24 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Snakeybus”

  1. There was a discussion on the 10 the other evening, and the decision was made that henceforth the 60 footers will be known as ‘long-bois’, the 40 footers ‘short-bois’, and the 35 footers ‘tiny-bois’. Metro will be updating their internal terminology accordingly.

    1. Expect dramatic ridership decreases and even service reductions and or halts I’d Corona becomes widespread. Construction might stop too on regional projects. It’s a fluid situation

      1. Thank you for that! It should be mentioned that the Governor has declared a state of emergency, so the days of transit agencies burying their heads in the sand and waiting for everything to blow over are … um … over. I’d like to hear PSA’s on buses and trains, and see onboard signs, reminding passengers how to stay safe. For example, it’s natural to touch a public transit seat, pole or bell cord, then, without thinking, touch our mouth or rub our eye. The virus can live as long as 9 days on surfaces, according to some reports. I’m pretty unimpressed with what Metro has said so far. It sounds like business as usual, but they are reexplaining their normal unsanitary bus policy to fit this event.

      2. +1 to Sound Transit for emphasizing disinfecting their vehicles, and +1 to Sam’s suggestion of PSA’s reminding people not to touch their faces.

      3. I’m avoiding buses and trains until this dies down. I have the luxury of working from home. Don’t want to risk catching something because I got on a bus.

  2. 1. For an art and a skill, Oran, the game is absolutely brilliant. But would worry about it as a simulator. And most important, if a driver starts to really experience driving like this, good idea if they pull over and ask to be relieved.

    2. Asdf2, it’d be good for service if passengers call their elected representatives and report delays like you’re describing. Customer services is already preoccupied with arguments about whether “bois” means “wood”, “drinks”, or the “Good Ol'” kind. In all three sizes.

    3. Had to call in sick yesterday, so couldn’t attend the Transit Riders’ Union’ “ORCA For All” session downtown yesterday. Glad to see there’s one next Saturday. Long trip but think it could be worth it. Was anybody reading this there last night?

    Mark Dublin

  3. Some folks near me have mentioned recently that there is no bus service along the West Marginal Way SW industrial strip between the 1st Ave bridge and the West Seattle bridge. I was thinking this might be addressed by a reroute of the 132.

    Currently the 131 & 132 run interleaved between downtown and the 1st Ave bridge, then split to the south to cover South Park and White Center on different routes. If the route split were moved up to 4th Ave S & S Spokane St, that would lose about 2 miles of interleaved coverage on 4th Ave, but pick up W. Marginal Way SW.


    1. I don’t have an opinion whether this specific plan is the right solution, but you are absolutely correct that East Marginal needs service. Federal Center South still has people working in it and indeed has a pretty new building for the Corps of Engineers.

    2. Costco would have half-hourly service if the 132 were rerouted away. I was surprised when I walked down the West Marginal Way trail that there were no buses, and there’s an Indian community center that’s a mile walk from the West Seattle buses, but 4th Ave S is the main street in SODO and should have 15-minute servce.

    3. To do that, you’d have to either lose coverage on the 132 elsewhere or slow down the route by adding more twists and turns. My opinion is that it isn’t worth it.

    4. It’s one of those dilemmas where moving one route means shifting other routes.

      I wonder if there should be a third route or route segment that goes on Fourth Ave S and Michigan to the First Ave Bridge, the runs on West Marginal Way and eventually connects at West Seattle/ Alaska Junction.

      Also keep in mind that the Lander St overpass opens later this year and that could allow for some general route restructuring around Link’s SODO station. Maybe this new route or route segment could run on First Ave S? Maybe move Route 132 to First Ave and put a different route on Fourth Ave that curves back and goes to West Seattle somehow?

      1. Maybe. I’m still skeptical that there’s enough demand on that section to justify a separate route on 1st and 4th. They are three blocks apart, and it looks like the crosswalks are decent.

        As Mike Orr pointed out, doubling up both routes on 4th means a 15 minute service corridor. Giving that up in favor of two 30-minute corridors 3 blocks apart (plus extra looping in the 132) feels like a step backwards. This is what buses used to do back in the 90’s, and the ridership stank.

  4. Missing factor that needs to be included in every discussion about buses: Not only completely-reserved lanes, but equally or more important, ability of the buses to either hold or throw signals in their favor.

    Importance being what I think is the most powerful persuader in the mode choice of the average traveler: Turning the buses into the only vehicles on the road that are visibly not stopped dead in traffic.

    Anybody have any current information how transit is doing on this score right now?

    Mark Dublin

  5. So after consistently releasing quarterly ridership reports within 60 days of a quarter’s end, Sound Transit has not released 2019 Q4 yet. This comes along with the suspension of monthly ridership reports in the past year. Usually these reports are presented to the Board before releasing but the report was not presented in the February meeting either. Is ST management suppressing bad news?


    1. Thanks, Al, for introducing the general category of how to handle bad news suppression. Reason for yesterday’s trip to Seattle that health reasons had to cancel was that I needed to ask the Transit Passengers Union for a specific piece of information that’s been withheld for exact life-span of ORCA:

      Of all the passengers cited for Fare Evasion due to a bad “tap” with a really excellently-credentialed card….how many people have really been forced to pay the full $124 fine? To head up the list of other questions, like why not one of ST’s real dislikers has given them the grief they deserve over this. Got to be just a couple.

      Wish Bob Hasegawa was at least from Ballard.

      Community college law-school grad should be able to ID and use ST’s own RCW to take down punishment for a violation that in volumes of Rides on the Wave and a Sistine Chapel’s worth of walls and ceilings near machines, is never described. As Code specifically demands.

      Any chance I’m right that both Fare Inspectors and judges are actually dispensing justice with full knowledge nobody’s going to call either of them on it? Lord, please let that be true. Because if nobody innocent’s getting hurt, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I’ve got a life to live.

      Mark Dublin

    2. @Al S.
      I’m glad you’ve brought this subject up as I too have noticed the general deterioration in Sound Transit’s public reporting in the areas of ridership and financial data.

      1. IIRC, it took the agency until late November 2019 to publish the 2018 Fare Revenue Report.
      2. As you’ve stated, the monthly ridership reports have vanished and the quarterly report is consistently delayed because of a silly board process.
      3. The agency didn’t publish their 2018 Subarea Equity Reports until the middle of October 2019.
      4. The agency’s required annual financial plan, which used to be published in the first half of the year, has now been incorporated into the budget cycle and thus doesn’t get put out until the following year’s proposed budget is published at the end of the year. The report has been significantly slimmed down, is full of worthless graphs and doesn’t really comply with the statutory requirements set by the state for the Sound Move, ST2 and ST3 propositions. Because of the timing of its publication and being wrapped up into the budget document/cycle, the annual plan no longer gets the scrutiny from the board as it once did and which it deserves.
      5. The agency is getting slower and slower at publishing their financial results. The 2018 Annual Financial Report wasn’t published until late August 2019. The quarterly financial results for 2019 Q1 (end of Mar) and Q2 (end of Jun) were not published in their final version until late Sep 2019.
      5a. To date, Sound Transit has not published their financial results for 2019 Q3 and Q4.


      If Rogoff worked in the private sector he would’ve already been sent packing.

    3. Speaking of ridership data, what the heck is going on with Metro ridership data?

      IIRC, they are now at least 6 months (half a year!) behind schedule in publishing their rather coarse monthly average data, and at the time they stopped publishing data they were showing a rather consistent monthly decline in all modes except Access. Very strange indeed.

      Even RapidRide had been showing a consistent decline at the time they stopped publishing, and the route based data is really hard to find.

      Additionally, all RapidRide lines combined are only showing ridership equal to about 75% of the Link ridership. Given as much effort as Metro claims they are putting into RR, one would expect better performance.

      1. Given as much effort as Metro claims they are putting into RR, one would expect better performance.

        Metro RapidRide and Link are taking the same approach “fishing pier” approach mentioned a few weeks ago. They are focusing on spreading things around, even though demand is not spread around evenly, nor does it provide some sort of ideal network. The B and the F lines don’t carry that many riders. There are half a dozen routes (and more corridors) that carry more riders. But the B and the F look great on a map. The big red lines are spread out, and cover much of the region. They aren’t mostly concentrated within the core city. As when Link does that, it looks great, but has weaker results.

        (To be fair to the B, it should improve substantially after Link gets to the East Side, but it won’t carry as many riders as say, the 40 (a bus routes that is not RapidRide)).

        In any event, comparing a multi-billion dollar subway system with a bunch of red buses that have had minor improvements is a bit arbitrary. Both are likely to see some decrease in ridership, as transit ridership system wide went down.

    4. “RapidRide lines combined are only showing ridership equal to about 75% of the Link ridership.”

      RapidRide is not Link. If you replaced all RapidRide lines with streetcars with the same stops, frequency, and street priority, they’d perform similar to the current buses. There would be a small increase because it’s a train, but ultimately you have to look at why Link is so successful.

      And that’s because it’s faster (due to partial grade separation), more frequent (6-10 minutes instead of 15), and it connects a chain of overlapping destinations that would require separate bus routes (UW to Capitol Hill, downtown, SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier, SeaTac). Those separate bus routes would cost more and be less frequent; there never was a Rainier-SeaTac route before Link. That chain of high-volume destinations running at express-bus speeds is possible only because Link is in tunnels or elevated for part of it, and doesn’t stop every quarter-mile.

      We need both Link as the trunk and RapidRide for the secondary corridors. There’s ongoing debate whether some RapidRide corridors should be Link, but that will always happen. The point is to get them to at least RapidRide, and to expand the Link network in general, and then these specific issues can be addressed over time.

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