On this day 2 of lane-reduced Highway 99 north of the West Seattle Bridge, we’re hearing some stories about bigger crowds on buses and the West Seattle Water Taxi, so we asked King County Department of Transportation what they’re seeing. With the caveat: “Right now, most of our information is based on field observations. We won’t have actual ridership data until later, and then it will be more of a sampling,” KCDOT’s Linda Thielke nonetheless offers this information:
* We are already seeing ups-and-downs with traffic, ridership and travel times based on time of day, location, route…so, we’ll need to give it a few weeks to measure impact of the lane reductions;
* We have some extra buses on standby in case the buses get so packed that they have to pass up passengers. The extra buses were not used on Monday, but we did have to use two Tuesday morning on one trip each of the routes 120 and 125;
* We know there are many bus trips with standing loads, and are assigning someone to start monitoring those both in the morning and afternoon commute;
* So far, with two AM and one PM commute completed, the worst choke point is the Columbia ramp and approach during the afternoon commute, particularly after 5 p.m. SPD is assisting Metro by placing a traffic officer at 2nd & Columbia to help WB buses get on the ramp. Cars going from SB Second to WB Columbia are not stopping on the red light, and just continuing to stream through the intersection. That blocks the traffic coming downhill on Columbia, which backs up buses turning right from Third to Columbia (most of the West Seattle service does this). So, we really want to stay on top of that problem.
* We are also asking SPD & WSP to monitor to the bus-only lanes on the West Seattle Bridge and NB SR 99 for cheaters, so that the buses can keep moving.
As for the Water Taxi, Thielke says it’s also too early for numbers there but the crew has noticed a “significant” bump – estimating 25 to 40 percent above previous levels, at least through this morning.