‘Uptick in cancellations’ expected to end soon, Metro says

After another alert about a Metro Route 56 cancellation this morning – the fourth such alert we had seen in less than a week – we asked Metro what’s going on.

Turns out that today’s “canceled” trip did run after all, spokesperson Jeff Switzer found out after our inquiry, as did one last Wednesday for which there was also an alert, but runs in other areas were canceled today, as you’ll notice if you scroll through @kcmetrobus on Twitter. The Route 56 trips that really didn’t run last week had “no available operator,” Switzer explains.

But he tells WSB they’re staffing up:

In the past month, we have trained and deployed 70 new full-time drivers and 20 new part-time drivers. The most recent class of 35 full-time drivers graduated on Friday and are expanding the routes they are qualified on, so they can cover more work as needed.

We’re about a week away from operating more normalized service with fewer cancellations. We forewarned that a month-long uptick in canceled trips through today, and experienced some good days and some rougher days. Now we are seeing that a few more days of canceled trips are possible.

We’re at 2,850 bus drivers and providing over 99% of our 13,500 scheduled daily bus trips. We continue to hire and have a new rhythm of driver training in an effort to produce more drivers for service.

Two years ago, we took an up-close look at how the system – and the distribution of drivers – works. Switzer says what was pointed out then regarding alerts is still the case – “We notify customers of canceled trips when they are on routes with a low number of commute trips, so riders can adjust as needed. When we cancel trips on other more frequent service, riders can catch the next bus that comes along in the schedule.” He acknowledges today was “rough … on some routes and we apologize for the inconvenience, but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in the uptick in cancellations.”

10 Replies to "'Uptick in cancellations' expected to end soon, Metro says"

  • NSAlki November 20, 2017 (8:33 pm)

    The 56 gets canceled randomly on the other side (downtown/3rd) a lot as well. You try to do the right thing by not driving, but the Metro leaves your stranded, sometimes with no explanation. Also, every new driver that they add on this route has to be trained and reminded by commuters to not leave whenever he/she feels like and leave regular commuters stranded.

    I am all for bus lanes and encouraging transit, but please make it work.

  • Tim November 20, 2017 (9:31 pm)

    I have sent several complaints about the continual cancellations, but also that they routinely use single buses between 7am-8am when traffic is at it’s highest.  Every morning, there is SRO with people down the middle, and they have to skip the last few stops, which is very frustrating for anyone trying to get to work on time.

    I finally got a response back from Metro today.  Along with the explanation (same one they used earlier this year, and last year) that they are training new drivers, they responded to the use of smaller buses:

    “Due to a recent maintenance backlog, we have had to
    re-assign some of our 60-foot articulated coaches from their normal routes and
    replace them with 40-foot buses. We have heard concerns about crowding on some
    of these routes and the subsequent passing of stops due to overloads, and our
    scheduling planners will continue to monitor ridership on these routes and make
    adjustments as they’re able. We are working to address this issue as quickly as
    possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.”

    I wonder if they are having turnover on their planners too…seems they are behind the curve on getting buses and drivers to the right place without this lag in service.

  • Robby Mugabe November 20, 2017 (10:48 pm)

    Not only are the buses not coming, the auto alerts are very late or do not come at all. For example, this morning I was waiting for the 7:49 departure from Alki. 15 minutes later I’m on hold with Metro dispatch trying to figure it out. A random 56 comes at 8:06 this morning–who knows if it’s mine or the next bus deployed early. Then I get a email alert at 8:11 that the 7:32 was cancelled. How useful is that 40 minutes after the fact? And what about my 7:49 bus?! 

    It would be great if they could somehow shuttle is all to Avalon at least instead of leaving us in the rain, late for work.

  • Mark November 20, 2017 (10:49 pm)

    I just got my renewal notice for car tabs.  Included is an extra fee for bus service, still no midday bus service in the Admiral area.  And when I use the 56 to get downtown in the AM its been standing room only. 

    Why no added service, residents in my area pay the added bus fee on their car tabs and should receive more and better bus service in return!

  • East Coast Cynic November 21, 2017 (5:54 am)

    I suspect there is increased burnout on the metro bus driving job.  I recall a similar problem about a year and a half ago.  The traffic in the metro area is getting increasingly worse and hairy for the drivers and I believe that the stress and aggravation from the traffic is driving people from the job which is contributing to the missed routes and the constant training of new blood.

  • justme November 21, 2017 (6:24 am)

    This has been so frustrating. I’ve been late to work so many times because the 50 on the weekend often never comes. 

  • D Del Rio November 21, 2017 (7:14 am)

    The 21 Express going to Arbor Heights sometimes never shows. After Metro brought in the C Line, all the neighborhoods like Arbor Heights, Alki, Admiral, and Gatewood lost most of their bus service. What’s going to happen to the eastern part of West Seattle when the 120 is changed to the “Rapid Ride” H Line? I see more cuts in the service that doesn’t go down Delridge.

    • WSB November 21, 2017 (7:17 am)

      If you are concerned about the 120 conversion and haven’t yet taken the survey that launched last week, please do when you can – here’s our story from a week ago:

    • J November 21, 2017 (11:50 am)

      Yesterday, I was waiting for the 21E on 3rd and Virginia. It didn’t show up but the 21 did. I decide it to skip it and hop on the 120 behind the 21. About half way down third, the 21 sign switched to 21E. I wondered whether people who already boarded were notified that the 21 they entered would now be going the express route. Metro is a mess lately. Every bus I take is delayed or missing or packed full even after a few stops. I drove multiple times this month to work to avoid the bus hassle even though I usually don’t drive at all. 

  • Lola November 21, 2017 (12:16 pm)

    And people wonder why nobody wants to ride the bus anymore.  You keep wanting money from the tax payors but then you cancel buses that the people need to get around.  I am not a bus rider but I am a tax payor and I see these busses being canceled all the time.  I feel sorry for the people that it does strand. Just reading some of these posts is enough for a person not to ride the bus.

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