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Monday, February 19, 2007

Open Letter to Metro

posted by on February 19 at 10:10 AM

For those of us with normal jobs (those of us who aren’t government employees is what I’m trying to say), Presidents Day is not an exciting, special holiday. In other words, most of us have to work on Presidents Day. So when you cancel all your express buses and run the remaining buses on a “holiday” schedule, you make tons of people late for work. Also, when you’re only running buses every hour (instead of, say, every ten minutes like usual) the whole system becomes … very … crowded … and … slow. Which makes people even later. This is why people don’t use your service unless they have to: It’s slow, unpleasant, and unreliable.

Please make a note of it.

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The combined efforts of Metro, Sound Transit, and my employer have converted me from a committed public-transit commuter to a daily motorist. What takes 16 minutes in my car (and used to take about 35 minutes by bus) now can take 75-90 minutes, depending on the time of day. GREAT JOB, guys! I know how you bastards get to work! (hint: It's not in buses)

Posted by Ex-metro rider | February 19, 2007 10:23 AM

Oh, what a horror, poor, poor Eric

Union holiday, national holiday, get on the clue bus Erica, all your sorrow and barfing is not news, nor interesting.

Paid union holiday if you work, double time. Now cry another river Erica.

Posted by sammy | February 19, 2007 10:27 AM

Ah yes. I had to experience this today. I remembered on Friday of the stupid holiday schedule, but then forgot until I was at the bus stop. Over and hour and a half later, I was finally at work. Fuckers.

Posted by Monique | February 19, 2007 10:29 AM

Maybe the Stranger needs a Union? Is not like they dont make tons of cash off them ads.

Bus drivers fought for their benes, medical, holidays and good wages.

Posted by SeMe | February 19, 2007 10:32 AM

It's a holiday. Deal with it. It's not all about you.

There isn't any mail delivery today, either. A lot of people don't work today and Metro probably figures it's not economically viable to run buses that are half empty.

Posted by Prospero | February 19, 2007 10:41 AM

It's slow, unpleasant and unreliable every day of the week. I just moved far enough away from work that I have to ride the bus and it hasn't been on time yet.

And another thing... those full cover marketing buses that have the graphics over the windows cause me sea sickness when I try and focus through all those little holes. Kinda feels like being on a prison transport.

Posted by monkey | February 19, 2007 10:45 AM

Let us not forget Mr Eyeman's - and all the greedy assholes who voted for his initiative's - contribution to this mess. You're probably too young to remember the pre-Eyeman holiday bus schedule. Ask you mother.

But at least we have cheap car tabs. Isn't that cool?

And hooray for the unions! Only sheep would begrudge them a holiday.

Posted by Look for the Union Label | February 19, 2007 10:49 AM

I wonder if the people defending the bus schedule actually ride the bus, because this morning was exactly as ECB described. The people from 4 normal buses had to all get onto one; making it super-crowded, slow, and more annoying than usual.

Posted by CRo | February 19, 2007 10:59 AM

"And hooray for the unions! Only sheep would begrudge them a holiday."

Or scabs.

Yo is time to Unionize the Stranger!! Let the drive begin. Medical, dental and holidays!!

Arise you workers [starvelings] from yours slumbers!
Arise you prisoners of want!
For reason in revolt now thunders,
And a better age shall dawn
Now away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses arise! arise!
We`ll change forthwith the old conditions
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

Posted by SeMe | February 19, 2007 11:02 AM

This of course is the same Metro that will be our *savior* if the surface option works out for certain people. Don't you feel more reassured already of the thousand little things that can be done, especially given the *transit* component of that?

Posted by Dave Coffman | February 19, 2007 11:03 AM

Clearly the problem is the viaduct - if it were torn down now you wouldn't have a problem, right.

Really Erica, five days a year there is a holiday you work that the busses are on holiday schedule, but you support a tear it down now plan without alternatives in place that will inconvenience thousands every day.

Unlike you the bus drivers can't phone it in - in fact why doesn't the Stranger shut down its offices for all reporters and work out of your homes - because you love working at the Stranger - you blogged that last week.

Get on board the Repair and Prepare bandwagon, acknowledge people have transportation needs today and we need to make accommondations for people that currently need capacity. Don't help push us into a rebuild.

Posted by Peter Sherwin | February 19, 2007 11:03 AM

Most people have to work today? How many people that live in areas serviced by Metro have to work today? I want to see this number please.

Posted by prove it | February 19, 2007 11:09 AM

*whew* i'm glad i was driving solo today, the roads on the eastside were quite nice today.

Posted by ddv | February 19, 2007 11:15 AM

I've been on lots of bus systems in many cities and the only system I would say 'might' exceed Metro in terms of cleanliness and comfort is Portland's system. The schedules are annoying sometimes but the system itself is excellent. Now compared to Europe or Australia....different kettle of fish.

Posted by CameronRex | February 19, 2007 11:17 AM

Oh dear. Another Seattleite relying on bus schedules. Ouch.

I feel your pain. I used to be like you. Constantly frustrated about my daily reenactment of Waiting for Godot. Getting soaked in the rain. Irritated on Presidentís Day.

Now, however, life is better. Busview is the reason.

Simply go to Busview, and a screen will pop up. Enter your bus number, then fill out the pertinent intersections, and voila. You can sit at home until the bus is about to arrive, and youíll never have to wait more than a few minutes at the bus stop.

Not only that, youíll know if two buses are coming just a few minutes apart, so you can skip the jam-packed sardine can and luxuriate in the vast open spaces of the second bus.

Posted by N | February 19, 2007 11:21 AM

I think what you viaductophiles are missing is that the surface/transit option includes a budget. By comparison to Metro's post-Eyman operating budget for that corridor, a big one, though compared to your viaduct fantasies, a small one.

Posted by Nat | February 19, 2007 11:22 AM

Re: No. 12, I'm going on anecdotal evidence from the bus I took this morning (and all the other buses people I work with took): It was completely packed, with between 2 and 10 people waiting at every single stop. Usually there's room to sit down; not today.

Posted by ECB | February 19, 2007 11:27 AM

Thank you @10,11. Let me add that we shouldn't begrudge Mother Nature a holiday that features less commute pollution into the air. Call it a token sacrifice.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | February 19, 2007 11:29 AM

Really Nat? Please give us the details.

BTW metro has about a $500M per year post Eyman budget - the .3% sales tax increase since 695 has added about $140M per year.

Posted by Peter Sherwin | February 19, 2007 11:30 AM

Need I say it: in Chicago, all public transport is on its usual weekday schedule.

Posted by bill | February 19, 2007 11:43 AM

Ask your non union employer for the fucking day off maybe.

Posted by artistdogboy | February 19, 2007 11:45 AM

Sorry I erred the 2007 budget is $614M and it doesn't appear that our latest $50M is added in. Of that amount $72M comes from farebox. library/2005_summary/09-King.pdf

Posted by Peter Sherwin | February 19, 2007 11:55 AM

Honestly, Erica, all you ever do is bitch, bitch, bitch about Metro. If it's such a problem, BUY A DAMN CAR AND PAY FOR PARKING ON CAPITOL HILL.

Oh, but then it'd be guilt, guilt, guilt, right?

You remind me of someone I know in a mediocre relationship. He could do things to improve it (and fix his own crap), but he won't, because it's easier to bitch. But you tell him, "Look, if you want out, tell her it's over and leave," and it's all "I don't know if I can find someone else." So, it's bitchy inertia.

Piss or get off the bus, Erica.

Posted by dw | February 19, 2007 12:11 PM

DW: How nice for you that "buy a damn car" seems like an easy-fix solution to a problem with Seattle's transportation system. Loan me a few thousand bucks and I will. Meanwhile, enjoy your privilege.

Posted by ECB | February 19, 2007 12:37 PM

Holiday schedules for bullshit holidays are super inconvenient for everybody who still has to go to work. Maybe, if they're not going to run a full schedule, they could at least run a SATURDAY schedule. Sunday schedules suck.

@6: Those are being phased out soon because they are so severely unpopular with riders. Its especially annoying at night when all you can see outside of the bus are some sparse blinks of light. And then when you miss your stop and ask to get off the bus, the bus drivers get all surly about it.

Posted by Louise | February 19, 2007 12:38 PM

I wish I had the day off today >_

Posted by Codes | February 19, 2007 12:44 PM

I'm going to buy an SUV today because of the slight change in schedule.

I can't wait for the new Daniel Clowes comic, Slog Commenters

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | February 19, 2007 12:45 PM

Do people have to work today? I have a "normal job" and we get the day off (OKAAAAY, I work for a bank). I'm sitting here in my underwear drinking coffee enjoying the morning...wait, it's after noon now. Enjoy working suckers!

Posted by gillsans | February 19, 2007 12:51 PM

Erica's comment about "Loan me a few thousand bucks and I will" makes the point exactly that people who ride the bus don't do it because they're wonderful environmentalists, but rather because it's a matter of finances. Wash Post had an article a few weeks back about how Europeans are increasingly commuting to work via car, despite their generally good mass transit system, because more of them can afford cars.

Posted by mrobvious | February 19, 2007 1:04 PM

Well, this wouldn't be a problem if we just let private corporations solve this non-vehicle transportation issue for us! Companies and workers would both benefit! [/Eyman]

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | February 19, 2007 1:09 PM

the unions are also the reason the worst drivers are on the most critical and difficult routes. side with whomever you side, but the inefficiencies ECB identifies are the consequences of a pro-union agenda and the monday holidays bill.

sound transit makes metro look like taxi service. ST drivers are the worst. they leave time stops early, bark at passengers, they have the wrong sign on their displays, get so behind they're on top of the bus behind them, can't operate the interior lights or rear doors, get turned around on their own routes, and then let the bus behind them pass by doing 55 on the freeway.

... and ST can't but run a train one way up and one way down per day. the operators are going to smoke and read the newspaper on the tax payers' dime for the rest of the day. and they're not going to get off the couch for you or anyone else until they retire to a government pension.

Posted by 9X | February 19, 2007 2:12 PM

To the whole lot of you. STOP THE BITCHING!!! It sounds like everyone's on the rag or something. And for everyone who was to stoned or stupid to pay attention to the callender IT IS A DAMN HOLIDAY!!!!! PLAN AHEAD!!!! Christ, it is called pull your heads out!!! I take the bus and guess what? I checked the schedule yesterday on line to see what adjustments I would have to make to make it to work. And I was not late.

And hey, instead of bitching about it, how about bitch out Metro and KC Executive Ron Simms???

Posted by Andrew | February 19, 2007 2:39 PM

#2,5,12,32, et al:
if my employer says it's a workday, it's not a holiday. I usually catch a bus 7:45ish (it's never on time). today the first bus wasn't scheduled till 8:30 (yes, I planned ahead), but didn't show up till after 8:45 'cuz it was so crowded. i'm just sayin' metro should be more responsive to, oh, maybe the people that ride the bus.

Posted by rh | February 19, 2007 2:51 PM

#33, have you written to Metro? Have you written to complain to KC Executive Ron Simms? Let us know when you have. You call all bitch on line all you want to but until you get off your asses and do something to change the situation nothing will change.

Posted by Andrew | February 19, 2007 2:57 PM

we are establishing a constituency--or yes, bitching. but that's precisely what a comment thread is for. 'sims' not 'simms:'

Posted by 9X | February 19, 2007 3:02 PM

9X, you ignorant slut: Sounder Trains are crewed by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe - hardly a government organization.

Posted by stupid is as stupid does | February 19, 2007 3:31 PM

uh, cops work today and fireman work and hospitals...none of them short staff cause its a holiday, or if they do cut back a little, its not 50%. all necessary components of society...why can't the buses? and they'll still get paid the big holiday makes sense for the big holidays to run fewer buses but not than many people get off for pres day....WE have 50% fewer buses on a day we have only 15% of the workforce off of work...DUMB!!

Posted by michael strangeways | February 19, 2007 3:38 PM

It's been awhile since Erica had some selfish viewpoint to push, it's good to see she still hasn't grown up.
GOOD THING there weren't any wheelchairs on her bus today, yipes, can you imagine the rage?

I thought all good progressives wanted our union friends to have days off.
But we see principle only goes as far as our own convenience.

Posted by calvin | February 19, 2007 3:43 PM

No, I don't want my "union friends" at Metro to have holidays like Presidents Day off. I'm fine with them making double pay for working on a "holiday" (although I sure don't) but they provide an essential public service that regular working people still need, even on "holidays" like Presidents Day.

Posted by ECB | February 19, 2007 4:32 PM

Erica, I'll sell you my car... just as soon as I have money to replace it.

Or you could walk down to the cubicle of one D. Savage and demand a raise.

But all you ever do is whine and bitch about things that inconvenience YOU, because apparently the center of the universe is no longer in Fremont because it's in your ass. There are a lot of people worse off than you, and all you can do is bitch that the disabled are holding up YOUR LIFE and that the bus doesn't pick YOU up at the right time.

You're as selfish and self-centered as some Eymanite bitching to Dori Monsen that "those people" are spending YOUR TAX DOLLARS on things like WELFARE and LIGHT RAIL when they could spend it on BUILDING A RAMP FROM THE FRONT DRIVE STRAIGHT ONTO 405.

Lighten up, Francis. The world does not revolve around you. No, it revolves around Josh Feit.

Posted by dw | February 19, 2007 4:52 PM

What the fuck is wrong with you Erica. Wah wah you were late for work. It's your own damn fault-not Metro's. For fucks sake plan ahead and make do. Or, just show up late and be alright with it.

But don't fucking piss and shit on people who are _smart_ enough to find a decent job where their employer actually honors government holidays.

Just because you jump of the bridge doesn't mean they should have too. Some people in this world have families or wish to have time to spend away from work every once and a while, and deem this extremely valuable. I hear somewhere just somewhere the governments mandate crazy amounts of vacation and the whole places just chill the fuck out and relax. But hey, not here where we work long hours for little reward.

Ooolala how fun, the Stranger's filled with uptight anti-social work-lovers.

Posted by Chas S | February 19, 2007 5:01 PM

@41 and other the other ECB-haters,

Erica has made it clear on many occasions, sometimes several times a day, that the environment matters to her and that transit matters to her. Therefore, this post is just as much about complaining about getting to work late as it is about how inefficient/inconvenient transit is self-defeating. Grow the fuck up.

Back when I had a job that gave me virtually no days off (only Thanksgiving, Christmas, and July 4th), I would frequently forget about President's Day. It's a nothing holiday that few workplaces observe. It was so fun running down Queen Anne to catch the 74 just to find out that the first one leaves at 11:30.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 19, 2007 5:10 PM

stupid is: as long as we're making corrections, my mistake doesn't make me a 'slut.' learn additional words if 'ignorant' doesn't make your point.

ST's budget is levy money, and state and federal tax dollars. their mission includes attracting ridership to keep people out of their cars and off the road. customer service, as suggested, has a lot to do with that mission's success. ECB's point stands: government money is not well spent on half-measure transit options.

Posted by 9X | February 19, 2007 5:26 PM

Geez, Erica,
Can you finally see why people are skeptical of the surface-transit option you are so deeply fond of? This problem is not limited to superfluous holidays, though. I would put up with Metro's fine ambiance of bodily fluids and odors, masturbation and fights if I were more certain I could catch a bus that is actually on time or doesn't pass me by because it's full. I am sure there are plenty of lousy mass transit systems in other US cities, but for people to get out of their cars, mass transit has to work as a reliable alternative. In this town, it does not, and we won't share your leap of faith that is can replace much of the viaduct's function.

Posted by Madashell | February 19, 2007 5:45 PM

Erica's a smart woman and no doubt could find a job where she could earn a few thousand more dollars, but she chooses not to because she likes her job.

The bus sucks. We all know it. That's why so many of us choose to earn enough money to buy and maintain our own cars. Erica has chosen not to earn the money to provide transportation for herself, and then complains because the rest of us aren't providing sufficiently for her convenience. That's just whining.

And, BTW, I have the same criticism of anyone who chooses to live and work in places that are far apart, and then demands the rest of us provide them more pavement so they will be more comfortable driving in less traffic.

Posted by pox | February 19, 2007 6:02 PM

I travel using the metro/ST every working day, and usually it works pretty well, but my god today fucking sucked. The sunday schedule was bad enough, but waiting half an hour for a bus that then rushed buy because for some insane reason they'd sent the tiniest one they had (presumably that's what they do for real holidays) and it was full to the point where no one could possibly get in. So I waited another half hour...

Erica is absolutely right: Sunday servcie for Presidents Day is fucking stupid.

Posted by Art | February 19, 2007 6:21 PM

9x, My appologies. That is a line from a very old SNL skit that was part of the weekend update segment. It was a takeoff on the "point/counterpoint" that they used to have on "60 Minutes". The Conservative (played by Dan Akroyd) would always start his rebuttal with "Jane, you ignorant slut"

I sometimes forget that many people are too young to remember that.

Posted by stupid is as stupid does | February 19, 2007 6:29 PM

# 45: I had a car. I gave it up. I wouldn't own a car even if I COULD afford to. Sometimes people do make decisions for reasons other than their own selfishness.

Besides, I make $85,000 to work for the Stranger. We're all really rich. Don't be jealous.

Posted by ECB | February 19, 2007 9:02 PM

$85,000? Burn on you Barnett. I make $97,000, and I'm up for a raise in May.

Posted by Josh Feit | February 19, 2007 9:06 PM

Metro has to make a choice on whether to devote resources to providing full service on holidays like President's Day or to spend those dollars elsewhere. Who knows what the right call is?

Erica, for a transit advocate you sure bitch about Metro a lot. I have shitty bus experiences with weird people, no seats, no bus, on and on--but almost every day Metro gets me where I need to go with efficiency and good nature.

When I have to drive I often have a horrible commute trapped in traffic. Freaky drivers threaten to crash into me. Cops wait to give me tickets for merely driving efficently.

Life in the big city is tough sometimes, so what? Tell us your positive stories about Metro too every once in a while.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | February 19, 2007 11:06 PM

I once heard Erica tell a great Metro story. She was on the bus late at night and a crew of teenage boys got on. Erica was reading a book, and one of the boys started flirting with ECB.

His opening line: "What school do you go to?"
Erica broke it to the kid how old she was (high school is a long long time ago), and psyched, he asked her out.

Boys rock.

Posted by The Real LeBron James | February 19, 2007 11:50 PM


Here is a tip from the inside of Joe Metro; make a fucking complaint- not on Slog- go to An emailed complaint by passes many of the departments. In fact, chances are good a big wig in 201 S Jackson will read it.
So why does Metro roll back so much service from Saturday to Sunday? This dates back to the "everyone go to church day." Why does Metro refuse to believe people ride the bus on Sundays? It goes along the same thought lines of why WA state shouldn't sell liquor on Sundays. Holiday service? Do you have any idea how many people wash their clothing on the 36 line on Thanksgiving day?
Metro was actually handing out pass counts to the drivers today. How many people on the bus? No check box for way too fucking many.
Here's another little tip. Pre- Eyman, a larger portion of improved services went to Seattle Major. After the cuts, the county residents bitched they wanted the increases; after all they had been neglected for years. Now all improvements of service get split: 40 to East kc/ 40 to South kc/ and only 20 to Seattle proper. The largest growing pop of all around users - not just commuting- are in seattle central.

As for unionization, it's not about driver pay. Part-timers never used to get paid for this holiday- they were laid off for the day without. ATU negotiated the pay for part timers in subsequent contracts- not the right to have the day off.

Posted by Katie | February 20, 2007 3:14 AM

Ride a bike.

Posted by DOUG. | February 20, 2007 9:05 AM

Holy shit, of course no one should ever be stupid enough to not earn enough money to own a car. Who the hell out there is so dumb that they would work as a barista or a cashier? Anyone stupid enough to serve me coffee or ring up my groceries deserves what they get. My goodness, how glad I am to have come up with a flawless argument that completely resolves this issue.

Posted by Noink | February 20, 2007 10:49 AM

@48: You've made my point. You choose not to have a car - a fine choice I respect and admire. The problem is that you then expect the men and women of the driver's union to give up a holiday, or the rest of us to pay them double time to accommodate your personal choice and convenience. That's somehow not selfish?

Posted by pox | February 20, 2007 11:47 AM

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she'd say:

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

Posted by Woody | February 20, 2007 11:08 PM

I used to drive solo to work, too. I paid for a parking space and also took advantage of the subsidized bus pass on days when the wife needed the car. Out of the blue, my employer told all of us to choose one subsidy or another (parking space or bus pass, for example), and gave us a month or so to decide. I was livid, and had a fuming discussion about it with the transportation director. It was inconvenient at the time, but life moved on and I got used to riding my bike and taking the bus, which still really sucks and is the slowest possible way for me to get to work. I don't really miss the car, though, and I'm sure others out there too timid to get out of their cars could use the same kind of kick in the ass.

Tear down the viaduct, but for fuck's sake, give us better transit options in this fucking backwater.

Posted by Pomme Fritz | February 20, 2007 11:50 PM

Ah, so late to this discussion. I had Monday off. Here's the thing, IMO. Y'all had bus service at all, consider yourselves fortunate. When I was in college, public transportation didn't run at all on Sundays or holidays - ever.

I finally learned to drive at the age of 24, almost 25, because I live in a fucking town that runs the equivalent of a "holiday schedule" every fucking day. The buses that service the university run every 57 minutes and yet the city counsel can't figure out the traffic problem! 15,000 people all going to one place five days a week, but the city counsel won't accommodate the university by adding more public transportation to the route because they don't support the long-range development plan.

See, I grew up in the Bellevue/Seattle area and I remember everyone talking about the massive population boom and the conscious decisions not to support the growth of the city. City planners honestly believed that the growth wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't continue and therefore failed to plan appropriately for housing and transportation. Sorry.

Posted by dewsterling | February 21, 2007 3:05 PM

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