83 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: 3rd & Pine Timelapse”

  1. In my never-ending quest to answer all of the things I can’t explain, more transit questions! (And thanks to everybody who indulges my curiosity.)

    I’ve been riding Metro-branded buses a lot more lately–as opposed to my usual ST 545 and 522–and heard more tidbits on the radio. What is a “tripper” and why do the radio dispatchers seem so hung up on having full-timers do them?

    A Metro supervisor was riding a bus I took out of Overlake and that was the first time I’ve ever seen one. Is this a normal thing and I’ve never witnessed it, like a rolling employee evaluation?

    Finally, why is there a route 268 when ST 545 exists? Is it so that the 545 won’t have an unproductive “tail?”

    1. A “tripper” is a short piece of work. Anything under 7h 11min in length could be deemed as a “tripper”. Although, “trippers” as usually much shorter. Generally, a trippers belongs to all Part-Time operator, or a Full Time operator driving “trippers” at overtime, or a combination of “trippers” making up a FT operators’ day. Also, by contract, part time operators are only allowed to work their picked trippers and only get extra work either through vacation work or assigned work the day prior doing the opposite commute. Picking up any other additional, extra work, known as “scrounging”, which is what you often hear over the radio, having OT for sale would only go to full time operators. Even riding 522/545, you’ll still hear the same announcements over the radio, since it’s Metro-operated.

      Supervisors do ride the buses from time to time. This could be a “ride check” in which the supervisors from the training section would board your bus, usually without the drivers prior knowledge, and do an evaluation. Usually one every year or two, or more regularly if the driver has had increase in accidents or complaints. Also, sometimes a supervisor might just be seen on the bus, commuting to/from work.

      The 268 exists during peak times as an overload for the 545. The 545 is already very crowded at peak times, and the 268 is there for extra capacity and also more direct service for passengers headed to Bear Creek P&R by skipping the downtown and Redmond TC routing of the 545. If you’ll notice, an outbound 545 at peak time will be full or even overloaded, then service all stops along the route, but usually after serving Red TC, the bus is almost empty. That’s because most Bear Creek PR passengers take advantage of the 268 at this time of day. Same in reverse in the AM.

      1. I’d add that PT (Part Time) drivers can get extra work if we’re out on the road in an area where Metro needs an extra trip driven. I’ve done this many times – coach changes are most common (Swap out my RapidRide coach at the end of the day with the driver behind me who has a mechanical problem on their coach, for example) but I’ve done full trips on other work. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time – If there are no report operators (FT reserve operators) or scroungers available and I happen to be in the right place, TCC can see if I’m interested in the extra work. There are several chances for FT (Full Time) operators to get the work first but, generally speaking, PT operators do PT work during the rush hours unless there are FT operators who need work to fill their 8 hour guarantee – At that point open PT work can be assigned to FT drivers on the extra board.

  2. Separating this question out since it’s less of an operational question and more of a “complaint” that I’m kind of resurrecting: Am I wrong in having the perception that none of the routes through the CD go or connect easily to any of the shopping or pretty much any other destinations on the north side? The 48 studiously avoids anything around the university, whether coming within 4 blocks of the Ave or going to U Village (the only way to do the latter is either hoof it or rely on a poorly-timed connection to 65 or 75). 3, 4, 7, and 8 don’t go north of the cut, for obvious reasons. It seems like the only major choice is to go into downtown and pick up the 41 to Northgate TC.

    Is it because, except for the 48, all the routes are trolleys or simpler, that it’d take a route redesign to connect north and south outside of the downtown corridor?

    1. “The 48 studiously avoids anything around the university, whether coming within 4 blocks of the Ave or going to U Village”

      The 48 goes north and south on 15th Ave NE, which forms the west side of the main UW campus.

      1. 15th is also a block away from the Ave, which is the biggest shopping district north of the ship canal.

    2. Generally this is a legacy of the old downtown-centric trolley network. Inertia is powerful and cross-town routes have generally been slow to materialize. The 48 was drawn up as a result of activist complaints similar to yours, and I actually think it does a reasonable job of serving UW — it doesn’t do the campus loop but Pacific/15th is a pretty standard route through the U District that goes right to UWMC and runs a block west of the Ave.

      I don’t think the 48 in particular “studiously avoids” anything but the whole network tends to avoid U Village. I don’t think that’s a conscious decision so much as that the routes that might in a certain sense naturally go by it each have other places to go that are considered more important. Should the 44 continue straight down 45th to U Village or take 15th to Pacific for Campus Parkway transfers, UWMC, and a hike to the Montlake Flyer Station? Should the 48 run up 25th to U Village after crossing the Montlake Bridge or take Pacific/15th for Campus Parkway, the Ave, Roosevelt and Green Lake?

      FWIW, if you need to get to U Village from Campus Parkway, the 68 and 372 stop outside it along 25th, too. That’s farther from the grocery stores but closer to some of the other stuff.

      1. The U Village hasn’t always been as busy as it is now. For years, it was a dreary collection of off-brand stores with little mass appeal that didn’t generate much business.

      2. (I should point out that the “straight shot” 44, which has been proposed by people that have looked into the network in much more detail than I have, would also naturally go to Children’s Hospital, which, like U Village, has grown into a somewhat important destination. Any “straight shot” Montlake/25th route would have to end up in Lake City or Northgate, and a major obstacle to creating one is extremely variable traffic conditions.)

      3. “it doesn’t do the campus loop”

        You say that like it’s a negative. If only Metro and Sound Transit designed ALL of their routes to avoid needlessly delaying all through-routed passengers… (I’m looking at you, Sound Transit 512Also )

        Imagine the operational costs that could have been saved had those park & rides been designed more like Mountlake Terrace P&R…

      4. The U Village hasn’t always been as busy as it is now.

        I went to the U Village since the day it was opened, and I always found it busy

      5. I went to the U Village since the day it was opened, and I always found it busy

        U Village first opened in 1956

      6. on eastbound NE Campus Parkway, there are two bus stops; the eastern one serves all service oriented past University Village: routes 25, 65, 68, 75, 372X. Route 48 serves shopping districts in the Central Area, the U District, Roosevelt, Greenwood, and Crown Hill.

      7. @GuyOnBeaconHill

        So maybe we’re talking about the same thing.

        Wasn’t there some kind of rebuild then in the early 1990s where they brought in Starbucks, Barnes & Nobel and other anchor stores and restaurants. I guess I thought that there was nothing there before then.

      8. I miss the old east-west Route 30 that went from Fremont to Laurelhurst along 45th and continued along the viaduct, serving U-Village and north UW campus.

      9. When I was in college, U Village was a Lamonts (sad), an Ernst (RIP), a bowling alley, a small QFC that’s now the Pottery Barn et al, and then a big empty building (dairy or bakery or something).

        There was never any problem finding parking.

        Now… holy crap. Every woman with a stroller in the Puget Sound region seems to be there constantly. It’s a mad house.

      10. When I lived on campus at the U in 1985 I used to walk down the hill to QFC for groceries. University Village was half or a third of the size it is now. People didn’t “go” to University Village unless they lived in the neighborhood, and the buses were just a few coverage routes (75, daytime-only 65, and a 30 from Fremont to Laurelhurst that was less frequent than the 43).

        University Village expanded at about the same time that Metro made the 74-local into a shuttle (now 30), and the U-Pass started, and Campus Parkway became a major transfer point, the 68 and 67 started, and the 65 became full time. So it’s hard to separate these out becuse they all happened in the span of a few years.

        I never understood why University Village suddenly became “desirable” and people started going from all over eastern Seattle and Kirkland to it. To me it was just a hash of things that were already available elsewhere. Except the Apple Store I guess.

    3. “Studiously avoids” .. And this is why I shouldn’t post at the end of my day. I was looking at the map, saw the Roosevelt area, and mistook it for 15th Ave/University Ave pair. Whoops. Management apologizes for and deeply regrets the error. :)

    4. It doesn’t just go north/south on 15th. It goes east/west on Pacific, which divides main campus from the health sciences campus. It’s one of the major UW buses, IMO.

      1. As a daily rider of the 48, primarily from Yesler Way to Montlake, the #48 definitely does serve and interesting cross section of users. Professionals such as myself heading to a transfer to the eastside at Montlake, or to the UW, UW Medical Center workers/users, UW students, public high schools such as Garfield, Franklin, and Roosevelt, and private high schools such as Holy Names, and Bishop Blanchet. I am particularly surprised by how many students for Roosevelt and Blanchet (based on school bags, etc) there are coming from the south reaches of the #48 to go to school that far across town.

        As a Central District resident, I would love if there was either a more direct or easier transfer to UVillage now that it is such an important retail center, but I get why the #48 goes where it does through the UDistrict and think that is the proper routing.

        When I was at the UW, the #25 used to run along Montlake Blvd along the east side of campus with stops by UVillage and the stadium in each direction. It was at least possible to transfer to the #25 and go along what seems to be a missing link along Montlake Blvd between Pacific and Pend Oreille/45th St., but I suppose that stretch has little other benefit other than connecting those two points along essentially a 5 lane highway that the Blvd is through there.

      2. Metro moved buses away from Montlake Boulevard because of congestion and delays. That’s one of the problems with bringing them back to serve at UW Station.

  3. None of the RV routes connect to “major” shopping centers in south King County either. But then, we should set an expectation against one seat rides.

  4. Can we all agree that 4th and Pine is a very busy bus stop? Can we also all agree that Seattle is a rainy city? Ok, then why no shelter at the 4th and Pine? Yesterday it rained hard all day, and passengers had to seek shelter under an awning which was 150 feet away next to See’s Candies. And when a bus suddenly appeared coming up 4th, they had to sprint to the bus stop like they were participating in the NFL scouting combine. Get your s together ST and Metro and put a shelter at one of the busiest bus stops in the city!

      1. Governments frequently make exceptions to things they don’t allow. The next time Seattle asks a favor of ST or KC, that’s when they ask for the shelter.

      1. I personally think a better idea would be to encourage or give incentives for building owners to actually build awnings over the sidewalks. For it being such a rainy city, Seattle has a serious lack of awnings on the downtown streets.

      2. personally think a better idea would be to encourage or give incentives for building owners to actually build awnings over the sidewalks.

        Or maybe just expand the upper floors out over the sidewalks so they have more commercial space and the sidewalks get covered.

  5. Last week’s episode of the futuristic sci-fi show Almost Human featured a small appearance for the Seattle Monorail. There was a some CGI modification done to the Monorail, but it was clearly our venerable 1962 Alweg being used to portray a year-2048 transportation mode. Amazing.

    The Seattle Public Library has a good on-line archive of the early proposals and construction plans for the Monorail in the Century 21 Digital Collection (access is free with a library card and PIN). At one point, possible Monorail plans included an extension to Interbay where a large parking facility would have been built. The guideway would have looped through the Interbay facility, then gone to the Fairgrounds and then to downtown where another loop would have been built. I don’t know if cost factors or technological/geographic limitations scuttled the loop plan; but if the Monorail had been built to Interbay in 1962, it is possible that it could have been extended to Ballard in later years.

    During the 1962 World’s Fair, the Monorail represented one example of possible future transportation modes. But most fair-goers who used public transportation in Seattle were still riding in historic WWII-era trolley buses, I-5 wasn’t finished through downtown Seattle and those sleazy (in 2014) Aurora Avenue motels that have large drive-in parking lots in front of the buildings were freshly built to house the masses of tourists visiting the Seattle World’s Fair.

  6. While I’m in the mood to share some simple and easy ideas on how to make transit better … Do away with board through front door on Rapid Ride after 7 PM. Make it consistent. All doors all the time. It confuses people. Transit should as simple and dumbed-down as possible.

      1. RR is a new product with different rules. Baggage from the past shouldn’t play a part in today’s RR rules. The RFA went through a few different changes over the years. From no RFA, to Ride Free 24/7, to then ending at 7, to then ending the program entirely. A great many people are still confused on RR. I still witness regular passengers on the B Line showing their paper transfer to the bus driver when they don’t have to. Why do off-board ORCA readers have stickers that say 6 AM to 7 PM, but still remain on and let people tap after 7? Why must people board on the front door after 7 PM? Anyone ever been to the OTC RR stop just after 7 PM? There’s often a large crowd of MS workers waiting. Some drivers will break the rules and open all the doors. Others will obey the rules and open only the front door. It confuses people. Do away with the 7 PM rule.

      2. I think the reason is that the fare inspectors don’t work after 7:00. All-door boarding works in a proof-of-payment system, which requires some level of fare inspection.

        Of course you’d think they could find a way to have fare inspectors at night, perhaps by scheduling them for fewer hours during the day. But that might just make too much sense for Metro to ever consider it.

      3. I’ve seen rr fare enforcement past 9 pm before (that’s right two hours past 7). Also drivers are supposed to let people off through the rear if it’s safe (some stops getting off the rear requires high jumping over a guardrail), this is true all hours on all routes.

    1. There is hope. The new RapidRide coaches that arrived for the E Line have that policy removed from back doors. That said, the “Pay on entry at front door” sticker is confusing, especially in the context of RapidRide, and don’t get me started about these stickers on RapidRide ORCA curb readers. The 7pm-6pm policy is no longer in the “Fares” section of “The Route Book” but may be somewhere in the Policy Book (which I don’t have handy). I never drive after 7pm so I can’t comment on how I’d handle it (Casey? Others?) but most drivers I’ve ridden with open the back doors and don’t ask me to come up front. The curb ORCA readers typically also work after 7pm which further adds to the confusion.

      I’ve heard that the cost of fare enforcement is the reason for the 7pm-6am policy which seems insane. Metro can randomly sample times/routes/geographic locations and quickly build a database of where they need to focus their enforcement efforts. Drivers also press a button when we know somebody has underpaid their fare. Presumably, the DDU has GPS location data that could be collected to make enforcement a little less random and more “productive” (citations written). Metro may already do all of this but I don’t recall any bulletins requesting help from drivers (basically, remembering to hit the “Broken Coin” button when somebody underpays or possibly when we overhear people bragging about not paying their fare – Yes, I’m listening to all of that…)

      If the policy is aimed at driver safety… Well, that gets more complicated and probably differs based on driver. Either way, the current system is confusing…

      1. Boarding at the front door after 7pm has nothing to do with bus fare. It’s still a Proof or Payment system any hour of the day/night. Fare Enforcement does work at night. I see the front door after 7pm as a way for drivers to monitor who is getting on the coach at night. I don’t check fare or look at transfers at night. I don’t open the back doors after 7pm unless people are exiting the bus. But if someone gets on the back doors when it’s open, I don’t usually say anything about it.

    2. Eric, did you know that after 7 PM, Rapid Ride routes, despite switching to board through front door only, still remain POP? And that’s even though fare inspectors don’t work after 7 PM. In other words, after 7 PM, the POP fare system on Rapid Rides does not switch over to the regular Metro bus fare system. RR’s technically remain POP after 7 PM. So even after 7 PM, passengers with paper transfers can walk on the bus and are not required to show the driver their transfer. So if there’s the 7 PM front door rule because of no fare inspectors after 7 PM, then why does the bus still remain POP? I’m not a big fan of illogical rules and security theater.

      1. I’ve seen fare enforcement after hours. Had a fun time seeing someone run out the door after being asked for a fare.

    1. Because the 358 didn’t. Also I think because of safety concerns, both with buses competing with everything/exciting traffic at 38th, and the lack of God pedestrian facilities there.

      1. I’ve pushed for that stop quite a bit on this blog. I’ve never seen it go anywhere.

        Since there isn’t a stop there, they should consider adding one at 41st, where this is a pedestrian bridge. That area is growing (three new apartment buildings in the process of being built right now on Aurora very close to there).

      2. The pedestrian bridge at 41st requires climbing of a few stairs and is not ADA accessible, so legally speaking, that bridge does not count, in spite of being accessible to 99% of the population.

      3. How does passing up that stop help anyone in the area, disabled or otherwise? Adding that stop could at least help wheelchair users travel more easily in one direction, while allowing able-bodied folks from either side of the highway could access the E line more easily.

        It seems nonsensical that the ADA should prohibit a bus from stopping in a place where a wheelchair user can only travel in some directions, but not all directions. The fact that Aurora doesn’t have an accessible crossing anywhere near 41st street is not a problem that Metro has the responsibility to solve. SDOT’s failure to provide one shouldn’t be a reason for the E line to drive right through Fremont without stopping.

  7. Toe this video shows very plainly the congestion of buses on the surface, just like they have in the transit tunnel.

    Believe me, I well understand the desire for one seat rides, but the resulting congestion makes the service slower.

    I’ve already made my thought on that known on other threads.

      1. 71 northbound buses in just 30 minutes. And people still say with a straight face that Metro doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it?

      2. They’re probably already full of people going north. Or south. Those buses all seem pretty full when I’m down there during that time. If they’re not full yet, they probably will be by the time they get to the edge of downtown.

      3. I’ve ridden the buses enough to know that they are all probably pretty crowded. One random stop doesn’t really represent route ridership.

        However, the way many of the buses have to wait for the one in front to serve the stop just illustrate there need to be changes in methodology.

  8. A question regarding the strobe light on Metro’s DE60LF’s–

    I know that the yellow strobe light under the route number sign on Metro’s DE60LF coaches–the 26- and 6800’s–is needed for tunnel service (the original Breda’s had them), but then why do the 6000-series RapidRide coaches–strictly non-tunnel coaches–have them?

    1. Probably because they are the same Hybrid drive with different paint and seating arrangement. They have “Hush” mode and are capable of being driven in the tunnel. (I’d SOOOO love to drive a 41 converted to RapidRide with curb ORCA readers… Obviously, that wont happen)

    2. Exactly what VeloBusDriver said. The Rapid Ride coaches are the same bus we use in the tunnel. They have HUSH mode operational and all it would need, is a tunnel radio (to communicate with Link control) and Metro could put a future RR line through the tunnel if they wanted. No plans as of now to do so, but the RR buses are tunnel ready if Metro wanted to make it happen.

      1. The buses may be ready, but the tunnel isn’t. They’d have to figure out how to program the ORCA validators on the mezzanine and on the platform to handle POP for both Link and bus fares.

  9. That could easily be me driving RapidRide C SB at 0:12 (timing is about right). It’s a perfect example of what happens at that stop due to the cutout for delivery trucks – In the video, you can see the coach stopping 3 times – once behind the cut to let passengers off, then pull up to make room for coaches behind/load more passengers, and then a 3rd time to stop at the light/let even more passengers on. (If the light was green, the 3rd stop wasn’t required but often I stop anyway if I have space and I don’t see a huge line of buses behind me. It’s a tough zone to service)

    1. One of the things I found rather strange about the way Seattle does these high density bus streets through downtown is there are some sections on them with no stops at all. Then , everything competes for one or two stops on those blocks that have them.

      It seems to me adding stops to blocks that currently lack them and spreading out the traffic a bit would help things move along a bit faster.

    2. Getting off at the cutout for delivery trucks, particularly in the torrential rain we’ve had lately, is not a lot of fun for this guy with ankle and hip problems. I know why it’s there, but I also liked it a lot better when my bus was routed to the Benaroya stop. The stop past Benaroya, where it stops now, is so far downhill and past my office that I have to use this stop and it’s really not a fit stop for man nor beast.

  10. I’m down there a lot and notice that there is very little enforcement of the BUS ONLY rules on 3rd Ave. Cars are bypassing the “Do not enter” signs all the time.
    Is this just one of those things that isn’t worth their (SPD/Transit Police) time?
    I’ve seen so many times when a bus (or several) get stuck at a red light because there was a car waiting to make an illegal left turn.

    1. Both SPD and King County enforce third in periodic reigns of terror where they are out in force. You either see zero enforcement or you see two or three out pulling everybody over. Fridays tend to be the worst.

      Now, if Metro and Sound Transit could get the authority to use our forward facing video for enforcement of Transit Only rules, like San Francisco Muni has… Well, the situation on 3rd as well as virtually all bus lanes in the city, would be very different indeed.

      1. That is of course a pretty good description of all traffic enforcement in Seattle except where there are red light cameras. Basically, it’s a jungle out there. And it’s rare that a cop who is not on traffic patrol will do anything about a clear scofflaw right next to him.

      2. While the Muni example is probably the best system to employ, I would love to see something like this, just for the added hilarity factor:

    2. I counted 33 violations in just an hour, times $124 per infraction would net $4,092.
      Three additional motorcycle cops, at $50/hr seems like some low lying fruit for the city.
      Heck, a red light camera could automate the whole process.

      1. @mic,

        Unfortunately, only the “reign of terror” model works economically, because in a strong enforcement model the infraction revenues dry up. Then those three motorcycle cops no longer pay for themselves.

        Front-facing cameras assiduously evaluated with tickets issued 100% of the time is the only cost-effective means of enforcement. Red light cameras can help, but the state legislature is actively hostile to them and constantly threatening to eliminate cities’ right to use them. Because “Government-surveillance of innocent people!” “Freedom!” “Benghazi!”

        The quick-rise bollards are a very nice touch, though.

      1. Oops, I should have looked more closely before posting that. That’s for 1Q2013. They seem to have on-line only data to 3Q2013.

    1. In 2012 I went to the gym 3 times. In 2013 I went to the gym 6 times. I’m going to the gym in record amounts. “But Sam, even though you’re going to the gym more than ever, you’re not going very often.” That’s exactly my point.

    2. Not any more. They’re owned by certifiable right wing “ideologues.” (note, this is a “nice” term for public use)

    3. It’s true: The Spokesman-Review website has the same article.
      http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/mar/10/public-transit-systems-see-big-ridership-gains/

      Quickly reviewing the overall ridership report (the 31-page PDF on the APTA site, which is revised/updated quarterly) confirms Sound Transit has the largest ridership gains of large systems—Phoenix Valley Metro may have gained 40% and New Orleans 12%, but their yearly ridership was 14.7 million and 18.6 million, respectively.

      Even New York MTA reported a 3.6% ridership gain. That’s an approximate gain of 120,635,700!

      Also worth mentioning that as overall ridership grows, Oregon’s TriMet drolls—ridership was off 3.81% and yearly ridership fell below 100 million.

      1. TriMet ridership was down overall, but WES was up 10%.

        Another surprising CR gain was Austin, up 37%.

      2. Also worth mentioning that as overall ridership grows, Oregon’s TriMet drolls—ridership was off 3.81% and yearly ridership fell below 100 million.

        For those of us who actually use the system daily, this should not be too surprising. The current management has made some pretty awful decisions about what should be cut back and what should be adjusted. The problem is that they don’t seem to have looked at the system as a system but as a bunch of separate routes, so that what used to be easy with a timed transfer between routes is now much more time consuming.

        On March 3rd they rolled out their new service improvements, so some routes are back to once every 15 minutes again. However, other routes have been adjusted to be less frequent. There are now feeder buses arriving at various transit centers with nothing to feed, as the route schedules that the previous management carefully arranged to provide for timed transfers are now out the window. Instead, the few minutes adjustments here and there now provide the riders with timed non-transfer, with the bus they were trying to connect to having left several minutes prior to the feeder route arriving.

  11. Question. If building more freeways will just cause more congestion, then will building more low income housing just cause more people to become poor? Something to think about.

    1. How high is the quality of the freeways compared to other roads, and how high is the quality of the low-income housing compared to other housing?

    2. Uh-oh, the “unreformed”, un-chastened Sam is back. Here he is arguing analogy from an inanimate thing to human behavior.

      You can take away the bottle but you can’t take away the craving.

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