Just about the coolest bus commercial ever.

This is an open thread.

87 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: “The Bus””

  1. I love the new extended transit lane on northbound 99 through the construction zone. Does anybody know if this is a permanent addition, or will they remove it once the tunnel is complete?

  2. A totally cool commercial. Was that taken in Bonney Lake?
    Kidding aside, we talk about North American transit and Metro/ST in particular a lot, using metrics like subsidies, riders per ??, farebox recovery ratio, and transit taxes by source.
    How do European countries compare to the US as far as things we are all striving for, such as transits mode split of both commute trips and all trips. Or farebox recovery for bus/rail or both.
    I know their ridership is tons higher than ours, but do governments generally pay for most of it, like here, through taxes, or do fares pay more/less/the same as here?
    Just wondering this morning, as I really don’t know.

  3. During my recent trip to Vancouver, I experienced two great features that made the Vancouver Line so user-friendly.

    First, when I couldn’t figure out how to get a transit card at the kiosk below the airport station, a lady kindly told me to go up the elevator to the station platform. Danke Sehr! It turned out I was calling the parking payment kiosk help.

    When I found out the cards cost $5 at the station, I again pushed a help button to find out where the rumored free cards were. (I only found out about the free cards from a random vendor at a farmers’ market the day before.) The free transit cards were available at the 7-11 inside the airport when purchasing a day pass. Granted, it is a swipe pass, not a contactless smart card.

    Sound Transit etc. emulate this program by making free ORCA available at selected Saar’s stores. But none of those Saar’s are downtown. The one closest to a major transit spot, the store in Burien, closed down. I believe Metro could shift its supply of free ORCA to the downtown Bartells without going back to the joint ORCA multi-agency board to get agreement, if Bartells is willing.

    Since this Bartells is the largest sales site for ORCA cards by far outside of the TVMs and Metro Customer Service, I think it could be a rather quick relief valve for the Busmageddon that will hit in two weeks. Making the free ORCA cards available there ought to count as additional Title VI mitigation.

    1. Another characteristic that makes Vancouver transit awesome: Frequency.

      I took a day trip to Vancouver a few weeks ago on a Sunday. Boarded 6 different buses in the course of travelling around neighborhoods – never waited more than 2 minutes (without a schedule). On a Sunday, I repeat. Try that on Metro.

    2. Vancouver is an example of how a western north American city can do everything right. Every time I go there, I feel shame. We have an example of a world class transit system right next to us and we keep ignoring it.

      1. bc government helps. If WA wanted, we could have it all too. But WA is way less Seattle-centric than BC is Vancouver-centric.

  4. I visited Taiwan last month and had a chance to tour the Kaoshiung MRT system. The concept they used was called BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer).

    Basically, the contractor in charge of building the system will also be responsible for operating the system. After their contract time expires, they transfer it back to the government.

    Then the government opens another bid called UOT (Upgrade-Operate-Transfer). The contractor the upgrades the system, operates it for the duration of their contract time and then transfer it back to the government.

    Repeat cycle.

    The nice thing is that since the contractor and the operator are the same, the contract has a direct interest in ensuring that it’s built with good quality. Essentially, it will prevent what happened to Sound Transit when the contractor used a lower-grade rebar than it was supposed to in the elevated sections to make a profit. Or like WSDOT’s SR 167 HOT Lanes, where WSDOT is stuck with all the equipment failures and malfunctions.

    1. That sounds like the Design-Build-Operate-Maintain contract the Monorail project had. It has some advantages, but whether it’s overall best I don’t know. It does give the developer an incentive to make the fares high. One problem with the Monorail, I’m not sure if it’s the contract’s fault or the monorail authority just didn’t put enough money into it, is that it wouldn’t have participated in transfers and PugetPasses. Which means if you’re taking the mono from Ballard and transferring to a bus, you’d pay double fare, which is a huge disincentive to ride the monorail. The Alweg monorail has the same system, so many transit riders avoid it, and only use it when they want a tourist experience or they don’t mind the extra cost.

    2. While I worry about the equity of transferring all our infrastructure to private parties, I have no real operational objections with a build-operate model for an automated transit system.

      With bus systems — that is to say, for at least the next couple of decades, with drivers — I feel very differently.

      Lowest-bid operating companies do not generally hire safe, effective drivers.

      1. While I would tend to agree, a little historical evidence would be most welcome to back up your point.

      2. We have one piece of evidence right here in our backyard: Community Transit’s operations. Since they began contracting last decade, turnover has risen rapidly, and many of the drivers are new at any given time. I’m not sure about the safety statistics, but anecdotally, I can say with confidence that I see more bad driving by CT contract drivers than Metro drivers, despite the fact that their routes lead them to spend less time in difficult situations.

        Another good comparison from the intercity world is Megabus vs. BoltBus. Megabus is operated by First Transit, which hires low-wage, non-union drivers. BoltBus is operated by Greyhound using their experienced labor pool. BoltBus has a considerably better safety record.

        There is a counterexample in DC, where the Circulator contract drivers are doing a bit better than Metrobus drivers. That is more a commentary on the horrible management of WMATA’s safety function than anything else.

      3. Edit: Megabus is operated by Coach USA, not First Transit. Coach USA’s city transit operations are now at First Transit, but they kept the intercity operations.

  5. Hello, everyone. Happy Sunday. :)

    I just want to say that I’m very happy that Skagit Transit (SKAT) operates the 90X Everett / Mt Vernon and that I’m also very happy that the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) operates the 80X Bellingham / Mt Vernon. It makes it cheap, reliable, and simple for me to go between Woodinville and Bellingham, for school.

    (I drive to Everett Station. Though, I could take a ST 522 > ST 535, if I wanted to.)

    1. Maybe it’s just me with my sophomoric sense of humor, but I always get a giggle when I hear someone mention SKAT. :)

    2. My brother goes to school at Western and uses this route when he wants to come home in the weekends.

  6. Notice how the urban bus with the kids jumping on it has an on board fare transition machine and lots of circulation room. Yes please!

    1. I’m curious if you think RapidRide coaches are a step in the right direction. They seem like a good balance between seati/standee room and three doors are helpful. I’d bet these coaches would be great for all routes in a post-RFA era since all standees would be reasonably close to a door at all times.

      1. Yeah I certainly think that the RapidRide coaches are a step in the right direction, although I think there are still some details that need to be worked out. The passive restraint system for the B Line impeeds the walkway too much and I’m personally a fan of forward faceing seats over sideway seats between width wise they are narrower espeically when you take into account feet and legs.

        Metro needs to start to implement these types of changes on all non-commuter routes. For example if you removed two seats on the right side of the new 40ft buses you would significantly improve circulation to the rear door. This will become a bigger pain with elimination of the RFA.

        As far as all the artics I think lack of a third door and safe/easy crossing of the articulation section is going to hamper boarding at front, exit at rear.

      2. Three doors only helps if the driver opens them. I’m hoping Metro will take a zero-tolerance policy for operators who refuse to open the rear doors in an attempt to prevent fare evasion. Also, where is Metro’s effort to communicate “pay as you enter, exit through the rear”?! Two weeks to go and there seems to be no signs, posters, billboards, etc!

      3. Not every refusal to open the rear door is about preventing fare evasion. Sometimes it’s about the safety of passengers, operators, or both.

        For example, when I drove, if someone I knew to be a troublemaker was in the bus zone, I wouldn’t open the rear door.

      4. Another time was when they were building new sidewalks in federal way. The drivers should not have been opening the rear doors at those stops even though its “rapidride.”

      5. As all routes will be PAYE, with off-board payment available at RR stations, the rear door issue should become irrelevant. As to public info, its all over the place.

      6. @Brendon

        I know that in some place, Toronto for example, the rear door is automatically controlled by a floor pressure sensor. Step onto it and the door will open, a second or two after that, the door closes quickly to prevent people from entering.

      7. Here in Seattle, the rear door closing too quickly for passengers to board triggers a stream of profanity at the driver for being “blind” and a complaint call to 553-3000.

  7. Today’s NFL games feature the annual pro-transit game: New Orleans at Carolina.

    Which shows up on the scoreboard scroll as “NO-CAR”.

  8. One question guys–Are we gonna be doing a meet-up for the C & D Lines opening just like we did last year for the B line?

  9. on the rare occasion that I have to actually go into the office I must take the 9 or 60 then the 49 then the 75.

    Does the free Orca Card transfer countdown start when I scan my Orca card when I board the 9 or 60? or does it start when I scan my Orca card getting off of the 49?

    Currently I can make my whole trip by paying once and then getting two free transfers … but I was curious after the RFA ends whether I will still make the transfer cutoff time by the time I get to the 75 (bus #3)

    (my commute currently is Pay as I board (9/60), then Pay as I exit (49) then pay as I board (75))

    1. I’m also curious about this. I’ve never been able to figure out, does the 2 hour window start at the first tap, or does it get refreshed every time you tap to transfer?

    2. What do you do on the other days when you don’t have to go to the office? Work from home? Or, what?

      1. Working from home is going to reduce the number of people who use transit.

        This is where the effort should be placed — encouraging people to work from home. Better for the environment than transit. Better for the taxpayers than huge tax subsidies for transit. Better for the workers who don’t have to spend time commuting to and from work. Better for companies who don’t have to build or lease as much office space.

        Working from home solves a whole lot of problems while saving everyone a whole lot of money.

      2. You make this assertion often about the rise of telecommuting. As my job (which often requires flying to other cities just for the dynamics of sharing a room) involves predicting the future behavior of people, I’d love to know why you believe in this trend. No reputable source I’m familiar with indicates we should expect any such shift.

    3. It’s from the first swipe. Still, unless something goes horribly wrong, it shouldn’t take anywhere near two hours to make that commute. Even in the worst case, where you just miss both the 49 and the 75 and the 49 gets stuck in traffic, it should be about a 1h15 trip.

      Is that way really faster than walking down the hill to Pioneer Square Station and using a 71/72/73 express to get to the 75?

      1. in the mornings? yes. the 49 is very quick and very frequent … worst thing that happens is the bridge being up but that is something I run into rarely

      2. Interesting. Having spent more than my share of time driving what is now the 49 back when it was part of the 7, I wouldn’t describe the trip down Broadway as “quick” at any time of day. The reason I asked about the tunnel was because it would avoid Broadway.

      3. David …

        the FHS construction not withstanding … the 49 is a pleasant ride in the mornings heading north and I5 North definitely is not. And I like the quite (albeit bumpy) ride of the Breda ETBs … lets me enjoy my morning coffee.

        If I head north after 11:30 I usually will walk down James to Pioneer Sq and take the express buses (or the 41 if going via Northgate)

      4. in my experience, the 49 NB has run into trouble mostly in the afternoon, trying to navigate the huge stack of cars trying to get on the freeway at Harvard. Most of my morning rides have been from 6th Ave, up the hill to Broadway, which is usually fairly reliable.

    4. The two hour transfer starts with the first swipe, however if your second bus cost more, the two hour transfer starts again when the Orca machine charge you the difference, in your case, if you board 9 or 60 before at 2:45 pm (off peak $2.25), then get on (or off) the 49 at 3:30pm ($0.25 peak fare surcharge added), your transfer time ends at 5:30 instead of 4:45.
      This is one trick I use when I need more transfer time: board a bus paying $2.25 or $2.50 to get to downtown, when at to downtown like 30 min (or 1hr59min) later, I’ll tap the Orca machine for Link ($2.75), thus restarting my two hour transfer time while only costing me $0.50 more.

      1. If I were KCM’s GM, I wouldn’t mind reading this, and I wouldn’t make changes or propose changes, to prevent a person from doing this “tap LINK to get a transfer”.

        I’d be just happy that I’m getting ridership and a fare paid.

      2. At least you aren’t fumbling cash and change. I think the cries for elimination of paper transfers will go up a couple notches when October begins.

      3. Good strategy, Luk. Why should you actually pay for your own transportation, when you can game the system and leech off taxpayers?

    5. All trips will be pay as you enter. You won’t tap off at all. Your transfer begins at first tap, even if you tap off board.

      1. … except if you choose to use the off-board ORCA readers at RapidRide stations, but only between the hours of 6 am and 7 pm and only for the RapidRide bus, or are boarding the free circulator route or a train, including the SLUT, which is free for ORCA holders.

        Also, if you see a uniformed Metro operator holding an ORCA reader at the rear door of a bus, you can tap using the machine he/she is holding, and board at said rear door.

        Riding made simple.

      2. No, you still won’t tap when or after you exit, and you transfer time still starts when you tap.

  10. First Hill Streetcar construction update:

    Construction crews had a busy weekend constructing the First Hill Streetcar on Broadway this weekend.

    Completed track now extends from Howell St. all the way to just short of the intersection of Broadway and Pike St.

    This weekend the northbound track was completed across the intersection of Broadway and Pine Street.
    The track is being built from Pine Street all the way to Pike Street.

    Broadway has been further excavated from Pike St all the way to about mid-block between Pike and Union Streets and the intersection of Union and Broadway has been excavated as well.

    Broadway has been cut in preparation for excavation all the way south to a spot just short of where Harvard Ave connects to Broadway (just north of the intersection of Madison & Broadway)

    Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gordonwerner/sets/72157630154155804/with/7993386272/

    1. And Metro, as could be predicted, made the reroute at Pine as cumbersome and painful as possible. Run the 49 up Pike all the way to Broadway? Nah. Let’s have it make the usual turn at Bellevue, then turn at Harvard where there’s hardly ANY room for an articulated to turn (a taxi had to back up 50 feet for my bus) and back onto Pike!

      1. yeah … was wondering why they did that … and also why they weren’t letting SB 49s turn onto Pine since Pine was open to traffic heading west off of Broadway anyway. The D60s were having a hell of a time negotiating the turn off of Pike onto Broadway because of the trench and the location of the light pole and fire hydrant at Pike and Broadway.

        Also had an Orion on the 60 blow a tire in front of me at the SE corner of Pine and Broadway … hit a piece of metal sticking out of the curb … scared the bejezus out of everyone waiting to cross Broadway.

    Meditations on Seattle’s Rapid Ride C&D line rollout, 29 September 2012
    by Alkibkr

    They’re gonna pimp my ride
    Give it a new hue
    Now red and orange will be what I do.

    Goin’ downtown
    Is gonna get fastah
    Don’t think the rollout
    Will be a disastah.

    Naysayers may say
    “What they doin’ with my taxes?”
    But there’ll always be
    Those who grind axes.

    I had long bus waits
    But now I can see
    The light in the tunnel:

    Lookin’ forward to
    More riders, new friends,
    West Seattle and Ballard
    Attached at both ends.

    Way to go to save gas
    Re-think my trip
    Won’t let my dollahs
    Out the nozzle drip.

    Leave the car at home
    Come over to my side
    Flash your Orca Card
    Join my Rapid Ride.

    Cause they’re gonna pimp my ride
    Give it a new hue
    Now red and orange will be what I do.

    1. I really can’t get behind a sports arena without an economic study, a public transportation plan, or a vote (or even a straw poll) of the people.

    2. My biggest problem with the proposal is the distance from light rail. It’s not too far, but on a dark rainy night it’s certainly not the most attractive walk and might be daunting to many. Would be nice if they could agree to run free shuttles on game days or something so that Link is more attractive to the fans.

      1. I agree that about the walk from LINK. I

        t seems to me that the pro-arena group thought of the arena, didn’t think it through, and the County Council and the City Council [mistakenly] agreeed.

      2. sambrag, I think the pro-arena group is in a race to buy the Sacramento Kings and just wants to protect Seattle & King County taxpayers in that race.

        Everything else just got shoved aside. As to this “Seattle Process”, nice to see it kept focused and properly managed instead of a veto pen.

        This coming from the son of a great Skagitonian who’s fed up w/ the “Skagit Process” and a Skagitonian (me) who will testify tomorrow in the normal planning process against a juvenile jail.

      3. I don’t think shuttles would work too well. They’d get stuck in traffic and you’d need a ton of them to handle the capacity. Far cheaper is to just let people walk, but make the necessary improvements to make the walk safe and relatively pleasant. This means wider sidewalks and more lighting. A few street trees between the sidewalk and the road would help as well. If you really wanted to be fancy, you could even make the walkway covered, at least part of the way.

        Of course, some shuttle capacity will still be needed for the elderly and disabled, but there are plenty of existing buses that travel through SODO to handle that.

    3. ST could make stadium station more accessible to the proposed arena site if they remodeled it to allow platform ingress/egress from the south.

      Or they could relocate SODO station to Holgate.

  12. I have a random question, but what is going to happen to the convention center station once buses are kicked out of the tunnel?

    1. First station on the new Green Line going to Ballard. Next stop would be SLU, then Seattle Center, then…

      1. except that ST/Metro says that the tunnel can’t handle any more trains than will already be using the tunnel for the trips North for the two lines that will already use the tunnel

    2. A few years back there was a lot of talk about this being an extension to the convention center.

      1. The route goes in cut/cover along Terry (under Stewart, under Virginia), daylights at Lenora, and elevated out Denny to the SLU, over 99 to Seattle Center. From there, use your imagination, but keep it exclusive ROW to be of any use to Ballard. I won’t bother anyone with how the merge under Pine St to Westlake works, but we merge trains and lots of buses right now if that’s a hint.

  13. Puyallup Fair.

    It amazes me. I read an article today about people selling space on their lawns because of inadequate parking at the Puyallup Fair.

    Then I also read they eliminated express bus service to the Fair!

    1. “Inadequate parking?” That wasn’t my experience at all. I drove there on Saturday afternoon a week ago and was able to find a free street parking space less than half a mile from the fairgrounds. Of course there were plenty of people and businesses renting out their lawns and parking lots in the area as well, but this is hardly uncommon when a big event comes to a small city.

    2. How far is Puyallup Fair from the Sounder station? Is it feasible for people to ride the 578 there? (Too bad if you’re from Tacoma and have to backtrack to Federal Way).

      1. Well if I got this right:


        It’s a 14 minute walk from station to fair.

        Sounder Only: Take the 3:34pm Sounder from Kent and get to Puyallup 3:54pm.

        I could stay an hour and take the 5:12pm back to Kent.

        Alternatively I could drive (or bike) to Auburn Station and have the option of Sounder or 578 bus.

      2. Wow! If it’s that close, there’s probably quite a few people who drive to the Sounder station to use its free parking to walk to the fair.

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