West Seattle transit: Metro adding buses to Routes 120 and 55

October 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm | In West Seattle news | 43 Comments

As we continue daily transit/traffic updates – including reader reports – crowded buses have continued to be a concern, particularly Route 120. Just in from Metro, word that more buses are on the way:

King County Metro Transit is adding buses to meet increased ridership demand between West Seattle, Burien and downtown Seattle.

Starting Oct. 29, eight additional commute time buses will be added to routes 55 and 120. Two more trips will be added to each route during the morning and evening weekday commutes.

“We’re seeing double-digit demand over last year on this corridor, and demand increases even in the face of tight budgets,” said Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit general manager.

“Scheduling these additional trips when commuters need them most continues to improve our transit network.”

Crowded buses during the peak commutes from West Seattle prompted Metro to add buses to the RapidRide C Line’s regular schedule starting Oct. 8. Routes 55 and 120 – also in the corridor between West Seattle and downtown Seattle – have seen full buses during most weekday commutes. Earlier this month, planners tallied a snapshot 26 percent increase in the number of passengers on routes between West Seattle and downtown Seattle compared to 2011.

Adding buses to Route 55 gives riders a parallel service to help ease commuter crowding on the C Line during the edges of the morning commute and the peak of the evening commute. The additional trips to Route 120 also will ease crowding on trips from Burien and White Center through the Delridge neighborhood to downtown Seattle.

Metro is drawing on a limited contingency reserve of transit service hours for the additional route 55 and 120 trips, a reserve also used to add the four additional daily C Line trips that started Oct. 8. The contingency was created to address any operational issues that might arise as part of the Sept. 29 transit service change, the largest in memory for Metro.

As a result of adding RapidRide C Line trips, operations have continued to improve with fewer reports of full buses passing riders at bus stops.

“We expect adding buses at these key times on routes 55 and 120 will make things better for commuters, and we will continue to monitor operations as West Seattle continues to grow,” Desmond said.

43 Comments

  1. Does anyone really believe ridership is up 26% year-over-year? Besides having to wait 25 minutes for the C line yesterday afternoon in downtown Seattle, we had to skip the final two stops downtown because the bus was so crowded.

    Metro, please bring back the pre-rapidride schedules were I never had a problem getting a seat.

    Rapidride is an epic fail!

    Comment by John Cena — 5:04 pm October 23, 2012 #

  2. This is good new, the high schools are using Metor, no longer useing the yellow school buses. My friends kid has an Orca card and they were going to give one to my son too. At times the Metro buses are too full in the morning with the kids and the people that are going to work. My friends kid said that she gets to school late sometimes becuse the busses are to full that they will not stop at there bus stop becuse of all the people they have. So gald to hear that there were more bussess added

    Comment by LM — 5:32 pm October 23, 2012 #

  3. Yes! Thank you. I just let three crowded, C lines with angry riders pass me up downtown, hoping instead for a 55. Ended up on a 56 and will walk a mile. Added 55 buses will help.

    Comment by Chris W — 5:36 pm October 23, 2012 #

  4. Things have been improving. I’ve been complaining directly to the Metro GM’s office (Kevin Desmond 296-684-1619) and it seems like they’re listening.

    I detest standing on the C. It makes sense if you think we don’t deserve better than real urban cities. What Metro might be finally understanding is that real urban cities have a huge number of people jumping on and off at every stop. Real urban cities don’t have a long stretch on a traffic-burdened bridge. They have subways and streets with timed lights and densely populated neighborhoods.

    I say, keep the improvements coming. I’m grateful, but don’t stop short of “a seat for every passenger”.

    Comment by cooljames — 6:39 pm October 23, 2012 #

  5. cooljames – I guess San Francisco doesn’t equate to your definition of a real city. I’ve stood on a lot of busses in that non real city. BTW, I am fine with that. Elderly, disabled and pregnant woman need seats, the rest of us need to get off our butts, at least for a bit of the day. I imagine a lot of the people who complain about standing on the bus go to yoga classes where they stand on one leg or on their heads. Would you rather see reduced service over the long haul, or pay more taxes/higher fares, or stand? That is really what it boils down to.

    Comment by D I D — 7:49 pm October 23, 2012 #

  6. I caught the Rapid Ride from 3rd & Seneca on Friday 10/19 at around 12:45 and it still took 45 minutes to get to Westwood Village. Too many back streets and too many random bus stop locations.

    I guess the meaning of “Rapid” is not something that Metro understands. And the Wifi didn’t work either.

    Rapidride. Fail :(

    Comment by Peta — 7:57 pm October 23, 2012 #

  7. Are any of the riders doing an opposite commute on the C route. Meaning take it to West Wood and jump on the 120, 125, 60 to go downtown? Coming home take 120, 125 or 60 and catch the C line in West Wood.

    Just wondering if would be faster for some of you.

    Comment by Irish Lady — 8:34 pm October 23, 2012 #

  8. @DID I’m specifically not talking about SF. I’m talking about dense cities where, when you are on a bus or train for 40 minutes, there are hundreds of people getting on and off in that span.

    If you tell me that the local municipal transit authority in SF made a conscious decision to cut capacity and buy buses designed to have the bulk of riders stand, I’ll ask to speak with someone with more sense. If you think that standing on buses is going to sustain our transit, I’ll show you a map where there are 3 new ways to get to Ballard and 4 fewer to get to West Seattle. There aren’t fewer buses, Metro just screwed us because they think they are smarter than they are. Metro thinks they can mimic Boston, NYC, Chicago, etc. Seattle is not a dense city.

    It’s not about who one-ups the commenters on a blog, it’s about the old ladies and disabled people forced to stand on a bus because the people that work at Metro are not as good at planning as they should be. They admit it, too. They acknowledge that they did a terrible job.

    Comment by cooljames — 8:40 pm October 23, 2012 #

  9. Cooljames, while having a seat is ideal, I’d settle for buses on which we can load every waiting passenger, even if some have to stand. I think there are few transport systems than can offer a seat for eveyone at peak times (think of Tokyo or London undergrounds, for example).

    I’d rather get Metro to focus on providing real-time info on C route arrivals, and publishing schedules for times outside of peak when you have to wait for 15 minutes for a bus to turn up.

    Glad to here that there are extra routes on the 120 and 55.

    Comment by Moose2 — 8:42 pm October 23, 2012 #

  10. Radio report said 2 added morning trips and two added afternoon trips to both routes 120 and 55.

    I don’t believe that everyone is “entitled” to a seat. Standing on a ride from WS to Downtown, for those who are able to safely stand on the bus, is not that much of a hardship.

    Comment by Steven V — 9:37 pm October 23, 2012 #

  11. Funny how the people complaining are the ones who lost their one guaranteed seat rides to Downtown jobs, while those who actually use buses to get around are happy about better connections.

    I feel bad if your trip changed… but Metro is serving more people more efficiently. Overall, that’s a success.

    Comment by Mickymse — 10:45 pm October 23, 2012 #

  12. @ D I D

    You tell ‘me !!

    I’m no fan of Meto, and they make too many lame excuses. However, ” a seat for every passenger” – now that is insane.

    Comment by Walmart — 11:47 pm October 23, 2012 #

  13. It’s painful and uncomfortable and dangerous to stand. I didn’t have to stand before. Now I have to stand. Funny, my taxes are the same and the fares have gone up, though.
    .
    I don’t care if people stand in San Francisco. I pay taxes and support transit buy ORCA passes with my own self-employed money and ride the bus frequently, including to downtown. It should not take an uncomfortable, crowded, claustrophobic, stench-filled HOUR to go SIX MILES from a MAJOR POPULATION CENTER to the DOWNTOWN CORRIDOR in A MAJOR AMERICAN CITY.
    .
    Really, those of you who think we should just suck it up are a big part of the problem. How about we demand our leaders, who we pay, provide us with a functioning transit system that meets our needs? Or we could play typical Seattle chumps and settle for half-baked solutions—which is where it looks like we’re headed.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 5:49 am October 24, 2012 #

  14. Spin, spin, spin. That’s Metro’s MO. I’m thankful they’re adding more capacity but don’t try to tell us it’s because ridership is way up. Pffft!

    Comment by Ixobbp — 7:45 am October 24, 2012 #

  15. I was going to get an orca pass and try riding the bus. No way! Will stay in my car. What is wrong with the planners? I am so sad to read all these comments. Our politicians should make this better and support our community. Having school kids miss the metro busses because they are too full to stop and pick them up is a sad commentary on the system.

    Comment by LongTimer WS — 7:48 am October 24, 2012 #

  16. Kayleigh and cooljames, most cities in the world have times that riders must stand on the bus. Not just Boston or SF, but Minneapolis, Denver, Vancouver, Stuttgart, Stockholm, you name it. How is it unsafe or dangerous, especially given that medium and large cities all over the world are fine with it? If you have trouble standing due to pain or inability to stand for a long time, you can ask for a seat.

    Comment by AndrewN — 7:56 am October 24, 2012 #

  17. RE the standing issue. I understand that if you are able bodied that you should be ok with standing. Problem is that folks who are not able bodied are not given seats by those who are unless it is super obvious like a wheel chair or cane.
    -
    In my case, I am nine months preganant and no one got up for me after the metro changes. I gave it over a week before giving up on public transportation. One lady watched my stomach the whole trip (30+ mins) and didn’t get off her butt. This was not a problem pre-metro changes because there was an occasional seat available. Currently, riders keep their heads down and ear plugs in so they don’t have to acknowledge the fellow rider (head in the sand). If riders would be more courteous, those with needs wouldn’t have to voice bitching about standing.
    -
    It is very difficult to ask for help so before you start pushing for less seats, please ask yourself how often you give up your seat for another rider.

    Comment by AEL — 8:23 am October 24, 2012 #

  18. did metrognome change their name to mickymse ? i’ve been curious to hear metrognome’s take on all these changes, but it’s just been (jiminy) crickets…

    Comment by curious — 8:40 am October 24, 2012 #

  19. From my perspective, a major component Metro overlooks is providing reliable service for people who don’t commute with the 9-5 bulk of commuters. For those of us who work off hours downtown (11-7 in my case) the frequency and reliability of buses either in-bound or out-bound is absurd. Maybe a bus every 15 minutes, never, I repeat NEVER in a year of trying Metro was a bus on time. Final straw was a two hour wait at the urine-soaked stop on 2nd and Columbia and getting home at 9:30pm. Metro continues to structure routes for peak hours and ignores the needs of virtually everyone else. I gave up and drive now. I hate driving, but Metro was simply too unreliable for me.

    Comment by Joan — 8:45 am October 24, 2012 #

  20. Nice try managing down our expectations, AndrewN, but it’s not going to work with me. And there is evidence that overcrowding is unsafe. (Katz & Garrow, J Public Transportation). It also impacts tourism, business, and quality of life (UK House of Commons Transport Committee Report on Overcrowding Public Transport, 2002-3). Or just google “overcrowding,” “transit” and “safety.”

    Comment by Kayleigh — 8:54 am October 24, 2012 #

  21. I’m glad metro is adding a few more buses but the C is still not performing as promised. I got to the bus stop this morning and I could see as I was walking from distance away that there were no C buses. Then when I got to the stop, the reader board said next C in 12 min. Good thing I got on the 21X that came a few minutes earlier. Btw, my deepest sympathies to AEL. When I commuted a few years ago from north Seattle 8-9 months pregnant, I rarely got a seat too and the bus wasn’t that crowded. People are getting meaner. Also WS is a unique neighborhood. We have 2 bridges to get out northbound. One accident somewhere along the line and we are stuck for hours. No other neighborhood with the same ridership has the same problem.

    Comment by Bus rider — 9:01 am October 24, 2012 #

  22. Honestly standing doesn’t bother me. People are forgetting that’s not an issue specific to the new Rapid Ride system. Being so full that you’re forced to pass up stops is another thing and frankly not acceptable. And somehow even when we pass up 2 stops, the commute still takes longer than the previous routes did…Another large fail is the new 50 line, in my opinion. To get home I go Downtown, Alaska Junction, then towards Alki. Maybe my timing is horrible, but I have yet to catch a 50 connection north because they’ve all been so late that walking was more timely. I didn’t mind the mile walk in the sun, but those evenings are long gone. That route from MLK to Alki is simply too long of a distance and delays accumulate. I fully support public transportation, but losing 2 hours of my life a day on angry meatwagon (no offense folks, but nobody is smiling on there anymore, me included) is slowly convincing me that an extra $1 for the parking by my office might not be so bad.

    Comment by Eli — 10:14 am October 24, 2012 #

  23. Kayleigh, it’s interesting that you cite the Katz & Garrow report since it primarily focuses on bus crowding in a developing country. It does not say that standing is a safety issue; and if you think the analysis is applicable to Seattle, it even suggests fewer seats:
    “To reduce the negative effects of crowding, particular bus types could be operated. The optimal bus type would be a large two-door bus with a back door that does not have front seating.”

    The UK report discusses overcrowding. However, just because people are standing does not mean it’s overcrowded. (That being said, certainly some C and 120s have been overcrowded.)

    Finally, on the first two pages of a Google search, only one case of an overcrowded-related injury or fatality showed up in the results. It wasn’t due to standing; it was due to platform overcrowding.

    Comment by AndrewN — 10:15 am October 24, 2012 #

  24. Mickeymse, my closest route used to run mid-day, evenings, and weekends to downtown. Now there is nothing during those times. Nothing.

    That is NOT improved service & connections.

    Comment by LivesInWS — 10:24 am October 24, 2012 #

  25. I agree with John Cena, the first comment to this post. And I’m not expecting a miracle. I don’t mind standing. I do mind one, two or three busses passing my downtown stop, because there are so many people standing that you literally couldn’t cram on one more body unless you tied it to the roof! Bring back the old routes that worked very well. I would also say that I’m a bit surprised that WS Blog hasn’t been covering this issue more heavily. Perhaps they are stuck in WS and don’t really have an idea of how bad it is downtown and how difficult it is to get home. Normally they are on top of everything, but I think they’re lagging on this one. I CHALLENGE Kevin Desmond to take the C Line for a week, commuting during peak hours, especially from Seneca and 2nd downtown. We’ll see how much he truly gets the problem, then.

    Comment by Eleven — 11:03 am October 24, 2012 #

  26. I stopped riding the 120 because I got tired of standing (and falling) with my toddler. Sometimes it’s not safe to stand, sometimes it’s not even safe to sit…riding metro is a gamble!

    West Seattle seriously needs a light rail.

    Comment by Xavier — 11:12 am October 24, 2012 #

  27. I have been riding Metro for over 35 years, the last 17 from the Admiral District. This change in schedules is the worse thing Metro has ever done! No longer can we take a bus downtown in afternoon or the evenings and no longer on the weekends – unless we go up to the Junction! No longer can we get to the Amtrak train station or to any of the sports stadiums directly from West Seattle – you have to take a bus downtown, then transfer to another bus to go downtown – unless it’s the afternoon, evening or weekend – then you have to take a bus up to Junction, transfer to the stupid C line, get off the bus on 3rd and Seneca, then transfer again! And don’t even ask how people who work down at Sodo Center get to work. This is NOT IMPROVED SERVICE! Instead of getting people out of their cars, Metro has just forced people into their cars.

    Comment by JB — 11:24 am October 24, 2012 #

  28. Eleven – What coverage are you thinking we are missing? This is the ONLY general-news service that’s been covering the transit situation *daily* since the service change (and for years ahead of time). Coverage here is different than an old-media source, to be certain – the focus is on direct reports from riders, which is what matters most. And offering a space “here’s where to tell 125,000 people what’s happening out there” matters more than if I hopped a bus and looked for a random quote. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:52 am October 24, 2012 #

  29. @WSB–thanks for your coverage!

    Do you happen to know what times the extra #55′s will occur? I couldn’t find it…

    Comment by Michelle — 12:09 pm October 24, 2012 #

  30. Will ask Jeff @ Metro if there is a new timetable available …

    Comment by WSB — 12:11 pm October 24, 2012 #

  31. How exactly do folks think Metro will be able to offer better, faster, and more reliable service with less and less money?
    .
    If you want better service, you’re going to have to pay for it. The temporary $20 license fee you’re paying now wasn’t for more service — it was to prevent much larger cuts. This service change represents a CUT in service! Part of the switch to Rapid Ride involves a federal grant picking up some bus hours.
    .
    Did you vote to spend billions on a Downtown Tunnel while we’re cutting bus service? Then stopping complaining about the traffic on the Bridge.
    .
    This isn’t Metro’s fault — it’s OUR fault. And, no, I don’t work for Metro or the County.

    Comment by Mickymse — 12:42 pm October 24, 2012 #

  32. So glad to hear that Metro is adding buses to the 120 route, I wondered if they were paying attention. I am ok with standing, but buses skipping stops due to no more room during the rush hours makes us late and is unacceptable. It was obvious that Metro had the rider demand for 120, so adding buses is totally justifiable, and am glad it’s actually going to happen. I hope that becomes a trend for the rest of the lines -

    Comment by Wedgewood — 12:46 pm October 24, 2012 #

  33. AndrewN, you continue with the Metro apologist stuff and count yourself among the Too Cool To Sit Down types. Meanwhile, others will continue to argue for safe, comfortable, and effective public transit out of West Seattle, which we kinda used to have before RancidRide. Seeing as how we’re paying for it and all, and it’s for the common good.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 12:52 pm October 24, 2012 #

  34. @DID
    I believe your SF analogy is not quite apples to apples on a few points:
    -SF is about half the size of the city of Seattle land area wise. As a result, any period of standing is generally much shorter as you are only going half the distance.
    -SF also does not have the same geographic bottlenecks (namely water and associated bridges) that Seattle contends with.
    -Also, SF bus routes are more numerous, frequent, and generally predictable. They have had the real time signs on many lines since at least 2000 when I lived there.

    As almost any comment here (and in all other WSB coverage of Metro’s most recent transit planning debacle) will indicate, while yes we all preferred being able to sit and make use of our 50 minute, six mile commute, the issue is not simply the requirement to stand (this is not new — almost every one of my pre-RR peak period 54/55 rides were SRO by the time we got to Luna Park) it’s the sardine can SRO that is an issue. This issue is exacerbated both by the fact that Metro refuses to put the RR on a schedule so it doesn’t show up on many one-bus-away apps(it’s so frequent you don’t need a schedule my a**) and the fact that since their promised frequency occurs only about 10% of the time most people don’t want to gamble with waiting potentially 25 minutes for the next bus and therefore cram into the one that is there at the moment (assuming it’s not already too full to stop).

    Comment by olivist — 1:30 pm October 24, 2012 #

  35. Of course you’re going to have a ridership increase on those lines when you’ve cut (nearly) all service on the old lines. I’m so glad I decided not to move into the Admiral District. I feel so bad for those people who went from 60 foot buses and regular midday service on the 55 and 56 to… nothing?

    Comment by Rachael — 3:17 pm October 24, 2012 #

  36. Here’s the e-mail alert I just received from Metro, showing the times of the added 55′s:

    .

    Starting Monday, October 29, King County Metro Transit is adding two weekday trips during both the
    morning and evening commute times on each of routes 55 and 120.in order to meet increased rider
    demand between Burien, West Seattle and downtown Seattle.

    The two new morning trips on Route 55 are scheduled to leave from the Admiral District at 6:37 and
    8:20 AM, and arrive on Seneca Street at Second Avenue at 7:08 and 8:51 respectively. The added
    Route 55 afternoon trips are scheduled to leave from Blanchard St in Belltown at 4:54 and 5:17 PM.

    The two new morning trips on Route 120 are scheduled to leave from the Burien Transit Center at 6:26
    and 7:14 AM, from Westwood Village at 6:50 and 7:39, and arrive on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle
    at about 7:25 and 8:15 respectively. The added Route 120 afternoon trips are scheduled to leave from
    southbound on Third Avenue at Pike Street at 4:45 and 5:11 PM.

    On October 8, Metro added peak hour trips to the new RapidRide C Line’s schedule.

    Adding trips to Route 55 is expected to help ease commuter crowding during the beginning and end
    of the morning commute and to the peak of the evening commute. The additional trips on Route 120
    will help to alleviate crowding on buses operating from Burien and White Center through the Delridge
    neighborhood to downtown Seattle.

    In order to provide these additional trips, Metro is drawing on a limited contingency reserve of transit
    service hours, the same reserve that was used to add the four additional daily C Line trips. Metro kept
    the contingency hours to address any operational issues that might arise as a result of its September 29
    transit service revisions, the largest ever. C Line service has continued to improve as a result of the
    additional trips, with fewer reports of full buses passing riders at bus stops.

    Your patience during this service revision is appreciated. Thanks for riding and for using Metro’s services.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 4:40 pm October 24, 2012 #

  37. I have dubbed the “C” line CRAPid Ride

    and it truly is!!

    Comment by AJ — 8:40 pm October 24, 2012 #

  38. I waited 35 minutes for a C line downtown yesterday afternoon. “Crapid” is right.

    Why is it that the area with the most severe service cuts is getting NO IMPROVEMENTS? I’m talking about Arbor Heights. The hourly shuttle has already taken to not showing up at all…

    Comment by anonyme — 6:48 am October 25, 2012 #

  39. I had a miserable ride with a group of six loud middle school-ers the other day. They took all of the front seats, jumped around, talked loudly, the one white kid was calling the others N***a in a joking manner, and one confronted me for “staring” at them when I was just watching them incredulously… Unattended kids on the bus are enough to keep me off them for good!

    I miss school buses.

    Comment by BP — 12:44 pm October 25, 2012 #

  40. What do we do for seniors who used the bus for non-peak hour medical appointments? I could see decreasing service frequency, but d/cing midday service, specifically Route 21, leaves people marooned in Arbor Heights. Access buses are notoriously unpredictable. Gah!

    Comment by sr — 6:51 pm October 25, 2012 #

  41. As a Junction-DT commuter I thought my commute time would get shorter, but it’s longer. I wait longer for busses & walk farther (due to skipped stops). Metro in early October stated that due to the ‘popularity’ of rapid ride they will add 2 busses in a.m. & p.m. on Oct. 8. Those 2 busses haven’t made a dent. RR is not ‘popular’, it’s the only thing for many regular riders who lost their routes. RR was launched the same time UW started Fall qtr. so of course they will see ‘increased ridership.’ When did they do their studies anyway, summer?

    Attention 560 riders to Seatac. We may lose that route from west seattle – go to the sound transit web site.

    Comment by anne — 6:30 pm October 26, 2012 #

  42. If you mean the proposed 560 change to the Westwood terminus, we have reported that (and previewed the public open house on a bus last night, though we weren’t able to go – it was mostly mean for people to ask questions). http://westseattleblog.com/2012/10/another-bus-change-sound-transit-airport-service-from-westwood-only

    Comment by WSB — 6:40 pm October 26, 2012 #

  43. I work from noon to 5 p.m. I used to be able to step into the shower at 11 and be at my desk an hour later, dry and dressed. (I’m the last express stop before the bridge.) Now I have to leave the house shortly after 11 and hope to be at work on time. I’ve given up hoping for a seat. Rapid Ride was one big PR fiasco, full of hype but leaving us with little hope of improvement.
    I got called in for a staff meeting on my day off — 90 minutes of meeting, 90 (unpaid) minutes of waiting for buses. I should have driven.

    Comment by Ann — 8:56 am October 27, 2012 #

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