors, even if it means that you have to walk an extra 300 feet to a tunnel entrance.

        The reason I don’t call Boston’s system radial is that Boston has buses. Yes, the T has a center of gravity, and so does the commuter rail (though it’s a different one, which should already tell you something). But the best bus routes, and the ones that see the most use, are the ones that fill in the gaps. If you look at a map of key MBTA bus routes, you’ll notice that not a single one runs to downtown.

        To me, a radial system is one where most or all service is directed downtown, and crosstown trips are far more difficult than downtown trips. In Boston, if you use the buses, crosstown trips are just as easy as downtown ones.

      23. Aleks-

        Thanks for clarifying – I think we might be using the term radial somewhat differently. I would consider many of the buses on your map part of the radial system. I’ve spent a lot of time in Arlington and am very familiar with the 77 in particular. That bus facilitates travel along Mass Ave between Arlington and Cambridge but then connects at Harvard to the larger system – bringing folks onto the Red Line and into Downtown Boston. If you’ve ever been at Harvard Station at rush hour you’ll know what I’m talking about. I know the Belmont and Watertown buses function somewhat similarly. I would say the Harvard/Dudley buses would be the exceptions that do cross over multiple arms of the system.

    1. I’ve been using Virginia as my transfer point for the last year or so, and I can say that at least in the AM between 8 and 9, more than half of the folks on the #2 when it hits Century Square get off and are replaced by different people. Some trips it’s more like 75 percent.

    2. I had occasion to use the #2 from Capitol Hill to downtown recently but I was using it to transfer to Link at the University Street tunnel station. The new proposed configuration would mess up that transfer point for many people.

      1. “I had the occasion to use…”?

        So much for being a regular rider. Some will continue to suffer DAILY 25-minute nightmares because you took the route ONCE.

        The tunnel transfer would have been TWO BLOCKS, you [ad hom].

      2. I had occasion to use this route because I was housesitting. If I had lived where I staying (which has an amazing abundance of transit choices) I would use that route regularly because it would save me 10 minutes of travel time versus the other 3 routes accessible to me from that neighborhood plus it connected me within 1 block to the light rail station. The buses are regularly full and frequented by the residents of the neighborhood where I was staying. My even chiming in on the topic was to share my experience with that route and how it was useful to the residents of south Capitol Hill/First Hill.

        The revised routing is not merely 2 blocks away as you say. [ad hom]

      3. Flat ≠ up-hill
        Fast/frequent ≠ hypothetical
        Fear ≠ valid reasoning
        Your argument ≠ sense

        Slow and circuitous and infrequent and p.i.t.a. is what we have now, Charles.

        That is why “there isn’t more transit utilization in this town.”

        I get it. You think the vocal few should outweigh the needs of the many. Some might call that an “arrogant” position to take.

      4. My “Argument” was not for or against the efficacy of route 2. I simply made an observation about the usefulness for me and the people that utilize it from the neighborhood I was staying in.

        The argument I did make in a subsequent post was that there can be mitigating factors that are subjective, that should be taken into consideration when planning routes. Requiring people to walk significantly farther without a compensating factor, or requiring them to walk up a hill when they didn’t have to before will cause political resistance. You can dismiss it as a “vocal few” if you like but you do so at your peril.

      5. And why is it always: “You mess with people’s arbitrary familiarity at your own peril?”

        Why is it never: “You waste the time of thousands of others at your own peril?”

        Or: “You waste the agency’s money and impair its ability to improve its service at your own peril?”

        Or: “You drive the majority of potential transit users and transit voters away at your own peril?”

        Requiring people to walk significantly farther without a compensating factor…

        Even ignoring the fact that Madison and Seneca are two blocks apart, that they are two particularly short blocks, and that they are essentially flat blocks…

        most reasonable people would consider saving many, many minutes in travel time to be a “compensating factor.”

        Among those who feared the change, many would would have been convinced through experience. That’s why, sometimes, you need to defer to the calculations of experts; you can never experience the new paradigm if you never allow it to exist!

        There will always be outliers with whom you can neither reason nor demonstrate. The so-called “get your government hands off my Medicare” people. Or, in this case, “get your government hands off my heavily-subsidized, government-provided transit route” people.

        When you reach an impasse with a group that is small and utterly wrong, sometimes the only choice is to ignore them.

      6. Because,they vote and have a voice and power in this society. You may not like that but that is how things work in our society. Just as I forecasted with Prop 1, people discounted people’s concerns regarding taxation, fees and impacts on the poor and the general aversion to taxation in our community, a potentially good package of benefits was voted down primarily because it was not sold well to the electorate.

        If you want to institute wholesale changes to bus routes to create greater systemic optimization, you’re going to have to bite your tongue, and wade into communities to create goodwill and sell a greater good. That is often going to be a tough sell. The consequence of failing to do engage even with the people you think or stupid, misinformed or in your view contemptible is political backlash.

      7. “Step away from the computer, d.p.! Step away from the computer!”

        (To be fair, your last post was substantially more civil than the prior ones.)

      8. Morgan,

        Stepped away. Now I’m back, and calm.


        This is not how representative nor direct democracy “works.” This was policy-making by hijacking, policy-making by filibuster.

        This was about the squeakiest wheel not being satisfied until it has sucked up every last drop of grease.

        Rewind to 2006: TransitNow — which won by a landslide, and for which people have been ponying up for more than five years now — was specifically sold as about making transit usable. Not about making it slightly better, not about more of the same old sub-standard operations, and certainly not about throwing good money after bad. But about making it so that you can walk out of your house and get where you’re going on transit in a time-frame that justifies the choice to use it.

        Five years later, Metro makes its first steps toward delivering on that promise… and a handful of tragically short-sighted people blow the entire thing to shreds. Your “advocates” have destroyed the very thing the public said it wanted.

        To the extent that the 2 will continue to suck TransitNow resources that were designated for an efficient network, it’s fair to call these people thieves!

      9. I’m sorry to say that this is exactly how democracy works. People’s interests are heard. The question is, how are they weighed. Politicians weigh their decisions in part based on the effect of those squeaky wheels have on their political futures. It is particularly relevant in our form of government here where we have much higher level of citizen participation and “accountability”. Unfortunately, people’s whims can be at variance with the experts. It is also true of much in life that we sacrifice a little efficiency for a little harmony. It does not suit you well to call the other users of a commons, ‘thieves’.

        I would also say that the political climate has changed as the economy crashed and people’s willingness to accept grand packages that involve taxation or change to things, became much less. Especially when the taxes are regressive. Further, there is disappointment when publicly invisible squeaky wheels get “undue” consideration versus the stated goals of these packages. e.g Moneyed interest that distort decision making with political contributions.

        Also, perceptions are often dashed. For example the ‘Bridging the Gap project’ which was touted as THE solution to fixing the backlog of street maintenance plus add bike lanes, sidewalks and the like. But the reality of that is much different. Indeed, the Seattle Times reported an SDOT blog entry that suggested that BTG was “never intended to fill the gap”. And indeed, for all that Seattle citizens have been taxed, very little to show for it has happened. Indeed, the most visible beneficiary of BTG funds is the King Street Station renovation. In my view, it is an exercise in aesthetics rather than focused on safety or the envisioned benefits (the sidewalks, bike lanes, bridge repair etc). To be fair, SDOT’s explanation for the scaling back of the then Mayor’s prognostications are reasonable but it is something about which the city should have been perhaps more truthful with the electorate. But therein lies the catch-22. How do you “sell” a package to a skeptical public. In this case, they sold a dream and not reality.

        People get tired and distrustful when you are not authentic with them. The current political climate will not likely allow another BTG style package to be successful.

      10. Bridging The Gap’s flagship project is the “Mercer Mess” re-do. And, to a lesser extent, the Spokane Viaduct alterations.

        Neither is a perfectly-executed public work, but both are completely in keeping with how Bridging The Gap was sold: overdue infrastructural improvements finally getting bumped up the queue.

        Subsidizing the “Route 2 Mess” with TransitNow funds is entirely the opposite: diverting money that was earmarked for efficient transit to demonstrably inefficient transit. Instead of “making transit usable,” it’s making it more excruciating than ever.

        Bridging The Gap and TransitNow both involved acute over-promises. But where Bridging The Gap has simply underdelivered, TransitNow funds (via routes like the 2) are actually being used to work against the goals the voters endorsed!

      11. [I know I was being an ass earlier, but did Bruce have to remove the joke about camels and tricycles being the only “routes” slower than the 2?]

  7. “Issues were raised of coverage and traffic congestion on Madison Street”

    So does this mean that once we have bus lanes on Madison, as per the city’s transit master plan, this might be implemented?

    Or is this “postponing of changes” the same as the “temporary” removal of the waterfront streetcar?

    1. The City’s Master Plan draft calls for combining Routes 11 and 12 on Madison, not 2 and 12. It recommends high frequency service with very limited stops (only 6 in each direction between the end points) all the way to 23rd Street (well beyond 12th). It also has this policy:

      Strategy HCT 6.7: Conduct outreach to corridor neighborhoods to discuss the benefits and tradeoffs of BRT implementation and related potential service restructuring.

      Intrestingly, it’s the only one of the three example corridors presented that does NOT recommend an “alternatives analysis study”.

      I think these tidbits speak for themselves.

      1. I was speaking only to specific ROW improvements in the TMP, not the routing – the TMP doesn’t speak to where the 2 should go, and the 2 is not part of the TMP AFAIK.

        Metro says the 2 rerouting is postponed, mentioning conjestion issues on Madson. The TMP says bus lanes are required on Madison for future, limited stop BRT there.

        If you connect those dots….

      2. What the TMP really says is Madison should have grade-separated transit. Their analysis suggests that even at 5-minute peak and off-peak headways, 40-foot coaches would not provide enough capacity, and larger coaches or streetcars cannot be used due to the grades.

        But that will never happen, because our transit priorities are set such that it’s perfectly fine that it takes as long to go from Belltown to First Hill as it will to go from the CBD to Lynnwood once North Link is built. And the Alternatives Analysis calls for 4-minute peak headways, too.

      3. The Madison BRT idea appears to be a limited-stop service, not just a label for Routes 11 and 12. I see upcoming messy uproars coming if Madison Streets stops get taken away to have only this limited-stop service. If there would be no local service on Seneca, it would have to be on Madison. Electric trolleybuses are also designed sequentially, so it’s tough to operate a limited-stop and local service on the same street. If Route 2 were to move, I see it very messy if there was both local and limited-stop service in a Madison bus-only lane.

        One plausible, simple concept — Seneca for local (Route 2/12) and Madison for a high-end BRT service. If both local routes operate on Seneca, a Madison would become a “clean slate” opportunity. It could be designed and built as this limited-stop, higher-speed service envisioned in the TMP without the political burdens of local stops.

        In other words, not implementing the changes to Route 2 now could ultimately be the key to actually building the Madison BRT correctly!

  8. I thought the phrase “Go Big or Go Home” was meant to be a disjunction rather than a conjunction. Apparently Metro has decided on Going Big AND Going Home.

  9. As with most other things in this world, a few people ruin it for everyone. Apparently a transit czar needs to be appointed to force through tough changes like this as part of the effort to make Metro more efficient. The czar will depart when his or her work is complete – throw politics out the window.

  10. Will actually makes some sense. Many of those who have been working to save the #2 have long been transit advocates and continue to be advocates for transit and have embraced as their mode of transit for years and also have worked to make their communities more livable and walkable. They worked to make a good case and find solutions. There is work to be done on many different levels and it would feel a little better if it we could all work together to find real solutions. Congestion on Madison is much worse than on Seneca with at least 3 times the number of automobiles. Some ideas to make the existing Route #2 more efficient are 1. Clear the 3rd Avenue bottleneck at Spring by moving the bus stop north one block to Seneca 9or have two half-block stops on the north half of each block0 to allow other buses to continue past the #2. 2. Spring Street Improvements would include: a. provide a bus only left lane between 3rd and 6th. b. build a bus stop island east of 5th for left lane to end weaving left-right-left through I-5 bound cars.

    1. Joanna – riding the bus does not a transit advocate make. If you were a true transit advocate, you would have at least considered Metro’s proposed changes with an open mind. Instead you attacked it from day one and were a chief source of much unfounded FUD. Remember your “it’s a fact that frequencies on E. Union will be reduced” gem?

      As far as your proposed solutions to the issues on Spring, all I can say is “huh?”. Those aren’t legitimate solutions – those are red herrings that you and the other “Save the 2” folks conjured up so you can pretend that you’re willing to work with Metro to fix the #2. I imagine if Metro tried to build a bus island E. of 5th you’d be up in arms about people having to walk up the hill an extra 1/2 block *and* cross the street compared to the current stop at the library. Hell, you’d probably argue that building the bus island would mean that people would lose “direct access” to the library…

      And please stop with the “Madison has 3x the number of automobiles as Seneca” crap. You’re comparing an arterial to what is effectively a side street through 1st Hill. Madison damn well better have have more cars on it than Seneca or the city is doing something very wrong…

      1. I had no idea there were so many transit advocates in Seattle that we could afford to denounce those who disagree with us in such terms. When we pass things like Prop 1 by a 20-point margin, instead of lose those fights by a 20-point margin, maybe then we can start getting all holier than thou. Until then, a coalitional approach is called for, which means we have to find ways to work with people who love transit too but who don’t agree with you on these matters.

      2. “riding the bus does not a transit advocate make”

        Nonsense. The tendency of some of the folks on this blog to treat bus riders like cattle who don’t know what they “really” want is offensive to me. Developing grassroots support is part of most successful change strategies – the current proposed restructuring seems to have skipped that step.

      3. I agree with some commenters that this is the worst thing in the world as it is likely this issue will get revisited once Madison can get transit priority lanes etc., but still this is pretty bad. The reason, their is no viable argument against the restructure that isn’t pure simple NIMBYism. First, in the revised restructure Seneca was still getting service with route 27. If people with limited mobility are the problem, for whom 2 additional blocks is a significant barrier to transit use, their needs are addressed by this routing. Second, Madison, which is at least as reliable as Seneca, gets double the frequency, which creates first hill corridor that would be very easy for riders to use. Third, Queen Anne gets its service streamlined, plus it keeps a local (milk run) route in the 1. Finally, due to the increased frequencies in the corridor transfers in downtown will be far easier.

        Literally the only argument against it is, “I want to keep my one seat ride from Madrona to Queen Anne.” And quite frankly this argument makes a fool out of everyone that makes a transfer in downtown. Since its practically impossible to have every route go to every destination conceivable, it is critical to make a system that makes transfers easy so that the time penalty for transferring is minimal. By eliminating the proposed streamlined service in first hill the time penalty for transferring to a first hill bound bus goes from low to high, making the service no longer useful to a plethora of potential riders.

        Some commenters have suggested that it is necessary to have a coalitional approach to transit funding. That’s reasonable. But if people decide to take their ball home as soon as they don’t get their way then reform is a non-starter. I live in W. Magnolia where both proposals eliminate all non-peak service. That’s a loss for me. But I’m not going to impede reasonable and fair changes so that I can preserve the one seat ride that goes right by my house. That’s NIMBYism, pure and simple.

      4. Joanna actually just suggested moving 15 other lines’ bus stops to accommodate hers.

        “Destroy things for others, as long as I get mine the way I want it.”

        That’s NIMBY-ism in a nutshell.

      5. “By eliminating the proposed streamlined service in first hill the time penalty for transferring to a first hill bound bus goes from low to high, making the service no longer useful to a plethora of potential riders.”

        But at least Joanna gets hers.

  11. Will actually makes some sense. Many of those who have been working to save the #2 have long been transit advocates and continue to be advocates for transit. Many have embraced it for years and even decades while also have advocating for policies and projects to make their communities more livable and walkable. They made a good case and presented solutions. There is much to be done on many different levels, and it would feel a little better if it we could all work together to find real solutions. Congestion on Madison is much worse than on Seneca with at least 3 times the number of automobiles. Some ideas to make the existing Route #2 more efficient are 1. Clear the 3rd Avenue bottleneck at Spring by moving the bus stop north one block to Seneca (or have two half-block stops on the north half of each block) to allow other buses to continue past the #2. 2. Spring Street Improvements would include: a. provide a bus only left lane between 3rd and 6th. b. build a bus stop island east of 5th for left lane to end weaving left-right-left through I-5 bound cars.

    1. Dick Cheney considers himself an “advocate” for global peace and prosperity, too.

      It just so happens that his vision of global order is salvageably warped, that he’s impervious to facts and reason, and that a whole bunch of stuff got unnecessarily blown up thanks to his form of “advocacy.”

      I suppose we should have “all worked together” with him in pursuit of our “real solutions.”

  12. While the failure of the restructuring of the 2 is a disappointment, there is at least the silver lining that if walking from downtown to First Hill is just as fast as taking the bus, more people will opt to walk than would be the case if the #2 were more reliable. From a health perspective, this is a good thing.

    1. It’s really quite steep. Really steep is when you most need simple, quick, reliable service.

      How ironic that those with infinite time on their hands resent being asked to walk two totally flat blocks, while those in a hurry get stuck with the choice of slow transit or a slightly faster but quite arduous climb.

    2. When walking and riding the bus take the same amount of time, I almost always walk because it’s more reliable and less stressful. In order for me to choose the bus over walking, the bus needs to get me to where I’m going clearly faster than what I can do with my feet, including wait time.

  13. Everyone who doesn’t like this needs to go to the next meetings and make their voices heard. Otherwise, at the rate their going, Metro could roll back all its proposals in the next few weeks.

  14. [Lookout to Bridge] “Iceburg, dead ahead”.
    [Bridge to Helsman] “Go below deck and form some discussion groups, then come to consensus about maneuvers that will both improve our chances of missing the burg, and please our masters in DC. Report your findings, so that we can implement the new plan in time for”………Krrruuuunch…… blub……blub
    (nice try lookouts)

  15. I couldn’t help but laugh at this happening on the same day our politicians decided to “lend” $200,000,000 to a sports-stadium developer.

    People poured from the woodwork to rehash the unequivocally discredited “economic investment” justifications.

    It was a truly an Idiots Rule In Seattle day for the ages!

  16. The more I think about this, the more I feel sorry for Metro planners. We finally get rid of 40/40/20 & we have a major budget crisis that forces tough choices to be made. The scene is set to allow the planners to start making a lean, efficient bus system.

    They come back with a whole bunch of recommendations on how to start focusing on frequency (which drives ridership more than greater coverage on 30 min frequencies) and changes to routes so they are less susceptible to traffic slow-downs.

    They present these changes and a vocal minority organizes to “save my route!” We don’t want more frequent buses 2 blocks away or that require transfers, we want our current sloooooow door-to-door bus that runs every 30 minutes and is as reliable as a sundial at midnight. Please Metro, waste everyone’s tax dollars to deliver this service to me.

    So basically we are telling the planners to not do their job well. Nice.

      1. At the lunchtime Union Station forum? Or is there one at which King County Councilmembers will be?

        Are they even running all of the meetings now that so many changes have been scuttled?

  17. So, will the 12 keep its live-loop or will it continue its current alignment on 1st?

    I don’t think this scuttles the Queen Anne restructure. The 13 can become the new full-size alignment of the 2, and the 3 and 4 can share the same alignment on Taylor. Of course, that means no increase in efficiencies as a result of shared scheduling… hmm.

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