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I live in Federal Way, and I have been watching the King County Metro cuts page like a hawk. If you’re familiar with the coming transit cuts in the city, you’ll know that there are two restructures coming for routes in Federal Way: Combining routes 187 and 901, and restructuring peak service to Seattle. I will focus on the latter in this post. I am providing a sample restructure for the morning peak. The afternoon peak could be restructured similarly, but I won’t provide a specific example.

This is just an example of how the service could be restructured in the morning in a way such that it almost strictly follows the February 2015 service reduction recommendations:

– Give route 177 21 trips, and add a stop at Federal Way Transit Center (also two I-5 freeway stations)

– Discontinue route 179

– Add extra trips to route 181 (number of trips not specified in the recommendation) between Twin Lakes Park and Ride and Federal Way Transit Center only*, to give it (specifically) service every 15-30 minutes in Federal Way

*In this example, the extra 181 trips go to the Federal Way 320th St P&R before the transit center. This is the only deviation from the recommendation.

– Reroute route 197, and keep the same number of morning trips

Additionally, this example has the benefit of:

keeping most one-seat rides from Twin Lakes Park and Ride to Downtown Seattle (for route 179 riders)

– Guarantees a successful transfer from route 181 for every 197 trip (for old route 197 riders)

The way this works is that all extra inserted 181 trips turn into route 177 trips after they get to the 320th St P&R. That way, people on these buses can get off at Federal Way Transit Center or Seattle, just like the current route 179.

Here is an example schedule:

181 Mornings
Twin Lks P&R 320th St P&R (to route) Fed Way TC Supermall Auburn Stn. 4th & M GRCC
5:08 5:23 177 5:28
5:23 181 5:40 5:52 5:58 6:05 6:13
5:38 5:53 177 5:58
5:53 181 6:10 6:22 6:28 6:35 6:43
6:08 6:23 177 6:28
6:23 181 6:41 6:54 7:00 7:07 7:16
6:38 6:53 177 6:58
6:53 181 7:11 7:24 7:30 7:38 7:47
7:08 7:23 177 7:28
7:23 181 7:42 7:55 8:01 8:09 8:18
7:38 7:55 177 8:00
7:53 181 8:12 8:25 8:31 8:39 8:48
8:23 181 8:42 8:55 9:01 9:09 9:18
8:53 181 9:12 9:25 9:31 9:39 9:48
177 Mornings
(from route) 320th St P&R Fed Way TC To Seattle
181 5:23 5:28
deadhead 5:38 5:43 *
181 5:53 5:58
deadhead 6:08 6:13 *
181 6:23 6:28
deadhead 6:38 6:43 *
181 6:53 6:58
deadhead 7:08 7:13 *
181 7:23 7:28
deadhead 7:38 7:43 *
181 7:53 7:58
deadhead 10 more
197 Mornings
320th St P&R Fed Way TC To U-District
5:40 _ 5:45 *
6:25 * 6:30
6:40 _ 6:45 *
6:55 * 7:00
7:10 _ 7:15 *
7:25 * 7:30
7:40 _ 7:45 *

* Asterisk means that this trip will wait for route 181 to arrive at this location before leaving. This is how successful transfers from route 181 are guaranteed. This exactly how Pierce Transit route 62 works in the afternoon, and how Sounder connectors work (except with waiting for a bus instead of a train)

This is in contrast to a restructure that one would imagine by reading the recommendation, and follows the letter of the recommendations exactly: (I’ll refer to this as the “immediately obvious” restructure)

– Route 177 is a freestanding route

– Route 179 and all one-seat rides to Seattle from Twin Lakes are eliminated

– Route 197 doesn’t wait for any route 181 trips to arrive before leaving, and one-seat rides from Twin Lakes are eliminated

– The extra 181 trips are from 2 buses that keep shuttling between Twin Lakes P&R and FWTC

So what’s better about my plan?

– 6 one-seat rides from Twin Lakes to Seattle are saved

– at least 12 transfers from route 181 are guaranteed to Seattle and the U-District

– current route 179 and 197 riders from west of the transit center only need to adjust their schedule slightly

it costs less to operate than the alternative restructure

Yep, you read that last one right. Here’s why: in the immediately obvious restructure, there needs to be 2 extra drivers hired to run the extra 181 trips. The service hour cost is the extra trips themselves, plus two deadheads per bus to/from south base (this adds up to 8 extra runs to/from Tukwila each weekday). In my example restructure, the drivers that do the extra 181 trips are the same drivers that do some 177 trips, so no extra drivers need to be hired. The deadhead for the extra 181 trips are the same deadhead for some 177 trips, plus a drive from I-5 to Twin Lakes P&R (these could be reverse peak 181 trips if so desired).

If you want me to clarify anything, sound off in the comments. What do you think?

2 Replies to “The correct way to restructure routes 177, 179, 181, and 197”

  1. Thanks for this post, Alex! I have one stupid question: Instead of calling these through-routed 181/177 trips two separate route numbers, hiding the fact of the one-seat ride to the casual rider, why not give them a unitary number, like, say “179”?

    1. That would work, but the service reduction recommendation says that route 179 must be eliminated. They have to call it route 181.

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