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It was an up and down year for Seattle-area transit. Ultimately this may be remembered as the year the City of Seattle got back in the transit game in a big way. As the year winds down, I thought it might be good to recap the good stuff that happened in the last 12 months.  Thanks to STB staff for helping me remember all this.

  • As employment improved, so did transit ridership. Metro hit a record 121M rides, and Link came achingly close to (the largely symbolic) 40,000 daily riders in August.
  • Actually, if you count the Seahawks victory parade in February, Link and every other form of public transit in the city shattered one-day ridership records, while showing it is possible to run 4-car trains to Stadium Station and negotiate with BN&SF to run Sounder extra times for special occasions.
  • Prop 1 failed… then passed. Seattle got more money for buses and SDOT is now in the transit planning game. The 6-year odyssey of Metro’s volatile revenue seems to be at an end… for now.
  • Center City Connector will likely have exclusive lanes on 1st Avenue.
  • RapidRide E & F launched, completing the (current) RapidRide network.
  • In the spirit of Transit acting as One, Metro waives limit on number of 550s in DSTT during peak-of-peak, now running up to 12 550s an hour in the peak direction, and all are packed to the brim.  This bodes well for East Link ridership.
  • The Monorail may start accepting ORCA.
  • Our friends at Seattle Subway pushed for – and won – inclusion of Sand Point-Kirkland for study in the Sound Transit long-range plan.
  • Life got a bit better for Downtown-Queen Anne buses and will get even better next year.
  • The South Park Bridge re-opened, un-sucking Route 60.
  • The city went on a queue jump and bus lane spree, installing some time-saving bus priority at 9th & Roy and 15th & Dravus.
  • The worst of the recession cuts appear to be behind us, as Community Transit proposed restoring Sunday service, Snohomish & Puyallup added service, and Metro announced its cuts would be less severe than anticipated.
  • Pierce county ended paper transfers.
  • Snazzy new cycle tracks went in on 2nd Avenue and Broadway.
  • King County Exec Dow Constantine began much needed work on bus-rail integration between Sound Transit and Metro.
  • Metro proposed a low-income fare and installed a ticket machine at 3rd and Pine. ST will follow suit with a low-income fare for Link.
  • The Bellevue City Council adopted a new Transit Master Plan, of which our own David Lawson said, ” If fully implemented, it could give Bellevue the most effective bus transit of any city in the Pacific Northwest.”
  • Even though it was announced at the end of 2013 I’ll cheat and say that U-Link got pushed up to a January Q1 2016 opening date.
  • Speaking of 2016, this was the year that all our local leaders coalesced around the idea of bringing ST3 to the ballot in 2016.  Authority from the legislature is still forthcoming.

Many of these improvements listed above happened because the readers of this blog made their voices known. Thanks for reading, and keep it up in 2015!

16 Replies to “2014 Bright Spots”

  1. Streetcar blockage is neither a lane-reservation matter nor funny. It’s the year’s prime example of the most inexcusable, preventable, capital-irrelevant, intractable, and dangerous feature of our transit system:

    The habitual lack of critical swift communication, the glacial response, and the absence of a single crap given by anybody in the chain of command above the train drivers is as long term predictable as the direction of the Earth’s rotation.

    Any train operator, supervisor, or controller reading this: did anybody in the transit system communicate this blockage to control? And if so, did anybody in control call the police dispatcher and ask whether the line could be cleared?

    Wish my gambling instincts weren’t so strong that the police came out of this more embarrassed than the transit system. For the good of transit’s reputation and the safety of passengers, I would really like to know if the same level of curiosity and initiative would obtain if the line were blocked by inhabited screaming rubble?

    This isn’t a matter of a single dime of capital, new equipment, or additional personnel. This is Seattle at its worst: stubbornly, defensive, timorous and willful determination to avoid quick, simple, and necessary action.

    Hundred percent common in passenger announcements, and if higher percentage were possible, worse for incidents like this latest blockage. Only unknown is percentage of fatalities in an earthquake that these habits will render preventable.

    Mark Dublin

      1. After about tenth year transit driving, emotional control pretty hard because bottle is blown to ground glass.

        Mark

  2. Nice list. For clarity’s sake, bullet should read: “Metro proposed a low-income fare and installed a ticket machine at 3rd and Pine.”

      1. They will open it when it’s ready. If it’s ready in January, great, since it gives people a chance to ride link before the bus changes happen in the area. If it’s not ready until March, then they’ll roll back the bus changes until June.

      2. Hasn’t Metro talked about moving to two service changes per year? In any case, I don’t see why the opening of Link needs to precede any bus service changes. For routes that are going to be truncated, it might be prudent to postpone the changes until the September service change to give riders more time to adjust to the presence of Link, and to avoid changes to bus routes in the middle of a school year.

      3. Metro is switching to to but I don’t know which two. And I doubt Metro would be a stickler about it when something as monumental as a Link extension is happening. Metro is planning a Capitol Hill/U-District Link restructure right now.

    1. The schedule from the most recent Link Progress Report (warning 4.4MB PDF) shows a provisional revenue service date of 18-Jan-16 and Revenue Service Float from 19-Jan-16 to 31-Jan-16. Unless something goes badly wrong, it will probably be closer to January than to March.

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