Photo by Slack Action

This is an open thread.

120 Replies to “News Roundup: Cycletracks”

  1. And Ballard is still without service to Pioneer Square, International District and the stadiums.

    With the plethora of home games this past week, one night I attempted the post game walk to Seneca and another night a transfer, to try and pick up a RapidRide D. Both options were horrendous. Before, you could at least be sitting in traffic on the bus that’s taking you home.

    Last night for the Sounders, I drove to the U-District, parked and took a 71/72/73 to and from the game. It’s sad that’s now the quickest option for Ballard to get south of Columbia St. Especially when we greatly utilized the previous service to those areas. The through routing of the RapidRides must end, it brings nothing but bad service quality.

    1. The 40 goes all the way down to 3rd & Main. It runs four times an hour until 5:30 and then drops to twice an hour. The problem isn’t routing. It’s sparse evening service. There ought to be planned extra runs, noted in the schedules, on several of the routes that serve the stadia on evenings the whole world has known for the past year would have a major sporting event.

      1. I took a 40 last night leaving work late. Even though it only comes every 30 minutes during the evening, it was nice quick trip up to Ballard with plenty of seats open.

        I think with time more people will realize that they can take the 40 between Ballard and downtown, and that it has very competitive travel times with RapidRide. I hope ridership on the 40 grows so that Metro doesn’t end up cutting any service (esp. in the evenings) from the route.

      2. The 40 goes beyond Main; it goes near the stadiums.

        But I don’t quite understand Anon’s complaint. He/she seems happier to be stuck in traffic on the bus that goes home than on another bus. If the traffic’s the same, I don’t really see a difference.

        I also have a very hard time believing that a 15-minute drive each direction to the U-district, along with a snail’s-pace 71/72/73 local ride, is quicker than the 40 or even than a transfer to the D.

      3. David, don’t forget about finding parking near the 71X/72X/73X in the afternoon. Certainly not an easy task.

      4. It gets easier if you go up toward Ravenna — thus making the ride even longer.

        Also, if the northbound traffic out of the stadium area is really that bad, wouldn’t the best thing be to avoid it and get into the tunnel? If there is bad traffic, I’d probably take a tunnel bus and transfer at Westlake to the Ballard bus even if there were a one-seat ride on the surface.

      5. in reply to David L, trying to use the tunnel to switch to a Ballard bus (Sounders STH, i’ve tried several methods to get home) doesn’t work because inevitably you don’t get downtown in time to catch a bus that has beat the stadium traffic. no time advantage, and getting on the bus by King Street Station sometimes gets you a seat. (no chance of one after that stop.)

        i’ve found the 40 to be a perfectly fine way to get home from the stadium once i’m on the bus. however, i used to be able to get the 15 or 18 at that stop, so there’s half the service.

      6. The tunnel is the Worst Place On Earth after a Sounders game, David. Every one of those 40,000 fans seems to be paying cash.

      7. @Brent You’ve got something here. For a game starting at 1 on a Saturday, you’re fine: there’s 15 minute headways that start right there. However, a 4 PM or later game on Saturday or all day Sunday, you’re dealing with 30 minutes headways and all those people trying to pack into buses. And god help you if you have a 7 PM game and have to deal with the crowd AND hour headways.

        Over the past few weeks, Ballard (and north and south of Ballard) residents are slowly discovering that a valuable service has been torn away from them. And all they’ve been hearing back is “deal with it, there’s other, inconvenient options.”

      8. While I agree about the 40, there seems to be some confusion about what “ballard” means. For those east of 20th, the D is essentially a neutered 15 that runs more frequently, takes the same amount of time, and doesn’t stop below Seneca. It’s basically a crock.

        For those west of 20th, any trip plan that mentions “transferring to the D” is, of course, also a crock. Fortunately the 40 exists, and seems to be only a little bit slower than the previous 18.

        Note that I’m not just blathering here, I timed it. I attempted to take the 40 downtown to 3rd & main and take the rapidride D back (and walk). From seneca, the rapidride D takes roughly the same amount of time to get to the same lattitude on 15th… and then you have to walk (which is faster than waiting for a 48).

      9. anon: you’re generally correct in reference to scheduled service but after big events metro and st tend to add service to match demand.

      10. I think the absolute consensus among those in the former 18’s walkshed is that our new “transfer-based network” is not working!

        And none of us is speaking from ignorance. We’ve all tried to use RR — at various times of day, to and from Ballard, by walking and by transferring. And each of us has found it inferior to pretty much any other available option past or present.

        We all know why this is: RR frequency is unacceptable for a “core frequency” route at all but rush hour; reliability is nonexistent at any time; and the transfer don’t come close to meeting the low-penalty threshold.

        Metro needs to stop claiming otherwise. STB editors need to stop pretending the matter will fix itself (especially those with complete ignorance of Ballard geography and usage patterns).

        The restructure, as implemented, has been a giant leap back. The current situation is untenable and must be addressed, or Ballard is lost to transit.

      11. d.p. I don’t think anyone here is particularly defending rapidride, nor wants to. Remember that gloom-and-doom post back when it was announced that C and D would be through-routed? The general consensus is that rapidride is just a gimmick to qualify for federal BRT funding, used to balance Metro’s precarious books.

        Regarding the restructure, there are frequency issues across the board. My household uses the 48 extensively and will totally agree that we need more frequency on our unreliable “15 minute” trunk lines. When a commute from the CD to an arbitrary North Seattle location ends up taking 2+ hours multiple times in the average work week, something is wrong. It’s not just wrong in Ballard, it’s wrong all over the city. The answer for that is more money/more service hours, but we don’t even know what’s going to happen when the CRC expires. In the end, this network is (hopefully) more financially sustainable, and will scale up well if we ever can afford to add a significant amount of service.

        stop pretending the matter will fix itself

        There is actually one matter which will fix itself. When the viaduct comes down in 2015, The D will be forced to stay on surface streets as far south as Atlantic, and one-seat service to Pioneer Square will be restored. So it’s not all bad. If Metro is smart, they will go ahead and make that service change early, when the new Atlantic ramps open next year.

      12. The 40 can be fixed and complete the link to the stadiums simply by having it head to its south terminal via 4th Ave., making its last stop Edgar Martinez and its first stop northbound Royal Brougham. Currently Metro has it looping back to 6th and RB via Seattle Blvd, and airport Way.

    2. For people leaving downtown before 10, taking a Magnolia bus (19/24/33) and transfering to the D at W Prospect (or downtown – but I suspect the Magnolia buses may be faster than the D over the relevant stretch) is also a decent option.

      Make sure not to miss your stop, though ;)

      1. Morgan, Except for the connection between Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center/Uptown and Ballard. It’s nice to connect our Urban Centers and Urban Villages.

        And yesterday, the congestion on Elliott was so bad (admittedly at 5:30pm) that the RR D made it through the 1st/QA/Mercer routing faster than my 15X made it through the Denny/Western/Elliott routing. And that was with no TSP or off-board fare payment in LQA. Anecdotal, yes, but a sign that the diversion to LQA isn’t the end of the world.

    3. It’s easier for me to get on a 150 or a Sounder (especially) at Kent Station and go to a game than it is for someone from Ballard!

      1. It’s easier for me to get on a D or a 40 in Ballard and go to work/shopping/dinner in the CBD than it is for someone from Kent!

      2. Does that mean we should clog up downtown with all the extra buses that would be needed to ensure that every single north-end neighborhood has a one-seat ride to the stadiums? (If so, out of fairness, I guess we also need to provide every single south-end neighborhood with a one-seat ride to Seattle Center.)

      3. Furthermore, you can get from Puyallup to downtown on Sounder faster than you can take a bus from Ballard to Capitol Hill, Fremont to Capitol Hill, Greenwood to Columbia City, the U-district to Columbia City, Sand Point to Aurora, the Central District to Alki, etc.

      4. @Mike: Let’s not overstate this. That’s only true if you live right by the Puyallup train station *and* are going to the stadium *and* are leaving right when the train is coming.

      5. “Does that mean we should clog up downtown with all the extra buses that would be needed to ensure that every single north-end neighborhood has a one-seat ride to the stadiums?”

        Anon would say absolutely yes. And since the actual events at the stadiums come on all sorts of days and times, you have to run these buses and clog up the downtown streets all day every day, whether’s there’s an actual event at the stadium or not. To pay for it, we can simply cut the D-line to every 30 minutes in the evening.

      6. John has a serious point here. Our intra-city transit is terrible. He truly does have a better, faster, and more reliable trip into downtown on the 150, cruising in the HOV lane, than most of us Seattlites have between neighborhoods on our cross-town buses stuck in GP traffic with no signal priority. The poor quality of our local transit is shameful.

      7. The 150 is not a bus utopia. It takes an hour to get from Kent to downtown, a quarter of that doing turn-turn-turn through Southcenter traffic. People living along the 150 are no better off than people living along the 5 or 28.

    4. The 71/72/73 buses are horrible on the way home after events. I did it once and spent over half an hour crawling from the International District to Convention Place. And even after you get out of the tunnel, it’s going to the local route that crawls some more down Eastlake. On the way to the events, it’s a little bit better, especially if the buses are running in express mode, but not much.

      Ultimately, if you want to get to and from a Sounder’s game quickly, your best option is probably to just screw the bus altogether and bike all the way. You can take the Burke-Gilman trail to Fremont, followed by Dexter into downtown, avoiding the need to deal with the Ballard Bridge.

      1. Truth. It doesn’t take a lot of cars to clog up a street, and it doesn’t take a huge number of boarders to slow a bus to a crawl. But cycletracks and sidewalks can move people at near-normal speeds under incredibly congested conditions. At rush hour, a Manhattan sidewalk is moving around 10x as many people per minute as the street it’s attached to.

        If you really want to be able to ignore congestion, walk or bike.

      2. I wouldn’t recommend operating a vehicle such as a bike if you plan on tailgating. :-) Cops in the future will setup sobriety checks on the Burke-Gilman. Let the bus take your drunk @@s home.

      3. I agree, I don’t understand why the OP would consider the 71/72/73 a better option.

        Were I in his shoes I’d do one of the following:
        * take the above mentioned 40
        * take RR D and transfer to/from any tunnel or Link at Westlake or University station or a 3rd Ave surface route.
        * Drive to Northgate and take the 41.

      4. @Chris

        * As I’ve outlined, the 40 is a horrible option because of it’s poor frequency in the evenings and the sheer amount of people trying to board, which negates it’s usefulness for anything but a 1 PM game.
        * Transferring downtown is an option, but you are at the mercy of making a transfer from a bus that is coming from West Seattle. If you have any experience with the previous 15/18, you’ll know they travel in packs. Eliminating through routing would eliminate this, but then the RR D would probably go to the stadiums anyways. For some reason, STB has gone from anti-through routing to completely pro-through routing.
        * Not a bad idea, but Ballard to Northgate can take awhile to drive.

        For now, I can drive to and from the U-District to Ballard in less than 15 and either street park or park in a University lot near the 71/72/73 routes (both are possible and free if you’ve had experience in the U-District). From there, it’s usually a pretty quick bus ride downtown, especially weekdays and Saturdays when the expresses are running. Coming back, the bus ride isn’t the greatest, but it’s comparable to the RR D. It’s not a great way of getting to and from the stadium, but it’s the best for a Ballard resident.

      5. For some reason, STB has gone from anti-through routing to completely pro-through routing.

        Think about the revenue environment, and then think about the number of additional buses you’d have to add to separate C/D. If you can’t come up with that number of buses, breaking the through-route will reduce frequency to 20-25 minutes during the day. If we could somehow come up with that number of buses, it would do more for the riders to increase frequency to 10 minutes than to break the through-route.

        Also, once the schedule gets settled, the C/D through route will be more reliable than the previous 15/18 through route, because it won’t have to fight its way through Sodo. This is especially important after games.

      6. “For some reason, STB has gone from anti-through routing to completely pro-through routing.”

        It’s probably an issue of new voices appearing with new ideas, and a greater understanding of the impacts of through-routing. Bruce Nourish, if I remember right, has made a solid case for through-routing in some circumstances, in that it can save money, minimize idle time (beyond the necessary drivers’ breaks), and avoid layover spaces (read: bus parking spaces) downtown. I have gone from always hating through-routing to… tolerating it when it’s done well.

        The biggest problem with through-routing is that any delays get amplified the longer the route is, because they’re all happening to a single bus rather than two separate ones. It also puts together some ridiculous one-seat rides, like Madison to SSCC, or White Center to Magnolia or 8th NW. It’s hilarious to imagine how few people would make those trips, but it’s sad and inequitable that they have such worthless interlinings when other routes have significantly more plausable ones, like Ballard to Alki or Wallingford to Capitol Hill. (The key here is that both halves of the route have significant urban villages, robust commercial centers, or businesses that draw people from outside, which generates demand for one-seat rides between them.) Of course, Metro says through-routing isn’t intended to create ridiculous one-seat rides, that’s just a side effect of operational efficiency, of pairing routes with the same frequency.

        I’ve noticed that San Francisco has many routes that go from one end of the city to the other. This produces one-seat pairings that seem implausable at first, but as you spend more time in the city and have more reasons to go to the other side of it, the pairings do come in more handy. But San Francisco has more density and hole-in-the-wall shops even in its residential areas, so that’s part of it.

      7. Anon, I still am struggling to understand how a 15-25 minute drive (it can be 25 minutes during the peak) to the U-District, then transfering from your car to a bus is better than a 15-20 minute walk from CenturyLink Field to the D Line. And if the 40 is crowded after an event, so are the 71/72/73s.

        It’s not a great way of getting to and from the stadium, but it’s the best for a Ballard resident.

        And I’m assuming that best for “a Ballard resident” means only for a single resident, you. Anyone else would just walk up to Seneca, wait for a 40, or drive downtown.

      8. @AndrewN Mostly because of uncertainty. Coming from Ballard to downtown, the RapidRide is like 98% on time and you are correct, the walk is as long as driving to the U-District (if not a little longer). What you are incorrect about is that most people are willing to do the walk. As a native Puget Sounder, I have no problem walking long distance in the cold, rain or snow, but I’m also a lot hardier than most people. And believe me, I hate driving.

        After the game, let’s say it’s 15 minutes from the north end of Qwest Field (we won’t talk about Safeco due to the fact that nobody goes there) to 3rd and Seneca. Once you are there, you theoretically should see a bus every 15 minutes (maybe less if Metro actually does the extra trips people say they do). But seasoned 15/18 riders know very well that the buses coming from West Seattle are seldom on time, game or not. What usually happens is two RR Ds will come back to back, after nothing for 30 minutes. Back in the 15/18 days, I’ve seen three back to back, but since you had 10 minute headways, it was still a 30 minute gap.

        But before RR D, you would walk up to 4th and Jackson and sit tight, knowing a bus would be there soon. Now we get the “privilege” of walking 15 minutes PLUS the previous problems compounded by through routing. And if you believe the through routing delay problems will sort themselves out, you are grossly mistaken, as they didn’t do enough to the RR C/D corridors to offset the delays. Stop spacing and bus signals might help a little, but you still have to deal with the fact that it is the longest non-express route, where a small delay here or there magnifies over the whole route.

        Compare this to catching an (albeit) overcrowded 71/72/73, that you can see idling from the Convention Place Station, plus an easy drive. At least this method is more stable.

        And I’ve been writing letters to the appropriate Metro people plus some council members about this mess and encouraging other people along the entire RR D route from Crown Hill to Lower Queen Anne to do the same. I figure if one whiner is enough to change or save Metro’s service, whether for the better or worse, then a bunch of whiners can make a huge impact.

      9. One nice thing about using RapidRide after an event is that it is some distance away from the stadium so it won’t be stuck in the traffic gridlock around SODO. When RR-C arrives at its downtown stop there will probably be plenty of available space on the bus. And because its a RR coach, there will be fewer seats but more standee space.

        If you hustle a bit on your walk, you can beat most of the crowd to the stop and have a better chance of getting on the first bus.

  2. I sent my email to ST yesterday extolling the greatness of the 2013 SIP, and asking for the quickest possible implementation. The open houses are next week. Speak now, or don’t blame ST for doing what the public and ridership wanted.

  3. I am wondering if ST’s counting equipment is undercounting Link riders. They mention “some PM peak trains” with standees. I take Link every day, and there are standees on almost every AM peak train I take that arrives downtown between about 7:15 and 9:00, as well as all PM peak trains I take (I never leave before about 5:30). There is also the issue that outbound trains leaving after 7:40 PM are still using single-car consists, when outbound ridership would justify two cars until 8:30 or 9:00. On two occasions I have barely been able to fit into the single car.

    1. The last time I rode LINK it seemed that they are policing regularly so I imagine there are fewer deadbeats.

      Therefore wouldn’t the card swipe numbers give an accurate count?

    2. And, of course, the evening after I wrote this, I got on a train leaving downtown at 5:55 that was weirdly empty, with no standees and lots of spare seats. Transit is so random sometimes.

      1. The effect should be in the other direction. Intra-downtown riders now have no free alternative and there’s no incentive to wait for the next bus.

      2. There is a small incentive to wait for Link since it has a lower fare and is quicker to get on and off. Additionally, you can play the ORCA transfer upgrade game to get really long transfers for a low cost:

        1. Tap on/off Link for unlimited rides downtown for 2 hours – $2
        2. After almost 2 hours, take Metro bus and pay $0.25 for 2 more hours
        ($2.25 fare – $2 Xfer credit)
        3. Ride an in county Sound Transit/Peak Metro fare bus 2 hrs = $.25
        ($2.50 fare – $2.25 Xfer credit)
        4. Tap onto Link but don’t tap off to pay maximum $2.75 fare. 2 hrs = $.25
        ($2.75 fare – $2.50 Xfer credit)
        5. Ride a peak Metro bus. 2 hrs = $.25
        ($3.00 fare – $2.75 Xfer credit)
        6. Ride a Sound Transit route with 2 county fare – 2 hrs = $.50
        ($3.50 fare – $3.00 Xfer credit)

        Theoretical total transfer time: 12 hours (Minus 6 minutes?)
        Total E-Purse charges: $3.50

        Of course, if this scheme ever gets abused in mass, the agencies behind ORCA would be wise to limit transfer credits in some way…

      3. When I was using cash epurse, transfers didn’t seem to work that way for me. I would notice that i’d get charged full fare after the initial 2 hour transfer expired,even if I had just tapped before it’s expiration.

        I even reported a ORCA use case error where I had tapped off at ID went to Metro lost/found came back and tapped on. They charged me 75 cents. They sent me a bus ticket in recompense.

        I’ve been purchasing a monthly pass by default these days. Even if I don’t use it everyday, it works out to a daily cost of $3 for mobility and I’ve always come out ahead even if I don’t use it every day.

      4. Charles,
        Was that tap on to Link? If so, if you were traveling back to the original station, it would credit the 75 cents back when you tapped off. Also, if it was Link, you would have seen a 75-cent credit when you tapped off on your way to loast and found.

      5. no, I went to Westlake and tapped off. Instead of treating it as two separate trips, they reversed the tap at ID and considered it a continuous ride. They’ve fixed that since then.

  4. With all this focus on bicycles, why doesn’t the city do something about improving safety for motorcycles? A motorcyclist is at just as much risk of a car conflict at a stoplight or cross-intersection, but saftey improvements such as “bike boxes”, filtering, and special lanes are reserved for bicycles instead of being allowed for all road users.

    1. Per the recent article on bike boxes in Portland (see Seattle Bike Blog), it turns out the standard bike box design (which puts straight-through bike traffic to the right of right-turning cars) isn’t so great for safety after all.

      A lot of the safety problems that cyclists have on the road comes down to the problem that they can’t go as fast as cars. As a cyclist, where I can go as fast as the traffic (side streets, some downhill stretches) I ride right down the middle of my lane and behave just like a driver — no bike lane needed, I stay visible, keep a look out, and act predictably. In other situations a bike lane makes it a lot easier for drivers to pass my slow ass. But that causes a further problem. Between intersections traffic is separated by speed. Within intersections you probably want to be separated by intended direction (unless you’re going to create a crosswalk-like situation and really design the intersection so turning cars can see the through-going bikes — that’s what bike boxes fail at).

      Motorcycles simply do not have this problem. They can easily go at the speed of traffic, so they can move like cars. If they rode at normal traffic speeds in bike lanes and bike boxes they’d be in much more danger than they are currently. If by “filtering” you mean splitting lanes, I know that’s legal on motorcycles in CA, I don’t know about WA… it’s always a bit risky, though, because people don’t expect you there.

      If people want to ride motorcycles in bike lanes to get around congestion, and they aren’t too wide to fit, I don’t care as long as they do so respectfully. That means keeping the speed down (a lot of bike lanes are in the door zone, and most have poor sight lines with cross streets, driveways, and oncoming traffic), not tailgating, and installing an actual muffler.

      1. A major concern that motorcyclists have is getting rear-ended while waiting behind a car at a stoplight. Drivers are unable to correctly judge the distance to the narrow motorcyce and hit them. Beging able to slip between cars or into a protected space as show in this bike box diagram ( would alievate that. I can see how the “finger” on the box can create a problem with a right-turning car.

        As long as traffic is flowing, motorcyclists are less worried about getting hit, but once stopped, we are unable to get out of the way quickly and prevented by the law from stopping in a safe place. Try stopping in the lane at stoplights while bycicling in traffic, and you will very quickly understand why being able to put the bumper of a stopped car behind your rear wheel to protect you is desirable.

        I’d like to be able to use bike lanes and sharrows to pass slow-moving traffic, but that’s not a saftey issue. My motorcycle is less then 29″ wide at the widest part (handlebars) and has mufflers. Trust me, we know all about door zones, poor sight lines and those issues.

        The other safety feature motorcyclists and bicyclists need in common is safe crossing angles of rails across the roadway. Many of the rail crossing put adequate angles only in a bike lane location, which a motorcyclist can be ticketed for intruding into.

        More people should explore motorcycling as a personal transport option. It relieves congestion, is viable over longer distances then a bicycle, and is downright fun.

      2. You may now do the math and understand the difference in momentum between a bicycle going 20 mph and a motorcycle doing the same.

        Also, bicycles don’t have exhaust.

        I can’t think of a more insane request than to put a motorized vehicle on a cycletrack.



      3. No, you can’t split lanes in this State. You also can’t use the the bike lane (or the sidewalk, for that matter- even though it’s tempting) as a passing lane. Law says we must pass on the left.

        Motorcycles and bicyclists are not really a strong comparison unless it’s Lance Armstrong versus a fat kid on a 50cc scooter. :D

      4. I actually stop in the lane pretty often because there’s not much of another place to be… as for bike boxes, there aren’t many of them and they appear to have some serious safety issues involving right hooks, especially on downhills. It wouldn’t surprise me if the idea is at least heavily revised before hitting Seattle en masse (the bike box on WB 34th @ Fremont Ave is a design that actually works, though the signage is sort of bad), if not killed entirely.

        I guess in general, if I had the speed/acceleration to pull it off, I’d pretty much never bother with bike lanes except to bypass congestion. I ride in bike lanes as a courtesy to drivers that want to pass me. So it sort of surprises me that motorcycles covet our lanes, which mostly exists because we’re slow and are unusable at any speed.

        How bad is the situation at train tracks for motorcycles anyway? Y’all run much wider tires than we do, so I wouldn’t think you could actually get caught in them. Is it just a traction issue? Speaking of which, how do motorcycles fare on metal-grated bridges in the rain (bikes fare very poorly, though wider tires at lower pressure are better)?

        It would be great to see more motorcycles on the road, though I don’t currently have a motorcycle-shaped hole in my commute picture (maybe I would after the 520 project is finished, if I’m still working across the lake and the HOV lanes allow motorcycles). I wouldn’t put them on cycletracks (hi, JB!), but in some shared spaces with bikes? Well… on SB Fremont Ave at 39th there’s a space where a bike lane ends into a right-turn pocket, and where lots of straight-through traffic bypasses left turns as well. Lots of motorcycles use it as a bypass, too, and it works a lot better than when cars do it. But that’s downhill. I don’t think you’d ever see motorcycles on the part of the road I climb on because of the thick, slow-moving bike traffic (even I have to pull out to pass people pretty often)!

        What issue do you have with train tracks? Your tires should be wide enough not to fall in the cracks; do you still get “steered” by the tracks, or is it purely a traction issue (like with metal plates, and grated bridges… I bet you hate those things…)?

      5. Al, I don’t have any issues with train/trolley tracks, even ones which are at wierd angles. Some bikes have skinnier tires than mine, but I think most are over the width minimim for what can easily get trapped. Sometimes your rear end will “skip” a bit to one side or the other, but it’s a thing you expect on and can recover easily from.

        Those steel plates they put on the road are super-slick when it rains and almost as bad when dry. You just go slow and don’t lean much on ’em.

        The gratings are more unnerving than dangerous, but I’ve noticed those “steer” me along their lines pretty badly.

        Deep potholes, sharp-edged road seams, standing pools of “black” water, anything I have to ride over with no warning are the dangers. If I know it’s coming I can shift my weight, slow or otherwise prepare for it, I’m good.

        Motorcycles are dangerous because of other cars. Once you get through the learning stages and past your suicidal teens/early 20’s, they aren’t exactly a hair-raising driving experience on their own- even in the rain.

      6. why do american cyclists always brag about how fast they ride? oh how i dream of dutch ‘normal’ cycling, its not a race and you dont need special clothes and an expensive bike

      7. I don’t think anyone suggested riding a motorcycle/moped in the bike lane. The concern I see is about having a protected and highly visible location to stop in at the intersection. I ride a 50cc moped and I can get behind that concern. But don’t ever use bike infrastructure and I would feel bad about it even if it were legal; it’d be almost as easy for me to accidentally mow down a bicyclist on my moped as in my car.

        Bicyclists definitely have it rougher than motorcycle and moped riders. At least we have a full set of USDOT-spec reflectors and lights grabbing peoples attention, as well as wider profiles, a constantly operating noisemaker, and a very loud horn. It is downright amazing how much more room and consideration drivers give me on my moped compared to on a bicycle. But still, some don’t see – I was run off the road last year by a Lexus changing lanes without signaling or checking his blind spot, and then pursued for months by his insurance company for the dent in his back door despite a police report backing up my account of the incident.

        Oh, and the streetcar tracks aren’t really much worse than existing pavement seams and cracks (many of which can normally swallow a scooter tire). I just have to be aware of my angle of approach. Making left turns across traffic while crossing metal expansion joints is almost as interesting (3rd & Jackson, I’m looking at you).

      8. I’m not suggesting that motorcycles use cycle-paths, what I’m saying is that the city is spending a lot of effort and money on bicycle infrastructure, but neglecting the safety concerns of motorcyclists. Lack is correct, the major point I’m asking for is a safe place to stop at a light.

      9. Jon’s point may be an overgeneralization, but it speaks to the difference between creating bike lanes for athletic cyclists vs creating bike lanes for grandma and 40% of the population who aren’t atheletes or risk-takers. If we want to have 40% of the population on bicycles like in the Netherlands or formerly in China, we have to design bicycle paths really extra-safe and extra-convenient. Seattle is starting to move in that direction by building greenways on residential streets parallel to arterials rather than on the arterials themselves as has heretofore been predominent.

  5. On Tuesday the FTA published the Early Scoping Notice for Sound Transit’s Federal Way Transit Extension:

    DATES: Two public scoping meetings and one tribal/agency scoping
    meeting will be held at the following times and locations:
    1. November 8, 2012, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Highline Community
    College, Building 2, 2400 S. 240th Street, Des Moines, WA 98198.
    2. November 13, 2012, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Harry S. Truman High
    School, Gymnasium, 31455 28th Avenue, Federal Way, WA 98003.
    3. (Agency and Tribal Meeting), November 7, 2012, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00
    The agency and tribal meeting will be conducted in a webinar
    format, accessible via the internet and by teleconference. Invitations
    to the on-line agency scoping meeting and the public scoping meetings
    will be sent to the appropriate federal, tribal, state, and local
    governmental units. Invitations will include details on how to
    participate in the on-line meeting.

  6. Cycle tracks are a good start. Now let’s start doing the same thing for buses.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’d like to do the same for cars as well.

      The ideal topology would minimize the intersections between fast throughput vehicles and slow, pedestrian and cycle vehicles.

      1. The answer is not always grade separation, Mr. Corbusier.

        Though an honest attempt at grade separation would be better than what usually happens, which is grade separation for fast vehicles and total blockage for everyone else.

  7. For the record, the hullabaloo at the Seattle Times is within this blog’s purview. They opposed Link and they tend to oppose many things transit advocates and urbanists support. What they’re doing doesn’t directly threaten such concerns now (aside from, you know, the general concern of having a local paper of integrity and decency), but the potential danger is glaring.

    1. All you need to know to understand the Blethen family’s positions on transit is that most of them live on waterfront properties in Mercer Island and Bellevue, and have driven back and forth to Fairview Fannie their entire lives. I would be surprised if any of the oldest two generations has ever set foot on Link, especially outside of a media day.

  8. This isn’t anywhere on the internet that I know of, but Magnolia is starting to mutter more over the lack of night service thing. Someone posted a flyer at the Christian Science church stop for a rider meeting on the subject last Monday. (It seemed to me that most of the kickback on the suggested transit changes was also from actual riders, despite frequent intimations here to the contrary.)

    1. I don’t think anyone doubts that the criticism came from real riders in Magnolia (although Viewmont Way gets service out of proportion to ridership). The Village, 28th, and Gilman/Thorndyke, unlike Arbor Heights and Beach Drive that you hear a lot about here, actually have a whole lot of riders. The criticism is more that the riders were misguided and acted against their own interest in shooting down the 24/33 restructuring.

      1. Eh. I didn’t complain about it. And I was losing all-day service. The restructure would have basically worked for me.

        I wouldn’t necessarily discount the people that were complaining, though (who I perceive were largely 28th and east-slope) – whether or not they were screwed over highly depends on what the scheduling for the 33 loop looked like. The 28th and Route 33 riders were definitely of the opinion they would not all fit on the same bus at peak – and while yes, some could ride counter-peak and transfer, there was a perceived heavy time penalty involved vs. previous situation. In turn this led to worry the 33 would fill up before making it up the hill – riders would have to rely on earlier riders taking counterpeak instead of going for the one-seat. There would be a -lot- of ugly adjustment. Much local school/church/grocery/shopping access would also now require a transfer from 28th.

        Note the area of unambiguous highest population density in Magnolia, which is actually quite dense, lies between the two old routes near the top of the suggested loop and currently seems to be splitting its ridership between the two one-seat routes.

      2. I do think the proposed restructure would require a shifting of some hours from the 24 to the 33 in the AM peak. Today’s AM 33 trips run quite full; the 24 trips less so, but a lot of the 24 riders do come from the part of 28th you’re talking about. But that’s the sort of thing Metro can anticipate pretty easily. I don’t see it as a reason to kill the restructure, just to push Metro to make sure seats on the new 33 match up with demand.

      3. So how was the 33 going to be restructured? My understanding was that the 24 would leave 28th, and that 28th would only have a new peak-only route. But a few people have been talking about a new 33 routing that would replace service on 28th?

      4. “Trust Metro” has totally worked so well for West Seattle… lots of things could go wrong, is all. :)

        I think they were trying to do too much at once. They probably could have gotten away with something like cutting one or both of the Discovery Park tails pretty easily, but getting most of the current 24 route upset with them at the same time was a bit of a losing game.

        I’m wondering how connecting to the 124 and running on 3rd is affecting Magnolia bus ridership. It would have vastly irritated me some years back when I used to ride through to whichever of the 131/132 used to go down 1st in Sodo. My 19 ride spiked then settled down to normal ridership, but that may have to do with people being unaware of the schedule change and sorting themselves into the best routes for them.

        I’ve been paying a little attention to the 24 counterpeak runs I’m seeing between 7 and 8 am over the past couple of days

        24 counterpeak at the top of the hill – 6 riders
        24 at James (essentially peak 124) – full seats, or nearly, no standees
        24 counterpeak about to turn north off Denny – full seats, or nearly (!)

        I wonder where those riders were going, or if they were just trying to pass the D.

      5. Oh, I’m not advocating “trust Metro.” I’m advocating loudly and frequently saying: “We are behind this restructure, but only if you make sure there are enough seats on the 33 that no one ever, ever gets passed up, and we want to see the specific plan showing us that.”

        As for that full reverse-peak 24 you saw at Denny, there is quite substantial reverse-peak ridership between downtown and the various office buildings along Elliott. Years ago, before most of them were even built, I regularly drove an outbound 33 trip that left downtown at about 7:15 a.m. It would typically be half full with people headed to those buildings. I can only imagine there are more such commuters now, with all the new space that has been added.

      6. Mike, the 33 was going to become a loop that would serve 28th outbound and Gilman/22nd/Thorndyke inbound. This is very clever because most of the ridership is in between those two paths, and riding to and from downtown… which means almost everyone can walk downhill both coming and going. It would negatively affect people who live outside the loop.

        I was under the impression that it was going to be a live-loop that would drop the through route and lay over downtown, but I could be wrong about that.

      7. *refreshes memory* Oh, that’s right, it was a one-way loop. Which was worse for 28th than what I vaguely recalled… anyway, there -were- reasons for people to be going ‘augh’ about this, especially since only a tiny minority of local shopping/doctors/schools/so on is on that route. THe question of whether the suggested changes convenienced more people than they inconvenienced is pretty open, I think.

      8. Yes, the loop 33 would have a negative impact on connectivity inside Magnolia. But the intra-Magnolia ridership was vanishingly small in any case, a tiny fraction of the ridership to downtown.

        I think the real objection would be from people outside the loop, far from one side of it, who would have to either ride around the loop or walk a long way in one direction. But riding around the loop shouldn’t take more than 5-8 minutes for any place where the two sides are at all far from each other, so I don’t think it’s a big deal. The connectivity to Ballard on the revised 24 and the longer span of service the restructure would enable are both more important, in my opinion (as someone who first rode and then drove the 33 on a daily basis in the past).

      9. Improved Ballard connectivity… mm. 34th, sure. Village, sure. Even for me, vaguely. But think about how that interacts with the one-way loop. Even if there’s a transfer point at the N end of the loop, that doesn’t help you get up 28th from there, or down from the 33 route. On average, is this meaningfully more direct than status quo?

      10. Well, connectivity to Ballard would be better in one direction for pretty much all 33 riders (northbound for those on 28th, and southbound for those on 22nd and Thorndyke). It would be much better in both directions for riders on or around Gilman, who would have a one-seat ride on the 24. It wouldn’t be worse for anyone, because the option to ride down to Elliott and catch the D is still there.

        The key benefits I see from the restructure are for downtown passengers, who are 90%+ of the ridership. They would get more peak frequency (which would be needed to handle all the peak passengers on both 28th and Gilman) and a longer span of service seven days a week.

      11. “the intra-Magnolia ridership was vanishingly small in any case, a tiny fraction of the ridership to downtown.”

        I’ve only been on the 24 a few times, but I’ve seen a surprising number of people taking intra-Magnolia trips. Like eight from downtown, three get off on Elliott/15th and two get on, three get on on 28th and get off on 32nd or at Magnolia Village, everyone else gets off at Magnolia Village, and I’m alone the rest of the way to Discovery Park. So the number of people going from downtown to Magnolia was about the same as the number of people making intra-Magnolia trips. Of course, this wasn’t the PM rush hour.

      12. It’s still adding a major commute time penalty (15 min+, as I eye it) and annoying complexity to some people, which is worth mentioning. From the schedule, it takes 13 minutes to hump the 33 up the Thorndyke leg at peak, and only a couple less otherwise… I admit putting the revised 24 down Dravus as initially proposed would have sort of helped if Dravus wasn’t so… Dravus.

        And yeah, people (sometimes) use the 24 to get around. There is a vague logic to its madness. Not so much the 33, I think. Now that I don’t have a bus pass, I’m less likely to take a discretionary 24, but I used to do so every so often.

        A note on the West Viewmonts – despite their ridership dearth, they’re flat, usually pretty empty, and have no stop signs. Buses can just power down to the end and then power back at a brisk pace, and they do. It takes like 5 minutes one-way from the Village.

        (At least at my stop, peak 19 ridership ain’t too bad – 3-4 on, 1-4 off on my two trips now that the school year’s started, with two other riders that I know of that bike/bus depending on weather and time of year)

      13. Yeah, I think the 19 would stay in any case. As you point out, it does have plenty of riders, although it doesn’t perform great in the peak-period universe. But for the 24, those 5 minutes add up. 10 extra platform minutes on each trip could be enough to require another bus for the route, depending on the layover situation.

        I don’t see why the loop would add 15+ minutes for anyone, except possibly those with serious mobility difficulties. It takes 13 at peak (10 off-peak) to get from 34th and Government to 28th and Blaine. But you’re not adding that much length or time if you just count how long it takes to get from, say, 28th and Manor Way to 22nd and Emerson, which would be the most typical case for someone who has to ride around because the walk is too far. The further south you get, the easier (and shorter) the walk between the stops becomes. And for those going inbound who are west of 28th, there is also the option to walk downhill to 34th and get the 24 rather than riding around the loop inbound.

        By the way, DJR, I really appreciate your reasoned tone and interesting points — discussions with you are edifying and rewarding.

      14. Even as far south as Newton, getting over to the 24 route from the 33 is decidedly unpleasant (though it would be easier downhill). I had to do it once when I missed a stop in the dark… poking at an online topographic map it’s like 75 feet of vertical, which is darn near half the bridge’s climb. It only gets worse from there. On 28th, N of Lynn the restructure would have been pretty inconvenient, and by Smith seriously so, as I see it.

        But Magnolia transit is a hard problem because of the dang hills. The first time I invited my hardy transit-dependent friends to my place (which I do every so often) a couple of them looked at the 24 bus map and went ‘that’s crazy, we can just walk along McGraw, it’s only 3/4 of a mile’. So they got off the bus and tried it. Never did -that- again.

        I’m well aware all-day service on West Viewmont is unwarranted :) The W Magnolia part of the suggested restructure did the things that would be necessary for me to be OK with a restructure personally, namely direct service from the bridge to the Village. Pragmatically speaking, I think Magnolia -could- probably have adapted OK, even if it probably would have done so by having a different set of people use the de facto Magnolia park & ride by the Christian Science church than already do.

        I swear somewhere there were figures for ridership split between the various stages of the 24, but I can’t find them now. (Though aren’t new ridership figures due soon?)

      15. Hmm… different ideas of what hills are too much for people, I guess. When I lived over there, I lived at Thorndyke and Newton. At the time the 33 only came hourly in the middays, which is when I was usually commuting to work, and didn’t match up well with my schedule. So I hoofed it up Newton to the 24 stop almost every day, and it really didn’t seem like a long or difficult trek to me. (In fact, I often foolishly waited until the last minute and had to run up the 3 blocks.) And once you are that far south, there is also the option of walking farther, but much less steeply, to 28th and Blaine.

        Again, it’s only the folks wanting to go to Ballard who will have to do that, in any case. The walk downhill, for commuters coming from downtown, is not a problem.

      16. Heh, I’m no stranger to hills. I used to make the interesting 31->5 transfer on a vaguely regular basis, and I walk up the bridge home something like twice a month. But I remember it taking way more time than reasonable to get up to 28th and subsequently missing the hourly 24. It was dark and rainy and I had to walk down the ridge and then over/around the other ridge to get home, so there were plenty of other reasons for me to be unhappy about that situation. I think I consider hills between me and the stop I get on the bus way more of a barrier than hills between the stop I get off and my destination… dunno why.

        Tried commuting to the Sunday Ballard Farmers Market by the 24 today – worked surprisingly well, with a 2hr round trip total.

        Outbound – there was already someone on the bus when I got on at W Viewmont, 5 got on at the Village, 6 in several groups along 34th, 2 including me got off at the first stop on Government

        Inbound – 1 other person on the bus when I got on at Government, but we were both going to W Viewmont. Noticed someone waiting for the bus going the other way at the Village.

        I watched the next two trip pairs after I got home, they were pretty much empty. I think there was one person going outbound, but I wasn’t totally sure.

  9. The Bel-Red diagram is encouraging. Not the renaming of the streets, but that they have a plan to connect the grid.

    What I think is disingenuous about some of the discussion is the talk about the area’s “light industrial history”. Bel-Red has a lot of retail and commercial stuff in it today, and nobody bothered to fix up the grid accordingly until the big money came in.

  10. Community Transit is moving more and more in the direction of turning into a rush-hour-only service provider. When sales tax revenues decline, we make drastic cuts to off-peak service and only minor cuts to peak service, but when federal grant money comes it, it goes 100% to paying for more peak service.

    1. That is a response to local demand — so much peak service up there is SRO, and cuts would undoubtedly make it a nightmare. Unfortunately the cuts to local service have gotten well beyond the point where the local service is usable for most of the ridership, and have made it extremely difficult to be poor in south SnoCo.

    2. Grant pools have a specific scope; it’s not money with no strings attached. Maybe that grant pool was only for rush-hour transit or overcrowded buses.

  11. My favorite comment from the WTA fare hike article:

    “Empty? Not the buses I ride. Sometimes it’s standing room only. No bus is full all the time. Is your car full all the time? Doubt it. From what I see, most cars have one occupant: The driver. How silly and inefficient.”

    I haven’t been on a WTA bus since March ’11, but my observation was that the ridership was good, particularily on their “GO Line” (15-min FTN) service. The general consensus among supporters of WTA seems to be that the fare hike is neccessary and at an acceptable rate. I think that most here would agree that the fare hike, going from $1 to $1.25, is acceptable. It still leaves WTA with one of the lowest fares in the state. (Pullman Transit has a $.50 fare, and I think Pacific Transit has a $.35 on select routes.)

    1. I’m a student of Western, and there are four “GO Lines” in Bellingham. The Blue Line, which runs through campus, almost always has very good ridership. Though, the University provides a bus pass to all students, so it makes sense that the Blue Line has very good ridership.

      I’ll do an AMA on WTA, if y’all want.

      1. the University provides a bus pass to all students

        To be clear, the student bus pass is paid for out of student activity fees voted for by the students. So, while it’s administered by WWU it’s actually provided by the Student Body.

  12. Where does everyone here stand on the lady who was kicked off the Metro bus because he baby’s diaper smelled really bad? (She’s now going to sue, btw). Should the driver have asked her get off the bus, or let her stay on?

    1. I think that the operator should have let the woman ride. I don’t think that she can do much about how her baby smells.

      But, I understand where the operator was coming from.

    2. I think we need to draw a line on people who cause a disturbance to others on public transportation. If you disturb others, you should be asked to move (with the driver’s discretion, of course).

      That said, I lost all sympathy once this person decided to call the news media and start talking about lawsuits. Gives me a clearer picture of what kind of person the driver was probably dealing with.

    3. What Ryan said.

      Metro handled the media strategy on this one well, though, and it’s good to see they’re not making a scapegoat of the driver.

      1. +1. That was a tough call to make. That said, asking how far the passenger needed to go seems obvious in hindsight. Short of a smell strong enough to cause people to vomit, I think I’d be able to tough it out for a couple of stops. (Not judging anybody involved here as I don’t know how strong the smell was and the newspaper accounts aren’t detailed enough to know the full dialog)

        At least the 36 was still running every 15 minutes at that time of night. Heck, it even has a published schedule so the mother would know how long before the next bus.

    4. That special snowflake doesn’t have a leg to stand on. When the driver tells you to get off because your baby’s screaming or stench or whatever else pose a threat to his/her safe operation of the bus (as well as the safety and comfort of other passengers), you damn well get off the bus. Otherwise, the driver will wait until police has you hauled away for UBC, and everyone else is upset with you for holding them up.

      1. Half the people on the bus have something contagious. It’s just the nature of living in a city where you don’t stay entirely within protected bubbles.

      2. In my expert opinion, the driver was correct in forcing the mother and baby off the bus. It was a public health issue. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    5. Settle, and have her sign an agreement not to reveal the amount. It is the publicity around amounts of money in lawsuits against government agencies that draw the sharks. (I don’t think she is one.)

  13. “On Monday, the council voted for $250,000 in additional funds for discount tickets for the poor”

    Excellent. Now, if Seattle would just send it’s $400,000 per year to this program instead of the Solid Ground shuttles…

    I’d love to see this entire program converted to ORCA. It will help tamp down on any fraud in the system (like the guy who showed me a pass yesterday with the date written in in pencil). It’ll also remove the stigma of being part of the only class of transit user that still uses a flash pass. If we convert the Human service ticket program to ORCA then the poor who use these passes can just tap their card like everybody else. Nobody but the driver will know they have a free/reduced fare pass.

    1. RRFPs are still used as a flash pass to pay with cash. We can’t outlaw that because of the RRFP inter-agency agreement, but we can have a different cash fare from the ORCA fare. Make the cash fare an even dollar, so people stop fumbling for the right change, holding up the line.

      1. actually rrfp cards are valid and issued by many non orca agencies. These cards simplify the identification of those who by law qualify for a minimum 50 percent discount.

        Exception: no discount on island transit. (since noone is charged a fare)

      2. I’m aware that the RRFP partner agencies are a much larger list than the ORCA partner agencies. The non-overlap are all outlying counties.

        That fact should not be a barrier to Metro having a policy of charging $1 cash fare and 74 cents ORCA fare for RRFP holders. The vast majority of riders on ORCA-enabled transit vehicles who use RRFP to pay with cash are residents of King/Pierce/Snohomish/Kitsap. This incentive would be aimed at them using their ORCA as an ORCA.

        Only a small number of riders who are travelling long distances through multiple counties would be affected by a fare differential, and the extra charge would be on the order of 26 cents. So, yeah, not a big hurdle to Metro embracing use of RRFPs as ORCA cards.

  14. I wonder if the constant cancellations and bustitutions due to mudslides on Sounder’s North Line have put a damper on filling the trains?

    1. Are there still loaders on 3rd Ave during PM peak? Are they getting smoother?

      Do all the RapidRide buses have passive restraint slots?

      Will Metro cajole riders into getting ORCA cards in their next update, or will they eventually implement price incentives to do so? Ya know the list: ending paper transfers, eliminating the fee to get the card, creating differential fares, and rounding cash fares up to even dollar bills…

      For that matter, has anyone been in the DSTT during PM peak lately? Getting the DSTT stabilized and able to handle its capacity has at least an indirect effect on RapidRide performance.

      1. I went home unusually early a couple of days last week, and was in the DSTT between 5:15 and 5:30. I stayed through one train and watched things both times. Operations seemed to be running very smoothly, except for one 101 driver I saw who waited for every dang runner. (Of course, there was a 102 in the very next platoon behind her.) Passengers have figured out how to use the loaders and they seem to be reducing boarding time a bit.

        When I have been seeing issues in the tunnel is northbound right after the end of the AM peak. Trains have been experiencing longish delays. I would speculate that is because that is the peak time for commuters to UW on the 71/72/73 and they are taking a long time to load.

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