57 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: 7-Minute Miracle”

  1. Compare to the USA, where the cleaning process is never observed by passengers on most any mode.

    Transit agencies here usually just connect a huge vacuum cleaner to their bus doors and suck anything that isn’t tied down out the door.

    On flights in Brazil, they will frequently clean the aircraft at intermediate stops, even with many people on the plane. They do this in a fraction of the time shown for the Shinkansen in the video, but use 12 times the people to do it. It’s an interesting process to watch because they have every single bit that each person does very carefully organized.

    1. An ordered society where work has value can be a good thing, but then I wonder if these cleaners go home and punch the walls for having to bow over a litter bag.

  2. Pardon me while I take the opportunity of the open thread to whine… I often see mentioned here having the 594 stop in Federal Way as a way of making the 574 and 577 more efficient.

    But do we really need to add another diversion to the route with probably the longest diversion in the entire region? Looking at the schedule, it takes the 594 a full 10 minutes longer to serve Downtown Tacoma than it takes the 574 to go straight from the 512 P&R to the Tacoma Dome.

    Before we look at adding stops to the 594, perhaps we could look at removing stops first? Perhaps by expanding the 590 to an all day route as well?

    1. If you are suggesting the 594 not serve downtown Tacoma, that is an intriguing suggestion. I would hope more service could be added on Tacoma Link if that were to happen (which means procuring more streetcars, but that will happen anyway with the extension work).

      If a stop is added at Federal Way on the 594, the Federal Way stop could conceivably be removed from the 574, to make it more of an airport express route. Don’t forget that a chunk of time could be removed from the 594 by having it enter downtown Seattle at Seneca St and exit at Edgar Martinez Dr.

      I’d still like to see the Kent/Des-Moines stop in both, as Kent has been the stepchild of the transit system for far too long.

      Each additional stop on the 594 (outside of the two downtowns) should add ridership, and therefore justify improving frequency.

      1. Sorry, my OP was kind of rambling. But yes, that is what I’m proposing. Have the 594 follow the 574’s routing from 512 -> Tacoma Dome -> northward. The downtown Tacoma routing could then be replaced by either more Link service and a forced transfer, or expanded replacement service on the 590.

        Save those ten minutes winding through Commerce Street, and riders boarding in Lakewood may be more willing to lose a couple of minutes each at Federal Way and Kent/Des Moines.

    2. Make a freeway stop, and have something frequent like the RapidRide end as a connection from Federal Way TC to the freeway station?

      Or a small people mover that would function sort of as a horizontal elevator between the two?

      The distance isn’t so great as to be insurmountable.

    3. How can the 577 get more efficient? I see that a lot on this site and I don’t understand how a packed bus can get more efficient. Are we talking about the 578? that route is pretty empty after FW.

      I think the 577 should be its own route and the 578 should shadow the sounder during the off period.

      1. There are a couple things that could make the 577 more efficient:
        (1) Allow more standing passengers (not advised, as there needs to be room for ridership to grow);
        (2) Raise the fare.

        But I don’t think people are suggesting doing anything to the peak 577 besides adding more service as ridership merits it.

        It is off-peak that we are trying to add more service between Tacoma and Federal Way, and between Federal Way and Seattle. 30-minute headway is pretty disappointing for what should be a major regional destination on the future light rail spine.

        Look at how popular the 512 is turning out to be, and you’ll understand the motivation to do the same for Federal Way.

      2. The 578 is marketed as a Sounder shadow. But it doesn’t shadow Sounder in Kent.

      3. Kind of just echoing what Brent said, but yeah, I only lumped the 577 in because (a) that’s how I’d seen it talked about here before, and (b) I’m talking more about the corridor as a whole rather than the individual routes. I confess I know nothing about the 577 during peak hours; I’m just looking at the 574/577/594 as a whole during off-peak to serve Lakewood -> Tacoma (but not downtown) -> Fed Way -> Airport -> Seattle, and which combination of routes and stops would be best.

      4. Where is the money for redirecting 578 to kent going to come from? You want to double the 594s to cope with the demand in federal way and you still want light rail to reach federal way so something’s got to give.

      5. Given that the 594 is more frequent than the 578, this won’t double the frequency of the 594. Re-routing the 578 through Kent won’t require additional service hours. Indeed, it might save some hours from Metro 150 and 180, and ST 566. I’m not sure such a reorg will save hours, but I’m not seeing it add significant hours.

      6. Is Federal Way really high ridership? Or is that just peak hours? When I’ve taken a northbound bus from Federal Way TC in the evenings it’s been pretty sparse. That’s the impetus behind the argument that maybe Federal Way shouldn’t get light rail after all. So which is it? Does Federal Way just have a peak hour crunch? Or is the 577 really full all day?

      7. Once LINK gets to Angle Lake, there is no reason to redirect any long distance express to Kent Station. Just send the 180 and/or the 164 there and take LINK when Sounder isn’t running.

        Quite frankly, these ST Seattle buses fall into the same category as the 158/9 — why would they continue all the way into downtown on I-5 when they could drop people off at a rail station?

      8. @John: the big problem is that Link is, outside the peaks significantly slower than buses, and (thanks mostly to the at grade running on MLK) may not even be more reliable.

      9. Yes, a Central Link -> bus transfer to Kent would be much slower than an express bus to Kent, and that is why John is wrong and the 578 should run to Kent rather than Federal Way.

        But the idea that Central Link is always “significantly slower than buses” is wrong information that persists no matter how often we debunk it. Link is scheduled for 34 minutes between Airport and Westlake. It essentially never takes more than 36; the MLK surface section is extremely reliable because its signal priority is so aggressive. The 194 was scheduled for between 29 and 33 minutes off-peak (depending on time of day, day of week, and direction) between University Street (2 minutes closer than Westlake) and the airport. 29 minutes was physically impossible in a Breda bus and required absolutely everything to go perfectly in a DE60LF. In real life, it took between 31 and 40 minutes on most occasions.

      10. The schedule (http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Central-Link-light-rail?dir=outbound) shows 38 minutes Westlake to Airport for Link, not 34. But okay, if you happen to be going to the extreme northeast end of the parking lot at SeaTac, Link will be faster than the old 194. What I really had in mind were situations where you had to take a bus to Link, and where the alternative is a one seat ride with a significant amount of freeway travel on I-5, so Renton, Kent, probably even the Southcenter part of Tukwilla.

  3. As we’ve been discussing potential ST3 projects for a while I thought it might be useful to put some numbers out there for the various sub-areas based on the size of the Lynnwood-Everett project. As Martin said in that post the size of the projects in the Snohomish sub-area are going to drive the budget available in the remaining sub-areas.

    I selected options B(I-5 LRT), C(I-5/SR-99 LRT), and D(I-5 BRT) and multiplied the midpoint on their costs by the ratio between Snohomish tax revenues and the revenue of the respective sub-area.

    (Numbers in $millions)
    B: 1,950
    C: 3,005
    D: 235

    North King:
    B: 4,696
    C: 7,236
    D: 566

    South King:
    B: 2,333
    C: 3,595
    D: 281

    East King:
    B: 3,967
    C: 6,113
    D: 478

    B: 2,783
    C: 4,290
    D: 335

    One thing that pops out at me is option D really doesn’t leave much money for the other sub-areas. We’d be looking at finishing East Link to downtown Redmond, and BRT for Lynnwood-Everett and S. 240th-Tacoma. $566 million isn’t going to buy much in Seattle without additional funds from elsewhere (City of Seattle, FTA). At best we could build option C (Interbay streetcar) or option E (Westlake/Fremont streetcar) if additional funding can be found. The only real bright spot is this scenario can likely be funded with no additional taxing authority from the legislature.

    East King has a lot of cash under options B and C without a lot of good projects to spend it on. I’m guessing Issaquah-Totem Lake is going to be in any large package scenario simply due to a lack of other good projects. This also makes a good case for Burien-Renton as the Renton portion can come from East King funds.

    Finally under options B and C there is enough money for option D Ballard-Downtown plus a downtown tunnel.

  4. A source told me that Rapid Ride will change its enter-through-the-front-door-after-7 PM policy, and extend it to either late at night, or go all doors 24/7. This will happen before the end of the year, or possibly the next service change.

      1. I’m 100% positive it will happen. Why, what does the Seattle Times have to say about it?

      2. I don’t know what the TImes says. I don’t read it.

        But Metro’s website shows that the change has already happened, meaning you are WRONG. But I’m proud of you for getting the scoop and getting the story more right than the Times usually does.

        Metro, ever responsive to the commentariati, has even provided hints at how to pay on the E-Line:

        “Paying off-board during peak periods (6 – 9 a.m. and 3 – 6 p.m.)
        ORCA readers at the RapidRide stations for the southbound direction, north of N 145th, charge a two-zone fare during peak hours. If you are traveling one zone from these locations, you should pay at the front door of the bus and tell your driver you are making a one zone trip.

        All other ORCA readers on the E Line, at the rest of the southbound stations and all northbound stations, charge a one zone peak hour fare. If you are traveling two zones from these locations, you should pay at the front door of the bus and tell your driver you are making a two zone trip.”

        There must be hundred or riders evading the zone differential every day, and not even realizing it. How do we stop this rampant fare evasion?

      3. They’ll stop when they get a $128 ticket.

        But Metro should declare the E a one-zone service across the board. The whole point of RapidRide is high ridership, and that should be enough to offset the cost of the zone surcharge, considering that similarly full routes like the 49 and 7 pay their entire cost from fares. The longest two-zone distance is only three miles (145th to 205th), and some people are just going from 130th to 155th.

      4. Brent, the front door after 7 change has not already happened. I’m looking at a current RR paper schedule valid from June 7 thru Sept 26, and it says, “From 7 pm – 6 am, all riders must enter through the front door.” That’s still the official policy on RR’s. My source, who I will call Deep Bloat, says the change will happen sometime before the end of the year, and the only question is whether it will be enter through all doors all the time, or 7 pm will just be changed to 10 or 11 pm.

      5. But, Mike: How does the fare enforcement officer know the rider actually crossed the zone line?

      6. Ah, so you do believe Metro, Sam. I’ve had schedules for my 7-day-a-week routes that say “No hay servicio por el fin de semana.” Mistakes happen. We can crowd-source the signage at some of the stops, and let 2-out-of-3 decide.

      7. Brent, you say mistakes happen. But your “proof” that RapidRide’s official policy now is enter through any door 24/7 is that “enter through the front door after 7 pm” was left off its website? Even though every schedule, RR door, and off-board ORCA reader does mention the 7 pm policy?

        PS, when Metro does publicize the change in the policy, please know, I will be back here saying I told you so. A lot of people say I don’t want to say I told you so, but I do enjoy saying I told you so.

      8. We all revere the people who run this blog as transit Gods. Let’s ask them, the undisputed experts in Seattle-area public transit, what they think the Rapid Ride policy currently is.

      9. Brent: don’t the offboard ORCA readers place-stamp the tap? The message that pops up on the reader has the location and direction, so I assume that’s transmitted to the card.

    1. I was going to ask who it was but I know a professional reporter never reveals his sources.

  5. Does anyone know when SDOT is due to share data on the proposed 3rd ave NW bridge in Fremont?

    The data could have impacts to ST Ballard north south and east west transit studies.

  6. Speaking of my contact in Metro that I’ve nicknamed Deep Bloat, I see that the parking garage where Bob Woodward met Deep Throat is going to be torn down and replaced with an apartment and office building. http://tinyurl.com/qbr5t3d

    See that? See how I took a callback from a previous comment and interwove it with history and land use and things that STB regularly talks about? It’s almost Larry Davidesque in how I brought it back around. And that’s how it’s done, fellow commenters. You’ve just witnessed greatness. You’ve just witnessed the perfect comment. You’re welcome.

  7. I thought that y’all might appreciate this anecdote:

    A friend of mine is visiting from no-public-transit-at-all land (north Tarrant County, Texas). We drove* down Aurora this morning to get back to his hotel in downtown and passed by a building painted with the words “Metro, stop stealing our lanes!” and the various bus-only-lane signs covered up. He asked what that meant and I explained it** to him. His response? “That’s stupid. If the bus is sitting in regular traffic, how does that help the people on the bus or the people sitting in the lanes next to the bus that are now more full because people don’t want to take the bus because it’s stuck in traffic?” IOTTMCO.

    * Yes, we drove. Apologies. I’d have picked him up using transit from the airport but I was already out doing things in the gap between the not-at-all-needed night owls and the start of regular Sunday service.

    ** The explanation: “Some people who live and work along this part of Aurora are upset that the Seattle Department of Transportation–not Metro–changed the shared parking lane to be bus-only during peak commute hours going both north and south. Previously the lane could be used by all vehicles during the time that parking is prohibited.”

    1. Has Metro ever posted the Farebox Recovery on (not-so) Rapid Ride E? Given the “quality” in the clientelle on the bus, and the lack of regular fare enforcement, I’m willing to bet many just don’t pay for their ride. …especially at that first stop on 3rd.

      …and I agree Mike Orr. I’d support one zone. I’d actually take the bus to work, as numerous bus drivers have sighed, groaned, and given me some attitudes regarding the request. Additionally, they often don’t tweak their tapboxes for one-zone north of N 145th (as I hop on the RR at N 160th) if I forget to hit the box at the stop. Because of the drama, I just drive.

    2. The owner of the property with the fake grafiti was complaining about not being able to park his car in that lane. But if it reverts to general purpose, he still won’t be able to park his car there.

    3. That sign is similar to the “No trains on 112th” sign in Surrey Downs [1] and the “Save route 42” sign which used to exist. It’s a group of vocal activists who don’t necessarily represent the majority of people in the area.

      [1] I don’t remember the exact wording but it was still there as of two weeks ago.

    1. Correction: The whole old city of Florence. As you can see on satellite images, it’s grown a bit.

  8. Draft schematic map of David’s proposed frequent network:


    Some of the lines/icons got kind of messed up when I exported it to PNG, I’m planning on fixing those. Any other input on color schemes, design, etc?

    1. This must have taken a huge amount of work! Thank you, very much, for undertaking it.

      One of these days, I want to publish an update of the FNP to accommodate North Link (the final station locations for which were decided months after I did the original FNP) and to make a few major refinements. (Among other things, I see now that I just don’t have enough north-south capacity to meet demand in SLU; I’ve changed my thinking about how to serve East Green Lake; and I think I could have done a more efficient job with the West Seattle map.) So I wouldn’t spend too much time fixing the few small details of this one that need attention, particularly those outside of the central core. I just have to find the time to do the update, which isn’t easy with a 7-week-old at home.

      1. Hey no problem, I’m happy to help. It’s actually that I just really enjoy making transit maps, so I figured a big project like this would be fun. I’m still messing with it, I added neighborhood labels today, and I’m still working on the color scheme (I don’t really like the current one). I’ll keep an eye on things and have it reflect whatever changes you make in the future.

      2. When you change the color scheme, it would be nice if the street names were more readable.

      3. @Ian: If you’re taking color scheme feedback, here’s some from a color-blind person (I have one of many kinds of color blindness):

        – For me, the orange and green are nearly indistinguishable when the map is zoomed out. If they’re going to indicate two different frequency ranges they should indicate adjacent ones (note that in the light spectrum only yellow, among commonly named colors, is between green and orange, not red).
        – The red and blue stand out from the grey background much more than the orange or green.
        – Link’s grey doesn’t stand out from the background enough, considering its importance. If it’s supposed to take a back seat to David’s proposals and is intended only for an audience of blog dorks that doesn’t need to know where the train is going maybe that’s OK… but even then it might make as much sense to highlight Link, to really indicate, “Hey, this is how you’re going to get places!”

        A set of incremental changes that would push this in the right direction:
        – Make the blue lines somewhat lighter or less saturated so they don’t overwhelm the more important orange and green lines.
        – Make either the orange or the green darker, so the two colors can be distinguished by brightness by people that struggle to distinguish them by hue.
        – Swap orange with red.
        – Consider coloring Link by frequency. If this makes it too bold, consider reducing saturation/darkness (also worth considering for limited-stop portions of bus routes, e.g. #58 over Fremont, #54 and #120 on the AWV).

        Also, a random thing, the “45th” label near Aurora should be “46th”, even if you keep the 44’s line straight.

    2. Is this the plan with Santa’s magical service hours or the existing-hours plan? Because the existing hours are now in flux and headed downward.

      1. This map was for the existing-hours plan. I won’t spend time preparing a plan with fewer hours than the current baseline because I think, one way or another, we are going to retain or regain at least the current number of hours in the Seattle part of the service area. The frequencies in this plan rely on 337 daytime all-day buses (the hours for 13 of which are stolen from current peak service which this network would make redundant) and 196 night buses.

      1. Thanks for all the suggestions! I will certainly change up the color scheme based on your input. The 40 may well be driving over a pedestrian bridge, there are a couple routing oddities in there that need to be fixed as well, I’ll take a look.

      2. Actually, no – the 40 is going north on 1st NW to cross under the freeway on Northgate Way. Thanks to the pedestrian bridge, it’s no longer necessary for it to serve NSCC.

    3. I made a couple changes to the color templates, I’m getting closer to something I like, not sure if I’m there yet though.

      I lightened up the green and blue to take the emphasis off the lower frequency lines, I changed the red (10 minute) lines to yellow, changed the orange (7 minute) lines to red, and changed Link to a dark red. I think it now does a fairly good job of focusing the viewer onto the high frequency lines (including Link). I’m not entirely happy with the contrast between the route numbers and the color of the line, so I may darken those up as well.


  9. The Capital Hill Station cam is still down. Except for one pink frame on the 6th, it’s been like a month now.

    I think ST must be having a big pool party behind that red wall and they don’t want the taxpayers to see how they are spending our money…..

  10. I’ve been fortunate to have ridden the Shinkansen, that over 30 years ago. It was remarkable then, as was everything about my 1980 visit to Japan. Trains left on time. I saw a couple of laggard passengers whose clothing got stuck in the door. Train stations had tons of bicycle parking. Oh, and buses were remarkable as well. The pull cord only worked for the first time somebody pulled for a stop. By comparison, Metro didn’t get this on their buses until the late 1980s. We riders would endure multiple “dings” for many stops. In Japan, circa 1980, there was a change machine at the front of the bus. They also had a grid resembling a Keno board, this one with the fare that you paid; it was based on the mile. Returning to the airport, we went through security at an offsite location prior to boarding a transit vehicle to the airport.
    In short, my takeaway from my visit was that Japan was an efficient, future-looking society. With a population then that was 5x of California’s, they were only using 25% of their land. About 1/3 of their homes had solar panels on them. And, the transportation system was top-notch. By comparison, this country…

    PS- a private company is looking to put in a 205 mph “Shinkansen” train between Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston.

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