We shouldn’t lose sight of many ways King County Metro service has improved in the past several years.  It is easy to do so in the midst of the constant financial struggles, plans for service cuts and measures to shore up funding (Plans A, B, C and now D) that dominate the news lately.  This post catalogs 10 improvements that Metro has introduced over the past years – in case you are new or forgot how it used to be.

I began riding Metro buses around 15 years ago, and for many of those years catching a bus meant pulling out your trusty printed schedule, seeing when the next 30-minute frequency bus was scheduled, walking to the stop at the appropriate time, waiting 0 to 10 minutes for arrival (it was impossible to know when the bus would actually arrive), instinctively knowing whether to pay upon boarding (cash, paper ticket or flash pass ready) or later when exiting, after watching the surroundings carefully to know when I had arrived. Some people in some places still travel this way on transit, but Metro has provided lots of better options.

The top 10 Metro improvements begin after the jump.

1. Third Avenue bus priority

Third Avenue through downtown was a regular, general traffic street prior to 2005, when the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) was closed for a rehab to accommodate Link light rail. The current daytime restrictions on through traffic were implemented when the DSTT was closed to accommodate a greater volume of buses through the corridor. The transit priority measures worked so well that they were retained when the DSTT reopened in 2007.

2. Longer Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel hours

When Link light rail began service in July 2009, the DSTT began staying open until the end of train service, around 1 a.m., for buses as well as trains.  From the tunnel’s opening in 1990 up until Link’s opening, the DSTT closed up shop for the day at 7 p.m. and never opened on Sundays (except for the glory years of 1998 to 2000, when the tunnel stayed open until 11 p.m.).  Unless you commuted during office hours, the bus tunnel was useless.

3. One Bus Away & Google Maps Transit

In 2008 the One Bus Away web site and telephone interface went live, for the first time allowing live tracking of buses throughout Metro’s system on a map interface (based on the AVL radio system). The iPhone app was released in 2009, with other smartphone platform apps following. One Bus Away upgraded to GPS tracking as Metro installed the requisite equipment. Around the same time Google developed the gtfs transit data standard and then integrated transit routes, stop schedules and trip planning into the Google maps interface.

4. ORCA cards

From April 2009 onwards, fumbling for change, keeping track of transfers or worry about fare differentials between regional transit agencies became entirely optional, if you set up an ORCA card. Buy a monthly pass, load up some e-purse money, then tap and go.  Seattle jumped on the RFID smart card trend early enough to secure a “sea critter that starts with the letter O” name like the London Oyster card or the Hong Kong Octopus card (these days all the good names are taken), and now 63 percent of Metro transit boardings use ORCA.

 5. Real-time info at bus stops

One Bus Away on a smartphone is a great tool, but not everyone has a smartphone or available data. In 2010 computer monitors displaying the One Bus Away page for the adjacent stop began popping up in windows downtown.  Metro launched Real-time Information Signs at the opening of Rapid Ride A later that year, and the signs have since multiplied at Rapid Ride and non-Rapid Ride bus stops.  Now, at certain stops, you don’t even need to carry expensive electronic equipment to know when the next bus is actually coming.

6. Rapid Ride

Beginning with the A line in October 2010, Metro rolled out a new transit brand focused on convenient and frequent arterial bus service. Now six lines strong, Rapid Ride first introduced to bus service in Seattle: off-board ORCA fare payment, Real-time Information Signs and on board next-stop displays and automated announcements.  Although it’s not at all a “subway on tires” Rapid Ride brought real frequency improvements and some snazzy IT to the Rapid Ride corridors.

7. On Board stop announcements

The on board next-stop displays and automated announcements that debuted in 2010 with Rapid Ride A were rolled out to the entire Metro fleet during 2011 and 2012. New and experienced riders can watch the screens or listen to the announcements and be confident of catching their stop, instead of relying on surroundings or asking the driver.

8. Frequent service mapping

Prior to 2012, the official Metro Transit system map showed nearly all routes with a solid blue line: peak only routes, DART routes, frequent service spine routes and everything in between. As Jarrett Walker of the Human Transit blog says, “a transit map that makes all lines look equally important is like a road map that doesn’t show the difference between a freeway and a gravel road.”  The current official Metro system maps, while a bit busy, identify frequency and span via line thickness and color and label color.  And Oran Viriyincy produced a map showing only frequent transit service in Seattle.

9. End of pay as you leave

Historically Metro required fare payment when boarding buses heading towards downtown Seattle and non-downtown buses, and when deboarding buses heading away from downtown Seattle. This arrangement facilitated a ride free area in downtown, but greatly complicated fare payment and allowed for fare evasion.  Since October 2012, Metro buses have a uniform pay as you enter policy (or before you enter, at some Rapid ride stops).

10. Better frequency and reliability on core routes

Seattle DOT has been proactive the past few years improving reliability in certain bus corridors with bus stop bulbs, signal queue jumps and transit lanes. In addition, Metro been consolidating stops and reducing route deviations to incrementally improve bus reliability and speed.  Metro’s first foray into route consolidation was in 1998 with the Aurora corridor, and success there has led to other reorganizations that focus transit service on direct and frequent corridors.

Metro has been facing financial constraints that have not allowed any broad service expansion, but Metro hasn’t been standing still on service quality. Many improvements in the past few years have steadily improved the transit riding experience, believe it or not.

64 Replies to “10 Ways King County Metro is Better than Ever”

  1. 7a: The announcements are displayed for each stop, but only announced for significant ones. Displaying all the stops is really nice for us who don’t know certain areas that well. Hell, I’ve missed the stop in front of my house a few times because TriMet doesn’t announce or display anything close by, and there are no streetlights in that area to see the stop approaching or landmarks well. I’ve not had that problem at all on KCM since the new display boards have been installed there.

    1. Glen in Portland,

      The ADA only requires that anouncements be made at transfer locations or trip generators. However some transit systems will announce every stop like NJ Transit does. NJT uses a system from http://www.cleverdevices.com of Plainview NY.

      The system that was installed for Westchester Bee-Line is incredibly bad. Where there is a possible transfer too another route, that information is omitted. However it will announce Metro-North stations.

      Any chance you could get a street light installed?

      1. I can hope.

        LED streetlights are slowly making their way east from 52nd, so within a few years they might finally have converted my part of town. The visibility improvement is pretty nice.

      2. But I’d be happy if TriMet just displayed each stop for the passengers (the new ticket printing thing came with a new driver’s display that tells the driver exactly where they are) like KCM does.

      3. They might. I was told by one of the TriMet drivers that the system was the same as used in Salem, but the first round of work done at TriMet was installed by a contractor that didn’t do the best of work. So, the system was a bit erratic during 2007 or so. At least one series of buses had been done with little shielding on the speaker wiring, so that when the announcement was made, you could also hear the speed signal from the engine control system. Generally this was maybe a 5,000 hz or so buzz that increased and decreased with the speed of the engine.

        From what I can tell, KCM pulled off their installation work on their system without these sorts of teething problems. Sure, they may have been later than TriMet (who was later than Cherriots in Salem) but there is some advantage to letting someone else be the guinea pig.

    2. I like how Vancouver does it. Announce every stop and use a chime instead of saying “next stop” before every announcement. More subtle and concise.

    3. While I prefer KCM’s displaying of every stop I dislike the use of the phrase “Next Stop” because it seems like a waste of time or noise pollution. While I dislike that TriMet in Portland does not display every stop I do like their announcement. The voice used by TriMet is much more clear, loud, and pronounces words better. I would also like to see greater integration with possible transfers when reasonable (something TriMet buses do, including recognition that a line isn’t currently operating and skipping the transfer announcement)

      1. If Metro’s automated voice can pronounce ‘Issaquah’ more or less reasonably, isn’t that good enough?

      2. I’ve never seen this answered but where do they get the “voices” for these announcements? I also notice that there’s a different voice used for Sound Transit buses than is used for KC Metro. I’m assuming that someone recorded lots of street names or is this a totally digital voice that’s “made up?”

      3. Not until it gets “Yarrow Point” right. Having to hear “Yahro Point” twice a day is the worst thing about commuting on the 255. Well, the second-worst thing, after the cluster that is joint ops at PM peak.

      4. You must’ve been on a Snohomish County ST route as they would use Community Transit’s announcement system, which sounds more natural than KC Metro’s more synthetic sounding voice. I’d guess that Metro uses a voice synthesizer and CT has an actual human pre-record them.

      5. You pronounce it Yerro Point? I’ve always said Yahro Point. (like car + oh without the c)

      6. Huh. I know you grew up in Bellevue just like I did, and I always heard and said “Yeh-ro.” I waited at that stop for the bus every day during most of sixth and seventh grade.

      7. I’d like to think that I contributed something to those announcements. When the automated announcements first rolled out on the 255, they weren’t announcing “University of Washington Medical Center, Husky Stadium” after “Montlake Freeway Station” like the drivers did, so I wrote Metro and it got fixed.

      8. Hmm…On the 545, I always heard Yarrow pronounced like the word “narrow.” For the last few months, however, the stop has been announced as “SR-520 & 92nd Ave NE.” Who calls it SR-520 anyway? Why not Highway 520 or simply 520?

    4. It’s switchable. Sometimes it announces every stop, sometimes only the major stops, and sometimes none of them.

      1. …and i you were around for TriMet’s early efforts, sometimes it can be made to announce random stops scattered across a dozen or so cities.

  2. There was a service on the web called smarttracker.org or smarttrek.org or something like that which actually showed the real time position of buses on a route. I think it had some connection with UW.

    1. Yep, it started many moons ago, but wasn’t really practical for determining when your bus would come while en-route.

      I don’t remember the exact timeline of OneBusAway, but it was also a UW research project. I seem to recall it took much prodding of KCM and ST to get them to take over the service. There was a lot of ‘not invented here’ and “riders don’t need/want such a service” when it was first suggested.

      1. Not true, Chris. Metro and ST both wanted to keep One Bus Away alive after Brian Ferris at the UW left for Switzerland. He is back now! They simply needed to figure out how to maintain it and fund it. Most Metro planners I know use it on their smartphones, they certainly understand the value.

      2. I question how much they want to “make things right.” Back at the end of May I put in a trouble request to ST that in the SMS interface when you had multiple stops with the same number in different agencies the SMS interface just would not process the request. At first I was asked to choose from one of two choices and choosing a choice gets an error message. After that it got worse that I wasn’t even given a choice and instead I was fed results that only related to Community Transit even though I live in Seattle. ST said that they would “contact their vendor” but to date I’ve never heard back. A month or so ago I asked for a follow up but they evidently think that the way to handle a problem is just to ignore it since I’ve not heard anything from them.

      3. slightly Off Topic of the post, but inline with this thread.
        Does anyone know the status of CT and Real time tracking of their busses, with integration into OBA?
        I’d really like to see something in OBA for CT routes other than “Unknown” for how far off schedule they are running.

    2. It was called MyBus and it has been around since at least 2000. I used it before OneBusAway came around. It had an SMS and mobile web interface.

      Part of the same project was installing monitors similar to today’s OBA screens downtown at places like the UW HUB and Northgate and Bellevue Transit Centers. They fell into disrepair.

      1. I wonder why the monitor at Northgate has not been fixed yet, it’s been down for a long long time. Glad to see one installed at Campus Parkway, though.

      2. My understanding was that MyBus didn’t cover all King County Metro routes. Do you remember that being the case?

      1. I miss the old where is your bus phone service. Yeah, I got one bus away but it does not work most of the time. It cannot find me at my first going home stop so I have to move the map myself. I type in a route and all I get is a seattle street corner. Yeah technology.

  3. Thirty years of life and work all over Seattle and King County don’t leave me any doubt: the free, productive, and enjoyable life I’ve enjoyed over these years, I could not have had thirty years ago. Or less.

    Understand, I’ve never considered King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit as different- let alone antagonistic- agencies. Before and after Metro joined King County government, Sound Transit would not have happened without Metro.

    The Sound Transit board includes Metro officials, and ATU Local 587 drive blue and white buses and trains. Like it or not- and to me the integration can’t be complete fast enough- both agencies are the same transit system.

    Also a very young one, which both explains a lot and demands a lot from passengers and voters- starting with gaining technical knowledge and using it to direct elected officials. Directly elected leadership was chief pledge of the pro-Merger campaign.

    As a driver into a lot of transit politics, reason I hold back enthusiastic praise is how many times I’ve seen more than one agency use good press as proof nothing more needs doing.

    Even worse is the habit of mind that did most damage to the Downtown Seattle Transit Project: using future plans as an excuse not to improve present service.

    But but for any youth to develop into a strong, able grown-up requires firm patient, wise, and knowing guidance. Like the rest of Government, a transit agency is the People’s own machinery, to run, maintain, and improve.

    Mark Dublin

  4. The “pay as you deboard” thing got particularly confusing on Seattle express routes that extend out to the edge of the county, like route 179. A reasonable normal person riding the 179 from Federal Way transit center westbound would not necessarily know that route 179 interacts with the downtown Seattle ride free area. A lot of people in Federal Way therefore paid when they entered, while others would pay when they left. The driver could try to keep track of faces, but there is no doubt some temptation to commit fare evasion, especially given the hefty $3.00 two-zone peak fare.

    The current pay-as-you-board all the time setup is much better.

    1. It was even worse on Route 44, which was “pay as you leave” westbound even though the route never went downtown because some trips, but not all, were through-routed from Route 43. This also led to the bizarre situation where a standalone 44 trip leaving Pacific/Pacific after 7:00 was “pay as you enter” while a later 44 trip that originated downtown before 7:00 was still “pay as you leave.”

      The end of PAYL was really a wonderful thing.

      1. I remember a few months after I moved here in 2010 riding the bus from Magnolia to SODO. I couldn’t understand why I had to tap twice, boarding and exiting. So glad it’s gone.

      2. I took the 44 a lot then. You couldn’t even get the PAYL advantage of faster boarding, because everyone would cluster up front to see if they needed to pay or not. What a farce that was.

    2. Behavioral relic: Drivers of buses that originate in DT Seattle who don’t open the back doors, even when the stop is fully built, even when people are getting on at the front, even when no one is rushing the back doors to evade the fare…

  5. Thanks for the recap – it is easy to take these advances for granted. Metro has made a lot of progress. We’d be stuck with the “Otter Card” and stopping every 1-2 blocks everywhere (I’d love to see more stop consolidation, one stop in particular… NB 5th Ave N on the 3/4 by Gates Foundation. Subsumed by Mercer traffic jams every rush hour.)

    I’d add that Metro also hasn’t taken any major steps backwards either (service cuts, yes, but that is a budget issue). Avoiding huge missteps can be half the battle. The 42 saga was pretty terrible, but it is gone now.

  6. Route consolidation started before the 358.

    When I was growing up in Bellevue in the late ’80s, there were three separate routes (226, 235, 253) from Bellevue to downtown, each of which used different stops in Bellevue. Better yet, 253 trips were scheduled at the same time as 226/235 trips, so frequency was half-hourly even though there were 4 buses per hour.. Sometime in the early ’90s the 253 was truncated (except at peak hours when it was renumbered 261) and the service shifted to the 226/235 corridor. Then a few years later the 226 and 235 were themselves consolidated into a faster 226 that went downtown and a neighborhood shuttle that took over service in Beaux Arts. That 226 turned almost without changes into the ST 550.

    1. Service between Seattle has improved tremendously since I lived there: I remember especially the meandering 251 from Redmond to Kirkland to Seattle. Took forever. And taking the 340 to the airport.

  7. Yes, it’s so easy to take things for granted. As someone who moved here in 2009, I can’t imagine Seattle without Sounder, STExpress, Link, a frequent dedicated bus between Ballard and Fremont, a system without real-time info, etc…but those are all products of the last 15 years. In a few years we’ll say the same about Pronto, protected bike lanes, U-Link, North Link, and hopefully cash fares Downtown. I hope my kids someday ask how we ever made do without the Ballard-UW subway.

    I remember trying to explain the ‘pay as you enter/leave system’ to my wife after we moved here, and it was a mess, especially for transfers. There were ‘on/on’ combinations (say, 48 to 7), on/off (say, 54 to 10), off/on (say, 15 to 44), or the rarest of all, off/off (say, 71 to a 44 that started as a 43). It was indecipherable for most people.

    1. To get a picture of life before ST:
      – Seattle to Tacoma: take a local bus on Pacific Highway to Federal Way (#174), and transfer to another local bus to Tacoma (#500). (2.5 hours)
      – Seattle to Everett: take a local bus on Aurora to Aurora Village (#6), and transfer to another local bus to Everett (earlier #600-something, then #101). (2 hours)
      – Bellevue to Seattle: take one of two routes (#226 or 235), which get on the freeway at the last possible moment and off at the first possible moment, detouring off Bellevue Way and making three stops on Mercer Island, none of which people hardly ever got on/off at except Island Crest Way.
      – Redmond to Seattle: an hourly route (#253) the equivalent RapidRide B to Bellevue, the 271 to Montlake, and the 255 to downtown.
      – Kirkland to UW: transfer at Evergreen Point or walk from Montlake.
      – Seattle to Bothell: an hourly route (#307) like the 41 to Lake City, turning into the 372 and extended to Bothell.
      – Seattle to Richmond Beach: similar (#305) except the route was an “Eastlake express” instead of I-5. If you wanted to transfer at Northgate to the faster 307, you’d wait half an hour for it. Lake Cityans were so much luckier than Richmond Beachans, and Northgate shuttles with a direct transfer to the 307 were lucker than those with a direct transfer to the 305.
      – Seattle to Issaquah and North Bend: a route every 90 minutes (#210) making one stop on Mercer Island, then meandering through Factoria, Newport Hills, and Somerset to Issaquah. Four times a day it continued to North Bend.

      1. The 194 was so much better than light rail. I wish Metro kept it instead of trying to force herd everyone on to link.

      2. It was faster on paper, but in practice, but in practice, the time savings would be wiped out while you waited for it to show up and for everyone to fumble for change, one by one. It had a lot less room than Link for luggage and during busy travel times, pass-ups were not unheard of. It also stopped running completely as early as 7 PM, leaving you with much slower 174 that stopped all over Tukwila and Georgetown.

        Even the speed advantage of going nonstop down the freeway was a lot less than it would seem. The slowest part of Link (Westlake to SODO) was slower on the 194 because it took longer to load and unload passengers. Even on the freeway, the bus rarely topped 50 mph, when all the cars around it were doing at least 70. When going uphill with a full passenger load, it struggled just to do 40.

      3. Nine minutes (on paper) is more worthwhile than giving six more neighborhoods direct acces to the airport? What about Link being 1 1/2 times more frequent than the 194, or three times more frequent after 7pm and on weekends, or four times more frequent after 9:30pm when the 194 didn’t run at all? What about when UW and Lynnwood are on-line? The 194 had no equivalent to that. And that makes a big difference if you’re coming from Wallingford or Greenlake or Shoreline or Capitol Hill. The 194’s advantage was always for a very narrow group of people: those staying at downtown hotels.

      4. Plus if something happened on I-5 you would miss your flight.

        Oh and let us not forget the old 174 after 7 PM. You knew a route was rough when even drivers on the 7 and 6/358 said you couldn’t pay them enough to drive it.

  8. I have been riding Metro for 17 years now, Metro is getting worse. Oh maybe it is better in Settle but that is no surprise. Metro is part of King county and King thinks everyone outside Seattle is a sub-human second class citizen. From the executive through the council and even the people who run Metro. Most drivers think the riders are garbage. They think the schedule I when ever we feel like it, or we will get there whenever I jolly well feel like it. Metro lets thieves get away with not paying fares and says to the honest people well too bad you have to pay for them as well. Disrespectful riders get away with anything and if you nicely ask for them to stop well then you are racist. I am sick of a commute that should take about 50 minutes usually take 2 hours because Metro is so unreliable. Metro no longer cares about riders, if they ever did. I know I will get a lot of hate because of this. But it is the truth.

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way. From where I sit Metro/ST service outside Seattle Is far better than It used to be. No more every 2 hour service in most of the inner suburbs outside of peak. Fast express routes rather than mixed express/local routes that took forever to get anywhere, Reliable and comfortable Link to the airport. The RapidRide A a vast improvement over the old 174.

    2. While there is nothing wrong with noting wrong, but your post specified far too few specifics. For example, you write “King thinks everyone outside of Seattle is a sub-human second class citizen,” but you don’t back the claim up or even explain what it’s supposed to mean. If you can show statements by officials, or maybe numbers showing service discrimination for a given level of demand, the issue could begin to be addressed. Basically, expressions of general malcontent are just baffling; explain yourself.

      1. Well One example is when I file a complaint and say I want a call back. Months ass I call to get an update and they tell me that there is no record of the complaint, or we show that you were supposed to get a call back weeks ago but no one called. I am sure if I lived in Seattle I would have gotten a call back.

      2. I am sorry the p button on my computer does not always work and when I type fast I forget. I did not mean to use profanity on my post.

    3. In Kent, metro service is better than ever. There’s a bus every 15 minutes to downtown Seattle, and I believe every 30 to dt bellevue, there’s busses every 10-15 minutes on james and canyon drive, the benson has ample service. I don’t know what part of the county you live in, but Metro has been adding service in the suburbs a lot up until very recently. The only thing missing in Kent is the Sounder shadow service – which I assume the agencies consider fulfilled with the 150, but going from Tacoma to Kent outside of sounder hours is less than ideal. As someone who grew up outside of Seattle, I don’t see at all how metro/sound transit think non-seattle residents are subhuman. That’s just you drawing your own inferences.

      The awesomeness of non-Seattle KCMetro/ST is even more stark when I look at comparing where I live during the school year (Chicago) to Seattle. Chicago has three transit agencies, CTA (Chicago transit authority, serving mostly chicago and a couple 1st ring suburbs-barely). Metra (commuter rail to the far flung burbs) and Pace (Busses for the burbs, and paratransit services for the entire region). PAce SUCKS. It goes from nowhere to nowhere, and noone rides it. (80,000/day).Did I mention It has a service area of approximately 6 million people? (compared to the 3.7ish that live in/around Seattle).

      Seattle area’s suburban bus service is actually useful, and incredibly well used. I think that the county has favored the suburbs over the city actually in their allocation of resources, since urban routes are far far far more ideal for bus service than suburban ones. Rapid Ride rolled out to the suburbs long before the city (A, B) Link’s initial segment went to the suburbs, rather than the U (the U being the much more ideal first segment due to higher ridership). And the majority of link is being built in the suburbs, not the city (it is much more sorely needed in the city though…).

  9. Good article, and nice to be reminded of many Metro improvements. BUT, I really see #s 4 and 9 as the flip sides of serious problems / regressions, not improvements:

    Yes, ORCA are cards are very convenient and totally speed things up, but the cost freakin’ five dollars, which is both outrageous and an impediment to low income people and arriving visitors. Plus, they’ve been used to stealthily reduce the length that a transfer is valid. Two hours exactly on a card, whereas a paper transfer would usually get you three plus some driver discretion, and if I’m not mistaken the ORCA card eliminate the night owl transfer completely. Nowadays if you’re doing a metro bus to metro bus transfer you’ll get more time paying with cash, but no paper transfers to link or ST.

    As for celebrating the end of “pay as you leave,” yes it was odd, but it was necessary to support the RFA which was one of the greatest things Metro ever had. It did wonders for Downtown mobility, and it kept buses moving faster through downtown. It was a bitter pill to adjust my travel patterns to its demise.

    Finally, while I’m at it I’m still slightly bitter about the 7 getting chopped in half at Pike/Pine for a transfer to the 49. No service from Capitol Hill to Downtown south of Pine Street without a transfer? Seems ridiculous to me.

    At least this will go away when the next Link segment opens in 2016, (even if it’s technically ST and not Metro) At that point I’ll be overjoyed enough to forget that it took 7 years to get from Westlake to CH! And speaking of ST not Metro, the ST express buses are generally fantastic and have improved overall mobility a lot!

    1. The RFA was awful. It slightly (but less than you’d think) reduced dwell time at downtown stops. In exchange it made outbound service in every other neighborhood as slow as molasses, and was a never-ending fount of customer confusion and security problems.

      1. Apparently the Free part didn’t matter much to you, but it was appreciated by many other people. (What else could unite businesses, tourists and poor people?) It was also a step towards a fare free system, which is how I think the true potential of transit can be unlocked I’d much rather have seen the RFA expanded to the whole city than eliminated entirely.

        On the technical side of things, I’d like to hear your explanation of why or how it had little positive impact downtown with such a large impact outbound. It feels to me like buses are taking forever to board in downtown, and that’s even with fairly high use of ORCA cards. Cheers.

      2. I’m not even quite sure why the difference in downtown dwell times is less than expected, but Metro’s observations confirm it. One thing that has made a difference is fewer very short intra-downtown trips. Another possibility is that even in RFA days many passengers were confused and didn’t know what they were doing. Certainly loading through the back door normally finished long before loading through the front door at any busy stop.

        Metro has also made other changes to downtown service to speed up buses, which don’t speed up dwell times at any given stop but do reduce the number of stops and the time spent waiting at lights.

        As an operator, I hated the RFA, and I still oppose free transit (although I support low and legible fares), because of the security problems it brought. The RFA was a security nightmare, and it also had a negative security impact on outbound service outside of it. There is a reason that it was curtailed after 7 p.m. long before it ended altogether.

    1. “No more 40/40/20”

      Yes, this, so much.

      There are many things about the Service Guidelines that are kind of goofy. But they are such an improvement over what came before, and have enabled so many good incremental decisions and so much improved planning, that I still have a tendency to treat them a bit like a religious totem.

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