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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meanwhile, In South Seattle…

posted by on September 17 at 17:22 PM

Two items of interest (because it’s Roundup Day here in the news office):

Brian McGuigan (AKA Bus Bitch) at the Rainier Valley Post points out something I might have noticed about King County Metro’s bus expansion proposal, had I not been so bent on finding something nice to say about it: The service expansions completely ignore the Rainier Valley. That’s despite the fact that the area has some of the highest ridership in the city. Writes McGuigan:

Despite having 3 of the 25 routes with the highest increases in ridership over the last year, we are seeing no additional service in the Valley. In fact, only one (Yes, one!) of the bus lines that will see increased service as part of the Transit Now initiative is on the list of buses with the highest increases in ridership since last year— and yes, you guessed it: that bus is not in the Rainier Valley. The one bus, the 44 serving Ballard and the U-District, has about a third of the passengers of the perpetually late 48 line and a little more than half of the Beacon Hill vomit wagon, the 36. Of the remaining buses receiving additional service in Seattle, all run through central and north Seattle neighborhoods (Again, no Rainier Valley!).

From a completely parochial perspective, I would LOVE to see bus service improved on South Seattle express routes that only run every hour, and only until the afternoon. (Does Metro really believe that NO ONE on Capitol Hill/First Hill works after 6:30?) That said, the workhorse of the Rainier Valley, the 7, runs pretty frequently—and I’m not sure increasing service would improve the very real problems of massive overcrowding, nonexistent schedules, buses that pile up on top of each other, poorly maintained electric trolley buses and generally unpleasant conditions on that route. What will help is light rail, which—as McGuigan notes—will give much of the Rainier Valley some relief starting next year. I do wish Metro and the city would be more conscious of South Seattle’s needs when it comes to transit, bike, and urban planning (believe it or not, there are people down there, and they do vote), but I’m also excited (again, from a totally parochial perspective) that we’ll be able to hop on light rail in just over a year.

In unrelated South Seattle news: Tomorrow, at 9:30 am, Jean Godden’s finance and budget committee will discuss a proposal to create a Business Improvement Area for Columbia City—essentially, a special district where businesses and property owners pay extra taxes that are then used to pay for improvements to the area. Those improvements, according to the legislation, include maintaining public areas, removing litter and graffiti, sweeping sidewalks, and looking out for and reporting security threats to the Seattle Police Department. Other neighborhoods that have formed BIAs include the International District, Capitol Hill, and the University District.

RSS icon Comments


Yeah, it would be great, but just like in Kent where the Sounder runs, they are going to cut bus service around the Light Rail trunk to force people to use it, even when flexible bus routes make far more sense.

Posted by John Bailo | September 17, 2008 5:28 PM

I was excited to see an increase in the 14 service, until I realized it was only on the Mt. Baker side of the line.

Posted by w7ngman | September 17, 2008 5:41 PM

How about the so-called 'improvements' to the 11? Increasing the frequency to every 10 minutes? Great. Only increasing it from 9 - 10 am and 2 - 3pm? WTF.

And, how come all of the 11s are always the short bus?

Posted by Dude, Where's My Bus? | September 17, 2008 5:55 PM

Which 11s, 3? The ones in the morning (my reason for not needing a car, yay!) are normal-sized.

Posted by Abby | September 17, 2008 6:02 PM

Perhaps a bit of investigating into TRANSIT NOW 2006's very specific requirements what Sims/METRO is now saying should be addressed by a journalist from Seattle's Only Newspaper as the Bothel Times/PI just cut pasted the press release.
In the meantime, please read the measure, especially my personal fave "Exhibit A," and ask yourself if what we are seeing is what we voted for.

Posted by chk_it | September 17, 2008 6:04 PM

Thanks for showing the Bitch some love, Erica, but don't be fooled: light rail alone will not save the Rainier Valley without serious bus rerouting, an affordable transfer system and development that has reverence for the community.

The 7, while it is the workhorse, doesn't serve anyone in the Valley west of Rainier-- or anyone with the good sense not to ride a crime-ridden bus past dark. The 36, 39, 42 and 48, the RV's other main bus lines, just, um, suck for a variety of reasons that a blog comment won't do justice. If we keep bitching though, maybe that will change.

Posted by Bus Bitch | September 17, 2008 6:48 PM

For the money ST2 will cost, the entire Metro system could be increased by about a third.

We can have a line to Lynnwood and maybe Overlake by around 2025 or more buses in a couple of years.

Put 09kingcounty into google and you can get the pdf of their budget. About $750,000,000 in 2008 which counts $88M in farebox so the $250M (King County's share)for ST2 really should buy even more than a third more.

I can't find the tax revenue numbers for ST2 but I believe KC will be putting up about $250M - if someone has a link to ST tax revenue forcasts...

Posted by ouch | September 17, 2008 8:02 PM

@7, they could increase Metro by a third but they couldn't sustain it because buses cost way more to operate per rider than rail. The capital costs are higher for rail but the operating costs are far higher for buses. Plus, rail is more comfortable to ride and is on time far more often, encouraging more people to ride it.

Erica, isn't it obvious why there haven't been service revisions in the Rainier Valley? When LINK comes online next year, there will be a massive revamping of bus lines in the entire LINK service area so that buses aren't duplicating service in corridors served by LINK. That's when we're likely to see big shifts in bus lines in the Rainier Valley (though it will not necessarily be new service, it will be existing service moved around to funnel people onto rail).

Posted by lorax | September 17, 2008 8:22 PM

Why would you expand bus service in Rainier Valley when you're adding a light rail line and taking the existing bus service there to double it in the first place?

Besides, we need it for the Surface Plus Transit replacement.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 17, 2008 10:03 PM

I find the term "bus bitch" mysogenistic.

Posted by Banna | September 18, 2008 6:20 AM

8 - "The capital costs are higher for rail but the operating costs are far higher for buses."

Stop lying, fuckface. The operating cost estimate ST has now for the Phase I system during just the 1997-2016 period is $2.7 billion. That's in its finance plan for 2008, on its website. That's far more expensive per-passenger than Metro's costs.

Posted by yalp | September 18, 2008 6:43 AM

Wedgewood got fucked yet again. Still no improvement in evening or weekend service. And since the 65 and the 72 are less than reliable (I waited 90 minutes last Saturday for a 72 heading downtown) I guess I will still use my car when I want to go out and party.

Metro: We'll get you there??

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | September 18, 2008 6:55 AM

@Banna. You can't even spell misogynistic.

Posted by Bus Bitch | September 18, 2008 7:44 AM

@Will in Seattle. The Valley may be getting light rail, but that won't be for another year. If you don't live in the RV, then you don't know how bad our transit problem is: it is very fucking bad. Commuters are passed regularly or riding shoulder to shoulder on trips that should take 20-30 minutes, but are now taking upwards of an hour and a half to two hours. It shouldn't take two freaking hours to get to Rainier Beach from Downtown. So while everyone north of I-90 reaps the benefits of the "new and improved" bus service, we are sitting at our bus stops, passes in hand, waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Posted by Bus Bitch | September 18, 2008 7:55 AM

Bus Bitch you are getting light rail. That is billions of dollars of taxes worth of high capacity transit. Stop whining about transit options. You have them, we don't. We are all insanely jealous of you and your light rail. That has capacity up the ying yang.

Posted by auslander | September 18, 2008 8:29 AM

@Auslander. I don't even live near a freaking light rail station. Many of the current commuters on the South End don't. Come on down to the RV and see what surrounds the stations: a bunch of newly-minted and future condos (Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes made of ticky tacky...) that none of the working class RV residents could afford. Light rail will be dependent on an influx of yups for ridership raising our property taxes and taking the RV from the last affordable neighborhood in Seattle to another bastion for Microsofties and motherfuckers who can afford to drive but don't: because it's not just not green. This is more than a transit issue; it's an issue of class and gentrification. Stay above I-90 and pretend like that shit doesn't exist.

Posted by Bus Bitch | September 18, 2008 9:24 AM

Not only are we not getting more buses in South Seattle, they are cutting back on the size of the buses. My morning #7 express bus has been reduced from a long bus to a short one. On my morning bus, it' standing room only from Orcas to Downtown.

It's true we're getting rail - but it's still in the future. In the meantime, we need better service!

Posted by Rob | September 18, 2008 12:41 PM

The 36 so, so desperately needs some love. Riding that route is such a nightmare.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 18, 2008 8:37 PM

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