ORCA Card Reader

While following up with Metro about the lack of progress on RapidRide’s “tech pylons” along 3rd Ave Downtown (H/T Andrew N), I learned that Metro will not have off-board payment via ORCA for RapidRide C and D line until the launch of RapidRide E in mid-2013. Information below thanks to Rochelle Ogershok.

RapidRide C/D lines will be opening without ORCA card readers in the CBD south of the Belltown area.  Unfortunately 3rdAvenue did not have an existing communication network to support readers.  However, there is a City of Seattle project underway now to provide a 4.9 gh wireless communication network that when complete should enable us to install readers.  We are expecting this network to be available by mid-year 2013.  Our RapidRide program goal was to have the off-board ORCA readers in time for the start of the E Line in fall 2013.

The grants that have been awarded for 3rd Avenue will help fund amenities at RapidRide stops and non-RapidRide stops in the CBD.  The specific elements of the 3rd Avenue project are still being developed.  Options include ORCA dispensing and cash ticket vending machines, but this is still to be determined.  Currently the RapidRide program does not include ticket vending machines.

Because “tech pylons” include both ORCA card readers and real-time arrival signs this also means that downtown stops will not have real-time arrival information till mid-2013 as well.

Metro delayed the launch of RapidRide by over a year to ensure that the brand wouldn’t be tarnished by Viaduct construction related delays, but now it is failing to implement the single most important feature for surface travel through downtown, off-board fare payment with ORCA. Then the King County Council eliminates the RFA, transitioning from the fastest boarding system to the slowest downtown, just to get a few million dollars in added revenue.

All snideness aside, I can’t believe how perfectly this news depicts the RapidRide illusion, Metro’s implementation stumbling blocks and the King County Council’s political morass and indifference. We have written multiple times about how RapidRide has become a seriously compromised “BRT” system, with  lack of dedicated ROWpoor routing choices, lack of adequate prioritybus heavy costs, and a half-baked payment system. These issues are now compounded by elimination of the RFA.

We have supported RapidRide and  BRT  from the beginning but Metro and the Council have let “BRT creep”  and politics take over, not what is best for riders. When RapidRide C and D lines open on October 1st we’ll have a glorified shiny new bus that is slower than existing service.

As a lifelong rider of Metro and a diehard advocate I am having a serious crisis of confidence in Metro and more specifically the County Council. Metro must do better or else it will be hard for this jaded rider and others to get riled up to support or defend Metro next time around.

115 Replies to “RapidRide C/D Won’t Have Orca Card Readers Downtown Until Mid-2013”

  1. “but this is still to be determined” (bangs head on desk) Metro. You have exactly one month and one day to not only make up your minds on this, but order equipment, install it, debug systems, and train staff. Good luck with that.

    Time to buy some rain gear for my bike.

  2. I like her quote “there is a City of Seattle project underway now to provide a 4.9 gh wireless communication network that when completeshould enable us to install readers.” I’m filled with confidence now.

    I had a bad feeling when I didn’t see any changes DT and at 3rd and Cedar. Makes total sense to have the ammenities at the least used stops. Geez.

  3. As a lifelong rider of Metro and a diehard advocate I am having a serious crisis of confidence in Metro and more specifically the County Council. Metro must do better or else it will be hard for this jaded rider and others to get riled up to support or defend Metro next time time around.

    It’s time to start campaigning to take Metro away from those clowns on the King County Council. Seattle deserves better than this extreme incompetence.

    1. +1 I’d love to see Seattle break off Seattle’s service from the county’s service. We need different strategies in a city than they do in a county. Yet 2/3rd of Metro’s clients live outside of Seattle.

      1. Not sure about the comment that 2/3 of Metro clients live outside Seattle…2/3 of their boardings occur in Seattle – aren’t “clients” those who board buses?

      2. In this context I consider their voter base their clients, since they’re the ones Metro leadership answer to. The actual riders may benefit from one set of decisions, but if it doesn’t align with the interests at the county level it will never happen.

    2. +1 It’s time to convert King County Metro into a Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA) with a federated board, and then merge the PTBA with Sound Transit.

      The King County Council doesn’t have the capacity to champion transit. This is why nearly every other transit agency in the state has a federated board of appointed city/county representatives. These boards are fully focused on the transit agency.

  4. This is so frustrating! Not enough frequency, limited signal and lane priority, and now no off-board payment where it is most important to have it? This is going to do a lot of harm to the promoting the idea of BRT.

    1. Here in Portland, TriMet is considering similar BRT lines, starting with the Powell-Division corridor. I am going to urge TriMet to look at RapidRide, not for inspiration but rather as a cautionary tale.

      1. Good idea. Between the two systems (Swift and RapidRide), Swift does a much better job (off board payment only AND stops only at true “stations”)

      2. +1 – a VERY cautionary tale.

        This is a seriously disturbing (but not unexpected) turn of events. Like Adam, I’ve been a life-long user of Seattle Transit/Metro/KCMetro, and it cannot be more evident that it is past time to wrest transit from the clutches of the County Council. Where are you Dow???

  5. Will all the stops outside the city have ticket vending machines? Or just the stations? (as opposed to the stops). I have a feeling that RapidRide will be like the Translink Card in SF. It was so messed up they had to re introduce it with a different brand.

    Not only does RapidRide provide very few new features, it actually makes the boarding system more complicated, due to the fact that in some stops you pay at the front of the bus with ORCA, and at some other stops you pay at the ORCA Card reader outside the bus.

    1. If there is not an Orca reader, it’s pay/tap as you enter (just like a regular Metro bus). This treatment is supposed to be limited to stops with very few boardings where the time savings of off-board payment would be minimal.

      Cash payers always enter at the front and pay.

    2. The same way you pay on every other bus: hold everybody up as you fumble for change to put in the farebox. This news basically means that RapidRide has zero BRT features.

      1. It all in the paint jobs. That’s a really slick finish and should cut down on wind resistance, thereby achieving 25% faster times along the route according to Dr. Ron Sims when he shoved this load of crap down your collective gullets.
        The tax passed, so who gives a shit what happens after that.

      2. RR never was intended to be BRT. But lord knows if there’s any way to read confusion into a name people around here will. If they’d just called it FrequentFlyer nobody would have expected “rapid” transit from a bus using city streets. Of course they’d be expecting to see airline miles show up on their Orca Card.

      3. You’re forgetting about the pretty bus shelters. Oh and the buses are red! That totally makes it BRT.

        I never got the off board ORCA reader anyway, what they always needed was an off board cash ticket vending machine.

      4. @Bernie “RR never was intended to be BRT.” West Seattle Herald, in 2006:

        Announcing the “Transit Now” program at a press conference last week, King County Executive Ron Sims said five heavily used bus routes would be part of a bus rapid transit system Metro is calling “Rapid Ride.”

      5. What Jason said, “they weren’t actually trying for BRT but just exploiting the label to steal federal dollars.”

      6. Indeed. A couple years ago, they were comparing it to light rail: “It combines the efficiency and appeal of light rail with the flexibility and low cost of buses.”

      7. The defacto definition for BRT in America is the same as that for “light rail”. It means whatever you want it to mean as long as it’s somehow an “improved” bus service. Adding an extra door qualifies it as BRT American Style, gotta Love it! I’m not going to be fooled into thinking anything designed to run in mixed traffic was ever intended to be rapid.

      8. RapidRide was originally marketed as BRT “like Swift”, which had recently launched. When people pointed out that RR A’s proposed stop spacing was not like Swift (which is limited-stop and has a local shadow route), Metro stopped using “like Swift” and downplayed “BRT” in its marketing. But the initial brochures had already been out for a few months, and made long-term impressions on some regular riders who don’t follow the ins and outs of planning evolution. We transit fans knew RapidRide had given up some of its initial goals and would be mediocre when the lines launched, but those who didn’t follow the planning changes still thought it would be wonderful, so they got an even greater disappointment.

  6. The 3rd Avenue bus stops DO NOT NEED the LED-scroller real-time arrival signs Metro has installed elsewhere on Rapid Ride routes. Due to the large number of routes, what is needed are the vertically-mounted flat-screen “One Bus Away” TVs that have been showing up downtown to be placed at every stop. Hopefully this will be addressed in the City’s 3rd Avenue project.

    BTW, this comment applies to the Transit Tunnel as well, as long as buses are running in the tunnel.

    1. So the answer is to spend City of Seattle tax dollars improving Metro’s facilities.

      I actually support this as it’s probably the only way to get it done.

  7. Makes me want to move to Mexico City. The BRT down Insurgentes worked amazingly well. All your fare-paying was out of the way before you even got into the boarding area, like a metro.

    As a moderately infrequent rider, I gotta say I hate pretty much everything about Orca. I wish we had BART-like cards that showed you how much fare was left on the ticket. That’s forty-year-old technology, though. I think Orca makes perfect sense to people who are always in front of a computer screen, which I am too, BUT NOT WHEN I’M WAITING FOR A BUS. How much do I have on my Orca? I’m not sure — $20? $5?

    1. I kind of understand your complaint about needing to know if you have a sufficient e-purse balance on your card before you attempt to board a bus, but I don’t think any system has a solution to your problem. No bus system has card readers at *every* bus stop in the system.

      You probably already know all this, but when you tap your card on the bus (or at the end of your train journey) the reader shows you the balance on your e-purse. You can also check it at TVMs (but there aren’t enough of them around to be useful unless you use the tunnel or ride Link often). And, of course, you can check it online, although that data is delayed by up to 24 hours.

      I guess you just need to take a mental note (or a physical note) of your card balance after you use the system so you know if you need a refill prior to your next journey.

    2. Addendum: If they would get more retailers involved in the ORCA system it would help. Doesn’t QFC now refill cards? Or was it some other grocery store…

      1. ORCA should be eas easily accessible on the retail level as liquor now is .in this state. There should be no excuse why every rite aid walgreens 711 safeway fred meyers albertsons and joes grocery and deli dosent have the ability to vend and service. orca cards

    3. I use Farebot, which i sideloaded onto my Android phone. It uses the NFC in the phone to read the ORCA card and tell my balance.
      My son never pays attention to the reader on the bus, so without the app I’d never know when to refill his card.

      1. He has a youth card, and I cannot for the life of me remember the login/pwd. The credit card I set up on autoload has expired. So the only way to refill it is at the TVM.

      2. You can add his card as an associate card i believe. And that would link your accounts together. farebot is convenient when.using rapidride to ensure i tapped. If you upgrade to ics you shouldn’t have to “”sideload” anything nfc.

  8. Apparently Metro thought that BRT stands for Bus Replacement Tool, because new buses is really all we’re getting on C/D.

  9. I think that this is as good a venue as I’ll have to bit talk about some points of KCM’s “RapidRide”.

    Fares. I think that all fares should be paid off-board. The cash payers pay a machine and receive a printed ticket, which is their POP, and the ORCA users tap their ORCA on a “tech pylon”, which is their POP. I think this because the bus is weighed down with fumblers, with fare evaders, and with malfunctioning fareboxes, and that all weights possible to be removed should be removed.

    Stops. I think that the stops should be between 0.75mi and 1.50mi apart, and that the bus should stop at all stops. I think this because if the stops are too close, the bus is weighed down, with traffic and runners, and if the stops are too far, the service isn’t all that useful.

    Schedules. I think that there should be a printed schedule for all stops, and that at each stop there should be the times the bus arrives. I think this because I think that with good, correct information, riders will know when to be there and that the bus leaves at the time printed.

    Transit Priority. I think that, wherever lane additions (or lane modifications) are possible, there should be a bus-only lane, and that TSP should be installed at all intersections through which the bus travels. I think this, because if the bus had an open road and green lights, it would almost literally be “rail on wheels”.

    On-Board Free Slurpee® Machine (Summer), On-Board Free Hot Chocolate Machine (Winter). I don’t think that I need to explain this one. It’s hot in the summer and it’s cold in the winter.

    1. Fares… Transit Priority…

      Yes. 100%.


      No. No schedules. If you need a schedule, the bus isn’t frequent enough.

      This bus isn’t frequent enough.


      Also no. It is well established that 3/4-7/8 mile is the very, very top end of how far people will be willing to walk, and that is for extremely frequent, grade-separated, full-on rapid transit. The world’s most effective subways for the most part operate at less than that (1/2-2/3 mile spacing).

      1/2 mile is the maximum walk for (effective) bus service. And if you’re expecting people to walk much of that distance laterally from the transit corridor, than you have to space the stops along the corridor even closer than that.

      1/4-1/3 spacing mile is really where you want a high-quality bus service, so as to capture the maximum walkshed and avoid having to run redundant parallel services.

      This makes RapidRide stop spacing fundamentally correct in Ballard, where there will be many accessing it from east and west, but excessive in Interbay, where the few riders between Dravus and Galer are directly along the corridor and too few in number to justify stopping the bus three times.

      But while ideally another 2 or 3 stops would be made to disappear from the line, excessive stopping is not the primary issue. It’s the dwell time at each, thanks to the fare-payment issues you indentified, the lack of level boarding, and the failure to provide bulbs or dedicated lanes at all hours, requiring the bus to fight traffic just as it always has.

    2. on the a line every other stop seems to be near a 7 eleven. keep those stops and dump the rest and you might have something closer to brt.

  10. Two words that, for once, are not an overstatement: “Epic. Fail.”

    If someone would admit they weren’t actually trying for BRT but just exploiting the label to steal federal dollars for minor service improvements the whole thing would at least feel a little less greasy.

  11. I am glad you have all had fun bashing Metro for the shortcomings of Rapid Ride. But many of the things you criticize Metro for are the responsibility of the city of Seattle. A few points to consider:
    * What would you have cash strapped Metro do? Take service off the street to pay for the wireless communications themselves?
    * The RFA was not eliminated to save a few million dollars. That was the political price needed to get the Republican votes on the county council to save Metro from 17% cuts and pass the CRC to give us two years to fight for permenent stable funding of the system.
    * The issues of dedicated ROW and transit priority are city of Seattle decisions, not Metro’s. Buses are only as good as the streets they operate on.
    * Frequency is a function of money. When Metro gets adequate funding they will be able to do much more.
    * The debates here on STB about every single proposed service change to improve the system illustrate how hard it is to make changes. But this is solely Metro’s fault?
    * Those who advocate for a larger PTBA or new governance structure need to recognize that Seattle would have even less control.
    * Those who advocate for a Seattle-only bus system need to realize that they would have to pay much more for the current level of service. Part of the reason the RFA was a sticking point with suburban interests is because Seattle only pays a little over a third of the sales taxes to support the system, but recieves 62% of the service. Be careful what you wish for.

    1. 1. Not call it BRT.
      2. Just because politics is in play doesn’t make this not Metro’s fault. Metro’s governance is broken, which is what killed the RFA and screwed up RR.
      3. Sure. But Metro has no right calling this BRT until they’ve coordinated real BRT.
      4. Ditto.
      5. Sure that’s Metro’s fault. If they’re going to call something BRT, then find the guts to make changes to make it BRT. You can let the one-seat-riders control all routes, or you can claim to have improved the system. You can’t do both.
      6. Hey, I agree with you on a point.
      7. No. That 66% includes downtown, which is where those suburban King County riders are going. You don’t get to count that as Seattle service, just like CT can’t claim to provide Seattle service. Break the Seattle-only buses into a Seattle agency, and let us fight to make our buses faster. We have more incentive to do this than county voters.

      1. I agree that Rapid Ride is not true BRT. That would require dedicated ROW and millions more dollars and a much larger commitment to give up GP lanes from the city. That doesn’t mean that it is without merit.

        And the 62% does not include downtown. That figure is from the point of origin and where most of the service is located. It does not include suburban routes for the most part.

      2. We’re not talking about whether or not RapidRide is or isn’t with merit (it does and we support RapidRide), what I’m talking about is messing up implementation and letting politics handicap an entire transit system.

      3. Surely you don’t think all suburban riders are going downtown. I live blocks from the Rapid Ride B (or vapid ride, as we call it). That entire line is contained in the suburbs. And many ( possibly most) suburban riders take sound transit busses downtown, though I know some are operated by KC metro. I can’t recall the last time I took a KC metro bus to Seattle.

    2. What would you have cash strapped Metro do? Take service off the street to pay for the wireless communications themselves?

      So if the RFA wasn’t being eliminated, how would riders pay? Pay-as-you-leave? How does that work with the off-board payment outside the CBD.

      They’ve had years to figure this out. They fucked up.

      The RFA was not eliminated to save a few million dollars. That was the political price needed to get the Republican votes on the county council to save Metro from 17% cuts and pass the CRC to give us two years to fight for permenent stable funding of the system.

      Which we wouldn’t need if our service area and taxing district didn’t include a fuckton of rural and exurban areas that get no benefit from Metro, and our system wasn’t run by district-elected representatives from those areas.

      The debates here on STB about every single proposed service change to improve the system illustrate how hard it is to make changes. But this is solely Metro’s fault?

      Metro regularly prioritizes the handful of people who complain about changes over the thousands of riders who would benefit. Yes, this is Metro’s fault.

      Those who advocate for a larger PTBA or new governance structure need to recognize that Seattle would have even less control.

      Not larger. Smaller. Fuck Enumclaw.

      Those who advocate for a Seattle-only bus system need to realize that they would have to pay much more for the current level of service. Part of the reason the RFA was a sticking point with suburban interests is because Seattle only pays a little over a third of the sales taxes to support the system, but recieves 62% of the service.

      Slow, unreliable, complex service, because again, every time we try to make a cost-saving, utility-increasing change, a couple people complain about losing a one-seat ride and Metro gives in.

      The issues of dedicated ROW and transit priority are city of Seattle decisions, not Metro’s. Buses are only as good as the streets they operate on.

      This is a fair point.

      Frequency is a function of money. When Metro gets adequate funding they will be able to do much more.

      Which they won’t, because the King County Council has demonstrated they would rather play politics than build an efficient transit system.

      1. Um, so there is no politics on the Seattle City Council? So, have you seen them cave to powerful neighborhoods like Montlake over and over again? Not defending the county council, but simply pointing out that politics will be around for any governing body.

      2. My preferred solution would be an appointed board like many other cities have.

        But it’s worth noting that the Seattle City Council is elected at-large (which I actually don’t like) and from what I’ve observed isn’t half as parochial as the county council.

    3. The point is they shouldn’t have launched these lines and restructured all of the transit around them until they were ready to deploy the amenities that go with it everywhere.

      1. Off board readers and 3 door boarding is the main feature of RR. I don’t think making the main feature function equates to perfection.
        The rest is paint and pretty shelters.

      2. “Metro Transit: We’ll Get You There

        Sorry. The full slogan would have amounted to “demanding perfection”.

      3. We’re talking about a few stops on 3rd Avenue, people. Suddenly it’s the Apocalypse? checking RBC’S post. He gets it right.

      4. Beavis, that is like saying the DSTT has just a few stops. Probably 70-80% of C/D line riders will be using one of these “few” stops.

      5. Thing is, the fans of all caps and overuse of exclamation points calling Metro incompetent were singing its praises days ago on the announcement that those same stops WOULD have off-board paper ticket vending machines.

    4. Mass transit now pass in 2008. Four years ago. What has Metro been doing over the last four years. There is no excuse for this.

      Yes the RFA was a political issue but also financial. City didn’t want to pony up money so Council nixed it. I called the Council to task for that. They could have worked much harder to mitigate the elimination of the RFA.

      Yes ROW is a city issue, but in the discussion I have seen Metro hasn’t been pushing SDOT.

      Metro should have taken more money from other routes to properly fund RapidRide. That is completely within the control of Council/Metro.

      Metro/Councils inability to make changes is completely the Councils fault. It may be hard but that is because the Council is totally MIA.

      1. Jesus, have you not been paying attention? We are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since 1929. Metro is overwhelmingly dependent on the sales tax. Both ST and Metro lost about a quarter of their funding. They won’t get that back for a decade even if the economy recovers.

      2. Yes I have, but just because Metro/Council has less money doesn’t give them a free pass on self inflicted injuries and poor management of 3rd Ave and the DSTT. Remember a slow bus is wasted money not to mention the lost time of riders sitting on stuck buses.

      3. @Reality – I’m not disputing it’s been a tough time for Metro. But the fact remains that they have had six years (and likely more when you include their planning process) to figure out how to provide Orca readers along 3rd Avenue in Downtown Seattle. I think that sucks and that they shouldn’t have scheduled a launch date for Rapid Ride until the infrastructure was in place.

      4. Mass transit now pass in 2008.

        No, it passed in 2006. 2006!!

        Lest we forget, that’s six years of regressive sales tax collections, for which this was the flagship service improvement.

        I take back my vote and I want back my fucking money!

      5. i rode the rapidride a line yesterday during peak hours. we had bus bunching and we also missed half the lights and got held up while half the boarders fumbled around looking for change and / or tapped their ORCA cards. Oh ya this thing stops every half mile. Bus rapid transit? i don’t think so!!! They really went out too big and too fast. on the a line we have stops with no ORCA readers and on those that do they are frequently out of service. after 7 pm? its just a normal metro bus anyway so who fucking cares anyway.

      6. You know what’s slower than a slow bus?

        No bus. I disagree with those who would rather have seen RR delayed, than deployed imperfectly and improved.

      7. Nobody says they could not have kept the 174. That was the predecessor and they should have kept that route until rapidride was truly ready. all buses should be able to benefit from tsp when present so if say Kent completed it early then the 174 would get the incremental upgrade. they should have completed the brt line before conversion.

      8. @Beavis: Um, no. The 174 used to run between downtown and Federal Way. Then after Link opened it was split into the 124 between downtown and Tukwila International Boulevard Station and the 174 between TIBS and Federal Way. Then RapidRide A replaced the 174.

  12. Metro has pushed SDOT hard for speed and reliability I believe. But SDOT also has to listen to other users of the roadway–peds, bikes, freight, and GP users. Change is not easy as we have seen from the road diet battles.

    As for your argument that Metro should defund other routes for Rapid Ride, tell me which ones? It is easy to take shots from the sideline and wish politics weren’t in play, but that is not the real world.

      1. They are using hours from the existing 54 and 15 to fund Rapid Ride C & D, I believe.

      2. I see all the references to these two new route with a slash. Will the C/D be a through route from West Seattle to Ballard?

    1. As for your argument that Metro should defund other routes for Rapid Ride, tell me which ones?

      Aside from Bruce Nourish’s entire body of work, BRT lines are either a priority or they aren’t. Many hands make light work; make every other route in the system a little worse to do the capital investment, and the continuing operating savings will pay for themselves.

    2. There are 65-70 routes serving Seattle proper, and literally none of them are truly fast or frequent.

      This city is not that big. A dozen radial routes plus 5 or 6 crosstown routes, each streamlined for maximum reliability and run every 5-7 minutes, could get you within a stone’s throw of everywhere you’d ever want to be.

      Fuck these baby steps, infant steps, and non-steps. The system needs to be rebuilt from scratch.

      1. d.p. – it would take one hell of a visioning ,planning and outreach process (we’re talking hundreds of public meetings), a huge amount of investment in transit and engineering studies, re-working of policies, etc. etc. if we were to re-build the Metro bus system from scratch. I think your plan would probably be much more effective than the current system, but the political will, capacity, and funding needed to make it happen are not there.

  13. The argument that the RFA amounts to suburbanites subsidizing transit in Seattle just shows how out of touch the suburban members of the King County Council really are.

    Why? The Ride Free Area is an extremely small area around the center of downtown. Unless an entire trip takes place within that area, you still have to pay, so the argument that the suburbs are paying for Seattle residents to ride the bus for free downtown is crap – Seattle residents are still paying to ride the bus todowntown, just like everyone else.

    I also believe the King County Council is grossly overstating the revenue that the ride free area is actually costing. The simple assumption that if you eliminate the ride free area, your revenue will increase by the per-passenger fare multiplied by the number of intra-downtown trips today is extremely naive. First, most of the people making free intra-downtown trips already have transfers or passes (how did they get downtown in the first place?), so their trips will still be free anyway. And the ride free area is small enough so that many of those that don’t will simply walk to avoid having to pay the bus fare. For groups of three or more, the elimination of the ride free area will making riding the bus downtown at least as expensive as riding a taxicab, so I would expect some people to switch from buses to taxis as well.

    To be clear, I still feel that the elimination of the RFA, long-term, is the right thing to do, but for reasons that have very little to do with revenue. Eliminating the RFA is about making a consistent payment experience. And by substituting delays as bus stops all around town caused by pay-as-you-shove-to-the-exit mode with delays downtown, because downtown has fewer stops served by more buses, it is easier to make special investments downtown (off-board orca readers, loaders, etc.) to compensate for these delays. Yes, there will be some hickups initially, but long-term I do think this was the right thing. Ultimately, I believe the short-term pain caused by extra congestion downtown will force Metro to become more innovative than they would otherwise be.

    I would also argue that the RFA is actually a back-door benefit to people who drive downtown, in that it enables you to make side trips for free, without having to repark your car, which can be time-consuming and, at times, quite expensive. Maybe having to pay for the bus to get to downtown, in order to ride it through downtown (e.g. park at a cheaper lot at one end of downtown, then ride a bus for 1/2 mile to where you ultimate want to go, where parking is more expensive), will induce people to just get on the bus closer to home instead.

    1. asdf, you are right on the money with why eliminating the RFA is a good idea. The King County Council made the right decision for the wrong reasons, but Metro failed to adapt to reality.

  14. Hey, I agree with you that suburban folks shouldn’t hate the RFA, but the fact is it has been an issue with them for years.

      1. You keep on starting new threads rather replying to existing threads on the topic you’re replying to.

  15. I’d like to introduce Metro to cutting edge technologies: DIal-up and DSL.

    Seriously, put in some low speed SDSL lines. (SDSL=more stable, and slower speeds are more stable too. You don’t really need speed for most of the Orca transactions..)

    Wait, now that I’m thinking about this, just put the Orca readers in the same mode that they use on the buses, take the payment offline without checking the balances against the database (which is what the buses do) and nightly come around and dump the data from the system…

    Metro’s lack of ability to problem solve their way out of a wet paper bag annoys me.

    1. It may not be metro as much as orca that might be the limitation. Of course i dont know how the orca network works either….

  16. This just depressing, completely pathetic, and yet another penny in the can for reorganizing Metro in some fashion, likely as an urban PTBA (rural King County has a PTBA already, surprisingly. If they want service they can purchase it from the urban PTBA or Sound Transit).

    This also raises another question in my mind: if there’s not 4.9 GHz backhaul network, how are *any* of the ITS solutions developed for RapidRide going to work? Last I checked, they all used the bus’ new backhaul to operate. This means stuff like on-board WiFi, intelligent TSP, and the like aren’t going to work, either – or will be dependent on different technological setups that increases complexity and ultimately wastes money that would have been saved from economies of scale.

    If the lack of off board payment and the like is a result of the City of Seattle’s side of the project being delayed…fine. Delay the launch of Rapid Ride, and blame it on the city. Don’t tarnish an already nearly-useless brand by making service even worse under its banner.

  17. I cant see why metro cant install orca readers at all the doors in a coach. San francisco uses a sister to orca and they have readers installed on multiple doors on a vehicle…

  18. Metro should just fire all the upper level managers and hire a few telephone pollsters. Every time a question comes up, they call a dozen transit agencies around the nation, and go with the most popular answer.
    I can’t be any worse than it is now.

  19. Can anybody explain to me why Metro can’t use a private provider like Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile for mobile data? I’ve got to assume they offer commercial wireless data options.

    1. My guess is they would end up extorting Metro for more than Metro would be willing to pay.

      Ideally, though, they would offer such services to Metro for a discount, in exchange for advertizing. Every Orca reader could be brought to you by [fill in the blank with your favorite wireless company].

      1. Or Clear wire. Money for wireless connectivity must have been budgeted at some point. As for “extortion”, there’s always presentation of the “take it or leave it” option, or branding consideration.

  20. at least king county’s rapidride makes an attempt at all door boarding, TSP, and off board fare collection. in los Angeles they have the metro rapid who’s only feature is TSP but only in the CITY of los Angeles. No off board fare payment is attempted and everybody pays at front of bus on entry. Guess the color of the buses? red!!

    1. The MetroRapid buses I’ve used have been bullet-straight, have had truly wide (arguably too wide) stop spacing, and on Wilshire have come as often as every 2-3 minutes.

      RapidRide: No, no, and not even close!

      1. And….. in the case of route 733 which serves Santa Monica and downtown via culver city and Venice they kept the 33 between Venice and downtown. metro keeping the 174? not a chance…

      2. Wilshire Rapid is as frequent as it gets, unfortunately most of the Rapid lines operate at 20+ minute headways during the day, only a handful operate in the evening, and half operate on weekends. There’s a cost to operate parallel local-stops-every-two-blocks and rapid-stops-every-half-to-one-mile services.

        LA’s entire bus network is a grid, so naturally the rapids would follow that.

      3. LA’s bus network being a grid (i.e. following the same logic as the street grid, rather than a point-to-point one-seater’s logic) is a phenomenon of the last 12 years. Many non-gridded routes had to be cut in order to make it so; this process is still ongoing: http://www.humantransit.org/2012/06/los-angeles-cuts-bus-line-that-was-useful-parable.html

        Shame to hear that there are still MetroRapid routes operating at 20 in the mid-day. Every one I’ve ever needed has been 12 minutes or better.

        I agree with you about the costs of overlays. MetroRapid should really stop twice per mega-block, eliminating the need for the ultra-locals.

  21. I drove through QA today and didn’t see any changes at all on QA Ave/1st Ave N. either (though the stop at Republican is still under construction). I wonder if those will have to wait as well.
    Oddly, the Mercer St & 3rd Ave W stop has a tech pylon, when according to Metro’s map it’s labeled a “stop” and not a “station”. I don’t get why you’d want off board payment there, but not at QA Ave N and Mercer St.

    1. Queen Anne Ave N and W Mercer Street southbound will start construction in the next few days. Some concrete cutting has already occurred, and temporary bus zone parking restrictions are in place.

      Southbound at 60th and 70th also have tech pylons, although originally planned as “stops.”

    2. Also the concete and utilities at the 1st Ave N and Republican St stop have been fully rebuilt to provide a new bus bulb that will support two large shelters, a couple new ped lights, and a tech pylon.

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