Mesmerizing visualization of 24 hours of bus service across King County circa 2014. You can see the huge influx of buses into downtown Seattle in the morning, the thinning of service later in the evening, and the pulses of buses departing transit centers among many activities. The buses move in straight line between stops, so don’t confuse West Seattle expresses for water taxis. Read the video description for more info.

38 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: 24 hours of Metro in 2014”

  1. Just ordered for me from Powell’s BART: The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System. Such a shame this didn’t come out say in September when so many fellow STB Commentators were equating ST3 with BART, but alas the BART comms guy put this book out. I think it would behoove some of us to read it….

    1. Have you been in the actual store yet? (The big one on Burnside, not the Hawthorne branch).

      1. Yes, it’s awesome and I’ve meant to post the pictures since late October. Thanks for the reminder, but Miss Oregon (America) wants some photos of her tonight ;-). Wow, our timing! I <3 Portlandia!

  2. Gotta say too I’m writing my comments for the Seattle Sound Transit Service Implementation Plan. It is real tempting to turn in comments starting with a paragraph like this:

    Let me begin by stating with humility and respect I realize I am not the hero who should be wearing a #3 to all Sound Transit events. I didn’t pick apart the North by Northwest Defenses, realizing that Geoff Patrick and Joe Kunzler were willing to sacrifice light rail to Paine Field for the good of the ST3 cause and listening to mostly insulated commentators on a certain transit blog. I didn’t have guys who publicly doubted my ability to lead to all the sudden get on the light rail to the Mount Baker Station and pick me up flowers at QFC and bring them back in a big vase with water in it on a standing room light rail train as per . I didn’t have to scramble and do the read option past Alex Tsimerman, Seattle Times, “Save Our Trail”, John Niles, some transit blog commentators stuck on ‘Ballard or Bust’, and “No ST3” red shirts to deliver ST3 to the Sound Transit Board with a little help from some Joe and Seattle Subway. I didn’t have to go into a blackout and then in the final few days find a ghost from when my last name was something else come back in the Wall Street Journal and my pet Richard Sherman terrified the NoST3 guys were going to go for our Russell Wilson’s joints.

    Uh folks, folks if you want to top this go here: . I dare ya ;-).

  3. Is the Federal Way I-5 alignment set it in stone or can it still be changed to SR99 if enough people speak up about it?

    1. You would probably have to get I would say 50+ people to the ST Board meeting Thursday and raise a big stink about the alignment. If they gave into Kirkland raising a big stink then we can raise a big stink in order to not follow the same bad history we’ve seen with Lynnwood Link.

      1. That’s the trick. 100 minutes of ST Board airshow time plus T-shirts and you start getting results. Just ask Save Our Trail… they brought the heat.

        Be a great way to spend a Thursday afternoon. Try to get a good seat to watch the Sound Transit Offense work to make love trump hate!

      2. Save Our Trails and 522 Transit Now rose up when the corridors were first being considered. Do you remember a decision last year or the year before when ST chose the I-5 alignment? That was the time to demonstrate for 99. A lot of us sent feedback to ST and spoke up in open houses arguing for the 99 alignment\, although without the T-shirts. So ST got the feedback but it didn’t want to go against Des Moines’ and Federal Way’s wishes. Des Moines was worried about disrupting car dealerships and strip malls (its tax base, and low-cost spaces for immigrant businesses). Federal Way may have been concerned about that but was more concerned about travel time. Kent meanwhile wanted it on 99, and zoned urban villages there. Des Moines zoned a minimal urban village on 99 (one wonders, the smallest it could get away with). So the decision basically gives all three cities what they want: Des Moines and Federal Way can keep trains away, and Kent gets KDM station close to 99 on its land. Taking a broader view, ST wanted to avoid another fight with cities like it had in south Bellevue. That just delays things (East Link is a year late because of it), and drives up the cost (defending lawsuits). ST could eminent-domain it but it really doesn’t want to, because again it would create an antagonistic relationship with the cities.

        So expecting ST to change its mind now a year after the decision is like asking a judge to reverse his verdict. He already considered your side when he made the decision, so what new evidence is there to persuade him to reverse it? It’s still worth stating your opinion at every stage so that the size and persistence of the opposition is proven, but it’s extremely unlikely that the board would be convinced to not approve the final EIS or to change the alignment.

      3. Well said Mike. I think frankly this fantasy talk of changing alignments is not good. Rogoff made pretty damn clear that kinda stuff – like reckless talk on a certain podcast of trying to make the North by Northwest alignment more urban – is going to make ST3 farther out.

        That said, do I think the very likely alignments need improvement? Yes.

        Do I think Mukilteo is going to have to make sure to have fast, frequent buses to the Paine Field alignment? Yes.

        IT’s a matter of picking and choosing battles to make sure the buses feed the light rail.

      4. After a decision goes bad, there are two ways to react to it. One is to say “That was bad” and vent your frustration, and longer term to lament that it wasn’t better and what we’ve lost. The other is to rage against the decision-makers forever and call them incompetent nincompoops (which is usually false), and generally to overexaggerate the problem and hold a grudge. The first attitude is more useful than the second. I lament that Lynnwood Link didn’t go on 99 and Federal Way Link is about to make the same mistake. There is vast potential for TOD along both those streets — the most in the county — and it would displace nobody’s single-family house or ruin their view. That has been thrown down the drain, at least the regional transit portion. You won’t be able to step out of your TOD cluster and onto a train and be whisked to away Seattle or Tacoma or Lynnwood or Bellevue or wherever you’re going. RapidRide is something, and it will help with trips to the store, but when it takes twenty minutes just to get to a transfer point, that adds up over time. So that’s what we’ve lost. On the other hand, something is better than nothing. If Link is a half-mile or a mile away and you can get to it somehow, then you can be whisked to Seattle or Tacoma or Lynnwood or Bellevue even if there’s a twenty-minute overhead to get the last mile home. And people will be glad it’s there, and the next generation will wonder how they could live without it. Because without it, it’s the same overhead plus a less-frequent bus that gets stuck in traffic and makes all your trips more difficult and less feasible. So we need to recognize what we’ve lost but also recognize what we still have and try to make it the best we can, and focus on the future decisions rather than the past decisions.

  4. So the regular bus rounding Alki, (37 I think) doesn’t run anymore? Or at least very seldom? Sad. I used to take it years ago, from Avalon to Alki.

    1. Many years ago it was all day to the Junction as I recall and peak to downtown. Now only the peak service exists. However, the Water Taxi shuttle replaces it when the water taxi is running, which is all day in summer and peak only in winter.

      1. I find it ridiculous that the water taxi shuttle doesn’t run during the season that the water taxi doesn’t run. Contrary to what the name suggest, getting to/from the water taxi isn’t the only purpose of the water taxi shuttle – it’s also about basic local circulation, since, except for one stop served by the 50, it’s the only transit around.

        If running a separate bus is too expensive, perhaps all-day service along on the Alki corridor could be implemented by extending the 50 along the beach to the water taxi terminal. The 128 also comes oh-so-close to being an all-day water taxi shuttle, except it stops two blocks short, rather than take California Ave. down the hill.

    2. Youd think Alki would have better transit service, theres a fair amount of housing and destinations there and then of course there is the summer beach mobs

  5. This’ll be a rant about how much I dislike football detours, Short version, Metro and ST are NOT good at communicating with the public about service interruptions they know about months in advance. They need better signs that are understandable by average people, and they need to make sure employees are knowledgable about the diversions and what passengers should do.

    Yesterday evening I was heading from downtown to the southeast end of Shoreline and just missed the half-hourly 522 which came several minutes early. I decided to take Link to UW and catch a frequent 65. I decided against the 41, because that’s a dangerous 1 mile walk about Lake City Way to make alone in the dark.
    1 – UW station was fairly empty, but I noticed all sorts of crowd control devices Football! I asked a security guard and he was somewhat condescending to me that I didn’t know there was a UW football game on, but assured me that all buses were operating normally. If he had told me buses were diverted, I probably would have gotten back on the train to downtown to avoid the mess.
    2 – Got to the 65 bus stop, 8 people were already waiting I saw signs in the shelter saying the bus stop was closed, but no signs on the timepost where most people were waiting. No sign of any buses, so I called all the people over and told them the stop was closed. They’d either have to walk 1 mile to U Village or 1/4 mile to a shuttle bus to Campus Parkway. Everyone scattered, but nobody followed me to the shuttle stop. Maybe they gave up on the bus and called taxis?
    3 – Got to the shuttle stop – an unmarked bus shelter that is NOT used for any regular service. Saw a visually impaired elderly man waiting for the 65 on Pacific Pl and I told him the 65 wouldn’t come and he should come with me to catch the 65.
    4 – A 48 pulled up on Pacific St and let people board. (suprising because the 48 doesn’t stop there anymore…). I asked the driver the best way to get to the 65. They told me to keep waiting because the 65 was detoured and would be on Pacific St instead of Pacific Place, but it would be stopping where we were.
    5 – A shuttle pulls up. I asked the driver the best way to get to the 65. They told me to get on board because the 65 won’t be stopping anywhere near UWMC. The visually impaired guy chose not to board and waited for the 65 bus that the 48 driver said was coming.
    6 – Shuttle drops us off south of 15th Ave and 40th St. Says he can’t take people onto Campus Parkway. Instead we have to walk 1/4 mile up to 42nd St to catch the 65.
    7 – Board the 65 at 42nd St. Bus is delayed a couple of minute at 42nd St because the driver has to explain to people why he’s not going south to the UWMC and station, and how people can get there. Maybe he should have warned them to exit at Campus Parkway stop?
    8 – 65 is routed over the 45th St viaduct and skips U Village. As we drive down, I can see 2 people waiting in the bus shelter on eastbound Montake and 45th for a bus that won’t be coming.

    So there were people waiting at 3 consecutive 65 stops for a bus that was detoured. Now some of that is on the people for not reading the alert signs. And some my trouble getting home was because I didn’t check Metro’s alert page in the 3 minute window walking from 6th/Pike to the DSTT. But some of it is on Metro for not posting the signs in obvious places and for not making them easy to understand. And some of it is on the ST employees who lie to people about buses operating normally. And some of it is on the Metro drivers who give incorrect information. Especially the 48 driver who could have taken us to a 65 stop with no further walking but told us to wait for a bus that wasn’t running. And for good measure, some of it is on ST for not making announcements on Link. If I had known about the football game, I would never have taken Link and would have just gone back and waited for the next 522. I’d complain, except neither Sound Transit or Metro ever respond to complaints, and the disgruntlement of me and the dozen other people I interacted with pales in comparison with how much they’re making from football attendees. Especially now that ST3 passed, why should they care about keeping passengers happy?

    1. Metro used to put Alert Notices at bus stops when buses were re-routed during games and other events. Sending out e-mail alerts is good but not enough.

    2. Metro knows about the game several months ahead but it doesn’t know about the exact traffic conditions until they happen. So the reroutes start when traffic gets bad enough and end when they clear up, and sometimes a particular street is worse than predicted or less bad than predicted.

    3. It would also be awesome if northbound Montlake Blvd was routed between the station and the stadium which would make the station an island in the middle of Montlake Blvd, then have buses drop right at the station.

    4. Last week I came back from Bellevue on the 271 because I-90 has a lane closed for East Link construction. The driver said he’d stop at the Montlake freeway station and then go via the University Bridge to Campus Parkway (I assume using the Roanoke exit). He said Metro didn’t want buses on Pacific Street because there’s a Husky game. So we got off at the Montlake freeway station and walked up to the Link station. The game was in the middle and you could hear the announcements and cheering from outside. (I’ve been noticing that since UW Station opened.) I looked right at the parking lot east of the station, and it was full of cars. Um, street traffic was clear.


    Front page news in Olympia this morning, but nothing new about fact that worst obstacle to traffic on I-5 between the Canadian border and the Oregon line is traffic itself. Coupled with years’ long highway construction, and an exploding population in Seattle.

    “Political Correctness” (us liberals can also accuse our enemies of it, and tell them “Suck It Up, Buttercup” if they don’t like it) says that “There Is Absolutely Nothing We Can Do About Any of This, Especially Through The Government That Is Our Machinery For Taking Care of Exactly Such Matters.”

    Wrong enough about market forces, housing, and land use. But when Freighthouse Square becomes an Amtrak station, a ten minute rail service extension across the Nisqually River from Dupont to Olympia, freight-free to Dupont, on brand new tracks and switches, should be a “Just Do It.”

    For taxpayers willing to keep paying for a Federal highway they can run at driveway speed for decades, the Second Amendment probably says that’s in there too. But eighty or so miles of existing railroad running parallel should count as Homeland Security. (Still like “National Defense” better, but you can’t wear shades and torture people.)

    Aside from a few Tacoma Rail freights, we’d be sharing a very short distance along with BN trains, which will continue around Point Defiance. By the tape measure, Sounder is much longer route to Seattle than I-5. But speed on average tape measure isn’t much affected by traffic.

    I-5 transit lanes from the Border to the Oregon line will someday happen. But meantime, we’ve got some tracks already down. Worth a try. Or somebody with a better idea.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark,

      Olympia barely fills up five buses a day each way. ST is thinking about canceling the service next year. So we don’t need a train.

      However, I’d very much urge everyone to demand northbound shoulder running from the north end of the Nisqually River bridge up to Center Boulevard for buses from Thurston County. It would be much faster than the long leisurely loop past the brewery. And there could be peak hour collectors from various points around Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey direct to the Dupont Sounder Station.

      Mid-days and evenings a single BRT lineserving Lacey T/C, downtown Olympia and Evergreen T/C would be an appropriate service.

      1. Good sensible ideas, Richard. You’ve probably noticed I’ve pretty much “lost it” over traffic conditions on I-5. And any way of fixing them that isn’t slower than the traffic itself. Your plan will solve a lot of important things mine won’t.

        The freight line that carries fracking sand and other unpopular cargo from Downtown Olympia through Lacey would take passengers a long, slow time even to get to Dupont. And the tracks would need a lot of work.

        More than one Intercity Bus Route needs to be straightened. Or include express service. An IT 600 series express bus can take 20 minutes just to get to Lacey Transit Center and lose fifteen more going through SR512 Park and Ride.

        Sound Transit 592 loses ten minutes looping out of Olympia, fifteen at Hawk’s Prairie P&R just above the river, fifteen more at Dupont, and at least ten at SR512. It bypasses Tacoma, but still takes an hour to get to 4th and Seneca. Two hour trip total.

        592 to the train at Dupont, instead of Lakewood as I often do, would let me board the train at instead of waiting ten minutes on the bus ’til time to depart for another hour and a quarter ride to Seattle.

        If the 592 just had a straight run to Seattle, ridership would doubtless pick up. But two hours or more is a long time for a 60 mile drive up a freeway signed for 60 mph.

        If IT or ST gets a scheduled meet with Sounder at Dupont, the buses don’t have to go any farther. Certainly not past 512 P&R. I’d ride it. 6 minute streetcar ride from Tacoma Dome gets me my coffee at Anthem Cafe by the History Museum before choice of routes north.

        Speaking of which, the freed-up ST service could be transferred to another purpose a State legislator mentioned to me at the Westin on Election Night. She’s heard Capitolians discussing express service to and from Sea-Tac Airport.

        Right now, trip is possible after a fashion, if we add a savagely-enforced hundred percent connection with the 574 at SR 512. Right now, IT to Tacoma, 574 to the Airport, and LINK downtown is my most traffic-free way.

        But for the Capitol Limited (Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Chicago to Washington DC) non-stop to Sea-Tac will work best, climbing SR 518 rather than diverting to 188 as now. Better for ST Express not to stop between terminals.

        In session or not, this service might carry a lot of unelected passengers. With LINK connection, could turn out to be fastest ride into Seattle. And UW. And progressively farther north. By WSOT’s website, we are due for some more transit lanes in the south. It all helps. But many thanks, Richard. Good to see one more citizen who’s still fighting back.

        Soon as I get checked for papers, though, I’ll be riding those Baltic hydrofoils when I get sent home to the east end of the Baltic. Too bad it’s 25,000 feet underwater, because the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a BEAUTIFUL wall, whether the Russians pay for it or not.


    2. BoltBus runs Eugene to Portland, as does Amtrak and Greyhound.

      However, the state of Oregon also subsidizes additional bus service to compliment the Amtrak trains it funds.

      Maybe one thing to start would be some state provided supplemental bus service to provide additional departure options?

    3. The ‘dog’ barely serves Olympia anymore but that would otherwise be the way to get to Olympia. Greyhound does have a station downtown unless they’ve recently sold it off along with all their other assets thanks to the vulture capitalists that bought the prison transport company.

      1. The bus station’s still there, Poncho, right across the street from Sylvester Park, the pretty little park in the middle of Downtown Olympia. There’s a statue of Populist (opposite of Donald Trump!) Governor John Rankin Rogers.

        Was reading the plaque on the pedestal to a Korean girl who didn’t know English. “I would make it impossible for the covetous and avaricious to utterly impoverish the poor. The rich can take care of themselves!” Maybe now the Democrats will put it in their platform.

        And then from a hundred feet away: “Hey! Didn’t anybody ever tell you it’s not polite to point?” Still not sure if the wino sprawled on the bench a hundred feet away was talking to me or not.

        Or the Governor’s own opinion. Could be it was: “At least that poor unfortunate man remembers his manners. After all these years, rude pointing is almost as annoying as these damn pigeons!”


    4. “Olympia barely fills up five buses a day each way.”

      That has nothing to do with it. There is no reverse-peak or midday service, so obviously nobody is riding it. You can get to Olympia by transferring to Intercity Transit at Tacoma Dome or Lakewood (depending on the run), but it takes two hours each way with sometimes a half-hour wait, and it’s every 90-120 minutes midday. No service on weekends, or after 7:30pm northbound or 9pm southbound.

      “ST is thinking about canceling the service next year. So we don’t need a train..”

      Olympia is outside the ST district and the ST voters haven’t agreed to fund Olympia service. So it depends on Intercity Transit or the state to fund the extensions. The Sounder proposal is not for right now, it’s a long-term goal that would require state and ST cooperation and probably an ST4 vote. That’s assuming the district isn’t enlarged. The district could be enlarged, but I have strong reservations about bringing in an exurban county that would probably vote No on everything.

      1. Mike;

        As much as I have said in the past I’d like the Sound Transit district to expand both south to Olympia and at least northward to Marysville if not – yes – Mount Vernon-Burlington, the scary recent election results out of Pierce County make me reconsider those views too. I think once we hear of intelligent postmortem of what happened in Pierce with the two Pierce Transit measures & ST3, I’ll maybe be less… scared.

      2. Mike, starting about three years ago, about the time I got here, Seattle’s Von Hindenbergianly explosive housing market has, in addition to turning sixty miles of I-5 into a scrapyard, started the end of Your Grandfather’s Olympia.

        Because until the legal (what a complete bummer!) marijuana industry which has just surpassed liquor comes equal with Jeff Bezos, there’ll soon be enough votes to recall and possibly kill any official who doesn’t like transit.

        Including our older neighbors who miss their pretty old town, and, as mentioned above, Governor Rogers, who’s had it with people pointing at his statue. Do the rules say we need the whole county? With current population stats, might not be an issue.


      3. Marysville to Smokey Point is most likely, to recognize the de facto growth there and to balance Snohomish and Pierce more equitably. I could possibly support Thurston and Skagit. But the further out you go, the more that interests diverge. Seattle needs more underground subways throughout the city. Marysville, Thurston, and Skagit really need one single corridor with Sounder or BRT or ST Express. This is where it helps that all regional travel there is north-south, and the cities are not so large as to require multiple corridors. As contrasted with the Eastside and south King County, which need significant east-west service and a grid as well as north-south. But again those areas are very reluctant to tax, and that collides with Seattle’s need for underground subways. So in either case — whether annexing or bilateral agreements — there would have to be a specific understanding of what kind and level of service those areas would receive, and some kind of guarantee that they won’t sabotage Seattle’s and King County’s transit build-out with their No votes.

  7. It’s definitely interesting to watch those black comets rocket across to the east side, while in the meantime the 24 is still wandering around its half-pretzel in Magnolia.

    And that really is interesting how the stop by stop data produce a fleet of water taxis that aren’t there.

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