Month: January 2014

How is that bus cost effective?

Sometimes we see comments and questions along the lines of, “How is that bus profitable? No one is on it. The last time I rode it, it only had two people on the bus coming into West Seattle.” Someone asked this about the #50 today. Here is the KC Metro route page for the #50:

http://metro.kingcounty.gov/schedules/050/s0.html

We’ll run you through a typical bus line here, and why it’s not a problem to see it empty–sometimes. This will make sense by the end.

Route 50

Route 50

It goes from Othello Station on in southeast Seattle to Seward Park, to Columbia City, to the VA hospital on Beacon Hill, to the SODO Busway & S Lander (by Amazon), to the West Seattle Bridge, to the Alaska Junction here in West Seattle, to 61st Ave SW & Alki Ave SW (the beach in Alki), and then back again. It hits, basically, several business districts, a hospital, two major recreation destinations in the city (that cater more to locals versus “outside” tourists–how many out of towners will you see at Alki or Seward versus Pike Place Market? We’re not exactly a beach destination for tourists).

That bus runs 36 times per day, from 5:14am to 11:04pm, and each “run” takes about an hour. It takes on average around 8 to 11 minutes to go from location to location. The #50 averages about 2200 “riders” per day from Monday to Friday. Assuming each of the 36 individual runs had an even share of the riders that means each run would be carrying 61 passengers in total. That means at each stop, somewhere between 4 to 9 people are boarding the #50.

They usually use a bus with a capacity of 30 people to operate the #50. Not every single person is going to ride all the way from Othello to Alki or from Alki to Othello each time, of course. Some get on; some get off. But, we’re averaging per run double the physical capacity of the bus, so far.

There’s another consideration, as well: the route 50 directly connects West Seattle and other neighborhoods to the Light Rail to SeaTac Airport.

Realistically, the 5am bus and the 11pm bus aren’t going to have as many people on it. The buses between 7am-830am and 430pm-6pm are going to have the bulk of the riders, because that’s the case for many bus lines. On many of the runs, you’ll have the #50 at capacity or very crowded, but again, not for every stop. This is just how a bus line works. The route overall does fine for it’s usage, and the off hours buses serve the public good by letting people ride. While there may only be 5 people getting onto the 5:14am bus at Alki, that’s fine. By the time the bus has gotten to the VA hospital, that run in costs to Metro is likely already paid for, even if there are less people on it.

If the route wasn’t cost effective, and wasn’t in an area that requires additional services (per King County laws) Metro would contract the service and shift that budget somewhere else. Why do we know that? Remember that the #21 used to drive deeply into Arbor Heights, where now it only gets the 21 express commuter service. The justification that was given by Metro was that not enough riders rode the #21 deep enough into Arbor Heights past the commuting hours to justify all day service. Metro has no money to waste running empty buses to nowhere. If a route survived the 2012 cuts, it’s got people riding on it and that route is needed.

Update on our January 14th event at Youngstown

We have a late update on the event for tomorrow. The West Seattle Transportation Coalition regrets to inform you that we will no longer be joined at this event by Charles Knutson of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s office on January 14.

Governor Inslee called for a special meeting between leaders of both parties in Olympia for Tuesday, January 14th, focusing on transportation. As a result, Mr. Knutson had to cancel several engagements in Seattle to stay at the capitol, including ours. The Governor’s office is currently attempting to arrange for a high level WSDOT representative to attend in their place, who will be briefed on the questions we have provided.

Due to the technical nature of some of the questions the WSTC will be asking attendees, they were provided ahead of time for research, with the request for written responses for publication for after the event. The Governor’s office is still working to provide us full written responses to our questions, as planned.

Chris Arkills from Executive Constantine’s office, Andrew Glass Hastings from Mayor Murray’s office, and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen are still attending. Everyone here at the WSTC looks forward to seeing all of you at this important event, as we finally tackle the longstanding issues that have gone idle for too long.

Event details:

Q&A Panel about West Seattle transportation issues with the offices of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and City of Seattle Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

Date: January 14th, 2014
Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm
Location: Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, Thelma Dewitty Theater, 4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98107

WSTC January Q&A Panel, more details

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition (http://www.westseattletc.org) in October 2013 issued a call to action from the offices of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, then Mayor Mike McGinn and then Mayoral candidate Ed Murray, and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

West Seattle, unique to all other regions of King County, faces up to 27% transit cuts due to the current funding crisis in Olympia that special sessions of the State Legislature were unable to overcome. The rest of King County faces only 17% cuts. In addition, West Seattle faces the impending removal of the SR-99 Viaduct, our main avenue to reach downtown Seattle. With the Seattle deep bore tunnel drilling project increasingly behind schedule with the discovery of steel pipes left behind a decade ago from a previous WSDOT project, our situation has grown even more complicated. Our circumstances and geography leave us with few obvious mitigation options as a community around these problems.

On January 14th, 2014 at 6:30pm, we will host a Q&A Panel with various levels of government in response to these issues, and to see what can be done, in a live event.

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition will be joined by the following:

  • Charles Knutson, Senior Policy Advisor to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.
  • Chris Arkills, Transportation Policy Advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine.
  • Andrew Glass Hastings, Transit and Transportation Advisor to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
  • Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Councilmember and Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee.

The event will be held at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, in West Seattle, in the Thelma Dewitty Theater. The event will run from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. The West Seattle Transportation Coalition has provided to each attendee a list of 7 to 10 questions, and will be following up with each for full answers, for publication after the event. The West Seattle Transportation Coalition will cover 3-5 questions with each attendee on January 14th, as time permits.

Event details:

Q&A Panel about West Seattle transportation issues with the offices of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and City of Seattle Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

Date: January 14th, 2014
Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm
Location: Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, Thelma Dewitty Theater, 4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98107

Join our discussion e-mail list, WSTC Talk!

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition has created an email list, talk@westseattletc.org! This mail list is mostly for transportation issues, but any West Seattle related discussion is fine if people want to use it for that! There is no other peninsula-wide mail list currently and no other transportation-focused e-mail list in the Seattle area. The list is brand new, so there aren’t many subscribers, yet. Get in on the ground floor.

To join the list, go here: http://www.westseattletc.org/wstc-talk

Enter your name and e-mail address, and then click confirm on the e-mail you get. Just send an e-mail to talk@westseattletc.org to start a discussion!

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