960 grams of Schedules

Metro creates PDFs for their flyers but they’re not posted on their web site. An e-mail to Metro’s customer service will get them individually so I made a public records request for all available PDFs available for Metro-operated routes. My request only asked for routes 1 through 373, excluding any custom bus, school bus, or DART routes, but Metro also provided the Group Health and DART routes. The Spring 2015 schedule flyers are now posted here. The flyers were given to me in five larger files so I split them up into individual ones for easier downloading. There is one page missing, for the 150/164/168/169 combo flyer, and I’ve asked for it to be resent. A single file of all routes provided to me is available [PDF], as are the five files sent to me by Metro. If a route is combined on the schedule flyer, like routes 2 and 13, or 31 and 32, there is only one file for them and it is named after the combination (for example, “Routes 2 and 13.pdf”).

As part of the request, I asked if Metro could post these files on their own web site but that answer is still pending. In addition, since the latest Sound Transit PDF book I can find is June/September, 2013 [PDF], I’ve put in a request to Sound Transit for their latest version if one is available. Update: Sound Transit got back to me and pointed out that their Ride the Wave PDF is in an obvious spot, on the right-hand column of the Schedules page. Once there, the latest book [PDF] can be found.

46 Replies to “Metro schedule flyers as PDF”

  1. I’m not sure why this would be a big deal for KC Metro to provide links to PDFs. It’s not as if Metro doesn’t have the easy facility to do it. Heck it might even keep them from producing the same schedule over and over and over and perhaps even save them some money in the long run.

    1. I quite agree but since they don’t, and the e-mail I got back when I asked through the customer comments address said that PDFs aren’t on the site, I figured I’d ask for them since I wanted the handy reference. It would be far better for Metro to post them.

    2. Perhaps one reason that they don’t routinely publish the PDFs is that they’re not printed on standard size paper stock. Most people’s attempt to print them would end disastrously. Maybe they believe that would be a worse customer service nightmare than just providing the hard copy.

      They’d also get to answer interesting questions like, “Why is the cover page of this schedule upside down?”

  2. Actually, I’ve never understood Metro’s policy of publishing entirely new schedules for all routes and why they do not just publish schedules for routes that have changed. Seems to me they could save a lot of paper and maybe even save some money in the long run.

    1. Presumably, it has to do with the dates and perhaps more importantly the color of the cover. I don’t know that there’s an easy way to tell customers to use (as a semi fictional example) the blue schedule from last summer for the 7, but the shiny new red ones for the 9 and 48 (and last winter’s green one for the 8, and…..)

      Obviously there are ways around this, bit the current system is nice since you can tell at a moment’s glance whether or not it’s current. If someone hands you a schedule that only says it’s the September 2014 version, you have no idea how many times it’s been updated since then.

      1. The print-it-yourself schedules don’t necessarily have to ditch the color, but it seems safe to assume most will want to print in black-and-white. In addition to making the end-date of effectiveness more prominent, the schedules could have a patterned background in various places that changes with each service change.

      2. “Presumably, it has to do with the dates and perhaps more importantly the color of the cover.”

        Oddly, Metro’s RapidRide schedules are all the same color. Thankfully, Metro placed the dates on the top so you can grab a handful of schedules and flip through them to quickly find old ones.

      3. Often times one or two trips change and so the whole schedule has to be reprinted. Still there is nothing that says you have to print the whole batch every time.

    2. At one point in the late 90s or early 00s, getting hard to remember now, Metro put in a rider alert that the schedules would be printed for Spring and Summer, and if anything changes for Summer, new schedules would be issued.

      Thus, when summer came around, a new set of schedules, same color as the spring ones, came out, with a simple flag in the corner that said Revised as of June XX, XXXX.

      It was very difficult to determine if you needed a new one, or if the old one would work.

      They never tried this experiment again.

    1. Thanks for noticing, fixed it.

      I split these out from the files that Metro sent me and my script to do it apparently has the occasional bug. :)

  3. Much as I like OneBusAway, I also wish Metro also had a better small screen format app for their basic schedules on smart phones.

    While it’s not hard to get to them on a phone, readability and usability is very low.

  4. Metro would like to eliminate the printing and distribution of paper schedules, starting in 2016, which it estimates would save $200,000 annually.

    That goal makes getting an alternate way to get paper schedules all the more urgent. Make PDFs available now, and let customers start working out the kinks, so the 2016 timeline can be met.

    Most anyone can get access to a library computer and print out a schedule, if it is in a standard black-and-white format, either letter or legal size. If someone can’t prove residency to get a card, I’m sure library staff will help them as guests, especially if all the library staff get the memo that there will be some customers, some of them visitors, wanting to print Metro schedules at the library. Multiple pages shouldn’t be a problem.

    Some of the advantages of do-it-yourself schedule printing:
    * Customers can choose different sizes, according to how large a font they need. (Personally, I can barely read the schedules in broad daylight without my reading glasses.)
    * Customers can choose current or upcoming versions, with pop-up box warnings that what they are printing is going to soon be out-of-date, or is not yet effective.
    * Customers could choose the version of a schedule that doesn’t mix it in with another route. For example, I could get a clean 132 schedule without having to figure out which lines are for route 131.
    * Errors, which occur frequently in schedules, could be fixed within hours, instead of having to wait until the next service change.
    * Someone just wanting a specific day might have the option of just printing that day’s schedule.
    * If a service change does not change a route’s schedule, the effective date showing on the schedule could be altered to say so, so nobody has to re-print that schedule. For a typical service change, that is the overwhelming majority of the routes. Even with more exciting service changes, like the next three or four that are coming over the next two years, the majority of routes don’t change.
    * Upcoming service alerts affecting that route could feature prominently in the schedule, and then disappear once the event is over.

    Making do-it-yourself schedule printing available and flawless is one part of what would need to happen quickly to reach Metro’s goal of 2016 printed-schedule elimination. The rest is making the schedule data easily accessible, and accurate (as in a live-time datastream), available through as many platforms as possible.

    1. Some make their schedules available in standard paper sizes:
      Not to mention, that this also somewhat reduces the printing cost as standard paper may be used.

      Other systems produce PDF schedules that are based on their standard paper timetable:
      and just leave cropping it to fit whatever paper you have up to you.

      Elsewhere the PDF timetables aren’t based on the printed timetable at all:
      but appear to be produced semi-automatically from data from the timetable spreadsheet or similar.

    2. Let’s hope KCMetro won’t be too hasty in eliminating printed timetables. There are still many who are not comfortable with the “higher” technology in use these days…

      Now, making ORCA free and eliminating paper transfers to speed up service? Yes, please.

      1. I think one of the lessons or ORCA, paper transfers, elimination of the Ride Free Area, route 42, rear-facing wheelchair slots, slimmer seats, “road diets”, transit lanes, and charging to park at park & rides is that we will never reach the point of 100% of riders being comfortable with any change, however overwhelmingly meritorious.

        We have also learned that Metro sometimes under-mitigates these changes, when there were relatively cheap and easy ways to mitigate, and that education and outreach are not actually mitigation.

        As for the “higher” technology of going to the library, finding the webpage, pulling up a printable schedule, and figuring out how to print, we have wonderful people at ready to help out on a moment’s notice: librarians! It will be the case for a long, long time that a large chunk of riders have no smart phone and no home computer (or at least no home printer).

        Lets get the print-it-yourself schedules working, and then Metro can cease bulk-printing its schedules.

    3. When Metro first started putting the schedules on the web, I ended up copying and printing some of the information. This was tricky, since it wasn’t designed for printing (and printing things from the web was worse than it is now). A friend of mine asked me why I didn’t just grab a schedule, but I actually wanted a mishmash. I wanted a bit of this schedule, a bit of that schedule, and all of it only for the middle of the day, with a big font and on one piece of paper. I think the more that Metro can make this sort of thing easier, the better. I’m not sure the PDF is the best way to accomplish this, but I think it is a very good step in the right direction (HTML isn’t great for printing either).

      What is true of paper is true of a small web page, which can be viewed with a smart phone. If folks can make their own “transit mashup” and then access it quickly with a smart phone, I think it would be quite popular. Obviously One Bus Away replaces this when you are actually trying to catch a bus, but it you are planning your day, then it makes sense (for example, if you are visiting with someone, you can quickly look at that page and realize you need to leave at 6:15, even if it is 5:00).

      1. Have you tried Metro’s point-to-point schedule function? It’s like cutting two columns from the web schedule and putting them side by side. I don’t think it’s available anymore when they moved to the new Trip Planner.

  5. A couple of quick comments after skimming through the schedules since I’m horribly bored…

    1) Obviously it’s helpful to include 577/8 information on the 177/8/9 schedule. But unless I missed it, I didn’t see any indication that the 177/8/9 stop at KDM, but the 577/8 do not. (At least I think this is the case, I’m not entirely sure myself.)

    2) There appears to be a pretty big error… Does the 237 schedule really have a route map for the 197???

    3) Your “full set” PDF ends at 277. :-(

      1. That’s 272nd/Star Lake, served only by three specific trips at the end of the evening. I’m talking about Kent-Des Moines.

        I did notice on second glance a separate note that the 179 skips KDM (so I was in fact mistaken), but no such notes for the 577/8.

    1. My apologies on ending at route 277, apparently the program I used to combine the four files Metro sent me didn’t catch the last file. I will re-combine and post an updated version shortly.

    2. The full route set has been fixed and now includes all of the files. The new version is uploaded with the same name so you can just click the download link a second time.

  6. Relying on Metro-printed schedules contributes to the language barrier. Print-it-yourself schedules, available online, could ditch the embarrassing practice of throwing in a few lines of Spanish here and there (and occasionally getting it very wrong), and instead make the schedules available in a whole bunch of languages. Most of the translation can be cut and paste among all the schedules, depending on the direction that language reads. At the very least, a Spanish version of all schedules ought to be relatively quick and easy to produce. (Having Metro-printed schedules in all these different languages would involve wasting a lot of paper, and generally not reach the intended audience.)

    Metro Customer Service has interpreters for a bunch of different languages, so the translation of documents shouldn’t cost anything extra.

    Of course, navigating an English-only website to get to these schedules might be tough.

  7. Why does it matter if Metro releases PDF’s of their schedules? The schedules are VERY easily visible on the website, complete with notes and maps, they’re just not PDF’s. Is there something that I’m missing that makes a PDF duplicate of the paper schedules so much better than a web page with identical information?

    1. The schedules are visible, yes. However, the printed flyers are easier for me to quickly discern things like timetable symbols, peak hour trips, and they include a map on the same item. Not all paper schedules are available in one place, paper schedules can get lost while rolling around in my backpack, and sometimes I’m where pulling up the web schedule or something like OneBusAway or TransitApp doesn’t work (like, say, the tunnel).

      By having a PDF saved to my phone or a copy on my computer, I can look at it offline and quickly get the information I need. It’s not that PDFs replace anything–though I do agree with the folks up-thread who say that it can be useful for print-on-demand at libraries, for example–but that they exist and are useful in other ways so Metro should publish them.

    2. I don’t carry websites around with me. I carry paper schedules.

      Other riders ask me for schedules from time to time. I can’t hand them a webpage.

      What harm could there possibly be in posting the PDFs, which already exist, on Metro’s website?

    3. There’s one reason I always prefer PDF’s and that is offline access. When I have my iPad, or am in the tunnel and can’t get service, I can refer to a paper-like schedule and get the information I need. Even if there are displays showing the next bus, I may need to make connections downline. It also makes for great archiving. I keep ten years of Los Angeles Metro schedules on my computer to analyze service cuts and changes in corridors.

      The trend is for most agencies in the country to provide PDF schedules which are downloadable, include all dayparts on several pages, and are easily accessible. The major areas of the country that don’t do it are Seattle, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area (instead using that atrocious 511 interface), Minneapolis, and Denver. Denver uses an antiquated system and so can’t do them properly, but Portland publishes a schedule book that you have to pay for – why don’t they just upload the PDF instead?

  8. It might actually save money for Metro because they will only have to prepare one kind of timetable for the public rather than a couple. I assume that the PDF of the schedules have to be made anyway for the printer to use when printing them. Any modification of said PDF for the way the timetables are displayed now means extra work for the department responsible for preparing the timetables, usually Service Planning.

    Glad to hear KC Metro wants to get rid of paper schedules, though I am a bit surprised only $200,000 will be saved. Would have expected it to be more.

  9. Good discussion and thanks for the feedback. We’re always listening and will take the points made here into consideration.
    All of Metro’s online schedules are formatted to be printer friendly on standard sheets of paper and can be printed as PDFs through your browser. In the past, Metro has not posted PDFs of the *printed timetables* because many of the printed timetables are not standard-printer or user friendly – a point proven by scrolling through Wes’ PDF collection we supplied. Metro’s printed schedules are various sizes when folded open, and are not standard at all. Many would have to be printed in tiles or reduced to fit the paper. That said, some riders, as noted in this thread, like them in that electronic format, so we’re talking about it, and the challenges they pose different users.
    As for our traditional printed timetables, Metro has no plans to discontinue printing them, though it was discussed last year as part of the biennial budget.
    What we like about our online schedule timetables is that they are viewable by screen readers, and are accessible to those who view the schedules online who have visual impairments.
    The online schedules have the most up-to-date information and will always be current since they are updated anytime as needed during a service change effective dates. The maps are updated every Monday. Obviously, the printed schedules are updated at service changes when they are reprinted.

    1. You might be able to reduce the number of timetables to print, especially the commuter routes, but I doubt you can ever get rid of paper timetables (apparently CTA did, since I rarely saw a paper timetable in Chicago for bus routes).. I like to see, is some consolidations of routes by region for timetable purposes. The 164-166-168-169 schedule is one example that covers Kent area that works well. Consolidation of timetable routes would allow drivers to put out more various timetables. sometimes they have to choose to put out what routes, since there is only 3 timetable slots available

    2. Thanks for the update, Jeff!

      There is a certain chicken-or-egg element to many things Metro and/or King County is conservative about changing.

      If I hadn’t heard about the printability of the online schedules (and I may need some directions on that), I would probably continue to just pick up several schedules for each of the routes I use heavily, for each service change, even if I know nothing changed. Honestly, I probably will continue to do so, until they stop getting printed.

      Do I need Metro to continue printing schedules for me? Probably not. I’ll give it a try later today, once I can find directions and have access to a printer.

      Do riders need to use paper transfers? Probably not, for most of them. They have just found that they save some money (for them, not for Metro or the rest of the riders), and will continue to use them until the paper transfers go away. (And, not to drift too far off-topic here, I would be perplexed if Metro proposes another fare increase before eliminating paper transfers and instituting a cash surcharge, as the latter are clearly more effective ways to improve the budget situation, without losing ridership, than the former.)

      Do riders need one-seat rides? For some of them, once they get one, they won’t let go of it, even if the trip takes longer than a two-seat ride with a transfer from a frequent bus to a train. Will they adjust if/when they lose their one-seat ride? Probably. We saw a mountain of angst and awful behavior toward planning staff during the 2012 restructure. And yet, the planners were right. Ridership went up.

      If Metro finds a proposed change to be clearly meritorious, I wish it would tell the county council it is clearly meritorious, and just make sure to follow through with whatever mitigation is reasonable and doable. Or if it doesn’t require action on the part of the county’s top legislative body, just do it.

      1. I’ve never understood why KC Metro prints new schedules every time since many/most times do not change. Why cannot KC Metro save some money on printing and maybe save a tree in the process. Yes, if a schedule changes print a new schedule.

    3. I strongly encourage you to produce PDF schedules because of the advent of tablets. You can pan around, zoom, and so forth on a paper like device without an Internet connection. Seattle is the largest agency in the United States which produces that doesn’t upload PDF schedules (Muni doesn’t produce schedules to the public to begin with, only a frequency guide on the back of their system map).

  10. Thanks Wes for posting these. I saved the 5 large pdfs to my (average) phone. This is by far the easiest way to view Metro schedules and timetables, especially if you want to quickly check multiple routes and weekday, Saturday and Sunday schedules. Metro should make this format readily available on their web site with the note “best for viewing on screen; not so much recommended for printing.”

  11. I love having the option of having of printing a PDF version of each schedule. Is this a one time deal or will there new PDF’s for each service change?

    1. I’m talking with Metro’s public information officer about how to get the new schedule PDFs every time they are released. If I can’t get them automatically, I do plan on asking for them until Metro does something like this themselves.

Comments are closed.