Closed seats on King County Metro bus due to COVID-19 pandemic

This is an open thread.

75 Replies to “News roundup: no more”

    1. Whatever is cheaper. (It is unlikely a tunnel will be cheaper unless huge portions of the structure have to be replaced. Otherwise the grade is way too steep).

      1. As I recall the max grade is somewhere around 6% or so. I think Link gets pretty close to it on the hill up to TIB station.

      2. San Francisco’s Streetcar System currently has maximum grade of 9%, though it had even steeper segments before the Post-War Culling.

    2. An immersed tunnel would stir up the toxic muck left in the Duwamish over decades of industrial dumping. You’d probably end up removing more material doing the clean-up than building a bored tunnel. That said, money spent on cleaning up the mess has value and is slowly being done.

      1. The duwamish river is dredged regularly to maintain the shipping channel. How would this be different?

      2. Whatever they dredge up is toxic waste. According to Wikipedia:

        one plan for an “early action” or hotspot cleanup proposed to dredge contaminated sediment and dump the resulting sludge in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay… Opposition to this plan… forced the sludge to be shipped to Klickitat County

        Good resources at the King County Duwamish River Superfund Site and from the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. It all needs to happen and the sooner the better. There might even be some Super Fund money available to help.

  1. The plans for Mercer Island look good. Did they every figure out the layover plans? Based on this report from last year, it was still up in the air: https://seattletransitblog.com/2019/03/27/transit-integration-at-mercer-island/. Some of the ideas seem crazy — like no layover in the middle of the day. When the train is running every ten minutes, that seems like a good time to layover. Otherwise you stand a good chance of letting people off and then leaving with an empty bus, right before the train gets there.

    1. Direct link to the open house: https://miti.participate.online/

      Yeah, I’m really glad the round-about option came through, that seemed the best option. The open house doesn’t mention operations, but they are expanding the south side of Mercer Way to go from 1 stop to 4 stops. That should give it a mini-transit center feel, where different routes can have different bays … so while there isn’t layover space per-se, that should allow for most routes to “live-loop” in a way where they can linger at their bay for several minutes, particularly midday when there are less routes.

      Not being able to have bus drivers take breaks or switch driver at Mercer Island may make for some inconvenient/less efficient scheduling, but hopefully doesn’t impact the rider transfer much.

      1. It is kind of crazy to say you can’t layover, but you can stop there indefinitely. If anything, that encourages the driver to idle — the worst of both worlds.

        Another aspect is whether they can use the northern bus stop. That wasn’t part of the settlement, but if they don’t, apparently it can make it more difficult to serve the area as quickly. This makes sense to me. Ideally you let everyone off on the north side, then the bus goes up and around and stops on the south side, to pick people up. If that isn’t allowed, then everyone sits while the bus does the loop, and the bus spends more time at the south side bus stop (while everyone gets off).

      2. To me, “layover” means the bus goes out of service. I’m not suggesting KCM does a ‘not-layover’ to skirt the legalese in the MOU. I”m just saying a well timed schedule should allow for the bus to wait, in service, at the stop to catch the transfers from the “next train” whether that’s 2 minutes or 6 minutes. This should mitigate the “empty bus” problem you highlighted.

        This should work well at the Link stations where buses terminate, mostly the suburbs, while stations like 130th and Judkins might have these missed connections in the middle of the day because the transfers are to buses running mid-route.

        I’ve boarded buses in service where the A/C is on but the engine is off, and the driver turns the engine once he’s ready start moving. So I don’t think the bus needs to literally idle unless it’s cranking the heat/AC?

      3. Yeah, I guess that makes sense. As long as the driver is in the seat and the bus is in service, it isn’t laying over. I don’t know too much about the laying over, but it seems like the rules prevent a couple possibilities. One is keeping the buses in Mercer Island for the day. I believe that Snohomish County does this. In the morning, the buses all go downtown. In the evening, they come back. The drivers all ride a bus (or buses) together. This seems like a cost effective measure, although I’m not sure if Metro does this (or would do this here). It might make sense for buses from North Bend, for example (since it is a fair distance).

        The other thing it does is limit the nature of the routes (as you mentioned). In the middle of the day a bus might start at Mercer Island and do a live loop somewhere to the east. Now it can’t. It has to do that loop on Mercer Island.

        I’m not sure if either is a big problem. Based on the previous report, Metro seemed more concerned about having enough stops.

        I agree about your other points. Buses that serve this station will be clear feeder routes. It seems quite possible that the buses wait for riders to leave the train and make their way to the bus stop, especially at night, when neither the train nor a bus will be running that often. A stop like 130th is different, in that the train and bus will be running more often — you might get a great connection, but if you don’t, you shouldn’t have to wait that long.

      4. Good point on the higher frequency on 130th. Judkins might then the only one with an issue in the evenings, when frequency is down.

        I don’t see KCM needing to leave buses at MI … unlike CT, there is decent “reverse commute” traffic across the Lake, and KCM’s East base is much, much closer than driving all the way back to Snohomish in the middle of the day. For routes that need a transit center for layover, or just to park a bus for a few hours, send them to South Bellevue?

        I don’t see that many routes serving Mercer Island off-peak, perhaps only one, just the ( now truncated) 554. Ignoring routes that serve the rest of the island, which are except from the limits. What else is going to Mercer Island off-peak?

        From 405/Newport, everything currently goes to Bellevue except the 111 and 114, which are peak-only … for the 111, all-day local service in Renton Highlands probably truncates at the Stride station at 44th, and for the 114, all day service for Newport Hills will be a future rapid ride that goes up Richard Roads to connect to Link Bellevue TC.

        So that really just leaves the I90 corridor, where local service is oriented around Eastgate, so the only thing going to MI is the 554. Service further into Snoqualmie/North Bend is a transfer at the Issaquah Highlands, not MI. The 554 lays over at the Issaquah TC and/or the Issaquah Highlands TC

        Again, yes there might be some lost $$s b/c KCM can’t squeeze out an extra 1-way run out of a driver’s shift, but nothing that should impact the rider.

      5. I don’t see KCM needing to leave buses at MI

        Yeah, I don’t either. A bus from North Bend is more likely to just deadhead, or “reverse commute” to Issaquah (and then leave the bus there).

        I don’t see that many routes serving Mercer Island off-peak, perhaps only one, just the ( now truncated) 554.

        Yeah, that’s probably the case. The problem is that there just isn’t quite enough demand in the area, and it is fairly dispersed. I think the only route that has potential is 245. I could see the bus getting on the freeway at Eastlake, thus saving a fair number of riders some time if they are headed to Seattle. Factoria would have to backfill things by running the 240 and 241 more often, but that would be good in its own right. Still, I don’t see that happening. It certainly isn’t in Metro’s plans. It is clear that with our system a lot of people will have to get used to the idea of a three seat ride. I think it is quite reasonable if you are traveling a long distance (and Robinswood to Seattle really is a long distance) but it is crazy to do that from South Lake Union to Capitol Hill. The key is that those main corridors (Issaquah/Eastgate/Mercer Island or East Link) are very frequent.

        Again, yes there might be some lost $$s b/c KCM…

        Yes, and that concerns me. Some extremely well-to-do Mercer Island residents shook down Sound Transit — and apparently, the county. If that ain’t white privilege, I don’t know what is.

      6. While they may be suspended at present, there’s a series of 20_ Expresses that run the I-90 corridor. I’m pretty confident they’ll get truncated to MI, so there is more than just the 554 involved.

      7. AJ and I were talking about off-peak. The peak-only I-90 commuter buses (212, 214, 216, etc.) are a different story. There are half a dozen of them, and there might be more after they get truncated at Mercer Island. Likewise, I would expect Mercer Island service to improve, and it is possible they will get an all-day run (although probably not until funding improves).

      8. 245: Eh, maybe. I’d rather just invest in better frequency of the 554 itself, so 245 riders have a good transfer at the Eastgate freeway station. Bellevue College has a 1-seat ride to East Link via the 271 to Bellevue, for those whom the walk to the freeway station is too long. For Factoria, I think I’d rather boost the 241, which has a Link transfer at South Bellevue, than send another bus to MI from Eastgate.

        But there will plenty of opportunity to re-imagine the eastside post-2024.

      9. I’d rather just invest in better frequency of the 554 itself, so 245 riders have a good transfer at the Eastgate freeway station.

        I think it is highly likely that the 554 has the same frequency as Link. Outside of rush hour, that is likely to be around 10 to 15 minutes. That is doubling the frequency, but service time will be cut pretty much in half.

        My thought was extending the 245, so riders avoid a transfer. If the 245 was truncated at Eastgate, it wouldn’t matter (at least outbound). The transfer from the 554 to the 245 could be timed so that riders wouldn’t lose much time at all. But with the current routing, that would be difficult to impossible to time. That also assumes the same frequency (or double) for the 245, which is also unlikely.

        Anyway, you are probably right — there probably aren’t going to be that many all-day connections to Mercer Island or South Bellevue.

      10. I think what you are highlighting is that Eastgate TC, a key transfer node for Bellevue, has an awkward 2-seat connection to Link until Issaquah Link opens. It’s also a tough transfer, b/c the local routes are usually down in the bus bays below the P&R, while the 554 will stop in the freeway, which is a ~3 minute walking transfer).

        I checked out the Metro connects, and there no local routes and only 1 frequent route (connecting to Factoria, i.e a future 241) on I90 between MI and Eastgate.

        I think what is happening here is KCM is prioritizing travel within east king (really, within Bellevue) over connections outward to Seattle. I think this make sense for all day service, as that will skew heavily towards local trips. The one key driver off all day demand in Bellevue college, and the walk to the freeway station is reasonable (though on the long end). Otherwise, you are talking about an area that is entirely single family homes and a few schools, and you don’t have to travel that far north before heading directly to Bellevue TC is the faster route with more connections.

        If KCM is resourced constrained, I think it’s the right trade-off to force the double transfer for a few people trying to get to Link … those who prioritize less transfers likely can find a route that goes to Bellevue TC instead.

        If KCM is resource flush, rather than alter a local route, I think I’d rather expand the span of service of the express routes into midday/evening, as that will better serve trips go to/from Seattle.

      11. I agree with all of your points except this one:

        Otherwise, you are talking about an area that is entirely single family homes and a few schools, and you don’t have to travel that far north before heading directly to Bellevue TC is the faster route with more connections.

        There is a reason I picked the 245. There are plenty of apartments on that route. If you are on 145th Place, then yes, one option is to head north to Bellevue TC (https://goo.gl/maps/gtgaX5ucokJEBSNf9). But a bus the other direction could be in Mercer Island by then (although not with the current loopy routing through the college). That would likely save the rider ten minutes. There are also apartments up on 140th Ave SE (an area only served by the 245) and it would save them a transfer and likely ten minutes as a result.

        But in general, I agree with you. There are just too many tricky issues and not enough transit demand and/or funding to fully take advantage of East Link. Sending the 245 to Mercer Island means that it doesn’t connect with Factoria. You might save someone ten minutes in their trip to Seattle, but then you need to fund decent service to Factoria. Metro probably won’t prioritize that connection with Link, and I wouldn’t either. If there was funding levels befitting the huge investment in Link it would be different, but obviously there isn’t.

        Local connections are probably more important. Getting good frequency on the main Issaquah-Eastgate line certainly is. So too is getting good frequency from Factoria to South Bellevue or connecting routes to Bellevue TC. Bellevue simply lacks the money to provide great connections to Link from that part of the city, even if they would be reasonably productive.

  2. About a week ago, NY Gov Cuomo rode the 7 train from Queens to his Midtown office in conjunction with the opening the city, and to show that he believes it’s safe to take public transit. “If it wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t ask anyone to go on the subways,” he said.

    I think we need that to happen here. For someone like a mayor or transit head to ride Link or a bus (once it’s no longer for essential trips only), to show people it’s safe to do so. I think that would go a long way in reducing people’s fear about taking public transit.

    1. That would be good. Cuomo should also tell the NYSE to lay off prohibiting traders from commuting on transit. Or even pass legislation banning it.

  3. Down in SF, after Muni said it will no longer transport police, the police union responded by telling Muni not to call them when they need police help with things like removing problem passengers.

    1. Metro has its own separate transt police. They don’t call SPD, so that point of leverage doesn’t exist here.

      1. I believe KCM and ST contract with the King County Sheriff. They were KCM or ST uniforms, but are under the same union contract as regular KC sheriff deputies (I think)

      2. I am under a similar impression, although I think there’s more of a separation than it may seem at first glance. Metro PD is under the supervision of Chief Dave Jutilla, who is definitely not Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht. No Dave Jutilla appears on the KCSO biography page. That suggests a pretty separate chain of command and control.

    2. Since mental-health delivery is “working out of grade” for the average police officer, as well as dangerously beyond his or her area of training, the union’s action is long overdue. Doubt any of their membership will throw down their badge in anger at the loss of this work.

      So it’s a good thing that the State Capitol at Sacramento is such a nice easy train ride from nearest BART connection in Oakland. The town’s got some really great Mexican restaurants, as well as espresso. Because from experience, California Amtrak even has a bistro car aboard every day’s numerous trains from SF to the Dome.

      Should not take long for either Amtrak or the Legislature to notice how many one-way tickets to Sacramento are being bought by MUNI riders- and how few of them are renting hotel space when they can fill the Capitol’s aisles with sleeping bags. If pajama sales including paws continue to rise at same pace as teddy-bears, legislature’s rebuild of the State’s mental health care will even bring tears to Republican eyes.

      In skilled hands…CUTE can KILL! And for everybody Dome-Bunking in Olympia, if you’re quiet a lot of deer might come inside to get petted when your legislator’s turn is over!

      Mark Dublin

    3. If thousands angry, right-wing protesters were marching to the KC Administration building, and the County requested a large police presence, would Metro still refuse to transport the police?

      1. This argument over Metro transporting police to protests is a symbolic overreaction. If a large number of people need to be transported, then buses are the ideal way, and it makes little difference whether they’re Metro or another public fleet or a private charter service. The main issue is whether it’s coming out of Metro’s transit budget, and whether those runs are displacing other scheduled service.

      2. The people you’re describing, Sam, I don’t think anybody familiar with firearms would ride in to meet them aboard a target that big, breakable, and hard to maneuver.

        Think about it. All somebody’s got to do is pull one trolley-rope and you’re crashed up against a pole on Third. Also, from the excuses I’m getting about our ORCA vendor’s problems with coding and sub-area revenue allocation, exactly like for transit drivers, your response will be immobilized by the need to give every single one your troops at least a warning.

        But from what I can make of this particular set of demonstrators, best operatives for the task at hand will arrive at the controls of one of these.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Republic_A-10_Thunderbolt_II

        They’d do the same for you, Sam. In their books, to make you a warning for other leftists about what happens to people who are always hanging around Seattle Transit Blog.

        Mark Dublin

  4. A follow-up on a discussion from the open thread of 5.31 (and specifically my post at 9:55 am).

    Yesterday, in a pouring rainstorm, an estimated 60,000 people managed to find their way to Judkins Park and march peacefully, without any looting or arson, to Jefferson Park, No arrests have been reported and, I assume, business-as-normal (Covid-19 style) continued in the downtown retail core.

    Several transit routes (4, 7, 106) may have had service delayed, but overall the march caused very little disruption for uninvolved citizens and businesses.

    1. So basically like the Women’s March three years ago, but with somewhere around half to a third of the people. Still bigger than the WTO protests though. The WTO protests, like the recent BLM protests were initially peaceful and law abiding. The two protests also had different factions — the vast majority of those protesting were peaceful, while a small subset took a range of more aggressive action. As time went on, a handful of people destroyed public property. Eventually the police lost their temper, and responded violently. None of that happened with the Women’s March, though — just a huge group of people marching.

      Worth noting is that they caught the women who set fire to the cop cars: https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/police-arrest-tacoma-woman-accused-setting-five-patrol-cars-fire-during-seattle-protest/RXCU2LUR2NG77CEFKTLLIY5M6I/. She was not part of any official organization (my guess is the same is true for the idiots that broke all the windows).

      1. Out of pre-Hitler street-fighting in Germany, I think the term was “Licht Aus, Messer Aus!” for “Lights Out, Knives Out!” Remember it well from DC in the 1960’s, and pretty much common practice decade-long.

        Long as there’s daylight, people legitimately protesting maintain order themselves. “Parade Marshals” of their own, always good idea. Percentage of people who cooperate prove it’s just easiest all around, especially on the reputation of their group and their cause. And also, their peace-keeping professionalism.

        But come nightfall, figures nowhere visible in daylight appear suddenly and start to smash cars, break windows, start fights and, as many of them are doubtless being paid to, steal everything not nailed down. Well, nails too.
        Always conjecture how much is just plain crime and how much intended to discredit legitimate demonstrators. Maybe same source pays for both.

        Anti-rodential slander to say it, but it’s a mercy we don’t know how many legitimate rats are watching us 24-7-365. When they can’t see civilization anymore, they’re always on scene to help. Rat-control is to let them know when their shift’s up. The human variety, this is exactly what police officers are for. As their union and everybody else should definitely insist.

        Assisted, to my mind, from the get-go, the demonstrators. Politically, Constitutionally, and practically, as long as they’re obeying fair and legitimate laws, both sets are on the same side and should act that way. A well-behaved police officer deserves to be rescued by everybody in reach if attacked.

        The opposite kind- nearest officers should step in, summon a superior, give a statement, and for the reputation and safety of the Division, tell their union their unit needs a replacement. The fourth time my Local 587 brother drove a bus away from the fuel pump with the nozzle still in the tank, Brotherhood itself owed him my help to take a load off Harborview.

        Tear gas, flash-bangs, and those rubber balls that blind people, glad that’s off SPD’s reputation. Can’t believe it’s standard practice to use a weapon where you can’t see either your target or your weapon’s own effect.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Both the current BLM protests and WTO were peaceful until the SPD instigated violence. The lines about a few ne’er do wells is mostly media hype and SPD spin. The Black Bloc was a whipping boy that was hung out to dry, not a cause of any disruption.

      3. Both the current BLM protests and WTO were peaceful until the SPD instigated violence.

        It is not that simple. If you start smashing windows, at some point the cops are going to respond. They will push through a crowd to get to the troublemakers, or start taking aggressive action and block off areas. People get pushed around a bit, and next thing you know, the police overreact and start beating people up.

        I seriously doubt that Margaret Channon was going to behave peacefully at the protests, but started setting cop cars on fire once the police instigated the violence. Likewise, I’m quite confident that the Eugene Anarchists were going to smash some windows even if the cops behaved perfectly. The combination of a few troublemakers along with poorly trained cops created the mess.

      4. In the vast majority of cases in Seattle, police violence precedes property damage. I don’t know Maragret Channon but the “Eugene Anarchists” were much more peaceful than the WTO narrative says they were.

      5. “The Black Bloc was a whipping boy that was hung out to dry, not a cause of any disruption.”

        The Black Bloc vandalized. That’s a disruption by some definitions. They tried to recruit me and the people I was with to stand in front of them to limit visibility of their about-to-start actions. They came to target certain high-profile corporations. There wasn’t any brutality or tear gas in the immediate vicinity right before it (or I wouldn’t have been there). They just chose an arbitrary time in the later afternoon after the main speeches had ended and the union-member crowd had started to go home.

    2. The Women’s March went from Judkins Park to Seattle Center. This one was unusual in going south from Judkins Park. Although it makes sense given the demographics of the area and the topic of the demonstration.

      During the women’s march a lot of people didn’t know Judkins Park existed, or had to look at a map to see where it was. It’s now in people’s consciousness, and it has gotten more coverage as the Link station gets closer to opening. And the core of demonstrators already knew where it was because they’d lived in the area.

      1. I’ve been surprised that access to Judkins Park during demonstrations hasn’t been a larger issue. There’s not a lot of bus capacity, parking spaces, or road capacity from I-90 to explain how tens of thousands of people got there all within a couple hour period. I went to the women’s march and must have taken the 7, and it wasn’t full. A woman I know drove down from Everett and parked somewhere, and she didn’t find it particularly difficult to find parking. How is that possible? I almost attended yesterday’s march but I only found out about it the night before and it was a weekday. The picture in the Times showed Rainier Avenue filled up with people. So how did they get to Judkins Park, and was it a big bottleneck getting to it?

      2. The march route was only 1.8 miles, so marchers didn’t end up miles from the starting point. I had been at work in the morning and I parked my car at Franklin HS and walked to the march. There were plenty of people heading to the march from all directions and dispersing in all directions from Jefferson.

        March organizers estimated the crowd at 60,000 and my personal estimate was 50,000 based on attendance at Sounders and Mariners games.

      1. Anybody even get threatened for saying no? I can’t find a single word in the article itself that even says so. The online threats I tend to get for not handing over my money for things like underwear and stock options, now THAT’s extortion.

        Your problem, Sam, is that you got stolen from your family at a very early age and raised by cowards. Unfortunately, these distressed times make every wolf-pack defer adoptions ’til after the pandemic passes.

        Luckily, a really with-it girl hamster has me on hold, so if you can just get some video of yourself running in an exercise-wheel and not having the brace hit you in the nose everytime it goes by, you may not have to spend another Social-spaced night on Link.

        But since the Route 10 still goes through CHAZ, all may not be lost for you. Its Volunteer Park terminal is right near a really inspirational little Union Army cemetery. CDC denies it, but if you’re scared enough, existential bravery can actually find its way to you from all the way out of a grave.

        Damn! There went my last lifetime chance for an condo option.

        Mark Dublin

      2. The headline is misleading. The video clearly shows he wasn’t stopping people and extorting money from them. He was making a rhetorical challenge in a speec. It’s the same thing as revival rallies where the speaker urges people to come to the front and accept Jesus. The people listening to the speech knew he’d say things like that and were voluntarily listening. And he didn’t say “Give it to black protesters”, he said “Give it to one black person” [of your choice]. I would have said give it to an organization, but it’s a reasonable variation given the current situation.

      3. There has been a lot of Fake News about the CHAZ, from social media trolls, Fox News, and public officials.

  5. Can we please have a posting, followed by a steadily increasing number of public meetings, where actual engineers explain to us in plain English the physical conditions and considerations that’ll govern our choice of methods?

    In lines dotted, dashed, and solid, and all the pretty colors in the rainbow, lip-charts carry no passengers. Show us some moving pictures of machines digging and elevated transitway being constructed. In the locations where it’ll really happen.

    We’ve got the graphics to handle this COVID-regardless. Most of us have screens that’ll make meeting-attendance unnecessary.

    Mark Dublin

    1. (not an engineer, but you wanted plain English, so maybe you don’t really want engineer-speak)

      1. WEAR A FACE MASK COVERING YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE WHEN YOU ARE AROUND OTHER PEOPLE. PLEASE. PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP. If you happen to be infected, your coughing, sneezing, talking, or just exhaling, sends the virus, in moisture droplets, through the air, and landing on other people, or surfaces that other people touch, who can get infected if it gets inside their nose, mouth, eyes, etc.

      2. Wash your hands with soap and warm water when you can, for at least 20 seconds, especially if you have been near other people. This is to make it safer to touch your face again.

      I think CDC gets it wrong in preferring Uber/Lyft over public transit because social distancing is much better on public transit, there is a more assured regime for cleaning buses multiple times a day as each driver goes out with a freshly-cleaned bus, and there is nobody overseeing Uber/Lyft drivers to test them or make sure their cars are sanitized. If you are willing to pay for a limousine service, that might actually be better than transit. If taxis have have plexiglass windows between the driver and passenger, that might be almost as good.

      Bikes could become safer, but they need more space from each other, which means giving them paths currently controlled by cars, not just disjointed neighborhood autonomous zones, riding through strolling pedestrians.

      What would really make transit safer is giving out face masks to riders who don’t have one and need one. A good chunk of riders right now can’t afford getting a box of blue disposable masks or a reusable cloth mask. If we want to reduce the infection rate among the poor, we need to be giving out millions of free masks.

      1. “1. WEAR A FACE MASK COVERING YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE WHEN YOU ARE AROUND OTHER PEOPLE.

        Forget the “Pretty Please”….
        If you don’t know that you are a pig (me included), then that’s the problem.

        We SPIT when we talk.
        I work with the public behind a glass partition. For years, pre-Covid19, I would bemoan the fact that I felt distanced from the customer, and it made it harder to hear.
        However, at least every other day, we have to clean the glass. It is especially noticeable on sunny days with the customer area backlit.
        Criminy ! There’s spittle all over that glass… and it’s on both sides.

        The Guidelines for the 6ft./2meters is a reasonable distance where those big droplets fall off. Yes it’s arbitrary, but it’s a good estimate. That’s why the “even a bandana works” suggestion.

        Just do something to cover your mouth when you’re in a crowd, and quit whining about it. Good Lord
        (not you specifically, to the public in general)

      2. Medically, speaking, Brent, CDC’s main concern is to keep oil and cars on life support long past the time when market forces at their cruelest have ordained they go to their final rest. The sun’s so big and the wind’s so available, it’s Just Not Fair.

        Trans-ocean oil tankers flying sky-sails, REALLY letting down the side! Quick somebody get online and TWEEEEEET that the Coast Guard should sink them all. And secret-phone the Swedish government with the word that that it since autistic bicycling is now against US law, Greta Thunberg’s new SUV is right outside the adobe shed in Tijuana where ICE has got her on, well, ICE.

        I know that after World War II in Europe, cars and buses sometimes pulled trailers with machinery that turned both coal and wood into gas that could be burned to power the motor. If I could find the plans and the patents, would definitely put in for my subsidy. That is, if plain coal wasn’t dirty and expensive enough to make its use mandatory.

        Mark Dublin

      3. I’ve been on a few buses this past week and I’m sad to say mask wearing is not to the level it should be. Taiwan and Germany have packed transit but low covid transmission due to universal mask wearning. I was on a northbound 131 from Costco, and none of the six people around me had a mask. The 131/132 also get full in the daytime and need additional service. The only two times I’ve seen a “Sorry bus full” sign were on the 132. The high load and only 50% mask wearing makes me concerned about using those routes again.

        On the other hand, I’ve found that the 124 is a viable way to get to Costco, and is a shorter walk than the SODO Link station. The 124, 131, and 132 all leave from the same stop downtown, and the 124 tends to be more frequent and punctual, and it’s always been pretty empty whenever I’ve taken it. I probably wouldn’t take it northbound from Costco because it’s at a completely unique stop, and if I’m going to walk further than the 131/132 I might as well walk to Link. But it is there.

        Today I took Link south to the parks near Seward Park, and returning I took a 50 and a 7. Link has only the four corner seats open in the upper section, a 25% capacity in that area. On the 50 I was the only passenger, as I predicted. The 7 was 2/3 full at Columbia City, and full by Jackson Street. Mask wearing was significantly better than on the 132 but still not at the “almost everybody” level. I would have taken Link back except I’d miss its half-hourly pulse. I thought about taking the 106 back, assuming it’d be emptier, but it would have dumped me on Jackson Street and I’d have to take two more buses or the streetcar to Capitol Hill, and if I have to wait anywhere I’d rather wait in the Columbia City business district.

        I was looking for the wooded park with trails I encountered last year and wanted to see it in summer. Not Seward Park; it’s much smaller. I tried the Willow Street shorefront and Martha Washington Park but neither of them were the one I was looking for. I’ll try Pritchard Island Beach Park next time and see if that’s it. It was a flat woodland with interior trails somewhere.

      4. My experience riding from Kirkland to Capitol Hill today:

        255 west: I was the only passenger
        Link south: estimated about 20 passengers. Lots of seats were blocked off, but ST is running 4 car trains to make social distancing easier. I ended up having the front car all to myself. About 90% of passengers waiting were wearing masks.
        Link north: Did not have the whole car to myself, but plenty of room for distancing and mask wearing was good.
        255 east: Shared the bus with one other passenger, who did not have a mask. To compensate, I put my mask on and also opened windows to make the airflow more like an outdoor environment. Fortunately, it was a short ride.

      5. That park sounds like the Pritchard Beach wooded area. It’s also next to Beer Sheva Park, Access it off of Cloverdale.

    1. It was Saturday morning. And it was a northbound 70. That route starts in Pioneer Square and its largest number of riders get on at Pine Street. Spring Street is four stops from the beginning and before the main ridership chunk. And on Saturday at 9am many people are just waking up.

    2. “A preliminary investigation found that the Route 70 articulated bus was heading north on 3rd Avenue when it collided with the car, which was heading west on Spring Street.”

      Spring is one-way Eastbound. That would clearly be the car driver’s fault.

      1. Yep, you can clearly see the one way sign in the picture. The car involved is north of the bus against a lamp post. It appears to be pointed east but easily could have been spun 180 by the collision. Not enough detail to say which side of the car sustained the impact from the bus. But traveling the wrong way on a one way street would explain why the car would be crossing the intersection against the light (you can’t see it because it’s pointing the other direction).

  6. My sense of motoring right now, regardless of vehicle, is that the average person’s reflexes are so far out of adjustment that an almost-empty street can be more dangerous than much heavier traffic in more normal times.

    Reason I really miss having my buses to ride. Anyplace these accident reports are made public? I’d like to see what happened.

    Mark Dublin

  7. Horrendously late here but I recently co-wrote a post for The Urbanist w/ Rooted in Rights. Said in part:

    As disabled public transit advocates, we find Covid-19 has made transit board meetings increasingly accessible from the comfort of home–but only for now. For instance, transit boards will let you call in and either give your public comments over the phone or read them into the record. Streaming and call-in options also make it possible to listen to the rest of the public meetings.

    The problem is that when Governor Inslee’s courageous Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation phases out to Phase 3 or Phase 4, we are concerned that public transit agencies and other governmental bodies may revert to an old mode of operation that denies transit riders a chance to be genuinely heard.

    Read the whole thing please. This is for us, the activists.

  8. And couple of by-the-way’s: One, claim that transit’s a disease vector really owes to this Federal Administration’s need to compensate the oil industry for the fact that the Texas budget really mandates solar and wind.

    Anybody besides me writing our State legislators to make it illegal for an employer to force employees to sign a pledge that they won’t take transit? Would rather quit than be the poor employee who gets pilloried on worldwide twitter for firing somebody for violating an oath not to ride a bus.

    Sounder, could be another story.

    And how’s the boss going to know? Just get off at a stop a couple blocks away and walk back. Snitches? Drones? Transit-sniffing dogs? Just for the firm’s own business acumen, often salutory to tell an otherwise-good boss to in this case just go get stuffed.

    But also, some clarification about getting all those Capitol domes, Sacramento and Olympia and maybe Salem, filled up with sleeping bags full of protestors. The reason so many police officers are ruining their careers- even if you keep your job, living out your life knowing you shot a sick person- is that State Legislators are maintaining their years-long boycott against mental-illness control.

    Whichever budget takes it, this certainly is a clearcut matter of National Defense. So while CDC decides whether paranoia and schizophrenia exist or are only excuses for student debt default, measure I’d like to see from police unions everywhere is a non-negotiable demand for measures to relieve their members from having literally lay hands on mental illness.

    Which the present pandemic is daily proving to be more and more contagious.

    Mark Dublin

  9. the MI Reporter stock photo shows a bus signed as Route 253; it was deleted in fall 2011, nine years ago.

    the design still seems to show buses loading on North Mercer Way with a several hundred foot walk to and from the station platform. a better design would have the bus stops on 77th and 80th avenues SE to minimize the transfer walks. ST throws out the term “seamless”. transit has seams; it cannot be seamless; this design has wider seams than need be. the best we can do is minimize seams.

    check out the Spring District East Link station. it has an entrance to the west only. riders oriented to and from the east will have a 400-foot longer walk.

    I think the 2023 network should have all-day connections between MI station and both Eastgate and Issaquah. maybe Route 204 could be combined with Route 212; that would provide a direct connection for MI riders with Bellevue College and that network. The Issaquah service could do what RossB suggests: live loop on MI.

    1. On the contrary, I’m betting that Eastgate/Issaquah service to Mercer Island will run only during rush hour; at other times, you’ll have to transfer at South Bellevue Park and ride.

      The theory comes from the following assumptions:
      – Off-peak, the service hours will exist to only run one bus route serving Eastgate/Issaquah via I-90.
      – South Bellevue will be the default terminus because there are better layover facilities and a shorter route distance. Plus, South Bellevue saves Bellevue/Redmond bound riders more time (by quite a bit) than Mercer Island saves Seattle bound riders.
      – Outside rush hour, needing to leave the HOV lane to take the Bellevue Way exit is not a big deal.
      – After South Bellevue, the bus could continue northward, perhaps replacing the 550’s stops on the way to Bellevue Transit Center.
      – The number of people living on Mercer Island needing to get to Eastgate/Issaquah and willing to do it without driving is negligible. The big Eastside transit destinations – Bellevue DT, Microsoft – will be served directly by Link.

      1. On the contrary, I’m betting that Eastgate/Issaquah service to Mercer Island will run only during rush hour;

        I’ll take that bet.

        The 554 runs all day and serves the main I-90 corridor stops (Eastgate, Issaquah TC, downtown Issaquah, Issaquah Highlands). Many of those stops are also served by the commuter buses (212, 214, 216, etc.). Thus some riders will take a 212 into Seattle, and the 554 back. The stops unique to those commuter buses are usually served by all-day buses that stay on the East Side. For example, I could take the 216 in the morning, from north of Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride. If I miss the last 216, I could take the 554, and then transfer to the 269. The 554 performs fairly well throughout the day, with the midday runs providing confidence in the system as much as ridership. It is like the last bus of the night. It doesn’t get many riders, but if you cut it, then ridership on the second to last bus goes way down. Knowing you can get home if you miss your regular bus is very important.

        The more the bus routes stay the same during the day, the better. If you suddenly ran the 554 to a South Bellevue, it creates a huge problem for riders. At 6:00 PM, they want to get off train at Mercer Island. But at 6:10, they should use South Bellevue. Sorry, that won’t work.

        The 556 performs well below the 554. There just aren’t enough people going to Bellevue to focus on those riders. It isn’t the end of the world to backtrack from Mercer Island. The biggest concern is frequency, and the best way to get that is to focus on the biggest group — those going to Seattle along that corridor.

        There will be other ways to get to Bellevue. Factoria is likely to have a direct connection to South Bellevue. Eastgate Way may have the same as well (which would mean buses running on both sides of I-90). You will also have the bus that goes straight to downtown Bellevue (eventually the RapidRide K). That would make an express from Eastgate to South Bellevue somewhat redundant, mainly benefiting Issaquah riders. Those riders from Issaquah headed to Bellevue can live with a trip to Mercer Island.

      2. I’m not envisioning a 554 that changes stop locations at different times of day. I’m envisioning the peak only routes like 216/218/etc. going to Mercer Island, while the all-day 554 goes to South Bellevue (perhaps supplemented by the 556 during rush hour).

        So, during rush hour, you can switch at either location, at other times, you must make the switch at South Bellevue. The most compelling reasons for having the all day buses go to South Bellevue are slightly less service hours and avoiding the Mercer Island layover. I think a layover at the west end of the route is unavoidable, service would be too unreliable otherwise.

        If it’s 6:05 and you’re not sure if you can make the last 214, you just stay on the train one more stop and go for the 554.

        Travel time wise, it’s a trade-off between saving 1-2 minutes to Seattle vs. 6-8 minutes to Bellevue/Redmond. Even if most of the people are going to Seattle, which stop saves the most person-minutes could easily be a wash. Unfortunately, gathering data on all-day Issaquah/Bellevue demand from existing service is very difficult because the service itself is poor enough to severely depress ridership. Not only are existing transit options slow and infrequent, leading many to not consider transit at all, but what transit trips so exist are spread out among three different route options (271, 554->240, 554->550), so the ridership for the 271, alone, actually misses a lot.

      3. Switching the 554 to South Bellevue is interesting also because it more accurately foreshadows Issaquah Link, and a key role of STX route is to build ridership on corridors that mirror future Link extensions.

      4. So, during rush hour, you can switch at either location, at other times, you must make the switch at South Bellevue.

        Right, I’m saying that is terrible. That is a mess waiting to happen. It is very common to get to a bus stop, and realize that “your bus” just isn’t coming, and that you have to take another one. It is quite an entirely different thing to realize you have to get off at a completely different stop. It means that people get off at Mercer Island, look around, curse, then walk back to the station so they can take the train one stop. Ten minutes later they are at the other stop, taking the other bus. Suggesting they “just play it safe” if they aren’t sure ignores the fact that the other bus is not their preferred bus. It is quite likely it requires another transfer. Putting people in a position to choose between a “safe” three-seat ride, or risking a four-seat ride is simply not a good system. It angers people, and they stop using transit (or drive to a park and ride).

        Unfortunately, gathering data on all-day Issaquah/Bellevue demand from existing service is very difficult because the service itself is poor enough to severely depress ridership.

        Sure, but poor service ridership is still proportional to good service ridership. Likewise, rush-hour ridership is proportional as well. There are six buses that run through Eastgate and onto Seattle. Thus the 554 has plenty of competition. There is only one bus that runs to downtown Bellevue — the 556. Yet the 554 greatly outperforms the 556. Even at rush hour there aren’t that many people taking the bus from Issaquah or Eastgate to downtown Bellevue. The reason that Sound Transit and Metro don’t run all-day express buses to Bellevue is because even the rush hour express buses aren’t crowded. They can’t get the riders, which is why the 271 scours the countryside looking for passengers.

        Travel time wise, it’s a trade-off between saving 1-2 minutes to Seattle vs. 6-8 minutes to Bellevue/Redmond.

        Not really. It is simply that during rush hour, the buses will mostly go to Mercer Island. That is because of the HOV lanes. Otherwise all the service could be focused on South Bellevue. But that simply isn’t the case — buses will primarily (if not exclusively) go to Mercer Island during rush hour.

        Outside of rush hour, you want to accommodate the bulk of riders, and avoid confusion. That means running an all-day bus that is similar to those buses, providing a slower (but at least straightforward) way for them to get home.

        By the way, I wouldn’t rule out keeping the 556, as a rush-hour only bus truncated in downtown Bellevue. If riders miss that last bus, they get on Link and transfer at Mercer Island. Yes, that involves a bit of backtracking, but it isn’t horrible. There are dozens of examples of similar delays that are much worse (e. g. Totem Lake). They could also get on the 271, which is much slower, but will get them there.

        Or who knows, maybe Link decides to run an all-day 556. That would allow them to terminate it at South Bellevue. I wouldn’t rule that out either. But my main point is that there is no way that ST kills off the 554 or sends it to South Bellevue. All-day service will follow rush-hour service, and rush-hour service from I-90 is headed (mostly) to Mercer Island.

      5. I wouldn’t look too much into the Issaquah-Bellevue ridership. Even during rush hour, that’s a manageable drive (~30 minutes) and parking is almost always free, and even with frequent service it’s hard for the bus to be significantly faster than SOV because of the absence of an HOV interchange between 90 and 405 (most buses slog up Bellevue Way instead). That makes it an incredibly difficult to create transit demand, in contrast to Issaquah-Seattle, where the express bus is cheaper AND faster than driving.

        Charge daily market price for parking and the transit demand for Bellevue CBD will look much more like Seattle. The success of a route like the 556 will have much more to do with policy decisions by Bellevue to manage mode share in the 2030s than routing decisions by KCM or ST.

    2. the design still seems to show buses loading on North Mercer Way with a several hundred foot walk to and from the station platform. a better design would have the bus stops on 77th and 80th avenues SE to minimize the transfer walks.

      From what I can tell it will be about a 300 foot walk from the bus stop before riders start walking down the stairs. It is a little bit more than that from the north side of the street, and a little bit less from the south side. My guess is riders will get off on the north side, and on at the south side. Riders from I-90 will have to wait at 80th for the light to turn before they can be let off (https://goo.gl/maps/XEpeFUoVhqsmkK1NA). Then, quite possibly, wait for the light again before they can get to the station (or wait for the bus to go down the block and turn around and drop them off at the south side of the street).

      I think the best option would have been to turn 80th into a transit mall between SE 27th and North Mercer Way. That would allow buses to stop on 80th without making the street wider. You could have had the roundabout right there, at 80th and North Mercer Way (there is nothing there — at most you rearrange some of the shrubbery and sidewalks). You would probably still need the buses to access the other streets, just because you need more room for all the buses during rush hour. But as mentioned, outside of rush hour, you only have the one.

      Of course some well organized and well funded Mercer Island residents would have opposed that. Can’t really blame ST for this one. I think they’ve made the best of a bad situation. This won’t be the worst transfer point in our system, but it could have been better.

      1. The left turn back onto I90 is already HOV only. Seems a less disruptive option would be to turn the northbound left turn into bus only and give buses signal priority, so delay is minimal.

        I’m not sure dropping passengers off on 80th is a good idea because then you have people wanting to immediately cross the street in front of the bus to catch the train … that’s either a safety issue, or you suddenly have 3 SRO buses waiting to let people off at a single bus bay.

        Needing to flip the bus around will be frustrating for the able-bodied that wan to catch their train, but it is much safer to let people off in a way that eliminates the cross walk for all transfers.

  10. I wonder how many buses will terminate at South Bellevue. My first thought was that it would make a good terminus for buses coming from the south end of I-405 (greater Renton if you will). The more I think about, the less I think that will happen. During rush hour, it is much better to just stay in the HOV lanes and go straight to downtown Bellevue (where most people are headed anyway). Outside of rush hour, the 405 BRT may be the only bus on that part of 405. I see two big benefits to serving the stop. First you save folks headed to Seattle quite some time. Second, you make it easier to get to Eastgate or Factoria. I’m not sure if either is enough to warrant the direct line to downtown Bellevue, given that there are other ways to get to the other places. It may be that once a bus gets on I-405, it goes to downtown Bellevue. That being said, the long range plan does show a bus starting in Renton, getting on the freeway, and getting off to serve South Bellevue (and then downtown Bellevue).

    Sound Transit will likely keep the 556. It doesn’t perform great (especially for a rush-hour bus) but it performs OK, and would save riders headed to Bellevue some time. They may truncate it at the station to save money.

    My guess is, most buses serving that station though, will be “local”, in that they never get on the freeway. At a minimum, I expect to see a bus to Factoria.

    1. Total nitpicking, but I just had to :) The 241 goes from South Bellevue P&R (i.e. the site of the South Bellevue Link station) to Factoria, and absolutely does get on the freeway – it’s pretty much the only way to hop across the interchange at that point. Of course, it’s also just about as local of a bus as you can get, so your underlying point is still true.

      1. Ah, OK, yeah, that’s right. The bus gets on I-90 for a third of a mile — pretty much have to (unless you are on a bike or on foot).

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