96 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Only You Can Make RapidRide Faster”

  1. So, if you have off-board readers what’s to tell the operator whether you’ve paid your fare or not? Is the only enforcement when you have the occasional person check whether you’ve paid with ORCA (shows in the system) or showing a transfer? Basically the operator doesn’t have anything to do with enforcing fares?

    1. Basically. However, the $124 fine is significant. If the cost of riding is $2.50, then as long as fare enforcement on average comes at least once every 49 trips, then it will cost more in the long run for habitual fare evaders to evade their fare than to pay (especially with the stricter measures for repeat offenders mentioned toward the end).

      1. I consider myself to be an expert on all things Rapid Ride. A few points. “Only you can make RapidRide faster.” False. Metro can make RapidRide faster by doing things like not making the B Line crisscross the same road or imaginary line (153rd Ave) FIVE TIMES! Secondly, quite a while ago, I asked that someone here do a FOIA request to discover just how many RR fines have been written, and how many have actually been paid. Why hasn’t that task been completed yet? I think only a small fraction of the fines have been paid, and nothing, regardless of what the law says, happens if one doesn’t pay the fine. People like city attorneys have a lot to say what happens to low-level criminals, and we all know that in our region certain city attorneys don’t prosecute low-level offenders, even repeat one’s. These “stricter measures” are a paper tiger and a form of fare enforcement theater meant to placate taxpayers who think Metro is wasteful. Thirdly, FEO’s rarely question people getting off a bus, so all fare evaders have to do is get off the bus when FEO’s get on. They won’t be stopped or checked. Free rides for life! The bottom line? A lot of people are dumb, and asking dumb people to do stuff is a recipe for failure. The only way to make transit and fares more efficient is to dumb down the system, not to ask riders to figure the system out.

        PS, don’t believe people are dumb? Youtube “Howard Dumb As A Rock 2.” There, you will see adult women not know … what the D.C. in Washington D.C. stands for. Who America’s first lady is, or even know what a first lady is. You’ll see a woman (a college grad), answer that pickles are made from the vegetable, peas. They also couldn’t answer what company has the initials G.M? My point? When it comes to things like public transit, you have to make the system foolproof, because that’s at least half the riders.

      2. Sam says: “quite a while ago, I asked that someone here do a FOIA request to discover just how many RR fines have been written, and how many have actually been paid. Why hasn’t that task been completed yet?”

        Good question. Why haven’t you completed this task yet?

      3. “all fare evaders have to do is get off the bus when FEO’s get on”

        True, but having to get off the bus every time a FEO gets on and wait an extra 15 minutes (possibly out in the rain) for the next bus is a significant inconvenience. Most people would rather just pay the fare.

      4. @Emily,

        His Majesty doesn’t “do” FOIA requests. They’re for the hoi polloi to do for Himself.

    2. That’s exactly right, Joseph. In sense of “that’s the procedure” and also “that’s the way to handle fares so service is fastest and fewest drivers get hurt. Also with the fewest employees.”

      In the days when transit carried the heaviest loads, every vehicle had both a driver and a conductor. The driver drove. The conductor handled fares and information.

      But after the Second World War, with so many more people buying cars and wages rising, transit companies dispensed with the conductor. Mechanical fareboxes- some of them really ingenious- sped up handling coins. If handed paper money, the driver made change.

      Problem was, drivers also got robbed, shot, and killed for their change. Leading the industry to stop providing that service. Aggravating both merchants constantly being asked for change, and passengers, whose number was declining anyway.

      The only thing I don’t like about the Seattle Subway plan is proposed automation- a good human driver can out-drive a computer- we handle stress conditions better. But fare collection is exactly what computers are for.

      The system gets all its money up front- with nobody having to handle or count bills or change. The last advancement in fare collection, several decades ago, was when Metro went to automatic fareboxes after a manager stole several hundred thousand dollars in cash fares.

      Now- from the passenger’s pocket to the bank, nobody has to either get germs or a criminal record from money. And there’s no reason whatever for fare collection to waste operating revenue by slowing service.

      As for enforcement, notice one thing: where no immediate personal violence is present, you will never see an armed, trained police officer try to enforce anything without backup. But the most combat-trained driver on duty is faced the wrong way in a tight space with no back door. And really preoccupied.

      Many more teams of police officers really should ride transit constantly. And the system should shove blizzards of ORCA cards out the rear doors of huge planes out of McChord. And King County Metro should collect Downtown Tunnel fares just like Rapid Ride- as the Tunnel was designed.

      And drivers need to read your words verbatim. That’s what their work rules say too.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Imagine if the farebox said: “Fare $2.50. Fare + new ORCA card: $7.50 (includes $5 credit for future trips)”.

      2. Zmapper,

        I don’t think Metro is looking to modernize the fareboxes. I think they are hoping to get rid of them. It may not happen, but I certainly am not in favor of increasing convenience for those who fumble change and slow down the ride for the rest of us.

      3. I’m surprised Metro does not have a program to start upgrading and replacing their fare boxes. GFI is stopping support of at least some of the Cents-a-Bill boxes at the end of the year it seems, Pierce Transit got board approval in November of last year to upgrade theirs with the new Fast Fare fare boxes, which I think include, and TRiM units (ticket printers), built in smart card readers, and even QR readers if setup for it. WTA just installed these fare boxes. https://twitter.com/ridewta/status/454837022209753088

      4. Skagit Transit has a fare box that issues magnetic cards for change, and a running tab is kept on the back of the card so the balance may seen by anyone who reads it.

        If you want to speed up service, the busiest stops need not just ORCA readers, but also TVMs, so nobody is paying with cash when boarding.

    3. “Basically the operator doesn’t have anything to do with enforcing fares?” – From 6am-7pm, that is correct. During the day, fare enforcement on RapidRide is purely through random checks. I’ve seen reports that detail the number of checks and citations issued and Metro appears to be balancing the cost of getting the last 2-5% of passengers to pay with the costs of fare enforcement. I rarely see people get pulled off of my bus and issued a ticket – the vast majority of passengers have properly paid their fare. (Although there is an unknown amount of transfer fraud going on out there. That can only be eliminated by getting rid of paper transfers or changing the codes more frequently )

      After 7pm RapidRide supposedly functions the same as traditional Metro service with boarding/showing transfers/tapping your ORCA card at the front. I’ve long suspected that all the people who tell me “the other driver said he needed to see my transfer” were actually just boarding after 7pm. If I could have one thing for my Birthday, it would be elimination of boarding at the front doors coupled with 24 hour random fare enforcement. If this policy is related to security concerns then, by all means, add an optional policy of allowing drivers to only open the front door at stops that may have security concerns. It would be tricky to implement broadly and consistently but I’ve done it many times in regular service – I just get on the external PA and announce front door boarding only at this stop. I typically] apologize to people as they board and give a brief explanation of the specific reason.

      1. Velo, I’m pretty certain that isn’t true, that after 7 PM, RR switches to a traditional Metro route in terms of fare. I checked with Metro on this. Riders, just like before 7 PM, are not required to show paper transfers or any kind of flash pass to the driver. RR Drivers who ask to see a passenger’s transfer are going outside of Metro RR fare policy. Yes, Riders are supposed to tap on the bus instead of outside, but that doesn’t mean the fare system switches over to a traditional Metro route’s fare system.

      2. Really, well, perhaps you can call Metro and have them change the signs on all of the curb-side ORCA readers that say they are only to be used 6am-7pm and have our book policy updated to include more detail on after 7pm policy. What you describe would be a reasonable compromise between speed of payment and security concerns. That said, I suspect you really haven’t contacted Metro.

  2. RR-E would be faster if they followed the Swift ideology. Less stops…Pay/reload stations at each stop. A local bus runs as a filler for the skipped stops. There is nothing rapid about the trip from Shoreline to Downtown Seattle. …especially when the perceived and marked bus lane is occupied by parked cars.

    1. Agrered! That’s why I seldom take the bus in King County. Rapid Ride Bus Lines are a joke!

    2. I used to commute on the swift/358. Now I take the swift/rapidride. There’s no difference between them. I had an E line drive ask me on Friday what I thought about the Rapidride and I couldn’t come up with anything. The buses are newer, that’s something. They mised the boat on this one and it’s not like they had to go far to see what BRT looked like.

    3. It’s frequent evenings and Sundays. No more going down to half-hourly just when you want to use it.

  3. Thought this was an interesting write-up that I could pass along: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/04/housing-policy-madness-ed-milibands-rent-reforms-landlords-tenants

    I’m not a believer in “hard” rent controls, and I don’t put much faith in simply saying “let them build as much as they want, for whomever they want, and somehow that will trickle down to almost everyone”.

    I believe in greater density, where government is more of a driving force, increasing the likelihood that there is affordable housing at all levels of the income scale, top to bottom.
    1) The PSRC regularly estimates the expected job growth by profession/trade (or at least used to in the recent past). From that, I’m sure you could easily extrapolate expected income ranges and earnings power.
    2) Sound Transit has the ability to determine the capacity at each planned station. Each neighborhood can then easily take ST’s numbers and add capacity provided by buses, roads, etc.

    So instead of rent controls or devil-may-care density, and in recognition of market failure to provide affordable housing for all, why not have government selectively target the PSRC numbers by building lower/working/mid/upper-mid homes in urban villages, in coordination with that area’s planned traffic capacity?

    By “initiate”, I mean buying the land and bidding construction and day-to-day operations out to private contractors. I doubt if the city/county has the ability to do that in pricey downtown, but what if they bought up (for example) several blocks along a Link station in Suburban Neighborhood X, and commissioned for development of a series of six story high apartment buildings, with ground floor retail that spills onto the sidewalk, a micropark, etc. Normal stuff, like groceries, coffee shops, a deli, dry cleaners, hardware store, gym, and so on. At one of the main intersections you could have a traffic circle where the streets close on Sunday mornings for a farmers market. Basically, your average neighborhood in Anytown, EU.

    Or, where appropriate, go big: spin up a couple of 12 story apartment towers on top of Northgate Mall. Would be an ideal place for students, starter families, young professionals, and new retirees. The mall (and immediate area such as Target) would get an upshift in demand 24/7, and when residents aren’t buying/working in the mall, they can use Link to pipe down to UW in…what 8 minutes…downtown in 15?

    I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more of a push for government to get in and drive private sector construction capacity in targeted directions (meaning both income and geo). Maybe that’s because much of Central Link was routed through industrial areas, but as we begin to push into neighborhoods, there is real opportunity to increase value for the local and regional community, by ensuring affordable housing across the scale.

  4. I was on the D Line last night and was saddened/reminded of how slow it was. I have taken it many times before but my first impression last night is that there are far too many stops.

    How is forcing riders to use the front door after 7pm useful in any way? Worse than that, some operators enforce it and others don’t, this just complicates the system and slows down trips.

    1. Ian, how about this bit of confusing logic … Rapid Ride rules are that you board through the front door after 7 PM. Rapid Ride remains proof of purchase after 7 PM, even though fare enforcement officers don’t work after 7, and lastly, passengers with flash passes and transfers do not have to show the Rapid Ride driver anything. So what’s the point of funneling everyone through the front door? Has anyone seen the OTC RR southbound stop just after 7 PM? It’s some of the biggest crowds of the day!

      May the 4th be with you.

    2. I’m a regular E – Line rider and most operators abide by the 7PM rule. Yet, they are forced to open the back doors when they realize there are a lot of people who wish to get off and the same wanting to board (i.e. stops at 185th, 145th, 105th, 85th especially). They know that funneling everyone through the front is a major slow-down to their run. So they open the back doors at some stops, but not at others – confusing the heck out of riders.

      Metro’s 7pm policy is arbitrary. I have yet to see this rule in a transit system elsewhere across the U.S. If they are worried about safety, Metro should be reminded that infamous incidents have occurred on their buses in broad daylight. Let’s get rid of this senseless policy!

      1. Reyes, good point about safety and daytime incidents. Another argument in favor of all doors all the time … refusing to let people on through the back door after 7 PM, who are already back there waiting for the door to open, besides slowing down the route, annoys and angers some passengers, thereby decreasing safety, and creating a possible passenger on driver conflict.

      2. Also, what’s so special about 7 PM, especially during the summer months when 7 PM is still broad daylight?

    3. On the way home from the airport a few days ago, I had yet another long, clumsy, excruciating trip-length reminder that RapidRide — unlike any other “RT” of any sort in the existence — has no interior space unobstructed enough to allow for standing with luggage.

      If the best option involves blocking one of the doorways, your circulation strategy has failed.

      But way to foist responsibility for mitigating your errors back on your long-suffering customers, A/V department at the dumbest public transit agency on the planet!

      1. After having similar experiences on the 71/72/73, I am now a strong believer in using either Car2Go or Uber to connect with Link for airport trips – at least when it’s not rush hour.

      2. I live in south lake union and stopped taking link to the airport. It’d take me fifteen minutes to walk to the station, five minutes waiting for the train, and 40 minutes travel time, plus ten minute walk to the terminal. With uber, during non peak hour trips, it takes 22 minutes door to door. Light rail to the airport takes significantly longer than uber or cabs on the weekends/nights. This is another seattle transit failure.

      3. @Jim: There are few cities where even grade-separated heavy-rail rapid transit provides service that’s time-competitive with cabs from downtown to destinations like airports, let alone light rail. Count the stops between Central London and Heathrow on the Underground. Between the Loop and O’Hare. Between Midtown and either NYC airport. These trips take exactly as long as you’d expect! London has a Heathrow Express running non-stop to Central London on commuter train hardware, an idea that occasionally comes up in rail-rich Chicago as well. It’s fast, and it ain’t cheap either… but cheaper than a cab, so if you’re going right where it’s going it’s worth the price.

      4. Jim: In London and Chicago, the subways are faster than a cab from downtown to the airport *during rush hour*. Night and weekends, the cabs are certainly faster.

        If you have to go to the airport during rush hour, is it still faster to take a cab than to take Link? Because, fundamentally, that’s the time when Link would be expected to be faster: rush hour.

    4. D line would be so much faster if it skipped Uptown. This congested area has so many routes anyway, and anyone wanting to ride RR wouldn’t have to walk too fat to do so.

  5. Only the King County Council can put a surcharge on cash payments. The non-riding masses failed to get the message that riders are taking a hit, too. NIce try. Failed. So why not switch to a fare restructure that actually allows the buses to move faster by *rewarding* ORCA users with a discount?

    Go ahead and do the fare increase, but tack on an extra 25 cents for single-ride cash fares, while you are at it, since the low-income fare program seems to be going forward anyway. Low-income riders will have to use ORCA product to get their reduced fare (a point which, admittedly, I have insisted on every step of the way). So, now, the rest of us should pay an extra price when we fumble change instead of tapping. The only hurdle here is political attention span and reprinting the fare signs (which will be happening anyway), so now is the time to feed two birds with one seed.

    Off-peak sign:
    ORCA fare $2.50
    Cash fare $2.75

    Peak sign on 1-zone buses:
    ORCA fare $2.75
    Cash fare $3.00
    (Note that no coins would be needed.)

    Peak sign on 2-zone buses:
    1-zone ORCA fare $2.75
    1-zone cash fare $3.00
    2-zone ORCA fare $3.25
    2-zone cash fare $3.50

    Change fumbling sloooows down buses. We need those hours to preserve more service. Change handling also wastes a lot of money. That money is better spent on service.

    Are there any excuses left not to do this?

    1. And while I’m at it, this goes for Access, too. But for Access, it would be an electronic pre-payment discount, since there are no on-board ORCA readers.

      Fare: $2.00
      Save $0.25 by paying with an ORCA account.
      Call 206-553-3000 for info.

      1. $3.00 cash. At all times. $4.00 if it’s any sort of peak-only express. No non-round numbers ever.

        No more excuses for intransigence.

      2. That can be fixed by giving drivers the handhelds that fare enforcement uses and charging fares on there. They already do that with DART

      3. I think d.p. has it nailed. That looks like the right formula to me, although it has the problem that the first fare increase put coins back in the mix, unless the fare increase is $1.

        Would there still be an ORCA discount?

      4. Emphatically.

        The cash premium and the end of paper transfers are solely to be viewed as incentives to switch. They are in no way to be interpreted as suggesting that Metro provides a service competitive enough to justify New York pricing in a city where marginal driving still costs next to nothing.

        Meanwhile, there’s no reason for whole-dollar figures on a smart card. There isn’t even reason for whole-nickel figures. In fact, in New York, the effective Metrocard subway fare is $2.38.

        If it were up to me, the in-city ORCA fare would be held at $2.25 — including at rush hour, with the possible exception of some uni-directional express trippers — until such time that Metro is able to offer a network where halved core headways and a willingness to walk 2/3 of a mile can get you anywhere in this city in 60 minutes. Until the system is actually good, it shouldn’t cost one cent more than it does… except for the cash intransigents who are trying to keep it slow.

    2. ORCA already has added value for passengers who want to transfer between Metro and other services. An easier first step would be to eliminate paper transfers and only provide PoP vouchers good for a specific coach on a specific RapidRide trip. If you want a transfer, get an ORCA card. If you want to pay a low income fare, get an ORCA card. I’d go further – Want ANY type of reduced fare? (Youth, Senior, etc?) Get an ORCA card.

      In theory, Senior fares are only available to passengers presenting a reduced fare card. In practice, it’s awfully difficult to tell a senior citizen visiting from out of town that they have to pay $2.50. That said, I’d make the policy firm, universal, and enforce it – I’d also make ORCA cards are FAR easier for visitors and passengers with language barriers to obtain. (See the bottom of orcacard.com. Perhaps the links to “Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese” should be in each language and do more than link to a .gif in a tiny font explaining how to get a card? – That said, kudos for at least putting the information on the page.

      (Side note: Paper transfers cause underpayment on other services as well: Pretty much any driver who operates Sound Transit service within King County has witnessed this.)

      1. Entities signing onto the RRFP interlocal agreement agree to honor each others’ permits. However, each agency is still allowed to have different reduced fares (e.g. a cash fare and a lower ORCA fare), so long as they meet the federal requirement of being no more than half the highest regular peak fare. Even without the agreement, I believe federal law requires agencies to accept their own permit cards and charge no more than half the highest peak fare. If Metro were to set a $3.50 peak 2-zone cash fare, I believe it could charge $1.75 as the senior/disabilities cash fare, and could still leave the ORCA fare at $1.

        As you probably know, I see the paper transfers as a major source of widespread fare fraud, and want them gone as soon as the low-income fare kicks in. Make the system less confusing by having ORCA be the only way to get a free transfer.

      1. …says the person whose 40-mile intercounty buses are almost fully subsidized by state taxpayers.

        Yes, Joe. Hell yes. Real transit needs to work for masses of people, which means masses of people need to be able to access it efficiently.

        We can’t all be rural cash-fumbling leeches with delusions of self-reliance.

      2. d.p,, I think you are misunderstanding Joe’s response. See his previous response above.

      3. Whoops. I’m really sorry. It really seemed like he was defending the right to be slow and self-absorbed.

      4. d.p. apology accepted, I was just answering Brent’s, “Are there any excuses left not to do this?”

        As I live as much of a cash-free life as I can, I really wish Skagit Transit had an ORCA option to tap on and pay the $2 all-day fare. Fumbling around for cash, hoping the cash is accepted by the machine and the line this creates do create delays. Even more so deeper in the Seattle-centric megalopolis than I’m kinda, sorta on the northern tip of.

        Thanks Brent for the backup.

    3. Its always fun trying to explain to friends from other countries why we still have our backwards cash payment system (exact change only, bring your quarters).

      Its even more fun explaining why anyone would consider cutting their bus service when many buses are already at capacity.

      1. I’m a big believer in cash and cash payment.

        Of course, in most countries, given our current price levels:
        (1) The dollar bill would be a coin
        (2) The two-dollar bill would be a coin
        (3) Pennies wouldn’t exist, and neither would nickels
        (4) We’d have 20 cent pieces and 50 cent pieces rather than 25 cent pieces

        Throwing two two-dollar coins in a farebox is pretty fast. Faster than waving and swiping and tapping finicky electronic cards.

        On the other hand, futzing about trying to pay with OUR cash — either bills or large numbers of quarters — is ridiculous.

        Our bills and coins in the US are obsolete. Don’t get me started on all the bills being the same size and indistinguishable to the blind, which is an ADA violation which Treasury has been extremely recalcitrant about fixing.

      2. I saw the two opposite extremes in England and Russia. England in 2000 had £2 coins, worth $3.00 at the time. I’m used to paying with bills and receiving coins in change, which works well in America but in England I’d end up ten or fifteen pounds’ worth of coins in my pocket, which is heavy and takes up a lot of space. So I’d often ask shopkeepers to unchange my coins to a £5 or £10 note. I wonder if the British do that too, or if they’re just more likely to pay in coins.

        In Russia in 1996, $1 was worth 5400 rubles, and the most common bills were 1000 – 50,000 rubles ($0.20 – $10), but there were bills down to 100 ($0.02) — a few of those would get you an apple. But you never paid cash on the bus. Instead you got taloni (paper tickets) from a street vendor, and punched a ticket on these overhead puncher-things in the bus. For the metro you bought tokens (zheltoni) at a ticket window — brown metal “coins” in St Petersburg and transparent plastic discs in Moscow. The St Petersburg tokens also worked in their old-style phones (their new phones took phone cards). Moscow had a separate set of metal tokens for its phones I think, but you also got them at the metro ticket window.

        So I assumed Russia had no real coins at all anymore. But then I went to a higher-end “supermarket” that sold produce by the exact weight (rather than kilo bunches), and they gave me 10, 5, and 1-ruble coins! A 1-ruble coin was worth a third of a cent! And where could you spend it??? Everything was rounded to 1000-ruble notes, or 500 for a small apple. So you never used coins. So why did they exist, and why did that store bother with them?

        (In 1998 three zeros were dropped, so it became 5 rubles to the dollar, and has now fallen to 35. I think they should have dropped four zeros. The worthless coins were just invalidated rather than exchanged, and a new series of kopek coins issued.)

  6. (I apologize for the earlier Hamlet references, and for pointing out the clothing that not quite covers the somehow gridlocked America, and for references that might cause some to fear immanent Bolsheviks leaping out from behind the shrubbery and garbage bins. However. There is no risk from these—indeed, one need only keep the Invisible Hand of Smith in mind as the Sword and the Shield of the Free Market, and see that clearly all will be well, Amen.)

    Among the myths of the moderns, alongside the Easter bunny and the Santas, lies the myth of progress. This is a single-track narrative that holds progress is always onwards and upwards, the lot of humanity somehow always better. This myth is quite possibly wrong. Consider the impossibility of carrying growth from the exponential function out too quickly or for too long: with modern growth rates extended backwards, the global population at the time of Christ would have been about 10,000, or regardless some clearly invalid result, so therefore the growth rate must have been very much lower over that time. Well, the modern growth has been higher, so why not so in the future? Sure, there has been quite a lot of coal and oil burnt recently, but past performance is no future predictor, especially if the growth is instead a Gompertz function, or if over time the growth transitions like ecology from a r to K state, or even meets a Seneca Cliff (oh boy, pieces!). One can see evidence of a change of state in America: car usage has flatlined in America, or even slightly declined. Or the bus, where two-minute service on Eastlake Ave from the 60s has been replaced with—well, it’s often faster to now walk. Some departments of transportation, refreshingly, now state a more honest “we do not know” instead of the usual up and to the right lines. Is this some new steady state, or the beginning of a larger decline, or just a delay before the weeds take off growing again? Look to energy, or in particular the one-time gift of concentrated energy reserves, and how readily and cheaply those may be burned. The re-introduction of that market failure, the electric car, after a century of neglect I believe points to a decline back to an earlier state, and not new progress.

    And now to the hand-wavey part, where someone will claim that somehow something will be done that will make the recent business as usual viable—flying atomic cars, whatever, the details change faster than the guest star opposite Riker—and then humanity can go back to getting onwards to the stars. Been a long while since a human got beyond low Earth orbit, isn’t it? Anyways. This is the faith portion of the single-track growth narrative, that something will always just come along, and that that something will be a positive, and will not yield a steady-state, or worse, the Seneca Cliff. History records no few civilizations; for the present one to somehow continue onwards and upwards—again, that’s a matter of faith. Aiming for a steady-state might be a better goal, but with American politicians promising “sustainable growth” or “growth, baby, growth” as two different ways to do much the same thing, which is to say the rather rapid conversion of all available resources into pollution, one might indeed be a little concerned regarding the outcomes of such heedless activity. A third option is to instead do less with less: to use less energy, to consume fewer resources, to slow down. Neither car nor bus nor plane, but instead to use your own two feet, in other words.

    This advice will doubtless be received just as well as a teetotaler at happy hour. It has been quite the happy hour, these last few centuries, hasn’t it?

    1. Hey, I’m there with you; the evidence is that we’re heading for a bust such as the classic boom-bust cycle in rabbit populations. Most people are probably no more willing to do what it takes to avoid this than the rabbits are.

      1. “Metro” deserves the cuts? What about the riders who depend on the service? Ridership’s going to drop 10-15% at least if we don’t stop the looming service cuts, with negative consequences for congestion, carbon emissions and people that depend on the bus.

        Certainly we can encourage smart restructures where appropriate without drowning the baby in the bathtub, so to speak.

      2. If the purpose of transit were to reduce congestion, we wouldn’t be cutting the way we are.

        Instead, our first priority would have been preservation of peak capacity in and out of Seattle. That’s (essentially) the only journey set on which buses have a meaningful mode share. Likewise, to a first order approximation, it overlaps fairly well with the journeys people make for which congestion is more than a minor annoyance on any kind of regular basis. In short, they are the journeys where transit does anything meaningful about congestion.

        To be clear, transit advocates who support Metro’s current service guidelines, or more precisely the set of guiding principles from which they are derived, are being every bit as disingenous as transit haters shedding crocodile tears over the regressiveness of Prop 1’s taxes and fees.

      3. @William: To be clear, transit advocates claiming congestion reduction was most important are being disingenuous.

        I support frequent and comprehensive mass transit because I understand that it’s one part of supporting urban forms where people can make most of their daily trips on foot. Because I understand that we need to take our personal pollution levels way, way back in time but that we don’t want to take our population or material quality of life that far back.


        – In a weird twist of irony, chronically underfunded CT could afford to run local shadow service under their BRT while Metro couldn’t. That’s because CT’s local network has essentially no capacity issues, nor much political pressure to preserve span, frequency, or particular routings. Metro has all that. CT has less to lose with restructures and cuts than Metro does, so it can be bolder where it chooses to focus its attention.

        – In a weird twist of irony, the exclusively-auto-oriented businesses along 99 in SnoHoCo and Shoreline made little noise against full-time bus lanes while the merely primarily-auto-oriented businesses along 99 in Seattle made much. Some of the businesses along 99 in Seattle don’t have their own big surface lots and care about street parking. Seattle could be criticized for giving in to them, but in the end it’s not Metro’s call (just as it wasn’t CT’s call when Lynnwood didn’t allow a bus stop at 196th/48th).

      4. William: if you don’t provide all-day, fairly frequent service (absolute minimum is hourly) on a corridor, you can’t get above a very low level of ridership, ever. And so everyone who uses the route needs to buy a car. And once they’ve *bought* the car…

        If the goal is in fact to improve mobility, you need to focus on the routes which can support all-day, fairly frequent service.

        “Congestion”? Of what? Automobile congestion is a problem which solves itself as people give up on making trips; the important thing is to get the autos out of the way of everything else travelling along the “congested” routes so it’s still possible to travel.

  7. Okay. This week’s question is a confirmation–

    With some tunnel routes getting the axe (72) or the boot (71, 106) in the coming year, what will Metro do to fill those vacancies? Nothing, I imagine, after seeing their cut proposals.

    1. The 71 and 72 buses are renumbered to 73, so there’s no vacancies there.

      1. The proposed new routing of the 73 varies so much from the present one AND the current 71 and 72 that it really should be given a brand new route number to avoid massive confusion.

    2. Within a year after that, Link is supposed to move to 6-minute peak headway, with the opening of U-Link. More buses will have to get kicked out to make that headway possible.

  8. This is the most simple flowchart I could make for which door to board, based only on payment type. Does anyone else see a problem here?

    1. That flowchart points out one of my big gripes with RapidRide and transfers: at stops with no readers if your transfer is on your ORCA card then you still have to go through the front door, while people with paper transfers can hop on at the back. Would an FEO bust you for having a valid ORCA transfer but not tapping it again on that particular bus? Who knows.

    2. King County Metro seems to have a taste for overly-complex policies. Dunno why, but this is far from the only one which has been documented on this blog.

  9. What is the official explanation why RapidRide D goes through lower Queen Anne? I thought I heard someone said that (lower QA route) was part of the original grant/request for funds from the Feds.

    Of course, another method to make RR D faster is to get the issues of 3rd Ave going North at Denny (either by a bus only lane on Broad or a left turn onto Denny) done.

    1. Metro swears up and down that LQA ridership “meets the algorithmic threshold for retaining a deviation.” Never mind that this fails to differentiate between the handful of LQA riders from the north and the downtown-LQA riders who could use any number of alternate services. Also never mind that this measures present riders, and ignores the 95% of Ballard refuse-to-riders who will drive because the non-express bus options are so unacceptably goddamned slow and indirect.

      In short, lies… statistics… inability to think holistically ever.

      1. Those algorithmic guidelines were designed by a citizens committee. They missed a few details that might seem obvious to people who know something about transit planning, while coming to consensus on abstract philosophical principles. Thank the Creator that Martin was on it, or it would have been a whole lot worse.

      2. When citizens consider Metro’s galling inability to get riders to their destination at >1/6 the speed of driving, this is the sort of appalling time-waster that comes to mind.

        It doesn’t take a transit planner.

    2. Would following the route of the 33 really be any better? The amount of time that spends stuck in traffic on Denny, Elliott and 15th is pretty bad.

      If it were me I guess I would split this back into to routes as it was before the RapidRide conversion, have one keep the existing route, and have the other drop down onto Alaskan Way, as that seems to be the only non-congested route from Elliott into downtown.

      Or, extend Sounder south line trains north to the south side of the Ballard Bridge.

      1. Any time of day when traffic up Elliott to Denny is bad, the Mercer light and the turn from 1st North onto Denny are worse.

      2. The 15X is about 10-12 minutes faster, because of the bus only lanes on 15th. Part of the issue of the D is making a left onto Mercer, which takes awhile.

        What we need is more express buses during rush hour, but given the Metro crunch right now, it isn’t happening anytime soon.

      3. What we need is for the transit system not to be presumed slow and useless at any time of day.

      4. The “dunce” (RR-D) line only takes advantage of the bus lane during the peak commuting periods…0600-0900 and 1500-1900. So outside of those times (mid-day and weekends), the buses are generally at the mercy of 15th/Elliott Ave traffic, as cars/trucks park in the curb lane. The same thing happens on Aurora with the RR-E.

        The bus lane should be 24 hrs. While marginal in benefit, it should speed up the off-peak trips.

      5. The entire concept of a “part time bus lane” is a dreadful mistake. If policies are too complicated people will just not pay attention to them at all.

  10. Hey, what’s the deal with the South Lake Union Streetcar? I hope the discussed cutbacks in frequency are eliminated – I rather liked riding the streetcar on my Winter 2013 vacation.

    1. If I have to choose, I hope service is beefed up on the 40 and FHSC instead; they’re much more useful. And, the FHSC will give you just as much of a streetcar experience.

      1. Actually it will be a better tourist experience, because it will go more places tourists want to visit.

  11. A colleague of mine and a sometime poster here suggested this idea to me– would charging an extra 50 cents on express routes make sense, financially? Coupled with my idea above, would an extra 15X or 18X (with the extra 50 cents), but with more frequent headways be cost efficient?

    1. You mean on this video, right? I think you nailed it. The crime is failure to follow the laws of economics, and how incentivizing behavior (e.g. change fumbling) tends to lead people to engage in that behavior. Want more people to use ORCA? Remove the incentives to pay with cash.

      When stops are offered every two blocks, people will use them.

      When allowed to park in a bus lane, people will do so.

      Don’t blame the riders for bad county policies.

  12. Question on the Night Stop program: Why does it exist if so few drivers (in my experience) are willing to let passengers use it? The only route where I can reliably make a request is on the 65 as it goes past the library. I’ve gotten turned down on almost every other occasion. I only care because it’s difficult to make a “right turn” on Metro (e.g. going southbound to connect to an eastbound bus) because almost all stops are far-side, so getting out before the light is very handy to be able to get the last-bus-for-the-next-hour bus.

    (Side note: I can appreciate why, but is it anyone else’s experience that drivers are more testy or curt after Prop 1 got defeated? I watched a driver on RR E bawl out someone who asked to get out midblock–not me, given the above–and the regular drivers on the 41 and 248 have seemed less chipper. The lady who drives the 65, on the other hand, is a ray of sunshine that can never be dimmed, heh.)

  13. A dense, walkable….suburb?

    We’ve discussed it often on STB.

    Here’s one that really exists and works!

    This 51,000-person town doesn’t have any school buses — and that’s awesome

    As city planner Bryce Sylvester says in the above video, most kids live within a mile or two from their school. And with its population contained in 5.5 square miles, Lakewood is on the list of the densest U.S. cities.

    In addition to the climate and health benefits, parents and school staff say walking or biking to school helps kids develop emotionally and socially. They get to hang out with friends and get their energy out by the time they need to listen. Oh yeah, and the school system gets to use about $1 million on education, rather than transportation! Pretty sweet all around.


    Check out the dense layout and the house images on Google…Lakewood, OH (looks like Wallingford minus the City next door).


      1. Yeah, ok, you’re right…Cleveland is only 13 minutes away.

        So this is like even closer in than Wallingford!

        Not sure what Grist was on about then…strike that one from the records.

      2. Although…my original contention stands. Could such a thing as this neighborhood…its design of close lots…be built in a far away suburb or even a new exurb sans centralized downtown and be economically viable.

        No, Lakewood isn’t it. But could it be built the way I imagine…

      3. Suburbs like Lakewood have much more housing than employment, which, along with the boundary quirks, is how they end up with high nominal population density compared to other cities as incorporated. Most of the wealth that goes into their housing stock and public works is imported via the bank accounts of commuters that work elsewhere. The same is true of neighborhoods like Wallingford and Ballard (or the residential neighborhoods of Kent, Renton, Redmond, or Bellevue). Their complement (where these commuters work) can take a number of forms: CBDs, office parks, industrial corridors, ports, farms, and mines.

        Many US small towns east of the Mississippi (even in the midwest!) were built out with urban form similar to suburbs like Lakewood, though with somewhat different economic purpose (largely agricultural services). They were built around the people doing “city work” living within walking distance of their jobs and in-town services; in the midwest they were often built with square blocks, in the style of the day. Many of these towns are in advanced decline due to broader global trends: transportation and communication technology has allowed the agricultural services and retail once centered on Main Street to be consolidated into fewer, larger towns (with decreased overhead per-volume), typically freeway-offramp settlements in the style of their day. Federal support for Interstate highways and the particular standards of the Interstate system have something to do with this but obviously not everything.

        The private-sector consolidation in rural America has forced some public-sector consolidation as well. So while my mom and her sisters graduated from Paxton High School my cousins graduated from PBL, whose district also includes Buckley and Loda.

      4. “Old style” small towns often do OK when they’re close enough to an industrial city to have turned into a suburb; and the two can actually assist each other pretty well. When the Interstates don’t wreck ’em. The Interstates consistently act as wreckers.

        The “old style” small towns which aren’t close to bigger industrial cities have got nothing going for them any more and are frequently approaching ghost-town status.

    1. Um, John, er, ah, Lakewood, OH was built about the time Wallingford was; it was a “streetcar suburb” much like Shaker Heights. That’s why they look alike. It’s not some miracle of “better suburban planning”.

    1. Of course they won’t. Why would they? There are millions of flat agricultural acres surrounding Pasco and no serious physical limits other than the BNSF yards and the Columbia River. Kennewick already has the opposite bank.

    2. It would be the perfect place to try my “Build More Seattle” concept.

      Imagine subdividing it with small Ballard sized plots…somewhere between super-vertical density and suburban sprawl.

  14. Board through any door, except during certain times when you can’t.

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