Thanks to the Transit Riders Union for posting this cartoon that explains, in simple terms, why getting rid of buses only makes traffic congestion worse.

You can sign up to volunteer for the Yes on King County Proposition 1 campaign here. A calendar of volunteer opportunities is also available here.

81 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Your Commute Without Buses”

  1. How viable are ridesharing services like Uber for replacing the bus services affected?

    1. Not very. Uber can be a reasonable replacement for lost bus service for trips that are relatively short and made very infrequently (e.g. one trip a month between downtown and Fremont), but the cost of using Uber for a daily commute would be insane.

      Uber also doesn’t scale nearly well enough to replace buses any time a large number of people are making a trip at the same time. I’ve seen crushloaded buses heading out of downtown as late as 10 PM following a Mariners game. The road space and the drivers are simply not there for Uber to hand those kind of crowds.

      1. Maybe the full cost, but if we allocated the same subsidy per Uber passenger we allocate to bus passengers…

      2. Still, John, look at it geometrically. Four people in an Uber take up a lot more road space than four people in a crush-loaded bus. (Especially when you consider a sane following distance.) There’s no way around that except expanding the Uber till you can fit in a hundred people… and then, you’ve got a bus by a different name.

      3. First of all, I’ve waited up to 90 minutes to take the bus after a Mariners game (150).

        Second, I’ve also waited 30 to 45 minutes just to get on a LINK train as both get crush loaded if you wait long enough.

        As far as ridesharing, remember the rideshares are not all parked in a single garage, cramming to get out at the same time. Like cabs they can pick off people at the edges. Also, they would not have to necessarily compete along the main trunk lines to get people out of the stadium area.

        (Keep repeating. Cars are not Trains. They don’t all have to follow the same path.)

      4. John,

        Have you seen what the rideshare services charge during ridership spikes? Do you really think they have any easier time picking up by the stadia than buses do? (And are we going to sentence most riders with disabilities who live along bus lines targetted for cuts to have to book rides the previous afternoon, or be out-of-luck?)

        If you want more 150s standing by, you might want to vote for Prop 1. A vote of confidence for Metro might even embolden the politicians to create temporary bus-only lanes near the stadia after events.

        The train crushload issue will continue to be a problem until early 2016 due to the 2-car train length. After the Seahawks parade, though, ST has been prepared to send out 4-car trains to Stadium Station to clear crowds (which makes a world of common sense after games at *Safeco Field*, while sending additional 2-car trains through the tunnel after baseball games costs more and just gums up tunnel traffic). Couple smarter train deployment with a bus route that picks up at Rainier Beach Station and heads quickly down to Kent East Hill, and wouldn’t that answer all your prayers, at least about getting home after baseball games? Instead of the 150, crawling through post-game traffic, a 169 could be standing by at MLK & Henderson, waiting to fill up and move. Voting for Prop 1 might help create that 1-seat-ride from Rainier Beach Station.

    2. Last I checked, none of the “rideshare” companies offer a senior discount, a youth discount, a low-income discount, or a discount to those with disabilities. Indeed, they aren’t set up at all to transport people with any sort of assistive devices.

      For everyone else, they still charge way too much to be a daily commute option.

    3. Also worth mentioning that Uber and other TNCs have no mechanism for “sharing rides”. Unless the user is bringing multiple people with him or her, the vehicle is essentially single occupant, possibly worse since the driver is making trips to pick up fares.

      1. Very true, but this is at least a solvable problem – a mobile app to help people heading out of crowded places find ridesharing partners would make a lot of sense. Besides Mariners’ games, it would be tremendously useful to anyone heading home from the airport.

        Unfortunately, the other problems are not so solvable, as having 10,000 drivers circle the stadium at once to pick up passengers is simply not going to work. And all bus trips beyond the ones with with most paltry ridership, the level of subsidy required to make Uber affordable for mass transportation would far exceed the cost of just running buses.

  2. In a Seattle Times editorial on 4/3/14, Council Chair, Larry Phillips took the Pro position on Prop 1, writing:
    “The Great Recession had a chilling effect on people’s spending habits, so the sales revenues that support our transit system are less now than five years ago, even though operating costs and the number of people using the system continue to grow.” http://seattletimes.com/html/editorialsopinionpages/2023296161_king_county_prop_1_metro_transit.html
    Chair Phillips should do some fact checking of the numbers he gets – before putting his and this measures credibility on the line. In fairness, his five year data may be more current than what’s available from FTA or Metro for the last published 5 years, but I don’t think that would skew the results too much here.
    Looking at the latest five year data from the official reporting source (FTA National Data Base ‘07-‘12) reveal the following:
    1. Local taxes (nearly all sales tax) grew by 18% overall (335M to 407M). Sales tax is up 15% for operations in the last three years (latest data – Metro website) to $438M in 2013. Hardly “less now…”, so please try to be accurate.
    2. Operating Costs are indeed up the last five years of reporting – 22%, which is twice the Seattle Area CPI-U rate of inflation. Metro has had some short term labor concessions and left positions unfilled, but overall, labor cost are still 15% higher than five years ago (354M), and account for over half of Metro’s operating cost. Metro must do more in the area that’s growing the fastest in dollars if sustainability is the goal. Consumables (fuel, tires, parts, supplies) are only 12% of the cost (78M), so savings there are probably about as low as can be expected. If this is just a stopgap measure, the voters deserve the right to know more is on the way.
    3. Ridership (unlinked trips) grew by 5% in the five year period, from 114M to 120M and does in fact continue to grow. Ridership has been growing YOY, but 5% growth over five years isn’t something I would hang my hat on as newsworthy. Population and job growth continue to outpace transit ridership.
    .
    Voters are getting pretty savvy at reading between the lines when higher taxes are being asked for by those in charge. Going after motorists in a big way, just a week after the IRS tax deadline, on a single issue ballot measure almost makes me think the Council wants this to fail, since 2/3rds of the votes will come from outside of Seattle where multiple car families are the norm.

    1. The most expensive thing per rider in the Metro transit data from the FTA is the SLUT. Any practical plan to save money would shut that down, but politically that would be impossible.

      1. Does that figure take into consideration the subsidy they get from local businesses for the service?

      2. The SLUT is not paid for out of Metro’s budget. It’s contracted to Metro by SDOT, who, as Matt points out, gets businesses along the line to chip in for it’s operation.

      3. Not anymore. The shared cost was only for the first few years. Shrewd move by Paul Allen. I don’t know if Amazon is still kicking in extra money for increased peak service but the bulk of the cost is paid by Metro.

      4. Thinking on that some more, I believe it’s actually SDOT that’s footing the bill, not Metro. I’d have to go look up the budget.

    2. It’s not like we’re talking about a huge amount of money here. $40 per car per year, with a low-income rebate. As for the extra 0.1% in the sales tax rate, if you do the math, it’s not really more than a rounding error in most people’s budgets, considering that food, rent, and gasoline are exempt.

      To give a concrete example, after tallying up each line in my credit card statement, I bought approximately $600 worth of stuff subject to sales tax in the past month. 0.1% of $600 amounts to 60 cents – hardly a sum to get riled up about. And the large majority of the $600 was discretionary stuff I could have easily done without had money been tight, so I’m sure a low-income person’s numbers would be less. Even if someone buys a $20,000 new car sometime in the next ten years, the marginal sales tax liability resulting from prop 1 would be a mere $20.

      1. If you do buy really big ticket items, or are paying a mortgage, you can always keep the receipts and fill out IRS itemized deduction paperwork. Sales taxes are deductible, so long as you don’t also try to deduct state income taxes.

      2. You don’t even need to keep receipts; the IRS lets you estimate based on income and a table of local tax rates. I just did it myself.

      3. Absolutely. And the IRS’s formula assumes you spend a grossly inflated percentage of your income on taxable items, then multiplies that percentage by the tax rate – a multiplying factor that will go up slightly if prop 1 passes. If you are in a high enough tax bracket and itemize deductions, it is entirely conceivable that these quirks in the federal tax code can reduce your income tax bill enough to cover a substantial portion of the increased car tabs. It is even conceivable that someone who owns no cars, but has a high enough income and itemizes deductions could see a net decrease in his tax bill with prop 1, compared to without it.

    3. What exactly is this 5 year period? Sales taxes took a huge dip not too long ago and are not growing back fast enough to keep up with ridership. Remember that community transit in the next six years will not even add 1/2 the service it lost and I’m willing to bet the same for pierce transit. This is not just a king county metro problem of bad management. This is an unstable revenue source problem. Hard to make budgets off of what people might spend.

      1. I totally agree John, which is why I look south to Portland, where most of transit funding is generated by the feds for capital, and payroll taxes for operations. They’ve not had a local tax increase for some time (correct me if I’m wrong glenn) and they seem to roll with the punches better than us.
        I wouldn’t go all in with a payroll tax, but a significant shift in that direction is less regressive, and more stable.
        ST has an unused payroll tax of $2 per head in the district, but generating a few extra million a year is not very much in Billion dollar transit budgets these days.

      2. As usual, mic spreading misinformation. Portland also took the axe to service. It’s not a model to look at.

        I have to say, the STB needs to control its trolls and ban Sam and mic.

      3. Transit opponents don’t just criticize Metro for spending lots of money. They also criticize Metro for the *number* of different revenue sources (as if two is too many rather than a way of stabilizing income).

        The “head tax”, as the Seattle Chamber of Commerce called it, despite exempting from the headcount employees who didn’t commute to work by driving, was tried in Seattle, and eliminated by the city council shortly before Mayor McGinn took office. It didn’t generate much revenue, was pricey to administer, and drew the ire of big business. The city council acted quickly to prevent Mayor McGinn from having the ability to veto the repeal. McGinn was the only candidate for mayor that year who didn’t raise the “yes” placard when the Chamber asked all the candidates to do their bidding.

        The misnomered “head tax” did little to encourage non-automotive commuting, as employers didn’t pass along the savings to employees, so there was no built-in interest group to defend this little tax.

      4. Oddly, mic is doing exactly the same thing Bob Pishue has been doing during his year of employment at the Washington Policy Center. Bob has been running around saying Pierce Transit didn’t have to cut service, and apparently nobody has bothered to point out he is way wrong on that talking point. After all, someone whose job depended on it wouldn’t knowingly repeat a huge lie over and over, would he?

      5. TriMet cut service about two years before the Seattle area did, I think. Just two weeks ago, some of it started to come back.

        Some in the anti-transit crowd want to see us start a sales tax as supposedly the payroll tax is too hard on businesses. I have yet to see anything indicating a mass migration of businesses for Clark County. Retired wealthy individuals, sure. Business? Take a look at Clark County’s unemployment rate. It’s better now, but there was an article in the Oregonian a couple of years ago that Tax Haven Clark Countymanaged to have the worst unemployment rate in Washington for a short time. Somehow that was the fault of our income taxes too.

      6. Hi Brent – this is Bob Pishue. In 2012, Pierce Transit planned to cut 53% of hours if voters didn’t approve of new taxes. They lowered their planned cuts twice, before calling off their plans to cut due to rebounding sales tax revenues.

      7. Hi Bob,

        You are probably at a disadvantage, in that you joined the debate in 2012. Pierce Transit has cut 43% of its service hours since 2008. Yes, PT were able to stave off the latest round, for the time being, but you’ve been claiming, in several places that are a matter of public record, that PT managed to avoid cuts after the recession (which hit in 2008), which is factually incorrect, in a very big way.

        But I do appreciate your chiming in here.

        BTW, since you’ve found us, I’ve been meaning to ask you: Which more progressive funding sources would you (and the Washington Policy Center) support to fund public transit, and do you support Metro’s new low-income fare program?

      8. Hi Brent – Thanks for taking the time to discuss! I’ve lurked around quite a bit and enjoy reading the posts/comments on this site.

        I did not say that PT has avoided cuts throughout their history, just that they pulled back their recent plans to cut.

        I appreciate your reply as well. I think we all learn something when we can discuss these important issues.

        I think that Metro should not be cutting hours. In fact, a reduction of 600,000 hours takes Metro further away from their promises of 1.2 million hours of new bus service in 2000 & 2006. The taxpayers have held up their end of the deal by paying a higher sales tax rate, in addition to car tab fees and property taxes to Metro, but county officials have yet to deliver on all of their past promises.

        I think that with Metro’s record revenues last year and going forward, they should not only keep buses on the road, but also work in a low-income fare program.

        From what I know, King County does have other tax authority that many say is more progressive, but the County Council chose to send a car tab fee and a sales tax increase to the ballot.

        I am open to talk about other taxes and Metro’s budget at any time. You or any of your readers should always feel free to shoot me an email if you have any other questions or concerns. Thanks Brent.

      9. “This raises the question of how well Metro’s budget is managed, because transit officials in Pierce and Snohomish counties are operating successfully with current revenues. With effective resource management, officials in neighboring counties have preserved service to the public without raising taxes.” — Bob Pishue, on his WPC blog

        So, this quote is technically true because there exist slices of time when PT and CT didn’t cut service, I suppose. But it really is an exremely deceiving claim. Pierce Transit and Community Transit ridership have tanked over the past five years. Community Transit has had to cut Sunday service entirely. Pierce Transit has lost ridership *every year* for five years. How does that meet any definition of “operating successfully?” Did you read Martin’s piece on CT service cuts and the long road to restoration?

      10. Hi Brent –

        Thanks for your reply. I’ll be sure to check out Martin’s article and thanks for your feedback on my blog post. You have asked me a bunch of questions, but I would like STB and your thoughts on Metro’s past promises. Taxpayers are being asked to “save” Metro yet again, but do you think that Metro should be fulfilling their past promises first and rebuilding the public trust?

      11. they seem to roll with the punches better than us.

        Extensive service cuts leading to reductions in ridership is “rolling with the punches better than us”? WTF?

        Also, as Glenn from Portland pointed out the other day, Metro and TriMet’s cost per revenue mile, service hour, and passenger hour were nearly identical as of 2012. Since cost is your primary complaint about Metro, it’s puzzling to see you sing the praises of an equally costly system.

      12. Thanks for the continued dialogue, Bob.

        Might you kindly provide links to the promises you claim Metro has broken?

        I do want Metro to keep its commitments. The only way I know to enable that to happen is to adequately fund Metro, by voting Yes on Proposition 1. If you want the low-income fare program to go into effect and service hours to be saved, passing Proposition 1 is essential. You haven’t offered any alternatives for accomplishing this for which the math adds up.

        Losing the low-income fare program will hurt the poor far, far more than the tiny amount of extra sales tax or the $40 car tab (for the 60% of low-income residents who happen to own a car). Also, the county council would be allowed to cancel the car tab if the legislature would allow more progressive funding sources, like a value-based vehicle licence fee. Indeed, I expect to council to cancel the car tab program as soon as another better funding source is in place. The idea isn’t to collect it for 10 years. The idea is that transit opponents won’t have veto power in the legislature for all of the next 10 years.

        Low-income riders who are transit-dependent and need a 2-zone pass will end up spending $864 a year for the full-fare version above what they would have paid for a low-income monthly pass, if you succeed in blocking funding for and scuttling the low-income fare program.

      13. For bus operations, the costs were very close. Link costs more per passenger mile than MAX, and quite a bit less than standard bus service, which has been a huge benefit in terms of reducing overall costs here.

        However, if you want to read some dire future predictions about TriMet, dig around and see if you can find some of the stuff the Oregonian has published in recent years about TriMet’s health insurance issue. Health plan costs at one time threatened to be the largest expense for the agency.

      14. Hi Brent –

        I thank you for being open-minded to a healthy debate.

        I can post more tomorrow, but Metro promised 575,000 new hours in 2000 with the .2% sales tax increase. Here is a Seattle Times article about the tax increase: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20001010&slug=4047058

        For Transit Now, Metro promised 700,000 hours of new service with a .1% sales tax increase in 2006: http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/MetroTransit/TransitNow.aspx

        I am not saying Metro hasn’t done anything to address costs. They have. But their 2014 budget spends $200 million more than they bring in. That’s not going to keep service on the road.

        Metro has only delivered about 450,000 hours of the 1.2 million hours promised to taxpayers. The Great Recession did take a toll on their sales tax revenue, but it also took a toll on taxpayers. Taxpayers continued to pay a higher rate throughout the recession and into the future, but county officials didn’t hold up their end of the deal.

        I am not trying to block funding. I want to keep buses on the road and think Metro shouldn’t cut bus service. I think that transit is an important piece of the transportation network.

        In fact, Metro is poised to receive $32 million in annual sales tax revenue than they thought they would receive. This is more than half of the money county officials say they need to keep 600,000 hours on the road ($60 million). Despite these new figures, county officials appear to be going forward with their plan to cut 17% of bus service.

        As far as the council is concerned, there are no guarantees as to whether or not they would cancel the car tab tax or the sales tax increase should the state legislature agree on a package. I had hoped stronger language would have been adopted in the ordinance passed to send a clear message to give voters certainty.

        Thanks for your reply. Hopefully we are keeping this thread on topic! Bob

      15. Thanks again for keeping the dialogue going, Bob.

        I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to access the Times link. But from the second link:

        “Transit Now was approved by voters in November 2006. Metro delivered the first service additions just three months later, and delivered nearly all planned service expansions on schedule through the end of 2009.”

        I assume you are taking Metro at their word regarding what they did with the Transit Now revenue. I’m wondering if you know where the last installment of service from that revenue would have gone if the recession had not hit (route numbers or geographic location).

        I’m also confused by this strategy of yours of forcing Metro to do a 10% service cut (following your figures) in order to get that last percent or two of previously-promised service deployed where it was promised to be deployed. Why not just get Metro to promise that that last installment of service that didn’t end up happening in 2010 be the first service added with the unexpected sales tax revenue? Same with whatever service wasn’t delivered from the 2000 proposition. Why not deliver it, with this extra $32 million? Promises finally kept.

      16. Absolutely Brent! Thanks for allowing me to post here, but maybe my post here will have us going in circles. Apologies if it does.

        I do not want Metro to cut 10%, I’m sorry if my post sounded like I wanted the cut. I want them to deliver more hours based on their promise to taxpayers. I bring up the $32 million as more of a point: Metro is bringing in record revenues yet county officials still want to impose higher taxes.

        Not only has sales tax rebounded to record levels, but Metro now collects a property tax to the tune of about $25 million per year. This, coupled with Metro’s claim of annual savings of about $130 million should be enough to keep buses on the road. And maybe, bring back the ride-free area county leaders eliminated.

        Of the total 1.2 million hours promised, about a third was delivered. Many people, especially those who are transit-dependent, agreed to pay higher sales taxes to receive a lot of new bus service, but those promises never came to fruition. Bus service needs to be stable and reliable, but now their routes are being held hostage to a tax increase.

        The transit dependent don’t “benefit” from this ballot measure, they receive exactly the same amount of service they receive today, but with a higher tax rate. That’s why I want County officials to not go through with their plans to cut.

        I don’t think its unreasonable to expect that Metro work to meet their past promises before asking voters for more money.

      17. Perhaps I wasn’t clear, Bob. First, the Prop 1 revenue would keep the existing service going, and fund the low-income fare program, which, BTW, will be an absolutely huge benefit for the transit dependent, far in excess of the cost of the $40 car tab and whatever extra pennies each year low-income folks will be paying in additional sales tax. Keeping the service is essential for all the riders with disabilities who live along those routes. Quite a few seniors depend on this service, too. Oh, and kids and families. Some peoples’ jobs also depend on keeping this service.

        *Then* that extra $32 million would get used to deliver whichever service was promised and not delivered. I’ll ask again: Can you list the specific service that hasn’t been delivered: geographic area, route numbers, or something specific.

        If you can’t name the specific routes, at least give Metro credit for everything it has done to speed up routes. If the number of runs currently being operated matches the number of runs contemplated by those old service hour numbers, is Metro really breaking any promise? For example, if Metro promised 20% more service hours on the G Line (a fictitious hypothetical example), but instead delivered a 20% travel-time reduction on the G-Line’s existing runs, and used the saved hours to add more runs, then didn’t Metro do something even better than keep its promise? As a bus rider, I’ll take 20% faster over 20% more operating hours any day of the week.

        Under your plan, 10% of service would get cut. The promised service would still not get delivered. If you want the promises service to get delivered, why don’t you like my plan of passing Prop 1 to hold onto current service, and use the unexpected sales tax boon to deliver the additional service you say you want?

      18. Brent –

        I am about to hit the sack, but I wanted to let you know that I will respond tomorrow.

        Thanks for the dialogue.

        Bob

    4. That ridership growth has occured while service hours have not is a testament to the utility of the new service guidelines, and the planning effort Metro has made to put buses where ridership demand is.

      Ridership growth has its limits, when there are few empty seats, and often buses people won’t get on because they can see the line of people standing on board runs the whole length of the bus, more or less.

    5. Mic, could you please post links to your specific sources? And could you please better explain what Larry Phillips specifically said that you think was incorrect? I see you throwing around a bunch of numbers but they just don’t make sense. I don’t think Metro or Larry Phillips is lying, but I get the impression you are cherry picking time series data to try to make that point.

      First, you say tax revenue is up 18% from 2007 to 2012, but I don’t actually see that from Metro or the FTA. Metro says sales tax collection was down from 2007 ($442m) to 2012 ($413m), and only recovered to 2007 levels in 2013 ($443m): http://www.kingcounty.gov/~/media/business/Forecasting/images/2_current/March2014_metro_pic_large.ashx

      The FTA reports on Metro are pretty confusing since they contain a lot of info, they report that the sources of operating revenue from local taxes were about $291m in 2007 and $308m in 2012. I’m not seeing an 18% increase here.
      http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/top_profiles/2007/agency_profiles/0001.pdf
      http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/top_profiles/2012/agency_profiles/0001.pdf

      Then you say Metro reports sales tax revenue is up 15% over the last three years, which is a completely different time series, 2010 – 2013! I’m glad sales tax revenue is up from the absolute bottom depths of the greatest financial crisis-induced recession since the Great Depression! But that’s completely dishonest of you to choose this period to make your point.

      Then you say that operating costs are up 22% in the last five years of reported statistics. Does this include the added costs of increased Sound Transit bus service that Metro operates? Link service that Metro operates that didn’t begin until 2009? Viaduct construction mitigation service that Metro operates?

      Then you report that labor costs are up 15%, but is that through wages or benefits? Does this include increased service via operating ST routes (see above)? Health insurance rates can easily grow 4% a year or more. I don’t know what Metro specifically paid for health insurance and benefits vs wages, but it’s pretty clear to me that Metro isn’t giving massive raises to its drivers, especially when its drivers’ rents are going up dramatically… 28% in Seattle from 2009-13 and 20% in King/Snohomish county overall in the same period: http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2022578166_apartmentrentsxml.html

      And then you say ridership is up only 5% for the last five years (I assume 2007 to 2012 based on the FTA data you were citing earlier). I guess I’m not sure what your point is. My takeaway is that, despite the worst recession since the great depression, and despite ceding over some of its most productive routes to be replaced by Link, Metro has managed to not only preserve but also grow ridership over the last five years, substantially increasing the mode share of transit going to downtown Seattle.

      I’m not someone who regularly comments on STB, but I am really ticked off when people cherry pick data to make a complete BS point. If you don’t want to increase taxes because of whatever reason, fine, just say that. Just be honest about your POV, and don’t accuse other people of being dishonest unless you have evidence of it. It’s this kind of thing that makes the comments section a hopeless place that makes me depressed.

      1. Thanks for the details, Gabe. I’m just glad mic has ceased throwing around his famous figures about how ridership on U-Link, Northgate Link, etc hasn’t met expectations, and then using that parlour accounting trick to attack Metro.

  3. Nice effort, but how well will it reach the required audience?

    Obviously, TV air time is too expensive.

    What does it cost to run something like that as an advertisement on YouTube? Or are geographically oriented ads even possible there?

    1. I find it very sad we on the pro-transit side can’t get fair airtime. I worry if the antis get some airspace…………

      Meanwhile, there’s Bob Pishue putting out very slanted opinion pieces from the HQ of Gull Industries – and I have the picture to prove it: https://www.flickr.com/photos/avgeekjoe/13654105944/. Nothing against Bob as a person and I support the Washington Policy Center on other issues, but the lack of balance in Mr. Pishue’s work clearly makes it fair game to ask how much influence Gull Industries has on him.

      1. Hi Joe –

        This is Bob from the policy center. I have seen you reference my work in other comments. Thank you for keeping it professional and not personal, I appreciate it and am willing to chat with you if you have any comments or concerns with our analysis. I don’t want to hijack this thread, but the Puget Sound is home to many of us and we all want to make it better. Thanks for your support.

      2. Bob, copy that, it’s certainly not personal just an observation and a question I have to ask & get done with. I want to bring you coffee & Krispy Kreme this summer during Seafair, if not sooner. :-) I think you’ll like the stories of good transit service from Skagit where we’re not in crisis mode I have to tell.

        Watch your e-mail.

  4. So how about that new southbound RR D stop at Market Street? It’s great to load up a bunch of people, close the doors and pull out just in time for the light to turn red! I had known it was coming, but it still boggles my mind…

    1. You may have noticed that quite a few bus stops have shifted to the far side of a stoplight. This paves the way for more buses to have effective signal priority in the future. It can’t be done for all stops, but it is now clearly Metro’s norm, outside of downtown (where the whole block is needed for buses to queue up). I don’t know the details of the Market Street stop, but Metro still responds to political pressure from groups that don’t understand the engineering principles of why the bus system is set up the way it is.

      1. The operator doesn’t know how long boarding will take until it is complete and the bus starts to move. If there is more time and space before the next stop light, the red light can be delayed, or shortened.

        Metro has other reasons for far-side stops, some of them dealing with safety. I don’t know the whole list, since I haven’t asked, and I am not an engineer.

      2. 1) Far-side stops avoid the problem of drivers making right turns in front of a stopped bus. This is extremely dangerous and I have seen at least a couple of near misses.

        2) If the light is green when the bus approaches, a far-side stop saves the bus a light cycle. By the time the bus stops to serve a nearside stop, then starts moving again (buses accelerate from a stop really slowly), the light will probably be red. One could make the reverse argument that a nearside stop is better if the bus approaches the intersection while the light is red. This argument is valid in a world where buses have dedicated lanes. In practice, a bus approaching a nearside stop while the light is red simply means the bus has to stop behind a line of cars about 50 feet back of the bus stop, wait for the light to turn green and all the cars in front to move, then stop again at the actual bus stop, then stop a third time as the light turns red right as the bus starts moving again. So, in the real world, a nearside stop almost always delays an approaching bus a full signal cycle, regardless of the signal phase as the bus approaches (unless of course, the bus is able to blow by the stop without actually stopping).

        3) Farside stops are bad for pedestrian safety by encouraging people getting off the bus to cross in front of it. Because the bus blocks views, people crossing and drivers passing the stopped bus can’t see each other.

        Generally, all bus stops should be far-side unless a compelling reason exists to make a stop nearside. Valid reasons include a missing or broken sidewalk on the far side of the intersection or a critical transfer point where a nearside stop makes the quality of the connection demonstrably better in the direction most people are travelling.

        For example, the #50’s crossing of MLK in Columbia City is a rare case where Metro chose a far-side stop when it should have chosen a near-side stop. Here, the far-side stop adds at least signal cycle, if not more, to the journey of anyone getting off the bus to hop on the train. With the bus->train connection being the primary way downtown and the number of Columbia City->West Seattle thru-riders minimal, this location is an example of a rare exception where a nearside stop makes more sense.

      3. Correction – nearside stop encourage people getting off to cross in front of the bus – farside stops avoid this problem.

    2. I just hope they have the kiosk up and running so we could board at all doors. In the meantime, a trashcan would be nice.

    3. Does Market have TSP? If it does, it’s news to me and I’ve been driving the C/D line for a year now. It sure doesn’t feel like it has TSP.

      1. With both Market stops being nearside now, I don’t think it matters anymore, but I agree with you that it sure doesn’t seem like it. I don’t think Leary does either.

    1. “We’re upgrading our login process and story commenting features on Tuesday”

      An “Upgrade” to their commenting features would be to shut them off – sad that they think this rant fest is worthy of upgrades.

    2. And on the West Seattle Blog, someone tried to mention how we need to vote yes, but then they mentioned that they think a lot of people don’t pay their fares, because they see rice Rapid Ride C a couple times a week, and they see people getting on the back without tapping their cards. So, might as well have said vote no, or maybe that’s what they’d meant to say.

      1. Norah, there are fare enforcement officers who patrol the C Line. Those who ride without paying risk getting a $124 citation, and eventually being arrested for trespass.

        I assure you that fare evasion is a tiny fraction of Metro’s $75 million deficit.

        If you don’t like buses, just come out and say it. But you’ve been warned about the consequences of pushing more people into SOVs.

  5. Okay, this week’s question has a more political subtext:

    Metro deliberately under-ordered its new trolley bus fleet from 155 coaches to 141(?) in case Prop 1 does not pass. But what if it does? How long will it take for the additional 14 coaches to arrive after the proposition passes?

    1. How long will delivery take, and is Metro missing out on free money from the feds (which Metro has been very proficient at acquiring, at least for capital investment)?

      By the time the trolleys are delivered, won’t it be about time to downsize the routes around Capitol Hill Station, to take advantage of a lot of riders switching to using the station for a quicker ride downtown and to UW?

      1. In the meantime, 60 buses have been purchased by SFMTA on options from the same contract, so those will presumably be in the queue prior to any additional orders from KCM. That will delay any subsequent deliveries to Metro.

        Doesn’t it make sense to expand the trolley network, even if there may be some routes that can be reduced due to Link service.

    2. Metro and MUNI have options to purchase up to 514 coaches of various lengths as part of this order. Since the first prototype coach hasn’t even arrived, I suspect they have plenty of flexibility for when those coaches arrive. The contract is also for 5 years.

    3. These options to purchase more of the same are pretty common, and can even include other transit agencies. For example, if Boston or Philadelphia suddenly got interested in more trolley coaches, they might put in a statement of interest in obtaining an option to purchase part of the production run as well, after all the other customers have their part of the production run.

      It is probably a lot more common than is known, as I am pretty sure the options are frequently confidential material. The company I work for built a certain item for a particular transit agency, and there were stated options from five other transit agencies.

      This is actually a fairly prudent idea. If they have a statement of an option to purchase at the same price as some other transit agency if they exercise the option then they know exactly how much the equipment they want will cost. However, if they decide to go it alone they have to go through the entire purchasing process, which can be a pretty expensive and drawn out affair due to all the restrictions to make sure that purchasing is done in a fair and cost effective manner.

      If they decide they don’t need the equipment they have an option to purchase, then they just don’t exercise their option. Thus, I would imagine that there are far more confidential options to purchase production runs of various equipment that the public is not aware of, as the decision to not purchase the option is never exercised.

  6. Has there been any official/credible polling regarding Prop 1? Unlike many other past measures and initiatives, I haven’t heard much from either side.

  7. Brent, sorry there’s no “reply” tag under your post. I’m sorry that I sounded as if the comment was coming from me. I was repeating what someone said on the the West Seattle Blog, and saying that even though they were trying to come out for Proposition 1, their comment sounded like something that was against it.

    1. Sorry for my unnecessarily harsh response. It seems like West Seattle Blog has a bunch of commenters who have it in for public transit, and the voices of reason get shouted down way too easily. But transit wins in West Seattle when people get to vote privately.

      If people had to post using real names at West Seattle Blog, I suspect a lot of the nattering naibobs of negativism would go hang out on other blogs instead. But then, the comments section at WSB would be as barren as that of the West Seattle Herald. And frankly, WSB is a far more useful and prodigious news source.

      1. Thanks for the compliment. Just a few points (if anyone even sees this, since a few days have elapsed, and I only stumbled onto it looking for something else) – Real names don’t fix comments at all. Trust me, some of the “real name” comments on our Facebook page are FAR uglier than what I have had to deal with in a quarter-million comments over the past eight years on our website. (2) Nobody shouts anybody down on our site. We don’t allow personal insults, profanity, etc. Someone can call your comment “idiotic” but we will not approve a comment in which they call you an idiot. If there is a preponderance of any particular position on any particular issue, it’s because the people on the other side aren’t bothering to comment, which is unfortunate, NOT because they aren’t reading. Comments on any website are a tiny fragment of the readership … even if we have a 100-comment thread, that’s still only .3% of the 30,000 people who will see any given story. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it BUT we have many, many threads in which comments are thoughtful, helpful, insightful, informative, even crime-solving, life-problem-solving, so we take the occasional boxing-match thread in exchange for the many, many more productive ones. – Tracy

  8. Semi-random question:
    Can anyone recommend a good web-based RSS reader? I used to use Google reader to keep up with posts and comments here and have been feeling the pain ever since they shut down.

    1. I’ve been using feedly. It’s not as great as Google Reader but imports the settings pretty well and gets the job done.

  9. Now if those cuts pass, I expect to see traffic get even worse, which may force people to chose to ride a bicycle as driving will be worse and buses terrible. …. in the short term before people move and stop needing those trips…

Comments are closed.