Washington State Fair Transit, Including Saturday Sounder

Sillyville StationThe Washington State Fair is coming September 5-21.

There will be plenty of options for taking transit to the Fair, but none more fun than taking the Sounder train. Sounder will be providing special weekend service to Puyallup Station on Saturday, September 13 and Saturday, September 20. There will be a couple new features for this year’s service:

(1) Two of the fair-bound trains will start in Everett, and go all the way to Puyallup, without passengers having to change trains, and two home-bound trains will return all the way to Everett. This is the first time Sounder trains in revenue service will be through-routed at King St. Station. See the link above for the schedule.

(2) Sound Transit and the Fair will be honoring package-deal tickets, which include the cost of the round-trip train ride and the cost of admission to the Fair.

There are several options for getting those last few blocks between Puyallup Station and the fairgrounds:
(1) Walk to the east end of the station, turn south on Meridian Ave N, and walk south a few blocks.
(2) Catch the Pierce Transit shuttle to the Red Gate. The shuttle is free for anyone with an ORCA card or a Sounder ticket applicable to the correct day.
(3) Take Pierce Transit’s new route 425, the Puyallup Connector. You will recognize the bus by its beautiful, artsy paint job.

Sounder will not be providing service on September 13th and 20th between Puyallup Station and Tacoma Dome, South Tacoma, and Lakewood Stations. Instead, Pierce Transit will be running express shuttles between Lakewood Towne Center, Tacoma Community College, South Hill Mall, and the Fair’s Blue Gate. The PT shuttles will charge regular Pierce Transit fare, and run hourly 9:30 am to 10 pm Monday-Thursday, and half-hourly 9:30 am to 11:15 pm Friday-Sunday.

Pierce Transit regular routes 400, 402, and 425 serve the fairgrounds. Routes 425 and 503 serve Puyallup Station, along with ST Express route 578.

For all public transit services, up to four kids age 5 and under ride free with each responsible adult.

Link Excuse of the Week: Rainier Beach Art Walk

headline2The Rainier Beach Merchant’s Association is hosting its 4th annual art walk this weekend. Unlike last year, there will be events both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, September 6th from 10am to 6pm will feature a free family friendly festival on S. Henderson Street with Art, Music, Dance and other activities. Sunday, September 7th, will feature cultural and heritage events throughout the Rainier Beach neighborhood from 12pm to 4pm. Full details at their webpage and facebook page.  The activities center around Rainier and Henderson, about half a mile east of Rainier Beach Station.  The weather is supposed to be nice and it’s a great opportunity to use a station and see a neighborhood that most people simply pass through.  Along with art and entertainment, food trucks will be on site and I’ll once again recommend the nearby reasonably priced and delicious King Donuts & Terikayi.

Metro routes 7 and 8 will be on event reroutes from approximately 7am to 6pm (click the route number for Service Advisory).

See past Link Excuses of the Week here.

StopInfo for OneBusAway

Earlier this year, my research team at the University of Washington launched StopInfo, a prototype system linked from the OneBusAway iOS application that provides detailed information about bus stops, primarily to help visually-impaired riders to locate them. This information comes from a combination of King County Metro’s internal information about bus stops and information entered directly from transit riders using the OneBusAway application, typically while waiting at the stop. At the outset of the project, we hoped that this community-entered information would supplement and verify what Metro had already provided us, so that we could include additional types of information such as how well-lit a stop is at night and the bus sign’s position relative to the curb, while making sure information is kept accurate and up-to-date.

Since initially launching StopInfo in late February, we have collected over 1,300 submissions for 845 unique stops in King County. We have also studied the use of the system with six visually-impaired transit riders over a five week period, and found that StopInfo is generally helpful for blind and low vision riders and can promote more spontaneous travel as well as trips to less familiar places. Additionally, all six of our participants said that they wanted to keep using the system even after the study ended. Full details on this study can be found in this paper, which will be published and presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing annual conference in October.

We are now in the midst of evaluating the system more fully, and are considering the underlying values associated with the use of the system for a full range of stakeholder groups, including transit officials at King County Metro, visually impaired transit riders, bus drivers, and transit riders who might potentially contribute information. So if you are a Metro driver, a person who is blind or low vision, or are interested in potentially contributing information or have contributed information before, please contact us at stopinfo@onebusaway.org if you would be willing to answer a few questions for our study. If you are a OneBusAway user interested in contributing, you can also take a quick online survey, which offers a chance at winning a $50 Amazon gift card in a drawing.

Screenshots of StopInfo in OneBusAway iOS. Left screenshot shows the stop details page with the info button to access StopInfo. Right screenshot shows the StopInfo page for the corresponding stop.

Image:  (left) Where to access StopInfo within the OneBusAway iOS Application. (right) StopInfo’s information screen.

Continue reading “StopInfo for OneBusAway”

Metro Shuttles and Sounder Sunday Runs Return for Gridiron Season

UW Station (under construction at lower left) opens 50 yards from Husky Stadium in 2016
UW Station (under construction at lower left) opens 50 yards from Husky Stadium in 2016
Gridiron and rainy season are fast approaching. Husky football has returned to Montlake. Until U-Link opens in 2016, your best bet getting to a game is either hope there is room on Metro’s non-expanding fleet of local service, or take a $5 shuttle from one of eight park & ride lots. Once again, cash and the UW Athletics Season Pass are the only fare media accepted on these shuttles.

Three park & ride lots will have shuttle service to Seahawks games. These are also cash only, $4 each way, and happen to come from lots where routes 41, 255, and 554 are just as convenient, and cheaper.

For those going to the Seahawks though, the least-congested rides to the game are special runs of Sounder to and from, and all-day frequent Link service.

For out-of-town visitors, Link is your express from the airport to Century Link Field, and the first leg of your connection to Husky Stadium (until UW Station opens in 2016). From downtown, routes 255 and 545 get you to Montlake Freeway Bus Station, from which you have a picturesque half-mile walk north to Husky Stadium across the Montlake Bridge.

If going to Century Link Field, an all-day ticket on Link is your cheapest option ($5.50). Choose Airport Station to Westlake Station, so you have all-day access to the full line.

If you are going to Husky Stadium, I would suggest getting an ORCA card at Airport Station ($5 – Yes, we know it is by far the most expensive bus smart card in the country.). ORCA allows for free transfers within two hours. Load it up with at least $5.50 in e-purse to get to and from Husky Stadium. The regional day pass option is also available for a limited time, at $9, plus the cost of the ORCA card. Sound Transit has a snazzy video to help you out.

Don’t even try driving to the game. You will be stuck in gridlock, and you will not find parking.