zargoman/Flicrk

One week into the new Metro service concept, what have we learned?

  • Some people are disappointed with RapidRide, as  predicted a few weeks ago.
  • The opening week of downtown payment has caused delays, as predicted a few weeks ago.
  • Big service changes create both winners and losers, and those losers (and those who simply don’t like change) will complain, as observed in every governmental process ever.

There is no new information to inform a change in policy. Well, there is one mild surprise, anecdotes of RapidRide C demand above capacity. Fortunately, that has the most obvious remedy — adding buses — that Metro has already addressed, very much helped by the fact that RapidRide doesn’t have published schedules.

To abandon the plan, however, as Reagan Dunn suggested Thursday in reference to the ride free area, is premature. It makes sense for the King County Council and Metro to develop contingency plans if the problems don’t improve — although reinstating the RFA is not the choice I would make. Of course, the improvements I wanted to see in August I still want to see. Nevertheless, let’s give the changes an opportunity to work, and wait for the data about which service changes are putting riders in seats and which aren’t.

144 Replies to “Let’s Not Jump To Conclusions”

  1. Thanks for offering some level-headed reason here. One irony of this week has been that many nay-sayers (especially in West Seattle) are complaining loudest about buses being too crowded. This indicates that the restructure is working – but too well.

    I’m aware of the added peak trips to RR C, but does Metro have contingency funds to address new overcrowding issues on other routes as well (I’m thinking of the 120)?

    1. Perhaps overcrowding is not due to the restructure working too well, but due to there being far fewer buses?

      On the core part of RR C – Alaska Junction to Downtown – there used to be 6 express buses per hour minimum throughout the day (4 x 54, 2 x 55); there is now just 4 per hour (RR C) outside of peak times. These reduced number of buses how have to take additional riders from other discontinued services (56 outside peak, 22 to downtown, 54X).

      In may be that this route was over-serviced before, and moving services to (say) 21 and the new 50 will result in better overall efficiency. If so, Metro could have done a better job of pro-actively getting that message out rather than implying that C is a step up leading inevitably to disappointed riders.

  2. My anecdotal experience so far leads me to believe the loaders cause more problems than they solve. Commuters are a pretty organized bunch, mostly have ORCA cards, and load pretty quickly. They also tend to be pretty pushy about tapping an ORCA card even when there is a slow cash payer at the fare box, so I end up closing the back door and waiting with my front door open until the coaches in front of me clear.

    Another key problem I’ve noticed is that buses should be dispatched to Bays in pairs, ideally with inbound coaches in front since they can typically move through the tunnel faster. On my final 550 trip last night, I was behind 3 outbound Bay A coaches and a 218. I can only guess at what was going on up there but based on the long delay, then a bit of movement, and then another long delay, I’d assume the 3rd coach in Bay A wasn’t able to load passengers until they got up to Bay A. That trip out of the tunnel, coincidentally, ran 9 minutes late.

    I’ve been seeing improvements as people get used to the new traffic flow. Unloading buses on formerly pay as you leave trips is very fast and I typically catch up on time.

    I’m sure Metro is feverishly gathering data and will make further changes. Let’s hope somebody in power is seriously considering Proof of Payment – at least in the former RFA – as that would solve all of these problems and move buses through the entire system faster than ever.

    1. From what I saw Monday and Tuesday evening, and based on your report, Velo, I can see that the platooning algorithm is still not being followed. We need to keep reporting it so that re-training can happen until the algorithm is followed. As you point out, one bus out of order can delay all the buses in one direction caught behind it by nine minutes. Indeed, this seems to be a fairly precise amount of delay caused by one bus entering out of order, based on the numbers reported Monday and Tuesday.

      I’m not ready to give up on the loaders. I just think they need to cluster better. There really need to be three loaders at the northbound Westlake platform, and four at the southbound Westlake platform, so that every loading bus has a loader, and every loader has a zone they stick to instead of trotting up and down the platform. Pick one station (Westlake), max out the number of loaders there, and I think the commuters who use that station will start realizing they can board at the rear door.

      For 3rd Ave, same thing. Have *two* loaders at each of the heaviest stops (since any 3rd bus has to pull forward and open its doors again anyway), even if that means pulling a loader away from another stop. One loader working alone, and running back and forth between buses, is not working. Keep having two loaders consistently at that stop, and I think the riders will start clueing in to their presence.

      1. An obvious caveat here: My view is extremely limited given that I operate only one trip with loaders present during rush hour. Ideally Metro and Sound Transit are collecting video feeds of the platforms to pour over and figure out how to fine tune it.

        Another observation about the loaders: I had Tuesday evening off and spoke with the loader at Westlake Bay D. He’s very organized and good with customers but watching him try to scan ORCA cards was very frustrating. The handheld readers are slower and fussier than the bus/curb mounted readers. People have to have their card out and lay it flat on the reader to get them to read correctly.

      2. They ought to take one of the RapidRide ORCA readers, mount it on a pole on a handtruck, and wheel them out by the back door. The loader would set the zone with the handheld device while passengers tap like on Link.

        They do something similar with the Water Taxi, with a farebox on a handtruck.

      3. As one whob works as a loader, I will echo observations that their use and distribution is inefficient at best; and that the hand-held readers work so poorly that sometimes passengers finish loading at the front door while others are still qued at the back door. Loading this way also makes it harde for operators to make room inside the bus by asking passengers to move to the rear.

      4. Why not have ORCA readers by the second and third door on the bus (like in many European tram systems). Then all riders except cash payers can enter at any door at any stop.

        When a fare inspection starts, the readers could be disabled to prevent freeloaders from tapping in.

    2. I keep my card in a wallet in a small purse, and occasionally it takes two swipes to get it to work. On a loader, that upped to something like 10 swipes…

      1. The key is to hold it still. “Swipes” and “Tap” imply motion which I can assure you slows down the process. Sadly, Metro doesn’t appear to have any user education on the subject.

      2. A simple sticker saying “hold here” placed over the current ORCA reader logo would do. Some drivers have employed Sharpies to add arrows pointing to the logo. For my own part, its become routine to say “just s bit slower is all,” and occasionally “don’t wiggle”. “That’s what she said” also comes to mind, but not to voice.

      3. The loader’s reader just didn’t seem to work well enough to read the card through the purse, so I had to take my wallet out. That wasn’t precisely the main issue with that ride, though – the bus had technical issues for a couple minutes, another D behind us lapped us, and I finally gave up and got off to take the 15E. The D bus I left did manage to pull out first, but we beat both it and the D that lapped it to Market – though not by as much as I’d expected, it was a race.

        Anyway, not a best first impression. The D coming back towards Seattle was a very nice ride, though, and did do a night stop at the old stop like I’d hoped.

    3. That’s an interesting point — what happened in the tunnel sometimes was that the bus would be loaded, then two or three people ran to the platform, and the loader beeped their ORCA cards to bring them in. This would add 10-20 seconds dwell time.

      1. The loader strategy is completely ineffective, at least as long as the equipment (hand held scanners) are so inefficient. They work fine on County issued cards, but are slow on consumer-grade ORCA cards. While I enjoy the customer contact aspect of Loader duty, functionally it’s a pretty obvious wash.

  3. We don’t seem to have these problems at Kent Station and we don’t have RFA. At some point one may simply have to say that these are the downsides of too much density, and a tradeoff that people make and employers have to bear is that is their choice. The whole world can’t come to a halt and put a Band-Aid on their boo boo if there are solutions like relocating to a less crowded path of town!

    1. *or* stop running express buses down to Kent, when we already have a high-capacity passenger train, with some empty seats and room to stand, running in that direction. Then, we’ll have more room on downtown Seattle streets for Seattle buses.

      Oh, and run buses to other parts of Kent not well served by Sounder out of Rainier Beach Station.

      Metro has focused on eliminating the 1/4-empty buses, but not gone after the duplicative buses. The platform hours spent on duplicate-head express buses can be pointed to as a direct cause of overcrowding on Seattle buses.

      1. That should work just dandy.
        Let’s see, over half the S.Sounder riders take a bus to King St., walk to the Sounder Stn, then cram them all onto one of 7 trains between 3:15-6:16pm with everyone else.
        Why take a one seat ride bus, when you can bus-walk-wait-Sounder-then wait for a bus up the hill for that quick little trip to Kent – Oh, and pay more for the privilege.
        Did I miss anything?
        Trains are great when they don’t screw you too badly on the transfer/inconvenience/cost per trip for your customers. There’s a reason all those Kent riders don’t hop on the next freight to Seattle in the morning.

      2. Note: in 2011, 52% of S.Sounder riders took a bus or Link to King St. Station, as opposed to only 34% for N. Sounder. That’s a good indicator of people voting with their feet. In this case, it’s the ‘out of direction travel’ that accounts for the lower number heading north.

      3. That can be preserved if the express buses are redeployed as frequent local feeders and timed with the trains. Truncating the routes at Kent Station would allow a doubling of frequency, and that would help both train riders and people going to other parts of Kent for other reasons.

      4. If your destination is the north part of downtown, whether the vehicle that takes you through downtown is the same or different from the vehicle that took you to downtown from Kent, it doesn’t really matter – you still have to go through downtown, and travel time through downtown is going to be equally slow either way. The only extra time from having to transfer is the wait time, the the combined bus/train headways in the tunnel are on the order or every 2 minutes. This is negligible compared to the travel time advantage the train has over the bus in getting from Kent to downtown Seattle in the first place.

        Yes, some people do choose to ride the bus because the fare for the bus is cheaper. But that fare difference has nothing to do with actual operating costs. Unless we’re prepared to dump the entire south Sounder line, the marginal cost of carrying an extra busload of passengers on a train that’s running anyway is zero. Whereas the marginal cost of running an extra bus trip from Kent to Seattle is over $100.

        If the express buses between Kent and Seattle that duplicate the sounder are going to run at all, they should charge higher, not lower fares compared to what the Sounder charges. Although, honestly, I think those buses are a waste of money and should simply be shuttles that truncate at the Sounder station. The saved money could be reinvested in a way that would benefit Kent residents. For example, the express trips to downtown that currently duplicate the Sounder could be moved to shoulder or midday trips that operate when the Sounder isn’t running, thereby providing a real added value. Or they could be converted into event shuttles that get people home from weekday Mariner’s games. Lots more people in Kent would consider riding Sounder to a game if they didn’t have to take the super-slow 150 back at 11:00 at night.

      5. @ Nat & ASDF on forced transfers for Kent riders.
        We’re talking about people, not your FedEx packages. They good reasons for not jumping off the 158 in the morning for a quicker ride to KSS. The ones that choose to stay on do so, knowing their bus enters Seattle in the middle of the CBD, loops around Pine, then travels south to KSS. Now the times are less than 10 minutes different for Univ/2nd, and less if you jump off at 4th/Seneca.
        Sounder dumps you at Jackson, then you have to race 400 other riders to cram into full Metro buses to get mid-town, or walk to the tunnel for a Link train. Your time is now longer, and you have the hassle of giving up your warm seat to uncertain cattle chutes in the wind/rain/cold much of the year.
        Plus Sounder cost the rider more. Plus Sounder cost more to operate per rider (marginal cost is not zero, as dumping the buses would require more longer trains/day. The 158 is costing Metro $5.79 for the whole trip. Sounder is costing ST $11.62 per trip – double. Those re-deployed bus costs don’t all go away.
        Why is a faster trip, with fewer crew per riders on board cost twice as much as a bus? Nathaniel hit the nail on the head. There’s a bunch of crap accounting going on here to bury a bunch of fixed costs that can’t be explained – especially to the newly screwed Kent rider that is filling up a supposedly ‘free’ seat.

      6. “We’re talking about people, not your FedEx packages. They good reasons for not jumping off the 158 in the morning for a quicker ride to KSS.”

        Why should Lake Meridian have a special express that west SeaTac doesn’t? The worst part of these expresses is that they’re arbitrary: one neighborhood gets extraordinary service while a dozen similar neighborhoods don’t. And the express doesn’t help you if you’re going to Auburn or Bellevue instead of downtown Seattle. The 158/159 and similar routes are taking a ton of service hours that could make the 169 and 180 frequent and the 168 Metro-frequent. That would enable people to get more around south King County, which could raise the percentage of local transit trips compared to downtown commutes. It’s not like the people on the downtown expresses are the ones who most want to take transit: it’s just that the others are driving because transit isn’t available or is too infrequent/slow.

      1. There aren’t many cases of businesses relocating to the suburbs nowadays that I can think of. It’s mainly an issue of businesses opening in the suburbs — especially in a non-walkable, non-transit-accessible part of the suburbs — and then staying there forever.

      2. But freeways are “free” because the state and/or federal government will pay for it. Transit, on the other hand, each service hour directly costs the local taxpayers.

      3. The “free” in freeway means limited access, not lack of tolls. Adjacent property owners can’t build driveways to it, so cars can travel “free”ly on it.

      4. But we still have the problem that you can widen freeways and get somebody else’s money to pay for it. But if you want transit, you’ve got to pay for it yourself. Yes, you can sometimes concoct “RapidRide” schemes to get to feds to at least pay for the buses, but in the long term, it’s the labor to operate them that gets you and there’s no federal subsidy for that.

        Imagine if things were flipped. Suppose every city that wanted to widen a freeway had to pay for the full construction cost out of city funds, yet the state and federal government would offer generous subsidies for both capitol and operating costs of more transit. I’ll get we’d see a lot more transit if this were the case.

      5. @asdf: Didn’t something basically like that happen in the Denver suburbs with the E-470? The state and federal government wanted nothing to do with the new freeway, so local governments put together a coalition for a toll road themselves?

        I’m not trying to contradict you here, BTW. I think E-470 is the exception that proves the rule, and obviously with state or federal support it would have happened faster. There are some other cases where a local government owns or controls a freeway, like the Chicago Skyway and some of the eastern states’ turnpikes, but these mostly predate the rise of the current model where the state DOT is the freeway agency and gets as much funding as possible from the feds. Considering a local case, the DBT: Seattle may have voted against trying to block the tunnel, but Seattle wouldn’t in a hundred years have built the thing itself.

    2. Some infrastructure does not scale well to low-density neighborhoods. If downtown Seattle was not so dense, we would never have such awesome communications infrastructure.

      Internet companies like Amazon aren’t locating downtown just to be hip and trendy. They’re doing it because, among other reasons, there is an ungodly amount of fiber under downtown streets, and the biggest internet backbone interconnect in the northwest is at 6th and Virginia. A downtown business can be just one low-latency hop from those backbones, and get a virtually unlimited amount of bandwidth.

      This kind of infrastructure doesn’t scale up well. It’s insanely expensive to build that kind of infrastructure in sprawling suburban areas. But in a dense urban neighborhood, many people and businesses can share the benefits of it

      1. It’s because the city hasn’t installed the fiber optic cable yet on 3rd Ave. It’s coming, and should be ready before the E Line gets christened. We will survive that long.

      2. There are already very nice and useful One Bus Away displays in windows at a couple stops northbound on 3rd.

  4. I am interested to see if ending the RFA ends up saving any money. Ending the ride free area was proposed quite a while ago, maybe 20 years. That proposal was scrapped when Metro came out with a report that said ending the RFA would end up costing them more than they would collecting fares, mostly due to slower service because of longer boarding times. A great deal has changed in a couple decades, but I don’t know if that much has changed.

    I am going to make a prediction: by 2015 the ride free area will return, but ONLY in the transit tunnel. You heard it here first, and maybe last.

    1. Do you happen to know where this report could be found or any details that I could use to try to find it?

  5. I’m rather surprised a blogger, or even commenter from STB hasn’t gone out and ridden the free circulator van and interviewed its riders to and report back on their impressions. I think I might do it myself this weekend. I’ve heard not many people ride it.

    I’d also like to propose someone from STB (since Metro won’t do it) assemble, then publish, Rapid Ride’s schedules. All the information can be found on their union’s website in the form of run cards.

    1. The free circular service only runs on weekdays, during the day.

      Metro is shifting the RapidRide schedule to add a couple more buses, so the pick cards really only reflect working hours, not arrival timepoints. As Martin pointed out, being schedule free is turning out to be a blessing for RapidRide riders due to allowing this flexibility.

      1. Metro’s press release only mentioned additional buses on RR-C. Will these new buses be turning back downtown, or continuing on a RR-D? if so, how far up 3rd will they go?

      2. You don’t need to not publish schedules in order to fine tune service. Metro in the past has added buses after service changes created overloads. They just created updated schedules.

        The apologists for this no-published-schedule nonsense are amazing.
        Don’t use a schedule if you don’t want to, but don’t deny everyone else the schedule.

      3. I also can’t see how adding a measly 2 trips is in any way contingent on a schedule. Schedule corrections happen all the time. Besides, they could easily have a schedule that reads “comes every 8-9 minutes” for the peak while providing the much desired off peak schedule when service is only 15min.

      4. Run card time points are pretty much 100% inaccurate, as we’re focused on headway as we operate RR.

      5. The point though is to give people a point of reference with projected travel times to help plan their trips. A schedule with the “estimated time only” markings we see on many other timetables would allow metro the flexibility it needs while allowing the customer to glance at the timetable and get a sense for how long a trip that starts around a certain time will takes between point A and point B. The current printed timetable doesn’t tell you how long trips take NOR what time they are scheduled for. “Your trip may take 20-35 minutes and you might have to wait 0-15 minutes” is not helpful, yet that is precisely what we are giving passengers.

      6. “Rapid”Ride isn’t frequent enough to run on headway, unfortunately.

        That’s your basic problem right there….

      7. The added buses have been run as “specials”. They are dispatched to First and Warren (by Display and Costume) and sent out as needed. RR coordinators have the option of plugging these extra buses in where and when they are most needed. RR operators NW have the authorization to pass the leading RR bus without getting permission first, although if the operator is paying attention to their headway to begin with, I’m unclear on how they would catch up to their leader at all. Hasn’t happened to me yet.

      8. The projected peak travel time, with more time points, would be a rather useful addition to the RapidRide brochures. But no, Metro hasn’t been in the habit of publishing updated schedules in the middle of a pick as far as I have seen. They also don’t correct maps for re-routes that are going to happen for the duration of multiple picks. I could threaten not to vote for transit taxes again until Metro hires Oran as their head of cartography, but what would that accomplish besides making me look like a bully?

    2. I thought I heard that it was a weekday only service?

      Everything I’ve read recentlty about the free circulator is that it’s some sort of a charity service for the poor, with the subtle implication that no one else should use it.

      That would be a change from what the advance word was, only a month or so ago.

      1. Thanks for that. I didn’t know it was a weekday only. And if they only want homeless and poor people riding it, I won’t ride it.

      2. Well, there’s not going out and directly saying “if you’re not homeless or poor, you’re not welcome”, but by advertizing the circulator as a service for the poor, that’s effectively what they are saying.

        And if you think waiting for a 15-minute-headway bus is bad without a schedule, no one who isn’t really poor is going to wait or a 30-minute-headway bus without a schedule, watching 10 or more regular buses go by that could do the trip just to save $2 of bus fare.

        The only way anyone who is not dirt poor is ever going to ride this thing is if they’re waiting for a regular Metro bus and, by shear luck, happen to see the circulator bus come first.

      3. For commuting purposes, the free circulator is pretty much useless. But as a route I think this thing has more interesting possibilities than folks give it credit for.

        As I understand it, this is a route that goes past almost all of First Avenue, goes through Belltown and the old Film Row on 2nd for a couple of blocks, gives a good glimpse of the booming development around the Dennny Triangle and Vulcanland, crosses over to First Hill and even gets darn close to the ID and Pioneer Square. Technically, I think that this route is can be viewewd as an amazing tour through Seattle.

        Of course, the needs of poor folks and people visiting health agencies, etc. is the most important thing to address here. But if some Downtown person or group ever wanted to promote Seattle by adding buses and more stops to this free circulator… that wouldn’t be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

      4. The one-way loop severely limits the usefulness of the free circulator, as does the prospect of waiting up to 30 minutes with absolutely no idea when the bus will show up until you see it coming. Yes, people who are both dirt poor and unable to walk might put up with a half-hour wait to take them from Belltown to Pioneer Square via Harborview just to save $2 on a regular bus fare. Everyone else, however, is just going to walk, bike, drive, or take either a regular bus or a taxi.

  6. I’m actually fine with the RFA gone. Rather than bringing it back I think they should instead push for more universal Orca adoption which includes getting rid of the $5 fee, having a disposable/recyclable version for tourists and infrequent riders, and a big cash payment penalty (rounding up to the next $ should do it and also reduce change fumbling with cash payers). The real goal should be reducing cash payment.

    I do think that Metro should give up on the fiction that a bus running on 15 minute frequencies is “so frequent you don’t need a schedule.” It also seems like exiting at the back isn’t a priority for anyone. Every bus I was on this week had both doors open with no announcement or front door only opening unless someone requested the back door.

    1. “It also seems like exiting at the back isn’t a priority for anyone”

      Getting people to use that back door is challenging. I still have people crowding near the front since they are used to exiting the front door. This, despite the fact that the area around the back door is easier to maneuver in, has wider doors, and mostly won’t have people trying to get on the bus waiting at the curb. My passengers are figuring it out but I’m having to work hard at it using PSAs and PA announcements. Even then, there are times where using the front door to exit is the right thing to do. Unloading a packed commuter bus only at the back door would be insane. That said, many of my passengers still reflexively walk all the way up from the articulated section, even though turning around and exiting the back door would be faster.

      We have a long learning curve ahead of us, but I’m hopeful we will get there. Really, the only problems I have are with loading procedures while loaders are there. Part of that comes from the crowds and delays, other problems are caused by inconsistencies in how the loaders do their jobs. Hopefully, training will address those soon, or management will look into PoP.

      1. I’m not surprised riders would be slow to adapt but I was surprised that on the buses I’ve been on the driver hasn’t even bothered to suggest that people leave by the back.

      2. How are things working out for riders who want to transfer from a bus that’s pulling up behind another bus or two?

        I guess maybe that’s something that should be discouraged during rush hour. It definitely takes time for folks to walk/hustle from a back door of one bus to the front door of a bus that’s paused but may be almost ready to leave (unless there’s a loading delay on the target bus).

      3. The problem in my mind is partly habit but the major systematic probablem is that there is no middle door. This is a great example of mismatching policy and long term capital planning (or lack there of).

      4. A pointless exercise engaged in only by petty control freaks nostalgic about being able to harass fare evaders. Nevertheless there does appear to be a new class of rugged individualist hell-bent o exiting through the front door even at busy downtown stops; even against heavy PSA and driver prompts,

      5. “The problem in my mind is partly habit but the major systematic probablem is that there is no middle door”

        I’ve been singing the praises of 3rd doors on buses since my time at Atlantic base. RapidRide further cemented my opinion that Metro and Sound Transit should never purchase another articulated bus with only 2 doors. The extra 2-4 seats are not worth it. People in procurement need to get over the fantasy that everybody gets a seat.

      6. Drivers also need to adopt what I’m calling “the O.A.D.A.strategy”. Open All Doors Always. As a loader I’ve observed some pretty bad bus driver behavior in this regard downtown.

      7. Got my first customer complaint of the shakeup on this very issue. Thing is, I remember the incident. The customers started shouting “back door” before the bus had come to a complete stop. On some buses there is also a 2-3 second delay before the back door opens. Patience, people.

    2. All those years of banging people on the head to use the front door have a long-lasting legacy. Metro is reaping what it sowed.

      Plus, the ideal situation really depends on how full the bus is, how many people want to board, and how many are getting off. If there are a lot of standees, it makes sense to exit all doors to clear some space quickly, because it takes significant time to squeeze through the aisle to another door. If a few people are getting off and a lot are getting on, it makes sense to funnel the exiters to the back door. If only one person is getting off and one is getting on, it doesn’t really matter, and sending people to the back when they’re sitting up front is pendantic. We focus on the cases with lots of people entering, but most stops are in the neighborhoods where only one or two get on at a time most of the day.

  7. One thing that I’m wondering – and this is one of those thing that will take some time to determine the permanent impact – is the effect of the new ride spacing for daily commuters. Having to walk an extra three blocks isn’t a big problem if a month ago you only had to walk a block or two to get to the stop. But for those folks who already had to walk 5 blocks or so from their home to the bus stop, if they now have an 8 or 9 block walk twice (or even 4 times) a day every day… it might sort of encourage them to use a car instead. Or eventually move.

    But I guess the new spacing should definitely speed up things right away for those folks who live next to a stop, and also work next to a stop.

    1. Widening the stop spacing is the flip side of faster travel time, so they’re getting something in return. If they’re 9 blocks from a bus stop, it’s pretty certain they’re in a single-family block surrounded by single-family blocks, so they created their own problem. If their neighborhood had supported higher density and more mixed use over the decades, there would be more bus routes with more frequency close to them.

      1. “[S]o they created their own problem”

        Basically you’re saying “these people don’t count, because they like having a yard”.

        It’s no wonder that homeowners think pro-transit people are angry nerds.

    2. It doesn’t matter. Whether the wider stop spacing increases your walk time from 1 block to 3 or 5 blocks to 7, the additional walk time is still two blocks. Two blocks which take exactly the same amount of time whether it’s the only two blocks or not.

      And we shouldn’t even really be thinking of walking distance in terms of blocks. Unless you have a really busy street to cross with a multi-minute red light to wait for, it’s distance that really matters, not blocks.

      1. It’s 3-5 blocks times 2 (or possibly 4) per day. Times 5 per week. Times 50 a year.

        Once a day is an inconvenience, but I think that for a lot of people, multiple inconveniences a day can add up to a reason to pursue other options. Like driving.

      2. “It’s 3-5 blocks times 2 (or possibly 4) per day. Times 5 per week. Times 50 a year. ”

        This is not just an inconvenience. It’s also about being healthy and staying in shape. If you choose to drive because you are too lazy to walk, you have to get your physical activity in more time-consuming ways, such as jogging on the treadmill at the gym. Or just get fat and let your body waste away.

      3. The better stop spacing doesn’t just reduce bus travel time. It also enables more frequency due to the buses on that route being able to complete more runs in the same amount of time.

      4. asdf must think the average American is 24 years old, with a BMI of 19. The average American doesn’t conform to that fantasy and Transit should serve people in various “walks of life”. Expecting people to walk up steep grades is a recipe for low ridership. A middle age person with arthritic knees is not generally classified as disabled but is not likely to walk those long distances twice a day so the bus system can meet some vaunted efficiency target. The bus system will have “failed” its mission to serve its public.

      5. If you try to use the bus system we have today with the constraint that you can’t walk for than a quarter mile and can’t gain more than 10 feet of elevation in that quarter mile, the bus system becomes almost unusable. Nearly every trip would require additional connections and additional waiting, and destinations that are under a mile apart but have no bus route between them would suddenly require either an hour or waits and transfers and going way out of the way, if it can be done at all.

        The problem here is that providing a decent transit experience to people who can’t walk very far is vastly more expensive than providing a decent transit experience to those that can, as you would need far, far more service hours per square mile, a cost that our funding levels simply do not support outside the very narrow areas of downtown and the U-district. Places like New York and Hong Kong are able to do it, but with our limited amount of funding, Seattle simply can’t afford it.

        So, if we accept that it’s too expensive to serve everyone and that some people are always going to drive, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to let the people with mobility difficulties, that are the most expensive to serve well, be the ones that drive, and let people are are able to walk a half mile or a mile to a faster bus – people who are cheaper to serve – be the ones who take transit. And even then, between park-and-rides, kiss-and-rides, and whatever supply of housing right next to major transit hubs exists, you might still be able to serve such less-mobile people for some trips.

  8. The reason people in West Seattle are complaining is because the service was crap. People in the Admiral area got shafted. I ride to work daily since 2010 and this week was the worst I’ve ever encountered. Last night I had a hard time going home to Admiral at Round 7:00 p.m. Finally took the C Line which was standing room only to the junction only to find out 128, 50 to Admiral won’t show up fore 20 minute. I gave up and called my wife to come pick me up. To all of you wonky transit folks on this blog, the complaints from West Seattle was for a god reason. This weeks service was sucked. Also why did Metro assigned drivers who did’t know the route. That part isn’t rocket science. On Monday the driver of # 57 didn’t know that he could use the bus only lane all the way to the end then turn onto the 99 ramp. We were stuck on WS Bridge until he saw other buses passing him and used the lane. West Seattle was fed crap sandwich for service this week but it doesn’t mean we have to like it no matter what the marketing of RR says.

    1. I agree Admiral got shafted, because:
      1) RR C goes way out of the way for Admiral riders;
      2) the 50/128 northbound are unreliable (although in theory they should collectively run every 15 minutes, they are both actually at the end of long convoluted routes, and are totally unpredictable); and
      3) the span of Admiral peak-only service is amazingly short.

      Things like the 57 driver not understanding how to use the bridge will work themselves out. The above things won’t.

      I would suggest that two things need to happen:

      1) an expansion of the 56/57 span to cover the entire real-life commute time, with buses arriving downtown between 5:30 and 10 a.m., and leaving downtown between 3 and 8 p.m.; and
      2) much higher frequency on the 50.

      1. How about a 50 that was simply implemented as a shuttle from Alaska Junction, rather than a 50 that goes through SODO. The way it’s currently set up, a single freight train through SODO means everyone transferring to the 50 at Alaska Junction has to wait and extra 10 minutes.

      2. The 50 also suffers from the VA hospital deviation. In the mornings, those buses can lose 10+ minutes just waiting to get into the parking lot. While waiting for a 50 last week I watched a northbound 60 stop at the produce stand and head for the VA. It had to wait multiple cycles before it could even get into the parking lot and before it got into the lot, another northbound 60 came out of the parking lot–at least 10 minutes behind schedule. So, northbound 60 passengers should get off at the produce stand stop and walked across the street and they might be able to catch the previous 60 and save themselves at least 10 minutes of sitting in slow traffic through the VA parking lot.

      3. The VA knot in the 50 doesn’t bother me. There are Link stations on both sides of it on the 50, so there are ways for every rider on the 50 not going to the VA to not have to go through the VA parking lot.

        The time loss for the 60 is larger because it involves more side turns.

        But lets see how whether riders going to the VA prefer to use the 50 or 60 more.

      4. Since the point of the 50 is the segment east of Admiral, I’d synchronize the 128 with some other route if the 50 isn’t getting 15-minute frequencies. Maybe the 21 can go to Alaska Junction and Admiral instead of providing duplicative service to downtown. Oh wait, RR C is crowded already.

  9. The elimination of the RFA — and, more to the point, the adoption of universal PAYE and the availability of the back door for exit without exception — has been the one unequivocal success of the service change thus far.

    Yes, 3rd Ave and the tunnel have experienced a few hiccups, precisely at 5:00 pm. Both could be drastically reduced with a new push for ORCA adoption. The problems could be eliminated with off-board payment.

    But mostly my trips (once the buses actually come — thanks, insufficient core frequency!) have been revelations of fast-moving, short-dwelling, and light-making. People seem thrilled to get off the back rather than blocking boarders. Simultaneous entrance and exit has altered the cadence of bus movements more quickly than I ever could have dreamed. For the first time in my six years here, buses, imperfect as they may be, work as they do everywhere else on the planet.

    Those who decried the end of the RFA, those who insisted in spite of the evidence that free operations downtown were super-efficient, and compensated for the cumulative delays of PAYL — I’m looking in the direction of a certain The Engineer — have already had their arguments given lie. Everyone else wonders why Metro didn’t make the switch decades ago!

    As for “winners and losers” — the problem is that Ballard as a whole is the loser here. I’m not one to defend those who simply fear change, and if the complaints coming from central Ballard and from west of 24th had only to do with the elimination of the one-seat 17 and the straight-shot 18, I would agree with your dismissiveness.

    But it’s not about that.

    RapidRide, whether or not they add a bus or two in the peak, will still lack the frequency, capacity, and speed to function as the trunk we were sold. Quality of service and breadth of walkshed have a proportional relationship; RapidRide fails the former so abysmally that it arguable shrinks the latter to even less than the former 15’s. At least the 15 had a schedule, and appeared on OneBusAway!

    Now, if I’m standing at the intersection of Leary and 15th, and OneBusAway shows only dummy data for RR, and the pylon is going haywire (8 minutes, 12 minutes, back to 8 minutes, now 15 minutes), I’m going to hop on the 40 that OBA accurately predicts is coming down the pike. Riders at 15th and Market, with it’s “Look Ma, No Pylon!” oopsie, might be going out of their way to avoid RR too. That stop has been surprisingly empty even when no bus has come in a while!.

    The 40 is working pretty well, and accordingly, it is getting packed. But, of course, 40 service jumps off a cliff in the evening. (Not long after, RR service does to.)

    That’s not a story of “winners and losers”. That’s a story of loser service for all, under the blatantly fraudulent mantra of BRT.

    There are no solutions on the horizon. People are rightfully pissed.

    1. The RRD is essentially a slightly enhanced 15 local. Kind of like an old hooker with a new set of fake boobs.

      I think folks in Ballard are justifiably upset by the service reductions.

      1. I don’t know if they did take an hours hit or not – I was thinking about the decline in convenience, reliability, and increased time associated with trips.

      2. With total Ballard-downtown service staying the same in the daytime (8 buses per hour) and during evenings/Sundays (6 buses per hour), yet dropping after 11 (5 buses per hour to 3), and with arcane peak and milk-run routes that shouldn’t count toward the total anyway being swapped out one-for-one (62 for 46, 61 for 75), you’re no doubt looking at a slight reduction in service hours over all.

        But as Kevin says, the felt reduction in convenience has less to do with service hours and more to do with the effectiveness of the new services and their transfers. That effectiveness is nonexistent.

        Walk further, get burned. Try to use a transfer, get burned. Lose-lose.

      3. The “new service concept” in Martin’s corner of the city involved a rail line running every ten minutes until 10:00 at night (and NOT dropping to 30 at 11), employing 100% off-board payment from the moment it opened, and traveling downtown three times faster than anything in that part of the city ever had before.

        It is hardly “jumping to conclusions” to point out that this is not that.

      4. It took at least a year for the A and B line to show up in OneBusAway like all the other buses. I’m sure the C and D lines will eventually come around too. Yes, I’m disappointment that Metro couldn’t get this working from the get-go, but I’m sure it will be fixed eventually.

      5. d.p.,

        You didn’t discover that RR had problems this week. You knew that beforehand, which is my point.

      6. And yet, as Bruce says below, they still managed to bungle the roll-out beyond my lowest expectations!

  10. I’m still appalled that RR D doesn’t have off board fare payment. Ignoring the CBD which Metro has already talked about, none of the stations on RR D appear to have active Orca card readers.. (Although I’m on the D at the moment, and I just noted that there is one that might be active, at least it wasn’t covered by a fabric bag..)

    There also is the issue that there still are stations that are still in the middle of construction (e.g. there has not been new concrete poured, although the old has been removed..) Quite pathetic.

    1. Yeah, the near-total incompleteness of all the enhancements and capital improvements that added value to RapidRide is just mortifying. RapidRide is not real rapid transit — we’ve known that for ages. It’s not even a major improvement in frequency in the places where that’s needed most, but realistically, Metro didn’t have the cash for 10-minute all-day headways. But to not even start building half the station stops until a week before, to not even have broken ground on the Holman terminal loop [as far as I know, haven’t been there for a couple of weeks], to have no real-time arrival for the non-scheduled trips smacks of incompetence.

      1. I rode the D line to Ballard today. I noticed that a few more off board readers had their hoods removed, and the real time info was working (the two I noticed said “Due” as we arrived).
        So things are slowly progressing it seems.
        Why the stops now under construction weren’t completed before service began is a mystery to me. They’ve been planning these routes for ages.

      2. Bruce, can you point me at some info on the Holman terminal loop? My google-fu isn’t brining it up.

        Ironically the fastest part of my RR D ride north today was the temporary routing portion on 85th and 8th…

      3. If Metro’s goal is to make sure that people demand rail rather than buses, the implementation of RapidRide seems to be doing quite well at that.

      4. Nathaniel, I think metro’s goal is to demonstrate that they can’t handle capital projects so they’ll get reassigned to SoundTransit or the local municipality.

        Actually that’d be a great way to get RR E built: contract it to Seattle and Shoreline.

      1. Anyone know why Metro doesn’t provide real-time updates? Is it the same reason they don’t provide timetables – that is, they don’t think rider should have that information?

        Believe me, after waiting for late evening RR buses, a 15 minute headway is not frequent enough that we don’t need a timetable.

        Of course it is possible to build your own RR timetable, but why make it unnecessarily difficult for people who just want to ride the bus and get somewhere at a given time?

        Most of the other fixes necessary to improve RR and its connecting service will cost money and take time to implement. Timetables (online) and real-time info are cheap (free?) to provide and we can start to improve the reputation of RR with riders.

      2. With or without schedules, there is no excuse for not posting real-time arrival data on the RapidRide routes, when it is already available on all the regular routes. I’m sure the buses all have gps (otherwise, how do the automated stop announcements work – I never see the driver manually updating the sign between every stop) and I’m sure metro’s command system knows where their buses are at all times. This is simply a case of multiple computer systems, probably designed by different people, not talking to each other.

      3. Agreed with asdf; what possible reason could there be to not have real-time data for these routes when it exists for all other routes? Huh?

      4. If I’m not mistaken, OBA presents both scheduled and estimated arrival time based on GPS locator data. Is OBA even set up to provide info on buses with no official schedule?

      5. OBA works today with the RapidRide A and B lines, although it took over a year after they launched for this to happen. I was hoping it would work right away for the C and D lines, but I guess I was expecting too much.

  11. Obligatory RapidRide C/D comment:
    The RR C/D route eliminates half of downtown, all of Pioneer Square and the stadium districts. Plus, through routing causes horrible bunching and delays on both ends. Fix those problems and RapidRide becomes a valued asset to the city.

    1. I am sick of the complaints about Pioneer Square and the stadiums. Pioneer Square is a three-minute walk from Columbia and a seven-minute walk from Seneca. To get to the stadiums, there are umpteen bajillion Link trains and tunnel buses directly down the escalator from the RapidRide stops at 3rd/Pike and 3rd/Seneca.

      RR has tons of problems, but the downtown routing isn’t one of them.

      1. So instead of another 2 to 3 minutes that the buses used to take to provide service to those areas, we need to spend another 10 to 20 minutes to reach these destinations? And nevermind that this is a Ballard route, which are always full, even late into the night, going to and from the areas south of Seneca Street with paying customers. Now you are telling me that if you want to go to the south half of downtown, Pioneer Square, International District or the stadiums, you can just “walk or catch a convenient bus”? Have you ever attempted that yourself? I have many times and it’s not as convenient as you think.

        It’s that kind of thinking that is going to doom the RapidRide when people start complaining. And my guess is it starts tonight after the Sounders game when people realized that their only options to get from the stadiums to Ballard are (1) wait for a half hourly bus, along with hundreds of other people or (2) walk all the way to Columbia and pray to the transit gods that you time the “comes so often you don’t need a schedule” timing right. And this is after catching the bus in front of the stadium for many, many years. Again, I reiterate, a fatal flaw, and one that will either be rectified or sink the RapidRide D.

      2. Getting so exercised about a walk of less than ten minutes is really a joke, unless you have mobility issues. That is how far 1st and Jackson, the furthest thing that could reasonably be described as “Pioneer Square,” is from 2nd and Seneca. It’s much closer to 2nd and Columbia going the other direction.

        And if you want to use a bus, you are exaggerating the time difference by a mile. Most surface buses are scheduled to take between 9 and 12 minutes between Pike Street and the International District (a bit more at peak hour). Tunnel buses/trains are scheduled at 8 minutes on the same trip, and you can add another 4 or 5 minutes (if you are super-poky) to get down there and have a bus/train arrive. Add another 3 minutes on either the surface or the tunnel to get to the stadium.

        On the way back from the stadium, if you’re allergic to a 15-minute walk, there are tons and tons of buses/trains going into the tunnel. Use one of them. It really does work. Anyone who’s taken the 5 in the last ten years — a line which is just as busy as the Ballard core service — knows that well.

      3. David: it’s not the walk that I’m worried about. I routinely walk from the Denny Triangle area to the stadium, especially if it’s nice. What perturbs me is that Metro took arguably one of the most productive routes (15/18) and chopped off a huge chunk of the destination. Their consolation is “Oh you can walk or manage a transfer”. I understand the riders of the 5 have had to do this for awhile and have managed and RR D riders will be forced to also. Can you imagine if someone suggested routing the 71/72/73 down Columbia to West Seattle? With your argument, it would make sense, but in reality, the suggestion would be laughed into oblivion.

        So what Metro has done was take a prize winning horse, chop off one of it’s legs and say “it will manage to move around just fine on three legs”. They took something that wasn’t broke and tried to fix it, and in doing so, turned what could have been a fantastic, almost BRT line into a logistical nightmare that nobody asked for.

      4. The reasons the 71/72/73 wouldn’t work as through routes are because they use the tunnel, they are very long, and they are express (thus with estimated timepoints). If they were somewhat shorter and ran with exact timepoints, Metro could very well through-route them with a West Seattle route, and I don’t think too many people would be upset. When I drove, I spent more time driving them than I did any other route, and the vast majority of the ridership was to Westlake and University Street.

        I reiterate that walking a few blocks is the furthest thing from a “logistical nightmare.” It’s not a big deal. RR C/D serves all but a few blocks of downtown. The stadiums are not downtown, and most downtown routes don’t serve them.

      5. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. And I’m sure the huge mass of people that used to take the 15/18 that now take the RR D would disagree that it’s “not a big deal”. The fact that not a lot of North Seattle to Downtown buses serve the stadiums made the 15/18 unique in that sense and something that Ballardites (and other people along the route) used heavily to their advantage. It will be sorely missed and I can only hope that enough Ballardites start making comments to Metro that it gets returned soon.

        In 2015, there’s a chance that Metro will choose to use a Main/Washington couplet to connect to Alaskan Way, something I would greatly advocate they do. However, that’s also dependent on the DBT being completed on time, which nobody believes it will.

      6. You’re both wrong.

        David:

        King to Seneca is .7 miles. That’s 12-14 minutes if you habitually jaywalk, and probably closer to 20 if you’re a Seattleite. This is not negligible.

        Anon:

        The problem is less the failure to provide through-service and more the terribleness of transfers in this town — surface or tunnel — which you also point out.

        You never know when you’re going to get an unannounced driver switch, a stop with 50 cash-payers, an incompetent bike-loader, or just nothing coming along for fourteen minutes for no good reason. David is in denial to think our downtown transfers are an easy hop-off-hop-on affair.

      7. “You never know when you’re going to get an unannounced driver switch, a stop with 50 cash-payers, an incompetent bike-loader, or just nothing coming along for fourteen minutes for no good reason. David is in denial to think our downtown transfers are an easy hop-off-hop-on affair.”

        The problem here is not the transfer. All of those things can happen just as easily if you stay on the same bus and don’t transfer.

        It’s impossible to have a one-seat ride to everywhere. People going to Ballard to Capitol Hill or First Hill or South Lake Union have to transfer (the painfully slow 44-43 thru-route not-withstanding). Pioneer Square is not a sacred location that absolutely has to have a one-seat ride to everywhere. Especially when the transfer to get there is a lot easier than the transfer to get almost anywhere else.

      8. “Pioneer Square is not a sacred location that absolutely has to have a one-seat ride to everywhere.”

        But if it was a popular destination on a route, along with the International District and the stadiums, why would you remove service to it? It’d be like rerouting the Link around Tukwila Station (imaginations required), because it’s more somehow more efficient to get from the airport to downtown. Who cares about all those people using the previous stop(s), it’s in the name of efficiency!

      9. The problem here is not the transfer. All of those things can happen just as easily if you stay on the same bus and don’t transfer.

        Right. So now you get all of those things plus an additional unspecified wait for a bus that may or may not be more prone to those things than the bus you just got off (thanks to high floors, crappy trolley infrastructure, certain routes that attract lethargic drivers).

        The problem, ASDF, is that there’s no reliable way to just hop across downtown. It might cost you 20 extra minutes, or it might take no time at all. In the northbound direction, there’s an excellent chance you’ll miss your not-showing-up-on-OneBusAway RapidRide and have to wait 15-30 minutes more.

        Unless you can guarantee that something as basic as crossing downtown won’t become a nightmare, you’ll have people demanding one-seat rides.

    2. Through routing solves more problems than it creates. If for example there was a pileup on eastbound Spokane St. , inbound C line buses would be unable to get downtown to turn around to be outbound buses.

      1. You just demonstrated why the two routes, which serve such geographically diverse and spatially separated regions, should be separated. While I can’t speak for West Seattle, but Ballard is an immensely popular line, arguably one of the most traveled routes throughout the day, probably second to the 71/72/73 routes.

        Why should Ballard be subjected to delays caused in a completely separate region of the city, when so many people are just trying to get to and from downtown from Ballard? I would dare you to find a single person that advocates keeping the 48 a single route, despite the difficulties preventing it being spit up, and yet people cry foul when I suggest decoupling the RR C with the RR D.

        The 15/18 always had its problems with on-timeness. There would be times downtown when no buses would come for 20-30 minutes, when all of a sudden a 15, 18 and another 15 would come in succession. This problem could have been easily solved with de-coupling with the West Seattle routes. This is why I was extremely excited when they announced the RR D, followed by extremely disappointing when they neutered it down to a 15 with more problems (see my post about slicing off half of downtown).

        If you ask me, one of the most dense neighborhoods in Seattle (with more density to come) has been given the transit shaft, again and again over the past ten years. And yet people wonder why Ballardites choose to drive.

      2. Why should Ballard be subjected to delays caused in a completely separate region of the city, when so many people are just trying to get to and from downtown from Ballard?

        Because otherwise the frequency of your trunk line would be 20 minutes, at best, rather than 15, and your trip through downtown would be slower.

        Yes, there is a slight sacrifice in reliability from through-routes, but it allows for greater frequency and faster travel downtown as well.

        Once the new-shakeup teething pains are over, this through-route should actually be a bit more reliable than the last one. It doesn’t have to cross any railroad tracks, and it doesn’t go through the 4th and Jackson nightmare intersection.

      3. RapidRide is already so habitually late as to be getting multi-bus bunch-ups by the time it even reaches downtown. There are already 20-, 30-, 40-minute gaps in our “so frequent you don’t need a schedule service”

        …which doesn’t show up on OneBusAway and requires you to walk all the way to one of the three stops with real-time pylons to find out precisely how fucked it is.

      4. What you’ve described is something that is beyond frustrating for me. I live less than two blocks from the 60th stop (one of the only ones blessed with both a marquee AND a ORCA reader!). It used to be that I could look at OneBusAway and time my walk almost perfectly to catch the bus. Now, I have to do the couple minute walk and play Russian roulette with the 15 minute headways. OneBusAway says one thing, the marquee says another. The marquee is correct, of course, but why isn’t that information passed along to OBA? Is this something that is going to be remedied soon?

  12. We had a fun all-transit day yesterday, taking in the 16, the water taxi, the water taxi shuttle to the junction (773?), the Rapid Ride C, and the recommended-here walk to 35th to get the 21 home all the way (as it turns into the 5).

    Rapid Ride C did not impress; the Orca station display read “FAULTY UNIT” and there was no arrival info on the screen in our direction (there was across the street). It didn’t matter much, though, because we were only going two stops and there were three people on the bus. I still don’t understand how the “stations” are supposed to work even when the machines aren’t busted. In what possible way is this a “station”?

    What rankled a bit, though, was waiting 45 minutes at 35th and Morgan for the 21, which is supposed to come every 15 on a Saturday. Traffic was light, at least where we were.

    One bit of hilarity I noticed is that all of the ceiling stickers saying “PLEASE EXIT TO THE REAR” were printed upside down. The arrow points the right way but can only be read by people standing next to the driver, not those coming up the aisle to exit in the front by mistake. There was a lot of confusion on this point, too — just one correctly-orientated sign might have made some difference.

    Every driver we encountered was utterly clueless about the service changes; I repeatedly heard people ask questions only to get “I have no idea, ma’am, it used to but they changed it all”.

    Pay-as-you-enter is indeed quite a bit slower through downtown. This only really made a big difference at the monster stop downtown, where the 21 becomes the 5, at which a half-full bus becomes ten standing in one go.

    The water taxi on a sunny day is still the best deal in the city. Even better now that Marination Ma Kai is open at the Seacrest Boathouse. The old fish’n’chips joint there was a bit grim; this place is spectacularly delicious. If I worked downtown I’d be coming here for lunch just to cross and head straight back if the times were worked out better (i.e., two boats). God, I wonder if you could call ahead and just grab your food and get back in line?

    1. FNARF, try to understand that we drivers are in a learning curve as well. Expecting ready answers to question about a service change that’s a week old from an operator still getting used to the limited number of routes he or she actually drives may be unrealistic. We’re kind of occupied trying not to squish pedestrians, drive the bus, and all that stuff. We can be suspended for even having our cell phones turned on, and our radios are not magical internet information boxes where we can look stuff up. The real slowdown issue isn’t “clueless drivers”, its clueless passengers who have had information at their disposal weeks in advance, and ignored it.

      1. +1 Though sometimes Metro doesn’t post the most helpful information for those who do their research ahead of time, such as stop closures.

      2. Most definitely. This is true for drivers as well. We sometime find out about stop closures the same way everyone else does – by coming up to a stop with a posted closure alert on it, and reading it on the spot.

  13. WOW, what a mean and flip attitude towards people who may have lost their only way to get to work, towards handicapped and elderly people who now have to traverse dangerous intersections and hills to get to transit, and towards those business who are struggling because their neighborhood is no longer served by transit.

    You should not be calling this a SEATTLE Transit Blog if you think that only a select few should have adequate transit, because you DO NOT speak for all of Seattle. To call people who have lost transit service or who now have many more hours a day of commuting and standing in the rain and dark to take a multiple buses LOSERS is so disrespectful. Empathy used to be an important part of Seattle, but I guess there are only a few left in this big city who care about others and want to make sure that there are fewer cars on the road and that elderly people can access health care.

    Mr. Duke is well named–he’s royalty who has access to transit and the rest of use who are trying to get to work and care for the less fortunate in our neighborhoods are mere peasants. Thank you into this insight into your character, I now see what the people at Metro are like–they say if the peasants have no bread, “let them eat cake”, or in this case, let them walk or drive, because transit is no longer for everyone in Seattle.

    1. Mr. Duke does not work for Metro.

      It is quite clear from the context of the post that “losers” is not a perjorative, but a description of the fact that with this restructure, some people are worse off transit-wise. Others (I happen to be one of them) are better off. It is an acknowledgement that there are unfortunate trade-offs.

      I, for one, appreciate all the volunteer time Martin has put into trying to make it so that everyone can have access to transit, that those who have mobility issues get better and better mobility, and that those who can least afford to pay not lose access to transit.

      And I also appreciate the efforts of the rank and file at Metro who enable me to get around long distances, take a lot of abuse (most of it unwarranted) from some members of the public, and do the actual work while others (including me) backseat drive.

    2. Slow your roll, Carolyn. It’s beyond obvious Martin wasn’t using “loser” in the informal pejorative sense you suggest.

    3. Carolyn, I do work for Metro. Chances are you have neighbors who do as well. I live in Ballard – a few blocks from the new D line. These changes affect me (I also ride buses) my family, and my customers. If there’s an ivory tower at King County Metro, I haven’t been able to locate it, and Martin certainly wouldn’t be a resident unless it met certain density planning requirements. On that, Martin and the other STB founders and contributors put in countless VOLUNTEER hours advocating for more transit for more people. The very concept is core to their belief that urban population density (and successful transit to go with it) is key to an efficient and sustainable human future.

      You’re WAY off base in your assumptions and criticisms here.

      1. Carolyn in Ballard is not way off base. Not by a long shot. The people posting here give the perception of being a bunch of arrogant academics (“platooning algorithm”?) who are by “Martin’s” definition, “winners”, largely because this is a self selected group of folks who have made strategic housing choices so they may live in one of those rare locations with either great transit access, or so central that there is no need for them to ever travel anywhere. That’s great and all, but hardly a solution for the vast majority of regional commuters.
        The bottom line is there are many many complaints about the changes of last week, not because people are resisting change, but because overall, service has been degraded, not improved for the majority of users. Especially for West Seattle and Ballard. There is now less service, less capacity, and less reliability than previous service.

      2. That’s what happens when you have less money to pay for transit. West Seattle folks in particular are complaining about conditions that have been common elsewhere (like standing room only rides) for decades. While I agree that such drastic changes could have been faded in as other reductions faded out to provide for a better transition, what a lot of complainants really need is a diaper change.

      3. Beavis, I think you are misreading the comments if you consider SRO as the biggest complaint by those riding from West Seattle. Having to stand is a minor inconvenience. The bigger problems are not being able to get on a bus at all (buses fill to overflow); having to wait for an indeterminate amount of time for a bus (no timetables); fewer services overall; and some others. Since RR was ‘sold’ as a big step up in service, it is understandable that when the reality of the change was apparent people would complain.

        In relation to SRO, the real complaint and problem is when buses are so packed that they pass up riders. Are there really other routes that routinely pass up riders, and have been for decades? If so, that is shocking and surely needs to be a priority to fix.

        The only route I’ve used where passengers were regularly left behind was 545 at 520/40th. That is a peak with an 8-9 minute headway; Metro seemed to solve that by added a second bus (so two buses turned up at the same time).

      4. Yes, buses passing up passengers are BAD.

        But when we allocate a disproportionate amount of our money to underused service on the Eastside, it’s what we get.

        And there are many parts of the system where passing up passengers has, indeed, been routine for a long time. People regularly get passed up on the central trolley routes: 2, 3, 4. It’s also not uncommon on the 41 and U-District trunk buses (71, 72, 73), especially on Sundays when they operate with reduced frequency. It used to happen a lot on the Lake City Way expresses, although I get the sense that better scheduling has mitigated it there.

        Many of the hours devoted to running mostly empty shuttle routes on the Eastside (221/226/241, 236/238, etc.) should be used to bring Seattle service to the frequencies demand warrants, but politics will ensure that can’t happen.

      5. I sometimes ride the 226 to a psychiatrist on 120th, and while it’s hardly SRO, neither would I characterize it as “mostly empty” either, at least for the initial segment on 12th and Bel-Red Rd. If it has a problem, it’s with its milk-runny segments and the fact that a lot of the places it serves are better served by other routes. (The reason I only use the B when I’ve missed the 226 is because 120th is exactly in-between B Line stops, which doesn’t make me a fan of limited-stop service.) But besides Bel-Red Rd, I’d be very shocked if the main route connecting Bellevue College to Crossroads was “mostly empty”.

        Just a minor nitpick, as I’m sure you’re referring to the milk-runny segment anyway.

  14. Just to see if it was possible and how much work it was, I extracted the online RR C schedule and converted into a printable version: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B1KcA7uQv4BgOVJhamE1MUFQenc

    It would probably be better if the repeated stretches were replaced with “and at these minutes past the hour” blocks, but other than that it wasn’t too difficult (at least for three timepoints).

    Of course – times are officially “unpublished”, so Metro can change them at will (such as adding two additional peak direction runs on Monday – not sure if they are in this data or not yet). However in my experience so far last week, times (outside of peak overload times) are fairly well kept.

    1. One thing that is very discouraging about this schedule is that inbound frequency drops to 15 minutes shortly after 8:00 a.m. Metro often doesn’t seem to realize that people are commuting to work until 9:30 and even 10:00. And, indeed, I notice that most of the reports of people getting passed up by RR C coaches are happening between 8:15 and 9:30 in the morning.

      As cities get bigger, people’s routines get later. In New York you will not find anyone but the traders and a few diehards getting to work before about 8:30. I think peak hours should already be redefined to be one half hour later than they are now, and I expect another half-hour adjustment will be necessary in the future.

      1. Sound Transit’s route 542 schedule has the peak period extended to 10 each morning. So someone, at least, is following your advise.

    2. Paul S,

      How the heck did you get the schedule? Metro should publish one. Unfortuantely it look slike yours doesn’t include th etrips they added. How the hell am I supposed to make a transfer without a schedule (or without doing a bunch of math – which is NOT RIDER FRIENDLY)?
      Thanks.

  15. “To abandon the plan, however, as Reagan Dunn suggested Thursday in reference to the ride free area, is premature.” ?!? A member of the body responsible for Metro dropping the RFA in the first place says it should be reinstated?! Methinks we need to give every member of the County Council a crash course in transit planning if they’re going to meddle in Metro affairs to the extent they are.

    1. “… if they’re going to meddle in Metro affairs to the extent they are.” AND have been since Metro and KC were merged – one of the worst decisions for transit ever made in this area.

  16. For the second time in a week, I left my house and walked the 3 1/2 blocks of hills to Myrtle/Fauntleroy. I just missed a C bus at 10:20 am. Had to wait 20 minutes in the cold for the next one. WHY DID METRO DO AWAY WITH A SCHEDULE FOR THE C? When I used to take the 54, I knew exactly when the 54 would leave Wildwood. I would time the walk from my house so that I got to the stop about 3 or 4 minutes before the bus arrived. In the winter and rain, this meant a not-too-difficult wait in the elements. Now, I am afraid of having to be in the rain/wind for as much as 20 minutes (as happened this morning). I know fresh air is “good for you,” but this is ridiculous. WE NEED A SCHEDULE when the buses are only running every 15 to 20 minutes. I am a senior and though in good health, this is difficult.

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