Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 9.21.18 AMOf all the good urban problems to have, an overactive downtown core is among the best of them. We’ve come to the point where a weekday/weekend transit service dichotomy is too simple to adequately respond to unique changes in demand or stresses to the system. From Pride, SeaFair, Rock and Roll Marathon, Obama x 3, Xi Jinping, and on and on, there are ever more days each year in which unique pain points occur for Downtown service.

The impetus for this post, of course, is Obama’s visit yesterday. Walking along Stewart in the PM peak, it was a wall of continuous gridlocked buses from Harrison all the way to 6th, burning fuel, transporting no one, and wreaking havoc on the broader transportation network. The poor Tacoma drivers operating Sound Transit’s 590s were diverted onto westbound Denny, woefully stuck with everyone else.

IMG_2160At the ST3 Board Meeting last Thursday, CEO Rogoff gave his customary ridership update, and disclosed that not only will ST be tripling 3-car trains on weekdays, but will also be looking at turnback trains between UW and Sodo for special events. Previously, this idea was limited to helping bridge the 2 years between Convention Place closure and Northgate Link’s opening. But why should event-related service improvements be limited to trains, when buses and their crazy reroutes bear the brunt of the pain?

A proposal: its time for a new “Enhanced Weekend/Event” layer of service. Here are some possible criteria: If both of the following are true, operate “Enhanced Weekend/Event” service:

  • Sound Transit expects weekend/ridership to be within 10% of weekday ridership
  • Buses will be rerouted by 2 blocks or more for 4 or more hours that day

If buses cannot serve the downtown core, and if the stops they serve are duplicated by Link, those buses should not serve Downtown at all. Routes such as 255, 545, 554, 578, and 594 should run to their nearest Link station, and run twice as often.

In turn, Sound Transit should operate Link with equivalent weekday capacity, just spread out evenly throughout the day. So instead of 10-minutes off-peak and 6 minutes peak, run it 7-8 minutes all day.The truncations proposed could also apply on weekdays for limited but severe stresses like Presidential motorcade closures.

Surely a forced transfer is preferable to a bus that’s an hour late, and buses idling with no passengers are in nobody’s interest. What do you think?

62 Replies to “It’s Time for ‘Enhanced Weekend/Event’ Service”

  1. With the unobstructed Link capacity, ST could use four-car Link trains as shuttles to other stations where special events staging could occur. To do that well requires more strategic appeoach though – round trip or daily ticket booths, music to ease a wait, coordinated Metro service, bicycle valets and other things.

    Most of all, there needs to be a good transit center to do this. Right now, we don’t have a great layout for one. (We will have Northgate in 2021 and Bellevue in 2023.) A vacant lot or street closure could work as a temporary strategy.

    ST, Metro, Seattle, WSDOT and the event venue would need to coordinate this for it to happen. Does anyone have a Special Events office?

  2. Metro also needs to give up on the insanity of running a “holiday schedule” on “holidays” that most people and businesses don’t observe.

    According to the “Upcoming Holidays” that will see reduced service includes:

    * Thursday, Nov. 11 for Veterans’ Day
    * Monday, Dec. 26 for Christmas Day (Observed)
    * Monday, Jan 2 for New Year’s Day (Observed).

    As a veteran I appreciate Metro’s thoughtfulness, but I don’t know anyone who gets Veterans’ Day off of work. Yes banks, government offices and some schools are closed – so what? I doubt that reduces ridership enough to justify Metro running Sunday service on a Thursday when the vast majority of people still need to get to work.

    And “observing” Christmas on Monday, Dec 26? WTF!?!? Since when is “Boxing Day” a legal holiday in the US?

    The same thing with January 2: if that happens to fall on a weekday, then everyone I know needs to go to work. I don’t get Jan 2 off – do you? Does anyone you know?

    Metro needs to recognize that it is a ‘service organization’ and start thinking about providing services when it’s customers need them, instead of based on a label on a calendar.

    1. Your last sentence is correct. If certain holidays don’t effect transit demand, then Metro should stop scheduling around them blindly.

      But you’re off base when it comes to “observed” holidays. It’s not just about days off, but also pay. At my last job, there was no such thing as any holidays off (except Christmas), but we got paid time and a half for working them. This year, I would get Sunday pay (20%) on the 1st and holiday pay (50%) on the 2nd. If they just gave us holiday pay on the 1st, we’d miss out on our Sunday bonus for that week. Observed holidays are a very real thing, whether you get the holiday (real or observed) off or not.

      As it relates back the on-topic conversation, I would guess that ridership on this January 2nd would be up from a typical weekday January 1st, but still way down from a typical non-holiday first Monday of January.

    2. For my company, if a holiday falls on a weekend, we get the Friday or Monday off. We get eight holidays off a year, no more, no less. It sounds like your employer is shortchanging you.

      1. Sotosoroto, it sounds like you work an office job, getting eight set days per year “off.” People in other vocations don’t. Ever notice how grocery stores, hospitals, clinics, restaurants, the police and fire departments, the electric company, City water and wastewater services, and the 800-number at most businesses all manage to operate with minimal if any interruptions on and around holidays? All of this requires people to go to work on those days. Think about that for a few minutes and let it sink in.

    3. Metro has had a “reduced weekday” schedule that is used for days like the Friday after Thanksgiving. That would be more appropriate for days like Veterans Day and Dec 26. But it has some strange behavior. Like a route that normally operates every 10 minutes during the peak will have every 3rd trip deleted, but instead of smoothing it to 15 minute headways, it’s 10 minute followed by 20 minute headway.

      Seems like for the heaviest routes – the frequent routes – it would make sense to create a real reduced weekday schedule and operate it on all the pseudo-holidays that are only partially observed. And adapt to the reality that businesses don’t shut down on all the government holidays.

      1. SDOT funds regular service levels on reduced weekdays, as well as 15 minute service on Sundays/holidays on tons of routes that never had that before last year. Unfortunately, this benefits only routes with 80+% of bus stops within Seattle.

  3. Moderately relevant: I just boarded Link northbound at Tukwila. The train I missed and saw from the parking lot ten minutes ago, the one that went by southbound three minutes ago, and the one I just boarded were all three cars.

    So there is at least some “enhanced event” service today.

  4. It’s a great idea, and it should happen. Of course, given the inability of our transit agencies and elected officials to implement ideas that would be similarly impactful 260-365 days of the year, the idea that they’re capable of doing this for 5-10 days a year seems a long shot.

    1. Excellent ideas, Zach. And good observations, Bruce. But no matter how great the idea, somebody has to make it happen. And both our experience with agencies is that their implementers do what our elected officials order them to to. Well, they’re supposed to!

      But fact that none Seattle’s officials, elected, appointed or hired, are stupid, drunk, uneducated, corrupt or incapable removes any excuse to being unable to get these plans in place by end of business Monday.

      So Zach, can you tell us whose opponent we need to threaten to fund if they don’t pick up the phone and get those buses turned at LINK? After telling Mike Lindblom in advance the exact amount of money transit will save if we do it?

      Reps from every 500-series origin/destination southward should be on board with this. But, by experience, easy cost-free measure could not only speed service from the south, but also de facto extend our service area.

      Intercity Transit 600-series from Olympia very often misses connections with the 574 at SR 512 Park and Ride by thirty seconds. Making that connection an advertised standing order for both systems could gain LINK ridership beyond special events, and create Thurston County electorate for ST-4 years in advance.


  5. Idea for a future post. Take us through how an idea becomes a reality at a transit agency. Let’s say Enhanced Weekend/Event is implemented. How did it happen? Step by step, tell us how the idea worked its way up the chain to the person or group who could finally give the green light to it. Take us through the bureaucratic layers or people the idea had to go to finally get the go-ahead. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be fascinated to read an in-depth post like that.

    1. Very good question, Sam, and would appreciate someone who knows to tell us this post. My own feeling is that with ideas as easy and inexpensive as these, personal meetings with three County Execs, several mayors, committee chairmen could take care of this. “Chain” has links whose spikes point downward.


      1. Thank you, Jim. But changing an entire route is a log harder than changing very temporary routing on several. Especially when there’s no one at all with a vested interest in keeping status quo.

        This one just seem to me that the bad routing might have been set up on the spur of the moment. Maybe because something suddenly changed. Or that like most similar things with KC Metro, if buses go in one end of a jam and come out the other, not worth the effort for any change.

        See “Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.”

        Especially if nobody else seems to think it’s worth their own effort to call attention to the problem and stay onto Metro about it. But my sense is that in a year with a critical vote coming up, something easy this, people at level to order it fixed could might just do that.

        Mark Dublin

  6. It’s also long overdue that the 255 should have 30 minute service into the late evening 7 days/week, at least in the outbound direction. Currently it drops to hourly at 7pm Saturdays, 6pm Sundays and 10pm weekdays. And it really should have 15 minute service weekdays until about 9pm, at least in the outbound direction, the inbound can drop off sooner.

    1. It’s not just the 255. The 271, 545, and 554 also drop to hourly on Saturday evenings around 7 or 8 PM.

      This evening, luck of the schedule resulted in a bizarre trip. I went from Eastgate P&R to Crossroads Mall on a 45 with almost no wait. Then, I need to get back to Seattle. The 545 wasn’t due to leave NE 40th St. for almost an hour, so I rode the B-line to Bellevue, hoping for better luck with the 271. Then, checked OneBusAway on the bus and found that the 271 was also close to an hour wait. The only options were a 15-minute wait for a 550 (which was significantly out of the way, since I wanted to go to the U-district, not downtown) or Uber.

      So, instead of Uber being the “last mile” service to connect to a mass transit trunk route, I ended up using the transit system as the last mile service, with Uber as the trunk route (following the route on the weekday-only 556 almost identically). It’s exactly backwards from the way one would expect, but when a corridor like downtown Bellevue->U-district has only hourly service at 8 PM on a Saturday night, this is the kind of craziness that happens. If Metro can’t find anymore hours to improve the weekend service on the 271, they could at least pay for it by truncating the weekend portion of the 271 at Eastgate, and running the Issaquah Tail only on weekdays.

      1. While all the Eastside night/weekend service reductions are frustrating, I think it’s the 541/542/545 that are the steepest. At peak-of-peak they combine for 16 buses/hour between Montlake and Overlake, but it drops to 1 bus/hour at night (or really evening on the weekends) since the 541/542 don’t run at all.

  7. Close the DSTT to buses and do it now. Add the turnback line from UW to Stadium and run the DSTT LR only at 3-min headways. There is no reason to delay.

    1. Two better reasons whose service needs to stay in DSTT for a few more years, Lazarus. Reason 41 ’til North LINK hits Northgate, and Reason 550 until EastLINK hits Bellevue.

      Ridership stats more than justify. And for DSTT passengers on these runs, slow and awkward to transfer at portals for a five minute tunnel ride. Maybe enough to convince a hesitant ST-3 voter.

      510-12 Lynnwood-Everett service too, same reasons ridership and political. Exactly kind of measure to take the “Want to Ride While I’m Alive” stickers off some bumpers. Tests long before opening proved that a CT driver can’t hit a tube wall no matter how hard they try.

      Metro dropped DSTT traffic control two weeks after opening in 1990. With routes above- especially with 41 and 550 only, without trolley-poles, should take less than two weeks to get service which joint ops won’t block.

      Convention Center can get in line. Transit was there first, carries passengers every day, answers to elected officials, and has open, public meetings. And has to answer publicly for every billion dollars. So, compromise.

      We keep on carrying a lot of Convention passengers to present Center. And expansion gets CPS after we’re done with it. Deal?

      Mark Dublin

      1. “Metro dropped DSTT traffic control two weeks after opening in 1990.”

        You keep saying this but what do you mean? The buses have stop/go signals before and after every station. Isn’t that traffic control?

    2. Sorry Laz, but MT hauls 3 times more butts than ST, so let’s not be too quick to forget who is doing most of the heavy hauling around here – at least for now

      1. @mic,

        Actually, your statement is false. In the DSTT LR actually carries many more passengers than does Metro. So we have gotten to the point were a minority of users are inconveniencing the majority.

        Additionally, Metro has to vacate the tunnel anyhow in 2017 or 2018 when WSCC construction begins, or at the latest in 2019 when East Link construction begins at the south portal. So how long are we going to try to deny reality before we actually step up and do it right? I say let’s step up now.

        DSTT operations have greatly improved since the number of buses using the tunnel was reduced. This alone should tell us that the path to reliable DSTT operations is to rail only.

        Interlining a turnback route between UW and Stadium stations also helps LR operations. Demand for LR is already sufficient to justify 3-car trains and is still growing. However for the most part these longer trains aren’t needed south of Int Dist Station. Interlining solves this problem by putting the capacity where it is needed, and the 3-min headways in the core is an added bonus.

      2. I was referring to system ridership, not just DSTT to be clear. By being too quick, I realize the buses are coming out of the tunnel, but would like to speed all the surface buses up when that happens, and not just turn 3rd and 2nd back into parking lots during commute hours in the PM.
        This needs to be a coordinated effort by ST, MT, and SDOT with significant changes to surface streets and signal timing to work.
        Then…. you can have your tunnel.

    3. True, if you only care about light rail performance and have no concern whatsoever for transit riders in general.

  8. Friday 5:30pm, UW Station: a 3-car train departs at least 85% full. Some ten standing spaces available in my car. Capitol Hill is not that busy, which is common for that time. At Westlake I get off and a bunch of people get on. I don’t know if they all do; but it looks like they would all barely fit. In short, I don’t see how they could fit onto two-car trains.

    I went to Bartell’s and the Westlake food court. Westlake Avenue was closed from Olive Way to the next street. On this end a police car blocked the street. On the other end a Metro bus appeared to block the street. I’m not sure if a bus was really doing that or it was just an illusion and the bus was sitting in traffic. Afterward I took the 131 intending to go to Costco. That route is noturiously late every day, 5-10 minutes or more (although I haven’t used it much since it switched from Dexter to Aurora on its 26 end). Today it was pretty on time. It was an articulated bus and pretty full. Normally I see that level of fullness only on weekends when it’s non-articulated. In Pioneer Square I decided I was too tired to go to Costco and possibly wait for a return bus, so I went to Uwajimaya, and took Link back to Capitol Hill, In short, Link now provides a reliable way through downtown and beyond to UW even when the buses are fubared.

  9. Sound transit is overly focused on commute travel. That’ said, I’ve yet to hear why KCM doesn’t emulate the service on surface streets during off hours like other cities have.

  10. @Zach,

    I agree that Metro and ST need to take a look at their weekend services when there are multiple events going on the area and to provide additional service.

    But I am wondering about your suggestion on terminating routes such as the 255, 545, 554, 578 and 594 at their nearest Link station and having passengers transfer. Now on paper that sounds like a good idea but what about an event like the Seahawks Super Bowl parade when Link Light Rail was jammed full starting at the airport. There may be other events in the future that are going to have similar crowds that will fill the trains by the time they would get to the stations where those bus passengers would be transferring.

    I suppose you could run shuttle trains from Sodo to Westlake or from UW to Sodo but before you force bus passengers to transfer you need to make sure that Light Rail is setup and have the room to handle the passengers at the transfer point.

      1. I really think these special event trains need to go from Mt. Baker to UW rather than Sodo to UW. That allows the buses to transfer passengers to Link to avoid the congestion near the event completely, rather than have them attempt to get to Sodo.

        Some buses I suppose will have to transfer at Sodo, but there are additional routing and transfer options at Mt. Baker and Beacon Hill that could be helpful. It’s not like those crowds are coming from a single point in Bellevue or something that can be served with an express bus going to a single point.

      2. Glenn, there’s no tail track at Mt. Baker. The choices are the tail track between IDS and Stadium, the one at Rainier Beach, or looping at the Maintenance Facility. The “last stop” for each option would be IDS, SoDo, or Rainier Beach respectively. There is no option between SoDo and RBS.

      3. I know there’s is no tail track there (it’s actually a full siding). Stuff can get added if it is important to do so though.

        Currently, there are no platforms with three tracks anywhere on Link. That means turn back options are very limited anyway because turn backs work best when there is a platform for the operator to change ends. The current sidings are basically designed only for storage of dead trains. There really isn’t enough space for the operator to get onto the ballast to change ends and have a second train go through next to it.

        There is a crossover just south of Mt Baker, and that plus enough space in the timetable to insert s train is really all you need.

        They’ve already turned trains there when track on ML King is closed due to collisions.

      4. So how do the operators change ends south of Mt. Baker? Don’t they have to walk alongside the train there too? Is there enough room between tracks in normal two track territory in order to do that safely?

        Originally there were plans to have turnbacks at RBS so I thought they would have provided room to walk between the center siding and one or the other of the running tracks. But apparently not so.

        So really the only truly safe turnbacks option would be to run around the outer loop at the MF making SoDo the last station.

        And that might not be a bad thing; it would provide a “proof of concept” for the five or six years that Junction Link will force transfers there.

      5. I don’t know what they do now, but one option at Mt Baker would be an operator get on at the station at the north end of the train and operate the train going back north once that 7 minute gap between trains open up along M L King. The operator on the south end could then get off when the train is going north and be ready to become the next operator on the next southbound train.

        Or maybe, and here’s an interesting idea: convince SDOT that maybe having people wait a few extra seconds to cross M L King on th cross streets, especially on the weekend, maybe won’t produce the end of the world as we know it. Then the trains could be turned at Rainier Beach.

      6. The two operators idea would definitely work; it’s a good out of the box suggestion.

        However, I wonder why you think that Mt. Baker is better than SoDo. We all know how rotten the transfers are there, and it would really only serve the RV and Renton well. Buses connecting at SoDo could use the E3 to Spokane to jump ahead of the traffic on First and Fourth and would have only the light at Sixth to contend with before getting on the freeway (or Airport Way via Industrial). They could even queue southbound in the busway shoulder.

      7. I guess I was also including events at the stadiums as special events, and thinking that with the I/90 interchange backed up sometimes, there might be cases where you’d want to run the I-90 buses to someplace other than Sodo.

        “Only the Rainier Valley”- yet the 7 is no slouch when it comes to being a busy route.

        Sure. Transfers at Mt Baker are not great. That needs to be solved for all other trips too, not just a few days per week that events happen.

    1. Need to investigate which turn-back station works best for each route. Especially for traffic and staging. By instinct, speaking as a passenger, when routed there through a shake-up, a Tunnel route should stay there on a normal day. Right now, at its regular-day worst, DSTT usually outruns avenues upstairs.

      But for Special Events, for a route that always runs on the surface, like the 594, passengers gain nothing on jammed surface streets. Especially with a turn-back at either SODO, Stadium, or Jackson, depending where traffic is clearest.

      Also, since these problems happen in the Downtown Seattle Central Business District, SDOT really bears all the responsibility for keeping traffic moving. Decision to leave buses jammed in traffic rather than reserving lanes and signal priority is their decision.

      Somebody please tell the Secret Service.


      1. @Mark Dublin

        The job of the Secret Service is to protect the president and they will implement whatever is necessary to do so regardless of what it does to traffic, transit, pedestrians, store owners, etc in downtown Seattle.

        I was leaving downtown on Friday night at about 8pm and traffic was jammed on Virginia Street, and Boren Avenue because of the street closures around the Westin Hotel. As far as reserving lanes and signal priority I don’t think it would helped buses or anyone else trying to get through downtown because there were not that many other streets or avenues available. When you close Stewart Street, Virginia Street, Westlake and 5th Avenues that doesn’t leave too many other options. Closing Stewart Street is especially bad as it an exit of I-5 and if you close that exit then traffic would go to the Union Street exit and you would create more problems on that street and. the surrounding streets.

        Unfortunately when the president comes to town and stays at the Westin it will be mess with the closed streets. And lets say that he stays at the Sheraton at 6th and Pike and the secret service closes at least Pike Street, Union Street and 6th and 7th Avenues and possible more streets you would just shift the problem just a little farther south and probable create other problems.

        And when the president leaves his hotel to go to whatever event he is attending the secret service closes the streets his motorcade will travel at least 10 to 15 minutes prior and that just adds to the traffic mess. Some years ago the APEC ministers meeting was held in Seattle and Bill Clinton was in attendance for several days. During that conference 5th Ave was closed to all traffic as were many side streets that crossed 5th Avenue. I was in downtown one day when the president was going from the Olympic Hotel to the Rainier Club which are located about 5 blocks apart. All traffic was halted for blocks around both locations at least 20 minutes before the motorcade. And if you don’t think the secret service is serious about protecting the president I looked up at the top of the building around the Olympic Hotel and I saw law enforcement officers with rifles looking down on the streets and the surrounding areas.

      2. The issue is not whether they’re serious; i.e., dedicated to their single job; it’s why they have the ability to override local laws. Under what authority do they have that ability? Is it something Congress did? Why don’t they arrange a smaller footprint for their security detail? Why doesn’t the president stay at some place other than adjacent to the primary circulation streets in the region? Why is the US the only country that has such a wide footprint for VIP events, and even imposes it on other countries when they’re visiting there? It makes us look arrogant and paranoid and hubristic.

      3. @ Mike Orr

        The Secret Service mission is to protect the president and I believe their authority came from Congress and in that regard they do have the right to do what is necessary including overriding local laws. I have an acquaintance who was with the SPD and involved in the planning of security for VIP’s including the president and the Secret Service makes all of the decisions in that regard including the size of the security detail and footprint. Local law enforcement can make suggestions or object to what is being asked but the final decision stays with the Secret Service.

        As far as the president staying at other hotels that are not adjacent to primary circulation streets the decision on where he stays is with the Secret Service.

        And yes it does look arrogant when the president travels to other countries and the Secret Service imposes their security requirements. But after the assassination of President Kennedy and the attempted assassination of President Reagan the Secret Service was criticized and since then they have increased the footprint of security around the president.

        Is it too much? Possible but their worst fears would another assassination attempt. .

      4. Presidents of other countries don’t get assassinated? They aren’t worth protecting too? Yet they do it without erecting a big moving regal state around them.

      5. Not disagreeing with you and we can be frustrated and upset but nothing is going to change that when the president travels the Secret Service makes their decisions regardless the affect it has on people. The only consolation is that every city is affected the same way and not just Seattle.

      6. You’re kidding, right, Mike? Or do you not recall at least two visits to Seattle by the Chinese premier, both of which involved much stricter security cordons than what the US president requires?

        My office is about as close to the center of the secured area when the Westin is involved as possible, and for the President’s visit we had no problem coming and going by foot in and out of the secure zone. You could not do that when the PRC premier was at the Olympic. It’s not just our country that does this, it’s the desires of the visiting government for the protection of their head of state/government.

    2. This is a concern I have about the various schemes I have seen pop up about truncating buses to link. On paper it sounds really good. And I would also guesstimate you could nearly double the frequency of the 594 by eliminating the downtown portion. Problem is, where do these people go? If the LINK trains are full or nearly so by the time they hit SoDo on a frequent basis what do you do than? If you terminate the buses further down the line, where do the people who want to get on go when the train gets to their stop? And how much of an impact on ridership will the forced transfer have, especially onto a service with crowded conditions? If I were to do such a thing, I would terminate the buses at International District station, there is plenty of “curb space” in the area, plus you can get on LINK, Streetcar, numerous surface buses, and in 2030 you will have both tunnels. I think this could be an idea proposed to the public, do you want the 59x service running through downtown, or would you like it to terminate at one end of downtown and get service every 15-20 minutes everyday instead of every 30 minutes?

  11. So, you keep ST busses out of downtown on special event days? When they usually go downtown? And the people riding them are most likely infrequent riders?

    I don’t see any way that you’ll ever notify these infrequent out-of-town riders that the bus will never come. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

    1. If we had a full customer service setup at the Airport, like Portland does, this would be less of a problem. But now, still seems like worst that can happen is that the bus driver pulls up to the LINK station, and tells passengers they need to transfer.

      If LINK fare inspectors don’t already do this, on Special Events days they can just skip the citations or warnings. So I don’t think this is anywhere near the inconvenience of keeping passengers aboard a trapped bus just because that’s the route.


      1. Not a problem if going to Seattle. I’m talking about passengers going back home. You’re in downtown Seattle. Your bus to Tacoma starts at SeaTac. How does an infrequent rider know that they need to get on the train? How do they know that the bus from downtown Seattle to Tacoma will never be there?

      2. Maybe we could use SDOT’s arrival displays? Half the time they seem to be broken for displaying arrival information anyways, but hopefully text alerts would be easier to manage.

    2. The same way other bus reroutes are communicated. I.e., not very well. Buses will be rerouted and stops temporary closed whenever there’s a parade or a presidential visit; the question is just which routes and where. The suburban routes are no more worthy of being immune to reroute than the Captiol Hill or Eastlake or Aurora routes are. Occasional riders are the ones least likely to have memorized, “Route X stops at streets Y and Z at the :10 and :40 of each hour”, so they’ll look it up before they go.

  12. Absolutely agreed. On Friday, some people sort of figured this out. I was traveling westbound from Overlake to UW about 4:45PM. Normally the 545 shows up, and then the 541 a few minutes later. People line up for both buses, and there’s a sort of wordless ritual to figure out who’s waiting for which bus. The 545 tends to leave packed, and the 541 gets a handful of people at Overlake, and a dozen or so on the other side of 520.

    On Friday, though, the 545 was late and the 541 showed up first. Lots of people got on the 541 (I would estimate at least double the normal load), but there were still a couple dozen waiting for the 545. At the UW Medical Center stop, a whole bunch got off, many of whom I would assume figured out they could take Link downtown.

    If that many people are happy taking Link downtown, maybe it could be viable sending the 545 to UW, in effect turning it into a modified 541/542 (Redmond to UW rather than Redmond to Green Lake, maybe). Of course, it would really help if WSDOT would get on board and actually make the 520 off-ramp work for buses.

    1. Heading from Overlake TC to the U-district after work, I usually take whatever bus comes first, regardless whether it’s a 541, 542, or 545. Based on my observations from 545 case, I think the introduction of the 541 has had a real impact on alleviating the 545 crowds. The 541 ridership has been slowly perking up each week, and it now runs with about 70% of the seats full. Meanwhile, ridership on the 545 has gone from complete crushloads to merely full (e.g. all the seats full, plus about 5-10 people standing). The approach of having the 541 use the Bay 4 OTC stop to poach riders from the 545 definitely seems to be working.

      I also suspect a good number of other people are doing the “whichever vehicle comes first” thing, as evidenced by the fact that, even with the 541 and 542 both running, there are still a fair number of people exiting the 545 at Montlake Freeway Station.

      1. Yep, if I’m going to Link then we’ll take the 541 or 545, since I can easily make the walk from Montlake to UW Station in the amount of time it takes the 541 to drive up the ramp and over the bridge. It even saves a crosswalk wait.

  13. The 10:42 ST522 from downtown was SRO through Lake City tonight, presumably thanks to Pride. And there was only one more after, at 11:42. I do _not_ understand why 522s drop down to much on Saturday evening in general, and it gets just stupid on event weekends. So for the love of the gods, yes, let’s have more event scheduling.

    1. It’s not just the 522. Every bus connecting Seattle to the eastside, whether via I-90 or 520, is down to hourly service by 9 PM on a Saturday night. Many such routes drop to hourly service as early as 7 PM on Saturday night. (With one exception in the form on half-hourly service on the 550).

      And one wonders why people are still driving downtown to big events, clogging up the streets.

  14. I like the idea; I would like to expand it further in addition to big events also into emergency preparedness. For example, snow. The other place that Link shines is during snow and weather emergencies. I would also suggest running the service like the above a snow route.

    Essentially, I like the idea of ‘flipping a switch’ between regular and ‘fubar’ service. (Brand ‘fubar’ however you like.) The other place where Link shines is that most stops are sheltered and you can place staffers during ‘fubar’ service who can help passengers between bus and train answer questions.

    1. I like ‘fubar’ service as branding! :)

      “Note: Due to the state visit of the Albanian prime minister on Thursday 11 August, all buses will be on FUBAR routes and schedules that day. Please consult the Metro/Sound Transit website for further FUBAR scheduling information regarding your desired route.”

      (also good would be FUMTU: “f-ed up more than usual.” We could then return to SUSFU “situation unchanged; still f-ed up” scheduling once the special event requiring FUBAR/FUMTU service is over)

  15. Forced transfers only on special occasions, Metro and CT buses to/from Link won’t work until every rider uses ORCA. Would be a nightmare to explain to riders, especially outbound from downtown. Do I catch my bus in its usual spot, or do I ride Link to X station and catch my bus in an entirely different place, perhaps a stop that it never makes on its regular route.

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