Tag Archives: You should know…

More service!

I’m still in Detroit, so I almost forgot that the first phase of service improvements funded by Transit Now took effect today. Here’s a summary of the changes:

Route 8 – Adding several trips during the morning and afternoon commute to offer bus service every 15 minutes on the portion of this route between Seattle Center and Capitol Hill;
Route 44 – Adding early evening service on weekdays to achieve a 15-minute frequency for Ballard, Wallingford and the University District;
Route 101 – Adding three trips to relieve overcrowding and provide better connections at the Renton Transit Center and South Renton Park-and-Ride;
Route 120 – Doubling the amount of Saturday service to every 15 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. between Seattle, White Center and Burien;
Route 140 – Doubling midday weekday service to every 15 minutes on this route serving Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila and Renton;
Route 194 – Adding two early morning trips on Saturdays and Sundays between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International Airport to better serve airport workers and travelers with early flights;
Route 234 – Adding evening service on this route serving Kenmore, Juanita, Kirkland and Bellevue;
Route 245 – Doubling Sunday service to every 30 minutes on this route serving Kirkland, Rose Hill, Overlake, Crossroads, Eastgate, and Factoria; and
Route 271 – Adding trips between the University of Washington campus and Eastgate to increase afternoon service to a 15-minute frequency.

Around here, it’d be nice just to get route numbers and schedules posted at bus stops.

From the horse’s mouth

Yesterday, Bob Ferguson, King County Councilmember from District 1 and Transportation Committee member, sent me some 2007 budget information that just might interest you:

The Council voted to phase out and eventually eliminate the “wrapped” busses where the windows are covered with advertising. … I received many complaints from riders who said they had a hard time seeing outside in the dark mornings and evenings. For others, the ride became disorienting without being able to see outside. … These wrapped busses will be gone by the end of next year.

Looks like Orin was right about this. No word yet on whether the wrapped buses with “clear” windows (like the 4 I rode recently) will remain. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back from Metro.

The Council voted to increase the rate of creating bus shelters. There is a backlog of hundreds of approved bus shelter locations, and the Council is putting up funds to get these built sooner than our current, slow pace.

What can I say? “Hallelujah!” doesn’t come close to expressing my level of elation.

Remember that fancy, digital sign Bus Nerd spotted on the 48? It appears that we’ll be seeing a lot more of them very soon.

The Council voted to add reader boards. Each bus will have a scrolling, electronic sign (one on 40′ coaches, two on 60′ coaches) in place of the current “stop requested” ceiling signs. The signs will be programmed with a next stop message as well as other information such as time of day.

Here’s a thought: Now that we have the reader boards, we can keep the wrapped buses, since people won’t need to see out the window to know when to get off. :)

A good day for Puget Sound transit advocates (especially this one)

On the same day the Secretary of Transportation announced federal approval of the light rail extension to UW (another step on the way to federal funding), I was officially introduced to Car #2, the first of the Link rail cars to arrive in Seattle. (Car #1 was initially sent to New Mexico for speed testing and will be arriving shortly.)

Hey, good lookin'!

Sexy, no?

Richard Eacker, an electrical engineer on the project (and, incidentally, a faithful 255 rider), was kind enough to show me around the brand new maintenance building where it’s being stored.

Richard with Car #2:

Richard and Car #2

Me with Car # 2 (and the edge of Richard’s finger):

Bus Chick and Car #2

I was diggin’ the hard hat and safety goggles.

The auxiliary equipment is on top of the cars, so maintenance is performed from platforms.

Maintenance platform

Richard also gave me a tour of the construction progress.

This is an erection truss, a ridiculously huge contraption that connects the trackway:


I’m sorry I didn’t take notes on how exactly this thing works, but I’m hoping a transit nerd (possibly Richard) will comment and explain in more detail. (Google the term at your own risk.)

Here’s the Tukwila station:

Tukwila station

I never get over the hugeness of this project–both in terms of the amount of energy and brainpower required to make it a reality, and in terms the impact it will have on the future of transportation in our region.

Of course, it won’t have an impact unless we actually use it. Who wants to fight me to be first in line?

Transit, now (or at least in a couple of months)

Now that prop 2 has passed (thanks, Saulty!), the folks at the county are busy making plans to expand bus service. The first changes will happen in February (even before the tax increase takes effect). Here’s what the County Kingpin tells us we can expect in the near term:

Route 8 – Several trips would be added at the edges of the peak periods and would operate between Seattle Center and Capitol Hill, the most heavily-used segment of this route

Route 44 – Early evening service on weekdays would be revised (one trip added in each direction) to achieve a 15-minute frequency rather than the longer spacing between trips which now contributes to overloading and operational delays

Route 101 – Add two morning trips and one afternoon trip at the edges of the peak periods when ridership has started to outgrow the existing levels of service

Route 120 – Improve Saturday service frequencies from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes through a greater part of the day

Route 140 – Improve midday weekday service frequencies from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes

Route 194 – On Saturdays and Sundays, add two earlier morning trips from downtown to Sea-Tac Airport to better serve airport workers and travelers with early morning flights

Route 234 – Extend service later on weekdays (to 9 PM)

Route 245 – Increase frequency of Sunday service from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes through the main part of the day, similar to current Saturday levels of service

I see there’s still no love for those of us at the “other” end of the 8 route. (Hmph!) Moving on…

New buses (175 total) will start arriving in spring, at which time some of the more meaningful of the promised improvements will begin to be implemented. And while I’m on the subject…

Folks who live in areas that will actually benefit from these improvements: You can show your fellow taxpayers your appreciation by leaving your cars at home and actually getting on those brand-new buses. Come on! Everybody’s doing it.

A sibling agreement

Saulty and Bus Chick, last Tuesday:

Saulty: “The election isn’t today is it?”
Bus Chick: “Nope–next week.”
Saulty: “Good. I thought I forgot to vote.”
Bus Chick: “Hey, speaking of … make sure you vote for Transit Now.”
Saulty: “What’s that, and why should I care?”

Bus Chick proceeds to explain all the reasons Saulty should vote yes on Proposition 2.

Saulty: “That sounds cool. I’ll vote for it, but only if you vote no on that strip club thing.”


Some historical perspective

From an article in the April, 1967 issue of the original Seattle Magazine (“Just This, or Rapid Transit, Too?”):

[Seattle Mayor] Braman makes it no secret that he wants to be remembered as the mayor who brought rapid transit to Seattle… His attempts to arouse public interest in the project date back to the spring of 1965…

If you want to get some real context, HistoryLink has several interesting articles about the history of transportation in Seattle. (You’ll find more if you use broader search terms than I did.) For a quick-and-dirty overview, they also have a nice, high-level timeline.

No time like the present

Today I ran into my friendly neighborhood county councilman in the grocery store. We got to talking (brace yourselves for this shocking news) about transit and its importance in his (my) district. He told me that transit regularly ranks among his constituents’ top three priorities.

After I returned from the store, I got around to reading the Sound Transit E-Wave newsletter that’s been sitting in my inbox since Friday. (More shocking news: I sometimes get behind on my transit agency newsletters.) The “headline” story was a summary of the public comments Sound Transit has received about ST2 thus far. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

The public comments reflect strong support for additional transit investments and an extension of the light rail system as far as possible throughout the region. People shared a strong sense that the region has waited long enough and are eager to make these investments as quickly as possible. A minority opposed additional transit investment, for reasons ranging from concern that the options are too expensive to overall opposition to public transit and/or light rail investments. Among the themes expressed by transit supporters:

• Puget Sound residents are tired of traffic. People clearly understand that an effective regional system will make a significant difference in their daily lives.
• There is excitement and momentum behind light rail. Most comments reflected preference for rail rather than bus service.
• The top reasons identified for support of transit are to provide more ways to get around and to take cars off the road.
• Comparisons to other cities’ rail and transit systems are frequent, along with opinions that the Puget Sound region is being left behind economically.

I still have love for buses (despite their bad rap) and don’t think rail will eliminate the need for them. Still, it sure would be nice if Seattle’s buses could one day become an excellent complement to an extensive, well-used rail system.

Truth be told, I’ll take transit in any form if it will get more cars off the roads. In my lifetime, “progress” in this supposedly green city has been accompanied by more and more and more (and still more) cars. Smog hangs in the air in late summer. Puget Sound is a toxic stew. Former farmland is overrun with new subdivisions. The percentage of obese Washingtonians has more than doubled since 1990.

And still, we drive.

Teaching a bus chick to fish

I recently contacted Jim (as in, “public transportation adventure” Jim) to find out if he knew how to get to Gleneden Beach, Oregon by bus, train, or any combination of the two (more on this later). Within a single business day, he sent me two possible itineraries. He also sent some resources that will help me plan my own public transportation adventures in the future:

• A list of Washington public transit systems, by region (from WSDOT)
• A list of US public transit systems, by state (from the American Public Transit Association)

Thanks, Jim! Now if only I could find a national trip planner…