Metro changes: First afternoon/evening commute

October 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 47 Comments

The first afternoon commute since Metro launched West Seattle’s RapidRide C Line and restructured/dropped/added other routes is getting under way. Thanks in advance for your updates on how it’s going. For our morning coverage, including more than 100 comments and Metro’s responses to some concerns, go here.

ADDED 8:41 PM: Metro’s official news release assessing Day 1 – including some of the points we included in an update to our morning report – read on:

The first day of commuting is in the rear-view mirror after King County Metro Transit made major service changes over the weekend, including launching RapidRide C and D lines, other route changes and new requirements for riders to pay when boarding.

“We’re grateful to all of our transit customers for their patience and for making this first day of the transition go as smoothly as it did,” said Kevin Desmond, King County Metro Transit general manager. “As expected we saw some delays to transit service during the morning and evening commutes, but overall buses and trains kept moving.

“Once everyone adapts to these changes in the coming days and weeks, we expect transit operations to settle into a steady, more reliable rhythm.”

Metro is tracking reports of delays, full buses and issues with electronic signs, and considering ways to address those issues.

Riders during the afternoon commute saw delays and several full buses heading out of downtown Seattle. To help keep buses and trains moving in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel during the evening commute, Metro personnel used portable ORCA card readers to help riders board buses at Westlake, University Street and International District tunnel stations. Portable ORCA card readers also were used to help riders board during the evening commute at Third Avenue and Pike Street, Third Avenue and Union Street and Columbia Street at Second Avenue.

Earlier, during the morning commute, buses across the system saw some delays as Metro operators and bus riders familiarized themselves with new routes and stop locations. There were reports of a few full West Seattle buses and some challenges with some of the RapidRide electronic signs, issues Metro is working on for Tuesday’s morning commute.

Metro continues to urge riders to review new printed timetables and route maps – or see them online at metro.kingcounty.gov – and plan ahead to have an ORCA card or fare ready when boarding, especially during afternoon commutes. The Ride Free Area ended in downtown Seattle Sept. 28 and riders now are required to pay their fare at the time of boarding.

Some continued bus service delays are expected in downtown Seattle as bus riders, transit operators and traffic continue to adjust to route changes and the pay on entry system. Metro personnel were available to answer rider questions at key transit stops in downtown Seattle, Ballard, Burien, West Seattle and Northgate during Monday’s peak commute times.

The changes to routes and elimination of the downtown Ride Free Area are part of an effort to preserve bus service as well as improve transit ridership and productivity to make tax dollars go further, Desmond said.

Tools for riders

Metro Transit has many tools online:

· Route changes and Metro’s online trip planner are online at metro.kingcounty.gov

· Pay-on-Entry/Ride free area elimination information:
metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/ride-free-area/changes.html

· RapidRide information page: metro.kingcounty.gov/travel-options/bus/RapidRide

· ORCA card information page: www.orcacard.com

· Customer Service customer.comments@kingcounty.gov or 206-553-3000 (call volumes and wait times might be longer this week)

47 Comments

  1. Welcome news. Now all we need is to add a few more 56 run and add back a 37 or two.

    Comment by Manamana — 4:44 pm October 1, 2012 #

  2. Metro has abandoned Alki/ North Admiral :(

    Comment by Death to Alki — 4:46 pm October 1, 2012 #

  3. Since the c line was empty when it got to 3rd and Oike and I didn’t have to stand or fight my way on to the bus, I thought I’d take a chance and hook up with the 55 in the junction. There is another c line one right behind us but we are standing room only at Seneca. Let’s see how wise my choice is!! I’ll see what kind of connection I make in the Alaska junction. Our guy moved over to let empty bus go to Cherry ahead of us. Now we have ended up behind. I may end up missing the 55 at the junction. We’ll see. This is not so rapid ride

    Comment by Magpie — 5:07 pm October 1, 2012 #

  4. On the 57. Some confusion regarding route. He didn’t go up Admiral! Help!

    Comment by always confused — 5:10 pm October 1, 2012 #

  5. Yep, I’m moving. Standing room only now on the 56. Plus it was 30 minutes late. Almost no way to get to alki now after work. This sucks

    Comment by Jason — 5:13 pm October 1, 2012 #

  6. well all of genesee hill has been abandined for a very long time. no more 51 and a sporadic at best 57. lots of eldery in the area, so i can’t imagine they are getting the service they need.

    Comment by was — 5:24 pm October 1, 2012 #

  7. Took the 50 from Alki to SODO. Transfered there to International Station. Walked to King Street Station. Checked it out. Caught a bus from there to RapidRide C line at Columbia in downtown. Took the C to the Alaska Junction. Walked home. The whole trip took two hours twenty minutes. This includes a one mile walk on both ends. Smooth as silk. Total fare: two bucks and twenty-five cents.

    Comment by West Seattleite — 5:38 pm October 1, 2012 #

  8. The 57 was packed this morning. As expected, it got stuck in traffic on 99 and took about 10 minutes longer to get to 3rd & Blanchard. The old route going on 1st to 4th the 3rd was faster. Metro has really messed up. I want the old route back.

    Comment by MSW — 5:40 pm October 1, 2012 #

  9. The Alki/North Admiral situation is terrible. Extra half hour+ travel time if I want to take my kid to school in the morning or need to stay in the office a little bit late. Or an hour should I need to do both!

    Comment by Alki commuter — 5:42 pm October 1, 2012 #

  10. Ended up on a 50 at the junction because the 5:05 55 never came. The 50 came and it was full. One bus away was not working.

    Comment by Magpie — 5:45 pm October 1, 2012 #

  11. Took the 120 home… and have never had such a smooth, fast bus ride. There are so many 120s, mine leapfrogged around another by Home Depot. It overall took about 35 minutes to get to my stop on Roxbury. Everyone cooperated, and it sounds like they ARE letting people on in the back, at least at 3rd and Pike. They are someone tracking/counting people? My driver wasn’t clear on the whole thing, but I got on at the front anyways.

    Comment by jedifarfy — 5:51 pm October 1, 2012 #

  12. I love not having the empty 51 going by on 55th all day very nice after living here 25+ years

    Comment by jwws — 6:01 pm October 1, 2012 #

  13. #40 in South Lake Union 20 mins latw, waited ten mins downtown for packed C line, now trying to get on viaduct but thus bus was late too and is stopping a lot. Manual card readers downtown really slow everything down. But I got wifi this time!

    Comment by Chris W — 6:04 pm October 1, 2012 #

  14. Jwws: do you ride the bus? As in commuting?

    Comment by JayDee — 6:12 pm October 1, 2012 #

  15. I agree jwws. The empty, noisy, every half-hour, 51 is gone. It would be one thing if it was used. But it clearly was not.

    Comment by West Seattleite — 6:29 pm October 1, 2012 #

  16. Another comment on the “Bulb” bus stop at Morgan Junction in front of the WaFed bank. About 2:30 this afternoon an ACCESS Van sat there for over 5 minutes while the driver went to help a customer into a building. Can’t Access drivers be told to pull forward into the loading zone just north of the bus stop. They can be at the curb and not block traffic for so long. I am a very careful driver, who is not in a hurry, but I found myself caught in the intersection of California/Morgan when the light changed and the cars in front of me suddenly stopped moving because of the ACCESS van sitting so close to the corner. I have a small, nimble car, so I was able to maneuver through the intersection (almost up on the sidewalk in front of the bank), but if I had been a larger car, there would have been a totally blocked intersection. A few weeks ago a METRO employee told me that the 22, Water Taxi Shuttle, ACCESS, and the 128 stops would be moved north of the “bulb” to prevent a back up (only the C would be at the bulb), but so far this doesn’t look to be the case. Patience is a virtue, so I am hoping for the best as Metro figures out the bumps, but I am very disappointed because these were all issues known for months.

    Comment by iggy — 6:30 pm October 1, 2012 #

  17. MSW: I agree with you on the 57 SODO route. Absolutely.

    Comment by West Seattleite — 6:40 pm October 1, 2012 #

  18. Thank you WSB for being the best resource re METRO schedule changes. I did my usual weekend routine & was alternatively impressed with how far I get to walk to bus service & extemely uncomfortable with feeling unsafe at the stops we now have. I did get to walk an extra 6 miles this past weekend as a result. Because my evening schedule doesn’t fit the new METRO schedule I will get to walk anywhere from .5 to 1.5 miles to get home. My theory today: METRO really wants those of us are over 55 yrs old to walk more. I’m choosing to look at these changes as a weight loss program & sincerely hope that the scary parts make me burn more calories.

    Comment by Hoku — 6:44 pm October 1, 2012 #

  19. The C was absolutely terrible! Every bus that arrived was filled to capacity. I tried to catch the 22 on 3rd but it no longer runs there. ended up having to take the 55 and transfer at the junction. Metro has really dropped the ball IMHO.

    Comment by Adam — 6:51 pm October 1, 2012 #

  20. Thanks jaydee!! Ditto that not everyone drives in west seattle and when you have kids that go to the grade schools on the 51 bus line that don’t qualify for school bus because they are considered walking distance that 51 was very helpful Yes i work full time not just enjoying the scenery

    Comment by love ws — 7:08 pm October 1, 2012 #

  21. I don’t mind the route, since I live near the Junction. But the new buses have fewer seats, and many of those are side-facing. As a result a lot of people are standing.

    Also the seats are less comfortable.

    I sympathize with the complaints about buses blocking traffic and poor Admiral service.

    All in all, RapidRide C/D seems like a step backwards for bus service.

    Comment by Rich Koehler — 7:12 pm October 1, 2012 #

  22. Agreed + we have two nursing homes in North Admiral area with seniors visiting families. I keep seeing nothing for Alki? I guess I had better check that out for when I’m traveling that way. From all the comments, it really looks like the consensus is that today was a big mess. Hope tomorrow is better! I got into several messes today with the buses & hope to not repeat it again!
    Too many people on the bus & then when driving, getting stuck blocks back in traffic because of the bus stops down at Morgan Junction.

    Comment by Faith4 — 7:17 pm October 1, 2012 #

  23. I commute from the 520 and the bus tunnel was a thrill this afternoon. I feel sorry for those who have to get on there. Between the slow boarding and 10 minute trains, it probably took our bus 20 minutes to just get in the tunnel. It was about two or three buses for every train.

    Comment by eric1 — 7:40 pm October 1, 2012 #

  24. Admiral area is now very poorly served. It looks like Metro decided to prioritize daytime service to neighborhoods (e.g. new 50 between Alki-Junction-Columbia) over commuter services to downtown (the old all-day 55 and 56, for example).

    I expect this will mean more commutes by car and worse traffic (it was certainly worse today than most mornings). Seems like a poor policy, resulting in more traffic, more exhaust emisions, and more frustrating trips to work.

    Comment by Moose2 — 7:55 pm October 1, 2012 #

  25. I have also been on a bus that got stuck behind access bus driver at the Morgan Junction curb bulb. It was 6 minute delay as Access van driver tried to locate passenger who was presumably coming out of SHA. Passenger never appeared and driver sheepishly took off without the pick up. Meanwhile my bus was stuck and could not move and traffic was way backed up California although some people starting cutting through Thriftway. Not really against curb bulbs but that one is way too close to major intersection.

    Comment by Bus rider — 7:59 pm October 1, 2012 #

  26. For my commute home I worked a bit late and got to the 3rd/Seneca bus stop at 6:40p. At 6:45p the C line arrived standing-room only. A few people wedged on but I decided to wait for the next one, which arrived at 6:58p. I was able to get on that one, as did everyone who wanted to at the 2nd/Columbia stop, but it was standing-room only by the time we left downtown.

    Comment by RichWSeattle — 8:32 pm October 1, 2012 #

  27. Bus bulbs are, in general, essential for reliable and efficient bus operation. Everyone should be in favor of them, since better bus service means more rider and less cars / traffic overall.

    However the one at Morgan Jct seems like it is either badly design, or used by inappropriate operators (i.e. Access buses) rather than the schedule transit for which it was intended. I hope they can fix this one.

    Comment by Moose2 — 8:38 pm October 1, 2012 #

  28. Getting into the bus tunnel this afternoon heading south took 20 minutes because of the backup. Our driver said it’s because of people now having to pay.
    .
    I can’t blame Metro too much – it’s more the fault of all the complainers who whine about public transport. As in, “I don’t use it, so I refuse to see the benefit, so I don’t want to support it.”
    .
    Worst thing about Seattle, IMO.

    Comment by amalia — 8:51 pm October 1, 2012 #

  29. I love not having the empty 51 going by on 55th all day very nice after living here 25+ years

    >25 years? perhaps you’re forgetting the 37 that ran both directions up 35th to Manning and thru the neighborhood when I moved in here in 1996. Now THAT was pointless. The 51 was at least smaller. Then they made it as bad as the 37 by adding the loudspeaker announcing where the next stop was. We could hear in from inside the house. time for most insulation.

    Comment by themightyrabbit — 9:12 pm October 1, 2012 #

  30. oh yeah, totally sad about the 56 abandonment. really screwed a lot of people out of options to get downtown and back after “commute” hours. that bites. I used that also.

    Comment by themightyrabbit — 9:13 pm October 1, 2012 #

  31. After reading all about the wonderful debut of the Rapid Ride Line all I can say is
    “Monorails don’t get stuck in Traffic”

    Sigh

    Comment by Curtis — 9:44 pm October 1, 2012 #

  32. Left 3rd and pike at 5:45pm, last person who could possibly fit near the front, practically breathing on the bus driver. Hopeful for additional buses tomorrow, not a good start.

    Comment by Josh — 9:56 pm October 1, 2012 #

  33. I arrived at the stop at 3rd and Pike this afternoon at exactly 3 p.m. The C bus didn’t arrive until 3:25 and was full within minutes. It took 20 minutes just to get to the bridge – every stop had crowds of people getting on. It’s never taken me an hour to get from Pike to Alaska Junction with the exception of football games. Very disappointed/frustrated (and why should the routes be so crowded at 3 p.m.?!)

    The morning commute, on the other hand, was seamless. But that was at 6:30 so I’m sure the crowds began later.

    Comment by kateln — 10:08 pm October 1, 2012 #

  34. The 133 is gone, my commute time from white center to UW is doubled ( used to be 40 mins, today was 80 mins). Many 133 riders switched to the 120, which explain why 120 is standing room by Westwood.

    Comment by Allen — 10:16 pm October 1, 2012 #

  35. Please, please, please submit your feedback to the offices of Metro Transit, the City Council, the King County Council and the Mayor’s Office. That’s the only way we’ll get some action and accountability for this debacle.

    Comment by Ugh — 10:26 pm October 1, 2012 #

  36. Just complained directly to King County Metro regarding reduced 56 service. I suggest everyone concerned with the situation do the same. Hopefully it will have some effect.

    Comment by Alki commuter — 10:26 pm October 1, 2012 #

  37. @Ugh – the elected officials accountable for Metro are the County Council and County Executive Dow Constantine (a West Seattleite). You can cc city officials if you want but they have no direct oversight or involvement in Metro (or other county functions such as public health, jail, wastewater treatment, etc.). West Seattle’s King County Councilmember is Joe McDermott (unlike the city council, the county council IS elected by district), who is also a member of the council’s Transportation Committee: http://www.kingcounty.gov/McDermott/committees.aspx

    Comment by WSB — 10:32 pm October 1, 2012 #

  38. @Curtis- buses don’t get caught on the track 50′ above ground and require a crane to rescue people. They also cost about 1/100 the cost of a monorail per mile served.

    Comment by you still want the monorail — 10:43 pm October 1, 2012 #

  39. Morgan Junction! Turning north onto California, got caught in the middle of the intersection because the bus was stopped. When the south bound light turned green, cars just started to come at me. I had to put it in reverse, and came close to clipping someone in the crosswalk. Scary!

    Comment by Neighborly — 10:45 pm October 1, 2012 #

  40. Yes, I still want the monorail.

    Comment by J — 11:34 pm October 1, 2012 #

  41. Something doesn’t add up. Did the planners really reduce total commute time capacity on the C Line? I mean, the 54 and 54X were very busy pretty much all day, in my experience. Couldn’t they have kept the 54 too and just run it every half hour or something?
    .
    I only commute a couple times a week now, but it’s not cool that those times will be even more unpleasant, unreliable, and crowded.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 5:41 am October 2, 2012 #

  42. Allen, I completely forgot about the 133. I only this week was able to see it, and there were always a few people on it. I’m still shocked and sad that they removed FOUR bus routes from White Center Transit Center. Can it even be called that anymore? The 54, 133, 23, and 125 are all gone.

    Comment by jedifarfy — 5:51 am October 2, 2012 #

  43. This is what happens when you fix something that ain’t broke.

    Comment by Rick — 7:15 am October 2, 2012 #

  44. Neighborly – Please don’t enter an intersection until you can clear it. It’s not the bus’ fault you got caught, it’s yours for stopping in the intersection (you should have waited until the bus left – that’s what you’re obligated to do legally). People who clog intersections this way block the bus tunnel and keep hundreds of riders waiting, sometimes through multiple light cycles.
    Please be courteous!

    Comment by AE — 7:32 am October 2, 2012 #

  45. Of course I was in error. I was pointing this change out as it caught me off guard. There used to be two lanes thee for turning traffic, and now there is one, which will be blocked when a bus turns, with room for few cars behind it.

    Comment by Neighborly — 8:04 am October 2, 2012 #

  46. I don’t commute on the bus very often but I was very surprised to see that the 54 was gone?! Doesn’t that go by Denny and Sealth? Is there a new “line” that services Faunt. via the schools? Just curious. :)

    Comment by bsmomma — 1:40 pm October 2, 2012 #

  47. Tip for morning commute. 21 local via SoDo is a good 10 min faster than C or 21X cause the latter two take too long to get off the bridge on to 99. Time your commute to transfer to 21 local at 35th & Avalon. 21 local is pretty empty too. Same tip for 120 riders boarding around Westwood and Roxbury. C from downtown back to WS just after 6pm tonight was a nightmare. Will check out 116 tomorrow, it goes via SoDo too I believe. Metro made a mess for us, expect no improvement till next spring at least, find ways to make the best of it.

    Comment by WSAH — 10:05 pm October 2, 2012 #

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