King County Metro

Metro ridership is holding roughly steady at about 100,000 boardings per weekday, or about 75% off 2019 levels. After last week’s restoration of some mid-day trips on some routes that are still relatively popular, Metro is sending out 6 more buses at night on the 7, A, and E to thin the crowds on those routes.

Previous trends continue: the ridership drops are most severe during peak commute hours, while routes and times dominated by “essential” workers and the transit-dependent have smaller falls.

12 Replies to “Metro ridership flat, but with more night trips”

  1. Could someone who actually either drives or rides transit describe conditions? Many thanks.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I didn’t go into Seattle today, but I did drive from Kirkland to North Bend to hike up Mailbox Peak. Traffic was definitely lighter than usual and once I passed Issaquah, I-90 was nearly empty. Going back, even 405 was moving at 60 mph, as was the ramp from I-90 to 405. Granted, this was midday, not full-on rush hour yet, but still.

  2. Really would appreciate a report. As travel conditions stand, there’s no way I can get north and see firsthand. So any info, much appreciated.

    Mark Dublin

    1. While I have no idea what’s going on with current transit conditions, I do consider myself to be a leading authority it. Basically, it depends on the area of the county you are in. Here on the Eastside, ridership is very light. That’s because people who live in Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland are law-abiding, and are obeying Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

      1. Sam, your lead sentence should immediately put you on National Public Radio, because you meet every one of their criteria for expertise.

        View from Jay’s office, especially since the State Police won’t let me in, is that the reason people are doing what he says is that there’s nothing open and everybody they know now finally has an excuse not to talk to them. Total absence of subject-matter renders words universally boring.

        My own main reason for staying home is that there’s nobody open to either fix my car or extract whatever’s left of me from the wreckage when that combination Grand Prix and East Africa Safari-veteran semi driver tailgating me takes all three trailers right over the top of it without even signalling.

        Something I really would like to see some Highway Patrol attention to- an organization whose motto of “Service With Humility” denotes bravery far beyond the Congressional-is the cadre of huge invariably solid black SUV’s that at about 80 will come weaving through I-5 traffic, pull in an inch off my back bumper, hang there ten seconds, and then be gone to intimidate somebody who’s scared of right-wing cowards.

        Patrol I’ve spoken to, generally from behind a deserted JBLM missile silo, are non-committal about this phenomenon. For me, if these are really just recruits about to succumb from humility, all’s forgiven and I’ll disconnect the switch that makes my back bumper blaze up in their windshields with high beam brake-lights at 90.

        To me, State of Washington owes its Government a big debt of gratitude. The events and tantrums it opens its beautiful lawns and gardens to, name me anybody else in the State that would want those antics in THEIR neighborhood.

        Not only are there frequently fearless little deer on hand, but the patrolmen assure me that Jay just told them personally that it’s Essential I go see the little creatures. Natural law that includes avoidance of being eaten-all that curb service, you know- makes sure they keep Social Distance.

        Around six last night by my neighbor’s porch, observed a raccoon the size of a grizzly bear washing and eating something suspicious. Neighbor boy told me it might be a baby duck so: Challenge to the NRA: make a hat out of THAT and maybe the signers would’ve let you have live ammunition.

        Mark Dublin

    2. I was riding the bus 6 days a week until last Monday. Each bus looked like it was sprayed. You can see the dried liquid residue if you look close enough. Many people sit near the rear door. You have to pass by them to get to a far seat. On the busses I take, social distancing is better towards the front, behind the neon velcro bands. Or behind the ADA seating, if that helps. I see between 10 and 20 people on a 60ft bus. For many people it is difficult to get on the bus because the rear of the coach is nowhere near the curb. Some drivers are now kneeling the rear to accommodate. I have seen people who are homeless. Most of them are not causing a problem. Most are very quiet, just like everyone else. But I know they are homeless, not due to stereotypes. I see them come out of a tent and then get on the bus. I would say about 50% of them have masks. But many other people do not wear masks, so you cannot really judge. I have been told by drivers there is more graffiti, and broken windows. I don’t know. Also each coach leaves the layover zone very late so it does not have to travel 10mph the whole route. It screws with my app sometimes. But I have figured it out now. The routes I rode were the 522, 75, and 41. Downtown I took several others.

      I stopped riding last Monday for a family member, non Covid related concern. My family believes I am high risk because of my job and transportion to work. So I have been told by my family to take a transit vacation. And I agreed for now. They all support transit, and voted for St2 andc3. But for family I stopped riding. I am now driving. Hope this helps.

    3. I haven’t ridden a bus in over two months as I now work from home and can walk/bike everywhere I need to go. I can say that the 31/32 look pretty consistently empty as they pass through Wallingford. The 26, 44, and 62 used to look empty but as time goes by I see more and more people on them. A couple days ago I saw a 62 that was probably close to the 18-person limit.

      On that topic, do we know how Metro is gathering their ridership statistics? Is it automated counters at the doors, or some other method?

      1. Metro buses are all equipped with automatic passenger counters at each doors. They’re not perfect, but at these volumes I imagine they’re pretty accurate.

    4. I’m an Atlantic operator and here my over-technical explanation of how work is going:
      I drive 1/14 two days a week, 4 (south) two days a week, and the 70 one day a week (M-F ~6am-2pm). Passenger load depends mostly on whether or not the bus in front of me is cancelled.
      The 14 by far has the highest load factor of all my work. I’d say mid-day numbers are 80% of normal, if the bus in front of me is cancelled resulting in 30 min headways. Every midday outbound 14 trip I drive has about 14-18 people onboard. I report the overload, but I don’t pass up.
      The 70 I drive has two runs before it cancelled, resulting in 25-35 min between me and my leader. I typically see 8-16 people per trip. In a 60-foot bus, thats very comfortable. Inbound midday trips are the most crowded.
      3 and 4 seems to have most of their service preserved, thank god. Midday load factor is very light. Though around 7am must be a shift change at harborview. I see roughly 16-18 people on that trip. Once again I report the overload but dont pass up. IMO people will leave if they’re uncomfortable with the lack of social distancing. It takes up too much of my time and energy to enforce it, so I don’t.
      Mask/face covering compliance is about 95% on the route 1, 75% on the 4 and 70, and maybe 50% on the 14.

  3. I’m surprised the numbers aren’t lower. Every time I walk by a bus, it seems to be almost empty. I suppose it just shows the difference between some routes, which have hardly anyone, and other routes, that are almost the same.

    1. A 12-rider limit is pretty low, and might very well make buses appear nearly empty.

      1. Yeah, definitely. I’m just saying that if that if I had to guess, I would say that Metro was down to around 10%, not 25. I can usually count the number of people on the 41, and there aren’t many.

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