West Seattle snow: Metro update; Constantine statement

Still awaiting answers on why information lagged this morning. However, this is what Metro says about the state of its system as of now, looking toward the pm commute – text of the official news release:

All Metro buses were back to their normal routes as of 10 a.m. today,
although some routes are still experiencing delays due to traffic
congestion and because chained buses must keep speeds below 35 mph.
Crews are currently out in the field removing chains from those buses,
and Metro staff anticipate a normal commute for Thursday afternoon.

Despite the clearing skies, Metro staff is continuing to monitor the
weather and travel conditions in case roads become icy overnight. If
there is ice on the roads – particularly the side streets – on Thursday
night or Friday morning, buses could be delayed again during those

Bus riders should keep an eye on local travel conditions as well. If the
roads are icy in your neighborhood or where you want to travel, expect
delays and possible reroutes away from hills and iced-over roads. Here
are some transit travel tips for snowy and icy weather:

* Head for bus stops on main arterials or at major transfer points such
as park-and-ride lots, transit centers, or shopping centers;

* Riders should wait at bus stops at the very top or very bottom of
hills, because buses are often unable to stop for passengers on

* Dress warmly for the walk to the bus stop, expect delays, and wear
appropriate footwear for the weather;

* Be patient. Buses are not always on schedule in snowy or icy
conditions. That is why it is hard to post real-time bus information on
the Metro website. And, increased
ridership during bad weather can result in crowded buses and a
longer-than-usual wait on the phone for the Customer Information Office
at (206) 553-3000.

As the winter season winds to a close, Metro is already looking to next
season by pursuing additional steps that can be taken to keep riders
better informed of transit disruptions. Those actions include:
redesigning elements of the Metro Online website; beefing up emergency
event staffing plans for the Customer Information Office; adding
additional staff to track and post bus reroute and service disruptions
online; and exploring the use of emerging public communication tools to
help disseminate information.

ADDED 1:56 PM: We contacted County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s office early on to ask them as well what they could find out about the Metro information lag. Here’s the statement they have just sent out – no explanation, though:

“This morning I received many reports that Metro buses were late, off their routes, or missing altogether during today’s morning commute.

“I immediately contacted Metro staff and urged them to move quickly to improve communications with the bus riding public. Many King County residents depend on Metro daily to deliver them to school, work, and other important appointments. During sudden storm events of this type they need to know what to expect so they can inform their families and employers.

“Given the increasing sophistication of modern phones and wireless internet providers, I encourage Metro to take immediate action to use instant messaging, Twitter, neighborhood blogs, and customer self-reporting systems to keep Metro operators and riders connected. I also urge Metro to continue to work with the roads departments of King County and our 39 cities to create a list of priority bus routes that will be cleared and operated first in any adverse weather event.

“All too often, as the weather warms, the urgency to fix the problems exposed by the winter storms melts with the snow. As the chair of the King County Council, I promise to remain focused throughout the year on working with Metro to improve their website and communications systems to give riders timely and useful information during winter storms and other emergency events. I am confident that Metro can do much better in the future.”

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