[Update 7:23am: Link is in the tunnel again. Definitely the best option today.]

[Update 2: Spokesman Bruce Gray says “crews did a routine maintenance check on one of the traction power substations Thursday night and had an issue with a voltage monitor when bringing it back online to start Friday a.m. service.” The Link outage had nothing to do with the snow.]

There’s snow on the ground. Remember tracking tools like OneBusAway do not work when buses are on snow routing. You can follow the mayhem at Metro (all buses currently on snow routes), Sound Transit, Community Transit (lightly affected), and Pierce Transit. Expect delays for everything — since 5:58 even Link has not been serving the tunnel for an undisclosed reason*. If your commute is freeway-dependent then WSDOT may help as well.

Also, walk to the top or bottom of the hill to catch a bus.  Your bus may not be able to stop on a steep slope. Share your tips and stories in the comments.

*Really not the day for this kind of thing to happen! Hopefully they’ll fix it soon.

60 Replies to “Snow Open Thread”

    1. For routes still on normal routing, times should be reasonably accurate. But if drivers have to deviate from the normal routing, even slightly, it’ll really mess with OBA. For routes that serve my area I generally interpret “scheduled arrival” or [really, really, late] as suspect.

      For some routes you may have several trips that are on time while others are really late due to being deadheaded from other routes. (In my case, most 550s are reasonably on time while a few, likely connected to 554, 522, 545 or other ST service, are running really late)

      Walking to core routes on well plowed / deiced streets is your best bet if you have the option.

    1. As I said, the reason for the revision is unknown. It may or may not be weather-related.

  1. The employee at the Stadium station bus bridge said the tunnel was closed to trains because the overhead wire had a problem (not snow related as far as I know). He said it was expected to be fixed by 5:30 but wasn’t. I was on the 5:53 train from Columbia City. Bus shuttle into tunnel was not well organized when we got there. More disappointing was that by the time we got Westlake station there were mentions on the overhead variable displays but when I asked the security guy if there had been any announcements he said no. Sound Transit and Metro continue to do a poor job of communicating system breakdowns to customers and staff. The variable message displays at the Westlake station (mezzanine and platform level) should continuously be displaying major shut downs with maybe gaps for next train announcements.

    1. At 7:01 there is NO mention of Snow or DSTT disruptions on either ST or Metro website visible either on the home page or clicking on ‘Alerts’ page.
      I guess all the hype about the IT Depts doing a better job was just that – more chest thumping!

    2. Might it be possible to include in ST3 a rewiring job in the tunnel so station supervisors can do live announcements? The lack of getting re-route information out to passengers on the platform has been unacceptable for decades. Will somebody at ST or Metro please take responsibility for this and do something about it some day?

    3. For having those variable message signs everywhere, they sure aren’t used for anything useful. Thanks for loudly telling me every minute to alert Metro if someone is planning something sinister or to hold the handrails on a bus, rather than important transit-related information or when the next train is actually coming.

    4. I boarded a train in Columbia City around 6:30a. We had longer than normal dwell times at the stations which I thought was odd. When we got to Stadium the driver got onto the PA to announce that the tunnel was closed for an unknown (to him) reason and that we should board a bus on the busway because they were still allowing buses into the tunnel. Luckily they had a shuttle waiting.

      Note to drivers, if you could turn off the air/heat before making your announcement that is really helpful. When the air is on it can be very hard to hear what you are saying.

      ST really needs to get their act together when it comes to rider info. I get that it might take a while to get a system down but over four years into operations on Central Link I expect more.

  2. 3/4/12 are running up Jackson then Broadway to Jefferson (3/4) and Madison (12) respectively … judging by the number of people waiting at the WB Jefferson and Harborview stops … better information is needed

  3. If the overhead wire has a problem, couldn’t Sound Transit just say that the overhead wire has a problem? Do they really have to give us this undisclosed reason thing?

      1. Exactly what I said. There is a problem with the overhead wire. I don’t think it would threaten the security of the public or Sound Transit if they simply knew the high level problem. It’s not like I need to know how long in meters the defect is, under which blocks it is, and the specific power loss in kilowatts because of the defect. Just more of an explanation than no explanation at all.

      2. How would knowing the cause of the problem help you get to where you were trying to go? ST should be conveying information that riders need to know to plan the rest of their trip.

        “This is the final stop for this train. In order to complete your trip downtown, take a shuttle bus on the busway.”

      3. The transit wonks posting here (me included) might be interested in the technicalities, but most of the messaging just goes over people’s heads.

        aw’s post is about all that’s needed.

      4. On the one hand, pinning the problem to a specific detail might forestall people from concluding the train’s a perpetually-broken boondoggle. On the other hand, they might not care that this time the problem’s with the wire, this other time it’s with something else, et cetera. So… well, aw’s message wouldn’t be too bad, as long as it’s actually given both inside and outside every affected station as well as on the train.

  4. OBSERVATION: Drivers on the 2/3/4/10/12 that are making the snowroute detour down Broadway/Boren/Jackson seem to be completely lost as to where the new, thanks to the streetcar, Broadway bus stops are located

  5. No problem getting in on the 522, just a little slower than usual with the chains on the tires.

  6. This is when I wish there was once transit agency serving Seattle. When I lived in Denver the combined RTD bus and light rail services under one agency made it much easier for information to get to passengers during disruptions.

    1. Metro operates Link and most of the ST Express routes. Lack of interagency communication is not a valid excuse for inability to communicate basic re-route information in the tunnel. Nor is the eternallly infuriating lack of announcements in the tunnel likely to be fixed by a merger. This looks like a job for an electrical engineer.

      1. With the last couple of routes that were reassigned in the last shakeup, Pierce Transit now runs the largest number of ST Express routes. (I’m not sure if they’re number one on a service hours basis, but if not, they’ve got to be pretty close to being tied with Metro.)

      2. The only bus routes that King County Metro now operates are those going from Seattle to the eastside. Pierce Transit has all of the South King County routes (even those that don’t go into Pierce County), while Community Transit has the buses to Snohomish county.

  7. 522 commute completely normal, but watched three inbound 75s (45 minutes’ worth of buses) pass by in quick succession at 125th/Lake City. Back in my steep neighborhood, as I walked out toward the bus stop, it was amusing to watch the drivers slide around while trying to drive as if it were dry.

  8. Why couldn’t the 590s enter downtown this morning? Were they just so late they were turning them early? I can’t imagine what conditions would prevail between SODO and Denny Triangle that wouldn’t apply between Tacoma and Seattle. For a while this morning 590/592/594/595 AND Link passengers had to transfer to the 97 ‘shuttle’.

  9. Here are the PT snow route maps, it’s a bit hard to find:
    However, not all routes are on snow routing, and some are only on partial snow routing, so just go to Piercetransit.org. For example, route 501 is on regular routing south of S. 336th St. (The full snow route for route 501 is basically just route 500 + 20th street).

    King County Metro’s snow plan is much easier to follow than Pierce Transit’s.

  10. The trip in on the 16 was better than normal. Got up, checked Metro’s site first thing and they already had the snow alerts and a revised schedule up. Supposed to come to Wallingford at 8:30a and it came in 3 minutes early. Got to downtown about 5 min faster than usual. Helps that everyone seemed to bail on coming to work today.

    1. 550 was also good / better than expected under normal weather, probably as a combination of people being on holiday or deciding to telecommute. Then again, it’s probably one of the least hilly routes possible.

  11. My ST 512 commute today: operated by Metro instead with 40′ Gillig 9100 series bus, it appeared that CT wasn’t using articulated buses where possible, an articulated bus was jackknifed at Lynnwood Transit Center, the Ash Way P&R Direct Access Ramp was closed, street pick-ups at Ash Way P&R, and dozens of disabled cars on I-5. All told, only 15 minutes of actual delay and we almost died thrice. :)

  12. Link is in the tunnel again. Definitely the best option today.

    Unless you live or work north of the tunnel.

    tracking tools like OneBusAway do not work when buses are on snow routing.

    I thought GPS was supposed to help that?

    Share your tips and stories in the comments.

    Like most days, Norman and I are working from home. Other than a half inch on the ground and more snow coming down there’s nothing to report.

    If you see a bus driver taking pictures of buses in the snow, that’s probably Casey.

    1. GPS would help OBA know where the bus is but it still won’t be able to make a reliable estimate as to the arrival time because it won’t know where the driver is going to get back on the regular route.

    2. It may just be a coincidence, but OBA was spot-on with its real-time arrival info when I boarded a southbound 28 this morning. That part of the snow route is the same as the regular route though…I imagine the data would be fouled up when the bus gets south of the ship canal and runs on Westlake instead of its usual Dexter.

    3. > Link is in the tunnel again. Definitely the best option today.

      Unless you live or work north of the tunnel.

      Thank you Captain Obvious.

    4. Norman has not been heard from for over a year, and the past couple times I have asked if he’s around, he hasn’t replied. So we don’t know if he’s still telecommuting, but we hope he’s all right.

      1. Why? Did he suddenly go even more off the wall than before, did you just get fed up with his staying around, or was there another reason?

      2. I had seen postings on the Seattle Times comment sections by a “Copernicus”, that seemed to be exact cut & paste from Norman’s STB posts (or vice-versa).

        One in particular linked to the “Freeway traffic going faster than my Link train to Tukwila video” on YouTube, by a Norman Chadwick.

        Whether Copernicus,Norman and Norman Chadwick are one in the same, is anyone’s guess.

  13. The 119 (to Vashon ferry terminal) I was on this morning wasn’t chained up and was a few minutes late (but still managed to get to the ferry terminal on time).

    The 116 used the lower level West Seattle bridge and operated on 4th Ave instead of 1st.

    I did see an unchained D40LF on the 132.

  14. I had a rather ordinary commute this morning on routes 120 and 358. 120 was on the typical snow re-route (via the lower Spokane Street bridge and SODO), but One Bus Away was giving accurate info along the Delridge portion of the route and in downtown on the 3rd Avenue TV displays. Just as it predicted, two crush-loaded 120’s appeared together after a 15 minute gap. But that’s not too odd for the morning peak.

    Metro’s web site, however, needs some more work. Right now (10:28am), the “Snow, Ice & Flood Alerts” map has a map indicating that some South King County buses are on normal routes, but the database list of routes makes it very difficult to determine which routes those are. And the database is full of inaccurate information: if you select a section of the county, the list still includes lots of irrelevant bus routes. For several routes with snow reroutes printed on the standard route map (such as 120 & 131), the list of alerts claims “Route does not have pre-planned snow routing. It is operating via its regular route and stops.” Misleading to stay the least.

    I learned one interesting tidbit from the website however: During snow conditions, RR-C is split into 2 routes at the Alaska Junction. A shuttle travels between the Alaska Junction and Westwood Village. If the frequency is high, this is a great way to avoid delays in one section of the route from affecting the rest.

    1. If a route actually does have a published snow route, I would read “Route does not have pre-planned snow routing. It is operating via its regular route and stops” as meaning “this route is on normal route”… if it weren’t for the fact you know for a fact the 120 WAS on snow route.

      1. It’s even worse for ST: Metro’s web site had the same “route does not have pre-planned snow routing” thing for the 554, and Sound Transit’s schedule book doesn’t have snow routes, so I had to go to the ST web site to find out that the 554 isn’t serving the stop I would normally catch it at.

  15. Do any transit agencies in the Puget Sound area have buses with built in tire chains?

    TriMet in Portland ordered those on its latest fleet order, and so far this has successfully proven to prevent conditions that require them.

    1. It’s a lot of weight to carry around for conditions that happen only every couple of years on average.

    2. Metro is currently testing drop-down snow chains but so far conditions haven’t been optimal for testing. (i.e. Not enough snow and ice.)

  16. Snow route pages for the 3 and 4 this morning indicated both routes continue up Taylor Ave. unless the street itself is closed. Taylor stayed open (as far as I could tell from SDOT maps and tweets), yet the GF got an 7:30 email indicating Routes 3 and 4 weren’t serving upper QA. No bueno.

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