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.

95 Replies to “Transit Efficiency and Social Justice”

  1. Routing is just one of the realms in which is-ought is in the way of what could be.

    “You want to put HOV lanes on that road? Can’t you see that road is already at capacity just with the SOVs? The high average speed on that road should be proof enough.”

    “You want to give ORCA users a cash rebate? Don’t you see all the demand for paying with cash, especially among those who most need to count their pennies? Besides, how is that lost fare revenue going to be made up?”

    “Are you serious when you suggest taking out the fold-out seats? The trains are already full, and I need to sit.”


    “It’s absolutely unfair to give poor riders a discount. I pay my fair share, so they should too! What a bunch of socialism.”

    “The bus system is for people who WORK for a living. Nobody rides at 2 a.m. except some smelly homeless folks.”

    “Have you counted how many trees have been removed for Link construction?” (Okay, in fairness to Seattleites, I’ve only heard this from one person. Most of you can probably name the source, but if you can’t…)

    “Not a single additional hour of bus service is being included in this ballot issue.”

  2. And what is this “RapidRide” that serves Ballard, one of the fastest growing, densest neighborhoods, but doesn’t connect to the southern half of downtown, the Amtrak, Greyhound, Boltbus or stadiums? And how is routing it through LQA going to make it “rapid”? Metro must be crazy!

  3. Anti-transit cranks have long made a habit of taking pictures of empty buses near the neighborhood termini of routes, as well as harassed drivers for laying over, taking breaks, and eating lunch. I hate to see this photo emulate the tactic, especially when there probably were a couple riders on that bus closer to downtown.

    Likewise, I do have qualms with Bruce’s approach of killing neighborhood routes by a thousand truncations. As a transit-dependent rider, I don’t want all buses to stop at the line where multi-story buildings vanish. Consolidating routes makes a lot more sense to me than slowly shrinking the coverage map.

    Granted, the arguments for the 42 that I heard had little to do with the route, and more to do with tradition, language, and confusion.

  4. A lot of this post seems to be saying I wish human nature were more rational. Unfortunately it isn’t and for a plan to have any chance of being enacted it is going to have to have a pretty small number of losers (and even perceived losers).

    1. But this post seems to be asking why we don’t seem to care about those presently losing, and why any change must entrench all layers of previously accrued accidental privilege. Losers under the current system matter just as much.

      1. Why? Because those people don’t come out and yell. They don’t matter because they don’t lobby.

  5. “There’s no demand for service between X and Y.” (where X and Y currently have no service, or have terrible service) is another good one. This is an issue with planning gondola lines – how do you estimate ridership for points that have never been connected before in a fast and frequent way?

    ECB needs to expand on her point. I don’t think there’s a human right to provide close bus service to someone in the far ends of a low density neighborhood.

    1. Transit planning and ridership prediction seem to be mysterious sciences in Seattle. Route 48 was started in the early 1970s after years of pressure from civil rights groups in the Central District. Seattle Transit steadfastly resisted pressure to operate a direct bus route from the CD to the University District because they didn’t believe that ridership would ever justify a single seat ride on that corridor. For years, route 8 (Queen Anne to Capitol Hill) was desired by Capitol Hill merchants and community groups but Metro didn’t believe that there was sufficient demand for that route either. It took almost 20 years of community pressure to get the 8 started and the service hours for the 8 were offset by cuts on the 10 and 13. Try and imagine Seattle transit without the 8 and 48. Or try and imagine what Seattle transit would look like with all the routes that have been established and failed over the years.

      1. Seattle Transit was extremely resistant to any deviations from the radial model, almost to the point of religion. Those few that were in place were presented as radial routes that just happened to turn, such as the old 43 (and predecessors). Even today, although Metro recognizes the need for crosstown service, I think a bit of radial bias remains. We can see it in the fact that the 48S has less frequency than some routes with lower ridership; the lack of any crosstown route in far south or far north Seattle; and in how long it took to get to 15-minute service on the 8.

      2. All of the crosstown routes north of Mt Baker station have exceeded expectations: the 48, 60, 8, 31/32, 40 and 75. South of Mt Baker has been mixed: the 50 is bright in some segments but not others, the 60’s south half is OK for a secondary route but not spectacular, and if there ever was a White Center – Rainier Beach route it failed.

      3. To my knowledge there has never been a full White Center-Rainier Beach route.

        Martin was right that the 59 from my plan is the cheap way to make that connection. The ideal way would be two separate routes, one sort of like my 59 but heading to Othello and going through Highland Park, and the other heading to Rainier Beach via Boeing Access Road, without the Georgetown detour. You could get to that point from my plan with about 6 extra buses by extending the 6 west from the Boeing Access Road terminal; extending the 106 or 107 (depending on desired frequency level) north from RBS to cover South Beacon Hill; and truncating the 59 at Othello.

      4. I didn’t include the 44 because I didn’t know if it was a “new” route or if its predecessors went back to the Seattle Transit days.

        I also forgot about the 30, which may qualify as a crosstown route although I normally think of it as a shuttle. Its ridership is of course mediocre weekdays and bad evenings/weekends.

    2. I agree. Ms. Barnett seems to have missed the entire point of the article. Mr Lawson admits some trade-offs. Specifically, a little more walking and more transfers, in exchange for faster and more frequent service. There is an argument to be made that we should eliminate poorly performing routes in exchange for really busy ones, but the author didn’t make that argument. In other words, with the possible exception of Magnolia, no “low-ridership routes” were eliminated. The plan would have just as much mobility as the status quo.

      Various authors of this blog have struggled with the Magnolia question. So has Metro. It is a tough problem. It is physically very large, with big hills, but most of it is not very dense. But to suggest that reducing coverage in western Magnolia denies people the right to mobility is hyperbolic. Just about everyone who lives in that area is well off. They can afford a cab. I suppose the house cleaning crews or nannies need a way to get into the neighborhood, but the house cleaners usually drive their own car (full of cleaning supplies) and the nannies will have to ride a bike, take a cab, or try and get a cheap car. But again, that is not the point of this article. The author isn’t married to this exact plan, especially when it pertains to Magnolia. The point of the article is that riders (including those coming from Magnolia) will have to transfer and perhaps walk a little more.

      Heck, if you made the 31 do a big lollipop loop in western Magnolia, the problem is solved. Instead of turning around at Emerson and Viewmont, just take a left at Emerson and reconnect to the rest of the line at 34th and McGraw. This would still allow for 15 minute frequency, but gain back all of the coverage. The only drawback over the proposal is that folks riding the bus on 34th towards downtown would have to ride the bus through Magnolia. But that ride is pretty fast. Furthermore, you could always make the bus do that loop clockwise in the morning and counter-clockwise in the afternoon. That would essentially guarantee fast service for commuters on 34th (fast service to downtown in the morning, fast service from downtown in the evening).

      All of this is to show how brilliant and well thought out David’s proposal is. It takes a little modification to essentially eliminate one of the suggested drawbacks (mobility). The other trade-offs remain. Personally, I would love this system. I often drive because riding the bus just takes too long. The proposal would get me (and lots of folks like me) to ride the bus more often.

      1. I doubt that it would be a burden to nannies… Isn’t a significant part of the reason that people choose to ue nannies rather than daycare is that the nanny can transport children to their activities while a daycare won’t?

  6. The real difference here is in what we prioritize. Frank argues that efficiency is the most important factor to consider when designing a transit system. I passionately disagree and believe most Seattle residents do too.

    My priorities are to reduce our dependence on oil, combat climate change, and reduce poverty. Good transit service is a crucial tool to achieve those outcomes.

    To get there, some inefficient transit routes will be operated. So what if they are? Frank needs to justify why efficiency matters more than energy independence, social justice, and fighting climate change.

    Frank also mischaracterizes my views. I am not loss averse. And in the comments to that post I argued that the proposed restructure had many good aspects that could serve as a starting point once Northgate light rail is in operation. But what I did say was I objected to the pointless yet willful, almost gleeful, approach taken in that proposal that improved service for some by taking it from others.

    There is no need to rob bus rider Peter to give more service to bus rider Paul. In fact, doing so is likely to undermine public support for the system while doing nothing to win over anti-transit voices.

    The great transit systems of the world were not built with efficiency in mind. They were built to provide a holistic system that gave as many people as possible a chance to get around on a bus or a train. That should be the model we follow.

    1. Efficiency matters because our transit dollars are limited. If we’re choosing between restructuring or adding more service with new revenue that might be a different debate. But every inefficient bus you run could instead be a more efficient bus, which means more passengers, which leads to fewer car trips, which leads to the goals you list.

      1. But that’s not true. In 2006 and 2008 local voters approved more money for buses and trains (Transit Now, ST2). In 2012 the King County Council approved a $20 VLF for transit. The Great Recession has meant those revenues have not been able to provide as much new service as hoped, but it shows our dollars are not in fact limited.

        Further, we saw in Tacoma that shrinking the service area fails to generate sufficient public support to save bus service in more dense urban areas. The “efficiency uber alles” model fails in practice to sustain the necessary level of public support to avoid catastrophic cuts to transit service.

      2. Except that now Metro has maxed out it’s funding authority. You can try and deny reality all you want but the fact of the matter is that the Republicans are in control of the Senate and more funding options are not likely (at least not ones that don’t come with a poison pill).

        In this reality we have limited resources so the more effecient the service the more people that are served, the more we reduce our dependence on oil, combat climate change, and reduce poverty.

      3. Even the most efficient routes are money-losers, so it’s difficult to create those efficient routes without making drastic cuts on the least efficient routes.

      4. Even the most efficient routes are money-losers

        That’s not necessarily true. Look at Vancouver’s 99 B-Line, likely the highest performing route in North America, which costs TransLink only 57¢/rider. That route is SO efficient that it’s a pure misery to ride, and TransLink is desperate to find ways to add capacity (hint: subway!)

        But even considering all routes for Vancouver proper, TransLink’s cost/rider is a mere C$1.08. Assuming TransLink recovers even half of the retail fare of C$2.50, it’s probably fair to say that their system is profitable within the city while achieving more than double our ridership per capita.

    2. Our present system is so so far from your stated goal of giving “as many people as possible a chance to get around on a bus or train”. You seem to differ with many on this blog only in the nature of your idealism. You park your idealism in a lack of future constraints allowing good, mediocre, and bad service to operate everywhere, whereas STB parks its idealism as optimizing the system within current constraints. Why can’t we fight for yours while enacting theirs?

      If you accept the practical premise of limited transit funding, you know how to get to your goal? Efficiency. Doing more for more people with fewer resources.

      I understand why you have a trench warfare mentality — “don’t yield any gains (real or perceived, ever), and the only answer is MORE!” In light of our regressive-tax-loving, wealth-coddling, completely dysfunctional state legislature I don’t really blame you. But there are current losers, right now, today, lots of them, and serving them is important. How many people can we serve well with 1.8% sales tax is a very important question.

      1. As I said above, I do not accept the premise of limited transit funding because it is utterly false, disproved by quite a lot of evidence. It is true that we have to fight to obtain such funding. But you’ll have to fight to impose a radical restructure that is based on the theory of taking service from some people and giving it to others. That is a fight you will either lose or if you win it will be a Pyrrhic victory that comes at the cost of public support for future transit funding proposals.

        I really do not understand the failure of vision here. I agree with you that Washington’s tax system is regressive. So why do we waste time trying to come up with transit system maps that do not get us closer to the goal of giving as many people as possible a good transit option? Why not sketch out what a good European style transit system would look like for Seattle, figure out a progressive way to fund it, and then fight for that? It’s a winnable fight. Let’s be ambitious. If not us, then who will?

      2. Why not sketch out what a good European style transit system would look like for Seattle[?]

        That is exactly what I’m trying to do, within the constraints of our land use, which is not nearly as dense or transit-friendly as that in any Western European city. Our land use forces hard choices if we want European-style frequency and consistency over our greater distances.

        Systems in Europe focus, by necessity, on serving high-demand corridors. They don’t have unlimited resources there either.

        I do not accept the premise of limited transit funding because it is utterly false, disproved by quite a lot of evidence.

        I do not accept the premise that my salary is limited either. Unfortunately, my boss just laughed when I told her that. I may be able to request and receive a raise once in a while, but that doesn’t mean I can throw out the budget. (Household budget analogies actually work much better for local government than they do at the national level.)

        In the real world, in every sphere, we have to make do with limited resources. Even if we were to design a brand-new funding scheme for transit in Seattle — a very worthy endeavor — there is only so much we can raise.

    3. To get there, some inefficient transit routes will be operated. So what if they are?

      Operating inefficient transit routes takes away resources that could be used on efficient routes, benefiting more residents, getting more drivers out of their cars, improving social justice, and increasing support for the transit system.

      Let’s put this in concrete terms by using an example. My plan cancels the 25 while providing little replacement service along much of the route, because almost no one currently rides it, it’s slow and indirect, and the areas it serves are structurally ill suited to ever generate acceptable ridership. Of course it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the two buses that currently operate the 25 would go in my restructure. But let’s say for the sake of argument that they are two of the five or so buses devoted to improving frequency on the 120, a fast and direct bus route which currently passes riders up on a regular basis during peak hour and is jam-packed the rest of the time, with heavy future residential growth expected along the entire corridor and very large numbers of low-income riders. It’s folly to think that the right outcome for either social justice or transit politics is to keep those empty buses tooling in an S shape around Montlake, while some current riders and even more future riders in Delridge are chronically underserved. People respond well to a system that serves large numbers of riders and gets them where they’re going without delay, while making optimal use of the limited tax money we can reasonably collect.

      1. But that is true only if you assume a zero-sum game. As I’ve argued above, that isn’t realistic. We can grow this pie and have done so repeatedly in the last seven years.

      2. This is, to put it mildly, completely insane. We can, occasionally, get more funding by putting together a package for the voters and winning the election. Of course, there are examples of transit packages being approved by voters, which suggests this isn’t a magic source of neverending funding. Obviously, voters weigh transit improvements against cost and vote accordingly, and sometimes cost is going to win. The voters here are not a rubber stamp (and that’s probably a good thing).

        But, and I can’t believe I actually have to say this, the larger issue is the state legislature. We may very well have to make massive cuts to the service we have now next year because we can’t raise taxes without their permission, and they won’t give it to us. I’m pretty sure you know all this. Why insist on pretending we can simply wish constraints away?

      3. Will. Please tell me how you would allocate service if I gave you 100 million dollars? In real numbers how do you measure success?

      4. We can grow this pie slowly, and with delays sometimes lasting a year or even five years. In the meantime we have to prioritize service-hour allocation and yank the most underproductive routes. Later when the pie is big enough we can talk about re-adding service there. By that time there will be fewer cars, more demand for transit, more willingness to fund transit, and more acceptance of rezoning for density/walkability.

    4. There’s a lot missing from this comment, and I don’t see at all how your more or less straightforward point was misrepresented in the slightest.

      My priorities are to reduce our dependence on oil, combat climate change, and reduce poverty. Good transit service is a crucial tool to achieve those outcomes.

      OK, setting aside the poverty point, how are inefficient spaghetti routes going to do a better job at A and B than the plan put forward. Efficiency, frequency, and predictability attract greater ridership, taking more people out of their gas-guzzling cars. Buses with very low ridership might be producing more emissions than if the six people on them were driving. These points make no sense whatsoever as an objection to David’s plan.

      There is no need to rob bus rider Peter to give more service to bus rider Paul.

      Yes, there is. You understand the concept of limited resources, right?

      1. There is no need to rob bus rider Peter to give more service to bus rider Paul.

        There’s the language of robbery again. It’s more about not letting service to rider Peter prohibit service to Paul, Jessica, Naya, Steven, Julia, Pablo, Ron, Kate, Amir, Denise, and Min-Jun.

      2. Everyone clings to the “limited resources” claim even though it has been repeatedly proven false in recent years in Washington State. I am frankly stunned that it is so strong in these comments, given that people here are usually very, very good about rooting their ideas in evidence.

      3. Even without fixed transit dollars, efficient service still serves more people. The choice isn’t efficient service or more service. It’s always between some amount of inefficient transit trips and some greater amount of efficient transit trips. And if your argument is that removing inefficient trips removes votes from those currently served, what about that greater number of people you’d serve with the efficient trips? Do they not vote?

      4. It’s a bit more nuanced than that. It's more like serving Peter at all vs. increasing Paul, Jessica, Naya, Steven, Julia, Pablo, Ron, Kate, Amir, Denise, and Min-Jun's service from every 15 minutes to every 10 minutes (and maybe getting a few additional riders as a result of the frequency increase).

        That’s often understating the case. You may get a whole slew of additional riders, not just a few (as happened with the 120 compared with the 20 and 135 it replaced). Rather than just giving Denise and Min-Jun a slightly shorter wait, you may allow them to get on the bus when they would otherwise be left behind. And many of the Peters still have service, just two or four blocks further away — and improved in quality.

        In my restructure proposal, the number of current riders who would lose service entirely (within a reasonable walking distance of 1/4 mile) is vanishingly tiny. Most of the “losers” just have to walk a little further. As discussed before, I’m all in favor of finding new ways to help those riders who can’t walk a little further, but that doesn’t describe most of the riders who resist change.

      5. @Josh

        The problem with your analysis is that Peter too benefits once he gets to the bus from the reduced wait once he gets to the bus stop, from the reduced time the bus is going to take winding through neighborhoods, and from the reduced time he is going to spend waiting for transfers [unless he’s fortunate enough to have a one seat ride]

    5. “I would add that I do not support reducing any transit service to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.”

      “Frank also mischaracterizes my views. I am not loss averse.”

      So you’re loss averse and incoherent.

    6. “There is no need to rob bus rider Peter to give more service to bus rider Paul.”

      A good restructure isn’t about robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s about taking away from Casper the Friendly Ghost to pay Peter, Paul, and Mary.

    7. Here is something interesting for you to consider, Will: I am a card carrying member of just about every environmental organization there is (OK, some of the cards are left at home, since I don’t feel like stuffing my wallet). I’ve been riding buses since I was a kid. I hate driving, especially at rush hour. I like the time I spend riding a bus. Unlike some folks I know, I can read on a bus (I don’t get car sick). Waiting for a bus is no big deal for me either. I can read while keeping my eyes peeled for the bus. I’m a hiker, so I don’t mind a little rough weather (or what passes for rough weather in Seattle).

      But guess what? I rarely take the bus. Unless I’m going downtown, I drive. The reason is obvious. It takes too damn long. Just about everyone I know who drives to work says the same thing. It takes too damn long. All the other stereotypes (stinky people on the bus, etc.) are exaggerations. The main reason people put up with nasty, horrible, expensive car commutes is because (get ready now) taking the bus takes too damn long. I know I’m hurting the environment, but I just won’t put with sacrificing that much of my time to save a small amount of fuel.

      You state that your “priorities are to reduce our dependence on oil, combat climate change, and reduce poverty. Good transit service is a crucial tool to achieve those outcomes. To get there, some inefficient transit routes will be operated. So what if they are? Frank needs to justify why efficiency matters more than energy independence, social justice, and fighting climate change.”

      No, David stated that his proposal would increase ridership. I agree. Increased ridership means that more people ride, and fewer drive cars. Since driving is a burden on the poor, a system that provides more service would help the poor. All of this is obvious, but you seem to have missed this. I think you need to make a case that somehow a system that provides more ridership would hurt energy independence, social justice, and our fight against climate change. You haven’t.

      Nor have you even pointed out who would be hurt by this proposal. All you have said is that somehow, if the laws change and we get more funding, then we can somehow get better service. But again, I personally won’t ride the bus if the service is just as bad as it is now. It is fundamentally flawed and needs to be reworked (as it is in this proposal) to work for me (or thousands like me). The beauty of this proposal is that it provides much better service without spending any more money. If we get more money, then you are free to try and put back the routes that were eliminated. Nothing fights poverty and climate change more than buses running around with a couple passengers all day.

      Maybe your argument is that if we improve efficiency, increase ridership and increase rider satisfaction, then we won’t be able to ask for more money when the time comes. If so, then I think it is an interesting, and worthy argument (better than the rest of them). After all, one of the arguments used against rail was “take the bus, it goes everywhere”. But I don’t think such a strategy is wise, nor do I think it is necessary (as you point out). History has shown that people in this area will support transit, even if it is not necessarily the best system we can offer. I think David has it right. Once North Link is done, rework the bus lines to provide much better service. Then, if we get more money, some of it can be used to provide more coverage, while the rest is used to provide even more frequency.

    8. You seem to think that in order to fight climate change, every single person should be riding a bus. The reality, of course, is that there are many, many people who will never ride a bus in their lives. Buses are much bigger than cars and burn a lot more fuel; they get their climate-change-fighting power by transporting a lot of people at once. Having empty buses run around neighborhoods that will never use them HURTS the fight against climate change rather than helps.

      You say it is a fallacy that there is such a thing as limited resources when the voters have repeatedly affirmed their support for transit, so long as you keep all their buses. In so doing, you sound like a Republican parody of a liberal. At some point, if we’re pouring all the money everyone earns into maintaining an inefficient transit system that tries to serve everyone, even tax-friendly Seattle is going to balk at having to pay more, don’t you think? And what if the money that’s being pumped into this inefficient transit system could have gone into more productive ways to fight climate change, like subsidizing solar panels?

      The way to reduce oil dependency is to allow people to travel shorter distances to get what they want/need. You’re not going to get that by subsidizing sprawl by declaring “a bus for everyone”. You get that by – shock horror! – concentrating service into frequent corridors.

      1. When I calculated it, a bus reaches a SUV’s MPG when it gets 12 passengers, compared to each of them driving alone. Of course, we can’t expect every run to have 12 passengers but we can hope that the route’s average exceeds it. That’s the ecological case for having buses even when they’re sometimes empty.

        You also have to look at passenger behavior. Many people won’t take a route if it’s infrequent, has a complex schedule, or its last run is in the early evening. A 15-minute route gain more than twice the riders of 30-minute route, and a 30-minute route gains more than twice the riders of a 60-minute route. Irregular schedules (like every 45 minutes) mean you can’t just memorize that it comes at the :20 and :50 every hour. Last run in the early evening means you can’t take it back from an evening activity. And if you don’t know whether it ends in the early evening — you just know that many similar routes do — that’s almost as bad as it actually ending in the early evening because people won’t count on it, they’ll just drive instead. So running frequent buses with a long span of service has benefits beyond the raw number of bodies on the seats — it affects people’s decisions whether to take the bus.

  7. Even in a world with unlimited resources, running empty buses around does nothing to improve people’s mobility or reduce CO_2 emissions — in fact, it does just the opposite. As for poverty reduction, in such a world, wouldn’t direct payments be a more effective tool?

    1. Brian, do you mind spelling out what you’re getting at here? I can sit and contemplate various forms of privilege, but I might not come to any interesting conclusions regarding efficient delivery of transit service. Pretend I’m stupid – I might really be, anyway.

    2. Make an argument, rather than chant slogans. Where do you see racial or class injustice in Lawson’s proposal? If you consider changes that involve some people walking .25 miles for more frequent service ableist privilege, you’d potentially be on your way to an arguable point. But race and class? Why? Spell it out. When the only substantial loss of service is in freaking Magnolia, the race and class privilege argument isn’t exactly self-making. Please explain.

      1. Flaws in the plan presented by David I do not see. My reference to class and race is more a quick explanation of why social justice is such an important subject in urban planning and infrastructure.

        I would like to see something for the rest of King County, as well. I know full well how difficult it can be to design routes.

      2. Brian, I’m kicking around ideas for South King County, but it’s more difficult than Seattle because it receives so few all-day hours at the moment. It’s not as easy (although it is possible on some routes) to boost frequency down there to transfer-network levels. And it’s important, because the population in much of SKC is generally poorer than the population in Seattle, and very transit-dependent in a pedestrian-hostile area.

        What is really needed from a social justice perspective is a transfer of a certain number of hours from the Eastside to SKC, but I won’t beat that difficult drum for a bit longer…

  8. Jarrett Walker whom a number of people on this blog seem to respect covers this in an article in “The Journal of Transport Geography”

    Public transport faces an increasingly intense conflict between patronage goals and coverage goals. Broadly speaking, patronage goals seek to maximize patronage of all types, while coverage goals lead to the provision of service despite low patronage – to achieve social inclusion objectives for example. The conflict between these goals follows inevitably from the underlying structure of the public transport product, including both its costs and geometry.
    The tradeoff between patronage and coverage is the type of value-judgment that elected officials are paid to make. The paper presents a means of quantifying the tradeoff, to facilitate public discussion and decisions on how to balance these priorities. These strategies are designed to ensure that the decision about how to balance social versus patronage goals is made consciously rather than inadvertently, with a clear understanding of the consequences of the choice.
     2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

    1. This post linked to a Streetsblog article about Jarrett’s position, and Frank explicitly calls out coverage as a necessary goal. But I hope we can all agree that inefficient routes that provide neither meaningful coverage nor adequate frequency should find a way to die.

      Take the example Frank alluded to of the rider at 23rd/Jackson wanting to go Downtown. The 14 and 27 are 3 blocks apart and share no common stops in the C.D., effectively halving frequency from a potential combined 15 minutes to a separated 30 minutes. Then add in the 4S, at a completely separate set of stops and running only every 30 minutes and providing no meaningful coverage, offering useless coverage on 24th and 26th when there is service every 10-15 minutes on both 23rd and MLK. So a rider at 23rd/Jackson is seeing the equivalent of a 10-minute route’s worth of resources instead spread over 3 half-hourlys. In situations like that it’s clear that you could improve nearly everyone’s mobility by consolidating routes and boosting frequency while not harming coverage in any significant way.

    2. To put it in Jarrett’s language, my plan prioritizes patronage goals to the maximum extent consistent with ensuring that there is at least some coverage to every neighborhood with a demonstrated history of meaningful transit ridership.

      1. I agree. But for the most part, there really isn’t a trade-off here between coverage and patronage goals. There is a trade-off between making more transfers and maybe a bit more walking versus faster overall service. The trade-off between patronage goals and coverage is a false dichotomy with regards to this approach. Put it this way, anyone can maximize patronage goals by hurting coverage. I could just cancel a bunch of runs that serve very few people, and increase the frequency of other service. Then we would have this argument in earnest.

        But that isn’t your plan. Your plan is simply taking a different approach towards achieving the same ends. There is no reason it has to decrease coverage one bit. Maybe it does in some cases, but that can be corrected (to the detriment of speed or frequency) fairly easily much as I did in suggesting a different route for the Magnolia bus (see my comments above). It’s not that hard to do, and if keeping coverage is a priority, we can do it and still keep most of this plan intact.

        This plan is different because it turns traditional Seattle based transit thinking on its head. It reminds me of text assist. Traditionally, in software engineering, if you wanted speed, you wanted to minimize the round trips from the client (your PC) and the server (the box sitting on the internet which responds to your PC). Text assist is exactly the opposite. Rather than downloading a bunch of data which is then processed by the browser (the traditional way to make things fast) the folks at Google went a different route. Each time you type a letter, that little bit of information is sent to the server. The server then responds very quickly with a small bit of information. This happens for each letter you type and it happens so quickly, it is hard to tell that this is happening. This approach only makes sense if the server is really, really fast. It is.

        Likewise with this approach. Forcing people to transfer or walk a little ways only make sense if the bus is very frequent and very fast. In this case, it is. Making short routes allows for fast, frequent service. It also makes for consistent service. This is one very important benefit of this system. If you want to talk about working class suffering, what about the mom whose kids are waiting at home while she waits for a bus that is twenty (twenty!) minutes late. Would she trade that wait for a couple more blocks of walking? You bet your ass she would. But she has no choice but to wait, while her kids sit at home, hopefully not getting into trouble. Of course, she could always buy a car, and add one more burden onto her life. Last time I checked, the state wasn’t subsidizing automobile purchases, or automobile repair for poor folks.

        This approach simply makes sense for the vast majority of potential riders of every class. Let’s not forget that the Tukwila station is a working class station. The second most popular Link station outside downtown is not a suburban, bedroom community station, despite its bright, shiny, and absolutely free park and ride. No; more people exit the train in Tukwila in the morning than board. The opposite is true in the evening. My guess is that the folks riding the train and exiting at Tukwila are not office workers, but maids and restaurant workers. Likewise with this proposal. People may spin this as being aimed primarily at helping the wealthy commuter, but the real beneficiary will likely be the person who needs it most.

  9. 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.

    Efficiency should not be the rule. Don’t forget that public transit is public. It’s the product of a political system. The most efficient system you can think of won’t do any good if it doesn’t have the political support to sustain it. A transit system that creates more transit supporters enables further transit improvements. Does David’s plan increase or decrease the support for transit?

    1. It would increase support, by dramatically increasing both the number of people who would use transit, and increasing the regularity with which the vast majority of current riders would use it.

      Useless transit is useless. Nobody ever sold a car because an empty bus drove past their house once a hour. It may make sense to run some low-performing coverage routes in the suburbs, to provide some token service to large areas of the county that would otherwise be cut off from transit altogether, but in the city, ridership is the goal.

      1. It is almost impossible to exaggerate how effectively the anti-transport lobby is able to use anecdotes (and pictures) of empty buses to further their causes. If political support is your metric, efficiency will be your first, second and third priorities (in that order).

      2. Would it dramatically increase both the number of people who use transit? I’d like to know where.

        I read Jarrett Walker too. I like David’s plan, and I definitely want something like it when University Link happens (just three years from now!). My problem is with the belief, conscious or not, that technocratic efficiency is the key to solving political problems.

      3. That empty bus thing drives me crazy. Downtown has whole buildings full of empty cars just sitting there. A lot of the street too.

        If you think it’d help, you could hide empty buses with wrap advertising. However, I doubt anti-transit reactionaries are sincere in their concerns about efficiency.

      4. Chris, efficiency-oriented restructures have dramatically increased ridership every time Metro has tried them. Just a few examples:

        – October 2012 Big Bang. Despite all the grousing, total ridership is up substantially in both West Seattle and Ballard — and this even though the Ballard restructure was suboptimal in several respects.
        – Route 120 restructure. The 120 replaced two half-hourly bus routes, the 20 and the 135, that were both slower and less direct, and each served only a part of the key corridor. Ridership rose immediately and has continued to rise in the 9 years since the restructure.
        – Kent East Hill restructure. Done in conjunction with an addition of hours, this created a 15-minute daytime corridor headed up James/240th, and made a lot of hourly corridors into half-hourly corridors. Ridership is excellent up there, and the strongest route is one Metro created out of thin air to serve a patronage need, the 164.

      5. “My problem is with the belief, conscious or not, that technocratic efficiency is the key to solving political problems.”

        I’ve not espoused that belief. I do, however, espouse two beliefs that could be mistaken for that:

        * Political goals should be driven by valid technocratic goals. We (advocates, agencies) should figure out what we want to achieve and go and sell that to the public, not just wait for politicians to dream stuff up and order the transit agency to do it.
        * Achieving technocratic goals helps achieve political goals. People who ride transit, especially those who’ve forgone a car due to the existence of transit, are going to vote more pro-transit than people who don’t use transit, or whose only experience with transit is watching empty buses drive by.

      6. @Chris: of course they aren’t sincere. So what, what they saty resonates with voters. To put it in context, they offer voters a choice (I believe a false one, but one with enough truthiness that it works): you can vote for this tax to fund empty buses clogging up busy freeways, or you can save the money and take your kids to Disneyland. Which one do you think they are going to take?

      7. @Chris,

        Yeah, when Rodney Tom’s main complaint about transit is that the Eastside isn’t getting its fair share, it’s a good bet that he and the other R’s don’t really care about efficiency.

      8. David, if you wanted to be completely strategic, and didn’t care at all about improving service for current transit users and supporters, but only wanted to increase the percentage of people using and supporting transit, how would that change your plan?

      9. Chris, that’s a pretty unrealistic premise, because “the people using and supporting transit” even with a completely clean break in the network will necessarily overlap to a very large degree with current transit users and supporters. Realistically, there’s not a lot of difference between what you ask and attracting new users to an improved version of the current network.

        But, if maximizing the population “using and supporting” transit in the immediate term were the only criterion… I would throw a few more marginal neighborhoods out the window off-peak and try to make transport between the densest centers completely seamless. I would want to get to the point where it would be silly, in terms of both time and convenience, to take a private car between any two places like Capitol Hill, First Hill, the CD, Uptown, Fremont, Ballard, UW, Alaska Junction, or Columbia City. Realistically, buses can only do so much in this respect, because speed is always going to be less than ideal, but I’d maximize frequency. Buses every 5 minutes along the urban trunk routes, and cut down to 30 or 60 minutes in the neighborhoods where it will always be a small minority riding unless there are major land use changes. The largest number of potential transit riders is in the most urban areas.

        I want to emphasize that this is not my goal at all and that I’m just answering Chris’s question literally. Future growth, comprehensive frequent coverage, legibility for new users, and the elusive “social justice” are all concerns which I considered in designing my network which Chris didn’t name above.

      10. A good percentage of the complaints about empty buses aren’t based in reality. At an Eastside restructure hearing one person testified about “several empty buses per hour going past my house (or office?) in downtown Kirkland”. These were likely at the end of their run, beginning of their run, or going to their layover spot.

        Other people seem to have the attitude that if a bus isn’t full (or half full, or whatever their cutoff is), it isn’t justified. But ridership varies widely per day: 80% average capacity leads to 125% overcrowding on some days, and it gets worse the higher the average is. On the low side, you can’t predict which day and hour a group of 30 elementary-school kids will go on a field trip, or 10 frat boys decide to go to a bar. So routes may be relatively empty to absorb these spikes. It’s when they’re extremely empty most of the day that it becomes a problem. But some of the complainers seem to believe Metro can predict which day a crowd will be on a certain low-volume route, so that it can cancel the runs on the other days, and other passengers will somehow magically know which days the route is running. That’s completely unrealistic to expect Metro do do that. And Metro also can’t run a route for just the hour when that random spike occurs, or bring back that bus four hours later when they return; it has to run the bus for four hours or eight hours, and some of those runs may be pretty empty, but that doesn’t mean the entire route should be deleted.

    2. David, thanks for the replies. What you’re doing is great. I’m looking forward to your followup posts.

      Bruce, I’m not sure what you mean by, “Political goals should be driven by valid technocratic goals.” I guess what I’m getting at is if the world cared at all about efficiency we wouldn’t have a transit-less $3 billion downtown tunnel being dug right now.

      1. I think what Bruce is saying is this: First, decide what your values are. Then, implement it in the most efficient and productive way possible.

        It’s not good to implement something just because it’s efficient. A flat income tax would be more “efficient” than our current national income tax, but that doesn’t make it better.

        However, it’s also not good to implement something just because it seems to line up with your values. You need to consider whether your plan will actually work.

        I think that the tunnel project shows as much about values as it does about efficiency. The tunnel is being built primarily to allow commuters on SR-99 to bypass downtown traffic. Evidence suggests that it will succeed at that goal; the Big Dig in Boston had a similar goal, and it has been effective at reducing gridlock through downtown [1]. But, like many of us here, I don’t think that downtown-bypassing car traffic is important enough to be worth the many billions that we’r spending.

        [1] Like the Viaduct (and I-5) the old Central Artery had way too many exits and entrances in downtown. The constant merging and shifting created lots of gridlock. In addition, many people tried to use the Central Artery for travel within Boston itself. The new tunnel basically has one entrance/exit at the north end and one at the south end. This improves traffic flow in a durable way.

  10. What is your reasoning for making social justice a transit planning imperative? Why shouldn’t transit simply serve the routes with the highest ridership? Serving routes with low ridership is a money-losing proposition and puts the financial condition of the entire transit system into jeopardy, and let me remind you that having a bankrupt transit system serves absolutely NO ONE.

  11. We really need to speak up to support the potential gains so that the potential loss voices are not the only ones heard.

    Even in a Will Douglas fantasy world of infinite transit budgets (a bus route on every street!), I want the system proposed by David (high frequency corridors, more of a grid & transfer layout) . As we get more budget, we can further increase the quality of that system with capital improvements and better frequency and/or span of service.

    Will – please stop fighting the discussion around implementation of a better system. Please do continue the fight for more transit dollars.

  12. I find this whole discussion a bit odd because in a Seattle context an efficiency oriented network could very likely shift resources from rich, single-family, central Seattle neighborhoods to less wealthy, denser, southend and northend neighborhoods.

    1. Yes indeed. The only areas that genuinely lose coverage under my plan are small pieces of wealthy SFH neighborhoods: northern North Beach, southeast Laurelhurst, western Montlake, and really tiny bits of SFH Queen Anne, the wealthiest part of Mount Baker, and Seward Park.

      Meanwhile, we would get goodies for less wealthy neighborhoods like 10-minute service on the 48, 58 (358), and 120, all of which have demonstrated ridership justifying that level of service.

  13. Quite frankly, whatever is most efficient is the greatest social justice. Moving the most amount people the fastest on an aggregate level over an expansive network for the cheapest that we can is exactly social justice. Anything else is not. Sorry, your special route should be axed.

    1. Let’s put this in perspective. I use an inefficient route: the 202. [I realize that this isn’t quite the same, it’s a peak only suburban route, but bear with me]

      It provides me with a just about perfect transit experience. It stops 3 blocks from my house, and drops me off a block from my office. It runs at exactly the times I need it to: I get to work 5 minutes early, and can catch a bus if I leave 5 minutes late. I can always get a seat.

      All that said, I would, in a heartbeat, give up the 202 if I got a later end to the service day on the 204. [meaning significantly past 6:30, not past 3:30]

  14. This is related to the way that I think about social justice: social justice is not a system! It cannot be guaranteed by policy or law or design.

    Sometimes the best things we can do to ensure our society thrives present challenges for social justice — they may risk increasing inequality or have potentially adverse outcomes for people without many choices. Some big-picture examples are capitalism and corporations. Economic freedom, including the freedom to collect profits and accumulate capital, is a cornerstone of our economy and (in my opinion, and that of many others, though some may surely disagree) the best way yet found to direct the resources of an economy. Incorporation, the ability of people to form economic entities distinct from themselves with liability limited to its own assets, is another of these cornerstones, and while it’s possible to conceive of alternatives, this general idea has served our society well. Both capitalism and corporations have been abused, both provide powerful people with new techniques to exploit people, and compared to some traditional ways society has been organized they can provide opportunities for people to really fall through the cracks of society. But their advantages are so great for our whole society, including its poorest members, that we’re better off keeping them and regulating them carefully than throwing them out entirely (some people regularly hold up the Scandinavian countries as good examples of this). Grant people the freedom to accumulate capital and form corporations but regulate their financial reporting, their public statements, their environmental impact, the way they treat employees and sometimes customers; recognize those situations where we need public intervention.

    I like to use carbon taxes (more generally, pollution fees) as another example, though it would be a fairly controversial example among the general US population. Pollution is a major public ill, one that threatens our ecosystems and eventually our own lives, so that there’s a broad public interest in regulating it. The problem: almost any pollution tax is likely to be (at least immediately) income-regressive. We cannot move forward by refusing to implement pollution taxes; we must instead find ways to incorporate them into an overall tax structure that that doesn’t overburden the poor.

    And, as it relates to transit service, we can’t reject efficiency as the primary consideration for transit network design because of vague social justice considerations when an efficient network has such great benefits, including and perhaps especially for the poorest people. We should design an efficient network; we should operate routes that aren’t individually high-performing because they benefit people. And as we design it, operate it, and change it over time, we need to be especially sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable people, those who need it most.

    I don’t think any of that has been absent in David’s proposal. He’s shown how much we could expand the area of Seattle that has convenient and frequent transit service with an efficiency focus, and with only a couple minor dents in all-day coverage. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and that doesn’t mean we can or will stop thinking about social justice, now or ever. It does mean that claiming human rights violations over loss of all-day transit service on a handful of streets in Laurelhurst and West Magnolia that are no farther from core services than a handful of other streets in similar neighborhoods (Broadview is no closer to today’s 5 than Laurelhurst to David’s 31 or 44, nor West Magnolia to his 31, and nobody is dragging KCM management to the Hague) is utterly missing the point.

    1. David’s proposal is also specifically limited to the existing service hours. If you want to keep social-justice coverage intact or improve it, that’s inseperable from the other issue of whether Metro needs more service hours and if so how many. Ideally Metro should clarify what percent of its existing hours are reserved for coverage service, and we should discuss new hours for efficient-service and coverage-service separately. There’s also the issue of whether the county should be funding social coverage out of other budgets rather than taking it out of Metro’s base operating funds. There’s a difference between general coverage service to underserved parts of the county, vs. specific coverage service to a certain community or a certain government building. Specific coverage services are a general county responsibility, not specifically a transit-agency responsibility, so they should be funded that way, not taken out of the general transit-network fund.

  15. The “social justice” criteria is not solely about geographic coverage of residential areas by a long shot. It’s also about overcrowding, mobility or number of jobs within a reasonable travel time from low income areas (noting transfers add time for low income people no matter how well timed and reliable the buses are), fare policy, stop distances and the list goes on and on.

    Social justice is also about both ends of the trip, not just the residential end. There are plenty of employment locations in low density areas that need some sort of service so that low income workers can get to those jobs easily or to social services.

    To eliminate job or social service access for low income residents merely because the service isn’t “productive” is frankly bigoted as its core, and suggests a lack of compassionate awareness that is basic to understanding social justice issues. I expect that from a Fox News commentator but not a transit advocate.

    1. To eliminate job or social service access for low income residents merely because the service isn’t “productive” is frankly bigoted as its core, and suggests a lack of compassionate awareness that is basic to understanding social justice issues.

      Has anyone suggested doing that?

      First, I don’t see how you get there from Frank’s post. Second, if you’re talking about my proposed network… the most important routes in the Seattle network in terms of allowing low-income residents to access dispersed jobs and social services are Link, the 8S (my 6), the 120, the 124, the 132, and the 358 (my 58). I would increase frequency on all of them except the 8S, where I would “just” vastly improve reliability and extend the route to cover a dispersed job center it does not cover now.

    2. We’re talking about routes that poor people aren’t using because they’re unusually empty, or routes that duplicate other routes with little benefit. You’re implying that the current network does a perfect job of connecting all poor people to all of their most-likely destinations. It manifestly doesn’t, which is why there are persistent pleas for more service on the evening 120 for example, and complaints that it takes unreasonably long to travel east-west in most cases.

      Second, the idea that rerouting the 7 to Boren or reallocating the 4S’s hours to the 3S and 48 are an unacceptable degredation of poor people’s mobility needs to be examined. How many poor people on the 7 are specifically going downtown? How many poor people on the 4S are specifically benefitting from its circuitous, crawling-slow route, that alternatives would not be a reasonable substitute? You can’t just take the existing network and say all of it is vital, because parts of it are vital and parts of it are not. Some potential changes would severely affect poor riders. Others would affect them hardly at all, less than this discussion would suggest.

      1. Low ridership because a route doesn’t go anywhere constructive, even if it it serves a low income area, suggests bad route design and should not summarily mean that the route should be cut. Instead, perhaps the route needs to be rethought.

        I would suggest that the proposed Route 6 is going to fall into a low ridership downward spiral in the CD. The current Route 8 current gets lots of CD riders headed to Group Health, Central Seattle Community College, South Lake Union District and a host of other locations directly by crossing the top of Capitol Hill. Riders can still get to these destinations by going Downtown and transferring but it takes longer so forcing riders to transfer will just mean a loss of ridership and eventual service cuts. Even though this Route 6 is supposed to be more “reliable”, the additional time to transfer will make the route much less beneficial for CD residents. That’s why I advocate for having the Route 6 transfer at Capitol Hill Station/Broadway and preferably not splitting the route at all.

        As far as what’s the “right thing” for CD residents, how about asking them rather than crafting only one alternative with your friends and expecting it to meet everyone’s needs? Much better things come from developing several alternatives and letting other small groups come to a consensus over which features are needed. Then you can put them out and compare them to determine where there is consensus, where there are problems and where there might be ideas that you haven’t thought about.

        Why are several people here so wedded to the “one alternative” mentality when it comes to system restructuring? Do you think others (perhaps low income folk that ride daily or the drivers that know the system well or administrators for hospitals or adult education centers) are incapable of having some good, strategic ideas that might be better than yours?

  16. While I criticized one aspect of David’s plan (long live the 43!) I think it had a lot of good ideas that would make the system much more efficient. I find it odd that anyone would think gains in efficiency to be anything other than a big plus.

    1. I find it odd that anyone would think gains in efficiency to be a big plus, to the point of defending the restructure on those grounds to people who don’t disagree but emphasize other priorities as more important, and then turn around and throw herself on top of the 43. I suppose throwing herself on top of the 4S or 42 would be even odder…

      1. I don’t like seeing the number of buses on 23rd north of John going from 8 per hour to 6 per hour. David’s plan does the same thing on the Thomas/John/Olive corridor as well. I think these parts of Capitol Hill needs more service not less. In exchange for lower frequency of busses on these corridors we get to make a transfer as well. These are some of the reasons why I think it is important to keep the 43. I find canceling the 43 to be especially galling when the same plan calls for running (what will be empty) buses in front of my apartment on Summit every 15 minutes.

      2. I hear your criticism. I should note, though, that those 8 buses per hour are not scheduled evenly along either corridor. In fact, most times of day on the 8/43 corridor, they are scheduled right on top of each other. The average wait for a bus would be shorter (on John) or about the same (on 24th) under my plan.

      3. The 43 is probably the most unfortunate victim of all these efficient-corridor plans, because it’s a surprisingly useful route for a lot of origins/destinations, many of which don’t involve downtown or the U-District. But you can’t have everything, especially with limited service hours. One goal of these proposals (of which I have also made), is to ask the question, whether it would be better overall to have a fully-frequent 48 and 8 (or 48 and 12 in some proposals) rather than the 43 overlay.

        Also, the 47 will inevitably gain riders if the 43 is deleted. Currently it’s a less-frequent alternative to the 43, or a longer walk than the 49. If the 43 and 49 are reorganized and the 47 made more frequent, then suddenly the 47 would become a more popular way to go to Summit, and even to the llbrary and Broadway Market. (Of course, Capitol Hill Station will be open then, but some people really like buses or one-seat rides or their origin/destination isn’t that close to a Link station.)

      4. The 43 is probably the most unfortunate victim of all these efficient-corridor plans, because it’s a surprisingly useful route for a lot of origins/destinations, many of which don’t involve downtown or the U-District. But you can’t have everything, especially with limited service hours.

        For essentially any fixed amount of service hours, I would argue that it’s better to provide double frequency on the 8 and 48 than to split the frequency with the 43.

        Scheduling multiple independent bus routes so that they’re well-spaced for part of a corridor, like the 26 and 28, is hard. Scheduling multiple independent bus routes so that they’re well-spaced for *two* separate corridors, like the 43/8 and the 43/48, is essentially impossible. That’s why Metro doesn’t even try.

        FWIW, this is why I’ve argued that the 28 should use Westlake, and that the 40 should stop at 85th. If the 40 and 28 share the same routing up to 8th/Leary, and run for approximately the same distance/time after that, then it’s realistic to schedule them as a common corridor. In contrast, trying to synchronize the schedules of the 40/5 in Fremont, despite using different routes to get through downtown, is doomed to failure.

  17. The statement “I would add that I do not support reducing any transit service to anyone, anywhere, for any reason” comes with the corollary that you can never add transit service to anyone, anywhere, unless you are absolutely sure that you are willing to spend the money to continue to run it forever, no matter how few people ride it.

    Ultimately, this kind of thinking would result in much less service. It’s a lot harder to create a new transit route if, should the route not work, you are never able to free up resources to create another route by correcting your mistake.

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