Sound Transit 2004 New Flyer DE60LF 9606K (Bellevue Rare Coins wrap)

David covered the goodies in Sound Transit’s 2016 Draft Service Implementation Plan on Tuesday. Most of the big changes, including opening the new light rail stations, the additional daily Sounder runs, the new ST Express route 541, and long-term construction re-routes on routes 555, 556, and 560 still have to be approved by the ST Board.

Smaller additions of trips to ST Express routes can be approved administratively, as long as the service level does not change by more than 25%. This happens to allow the 15 additional route 545 trips to be added in 2016 without a need for Board action.

Chapter 5 of the Draft SIP explains the process for adding new trips, and lists the unfunded “immediate needs” for additional trips. The wish list and explanation are below the fold.

510: Add 2 early SB (southbound) and 2 mid-afternoon NB weekday trips.
511: Add 6 morning SB and 5 afternoon NB trips.
512: Add 4 NB PM trips.
Also add 4 mid-day SB and 4 afternoon NB Sunday trips.
522: Add 4 SB AM and 5 NB PM trips, in addition to the three trips being added in 2016.
532: Add 3 morning SB trips.
535: Add 4 morning SB trips.
540: Add 3 morning WB trips.
545: Add 10 more weekday trips, in addition to the fifteen scheduled to be added in 2016.
(The trips to be added in 2016 are not broken down by direction in the SIP.)
On Saturdays, add 2 mid-day and 1 late-afternoon WB trip, and 3 evening EB trips.
Also add 1 WB mid-day trip on Sundays.
550: Add 10 WB and 10 EB trips throughout the day.
Also add 1 EB Saturday morning trip.
Also add 4 afternoon/evening WB and 4 late-afternoon/evening EB trips on Sundays.
554: Add 6 WB morning trips and 6 afternoon/evening EB trips.
555: Add 2 WB morning trips and 3 EB mid-to-late afternoon trips.
556: Add 1 WB morning trip.
560: Add 1 EB Saturday morning trip.
574: Add 1 very early NB trip, 2 mid-afternoon SB trips, and 1 very late SB trip.
Also add 1 very early Saturday NB trip.
577: Add 1 early NB trip.
578: Extend all Saturday 577 trips to operate as 578 trips.
590: Add 1 PM peak NB trip
594: Add 2 mid-day NB and 2 evening SB trips on Saturdays

The process for adding new trips now largely follows the 2014 Service Standards and Performance Measures.

Two indicators are used to determine when overloads require action: (1) when the load factor (ratio of passengers to seats) regularly exceeds the maximum load factor prescribed for that vehicle at least three times a week, or at least twice a month on Saturdays or Sundays; and (2) when passengers have to stand more than 30 minutes (medium priority) or 45 minutes (high priority) at least three days a week, or at least twice a month on Saturdays or Sundays.

The trips on the wish list are what ST staff projects would eliminate current violations of these two indicators.

As resources become available in each sub-area, ST is able to administratively add the high priority trips with sufficient time before a service change. Once the high-priority trips in a sub-area are handled, ST can start administratively adding the medium priority trips, with sufficient time before a service change.

10 Replies to “How ST Administratively Adds New Trips”

  1. Some of these “immediate needs” look a bit questionable. For example, “extend all Saturday 577 trips to 578 trips”. That would imply that there are enough Saturday riders from Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup so that people are already standing, even before the bus gets to Federal Way. I am very skeptical of this – from what little I’ve seen, most of the 578’s ridership comes from Federal Way, and less than 10 people per trip ride south of that.

    In the meantime, there is not one mention of the need for improved evening and Saturday frequency on the 512.

    I suppose the problem ultimately boils down to sub-area equity – in that South King and Pierce simply have nothing better to spend their money on.

    1. I take the 577/578 a lot on weekends. I don’t get it. There aren’t very many riders at all that go south of Federal Way, and often there is a lot of empty space even on route 578.

      The only reason I can think of for this change is schedule consistency (this way, all peak service is 577 and all off-peak is 578), but that’s an expensive price to pay for such a distinction.

    1. Are you going reverse peak?

      If it has access to the carpool lanes it should move fairly quickly on the freeway.

      1. Still, it makes a lot of stops, there’s the Northgate bottleneck (which sometimes causes a larger than usual delay to serve the 145th Street stop), and I think there’s some sort of bottleneck heading into Everett that I don’t know that much about.

        The 512’s worst run by schedule takes an hour and a quarter, and when ST spends money to improve reliability, as it has on the 512, that probably means this run actually can take significantly longer. Its best run by schedule takes a bit under an hour. It’s probably about 10 minutes slower than the peak-hour 510 in similar traffic (making 5 extra stops, four of which can take a long time to serve). It’s probably at least 5 minutes slower than the old off-peak 510 in similar traffic. The headway improvement compared to the old off-peak 510 yields a 7.5-minute improvement on average, much of the day, if you arrive at the station at a random time. But if you were planning your trip’s timing (something people are more willing to do for longer trips) that advantage doesn’t matter. The boarding delays, at Lynnwood in particular, are worse when there are events downtown.

        Everett-Seattle is a long trip (just short of 30 miles) that only generates so much off-peak transit demand by itself. I generally support the principle of the off-peak 510 + 511 = 512 restructure of a few years ago, though getting frequent midday service as far as Everett was more a side effect than the purpose (freeing up money for overcrowded peak-hour service). This all said, it’s a pretty reasonable gripe that the 512 is a long trip; it’s probably not very reliable these days, either.

      2. During the off-peak hours, one big impediment to reliability on the 512 is the highly variable time it takes to get from one end of downtown to the other. On a good day, the bus can get from 4th and Jackson to Olive Way and I-5 in as little as 20 minutes. Southbound, you can throw in the vagaries of I-5 traffic to the mix between Northgate and downtown.

        Once Link extends to Lynnwood in 2023 and 512 becomes just an Everett->Lynnwood express, things start to look a lot better. I would even support truncating the 512 at Northgate in 2021 simply because fighting traffic around Northgate is still better than fighting traffic in and around downtown. Such a move would also free up a lot of service hours, which could fund badly needed all-day frequency improvements.

        Overall, I do agree that the recent 510->512 swap was a good idea. While mildly worse off for Everett->downtown trips, Lynnwood->downtown (a much bigger market) gets a huge frequency boost, with no increase in travel time. The ridership numbers are considerably better on the 512 after the restructure than the off-peak 510 and 511, combined, before the restructure. The combining of the 510 and 511 into the 512 is especially useful during the evening hours, when the 510 and 511 separately previously ran just once an hour as early as 8 PM. The difference between hourly service and half-hourly service is very big, especially when heading home from an event in the evening, when it is not possible to time the ending of an event to line up with an hourly bus schedule.

    2. In my –admittedly limited– experience, the really painful part of the 512 is the stop at Ash Way P&R.

      It was an oversight to only build *half* of the direct access ramps. The layout made since when both 510 & 511 ran midday and weekends… but now outside of weekday peak hours… buses are forced to slog between I-5 and the P&R on 164th St SW.

      1. I agree. A low-cost-high-benefit item like this really should be a no-brainer for inclusion in ST 3. But, the way the ST board is thinking, this will probably never happen – they are dead set on Link to Everett and view anything that improves speed and reliability of buses to Everett as throw-away work and a distraction from their ultimate goal.

      2. If they build a light rail station at Ash Way they’ll have to fix the insane pedestrian conditions at the interchange, so maybe they can fix the ramps then.

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