As a follow-up to the recent open house on the Madison BRT project, SDOT is conducting a survey to gauge more feedback on the project.  If you have an opinion, now’s the time to share it.

SDOT’s Maria Koengeter also filled us in on a few details of the project, which is slated for opening in 2019, assuming it gets funding (such as the Move Seattle levy).  She indicated that, while no decisions have been made, the agency currently prefers the idea of a “closed system” that would look and feel more like a rubber-tire version of the Seattle Streetcar than a traditional Metro bus.  Depending on how the system was designed, however, it’s possible that Metro buses could use the same right-of-way.

If the system is extended to MLK, the assumption is that trolley wire would be built the whole distance.  We’d initially heard that articulated coaches couldn’t sustain the vertical bending required to climb Madison, but SDOT is confident that they can spec vehicles that can handle the climb.   SDOT would work with Metro to determine service hours and operating revenues as the project develops.

The survey closes May 24.

78 Replies to “Madison BRT Survey”

  1. I’m disappointed the survey didn’t go into more detail about system design. I would support any system that let other Metro buses use the dedicated right-of-way, and oppose any system that did not allow that. That is almost the only reason I supported curbside bus lanes.

    1. They did throw in a bone that the 2 would also benefit, at least in downtown. I live “within 10 blocks of Madison,” as the survey says, and want BRT that’s like Swift: the primary use is for the BRT service but other buses can also benefit.

      1. I also live “within 10 blocks of Madison” but I’d like to see real BRT running down the center of Madison, not side-running faux BRT like Swift… having to slow for every driver turning right.

        SDOT has looked into building a center running transitway, but building split platforms that can be served by buses with right side doors… that’s the best of both worlds.

        You have a true BRT route… but operate it as a open system and without having to buy special buses with left side doors. It also gives you 3 doors at each stop, instead of the 2 doors you get with left door buses.

      2. Yes, but it does make it a lot easier to be closed. For example, this should have off board payment and level boarding. Other buses would have level boarding, but it would be hard to manage off board payment (for only a few stops). That means that a BRT bus might be held up by a non-BRT bus.

      3. No matter what we think we need now, in the future we may decide we need the 2 there, or a Madison-23rd route, or a Madison-15th route, a Madison-12th route, a Madison-19th route, etc. Closed BRT would preclude those possibilities, which sounds shortsighted.

  2. One objective could be to implement the best transit network with Link, Madison BRT, and the Metro routes all considered together, and not just the best Madison BRT. No route is an island. The total network is key. The network is subject to a budget constraint that planning exercises may not be subject to. Service hours will always be scarce.

    1. This. It’s a no-brainer that we need some kind of fast transit between the downtown core and the hospitals, and the best surface corridor for that use is clearly Madison. But it’s much less obvious what that transit should do once it gets to Broadway. You can make a strong case that it makes more sense for some or all buses to go north on Broadway than to continue east. You can make a strong case that it makes more sense for buses going east to use Union than Madison. We might want to have buses doing several of those things, scheduled for very frequent service on Madison. I’m fine with any concept that gives us that flexibility. I’m not as excited about a concept that is restricted in perpetuity to one corridor because of branding or because it’s designed to use left-side doors.

      I took the survey a long time ago, but it didn’t really allow me to say any of this.

      1. …because it’s designed to use left-side doors.

        That’s the biggest problem with Madison BRT to me. I’m not in favor of a “closed” system that prevents other routes from using it if the plan is for just one route to be doing this. The proposed BRISK system has the benefit of multiple routes sharing hardware and branding. I’d rather we be able to improve RapidRide to make it a useful, city-wide system–even and especially if it starts out with Madison–that doesn’t preclude other services from benefiting.

      2. I wrote about this at length in the open-form parts of the survey. We’ve got to match our opportunity (Madison as a corridor from downtown to Broadway) with our needs (which are much stronger off of Madison than on it).

  3. I’m hoping that this is actually “open” BRT — e.g. the service is effectively the combination of 2 or more routes that combine together in this corridor to provide very frequent service. A route from Downtown to 23rd and back seems very short and awkward. I think it would make sense if half the busses continued to Madison Park, and the other half continued to Madrona, or something like that. Two routes that individually have 15 minute frequencies (the 11 and the 2) would combine to 7.5 min frequency in the “BRT section” makes sense. Considering that 1 or 2 other routes could join Madison further south (e.g. the 49 and/or the 10).

    1. Then it’s not really BRT. The right thing to do is reverse center running with curbs between the BRT lanes and the general traffic lanes. That way there is only one set of platforms, right side doors, and protection of the passengers from cars in adjacent lanes.

      I know, I know, it’ll scare the drivers. Well, SFW?

  4. The BRT is crazy on a Madison to Madison run of 3.7 miles with possbly a stop every half mile making so that it can actually be rapid, but without a dedicated lane is is a joke! There are hills and having fewer bus stops will mean fewer passengers, since who wants to walk the hills of Madison.]

    Then the funding, we have to pass the mayor’s $930 million dollar tax increase since the feds require matching funds. So does anyone this Congress is going to fund this since they are now proposing cutting funding for Amtrak!

    Lets put the money into fixing the Street call Madison since it is in urgent need of replacement, not a another asphalt patch job.

    I given BRT less that a 50 50 chance of every happening on Madison! BTW, Madison Park is not the problem and will accept clean electric buses!

    1. Could you please elaborate on the logic behind whatever it is you just said, because I can’t make any sense of it.

      1.) There is no dedicated transit lane in the proposal… umm, the whole proposal revolves around a dedicated transit lane!

      2.) Fewer people will take the bus on Madison corridor if they get rid of some of the stops that are less than two blocks apart… That’s patently ridiculous. I don’t even know where to start.

      3.) Because there will be a cut in federal transit funding, we should throw in the towel on transit and just re-pave madison for cars… Maybe we should just turn it into a freeway, Reg?

    2. “So does anyone this Congress is going to fund this since they are now proposing cutting funding for Amtrak!”

      They’re vastly different things. Amtrak is a quasi-federal agency, it’s operating and maintenance funds, and they’ve been trying to kill Amtrak ever since it was created. The grants are much smaller, capital funds, competitive, and they may be able to divert them to highway subsidies. Also, Congress is not monolithic. The ones who voted to cut Amtrak were a House Republican committee. Anything the House does would have to be reconciled with the Senate. So Amtrak may or may not be cut, or it may be cut at a different level.

      1. True, but there is still the filibuster. And they don’t control the White House.

      2. Heaven help us if they get the White House in 2016!

        BTW, SDOT, Metro and Sound Transit need to start showing a lot more transparency or the Mayor’s proposed $930 million dollar tax increase is DOA!

    3. What do you mean without a dedicated lane?!? You either were not there or were on the toilet the whole time at the open house. This whole proposal is about a dedicated lane between Downtown and either 23rd or MLK, the question is center or side, which terminus to the east and west, which downtown eastbound route and a few station locations needing input.

      1. I was at the May 5th meeting and there was no discussion of a dedicated lane! Your other comment doesn’t deserve an answer!

      2. This may get into the definition of a dedicated lane. The center lane alternative would be buses only. The side lane would be buses+BAT (i.e., right turns).

    4. Madison Park will accept clean electric buses”.

      Prove it. The neighborhood has pitched a hissy fit whenever Metro proposed electrifying the 11.

      1. And who are listening to the residents of Broadmore or the actual bus riders, we want electrified buses in Madison Park. Don’t ask our Community Council (club) since they are self appointed and are not elected by the residents of Madison Park.

        BTW, the current president of the MPCC is a Broadmore resident and only speaks for himself when he says not trolleys in MP!

      2. On second thought I would ask Anandakos to prove that we don’t want electric buses in Madison Park. This is 2015 and things have changed since that opinion was voiced by people who no longer live here. We have a lot of high tech people in MP now and opinions have changed outside of Broadmore. Remember, the fence is to keep them in, not us out!

  5. How would other Metro buses use this ROW if it’s gonna be center boarding?

    1. Hopefully they do center dedicated lanes but with right side island boarding so other routes can use it as well as the most of the standard fleet. Having a custom fleet just for this route is nuts.

      I wish they would also do center dedicated lanes with right side island boarding on 1st Avenue for the streetcar connector so those dedicated lanes can also be used for buses not just the streetcar. Seems to me a huge underutilization of valuable dedicated lanes when buses downtown will be jammed especially with more service and tunnel buses leaving the tunnel. If they did this they could maybe even have Madison BRT run up 1st the 5-8 blocks to hit the retail core & PPM.

      1. Right side islands are HORRIBLE for the passengers. Use center reverse running with island platforms and right side doors and a curb separating the left hand running bus lanes from the right hand running bus lanes. You can be double damn betcha sure that cars won’t “intrude” if they see a 60′ artic coming right at them!

  6. Gabe,

    1)I was at the May 5 meeting and they were not proposing a dedicated lane for BRT on Madison, and where would you get that lane from the current Madison?

    2) Given the distances between stop and the hills you either have more stops or you tell the people to use their cars or taxis!

    3) You must know who controls Congress and they are not friendly to transit let alone infrastructure projects! Have you seen infrastructure funding from Olympia lately?

    Yes, I and a lot others voted NO on the prop 1 and we will be voting no on the Mayor’s proposal if it funds a useless BRT on Madison. BRT does not make sense there now or in the future! I’ve heard calls for a one mile BRT on Madison from 12th to Coleman Dock, yes one mile!

    Just look at Broadway as another failed example of the mess being created by SDOT. Why don’t they try to fix problems like Denny rather than destroying the streets of Seattle. And yes, there is NO dedicated land on Broadway for the Street Car!

    1. I agree that BRT for one mile is a bit short. Considering how difficult/expensive it is to park on both ends, a 1-mile BRT line from downtown to First Hill is really competing more with walking than with cars. Even if the BRT bus had its own lane throughout (which could possibly be done if you got rid of all the parking, over the inevitably loud objections), any trip shorter than end-to-end (3rd to 12th) will likely be just as fast and waiting for the bus and riding it. If the actual original->destination points are a block or two north or south of Madison, walking unquestionably wins.

      It is only when you go beyond 12th that you start serving trips that are long enough to be worth waiting for. If it’s going to be done, I say the further down Madison it goes, the better.

      I can also say that after the A, B, C, D, E, and F lines we have good reasons to be skeptical at anything labeled by Metro as “BRT”. If RapidRide is a precedent, the BRT bus would likely get a bus/right turn lane only during the peak period, reverting to mixed traffic the rest of the day so the parking could be retained. With the only difference between the BRT bus and a regular bus being minor stop consolidation and off-board fare payment (for Orca card holders only, change fumblers would still hold up the bus as usual).

      Assuming the BRT bus does turn around somewhere around 23rd, my vote would be to serve Madison Park with the route 8 proposed in alternative 1.

      1. On May 5th Metro proposed running the BRT after 23rd (or MLK) as a local bus (no bus change) stopping at all the current stops too! And yes, Madison Park would accept Trolleys or battery operated buses. This does not change the stupidity of a one or two mile BRT!

        BTW, Metro’s 8 idea is DOA and why would we want a bus that worse than the current 11. Remember, SDOT can’t/won’t fix the parking lot problem on Denny, which is far more important than a Madison BRT!

      2. Is there really a consensus on what Madison Park residents will accept?

        1. What evidence is there that MP will accept trolley wire?

        2. Is there consensus on the preferred route from MP to downtown? Westbound from MP there appear to be 3 possible paths:

        A) the rejected Madison > Thomas > John to Capitol Hill Station > Lower Queen Anne

        B) an all-BRT, all-Madison route to the Waterfront that serves Swedish and Virginia Mason

        C) a Madison > Pike/Pine route very similar to the existing path.

        Hopefully, MP will contribute a clear idea of the what service plan would best serve the MP neighborhood and the City as a whole.

      3. Hey Beacon Hill Guy, you got forgot a fourth option that I proposed and that is an all Madison route with a notch going up Pine to Broadway and then south to Madison going west. This one allows seamless transfers at Broadway and Pine to the downtown Pike/Pine corridor.

        BTW, I DO NOT REPRESENT MP and our self appointed Community Council can’t get past just say NO. Read their comments in two different articles in the Madison Park Times and yes you can find it online.

        There is one other option, and that is just providing peak hour service to MP like the recent proposal for the 12 on 19th.

      4. Hey Beacon Hill Guy,I want to you what I want as a bus ride and that is RELIABLE service such that the schedules are correct and that I can check OBA and then walk to and catch the BUS. Last night the buses were totally messed up and I had to wait over half an hour!

        I also want safe clean bus stops and convent ones that are easy to get to and don’t require long walks especially up hills.I don’t expect to get everywhere on one bus, but I expect that it to be possible to get anywhere in Seattle without spending all day to do it!

        Frequent service is nice, but is it affordable if the buses are empty, I vote for RELIABLE service!

      5. Saying NO doesn’t give Metro much guidance on which way to go. If the residents of MP can’t find a YES, then they will be at the mercy of Metro’s planners who will bend the proposals to serve other neighborhoods that can find a YES. Transit service isn’t a magic carpet ride to anywhere the genie wants to go. It’s a trade-off designed to provide the greatest mobility to the greatest number of people.

      6. I have nothing to do with the “NO” crowd in Madison Park and as a bus rider I just want reliable and predicable service that gets me to me to my destination without having to stress out that I will be miss my appointments. Is that asking too much?

    2. Metro’s standard stop spacing now is 1/4 mile, although hills make it closer. Legacy routes often have closer spacing due to older standards, and they get removed in upgrades like this (viz. RapidRide, stop diets). For instance, to me the 2 has too many stops east of Broadway. We don’t have to guess which stations SDOT is considering because they’re right in the presentation: Alaskan or Western or 1st, 3rd, 6th or 8th, Terry, Boylston. The issue mainly revolves around whether Alaskan to 3rd is too wide, 3rd to 8th is too wide, or 6th to Terry is too wide, given their specific steepnesses, desnities, and I-5 constraints.

    3. “1)I was at the May 5 meeting and they were not proposing a dedicated lane for BRT on Madison, and where would you get that lane from the current Madison?”

      There would be a dedicated transit lane. And you get it by taking a car lane.

  7. Last comment should read SDOT proposed not Metro, even though they were there for the meeting! We really need an EDIT function on this blog!

  8. This sounds a bit weird, but given the fact that it looks like they are only considering running it to MLK versus 23rd Avenue, and not even considering running it all the way to Madison park at all, and the fact that people are pining for real BRT with a separate bus lane… but also given the fact that the budget for this probably isn’t huge (indeed, it isn’t even funded yet), and Madison street isn’t exactly a wide road… Maybe Madison BRT should just be a single, two way bus lane down the middle of Madison. If this is the case, with stops at, say, 3rd Ave, Boren Ave, Broadway, 14th Ave, and 23rd Ave only, then…

    With total signal preemption (nearly guaranteed green lights) it is conceivable that it could drive between 23rd and 3rd in five minutes, making ten minute frequency possible.

    With only one lane and one set of overhead wire, it would be a low cost version of real BRT.

    Since there’s only one lane, if they could design a double-headed bus for this route (like a link train), no turnaround would be necessary. The driver would merely have to walk over to the other side of the bus to “turn around.”

    So, how crazy does that sound?

    1. Yes, it sounds totally crazy since you would have to eliminate all parking and turn lanes on Madison to make your dream come true! There was NO MENTION OF A SEPARATE BUS LANE at the May 5 meeting!

      BTW, you would need a stop at the Madison Market/Traders Joes too! You would need stops at the hospitals too east of Boren.

      How about just repaving Madison, a very radical (crazy) idea! Give it the treatment that 23 Ave is getting now?

      1. Hmmm…. No mention of a separate bus lane. Then this is BRT how?

        Maybe they can just paint the buses red, pretend to have signal priority, and name it something like “RapidRide.” Maybe that’s what they meant by “BRT.”

      2. It has been clear since the very beginning that Madison BRT would have dedicated bus lanes. The big question is whether they will be in the center or along the outside.

        The ride on Madison is rough, but the concrete isn’t actually in that bad condition (yet). An asphalt surface would be a downgrade, especially under the pressure of frequent bus traffic. If the street is to be redone well it will need to be an expensive concrete job like NE 50 St in the U-District.

      3. @Reg N: Internet Rule #1: the more you use all caps and lots of exclamation points, the less convincing you become.

    2. Thanks David. They get their own lane. This means parking will have to be removed (Gasp!). Center running means you don’t have to worry about cars turning right. Ban all left turns (Gasp!).

      This isn’t rocket science. We’ve done this sort of thing all over the city for many years and only to benefit drivers (not a lot of left turns or parking allowed on Denny, for example). It is about time we do something like this for transit.

      Keep in mind, this is the city pushing this (and paying for it) not Metro. They will work together (of course) but this is not just another RapidRide joke of a BRT. This could be “Real BRT”. There are agencies that look at such things and rate the actions. RapidRide would get a failure (or a “Not BRT” grade) by my estimation, while this would get an A or B. [I’ll see if I can find the rating service and link to it later]

      As far as the distance is concerned, I think it works. This is a decent distance with a lot of destinations and a big hill. I think it could provide a lot of fast, frequent service to a lot of people. The short distance is actually good in that regard — I could see five minute frequency without bus bunching.

      The biggest weakness is probably the fact that it doesn’t connect that well with Link. If WSTT was added with a stop on Madison it would compliment the rest of the system quite well.

      1. Not “A” at all because of all the important cross-streets. There’s no way it can have full pre-emption. Maybe B-.

    3. Pretty darn crazy, actually. It’s a BUS, not a train. It’s not self-steering, and people aren’t going to want to ride backward on a bus; it slews around too much.

  9. A revised route 11 from Madison Park going Olive/John instead of Pine to Downtown makes sense to me. It gets a transfer to CHS Link and to this Madison BRT at MLK terminus and goes to the part of downtown Madison Park residents most want to go: Retail Core.

    1. I like this idea. But the 11 should be recognized as the coverage service that it is and run every 45 minutes or hour.

      1. Anandakos,

        I’m sure hope that you’re not speaking for Metro because your idea will NOT happen and if it does you may as well have NO service to Madison Park. BTW, where do you live so we can suggest the same for your bus.

        FYI, I am totally dependent like others on the bus since I don’t drive, so I want to say no thanks to your proposal, which is DOA!

      2. Reg, remember that Anandakos is suggesting this plan for after Madison BRT is in place serving Madison Park every ten minutes.

        But still, Anandakos, I don’t think your short John-Olive-Pine route would be mere coverage service. It’d be duplicating one of the busiest parts of the 8, which is now also covered by the busy 43. I think John-Olive-Pine can bear two routes.

      3. William C.,

        Yes, I understand that is what he is proposing after BRT goes in, but the BRT people at the May 5 meeting talking about running the BRT after 23rd to MP as a local bus doing all the current stops. This is a totally acceptable proposal even if it is electrified!

        Lets be blunt, if BRT is ever funded, there is no room for dedicated lanes on Madison, you can’t take all the parking away let along the turn lanes (used as delivery lanes). In addition there is no way you can run standard and BRT on Madison.

        The money for a Madison BRT would be MUCH better spend on the Denny Mess which is the SNAFU in every proposal so far! All this boils down to will the bus be locked in traffic or will it be at the bus stop when it’s scheduled to be. Even my plan would have a 38 stuck in the Denny Mess.

        I still wonder why none of Metro or SDOT efforts haven’t been spending any efforts to sovle the Denny mess and I it couldn’t be solved with some routes from downtown versus using Denny or s supped up SLUT which right now is under used and losing money while Denny is a parking lot!!!

      4. The money for a Madison BRT would be MUCH better spend on the Denny Mess which is the SNAFU in every proposal so far!

        Frankly, I agree with you on that. Madison BRT would be useful, but I’m not at all convinced it’d be the best use of city money. The long-range solution would be another bridge over I-5. Even if it takes as long as Lakeview to climb the grade, you might be able to connect (say) Republican to Thomas, and a bus could definitely take that route.

        In less-ambitious proposals, I’ve seen two solutions: either revamp the Yale Avenue entrance ramp to 5, or route the eastbound 8 down Terry to Olive Way, with a little priority along that route.

      5. William C.,

        It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks the BRT money for Madison could be spent better elsewhere and I think William’s ideas have some merit. So how do we get the powers at SDOT to listen other than to threaten NO votes on the $930 million dollar levy.

        BTW, did any of you see 60 Minutes tonight and the fact that the use is now 16th in infrastructure due to out useless Congress. So again, dream on if you think the BRT will get a yes vote in either Washington!

      6. “Lets be blunt, if BRT is ever funded, there is no room for dedicated lanes on Madison, you can’t take all the parking away let along the turn lanes (used as delivery lanes). In addition there is no way you can run standard and BRT on Madison.”

        Reg, could you explain. It’s easy to take parking… just make it a no parking zone. West of Broadway, the street is wide enough for some left turn lanes to remain. And how can’t you run multiple bus services in the same corridor? It seems like you’re just saying that it’s “impossible” without actually explaining way. It’s both physically and politically possible to create dedicated BRT lanes, so I’d expect it to happen.

      7. So again a one mile BRT west of Broadway for what and for whom, just to say there is a Madison BRT that has maybe three stops between Broadway and the Coleman Dock! I think this would be a total waste of tax payers money and another project like the Broadway street car!

        I’m sure that the the people west of Broadway will be very happy to have no parking signs too! And yes, lets add a bike lane like Broadway too! Yes, this is more reason to vote NO on the Mayor’s proposed $930 million dollar fund for SDOT to play with and continue to waste our money!

  10. The survey asks about how to design BRT, and not the merits of day-to-day operations. Clearly, we need to resolve the appropriateness of doing this project before we spend any money on the design. As I’ve said before, SDOT should stop working on this until Metro’s restructured service and Link and the streetcar have been operating a few months so that we see what works. It would only be a year – and this study is moving at a snail’s pace anyway.

    1. Al,

      I TOTALLY agree with you, in fact I’m at the point that I wish Metro would just implement the Prop 1 changes and see the results before re configuring the system.

      There are just too many moving pieces and the biggest issue is that out streets can’t handle today’s traffic load and the bus changes with more frequent buses might actually make this situation worse. For example, can you imagine end to end buses on Denny and not where else on the route 8?

  11. Center running, left sided doors for branding/ped crossing/reliability. Buy additional fleet of left-sided door buses for other routes, keeping Madison BRT “open.”


    1. With this additional fleet of left-sided door buses, when they turn off Madison do they pick up and drop off people in the middle of the street?

  12. What about center-running contraflow bus lanes?
    You get the benefits of center-running without requiring buses that use the infrastructure to have left-side doors. Of course you create some other problems with this arrangement: intersections become more complex, but maybe not horribly so because the buses won’t be turning on and off the alignment everywhere, only where other routes access the infrastructure (e.g. the 49 at Broadway & Madison, if restructured); going around disabled buses will become risky as it will involve pulling out into oncoming traffic; jaywalking will become riskier as you now have traffic doing different things in at least 4 different lanes. What are some other reasons this isn’t a great idea?

    1. I think this is a terrific idea. I can’t think of any other reasons against contraflow lanes. The only examples of contraflow BRT I have heard of are on much larger right-of-ways than Madison, so perhaps there are reasons we’re not aware of why it can’t be done on Madison. But I’d like to hear from SDOT whether they’ve at least discussed it.

    2. It’s not just jaywalking that becomes riskier, it’s crossing at any non-signalized intersection. There are a few of those farther out along Madison, and though it’s pretty hard to cross the street at these when traffic is heavy, traffic is just not that heavy most of the time in Seattle.

      1. I would hope that in a project of this scope, pedestrian activated crosswalks could be included at all non-signalized intersections regardless of what lane configuration is ultimately chosen.

      2. I don’t think SDOT is interested in pedestrian activated safe crossing. We recently ask for that in Madison Park and they said NO, since they are busy spending money and time on BRT. I still wonder what happened to the vote we had in years ago to consolidate all King County Transit in one agency?

      3. Adding some bulb outs and RRFBs at presently unsignalized intersections is certainly within the mandate of this project. From the project description page:

        “The Madison BRT project is an opportunity to provide neighborhoods with a faster, more reliable transit connection to key destinations, enhance walking conditions and the streetscape along Madison, and identify an alternate bike facility to be built as part of the project.”

  13. Maybe they can trial this now with a bucket of red paint. I’m a little surprised how much it costs for this project. Even the center lane option shouldn’t be much more than paint, some new concrete islands and signal priority for the traffic lights. I question the full street rebuild and sidewalk improvements, nice yes, but we need fast reliable transit now in this corridor. Lighter/quicker/cheaper trial tactical urbanism is all the rage now in the urban design/planning field and there is no reason this project should have to go through years and millions of BS planning, studies, reports, analysis, etc.

  14. There are several things about this survey that really bother me. I’m curious how you people feel.

    1. It asks for “preferences” but we are to “elect” things like end points, side versus center, stop locations and things like that. Now, I suspect most of you get preference survey requests at least weekly — from airlines, rental car companies, hotels, restaurant chains, professional associations, medical and professional services and lots of other places. When they ask for a “preference” they don’t make you “elect” one or the other. Most other preference surveys I take have at least 5 if not 7 or 10 levels to choose — not just 3 (option 1, option 2, no opinion)! For example, center-running may be a preference, but a slight one — while there may be strong preferences by some people for side-running.

    2. It doesn’t ask for trade-offs. It asks us to have opinions independently. Most preference surveys that I’ve seen about things like this ask you to at least rank importance, if not indicate which of two things are more important. Are center-running buses worth the extra cost? Is having more stops or faster buses more important?

    3. It subjects us to “fluff” descriptions that don’t describe the detail of what is being asked. If left-turns are to be disrupted, how many left-turn locations would be affected? How many vehicles are making left turns? What about right turns — as those might disrupt side-running buses. If I have to “elect” an option, I would want to be an informed “voter”, right? I went and read up the existing conditions report (let’s not even talk about how much missing information in those) to glen some informed insight, but found very little. I read up on the survey report (really difficult to do since the bar charts are ordered differently from each other and in some cases the text doesn’t even match the chart — a technical writing professor would flunk the author).

    4. Some survey questions are really things that should be up to professionals, and not really on the survey. Where should the stop go? That’s often a function of the bus operation’s turning radius, bus stop length, adjacent land use, slope, number of people waiting at the stop and all sorts of other details. We don’t design these things, and a random survey on these items borders on irresponsible.

    All in all, the survey seems to yield very little value to the overall process — and to me it’s frankly insulting to be asking my feedback in this way. I’d even venture to say that Seattle residents deserve to be treated like the generally more educated adults that we are. Please let’s not subject the citizens to another survey like this one, SDOT!

  15. Note to editor: please check that more obscure acronyms such as – I would argue – HCT are defined somewhere in the leading body of the article. It makes for a more satisfying read for those of us who haven’t drunk as deeply at the transit well as some others. Thanks.

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