96 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Metro Cuts Ahead”

  1. It’s BS like needing to go down to the county council offices every 2 years that make me want to find a new city that actually realizes why transit is important, or maybe a new country.

    1. Jeff, I think that’s whiny. There are many “spends” that need to haul ass to Olympia and county councils/commissions annually to get proper funding.

      I know with the odds highly likely a bill I vehemently opposed going down thanks to Speaker Chopp, I will hopefully recover from mono to lend my face & voice to the ears of Rep. Dan Kristiansen from his district why we need transit just-in-time.

      Off hot.

  2. As promised, I am again asking for people’s experiences around the zone pre-sets on the ORCA readers. For those of you who have been riding on a 2-zone bus during peak, what zone pre-set have you seen (include route number, time of day, location, and direction please)? Have you seen anyone requesting to have the zone to be re-set to one zone? How long have you seen that operation take? Thanks.

    1. I used to do this all the time with the 255 on the eastside. I never saw anyone ask for it and it took maybe 15 seconds.

      1. Because the 255 is a bus that crosses the zone line and fares are a “Pay as you Enter”. The answer is YES, The zone is pre-set by Metro at the start of the trip. If you enter the bus and know you are only going to 1 zone, the operator can change it just for your ride, takes about 30 secs. If you realize that you are only going one zone and was charged 2 zones, and it is within a 10 minute time frame, you can inform the operator and they can refund back to your Orca card by a few more button pushes and having you re-tap your card. The operator will then set the Orca to 1-zone and have you re-tap your card to charge the correct fare! But most passengers that are traveling on buses like the 255 or 550 know they are traveling between the zones.

      2. Thank for the info, Linda.

        What I’m really looking for here is real-life witnesses that the practice is following the policy. The last two times I rode the 132 out of downtown during peak, the policy was not followed. The reader was pre-set for a 1-zone ride.

      3. When we went to ORCA I was riding the 535 from Lynnwood to Canyon Park (one zone) and I had drivers refuse to switch to one zone or tell me they couldn’t or even tell me that they did but then when I’d tap it would charge me for two zones (for a 10 minute ride) so after getting pissed at paying double to go to work I just changed my ORCA card to one zone. Now I toss in a dollar if I’m going two zones.

        I hope it’s better now.

      4. On certain routes going two zones the fare preset is always set to one zone going away from downtown. i guests because they determine that the number of people who ask for one zone would be too cumbersome. i was on the 150 going two zones and asked the farebox be set to 2 zones and he said to just tap anyway on one zone.

      5. The time frame that Linda speaks too is actually 5 minutes and it depends on whether someone has tapped their orca card behind/after you. If that is the case, your card tap cannot be altered by the operator.

      6. Grant, are you saying that the monthly pass value overrides the zone preset on the reader?

      7. Brent,

        There are a many trips/routes that during peak hours in the afternoon ORCA is programmed for one zone, even though the bus will cross the zone boundary, per recent policy changes by Metro management. Its been awhile since I’ve driven the 132 out of downtown in the PM peak time period. We are specifically instructed to not change to a two zone fare set and to change the reader to a one zone if it isn’t already set that way automatically.

      8. John, why would the 150 be preset to one-zone outbound? Does anyone actually get off the 150 before hitting the freeway and crossing the zone line?

      9. Grant,

        I’m sorry that you had that experience with Community Transit operated Sound Transit route (535). I know Metro routes and Metro operated Sound Transit routes can be changed as I’ve had to do it for passengers. It takes me a minute as very few people ask and I can never remember where to go on the DDU (driver display unit) to make the change.

      10. Mark,

        Might you know where I could get a list of which 2-zone routes are set by policy and/or management direction to be preset as one zone?

        If that is something Metro doesn’t really want to make public, I understand.

      11. I do not know the reason why the 150 (or 101) is set to one zone heading out of downtown but there are people who deboard on the sodo busway. not sure that’s enough justification though.

      12. Metro has changed how the zones were pre-set during peak, because of the RFA being eliminated. To help speed up the process of everyone paying as they enter. Routes that travel two-zones such as the 5, 77, 113, 120, 124, 131, 132, 306, 308, 312, 316, 355, 358 for example (I may have left a few out) are pre-set to one zone due to the fact that the majority of the passenger will de-board prior to the bus reaching the Seattle City limits zone line. Passengers being charged one-zone fare and going beyond the zone line is a small percentage on these trips. AM Inbound trips however will pre-set as two zones and then will change to one-zone at the zone line. Routes such as freeway routes to South King county, crossing the lake or the 301 would be set as two-zone pre-set, as almost all passengers will travel across the zone lines. Passengers only traveling within the CBD, to SODO busway, Rainier Fwry Sta, or Montlake Fwry Sta would request the one-zone override.

        Also, some conflicting info above… If a passenger requests to pay two-zone fare, when the card reader is pre-set for one-zone on an outboutnd PM peak trip, the operator is to override the fare when requested.

      13. “Outbound fare sets during the a.m. and p.m. peak have been set by Metro to charge only one-zone on the routes listed below. The fare set will not change when the coach crosses the zone line:

        5,22.23,77,101,102,106,113,116,188,119,120,124,125,131,132,134,150,304, 306,308, 312, 316,355,358”

        It is likely that this change has been made to avoid fare disputes.

      14. Brent,

        Metro management publicizes information to us (operators)in the weekly base bulletin. I’m not sure that the specific routes have ever been published, even for us. You can always file a FOIA request to collect the info. I know out of Ryerson Base, the 120, 131, 132, 121, 122, 123 are all affected as I’ve driven all of these routes over the last couple of months during PM peak hours and the ORCA preset for outbound trips (exiting downtown Seattle) is set for 1 zone. I’ll do some digging in the base bulletins and see what I can find. It may take me some time as I started a vacation today and will be away from work for a bit of time.

    2. I frequently take the 183 from inside the city of Kent to Kent Station. The ORCA reader is frequently set to 2 zones at 5:10pm. That doesn’t even make sense to me, as the 183 travels between Federal Way and Kent, then on to Renton as the 153. I have never seen anyone ask the driver to change the zone setting and I don’t either as I have an employer card and it doesn’t make a difference to me.

      1. report the trip information to metro and they will look into it. no reason that route should be set to two zones.

      2. On the 132 it makes sense to default to 1 zone, since many riders may be going to Georgetown or South Park, i.e. within 1 zone. And considering the long-winded gyrations the bus travels through before it crosses the fare zone, 2-zone riders should be getting a discount not paying extra.

  3. What I learned from this video.

    Cars bad. Transit good. Metro is proud of the fact that they are getting people out of their cars and onto buses. They want to prevent service cuts. But Metro needs people to buy and drive cars so they don’t face service cuts, which will force riders back into cars which will help them to prevent even more service cuts. I’m getting lost in this logic. Someone help get me out of it?

      1. Indeed. Pollution taxes and fees for nuisances are good things, but they should not be used as the dedicated revenue stream for something you need.

        Historically, one of the main effects of public transportation — at least the *rail-based* variety — was to raise land values where it went. So a property tax makes some kind of sense.

      1. While I could agree with you, for Seattle, it might not necessarily be the best idea to link everything including revenue to the private automobile, and these videos and post are evidence of that! So, I suggest decoupling incentives and revenue.

        You could incentivize transit use more, for example rather than penalizing cars. I have already suggested that for those who can prove they have carfree lifestyle (no drivers or car ownership in household) could get a break like free transit. Another thing I was thinking is you could let teens who postpone getting a license until 21 the right to drink alcohol (imagine how many cars on the road that would reduce and how many accidents it would prevent)!

        At the same time property tax means establishes that transit is a need good for all…even those who don’t use it get other cars off the road and reduce pollution and space usage.

      2. I believe John’s argument is that the various fees on cars should go into the general fund, while the vital public transportation system should be funded out of something stable like property tax.

      3. “you could let teens who postpone getting a license until 21 the right to drink alcohol”

        In Germany I think the drinking age is 16 and the driving age is 18, so the opposite of ours. And driving tests are stricter and require more schooling, so you have to really put effort into it if you want to drive. Of course, transit is available if you don’t want to, and sprawl without transit at the edge of town is not allowed. Britain has a similar drinking policy, and in Scotland I hard you just have to be old enough to “see over the bar”. What surprised me in England was that practically every club has two doormen right outside the door, but they weren’t checking IDs. I didn’t understand why they were outside rather than inside if they didn’t have to check IDs. They somebody told me, they’re keeping known miscreants out.

      4. Did you watch the videos? Too many cars are good for Metro (Motor Vehicle Excise Tax going toward transit) and will help them prevent service cuts. The less people who buy and drive cars, the less money Metro would get, meaning service cuts would happen.

      5. It works just as well if people buy cars and register them, but don’t drive them. No wait, it works even better because those people aren’t clogging up the streets and highways.

        So, as long as folks have a place to park them, it’s better to have people buy cars, but then ride the bus.

  4. Based on last two weeks’ travel:

    San Francisco MUNI now permits passengers to board all vehicles at all doors everywhere in the system. Card readers have been in place for awhile at every door of every vehicle except for cable-cars, including historic streetcar fleet. Fare inspectors work system-wide. System reports increased efficiency and decreased fare evasion.

    Portland has signs posted announcing end of zone fares. Comparing Portland Airport’s treatment of its MAX terminal with Port of Seattle’s present address to LINK, I also wonder if either relevant governmental agencies or the Seattle Chamber of Commerce would be willing to accept the judgment that Seattle is that much shabbier and crappier a city than Portland?

    Budget suggestion: take every dime currently devoted to excuses for local impossibility of measures which competing cities find easy, and redirect the money toward action to remedy the difference. This is one thing Depressions should be for.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Flat fare systems are not a good idea in general. If the overhead of managing a multi-zone system is too high, you may have to do it, but it’s much better to have some form of distance-based or zone system, just to discourage people from choosing the most sprawling possible housing locations.

      1. While it may take getting used to it, why not have a card in/card out system? It works great in Singapore and you get charged by distance. There are very few cash/coin users on the public transit in Singapore because they get charged more per trip. It would do away with the ‘zone pricing’ and make it a ‘distance pricing.’ So, my Shoreline-to-downtown trip should cost less than Redmond-to-downtown trip. It didn’t cause any distress to me to card in and then card out during my stay in Singapore.

      2. And that kind of general opinion is characteristic of the difference between people who are actually familiar with the complexities of a real-world transit system, and those who sit around transit-fanning on the internet.

      3. It depends how large the service area is. Flat fares often go hand in hand with city-only transit agencies, so the fare difference is an agency difference rather than a zone difference.

      4. London still does zone fares for the Tube but flat fares for the bus. While it’s theoretically possible to do card in/out distance based fares on the bus, I’d advise against unless the card “Out” is only at the curb. Having a bus load of people unloading and trying to card out at the same time people are trying to board is a recipe for chaos. It’s bad enough right now since many people still insist on exiting through the front door.

      5. While I agree in general with the idea of “pay for what you use”, I think the simplicity argument is important here. An overly-complex fare structure has lots of little consequences throughout the system, not all good.

        For example, suppose the minimum fare is $0.50, and the maximum fare is $10. Someone boards the bus with $1 on their fare card, and plans to make a $0.50 trip. How do you make that work? What happens if they forget to tap out?

        With a zone system, how do you avoid creating artificial boundaries, where it’s cheaper to travel 5 miles in one direction than half a block in another?

        With distance-based fares, do you compute the price based on the odometer distance traveled, or the GPS distance from point A to point B? If it’s the former, how do you avoid creating a transfer penalty, where customers demand one-seat rides because they don’t want to pay the higher cost to transfer? If it’s the latter, what do you do about people who take a round-trip and don’t tap in or out at their destination, making it look like they only traveled one stop?

        You could imagine a system where you pre-compute the fare for every pair of two stops in the entire system, and then charge that fare regardless of what route was taken to get there. But now you’ve created a system where no one knows in advance what their trip will cost, unless they’ve taken it before. People aren’t going to make decisions about where to live based on transit costs that they can’t possibly understand.

        Long commutes already have a built-in disincentive, in the form of being long. Anyway, most people who live in the exurbs drive, and they pay in the form of gas, maintenance, insurance, and general quality of life. They do it because housing is cheap. Compared to the cost of housing, transit fares are a pittance. If you make fares complicated for the sake of discouraging long trips, you’ll end up discouraging *all* trips.

      6. “If you make fares complicated for the sake of discouraging long trips, you’ll end up discouraging *all* trips.”

        This!

      7. Convenience plus consistency builds ridership. Multiple zones make it harder, multiple fares (peak) make it harder. Some agencies taking transfers and others don’t make it harder. All of these things work toward lower ridership.

      8. And since when did the bus *fare* ever discourage anyone from living out in the ‘burbs? The reality is, in the US we have 50 years of sprawl, and a very large portion of our housing stock in the sprawl. That’s not going to change overnight, what we need to do is tailor our transit systems to urban and suburban environments, and offer the right kinds of service for each. In the Urban spaces, we want a higher density and frequency of transit service. This same rule should not apply to the majority of the suburbs, where there should be frequent (30/min headways) service from P&R lots, to downtown cores, like Seattle. The service can make limited stops on major thoroughfares, however generally makes a quick trip. This will become important in the next twenty to thirty years as the price of petroleum soars to new levels, and people start driving less (they will want alternatives) and using electric vehicles.

      9. Wrong Mat, transit is based on time($$/hour for bus, maint, driver, admin etc). About the only thing based on mileage is fuel, which is tiny compared to everything else.
        Most suburban routes take about as long as a city route in ‘butt on the seat’ time. Most suburban peak routes require a dead head, but many city routes do also during the peak, so again, it’s a fairly small number.
        Bottom line, you don’t save much in cost transporting urban seattleites during the peak than you do urbanites, in the grand scheme of things, so is the difference in total operating cost really worth collecting a few dollars more in revenue, compared to all the damage a complicated fare structure costs in marginal riders.
        Just think if all of King County was one fare, all day, on any operator, with NO tap off required to speed things up. FLAT FARE, with discounts for pass purchases and needs based riders. The computers are capable of figuring out which agency is owed how much from the big pot, and where peoples OD is based on tapping on over the course of the day. Division of revenue can be tweaked once a year based on spot checks.

      10. Every fare system is a compromise among various factors, including user legibility (i.e., it’s easy for riders to understand), collection efficiency (it’s easy for the agency to implement), revenue management (the agency is collecting as much as it can to provide the service), and demand management (charging more for higher-valued, higher-cost service).

        I don’t think flat fares are intrinsically evil. There are often good reasons for doing flat fares on urban bus systems, particularly those that feed rail systems. Journey distances are often short enough that it’s not worth the effort to differentiate them.

        But there’s a big difference between buses that are used for shorter in-city trips and long-haul suburban commuter routes. Commuter routes are usually less productive in terms of boardings per hour. And because they carry passengers for longer distances, passengers are typically willing to pay more.

        Metro’s zone system is unusual among U.S. bus operators, but it has some advantages. The zones are long standing and (mostly) legible to riders. Get rid of it and you’re either cutting fares for longer trips that cost more to provide, or raising fares for shorter trips. Neither would be a good thing.

      11. Metro’s zone system was obviously a compromise from the beginning. It charges a trip from 155th to downtown the same as a trip from Auburn to downtown, and a trip from 155th to 130th, but a trip from 130th to downtown is cheaper. The only advantage of the system is that people somewhat know where the city’s boundaries are. (Although that’s not really true. Nobody knows the exact southern boundary unless they live in the immediate area, and I remember talking with a family in Shoreline not long before incorporation who didn’t know Seattle ended at 145th.)

  5. Just thought I’d once more post this comprehensive documentary on fuel cells and hydrogen, including transit usage up in Vancouver, BC:

    1. Aruba goes towards 100 percent Sustainability with Greenest Streetcars of the World

      Aruba purchased four self-powered, pollution free streetcars from TIG/m Modern Street Railways, manufacturers of the world’s greenest streetcars for inner-city public transportation, toward Aruba’s goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy.

      These custom state-of-the-art high-capacity hybrid/electric streetcars are designed for inner city transportation. The streetcars are powered by a uniquely engineered and integrated self-contained power source that combines lithium batteries, regenerative braking, and a hydrogen fuel cell, requiring no overhead wire and generating zero pollutants.

    1. Except that you don’t do that, Joe.

      You only go to bat for direct state funding for your own pet services.

      You do nothing to encourage your local politicians to engender a sustainable transit culture where you live. You haven’t even expressed a desire to see direct support made available for urban transit needs at the state level. And worst, you support politicians who go out of their way to block progressive self-financing and overrule self-determination in the cities, and then ask us to “compromise and collaborate” with those politicians.

      Your actions and endorsements are fundamentally inconsistent with your above statement.

      1. d.p., I’m tired of replying to your trite [ad hom]

        I have gone to bat for transit in general.

        I don’t like your vision of a “sustainable transit culture” where we have no farms, no naval installations, nothing that is reflective of Northwest Washington State. [Ad hom]

        I think frankly you deserve State Senator Curtis King’s damnation, unlike 90+% of STB commentors & participants who are working to make things right across both political parties.

        Enuf said.

      2. I try my best to make peace in the linked comment, but I also explain why your support for anti-urban politicians, your contradictory “fund me (directly) but no one else” arguments, and your attempt to play the “disability card” at me are indefensible.

        I haven’t even responding to your repeated invocation of military facilities. You are aware that the military is a gigantic, tax-exempt boondoggle that offers nothing to the local or state tax coffers and is statistically the most inefficient federal spending program (in terms of economic stimulus) in existence, are you not?

      3. Here you go, d.p.: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2013/03/07/help-save-the-tri-county-connectors/#comment-304422

        As to the military, well I am an Oak Harbor Navy Leaguer and as such speak only for me and visit that city on a regular basis. Oak Harbor, being the guardian of NAS Whidbey Island, has a key role to play in the national defense. What you may also know is that Oak Harbor has urban circular transit around the city.

        Oh and I love the Naval Services for the defense of our freedoms. I do think we need to right-size the Armed Forces though. Yes, keep the Blue Angels for obvious reasons – after all I am not braving Seafair crowds otherwise and many others won’t; but do we really need umpteen & one nuclear weapons or tanks or submarines? But I’m going off-topic.

        I do feel that the Seattle megalopolis vs. the rest of Washington State must cease.

      4. Indeed, Joe, the Greater Seattle (not really a megapolis by any reasonable standard, simply a metropolis — a “city”, as an economic or cultural unit if not a political one) vs. Rest-of-Washington thing must cease.

        Fighting words on a blog don’t matter. The real grievances are:

        – The state’s insistence on subsidizing exurban and rural highway transportation, but not urban transit, biking, and walking projects. The result is a balance-of-payments issue, but it’s more than that: not only do cities get less money, but they get it mostly for highway projects that benefit long-distance trips at the expense of short ones. Projects that weaken them and make them less sustainable.

        – When cities shafted by this balance-of-payments issue want to raise money to pay for the things they need, they’re limited (both to small amounts and to unattractive, regressive methods) by politicians who state, on the record, that this jeopardizes their ability to raise money for the state, which will spend it on “everyone”, by which they mean sprawl freeways.

        @Joe: The legislators that perpetuate this situation are mostly Republicans right now. It’s not hard to see why d.p. is angry at Republicans. Accusing him of wanting a Washington without farms is twisting his words, and is an ad-hom attack beneath any standard of discourse.

        @d.p.: The fact that these legislators are Republicans may be as much a temporal and geographic fact as a partisan one. I don’t see suburban Democrats making any noise to get the state funding urban transit needs — instead they ask for state funding for freeways Seattle doesn’t want or need, but insist on sub-area equity for transit. In today’s politics if you live in an urban core you probably have to work within the Democratic party and if you live in a rural area you probably have to work within the Republican party if you want to have results, regardless of your personal politics. The swing districts are mostly in the suburbs, so by all means, put up yard signs if you live in Renton.

        But that’s all at the local level. What about statewide? I think the results of the last gubernatorial election speak volumes. A Republican generally regarded as smart and competent with lots of non-partisan endorsements, but that couldn’t connect with urban progressives on policy in one corner; a Brand X Democrat in the other. Who won? If Washington Republicans don’t understand they’ll have to speak to Seattle to win statewide they’ll never win anything. And that’s the worst thing that could happen in any state, because it lets guys like Rod Blagojevich run without serious opposition.

      5. Al;

        Great comment. Much appreciated.

        Indeed, Joe, the Greater Seattle (not really a megapolis by any reasonable standard, simply a metropolis — a “city”, as an economic or cultural unit if not a political one) vs. Rest-of-Washington thing must cease.

        a) Thanks Al.
        b) Actually according to WikiPedia we’re both wrong. We do live in a Megalopolis called Cascadia from Vancouver, BC to Eugene, Or. What I did not appreciate out of d.p. was the denial of the existence of actual cities in Northwest Washington State just as much as d.p. & I don’t appreciate Senator King’s denial of genuine needs this side of the Cascade Curtain.

        Fighting words on a blog don’t matter. The real grievances are:

        – The state’s insistence on subsidizing exurban and rural highway transportation, but not urban transit, biking, and walking projects. The result is a balance-of-payments issue, but it’s more than that: not only do cities get less money, but they get it mostly for highway projects that benefit long-distance trips at the expense of short ones. Projects that weaken them and make them less sustainable.

        – When cities shafted by this balance-of-payments issue want to raise money to pay for the things they need, they’re limited (both to small amounts and to unattractive, regressive methods) by politicians who state, on the record, that this jeopardizes their ability to raise money for the state, which will spend it on “everyone”, by which they mean sprawl freeways.

        Absolutely, I agree with you here. I am a Republican on most issues, but most certainly not this one. We’ll revisit this.

        The giant sucking sound out of King, Skagit, Whatcom & San Juan Counties for the needs of almost all Eastern Washington is really rubbing us raw. Skagit has massive needs of our own such as flood protection & a new jail, Whatcom the same. Island County deserves the extra dime due to the influx of veterans needing care from NAS Whidbey Island + the low incomes of government jobs at NASWI. But I’m tired of the sucking sound of highways & DSHS over the passes when we’re shafted this way.

        @Joe: The legislators that perpetuate this situation are mostly Republicans right now. It’s not hard to see why d.p. is angry at Republicans. Accusing him of wanting a Washington without farms is twisting his words, and is an ad-hom attack beneath any standard of discourse.

        I was just taking d.p.’s comments to a logical conclusion. That said, there are brave Republicans who are bucking this trend. They need to be rewarded and encouraged so as to marginalize the anti-transit folks instead of have them pull off another transitgeddon like Pierce County!

        @d.p.: The fact that these legislators are Republicans may be as much a temporal and geographic fact as a partisan one. I don’t see suburban Democrats making any noise to get the state funding urban transit needs — instead they ask for state funding for freeways Seattle doesn’t want or need, but insist on sub-area equity for transit. In today’s politics if you live in an urban core you probably have to work within the Democratic party and if you live in a rural area you probably have to work within the Republican party if you want to have results, regardless of your personal politics. …

        Yup and I’m a Republican for other reasons (civil liberties [i.e. Rand Paul’s fillibuster supported by ONE Democrat], taxes, national defense, government regulation, and pro-life) not transit. We need to work on the Republican Party the way I’m being worked on now, just in a more civil and positive way. Guys like Curtis King are deadwood to me, it’s the Dave Hayes that need moral support and encouragement from us to keep defending transit for all in all our state’s great cities.

        But that’s all at the local level. What about statewide? I think the results of the last gubernatorial election speak volumes. A Republican generally regarded as smart and competent with lots of non-partisan endorsements, but that couldn’t connect with urban progressives on policy in one corner; a Brand X Democrat in the other. Who won? If Washington Republicans don’t understand they’ll have to speak to Seattle to win statewide they’ll never win anything. And that’s the worst thing that could happen in any state, because it lets guys like Rod Blagojevich run without serious opposition.

        Being I’m a big fan of Rob McKenna, thank you. There were many Eastern Washington Republicans who didn’t have much enthusiasm for McKenna’s moderation and it showed. It also doesn’t help when McKenna proposed a property tax swap plus his historical opposition to light rail and didn’t prepare the suburbs for either position being highlighted. Or McKenna’s personal refusal to stress his support and endeavors for open government. I’ll stop there before some censor finds me “off topic”.

        That said, being how close we could have came to a Governor Aaron Reardon or Governor Ron Sims, point taken. We lost some of our reputation thanks to Dean Logan’s incompetence in 2004 & 2005, we don’t need a Blago of our own. Or arguably a Schwarzenegger. Again, risking the boundaries of going off-topic…

  6. Okay, all you King County Metro operators on this blog, I have one question–

    Which would you rather drive, an MCI (a la ST’s PT-operated routes) or a double-tall (a la CT)?

    I was thinking Metro could use some of these “bigger” non-artic buses, though obviously they wouldn’t be used on any clearance-restricted routes.

    1. as a passenger i find the mci’s usefulness limited to limited stop service and not appropriate for local service. many “commuter” style routes have a lot of local service as well with lots of stops. so i find it hard to conceive that using mci’s would be a wise decision. double decker buses are okay except they have limited utility in that you can’t use them on many routes.

    2. I would rather drive the articulated bus! I love the 60-footers! The turning is different. Its just a different feel. Almost easier!

    3. MCI is not really appropriate for more than a few routes in the Metro system. As John says it’s difficult to get on and off, and loading a wheelchair is a gigantic pain in the butt.

      I’d rather drive an artic than a double-tall (more stability and faster entry/exit) but I also see the usefulness of the double-tall in an environment (downtown Seattle) where the space buses take up at rush hour is a major issue.

      1. The 594 uses MCI’s, presumably due to their long nonstop segment between Seattle and Tacoma. The only trouble is, if you time out the schedule, in the absence of bottlenecks along I-5, the 594 actually spends more time traversing the 2 miles within the downtowns of Seattle and Tacoma than the 35 miles between them. So even there, a regular Sound Transit bus with multiple doors would make more sense.

      2. when pierce transit took over the 566 they tried running mci coaches on the route. did not work very well because of the frequent stops in renton. might work alright when they split to the 566/567 in October (567 stops only in overlake bellevue and Kent). Point is anything with two doors is better than one as long as people are encouraged to exit via rear.

  7. But you know this gets tired after a while. Metro does this chit every couple of years and threatens that they’ll cut service if they don’t get another $20 or $40 from car tabs. Or they do something like threaten a major metro route like the 43 which causes them to be in the spotlight again. I’m really getting tired of this. Why can’t they do something permanent about their problem. All they do is get a bandaid to fix their present problem and then the same danged thing happens in two or four years or whenever when the last bandaid has reached the end of its life span.

    1. its because our revenue stream is broken. until Olympia can get something done by letting us vote on more money or something we are screwed.

    2. Have I just missed it, or has Metro ever specified what they’ll need from Olympia or anywhere else to be a permanent fix?

    3. Why can’t they do something permanent about their problem.

      You are aware that Metro doesn’t have the authority to generate a revenue stream, right? They have to go back and beg politicians because that’s the way politicians built them.

    4. All the major transit systems need to deliver a unified message to the state that the whole funding mechanism needs to be changed. When CT, Pierce, and Metro are each advocating their own brand of band-aid in the Legislature, none of them get taken seriously.

      1. Actually, they did just that at the beginning of this session. They were unified for the first time I can remember – and then Clibborn dropped that bomb of a transportation package that’s going nowhere in a hurry. So now you see individual legislators working for their own agencies (which is appropriate given their own districts’ concerns) but we appear to have lost a chance (as I understand things in Olympia right now) to help all the agencies statewide.

    5. The reason Metro keeps coming back is that its funding keeps getting yanked out from under it.

  8. As I rode the bus today, I noticed a family of two parents and a very small child riding. The child was in a stroller, sound asleep for the entire ride and, alongside the stroller, the family was carrying a cart full of groceries as well. As I rode the bus, my friend who I was riding with pointed out how taking large quantities of groceries on the bus was a mess (although the family managed it as well as they possibly could) and how, therefore, everyone needs to have a car.

    I responded by saying that this is the difference between living without a car in the city vs. doing it in the suburbs. In three years of car-free living in the city, I have yet to hop on a bus specifically for routine shopping, as the relatively short distances and walkable neighborhoods make it quicker and easier to just walk to stores instead of bus there. In the suburbs, stuff is further apart, making transit more important for someone car-free to reach basic destinations, like a grocery store, compared to in the city. Hence the need to hauling groceries on the bus becomes greater.

    1. I would guess that 80 percent of city housing is not within walking distance to a grocery store. Not all of the city looks like Capitol Hill or the top of Queen Anne.

      1. Depends what you mean by walking distance. I routinely walk a good mile each way to go grocery shopping and my experience has been that almost all of Seattle except for a few pockets is within a mile of a major grocery store, such as Safeway, QFC, Whole Foods, or PCC. I agree that a mile is way to far to carry groceries in those flimsy paper bags the stores like to hand out, but that is a problem easily solved with a stroller or good backpack.

  9. I promised Mike Orr a comment on pricepoints and the effect of eliminating zones.

    I count 1439 trips on 18 routes that would likely be reduced from 2-zone fares to local fares if zones were to be eliminated. But then, when I realized *why* the 132 is set to one zone when leaving downtown during peak, I had to subtract out 399 trips on 4 routes that are coupled with one-zone routes in the Central Business District. That leaves 1040 trips on local routes that would be charging two-zone fares, but if zones were eliminated, would be reduced to charging a local fare. (The 399 trips would be charging for one zone due to the pairing.)

    I count 1187 trips on 58 routes that would likely convert from charging for two zones to charging the express fare.

    If the express fare were $3.50 and the local fare $2.50, Metro would clearly turn a profit from the conversion to service-type fares. This is even after assuming Metro will eliminate the “off-peak discount”. My guesstimate is that Metro would be breaking even on the conversion somewhere around $3.25. I’m pretty satisfied that zone-juggling is a rarity, so there is little efficiency to be found there. Or maybe some passengers haven’t caught on that they are being overcharged, and the reset requests could grow over time. I don’t know.

    My largest remaining concern with the zone amorphousness is how it could affect the E Line rollout. Will lots of new passengers riding the E Line get overcharged, and will Customer Service be swamped with calls demanding a 50-cent refund?

    1. Or will the E-line move slow as molasses as the driver moves the reader back and forth between one zone and two zones every time another passenger gets on?

    2. I’ve heard rumors of a fare system overhaul that could make your point moot (flat fare no off peak or single zone discounts). if that’s not implemented id still believe that they would all be set to one zone. i find it shameful that the aurora line wasn’t given higher priority over the b c and d especially given that its almost as good a brt capable line as the a line and that it connects with ct swift which is as close to brt as we will get in the region. I’ve found shoreline has been aching for rapid ride for a few years now.

    3. Just like the 358, RR E will undoubtedly operate with a one-zone fareset and collect essentially no two-zone fares.

      1. David L,

        Might you (or anyone else reading this) have access to a list of which two-zone routes actually sometimes preset the reader to collect a 2-zone fare?

      2. I don’t have a list, but I can tell you that freeway commuter routes where the main destinations are in different zones typically operate with a 2-zone fareset. I’m not sure about some of the all-day routes.

    4. So Metro is moving toward express fares? Then it would just have to do something about routes like the 66 that are only nominally expresses.

      1. I’d rather see fares differentiated by “all-day” versus “peak-only” routes than on whether Metro puts an “EXPRESS” placard in the window. Extra peak trips on all-day routes charge the all-day route fare. It would be much easier to understand, and is simpler to justify/explain to riders.

        That said, I’m not sure how I’d handle the “express” variants of all-day routes (e.g. 48X). Either just give those trips a different number and put them on the peak-only fare or leave ’em alone as part of the all-day service..

  10. If you think Metro is going to suck in a few years, check out the transit system for Butte, Montana. Here are the highlights:
    – No service after 6 PM or any time on Sunday. Only one route runs on Saturday.
    – All route except one are one-way loops served by one single bus with 60-90 minute headways. Wherever you go, either your trip out or your trip back will take over an hour.
    – Complete shutdown of all service on President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Veteren’s Day and (my favorite) election day! I guess the right to vote does not extend to the transit dependent in Butte, Montana.

    1. Well, Butte has been on the skids for more than a half century, so not surprising. A 60 cent base fare has to be one of the lowest in the US, no?

    2. I’m actually amazed that they have any transit system at all – that with something as skeletal as what they have, that they haven’t decided to just throw in the towel and have no transit system whatsoever.

      But I will say this, as bare-bones as their system is, they are integrated into the Google trip planner, which is more than I can for many agencies that are much larger (e.g. Community Transit).

    1. John, it only works because they already had the LGV network. It’s a way to pull even more intercity passengers away from the airlines by introducing a budget-priced service that has inconvenient connections, somewhat like the budget airlines. The TGV trains provide good service and good connections with premium prices.

      There’s lengthier coverage of OuiGo here: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2013/02/24/in-france-a-truly-low-cost-high-speed-rail-option/

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