Route 8 at Denny & Stewart.
Route 8 at Denny & Stewart. Photo by Oran.

Summer is the season for big Seattle Center events, and that means serious road congestion in the vicinity, and high demand on transit routes that provide access to the Center. A few Sundays ago, a friend of mine was returning from Pride, and attempted to use Route 8 to go east towards Capitol Hill. On Sundays, the 8 runs every 30 minutes, and on weekends, Metro always seems to assign 40′ standard coaches to the 8, rather than the 60′ articulated coaches seen during the week. Unsurprisingly, the bus was completely swamped, and most people gave up and started walking.

On event days, Metro habitually substitutes 60′ coaches for 40′ coaches on other diesel routes (e.g. 24, 32) which serve Seattle Center, but not the 8. While the substitution of 60′ coaches will not save a route that is totally overwhelmed by a brief spike in demand, it does significantly improve capacity at a cost that is slight compared to alternative options, such as running event shuttles or overload trips. Naturally, I wanted to know why Metro wasn’t operating 60′ coaches on the 8 during Pride weekend, and earlier this week, I got the answer.

More after the jump.

The operating environment is challenging on Denny Way before you throw in special events and construction. But we are trying to keep service moving and using a standard 40-foot bus helps us do that in this situation.

Every adjustment made from what is planned and scheduled to be operated has a cost. Although these are marginal costs they are not inconsequential when considering the amount of service Metro operates and the day to day variation in operating conditions that occur in a major metropolitan area. In the many examples you provide Metro does make these adjustments for special events and construction known in advance.

In the case of the Route 8, a 60-foot-long coach trying to operate along Denny Way, primarily from Fairview Avenue to First Avenue North, has a tough time moving while not causing more traffic congestion. In the short blocks, along with merging traffic from Westlake Avenue North, Dexter Avenue North and Fourth/Fifth Avenues, operators find it difficult to impossible to inch forward across the intersection without blocking the intersection completely with the 60-foot-long bus. With the 40-foot-long bus, operators had an easier time moving up and not block the intersection, which ultimately did a better job of keeping service moving for customers. This year, the limited capacity of Mercer Street west of Aurora Avenue has also moved more traffic to Denny, resulting in added delay and unreliability for the Route 8.

It’s a tough balancing act when traffic is heavy and transit demand is extreme. We’ll keep working on ideas and ways to smooth things out for customers, with a goal of keeping buses and riders moving while avoiding pass-ups.

As I understand it, Metro’s argument here is essentially that the event congestion is worse than weekday congestion, and in particular it’s worse on the short blocks west of Fairview, rather than to the east around I-5, where weekday congestion originates. This seems like a fairly plausible argument, and if it’s borne out by experience, 40′ coaches are the right choice (although I’d be interested in what bus drivers think of it). So there you go.

CT Enviro 500 double decker in Seattle.
CT Enviro 500. Photo by Oran.

This answer gives me a great excuse to ride one of my personal hobby horses, namely the utility of double-decker buses in cities like Seattle, which suffers a perennial shortage of curb space and similar abundance of chronically failing intersections. Community Transit operates a fleet of Enviro 500 double-deckers, each of which seats 80 people, and which (according to CT) is cheaper and more fuel-efficient to operate than a comparable articulated coach.

Despite seating more than twice as many people as an standard low-floor coach, and about 20 more than an articulated coach, CT’s Eviro 500s are only 2′ longer than a 40′ standard. They are, therefore, the perfect vehicles to be operating on streets like Denny and 3rd Ave. When the day comes that Metro is no longer broke, the agency should move aggressively to pilot them throughout the county, study the cost of upgrading some of Metro’s bases to handle them, and ideally set aside a chunk of the capital budget to perform the upgrade if the buses perform well during the pilot.

120 Replies to “Metro’s Special Event Coach Assignments”

  1. Essentially what they’re saying is “since there will be more people we’ll need less service.”

    Their approach to events is an ongoing frustration for me. Rather than being a key way people get to events the buses become useless because Metro not only doesn’t typically add more service but will reduce service by substituting smaller buses.

  2. Really, this just points out how terrible Denny is as a street. It’s one of the worst streets in the city for all users. Blocks shouldn’t be 100 feet long, and some of the angled intersections (with streets south of Denny) should be blocked off and traffic rerouted.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of a double-decker pilot, but they aren’t without their own issues (as anyone who has ridden them in London can tell you). Security on the upper deck is a problem in worse areas. On city routes, as double-deckers get more crowded, people sometimes refuse to move to the upper deck and cram into the lower deck for fear of not being able to get out, just as people refuse to go to the back in an artic. Loading and unloading is a bit slower with two doors instead of the three or even four doors that artics have in the most crowded cities.

    My solution to the event issue is simple but unlikely to happen… realize that events are mostly predictable, and require extra service, and add extra trippers on event days. Run them a few minutes ahead of the normal schedule. Budget for them in the normal budgeting process.

    1. It’s not just the level of service, but the congestion around events that renders transit nearly unusable. When buses are stuck in the same interminable congestion as the cars, why not drive to the event?

      I wish this “city” could work together to come up with a plan to reasonably handle event traffic. Have you seen what happens when the Mariner’s have a weekday afternoon game? Every year, same gridlock; hundreds of thousands of drivers and bus commuters delayed 30 minutes or more due to a few tens of thousands of baseball fans. Yet the afternoon games keep getting scheduled, and the same “traffic management plan” that didn’t work last time is used.

      My proposed solution: Guarantee effective bus service through special “event bus lanes” and lots of special trippers. Raise event parking prices and reduce parking capacity until the remaining “general purpose” lanes and freeway onramps can handle the car traffic. Publicize the heck out of the special transit service and the lack of parking. Once everyone adjusts, we’ll be able to hold large events in this city without shutting down the city. (Sidenote: parades should not reroute frequent Metro routes. There are other streets you may parade down).

    2. “My solution to the event issue is simple but unlikely to happen… realize that events are mostly predictable, and require extra service, and add extra trippers on event days. Run them a few minutes ahead of the normal schedule. Budget for them in the normal budgeting process.”

      THIS. A million times this. Big events at Seattle Center are not a surprise, and Metro shouldn’t be treating them as such.

  3. While appreciate these low-cost, slight improvement ideas – they’re really the ones that have a chance at being implemented in the short term – I can’t help pointing out how terrible any bus solution is on this route. I do not envy anyone that has to walk from Queen Anne to Capitol Hill via pedestrian-unfriendly Denny. The fact that people are doing this, and the ridership numbers on the 8 despite its terrible reliability, are all but proof of the ridership a real solution between these neighborhoods would have.

    And we all know what that real solution is.

    1. and Matt wins the Mayoral contest in a landslide write-in campaign, led by the 8 riders, funded by Seattle Center, and promoted by both business’ in Cap Hill and the soon to be devastated waterfront owners.
      Is this not the perfect storm?

  4. I’d like to add that when it is hot … Metro should never put un-airconditioned buses on really slow routes like the 8 … routes they know are slow.

    The other day when it was 87 … I took the 8 and the high-floor 60′ bus was way way too hot inside after being stuck in traffic all the way up Denny Way.

      1. The peak-expresses that are doing 60 on the highway get brand new AC coaches, while people in the city are stuck with fricking D60HFs on routes like the 8.

      2. At the most recent service change, Metro sent a big batch of D60s to South Base, in exchange for 6800s (new hybrids) that went to Ryerson. Those D60s are being used exclusively on peak-hour freeway express routes. Ryerson still has a lot of D60s, but not as many as it did a few months ago.

      3. For a long while, the inter and intra suburban routes were getting the new buses almost exclusively (smooth riding, low diesel fuming, low floor, AC’ed beauties) while routes like the 8 were getting the lurching smog belching dinosaurs. It seems to be getting better, but obviously Metro doesn’t like to give the shiny new stuff to the city routes (at least until they’re scratched up a little bit). It was quite infuriating when the 3 people on the 166 (for example) got to enjoy the new bus smell, while riders on the 8 had to (and still often do) suck it up. High usage city routes like the 8 should always get the best stuff…since Seattle is basically subsidizing suburban transit.

      4. Actually, in terms of Metro dollars collected versus spent in the various parts of the county, the suburbs subsidize Seattle.

      5. I doubt (using the term in a way that’s generally accepted) that the suburbs subsidize Seattle in any meaningful way. However, I could be proven spectacularly wrong. It’s probably more nuanced than a Seattle (only) vs suburbs cash flow inequity…but, it’s hard to believe that a city like Kent (my hometown) could sustain its level of transit service from funds raised “in-house.” I have to believe it’s getting some of its transit money from somewhere else….

        Maybe it’s more like Seattle/Bellevue subsidize the rest of the county?

      6. “Trolley buses” are not used on route 8. There is no overhead catenary infrastructure so this is not a possibility or at least not at this time.

  5. I’m sorry, but the reply from Metro’s spokescontortionist doesn’t make any sense.

    If you’re unwilling to add trips that acknowledge the massive and 100% foreseeable demand spike, if you’re unwilling to waver at all from your barely-there half-hourly slogger, if you acknowledge that you will have an uphill battle with traffic no matter what you do, then just go ahead and block the damned box twice an hour! Your box-blocking is justified by the dozens of additional passengers you’ll get to their destinations.

    Running a non-minimal-capacity bus is literally the least you can do here.

    Sometimes, traffic blocks boxes. It’s not ideal, and it should be avoided where possible; but if ever it’s justified, it’s justified by a bus with >100 people on it.

    It’s as if Metro has internalized SDOT’s demotion of transit to lowest service priority. Why should we fleece ourselves to give more money to an agency so meek it doesn’t even consider itself worthy of road space?

      1. Not quite nothing. There is some additional fuel and maintenance cost involved. But it’s fairly minor.

      2. There is also additional fare revenue to offset this additional cost, so perhaps no net marginal cost.

    1. As any driver that turns left from 15th to 45th in the U-dist knows, you have to take the intersection box for a half light cycle and leave your 60′ ass hanging out if you expect to move.
      Is it legal? NO
      Is it nice? NO
      Should transit get a pass on shitty intersections? By all means.
      SPD gets it. To my knowledge, no driver has ever got a ticket there.
      ps: to SOV’s, honking your horn and flipping us off just makes us LOL. Very predictable behavior.

  6. This is so typical of Metro’s approach to event service. Remember what happened to gameday service to Husky Stadium? Faced with a bureaucratic problem, Metro whined and stamped it feet instead of working to find an innovative solution. (Was it ever restored?)

    This particular situation is different due to a logistical concern, but the point still holds true: instead of thinking a bit outside the box (budget a few weekends with weekday service? split the 8 in half somewhere on capitol hill to maintain some semblance of efficiency? an 8 “express” that only stops once or twice on denny?), the “we can’t do this our usual way so we’re not going to bother” is a poor mindset to have.

    1. They are splitting the route by Group Health and I dont think that has worked well at all as passengers then have to wait for the shuttle connection.

      1. I would rather wait for a shuttle connection than not be able to ride the bus at all because it’s already full, as was the one 30 minutes earlier and as the one in 30 minutes will almost certainly be.

        I think there was also a post awhile back showing ridership patterns on the 8, and the vast majority of riders along John/Denny were boarding and alighting between 15th and Seattle Center.

      2. You mean the bus that *might* come in 30 minutes, or maybe 60 or 70 minutes due to bus bunching. Meanwhile those who were passed up, or opted to wait for a more spacious bus, since the infrequent riders already on the bus aren’t schooled in the courtesy of moving to the back, are a group of infrequent riders who don’t have the technology, or least don’t know how to access it, to find out when the next bus is coming. Calling the Customer Service number and choosing the path that gets them a recording about regular CS hours leaves them frustrated. Since the bus that just went by was already 25 minutes late, hope is given up.

        People who are perfectly capable of walking up to Capitol Hill end up doing so. Someone writes a cranky post on a blog somewhere, and readers are left wondering, “Geez, can’t people walk as far as the short distance between the Seattle Center and Capitol Hill any more?”:

    2. I believe that gameday service to Husky Stadium fell victim to legal challenges from Starline – since resolved but now the stadium is under construction.

      1. I believe that happened with the special service to Safeco (oooh! alliteration!), but the Husky service occurred every season from 1987 until 2011 as it was part of the mitigation for the then-new north upper deck. In 2012 of course the Dawgs were at the Clink and there was no additional service. This year the Huskies will be back at home and there will once again be service from 8 park and rides–but this year the athletic department is not fully subsidizing the service so you’ll buy a $5 round trip pass at the P&R when you show up. As it’s a special service, ORCA won’t work. (Season ticket holders were offered a season pass at half price; I tailgate so didn’t get it, and I wonder how much the fare will impact the numbers from the 20,000 or so who used the free service.)

        It’s still the best way to get to and from the game, save by boat.

      2. Along with the park and ride service, there is also special service from Lake City/Sand Point, Ballard and Downtown. These are treated as additional Metro routes apparently, as you just pay the normal fare. (You used to only have to show your game ticket!)

        I’m sure Link will get a nice bump at that station come 2016. Wish it were opening this year!

        This is more along the line of how scheduled big events should be handled–while the one-way contraflow traffic around the stadium after the games may not be practical at the Center or the like, certainly having the event organizers pay for additional service to high-demand neighborhoods would be a good idea.

  7. 40′ coaches are absolutely easier to deal with in heavy traffic. With a 60′ coach you have to wait at a green light until you’re sure a space large enough for your bus opens up and then go. But when you do that, car drivers almost always fill that gap in, often just as you’re pulling out which can be dangerous and also lead to a blocked intersection. Many of us just go on the next green light and *hope* traffic moves, often it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

    (Side note: Drivers who jump in front of us in those situations really deserve the ticket for blocking the box as there is little we can do after we have crossed into the intersection. I doubt that would be enforceable but it sure makes sense.)

    1. +1. It’s enforceable as it usually involves the illegal maneuver of changing lanes in the middle of an intersection.

    2. So about the point on double-deckers – 1) is it even possible on route like the 8? I’m running through overpasses in my mind along the alignment and I’m not coming up with anything; 2) if technically possible, would this be a good solution? would the drivers support such a thing?

      1. I wonder if double deckers would be able to fit underneath the trolley bus wires the 8 has to pass under at the Mt. Baker TC.

      2. Yes. This was discussed in a previous thread that I’m too lazy to dig up. Metro’s design standards for trolley wire specify a minimum height comfortably above that of a double decker.

      3. Those CT double deckers sit idle most of the day in a lot by SODO station. And as far as I know they aren’t used on weekends. Why couldn’t KCMetro strike a deal with CT to operate some routes during their downtime and on weekends? Maybe there’s some federal grant they could get for “testing” optimal utilization of coordinated fleets…

    3. Just block the box when the bus is that full. Just do it. Screw the five cars who get slightly inconvenienced for the sake of 100 bus passengers.

      Metro should do more visible asserting of the right to road space, not less.

      The only thing worse than sitting in compounding traffic because of boxblockphobia is missing a long light because a bus driver “politely” let an SOV merge in front of them (at the expense of all passengers trying to get anywhere).

      1. That makes sense: let’s make sure that if the bus can’t get through no one can. Let’s bring downtown Seattle to a complete standstill. After all no one is going to notice that it’s the buses that are blocking traffic and do something about it, like say voting against funding for buses.

        The real solution to problems like this, especially when there are short blocks to contend with is to have bus only signals.

      2. Do you plan to pay the tickets for the drivers who get ticketed? Contra mic, it does happen.

      3. I’m not saying to do it constantly. I’m saying to do it in situations like this one.

        If you sit waiting behind the box while other cars cut in front of you, and you miss an entire cycle as a result
        and then it happens again
        and then it happens again
        and then it happens again
        and five cycles later, you still haven’t moved,
        that is known as “non-adaptive behavior” and it means you’re failing at your job.

        You’re not going to get a ticket for doing something fundamentally necessary.

      4. “The real solution to problems like this, especially when there are short blocks to contend with is to have bus only signals.”

        If you mean queue jumps, they only work on streets with curbside parking. Denny doesn’t have that anywhere, which is partly why it’s pathologically unfixable as a transit street during times of high demand.

      5. Bull.

        The cops are too busy blocking downtown streets so that they can wave SOVs out of garages.

        I have literally never seen a car ticketed for box-blocking here, never mind (the very very tail end of) a bus that obviously needed to do so to ever make it through.

      6. Yeah, just block the box and get in the way of five other buses going the cross direction! On second thought, just obey the law and let the buses about to get a green light get through the intersecion unobstructed.

        The really solution is to ban private vehicles from these streets during certain pre-announced times, so that the buses can move through and disperse a majority of the crowd.

      7. You mean the red light camera? The one aimed to catch the license plates of those entering the intersection at the millisecond of illegality? The one that has nothing whatsoever to do with catching or ticketing farside box-blockers?

        Lately, my 40 has been taking fifteen minutes to cross Mercer because SDOT, in its infinite wisdom, gives a near-infinite light to eastbound Mercer traffic, ensuring that the box is fully blocked every time southbound 9th Ave gets its brief green window.

        Is there ever any penalty for Mercer blockers? No!

        If I were driving the 40, I’d want to ram directly through those SOVs.

        But apparently even our bus drivers consider bus riders third-class citizens, not worthy of the slightest effort or ingenuity. Just sit at light after light, learn nothing, do nothing, watch the clock spin.

      8. The camera takes full color full motion video, not snapshots. Yes drivers get ticketed. Bus driver gets a ticket, we also get a PR.

      9. Yeah, that happens when an overzealous district supe writes up a driver, who then gets counseled by his base Chief several days later.
        Net result, the driver is pissed off, and does the passive aggressive thing that d.p. described above, missing multiple lights.
        “Screw the schedule, and screw the passengers, and most of all screw the supe” as some drivers have been known to think as they sit there light after light.
        Eventually sanity sets in, and a slightly more calloused driver is created.

      10. Actually anytime a driver gets a camera based ticket, the full video feed is sent to Metro. The driver gets the icket-and the fine, and gets written up by their base chief. No district supervisor is involved.

      11. Top lol:

        Today I was on the 11 heading home, and the driver announcement radio came on:

        “Good Evening all Operators, the time is now 18:30 annnnnnd 20 seconds. To all operators operating on Pike Street, please don’t block the box at 4th ave. I know it congested out there, but please don’t block the box”

      12. @bruce, Two locations that dont fit that mold are 1st and Columbia and 1st and Denny NB.

      13. Good point. But in both cases there’s a constriction — the number of travel lanes decreases. If there’s not a natural constriction in the ROW, you generally need to be in a commercial district with curbside parking to be able to create it artificially.

      14. DP has a good idea in an ideal world. It’s like his earlier point that supposedly in NYC, building construction is never allowed to block sidewalks without providing an adjacent path (not across the street, but adjacent). But this requires changing the whole mindset of Seattle’s government, to put pedestrians 100% before cars. It will take a long time to change that mindset, and then to change the laws. In the meantime we have to put up with partial measures. If you want to change it quicker, the most effective way would be to replace all the pro-car members on the county council. That would show that the public wants pedestrians first, and no buts about it. But that requires convincing a majority of citizens to put pedestrians first, and not worry about the impact on their traffic and parking spaces. We can’t even get full-time transit lanes on Aurora or 45th, so that will take a long time too.

  8. You were misinformed. Metro has substituted 60 foot coaches on the 8 on event days. Bumbershoot, Folklife and the Bite all had 60 foot coaches running on the 8. Lately as a (disastrous and nonsensical) compromise, they’ve run 60 foot coaches between Rainier and Henderson to 16th and Republican; then 40 foot shuttles between there and 1st and Mercer- pretty much confusing the heck out if everyone.

  9. Not all peak expresses are aur conditioned. Many peak buses express and non are D60HF coaches. Many that are LF coaches are akso hybrids and more efficient on longer runs.

  10. I’m dubious of double decker dwell times. Counters to my concerns should be more sophisticated than that these other agencies do it. Where’s the statistical evidence that double deckers don’t delay dwells?

    Love the belligerent “just block the box” comments here… real smart. Thank you sensible drivers who are commenting that this isn’t wise. Metro doesn’t “downgrade” these routes on the weekends, they just don’t upgrade them… for good reason.

    And where is the “rail drunk” commenters of this blog who should provide the obligatory “Seattle needs High Capacity rail transit” to solve big event problems like these. Where? Where? You’re not living up to my expectations commenters! And this is the time when you’d be so right!

    1. SDOT and CT compared two-door artic dwell times with double-deckers in downtown and did not find a problematic difference.

      Keep in mind that even if your dwell times are slightly longer, if a shorter vehicle allows you to move through traffic more effectively, and fit more buses in the zone, you’re still better off.

      1. The characteristics of CT service are far more of the “we get on here and we get off there” variety. Major urban routes have a lot more ons and offs throughout their route. Very full buses with lots of standees and frequent ons/offs with very narrow staircases is not what CT service looks like. I think double deckers are great for CT service. If Metro could isolate a fleet for use on commuter service, that might make more sense, but I don’t think they’d be great for the 8.

      2. I grew up in the UK, and I’ve ridden plenty of double deckers on busy urban routes; they did just fine. I don’t think I even knew what an articulated coach was until I came to the US. Notably, a couple of years ago, London dumped their artics after only a few years to go back to double-deckers.

        Obviously, it makes sense to study a major new investment before putting the money down, which is why I am suggesting that Metro should pilot them, but I’m confident the benefits of the double-deckers would outweigh the disadvantages.

      3. Forgive me if this is a dumb question, and I assume 90% of the weight is in the lower half, but do double-deckers have any problems with hills? Would a crushloaded double-decker 8 starting from a dead stop on Denny between Melrose and Bellevue have a hard time?

      4. I wouldn’t think so, but that hill is indeed an example of why we have pilot projects.

        It seems to me the main limitation would be breakover angle on the nasty E-W streets downtown, which articulated coaches already have trouble with.

      5. Perhaps if you could do a diesel-electric hybrid you’d get the benefits of the electric motor to help climb the hill.

      6. The challenge with a diesel-electric hybrid double-decker is where to put the batteries. Conventional hybrid coaches have them either on the roof (for low-floors) or under the floor (for high-floors). Neither location works with a double-decker.

        And hybrid propulsion does really help with the steep hills. It’s the next best thing to having an ETB.

      7. London’s new double-decker bus that replaced the artics are hybrid diesel-electric. There is an Enviro that’s a hybrid as well.

      8. I think it’s worth bringing up the 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, and 13. These are routes that serve exceptionally busy corridors, but which are never assigned 60-foot coaches (to my knowledge) because of the steep hills.

        Using double-deckers on some of these routes would seem to be a great way to boost capacity at a negligible operating cost.

      9. To clarify my last comment: It’s not the steepness of the hills themselves, but rather the frequency of the plateaus at each intersection. There’s a name for this, but I can’t remember what it is.

      10. Aleks, there are places where artics have issues with approach and breakover angles, but only a couple of them. The most important is along Marion and Madison on route 12.

        Most of the routes you name don’t use artics not because of approach or breakover angles, but for other reasons. The 1 and 11 can use artics; they are rare on the 1, but very common on the 11 (most of service). The 2, 3, 4, and 13 don’t use artics because, up to this point, Metro has been unwilling to send its artic trolleys down the very steepest hills (James and the counterbalance) because artic trolley types thus far have had trouble stopping on steep hills in the wet. Also, the 2S, 3N, 4N, and 3S have terminal loops that can’t accommodate artics.

    2. You sound like the Seattleites who chastise jaywalkers — “Follow the rules!” “Wait your turn like everyone else!” “Heed the wisdom of SDOT planners!” “Go back to Boston!” — ignorant to the fact that jaywalking is often not only safer, but more efficient for everyone (since pedestrians don’t build up at intersections, thus blocking right-turning cars, thus blocking straight-traveling buses in the curb lane).

      But instead of considering rule-bending solutions, you’re content to see the bus get stuck behind the intersection for five or six cycles. Because rules are paramount even when they’re clearly not working!

      I have less than no tolerance for uncritical and counterproductive rule adherence. It reveals a population disinterested in critical thinking and prone to social and political coercion. I’ve only experienced one other place as rule-obsessed as Seattle, and it was Germany. Hmm…

      1. Seriously. You’re going for the “you’re kind of a Nazi” argument. Gimme’ a break.

      2. There was only a glancing Godwin buried in there.

        The facts remain: Seattleites are obsessively, excessively, uncritically rule-obedient. So are Germans.

        I distrust this proclivity in both groups.

      3. I am of German decent, and I think that BA1959’s suggestion is the one and only correct answer.

        Ban right-on-red at the afflicted intersections. Problem solved.

      4. The problem involves cars squeezing in from the adjacent straight lane. Not cars squeezing in by turning from the cross streets.

        Targeted right-on-red prohibitions might be a good idea for other reasons, but it wouldn’t solve this particular problem.

    3. The double deckers allow for more seats, but what’s their overall capacity like? Unless they allow people to stand upstairs — IME most agencies don’t but I’ve never been on one of CT’s so I don’t know what they do — you are limited to a single deck, and have to keep teh stairs clear, I don’t see how they can possibly stand as many people as one of the artics.

  11. Regarding blocking intersection, I’m not sure about metro, but at CT all it takes is for some car driver to call in and complain and we face discipline for violating the SOP, all our coaches have cameras so we are screwed. That said, I do it sometimes.

  12. Come on Metro, the best you can do is say “the few of you riders who actually manage to get on a bus will get through traffic a little better. Sorry everyone else.” ?

    I was crammed into one of those 8s coming back from Pride. Expecting the ridiculous under-service, I boarded at Queen Anne & Mercer. Within 2 stops the bus was packed full (good thing it was Pride and people were happy getting cozy) and leaving riders behind. Just a ballpark guess, I’d say we passed up at least another full bus worth of riders along Denny. All of them looked incredibly frustrated, standing there at the side of the road watching the bus they’d waited half an hour for (or longer!) slowly roll by without opening the doors.

    At almost every intersection the driver would wait until there was some room on the far side, only to have someone change lanes or make a right on red into the space. It would usually take a few light cycles to get through each intersection.

    These problems are predictable, and can be planned for. Budget extra trippers for them. Have a few of the extra buses start at the Denny & Warren stop. Budget for a weekday schedule. Work with Seattle PD to have officers (or even Metro supervisors) help buses through these intersections by stopping cross traffic. Heck, get the City to close off some of the cross streets entirely.

    In the long term, work with the City to get permanent changes to this corridor to improve service on the 8. There have been numerous suggestions on this blog that might help. Don’t just keep running the same 30 minute service on the same congested roads and hoping that somehow it will get better. Your riders expect better.

    1. I am not familiar with the intersections but would a “No Right Turn on Red” signal be of any use?

      Maybe a “Right Turn on Arrow Only”?

  13. CT tested dwell times on the Doubles,and they said no difference, but i have followed the first transit operated ones and they definitely dwell a lot longer. When they tested they used employees , not general public that board.

  14. Let me offer a less flippant take on the Passed-Up Rider Paradox.

    Bruce’s answer of double deckers is the right answer to the wrong question/demand. Yes, it will leave fewer people standing when the bus does show up.

    When people complain about being passed up, they are explicitly demanding higher capacity, but their real unspoken wish is simply to minimize wait time. In the case where the distance is too far for most people to walk, more buses/frequency is the real answer, and Metro does that, but doens’t do the best job of advertising the fact that there are standy buses waiting nearby to clear crowd spikes. I’m not sure whether the standby buses are accounted for in the various real-time arrival software.

    In the case of the 8, a lot of riders would simply walk, and get home sooner, if only the knew the 8 was 45 minutes away. Find a way to provide the information (e.g. Rider Alert signage), and that will make a lot of riders much less unhappy.

    1. The problem is it’s very difficult to know. GPS may say the bus is 1 mile away. Whether that mile will take 2 minutes or 30 minutes – who knows? It’s not a question you can answer with GPS data.

  15. I really like that Metro will take the time to give thoughtful and reasoned responses to STB’s inquiries. Even if you don’t like a response, they are reasoned and detailed. Nice job, Metro!

      1. Actually, the specification referred to is wishfull thinking. almost every route has to traverse an area that for some reason cannot be raised above 14 feet. The DoubleTalls are 14 feet plus antennas. There are also issues with streetcar wires now and more coming. I would love to see DoubleTalls on almost all routes that need the capacity, but not enough to lose the trolleys or the streetcars or pay to raise several overpasses in the city (mostly near UW).

      2. O RLY? Where are these problematic areas of sub-14′ wire? The 44 is the only trolley route I know of with substandard underpasses, and the Pacific Place underpass is being regraded as part of the Rainier Vista/U-Link project.

        Double-talls already pass under SLUT wires every day on Olive. None of the proposed streetcar routes pass under any restricted-clearance bridges. I’d be shocked if any modern streetcar project got built at less than 14′ clearance.

  16. It seems crazy that Metro ever uses 40 foot coaches on the 8 (which, always seems to be the case on the weekends – at least from Mad. Valley westbound). Plus, to make things even more sufferable, they use the rickety old diesel belching vehicles instead of the new Orion (or New Flyer?) units…I don’t mind sitting on those for a longer than anticipated trip (quiet and AC’ed). The 8 gets treated like crap.

    1. The 8 is assigned out of Ryerson Base, which no longer has any non-AC 40-foot coaches. It still has a fair number of non-AC 60-foot coaches. It’s not a matter of “treating the 8 like crap,” it’s a matter of where the non-AC coaches are located. All 60′ routes out of that base get more or less the same equipment allocations, except that the 16 seems to get the nicer equipment more often for some reason.

      Equipment allocation has actually improved quite a bit for city riders recently. They took all non-AC 40-footers out of Ryerson and all non-AC 60-footers out of Central. It will get better yet when the new trolleys are delivered starting late next year.

      1. Hmm. Just last weekend I rode a non-AC 40 footer from 25th and Madison to Broadway, and Broadway to Westlake on the 8. Was this a change they just completed, or do they also assign vehicles to the 8 from other bases?

        I guess I feel the city routes get treated more poorly (in terms of equipment allocation), is because when I visit my parents in the suburbs, it seems all of their routes always have the new 40 and 60 foot coaches. However, things have gotten better…my rides seem to be upgraded at least 50 percent of the time.

      2. Are you sure? There haven’t been any non-AC 40-footers at Ryerson for several months now. I suppose it’s possible a Central coach could have been substituted, but that doesn’t happen too often.

        There are quite a few older low-floor 40′ coaches at Ryerson that do have AC (the 3600s)… are you sure it wasn’t one of those? Or maybe the AC was broken or the driver didn’t want to use it for whatever reason.

        The base that has the oldest equipment is actually Bellevue (one of the two Eastside bases)… it’s still using nothing but Gillig equipment built between 1996 and 2001. Historically it’s the south end that has most consistently gotten the new stuff.

      3. South Base has gotten the new buses recently, i believe they were the last base to have the 1400s, the MANs without lifts, as well as 2000s the second batch of MANs

      4. Could have been a job filled over the radio to avoid cancelling a trip, Will inderline that Ryerson has no HF 40′ Gilligs (no A/C).

      5. When they motorize trolley routes on the weekends I often still see old non-AC buses running on the 10, 12, 47 routes. Metro has a habit of screwing the hill when it comes to equipment. I luv the trolley’s but not in the summer they are like ovens and you get so many homeless people who stink the heat just makes it worse! You would think Metro could at least give the hill a break on the weekends by making sure we get AC buses in the summer.

  17. A couple weeks ago, I was coming into downtown on Link right after a Mariner’s game ended. Having learned painful lessons from when this happened in the past, I actually got off Link at Westlake, then walked up the stairs out of the tunnel and half a mile up Pine St. towards capitol hill, where I found a Car2go to take me to the U-district. In spite of the fact that the 71/72/73 run every 10 minutes on paper, and that I was already in the bus tunnel, and that the nearest Car2go was a half mile walk up a hill, it still beat riding a metro bus hands down. That is how bad metro service is around events.

    (context: the last time I ever took a 71/72/73 home from a Mariner’s game, it took 30 minutes to crawl from the International District Station to Convention Place Station, plus an additional 30 minutes, at least, to crawl down Eastlake to the U-district, then another 15-20 minutes within the U-district for the bus to get to my stop).

  18. I’d be curious how Sound Transit’s overflow trippers for events and games are managed. I’ve ridden many 550s starting at Convention Place Station headed into crush loads of Sounder/Seahawk fans exiting the stadiums. On several occasions, I could see overflow trippers waiting at CPS, but there was never any information posted about these. The drivers of the regular service 550s didn’t even know what was going on. Common sense would dictate to let as many people as possible know that there are more buses coming when you are leaving dozens of drunk Seahawk and Sounder fans behind at International District Station after a game. I’ve seen some pretty tense moments from a passenger’s seat. Additionally, it would seem logical to publicize this extra service so fewer people risk having too much to drink at the game and driving home.

    1. ingi == info ?

      Since he pasted the response from Metro I’d say his reporting was accurate, albeit possibly misinformed.

      1. Sorry. Hate on screen keyboard. You are correct. A correction should be issued to include the Cap Hill route split on event days. @kcmetro didnt do a great job informing riders either.

  19. Does Enviro make any open top ‘Hopper’ double deckers? Boarding is via a chute, and instead of seats, the top floor is filled with Ikea style plastic balls the kids play in.
    It would be quite comfortable, and have great views – definately a premium service on a summer schedule.

  20. They need to get rid of the stop at Steward and Denny headed to the hill that stop and the one at Fairview and Denny mean the 8 has to sit in that right lane where traffic is backed up from the southbound I-5 on ramp. With the elimination or moving of those two stops my commute from Lower Queen Anne to Denny and Bellevue Ave might not take an hour most evenings. I think most people would be fine walking a little further for the improved performance of that route.

Comments are closed.