Metro bus changes, weekday #2: About those full RapidRide buses

As we head into the third weekday since Metro‘s big changes – in West Seattle, launching RapidRide C Line while restructuring much of the rest of the route system – we’ve heard again from the King County Department of Transportation regarding some of the most common concerns. They’re hearing directly from riders, and we’ve had three vigorous comment discussions here on WSB – today here, Monday pm here, Monday am here. Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer sent an update earlier tonight; we added it to the ongoing comment thread but promised a separate story later, since he’d included some attachments. So here it is, starting with the toplines he sent:


Full RapidRide C line were reported Monday and Tuesday during the morning commutes from West Seattle to downtown Seattle. Riders are frustrated and contacted Metro Transit asking for more buses to improve capacity.

What’s Metro doing about it?

Metro temporarily deployed two RapidRide additional buses, and also made a third additional trip to help carry passengers on Tuesday morning. That said, there also were a few temporary mechanical problems with buses on the route during the Tuesday morning commute, causing delays and additional overloads. Metro will have two additional buses available downtown for the RapidRide C and D lines during the Tuesday afternoon commute, and for the C line during the Wednesday morning commute. The additional buses are intended to be available in case of service disruptions due to mechanical problems, transit delays or reports of overcrowding or stops passed because a bus was too full.

What do riders need to know?

Full buses might bypass stops if there is no more room for additional passengers. Metro drivers report and the Transit Control Center tracks these situations and when possible works to add available buses to the route to accommodate the demand.

Metro is tracking the issue of full buses on the C Line and working to address the issues. During these first few days of the new service, crowding and longer travel times might occur as riders, drivers and transit coordinators become familiar with the route and schedule. Other bus service in West Seattle is available through Metro’s Trip Planner and noted in the attached document.

Three documents actually came along with the above toplines. The first one is a Word doc listing “Commuter Options for riders from West Seattle” – including links. We don’t have the time to replicate it into a story with links intact, but if we convert it into a PDF the links won’t work, so here’s the Word doc. Second, the route map for peak times (PDF, here); third, the “all-day” route map (PDF, here).

Again tomorrow, we’ll launch a story in the morning for discussion of how things are going.

66 Replies to "Metro bus changes, weekday #2: About those full RapidRide buses"

  • DTK October 2, 2012 (9:16 pm)

    Tomorrow I’m just going to click my heels three times and see if I get home faster.

  • Elynne October 2, 2012 (9:19 pm)

    So annoying. It’s definitely changed for the worst! I’ve waited so much longer for the buses than when we had 54 and 55.

  • Moose2 October 2, 2012 (9:22 pm)

    It’s not just peak time overloads – the 7:30 RR from downtown tonight was packed to the gills. They really need to increase frequency to 10 minutes off-peak and 5 minutes at peak times… i.e. back to roughly how it was with the combined 54/54X/55/22.

    A few extra trips at peak times won’t help with the systemic problem of lack of capacity for the people displaced from deleted routes.

  • Charles October 2, 2012 (9:23 pm)

    Tried to get out of downtown at 3:30 to avoid getting stuck in Michelle Obama traffic. Was hoping for route 56 or 57 & would even settle for a 55. The wonderful (being facetious) metro helpers downtown said I would be better off taking the c line to the west seattle junction then catch a bus from there. No admiral bound busses came, and I walked to my destination at admiral and california without ever seeing another bus. This new schedule sucks…

  • Ride October 2, 2012 (9:32 pm)

    Bring back the 54!!!

  • Diane October 2, 2012 (9:34 pm)

    I cannot access docx; can someone please convert to plain word doc

  • Herman October 2, 2012 (9:41 pm)

    What happened to all the bus drivers? We have fewer buses and drivers who don’t know our routes. Where’d they all go?

  • Magpie October 2, 2012 (9:56 pm)

    Tonight was a little better. At least the connection in the junction was better. The buses from downtown are still super packed. Just keeping my fingers crossed that it will continue to improve and that Metro will figure it out.

  • wsea October 2, 2012 (9:56 pm)

    So glad I bike into work most days. I had a small cold this week but would rather bike than deal with bus issues.

  • Tom October 2, 2012 (9:58 pm)

    Things improved on the 21 Express – it’s a better AM schedule with an extra bus where there was a schedule gap before. I feel bad for you C riders though – the busses at 2nd and Columbia were PACKED tonight!

  • coyoteandthecat October 2, 2012 (9:59 pm)

    Did I read it right? New busses.. but they already have mechanical problems?(head shaking)

  • Bill October 2, 2012 (10:04 pm)

    Welcome to Seattle folks — steps right up and pays ur taxes

  • Celeste17 October 2, 2012 (10:09 pm)

    Diane, if you send me your email I will email it back to you.

  • genesseehillmike October 2, 2012 (10:13 pm)

    I’m baffled. Are more people riding the C line than the predecessor lines? I’ve been taking the 54/55 from Alaska Junction to downtown most days for past two years – generally around 7:30 a.m. I rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes for a bus to show up and the trip typically was 20 minutes. I would then take the 57 home, which recently became a more or less predictable 20-25 minutes once the First S. on-ramp opened a couple weeks ago. On neither the trip in or out of downtown did I ever have to stand nor did the bus get so full it had to bypass stops where more passengers were waiting. So, now comes the RR and the delays in busses showing up are longer, they are standing room only (always fun with the majority of drivers who accelerate hard, swerve in/out, and hit the brakes hard), they bypass stops because the busses are full, and the trips aren’t any faster. Over-all, I’m probably averaging a half-hour each way (about a 4 mile trip). Not impressed.

  • Chet October 2, 2012 (10:30 pm)


    Use to open docx files. This is free open source software and works with all operating systems.

  • Myles October 2, 2012 (10:35 pm)

    Metro also announced plans to remove seating from the Rapid Ride C buses to provide more standing room and thus reduce missed stops due to overcrowding. However suggestions to use the bike racks as additional space for riders were rejected. And discussions of roof top tie downs for passengers were also quashed.

  • Jana October 2, 2012 (10:36 pm)

    I just got back from riding the 9:10 C Line from downtown to West Seattle and it was still packed! Not standing room,but I definitely had to search to find an open seat. That being said,it was a smooth trip back home.

  • Gary October 2, 2012 (10:39 pm)

    I rode the new route 50 from to the junction and it was empty when I got on at SODO at 5PM. Maybe because the sign was blank at the new bus stop at SODO? Nice work Metro.

  • Chuck October 2, 2012 (10:47 pm)

    Tonight I stood for 15 minutes at 2nd and columbia around 4:50 until the 21X finally showed up. I was standing at the bridge waiting on a rapid ride – the sign said 6 minutes, then 5, then changed to 19 without explanation! I’ve yet to see a Rapid Ride on my way home. At least the one this morning took so long to load that I was able to drive up the hill and get out of the car in time to get on it, even if I was standing.. I think they use the same “10 minutes” timing system as crappy pot dealers.

  • michael October 2, 2012 (10:49 pm)

    Im not impressed by the new “C” line. The second night that it was in service I brused the drivers over infleated EGO by letting him know he was going to miss a brand new stop when he was leaving downtown and he stated the next stop was 35th and avalon. I tryed to get him to check with the dispatch yet his only statement to me was he already did and the “C” line was the same as the old 54 from downtown which we all know it isn’t. The driver told me downtown he wanted me off the bus and I stated if you want me off the bus call a sup. and have him remove me. Then once he saw I was correct then the driver stopped the bus at 35th and had the police remove me from the bus. The seattle pd officer then drove me home. So it shows you what metro thinks of us as far as we as those that ride the bus. I have emailed Kevin Desmond of metro and Dow the county manager about this and have not even gotten anything back from them. Last night when I got home from work on the “C” line there was another bus “c” behind us blocking the lanes on California and Fontlory because there isn’t enough room for 2 buses on the west bound or east bound stops anymore.

  • Diane October 2, 2012 (10:53 pm)

    good question Herman “What happened to all the bus drivers? We have fewer buses and drivers who don’t know our routes. Where’d they all go?”

  • Diane October 2, 2012 (10:56 pm)

    thanks Celeste17

  • hohum October 2, 2012 (11:03 pm)

    RR C leaving 2nd and Columbia about 6PM was so packed the driver almost left a few of us behind. As a former 54/54E rider I feel lucky to have service roughly equivalent to prior routes, esp. when compared w/what other routes have suffered (and not taking into account the longer walk to the stop). But the capacity issue needs to be addressed.

  • Ace20604 October 2, 2012 (11:12 pm)

    Does Orca or Metro have any real competitors to keep up with? When can fair competition for private bus services begin?
    Only by moving more people, in the same footprint, will current road capacity meet increasing user demands.

  • steve October 2, 2012 (11:32 pm)

    who gets removed from a bus by the police?

  • LivesInWS October 2, 2012 (11:38 pm)

    Myles – lol.

    Careful; they’ll start offering those rooftop hang-on seats as a service “upgrade.”

  • themightyrabbit October 2, 2012 (11:45 pm)

    everytime I questioned the rapidride B drivers in Bellevue about the reduced quality of service, MUCH greater than 10 mins SLA all I got was frustration and annoyance at the fact I even mentioned it. As I said months ago, this isn’t Rapid. My son thinks it is but he’s 6. So folks PLEASE be very vocal with your complaints and keep them coming. Otherwise it will end up as much a disaster that Rapid / Slow ride B in Bellevue to Redmond.

  • Matilda Williams October 2, 2012 (11:57 pm)

    I wish you could back the 5/54!! Putting stops farther apart makes it very difficult for people that use Metro as their primary transportation. Metro appeared to not consider the disabled, older people, parents with children,shoppers with packages etc. when they made this decision. Not everyone thrilled to walk greater distances in the rain and dark hauling groceries.

  • Alex October 2, 2012 (11:59 pm)

    I stood at 2nd and Columbia from 9:10 until 9:35 tonight and watched two C line buses cruise past up on third ave (the viaduct was not closed). At 9:40 I gave up and caught the 21. I called Metro to find out about why the buses were skipping the Columbia stop, and they had no idea. It was frustrating.

  • gap October 3, 2012 (2:32 am)

    So that’s now 3 stories we’ve heard of drivers calling supervisors to forcibly remove riders from buses when riders stepped forward to help a driver that didn’t know their route. This might explain why some of the very real problems with RR aren’t being dealt with – supervisors are busy driving around protecting bruised egos instead.

    If true, I find these stories to be really really disturbing. I hope that they are exaggerated.

  • velo_nut October 3, 2012 (5:36 am)

    Aaaahhhhhhh. First world problems!!!

  • CandrewB October 3, 2012 (6:17 am)

    Driving in this morning

  • kate October 3, 2012 (6:21 am)

    Also thanks Metro, for not extending the C line to White Center. Good job.

  • lindak October 3, 2012 (7:15 am)

    I rode the rapid rice C at 3:15 ish…it was on time. However, it was so jammed packed by the time I got on at 3rd and Seneca that when the driver reached the columbia and 2nd street stop, he allowed even more people to get on, making it a danger to public safety. I can’t believe there isn’t a limit as to how many people Metro can stuff onto buses. I really think light rail is the answer. I might move to portland…the 54 and 55 were just fine. Why change what wasn’t broke. Oh and then the metro police got on board and scanned everyone’s card just to make sure they paid (for the terrible service). I’m really disappointed in Metro. No care for public safety or concerns. It’s all about money isn’t it?

  • coffee October 3, 2012 (7:19 am)

    Call Jesse! Really, I say the people that are getting kicked off, call the media. Now in defense, I would not want to be a driver, because I am sure that they are getting 100’s of complaints all day long and they are just trying to do a job that they were CLEARLY not trained to do. That has to be rough.

    • WSB October 3, 2012 (7:22 am)

      And that’s a point I need to make about references to Metro/county employees. Please, no name-calling. The facts of the situation, whatever you’re writing about, can stand for themselves – I’m noticing a few unnecessary insults like “stupid” creeping in. That’s not what WSB is about. To paraphrase our no-personal-insult policy: Criticize the situation, event, circumstances – not the people involved. Thanks. – TR

  • Sna October 3, 2012 (7:47 am)

    Traffic was noticeably heavier this morning. I suspect many decided to drive which will help metro look like they “fixed” the RR problems.

  • Tuesday October 3, 2012 (7:54 am)

    Thanks Metro, my kids don’t get to see their dad at night anymore. I can’t even imagine what the impact will be with people crammed in busses during cold season will be. I agree with the commenter that said we not relent in making our displeasure known loudly and often. Metro’s response to the “situation” was insulting at best. Sending additional busses if they deem it necessary? My husband waited over half an hour for a bus with enough room to leave downtown. They kept on passing by packed to the gills. He’s just one of many. How does that not warrant an apology and a swift response? It’s ridiculous that the customers are being treated like cattle. “You’ll go where I say, when I say, how I say.”

  • Mary October 3, 2012 (8:10 am)

    Alex, I was on the C leaving downtown last night around 10:30–the driver was on re-route (not taking the Viaduct) because he said it was closed. Seems like someone at Metro must have given that information to the drivers.

    I was also on a packed #72 going to the U District around 5:30. It’s not just the West Seattle routes that are unpleasantly full. It seems like Metro is maximizing its return on each run–which likely makes a lot of sense on paper but ignores the ramifications of having thousands of people start and end their workdays in such miserable conditions.

  • Moose2 October 3, 2012 (8:19 am)

    I don’t think metro managers know what is going on on the ground. Bus drivers do but don’t have the power to fix it, which must be frustrating.

    Even simple fixes like publishing a schedule for RR seem beyond the ability of metro managers today – I keep hearing ‘buses so frequent you don’t need a schedule’. Fine – anyone that doesn’t want a schedule can ignore it. But I want a schedule so I know when to leave the office and what RR C time will connect with a 50 or 128.

  • West Seattle High Mom October 3, 2012 (8:24 am)

    It’s no picnic for our metro assigned kids. The busses would not pick up my daughter on California southbound after school because they were too full. Not cool. Seems that there should have been some data gathered on rider use and the capacity needed to sustain service. Rather disappointing. (I know, that is an understatement!)

  • Pam October 3, 2012 (8:24 am)

    #gap… its true try to help the driver, it happened to my husband he was polite and the driver had him removed from the bus. And my husband is disabled too.

  • michael October 3, 2012 (8:36 am)

    i have called king 5 news about the driver having me removed from the bus after i brused his bigger than life ego. after he stated the c line was the same as the old 54 coming from downtown as we all know it isn’t. i work in one of the local hospitals and was wearing a coat that showed that too when i was removed by seattle pd at 12:30 AM at 35th and avalon. the driver never offered a sorry you were correct i would of missed that stop nor did anyone from metro. i’m thinking of contacting a lawyer that i know and see what he thinks too. i am not wanting to do that just that it would be nice if metro would do something to let us as the riders know that we are respected for riding this new forced on us not ready to run route. it would of been better if all of the drivers would of had to drive the new routes before put on them in some kind of test run and maybe if the drive was able to read his run card and not jusy go off what he was told he wouldn’t of acted the way he did too. yet it to meet seemed like the driver didn’t know how to read

  • michael October 3, 2012 (9:02 am)

    it would be fine if the drivers were doing the job that is on the run card and not just doing what ever they choose to do on there own. i don’t think metro gives the driver the fredom to just drive where or what parts of a route the driver wants to drive and not parts they don’t want to drive. i’m not saying it isn’t a ruff job yet i feel if the driver is doing something wrong and doesn’t care that they are making a mistake maybe they need a different job. they get good money to do the correct job the way metro has it on a run card not the way the driver wants to drive the route. or are you ok with the driver skipping your stop or your kids stop? just because the driver has a way to big or out of control ego?

  • Alex October 3, 2012 (9:05 am)

    @Mary, thanks for the info. It sounds like the left hand wasn’t talking to the right, since when I called Metro they said they had no idea why the drivers were skipping 2nd and Columbia. I hope they get this stuff figured out soon.

  • Xavier October 3, 2012 (9:16 am)

    Again, it just blows me away to hear about people complaining of not having a seat or having to stand. We’ve been shafted down on Delridge for years!!
    However,a lady yesterday was complaining about having to stand up while pregnant – what gives with Seattle folk?!?! I’ve had to stand up while seemingly ready to burst – other riders noticed it too! Did they budge and offer me a seat? Nada! That should never happen. Also, a couple months back on the 120, riders standing/crammed all the way to the back door, a handicapped veteran was waiting to board but no one would let him sit down!!! So many young people(I don’t mean kids, I mean young able bodied twenty somethings!) just sitting there oblivious and stubborn to give up their seat. I just could not believe it. Even the driver said nothing as the man slowly lowered himself back down the stairs with his crutch and said he’d just catch the next one. Shameful! No manners in this city!

  • WSratsinacage October 3, 2012 (9:17 am)

    It’s very disturbing that metro is kicking off riders who are just trying to help or who have a question. It’s very immature and vindictive on the part of the drivers. It reminds me of how dictators remove people who have a question just to prove a point or show their ability to control.
    I emailed Get Jesse about these apparent “professional” drivers.

  • Ben October 3, 2012 (9:37 am)

    My commute this morning was not as disastrous as yesterday’s but that isn’t saying much.
    Anyone know if West Seattle has any kind of even loosely organized advocacy group for improving transit within and to West Seattle?
    If one (ahem) were to be thinking of forming a (mostly FB/twitter) group to advocate for better West Seattle transit, any suggestions on names?
    Nothing I’ve come up with so far has a decent acronym (we all know that’s what it takes to make it):
    West Seattle Transit Riders (WSTR)
    West Seattle Transit Improvement Advocates (WSTIA)
    Improve West Seattle Transit Now (IWSTN)
    Westside Riders Alliance (WRA)
    Rider Alliance of West Seattle (RAWS)

    • WSB October 3, 2012 (9:58 am)

      Ben, I’ve never heard of one. If anyone would know, Michael Taylor-Judd (community advocate/activist who ran recently for City Council) would … or Chas Redmond (community uber-advocate, also a board member of Morgan Community Association among other roles) … they participate in WSB comment threads now and then so maybe one will see this. Or, just go right ahead! If you do, let me know, we’ll write a standalone about it and of course share to our FB/Tw communities too (and don’t forget the WSB Forums) … Also: You might check with Sustainable West Seattle, since obviously transit is a sustainability issue too – they might have a transportation committee that would play into this. – TR

  • WSratsinacage October 3, 2012 (9:38 am)

    Xavier- I’ve noticed manners have declined as the population has increased. Sad casualty of density IMO. :(

  • datamuse October 3, 2012 (9:56 am)

    I dunno about first world problems, velo_nut. This is starting to sound like my mass transit experiences in developing countries. Not sure “hopping on whatever vehicle happens to be going my way” is a standard to which we ought to aspire.

  • michael October 3, 2012 (10:00 am)

    the sad thing is most drivers don’t ask people to give up a seat for disabled or our older bus riders yet it is clearly posted on the bus it is the driver that should be asking that people give up a seat and i am disabled and have asked the driver if i could get a seat and been told it was on me to ask if someone would give me a seat. sad that metro doesn’t hire people that really want to do there job.

  • Richard October 3, 2012 (10:21 am)

    Commuters of West Seattle (COWS)

  • WSratsinacage October 3, 2012 (11:02 am)


  • chas redmond October 3, 2012 (11:07 am)

    COWS is taken – Community Orchard of West Seattle – sorry!

  • Ben October 3, 2012 (11:21 am)

    TR – Thanks for the support! If I find the time I’ll scout around for something existing and/or create something myself.
    Richard and WSratsinacage – I love the COWS acronym! I’m hoping to incorporate “Transit” or something similar in there somewhere since the idea would be to focus specifically on that. (Transiteers of West Seattle?)

  • greg October 3, 2012 (12:16 pm)

    I think I will stick with my motorcycle or walking down to the water taxi. Buses suck.

  • Diane October 3, 2012 (12:25 pm)

    hey Ben, great idea
    how about: ACTUP-TRANSIT West Seattle (Action Committee To Upgrade Public Transit West Seattle)

  • evergreen October 3, 2012 (1:01 pm)

    My husband and I share parenting when he gets off work, but now his commute to and from work in Redmond has become a nightmare & we don’t have enough quality time with him. This is very hard on families. My husband absolutely relies on public transportation for work. This is not a trivial “first world problem”, for it affects families, workers, and the disabled in a significant way. There are families that rely on this bussing system to get their kids to/from childcare or school around thir own work schedules! Is green” Seattle trying to discourage public transportation??

    WS Mom

  • magicdebbie October 3, 2012 (3:03 pm)

    Oh I wish Ballard had as vocal a presence… the D line is just as bad.

    I’m also concerned about the lack of a schedule for the Rapid Ride lines; sure, a coach is suppposed to show up every 10-15 minutes, but riders also need to know how long a ride will take; we need to be able to plan on arriving places at specific times and cannot do that if there is no information posted. For example – If I needed to go from Ballard to the Alaska Junction and arrive by 1:05pm to catch a connecting bus, what time would I need to catch the Rapid Ride D? I have no way of figuring that out. If i need to get from downtown Ballard to downtown Seattle by 8:15 am in order to not be late for work, what time do I need to leave? You’ve not given the riders the tools they need to successfully navigate these changes and I am very disappointed in the lack of forethought that went into this overhaul.

  • Moose2 October 3, 2012 (7:22 pm)

    magicdebbie – agree about lack of schedules. Many of the problems with RR are expensive to fix (needing new buses, better frequency, etc).

    But putting a schedule on the website is trivial and virtually free. The fact that Metro refuses to make a schedule available speaks volumes about their attitude to helping their customers (and this isn’t new – RR A and RR B both don’t have schedules, and people have complained lots about lack of those schedule).

    Simply fix, very low cost: Metro – why don’t you do it?

  • Marla October 3, 2012 (8:59 pm)

    Rapid ride = Good news everyone!!! Metro replaced good bus routes, usually with a seat for all, with crammed busses that can’t pick up a bulk of the passengers! Lipstick on a pig. Rapid ride = a ride that adds 1/2 hour per day to our commutes, that may save Metro some $, but hey, it’s shiny and new, so just deal with it, right?! It is not a $ saving when you start losing major passengers and have to pay extra employees to patrol ticket purchases. Just plain stupid.

  • Robert October 3, 2012 (10:04 pm)

    Bus 54…Where are you?!!
    Getting to White center is now a pain.
    Not everyone works downtown.

  • GF October 4, 2012 (2:18 pm)

    Someone on this post said that Metro also announced plans to remove seating from the Rapid Ride C buses to provide more standing room and thus reduce missed stops due to overcrowding. How does that help? The RR already has less seating which means more people standing which in turn means unsafe conditions. Many bus drivers are somewhat agressive in their driving. I would like to think that metro is concerned about the safety of it’s passengers. But since we are stuck with this I believe the frequency needs to be increased (this 10 or 15 mins

  • Jim P. October 5, 2012 (11:32 pm)

    I’ve noticed people in Seattle would rather be dragged over hot coals than give a seat to a handicapped person or obviously pregnant woman on the bus or at the stops, especially the stops where there is about 2 square feet of seating. My wife walks with a cane and has problems standing for long periods of time but by god people will be ****ed if they’ll give up a seat and the driver might as well be mute for all the help you can expect there.

    I’ve ridden many bus systems around the country and never seen less support for letting the handicapped have the use of the seats allegedly reserved for them. Most places the driver will request, then demand someone move to provide handicapped seating.

    For all that Seattle is a “liberal” town, this really surprises me. it’s not just the winos and nut cases who squelch onto the bus and flop down on the first seat they see and who are too far into the Twilight Zone to understand reality, it’s seemingly decent people who won’t budge, sometimes even when asked directly.

Sorry, comment time is over.