Thanks to Metro’s Jeff Switzer, we have a bit more information on the Metro cuts starting Monday. Metro was able to tell us the total number of trips cut from each route on weekdays. While that gives a very incomplete picture, it allows us to start drawing a few conclusions about how the “Reduced Schedule” will affect riders, below the jump.

Peak commuter service is taking the brunt of the cuts. This is not surprising given that peak service is designed to handle far more volume than Metro is experiencing today. But many peak commuter routes are losing between 25% and 70% of their trips, while major all-day routes are typically losing less of their weekday service than you might expect from the headline 25% number. Peak express routes that are shadowed by local all-day service are especially targeted.

Many major routes are near-unaffected on weekdays. The following core routes not on Metro’s “spared list” are taking either no cuts or very minor cuts to weekday service (weekends will likely be worse):

  • 8
  • 11
  • 26X
  • 33
  • 48
  • 60
  • 62
  • 71
  • 73
  • 75
  • 106
  • 128
  • 131/132
  • 148
  • 164
  • 166
  • 168
  • 169
  • 221
  • 246
  • 269
  • 331/345/348

A few major routes will see real retrenchment. The following are core routes that will stay in operation, but see weekday cuts of 20% or more:

  • 1
  • 10
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 32
  • 36
  • 49
  • 225 (new starting tomorrow; replaces parts of 234, 238, 243, 244)
  • 239 (new starting tomorrow; replaces part of 235 and northern tail of 255)

Seattle and the Eastside are affected worse than South King County. Metro promised to put equity considerations at the forefront in making these cuts, and the effect appears to be that South King County routes suffered a bit less than those elsewhere.

Metro is protecting frequency on core routes over coverage. While there will clearly be some frequency setbacks as a result of these cuts, in general, the service that comes out with the least loss is the core service with the highest ridership. Low-ridership service is taking more cuts, even where it may affect how well an entire neighborhood is covered.

It will probably be worse on weekends. The weekday schedule has roughly 15% of total trips cut. 15% of trips does not equal 15% of hours, because long commuter routes that chew up hours per trip are absorbing more than their share of the cuts. But Metro will still have to cut more than this on weekends to make the total cut add up to 25% of hours.

37 Replies to “A bit more about Metro cuts”

  1. Great news! Glad to see the service cuts. Chinese investigators in Italy indicated that nothing less than full public transport shutdowns are needed to flatten the curve. We should consider a full metro shutdown if cases continue to rise.

    1. How is it great news if people have to wait longer, or are forced into using more dangerous or expensive forms of transportation? Do you really think people are just joy riding around on Metro all day for kicks? By the way, are you an epidemiologist, because you are the only one I’ve heard recommend reducing transit service as a way to spread the disease? Common sense would suggest that it will simply make like tougher for those who are poor, but I guess you consider that great news.

      1. We are in the middle of the worst crisis in our lifetime and you can’t understand that Metro is making the right decision to cut back on service. Ridership has fallen considerable just in the past week and that is as good a reason for the decision they made. Also keep in mind that probable more drivers will not come to work for their own reasons and it would make it difficult for Metro to have enough drivers available so by reducing service it will mean that they will have less buses they will have to staff.

        Yes it will be inconvenient for some people that they have to wait longer for a bus but they will adjust just like people are adjusting to the other changes that have happened because of the virus crisis.

      2. If push comes to shove, it is better to cut service now than to have worse cuts later. The last thing we need is for Metro’s money to run out right at the moment that the virus abates and people start returning to work.

        Ideally, the feds would step in and help, just like they’re doing with private businesses, including the airlines which are demanding a government bailout right after spending tens of billions of dollars on stock buybacks. But, in practice, they probably won’t. The Republicans view $1 spent on transit as $1 too much, and the typical Democrats (at least on a national level) aren’t much better.

      3. I’m no epidemiologist, but I took Link+D today. I was the only one wearing a respirator or gloves, and people were not practicing social distancing. This tells me that at present our mass transit system is potentially a vector for transmission.

      4. @Jeff — Please don’t put words in my mouth. I’m not criticizing Metro. They have a limited budget, and it makes sense to make cuts accordingly. I would do the same.

        My response was to Dave, who thought this was “Great News”. That is a selfish, thoughtless comment, and he has repeated it several times. It shows a huge lack of imagination and empathy. For example, grocery stores and pharmacies are still open. Now imagine you work in a grocery store or pharmacy, but don’t own a car or bike. How do you get to work in this crisis? Call a cab? OK, that might work, but that is just as likely — if not more likely — to spread the disease as taking a bus. That also assumes that the worker can afford a cab.

        It is far more likely that the person just takes the bus. It is quite likely that this degradation in service — which again, is justified based on the financial situation — does not cause a reduction in ridership (from the current, very low levels). In other words, there are no more “choice” riders. All the riders are “captive”. Having the same number of riders on fewer buses is clearly not an improvement from a transportation or epidemiological standpoint.

        There is a long list of activities that could be banned. But the experts in charge feel that the current setup is not only sufficient, but often better than the alternative. For example, non-essential workers are supposed to work from home (or not work). Yet restaurants are still open for take-out and delivery. It is a very big stretch to say that Snappy Dragon (as tasty as it is) should be considered essential. It seems quite reasonable to just shut down all the restaurants. I’m sure Dave would consider that “Great News!”.

        But aside from the personal pain (of being laid off), this has a side effect. More people would spend more time in the grocery store. Thus it is quite possible that this well meaning and logical approach would simply backfire.

        Again, I have no problem with what Metro is doing. But you are fooling yourself if you think this is better for public health, or is in any way great news. It is simply an agency dealing with a financial crisis as best they can. My sympathies for everyone involved — I’m sure it is a very tough process.

      5. Some people have tiny or barely existent kitchens. I was considering an apartment on 11th Ave NE in the U-District until I saw the kitchen counter was as small as a refrigerator top. I was planning to do extensive cooking so that was unacceptable. I asked the manager how people could tolerate that and he said many tenants mostly eat out. Other people have only a microwave and half-refrigerator. Even many luxury apartments now have tiny kitchens as developers have found they can cut corners on kitchen size as long as the countertops are granite and the appliances stainless steel. After that I made one of my top criteria for an apartment a good-sized counter.

      6. @Mike — Yeah, I understand. It is very common in New York to simply not cook. I’ve talked to friends there and they’ve said it is very different to not go out and eat.

        Still, if push comes to shove, you just don’t cook. Eat cereal and milk, fruit and vegetables, etc. Most places have a microwave, if not a toaster oven, so you can get by.

        My point is that it is some actions can have have unintended, negative effects. Shutting down the restaurants (including takeout) might actually increase social interaction, as more people go to the grocery stores. The same is true for reducing bus service.

    2. Oh, and “Chinese investigators in Italy”? What are Chinese investigators doing in Italy?

      You are a troll, but unlike Sam, you aren’t even funny.

      1. Chinese specialsts have gone to Italy and other impacted countries as advisors. One team said Italy’s national lockdown is not enough to stop the virus from increasing. Both things are probably true: the virus can spread even with Italy’s stay-at-home order, and the US can’t shut down transit as much as China or Italy because we’ve built our cities in a way that requires motorized transportation for basic essentials. In Italy you can walk to a grocery store or pharmacy. In most of Pugetopolis you can’t.

      2. Suppose you lived near the South Kirkland P&R. Where is the nearest grocery store? Or 24th Ave SW & 136th Street near the SeaTac community center where my friend had a house. Or in mid Delridge. How about Sand Point Way & 95th near Matthew’s Beach? Or near Children’s hospital. Or on Somerset Hill. Timberlane?

      3. In the case of South Kirkland P&R, probably Metropolitan Market on 68th St. It’s about a half hour’s walk each way down the CKC, or ~10 minutes by bike.

        That said, with the combination of the 250 and 255, South Kirkland P&R will likely have pretty frequent service to the grocery store, even with the reduced schedule.

      4. Asking Chinese leaders for advice in handling the pandemic is a bit like asking Charles Barkley for golf tips (look it up). China mishandled the crisis, although to be fair, it hit them first. South Korea, Japan and Singapore clearly handled it better. Australia has probably done the best job.

        Now European countries — especially Italy — have done worse than China, and it is quite possible that the U. S. will surpass them all in terms of stupid mistakes, although there will be large regional differences. Washington State, despite being blindsided by this due to federal incompetence, has done a fairly good job. New York, in contrast, was whistling in the dark until it became a huge problem. Florida (like a lot of places in the country) is still whistling.

      5. Seattle is aided by a large tech industry and tech savvy companies that can enable work from home options for most worker bees. On the other hand, New York, with its immense population with serious density, and inequality of income and access to good medical care, will have a very tough time controlling the virus with all resources available thrown at the problem.

      6. There is no question that New York — with much higher density — is going to struggle more with the virus. But New York City, under de Blasio, completely screwed up the response. Two weeks after the initial case in New York — with over 500 reported cases — de Blasio was resisting major change, and downplaying the virus. He didn’t close the schools until a couple days layer.
        In short, New York waited until the problem got really bad before acting, while Washington acted sooner. Both suffer from the lack of federal response, but Washington has done a better job in handling things.

      7. I don’t know that Italy asked China for advice; it may be just the usual exchange of spacialists in all significant cases. The visitors want to learn from Italy and study it too. However, China is also using the epidemic as a soft power opportunity to show it can provide foreign aid too, so Italy may be part of that. China did try to deny the epidemic initially but its eventual response stopped the transmission in China for at least two days, so that’s something. That was what it was trying to tell Italy.

  2. What if the bus is the only reliable way to get groceries I am able to make the mile walk there it is the mile walk back with however many pounds that becomes excruciatingly hard on my knees.

    1. Don’t worry, Dave will deliver your groceries for you, for free (in his hermetically sealed, antiseptic cargo van).

    2. There are always options. If the mile is flat, you can try pushing your groceries back on a stroller. A bike with a basket is another option. A 3rd option is to skip the store visit altogether and use a delivery service. A 4th option is to wheel the shopping cart all the way home (but please be courteous and bring it back).

    1. Usually I find your trolling entertaining, but knock this one off.

      SKC has been underserved, demonstrably (it’s highly visible in Metro’s own reporting), for decades. More people are transit-dependent there than anywhere else in Metro’s service area except a few small parts of South Seattle. Metro is absolutely correct to prioritize core service there as a matter of justice. Plenty of redundant peak expresses are being cut there as well.

      1. You’re right. I shouldn’t joke about equity. But just so you know, I have nothing against South King County getting less cuts than the rest of the county. I wasn’t joking about the concept, I was joking about the word equity. Your word justice fits better. Many were priced out of their Seattle-area homes and forced to move south. It’s the least King County can do for them. My comment was in tone deaf and in poor taste. Sorry.

  3. Besides looking online, and a bus just not showing up, will there be any other ways passengers can learn if a trip has been cancelled?

    1. It remains to be seen. Metro said it won’t do its usual outreach because of the social-distance policy. We’ll have to see what it does do and how much the media picks up the ball. A lot of people will probably be waiting for buses Monday morning with no idea they’ve been cancelled.

  4. I don’t understand why route # 71 may only have minimal reduction in service or why it wasn’t cancelled in the first place since most of its route is covered by route # 62 but then I remembered that the # 71 is the pet route of Rod Dembowski.

    1. The 71 isn’t as bad as the 76. The 71 and 76 overlap, but the 71 is much longer. In effect, a 76 is a truncated 71.

      Both are like a number of routes, in that they have a little bit that is coverage, and a fair amount that is redundant (the 15, 17 and 18 come to mind). If given more time and money, Metro could create a series of truncated routes, feeding riders into the main trunk. I would probably combine the 71 and 74 by sending the 71 down 35th (after serving Wedgwood and View Ridge) then west on 55th/50th to the U-District. Likewise, I would have small shuttle versions of the 15, 17 and 18 that stopped at Ballard or were combined with service to Magnolia (which is also somewhat redundant). But all of that is too much work, and would be confusing to riders for what we all hope is a relatively short term problem.

      Either you live without some coverage, or you end up keeping routes that are largely redundant.

    2. I was surprised at the 71 too but I doubt Dembrowski’s carve-out had more than short-term influence. It’s not in Metro’s 2025 plan, which Dembrowki surely noticed five years ago. The new 71 was initially minimal (weekly daytime, maybe Saturday) but later expanded along with the 73. I don’t think that wa related to the carve-out; it was simply a recognition that ridership on the Ave remains strong, riders did not shift to Roosevelt as much as expected (67 and the 45 UWay-Roosevelt hybrid), Metro had more reserve funds than it let on, and revenue increased significantly with the economy. So the 71 and 73 were increased to supplement the 45 on the Ave and the 15th/65th intersection (home of my favorite produce stand). Ravennal and Wedgwood were secondary beneficiaries because they were part of the 71.

      Dembrowski’s reason for saving the 71 was reportedly his wife uses it (and therefore other riders). I always assumed that meant she commutes from Wedgwood to UW. UW is now closed, and the Ave businesses are probably reduced or closed so there’s not as much to go to. Therefore Wedgwood-UW trips are probably not very important to her right now and the 71 is being spared for other reasons. My guess is it’s just identified as one of the core coverage routes ,like the 26, with emphasis on the upper Ave and 65th between 15th and 25th. We’ve seen that deleting the 72 caused a coverage hole between Lake City, the U-District, and whatever you call 80th & Ravenna Ave that’s still being complained about, so Metro probably didn’t want to do that with the 71. Not that the 71 provides as much unique coverage as the 72 did.

    3. “all of that is too much work”

      Right, it takes six month or a year to plan a restructure, and this had to be done in a week.

  5. Metro is not the only transit system cutting back on service. Amsterdam which has one of the better ones where the trams run every 6 to 10 minutes depending on the route is cutting back service to every 15 minutes from the start of service to the end of service. Two tram routes have been suspended indefinitely.

    Buses will also have 15 minute service from the start of service to the end of service with several routes suspended and from the article I read they are having trouble fulfilling that service as they don’t have enough bus drivers and tram operators coming to work.

  6. I hope they don’t do the weird thing they do on the reduced weekday schedule where they cut like every third trip on a high frequency route and leave uneven headways. If they want to cut every third trip, then even out the headways, even if it means that the schedule is completely different.

  7. delridge is a food desert. people depend on the 120 for that. the 120 is also used by a good number of healthcare workers. when one works for a hospital and is being forced to still go to work everyday, can’t afford parking or doesn’t have a car, is now being put in more danger having to ride the bus to and from work in more crowded buses. we are trying very hard to not get infected. i appreciate everyone on the 120 for staying away from one another and i hope with these wrong service cuts, we may continue to do so. please do not travel unless you absolutely have to and save the rest of us who absolutely have to or risk being fired by a local hospital i cannot name.

  8. I didnt see the 347 on any list. Any idea what sort of reduction in service it will be experiencing?

  9. Essential workers are essential seven days a week. 9 – 5 workers are either off or working from home, so there’s not as much a concept of a weekend as there used to be. Strange Metro and other agencies are making more cuts on Saturdays and weekends.

    1. Might be a function of the labor pool? Many more drivers have Mon-Fri contracts; Metro’s staffing isn’t oriented around a 7-day workweek like some organizations (e.g. healthcare, manufacturing)

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