This is an open thread.

189 Replies to “News Roundup: Your New Chair”

  1. OneBusAway has a notification for the stop at 6th & Pike to say that routes 10, 11, 43, 47 and 49 no longer stop there, but those are also the only routes displayed for real time arrival info. 301, 306, 308, 312 and 522 are nowhere to be found. Why is this?

    1. My first guess is that it’s an issue with the GTFS data. Metro is working on getting us an updated feed, but it requires a good bit of work on their end to get us one that also fixes some of the issues OBA is having with RapidRide.

      OBA also has a weird habit, in my observations, of merging some route data rather than replacing it when a new GTFS is loaded in. For example, Route 301 still shows as running both in the tunnel and on the 2nd/4th couplet.

    2. Unfortunately, the elimination of the stop at 6th did not speed up the buses as some had hoped. They still end up stopping at the traffic light, at least in the post-PM-peak period.

      1. I think Metro’s goal is to make everyone walk at least four blocks between stops never mind that this is a hardship on some people. Metro also in their wisdom eliminated several stops on Eastlake Ave E despite the fact that blocks on Eastlake are twice the size of normal city blocks. If you’re not walking at least four blocks now just wait, you will be!

      2. Joseph, 1/4 mile spacing is the standard in the Metro Service Guidelines. Most here are typically supportive of stop consolidation because it improves speed and reliability, and can reduce costs.

      3. Joseph, you sy that as if that’s a bad thing. Urban core should be stip spacig every 4 blocks, 5 outside of it. Period. No exceptions. Not even for care facilities. I’d say RR should have stop spacing between 8 and 10 blocks, Downtown core being the exception.

      4. I think every two blocks is appropriate for downtown. But four is fine outside of downtown. Metro hasn’t been very ambitious though, there are two stops on the 10 that are less than a block away from each other that are still both in operation…

      5. My favorite is the 25, which stops at 3rd and Pine, and then right around the corner at Olive and 4th. Looks like the 66 does the same thing. They’re on the same block!

      6. As a regular 11 rider, I’m happy 6th & Pike eastbound is gone. What would really speed up the outbound 11 is getting rid of at least half of the (I believe 8) stops between 15th and 23rd as well as the elimination of the 4way stop sign at 14th and Pine. In bound there are 2 stops on the same block on 42nd just north on Madison – nonsense!

  2. What was your issue with the Seattle Times Mike Lindblom’s story? I read it and it seemed fairly accurate. Basically, the Ballard D line is slow… we all know that, and yea the busses bunch, again something we know.

    Sometimes he does lay it on thick but in this case I felt it was mostly accurate.

      1. I took it to be spectacular in a condescending way. Like it was spectacularly outrageous.

        My bad. I guess I am just not used to STB complimenting Lindblom. :D

      2. His stuff is usually pretty balanced and to the point. Compared to any other mainstream reporters that do transportation reporting his stuff has the least spin or bias. King 5 (and TV in general) on the right and Stranger on the left.

      3. At any rate, an article in the Seattle Times that pressures SDOT and Metro to do something about that light into LQA, and fix off-board payment, instead of to BUILD MOAR FREEWAYS, Is A Christmas Miracle.

    1. I was all set to hate the article given Lindblom’s anti-transit articles in the past, but I found it surprisingly factual and down-to-earth. The main problem is the headline, which was probably chosen by an editor rathr than Lindblom himself. The article basically reports on the consensus of most people’s feedback: that the C is overcrowded in the peak, the D’s headways often degrades to 30 minutes and it gets stuck in traffic, and the lack of off-board payment is a significant drag on the routes’ productivity.

      I was also heartened to read that Metro’s manager Kevin Desmond “would not want to launch RapidRide again without everything done [beforehand]”, he “wants to start publishing schedule details for off-peak RapidRide trips”, and “RapidRide elements such as signal priority, peak-time parking bans and protruding curbs … are coming soon to Route 120”. Off-peak schedules, that’s what many people here have been pushing for for a long time.

      1. It’s been a long while since I’ve read a Lindblom article I would characterize as “anti-transit.”

      2. Why do I have a feeling Desmond isn’t going to be long for that job?

        If he means what he says, he’d delay the rollout of the E and F at least one shakeup, and if the 120 gets RapidRide features without being called RapidRide, especially if they make it better than the C or D, it will put the lie to the notion that RapidRide is anything more than a marketing gimmick.

    2. He’s underated the issues people have had with Rapid Ride in West Seattle insofar as overcrowding, RR buses passing stops due to the overcrowding, and missing the mark on arrival times.

  3. Re: State Senate Transportation Chair Eide: Even though I’ve gotten heat on the comment threads up in Island County for mentioning this from Haugen’s pals… good work guys. It was time for her to go.

    It also seems to me – groan – that Senator Ed Murray is doing all he can to prevent a philosophical majority from forming.

  4. So I’ve recently been comparing the agencies of places where I’ve lived for a substantial amount of time (NJ, Cleveland, Seattle). Something that really stuck out at me is farebox recovery on NJ Transit. If you look at http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/NJTRANSIT_2012_Annual_Report.pdf on page 5 of the report of indp. auditors, you can see the farebox recovery is nearly 50%. This is especially shocking considering that most of the service provided is suburban, which is supposed to be the most expensive. KCM and GCRTA have farebox recovery ratios around 25%.

    My question is, what does NJ do that could be done in Seattle?

    1. Yeah NJ is suburban, but still the most densely populated state in the US. Not to mention the service is oriented towards getting all these people to the largest city in the US by far.

    2. Charges extremely high fares and runs packed buses.

      Some of the KCM commuter routes most directly comparable to the NJT system have farebox recovery approaching 100%: 212, 214, 218, 301 are good examples.

      1. Well, it’s not quite that good. Using ridership numbers from the 2010 Route Performance Report; 212 80%, 214 46%, 218 84%, 301 77%. The only two I think cover costs are the 358EX 110% and the 120 97%. In contrast there are many in City buses that exceed 100% fare recovery during peak even though they charge a lower fare; the 1 at 139% and the 4N at 144% are standouts. But it should be noted that those one way suburban commute buses are not the money pit many on this blog like to claim and outpace the inner city buses in passenger miles per platform mile. I guess that could be used to argue that two zone fares should be increased as they are providing a greater value to the customer.

      2. Ah, Bernie, it’s nearly 2013. Why don’t you use a more current Route Performance Report? Like 2011.
        Oh, wait, 2011 isn’t out yet. It used to come out in July, but I guess Kevin is a bit busy these days putting out fires.

      3. Well, NJT runs buses into the city that never sleeps. Seattle pretty much rolls up the carpet by 7PM.

      4. Pine Street is thick with crowds at 9:30pm, and Broadway and University Way are active all hours. There’s lots of nightlife in Ballard and Fremont. People want to get in and out of all these places on better transit than half-hourly slow buses.

      5. There is dismal demand for eastside to Seattle transit at night. Look at the route performance report. Every single bus is flagged for being in the bottom 25% in rides per platform hour. Upping the level of service would just be flushing money down the sewer. If all the buses terminate at BTC and force a transfer to East Link there will be about10 people on each train. Let’s see, splitting the fare with Metro for the transfer that will give ST about 4% fare recovery and slice Metro’s from a respectable 24% down to 12%. And no, you can never improve the bottom line by adding more service. RR is living proof that no matter how much red lipstick you apply a pig is still pork.

      6. Err, oops. Forgot to multiple the ridership by two for typical 30 minute headways. So ST would rake in more like 8% fare recovery. Metro’s will still be slashed in half. If we’re generous and double Link ridership because of the panache effect they get to maybe 24% (half are Link only riders so no fare sharing). But since trains are more than twice the cost per hour to run the subsidy per rider is double.

      7. NJ transit runs service into NYC and Philly, which dwarf Seattle, have more frequent all-day transit services, and more walkable destinations. Many of the suburbs and small cities within NJ (though certainly not all) are older and more walkable than many parts of Seattle.

      8. Funny, when I come home Saturday or Sunday evenings the 550 has a respectable number of riders and sometimes it has a lot of riders.

      9. True, I was looking only at the Metro routes. The 550 does well as it connects the two major CBDs in the region and the DSTT with the largest eastside transit center. But the point is it does just fine with buses at 30 minute headways after 7:30PM weekdays and all day Sunday. Doubling the frequency with a train that costs twice as much per hour (and that doesn’t even touch the capital cost) is cracking a peanut with a gold plated sledge hammer.

      10. Bernie, if you’re looking at ST routes that connect to East Link, you should also look at the 545 (which has decent ridership in the evening) and the 554 (which serves about 25% of riders at Rainier and Mercer Island compared to the 550, despite having many fewer trips).

        And of course, if it’s easier to get to and from Seattle in the evening, more people are likely to consider transit.

      11. Metro runs over 30 peak hour routes between the eastside and Seattle. Off peak and nights that number dwindles to 3-4. Toss in a few infrequent ST routes but it’s pretty clear that there just isn’t a lot pent up demand for cross lake travel via transit. It’s very difficult to compete with driving. First most eastsiders are going to a P&R which means using the car anyway. Traffic is light and even with frequent headways using tranist sucks up way more time. And since a lot of evening trips involve groups it’s not even cost effective. There’s way more demand from the South Sub Area and even with Central Link serving SEA it’s a ghost train after rush hour unless there’s a special event like a soccer match.

      12. On weekends, I don’t personally go to the eastside much, but when I do, the 554 and 271 are important routes. I especially value the 554 because it makes it a lot easier for someone who likes to hike to decide not to own a car. Couger, Squak, and Tiger are all right there. With a 209 connection, you can do Si. And to hike further up towards to pass, there are a lot of groups that meet at Issaquah Transit Center for carpooling – again, the 554 goes right there.

        Even though I only ride the 554 an average once or twice a month, had the bus not been there, the alternative would have been a $50 cab ride (one way, with hitchhike back) or a $80-$90 Zipcar rental (one day), or just stay home. Besides spending a lot more money than I do today, I would probably be hiking less too.

      13. Bernie, Anecdotally, I’ve been on both the 550 and the 554 late at night in either direction and have observed heavy ridership. Contrast that I’ve seen a peak trip leave Issaquah transit center with no passengers.

        There is almost always someone wanting to travel to/from Eastgate or Mercer Island Transit Centers. late into the night. Indeed, I’d like to see hourly service until 2 am in this corridor on weekends.

      14. I have also observed evening trips on the 545 going into the city about 1/2-2/3 full as late as 9-10 in the evening. Not a crush-load, but not at all a ghost bus either. Even the last trip of the night, leaving Redmond at 11:40 PM had close to half the seats taken the one time I rode it.

        Again, it also bares repeating that when a bus route gets longer, the options should be bus get cut become much more difficult and/or expensive. The best that technically goes closest to my home, the 30, I couldn’t care less if it got cut because I can walk or bike everywhere it goes at least as fast as the bus, if not faster. If late night bus service to Magnolia gets cut, it’s a 20 minute bike ride or a $15 cab ride. Worse than my little shuttle route, but still not the end of the world if you don’t travel too often after the cut-off time.

        But if you start cutting evening trips off routes like the 545 or 554, now your alternatives include a 1 1/2-2 hour bike ride, a $30-50 cab ride, a $40-90 Zipcar rental, begging friends with cars to drive out to eastside just to pick you up, or, of course, spend hundreds of dollars a month to buy your own car and drive it everywhere.

        Even if the cost metrics show lower ridership and a higher cost per rider during off-peak times than peak-times, ridership on most routes is still well above the threshold for the operating cost of the bus to be much, much less than the cost of every passenger on the bus paying for a rental car or taxi or buying a car they would have otherwise not needed.

      15. “it does just fine with buses at 30 minute headways”

        The people waiting 25 minutes for a bus or having to schedule their day to fit the half-hour increments don’t think it’s fine. Plus there are the riders who aren’t there because they won’t put up with that, or they drive “just this once” because the bus won’t be there for half an hour or they don’t know what time it’s scheduled and they don’t have a smartphone with them. We’re not talking about a little residential route but the main regional trunk for the Eastside.

      16. I ride the 550 often, frequently on the later trips. 10 and 15 minute headways have been expanding further into the evenings in recent years and the 30 minute trips have very respectable ridership, often with SRO. ST doesn’t break out evening trips in ridership reports but only weekend ridership dips to merely “satisfactory”. Will the train induce enough ridership to make it worth the expense? I can’t say, but linking Downtown Bellevue with Dowtown Seattle and Capitol Hill’s nightlife via a one seat ride on a train sure seems like it will bring out scads of night ridership.

        As much as I hate to think about it, lots of Seattlites will be drawn to Kemperland too for reasons I fail to understand. Too bad Kemper and his chronies have done everything in their power to push the train as far away from his properties as possible. Whatever, free country…

      17. ST breaks out ridership by time period in the SIP. From the 2012 Draft SIP, the 550 in weekday evenings had 47.67 passengers/trip eastbound and 43.63 westbound. For nights, the numbers are 33.6 and 23.4 respectively.

      18. ST breaks out ridership by time period in the SIP

        And it goes from ~10 min headways to 30 minute headways. So the demand per hour drops from 548 people per hour both directions down to 114/hr. 30 people on an artic isn’t bad but it’s hardly SRO and doesn’t warrant doubling down on cost to go to 15 minute headways.

      19. Totally anecdotal but last Sunday the 1:50pm 550 out of BTC was standing room only by the time we got out of Bellevue.

      20. I’m not looking to quibble about these numbers in an attempt to justify more service. Sound Transit has been slowly expanding 10 and 15 minute headways further into the evening on the 550 for as long as I’ve lived over here. When I’m typically riding (7-9pm), the buses are relatively full. When I’ve been on later buses (9-11pm) those are fairly empty.

        Also, look at the growth in ridership between the 2012 and 2013 SIPs. A lot of that ridership is peak rides, to be sure. But the housing in Bellevue is *finally* starting to fill up a bit and some of those downtown Bellevue Residents are taking the bus at night, to be sure. More are coming.

        Ridership on the 550 has been pushing ST to add more trips – Except possibly for Saturdays, they really haven’t been adding trips in an attempt to induce ridership.

  5. I love the party train idea. We had a great discussion in a news roundup last year about the party train Seattle used to have to Snoqualmie (complete with dancing car) and the one we could have to Stevens.

  6. NYC BRT article: “The top score was 100. The Institute gave New York City’s system a failing grade of 35 and called it, stingingly, “not BRT.””

    As I wrote here, RapidRide is even lower with a score somewhere between 12 and 32.

    1. I don’t see how you can score something that is so ill defined.

      “Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a term applied to a variety of public transportation systems using buses to provide faster, more efficient service than an ordinary bus line.”


      Given that, none of the RapidRide lines should be termed BRT!

      What they seem to be is the opposite, making an excruciatingly long journey a bit more palatable by increasing the comfort level.

      And hey, maybe that’s a new paradigm for transit…I mean, if I can’t get speed, the next best thing is comfort. If I can settle in and get broadband Wifi or just use my Clear Wimax dongle, then who cares if its 20 minute or 40 minutes!

      1. That is why you measure the individual components that are used commonly in BRT. The more components it has the more BRT it is. Sounds like a pretty straightforward thing to me.

      2. Comfort?
        What’s comfortable about standing for a 30 minute ride on a lurching bus with a wet floor?
        So you got yourself a small, hard plastic seat where you can do your mental masturbation with your hand device and you are comfortable?
        IMO, you have appallingly low standards for comfort.

    2. Well, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement, but I was pretty pleased with the M15 Select Bus Service. The main advantages it has are off-board payment, a bus lane, and limited stops. These are enough to make it faster and easier for many East Side journeys that would have otherwise involved walking to the Lexington Avenue Line and back.

    3. The ITDP gold standard is pretty questionable. Among its expectations are many overlapping routes with express limited and local patterns, 2-5 minute headways, median busways with four lanes through stations, sliding doors at stations… A lot of these things are arguably bus projects at rail costs or simply not good transit planning, which is probably why they didn’t rate any US system above bronze.

  7. I don’t know how it is on the RapidRide buses, but having been taking the 168 and 180 to SeaTac one thing that seems to be missing is a place to put luggage or large backpacks. I’ve been traveling with both, and the 168 for example can get crowded. There is no place to put a suitcase other than taking up a handicapped area or extra seat and then still it’s cumbersome.

    1. This is one of those no-win situations. On all the airport bus lines I’ve been on, people complain about the lack of luggage space if there is none, but complain about the lack of seats if there is sufficient luggage space. A good example is the buses used on the SL1 in Boston. There are a few with dedicated luggage racks, which have only 30 or so seats despite being artics with commuter seating.

      1. Interesting point. Thinking about this, this is probably one reason why trains to the airport are preferred over buses, and why there’s always a big push to get train service to the airport, even though train lines to airports tend to underperform in terms of ridership.

        On a train, which is *big*, it’s quite possible to leave sufficient luggage space and still have enough seats. Consider the Picadilly Line in London.

  8. Just what the Bay Area needs: express trains along segments with ridership that can’t currently support 12-minute frequencies at peak (and are ghost trains at 20-minute frequencies off-peak).

    So now the system will require even longer waits and be even less useful for anyone not making extremely-long-distance journeys from sprawl-n-rides to downtown San Francisco.

    BART is truly a poster child for stupidity in American rapid transit. I can’t wait to hear all the local drool-mouthed parroting of this latest uselessness.

    1. I was impressed by the San Jose subway idea.

      There should have been express San Francisco – Fremont trains thirty years ago.

      None of the articles I found said where the express segments would be, or how often they’d get stuck behind a local train on the same track.

      The DMU exurban lines will probably be just peak-only or Caltrain-level commuter trains under BART’s brand name, not ghost trains every 15 minutes. I believe the BART buses that have long been on these routes are peak-only.

      1. There should have been express San Francisco – Fremont trains thirty years ago.

        Fremont is 78 square miles and 214,000 people in pure sprawl hell. The last thing it needed then or needs now is to be rewarded with a bullet train that makes it faster to get to downtown SF from there than from the Inner Richmond District.

        The map Martin’s link suggests express service (express bypasses or simply blowing through stations) between Bay Fair and Daly City.

        I can’t figure out for the life of me what stops they would even skip. Skipping Oakland airport would be stupid. Same goes for skipping the major transfer point at West Oakland.

        My guess is that Lake Merritt and Mission Terrace/Glen Park will get screwed by this. They’re urban neighborhoods; screwing them over is what BART is designed to do.

        As with every other “express+local” subway concept shy of New York-level frequencies, this is a monumentally stupid idea. Divided frequencies; longer waits for all.

      2. My personal belief, since I frequent one of the cities on the proposed DMU eBART line is that it will most likely flop. The issue here is well known. CalTrans, Contra Costa County, and the pro-BART people have been fighting for years against sprawl.

        After much wrangling, Highway 4 is actively being improved through this area, and may reduce the need for the eBART DMU. Highway 4 is finally being widened through one of the worst chokepoints in the country in Antioch. It’s also being widened from Lone Tree Way in Brentwood/Oakley to Sand Creek Road which is finally being converted to a grade separated interchange.

        Having taken BART from Pittsburgh/Baypoint to SF, it’s a ridiculous amount of time to spend on an suburban-heavy rail/urban subway system. That’s why, I just take a motorcycle, split traffic and cut the time in more than half. What’s more, have the Bay Area transportation planning agencies really looked at the travel demands of those living on the Inland East Bay…or “exurubs.”

        There’s a discontinuity in the highway network in this area that no amount of transit can address. Brentwood eastward has an agrarian economy, while areas along the water such as Concord, Pittsburg, and Richmond rely on oil refining and heavy industry.

        I keep hearing plans that BART will extend from Dublin towards the Altamont Pass, but I won’t believe until I see it. Even then, it won’t address the issue of traffic that continually extends each way from the Pass. What’s more, try taking Vasco Road to the Inland East Bay, which is a treacherous road in desperate need of widening. No HOV facilities extend east of Livermore on 580, but HOV lanes exist from Livermore westward to Oakland.

        My suggestion is to construct an HOV lane with a direct access interchange to a P&R facility. …for those that carpool.

      3. Charlot: Be safe out there. I nearly bought it commuting on the Nimitz, ‘splitting lanes’ on my daily trip from Fremont to Oakland.
        Some drivers of the 4 wheel variety are just mean and nasty.

      4. “Fremont is 78 square miles and 214,000 people in pure sprawl hell. The last thing it needed then or needs now is to be rewarded with a bullet train”

        The point is not to get to Fremont itself but to get to San Jose faster, which is 1+ million people.

        “Divided frequencies; longer waits for all.”

        I never said divided frequencies. I meant adding new runs. BART even said itself it’s planning to increase peak frequencies on its routes. If they can’t afford to do it and preserve local service, then don’t do it until they can. But in the meantime people will be driving because the trains aren’t fast enough, as CharlotteRoyal says, and as many people say who never take transit or won’t when it’s inconvenient. And even if you dilligently preserve local service, its ridership will go down as people switch to the expresses now that they finally have a choice, and then the locals will get some deserved cutbacks and the money can be reinvested in other local corridors that are underserved.

      5. get to San Jose faster, which is 1+ million people

        1+ million people who are 47 miles from SF, and who are never going to be less than 47 miles from SF, and who aren’t going to suddenly switch from wanting to drive 47 miles to wanting to ride 47 miles because it gets 3.5 minutes faster from skipping 5 stops along the way.

        CharlotteRoyal is right. Taking an “urban subway” those kinds of distances is stupid any time of day that you can drive unimpeded. That’s why trips of this sort are served the world over by commuter rail, and not by the grossly inappropriate and criminally wasteful thing that is BART.

        And even if you dilligently preserve local service, its ridership will go down as people switch to the expresses now that they finally have a choice, and then the locals will get some deserved cutbacks

        In trying to defend your “overlay” obsession, you just boldly admitted the inevitable divide-and-make-useless consequence of that plan. Suddenly the local Oakland stops have but 30 minute service, so riding BART is not worth the effort even at distances where it could be feasible. Result: useless for long hauls, useless for short hops.

        BART is 104 miles of rail, with a mere 430,000 riders. Toronto has more users than that on its less-used subway line alone. New York has three times as many riders on the just Lexington Avenue line’s Manhattan segment. BART’s Grand Expansionist Vision denies all geometric reality and will lead only to further waste and regional irrelevance.

      6. The last thing I’ll say about it: if you spend billions upon billions of dollars, and still can’t muster the ridership to justify 12-minute all-stop service at the peak of peaks, you’re fucking doing it wrong.

        You should have built at-grade commuter rail on existing ROW and called it a day.

      7. San Jose’s awful land-use patterns will never change without real transit like the BART extension. VTA light rail has extremely low ridership because the land uses along it are terrible and it hasn’t been able to spur much real TOD. BART will change that, leading to some real TOD around its stations and making VTA light rail much more useful.
        The measure on the ballot here in Alameda County, which would have funded some urban transit improvements in Oakland and Berkeley and the Livermore BART extension, narrowly failed (because it couldn’t get the full 2/3 majority required). This might actually be a good thing, because the Livermore extension really would just contribute to more and more sprawl, and bring extremely expensive transit infrastructure out to a place where all the ridership would consist of rush hour park-and-ride users.

      8. “3.5 minutes faster from skipping 5 stops along the way”

        3.5 minutes is unimportant. What’s important is to cut the SF-SJ travel time from 90 minutes to 60 minutes to compete with driving. If it can’t make a significant dent in the travel time it’s not worth doing. I never expected a 2-track “express-lite” to do much: real expresses need 4 tracks. Likewise, the reason for an all-day 15X is to get the Ballard-Downtown travel time to a respectable 15 minutes, and the reason for a 358-Limited is to get the Aurora corridor down from 45 minutes to a reasonable 30 minutes.

      9. The measure on the ballot here in Alameda County, which would have funded some urban transit improvements in Oakland and Berkeley and the Livermore BART extension, narrowly failed (because it couldn’t get the full 2/3 majority required). This might actually be a good thing, because the Livermore extension really would just contribute to more and more sprawl, and bring extremely expensive transit infrastructure out to a place where all the ridership would consist of rush hour park-and-ride users.

        No, no, no, no. I’m tired of the sprawl argument being shot out all t he time. It shows that you really haven’t been there in the last few years. The sprawl is already there, and has been there for decades. What more sprawl do you envision taking place? What Alameda is contending with is the traffic coming over the Altamont from San Joaquin and the other locations in the valley.

      10. Mike:

        It’s not about how many tracks there are. Unless you literally want the train to run 100% express, making precisely zero stops along the way and being useful only to an unforgivably slim portion of the population in an irredeemably narrow set of circumstances, you’re not going to get your 60-minute train.

        Because — again — it’s 47 miles, and subways have never been designed for 50-mph running. Crazy-long distances are not what subways do. Hence BART: failure. Hence Link: future failure.

        Meanwhile — and I regret the juxtaposition, since urban transit and whatever BART is for should never be given the illusion of equivalency by proximity — who cares about getting an all-day 15X down to 15 minutes, when there would only be demand for such a super express every 30 minutes. Speed is very important, but it’s useless without frequency. That’s why corridor routes perform better than node-pingers: exponentially greater usefulness leads to exponentially greater demand for frequency. (Sadly, RapidRide fails at speed, frequency, and everything else.)


        Livermore is never going to un-sprawl, get walkable, build TOD, or become a place where direct BART would serve an all-day purpose or be anything less than a money pit.

        Traffic from the central valley is not the cause of morning rush hour on the 580. That’s from commuting. And Livermore commuters can already drive to Dublin/Pleasanton and skip the traffic. Extending BART serves no purpose other than to make commuting slightly lazier for an exurban few — a reward for sprawl — at great expense to everyone else in Alameda County and the Bay Area. It won’t alleviate traffic or change anything else.

      11. The Caltrain expresses already do it in under 60… When I lived car-free in Silicon Valley for a month or two, Caltrain was my transit spine.

      12. 57-61 minutes, depending on the trip. The barest minimum. Average 9.6 miles between stops.

        Yes, mainline trains can maintain pretty high speeds when given the opportunity to go far without slowing down or stopping for those pesky people along the way.

        BART and Link are not mainline trains. BART is hypothetically able to run 80 mph… except totallynotreallynevergonnahappen. Link maxes out at like 55.

        So what demand exists for those “Baby Bullets” that hardly stop anywhere and are of incredibly limited usefulness? Eleven trips per day.

  9. According to the Rapid Ride article, there are more daily riders on the D line then on the C line. Yet they added C line buses that don’t through-route to D line. Fix the Queen Ann detour on D line! Northbound D should take Third to Denny, to Western, then Elliot/15th. If people in Ballard or Magnolia should walk a half mile or more to the bus, why not those in Queen Ann?

    1. My guess-and it’s just a guess–is that the D line riders are more spread out, and C line riders are more peak-heavy.

      My question is: if they really projected D to have 2.5X the readership of C, why on earth did they give them the same amount of service?

      1. A few. Not “quite a few”. And as Andrew reminds us, Denny and Mercer remain closer to one another than 15th and actual Ballard.

        RapidRide is a grand exercise in wishful thinking over geometry and geography. I’m glad the rest of this city has finally awoken to the Emperor’s nakedness.

      2. I take the D (or sometimes 40) a couple times a week, though my observations are entirely anecdotal too.

    2. If it’s a bad idea for people in Ballard to have to walk 1/2 a mile, why would it be a good idea to force people on Queen Anne to do the same?

      Kill the QA detour and you lose a massive amout of ridership, and are just providing an express to Ballard. That’s fine, but you’re fundamentally wasting bus capacity – assuming fixed service hours that means decreasing frequency to Ballard to provide enough capacity to keep Uptown moving. I’d much prefer to greatly improve the QA section of the route.

      1. Not even 1/2 a mile. Barely 1/3. No major intermediate streets to cross. 8 minutes versus 12. And plenty of alternate/connecting/duplicate service.

        Look at a map for once, Matt.

        Or tell us again about how awesome PAYL worked.

      2. And throughrouting would leave Ballard undeserved and West Seattle over served regardless of marginal LQA usage.

        As the numbers in the very article in question (and even a scant knowledge of population statistics, development densities, and usage patterns) make obvious.

        Your track record of meme-repetition in violation of the facts is hardly better than Bailo’s.

      3. .42 miles from Denny, and up a moderate hill.

        I’d love to hear the differences between a Ballard Express and a BART Express.

        “meme-repetition in violation of the facts” Let me guess – you have no facts to back this up.

      4. There’s physically no pathway from Denny or Elliot to QA & Mercer that’s less than 0.4 miles, and from most bus stops it’s half a mile. It’s less as the crow flies, but that’s irrelevant due to the orientation of the grid.

      5. I think that what’s missing from d.p. and others’ arguments against the LQA diversion is that the busiest for the 15 was at Queen Anne/Mercer. Similar to Sounder North, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to place stops right next to a body of water that cuts the walkshed in half (i.e., on Elliott).

      6. .42 miles from Denny, and up a moderate hill.

        If that “moderate hill” is too hard to handle, there’s probably a 1, 2, 13, or 8 coming soon. You’re saying that many people should have to waste 10 minutes just to save a few people 8.

        Maybe we should connect Denny and Mercer with a gondola.

        I’d love to hear the differences between a Ballard Express and a BART Express

        RR without the detour is hardly an “express”, stopping as it does every 1/4 to 1/2 mile along a continuous corridor.

        BART express trains will bypass stations that are already placed 1.5 to 2 miles apart for minimal usefulness.

        But, you know, facts are so difficult to come by.

      7. When “continuous corridor” = Elliot instead of Uptown, there’s little functional difference between this and an express. That’s also why that route used to be called 15X.

      8. The 15X still exists, and it has that “X” in it because it doesn’t stop at all for three miles.

        Again, facts.

        That you think Uptown is the crux of RapidRide’s mission is illustrative of your lack of authority on the matter.

        [Ad hominem]

      9. “Kill the QA detour and you lose a massive amout of ridership, and are just providing an express to Ballard. That’s fine, but you’re fundamentally wasting bus capacity”

        That assumes the majority of riders in Ballard are going to Queen Anne, which is highly unlikely. They’re going to downtown, First Hill, Sea-Tac airport, Bellevue, West Seattle, Tacoma, and other places, and would all benefit from an all-day express (15X or 18X).

        (I left out Capitol Hill because of the 8 alternative, although there is an argument that we shouldn’t assume it’s the best long-term solution for Ballard – Capitol Hill trips. Although now there’s the 40+8 possibilty… I haven’t tried that yet.)

      10. Mike, the 40+8 is terrible because the closest 40 stop is John St/Dexter, a full two blocks and three crossings from the EB 8 stop at Denny/Westlake. I usually wind up just hoofing it up the hill.

      11. This amazing reminder exists on the Seattle Times comment thread:

        Old enough to remember when the # 15 & 18 stayed on Elliot Way from Ballard to W. Seattle. Both were re-routed to lower QA for the ’62 fair.

        The streetcars took Elliott for 70 years. The detour was a World’s Fair gimmick.

        #familiaritybias #ahistorical #facts

      12. @Mike You’re assuming that RR-D is only for Ballard. I haven’t commuted toward downtown on the D yet, but there was always a line of people queued up to get on the 15 and 18 locals in Uptown.

        Regarding the *few people commute from Ballard to QA* meme, check out P. 56 of this report. In 2004 there were 4,550 daily trips from Ballard to the CBD, and 1,660 daily trips from Ballard to QA. That’s not nothing.

      13. Really? A decade-old document whose totals suggest it represents a tiny fraction of even today’s ridership, and which fails to distinguish Ballard-LQA trip from, say, Ballard-SPU trips (also on Queen Anne), is your evidence?

        And even those numbers suggest that we’re wasting 3/4 of Ballard riders time to save a very short walk for the other 1/4.

        Meanwhile, you observed many 15/18 boardings at Mercer & Queen Anne because they used to come every 10 minutes, and therefore were somewhat likely to come before a 1, 2, or 13 did. The RapidRide frequency drop has made it far less likely to be the first bus to come along.

        Your erstwhile observations also fail to prove that LQA boardings exceed the capacity of the Queen Anne Hill routes; it only shows that the trolleys are poorly coordinated and unevenly spaced.

        That you haven’t had any need for/opportunity to choose RR D “yet” is evidence of its redundancy for LQA-downtown service.

      14. dp, I don’t live in Uptown and I haven’t been commuting to downtown directly since RR-D went into effect.

        I’m showing the evidence I could find. I’d love one of Bruce’s ridership charts, but they don’t exist for these routes.

        All of the argument for both sides has been anecdotal – I’m simply trying to introduce some data to the argument. Over 1/3 of the people that commute *somewhere in Ballard* to the CBD commute from *somewhere in Ballard* to *somewhere in QA (or even Magnolia!)* using transit. Of course that doesn’t prove anything, but it seems like a lot more transit trips than others have been implying.

        “we’re wasting 3/4 of Ballard riders time to save a very short walk for the other 1/4” That’s just the Ballard to QA trips. There are also the QA to downtown trips, which were served by 15/18. You don’t get to claim that the 1/2/13 provide sufficient capacity without showing your work. Back to anecdotes, the 2X used to overfill and leave riders on the curb at 3rd & Pike even with 15/18’s around.

        I want to hear more than just how skipping Uptown will benefit Ballard. I want to hear why it’s better for our system. There are many ways of solving the Ballard issue: going back to the old system, fixing the timing and bottleneck issues on the current routing, reconfiguring other bus lines, taking service hours from QA lines to add frequency, subway, elevated, etc. But having a paralell high-frequency corridor that skips a major node doesn’t seem like a good idea on it’s face.

      15. Matt,

        First, let’s separate the two arguments (15/18 versus Queen Anne). I happen to think that staying on 15th was the right decision. Either way, I think that people on 15th would gladly walk to 24th, or vice versa, if the service was compelling enough. But it’s not.

        Second, you’re not just providing an express to Ballard, any more than the 71/72/73 is just providing an express to the U-District. If RapidRide D took the fast route, then it would be able to serve as a transit spine for all of northwest Seattle. People would be willing to transfer, because it would be one of the fastest ways to get downtown (or to anywhere you can connect to from downtown).

        Third, it’s not just about the travel time. Uptown is a major source of reliability woes. The money we’re spending on running these buses through LQA is money that we could instead spend on running extra buses to Ballard. What if eliminating the deviation would make it possible to have 12-minute service all-day? If nothing else, it would be a good down payment.

        I’m especially surprised to see people advocating for the deviation, when in the past, they’ve advocated for the exact opposite. I believe that Bruce has advocated consolidating U-District bus service on Roosevelt Way, even though most people will have to walk 3 uphill blocks to the Ave. We’ve talked about moving service off of the unreliable Fremont Bridge, and away from Seneca St and James St, in the name of reliability. There’s no direct connection at all between UQA and north Seattle, in the name of reliability. Why does it make sense to have an unreliable deviation to a major transit spine?

        And finally, regarding that report, I dispute your calculations.

        The number of trips from Ballard to QA is an upper bound on the number of trips served by the deviation. First, if you look at the map, you can see that “Queen Anne” actually includes all of Interbay and Magnolia, as well as huge swaths of Upper Queen Anne and SPU. So it’s a safe assumption that many of those Ballard-Queen Anne trips are actually trips to places not served by the deviation (like UQA), or to places which are still served by the straighter route (like Interbay, or 3rd and Denny).

        Conversely, trips between Ballard and points south, like Capitol Hill or West Seattle, are also improved if you cut out the deviation. If you add together all the destinations south of the Ship Canal other than Queen Anne, you end up with 9000 trips.

        Of course, their map also defines “Ballard” to include Fremont, Wallingford, and many other places that are hardly served by the D line. So I don’t know that the data really proves anything. But it certainly doesn’t prove that there’s enough demand for trips between Ballard and the north side of Seattle Center to justify hurting travel time and reliability for the much greater number of people traveling between Ballard and just about anywhere else south of the ship canal.

        To me, it just comes down to geometry. LQA is not “on the way” between Ballard and downtown. Straight, fast, and reliable routes are better routes. People who want to go to LQA can transfer, just like the greater number of people who want to go to Capitol Hill already do.

      16. Matt,

        Skipping the deviation serves our network because it significantly reduces the time that it takes a bus to travel between Ballard and downtown. This improves the experience for riders on that segment in general. But also, saving speed and improving reliability saves money. That money can be used to buy more service, meaning that without the deviation, RapidRide can have higher frequency for the same cost.

        All things equal, I think the best network is one that focuses on providing straight, fast, frequent, and reliable service along sensible corridors. I think the LQA deviation fails to meet any of those criteria. I think removing the deviation would improve our network for the same reason that the 70-series buses don’t run local all day; for the same reason that Metro wanted to break the through-routes on the 10/12 and the 2S/2N; for the same reason that the 3/4 should be rerouted on Yesler.

        If the individual routes are good, and they connect well, then two-bus trips are fine and dandy. But if every route has an expensive deviation, then everyone wants a one-seat ride, because you’ve already wasted your time and reliability budget sitting through a deviation that you probably don’t want or need.

        It’s hard to believe that RapidRide D is providing significant capacity to LQA. During peak times, the buses are already full with passengers going to/from Ballard; off-peak, there’s already extra capacity. If we need extra buses in LQA during peak, then we can provide extra service on dedicated Queen Anne express lines. For example, the 15X can be scrapped, and the service hours used for extra service on the 29, or a new route that turns around in LQA.

      17. @Aleks I’ve been arguing for the QA route in the name of creating a frequent service corridor, rather than two parallel less-frequent ones. I can be convinced that this is a bad idea through at least one of these two arguments:
        1. The detour to QA is slow, or unreliable enough to lose the savings we’d gain from a frequent corridor. And this can never be fixed.
        2. The bus services are different enough that you’d see little switching from one route to another.

        I doubt I can really be convinced of #2 – there’s just as much incentive to take a RR-D to Uptown as there is to take a 29. Plus there’s network benefits of connecting to Ballard.

        It’s #1 that could potentially sway me. It’s a balance between time wasted for Ballard commuters, and time saved from frequency, connections, and reduced walking time for Ballard-QA trips and QA-downtown trips. If nothing changed, I’d absolutely be in favor of skipping QA – the current time cost is huge. But I’m not convinced we can’t shave that dramatically.

        I see this as a similar issue from diverting Link through the Rainier Valley. We’d end up with a much faster trip to the airport but a much less efficient system overall.

      18. @Matt: Yep, #1 is the core of my point. I don’t think there’s a plausible story for making the LQA deviation fast/reliable enough, except by grade separation (i.e. Seattle Subway). There are simply too many competing factors, including awkward turns, one-lane streets, difficult lights, and competing interests which will fight any attempt to reserve a lane for buses (whether it comes from travel or parking). I hope I’m wrong, given that the D is now my main route to downtown, but I’m not optimistic.

      19. By the way, I can’t emphasize enough that I think reliability is much more important than end-to-end time. Taking Link between the airport and downtown is longer than it would be without going through Rainier Valley, but it’s longer by the same amount every time. And it doesn’t impact the effective frequency. In contrast, the unreliability of the LQA segment means that RapidRide’s already mediocre frequency (15 minutes) becomes even poorer.

        15 minutes wouldn’t be a terrible off-peak frequency if the bus was perfectly reliable. But when a bus is delayed by 10 minutes, and you start having 25-30 minute gaps in service, that’s going to turn people off from riding at all. I’d happily take a constant-time travel hit for an increase in reliability. Here, it’s the opposite — the faster route is also the more reliable one. To me, that’s a no-brainer.

      20. The irony is that I make a fair number of trips to LQA myself.

        But since I largely avoid RapidRide like the plague it is — nearly every non-peak attempt to walk or transfer to I’ve ever made has backfired, and I now use the 40 almost exclusively — I’m already liable to backtrack to get there.

        That’s how bad the RR frequency, headway management, and the detour itself are: it’s better to circle east, south, west, and north than it is to slog up via Mercer Place.

        (Aleks, you live in Ballard now?)

      21. “You’re assuming that RR-D is only for Ballard.”

        RapidRide was never intended to be the solution for Downtown-Uptown trips. The 1/2/13 are overwhelmingly more buses, not to mention the 3/4/16. Lower Queen Anne doesn’t need the D for Downtown-Uptown trips, although in a crazy way Metro needs then to take the D to increase its ridership numbers. But the characteristic of Bus Rapid Transit is that it’s supposed to be the most frequent and obviously best connection between two points (barring expresses), and that completely fails for Downtown-Uptown when it’s running in a sea of other buses.

      22. RapidRide was never intended to be the solution for Downtown-Uptown trips. The 1/2/13 are overwhelmingly more buses, not to mention the 3/4/16. Lower Queen Anne doesn’t need the D for Downtown-Uptown trips

        Exactly. We’re not talking about something like the 510/511, where you have two buses that make almost the same trip but skip one or two stops. Downtown-Ballard and Downtown-QA are already two different corridors. The only overlap outside of downtown is due to the deviation.

        The best way to serve LQA is not by having a sea of different routes; it’s by having a single route with the most frequency you can muster. If deleting the D deviation means that the 13 is standing room only, then run more 13 service, every 5 minutes if you have to. Give Queen Anne its own trolley RapidRide route. But don’t slow down the Ballard one just because some passengers might want to go to Seattle Center.

      23. You know, this whole thing could have been avoided if there were a streetcar through Belltown past Seattle Center and maybe up to the top of Queen Anne Hill.

        Oh wait…

      24. “The 1/2/13 are overwhelmingly more buses, not to mention the 3/4/16. Lower Queen Anne doesn’t need the D for Downtown-Uptown trips”

        And that’s exactly the opportunity I think everyone’s missing. Instead of running countless buses along almost the same corridor, we can run fewer buses along one single corridor, and take our saved service hours to bump up frequency and run feeder routes.

        For instance, you can all but kill the 2/13 if you created a feeder route that just picks riders up from the D. The time each run saves by not running downtown (letting D do that work) can be put into more D service.

        Yes, this only works if we can dramatically speed up the D.

      25. One frequent bus for Downtown-Uptown is an admiral goal, but it shouldn’t be the Ballard bus. It should be a bus that continues straight up Queen Anne. We could call it, oh, I don’t know, the 13 maybe.

        Ultimately what we need is a subway making various stops downtown and Belltown, then QA & Mercer, QA & Boston, Fremont or Interbay, and Ballard. That plus a frequent 13 would take care of most of the trips on Queen Anne. You might keep part of the 1 and 4 due to the inclines. I’ve suggested a Queen Anne loop from the 1’s terminus to the lower subway station, around Taylor to the upper subway station, and continuing on the 2’s route to the 1 terminus. It could also continue to Magnolia if there were such a demand. (Although then it couldn’t be a trolleybus).

      26. For instance, you can all but kill the 2/13 if you created a feeder route that just picks riders up from the D. The time each run saves by not running downtown (letting D do that work) can be put into more D service.

        By that logic, why not run the D all the way through Upper Queen Anne? Take the 13 route to SPU, then take Nickerson to the bridge. Imagine the 29, except all day, and possibly without the deviation to 6th.

        Or you could go a step further, and have the bus take the Fremont Bridge, and then continue along Leary. Now, you have a single bus which replaces the D, the 2/13, and the 40!

        From a network planning standpoint, these changes would beat the D at its own game. Not only have you provided a direct connection between Ballard and all of Queen Anne (including SPU), but you’ve also provided a direct connection between Queen Anne and North Seattle. (And between Fremont as well, with the Fremont Bridge alternative).

        Of course, no one would seriously propose these changes, because the resulting route would be an incredibly long way to get anywhere.

        My point is that the “trunk/feeder” pattern only works if the trunk route is worth connecting to, which means that it needs to be a fast and direct route between two points. Being frequent isn’t enough.

        Anyway, do you really think that Metro would replace the 2/13 (let alone the 1) with feeder service to D? This is the same Metro which isn’t making *any* changes as part of introducing RapidRide E; the same Metro which continues to run the 101 and the 150, despite the presence of a train making the same trip at much higher frequency. The 2/13 are heavily used routes, and if Metro tried to terminate them outside of downtown, people would throw a fit (and rightly so).

      27. [Aleks] I think I’ve made clear that I only support the Uptown detour if it can be made much faster. The same goes for the route you’ve created – but of course to make that fast you’d have to put it over or under ground.

        You have a good point about keeping reasonable expectations of what Metro would ever actually do. I could see them reducing service on the 2/13 if a feeder line is created (say, every other 2, 3, 4, and 13 goes only as far as Uptown), then slowly phase them out. But I admit that’s optimistic.

      28. My real point about the feeder service is that the percentage of riders on the 2/13 going between UQA and downtown is undoubtedly much higher than the percentage of riders on the D going between Ballard and LQA. So it seems silly to eliminate a direct route from Upper Queen Anne to downtown in the name of preserving a direct route from Ballard to Lower Queen Anne.

        Either we have a single trunk service covering all of Seattle north of downtown and west of Aurora — which I don’t think is realistic without grade separation — or we have 2+ trunk services. If we have to have at least two, then without question, the top two corridors are Interbay/Ballard and Queen Anne Ave. If we assume that both those corridors have the highest quality of service Metro can deliver (heh), then there’s no need for them to overlap outside of downtown.

      29. But if you break a trunk into two trunks you get 1/2 the frequency on each trunk. It’s better to have double the frequency, and a transfer, then a one-seat ride.

      30. But if you break a trunk into two trunks you get 1/2 the frequency on each trunk. It’s better to have double the frequency, and a transfer, then a one-seat ride.

        In general, yes. But, leaving aside the D, there are already 7 buses per hour going between Mercer/QAA and downtown, plus the 8 and 32. At that point, you’ve pretty much maxed out the effective frequency — if you threw any more buses down there, you’d just get platooning.

        With the money we’re currently spending on running the labyrinth of service on QA, we could easily get 10-minute service on the 13, plus a 30-minute local circulator for all the little streets currently served by the 1/2/4. We’re not so starved for resources that we need to consolidate those two corridors to get acceptable frequency on either one.

      31. “This is the same Metro which isn’t making *any* changes as part of introducing RapidRide E”

        We don’t know that “no changes” means no changes. We just know Metro isn’t going to do an extensive restructuring like it did for the C/D. But really, a lot of the changes Metro proposed weren’t directly related to the C/D at all. The 5,26,28,30 aren’t in the same corridor; nor are the 11,14; and the 1,2,3,4 only overlap the D in a minor way, and not at all in the Central District. So Metro was really throwing in a bunch of other changes it wanted to do anyway.

        I can’t think of any changes that “have to happen” for the E. It’s already the only bus on its street, and the 44,48,40 already cross it nicely. (Although the 44-to-48 transfer is an excessively long walk.) The 5,26,28 and 1,2,3,4,13 are different corridors. It would be nice if Metro did a major restructure to clean out the remaining inefficiencies, but the E doesn’t depend on those.

      32. “Although the 44-to-48 transfer is an excessively long walk”

        44-to-358 transfer.

        It’s not excessive in the sense of horrible, but it’s longer than a major grid transfer point should be.

      33. Mike,

        I agree that nothing has to happen with the E. But there are definitely some changes that would make sense. For example:

        – Rationalizing service in Fremont somehow. I continue to be a fan of running the 5 along Dexter. I don’t think this compares to the LQA deviation in any way — a Fremont routing would add 2-3 minutes at most, and Fremont is truly “on the way” between Greenwood and downtown. The 5X and 355 could be consolidated to provide a single frequent “extended-peak” express service north of 46th and/or 85th.

        – Straightening the 16 — or alternatively, cementing its status as the ultimate milk run, by merging the 3/4 and the north part of the 16, using the turnback to cross via Aurora. (Not sure if a diesel can make the trek).

        Again, these are not “must-haves”, and I’m not even sure the 3/4/16 merger is a good idea. But I’d like Metro to at least try…

      34. “Straightening the 16 — or alternatively, cementing its status as the ultimate milk run, by merging the 3/4 and the north part of the 16, using the turnback to cross via Aurora. (Not sure if a diesel can make the trek).”

        If we’re sending the 16 up Taylor, I’d rather send it across the Fremont Bridge via the proposed 3 restructure route. That might obviate a lot of the 26’s present ridership, since the 16 would take a very similar route from there to at least Stone Way/40th, and I can’t imagine Nickerson/3rd/McGraw/Taylor would be that much slower than Dexter.

    3. Anecdotally, I see that Ballard’s ridership on the D Line is more spread out over the entire day. Also, there are quite a few trips between LQA and both Ballard and downtown.

    4. Keeping the Uptown deviation is the most sensible thing Metro has done in the entire C/D disaster.

      Good all-day transit service links dense neighborhoods — and it goes to the heart of those neighborhoods. Uptown is one of them.

      Look at the Rainier Valley for an example of what happens when you fail to do this. Mobs of people line up to ride the slow, unreliable and generally atrocious 7 in spite of the sexy new train half a mile a way. Because the 7 is where the people are and it’s frequent.

      1. Rainier is where pretty much all of the people are. Link should have gone beneath it, of course, but that would only have added a minute or two for through riders.

        LQA is where a small and otherwise well-served portion of RR users are headed. Mercer represents but a fraction of that small portion. And unlike the broken grid of southeast Seattle, Denny and Mercer are well connected.

        But that detour costs through riders 30-40% of their travel time. Until/unless that lag is wholly eliminated, the detour is a mistake and a colossal waste.

      2. (Listen, I agree with you in principle. But RapidRide is not “good all-day transit service”. It’s not even frequent enough to begin to compensate for its other crippling defects. Of which the deviation continues to be a major one.)

      3. And I agree with you that the deviation takes too long (needs more priority), and that RapidRide is too infrequent (needs more cash) and that the entire program has generally been botched. I differ in that I’m arguing to fix those things, not just paper over them by sacrificing one of the the few aspects of good route design it does have.

      4. I just don’t see it happening.

        SDOT could fix the 4.5-minute afternoon clusterlight at Mercer Place tomorrow. But they won’t. They actively deny it’s any sort of problem at all.

        LQA wasn’t required to give up a single parking space to allow the bus an easier merge after the 3rd Ave West stop, and it looks like it won’t be.

        And there’s literally nothing you can do about backups on Queen Anne Ave from the southbound Denny light.

        Nobody at any agency really cares about making the deviation less hostile to captive riders. Who cares about “linking neighborhoods” when you do it so badly?

      5. Bruce, if we’d built Seattle Subway instead of RapidRide D, then it would be insane not to build a stop in the heart of the LQA business district.

        But we didn’t. We didn’t actually build anything. We painted the 15 red.

      6. There is a huge demand for trips between the U-District and Capitol Hill. That’s part of why we’re building a train connecting those two points. Yet the main bus service between the U-District and downtown bypasses Capitol Hill, since otherwise, it would slow down trips for the even greater number of riders going between the U-District and downtown.

        As Kyle says, when (not if!) we get Seattle Subway, there can and should be an LQA stop on the way to Ballard. But until then, we need to be realistic about the street grid. Northwest Seattle has the ridership for a frequent spine, but people aren’t going to want to make that transfer unless they have a good reason. Without grade separation, LQA will always be an expensive deviation, which means that people will continue to demand their one-seat rides.

    5. Here’s an idea, extend the 8 to Ballard. The Seattle TMP has already contemplated extending the 8 to Magnolia, so sending it to Ballard instead is not much of a stretch. Of course, the 8’s unreliability counts against this, but it would allow the D to focus on large number of Ballard-Downtown riders while giving the smaller number of Ballard-QA riders the service level they deserve. It would also create a one-seat ride from Ballard to Capitol Hill.

  10. In more Magnolia bus activism news, there should be a couple tables set up at Winterfest in Magnolia Village this Friday evening to collect signatures and talk to people about the continuing night service drought. It’s one of the several events a year where cars get kicked out of the village – free food is I think on offer.

      1. Old stats.

        They -have- reworked the 24. They’ve sent it to 3rd, they’ve connected it with the 124 (both have added much to unreliability, sadly), they’ve dropped a certain amount of Viewmont Way W service (creating a massive early morning service gap, among other things).

        But for the sake of three trips, they also chose to leave 20,000 people up to 2.5 miles and hundreds of feet of uphill from any transit at night.

        It’s not even the worst performing route in Magnolia! That’d be the (Magnolia segment of) the 31…

      2. DJR, the statistics are not that out-of-date. The only two changes that have occurred since that data was prepared are the move to Third and the loss of service after 10:00pm.
        Any changes to Viewmont service at night occurred back earlier in 2011; and the “massive service gap” (which certainly hasn’t changed in recent history) you refer to is only northbound on Viewmont in the morning… not exactly a productive area to provide service every 30 minutes in the morning.

      3. Night service to Viewmont was cut in Oct 2011, IIRC – after the Spring 2011 stats that was using.

        And I used that bus when it was there (okay, once, but it’s no longer possible to /do/ a first Link from SeaTac -> West Magnolia trip by transit in any remotely reasonable amount of time)

    1. If only the bus would take me to Magnolia Village in less then 15 minutes and without a half-mile walk. It is a 6 minute drive, or a 15 minute bicycle ride.

      1. The original proposal from Metro back in the fall of 2011 would have modified the 24 to directly serve Magnolia Village. However, supporters of unproductive service elsewhere in Magnolia helped kill the plan and also indirectly killed night service.

      2. I live very close to a 31/33 stop, near fisherman’s terminal. Both buses will take more than 15 minutes to take me to the village, taken from the time I board. Catching the 24 involves half mile walk up a very steep hill (Manor Pl). Which would be to arduous if I lived in LQA.

      3. If the 31 is taking 15 minutes to get from Emerson/Gilman to the Village, something went badly wrong.

      4. It only sounds a couple minutes high, if that. Condon Way down to the village has a very low speed limit for buses due to both the grade and the limited room between the parked cars and the median full of diseased trees.

  11. The most offensive parts of the Rapid Ride articles are the Metro & FTA quotes:

    King County Metro website: “You’ll experience unprecedented levels of reliability, comfort and speed…”

    Federal Transit Administration: “The RapidRide system is essentially rail on wheels…”

    Aside from the idiocy of the FTA quote (since rail is on wheels), the rest is just lies. It’s not reliable or speedy. Comfort is no different than any bus. And it has nothing in common with rail.

    Improved bus is fine. Called it improved bus. Don’t sell it as something else.

    And give riders the schedule.

    1. Well….

      “You’ll experience unprecedented levels of reliability, comfort and speed…”
      – This doesn’t technically claim that RapidRide is unprecedented in positive ways.

      “The RapidRide system is essentially rail on wheels…”
      – What, a cattle car isn’t some sort of rail transportation?

  12. Interesting that the title for this entry is “your new chair” but don’t see anything of any of the subject referenced having anything to do with “your new chair.” However, I do have to comment that the new Orion buses which have the interior you show in the pic to me at least seems to be more comfortable in a couple of ways. First of all, the seats while not as heavily padded as is the case in either the New Flyer high floor, low floor, the Gilligs or converted Breda buses the seats fit the body better and are ultimately (at least to me) more comfortable. In addition the Orion buses also are more comfortable in that the windows seem to be a lot bigger so seem a bit roomier even though that’s only psychological.

      1. Those are just white LEDs. Chosen for cheapness, environmental friendliness, and durability, not aesthetics. Similar lights are also in all of the D60LFRs.

      2. White LEDs are available in various color temperatures, and I’m sure the “warm” whites will get ever more common and cheaper because that’s been Americans’ historical preference. The “cool” whites are closer to daylight or a neutral color though, so they also have fans.

        (Paradoxically, “warm” orangish white is actually a lower temperature than “cool” bluish colors, because of how we perceive the sun/fire and the sky/sea.)

      3. “Warm white” is produced by using a mixture of white and yellow(amber) LEDs. LEDs come in white, red, yellow, green, and more recently blue (RGB, hey, we can make color TV sets out of these!). You can vary the effect somewhat with the lens but the “warmth” is generally just the ratio of white to yellow.

      4. White LEDs are just blue or UV LEDs* with yellow phosphorescent coating. Warm white LED simply add more yellow to this coating.

        Colder white light is often used for LED streetlights, which help in low-light conditions. I’d guess they could get away with far fewer lights in those buses.

        * Ok, some are RGB, but that’s even easier to change to warm white.

      5. I like the more comfortable seats on the pre-Orion buses. The Orion seats are halfway toward San Francisco’s plastic seats with a bottom pad, or McDonald’s all-plastic seats.

      6. I’ve sat on medieval torture devices that were more comfortable than those padded-nonsense “classic” Metro seats.

    1. I love how quiet the Orions are, but find the seats uncomfortable. This may be an issue particular to me, though — I have a very flat lower back, so seats that are “ergonomically contoured” tend to be very uncomfortable for me.

      I also dislike the reduced seating, especially on the 197, which is often standing-room-only when UW is in session.

      Climate control is iffy. In the summer the A/C is great, but in the winter there’s no ventilation and the buses often get hot and stuffy. Nothing you can do about it either, since the windows are now non-operable.

      1. That’s operator error, not a problem with the bus. A lot of drivers turn off the climate control in the winter. They should just leave it running (which keeps the air circulating) and let it determine the temperature automatically.

    1. The Dunce Line has far too many stops for starters. How can this even be considered rapid transit if this has just as many stops as before?

      1. Because if it were a true BRT, it would have shadow local service to infill between much longer spaced BRT stops. But Metro wants to do quasi-BRT on the cheap instead of the “correct” way.

      2. Err… no. If it were BRT, it would move quickly, board quickly, accelerate quickly, stop quickly, not hit multiple lights and obstructions between stops.

        Unless your stop spacing is ridiculously close (like the 5) or ridiculously wide (like BART), it has little effect on total speed.

        Real subways don’t need “shadow locals”. They’re fast; they’re frequent; they don’t need to be 2 blocks from everywhere, but you can definitely walk to them! Real BRT would be exactly the same.

      3. “Unless your stop spacing is ridiculously close (like the 5) or ridiculously wide (like BART), it has little effect on total speed.”

        But it does, as a ride on the 48 shows. In the PM peak, people get on and off at every single stop from the U-District to Mt Baker and it takes forever. The same on the 358. That’s why people are clamoring for full-time limited-stop service.

      4. The 48 has so many more problems than just stopping frequency. The turns, the bottlenecks, the long lights, the place north of Green Lake where two buses literally cannot pass one another.

        On top of that, it does have excessively close stops like the 5 in places. And it attracts a whole lot of cash-payers, which is really what you’re talking about above.

        This is reason to fix the route, including spacing. But remove buses for an express overlay and you simply screw over people along the way.

      5. I did not say to remove buses for an express overlay. The way to do an express overlay is to keep the existing buses and add new express runs. You delete existing buses only after ridership decreases, if it does. In some cases it’s only a temporary dip because new riders eventually start to replace those who defected to the express. In the best cases, both the express and the local end up with increased ridership, as in Swift and the 101, or the 71/72/73X vs 70.

      6. You delete existing buses only after ridership decreases, if it does.

        Exactly. Now you’ve said this twice.

        No matter what Seattle transit dreamers named Schiendelman claim, we live in a smaller city. This is never going to be New York. And what you advocate, given our population distribution, is a recipe for 20-minute expresses overlaying 30-minute locals.

        Both of which are utter crap if you really want to get around spontaneously.

      7. We live in a smaller city where people stil don’t want to wait 30 minutes for a bus, or sit while it makes ten or twenty other stops along the way. That adds up to a lot of time wasted over a week or a year. Transit has to become more competitive with driving if you want the majority of people to take transit.

      8. Another advantage of a smaller city: Everett to Tacoma is only about half the distance as San Francisco to San Jose. So we need only half the rail they do, and even that will serve our metropolitan area more comprehensively than theirs does. Isn’t that great?

      9. I meant, Everett to Tacoma is about the same distance as San Francisco to San Jose. So that either one of them to Seattle is half the distance.

      10. Everett to Tacoma is 62 miles.

        Which is much further than the 48 miles from SF to San Jose.

        Which is still really, really far.

        Comparison, Boston to Providence is 45 miles (as the rail line goes; the highway route is much further). That’s right, travel that far out of town and you’ve left the freaking state.

        Providence is in Boston’s greater economic orbit in much the same way as Tacoma is in ours.

        There is strong demand for an all-day hourly commuter rail. There is not strong demand for some ridiculous subway, and politicians would laugh in your face if you suggested spending billions of dollars on one.

      11. Gosh, what a long graphic! ;-)

        And what a tiny section in the middle, where anyone will actually be using the line in any significant way.

        (And of course, you’re missing nine additional miles at the left, where the “spine purists” want to run it all the way to Downtown Everett. Pure folly.)

  13. Any of you who read the comments to the C-Tran article now know first hand what a bunch of selfish, egotistical (vide Debbie Peterson referring to herself as “a smart-thinking woman”) people I live with.

    The only saving grace in Clark County is District 49, where a small cadre of aesthetic, progressive people live in the middle of this swamp of selfish, small minded bloviators.

  14. I’m late to the party, but can someone explain the southbound Market St. stop debacle? If I understand correctly, they are going to build a “permanent stop” when a condo building under construction is completed in 2014.

    Are they talking about Market Street Landing on the north side of Market? If so, that seems like a horrendous place to move the stop considering the other stop has been there for a long time, plus has the advantage of being after the light.

    Or is there a condo building planned for the Walgreens there on the corner that I’m apparently in the dark about?

    1. RapidRider, the plan is to move the stop north of Market, which is insane.

      Please write King County Councilman Larry Phillips to encourage him to correct this error.

      1. From the outside, it looks like a craven cave-in to a developer who wants to say “Transit outside the front door!” Whatever the motivation, it’s a colossally dumb decision.

        That stop used to be nearside before the early 2000s. Back in the early 2000s a lot of Metro people agitated to have it moved farside, which is vastly better, especially given the relatively high volume of traffic turning right from southbound 15th onto westbound Market.

      2. especially given the relatively high volume of traffic turning right from southbound 15th onto westbound Market.

        This isn’t as much of an issue now because that lane is right turn and transit only, and the signal has a new dedicated protected right turn phase.

      3. That changes nothing about the fact that people will pass the bus when it’s in the zone and cut in front of it as it’s pulling out of the zone.

        Nearside stops are just a horrible safety idea, except at intersections where the bus is crossing a one-way street with traffic coming from the right.

      4. Nearside stops work OK at no-right-on-red corners with bus bulbs or equivalent (where the bus stops directly in lane, and can drive straight ahead when the light turns green). And of course they work when the cross streets have no traffic.

      5. Oh, um, yeah, and traffic on the road the bus is taking also has to be low enough that there isn’t generally a queue at the light, or the bus has to have a completely exclusive lane. I can’t believe I forgot that requirement, since it’s the most important one.

        Yeah, I guess there aren’t many good places for nearside stops in a trafficky city with few bus lanes.

      6. Nathanael:

        15th Ave NW is a street with near-highway-level volumes of traffic.

        Nearside is colossally dumb here.

        David L:

        I don’t think it’s a cave-in to Market Landing developer. It appears to be a cave-in to the owner of the Walgreens land, which didn’t want to be disturbed in any way to allow the electronic doohickeys to be properly installed and activated. Walgreens might also not have wanted any permanent hook-ups getting in the way of future redevelopment.

        I’m sure Metro could have found a way to hook up to the city’s power at the farside stop — this is a major urban center intersection; there’s no way it was “impossible” — but they cheaped out as usual. Two-year delay and move to the wrong side of the street be damned.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Metro actually begged Market Landing to let them hook up to it, and to put it on their corner. Knowing the reputation of the Market/15th bus stops, the developers might not have been nuts about “Transit outside the front door!” at first.

      7. Nathanael, you wouldn’t think that if you had ever driven a bus. The only situation in which nearside stops don’t result in people illegally passing the bus and cutting in front of it to make right turns is if right turns are impossible because the cross street is one-way from right to left.

        Bus bulbs and in-lane stops discourage a few cutters, but most of them just pass the bus in the outside or opposing lane and cut in front the same way they would at any other nearside stop.

    2. Point of clarification: All buildings under construction in Ballard are apartment buildings, not condo buildings.

      I know that the southbound stop on the south side of the intersection was mostly-designed, so I’m still not sure the reason why it ended up being delayed and moved northward.

      During the AM peak, a near-side stop could potentially work out okay operationally since the queue from the signal at Market extends past 57th Street (where the third lane begins). Right now, typically my bus gets to move into the bus/right turn lane as the light turns red, then waits there, then crosses, then loads.

  15. A question–

    Does Metro intend to buy more DE60LFR’s? I saw coach #6999 recently and after that they have nowhere to go number-wise (they can’t use 7000, cause that’s an Orion). What is Metro going to do?

    1. It so happened that they had exactly one more coach after 6999. They numbered it 6800 (the Cummins DE60LFRs started at 6813 for complicated reasons). The only DE60LFRs remaining on order are RapidRide coaches which will be numbered in the 6000-6100 series.

      1. They’ll be in service for a while. I’m sure that at some point in the next three or four years there will be another artic order.

        The priority right now is replacement of the remaining Gilligs.

  16. Specialty chemical company Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD – Analyst Report) announced that it has won a contract from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) in India to build the country’s first solar powered renewable hydrogen fuel station. The station is expected to come online in July 2013 and will be located at the Solar Energy Centre near Delhi.

    The station will generate hydrogen from solar energy with the help of an electrolyser. The hydrogen that will be produced at the station will be 100% renewable and demonstrates India’s commitment toward developing greener alternative energy sources. Although a demonstration project, the fueling station will mark India’s leap toward hydrogen economy.


    1. Yahoo Finance:

      UPES is executing this project in collaboration with Indian Oil and it is entirely funded by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of the Government of India.

      Unlike private equity government subsides are a 100% renewable resource. Hydrogen powered rickshaws, really? I know a bridge in Alaska where they’d be just perfect :=

    2. “Grand Old Duke of Yor^H^H^HKent”

      the grand old duke of Kent,
      he had 10,000 posts–
      he spammed them up the blog
      and back a-down again

      One day its solar on solar
      The next just more of the same
      And when you think he’s almost done–
      there’s Norman’s numbers charade!

      All together, now!

      the grand old duke of Kent,
      he had 10,000 posts–
      he spammed them up the blog
      and back a-down again

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