26 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Life inside China’s quarantine”

  1. For the car-free people on the forum, any thoughts on how one might get to/from the hospital if you need treatment for COVID19? I would hate to take public transportation, or get friends with cars sick, if infectious.

    1. If you are really sick, call 911 and an ambulance can transport you. Many of the people that require hospitalization will experience tightness in chest and difficulty breathing. You won’t think, if you are experiencing this, an ambulance is overkill.

      1. Good to know, thanks. I guess the other matter is how to get back home, since I’m assuming hospitals discharge people who are still infectious but just need to convalesce to free up beds. I could walk home from some hospitals, but I have no idea where I would end up. Does the city/county have plans for transporting people home that don’t involve an ambulance?

      2. That’s a great question, on returning. Not sure what the solution would be in that regard. I’m one of the lucky that lives on first Hill and can walk from any hospital in Seattle. Keep in mind, that if you are very sick, you are likely to remain in hospital for weeks. This is not a two day thing. It’s scary.

      3. I don’t believe hospitals release patients who are still infectious.

        We have cabs, Uber and Lyft here.

      4. Hospitals and clinics often don’t allow patients to walk or take transit home even in ordinary times, especially if they’ve had anesthesia or in numerous other situations. They’re convinced people should leave in personal cars, including taxis and friends’ cars. Some people get around it by having a friend meet them who says, “My car is parked around the block”, and then the leave and take a bus.

  2. Thanks for the video, Brent. Especially, unfortunately for least-welcome thing about it: No, I wouldn’t rather live in China, but right now its government is not the only one I don’t want to live under for the rest of my life.

    Appreciate having the Seattle Transit Blog around for information and communication for the duration. If this was baseball, doubt we’d even a couple of “swings” into the first inning. But as citizens, we’ll have a lot worse problems than bad Link arrival information on our plate these next eight months.

    One thing that’d be really helpful, though: Any reliable ongoing sources for the kind of information we could be desperately going to need? Any help, many thanks.

    Mark Dublin

  3. MTA, TWU and ATU Announce Rear-Door Boarding On All Local & SBS Buses Beginning Monday, March 23 Until Further Notice.

    Starting Monday, March 23 Rear-Door Boarding Will Go into Effect on Local & Select Bus Service

    New York City Transit Moving Healthcare Workers, First Responders and Essential Personnel; Operators, Customers Instructed to Keep Six Feet Away from Others

    MTA New York City Transit, Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) today announced a new rear-door boarding policy on all buses, beginning on Monday, March 23. The new policy is the latest action taken by NYC Transit, TWU and ATU to protect frontline employees from the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Customers will board and exit all local and Select Bus Service (SBS) buses using the rear doors. Express bus customers will board as normal, but will not be permitted to sit in the first three rows of the bus to ensure customers are a safe social distance from bus operators. ADA customers will still be permitted to board at the front of all local and SBS buses, and board as usual on express buses. Regular fare policy remains in effect wherever on-board payment boxes or SBS off-board ticket machines continue to be accessible.

    “While Governor Cuomo has ordered non-essential workers beginning Sunday night to remain in their homes and not take mass transit, we are taking aggressive action to protect our thousands of frontline employees who are delivering a critical service to New York, moving the healthcare workers, first responders, utility workers, and essential employees who are protecting us from this public health crisis,” said MTA Chairman and CEO, Pat Foye. “Transit workers are the lifeblood of this city and region and we are going to do everything we can to protect their health and safety.”

    “I want to thank the 51,000 men and women of New York City Transit who are on the frontlines of this crisis and saving lives by keeping this city moving,” said Interim President of NYC Transit, Sarah Feinberg. “Rear-door boarding will help ensure a safe social distance. The safety of our employees and customers is priority one.”

    “We know we are essential workers providing an essential service during this national emergency – but we also need to be protected to the greatest extent possible,” said President of TWU Local 100, Tony Utano. “This is the right move. It will better protect our Bus Operators, give them some peace of mind, and demonstrate that their concerns have been heard.”

    “I applaud our entire membership of ATU Local 1056 for the tireless work they do every day. This coalition of unions acknowledges the MTA for recognizing their concerns by acting on this initiative,” said President and Business Agent, ATU Local 1056, Mark Henry. “Rear doors access is necessary given the way our state, our city and our nation are dealing with coronavirus. We pray for all residents as the health risks are great and unknown; together we will overcome the challenges before us.”

    “We thank our members for continuing to work in these trying times and appreciate the MTA for listening to bus operators and taking effective action,” said President and Business Agent, ATU Local 726, Daniel Cassella. “We also recognize maintenance workers for their rigorous daily disinfecting of the buses. Hopefully the public will listen to the governor and travel only when essential.”

    “I applaud our entire membership of ATU Local 1056 for the tireless work they do every day. This coalition of unions acknowledges the MTA for recognizing their concerns by acting on this initiative,” said President and Business Agent, ATU Local 1056, Mark Henry. “Rear doors access is necessary given the way our state, our city and our nation are dealing with coronavirus. We pray for all residents as the health risks are great and unknown; together we will overcome the challenges

  4. This was posted as a comment on Metro’s blog this morning:

    “I’m a Metro bus driver and even I don’t know what routes and runs will be reduced. Honestly, King County has dropped the ball on this one. Reading the proposal in the newspaper before anyone on the job was informed!! Cruel and stressful.”

    I think service reductions are sensible considering the ridership drop. But is there a reason Metro and Sound Transit are being so secretive about the details?

    1. This is just educated prognostication:

      * ATU 587 held a work-assignment pick, with route numbers and times attached, based on the expected service changes before the pandemic was declared.
      * Metro has to try to honor said pick, and get agreement from the union to go outside it.
      * Drivers calling out sick or staying away are random relative to the pick packets.
      * Various employers have closed down, pulling the rug out from under various routes’ ridership.
      * Metro has for years leaned on senior drivers standing by off-the-clock to grab open work (which senior drivers have gladly done as it impacts their retirement package if they are planning to retire in the next year). The off-the-clock stand-by drivers can turn down assignments they do not like. Calling a long list of drivers in seniority order, and giving each a reasonable period of time to call back, takes a long time.
      * In short, it’s complicated. Even if they have a target for what they want to fill, it takes time to actually fill it.

      1. But what is stopping Metro or ST from announcing their general plans?
        “Route X will switch to the Saturday schedule on weekdays”
        “Route Y will run all day every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.”
        “Route Z will cancel rush hour trips so that service is every 15 minutes both on-peak and off-peak.”
        “Route W will no longer run before 7am or after 10pm.”

        Even if Metro/ST doesn’t quite meet those goals, statements like that would at least tell riders broadly what to expect.

    2. Larry, you are right. There is no excuse. Metro apologists will bark, “Metro probably doesn’t know yet! That’s why they aren’t saying!” But even that’s no excuse. Even if true, Metro can still come out now with a press release that says something like …

      We’re about 95% done. We expect to have everything finalized Monday @ 6AM, and we’ll release which routes will be deleted then. If we’re delayed, we’ll let you know.

      And there is not excuse for telling the media before telling their employees.

    3. Metro’s webpage lists only route numbers and doesn’t have the usual list of specific frequencies and cancelled trips. It says to use Metro’s trip planner or SMS service (text the stop ID to 62550) to get the next few departures. You can click to a route and get its schedule but it’s cumbersome to do it for more than a couple routes. Hopefully the regular online schedules will be updated tomorrow.

      The webpage warns that third-party apps will be inaccurate. ” During Reduced Schedule, online customer information planning tools and third-party apps may be increasingly inaccurate for Metro and Sound Transit services. While these tools will be updated to the Spring Service Change schedule, they will not reflect Metro’s temporary Reduced Schedule or Sound Transit’s reductions. These systems may still provide useful information, such as maps and bus stop information. ”

      All Community Ride and Via shuttles are canceled.

  5. >> is there a reason Metro and Sound Transit are being so secretive about the details?

    Probably because they haven’t totally figured it you yet. And if a cluster of bus drivers turns up testing positive that upturns the whole apple cart. I’m guessing this will be an incremental process that’s likely to shift weekly if not daily based on a whole lot of “unknown unknowns”.

    1. Based on past experience with OneBusAway, you might be able to get away with this trick. If a bus is shown as early or late, it’s probably a real bus sending out signals, and the trip is on. If a bus is shown as just “scheduled arrival”, that means OneBusAway doesn’t know where the bus is, which means there’s a good chance that that trip is one of the cancelled ones.

      Unfortunately, this trick only works if the bus has been running for several minutes before it gets to your stop – if you get on at the beginning of the route, you’re out of luck.

      Hopefully, Metro will not react to the changes by pulling the OBA data feed altogether, causing every bus to show up as a useless “scheduled arrival”. If they do, it’s going to be a complete crapshoot. (But, I suppose, if the intention is to discourage unnecessary bus travel, maybe it’s for the best).

  6. Visit to my Olympia Food Co-op just now showed me couple things I think are pertinent to Local 587’s place in this discussion.

    Both stores, management made up of co-op members worked up a spur-of-the-moment plan for store operations: letting shoppers into the stores spaced out to for health, and fitted at the door with rubber gloves.

    Everybody on duty, good understanding of product availability and store layout. Would very much like to see Metro, Sound Transit, and the Local start jointly handling operations, with goal of keeping constant change, which is now “name-of-the-game” into permanent operating spirit and procedure.

    Co-op can do it, so can transit. Getting transitworkers to consider themselves co-op members and co-owners, goal that could make a lot of experience worth the effort.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark, give us some man-on-the-street transit reporting from Olympia. What are you seeing down there? Pretend you’re a tv reporter doing a remote and you have 30 seconds to concisely tell your audience what you are observing in terms of IT ridership and operations this Sunday vis-a-vis the COVID19 emergency. Ok … go!

      1. Sorry, Sam. Only way Olympia will ever get “man-on-the-street” treatment will be if they bring back “Almost Live” and film it near the Wooden Boat Center by Lake Union. This afternoon, single-digit loads both on buses and just about anyplace anybody wants to go on one.

        Little bus-oriented thing I did related to my volunteer work for IT. Program itself- see COVID-15 drill. But since today was first run for the brand new Route 65 from Lacey Transit Center to new industrial area. Cleared with the driver before following her bus in my own Toyota quarantine chamber- rear-door boarding and nobody on the bus allowed past front axle.

        Personal discovery, mixed. 65 now has a stop directly across Willamette from a favorite espresso stop from the old days. Though would be three-seat ride from home near the courthouse. Sadly, amazing older man who was a Mideast combat veteran had created a cafe named for “Baby Boomer” bicycle riders, tragically discovered espresso and pedal-bike repairs don’t mix. Coffee is a cruel mistress.

        What Olympia coverage really needs is for Tim Eyman to suddenly have an entire carry-a-cannon-to-the Capitol demonstration carry him right into the Governor’s Office on their shoulders, and demand that he personally initiate all five hundred of them as he makes good his promise to poke Jay Inslee in the eye about this fake keep-your-distance liberal coronavirus fraud.

        Because it will give the mortuary/computer-manufactured monument program at my Alma Mater of Lake Washington Institute enough patronage to finally add five stories to the main building so students and faculty finally have a view of something beside parking.

        Like I said, Sam. Whole season just barely getting started.

        Mark Dublin

  7. This whole “Just text your stop number to us” workaround is patently unacceptable. Those who need transit the most, those with Orca Lift and Disabled passes, are those least likely to have casual access to smart devices. Metro and ST seem to think online is fine, when it really isn’t. Physical signage is absolutely needed, but rapidly being treated as obsolete. Reroutes, revisions, and schedule adjustments must have at stop physical notices. Anything less is simply untenable.

    1. It is also obnoxious for those that do have smartphones to have to resort to a dumbphone text based interface.

  8. Ok. I know that the Transit Riders’ Union has been working on changes in things like fare enforcement for months now. In my understanding, to be presented in the future as part of further ongoing discussions.

    Like Uncle Edgar Allen would have put it: “When we’re talkin’ CORVID….Never Friggin’ More!” However structured, the system needs some ongoing organized political action involving not only passengers but care-providers and in permanent advisory capacity, (meaning “pay them like Metro did us in the 1980’s”, ATU Local 587.)

    Also absolutely perfect for inclusion of passengers from lap-occupancy on up to either graduation or induction into the State Legislature. Having watched recalcitrant-ten-year-old-lady- passengers face down me and their own pathetic Route 7 driver while hanging upside down from aisle horizontal grab- bars ’til female authority saved us…..

    Turn compliance over to a permanent action committee of this gender and age group and watch correct shape almost take itself. However, above incident did carry an unvarying lesson. In the ringleader’s own words: “Don’t Be a Butt Head!”

    Mark Dublin

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