Tag Archives: KC Metro

Thanks for the ride

It is hard to put into words how much our bus family appreciates the hard-working men and women who get us where we’re going safely, day after day. Our prayers are with Mr. Deloy Dupuis, the 64 year-old 27 driver who was shot in the face while doing his job yesterday morning. We also pray for the family of the shooter, Martin Duckworth, who was killed by police shortly after the incident—and for an end to the senseless gun violence that plagues our nation.

WTF, Olympia?! (or, Bye-bye buses)

UPDATE, 7/17/13: The rally has been rescheduled to July 27th. The original date conflicted with the National Day of Action for Trayvon Martin. For more information about both rallies, visit the STRU Facebook page. See you on the 20th and the 27th?

No bus cuts (photo credit: Transportation Riders United)
This session, the Washington State Legislature failed (again!) to authorize a funding source for transit, and now Metro is going to cut service by 17%. If you ride the bus in King County, it is almost guaranteed that you will be affected.

On Saturday, July 20th, the Seattle Transit Riders Union will host a rally to ask state legislators, “WTF?!” or, “WHERE’S THE FUNDING?” From the STRU site:

It’s time to get organized. As a first step, TRU and allies are organizing a rally and demonstration for Saturday, July 20 to ask the resounding question, “WTF, Olympia?” (This, as we all know, stands for Where’s The Funding, Olympia?) But we know transit riders aren’t the only ones who got the short end of the stick. We are asking all individuals and organizations who are fed up with these misleaders in Olympia to step forward.

Do you have a grievance against the State Legislature? Bring it along! We’ll be collecting a busload of grievances to send to certain state legislators. Together our combined voices will echo in the halls of power.

What? A rally and demonstration to express our dissatisfaction with our State Legislature
When? Saturday, July 20, 12:00 pm
Where? City Hall Park, 450 3rd Avenue (south side of King County Courthouse)
Who? Everyone with a grievance
Why? It’s time to get organized!

The Bus Fam will be there. Hope to see you.

September service changes, round II

Yesterday, KC Metro revised its proposals for the September service restructure.

Metro is inviting public comment on the newly revised September service proposals during a second round of public review this month. Six open houses, 14 information tables, and more than a dozen presentations have been scheduled in neighborhoods that would see the most changes under these proposals. Please check our online calendar for a list of these events.

Open Houses (all 6-8 p.m., except as noted below)

Monday, Feb. 13 – Ballard High School
Wednesday, Feb. 15 – Madison Middle School, West Seattle
Thursday, Feb. 16 – Chief Sealth High School, Delridge/White Center
Tuesday, Feb. 21 – Union Station, Downtown Seattle (12-2 p.m.)
Thursday, Feb. 23 – Queen Anne Community Center
Monday, Feb. 27 – Washington Middle School, Central Area/Mount Baker

Despite the implication that the restructuring is happening to accommodate RapidRide, it’s much bigger than that. Neighborhoods that have no connection to RapidRide (including mine) will see huge changes, including route eliminations. If you ride any KC Metro routes, you should visit the site and let Metro know how the proposed changes will affect you.

Sightline on strollers (or, “What she said”)

Sightline writing fellow Alyse Nelson recently blogged about the hassles associated with taking strollers on KC Metro buses. A taste:

But King County Metro was the sore spot of my car-free life. Agency rules required me to fold Orion’s stroller. Holding all of the stroller’s contents and Orion, I then had to find a seat before the bus lurched forward. The challenge didn’t end once on board. I had to squish into a seat with all of our stuff and attempt to keep Orion from grabbing the stroller’s dirty wheels for the duration of the ride. Once we arrived at our stop, I had to reverse the whole ordeal.

Photo credit: vagabond_shutterbug (flikr)

As someone who would rather strap on an almost-30-pound, squirmy toddler or walk miles in bad weather than bring a stroller (plus two children) on the bus, I can relate. And don’t get me started on transfers.

Regardless of the reasons for Metro’s policy, which are not entirely clear (and, as far as I can tell, not explicity stated on the agency’s website or any of its printed materials), there isn’t much doubt that it makes busing extremely inconvenient and stressful (if not downright impossible) for parents, many of whom do not have other transportation options. And the thing is, (as Nelson discusses in her post) there are alternatives.

Back in ’06, Oakland-based Transform was instrumental in changing the stroller policy on Tri Delta Transit (in Contra Costa County).

ANTIOCH, CA, March 31, 2006 – The Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (Tri Delta Transit) recently became the first transit agency in America to create a designated stroller area on buses. In March, 2006, Tri Delta Transit took the precedent-setting, proactive step of removing one set of seats on each of its 40-foot fixed route buses, designating the remaining space for passengers with strollers. To date, 90% of Tri Delta Transit’s available fleet has been retrofitted with the new stroller area and the remaining 10% should be completed by mid-April, 2006.

You can read the rest of the press release (which includes the details of the policy) here.

Call me cynical, but I don’t see Metro’s stroller policy changing anytime soon. (The way things are looking, I’ll be happy if the routes I ride regularly are still around in a year.) It would be nice, however, if the current policy was at least clearly posted and consistently enforced.

And would it be too much to ask for a moment to find a seat (or at least a pole to grab) before the bus takes off?

Upcoming events for transit types

Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador Training
What: A “free training for community members to learn how to lead walks in their neighborhood.”

Neighborhood Walking Ambassadors lead inspiring walks around their community, connecting neighbors in a unique way with their surroundings. More people walking means more eyes on the street, which creates safer and healthier places for all of us to live, play and work.>

When: Saturday, October 29, 10:30 am -12:00 pm
Where: Rainier Beach Library, 9125 Rainier Avenue South
I love walking (more than busing, in fact), my neighborhood, and Feet First. Wish I could be there. If you can, send an email to this address to register.

That’s it for October–that I know of, anyway. Next month, there are many opportunities for citizens to provide input about transportation issues.

Road Safety Summits (City of Seattle)

The Summit[s], convened by Councilmembers and the Mayor, will be a series of three meetings and a Town Hall where agencies, community members, partners and other leaders will convene to discuss the best ways to improve safety and responsibility on our streets.

The summit at City Hall has come and gone, but here’s the information about the other two:

Tuesday, November 15th, 6 PM
Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Ave NE

Monday, November 21st
Southwest Community Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Transit Master Plan open houses

SDOT will be hosting 5 open houses this fall to share information about the TMP Draft Summary Report and to get feedback from the community. Please join us to learn about the draft plan and share your thoughts.

Here’s the information about the remaining events:

Tuesday, November 15, 6 PM
Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St

November 17, 6 PM
New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave S

Public meetings about service changes (King County Metro)

When Metro launches the new RapidRide C and D lines in September 2012, we will be changing existing bus service to improve the transit system and provide more connections to jobs, schools, and other destinations in Seattle, Shoreline, Burien, Tukwila, SeaTac, and Des Moines. Now is the time for community members to review Metro’s ideas and share their own.

In November, we will be sharing proposed changes to bus service and listening to public comments. We invite you to participate in this process by attending a meeting or information table and completing our online survey. The proposed changes are posted at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/haveasay.

There are some big changes in the works, so make sure you visit the site to see how your travels will be affected. Oh, and show up at one of these events.

Wednesday, Nov. 2 – Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 3 – Adams Elementary School, 6110 28th Ave. NW, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 7 – Catharine Blaine Elementary, 2550 34th Ave. W, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 9 – Chief Sealth High School, 2600 SW Thistle St., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 14 – Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N 85th St., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 15 – South Park Neighborhood Center, 8201 10th Ave. S, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 17 – Madison Middle School, 3429 45th Ave. SW, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Did I mention that they closed my stop?

This will teach me to choose a home based on its proximity to bus stops.*

Stop closed!

Dear bus rider: You’re screwed.

I’m more than a little irritated that Metro posted this notice in August and then never even responded to the feedback they requested–mine or anyone else’s.

I get all the stuff about stop consolidation and blah, blah, blah, and I will even admit to being a bit of a NaMBS (as in, “Not at my bus stop!”) about this. But there are legitimate reasons (other than the fact that I really need it) that this stop–and the one across the street from it–shouldn’t be closed.** If Metro doesn’t consider the reasons legitimate, they should explain why.




*I should have gone with my instinct and moved near a Link station. Call me crazy, but I wanted to stay in my neighborhood.
**And hey, if they’re looking for stops to close, there are two stops less than a block apart slightly further north.

Another bus “father” is OOY

Federico “Pops” Banzuela is KC Metro’s 2010 Operator of the Year.

“Fred” Banzuela

Key information: Mr. Banzeula is a report operator, which means he drives different routes every day. Also, he’s a father figure of sorts to the less experienced drivers at Central Base.

His supervisors say Banzuela also has an unofficial assignment as “Pops” to the rest of the drivers. He’s a source of information and advice for the rookies who aren’t yet comfortable addressing their supervisors or chiefs. The staff rely on him to help keep the peace, be supportive, and to give good advice.

Of course, there’s only one Busfather*, but I have no doubt that “bus pops” will represent. Here’s his full bio:

Banzuela was born and raised in the Philippines, and came to the United States in 1970 to study. In 1971, he enrolled in the Army and served on active duty until 1978. In 1980, he began driving for Metro as a full-time transit operator and continued his education at Seattle Central Community College, eventually receiving an Associates Arts degree in Social and Human Services. He resumed his military career with the Washington National Guard’s 303rd Armor Brigade in 1997. From 2004-2005, his unit was sent to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired from the Army in 2006.

Banzuela, a Rainier Beach resident, works as a report driver at Metro’s Central Base, which means he fills in wherever he is needed – no matter which route it may be. He has only had one accident in his 31 years with Metro.

“As a report operator, Fred often gets his assignment at the last moment and is required to know every route out of Central Base,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. “He works tirelessly and without complaint, starting work as early as 4 a.m. and sometimes not getting done until after 7 p.m. That requires a great deal of skill, particularly when you consider Fred’s outstanding safety record.”

His supervisors say Banzuela also has an unofficial assignment as “Pops” to the rest of the drivers. He’s a source of information and advice for the rookies who aren’t yet comfortable addressing their supervisors or chiefs. The staff rely on him to help keep the peace, be supportive, and to give good advice.

“Whenever we have new drivers who are trying to learn how to deal with the stresses of the job, we’ll tell them: ‘Go hang out with Fred for a while and he’ll teach you the ropes,’” said Central Base Chief John Lewis. “He is dedicated to his family – both his own at home and his Metro family at work.”

*Busfather happens to be the only OOY I’ve met in person while he still held the title. And have I mentioned that (since our initial meeting) I’ve run into the man around my neighborhood fairly regularly? We’ve even ridden the 27 together!

Families “in motion”

This weekend, I’ll be sharing what I know about busing with babies at a family transit workshop sponsored by the Squire Park in Motion Program.

What: A casual, kid-friendly workshop where parents can learn: “how to know where the bus is going; when it will arrive; how to keep kids entertained; what to carry with you for the trip; and other helpful things to know when riding the bus.”
When: Saturday, August 6, 10 – 11:30 AM
Where: Central Area Motivation Program, 722 18th Ave (served by routes 2, 3, or 4)
How much: Free!

Kids are welcome, of course, and there will be door prizes (zoo passes!) for the first 10 families to arrive. All particpants will receive a handy family transit guide to take home. Hope to see you there!

Saving service

At a press conference yesterday, KC Exec Dow Constantine asked the County Council to approve a temporary $20 vehicle licensing fee (officially called a congestion reduction charge) to maintain service at current levels.

The recession-driven decline in the sales-tax revenues that support public transit leaves the Metropolitan King County Council with two choices – ensure interim funding to continue service at current levels, or face the reality of cutting 17 percent of bus service.

To meet that challenge, King County Executive Dow Constantine today sent the Council a proposed ordinance to enact the one tool recently authorized by the state Legislature for King County: a temporary $20 Congestion Reduction Charge on vehicle licenses for each of the next two years.

Or, there’s Option 2.

Should the fee not be enacted, the Executive also transmitted legislation for the Council to shrink Metro service by 600,000 hours of annual bus service over the next two years, or 17 percent of the entire system – the rough equivalent of eliminating all rush hour bus service for commuters, or all weekend service in King County. The ordinance covers just the first round of service cuts – a 100,000-hour reduction to begin next February.

Metro recently launched a new site that explains proposal in detail (check this FAQ for the quick and dirty), including the cuts that would likely happen if the charge is not enacted.  

I was unable to attend the press conference, but not for lack of passion about the subject. The cuts Metro is considering are serious and will affect the quality of life of every resident of the county, not just those who ride the bus. I intend to lobby the council and do whatever else I can to make sure this happens.

If you want to send a message to the council (either all nine members or your local representative), start here.