Metro wants feedback on simplifying fares

If you have an ORCA card supplied by your employer, sorting out what you’re going to pay to ride a Metro bus is pretty simple. But, for the rest of us, King County’s fare system is, as the Seattle Transit Blog says, unfair and complex.

Metro is rolling out a survey to help shape a proposal planned to get in front of the county council by June. You can add your thoughts in the first planned survey here by April 7th. You can read what the experts at STB have to say about the plan and what is behind the effort to change the system here:

The background materials presented to the Advisory Committee convened for this project show that Metro is primarily focused on two goals: in the short term, potential elimination of zone and peak surcharges, and in the longer term, moving gingerly toward cashlessness and/or universal off-board payment. Please take the survey, and we’ll keep you updated with additional feedback opportunities as the project progresses. You may also email comments to Metro’s DeAnna Martin.

Given the tight turnaround time to get the proposal in front of the King County Council, a second survey on options for how to best shape a new fare structure will follow in April.

Metro is also holding public meetings on the fare review. The next is April 4th at King Street Station from 3:30 to 5:30 PM.

You can learn more at kingcounty.gov.

Metro has $161 million deal to sell downtown bus center for convention center expansion

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Screen-Shot-2015-03-02-at-10.49.16-AM-400x337King County has agreed on a price for the Washington State Convention Center to acquire the Convention Place Station bus facility, part of the $1.6 billion project to expand the center and a harbinger of the end of Metro’s use of the downtown transit tunnel.

The WSCC will pay $161 million for the land over the next 30 or so years — $275 million with interest.

“This proposed sale will help support Metro’s service and reliability improvements for the next three decades,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in the announcement of the agreement. “Meanwhile, the expansion of the Convention Center will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth for the region. This agreement is good for taxpayers, transit riders, and workers.” Continue reading

With officials touting ‘record transit’ numbers, Capitol Hill riders trading bus for light rail

Opposite Day On the Escalator, Capitol Hill Link Light Rail Station

More Capitol Hill commuters are traveling by public transportation — and they’re ditching buses in favor of light rail and the First Hill Streetcar in droves. The new numbers come from the Seattle Transit Blog’s analysis of the first release of systemwide ridership data following the opening of Capitol Hill Station, UW Station, and the U-Link restructure that optimized Metro’s lines around the opening of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway.

While Capitol Hill-area riders are less likely to be hopping on a bus, the data comparing Fall 2015 with Fall 2016 activity show Metro’s restructure apparently paid off by putting the county system to work serving areas away from the light rail circuit and feeding riders to the stations. “Despite an aggressive ULink restructure, Metro ridership stayed flat, declining by just 0.2%,” the STB wonks write. Continue reading

Get on the battery bus: King County leads way with $90M+ plan for new electric buses

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

You likely won’t see one regularly crossing Capitol Hill until 2020 but King County Metro is accelerating its efforts to reduce emissions and become a carbon neutral system with a $90 million-plus plan to add more than 100 battery-only electric buses to its fleet.

“This puts us in on the forefront of innovation and technology,” King County Council member Rod Dembowski said. “We were innovators in wheelchair lifts. We were innovators in hybrid electric. Transit agencies look to us for what they’re going to adopt.”

“We are signaling that is is proven technology,” the county District 1 rep tells CHS. Continue reading

Starting in 2017, the 8 won’t be (as?) late thanks to changes on Denny and Capitol Hill

route-8-improvements-diagramThe notoriously undependable but much-depended on Metro 8 might be a little more trustworthy thanks to changes planned on Denny Way including two stretches of bus-only lanes and improved bus stops on Capitol Hill segments of its route.

“Though reliability increased when Route 8 was divided into two separate routes in March 2016, late buses are still a problem, especially during rush hour and major events at the Seattle Center,” the agency said in its announcement of the planned streamlining.

On Capitol Hill, Metro announced that “on-street parking will be restricted on short sections of Denny Way, Olive Way, East John Street, and East Thomas Street” and two bus stops on E Olive Way and E John will be expanded “so buses don’t have to leave and re-enter heavy traffic, and to provide more space and amenities for waiting passengers.” Continue reading

Metro wants Night Owl feedback on plan to boost late-night service

304/365 - On a Rainy Night

King County Metro will field public comment through October on a proposal to expand its late night bus service:

The public is encouraged to review the proposal and offer comments via an online survey until Oct. 30. Public comments will help shape a final proposal, which could go before the County Council later this year. If approved, it will take effect in September 2017.

The agency says late night passengers represent “a small portion of Metro’s total ridership,” but that demand appears to be growing, with boarding increasing “by 20 percent in the last five years.”

Details of the proposal can be found at kingcounty.gov and the full announcement from Metro is below. Across the Hill, Route 11 would see boosted service along with possible tweaks to improve transfers on other routes. Continue reading

First look at how light rail, route revisions have changed Capitol Hill bus ridership

Over the weekend, CHS’s Re:Take history series took a look back at some of the lost bus routes of Capitol Hill. We don’t have to look back far in time to find the changes. Late last year, Metro planned out a wave of revisions and reroutes to optimize its service around the opening of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station and UW.

Now, the Seattle Transit Blog has provided the first look at how ridership on the altered bus lines has changed in the first months as ridership on light rail has soared.

STB grouped the impacted Capitol Hill routes into a set of winners…

  • Route 11: up 38% — The #11 is likely absorbing demand on Pine Street east of Broadway for former Route 10 riders unwilling to walk to Link. Continue reading

Metro willing to give you prizes to stop driving alone on Capitol Hill

"Riding the 43 at dusk" (Image: Patricia via Flickr)

“Riding the 43 at dusk” (Image: Patricia via Flickr)

unnamed (4)Metro is bringing a program to encourage people who live, work, and/or go to school on Capitol Hill to get out of cars — and keep track of it — for prizes, giveaways, and a strong sense of public transit righteousness. “By taking part in the program, residents can find more ways to give their car a break and explore healthier transportation options available in their neighborhood by taking the bus, walking, bicycling, carpooling and more,” Metro’s marketing exclaims.

You can sign up for Capitol Hill In Motion here.

For those who already don’t regularly use a car, Metro is also offering rewards for sharing your story — but, just saying, the prizes seem better for ditching a car.

The program is run by Alta Planning Colehour + Cohen for Metro and has been previously introduced in Juanita, South Park – White Center, Squire Park, West Seattle, and North Seattle/Shoreline. (Alta ran the first iterations of the program.) CHS is a community partner in the project to help spread the word.

The full announcement and information on signing up is below.

Continue reading

Bus Stop | What Capitol Hill bus service could look like in 2025 and beyond

The Madison bus rapid transit is slated to open by 2019.

The Madison bus rapid transit line is slated to open in 2019.

With its big U-Link bus restructure in place, King County Metro has quietly begun laying the ground work to adapt to the next phase of expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system. Within days of Seattle getting its first look at how Seattle’s light rail network will look in 2040 — with service to Ballard and West Seattle, in addition to Everett and Tacoma on the extremities of the system — Metro released a map showing its first attempt to serve our region in conjunction with that system. CHS dug into the Long Range Plan map to find how those changes would affect Capitol Hill.

As we have seen in the past, these plans can change dramatically, even more so with the timelines in decades instead of years. But the map provides an insight into how transit planners at Metro are attempting to serve Capitol Hill riders. Metro is breaking these changes into two conceptual phases: 2025 service and 2040 service.

2025

The biggest change that will be in place by 2025 is Madison BRT. This project will consolidate service on Madison Street in dedicated lanes between downtown and Madison Valley, freeing up some service hours to be used elsewhere to complement.

As a result, Metro is eyeing moving route 2 off Seneca St. on First Hill and onto Pine Street in Capitol Hill.

This change, in turn, will pave the way for Metro to create a new crosstown workhorse between the Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, and Capitol Hill from the current route 49. This route will serve 12th Ave, which perplexingly does not have any Metro service today despite being the eastern edge of one of Seattle’s largest private universities. This will also be the most frequent transfer between Madison BRT and light rail service at Capitol Hill Station. Continue reading

Project to electrify the 48 bus is underway on 23rd Ave

15500806797_63c05617b6_z

Red sections indicate where overhead wires will go up. (Image: SDOT)

Red sections indicate where overhead wires will be installed. (Image: SDOT)

Amid the massive overhaul of the 23rd Ave corridor and the uproar it’s caused with local merchants, another project on the street has quietly got underway: building the infrastructure necessary to transition the route 48 diesel hybrid busses into a fleet of all-electric trolleys.

Connecting the U-District to Mt. Baker through the Central District and Capitol Hill, the 48 is the workhorse of 23rd Ave transit, shuttling riders the entire length of the corridor. Much of 23rd Ave has overhead wires to accommodate the 4 and 43, but the 48 has to run diesel hybrid busses due to gaps in the line.

There are currently 1.7 miles of missing overhead wires needed to run electric trolleys on the 48, with gaps from John to Cherry, and Dearborn to Plum.

The Seattle Department of Transportation, which is handling funding and construction for the King County Metro line, estimates the project will cost $14.6 – $17.5 million, with $9.4 million already secured through federal grants. Construction will include installing trolley poles, overhead wires, and traction power sub stations. The second phase of the project is expected to get underway next year, setting up the 48 to go electric in 2018.

“The Electric trolley bus is the really tried and true transit wet have here in Seattle,” said SDOT’s transit deputy director Bill Bryant at a recent city-county joint transportation meeting. “It is particularly well suited for our hilly environment and lots of starts and stops.”

There are clear environmental benefits, too. With its 4 miles per gallon busses, the 48 route uses roughy 185,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year. Electric trolley bus technology was found to be $3.7 million cheaper annually than diesel hybrids, according to an SDOT study. Electric trolleys will also significantly reduce noise along the busy corridor.

In 2023, the 48 will also be the only transit line to directly connect non-downtown stations on all three Link lines: Central Link (Mount Baker Station), East Link (Judkins Park Station), and North Link (Brooklyn and UW stations). Continue reading