BY JEREMY FICHTER
We appreciate the careful attention the Seattle Transit Blog, riders, and advocates are giving to how service is performing since we implemented the major restructure in Northeast Seattle. We’re watching closely, too, listening and logging customer concerns about specific overcrowded trips, or gaps in service riders would like us to address, and analyzing ridership and performance data that helps us operate the system.
With this restructure, Metro focused on improving service in areas and during time periods with greatest demand. On routes affected by U-Link integration, ridership on Saturdays and Sundays is about half and one-third of ridership on weekdays, respectively. The changes made are consistent with Metro’s Service Guidelines and were made in concert with service investment choices made by the City of Seattle using Proposition 1 transit funds.
Our work has only begun. Given the extent of this service change, Metro anticipated that refinements would be needed following the service change and set aside a reserve of service hours for this purpose. Metro is monitoring customer feedback and has been observing routes that we’re hearing about in key locations where we know passenger loading could be at its highest point. Once we’ve seen a consistent pattern of crowding, we’ll make adjustments as soon as possible and as resources allow. Although our first priority will be to address overcrowding, we may also be able to address limited gaps in the span of service as well, again as resources allow.
Adopting a template used by writer Zach Shaner, the updated table below lists the earliest trips at each location noted in Zach’s table, before and after, and the routes. It shows how Metro service was maintained at each of the specified locations. It also illustrates improvements as a result of including all the routes that serve each location, namely Routes 62 and 76, which do not provide service to the U District but do provide early morning one-seat rides to downtown Seattle. Route 62 is a new route providing a one-seat ride to downtown Seattle every 15 minutes or better, seven days-a-week from many NE Seattle neighborhoods, including Sand Point, Wedgwood, Ravenna and Roosevelt.
There are concerns in the story that some trips have become harder. In each case, we have identified that riders have alternatives to the service that was previously available.
- “Early morning weekend trips from Wedgwood/Ravenna to the UDistrict via Route 65 (20 minutes later on Saturday and Sunday) and Route 71 (90 minutes later on Saturday and no Sunday service).” Historical demand in this neighborhood and time of day is limited. For example, in Fall 2015, the first trip on Route 65 had a maximum load of 12 riders. Those destined for downtown from Wedgwood/Ravenna on weekends will have service as early or earlier than before on Route 62, as shown in the table above.
- “Early weekend trips to SeaTac Airport via Link.” Riders can take early morning service on Routes 41 or 62 to transfer to Link downtown. On Sundays, Route 62 will come twice as often as Routes 65 or 71 before the change.
- “Sunday trips to Downtown via Link and Routes 8, 65, 67, 75, and 372, all of which require bus/rail transfers at 30-minute headways.” Residents in Sand Point, Wedgwood, Ravenna and Roosevelt who are destined for downtown will have service as early or earlier than before on Route 62, as shown on the table above. Route 62 provides a one-seat ride to downtown and does not require a transfer to Link. Sundays on Capitol Hill, Routes 10, 11 and 12 provide direct trips to downtown Seattle before the first trip on Route 8. Also, Route 8 was improved to operate every 20 minutes between noon and 7 p.m. on Sunday.
In a similar fashion, here is a revised frequency table reflecting service frequencies at the same locations as the table above, before and after Metro’s service change.
Again, we appreciate any and all feedback about the changes implemented on March 26. We welcome readers of Seattle Transit Blog to submit comments and suggestions to Metro Customer Service at 206-553-3000.