Maui Transit Report Card

mauibus2Maui is a small island and it’s bus system is likewise small. A service of County of Maui, it is operated by Roberts Hawaii.  There are basically two separate networks, a peak only commuter network and an all day network.

Of the thirteen all day routes, ten are hourly, two are every ninety minutes, and one is hourly in the morning and half hourly from 2:30 to 6:30pm.  The buses are new, clean, and have bike racks.  Fares are $2, cash only.  However since you only drop the bills into a clear plastic box and there are no transfers or change, boarding is quick.  All day passes are $4, monthly passes  are $45 and both are purchased from the driver.

You can’t really use the all-day to get around entire island as each route is only a few miles long and transfers are not timed.  For example one trip that ended up being less than thirty minutes by car would have taken three and half hours by bus and would have required one forty minute transfer wait and a one hour transfer wait.  Both the origin and destination were on the same road and less than twenty miles apart.

The commuter system covers almost the same area but combines all the short routes into four longer distance routes, radiating out from from the North/Central part of the island, mostly through the Wailuku/Kahului area.  Stops are reduced by about half.  Three routes have only one run each peak period, with one having four round trips.

As I only rode two all-day routes and none of the commuter routes I have to give Maui an Incomplete.  We were able to get by just fine without a car, but it required picking a hotel near our friends and close to services, walking most places, and relying on friends for the trip where we needed to go further than a few miles from our place.

The 50 and 60 Will Get a Little More Direct

The VA Hospital

A particularly aggravating deviation for many 50 and 60 riders is the loop into the Veterans Administration Parking Lot. Although most riders presumably are not churlish about providing services to old or disabled veterans, Route 36 is equally close, a one-seat ride to the downtown transit hubs, more frequent, and wouldn’t require such a detour. Unfortunately, it doesn’t directly serve the hospital’s main entrance.

It isn’t for the most environmentally sustainable reasons, but relief is in sight. Lisa Mizumoto of the VA:

Due to construction of a 1000 car parking garage there will not be enough maneuver space, at the VA, for the 50 and 60 bus, so it will have to drop off at points along S. Columbian way. The 36 bus however, will continue to run down Beacon Ave S. where employees and Veterans will continue to have access to the South Entrance.

This is a VA approved and funded project that was designed to address our parking shortages. The project is expected to begin sometime between November 2013 and February 2014. Construction is expected last to between last 18-24 months.

Ms. Mizumoto confirmed in a followup email that the service change is temporary, until construction concludes. Regular through riders on these routes can only hope that the Route 36 solution proves to be satisfactory enough in the long run.

Improving Bus Route Efficiency

Frank’s post yesterday touched on one of the largest problems in bus service planning. Any changes that impact an existing rider, even if they’ll gain the system more new riders, will make that existing rider angry! The potential riders don’t know that they’ll gain something, and it would be absurdly difficult to identify and educate them, so the main voice in the room is the user at risk of loss.

In something like software, you can lose some customers, and then get new ones – which is why I think so many engineers feel like they can improve transit systems easily by coming up with better networks. That’s fun and awesome, but in public infrastructure (at least in the US), the customers have an impact on the decision, and often block changes that would be viewed by an engineer as beneficial.

A prime example is route 42, a bus that used to be a one seat ride from parts of SE Seattle to downtown. When Link opened, it largely duplicated the 42, and it would have been more efficient to move the 42’s funding to a shorter, more frequent, connection to the train. Because riders feared the loss of their one seat ride, though, they lobbied to block the cancellation, and the 42 was retained for years. This makes sense: pissing people off would lose County Council members votes, and potentially cost them future elections.

Most 42 riders switched to Link quickly. Ridership on the route dwindled. Eventually, it served so few riders that it could finally be cancelled without a political hit.

When tax revenue is down, the threat of service cuts can also spur changes that make systems more efficient. But in most of the writing here about bus efficiency, it’s proposed that an agency take an existing route’s funding and shift it to another place where those dollars will get more riders. Improvement plans are written about, discussed at length, and perfected – but very rarely implemented.

It’s great to have a vision of how our bus network could serve more people with the dollars we have, but I believe we’re using the wrong frame when looking at things like David’s excellent frequent network plan. Organizing around the implication that a transit agency is being inefficient tends to draw a conservative group more interested in reducing their taxes than improving transit service. The benefits to existing transit users are small, diffuse, and outweighed by the loss aversion, so there’s no natural support base. Significant organizing work would be necessary to make changes like these, but it doesn’t gain traction.

So how can we implement a better network?

Let’s look back at our example of the 42. When Link opened, we weren’t moving money from one place to another. Sound Transit built a new rail line, with its own funding. Link dramatically improved service quality, so many 42 users switched, joining thousands who had never previously used transit at all.

Building Link took a lot of organizing that did gain traction, because it wasn’t for small, diffuse benefits – it was for a large, focused benefit. Our city got far better: Link improved our mobility, reduced emissions, and improved transportation affordability. In Link’s wake, Metro gained the political cover to improve their efficiency.

Organizing for rail is successful because it offers better, faster, transit that people trust won’t be cancelled or moved in the future. Our goals look very similar to the core of David’s plan, and we’re winning. This approach has more than doubled Seattle transit funding. Nothing else has come close.

We can go farther. The path forward will continue with a plan for rail connecting Ballard to Downtown, and soon Sound Transit will start planning for Downtown – West Seattle and Ballard – UW, as well as more outside the city. Seattle Subway will be organizing to win funding for those lines and to make them as awesome as possible. With your help, we’ll get the frequent network we all want, and with that network comes a proven path to make Metro’s system more efficient.

News Roundup: Slowly Falling Apart

1920 Seattle Rapid Transit Proposal
1920 Seattle Rapid Transit Proposal. Flikr user afiler.

This is an open thread.

Frequent Network Follow-Up: University District

I was impressed and gratified by the reader reaction to my post last Monday introducing the Frequent Network Plan.  Almost 300 comments, lots of interesting and knowledgeable discussion, and not a single post needing moderation: this is what an online community should be, and STB readers rock.

The discussion helped me to figure out a few areas of the plan that I wanted to refine.  In this post, I’ll talk about one neighborhood in particular — covering both the general ideas there, and a couple of specific improvements I’ve made in response to last week’s comments.  That neighborhood is the University District.  Other neighborhoods warranting special attention — particularly Magnolia, northern West Seattle, Rainier Beach, Fremont, and Madison Valley/Park — will be covered in future posts.

FNP U-District Map
The revised FNP in the U-District

Details below the jump.

Continue reading “Frequent Network Follow-Up: University District”

Transit Efficiency and Social Justice

Photo of Route 42 bus interior, completely empty.
The Late Route 42 — Photo by Oran

Last week David posted an incredibly thoughtful and detailed Metro restructure proposal, and while I don’t wish to discuss any of his particular proposals (there’s a 300-strong comment thread for that), I do want to respond to a common critique that emerged in the comments and elsewhere in the blogosphere, namely that efficiency-obsessed bloggers disregard the social justice benefits of low-ridership routes. Two representative examples out of many:

  • “The system he proposes would also eliminate very low-ridership routes, which is pretty much a non-starter if you believe mobility is a human right.”  – Erica Barnett, Publicola
  • “I would add that I do not support reducing any transit service to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.” – commenter Will Douglas

A thought experiment: imagine that the tables were reversed and we currently had David’s proposed system and Metro proposed overhauling that system to create the network we currently have. Just as many people would come out in opposition:

  • “Why would you take away my all-day Route 35 service on 12th ave?”
  • “I don’t want to travel downtown to go from SLU to First Hill! We’ve had great service on Boren for years, why take it away?”
  • “You want me to ride an S-shaped 24 through Magnolia AND lose my access to Ballard?!?”
  • “What is this proposed 26? Buses will barely fit on those Latona streets!”
  • “The 2 on Seneca?! People from the C.D.  have long been used to direct access to the retail core via Pine.”
  • “I live at 23rd/Jackson. Instead of my current service to downtown every 15 minutes on the 14, you want me to choose between three separate half-hourly routes (4, 14, 27), NONE of which share even one common stop?”

What this thought experiment hopefully illustrates is that today’s ‘radical changes’ are tomorrow’s traditions, and resistance often has less to do with the substance of the change and more to do with fear of loss. An economist might call this loss aversionwhere  fear of loss has a much stronger emotional power than an anticipation of gains.  Translated into advocacy, such aversion can quickly become moralistic — “You are taking away X!” — giving excessive deference to present conditions and placing the burden of proof on change itself. This is David Hume’s famous is-ought fallacy, whereby that which ought to be is derived uncritically from what currently is. Change is fought vigorously by defending the sum of all past changes, changes that themselves would have been fought in their time. And so it goes.

When restructures are proposed, we hear emotional appeals from those benefiting from existing but inefficient service, but fewer such stories from those hurt by buses that run too slow, too indirectly, and that don’t come often enough. But these ‘invisible’ riders are people, too, and their humanity and their mobility rights are equal to everyone else’s. If you believe mobility is a human right, then maximizing mobility maximizes the exercise of this right.

It is naive to assume that a transit system can hurt no one; any fixed-route system with less than infinite frequency necessarily creates winners and losers; this is a geometric fact that is foolish to deny. Even the world’s best-funded transit systems have constraints on whom they can serve. The core mission of public transit must be to benefit as many as possible and hurt as few as possible, which makes operational efficiency imperative.

We should absolutely use a social justice lens to help us evaluate and reshape our transit network (and Metro’s service guidelines do), but that is not equivalent to making a virtue of inefficiency. The quest for efficiency need not make us ruthless and inflexible, but efficiency should be the rule, with exceptions made in deliberate and transparent ways for clear and defensible reasons such as network comprehensibility or geographic coverage. But exceptions they must be, and the burden of proof should be on inefficient service, not the other way around.

Correlations Between Density and the Mayoral Race

The Seattle Times has a new map out ($) that shows the results of the mayor’s race by precinct. Although both McGinn and Murray have publicly expressed pro-transit and pro-density positions to some degree or another, it’s pretty clear that the denser precincts favored McGinn in the primary. The results are actually somewhat similar to those of the 2009 McGinn vs. Mallahan race, which suggest that McGinn has a fairly loyal voter base.

There are some other interesting observations to note:

  • Steinbrueck won only a handful of precincts: the most notable being central South Lake Union, home to many SLU upzone opponents and Mirabella, one of Steinbrueck’s clients.
  • Harrell fared best in Leschi, Rainier Beach, and portions of south Beacon Hill and Mount Baker, which suggest that he did well among minority voters. Interestingly enough, most of the rest of Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley favored McGinn.
  • Murray dominated West Seattle west of Fauntleroy with the exception of a few precincts in Admiral. It’s not clear if McGinn’s denial recommendation to deny Whole Foods’ alley vacation request had any impact on voters leading up to the primary.

The map is below the jump.

Continue reading “Correlations Between Density and the Mayoral Race”

New Technology might make Queen Anne Subway Station Easier to Build


Girona, Spain – Shaft excavation under extremely confined conditions.

Last year King County tried out a new technology for the first time on US soil in Ballard. It’s called a Vertical Shaft Machine (VSM), and it’s a little like a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), but gravity makes the process easier. A TBM is a complicated machine that bores horizontally, pushing its way forward, carrying dirt out the side, and carrying concrete sections in. A VSM, however, can remove soil using a pumped water slurry. Also, concrete sections are simply added to the top, dropping down as the machine digs deeper. This results in a much simpler operation than a TBM, yet one that’s faster, safer, and requires a smaller footprint than traditional shaft construction. King County Project Representative Marty Noble says “In the 35 years I’ve been in this business I’ve never seen a shaft constructed in such difficult soil and ground water conditions and turn out as well as this one.” He says that caisson shafts are normally limited to 60-70 feet in depth but the VSM shaft was 150 deep and is “the best looking shaft I have ever seen.”

The Ballard shaft was only 9 meters wide, but could such a technology be used for building subway tunnels? The shaft built to reach the Beacon Hill station was 15 meters wide. Sebastian Berblinger of Herrenknecht, the maker of King County’s VSM, says that they currently build 16 meter wide VSM’s and have plans for up to 33 meter VSMs in the research and development stage. Sebastian tells me that a 16 meter wide VSM can generally build an 85 meter deep shaft, which would more than cover the depth we’d need for a Queen Anne station (Uptown has an elevation of around 43 meters, and the top of the Counterbalance is around 114 meters). And it could build it fast – up to 5 meters deep per work shift. VSMs have been used to build subway lines in Italy, Russia, and a high speed rail line in Spain.

Of course there would be other technical issues with a deep subway station such as elevator speed and capacity. But it’s encouraging that this new technology has the potential to make the physical depth of construction a smaller problem.

Update on Paid Link Parking in Mt. Baker

Mt Baker Parking
Diamond Parking Lot at Mt. Baker Station

Soon after Central Link opened, Martin identified a few paid parking lots near Link stations. With Sound Transit experimenting with paid parking at its own lots, I thought it might be a good time to check in on how the privately managed lots are doing.

I spoke with Joe Koontz, who runs Diamond Parking Services’ Seattle-area lots, about the lot next to Mt. Baker station, which he noted is the most popular among the several Diamond-owned lots near Link stations.

“The lot is fuller during weekdays than weekends, but there are more and more people using our lot during weekend sporting events,” Koontz told me, while declining to go into specific numbers.

As of today, all day parking at the lot still costs $4, same as when Link opened in 2009. “There are almost always stalls available,” Koontz said.

The Costs of Not Building the Turn-Back Track in a Tunnel Station Further North

At its meeting of July 25, 2013, the Sound Transit Board approved a pair of contracts for engineering studies to design a turn-back track at International District Station (IDS) for East Link trains going in and out of service at the SODO Operations & Maintenance Facility (O&MF).

The background for the engineering study contracts state:

An interdisciplinary Sound Transit team agreed that a turn-back track facility along the Central Link alignment would improve train movements between East Link and the OMF. These improvements include the ability to add or remove light rail vehicles for early morning start up and peak period demand as well as the ability to accommodate a disabled train. Various options were evaluated for cost, construction impacts, service impacts, and operational efficiency. The option of a turn-back track facility at IDS was selected.

Sound Transit staff declined to elaborate on whether a turn-back track at one of the other stations was considered as part of this process.

Since the contracts were merely for engineering studies, and much larger construction contracts have yet to be approved for this work, there is still time to take a look at the alternatives that allow for a center platform at IDS instead, and put the turn-back track(s) in Pioneer Square Station (PSS), University Street Station (USS), or Westlake Station (WS).

Another group of options would be to have a crossover track from the northbound platform of one or more of these stations to the southbound exit at that station. That is to say, East Link trains going out of service would pull up along the platform, and then turn back along a crossover track at the south end of the station splitting from the northbound track about 20-30 feet north of the south end of the station, merging with the southbound track a few feet north of the south end of the station. In order to avoid tracks crossing over each other, no station could simultaneously have both a center turn-back track and a crossover track.

It bears repeating that the center platform option we’ve been talking about in IDS is to add a center platform, not to remove the outer platforms, which would enable use of all 32 train doors while at IDS, in a variation of the “Spanish Solution” (in which passengers enter the train on one side and exit to a separate platform on the other).

In the comparison and analysis below, I will focus on the following aspects: operational safety, operational cost, construction cost, trip time, and peak operational throughput.

Continue reading “The Costs of Not Building the Turn-Back Track in a Tunnel Station Further North”

Sound Transit Board Meeting: I-90 HOV Lanes and ULink Progress

After commiserating happily about Tacoma Link’s anniversary, the Sound Transit (ST) board yesterday afternoon focused primarily on status reports. Ongoing project status briefs focused on two main projects: University Link and I-90 Two Way Transit and HOV lanes.

Screenshot 2013-08-22 at 3.56.05 PM

The I-90 project (R8A) team submitted its 60% design on May 8, 2013 for stage 3, which will establish HOV outside lanes in both directions from Mercer Island to Seattle. STB has previously covered precisely why R8A is important.

“R8A literally paves the way for East Link to move over to east side. Last year…we were facing a number of very tough questions, primarily safety concerns,” the project manager stated. “We hired a team of experts, whose key findings were the ventilation design is key, solid for 60%, very thorough and comprehensive at this stage.”

He added that given the nature of the project, it was important to verify coordination between cost estimation and scheduling and develop a detailed system commissioning plan. Independent constructability and cost review will hopefully finish in November, while the 90% design will finish by October.

Continue reading “Sound Transit Board Meeting: I-90 HOV Lanes and ULink Progress”

Hertz joins the Car-Sharing mix in Seattle

First there was Zipcar*, offering a membership-based car sharing service with cars distributed throughout the city.  Then came Car2Go, as a one-way, park-most-anywhere complement to Zipcar’s service.  Add in bicycles, regular taxis, all of the taxi alternatives (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar), our extensive bus system, streetcars, a monorail, and our light rail system, and there are real alternatives to car ownership in Seattle.  Rental cars have always been an option as well, but with their typically slow checkout systems it’s been hard to justify renting one for less than a 24 hours.

Enter Hertz 24/7.  The newest car-sharing strategy has started small** and without fanfare in April of this year in Seattle, though they’ve had some version of the service since 2008 in some cities and college campuses.  There are currently only seven cars in the Seattle area, spread among five Hertz locations, and one car at the Auburn airport.  Like Zipcar, they’re round-trip rentals, they charge by the hour or day, there’s an app to find and reserve a car, and you use a key fob to rent your car without any paperwork.  Unlike Zipcar there’s no membership fee, but they aren’t parked in neighborhoods – you have to visit a Hertz location.

The five available cars currently run between $9.59 and $12.78 per hour on a weekday depending on the car.  Daily rentals currently start at $71.89 – a price that actually beats the cheapest traditional daily rental from the same lot ($84.37 after tax).

One interesting aspect of Hertz 24/7 is that in New York City they have one-way rentals to airports.  Hertz tells me they will offer this in Seattle in the future.  Considering the cars start at around $9 an hour this can be a very convenient choice for frequent flyers that don’t live near Link.

One odd piece of their marketing strategy is that “Hertz is taking the lead in installing ‘on demand’ technology in its entire fleet with its Hertz 24/7 service, thus bringing the car sharing/hourly rental option out of urban environments and into the suburbs.”  First, I’d think suburban car sharing might be limited in usefulness based on the difficulty of accessing a car without good transit.  Second, there aren’t any cars available outside of Seattle or airport locations in the Seattle area.

* originally Flexcar in Seattle

** And by “small” I mean very small – out of the  35,000 vehicles they equipped for this service, the Seattle ended up with 7, plus one at the Auburn airport.  Hertz tells me this will increase and maybe we’ll get a larger share of the 500,000 vehicles they plan to have available by 2016.

Special Sounder Service this Weekend


In a departure from the normal routine of providing weekend Sounder service only to mid-day Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners games, Sound Transit has announced a special free Sounder run from Lakewood to downtown Tacoma Saturday evening for military members and their families attending the inaugural parade of the Daffodil Festival, and special Sounder service Sunday evening to the Sounders-Timbers match. This is in addition to the regularly-scheduled Sunday mid-day service for the Mariners game against the Angels.

The free train Saturday departs Lakewood Station at 3 p.m., arriving at Tacoma Dome Station at 3:14 p.m. The return train departs TDS at 8:30 p.m.

The Sounder runs for the Mariners game Sunday depart at the usual 10:45 a.m. from Lakewood and 11:15 a.m. from Everett. Return trips depart 35 minutes after the game ends. The evening runs for the Sounders match depart Lakewood at 4:45 p.m. and Everett at 5:15 p.m. Both return trains depart 35 minutes after the match. This will likely be the first time two North Sounder trains in revenue service pass each other. A round trip involving a quick bite near Edmonds Station might even be doable for the first time ever, depending on how long the baseball game goes.

These announcements come on the heels of the announcement of all-day Sounder service to the Washington State Fair on September 14 and 21.

Thoughts on Deviations and Walking

Eastgate Park and Ride (Stacy Osterman/Flickr)

Whenever we talk about removing bus network inefficiencies, deviations are almost always a big part of the discussion. It’s a mathematic no-brainer that routes operating in a straight-line are safer, faster, and more reliable than their zig-zaggy counterparts. However, decades of bad land use planning and car culture have resulted in lots of destinations that are simply out of the way. Park-and-rides, like Eastgate and Federal Way, are some of the more egregious offenders that have likely cost Metro millions in operating costs over the years.

Most agencies have some sort of a deviation standard that weighs riders served by a deviation against through-riders. There’s a naturally flawed assumption built into this model– that riders accessing the destination are assumed lost if the deviation is eliminated. The broader assumption behind this is that the pedestrian environment has no impact on a rider’s choice to take transit. These types of deviation formulas would treat auto-oriented and urban contexts equally, assuming ridership generation remains constant.

For example, Metro’s deviation standard (according to the new service guidelines) is as follows:


More below the jump.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Deviations and Walking”

News Roundup: From a Landfill

Sound Transit

This is an open thread.

WSDOT Announces Start of Mudslide Prevention Work

Photo by AvgeekJoe

Earlier this week, WSDOT announced that work has finally commenced on mudslide prevention efforts along the BNSF tracks between Seattle and Everett. Last winter’s record-setting mudslide season marred Sounder North Line, forcing the cancellation of 170 trips and obliterating ridership. The slides had also been partly responsible for a flurry of bad publicity that made the news rounds last fall.

Over the past year, WSDOT and BNSF have worked to isolate six problem spots along the North Line, two of which are set to be fixed by mid-October. The work includes hillside stabilization, building retaining walls, drainage control, and other measures aimed at preventing the slopes from being oversaturated during periods of sustained rain. $16.1 million in stimulus money is expected to fund the projects.

According to the Everett Herald:

One of the hillsides is near the border of Mukilteo and Everett, Melonas said. The other is at the south end of Mukilteo near the Pacific Queen shipwreck.

Four more trouble spots in Everett and Mukilteo are targeted for fixes. These projects are still being designed and won’t be done this winter, but all the work is scheduled to be done by early 2016, said Alice Fiman, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Seeing as this is one of those instances where whatever hurts/helps freight rail also hurts/helps passenger rail, the multitude of stakeholders (BNSF, WSDOT, Amtrak, Sound Transit) here may actually be helping spur the urgency of the project. On top of the obvious benefit to North Line service, these improvements may also be some of the most critical in establishing a reliable corridor for future high-speed intercity rail.

Car2Go Member Appreciation Event Tomorrow

To celebrate Car2Go’s smashing success in Seattle, going from nonexistent last November to the largest fleet in North America (and 3rd largest in the world, behind Berlin and Vienna) just 8 months later, Car2Go is holding a Member Appreciation Event next Wednesday, August 21 from 4:30-8:30pm at 1 Hundred Bistro at 1001 Fairview Ave N.  The location is near the SLU Streetcar terminus, and is also served by Route 70 (71/72/73 after 8pm).

Car2Go will be handing out free memberships, awarding 30 minutes of driving credit for members who bring friends to enroll, will have many more prizes and giveaways, and the restaurant will offer 50% off (food only) for the entire event day. In addition, Car2Go has told me that members will enjoy a standing 20% discount on food at 1 Hundred Bistro indefinitely.

For anyone curious about STB’s strong support of carsharing given our pro-transit mission, a recent comment by d.p. sums it up quite well:

The biggest cost to a car-obsessed society is the space required by all those vehicles. At peak hours, that space is in the moving lanes — Car2Go fails just as hard as private cars and shared-lane public transit when traffic is worst.

But the rest of the time, the problem is the space required to stash cars for long periods of time when stationary. That’s the fatal flaw in [park and ride expectations], and the fatal flaw in your expectation of dedicated car ownership.

Car sharing solves this problem because, in places with enough aggregate demand and multi-directional need, the cars will not sit for long.

Car2Go boasts 50 users for every car they have on the road (24,000 members for 500 cars, eds). Instead of private cars… just… sitting… there… wasting… space… the car becomes a shared amenity.

It’s a 50x more efficient use of a space-intensive resource.

Living Without a Car


A few weeks ago Thanh Tan lamented how hard it was to live without a car ($) in Seattle:

King County Metro became my main form of commuting between home, work and play. I learned quickly about the hidden costs of a car-free life when your family lives an hour away.

Like a growing segment of urban Seattleites, I turned to Zipcar, Car2Go, Uber, taxis, Amtrak and weekend rentals from Dollar and Enterprise. The cost and amount of time required for me to get where I needed added up to hundreds of dollars every month…

Smartphone-tracking apps like OneBusAway helped with planning, but they couldn’t make up for the loss of autonomy I felt when the system was unpredictable. The route between Capitol Hill and South Lake Union would get so full that new passengers could not board.

Whenever the subject of how “possible” it is to be carless comes up, it’s important to first remember that thousands of Seattle households do it every day. It isn’t impossible, though by the standards of the car owner it might be inconvenient.

The key, of course, is to structure one’s life around what’s accessible via transit. Decades of bad land use planning and inadequate transit investment mean that many origin-destination pairs are utterly impractical. A few neighborhoods have great, 360-degree connectivity to points of interest, and I’d strongly recommend that people keen on living car-free find themselves in one of those neighborhoods. But ultimately the transit-dependent will have to pick the grocery store that’s accessible over the one they might  prefer.

Unfortunately, not all points of interest are a matter of choice. If  a desirable job or an important person is not in one of those corridors, one may have to fall back on the other somewhat more expensive options Ms. Tan suggests, or as she hints later on, get a bike.

In other words, one’s experience will vary based on how particular one is about shop, work, and play locations; one’s ability and inclination to bike; and tolerance for the occasional inconveniences of bus travel. I’d agree with Ms. Tran’s implication that decades of public policy have made it too hard, in general, to function without a car. I think that’s a tragedy for both our economy and the environment, and it’s why STB supports all the things for which it stands.

Your Bus, Much More Often. No More Money. Really.

What if almost every bus in Seattle came every 8, 10, or 15 minutes? And gave you a fast, reliable ride?

That may sound like a pipe dream. But it’s entirely possible. And the best part is: we don’t need more money to do it. We just need some inventiveness, a lot of political courage, and the occasional willingness to walk a couple extra blocks or to make a transfer.

This post, together with the linked documents, sets out a proposal called the Frequent Network Plan—a new idea for the core all-day bus network for the city of Seattle.  This initial presentation is general and covers the whole city; specific neighborhoods seeing big changes will be addressed in more detail in future posts.

A small piece of the route map
A bit of the map, in a neighborhood seeing a lot of change

I built two versions of the Frequent Network Plan map: one where each route has a separate color, and one where each frequency level has a separate color.  The first shows where routes would go, while the second shows just how much more frequently buses would be running along any given corridor.  I also wrote three reference documents, linked at the end of the post.  Further explanation after the jump.

Continue reading “Your Bus, Much More Often. No More Money. Really.”