Metro apologizes, promises Arbor Heights changes @ Sustainable West Seattle transportation forum

October 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm | In Sustainable West Seattle, Transportation, West Seattle news | 37 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:46 PM MONDAY: While we upload video and put together the full story, we did want to share a few toplines from tonight’s well-attended Sustainable West Seattle Community Forum, focused on transportation.

We estimate around 60 people filled the upstairs hall at the Senior Center of West Seattle, surprising one panelist, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who had brought only 20 copies of a handout he wanted to circulate. Though the panel was prepared to discuss a wide range of transportation topics, the Metro changes/RapidRide C Line debut dominated, and when one attendee asked everyone from Arbor Heights to stand up, that covered about half the room. Metro planner Victor Obeso acknowledged the transition had been rocky and when asked by one attendee to apologize, did so. Later he also confirmed they expect to make some changes to address problems like Arbor Heights’ dramatic reduction in service, and that they are trying to get the RapidRide service to the promised 10-minute spacing, rather than multiple buses in a row after longer gaps. The forum ran the full two hours, and we have it all on video:

ADDED 6:57 AM TUESDAY: Video added. Text to come later this morning today.

ADDED 6:40 PM: Our full story, after the jump:

Despite the rain and the traffic, more than 50 people filled the seats at the Senior Center of West Seattle last night for Sustainable West Seattle’s transportation forum.

Though it was originally pitched as an opportunity to talk about a variety of transportation/transit topics, it quickly became almost entirely about the Metro changes launched concurrently 2 1/2 weeks ago with the start of RapidRide C Line replacing the 54/55 bus line. That’s been the most-discussed topic here on WSB – as one panelist even noted – these past few weeks.

If you don’t want to watch the entire 2-hour video clip above – here’s how it went:

SDOT‘s Peter Hahn started off talking about the coal-train controversy, saying the city is talking with the port. He then noted that the city doesn’t have enough money to handle the maintenance needs of the roads and facilities it has. He did mention they had just opened bids for the South Delridge repaving project and “we have some pretty good bids.” (Hahn did not elaborate.) He then rattled off some of the recent paving projects completed in West Seattle. As for the remaining unrepaired section of Beach Drive, with “legal issues (that) appear to be getting resolved,” he reiterated that when the slide repairs are complete, some “spot repairs” will be done on the road in that area. He also noted that SDOT worked with the county in planning the changes along the RapidRide C Line route, “because bus rapid transit isn’t so rapid” without changes.

In the future, he said, SDOT “may be asked to participate in another rapid transit round,” but that will take a long time, Hahn noted, observing that Sound Transit was voted on in 1996 but didn’t open light rail till 2009.

Metro planner Victor Obeso was next to speak. “We’ve just made the most comprehensive and significant changes that we have ever made in a service change before,” he said, acknowledging that meant “upheaval” for some transit riders. He says that while there was an “investment” made in Metro service because of Alaskan Way Viaduct construction-related mitigation money, most of it was made last year, and that’s why increases in service weren’t seen with these changes.

He mentioned 22 percent ridership increase to and from West Seattle between spring of 2009 and spring of 2012. (Here are the stats Metro shared with WSB recently.) During that same time, he said, Metro ridership overall grew 6 percent.

Then he recapped the King County Council’s imposition of the “congestion-reduction charge,” and warns that financial trouble may still lie ahead; they have had to make efficiency improvement, he said, and that is part of what went into the West Seattle changes. “We were looking at the places that were not carrying as many (passengers) as the others.” He says the intent for RapidRide is to be a seven-day-a-week 20-hour-a-day frequent-transit corridor. “We recognize that many of the problems that have been occurring are occurring in the peak commute periods.”

Making a big change brought in “several dynamics,” Obeso continued, and noted that they had asked riders to be patient. “We know it takes a while for our riders to understand what all their options may be,” he said. He said Metro “fully recognize(s)” it was “not a pleasant scene” in the early days of RapidRide in West Seattle. “Within the first week we were putting in place two standby coaches, adding more peak trips, and by Monday of last week we had permanently added two buses to the RapidRide (C and D Line).” That uses up 25 percent of their “reserves,” he said, though some reserves remain for “additional adjustments” if needed. Overall, Metro believes things have “smoothed out” but “we know it can better” and they know they “may have to add additional trips” – on RR, or “a route like 55.” He says they are still collecting data on the route, and the buses are 25 percent fuller than they were last spring, and they believe that means there’s been a ridership bump.

Third to speak was Chris Arkills, a West Seattleite who works on transportation issues for King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I have been passed by a 120 or a RapidRide that was too full to load me … so I share your frustration and your pain,”he said, but “every day we learn to make the system better.” He said, “It was a huge learning curve for all of us” – despite training, “until you get into the real world, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” He insists that Metro – contrary to criticism – does care about its riders though their task “becomes more challenging every day.” His job, as had been explained in the beginning, is to look ahead to the future and new options.

He notes that the city has decided to give money to speed up Sound Transit studies of getting light rail to Ballard, but not to West Seattle, because it’s going to be more difficult to get light rail here. “We look at RapidRide as a good intermediate step.” He reiterates that Route 120 remains a top candidate for future RapidRide conversion. “Executive Constantine is very concerned about both the bus changes and the long range future and is working on another Sound Transit package” for the future, he summarized.

City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen followed. He too is a West Seattleite and chairs the council’s Transportation Committee right now. He recapped the unsuccessful push for voter approval of a $60 license-tab fee last year to fund more transportation projects. He explained that’s one of the few options the city has for seeking funding. He too spoke to the $20 fee for Metro – saying it only has a two-year authorization, and if it goes away, the funding goes away, so “we are going back to Olympia to ask for another way to fund Metro.” He also pointed out that he is affected by the recent changes in a big way – Route 37 served his neighborhood south of Alki. He also talked about transit being such an important topic that it brought more comments on WSB than anything but snowstorms.

Rasmussen also spoke to the Beach Drive slide problem and a host of other traffic and parking issues, including a parking study now under way in The Triangle. And he wrapped up his opening remarks by saying that he was amazed at the turnout – probably 60 or so people by the time he finished speaking – he brought a handout but only about 20 copies because he didn’t expect so many people! (Earlier, he had called attention to the fact that here on WSB, the transit situation had become the single-most-commented-on issue, outside of major news stories like snowstorms.)

Also on the panel, Martin Duke of the Seattle Transit Blog. He said that he’s 36 years old and expects to be able to retire in 2044 or so but isn’t very hopeful there’ll be light rail in this area by then. He says he also was disappointed by the defeat of the roads/transit measure.

ATTENDEES’ QUESTIONS, PANELISTS’ ANSWERS

First question was from Jon Grant, who, as reported here, launched a petition last week (here) to bring back Route 21 service to Arbor Heights. “There is no bus service to get home from this meeting tonight.” He handed comments and signatures, printed out, to the panel. He says RapidRide is great but he gets to SW Barton “and that’s as far as I can get … there’s no way for us to get to the transit hub.” He said he is worried about safety walking from the nearest bus stop later in the fall and winter – especially considering Arbor Heights’ lack of sidewalks in many areas. “Hopefully there’s some room in that area to reinstate some of that service.”

The second question from Steve – standing with several people at the back of the room – who also remarked on all the WSB comments but said he had written letters and many had commented but there was no response. He remarked on “Metro’s failing on the implementation of this admittedly huge transition but … your lack of response … your silence is what’s really frustrated.” He said, “We would appreciate an apology – (such as) ‘we’re sorry, we didn’t plan as well as we should have, we’re doing what we can’ …” He said, “We’re hearing one now, but we didn’t hear one for 10 days.”

Victor Obeso offered that apology.

Obeso said he “appreciated Steve’s comments … I am truly sorry that those changes have not gone as we planned … I think that we have made some efforts at communication over that time, trying to balance communicating with information over communicating without information.” He says they are trying to determine the difference between problems in the design and problems with for example the demand – which, he said again, was a surprise to Metro. “We’re making the best of the resources we have and working hard to try to correct (the early problems).” Steve followed up by saying that he thought Metro should participate in online discussion more frequently.

Councilmember Rasmussen rose at that point and said he wanted to hear if anyone ever wrote the city and did not get a reply – if that happens, he said, let him know.

A woman who also identified herself as being from Arbor Heights said she too had gathered petition signatures – almost 90 – and she lives all the way south at 112th and would have to walk half an hour to or from a bus. “Even if that’s just two or three people a day, that’s real people. Seems a shame to cut service so severely in that neighborhood.”

And the next woman too was from Arbor Heights – she asked everyone from AH to stand up, and it appeared to be close to half those in attendance.

Rebecca spoke next, a Lowman Beach-area resident who talked about the Water Taxi and its shuttle drivers, who, she says, wait between boat runs. “Can we incorporate those little shuttles to broaden the (bus) service?” And another woman jumped in from the audience to say that if it were easier to get to the Water Taxi dock, more would use it.

Arkills, noting that the Water Taxi is not a Metro service, picked up the answer. He said the boats and shuttles have to work together – “the boats don’t leave till the shuttles are there, the shuttles don’t leave until the boats are there.” He said they looked at trying to use the parking area under the bridge, but it was too tight an area for the shuttles to turn. Arkills added that the Water Taxi “has its own funding challenges.” And he said it is not as well-utilized as it could be. Meantime, “every community in the county is clamoring for more transit service,” he added. “We have to balance a lot of competing needs.” He said he thought the “mix in Arbor Heights” could be improved on, though.

Seattle Transit Blog’s Duke at that point posed a question to Arbor Heights attendees, engaging them on ideas for improving even limited service, and some ideas were offered – Grant explained it wasn’t the distance as much as the danger in AH without sidewalks. “What are you gonna do about those sidewalks?” county rep Arkills joked to city rep Rasmussen at that point.

Then Marty from Fauntleroy spoke up and talked about pothole problems and streets that have been torn up by utility work over and over. He talked about a challenge his son faces getting to a high school outside West Seattle – doubling the trip to 90 minutes instead of 45. “One thing the transit planners forgot are all the people who make connections – they didn’t change the connections,” they just changed the way people were getting on them. He told the tangled tale of how his son and their visiting exchange student had to change routines and make some contorted maneuvers just to get between points.

The next question came from another Fauntleroy resident who pointed out that many stops were taken away in the 54 to RapidRide changeover – like one at Cloverdale (on Fauntleroy) that she would like to see returned.

Wolf from Fauntleroy, a former SWS vice president, also talked about how dramatically his commute time had changed, up to 2 hours to get home. “That’s killer, I can’t do that.”

The next speaker said the bus schedule didn’t match what was really happening, and that a driver was very rude to her. Arkills said it’s important to make sure that is reported. She said she had been a fulltime Metro rider for 25 years, even gave up her car 4 years ago, but if she stays downtown beyond 6:40, she ma be “signing up for a mile and a half walk home.”

An Arbor Heights woman said the changes are a hardship for her mom.

Next – someone from Admiral pointing out the service they lost in the recent changes. Her husband works regular business hours, she says, “so the 56 works for him both directions” – but for her, after 9 am, there are no more buses, and that is difficult because she works three part time jobs, including one downtown where she is on her feet all day. She also suggested that the Water Taxi make more runs when the Viaduct is closed. She also said it seemed as if RapidRide had taken money away from other neighborhoods. Obeso said that’s not true – the service has just been moved to major arterials “rather than spreading it to the neighborhoods.”

“Admiral has no service, Arbor Heights has no service, the 51 is cut out, what neighborhoods have service?”" someone asked.

The Admiral resident said she will be driving and parking in front of somebody’s house in the winter when it’s cold and dark so she can catch a bus that she used to be able to walk safely to.

Gatewood resident Andy then spoke up and said he is one of the few for whom service probably got better. He said what he was hearing sounded like an opportunity for the circulator buses that Sustainable West Seattle had discussed in the past. “One of those small shuttle buses could run through every 15 minutes -” “Every hour!” someone interjected. “Every half-hour!” said someone else.

Obeso then said “We would rather be adding service than moving it around … (but) we don’t have the resources to do that. The challenge I’ve been given is have more people use our transit system without having more resources to put out new services, to reorganize the services we have. It’s a significant callenge. But I believe we would be putting more people on buses if we had buses to put them on.”Circulators still cost money and need drivers, he said.

He was then asked why Route 133, which was “packed,” was cut. Obeso countered that it cost almost twice what other buses cost, per person, and did not carry full loads all the time – averaging 17 people, he said.

SWS past president Bill Reiswig then talked about traveling in other countries and seeing small buses “that were absolutely everywhere” in non-automobile-centric societies.

Obeso’s reply boiled down to “costs what we don’t have.”

Duke then jumped in and said that he thought Metro’s development of “frequent corridors” like RapidRide was moving in that direction.

Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker, describing herself as a retired land-use planner, asked if there is any way to get impact fees (though she didn’t use that phrase) from all the developments in the works that will be adding more people to roads and transit – or other ways to get funding.”

SDOT’s Hahn said he has worked in places that had those kinds of fees, and that there is a “huge long history” behind why the city does not have such fees. But he said the city does get benefits from some things that developments have to do – it’s just not a simple calculation. “It’s probably something that’s been talked about over the years and there’s probably good reasons why it hasn’t been done, but it’s not like developments get away for free.”

Rasmussen said employers are encouraged to pay for bus passes and other “trip-reduction” measures.

Cindi Barker, also from Morgan Junction, said that maybe private companies like taxi services could be brought into a circulation system of some sort. King County’s Arkills said that they are always interested in city-county partnerships, and they are indeed looking at alternative service deliveries.

Ben from Morgan Junction said he’s glad to be on the corridor but his travel time has indeed increased. He’s been a transit rider for 12 years but it’s hard to advocate in front of his friends because of the capacity problem: “Over-full buses are a big problem.” Obeso said they are continuing to work on the 10-minute spacing rather than “two at once.” He said that while some wish RR had schedules, its lack of schedules enables them to make changes when needed. Buses off-schedule create those crowding conditions, he acknowledged.

Also noted in the event’s waning moments: The publicly accessible bus-tracking programs are not working for West Seattleites right now.

And moderator Redmond asked the last big question, wondering why RapidRide was even rolled out for Ballard (D Line) when, unlike West Seattle, most of the infrastructure was not in place. Obeso didn’t have a clear answer except that they roll out service changes three times a year and basically had to decide go or no go – and they decided go. Overall, he said, RapidRide is a gradual improvement – and, “A year from now, I hope to hear that RapidRide is working better.” He said the county was getting some comments from those who are happy with it, and said that people who are not upset “are generally not motivated to come to a meeting on a rainy Monday night.”

That’s when he said they would look at “ways to give you [Arbor Heights in particular] more than you have today.”

37 Comments

  1. I love that we live in a community in which people can pull together and hopefully make a different!!!!!! Way to go SWS!!!!! You guys are rockstars!

    Comment by DiverLaura — 1:44 am October 16, 2012 #

  2. This has been such an ongoing saga. Last night between about 4:55 and 5:05, there were 3 c lines from 3rd and Virginia, each of them standing room as they left. I was waiting for the 5:03 55, which showed up about 10 min late. There are only 5 of them now, but this one has not been on time (usually at least 10 min late) since the changes. It does appear the c line is coming more often. In the 20 min I was at the stop, there were 2 56′s and a 57 and 3 21′s back to back. Also 3 20′s which also seem crowded.

    Nice to see that taxpayers are subsidizing the north end sounder to the tune of $29 per passenger per trip….glad to hear that they are considering fixing the Arbor heights mess they created.

    One more thing, I have better service to the Kent Valley than to my job on Eastlake. Way to go Metro.

    Comment by Magpie — 6:17 am October 16, 2012 #

  3. It will be unfortunate if Metro capitulates to special interests in Arbor Heights, and restores poorly-performing bus service at the expense of needed service for larger populations of less vocal people in other parts of the city. There’s a reason Arbor Heights service was cut in the first place.

    Comment by LWC — 6:50 am October 16, 2012 #

  4. Metro- we are still here in South Park too! Although you couldn’t tell by our reduced service. It takes my partner over an hour in the morning and an hour and a half at night to get to and from amazon!

    Comment by Lashanna — 7:01 am October 16, 2012 #

  5. If Metro decided to reduce the service to Arbor Heights wouldn’t have been fair to open a C Line stop at Roxbury and 35 Ave SW?

    Comment by Beto Álvarez — 8:32 am October 16, 2012 #

  6. South Park got the frequency on the 132 doubled. How is that reduced service? South Park was one of the big winners in this restructure.

    And it is faster now, heading straight down 4th Ave S, with a direct connection *both ways* a block from SODO Station. Riders on the 21 don’t have that SODO connection outbound (which is the fault of SDOT, not Metro).

    The old 131 was, and the 60 is, too painfully circuitous for going downtown, or much of anywhere on opposite sides of the Duwamish. Good riddance to the old 131. Riders in western White Center are finally getting a direct ride home, and using it. Thank you, Metro, for all these improvements!

    Comment by Brent — 9:09 am October 16, 2012 #

  7. I agree C Line should stop at Roxbury @35th. It is a long way between the next two stops and adding that would really help out Arbor Heights.

    Comment by JEM — 9:43 am October 16, 2012 #

  8. First off, thanks to everyone who came out to the meeting to support Arbor Heights!

    I agree with those who think that the resources used for poorly running services should be redirected to better performing routes. However, when all the service is taken from one area, the reallocation is too much. We need to temper monetary efficiency with human accessibility.

    The ‘trunks’ Metro has planned will, I believe, be the right course for the future; however, Metro, in the case of Arbor Heights and other West Seattle periphery neighborhoods, has trimmed too many of the branches and will endanger the health of the tree.

    Arbor Heights isn’t, from my conversations with neighbors, looking for that much more than we have now. Just include the loop, run the loop off-peak, and run a little longer in the evenings. Currently, service ends at 7:20 M-F, and closer to 6 on weekends, with service not starting till 9 on weekends. Most residents seemed happy with just once an hour!

    It is a long walk to Barton (especially come winter) and it won’t take much to serve us.

    West Seattle is by far the fastest growing transit service area – Metro stated West Seattle is growing at over 3 times the average. We should make sure all of West Seattle is served.

    I am hoping that with an open dialog with Metro planners, we can come up with a solution for Arbor Heights that integrates us with the good work they are doing in West Seattle’s busier corridors.

    If you would like to help us out by singing our petition, please do so at https://www.change.org/petitions/king-county-metro-transit-return-reliable-and-frequent-bus-service-to-arbor-heights

    Comment by Jon Grant — 11:15 am October 16, 2012 #

  9. First off, thanks to everyone who came out to the meeting to support Arbor Heights!

    I agree with those who think that the resources used for poorly running services should be redirected to better performing routes. However, when all the service is taken from one area, the reallocation is too much. We need to temper monetary efficiency with human accessibility.

    The ‘trunks’ Metro has planned will, I believe, be the right course for the future; however, Metro, in the case of Arbor Heights and other West Seattle periphery neighborhoods, has trimmed too many of the branches and will endanger the health of the tree.

    Arbor Heights isn’t, from my conversations with neighbors, looking for that much more than we have now. Just include the loop, run the loop off-peak, and run a little longer in the evenings. Currently, service ends at 7:20 M-F, and closer to 6 on weekends, with service not starting till 9 on weekends. Most residents seemed happy with just once an hour!

    It is a long walk to Barton (especially come winter) and it won’t take much to serve us.

    West Seattle is by far the fastest growing transit service area – Metro stated West Seattle is growing at over 3 times the average. We should make sure all of West Seattle is served.

    I am hoping that with an open dialog with Metro planners, we can come up with a solution for Arbor Heights that integrates us with the good work they are doing in West Seattle’s busier corridors.

    If you would like to help us out by singing our petition, please do so at change.org (search for arbor heights)

    Comment by Jon Grant — 11:16 am October 16, 2012 #

  10. Jon it was great to see all the support Arbor Heights received at last night meeting, I am abit disappointed that more neighbors from Alki & North Admiral did not attend this meeting and make their voices heard about there much reduced bus service.

    I agree that the once an hour #22 is ok for most but it still would be great to have a direct connection to bus service to downtown Seattle without a transfer from the junction.
    Roxbury.

    I have not done the hike from Barton as many of my neighbors have had to do, and I sincerely hope that Metro makes some much needed changes before the first snowfall. Both Arbor Heights and North Admiral.

    Comment by Lisa — 12:52 pm October 16, 2012 #

  11. Can we also address the major problem that the C Rapid Ride coming back from Seattle (according to the guys over at Seattle Transit Blog–I haven’t tried yet myself) stops at Westwood, and you have to start over?

    It’s not so much of a walk for those of us able bodied, but not all of us are like that. Some have children; some are old. For those of us who board at 26th & Roxbury or perhaps 35th & Roxbury in the future heading downtown, it sucks that our only coming home option is to ride the 21x home or transfer to the 22 in the Junction.

    Can we or can we not ride the C from downtown all the way to Roxbury? If not, why not?

    Comment by Joe — 1:22 pm October 16, 2012 #

  12. If Metro can run a 21 local from Westwood up to 35th and Roxbury to continue on the usual route every 15 mins, why can they not run once an hour on the old loop route? More buses, less service? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

    Comment by buddsmom — 2:04 pm October 16, 2012 #

  13. Joe – that was what I was talking about, having stops on both sides of Roxbury for the C Line for us in Arbor Heights, so we can avoid transferring from Westwood Village. Once at Westwood there is a long wait (without shelter) for the #22 and the #21 local.

    Comment by Lisa — 2:07 pm October 16, 2012 #

  14. Joe,
    The Rapid Ride does end at Westwood Village for driver recovery etc, though it does stop one block from Roxbury on Barton and 35th and 27th. The good news is that between the 21, and C line the layover time at Westwood Village before getting back to 35th and Roxbury should only be 7-8 minutes average. Also, the 120 travels through and stops at 26th and Roxbury very frequently.

    Comment by Jon Grant — 3:01 pm October 16, 2012 #

  15. Dear LWC: You must not be an Arbor Heights resident. My household does not own a car. We have to take a bus to go shopping, to medical appointments,work on hours that Metro does NOT have service into our area etc. To say our community does not deserve reliable service due to “there Must be a reason Arbor Heights service was cut in the first place” is an arrogant, uninformed statement. Why should our area be expected to walk up to two miles uphill, in the dark without proper sidewalks so the rest of West Seattle can have service. I haven’t had a 7PM curfew since I was 11!My husband and I are patrons of the Symphony and would get a bus home…..no longer. It’s a $34 cab ride home now. A $20 dollar ticket each now costs us $75 No service AT ALL…the week between Christmas and New Years? Guess we all work “Bankers Hours”. My husband has to be in Fremont on Sunadys for work before 9 AM…first 22 out of Arbor Heights IS 9AM!

    Comment by buddsmom — 3:07 pm October 16, 2012 #

  16. Just for the record – from where Marine View Drive turns into 35th Avenue to Roxbury & 35th – is 1.3 miles. Not any two miles uphill. Let’s at least be accurate in our discussions. Heading in the north direction, it is uphill; heading in the south direction it is downhill. Also for the record, I regularly walk from Morgan Junction to my house, which is 1.2 miles uphill going south, that’s how I used to get to or from the 54 and how I catch the C line now.

    Comment by chas redmond — 4:12 pm October 16, 2012 #

  17. Agreed, buddsmom. Thank you.
    And speaking as somebody who was robbed last january at knifepoint right here in Arbor Heights, I am dreading the walks in the dark – actually longer walks in the dark -after the time change – in poorly lit areas with no sidewalks. Anybody who blithely says “there must have been a reason” is uninformed and obviously doesn’t live here.
    /looks for fire extinguisher to deal with the smoke curling out of my ears.

    Comment by DaPuffin — 4:59 pm October 16, 2012 #

  18. chas redmond, fortunately, you and I are able to walk that distance, but many of my neighbors are not so fortunate.
    I would love to see the 21 do the loop throughout the day, but I think it could be decreased to once an hour.

    Comment by Suzanne — 6:09 pm October 16, 2012 #

  19. Ah, what arrogance: “Obeso [...] said that while some wish RR had schedules, its lack of schedules enables them to make changes when needed. Buses off-schedule create those crowding conditions, he acknowledged”.

    We need schedules to know when to head out to the stops or to determine which RR trips connect to infrequent connector services. Seems like they’ve learnt nothing from the RR fiasco about how information if vitally important for riders.

    I know they made a policy decision two years ago not to publish RR schedules, but it is time to admit that is a failure and that they must provide schedules and realtime info on OBA.

    Comment by Moose2 — 9:25 pm October 16, 2012 #

  20. Seriously hoping we get some much needed changes here in Arbor Heights before winter blows in.

    Comment by Lisa — 9:26 pm October 16, 2012 #

  21. I feel like a broken record in the comments threads… but, as usual, where the heck were all these people when the service changes were being planned?
    .
    Metro didn’t spring anything on Arbor Heights (or other neighborhoods). There were public meetings, coverage in the Blog and other news sources, neighborhood groups talked about it, and notices ON BUSES and in transit alerts.
    .
    How many times do folks need to be told to pay attention to what is going on in your neighborhood?
    .
    And it’s awfully hard to feel sorry for Arbor Heights. Service could have been preserved to the neighborhood by shortening at the other end, but attendees at meetings insisted on having their one-seat ride Downtown.
    .
    Well, now, instead of having to transfer and have good service, you have no transfer but crappy service. Are you happy with that?

    Comment by Mickymse — 12:01 am October 17, 2012 #

  22. I didn’t attend the meeting because I don’t drive at night any more. My husband was at a rehearsal and I would have had to walk 8 blocks in the dark to catch a bus which runs infrequently since our transit service only exists during rush hour. We will never enjoy the use of rapid transit which we help to pay for because we can’t get to it. This new plan is very bad. Seattle should make convenient transportation a priority in it’s budget. We need it to get to work and school and for recreation. Do we really want people to be forced to drive their cars everywhere they go? I sold my bike after my second hip replacement so that’s not an option.

    Comment by Norma — 12:22 am October 17, 2012 #

  23. Admiral/Alki solution make the 50 a dedicated westside bus.You wont need as many and it wont have to go as far.That way the rapid ride stays rapid from beginning to end.

    Comment by mike — 8:34 am October 17, 2012 #

  24. To Mickymse….I attended these meetings last year. Metro had no interest in hearing our concerns as they had made their decisions and that was how it was to be.My husband was basically told to sit down and shut up or leave one of these meetings. Arbor Heights residents TRIED to express our concerns, but were just brushed aside and treated rudely by Metro planners. Chas Redmond… I don’t know where you live, but last time I walked from Westwood dragging a cart full of heavy groceries it was STILL UPHILL!!

    Comment by buddsmom — 10:58 am October 17, 2012 #

  25. buddsmon – I live uphill from both the Thriftway at Morgan and the QFC at Westwood. I, unfortunately, had long ago abandonned using the 22, even though it goes through my neighborhood, because it was never reliable – neither going in the Alaska Junction direction or in the White Center direction. Plus, I never actually understood the old 21 routing through Arbor Heights – it always seemed a one-way routing to me – but then I caught it on 35th at Holden or Thistle. I do sympathize as I have seen service to individual neighborhoods decline, too. That has driven me to regularly walking 15 to 20 minutes to get to a trunk-line route (35th or Morgan Junction area). The zero-sum situation we’re in requires cleverness. I heard a number of ways the Arbor Heights community could get later and better coverage at the forum, I’m hoping that Metro does due diligence and implements one or more of the community-offered possibilities (trade 21X runs in morning for 22 morning runs, let 22 run later at night; let 22 circulate a little further south on its runs, adjust times accordingly, and others including possible private-public partnerships). Also for the record, as was mentioned at the community forum, I was one of those community individuals advocating for the $60 car tab, which got voted seriously down (I think it was 65-35, easily not the most winning proposition Seattle had seen), so I’m willing to put my own money up to improve the transit situation. Alas, others by two-to-one margin either felt they couldn’t afford it or it was a wrong use of their income or it was a wrong mix or projects – or all of the above. I also bought my house, though, on the at-that-time proposition there would be a monorail station 20 minutes away at some future point.

    Comment by chas redmond — 12:47 pm October 17, 2012 #

  26. You are in luck now Chas! The 22 is right on time since the change!

    Comment by buddsmom — 3:39 pm October 17, 2012 #

  27. I also agree with Buddsmom. And Chas, you are dead wrong about the hills – clearly you haven’t walked them. There is no steady grade up nor down, so yes, let’s be accurate. Nor is Marine View & 35th the most distant point in Arbor Heights – none of which makes the slightest difference, as 1.3 miles is too bloody far for most people to have to hike to a bus stop. I don’t understand how anyone could think it reasonable to have to add an hour of walking onto an already extended and unreliable commute. None of these changes have improved reliability.

    Comment by anonyme — 4:14 pm October 17, 2012 #

  28. According to Mapquest, it’s 1.19 miles from my house 35th and Barton.

    Comment by buddsmom — 4:18 pm October 17, 2012 #

  29. LWC writs, “It will be unfortunate if Metro capitulates to special interests in Arbor Heights, and restores poorly-performing bus service at the expense of needed service for larger populations of less vocal people in other parts of the city. There’s a reason Arbor Heights service was cut in the first place.”

    First, people just wanting to get to work, go shopping, go to worship, and be involved in the community like everyone else, as they have been able to d until this round of transit changes, are not special interests. Next you’ll tell useople wanting to go to school, the laid off wanting to afford their groceries, blacks and gays wanting equal rights are “special interests.”

    Second, there were busses coming around from downrtown that were listed on the increasing unavailable paper schedule, but NOT listed at the local bus stops, so people were actually kept uninformed by Metro regarding buses that existed, but they were told did not exist. This is Metro deliberately setting up buses for low ridership, then using that manufactured low ridership as an excuse to cut the buses.

    Third, we DID go to the “forums” and were quite deliberately ignored. When we spoke to Metro employeees about concerns and ideas other than what they had already proposed, they simply turned away and started talking with somebody else, deliberately silencing our comments. – At a community council meeting, when the Metro employee kept talking about everything EXCEPT what was asked, I insisted he answer the question that was asked (not even my own) and was immediately threated with expulsion from the meeting by the council chair.

    Finally, just because officials take an action doesn’t mean there was a valid “reason” for it. To assume government officials automatically are honest, trustworth, and thoughtful is arraogant at best. they lie and bully worse than most. – What was the reason for cutting service to Arbor Heights? Manufactured low ridership? Isolating the coomunity? Pushing people into their cars or into economic isolation?

    If this is the kind of totalitarian bullying LWC supports, LWC will go down with these bullies when this turns to revolution.

    We don elect dictators and bullies, and we don’t tolerate those who appoint them or those dictators and bullies who are appointed. We remove them; we overthrow the: at the polls, in the courst, in public meeting, and, if necessary, in the streets.

    David W. Trotter

    Comment by David W Trotter — 4:39 pm October 17, 2012 #

  30. David, if your attempted conversations with Metro staff were anything like the rhetoric in your post then I’m not surprised you were ignored.

    I too participated in the Metro forums and made suggestions. I felt like they did listen and the proposal changed for the better, though not what I would have liked. Recall that the original proposal was to have absolutely no off-peak or weekend service south of Roxbury. At least there is something.

    And ‘manufactured low ridership’? I’ve been watching the 21 go in and out of Arbor Heights for 15 years and if the 21 local actually had riders, I could almost always count them with one hand. It’s the same now with the 22. There just aren’t that many of us taking the bus in and out of Arbor Heights outside of the peak commute hours.

    Comment by Paul — 8:51 pm October 17, 2012 #

  31. I have already sent a comment to Metro. We no longer have the shuttle from Alaska Street which went up Genesse Hill, along 55th, Charlestown and along 49th, Cal. Ave. Hudson St. to 35th before heading back to Alaska Street.

    If I had to walk to the WS Junction it is a mile. This is too much for elderly people and low income people to walk. We have the option of walking the mile to Alaska St. or perhaps walking Charlestown St. (has anyone tried walking up the steep hill on Charlestown St!!), to California Ave. I realize that shuttle was not being used heavily, but a bus the size of Access would do the job (yes I know, no money to buy new equipment at Metro). However, the people that did all these route changes in West Seattle should have walked the routes they decided to cut ahead of doing it, just to get some idea of what is involved.

    By the way we do have a route during rush hour morning and evening, but what use is it for elderly retired people who are too frail to drive any more.

    Comment by Christine — 10:36 pm October 17, 2012 #

  32. One very relevant (but ignored) issue has been the reason WHY ridership was low in Arbor Heights. Answer: poor and unreliable service.

    Over the past few years I have repeatedly reported to Metro the fact that many buses were deliberately going off route and cutting off the loop in order to save time, or go home early. Usually they would turn on 102nd and re-exit on 106th, or some version of that shortcut. This is evidence of why many people were forced to abandon use of the #21 – the bus that never came.

    I suspect there are very few people who ride the bus for entertainment. Most of us need to be somewhere, and at a certain time. This is an issue not addressed by shiny new paint jobs and rapid ride shelters.

    Instead of correcting such issues to improve ridership, Metro’s solution was to cut service.

    Comment by anonyme — 7:11 am October 18, 2012 #

  33. Life in Arbor Heights on 35th Avenue SW comes with METRO, SCHOOL BUS (so many for Arbor Heights Elementary), and heavy vehicular traffic making the dash down 35th SW. Certainly fewer busses in and out of Arbor Heights make ears, lungs, and legs happier. Perhaps Arbor Heights should consider becoming a limited-access neighborhood with less gasoline power and more bicycles and pedestrians.

    Armed with my ORCA card I do take the bus to and from work and other city pleasures, and I like to walk whatever weather we have for the day. If more suburban commuters slumbering on their double-deckers and then tumbling off to their official positions had to walk a little farther in BUS-DENSE and TRAFFIC-SWOLLEN Seattle as well, then our city might have more a scent of seawater rather than of tailpipes.

    Comment by joseph — 9:17 am October 18, 2012 #

  34. Paul, speak for yourself. I have no other transportation options outside of a cab to be places. Doctor appointments, job interviews, grocery shopping and so on do not run at express times only.
    What are we who don’t have the luxury of hopping in our cars to buy a months worth of supplies supposed to do? Please don’t say “call a cab” as I have waited at Westwood and Safeway on many occasions for over an hour for said taxi. I have even been told by drivers that they don’t respond quickly to “grocery runs” as they know it’s going to be a small fare. Case and point…my dentist is across the street from Safeway on Roxbury, and after having major dental surgery, I went to the closest pharmacy(Safeway)to get antibiotics. I waited outside in the cold for 1 1/4 hours for a cab. This was not at a peak hour for either Metro or a cab. My only other option was to walk home. BTW, I too was at Metro meetings and was blown off by the Metro planners.They had made up their minds, PERIOD. Not to have service into AH at least once an hour is criminal to those of us who depend on a bus to get us where we need to go.

    To Anonyme, Thank you for your support!!!!

    To Joseph, How about more transit and fewer cars?

    Comment by buddsmom — 3:44 pm October 18, 2012 #

  35. Paul, I’m glad you had a good experience at the forums. When we attended, Metro employees were literally turning their backs to anyone and everyone criticizing the then-proposed service cuts. And at the SW Community Council meeting I attended, the Metro representative consistently throughout the night talked about everything except whatever the question at the moment was. This is a very deliberate attempt to beat down the citizens by ignoring them. – At that Community Council meeting, the need for the continuation of the shuttle from Alaska Street up Genesse Hill along 55th Charlestown and 49th, which Christine mentions above, was discussed by multiple elderly and handicapped citizens in attendance, and their comments were essentially brushed aside. – And “anonyme”, above, hits it right on the head when speaking about the poor and unreliable service. Over the past few years I, too, have repeatedly reported to Metro that many buses were, as “anonyme” writes, “deliberately going off route and cutting off the loop in order to save time, or go home early. Usually they would turn on 102nd and re-exit on 106th, or some version of that shortcut. This is evidence of why many people were forced to abandon use of the #21 – the bus that never came.” Usually I got the excuse that they must have been so far behind they were instructed to go off route in favor of the next bus coming, which very often would be twenty to thirty minute late itself. – This, again, is clear manipulation by Metro and some of its drivers (I personally know several very good, service-oriented drivers) to shove the ridership down through unreliable service, so they would have an excuse to cut service even further. This is a clear isolationist policy by Metro directed at a specific community (though I understand Madison Valley was also initially targeted). – Metro’s apology and promise of correction will be believed, at this point, when it is seen, and I, for one, am ready to see us secede from both the city and the county, given the general attitude of shoving us aside as less than full citizens of either of those entities.

    Comment by David Trotter — 4:42 pm October 18, 2012 #

  36. I would like to suggest to everyone who has a subsidized Orca card to go back to their employer and ask that this ‘subsidy’ be replaced with a flat rate reimbursement. The way it is now at my employer, the people who live in Everett or Tacoma get a subsidy for living far away; we get the same reimbursement/travel cost and people who live within the 1 zone area don’t use the valueto travel to 2 counties. How sustainable is that! Have you seen their buses? It seems so luxurious and I don’t hear them complaining. What about the people that take the Sounder in with free parking at our expense? Maybe we should all move out to Kent or Lynnwood….to get some fairness. If there is a zero sum situation, then the suburbs are getting more share of the pie.

    Comment by Single_rider — 1:05 pm October 20, 2012 #

  37. So does anyone have any idea of when or if Metro will add more bus service to Arbor Heights residents? Or was this meeting just in vain?

    Comment by Lisa — 7:42 am October 22, 2012 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2014, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^