31 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Black Girls Do Bike in Cleveland”

  1. Not to sound super CIA-ish, but an internal email at CT revealed that the Everett mayor wanted to reevaluate its transportation options. One option: bringing the city under CTs benefit district and essentially ending and/or merging ET with CT. So the CEO of CT will do a presentation this week of pros/cons of Everett becoming a CT member. Should the city pursue this, the voters would ultimately decide if wanna join.

      1. Will this be released to the public?
        Another note.
        With Lynnwood Link approaching soon, it makes sense that a the supposed “Merger” i add being brought up again.

      2. I doubt an announcement will be made but if they’re going before the city council in a meeting open to the public, then I’m sure CT would be glad to entertain questions if someone asks. Otherwise, I suspect there won’t be any grand announcement because things are at the “just-mulling-it”phase.

    1. That contradicts everything we’ve heard about Everett, that the reason it’s not part of CT is the city of Everett didn’t want to. that it’s satisfied with its service and thinks it wouldn’t have as much Everett-specific service under ST, and its fare is lower which is important for low-income residents. Maybe the current mayor thinks differently but that would be surprising.

      1. Based on what I’ve heard from CT planners, there ihas been a longstanding stoic mentality at the city of Everett. With recent administrative changes, I believe this mentalty is giving way. The recent jump in fares and certain streamlining of routes, I believe, is evident of internal change. I think it is worth STB checking out the meeting on Nov 6.

      2. The service that Everett has today is crap, and I find it hard to imagine anyone who actually rides it being satisfied with it. I can, however, imagine politicians who don’t ride transit saying so, which is basically code for skeletal service being all that is worthy of the local tax dollars.

        Operationally, one would think merging with CT would avoid inefficiencies in the form of a small agency maintain the overhead of having its own bus base, its own fleet, and its own pool of drivers. Yes, the fare is 50 cents higher on CT, but how much does that really matter, especially with Community Transit now offering reduced fares for Orca Lift?

  2. Question/rant about why Metro doesn’t have a problem with infrequent buses arriving at stops several minutes early. Specifically about route 522, which runs every 30 minutes and is operated by Metro.

    This weekend, I was going from Northgate to Lake Forest Park. The 41 dropped me at 130th 6 minutes before the 522’s scheduled time, but I missed the 522 because as I later found out the bus actually came 9 minutes early. This happens decently often on weekends. When I have complained to Metro about this in the past, they pretty much say that they only consider it a problem if the bus is more than 5 minutes late so it’s acceptable for the bus to be any amount of time early and that it’s actually my fault for not being at the stop sufficiently early. Because as a rider I should expect buses to arrive 5-10 minutes ahead of schedule?

    This is exacerbated by One Bus Away giving highly inaccurate estimates because of the I-5 glitch. I’ve literally seen the app jump from saying the 522 is 12 minutes late to 2 minutes early. Or the app saying the bus will arrive in 4 minutes as it is literally pulling up to the stop. So it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to use the app to determine when to leave the house or how quickly they need to finish their grocery shopping.

    1. I’ve never found One Bus Away to be reliable. Google Maps does a much better job IMO, and gives data when a bus is running early.

      1. Sadly no Google Maps doesn’t work here. I just tested this. Both Google Maps and OBA jumped at the same time from the 522 being 11 minutes late to 1 minute late. The site designed by someone on this board (forget the name) has the same problem. All these services are using the same flawed data.

    2. As one who works in the transit industry, I’ve heard this complaint many times before. The mentality of the industry is still very much “operational/union” oriented. Rather than focusing on the customer experience, agencies follow antiquated policies that favor what’s best for internal operations. With varying road conditions, it’s nearly impossible for a bus to be exactly to-the-minute at every single stop. However, they shouldn’t be running 5-10 min early. There’s no point in having a schedule if that’s the case. I think buses should be allowed to run no more than 3 min early. With more technology and a bit of human coordination, I believe transit can improve on the concept of scheduling.

      1. Jordan, would you agree that operator training can help considerably with this?

        Many factors go into spacing, including passenger loads, time of day, and traffic. I can remember situations where I’d speak with my leader, or follower, so we could arrange our buses with maximum smoothness and efficiency.

        In general, I’d usually try to think of the space between my coach and my leader and follower as an intelligent, flexible coupler, trying to smooth out my own speed, acceleration, and braking accordingly. If the ride’s rough, I’d be doing something wrong.

        Mark Dublin

        Mark Dublin

    3. I believe Metro’s policy is not to leave a stop more than 5 min. ahead of schedule. If there is a layover spot that shouldn’t be an issue. However, I’ve seen drivers do it at S. Kirkland P&R. It’s particularly infuriating when the bus you miss pulls out just as your bus arrives (the driver has a darned good idea there are people on that bus that want to transfer). I don’t know what if an ST has for a policy. I think it’s harder with the express freeway routes because our highway system is so unpredictable. They might just say it’s better to use the buffer to get all the people on board to work on time and too bad for those who weren’t early.

      One of the big problems with Metro drivers leaving early is less and less people are at each stop meaning the bus starts getting farther and farther ahead. There was one 249 driver who always started his run 5 min early and by the time the bus got to S. Kirkland P&R it would have about 30% of the normal ridership.

      1. Part of qualifying for any route should be full knowledge of every connection. Infraction for not doing so should be a serious one. And it should be an important part of “Control”‘s job to see to it nobody misses one.

        To me, deliberate connection evasion is part of same territorial mentality I hate to see written into interagency fare policy. Suggest that passengers experiencing constant problems contact their elected representatives directly and stay onto them ’til the problem gets fixed.

        Anybody in operations who thinks I’m off-base, Get with your “reps” too, both political and union. Connections aren’t charity or luxury. They’re a critical part of service.

        Mark Dublin

      2. One the flip side of this is watching a pair of 255 drivers that are “in sync” split stopping on 108th. Of course the people watching a bus go by without so much as slowing down are pretty irate until they look back and see there’s another bus coming. It not only speeds up the overall operation it also balances the load so one bus isn’t empty and the other one packed like sardines. The 255 is prone to bunching and I’ve actually seen a trio drivers pull this off which is really impressive!

      3. The reason why the 255 runs early is that its schedule contains an excessive amount of padding when traveling across the 520 bridge – even at times of day when there is usually no traffic. For instance, the Sunday evening schedule shows 17 minutes to get from Olive/Boren to Evergreen Point. At 6 miles, all freeway, with no bus stops, this figure of 17 minutes is ridiculous.

        As a regular 255 user, I like buses that move. I don’t like buses that sit at South Kirkland P&R for 5 minutes, every single trip, to allow an overly padded schedule to catch up to it. If a bus is consistently running early, the appropriate resolution is to fix the schedule to match what the bus is actually doing, rather than artificially slowing down the bus to match an arbitrary schedule.

        In the case of the 255, “artificially slowing down the bus” would mean having the eastbound bus sit there at South Kirkland P&R for several minutes on nearly every single trip during off-peak hours. This would inflate travel times to downtown Kirkland and similar destinations, for no good reason. South of Kirkland Transit Center, the ridership on the 255 is almost exclusively people going to/from Seattle. Almost no one gets on a northbound 255 at South Kirkland P&R, or any of the bus stops along 108th.

        Also worth mentioning – for some reason, the excessive padding problem is King County Metro specific, and does not apply to Sound Transit routes. For instance, the same stop pair that the schedule says takes 17 minutes on the 255, takes just 12 minutes, according to the schedule for the 545. These are two buses running the same stretch of freeway, nonstop, just minutes apart from each other. The is absolutely no reason why one bus should take 42% longer to cover the distance than the other bus. The only reasonable explanation is Metro and Sound Transit having different schedule writers, adding different amounts of padding time. The I-5 corridor is similar – the schedule for the 41 is excessively padded, in a way that the schedule for the 522 is not.

        That said, there is one form of leaving early that is absolutely inexusable, and that’s leaving early from the first stop at the beginning of the route. We can’t control how quickly the bus will move once it starts, but it needs to at least start its runs at the scheduled time.

    4. This isn’t good for several reasons, not least of which is that it causes bus bunching. As Jordan mentioned, a bus running ahead of schedule will pick up fewer riders. Similarly, the bus behind it will pick up more and more. Thus the bus in front may catch up to the one ahead, while the bus behind will almost certainly be delayed substantially. This is all fairly intuitive, and Alon Levy goes over it in great detail here: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018/08/18/the-dynamics-of-bus-bunching/.

      As mentioned in the first couple comments, making sure that a bus doesn’t go too fast is a good idea. Improving boarding time as well as more bus lanes would also reduce the problem, as a “fast bus” would be closer to the published schedule (in other words, all buses would be fast). Another mitigation is for shorter bus routes.

      Many of these approaches will occur in the future with the 522. There will be off-board payment, greatly reducing boarding time. There will be more transit right-of-way. The bus route will be shorter. It is also quite likely that the 522 bus will run often enough that a bad connection won’t be the end of the world. Thirty minute frequency is terrible.

      1. What you’re arguing is for every outbound 522 to sit at 20th/Lake City Way – a stop that nobody uses for several minutes, whenever the freeway is wide open, to wait out a padded schedule, delaying an entire busload of passengers in the process.

        I disagree. Almost nobody gets on the bus there, and the greater good is served by just keeping the bus moving and getting the main ridership market – those coming from downtown – home more quickly.

        If there is somebody who misses the bus because of this, the next time, they can remember to check the traffic report, and expect the bus to arrive early if it leaves downtown on time and there is no traffic.

      2. The stop at 20th and Lake City Way is important to keep. When the 72 was lost, the neighborhood between 15th and Ravenna (south of Lake City Way) lost quite a bit of transit access. This specific stop is supposed to help alleviate that lost access. Honestly, they should have kept the 72 running north of Husky Stadium and deleted the 71 and 73. Those two routes serve more people, but have other routes that cover (or could cover) their ridership. The 72 doesn’t really have that.

      3. You are completely wrong about that stop. That stop has more riders than any in Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell or Woodinville. Those are numbers that don’t include the recent growth there (new apartments and new townhouses).

        That may not be the only place you delay the bus, either. But you still delay the bus. Otherwise, you end up skipping a huge portion of your riders (those that transfer, or those that walk to the bus stop expecting it to be there when the schedule says it should be there). You also create a huge bus bunching problem. The riders on the early bus would get to their destination a few minutes earlier, but everyone else gets to their destination a lot later. The second bus is delayed significantly, as it spends a lot more time picking up passengers.

      4. Of course, that stop has riders, but their getting on the southbound bus and off the northbound bus. The number of people getting on the northbound bus is tiny, compared to the cumulative number of people, already on the bus, getting off at all the stops later in the route.

        It is not unreasonable for people getting on in an unusual place to be asked to check the traffic report and leave early if traffic is light. If that’s a problem, fix the schedules to match the best realistic travel time so that buses are late if there’s traffic and on time if there’s not. But don’t hold up 40 people for the sake of one.

    5. They do have a problem with it … if they see it. You need to not only report it, but ask that your route be monitored in person by a supervisor for early schedule operation. If it’s an ongoing problem, tell them that. Also ask to be contacted when your request has been completed, so you know they actually took some sort of action.

      But first make sure the route at that stop isn’t operating on estimated timepoint.

    6. My understanding is Metro disciplines drivers more strongly for leaving early than for leaving late, precisely because of Larry’s issue. Passengers are even more incensed at buses departing early than they are about buses departing late. I think the threshold is one or two minutes early. Each route has time points at major stops, and early drivers usually wait at the previous stop for a minute or two to avoid being early at the time point. The exceptions are stops marked “estimated time” in the schedule, which means the bus may come even earlier if traffic is low. These are usually in the final part of express routes where few people are likely to board.

      A complication is this is an ST route, and I’m not sure if ST has different rules for Metro-operated ST routes compared to regular Metro routes.

    7. As for the discrepency between Metro telling you buses can be 5 minutes early and telling others it takes 2+ minute early buses very seriously, it’s not uncommon for different people in Metro to have different interpretations of the rules or to not keep up when they keep changing. That’s a perennial problem with back-door opening, how non-fare payers are treated, or even in the information on other routes (“How do I get to X?”). If it’s especially affecting you, I’d keep complaining to Metro and maybe mention it to your county concilmember. I’d also complain to ST since it’s an ST route. Maybe you already did than they told you it’s Metro’s problem, but I would expect ST to take it more seriously than that. After all, it’s ST’s livery, so ST should be accountable for it. Your Sound Transit boardmembers could maybe get something done about it.

  3. Come to think of it, this is a perfect example of the most important purpose Seattle Transit Blog can serve: Let drivers, supervisors, and others with direct operations experience communicate with each other and with passengers as to what they think is needed to make the system work. STB, thanks for being here.

    Mark Dublin

  4. Figure here’s as good a place to ask as any- do any of my fellow commenters know why KC metro busses that run on overhead wires on weekdays swap to hyrbid coaches on the weekend? Is it for maintenance?

    1. Somewhat maintenance, but mostly so utility and SDOT street work can occur without blocking the entire bus route ’cause the trolleys can’t get far enough out of the way to pass construction.

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