54 Replies to “Post-Viaduct Open Thread”

  1. For unrelated reasons, I went in earlier than usual today. At 6am Northbound Link was at roughly its seated capacity. The northbound 124 was hopelessly delayed, but northbound buses that originate downtown were operating smoothly around 6:30am.

  2. Yesterday (Sunday) I drove eastward on Mercer from 1st Ave towards I-5 trying to get to Fairview, and the Sunday traffic was already backing up to Dexter. On a Sunday afternoon. I can only imagine what it will be like today.

  3. Usual commute departing Ballard at 7am to Downtown was uneventful. I wasn’t expecting much trouble in the morning given the limited viaduct impacts on this route.

    Traffic was similar to normal. The bus had a few more standees than usual but not that different. Tuesday-Thursday will be the real test of bus capacity but 1 AM commute down with no issues.

    1. At 7:35 in Ballard, 15Xs were delayed–according to one bus away, there was one 12 minutes late (one right on top of the other). I caught the first D line bus, but the jog wasn’t much longer than normal (other than people without ORCA cards)

      Will be interesting to see how many more people telework (some federal agencies have cut down on telework)

      1. I saw that delay on the 15X, and ended up on the bus behind it (which actually had passed the late one). Was just as quick as always from Market St to downtown.

  4. Angle Lake Station parking garage was a little more full than usual at 6:45 this morning—I’m going to have to push my departure time about 15 minutes earlier this week, I think. Link was full but not crush loaded from Tukwila until University Street. A fairly normal Monday morning—we’ll see how the afternoon goes, though.

  5. I live in Maple Leaf and work in the International District by Union Station. I had a non-eventful commute.

    Normally I take a 41 from Northgate Transit Center or a combination 67 to U-District and xfer to the 74 in the tunnel. Today even though traffic looked OK, I took the 373X to University Station and boarded link.

    373X was full, but not rush loaded.
    I boarded the third car of the Link train leaving at 6:30 and had the two seats to myself. It was not very crowded at all.

    I checked the WSDOT app traffic map just after 7 and it showed southbound I-5 turning red in the express lands between 520 and downtown and the mainline turning red as well.

  6. Route 120 trip report, #VIADOOM Day 1:

    Despite being “On Time” in One Bus Away, first bus never showed, and the second bus ten minutes later was already standing-room-only northbound just north of Westwood Village (about 7:30 am). Most stops past the Home Depot were skipped as the bus was then crush-loaded.

    But once you got on a bus, it was great. The inbound re-route via the 4th Ave exit and SODO Busway was very smooth, and we arrived downtown 5 minutes faster than a typical morning peak commute (skipping all the stops on Delridge helped). Traffic looked moderately light. Driver made an additional stop at 3rd & James, although 3rd& Madison was the first announced stop.

    Hope the trip home is as quick.

      1. No, it is not normally that crowded. But it is typical when a bus doesn’t show up in the AM peak, leaving the next bus to handle twice the demand, and a third bus to pick up those towards the end of the route that were passed up.

        It is a pattern often seen on Snow Reroute Days and Viaduct Shutdown Days, when buses can’t complete their routes in the allotted cycle time.

    1. I boarded near Westwood Village on the 120 around 7:15ish AM. The bus was a bit more crowded than usual (all the seats were taken) and by the next few stop was full. I felt bad for all the people waiting at the stops between Orchard st (Home Depot) to the West Seattle Bridge because we couldn’t pick them up.

      Metro should run more buses and consider starting closer to the bridge (Westwood Village / Orchard Street) to pick up the people at the end of the line.

      The reroute wasn’t bad.

      1. I would assume that a lot of those extra buses ended up being used as “short trips” for long routes that consistently need to skip the same stops due to being full. Otherwise there’s no way to catch a bus on Delridge until demand dies down.

      2. Your comments are definitely welcome, I only know what I’ve read here or heard in board meetings or from my transit-riding hobby (below). But those standby buses are for the purpose of swooping in when a bus is broken down or there’s a disabled car blocking the road. If you deploy them every time a bus is late, they won’t be available for those more severe problems. Twenty standby buses may seem like a lot, but when every route has a half-dozen buses on it at a time, it adds up to a lot of buses, any one of which could break down.

        My comment was mainly directed at the fact that Metro has a limited number of buses now, just enough for regular peak-hours, with a percent for maintenance rotation and spares. Metro has been turning Seattle’s Prop 1 levy money for additional runs because it doesn’t have the buses for them. (It also couldn’t hire drivers fast enough, but apparently that has been solved.) It can’t order more buses because the bus bases are full. Another base is in development but it will take several years to open.

        My transit hobby started as a child. I chose a junior high across town without school buses, and after a year I started riding Metro to it every day. My friend moved to the top of Queen Anne the summer before high school, and when i visted there I was amazed at the 20-minute service, silent trolleybuses (quieter than the current ones because they didn’t have a constant fan), and the ability to walk to a corner store, friends’ houses, and Seattle Center on Friday and Saturday evenings. I had read about these walkable, transit-rich neighborhoods in pre-WWII children’s books, and wanted to live in an environment like that. After high school I started traveling to California and seeing its transit and cities, and after college I went to a few European countries, and in the 2000s I went to the east coast several times. I had never met more than a few scattered transit fans, but in 2008 STB was created and I discovered it soon after, and found there were hundreds of transit fans in Seattle, and found out about the ST/Metro board meetings and open houses and Jarrett Walker’s work (humantransit.org). So what I know is pretty much what I’ve seen in those encounters. I don’t travel much anymore or attend as many meetings.

      3. I think for some routes, there are buses that start midway down the route during peak specifically to insert a mostly empty bus into the middle of the route. So it’s certainly an option, but a Mike says, KCM is basically a “max pull” during peak, so additional buses would generally need to come from another, less important route. These minor “optimization” of bus deployment happens two or three times a year, each time KCM does a service change.

  7. 594 is fine inbound from Tacoma- don’t know how it did in downtown since I got off at SoDo, but bus driver says that traffic is pretty bad. Link trains are very crowded at SoDo.

    1. The 590 NB that left TDS at 5:41 AM was normal capacity, and arrived downtown (I get off at Olive) around the same time as last week, at about 6:45-6:50 AM. The true tests will be tonight, and later this week. (I’m not able to do stairs right now, so will be relying on the bus for the next few weeks.)

  8. Water taxi was very smooth. Icy roads for the steep descent to Alki were the only unusual problem. I waited for a friend at Alki Beach and rode together around the point. Just missed the 8am sailing but happily the 8:15 left right on time (they’re now closing gates a minute early to ensure lines are cast off right at scheduled departure). There were about 3 big e-bikes and 4 regular bikes including mine, so rack was only half full.

    Kudos to the water taxi team moving very swiftly. Even after we waited till all the pedestrians disembarked, my fellow cyclists and I were on the dock downtown at 8:26.

    1. I walked from North Admiral down to the Water Taxi and also missed the 8am sailing as the sidewalks were frosty and I had to take it slower. Beautiful crossing at that time of the morning though!

  9. I have a rather long and unusual commute – Northgate/Meridian to Eastgate P&R – and I usually take the 316 downtown and then transfer to the 212/217/554/whatever comes first. I took 1 bus earlier than usual (7am instead of 7:15am) just in case and… it was thoroughly uneventful. The 316s are always pretty full by the time we get to I-5, I didn’t notice it being any worse. Handoff to the 212 this morning seemed normal.

    Reverse commute I usually take the 555 (until I can’t…). I’m expecting that to be uneventful as well, but I’ll let ya know!

  10. @Martin Duke — you were right, I was wrong. Looked like traffic and bus commutes from West Seattle were fine. I’m very happy to be proven wrong here, and it is really breathtaking evidence of the corollary to induced demand, of I guess “adaptive shrinking/shifting demand” or something, when a highway is taken out.

    My wager could only pan out now if there’s a seesaw effect of everyone hearing the news that today was fine and then trying to drive the next few days.

    Again, very happy to be proven wrong and feeling a bit silly for my apocalyptic warnings on the “Bye, Viaduct” thread. I was venting some steam at my impression that SDOT and WSDOT were not doing enough to insulate and support bus riders through the closure, and I let it blind me.

  11. As I expected my morning drive was fine. Left at the same time as before and took my alternate route via the waterfront, very little traffic. I get started at around 6:40am so I’m ahead of the rush, I expect its worse later in the morning. Now getting home is a different story. I’m going to play it dangerously and leave at my normal time and see what happens. Depending on what kind of traffic I see I’ll either get on 1st Ave right away or I’ll head up Marginal/99 and take the final exit to Marginal (that road between the port and 99) and then hop over to 1st ave at the stadiums. Or maybe I’ll starve to death in the traffic, who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  12. My cycling commute to Sodo only took a few minutes longer, mainly due to extra bicycle traffic! Interesting to see traffic police standing on a few corners on 1st Ave S and Atlantic/Edgar Martinez.

    1. Yeah, I got in a bicycle traffic jam as well. I had to slow down on 9th Ave N for several blocks leaving the Westlake bike path.

      I also hit some ice on the Westlake trail. Fortunately there were several cones in the area and I could see salt on the trail, but I still slipped and almost fell.

      Getting from downtown to the SoDo Trail was still extremely scary today, but nothing new there. Ditto for the Airport Way bridge over the tracks into Georgetown.

  13. My commute is Lake Forest Park to U District, so I wasn’t expecting any problems and there weren’t any.

    When the viaduct was closed last time, wasn’t the 1st week fine, but then things got bad during the 2nd week? Perhaps because people ran out of flexibility to work from home or to work different hours. Or because people had false optimism due to good performance.

    It will also be interesting to see what happens with next weekend’s downtown March-a-palooza (Women’s marches on Saturday and Sunday, MLK march Monday)

  14. The bus I was on this morning (116 that leaves the Fauntleroy dock around 6:00 or so) was on time. Number of passengers was more or less the normal for that trip).

    EB traffic on the West Seattle Bridge was slower than normal (no surprise there),

    There was a 56 that did stop at a light rail station (per comment left at the West Seattle Blog).

  15. I take the 556 from Issaquah to Bellevue that leaves at 6:56AM. I didn’t expect much impact, but my bus was much fuller than usual this morning. Usually, ~2/3 of the seats are full with no one standing. This morning, every seat was taken and almost all of the standing space was full. No idea if these were mostly new riders or just people pushing their commute time forward.

  16. I cross the Fremont bridge on my bike every morning around 8. Normally the bike counter is around 350-400, while today it was at 750! It certainly helps that today is so sunny.

  17. Rode the bike. It’s appropriate year-round if you have the right clothes. Even better, it’s certified traffic-proof. So, if you’re a regular rider and hopped on the trusty steed this morning, then today wasn’t notable other than being Monday.

    1. There was a bike slowdown in the 9th Ave N PBL just south of Westlake this morning. We need the I-5 express lanes bike highway yesterday!

  18. Caught the 541 at Evergreen Point around 7:30 AM – it was more crowded than usual, but not packed. 520 was pretty much the same as always. Took Link from UW to IDS – it was a two car train, so it was jammed packed for Seattle; people were almost touching in the aisles! However, that’s not much different than normal for a 2 car train in rush hour.

    Really, the only problem with the commute was, as others have pointed out, the sidewalks. It was very slippery walking to Evergreen Point!

  19. Tried cycling from West Seattle to downtown this morning at 7am. I’m a veteran commuter and even I was pretty scared by the ice, darkness, road surface, traffic, 5-way intersections, broken up bike lanes, etc. Bike commuting to DT is simply not an option for 99% percent of West Seattle residents.

    1. I’m curious what would lower your 99% figure to, say, 70%? As a former West Seattle to Downtown bike commuter, going to work wasn’t a problem. It’s all downhill, and pretty devoid of cars after Avalon. The biggest obstacle is going home. Avalon and 36th/37th are pretty steep hills to ride up daily, especially with impatient people in cars on your tail. I think a protected bike lane going all the way up Avalon, then continuing on Fauntleroy and Alaska would go a long way to making cycling to West Seattle/the Junction viable.

      1. I came from Admiral, so instead of braving Admiral Way (terrible road surface, likely a lot of ice, and fast cars with no bike lane heading downhill), I took California down the hill to Alki. I can’t speak to Avalon, but I can say that even that first mile or two were very unpleasant and legit frightening. Along Alki to cluster-f*** intersection by Chelan Cafe was fine (except the ice), but crossing the intersection is confusing. Over the low bridge was also fine, but then the real ugliness starts. There’s a confusing interchange of bike lanes and paths with several crossings involved. Marginal Way has a lot of traffic and it’s not clear if cyclists should ride in the bike path in the roadway (again, terrible road surface) or on the sidewalk. Picking up the path in the ID is great, but for all the tents. Then you’re spit out onto Alaska Way, with its two separate lanes of travel under the viaduct (going away soon), then turn up a pretty steep hill into downtown to catch the 2nd Ave bike highway.

        This is all to say, I just can’t imagine most people I work with doing this. It was 8 miles one way, 38 degrees F, and downright scary.

  20. The 5:36 15x going north arrived 8 minutes late– it usually is 3 or 4 minutes late. At least the Ballard bridge stays down an extra hour

  21. I live in unincorporated Pierce County and work in the U District; normally take the 586. I took Sounder-Link today. We had a hoard of people crossing 4th at Weller, enough to keep crossing a few seconds after the light turned (I don’t know if that is normal). I got on Link at ID/C at 6:51 (I don’t know if the scrambled schedule is normal for peak time; trains were supposed to arrive at 6:47 and 6:53), and there were more standees than open seats, but it was not crush-loaded.

    1. The hoard at Weller is normal. Train delayed by a few minutes may not be normal, but it isn’t usual during rush hour.

  22. This isn’t directly related to the viaduct closure, but does anyone know why light rail trains are operating below the normal speed southbound between UW and Capitol Hill? When leaving UW, the train runs slower than it used to for about two minutes before speeding up to normal (or nearly normal). I and one of my coworkers have noticed this for at least the past week.

      1. Seemed to happen after some sort of incident at the Capital Hill station that caused delays two weeks ago.

        I also saw some sort of small maintenance train at UW station this morning.

      2. That must be the little orange “caboose” I saw at the north end of the UW Station track this afternoon. Also, at Capitol Hill station behind the south platform elevator there was fencing, although that could mean the stairway replacement has started.

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