West Seattle, Washington
That’s Metro driver Ermias Mulugeta, a 14-year veteran transit operator who had a starring role in today’s ribboncutting-and-speeches event celebrating tomorrow’s launch of the RapidRide H Line. He drove the newly rebranded red-and-yellow bus into the lot at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center, with dignitaries aboard including King County Executive Dow Constantine and Metro’s new general manager Michelle Allison:
Before the ribboncutting, 26 minutes of speeches – here’s our unedited video:
Allison emceed, with opening and closing remarks. Constantine declared that RapidRide is “the evolution of Metro Transit.” (Long-running evolution – West Seattle’s first RR line, C, launched 10+ years ago.) Route 120, which becomes the H Line tomorrow, carried 1.7 million people last year, he said, and he observed that the new line’s route between Burien and downtown will help people “enjoy more of what this part of King County has to offer.”
It’ll also help with everyday tasks, added the next speaker, White Center Food Bank executive director Carmen Smith.
WCFB’s new location will be close to an RR stop, and that means people carrying food won’t have to hike uphill with heavy loads any more. Other speakers included King County Councilmember Joe McDermott – who is leaving office this year but has helped shepherd the H Line into reality – and Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon (who happens to be running to be McDermott’s successor), who said her city is proud of how this is factoring into many improvements along its main thoroughfare, Ambaum Boulevard. From Seattle city government, executive general manager Adiam Emery reoresented Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s team:
She noted that Seattle had invested (corrected) $90 million in the H Line, as well as projects such as the Delridge repaving/reconfiguration. And District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted that the “multijurisdictional project” is an enhancement to what’s already King County’s sixth-busiest bus route. After Allison wrapped up with a few more stats – 51 new stations, 40 new crosswalks, five miles of new bus lanes – it was ribboncutting time:
As reported here Wednesday, the H Line officially begins running with a 5:26 am northbound departure from Burien on Saturday morning. The first coach, we’re told, will be the same one that rolled up at the start of this morning’s event – 6209. The launch comes four years later than the originally announced 2019.
Just two more days before it’s out with the green-and-yellow Route 120 buses, in with the red-and-yellow RapidRide H Line buses along Delridge. We asked Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer about the first official H Line trips on Saturday (March 18). He says the first one will be a 5:26 am northbound departure from Burien; the first southbound H Line will leave downtown at 6 am Saturday. Final touches on the stations along the line, according to Switzer, include glass installation and activation of real-time information signs (the ones we passed along much of southbound Delridge this afternoon all appeared to be activated). He says the transition hasn’t required much training, as, “The buses are familiar to many of the drivers, and the route 120 routing is too.” Though the launch isn’t until Saturday, there will be a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Friday, with County Executive Dow Constantine and others in White Center, same spot where a ceremonial groundbreaking two years ago celebrated the start of station construction along the line.
(Admiral Way Bridges from Fairmount Avenue, via Google Maps Street View)
Three years after voters approved the “Move Seattle” transportation levy in 2015, SDOT announced a work plan that included various West Seattle projects. Among them, seismic retrofitting for the Admiral Way bridges over Fairmount Ravine (technically two structures). Fast-forward to late 2021, when SDOT told us planning for the retrofit was under way and that construction was likely to start in late 2022-early 2023. It’s been pushed back again, we learned, after following up on a mention of the Admiral Way bridges last week when an SDOT rep briefed the Levy Oversight Committee. Wes Ducey‘s briefing focused on studying various bridges around the city for eventual replacement, including Admiral:
Here’s what an “alternative analysis” is about:
In the briefing, Ducey suggested, among other things, that the city might consider designating one particular bridge to be the next in line for replacement, rather than continue to study and re-study multiple bridges:
After that briefing, we checked with SDOT regarding the Admiral Way bridges retrofit project. And we learned the retrofit is now not expected to start in “early 2023” after all. SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson told WSB, “We are still planning to complete a seismic retrofit on the Admiral Way Bridges by the end of 2024, thanks to funding from the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle.” As for studying it for potential replacement, Bergerson explained,”While we do not anticipate the need to replace this bridge anytime soon, the planning study will incorporate what we learn during the seismic retrofit and be a valuable resource in the future if the City ever needs to choose between investing in additional major maintenance or completely rebuilding the bridge decades from now.”
P.S. During last week’s Levy Oversight Committee briefing, City Councilmember Alex Pedersen – who’s a committee member – mentioned that the council committee he chairs, Transportation and Public Utilities, will talk about bridges later this month, in the context of the citywide bridge audit.
(WSB photo, ferries seen from Lincoln Park at midday earlier this month)
Though Washington State Ferries has said it doesn’t expect to be able to restore the “Triangle Route” to three-boat service until later this year, it has added some sailings starting this week. Here’s the announcement:
To help supplement service, Washington State Ferries has added the following weekday service on our Fauntleroy/ Vashon/ Southworth “Triangle” route to fill gaps in the two-boat schedule when crewing allows:
11:15 a.m. existing Southworth to Vashon will load Fauntleroy traffic
11:50 a.m. Vashon to Fauntleroy
12:15 p.m. Fauntleroy to Vashon (continues to Southworth)
7:35 p.m. Fauntleroy to Southworth (currently to Vashon)
8:10 p.m. Southworth to Vashon
8:30 p.m. Vashon to Fauntleroy
8:55 p.m. Fauntleroy to Vashon
9:20 p.m. Vashon to Southworth
9:35 p.m. Southworth to Vashon (Fridays only)
As reported here, WSF hopes to restore three-boat service on weekdays in May, then full 7-days-a-week restoration in fall.
That’s the southbound RapidRide H Line station on Delridge Way just north of Henderson, shown in a screengrab from one of seven new traffic cameras installed along Delridge in advance of the bus changes that take effect one week from today (Saturday, March 18th). Until the first of these debuted three months ago – as reported here in December – Delridge was devoid of traffic cameras, unlike most of West Seattle’s other north/south arterials. We’ve been featuring them in our weekday-morning traffic watches, but if you don’t look at those or the citywide camera map, you might not be aware of them. North to south, the cameras are at:
Holden and Thistle are only showing video so far, which only displays through the display window on the SDOT map (click the camera and then, when the window pops up, click “Video”).
Meantime, as for the bus service, here’s the Metro reminder; H is its seventh RapidRide line, second one in West Seattle after the C Line, which began service in September 2012.
Metro has published the list of which routes will be affected by its next twice-yearly “service change,” which happens on Saturday, March 18th. Three West Seattle routes will have changes this time:
*RapidRide C Line – “On weekdays, two southbound and three northbound trips will be added, on Saturday & Sunday, two southbound trips will be added.” (See the timetable here.)
*Route 50 – ” On weekdays, two eastbound trips will be added, on Saturday & Sunday, two westbound trips will be added.” (See the timetable here.)
*Route 120 – Will be replaced by the RapidRide H Line. (See the timetable here.)
The full citywide list is here. You can read more about RapidRide H Line, and see the list of stops, here.
You’ve probably heard by now that SDOT is out with its promised review of Vision Zero, as ordered by director Greg Spotts shortly after he took over the department. Tomorrow, he is scheduled to lead two briefings on the report – 9:30 am at the City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee meeting, 5 pm at the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee meeting. And SDOT is seeking community feedback on the review.
After it was released, we read the entire report to look for West Seattle-specific mentions. While it’s largely devoid of those, it does feature several maps showing problem spots here and elsewhere, so we’ll start with those. First, locations of fatal and serious-injury incidents, by mode:
Here are high-collision locations:
2:14 PM: From Washington State Ferries:
Due to a shortage of crew, the final sailing for the #2 vessel will be the 3:40 p.m. sailing from Fauntleroy to Vashon. The route will operate on the #1 boat schedule for the remainder of the service day.
This cancels the following sailings:
4:05 p.m., 6:40 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Vashon to Southworth
4:30 p.m., 7:05 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. Southworth to Vashon
4:50 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 7:25 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. Vashon to Fauntleroy
5:20 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 7:55 p.m., and 8:50 p.m. Fauntleroy to Vashon
We’ll update if this changes. You can also check Vessel Watch for boats’ location/status.)
3:18 PM: Never mind, WSF now says:
A crewmember has been dispatched and the #2 vessel will remain in service. There will be no disruptions on the route.
Metro‘s next twice-annual “service change” is set for March 18th, two weeks away, and this one will include a major change for West Seattle – the long-planned, long-delayed conversion of Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line. That means many things, from more service to fewer stops (though the H Line stops are closer together than the usual RR half-mile, because of community concern – see the map here). This won’t be the only Metro change on March 18th, but we don’t have the full list yet; that’s expected to be available “approximately March 8th.”
(2021 photo of Fauntleroy ferry, by Theresa Arbow-O’Connor)
Washington State Ferries has released its latest report on service-restoration progress. Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth – also known as the “Triangle Route” – is still on reduced service, 2 boats instead of 3. It’s now estimating that three-boat service can be partially restored in May, fully restored in fall. From the report:
Estimated restoration: May 2023 (weekday service); Fall 2023 (full service)
• WSF expects to begin trialing full weekday three-boat service in early-April, or once a vessel and crewing is available. Because the three-boat schedule is so different from the two boat schedule, the Trial Service stage will be more challenging than trials on other
routes. WSF will communicate with customers regularly about each day’s expected schedule and anticipates it may take longer than three weeks to reach full route restoration.
• The route will be considered fully restored once it reaches 95% reliability on the threeboat schedule for a period of three weeks. At this time, WSF expects weekday service on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route to be restored by the end of May 2023 and to be operating the full weekly schedule by Fall 2023.
• While waiting for both the vessel and crewing availability necessary to trial three-boat service, WSF will add some additional midday and evening service to fill gaps in the two-boat schedule.
The report also details fleet and staff status; on the latter, citing “unprecedented” staff shortages, WSF says, “The number of licensed deck officers (captains and mates) is the biggest crewing challenge facing WSF. Ideally, WSF would have approximately 200 licensed deck officers in the system. As of Feb. 15, 2023, WSF has 165 LDOs. These highly skilled and highly credentialed positions are challenging to fill.” Regarding the fleet, WSF recounts the need to extend the usage of three vessels slated to be retired this decade, and notes that it’s running so close to bare minimum that unscheduled problems result in unavoidable service reductions: “Vessel availability has recovered from the maintenance backlog in the initial months of the pandemic; however, the vessel pillar remains at high risk because of an aging, diminishing fleet.”
From King County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s newsletter:
Last week, we launched the 2023 Van Grant Program. Every year, the Council allocates retired passenger vans to nonprofit organizations and local governments. These vans must be used to transport people with special needs or to transport goods and services to those with special needs. These include seniors, low-income, youth, or people with disabilities. This year, the requirements differ slightly from previous years in that the vans can now be used for the transport of goods and supplies to special-needs groups. If you are part of an organization in District 8 or know of an organization in District 8 that meets these requirements, please reach out to Helen Dahl (firstname.lastname@example.org) on my staff. The deadline for van applications through the District 8 office is Monday, March 13th at 5 pm.
P.S. For some background on the program, see this report on its first 20 years.
11:15 PM: Thanks for the tip and pic. A texter sent that from the scene of a car-on-side crash on Dawson near Fauntleroy about an hour ago, just north of Fairmount Park [map]. Apparently no serious injuries – only one engine was sent, and the incident log shows it was only on scene a few minutes. The texter says a tow truck is on scene now.
2 PM FRIDAY: Police confirm what’s mentioned in comments – the driver was arrested for investigation of DUI.
Multiple levels of transit-service updates were presented at s King County Council committee meeting that just wrapped up. In the big picture, transit executives and councilmembers alike observed that transit usage has changed in a big way, largely because of the pandemic-triggered change in work styles – only about half as many people as pre-pandemic commute five days a week, for example. Metro‘s new general manager Michelle Allison noted that the system will recognize this in its marketing: “We want transit to be your first choice” for all kinds of transportation needs. (It’s not just Metro – the councilmembers also heard from a Sound Transit executive who said that for one example, Saturday ridership on light rail has doubled.)
However, it was also acknowledged that the bus system is not yet back to full speed – “near-term delivery challenges” is how the ongoing problems were described. While the steering issue that took more than 200 buses out of service are “on track” to getting handled, a worker shortage is still a major factor. Allison gave the councilmembers the newest numbers:
-119 fewer full-time-equivalent operators (drivers) than needed
-36 fewer maintenance mechanics than needed
The first number is higher than a month ago, when Metro told us they estimated 99 more FTE drivers were needed. So trip cancellations aren’t going to go away any time soon.
Back to the big picture – the councilmembers also were asked to approve a “recovery plan” that basically acknowledges the current level of service – including reduced/suspended routes – and a new strategy for future planning. As explained in the plan’s staff report, one component of the strategy will be regional “restructuring” that will, among other things, review suspended/reduced routes. From the staff report:
To allow time to address operational capacity and staffing shortfalls and to coordinate service restoration with several significant high-capacity transit expansions, the Service Recovery Plan proposes that Metro will use service restructure projects as the primary means for reshaping service and reinvesting suspended hours back into the system. The Plan notes that Metro’s adopted policies would be followed in developing these service restructures. It also states that Metro does not plan to restore all suspended hours to the system in the same routes and times that they were removed, but that each mobility project would maintain service investments (service hours) within their geographic project areas, so there would be no net reduction in the total amount of service in an area.
As proposed, the service restructures would be organized into six geographically focused mobility projects:
•Seattle, Vashon Island Restructure and Restoration. For routes within Seattle and on Vashon Island that are not part of the other mobility projects described above, Metro proposes to pursue a new mobility project to consider service recovery options for routes that are currently reduced or suspended.
The Service Recovery Plan states that the following routes with reduced or suspended service hours would be included in this restructure, coordinated by geography:
o Central Seattle: 3, 4, 7, 9X, 11, 12, 27, 40, 43, 47, 48.
o Queen Anne/Magnolia: 19, 24, 29, 33.
o North Seattle: 15X, 17X, 18X, 31, 32, 45, 62, 79, 255, D Line, E Line.
o West Seattle/Vashon Island: 21X, 22, 37, 55, 56, 113, 116X, 118X, 118, 119X, 119, 120, 131, C Line.
o Other areas: 231, 631, 906, 914, 915.
Metro says 17 routes remain fully suspended – that would include West Seattle’s Route 37. Allison also noted at the meeting that, as we’ve reported, RapidRide H Line is launching March 18th – but rather than an addition, that’s a conversion, of the existing Route 120.
Above are two SDOT maps from the pothole program – at left, pending potholes as of last week; at right, recently patched potholes as of last week. Today the department is out with its latest stats: 23,000 potholes filled last year, 50 percent more than the year before, and the most in any of the past five years. The roads suffered extra damage in the December ice storm, so SDOT says it’s beefed up its response team, and is on an even busier pace so far this year – 5,500 potholes filled since January 1st. They warn that the usual within-three-days response-time goal has been tougher to meet while they catch up on storm damage. The update notes:
When SDOT crews respond to a request to fill a pothole, they also repair any other nearby potholes they discover. This year, crews have also been patrolling snow plow routes to proactively look for new potholes. These routes are essential to Seattle’s transportation system and are more likely to develop potholes because they carry more heavy vehicles during winter storms.
New potholes continue to appear every day, so SDOT is asking for the traveling public’s patience as crews continue to repair new road damage. SDOT cannot fix potholes that it doesn’t know about, so the public can help by reporting any potholes using the Find It, Fix It app, this online form, emailing 684-ROAD@seattle.gov, or calling 206-684-ROAD.
Today’s update also addresses the question of why some potholes need repeated refilling.
Those are the city-owned electric-vehicle chargers on 39th SW in The Junction, by Spruce and West Seattle Bowl. As reported here last month, vandals/thieves have left both inoperable, and they’re not fixed yet. We asked Seattle City Light spokesperson Jenn Strang about its status; she says, “We plan to repair all of the recently damaged chargers. Unfortunately, there are supply-chain disruptions in purchasing the replacement charging cables that have caused some delays, but we expect to begin repairs on the 39th Ave SW chargers this month.”
We also asked her about permit applications we’ve seen in the city’s online files for publicly owned chargers on the street in several West Seattle areas. According to Strang, “That is part of Seattle City Light’s new Curbside Level 2 EV Charging pilot project. We received 1,800 requests through public process and evaluated each based on pre-defined criteria designed to select locations that will serve the greatest number of customers and best achieve the City’s equity and environmental goals. The chargers will be owned and operated by City Light and will be available for use by the public. We expect to begin construction in late March and to have all locations operational by summer. The complete list of locations will be announced soon.” So far we’ve found permit applications for four West Seattle public-charger locations: 2100 California SW, 4830 Fauntleroy Way SW, 4850 California SW, and 7015 17th SW.
Updates tonight on three traffic signals in West Seattle, after we checked in with SDOT:
12TH/HOLDEN: The new pedestrian signal at this intersection is taking shape, and you may see crews there again this weekend. SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB, “We have completed three of the curb ramps and are pouring concrete for the final curb ramp today. We have also begun installing the signal poles. The remaining steps will be to finish installing the underground power conduit across the road, installing electrical equipment, and painting the crosswalk. We’ll be working at this intersection this weekend and next weekend, so anticipate some travel delays.”
We got that news after asking SDOT about two intersections where “temporary” signals are to be replaced with permanent installations:
DUWAMISH LONGHOUSE: SDOT’s Sara Zora had told the Bicycle Advisory Board at its meeting last week that the permanent installation here may not happen until next year. So we asked for more information. Bergerson replied, “Finalizing the schedule will require more coordination with our rail partners. The work to install new traffic signal equipment has already been completed, and we are now working to finalize an agreement with the railroad companies so that we can move forward with paving work around the railroad tracks. This would include creating a smoother transition from the street to the sidewalk on the eastern side of the crosswalk and building more room apart from the bike trail for people to wait for the signal.”
HIGHLAND PARK WAY/HOLDEN: You probably recall this “temporary” signal going up at lightning speed days after the West Seattle Bridge closure in March 2020, with promises that a permanent one would replace it. That’s getting closer, Bergerson tells us: “We still expect to begin construction on the replacement Highland Park Way SW & SW Holden St traffic signal this summer. We will build new curb ramps and curb bulbs at all four corners of the intersection, repaint the crosswalks, replace the wooden signal poles with more durable metal poles, and add underground vehicle detection equipment.” And as we’ve reported previously, public art is going up there too – a giant Steller’s Jay.
A two-part advisory/update from SDOT regarding the low bridge:
Between 1 AM Saturday, February 11 and 5 AM Wednesday, February 15, maritime vessels will have limited access under the Spokane St Swing Bridge to navigate the Duwamish Waterway. We do not expect impacts to people driving, walking, or biking.
During this time, only one span (side) of the bridge will swing open and close for maritime vessels on the Duwamish Waterway.
-East bridge span single openings: 1 AM Saturday, Feb. 11 through 1 AM Tuesday, February 14
-West bridge span single openings: 1 AM Tuesday, Feb. 14 through 5 AM Wednesday, Feb. 15
We’ve been communicating with the U.S. Coast Guard and mariners about this work, which will limit when some larger vessels can pass through.
This change is necessary for us to remove the bridge’s hydraulic pumps for routine maintenance. These pumps push hydraulic fluid to the bridge’s cylinders, allowing the cylinders to swing the bridge open and close for maritime vessels.
How the bridge is performing since turn cylinder repairs in January
After completing repairs and reopening the Spokane St Swing Bridge on January 13, the bridge is operating as expected and the turn cylinder we removed is being analyzed to determine the next steps for refurbishment.
We have more work planned for 2023, including rehabilitating the east-side lift cylinder and upgrading the bridge’s control and communications system.
(From presentation on Seattle Transportation Plan presented to Pedestrian Advisory Board earlier this week)
Reminder today from SDOT – its second phase of community input to shape the Seattle Transportation Plan has a week and a half left:
The STP is our commitment to building a transportation system that provides everyone with access to safe, efficient, and affordable options to reach places and opportunities. We need your help to create this plan.
Second phase of engagement continues through February 21
No matter how much time you have, how you participate, or how much you share, your input is valued. We want to hear from you! Share your feedback using the below options by Tuesday, February 21.
Have 10-20 minutes? COMMENT ON FIRST DRAFT TRANSPORTATION MAPS
Have 5 minutes? REVIEW OUR VISION, GOALS, AND OBJECTIVES
Have 1 minute? SELECT THE FUTURE YOU WANT TO SEE
Have 10 minutes? TELL US WHAT ACTIONS YOU LIKE
Between February 21 and the beginning of Phase 3, you can always email us at STP@Seattle.gov or call us at 206-257-2114.
Among other things, the plan will be used to shape the proposed successor to the current city transportation levy.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Toward the end of a four-hour meeting today, the West Seattle portion of Sound Transit‘s light-rail “further studies” briefing lasted just a few minutes. That was not entirely surprising, since the rest of the briefing for the ST Board’s System Expansion Committee included sections for which big decisions have yet to be made.”Gotta fish or cut bait pretty soon here” is how ST board member Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell put it regarding those decisions. ‘
But the briefing did illuminate a few things for the West Seattle segment. For one, ST staff put forward a possible “end-to-end scenario” that incorporated two of the three “studied” possibilities for West Seattle – moving the entrance to the Junction station and shifting the Delridge alignment – but did not include the potential removal of the Avalon station. That doesn’t mean this is what staff is necessarily formally proposing or supporting, but it’s worth noting that it’s what they showed as an example.
Before getting to that slide, ST’s Cathal Ridge showed slides going back through the three West Seattle “further studies” proposals (explained in this memo). The most detailed was the possible Delridge “refinement,” which Ridge said had been evolving as design work proceeded:
Here’s the “updated concept” addressing some of the Delridge station concerns:
Another major concern that had come up earlier in the process was the potential effects on Transitional Resources, a nonprofit serving people living with behavioral-health challenges, with services and facilities including supportive housing. As this slide showed, the current alignment goes right through the heart of its operations:
The “refinement” shown today wouldn’t entirely spare Transitional Resources, but would reduce the major effect to one smaller property, Ridge said:
Uphill from there, he had little elaboration about the possibility of dropping the Avalon station, beyond what this slide shows:
Earlier in the meeting, leading off the public-comment section, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold urged board members to think about how elimination of the Avalon station might affect low-income High Point residents needing to get to light rail. Meantime, back to the last “further studies” area, here are the slides shown for the possible relocation of the Junction station entrance:
This option, it was clarified in response to a question, would only move the entrance, not the station itself.
So what’s next? For the West Seattle items, that’s up in the air. No vote is required (until the vote later this year that finalizes “the project to be built,” after the Final Environmental Impact Statement comes out). The board does have to vote on a “preferred alternative” for the rest of the West Seattle/Ballard extensions, beyond SODO, and is expected to do that next month. One thing we do know is that they’re still taking community feedback on all the “further studies” items (see the full 134-page slide deck here) and will get a summary at the full board’s February 23rd meeting, so if you feel strongly about one or more of these possible changes, now’s the time to say something. Here’s a survey, open for one more week (until February 17th), also reachable from the “further studies” section of the West Seattle/Ballard Link Extensions website.
One of the two state ferries on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route is about to downsize until further notice – M/V Issaquah is out of service “due to necessary repairs,” per WSF, so M/V Sealth is taking over as the #2 boat. That means 34 fewer vehicles, as Issaquah is a 124-car ferry and Sealth holds 90. This is all taking effect in about half an hour, so waits/backups could be longer this afternoon.
For everyone still coping with Metro trip cancellations, we’ve been noting in our weekday morning traffic/transit watches that we’ve had a request out to Metro for a while, seeking an update on how many buses are still out of service. Tonight we have the answer.
“We are nearing the finish line for this round of steering column replacement efforts,” says Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer.
It’s been exactly two months since Metro revealed on December 6th that a steering defect identified by two of its drivers took buses out of service for repairs. Metro at first said it “proactively removed 126 buses from service out of its 1,500-vehicle fleet.” Then on January 12th, Metro said it actually needed to fix 206 buses, more than two-thirds of which had been repaired by then.
Now, Switzer says, “We are currently looking at 28 buses needing replacement steering columns, of which we have parts in hand to address 20 buses in the coming days thanks to our partnership with [manufacturer] New Flyer.” That work is expected to continue through the end of this month. But that’s not the end of it, he adds: “Building on initial guidance from the manufacturer, Metro has implemented a new enhanced inspection process to identify any additional buses in need of total steering column replacement moving forward.” So in terms of their service levels – which of course are affected by other factors, too, such as staffing challenges – “We’re in the range of 97% of our typical weekday service, and 100% on weekends, but appreciate the patience of riders while we work to address our fleet availability challenge.”
After last week’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, we reported on SDOT’s numbers for “free rides” offered through the Transit GO app during the last of the three weeks that the West Seattle low bridge was closed to street/path use. We also asked SDOT for a breakdown between Metro and Water Taxi usage; today we got that info from SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:
*900 single-ride bus tickets (including about 100 reduced-fare tickets)
*70 day-pass bus tickets (including about 15 reduced-fare tickets)
*450 Water Taxi tickets (including about 40 senior-fare tickets)
If you have unused points, here’s what happens to those, and another app-related note:
Any points already earned through the “LOWBRIDGE23” code won’t expire but will become inactive after 6 months of inactivity on the Transit GO app rewards tab. At the end of each month, if your status remains inactive, 300 points will be deducted from your account and returned to the provider.
All other rewards campaigns within the Transit GO app are still available to you if you’re interested in more ways to earn rides – information is available in the app for your use as well as on the King County Metro Transit GO web page. We again appreciate the support of the voter-approved Seattle Transit Measure for helping fund these transit trips during the low bridge closure and for the collaboration of our partners at King County Metro.
Last night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting featured SDOT staffers talking about the low bridge and West Marginal Way. For the former, what SDOT’s Meghan Shepard told WSTC was mostly a recap of last week’s presentation to the City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee. We covered that here. She had one new stat – numbers from the one week of free rides offered on the West Seattle Water Taxi and Metro bus users who used the Transit GO app. Shepard said 2,100 people used the app that week – the last of three weeks the low bridge was closed to street and path use – and 1,435 free ride tickets were redeemed. (The funding for that is from the voter-approved Seattle Transit Measure sales tax.)
Also last night, SDOT’s Brad Topol presented an update on West Marginal Way. You won’t be surprised to hear that its traffic volume dropped 60 percent “overnight” when the high bridge reopened in mid-September. It’s down to about 15,000 vehicles a day, same as what the volume was pre-COVID. The number of more interest: During a two-week test in September and October, closing the outside southbound lane north of the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse, driver speeds dropped 12 percent.
They’re expecting that converting that lane into a protected bicycle lane – its temporary use since the low-bridge closure – will drop the average speeds even more. And they still contend that won’t noticeably add travel time to roadway users.
They’re evaluating the corridor for other possibilities that could cause “visual friction” encouraging drivers to be closer to the posted speed limit (30 mph) – bumping out curbs, for example. As for path/lane use during the low-bridge closure, Topol said it averaged 100 to 200 a day, mostly bicycle riders. (added) Here’s the full slide deck from SDOT’s portion of last night’s meeting.
NEXT WSTC MEETING: The group is meeting every other month now, still on fourth Thursdays, so the next scheduled meeting will be at 6:30 pm March 23rd. They might switch over to hybrid – in-person and online – meetings by then; they haven’t yet finalized a location.
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