day : 01/09/2015 10 results

About those Metro cancellations: ‘We are working hard to address this quick growth in transit service’

If you ride the bus from/to West Seattle, you might have been affected by a cancellation lately. Today in particular, Metro texted/tweeted four cancellations on West Seattle-serving routes, as noted in our daily transit/traffic coverage. WHen we asked the county about cancellations recently, the explanation involved a personnel shortage. After what happened today, we asked King County Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeff Switzer if it was still a staffing issue and if so, what efforts are under way to remedy it. Here’s his reply, including an explanation of the notifications, which he says are new:

The alerts for cancellations aren’t all in West Seattle, and not all canceled trips are receiving alerts at this time as staff fine tune how to best to accurately communicate canceled trips in a timely fashion. We’ll look into what might have led to the coincidence of cancellations the past few days; 55/56/57 operate out of Central Base and they might have had fewer available operators today for some reason. …

As Metro began implementing the system’s largest service increases this past June, and more in September and March to help meet demand, we’ve been hiring and training at an unprecedented pace: We’ve hired and trained hundreds of part-time drivers and promoted and trained part-time drivers to become full-time drivers – all part of the transition to putting more service on the road.

Today we have more than 2,500 operators – about 1,600 full-time and 900 part-time. Right after Prop 1 passed, we got started on hiring to implement the new planned service. We have hired 212 part-time operators from January through August, and promoted 173 operators to full-time, and are increasing staffing in our rail section in advance of U Link and First Hill Streetcar. We anticipate hiring an additional 225 part-time operators and promoting an additional 96 operators to full time through March 2016. We have attended career and hiring fairs and will be back on college campuses this fall recruiting people interested in becoming part-time drivers. Growing our ranks is essential to growing service, but it means some growing pains during these times of transition.

Coordinators at the bases and control center work to fill individual bus trips whenever an operator becomes sick, or is in training classes or otherwise unavailable. They use the workforce available to backfill any missed trips as best they can. They rely on some standby operators but also seek available drivers willing to take on extra work.

Riders don’t even notice that this goes on every day as coordinators work to make the service perform smoothly. In the event a replacement operator isn’t available, some trips unfortunately go unfilled, which can mean more riders boarding the following bus. A new effort in its infancy now tries to notify riders via email and twitter when a trip isn’t expected to be filled. Even then, we have recently canceled some trips via transit alert, only to soon find an operator and “uncancel” it. Alerts are not yet sent for every canceled trip, but staff are working to improve this new effort at better customer communications. Better still, we’re hiring to avoid canceled trips altogether.

In some cases, a bus trip will operate very late with a replacement driver; however, a rider may already have made other arrangements or boarded on the following bus. The perception is that the trip never showed up. We send these buses out because even operating late helps ease any lingering crowding issues, provided it can get into the mix in a timely fashion. This is essential for first and last trips, where riders are especially dependent on our operations.

West Seattle isn’t alone and trip cancellations are occurring in places across the system, and vary from base to base on different days. Here’s a recent tally of West Seattle trips which did not operate for lack of a driver, not including any mechanical problems/ substituted coaches. This list shows 9 bus trips unfortunately canceled in the past three weekdays, with no canceled trips Aug. 22-28.

· Alerts show we canceled one Route 56 trip Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, we canceled a trip on the 21X, one on Route 56, one on Route 57.

· Alerts show we canceled and then filled a Route 55 Monday morning. We canceled one southbound Route 55 trip and one northbound Route 56 trip.

· Last week (Aug. 22-29), Route 55 had one canceled morning trip and one canceled afternoon trip, both Friday; there also was one morning Route 56 cancelation Friday.

Some weeks this summer have been a bigger challenge than others. We operate more than 11,000 trips each weekday, and over 55,000 each work week. Using backup drivers and asking drivers to work extra has kept more than 99 percent of trips on the street. We make every effort to avoid canceling back to back trips, or first and last trips, and are mindful that some areas of the county have infrequent service. We expect that as we continue to hire drivers and encourage available drivers to pick up extra trips if they can, service will smooth out and we will see fewer cancellations in coming weeks. Until then, we work day-in, day-out to put service on the road for riders.

We apologize for the inconvenience canceled trips cause riders and want to assure our customers we are working hard to address this quick growth in transit service by hiring good, professional customer-focused drivers. That effort continues and we graduate more drivers into the workforce every few weeks at the conclusion of each class.

Customers can sign up for transit alerts to receive notifications when possible of transit disruptions or canceled trips.

BIZNOTES: West Seattle Brewing Co. reopening Wednesday, & more

Three quick biznotes, all from the world of local food and drink:

WEST SEATTLE BREWING COMPANY: Two months after King County Public Health closed it for “operating without a valid permit,” West Seattle Brewing Company at 4415 Fauntleroy Way SW is about to reopen. Thanks to Diane for the tip; we went over to verify in person, and were told they’ll open around 5:30 am tomorrow (Wednesday, September 2nd) for coffee and expect to stay open until about 11 pm. They’ve done an extensive amount of work in the meantime, as you can see via the WSBC Facebook page (and in fact, even as night fell, they were making some finishing touches).

MARDI GRAS DONUTS: Six months after we reported on this donut shop, specializing in beignets, opening at 9828 16th SW in White Center, it’s closed “until further notice,” according to a sign on the door. Thanks to David for the tip; he had gone there Sunday (a day they’re supposed to be open, according to new hours posted recently) and discovered the sign. Still up as of our check earlier today. We’ll keep checking back.

COMMENT TIME FOR CHUNGEE’S WEST: We broke the news last Thursday that a rezoning/remodeling proposal for the house at 6921 California SW would include a West Seattle expansion of Chungee’s, the Chinese restaurant on Capitol Hill whose proprietors already own the Morgan Junction house. As expected, the comment period for the proposal opened a few days later – here’s the notice, and here’s the form to use to comment (deadline is September 13th).

Now at Harbor Island: Biggest container ship here, ever

September 1, 2015 5:55 pm
|    Comments Off on Now at Harbor Island: Biggest container ship here, ever
 |   Port of Seattle | West Seattle news

The Northwest Seaport Alliance – the new entity that includes the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma – says that’s the biggest container ship ever to call in Puget Sound, the CMA CGM Callisto, which arrived at Terminal 18 today. As big as it is – see all the stats here – it’s not as big as the ships the port wants to redesign Terminal 5 to handle, which will hold up to a third more container volume than this one. The Callisto is scheduled to head back out tomorrow. Speaking of the modernization proposal – this Friday is the comment deadline for key aspects of that proposal – details are in our report from two weeks ago.

Local speech, global overview: What Navy Region NW commander Rear Adm. Jeff Ruth told West Seattle Rotary

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The U.S. Navy‘s presence in the Northwest – and much of the rest of the world – is vital, on a planet where 80 percent of all people live close to oceans or other waterways, and 90 percent of the world’s trade goes by water.

That’s what Rear Admiral Jeff Ruth, commander of Navy Region Northwest, told the Rotary Club of West Seattle this afternoon, as guest speaker at their weekly lunch. This region, in particular, he noted, is reliant on those trade routes, and in turn on the security provided by the Navy.

The turnout filled the lower meeting room at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). The admiral’s resume – detailed here – includes two years commanding the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. And his speech was far more global than local.

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West Seattle youth sports: Volleyball signups for girls 10-17

September 1, 2015 3:26 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle youth sports: Volleyball signups for girls 10-17
 |   West Seattle news | WS & Sports

Your local city-run community centers are heading into fall season – and spotlighting sports including volleyball. Quick announcement in case you haven’t heard::

Sign-ups now available for girls age 10-17 for Recreational Volleyball at our community centers. $35.00 entry covers all fees, including uniform, coaching, practice and league games. Practices and games run weekday evenings. This is a great opportunity for girls to learn basic volleyball fundamentals and teamwork. Call or visit Hiawatha Community Center for more details.

That’s just one of myriad sports, activities, classes, and other offerings this fall at West Seattle’s centers – browse the brochure to see what else awaits you.

Next affordable-housing proposals advanced by mayor, councilmember: ‘Linkage fee’ and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, with additional height in exchange

(One of the city’s graphics for today’s announcements, explaining the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing)
When Mayor Murray announced his housing plan and the report from the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda advisory committee in mid-July, it was pointed out that the proposals will roll out over a period of up to two years. Two of the first proposals to be pursued were detailed today by Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, whose announcement says they’re expected to “create 6,000 units of affordable housing” in the city as part of what was called a “grand bargain” involving developers and housing advocates. The announcement (which you can read in full, here) continues:

… “Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth, and our challenge is to build fairly and affordably. We want sustainable, socially inclusive and economically diverse neighborhoods that are walkable, close to transit and job centers. To build these equitable communities, we must ensure that our teachers, nurses, hotel and restaurant workers who work in the city can also afford to live here,” said Mayor Murray. “With this legislation, Seattle – for the first time ever – will require that all new development in the city will pay for affordable housing. This is a bold, progressive proposal where growth itself will support affordable and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods. I am eager to work with the Council as we engage the public on this proposal as it moves through the legislative process.”

“I continually hear from people in our city struggling to keep up with rising rents. The Grand Bargain represents 6,000 desperately needed, new affordable units that we cannot build fast enough—especially not for those in need today,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair of the Select Committee on Housing Affordability. “I will be working with my colleagues on the City Council to act as swiftly as possible on the legislation behind the Grand Bargain.”

There are two major components to the “Grand Bargain.” The first establishes an Affordable Housing Impact Mitigation Program (AHIMP) – commonly referred to as a commercial linkage fee – that will directly fund the construction of new affordable housing by requiring developers to pay a fee on every square foot of new commercial development. The linkage fee will range from $5 to $17 per square foot, based on the size and location of the commercial development.

The second part of the “Grand Bargain” calls for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) for new multifamily developments, requiring five to eight percent of units be affordable for residents earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for 50 years.

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Seattle Public Schools contract talks: Union’s latest update

With eight days left until Seattle Public Schools classes are scheduled to start, the district’s still negotiating with the Seattle Education Association. When we reported on the district’s latest update last Friday, we didn’t have new information from the union; now we do. From the SEA update posted online last night:

In the spirit of good-faith bargaining, the SEA Bargaining Team (Monday) morning provided school district administrators with significant counterproposals on recess and pay.

On recess, the SEA Bargaining Team proposed a guaranteed 30 to 45 minutes of recess each day (our previous proposal was for a guaranteed 45 minutes).

On pay, our team proposed a raise of 6 percent a year for three years, for a total raise of 18 percent (in addition to the state COLA). Our previous proposal called for annual 7 percent raises.

As of 4 pm Monday, the school district administration bargaining team had not formally responded to either of the new SEA proposals.

SEA members are still scheduled to take a vote this Thursday (September 3rd) – on either a strike, or a tentative agreement (if one has been reached by then). Before then, they’re planning informational picketing at high schools around the city tomorrow afternoon. Their contract expired yesterday; they’ve been in talks with the district for more than three months.

West Seattle scenes: Gone fishing, from the pier to the beach

Two photos shared by your neighbors:

That’s from Don Brubeck, who writes, “Lots of people fishing from the bridge on Spokane St. Not me – I had to keep going, riding to work.” (Don is president of West Seattle Bike Connections, which meets tonight, as noted in our daily calendar highlights.) Next, from TS:

He writes, “Just a nice coho caught off Lincoln Park on Sunday afternoon. Fun to share.” According to the state Fish and Wildlife month-by-month advice, that’s what’s peaking on inland waters this time of year.

West Seattle Tuesday: WWRHAH, WS Bike Connections, and more

(Great blue heron @ Lincoln Park last weekend, pre-storm; photo by DLBJ)

Welcome to September! Three more weeks left in summer, though the weather belies that. Here are our calendar highlights for today/tonight:

KALEIDOSCOPE PLAY-AND-LEARN: Free activity at High Point Library for kids 3-5 and their parents/caregivers, 1:30-3 pm. Details in our calendar listing. (35th SW & SW Raymond)

DRINKING LIBERALLY: You’re invited to join the monthly gathering at Pizzeria 22 in The Admiral District, any time after 6 pm. (4213 SW College)

WESTWOOD-ROXHILL-ARBOR HEIGHTS COMMUNITY COUNCIL: 6:15 pm in the upstairs meeting room at Southwest Library, monthly WWRHAH meeting, including crime/policing discussion with SPD Southwest Precinct Community Police Team officers – here’s our agenda preview. (35th SW & SW Henderson)

WEST SEATTLE BIKE CONNECTIONS: 6:30 pm monthly meeting at HomeStreet Bank (WSB sponsor) in The Junction – the MoveSeattle levy on November’s ballot is on the agenda, which is previewed on the WSBC website. (41st SW & SW Alaska)

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR CREATION: Ecumenical service at Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s Peace Garden and Labyrinth, 6:30 pm – details in our calendar listing. (35th SW & SW Myrtle)

NIGHTLIFE … see the listings on our calendar (and if yours is missing – let us know so we can add it! Follow the calendar link for our guidelines for listings – thank you.)

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday on the move; more students return to school

(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:10 AM: Soggy and slow going out there – no specific incidents reported in our area so far.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Parochial schools are returning this week – today is the first day of school for Our Lady of Guadalupe (35th/Myrtle) and the second day for Holy Rosary (42nd/Genesee), so be mindful of school zones, buses, and crosswalks. Also, we’re told the buses that serve Seattle Public Schools will be out practicing routes.

7:14 AM – TRANSIT ALERT JUST IN: Tweeted and texted by Metro:

4:36 PM – THREE MORE TRANSIT ALERTS: We have a question out to Metro about how much longer these seemingly daily cancellations will continue. Meantime, three more tweeted/texted this afternoon, noted here for the record:


Fifth tweeted/texted WS Metro cancellation today.

6:24 PM: As Jeff from KCDOT mentions in comments, that one is back on (we were in transit to a meeting when the “back on” text/tweet came in):

We’ll have Metro’s explanation/update in a separate story later this evening.