Sound Transit Bus # 535 Lynnwood to Bellevue, WA

With the Puget Sound region largely shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a dramatic drop in public transit ridership across all areas of the region. Though Sound Transit was already one of the transit agencies that opted to temporarily reduce service starting this past Monday, those changes were relatively light on the ST Express side, with larger reductions for Sounder and Link (which maintained its Connect 2020 headway of 14 minutes). Fare collection was also suspended in an effort to reduce opportunities for the virus to transmit between passengers and operators.

Now, in response to further ridership declines totaling 83%, Sound Transit announced a new round of temporary service reductions to Sound Transit Express. Unlike previous round of cuts, which only affected certain ST Express routes operated by King County Metro and dropped select trips (route 541 being the only exception, which stopped running entirely), upcoming service reductions taking effect March 30 represent reductions across nearly every ST Express route, with multiple routes cancelled entirely. Some routes have cancelled trips, while others have entirely overhauled schedules, with frequencies reduced and travel times showing the gains of reduced traffic volumes while many people are staying home. Details after the jump.

Link Light Rail and Sounder will retain their current reduced service levels, with Link running every 14 minutes seven days per week, Sounder South remaining at 8 round trips, and Sounder North remaining at 2 round trips.

ST Express routes entirely cancelled. The following routes are not going to be operating at all:

  • 541. Alternative service is available on route 544 with a transfer to route 542.
  • 567. Alternative service is available on route 566, which also operates between Overlake, Bellevue, and Kent.
  • 586. Riders will need to take route 590 into downtown Seattle, and transfer to Link Light Rail.
  • 592. Riders from Lakewood have access to Sounder and route 594. Normally, route 594 does not operate in the peak direction while route 592 is operating, but the temporary schedule has new peak service on route 594 displacing lost service on route 592. Riders from DuPont have no alternative service available.

ST Express routes with reduced service. The following routes are still operating, but passengers will want to plan ahead and consult the schedule before heading out:

  • 510. 9 trips are dropped, with remaining trips spaced very inconsistently between 10 and 40 minutes.
  • 511. 7 trips are dropped, mostly in the evening, leaving service operating every 20 to 40 minutes.
  • 512. 15 trips are dropped, leaving 30 minute gaps in the schedule.
  • 513. 7 trips are dropped, leaving some consecutive trips more than an hour apart.
  • 522. 13 trips are dropped, mostly affecting the peak period where service is normally more frequent than 15 minutes.
  • 532. 13 trips are dropped, leaving service operating inconsistently between every 10 and 30 minutes.
  • 535. 16 trips are dropped, leaving peak service running every 60 minutes. Off-peak, route 535 continues to run every 30 minutes with a few missing trips.
  • 542. 8 trips are dropped, leaving peak service every 20 to 45 minutes, and off-peak service every 30 minutes.
  • 544. Service is under a completely new schedule, running every 30 minutes in both directions during peak hours only.
  • 545. 24 trips are dropped, mostly affecting peak service that previously operated at 15 minute headways or better.
  • 550. 28 trips are dropped, mostly peak trips, with a few late morning and early evening trips.
  • 555. 4 trips are dropped, leaving service mostly 30 to 70 minutes apart.
  • 556. 2 trips are dropped, making headways 30 minutes or longer.
  • 560. Operates under a new schedule running every hour all day, and weekend service dropped.
  • 566. Operates under a new schedule, running every 30 minutes at best. Midday service terminating in Renton is no longer timed to transfer to route 560, requiring a 30 minute wait.
  • 574. Operates on a new schedule, with service every 30 or 60 minutes seven days per week.
  • 577. Operates on a new schedule. In coordination with route 578, service between Federal Way and Seattle operates every 15 minutes during peak periods, and every 30 minutes at other times and on weekends.
  • 578. Operates on a new schedule, running every hour all day, seven days per week.
  • 580. Operates on a new schedule, connecting to remaining Sounder trips.
  • 590. Operates on a new schedule, coordinating with route 594 to have service between downtown Tacoma, Tacoma Dome Station, and Seattle operating every 10 minutes during peak.
  • 594. Operates on a new schedule, with new peak service filling the gap left by the suspension of route 592. Service runs every 30 minutes all day, seven days per week.
  • 595. A new schedule has just 3 trips per peak direction.
  • 596. A new schedule has service connecting to a select number of remaining Sounder trips.

ST routes maintaining regular service are route 554 and Tacoma Link only.

Community Transit reduces service across most routes, but no routes are eliminated. Peak express service is reduced more than local service. Swift Blue Line will run every 12 minutes, Swift Green Line will run every 15, and both lines will run every 20 minutes on weekends and weekday evenings. All routes will retain their first and last trips except the following: 105, 106, 107, 196, 202, 247, 280, 412, 416, 424, 435, 821, and 871.

Pierce Transit will reduce service by 28% beginning March 30. Weekend service will remain the same, while on weekdays, most routes will come less frequently with route 102 completely suspended. Pierce Transit will post updated route schedules on Sunday.

Everett Transit will operate on a Sunday schedule. Additionally, routes 6 and 70 will be suspended, and route 18 will run on a special schedule.

Intercity Transit will run a weekend schedule every day, and the only Olympia Express route in operation will be route 620, and service will only run as far north as the SR 512 Park & Ride.

90 Replies to “Additional Sound Transit service cuts coming March 30”

  1. Thanks, Alex. But a couple of questions. One, will 574 headways be posted as to whether they’re 30 or 60 minutes, or will we just have to wait on the bus stop and see?

    And two, what are the “mechanics” of the difference between a headway of 14 minutes and a headway of 15 minutes? Could be passing years, could be isolated residence, but can’t stand the increasing amount of things everybody else “just knows” but for me, they’re classified.

    Sound Transit? First person I spoke with, I had to explain what a headway is. Next two? “Because it’s in Connect 2020.” Which had just come to an end, but headways were staying at 14 anyhow. So any help, really, really appreciated.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Fortunately, there is a schedule available for all ST services including Link (there is a link in the article to the page with the temporary schedules), so there’s no need to do any guessing games. Not sure where the 14 minutes came from but it’s probably because they had to come up with a number and they were already doing 14 with Connect 2020.

      Headways system wide are usually quite inconsistent at this time (with a few exceptions like Link), so basically check the schedule no matter what if you need to go out.

  2. Why the 14 minute headways? It could be for many reasons. There already was an existing schedule with 14 minute headways and ST may not have had the time and workforce available to create a new timetable and work schedule with different headways.

    Or, it there could be other reasons. I would expect that the end-of-line procedures are more complex now when compared to the pre-Covid days. A change of operator should include sanitizing the control compartment and there may be additional inspections and sanitizing of the train cars. The terminals, however, are capacity-limited to 2 trains at a time. The schedule also needs to allow for track switching of departing and arriving trains. Twelve minute headways or fifteen minute headways might create congestion on the switching tracks, so ST just tweaked the existing 14 minute headway schedule. I have a hard time faulting them for the decision.

  3. “We’re further reducing service due to decreased ridership.” Translation: Drivers are calling in sick out of fear, so we don’t have anyone to drive the trips.

    1. I think you are right. It wouldn’t surprise me to see mass sick outs, where metro or sound transit have to shut down most service.

      1. “Assertion without evidence!” This is a comment section, not a courtroom.

        Mike, remember what I told you about being the comment section contrarian? It wasn’t a compliment. I see you’re doing it again today.

    2. It’s a combination of both. As someone who works for CT, our commuter routes are mostly empty. Also, many of our trips are being dropped because drivers are calling out sick. There has been talk, nothing confirmed, that we’ll eventually have to go to Saturday service daily because we are lacking staff.

      Commuters aren’t complaining because there’s hardly anyone riding to notice the cancelled trips! But local riders are taking noticing because they truly rely on transit to get around.

      1. Jordan, three questions. 1) Do CT bus drivers have to secure wheelchairs with safety straps? 2) If they do, do they have to get within six feet of the passenger in the wheelchair to do so? 3) Does CT provide its drivers with masks?

        Judging from all the drivers not wearing masks, and the assortment of types of masks I see, I don’t believe Metro or ST provides their drivers with masks.

      2. @when customers need wheelchair assistance, yes drivers are supposed to help them just says they did pre-COVID. The newer articulated coaches feature passive restraints, which don’t require driver assistance. As for masks, they’re not supplied but it’s understandable because of the national shortage. If frontline medical workers are having trouble obtaining them, then transit agencies definitely won’t be able to get them either.

  4. And this is sorta ST service cut related. Could someone with contacts at KC Metro verify what I heard?

    Yesterday, the bus base on The Greater Eastside that is home to all the ST Express bus routes that serve King County, like the 550 and stuff, discovered that a driver out of that base tested positive for COVID-19. This is second hand info, but from what I understand, that person called in sick last week. The base just found out yesterday that he tested positive. Metro isn’t trying to identify who that person came in contact with. They aren’t notifying others at the base someone who works/worked there is infected. And they aren’t notifying the public or the media. In other words, they want to keep it kinda quiet. I’m not saying any of this as fact. This is what I heard.

    Can someone confirm any of this?

    1. Oh, and even though I wrote “he,” I actually didn’t hear if it was a male or female employee.

    2. This sounds like it may be the genesis of the decision to not just make service fare-free, but *require* passengers to use the back door at all times unless needed for accessibility (in which case, pray that the driver doesn’t have COVID and go heavy on the sanitizer). Seems fine to me, since passengers can stay 6 ft away from the driver at all times that way. AFAIK the only service with one door are DART which is contracted out to HopeLink, and Access, which I hope operators of are given priority for COVID tests.

      Seems like the only real recourse would to be to just stop running buses, which would hurt the people that really really really need it (presumably the only people on the bus right now).

    3. The U. S. is not testing enough. This has been the case since the pandemic was first spotted in North America, on January 21st (a day after it was detected in Japan, South Korea and Thailand). As a result, we have no idea how the virus is being spread. It may have been in the bus base, a local Costco, or a railing next to a local park. At this point — over two months after the virus was first detected locally (and likely longer since it actually first hit our shores) — we can only assume that it is in everywhere in places like that.

      In short, every time you step outside your door, you should be vigilant.

      1. The U. S. is not testing enough.


        Testing needs to be ubiquitous, repeated, and commonplace. Get a cough? Tested. Get a fever? Tested. Sneeze? Tested. Do something outside your home? Get [randomly] tested.

        ASK FOR A TEST? Tested.

        The Feds are spending $2.2 trillion because they were too cheap to spend $100 billion on an adequate testing program right out of the box. Ubiquitous testing with mandatory quarantine is how South Korea stomped it down.

      2. Different and worse than that. The FDA and CDC actively impeded testing by first forbidding anyone to use anything other than the official CDC test, and then shipping a broken test. If they had been actively trying to infect people, they could hardly have done worse.

        We need to repeal the regulations that let them clamp down on testing like that.

  5. I think it’s really helpful that ST is posting which specific trips they intend to cancel. Metro is still only pushing their trip planner for “accurate” information about which trips are cancelled.

    Yesterday evening I took the 372. Metro’s trip planner said there’d be buses at 6:32, 6:42, 6:52. Google Maps and One Bus Away both said the only bus was at 6:52. The 6:32 and 6:42 didn’t show, but the 6:52 did.

    So anecdotally, despite what Metro said, their trip planner does not take into account cancelled trips, while Google Maps and OBA both do.

    1. This is annoying. I hope they are working on this. ST manages to get out new schedules for all their services. For Metro, riders are left with cryptic (and at times, incorrect) signals about which trips are cancelled, when there should be a note on the online schedule showing which trips are cancelled.

    2. Metro’s latest recommendation is to sign up for transit alerts for the routes you care about.

  6. It might be time to just park all the buses until we can get back to something approaching normal. Ridership does not justify keeping the system open, and the risks to passengers and operators is just too great.

    Other nations have shut down transit as part of their social distancing efforts. Where is America?

    1. A complete shutdown in transit would also result in a large increase in Uber/Lyft rides (which, while expensive might be, for many, the only alternative to losing their job). Uber and Lyft put rider and driver in much closer contact than the bus, and at much greater risk of spreading the virus.

      I do think there is room for further temporary service reductions, perhaps limit all routes to service every 20-30 minutes tops (but please post a schedule!) and eliminate coverage routes to wealthier areas (e.g. route 246). But, I don’t think a complete elimination of all transit service right now is a good idea.

    2. Other nations have walkable neighborhoods and mixed-use zoning. As for “ridership does not justify keeping the system opening”, that’s a personal judgment and reasonable people differ. Do you even know what the ridership is, where every person is going, how essential that trip is, and what other transportation alternatives they have? The problem with sweeping generalizations like that is real people fall through the cracks, so we first need to see how many people that would be and what their life would be like — and what our society would be like if they can’t do whatever they do at their destination.

      If you’d said, “I think this is this is not justified”, I wouldn’t have complained because it’s clearly one person’s opinion and a valuable one. But when you say “it is unjustified” it sounds like an absolute, “All reasonable people believe this”, and I don’t think that’s accurate.

      In any case, we have elected officials we’ve vested to make these decisions, and they’re acting reasonably, so let’s give them the space to make the decisions and manage the problem.

      1. “…we have elected officials we’ve vested to make these decisions, and they’re acting reasonably, so let’s give them the space to make the decisions and manage the problem.”

        If you’re “vested” with any elected official ordering you to stay in your home, you’ve lost what it means to be American. And what makes this country great.

        The elected officials are relying on “experts” to model “predictions.”

        The same type of “experts” who predicted FL, DC and NY would be under water by now due to climate change.

        There is no doubt that the Wuhan virus is indeed real and scary. But I will not kneel before my government and “experts” because they promise they will keep me safe.

      2. I have heard nobody anywhere promise me that if I just stay home, I won’t get the virus. I’ve heard quite a few say I would be safer than if I’m out and about.

        I doubt there is much crossover between the microbiologists whose hard work and advice is informing the current draconian but necessary public policies, and the climate scientists who are mostly failing to get the ears of our elected officials who don’t want to offend their fossil-fuel contributors or their constituents who drive the vehicles causing the CO2 pandemic.

        Your disbelief in global warming probably doesn’t change you behavior anyway from a lot of people who know it is real, but continue to eat red meat, drive fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, and have more than their share of children. Some of my best friends fall in those categories. So, I just focus on the politicians who need to enact seemingly draconian policies to slow the CO2 pandemic. It really is the government edicts, much more than people following the golden rule, that is saving this crisis from becoming a lot worse. (It will get worse, and perhaps a lot worse, but it could have been orders of magnitude worse still if there were no bans.)

      3. Americans are citizens of this republic, which is not an anarchy. The founders set up a government. Its purpose is to manage things like civil defense in the face of infectuous diseases. Look up public health.

        Which experts predicted FL, DC, and New York would be underwater by now? Not any I’ve read. They predict the sea will rise several feet this century if the glaciers continue melting. That will flood the coastal cities, not entire states.

        Part of the problem is people in the late 20th century started building houses in swamp tideflats and deep into woodlands where previous generations refused to build because they were so flood-prone.

      4. Not to pick nits, but it isn’t the melting of the glaciers that will be the main cause of coastal flooding. It is the expansion of the water in the oceans as the temperatures of the oceans rise. And coastal flooding is but one element of the climate catastrophe.

    3. Do taxis with the plexiglass shield between front & rear seat still exist in Seattle?
      But yes, Uber/Lyft absolutely should be shut down.

    4. “perhaps limit all routes to service every 20-30 minutes tops”

      Fun fact, Metro in the 1980s was almost all 30-minute service in Seattle and 60-minute in the suburbs.

      In Seattle the 15-minute routes were a small handful: 7 (7/49), 43 (43/44). 71/72/73 (to NE 50th), 26/28 (to N 34th), 15/18 (to 15th/Leary), 1S (36), 5 (to N 85th, with the additional ones going to Northgate), and a few others.

      In the suburbs 30-minute routes included 226/235 (550), 150, and 340 (approx. 535/560, on Shoreline P&R-Bellevue-Renton-Burien), 174 (124/A), 5 (north of 85th), 6 (E).

      Conspicuously 60 minutes were the 307 (41/522), 255, 252 (vaguely 271), 253 (vaguely B, although the 226 overlapped on 8th and at 156th/24th for 30-minute service).

      The 210 (a kind of local 554 through Newport Hills) was every 90-120 minutes, with an extension to North Bend every four hours.

      1. Thank you for the historical information. This sort of thing is really interesting, to me anyway. While I’ve been riding buses in the Seattle area for just shy of 20 years, a lot of the early days were on CT routes, so I have very little historical memory for the Metro routes.

        Apologies in advance for the slightly OT (for the original thread) question, but it follows from your post – do you know if both the old 252 and the old 253 ran through Medina back then? I am asking because I used to ride the 271 daily, and the old stop sign plates appeared to have three routes listed, two of which were blanked out completely, and the third of which was overwritten with the 271. I always meant to just walk from stop to stop and find one where you could hopefully read what the old route numbers were, but never did (and now I don’t go that way regularly anymore, so much more determination needed on my part to try to figure it out).

        Thanks a lot again!

      2. I lived in Bellevue briefly around 2005, before the 253 got replaced with RapidRide B. It went from Redmond to Bellevue Transit Center (don’t remember if Redmond Transit Center existed yet, or if it just stopped on the street nearby). If you think the B-line is slow, the 253 was even slower, featuring a loopy detour into a parking lot to save about 300 feet of walking for residents of one particular apartment building. It ran about every 30 minutes daytime Monday-Saturday and hourly evenings/Sundays. The 8th St. section doubled with another route (230, not to be confused with today’s 230, whose route number was recycled), so at least Crossroads->DT Bellevue had 15-minute daytime service. The only 230 was also very loopy and duplicative, containing fragments of today’s service on the B-line, 226, and 245, with a brief freeway express thrown in between Microsoft and DT Redmond, duplicating the 545. It was a route that just had to die.

      3. “Fun fact, Metro in the 1980s was almost all 30-minute service in Seattle and 60-minute in the suburbs.”

        At least under the stay at home order, both the number of riders and the number of open destinations to ride to is probably less than it was back in the 1980’s.

        Of course, I hope that reducing service to those levels doesn’t prove necessary. But, if push comes to shove, I’d rather than deeper temporary cuts now and full service restored when the coronavirus ends than have a bunch of empty buses roaming the streets now, only for Metro to be forced to cut service right as people start going back to work, because they’re running out of money, due to lack of sales tax collections during the outbreak.

        I don’t think a complete shutdown of service would be wise, as it would push people onto Uber and Lyft and/or encourage friends giving rides to friends without cars, both of which would further spread the virus more than just running the bus.

        Nor do I think a complete shutdown of Uber and Lyft is feasible. There are people that live in areas with poor transit, work essential jobs, and Uber/Lyft might be the only thing that prevents them from losing their job if their car breaks down.

        I think a reasonable balance for Uber and Lyft would be to temporarily force people to order rides over the phone and justify to a dispatcher why their trip is essential and compliant with the governor’s orders and, if it’s not, they don’t get a ride. While not fullproof, I believe such a system would greatly cut down on the number of rides, particularly non-essential rides. A grocery store worker using Uber or Lyft for a couple days to get to work while their car is being repaired is reasonable. Somebody without a car using it to just hang out at a friend’s house is not.

      4. “do you know if both the old 252 and the old 253 ran through Medina back then?”

        Yes, they did.

        226: Redmond, Overlake, 164th, Northup, 8th, Bellevue TC, Bellevue Way, 108th (Enatai), Mercer Island (3 stops), Rainier, Dearborn, 4th/2nd. Hourly.

        235: Totem Lake, Kirkland, Lk Wash Blvd, Bellevue Way, Bellevue TC, Bellevue Way, 104th (Beaux Arts), Mercer Island (3 stops), Rainier, Dearborn, 4th/2nd. Hourly, overlapping with 226 Bellevue-Seattle.

        240: Old Factoria routing to Renton and Burien. Hourly.

        252: Eastgate (foot of Somerset Hill), Bellevue CC, 156th, 8th, Bellevue TC, Medina, U-District. Hourly.

        253: Redmond, Overlake, 156th, 8th, Bellevue TC, Medina, downtown. Hourly.

        340: Shoreline P&R, Ballenger Way, Bothell Way, Bothell P&R, 405 stops at 160th/132nd/70th, Bellevue TC, 112th, South Bellevue P&R, 405 stops at Coal Creek Pkwy/Newport Hills/Kennydale/Renton, Renton, SeaTac, Burien. Half-hourly.

        I grew up during that time in Bellevue and thought that was normal bus service. Then a friend moved to Queen Anne and I saw the 2 was half-hourly and a trolleybus; the 1, 3, and 4 were nearby; and you could walk to a supermarket and friends’ houses and Seattle Center and I thought that was wonderful. After college I rode a half-hourly bus to work from the northern U-District to Northgate (actually Licton Springs) and wished we had a subway, but everybody said that was too expensive and the public wouldn’t support the taxes. That’s my background and why I’m so passionate about light rail and frequency because I waited decades for it and we shouldn’t have to wait decades more to make it complete.

        However, in this temporary crisis, with ridership at less than 1980s levels, half-hourly buses make some sense.

      5. Thank you, Mike! This is really cool to know.

        I entirely understand the subway desire. Having spent my teenage years in Toronto, which at the time had much more density but also much more transit (including a relatively functional but mostly very crowded subway), I can appreciate how others would want the same. Though I’ve been lucky to always be able to live in areas with reasonable transit options even in Seattle, at least for my immediate needs.

      6. From some old 1979 timetables, route 253 went from Redmond P&R to Crossroads on 148th, NE 8th St to downtown Bellevue, through Medina on 84th Ave NE to 520 and downtown Seattle. Route 252 started at Eastgate and served Bellevue College, Crossroads, NE 8th St, downtown Bellevue, Medina on 84th Ave NE, 520 to the U District.

        The 253 offered hourly service off-peak but added a lot of extra trips during peaks. There were 253 Express buses that skipped downtown Bellevue and NE 8th St. Last trips were at about 7:30pm

        The 252 was basically hourly with additional trips added to match the flow of students and workers in the U District. Last trips were about 10:00pm.

      7. The 253 was on 148th north of 24th, and on 156th (Crossroads) between 24th and 8th. 148th had hardly anything on it. The 226 was on 156th north of 24th.

        All the Eastside buses were single. The first articulated bus I saw was on the 226, when the single bus wasn’t even full.

        I remember one Memorial Day when I took a 255 from Kirkland and was the only one on the bus, and transferred downtown to a 73X to the U-District that was articulated and pretty full.

      8. asdf2, isn’t “ordering rides over the phone” what we call “taxi service”? Uber and Lyft have NO technological platform for “dial-up”. They’re DSL or Cable only.

        Jes’ sayin’

    5. I’m going to need to go on a grocery run sometime next week. Delivery isn’t an option because it’s booked solid as far in advance as they let you book grocery delivery. Taking a taxi is even less safe than bus. I don’t have a car, like I suspect everyone who’s saying “just shut down transit entirely” does.

      I’d like it if they kept more buses running so there’d be fewer people per bus, making the trip safer for everyone on it. But I know that’d be unfair to the drivers who shouldn’t be forced to work if they don’t feel safe.

      1. The “just shut down transit entirely” crowd wants to stop the spread of the virus.

        And the lie that people won’t be able to get to work or get to the store has been debunked. Wuhan, China, and surrounding cities (an area bigger than King County,) shut down ALL transit, and nurses still got to the hospitals, and people still got to the store to get food. Think about it. The human race has existed for 200,000 years. Buses have existed for 100 years. The human race isn’t going go extinct if Metro shuts down for a month.

        If you think I’m wrong, send me a link to a news report of mass starvation in Wuhan because people couldn’t go to the store to get food.

      2. “The human race has existed for 200,000 years. Buses have existed for 100 years.”

        Everything was within walking distance then!

        I guess Stephen M can eat dandelions in his yard. If it has dandelions, and if he has a yard.

      3. The “just shut down transit entirely” crowd wants to stop the spread of the virus.

        Right, like the rest of us are calling for wet, sloppy orgies. We don’t care about the virus, but love to see those beautiful, practically empty buses.

        Or maybe — call me crazy — we trust the experts, who actually know a thing or two about the subject, and have thus far not recommended a transit shutdown.

      4. Wuhan, China, and surrounding cities …

        I didn’t know you were a Maoist, Sam. Smash the four olds! Let 100 flowers bloom! Can I borrow your little red book, Sam?

      5. Stephen, how far is your grocery store? I don’t want to sound unhelpful, but if it’s within walking distance, just take a big backpack and make multiple trips. Obviously that won’t work if you’re disabled, but statistics say it’s unlikely.

        My wife and I regularly each take a backpack to one of three groceries each about a mile away. It works, though not a good idea for frozen food…..

        Of course, you may be farther from a store; there’s no help for a five mile hike.

      6. Or maybe — call me crazy — we trust the experts, who actually know a thing or two about the subject, and have thus far not recommended a transit shutdown.

        I’ve seen politicians call for keeping transit in service. I’ve also heard politicians, not just the PotUS, say a lot of stupid stuff about controlling the virus. Governor Inslee, just a week ago, trotted out a map showing how much traffic was still going in HOT lanes. He somehow tried to correlate it to how much people are out in public. It didn’t pass the “Huh?” test.

        I have not heard scientists speak specifically to how having transit continue to run impacts the spread of the virus. But then, most of the biologists probably have little grasp of urban or traffic planning. I’m not really sure who counts as an expert in making that determination. I know at least a couple departments of transportation that I would not bestow the label of “experts” onto regarding this matter.

    6. Other nations have shut down transit as part of their social distancing efforts

      Other than China (which clearly screwed up the response), what nations are those?

      1. The data suggests China did what it needed to do (if we can believe China self-reported accurately), while everyone else fiddled.

      2. What? Everyone else fiddled? Everyone?!

        Come on man. Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Australia all had better responses than the U. S., Europe and China. Most of those countries have very small outbreaks, because they have been handling the situation really well. Japan has been sloppy, but their response has been better than ours, even though they (like South Korea and Thailand) were the first to get it outside China.

        Of those countries, the only one that had significant problems was South Korea, and that was because a religious sect essentially ignored the guidelines. But even after that, there response was effective — far more effective than China’s.

        (I could go on). No one thinks that China did a better job than South Korea, even when faced with the exact same problem (a problem that many countries avoided by responding faster and more vigilantly). South Korea is the model for what the U. S. is now facing (while Australia is the model we could have used to avoid this mess).

        Honestly, it reminds me of the Cold War era, when people thought there were only two countries in the world (the U. S. and the U. S. S. R.). This is a pandemic — by definition a world wide phenomenon. It is has hit dozens of countries. Spending just a little time reading about those countries is better than assuming that only China, Europe and the U. S. have had to deal with this problem.

  7. Thanks for the help. Lifelong prejudice: Especially coming out of anybody whose public salary I’m paying, and in spades if their fare system contains a rule setting the law on me for wrong number of card-taps, “That’s Just The Way It Is” mainly explains why the spokesperson needs to be replaced in 4.285714285714286 and not 15 minutes.

    Yesterday I personally had to make a decision that could mean some hardship for a worker with two children whose help I really treasure. Too bad I’m still too symptom-free to be tested. But Lord, where I’ve been on foot and buses these last two weeks! My own income? Up to now born lucky. Though just yet no DNA test for that.

    Probably highest-classified secret among hard-core professional transit drivers, though: Our passengers and our own families both mean a lot to us. Anybody, especially if they’re a government agency or other organization who’ve kept quiet about contagion- you’re lucky we’ve got no time to get justice. If we go to work, we could both bring home death and commit suicide. If we stay home, other people like us don’t eat. Right this minute, uncountable individually awful decisions. It really is time for an official statement from ATU Local 587, members and leadership both. But:

    An open, official political campaign to shut down bus service? Not only people’s individual and collective right, but if they honestly believe it, their duty. But prefer that the effort stand on a very large solid rock, not crawl out from under its opposite. With Twitter and the rest, no proponent needs to risk anything. Legitimately anonymous. You want it? Just double-click your mouse and get it started.

    Since long before the epidemic, in both Brazil and Chile, places more like Seattle than not, police have been deliberately blinding young demonstrators with riot guns in answer to their demands over transit, among other things. Hard to feature a commander named “Mitzi” doing that. But I also attribute the lack of bloodshed here to this country’s much thicker economic “padding” that’s very likely wearing thin to gone.

    Really would like to see today’s pages fill up with comments from the individual people I’m talking about. Would be a tremendous public service, for both them and Seattle Transit Blog. Thanks for being here.

    Mark Dublin


    Not posting this to poke criticism or embarrassment at anybody, including workers and their agency. But excellent illustration of a mindset that can now cost lives and has to swiftly go.

    Reaction can no longer be about “policy.” What’s needed right now is for individual workers to quickly acquire, for present action and future cultivation, the knowledge, skill, and habits that’ll let them work together to meet events as they develop.

    I know there are some firefighters reading this. And the news talks about the Army being called in- lot of soldiers between Olympia and Tacoma. Appreciate one of you helping me out with the terminology.

    Because from what I’ve seen of ordinary people since the onset of present conditions, I think that as individuals and together, our people can more than handle this. It’s also one reason I’m favorably inclined to universal National Service as part of every citizen’s introduction to adult life. Which I doubt has any need whatever to be compulsory.

    Boston Marathon attack a horrible example of our people’s real strength: when policy gets fractured in the blast, ordinary Americans need no orders to get into action, creating a new one as they work.

    Mark Dublin

  9. I rode the South Sounder train yesterday, the 28th. I boarded at King street station and the train was empty. I was the only passenger for nearly all of the trip. Towards the end, a man entered my car and was trying to force a conversation with me. He was definitely acting in an inappropriate and menacing manner. It was terrifying being alone in a train car with this man. More security is needed.

    1. Somebody on the Sounder side, a clarification. You still always have a conductor an every train, don’t you? Also, come to think of it, all the bathrooms have locks. Also, a cord passengers can reach to “dynamite” the brakes. If that passenger had screamed and run for it….You tell us.

      Mark Dublin


    Now remind us why we should believe a single yowl, snort or grunt, let alone requiring a word, out of anybody official in Communist China. On any subject. But, you know, being scientists living in the Age of Reason, many of our own Founders undoubtedly believed in natural selection as Nature understood it. (As opposed to Hitler, whose genes very likely harbored some damage.)

    And especially for ideas. So I fully believe that proponents of the Nobigdeal ™ theory of COVID-19 virology be, with prudent attention to prevailing wind-direction, be given whole states who’ve voted for its main proponent, and encouraged to let their population grow and large as possible. Our government having roots in the hospitality industry, give the president of Brazil especially palatial quarters.

    Because I really believe they’ll be 100% right about how to get the problem to solve itself. Let them back in here? Why in the world would anybody think they’d want to come back?

    Mark Dublin

  11. As a Snohomish county rider, I’m perplexed and somewhat annoyed that there is inconsistent frequencies for the 510-513/532. there are sections of the schedule where trips run every 10 minutes, a 30-minute gap and then every 10 minutes again. Also, CT is insistent on continuing the Boeing routes that barely had ridership pre-COVID depsite Boeing shutting down operations. Same with the UW routes.

    1. I think it would make the most sense to just run the 512 every fifteen minutes, all day long. Get rid of the 510, 511 and 513. 510 and 511 are essentially express versions of the 512. The time savings right now on those buses is minimal, and capacity isn’t a problem (even given the desire for spacing). If it is, then just run the 512 every 10 minutes during rush hour. The 513 has always performed poorly, and is mainly designed to serve a park and ride that is probably empty right now. Those riders can drive further to another park and ride (or just drive to their destination).

    2. RossB’s suggestion makes sense (though maybe run the 513 every hour due to the Seaway and SR 99 stops. Still would be a lot cheaper).

      But it really seems arbitrary that the 560/566, 577/578, etc get a whole new schedule while some other routes get canceled trips. If they just drew up a new schedule, they could run it every actual 20 minutes (or just run the 512 every 15, like during other times).

      ST is kinda doing this with the 594 at peak, but still keeping the 590 to have service from Tacoma be more frequent than to Lakewood.

  12. Vision Zero is to pedestrian deaths what Social Distancing is to COVID-19. If we want to reach the goals of Vision Zero, we’re going to have to do more. If we aren’t serious about reaching goals laid out in Vision Zero, then what we’re doing is enough.

    And if we want to get more serious about slowing the spread of the virus, we’re going to have to shut down transit and travel. If we don’t want to slow the spread, then let’s keep on doing what we’re doing and be okay with it spreading to more people and more areas.

    1. Agreed, comrade Sam. Shut down the motorways. Shut down the airports. Shut down the Starbucks. Close the grocery stores and let the government deliver your necessities (one roll of toilet paper per person, please). No more gas stations, no more take out restaurants, no more day care centers. Shut it all down, and let the state monitor our every move, making sure we don’t leave the house unless we are doing critical business for the people’s republic.

      Or maybe we should follow the lead of every other country and deal with the problem rationally, using the best available science. Make significant, worthwhile changes. Test, test, test. Shut down various niceties (like takeout coffee) while keeping the essentials (transportation) running as safely as possible.

      1. To be fair, Italy is doing part of that (monitor one’s every move, ensuring only essential business, like going to the store, is allowed). Some food is in fact delivered at the door, it seems, too. Israel was reported to attempt the monitoring-through-technology, too. We will see how well those methods work to flatten the curve. Italy may be turning a corner, but after a terrible cost. China went farther than most of us are comfortable, and their results are likely closest to success, even despite the somewhat untrustworthy declarations.

        The broader point is, we’re still very much in the dark as to how extreme measures we need to make it work. Certainly broad-scale testing is a huge component of that, yes. Certainly pretty extreme measures to limit personal movement is another part, too, unfortunately, and we are failing on both so far.

      2. What is being done in Italy and the US to stop coronavirus is definitively not working. Italy has now exceeded China in cases, and we have exceeded both. There’s over 50,000 cases in New York alone. Call China’s response as draconian as you want, they’re the only country that has halted the epidemic at this scale.

      3. Recently, Alon Levy, the esteemed transit blogger, has been writing about the epidemic and how it relates to transit. One common theme is that Americans are parochial — they ignore what is going in the rest of the world. Our response to this crisis is a lot like our transit — we fail to look at the rest of the world, or make incorrect and stupid assumptions about it. Here are two examples:,

        In there, I’ve been defending Americans, essentially making the claim that if not for Trump, the U. S. could have defended itself quite well against this pandemic. In many fields, Americans take a world view — they have to.

        Then there are comment threads like this, which pretty much prove his point. Would someone in Japan write that? Probably not, yet ignorant comments like this are probably common in the U. S.:

        Call China’s response as draconian as you want, they’re the only country that has halted the epidemic at this scale.

        Wrong. Completely wrong. South Korea halted the epidemic when it reached that level, and they are seen as the model, not China.

        It is also worth pointing out that ideally, you never let the problem get this large. Countries (and regions) like Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia have managed to impose a rigorous testing system that has kept the virus from gaining a strong foothold. They have imposed restrictions, but none as restrictive or lead by mob rule like China’s.

        It is a big world, with lots of different countries.

      4. South Korea’s response has some rather negative qualities of its own. They’ve halted new cases, sure. But active cases are dying with no flattening of the curve in sight. Not what I’d call a model to follow.

        China has flattened their death curve. That’s what we should be looking at.

      5. @ A Joy — What??? South Korea had 5 people die of the virus yesterday. They will never come close to the number of people who died in China (which actually had the same number). The South Korean curve is not only flat, but it never got very high. Faced with a major crisis due to irrational (religious based) behavior, they responded way better than China (or any other country facing a similar problem). I guarantee, five years from now, when they pull out all the data, and look at all the history, they will laud South Korea (and Australia) while saying that the PRC was a mixed bag.

      6. That’s not what the worldometer link reports. South Korea has a downturn on new cases, a flattening on overall cases, and no change in the exponential curve regarding fatalities. China does have a downturn on fatalities.

  13. Wow. This just keeps getting crazier. Ow, in the midst of the CV-19 pandemic, Metro is under investigation for improperly cleaning their buses. This is an obvious problem.

    Metro really needs to cut back service and/or fully curtail service on certain routes until the traveling public can be assured that Metro buses are being properly cleaned.

    The complaints pre-date the CV-19 outbreak, yet the investigation won’t be complete until late this year or early next. Totally unacceptable during a pandemic.

    Cut back service to what can be safely operated, or just don’t operate at all.

    1. While we are at it, shut down Amazon. And Starbucks. And takeout restaurants. Oh, and why are we allowing people to fly? Do you really think the airport is safer than a bus?

      1. Amazon was one of the first companies to tell their workers to work from home. Takeout is an alternative to going shopping and is being regulated. Fair question about the airlines. From the stories I’ve read the majority of people on some flights are flight crews returning to their base of operations. There are still people trying to get home including a lot of students who’s spring quarter looks like it’s going to online. It’s feasible to require all airline passengers to produce a valid reason for flying; not practical for a bus. You also don’t have the free for all no fare boarding on planes so I’d say yes, it is safer than riding a bus. How many flight crew staff has tested positive vs transit operators?

        FWIW, Texas is mandating a 2 week curfew on people arriving from NY & New Jersey. Another measure not practical for transit.

      2. Amazon was one of the first companies to tell their workers to work from home.

        Dude, most of the workers from Amazon work at warehouses, or deliver packages. They aren’t working from home. Oh, and some of the workers at the warehouses have tested positive for the virus.

        Takeout is an alternative to going shopping and is being regulated.

        You mean that inspectors from the state are verifying safe practices daily, along with frequent testing (like in China)? Of course not.

        Besides, that misses the point. Transit is being regulated too. You don’t need take out, nor do you need grocery stores, where everyone can wander through the aisles, and put their bare hands on the various items. Have the state operate things. You ask for food, someone from the military (or a volunteer from the party) will deliver it for you. If you are going to adopt the Chinese model, you should adopt the key element — state control of everything.

        The point is that it is easy to pick out an area (like grocery stores or transit) and say they are a public hazard. But the alternative (delivery for everyone) also involves hazards, and under our current system, would be expensive for a lot of people.

    2. As soon as the first passenger boards the bus is no longer “clean”. While it’s obviously important to clean buses each day I don’t see it as the biggest issue. Don’t touch you eyes, suck your thumb or pick your nose. The virus is airborne and won’t jump off a handrail. Wear gloves. The simple baggy clear plastic ones will do. Or just wear a pair of garden gloves and wash them. The problem is your in a confined space with unknown individuals and “transfers” are exactly that. A way to transfer the virus to the entire network.

    3. How is reducing service, and thereby reducing social distance, going to make it safer? The social distance is more important than the cleaning regime.

  14. Idea: Instead of having an automated announcement telling passengers (many who are homeless) that all buses are disinfected nightly (I highly doubt that’s true), why not have the announcement list the names, locations and opening dates of all quarantine, isolation, and temporary housing facilities in the county, like the one’s at Eastgate and Issaquah? Space the announcements out so it’s not one, long, five minute announcement. They could even say which route to take. To get to the Eastgate facility, take the route 240. It opens April … You get the idea. And have onboard signs listing said facilities. How are the people who need them supposed to find out about them?

    Sam. Former Part-Time Southcenter Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Fountain Worker.

    1. Metro is only spot disinfecting nightly. Buttons, poles, handles, frequently touched items only. Backpack sprayers may be used nightly, but Metro hasn’t been specific there.
      Full top to bottom disinfecting is only done every 15 days, up from every 30 pre-coronavirus.

      1. Farrell’s had a menu item called “Our Accountant’s Favorite”. It cost $100 and consisted of a perfectly round scoop of vanilla ice cream with a bit of marshmallow on top. Did anybody ever order it?

        Farrell’s menu and decorations had a Victorian theme, similar to Trader Joe’s.

        Mike, Farrell’s customer and sundae eater, and route 305 rider to the Northgate Farrell’s.

      2. I don’t remember that one. The biggest thing I remember ever making was something called The Woodland Park Zoo. 30 scoops in a big bowl, with other toppings. I forget what. It was carried out by two servers on a stretcher with a hole in the middle that held the bowl of ice cream. They would run up and down the aisles, while I rang the bell and siren, until they got to the table that ordered it.

        And, of course, the two things Farrell’s was most known for, was the Pig Trough. You’d get a ribbon that said “I made a pig of myself at Farrell’s” if you at the whole thing. And getting kissed on the lips by your waitress or waiter on your 16th birthday.

      3. Did you play the organ at Pizza and Pipes also. What bus went there? I believe it was the 48.

      4. You’ll probably have to explain what Pizza and Pipes was. It was a big restaurant with mediocre pizza and a huge organ with pipes tha went up to the ceiling and out to high shelves along the walls with noisemakers and dolls like bears that clanged their cymbals when the pipe signaled. A favorite spot for those of 5th-6th grade, along with Skate King and Farrell’s. (And Chuck E Cheese and Godfather’s.) I thought it was in Bellevue though. At least, we didn’t go to Seattle often so I remember each time we did, and I don’t remember going to Seattle for it. Maybe there were two of them. But I don’t really remember where it was. I didn’t start riding Metro and learning the geography until after I’d stopped going to Pizza & Pipes. What ever happened to it, anyway?

      5. @Mike Orr. Don’t know what year Pizza and Pipes closed. Didn’t even know there was one in Bellevue. The one I went to was in a building that was either torn down or remodeled for the current Bartell’s on N 85th St. In the back of that old building there used to be a popular thrift store also. All gone. We never actually rode the 48 to get to it. I just know in the 80’s that bus was there. That is how I got to Fred Meyer.

      6. There was a Pizza & Pipes in Tacoma too. It was out in the North End near the Narrows. On Jackson? No idea if Tacoma Transit ran a bus out there back then.

      7. Yes, there was a Pizza and Pipes in Tacoma by University Place until it burned down in 1999. Certainly there was Pierce Transit service in the area then. I remember celebrating my 4th birthday there.

        I had no idea there was ever one in Bellevue until I looked it up. It closed in 92.

      8. Mmm, restaurants seemed to have a particular issue with burning down in Pierce County back then, Top of the Ocean and The Back 40 come to mine. My recollection of the Pizza & Pipes was in the mid 70’s so they had a good run. Back in the 70’s that location was flanked on either side by a whole lot of nothing. And I don’t think Tacoma Transit ran buses to Fircrest or University Place.

      9. Tacoma Transit served the edges of U.P. and Fircrest. Some trips on the Center Street/Oakland route went into Fircrest as far as Regents and Alameda where they turned around. The 19th Street route had a turnback at TCC (so within walking distance of Pizza and Pipes). There was also a route that took Sixth Avenue down to Titlow Beach where it made a Grandview-27th-Bridgeport/Jackson loop.

    2. It’s good to have a memory of Farrell’s at a time like this. I went to the one at Northgate mall. Took the Ballard 62 to get there. Riding the 62 from 24th Ave NW to Northgate Mall counts as being on topic.

  15. Point taken, Sam. Tough, good weight, nice balance – not scared to tell the NRA that up close, I’d rather have a scoop than a gun. Though at bus-hinge range, toffee-chip tends to ricochet.

    Mark Dublin.

      1. Sam, we’ve got a situation where the “right” answer itself is constantly changing. Maybe best definition of the word “Emergency.” Term probably has same root as “Emerge.” “Whackamole ™” means we need a fast course-correction.

        Luckily, the communications now available enable us all, transit system, workers, and passengers can have a steady flow of the information we (system and passengers) need to get the next decision right. Best outlook for everybody? Think like a rescue worker, not a victim.

        Mark Dublin

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