(RapidRide C bus photographed near Seattle Center this afternoon)
As West Seattle bus riders conclude the second week of Metro’s RapidRide C Line launch and other service changes, the numbers we’ve requested have arrived – ridership and number of buses before and after – along with an update on what Metro is considering to address ongoing concerns. Here’s the full text of the reply we received:
Current Ridership Indicators
Metro along with its riders in West Seattle has seen the crowded conditions and unfortunate pass-ups of some riders on the RapidRide C Line and the Route 120 since our fall service change period began on September 29. All indications are that RapidRide C Line ridership, and ridership on the entire body of service Metro operates between West Seattle and Downtown Seattle is up substantially from last spring in the first two weeks since its launch. At this time Metro has only raw data from several in person field counts for service operating via the Alaskan Way Viaduct. In a four day peak period count of passenger loads entering downtown in the morning and exiting downtown in the afternoon/evening, buses have about 25% more people on board than routes in spring 2011 and about 18% more than in the spring 2012 (February to June) period. In real numbers, passenger counts averaged 2537 with a high of 2611 in the morning and 2830 with a high of 2919 in the afternoon.
These passenger counts were conducted between 7 and 9 a.m. at the Seneca and 2nd Ave intersection and between 4 and 6 p.m. at the Columbia and 2nd Ave bus stop on Thursday 10/4 and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10/9, 10 and 11.
Peak Commute Period Bus Trips between West Seattle and Downtown via the viaduct or SODO before and after this service change
In spring 2012 Metro operated 73 bus trips between 7 and 9 a.m. from West Seattle to downtown; currently Metro operates 72 trips plus two RapidRide cover buses in that period. In spring 2012 Metro operated 77 trips between 4 and 6 p.m. from downtown to West Seattle; currently Metro operates 70 trips plus two RapidRide cover buses in that period. The changes in number of bus trips includes the elimination of some low-ridership trips on routes that no longer come downtown (the route 22), or have fewer trips downtown (the route 37) and the redirection of trips on the former route 56 to create the new route 50 that provides cross-town and Link light rail connections in SODO, Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Seward Park and Othello. They also include the redistribution of the trips of the former routes 54 and 54Express, along with some route 55 trips, into the C Line. Metro also added two trips and initiated as local service (buses will make stops at all bus stops) to the routes 116, 118 and 119.
Ridership Data Collection
Metro typically collects ridership (boardings) data over the course of an entire service change period through its automatic passenger counters (APC) located in the doorways of some of its buses. In the regular fleet about 15% of the buses include automatic passenger counters, requiring the rotation of vehicles each day to get a sample of all routes and trips over the course of a 4 month service change period. 50% of the RapidRide fleet is equipped with automatic passenger counters, which will ultimately give us a richer source of data for the C and D lines. However, initial data continues to require review and documentation, with first reports of RapidRide ridership via our automatic passenger counters system expected in early November.
Continuing Evaluation and Actions
RapidRide C Line operations have smoothed out in the second week of operation and it is normal that driver familiarity with new routes increases quickly and leads to more stable running times and reliability. The addition of two new morning and afternoon trips helped with passenger overloads this week. More additions to the C Line or complementary routes like Route 55 are under consideration, with a small reserve of operating resources that Metro planners maintained for just such contingencies.
We are also happy to see but concerned with meeting the tremendous increases in passenger loads on the route 120, another corridor we have focused on bus speed and reliability improvements. Work with Seattle DOT continues to establish and fine tune transit signal priority and other traffic operations on the C and D Lines. While all but one planned traffic signal priority intersection is up and running on the C Line, just over one-third of the planned signal priority intersections are up and running on the D Line. This delay has been due to staffing limits at both SDOT and Metro, with the same staff working on multiple RapidRide and other corridor projects concurrently. For both lines, signal timing refinements, further schedule refinements and improvements in actively managing RapidRide headways (time between buses) and cover buses are expected to continue for about the next six months and will be regularly monitored for adjustment on an ongoing basis.
Want to talk to a Metro manager about this? Got another transportation issue? Yet another reminder: Sustainable West Seattle‘s big transportation forum, with higher-ups from Metro and SDOT among others, is THIS MONDAY (October 15th), 7 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle (California and Oregon, enter off Oregon and go upstairs).