Brilliant reader and super-commenter Mike Orr is interested in sampling some of Metro’s new offerings on Saturday, and invites the rest of the STB community to join him:

11:00am. Westwood Village, RapidRide C open house starts

11:30am. Take the next C to downtown and remain on the bus; it will switch to a D and continue to Ballard and Crown Hill. Get off at the northern terminus.

The 40 overlaps with the D here, so walk one block south to Holman Road (westbound side), and take the 40 back through Ballard, Fremont, and downtown.

Then, people might want to do different things. I’ll probably take Link to Othello and ride the 50 end-to-end to Seward Park, Columbia City, SODO station, West Seattle and Alki, and spend some time at the beach. Coming back you can either take the 50 to SODO station and transfer to Link, or take the 50 to Alaska Junction and transfer to the C, or take the water taxi downtown if it’s running. (The 50 is half-hourly on Saturday and hourly on Sunday so you’d definitely want to do it Saturday.)

[The 120 and 60 are your best bets to get to Westwood Village in the first place.] I’ll be starting on the 9:43 #60 at Broadway & Pine.

I put “meetup” in quotes because I don’t know that any staff writers will be there, but our open threads indicate we don’t have to actually do much of anything for you guys to have a good time.

58 Replies to “RapidRide Opening “Meetup””

  1. Stupid question, but I can’t tell–when you’re taking the C line southbound toward Westwood does it have a layover/termination at Westwood, like the Westwood 54 southbound used to? Or can you ride it back to 28th & Roxbury?

    That southernmost stop is where I would get on in the morning and it would be nice to be able to ride it to/from work in the winter when I don’t feel like trudging back across Roxhill park.

      1. Damn. Looking at those run cards, things are brutal compared with how they were in 2000-2005 when I was driving. Schedules are tighter and layovers are shorter. No wonder systemwide on-time performance has gone down.

      2. Gee… if only somebody would propose a service that utilized signal priority and off-board payment to bring down trip times, and ran with truly high frequency to smooth out demand spikes and increase reliability…

        If only someone would propose that, I would totally raise my own sales taxes to see it happen.

        (Oh, wait, I already did that six years ago.)

      3. Too bad it’s not just the routes with added signal priority where things are tighter. I’m looking especially at the 5, 71, 72, and 73, which haven’t had any upgrades to my knowledge.

      4. Lawl. 5/19RB, which operates the inbound 7 Owl trip leaving Rainier and Henderson at 4:08 a.m., still has a notation saying that passengers should transfer to the 15 due at the 4th Ave island stop at 4:33. Oops.

        That was always fun, to lay over at Rainier and Henderson at 3 or 4 in the morning.

      5. “things are brutal compared with how they were in 2000-2005 when I was driving”

        You have no idea…

        I’ve been lucky in the work I pick but recovery time has been squeezed. I don’t mind as a PT driver since I’m only out for 3-4 hours – I can make due. But customers don’t get reliable schedules in many cases and full time operators who are out for 7-10+ hours often can’t get a decent meal break. In many cases it is not sustainable.

      6. David, you were replying to a question about the 54/RapidRide C run cards, so my point that RapidRide was supposed to be designed to fix the problems you raise is absolutely valid.

        But TransitNow (which passed while you were living back East), wasn’t just about RapidRide. Hundreds of thousands of hours were supposed to be directed towards bolstering “core routes” into an actual high-frequency network.

        TransitNow was sold as the first step toward eradicating Metro’s “500 equally crappy routes” system structure, and replacing it with a hierarchical system of highly frequent core routes to get around, supplemented by a handful of lifeline routes that you and I would never use.

        A huge part of the “run time and layover” problem is that Metro’s 500 routes are so badly coordinated that they are each subject to any number of reliability killers: broad demand spikes, arbitrary delays from individual customers, unique traffic incidents. True frequent-service routes even out these spikes and increase reliability even in the absence of other priority treatments.

        When we hiked our own sales taxes in 2006, Metro was supposed to fix this problem. It never did. And so now the run times are “brutal”.

      7. What the powers that be don’t realize (the schedulers do, but it seems clear that they aren’t driving these changes) is that the usefulness of layover time as a driver break is proportional to the length of the layover after the first ten minutes. Even for routes that run more or less on time, ten minutes is just enough time to make up minor delays and run to the bathroom. You usually can’t rest or eat until around minute 11.

        So when layovers are reduced from 19 to 14 minutes (which is the sort of thing I’m seeing a lot on these run cards) it makes a huge difference in driver stress levels and alertness, as well as reliability.

      8. The problem with Metro’s obsession with clock-face half-hourlies* is that the layover time is dictated not by driver need but by the length of the route and the standard degree of delay along the route.

        When I lived on Queen Anne, I noticed any number of 13 and 2 trips that wound up with 35-, 40-, or even 45-minute layovers. And 17 or 48 that is on-time will have a ridiculously long layover as well.

        With all due respect to the many good and competent drivers whom I have encountered in my time here, and for whom I wish only good working conditions and generous compensation, that is a needlessly generous break to get after every hour-long run and an insane waste of resources.

        It sounds like the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, at least on some routes, and now the scant recovery time is giving drivers short shrift. But again, consolidating resources into high-frequency corridors smooths out demand spikes, so less of that recovery time will be wasted on schedule recovery, and more can be reliably devoted to stress recovery.

        *or even clock-face better-than-half-hourlies; many systems have no trouble running high-demand routes at 9 or 11 or 14 minutes if that meets riders’ needs better than exactly 15 or 20

      9. d.p., even under good conditions, those breaks of more than half an hour were typically given just once in a full-time piece of work, not after every trip. For example, one of my favorite pieces of work I drove in 2004 — one that was over nine hours long but kept me relaxed and at my best all day — on the 71/72/73 went something like this:

        Deadhead to Jackson Park
        Inbound 73 local – ~14 minutes at IDS
        Outbound 71 express – ~19 minutes at Wedgwood
        Inbound 71 express – ~17 minutes at IDS
        Outbound 72 express – ~25 minutes at Lake City
        Inbound 72 express – ~19 minutes at IDS
        Outbound 73 express – ~42 minutes at Jackson Park
        Inbound 73 express – Road relief at IDS

        The 25-minute break was great for recovering more than halfway through the shift and for buying a snack at Fred Meyer. The 42-minute break was gravy and not really necessary, but there was only one. (And those are all gone now, at least from the 70s.)

      10. That actually sounds like a reasonable, varied set of breaks over the course of your shift. You got some decent downtime and recovery in — including that 42-minute break, which you certainly deserved and needed by then.

        It was because you were driving the imperfectly-interlined-but-at-least-they-tried 71-73, and because you didn’t drive the same leg every single trip, that this was possible.

        But look what happens if you drive a line like the 17 and 27. Every one of those mid-day trips has a 35-40 minute layover at the 17 end and a 15-20 minute layover at the 27 end. Every one! That’s an awful lot of laying over!

        (And yes, I know that the 17 is going away in two days; it’s just the example with which I was most familiar. Thanks to the nature of half-hourlies, there are many, many other examples.)

      11. By contrast, one relief run I remember for being particularly horrible, on the old 7… and the differences would be subtle to an outsider, or maybe to a top manager!

        Road relief at 5th and Jackson
        Northbound 7 to U-district – ~14 minutes
        Southbound 9 to Rainier Beach – ~20 minutes
        Northbound 9 to U-district – ~14 minutes
        Southbound 7 to Rainier Beach – ~18 minutes
        Northbound 7 to U-district – ~21 minutes
        Southbound 7 to Prentice Street – ~18 minutes at Rainier Beach
        Northbound 7 to Aloha Street (owl) with 10-minute CBD layover
        Deadhead to base

        Making the second Rainier Beach layover 38 minutes instead of 18 would have made all the difference in the world and made me a much more effective driver.

    1. Hello from your new neighbor in South Park! The 60 now gets me all the way to a West Seattle grocery store. Hooray!

      Well, except on weekends, when the southbound stop on the 132 for South Park is at “3rd Ave S & S Main St”.

  2. In all my complaining about the inadequacies of the RapidRide, especially RR D, I failed to realize a another fatal flaw: with the RR D through routed to RR C, and the changing of the 18 route through Fremont and SLU as the 40 (something which I do love btw), Ballard has lost all forms of one seat, direct rides to the stadium area.

    Some people might dismiss this as selfishness, which it partially is, but on gamedays for Sounders, Seahawks and Huskies this year, the 15 and 18 routes are usually jam packed full of people for hours before the game and right after the game. Now, we will all have to transfer or walk from Columbia. This is all because Metro doesn’t want to spend the time or resources to establish a layover spot for the RR C or D, something that would also immensely help the ontimeness of both routes. Why not a layover around Seattle Center for the RR C and the stadium area for RR D? *end selfish rant*

    1. It is not because they “doesn’t want to spend the time or resources to establish a layover spot” but because of the significant schedule efficiencies crated by through routing. If, as you suggest, they route the two lines so they overlap downtown, you have at least an extra 10 minutes of scheduled driving time plus the extra layover time. Call that 20 minutes or more per trip and at over 100 trips per day you’re looking at at least $10,000 in extra operating costs per day (assuming $10/hr operating cost).

      With 3rd Ave being the busiest transit corridor Downtown, finding a bus to transfer to should only take a minute or two if you’re not already sandwiched between routes that continue to or near Royal Brougham.

      1. That time savings may as well exist when the routes debut, but it seems to me that it will all but vanish when the viaduct isn’t there. RapidRide on Alaskan to Columbian will prove a mistake, even moreso with Ballard getting screwed in the process.

        You can’t leave Pioneer Square out of a transit line to Ballard! It’s shortchanging the neighborhood. What about a connection to King Street? It’s ridiculous.

      2. Those time savings will still exist. Just driving a C Line bus all the way to Queen Anne to park it takes a long time. And my math is wrong; should use a $25 or more per hour operating cost, which puts it between $8k and 10k per day.

    2. Running both the C and D lines along 3rd Ave would mean less frequency on each route, since Metro couldn’t afford more RapidRide buses. It also means more congestion, creating a vicious feedback loop increasing the travel time of every downtown bus route. As much as possible, routes serving downtown need to be coupled (except in the tunnel, where buses need to keep up with the trains).

      1. “As much as possible, routes serving downtown need to be coupled”

        Rubbish. Through-routing is a tradeoff between cost and reliability. Right now, Metro can’t afford to not through-route C & D, but their long-term goal should be to split them. RapidRide is supposed to be a premium service which runs reliably (so much so, you won’t need a schedule!). I also share Ryan’s concerns about the post-2016 Columbia pathway which Seattle is pushing.

        There are capacity issues with some of the zones on 3rd, but that’s not an intractable problem.

      2. Bruce, through-routing can also be advantageous if it creates new connections. We have spent a lot of time bemoaning the lack of a Pioneer Square connection to RR D, but (for example) the RR C/D pairing created a new, faster connection from West Seattle to LQA. That can benefit people too — such as my mom, who lives in West Seattle, regularly goes to LQA for a whole host of reasons, and is excited about the change.

        Whether it works depends on just how bad the effect on reliability is. I’d expect C/D to be middling in that respect, and somewhat better than the service it’s replacing because it doesn’t have to fight its way through Sodo.

      3. …Or, Metro could actually lift a finger to get each leg of a journey in this city to be non-teeth-pulling, such that the idea of a transfer doesn’t horrify everyone.

        You can’t build quick one-seat connections to everywhere.

    3. It’s not documented, but you actually have a one-seat ride to get down there. The 40 lays over at 6th and Atlantic by Central Base. I assume it probably uses E-3 to get there, and would thus stop at E-3 and Royal Brougham.

      1. I should have expanded on my mention of the 40. While yes, it is a one seat ride, it’s now a milk bus though Fremont and SLU and not very direct to downtown. It would be quicker to take the RR D and walk to the stadiums.

    4. Far be it from me to defend Metro’s unbelievably poor implementation of the restructure, but the 40 actually does run all the way to 4th Ave S, providing the one-seat ride to the stadiums that you desire.

      I’m told that it lays over by the Stadium Link station, so maybe drivers will even let Mariners fans stay on the bus past the last official stop at Jackson.

      If course, none of this is useful for getting home from evening games, when the 40 is freaking hourly.

      1. Ah, David got there before I hit refresh.

        So, yeah, what he said.

        Great for getting there; #%&@ing hourly afterward.

      2. David L says above that it lays over where the 41 does. Since you are allowed to ride the 41 out of the tunnel on trips that lay over there, there’s no reason to think you shouldn’t be able to do so on the 40.

      3. In any case where there isn’t a safety problem with getting off at a layover (like at CPS or in transit centers), Metro allows riders to ride there. The driver or the OBS may say “Last stop” at Jackson. If so, just tell the driver you want to ride to Royal Brougham and he/she will be fine with that.

    5. With gameday traffic, the bus wouldn’t be able to go much faster between Columbia and the stadium than a person anyway. Those that can walk will walk. Those that can’t will have to wait 1-2 minutes for another bus. Not the end of the world.

      In designing a transit network, it is not reasonable to expect one seat rides to everywhere. For instance, getting to neighborhoods like Phinney Ridge, Green Lake, and Greenwood from Ballard all require either a transfer or a mile+ walk. And these are trips that lots of people make every day, in contrast to stadium trips which the typical person does only a few times year.

    6. So after the UW game last night (go Huskies btw!), I caught the 15 at the 4th and Jackson stop, as I do after any Seattle sports home game. It’s hard to imagine the sea of people heading to Ballard walking up to Columbia to hopefully sync with a bus that allegedly will “come so often you don’t need a schedule” or wait up to an hour for the new 40 bus to come and then wind its way through downtown, SLU, Fremont to Ballard and beyond.

      Metro has shot themselves in the foot and I think there will be a lot of disgruntled sports transit riders from Ballard (of which there are a lot) come next Seahawks, Sounders or Huskies home game.

      1. I think the C and D lines are supposed to run every 15 minutes until 11 P.M. every night. For most sports games, that should be good enough, as long as so many people don’t try to use it that you get passed by. If the game is still going after 11, though, getting home will be a problem. But a half-hourly D-line to ballard is still better than most other places where the bus runs hourly at best.

      2. Also, I realized that the RR D leaves on Columbia. It enters downtown at Seneca (until the viaduct comes down), which is about a mile walk. Or hope that you can get on another bus, which will just sit in traffic for awhile. At least with the 15/18 you will sit in traffic, but you know you are on the bus home.

  3. For Martin and others considering taking the 60: Enjoy the VA knot (if it has been extended to weekends), the South Park Figure Eight, and the Arrowhead Gardens knot (which *is* being extended to weekends), brought to you by Wallace Properties.

    But if you are coming from Capitol Hill and trying for speed, may I suggest the two-seat ride transfering to the 120 downtown?

    1. Yes, the 120 is much faster, and the Trip Planner wouldn’t even show me a 60 result until I twice modified the arrival time by 5 minutes. But my main interest is seeing what’s happening in neighborhoods I rarely visit. Arrowhead Gardens, is that the apartment complex in the Olson-Meyers P&R? That’s one thing I specifically wanted to see since ppl have talked about it so much. And I wanted to see the approach to Westwood Village, where I’ve never been. Ironically, I’ll be going through the VA loop twice, on the 60 and 50. That was unintentional; I experienced the VA loop a few weeks ago on the 39. But it happened to work out that way.

      1. If the purpose of the 50 is to connect two very-low-ridership tails with each other, what’s the point of having it go through SODO? Granted, when the new area opens, it will make sense, at least on game days.

        But now, I fail to see the point. What trip could you possibly make by connecting to the 50 in SODO that would get you where you want to go faster than connecting at either Columbia City Station or West Seattle Junction (or taking Link to Beacon Hill station and walking or doing none of the above and just riding the #36 from downtown)? If the answer is none, why don’t we save operating costs by simply expressing the #50 through the SODO viaduct, rather than meandering it on the surface streets?

      2. The 50 has a lot of tradeoffs. But at least it’s an attempt to make a crosstown route out of two routes that were redundantly going downtown (and the 56 had no transfer to Link except downtown). I wouldn’t have added the VA loop, but instead pressured the VA to improve its connectivity to the 36 on Beacon Ave. Somebody recently suggested splitting the 60, which might in the future allow a Westwood Village – South Park – South Beacon Hill – Othello – Seward Park – Genesee – Columbia City route to replace the east half of the 50. But I don’t know if Metro has thought about that yet. If the 50 turns out to be a weak route, it will probably get into the next south Seattle reorganization dice-roll.

  4. Hey, Mike Orr!!

    While I’m not sure I would have the patience to circumnavigate the entire city and deal with all of Metro’s first-day hiccups and the endless delays from confused and hapless rider questions, I might like to hop on when you pass through Ballard on the 40, just to say “hi” and to try that route out.

    Would you be able to post from a mobile device when you know which 40 you’ll be on? It would be ideal to do so before you even get off the D, so that I’ll have time to catch the post and make it to the stop.

    See you Saturday, perhaps?

    1. Charles, how big is the gaggle? I got on a not-particularly-full 40 that I guessed would be the correct one. Currently passing through Fremont (2:04 pm).

    2. DP, sorry, I left my phone at home. There were five of us. The routes are as mediocre as you feared, although I didn’t actually experience a 5-minute traffic light (but I was going northbound). The 60 didn’t do the VA loop, but it did do the Arrowhead Gardens loop (where two women in wheelchairs got on). We skipped the 50: it was too much to do the C/D/40 and the 50 in one day, although Charles rode it partway since his house is on the way.

      There was hardly any confusion with pay as you enter. The door has a sign saying so, the bus stops in the tunnel say so. There’s an exit rear automated announcement, the back doors have little “Exit” stickers, and somebody said he saw an arrow on the ceiling pointing toward the rear door.

      Westwood Village station doesn’t have an ORCA reader, oops. And many if not all of the ORCA readers at other stations weren’t activated; they had red hoods on them. So that part isn’t quite ready yet, so we couldn’t try off-board payment. Two fare inspectors got on somewhere; I don’t remember where, but it seemed ironic because we’d all paid at the driver so the inspectors were redundant.

      The northbound C/D was most crowded from Alaska Junction to Virginia Street, with lots of people standing. Not many people got on downtown, which I was surprised at, but there were a few standees by the time we got to Ballard.

      1. Fare inspectors got on Elliott and got off right before the Magnolia bridge. I have some issues with the behavior of the Metro fare inspectors and if I see it continue I will be filing formal complaints.

        The trip from Westwood Village to Holman RD QFC took about 1.5 hours.

      2. So I’m not sure how I missed you guys! My (relatively on-time) 40 had been scheduled to come down Holman right at the time Charles posted. But there didn’t appear to be any chatty “group” on the vehicle.

        Was your 40 on time, or late? If you were on a late bus, perhaps you were just a few minutes ahead of me, and perhaps that would explain why I had such a delightfully fast ride!

        My 40 made it from Ballard and Market to 3rd and Bell in all of 19 minutes, which was an amazing surprise. We sailed right by a backed-up Ballard bridge approach, and had mostly ORCA-payers who either understood where the bus went or were able to have it explained to them successfully in just a few words. RapidRide ate our dust.

        The only slow part of the trip was the last 6 blocks in Belltown; that’s when all of the cash-fumblers appeared.

        I wouldn’t count my chickens, though. Traffic was light along the route, and lights were on our side. On most days, I’m sure the trip will be similar in length to the former 17, and perhaps worse when NSCC and Aurora bottlenecks and increased demand from being the only service on busy 24th Ave NW come into play. Still, it will be nice to never fight the Nickerson overpass again.

        While running errands and failing to connect with you guys downtown, I popped my head into University Street station to refill my monthly pass, and wound up deciding to hop on a bus to Convention Place. As Mike says, PAYE did not prove to be a problem. It helped that every single person getting on my UW-bound bus had an ORCA. And it was expeditious for all to get let off the back at Convention Place (contrary to prior “one-door when PAYE” policies downtown).

        My errands were geographically scattered enough, and the afternoon nice enough, that I didn’t catch another bus until 6:30, by which point I was at Mercer and Queen Anne. And that’s when the day went downhill.

        By this point, OneBusAway was working… for every single route except RapidRide. The digital displays at the LQA “station” (which is big enough to protect perhaps 2.75 people from future rain and wind) told me only that the bus was coming “every 15 minutes”. Helpful! The ORCA readers, as you know, were not yet working.

        In the end, a bus came in only 9 or 10 minutes, and it was already quite full (i.e. at least 20 people standing — what a Seattleite might even describe as “packed”). I couldn’t help but be reminded that this service was originally supposed to be every 10 minutes, 7 days a week, and that the demand for real frequency actually exists.

        Although the driver tried to be generous with his gas pedal, the trip up 15th was infuriating. We had cash-fumblers and bike-loaders galore. We had lots of trouble pulling out into traffic, especially at Dravus. And best of all, we got passed by a 32! “Rapid” my ass.

        Oh, and nearly half the bus got off at Market and started walking west toward actual Ballard. Because that is the kind of place where people who use transit actually want to go!

        I wound up going out again later in the evening. While I was able to connect to RapidRide using 40s and 61s in both directions (by sheer luck), I was struck anew by just how unpleasant it is to wait in the dark, by a pile of manure, with literally no idea when the bus will come, and how offensive it is to be asked to walk significantly further to do that.

        My later trip involved a broken “stop request” system — “Please come to the front so I know you want off” — among other little hilarities.

        But crucially, my later trip also involved many fewer riders than I’m used to seeing on the evening 18s. Could it be that people in “sprawl Ballard” mostly commuted on the former 15, while people in “urban Ballard” used the 18 all the time (like I’ve been saying all along)?

        I also noticed an unusual amount of traffic and circling-for-parking in central Ballard last night. Could it be that people looked at the night schedules people, decided “fuck this”, and returned to their cars?

        The trip from Westwood Village to Holman RD QFC took about 1.5 hours.

        Congrats! You averaged 12 mph, on a route with many miles of highway or highway-like running! “Rapid”!!

      1. There are no zone boundaries on RapidRide. The C Line terminates right on the White Center border.

        Sounds like, on top of the crappy transit and the fountain of bullshit Metro is spewing to excuse its incompetence, we now have to deal with poorly-trained assholes on power trips.

        I’m so thrilled!

      2. Yes, my experience with the Metro fare enforcement team was ‘unpleasant’ even though I was in full compliance and in the company of witnesses.

        If I experience this again, I WILL be taking names, badge numbers and filing formal complaints.

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