Metro is beginning the RapidRide E Line roleout and is looking for citizens to help guide service change recommendations. While the E Line route and stops have been decided, no other service changes in the area have yet been discussed by Metro. In my experience improved East-West travel will likely be the major issue.

As always we strongly encourage STB readers to apply for these types of boards as it’s always easier to realize change when you’re involved early rather than late. We like to think that our readers are experienced, frequent riders that understand the fundamentals of how to design a more frequent and faster transit system.

Are you a bus rider that regularly rides routes in Shoreline or North Seattle?

King County Metro Transit is forming a community sounding board to give us advice about changes to bus service in these areas. We’re looking for a diverse group of members to help us develop service change recommendations for fall 2013. The sounding board will meet 9 to 12 times, from September 2012 to March 2013. Sounding board meetings mostly will be scheduled on Thursday evenings unless a scheduling conflict occurs.

Interested in applying? Fill out our online application by Monday, Sept. 3.

Why change bus service? Starting fall 2013, the Aurora Avenue N corridor will be served by RapidRide E Line between Aurora Village Transit Center to downtown Seattle. The E Line will provide a backbone of new, frequent transit service that other routes in the area can connect to and complement. Working with the sounding board, we’ll be considering changes to improve:

  • connections to the E Line
  • bus service in the neighborhoods surrounding Aurora Avenue N
  • connections between transit activity centers such as Fremont, Wallingford, Greenwood, Greenlake, Northgate and Shoreline

If you’d like us to mail you a printed application, or have questions about the sounding board, please contact: Ashley DeForest, Community Relations Planner at or via phone at  206-684-1154.

28 Replies to “Metro Looking for Shoreline, North Seattle Sounding Board Members”

  1. Does any one know what this is really about? The King County Council has already voted on the route and stops for the E Line. There is still some dispute over the Winonia changes.

    Is Metro going to review the 16, 26, 5 28 and 355 from before?

    1. Yes and all the other routes in those areas. Similar sounding boards have advised Metro on service changes on the Eastside (for the B Line) and the Rainier Valley (for Link light rail).

    2. They’re preparing for the inevitable backlash to proposed changes by pretending they’re doing real public outreach.

      1. This is the process that Metro likes to follow. The soon to be implemented September changes which were so controversial were done without a citizen review panel because there simply wasn’t enough time to. The timeline was simply too short. Also if you look at the Eastside change they were really good changes that had very little controversy.

        Kevin how would you suggest Metro do “real public outreach?”

      2. Adam-

        They got a huge amount of data from the public response to the last round of proposed changes – I think a good first step would be to say what they learned from that feedback and what they’re basing the next round of changes on. I would encourage them to be transparent about what they’re already considering – what from their perspective is fixed and what are they really open to feedback on. I also think if they have a proposal it would be better to start talking to community organizations and presenting at open houses (like they did after the last round of proposed changes were released).

        The Listening Board is classic planning bullshit. They get to pick the folks who participate and then find folks who they can generally manipulate pretty easily into supporting what the agency wants. It’s supposed to give them cover for what they want to do but will likely just waste a lot of everyone’s time. It doesn’t really reduce controversy further down the line because folks can still raise a stink at the County Council.

      3. Kevin, I find your assertion that Metro manipulates sounding board members insulting. I’ve never been on one but I know Martin and Sherwin have been sounding board members in SE Seattle and the Eastside, respectively. Perhaps they could give some insight to how this all works.

      4. Oran-

        This isn’t just a Metro thing. All agencies manipulate these types of public outreach for their own ends. The agency has a clear idea of what they want to do and will then articulate to members of the listening board how their ideas have been included even based on what overlaps with what the agency already wanted to do. They may have a couple of things that they don’t care about that much that they actually are open to feedback on.

        I imagine that Metro would love to have some of the STB folks on board because they actually want to push Metro further on service changes and so can be used as balance for folks who are resistant to service changes.

      5. It would be naive to think Metro didn’t have several ‘workable’ proposals to get feedback from stakeholders. Grabbing a bunch of riders at random, then giving them a clean sheet of paper would be….. a disaster.
        Of course they pick the members, mostly to cover lots of bases with interest groups (riders, non-riders, business, handicapped, minorities, organizations), and that pretty well fills up the room for a real working group.
        It’s a Sounding Board. Throw some ideas out and let citizens find the weak spots, holes, discover the hard truth about trade-off and winners and losers.
        Perfect it is not, but it has worked well since 1993.
        Disclaimer: Former S.King Co. Sounding Board member.

      6. I don’t think Metro should jump the gun and start to propose changes before going through the correct process. That’s exactly what got Metro in trouble the last time around. In a technocratic manner, Metro just released propsed changes and because the community wasn’t part of the disussion from the beginning and didn’t understand the rational for the changes they pushed back. The process and rational for changes wasn’t transparent for them.

        Metro needs to work with the panel to identify issues, identify what works, build a common understanding of what Metro’s service deisgn manual calls for and why, and only then start to propose soltuions to the problems identified ealier.

        Done right these types of panels do reduce controversy. Yes like any process it can be set up to favor a specific outcome, but do that too much and you’ll still have the same problems.

        I think a perfect example illustarting my point is Seattle’s bag ban. Do you remember how crazed people were about it the first time? The first proposal was drafted by the city without much public input. Second time around they talked to businesses and got public input before releasing a plan. Second time around the bag ban has been a complete non-issue. It’s amazing how stark the difference is with a largely identical outcome. Process does matter.

      7. Adam-

        I don’t think the last set of changes failed because people didn’t understand the rationale behind them as much as people thought many of the proposed changes were shitty and were comfortable exerting their political will to stop them.

        I think my overall point is that having a listening board is not the same as the community having input. A much better way to do that would be to have them go around to different community groups and have open houses or web surveys in advance of the release of new proposals.

      8. If people understood the rationale and accepted the premises behind the changes, they would not, by and large, have considered them shitty. They were mostly well thought-out changes from the overall viewpoint of improving ridership and mobility while reducing cost per boarding. The problem is most people who show up to neighborhood meetings don’t care about system wide concerns like that, and generally just want to preserve the service they use today unchanged. Friday’s discussion of stop spacing in Ballard was a great example of this, writ small, and the “Save Bus 42” campaign is probably the most famous recent example.

      9. Ah Seattle, where Process is not nearly enough, it has to be the exact process I want or I will bitch and moan and declare it invalid! LOL

        We should form a committee to determine the method of process everyone wants, and then just combine them all so every man woman and child gets to be a part of the public process in whatever form they feel like.

      10. “I think a good first step would be to say what they learned from that feedback and what they’re basing the next round of changes on”

        There will be an opportunity for Metro to do that when it announces its second proposal for the 2, 3, and 4 next year. I’m sure Queen Anne and Central District residents will not forget to ask Metro how it relates to the feedback it got this year.

      11. Kevin the problem with just asking for public feedback is that people aren’t able to understand the tradeoffs that have to be made. Ask people if they want a faster bus and they will say yes. Ask people if they want a bus stop right in front of their house and they will say yes. Without a process where people learn that you can’t have both public feedback is pointless.

      12. @Bruce – In my opinion the central challenge with the initial round of 9/12 proposed changes was that Metro was acting like folks would clearly get their reasoning. Two things I think they really overshot was the sense that people would accept more transfers and that people used Metro like a network instead of typically using no more than two or three routes connecting a similar number of locations. I can’t imagine how the Listening Board would help sell Metro’s reasoning and as this is a political process they do need to sell it to each neighborhood. The 44 stop reduction is actually what I would consider an easy sell because you have a clear “pro” constituency (44 riders who don’t use those stops or folks who do who don’t mind walking an extra block for a faster bus) that is greater than the number of folks who don’t want to lose the stops. The idea that allocation of transit resources isn’t a political process is naive.

        @Adam – I think part of real public outreach would explore limitations – particularly in a forum setting or in outreach to community groups. Hopefully another thing it could do would be to say “if you want this level of service we need to raise $x.” Doing it with a small group like the Listening Board and then implying “we talked to a small group and they said it was ok even though we picked them and controlled the process” doesn’t seem to reduce future pushback.

      13. People also don’t understand how much these decisions cost, and are not willing to pay the taxes necessary to have the kind of route system they want. Even ones who do support increasing transit taxes, want to keep their underperforming routes while better routes are added alongside them. That would mean paying essentially twice as much as they’re paying now. For no money we can reorganize the routes and cut off service to marginal neighborhoods (Lakeview off-peak, Magnolia after 9pm). For maybe 25% more we could add RapidRide routes and modify the existing routes to still give basic all-day service to the areas that would otherwise lose it in the no-money scenario. For maybe 100% more we could add the new routes and feeders and leave the old routes unchanged.

      14. Mike-

        Transit Now in 2006 was a great example of a voter commitment to expand bus service. The challenge Metro may face going forward is the collapse of the economy kept them from being able to make the new service commitments so they’d have to come up with an explanation of how this money would actually go to service hours. I would credit those funds along with the new car tab fee for helping us avoid the devastating cuts other systems have seen (also an opportunity for Metro do do some good messaging).

      15. @Kevin

        I would agree that would be something good to do, although the level of detail you can get to in a 30 to 60 minutes meeting and presentation is very limited. That is a limitation that I think is hard to overcome and is exactly why you need a body of people that are committed to the process and represent the community. So for example you would have a neighborhood council representative on the panel who can act as a liaison between Metro and the process and the neighborhood council. Metro will probably have between 20 – 30 people so another example is you would have someone representing those with disabilities, elderly etc.

        Doing this may not eliminate push back of course but it certainly will help.

  2. I’d love to hear about some of the past changes transit planners made to their original ideas and plans due to sounding board member’s suggestions.

    1. How about creation of the 164 to GRCC, splitting the 150 to create the 180 to Seatac and the 153 from FedWay to Kent, then Renton.
      All new ideas from Sounding Board members. All with tough choices to get, at the expense of other ideas that were good too. All within a finite budget.
      We pruned a lot of deadwood in those sessions.

  3. I do hope the Rapid Ride E route will include a stop near downtown Fremont, not just at the weird inaccessible stop near 45th where the 358 stops now. I lived in Fremont when the old Route 6 stopped on 39th and Aurora, and don’t understand why this stop was discontinued.

    1. Here is the link for the E Line.

      1. Yes, sort of. These two had separate stops when I lived there, so I had to straddle to catch whichever came first. When this intersection was reconfigured some years ago, the stops where combined. Could never understand why the reconfiguration wasn’t done to include a stop for the 358 as well.

    2. Because a lot of people rode the 6 from Seattle to Shoreline or transferred to Snohomish County and it took way too long. The E should have a stop in Fremont but it should stay on the highway, and that would require an elevator which Metro can’t afford right now.

      1. Another obstacle to stopping there is that the E line would have to change into the right lane (which begins at the entrance at Fremont Way) and then stop right in the lane. It’s one of those dreaded weave situations that people don’t seem to do very well at, where the buses are trying to get right while everyone from the right needs to get left.

        I’m not sure, if such a stop were built and the traffic issues hammered out, whether the routes that enter at Fremont Way (5, 16, 26X) would stop there or not. It’s possible that the traffic issues would be hammered out in a way that didn’t allow it, like physically forcing all entering traffic to merge left before the bus stop. This matters less if the 5 is on Dexter, of course…

    3. It was discontinued because it required the 6 to spend quite a lot of time on slow local roads, and massively slowed down service.

      The area has plenty of frequency to both downtown and the north end already, with the 26, 28, and new 40 all going downtown from lower Fremont, and the 5 and 16 going downtown from 39th and going north all the way up Greenwood or to NSCC, respectively.

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