Out of Country

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

I do not think that I wrote about this but I will be in europe for the next 8 weeks on a “grand tour”. Right now I am in Paris and I know I will post some updates. I already was on the RER and Metro and today I scoped out Vilib. I am also visiting these citys:

Stockholm (and possibly Oslo)
Cinque Terra

Is there anything in these cities that are a must see?

LINK vs. Skytrain vs. Rapidride vs. 98/99 B-Line

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

My last post got me thinking about the 98/99-B Line again. Most of you are familiar with my previous Metro ridership posts, however I don’t think that I ever explained the reason I started looking at those numbers.

While attending the CITE conference in Victoria I talked to a engineer who worked for Vancouver. We got to talking about TransLink’s Gateway projects and specifically the Broadway Line and he said that basically TransLink can’t add any more buses because they are already running at 2.4 minute headways.

This in-turn got me thinking about routes here, none of which run that often. Anyways coming full circle today I become curious about how Seattle’s transit stacks up against Vancouver’s in terms of riders per mile (which I think is the best measure). Here are the results. Because I had to pull projected riderships and non Metro information this is less accurate, although you get a good idea of where things fall.

Vancouver vs. Seattle

The biggest thing is that the B-Line has huge ridership, almost more than Central LINK per mile. It achieves this with a medium BRT treatment which shows that BRT can handle lots of people. With that said I think it also shows that the B-Line corridors should already have Skytrain.

Also these numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt because the GVA has much higher densities than almost anywhere in the Seattle area outside Downtown/Cap Hill/UW. Then again that is an integral part of transit ridership isn’t it.

Skytrain is huge success and it shows. Also you can see that the initial Link segments has comparable ridership to the B-Lines but with any expansion plan now on the table it will grow rapidly and be comparable to Skytrain when it opens. Also notice how the old ST2 or a solo Eastside expansion don’t have amazing ridership compared to the other options. Goes to show how important the North and U LINK are for ridership.

Oh and poor Rapidride. It makes me want to laugh. Although then again Metro is spending ~2.5 million a mile for it which is a fraction of LINK. I had to make an educated guess (120% 54 and 358 ridership) because I couldn’t find any ridership projections. My guesses may be way off but we will have to wait until it opens.

Sightline Repost

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Too bad this is true. I guess the one upside is that at least we aren’t alone in this respect…

“SkyTrain vs. Tram
06/05/2008 04:50 PM
Debates over transit modes are fascinating–but also troubling.
Here’s an interesting argument, regarding transit service in Vancouver, BC:

The planned SkyTrain subway spur along Broadway and out to the University of British Columbia campus will cost taxpayers 15 times what it would take to build a tram line along the same route.

In fact, for the $2.8 billion cost of the single 12 kilometre SkyTrain tube from Commercial Drive to UBC, Vancouver could build 175 km of tram lines crisscrossing the city and beyond.

That doesn’t make the subway sound very good. But I’m sure the subway proponents have solid arguments in their favor as well.

For whatever reason, I’m always fascinated by comparisons of different transit modes — bus vs. train vs. streetcar vs. you name it. There are such diverging views on costs, on benefits to neighborhoods, on greenhouse gas impacts, on energy independence, and so forth. The issues are truly crucial — and given the mammoth cost of transportation investments, as well as their permanence, it’s vitally important to get them right.

But at the same time, I also find arguments over transit modes strangely dispiriting. They always seem to split apart natural allies. And they can get so personal and vituperative, with advocates of different modes not just arguing passionately about their beliefs, but sometimes even accusing others of arguing in bad faith.

That’s not at all what’s happening in this article — which is defintely worth a read. Still, I hope that the fight over subway vs. tram doesn’t degenerate into a shouting match among transit advocates that diverts attention from the real threats to their common goals — such as a massive proposed expansion in Greater Vancouver’s highway system.”



Obama and Transit

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

What do you think that Obama’s platform on transit should be? I read his blue print for progress a while back but I didn’t see anything extremely specific about transit. Anyone know anything more concrete?

More Ridership Data

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Here are a few different ways to look at the data (again click image for higher resolution images).

The first graph is daily ridership per mile. High ridership per mile correlates with high density and all day activity along the whole corridor. As you can see the center city routes are the highest, followed by major arterial routes and then commuter routes. These are the routes that you get the most bang for your buck if you build rail. Some of these routes are so short that a streetcar would be much more appropriate than light rail. Funny thing is that many of these routes can’t have rail because they are too hilly.

I only did the top 20 routes because I had to manually calculate the length of the routes. If anyone wants to figure out the length of the remaining routes and e-mail them to me I’ll redo the graph.

Ridership Per Mile

The next graph is a little more complex. It shows annual ridership per annual service hour. As you can see the routes are all over the place. I think that it is a combination of lots of factors and can’t be attributed to any one thing. A high ranking could mean:

– it has lots of demand and fewer than average service hours
– it doesn’t have a lot waisted time doing deadheads
– it doesn’t get caught in congestion (thus speeding it up)

Any other ideas?

Annual Ridership Per Annual Service Hour

2007 Ridership Breakdown

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

King County Metro 2007 Ridership

Here is a breakdown for 2007 average weekday ridership (click on the picture for a higher quality image). I have an excel file with lots of data in it and I have just started to play around with some of the data. This graph is pretty self explanatory. Per my last post I think that Metro should give the top 10 (or more if there is money) routes BRT treatments for routes along major arterial/corridors (48,7,5,etc) and enhanced service as well as ITS, ATIS, and choke point improvements for neighborhood routes (2,3,4,49,43,etc). Also you will see that RapidRide is taking over a few of the routes that currently have some of the highest ridership (a notable except is the Bellevue/Redmond route).

54 – West Seattle RR
358 – Aurora RR
174 – Pacific Highway South RR (It will start where LINK ends and go south)
15/18 – Ballard RR
230 – Bellevue/Redmond RR

Looking at the ridership numbers makes it obvious Metro didn’t just take its highest ridership routes when it decided to implement RR. In addition to politics I think a major objective of Metro was to serve corridors that will not see HCT for a while and try to create a “backbone” that covers as much area as possible and makes sense economically.

You can also see that LINK serves many of the same corridors that the highest ridership routes do. It will be interesting to see how LINK effects ridership on those routes.

One last point. The highest ridership route for the Eastside is the 550 at 19th place. The highest none UW/CBD to Eastside route is the 230 at 29th place. Pretty pitiful. This just goes to show how much wealth and sprawl kill transit.

New Service Allocation (if I had my way)

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

How should new service hours be allocated and how should that apply to BRT and LRT investment? King county’s 40-40-20 is killing Seattle, and ST is a rail agency no question about that. So what about better bus service in Seattle?

I know this is somewhat of a circular argument but I think one reason everyone wants rail, myself included (besides all of the other ones) is because our bus system is so bad here we have no concept of what a good bus system is like. Metro has just recently gotten onboard with feux to semi BRT (depending on how you look at it) and ST doesn’t even pretend to have BRT. I want ST to build LINK but I think that we need to build it where demand is, not where politics or sub-area equity take it.

I don’t want this to become LRT vs BRT I just think we need to think outside the box and really decided what our end goal is. LINK will help a lot but what if we want to get to 10% or even 15% market share? How could this even be done? With gas prices it doesn’t seam to outrageous to ask these questions. I know one thing and that is unless the federal government helps out there is no way we can afford that much LINK.

So this is what I think needs to happen. Metro need to dramatically improve service frequency and hours according to demand, not subarea. Also it should take it’s 10 highest ridership routes (besides the current rapidride routes) and give them all BRT treatment. I also think they need to come every 10 minutes during the day not every 10 or 15 like rapidride. As I have said before the system should be design to get people to their destination but it needs to encourage transfers, just like rail. And for god sake please fix E/W access in this city. Metro has underinvested in quality bus transit, rather just focusing on trying to get as much service out the door. This is understandable but they need to get beyond that. Things are changing and I really think that we need visionary and bold leadership form ST and especially metro.


This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

I have been continuing my correspondence with Bob Virkelyst over at metro and I brough up the idea of using a stem-and-leaf design for the schedule information at the bus stop. He wasn’t quite sure what I was referring to and since I had a ton of time to kill today I decided to create an example of what it would look like.

Stem-and-leaf designs are very good a reducing the quantity of visual clutter, are smaller (that normal list most of the time), quickly shows frequency (the numbers basically form a frequency bar graph), and service patters (i.e. if your bus comes to that stop at every 15,30,45 past the hour). It can also display data for two directions in the same table. Stem-and-leaf diagrams are used in statistics to sort data and have also been used by Japanese transit agencies for many years.

Route 43 Stem-and-Leaf

BTW Sorry about the multiple post. The image attachment tool is screwy.

Streetcar Network

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Streetcar Network

So Frank’s previous post gave me an excuse to draw out what I think makes sense as a streetcar extension.

I think that streetcars should be used for their intended purpose as “pedestrian accelerators” as many bloggers have been writing about lately. Streetcars are not LRT and they are not BRT. They should be used to connect dense center city neighborhoods, and not as a substitute for LRT. They should have all day activity centers all along them rather than nodes of activity.

I also think that they could be very useful in creating a much better E/W connect because people will transfer if you have high quality transit like a streetcar. I live in Fremont and I have a really hard time justify taking a ~45 minute 2 bus ride to Capitol Hill when I can drive or bike in less than half that amount of time. However if there was a streetcar I would take it. This will also become increasingly important with LINK and BRT coming online. N/S travel is going to become much faster but this also means that transfers in the E/W direction are going to become even more critical to build a strong network. I think it is important to keep in mind that transfers are not always bad. As shown around the world strong transit systems have high transfer rates. As we build a real transit system I think we need to keep that in mind.

MyBus Google Map

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

As promised here is an updated on my independent study. Since I meet with Prof. Dailey in the CSE department my studies have mostly focused on Mybus and how the information that is already there can be better communicated and used by riders.

As I documented earlier I first focused on how print information both at the stop and in leaflet form could look, which can bee seen here and here.

MyBus Google Map

Since then I have been focusing on what the online information should consist of and how it should be communicated. I decided that the online component needs a better way of intuitively and quickly finding the mybus information, which resulted in the google map that I created. Currently mybus stop ids are in a tabular form split over 8 different webpages, which really isn’t too easy to use.

My map includes all 1020 mybus timepoints. Each marker is linked to the corresponding mybus website, which a user can then bookmark. The next step is to improve the arrival time interface to a more initiative countdown or graphic format. I have a good idea of what I want to do but I’m trying to figure out the technical aspects right now.

Updated MyBusSpot

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Bus Stop

Thanks to Frank for the ideas. Now you can just write in the number. I kept the black because I think that there are situations were a stencil is more appropriate and white letters look better in that situation.

Mybus SMS System Map

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Over the last few days I have been working on creating this map for my independent study. What I tried to do is combine a simplified system map with the Mybus SMS service.

Test Map

I realized through my studies that transit information consist of spatial and temporal information. Thus you have a route map to show where the bus goes and you have a table to show when the bus will be there. Subway systems essentially eliminate the need to know temporal information because they come so often. This allows them to simply focus on the spatial aspect of the transit system which is much easier to understand. That is why everyone loves subway maps. Using Mybus SMS I’m able to do the same thing.

This map only covers downtown, capitol hill and the u district but if I get a good reaction I will make a city wide map. Please let me know what you think.

Metro Mybus on iPhone

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

I found this web application for the iPhone last week (http://www.sofianehassaine.com/iPhone/BusTracker/). It takes all of its information from the UW ITS Mybus program, however it improves the interface by leaps and bounds. All you do is choose your location and it will show you estimated real time arrivals for all buses that stop at that location. The design and user interface is very good. I have used it a few time and it from what I can tell it works great. Best of all, you can run it on your PC at home or work.

Despite this there are a few interface issues. For example it sorts by route not arrival time. Also the destination identifier has redundant information that makes it hard to read the important information. I would also like it if you could pick stops using presents, google maps, or neighborhoods.

ST Visioning

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

I wasn’t able to attend the ST workshop but I did look through the pdf that STB has on his page (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/2008/01/31/2004157186.pdf). I wasn’t really surprised by most of it. There was one glaring omission though.

In ST2 there was money to do a study for HCT from the UW to Ballard via NE45th. I don’t see anything about that. Everyone know that getting East/West in this city is a nightmare and ST and Metro really need to address this. I think that they should have at least 3 high quality E/W BRT routes that help people get from one side of the city to the other and allow them to transfer from LINK to RapidRide or other local service. If we aren’t going to have light rail for a while we have got to have a good BRT network.

(Full size http://students.washington.edu/adambp/mytake.jpg)

I have done a quick little overlay (see above) of what this would look like on their map. All of these routes exist so service hours could be taken from those routes. Also with LINK some current bus service can be redistributed to help pay for this. Possibly on busy streets like denny the buses could go a block or two north and use bus only streets.

BART Widget

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

As a result of dropping differential equations this quarter I decided to start a 10 credit independent study on transit information usability for my urban planning minor. I started doing some preliminary research tonight and stumbled upon the most amazing widget I have seen (http://worrydream.com/bartwidget/).

This widget plans your trip in an easy to understand manner. Just drag and drop your starting and ending locations. It tell you where to transfer and how much the trip will cost. It will even set off an alarm to let you know when you should leave. Its elegant and easy to use. Sorry PC, it only works on macs.

For the past months I have been really interested in how transit information affect a users understand of the service. Transit information ranges from cheap and easy things like adding “frequent service” or approximate headways to bus schedules, to expensive things like implement system wide Nextbus service like what MUNI did.

I’m doing primary research for the next month or so. If you have any information that you think might be useful please let me know.

PS Now that I know how to post on here expect to hear from me more often.