Monday, November 30, 2009

Community Transits Swift BRT Line

Well, Washingtons first BRT line is in service. This is the second BRT line in the Northwest behind Eugenes EmX. Distinctive stations line Hwy 99 from Aurora Village to Everett and offer almost level boarding, ticket Vending Machines that resemble parking meters, ORCA Taggers at each end, schedules and maps with connecting info, and bright lighted platforms with roomy shelters. The buses are nice, the are New Flyer Low Floor Hybrid buses, they are similar to Eugenes buses, except they are still normal in that they dont have doors on the left side of the bus.

There is room for 3 bikes on board in special bike racks, bike always board through the 3rd door. The seats across the way fold up since you can see bikes can take up a lot of aisle space. It is similar to Light Rail in that you must have a fare before boarding. You either can purchase a one-way only fare from the TVMs on the platform, or tap your ORCA card, which will give you transfer privileges. No paper transfers will be issued or accepted on Community Transit Jan 1, and on Swift immediately.

Wheelchairs also have a new option to sit backwards against the board and pull down a lever to hold them in. If the bus makes a sudden stop, the board prevents them from rolling forward. This will save time in securing and unsecuring wheelchairs. The bus does not have automated stop announcements as of yet, but I hear they are coming. The stations do not have next arrival displays, but during the weekdays, buses come every 10 min. Swift is over 17 miles long, making it the longest BRT line in the country right now. Something I noticed, the local stops are about 2 bus lengths ahead of the BRT stops, if one is waiting at a local stop, and sees the BRT arrive, they could run up to it and get on, potentially not paying a fare. They should have done this like in Los Angeles, local stops are on one side of the street, Rapid stops are on the other. It is a nice line, it covers the busiest traveled corridor in the Community Transit System. I will be interested to see the numbers and anything they are going to do in the future with BRT.

Heres my Video from the day:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Something with little attention: There is positive at TriMet

Over the course of the last few weeks, TriMet has been at the center of numerous Media Attacks. From supposed cell-phone photos being taken while driving, a small child getting left behind on a MAX Platform, a man getting killed trying to beat a MAX Train, all of this is leading the public perception all TriMet operators are incompetent and rude. With everything thats going on in the world, the economy, world affairs, do we really need to dwell on more negativity? I know many of you who read my blog, who ever you are, either ride transit frequently or are an operator of a transit vehicle, so this may be obvious to you, to some, its clearly not.

Many of the operators out there do a GREAT job. They are on the ball, slamming Streetcars to halt to avoid hitting the car that just ran the Stop Sign, being quick on the bus breaks to avoid clipping an idiot that turns in front of them, nobody notices those moments, an operator has potentially saved a life at that moment. If your driving a Miata, and a 40ft bus slams into you, there will be injuries, or worse, fatalities. These bus drivers are signed on with our life in their hands, they all take that responsibility seriously! On top of avoiding idiots, operators put up with rude and grouchy customers, because of something that is more than likely not the operators fault, they also put up with crying and screaming children, fare invaders, sometimes fights, people that haven't showered in a month. Transit does not cater to any one social group, people from all walks of life ride a bus or train. They see it all, wether they want to or not. There are well over 1300 operators out there keeping Portlands Public Transit System on the move, and because 6 operators (I can think of right now) have made the news does NOT mean the other 1294 are rude, or break the rules, or discriminate. No matter what you think of the operators, they have a tough job.

I am thinking about putting another request in to TriMet to film from a MAX cab for a day, to catch what MAX operators are seeing, to see what these people are subject to (if anyone can help in this department, let me know). Almost hitting people, no matter how dumb they are, can be hard on a human being, actually killing someone from the cab, can be devastating. I have without a doubt seen a few bad apples out there, operators who think mouthing back to a customer is OK, or acting like they don't care. For the majority of my ride, the operators always greet me, say Hi, or Good Morning, they thank me for showing/paying a fare. They call out stops, give directions to bus transfers, or how to get there, even if that patron is not going to ride their bus. Its all in a days work. I think if I could put something like this up, it would help people better understand, and appreciate what the operators do for 8-10 hours a day, for you, and the public that just simply has places to go.

When you ride a bus and your getting off at your stop, always thank the driver for a good job, after all, you made it to your destination safely, yelling "Thank You" from the back door is OK, believe me, I have never seen an operator ignore a thank you from the back! If you make it to the operator cab of your MAX, look to see if they make eye contact, if so, smile, most return the smile, they appreciate it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Community Transits SWIFT debuts this Sunday, 11/29

Washington States first BRT line starts up service this Sunday. Service will be free from 4pm to Midnight on Sunday only. After that, it is $1.50 each way, unless you use your ORCA card in which you have a 2 hour transfer. Buses will run every 10-20 min depending on the time of day. Travel time from Aurora Village to Everett is 36-50 min, depending on the time of day. BRT provides a low cost alternative and more flexibility than Light Rail. This BRT line is serving Community Transits busiest corridor, it will provide connections To King County Metro to the south, Community Transit routes along the way, Everett Transit & Sounder Trains to the North. BRT operates similar to light rail in that the fares are on an honor based collection system, random checks are performed and you must purchase a ticket or tap your ORCA card before you get on. You then my board and exit through any door. Lane Transit District in Eugene already uses BRT and has aggressive expansion plans, King County Metros BRT is opening soon and will serve Pacific Hwy from Tukwilas' LINK Station to Federal Way Transit Center. Its a trend that building and expanding, should be exciting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Light Rail Operator invites you to try her job before judging ...

UPDATE: Unfortunately the author of the PDX Trains Light Rail blog is no longer blogging at that site, and the story is not accessible.

Read Come Walk in My shoes over at "Light Rail & I, a Love story 28 Years in the Making".

I, again, invite you to watch my "Idiots" Video to see a very little slice of what they put up with every day. Where I have never filmed, Pioneer Square, is where I see most of the Idiots from the outside! Any of you should know if you drive an auto on the roads, theres the people who cut you off, fail to signal and block the road, Imagine dealing with that 8-10 hours a day. Read her entry, it makes a good point.

Pierce Transit (Tacoma) offers free rides on Thanksgiving Day!

For Immediate Release:
November 19, 2009

For More Information Contact:
Lind Simonsen, Community Relations
Pierce Transit (253) 581-8034

Ride FREE on Pierce Transit this Thanksgiving Day

On Thanksgiving Day Pierce Transit will provide free rides on local buses and SHUTTLE.


On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 26, Pierce Transit local bus service, SHUTTLE, and Sound Transit Expressservice will operate on a Sunday schedule. Tacoma Link will operate on a holiday schedule. Bus Plus, Olympia Express,Intercity Transit buses and offices, and Sounder commuter rail will not operate.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Pierce Transit local bus service, SHUTTLE, and Sound Transit Express, Tacoma Link, andIntercity Transit will operate on a normal weekday schedule. Sounder commuter rail will operate on a modified holiday schedule; please refer to their website for the detailed time table.

Pierce Transit administrative offices and the Bus Shop locations on Commerce Street and at the Tacoma Dome Station will beclosed on Thanksgiving Day and on Friday, November 27. The Lakewood Bus Shop sales office will be closed on Thanksgiving and open on Friday from 10am – 4pm; phone information is available from 9am – 5 p.m.

For additional information call Pierce Transit Customer Service at 253.581.8000

Man Tries to Beat MAX, Doesn't make it

The Oregonian Post

And May I remind you, I have caught a few trying to beat MAX, Trains run on tracks, you can't be hit if your not on the tracks, and look both ways before crossing them!

Friday, November 20, 2009

San Francisco MUNI Cuts or Reduces Service Eff Dec 5

But leaves no rider behind. On their website are the modifications, complete with maps identifying the route or segment discontinued, and showing where nearby service is located. After looking at a couple of maps, unlike TriMet, there are actually feasible options on route being discontinued. One route was a thru route, in which two routes serve currently, so the new trip requires a transfer. Another had routes one or 2 blocks on both sides. Some route had frequencies reduced, or hours of service cut. However, some lines had service added too, so its not all bad news. They are doing what they can to offset lower sales tax revenues. SF MUNI also administers the parking in San Francisco, including tickets, regulations and fines.

NCTD Outsources to First Transit

Information is on NCTDs News Releases Webpage including a letter to employees about the transition.

New Updated South Waterfront Street Plan

Includes design plans from Riverplace to the South end of the District (River Pkwy to Hamilton).
See the entire City of Portland Report Here.

Banta up for job at Phoenix Transit Agency, Bad Move?

Read the Oregonian story here.

I have heard some people mention Banta is better than Hansen. but is he? He is not chomping at the bit to save bus service? Although he has proposed a Management Shake-up, which is put on hold....WHY? Are we trying to save money later, and not now? Retention Bonus? Really? These big headed ego idiots don't DESERVE a retention bonus, let alone that much salary. $185k plus Bonus = over $200k. They are not doing a good job, there for no bonuses should be awarded. And non-union employees are on a wage freeze, but the bonus is exempt!!

It is time to turn TriMet on its head. Fred Hansen, out of a job, this agency needs to be watched. No one is keeping tabs on operational proposals and implementations, no one is keep tabs on the General Manager, what is he doing, where is he going, how much money is he spending. The GM and Board of Directors all need to be kicked out and turn into elected parties. Of course Hansen doesn't like it, he would lose his government appointed support. But thats too bad, this should be about what the people want. All (rail) projects should be put to a vote! It involves spending a large amount of taxpayer dollars, in which the taxpayers have NO say in. I think a petitioner would have more than enough support to place MAX on the ballot, and possibly to overturn the BOD.

TriMet WAS going to have Management restructuring, but "is holding off", WHY????? I want to know!!! By the way, all management employees should be taking a bigger pay cut, if they can't provide the services they are in the business to provide, they should be making less. Tie it to bus service, if service gets cut, so does everyones salary, watch the debate process heat up then!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why "Ranting" Al has made some changes about his blog

TriMet Q & A, Bus service is shrinking, but TriMet TV Goes On

"Opening the door again might make us late", So friggin what!!!
It does NOT happen at EVERY stop, your job is to provide transportation services, leaving behind a fare paying passenger is a good way to lose customers.
Lastly, If TriMet didn't have the stupid front door restriction
(doors can not open unless bus is stopped, bus can not depart unless doors are fully closed),
they could save time (Seattles has the front doors "unlocked", it saves time at the stops).
Seattle consistently runs safety reminders about trying to board a moving bus.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seattles LINK Light Rail has a mind of its own....

The story reports derailment, but if you look closely at the photos in the story, the train did not actually derail, it looks as if the switch was returned to normal before the entire train cleared it.

See the full story here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I wish bus drivers would crack down on this

King County Metro raises fares AGAIN!

For the second time in less than a year, King County Metro will be raising fares Jan 1. Now a 2-zone peak fare will be more than a Sound Transit 2-Zone Fare. All fares are going up $0.25. Transfers to other agencies are being eliminated, including Sound Transit. Full details are here.

Also ORCA Cards will be free until Jan 31, after which they will cost $5.00. The ORCA Card website is here, to order cards, or find out where to get one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

TriMet operators getting slammed by Media over Cell-Phone use, Distractions

If its KATU's "Special Report" singling out a driver, The Oregonian posting all the cell phone complaints received in the last year, or a blog entry from Oregonians own Commuting Columnist Joseph Rose thats got you outraged, what about the drivers that follow the rules? It seems more and more of the public are aware of what operators are doing while behind the wheel, or throttle. Camera phones are discreet, and easy to use, you could be caught at any moment, when you least expect it. Why do some drivers behave this way? Well, I don't know. In light of recent tragic incidents involving texting, some still think they can drive and text? I have photo enforced a driver before, talking while driving, because he almost ran a light. Its not safe. Now, TriMet is taking stiff action, threatening termination on the first offense. But my question remains, why now, and not before over 500 complaints were lodged over a year, why the red flag now, and not a year ago when these started pouring in? Maybe its the common complaint of too short of breaks at layovers? I don't think it stops some, I had a 14 driver pull up 14 min late to the end of the line, supposed to depart in 1 min, he went ahead and took a 15 min break, him and the next 14 ran back to back, so what IS the real reason? We will never know, but I do suspect those that used to do this all the time might be a little grumpier. One thing is for sure, I see more White Shirts driving on the phone than anyone, I will be looking for them, now that I know the policy applies to them.

On a related topic, a fellow blogger got called on the carpet for eating while driving, issuing fares while moving, and not checking his mirrors often enough. He has taken drastic actions, modifying his blog, and videos. They have sucked the fun out of blogging for him, for no reason at all. No accident has ever been a result of blogging. After riding around town yesterday, I noticed my 3 bus drivers handing out fare while moving, and checking mirrors only when returning to traffic or changing lanes. So why single out the guy with a blog? Bus drivers everywhere are munching while driving, Streetcar operators (MAX/TriMet personnel) do it ALL THE TIME! Bus drivers are handing out fare WHILE checking mirrors to merge back in traffic. So lets break this down, check your mirrors every 9 seconds, therefore taking your eyes off the road in front of you for a split second, which could cause a red light running incident due to less reaction time, or maybe a rear ending accident. Lets issue fares while sitting there blocking traffic and taking extra time, then we have to wait for the front doors to close, unlike Seattle, TriMet buses can not move until the front doors are closed, making the line late. MAybe some new fare collecting technology could help? Lastly no munching, even at traffic lights, since the drivers break has been cut short by problem number 2. People who don't drive buses, who haven't the slightest clue what its like out there, are calling operators on things like this, because they can. Is this all management has got to worry about? Maybe they should spy on the white shirts that I see sitting around doing nothing, in the new cars parked along the way. Unless they are engaging customers, making riders feeling safer, they are a waste of money and resources. As a rider, I will be keeping a closer eye on the general driver operator population, I am sure I will find that these problems called forth, are common and never addressed, unless management is bored.

LINK Light Rail line will be completed Dec 19

The LINK to Sea-Tac Airport comes Dec 19.

San Diego Transit, OCTA Feeling the Reduced Sales Tax pinch

San Diego proposes reductions, heres a chart of proposed changes, public outreach meetings are scheduled.
OCTA, San Diego's neighbor to the north, has reductions proposed as well, the page has customer comments, information and a video about the reductions proposed for March.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Its the End of Frequent Service......or is it?

In TriMets TIP Plan, it defines Frequent Service as:
On weekdays, frequent service begins no later than 6:00 a.m. and

continues until 10:30 p.m. On weekends, it begins by 8:00 a.m. and

continues until 10:30 p.m. Running buses frequently until 10:30 p.m.

matches service levels on MAX. Longer-term improvements (beyond

2010) aim for service at least every 10-12 minutes. While service

on these lines before 6:00 a.m. and after 10:30 p.m. may not be as

frequent as every 15 minutes, service on many of these routes during

the peaks can be as frequent as every three to five minutes.

So, Recent cuts have slashed the following lines from the above definition:

4,6,8,9,12,15,33,57 are all going to 17 min frequencies during off peak times and weekends

14 is ditching Frequent Service on weekends to 17 min

54/56 is going to 17 min increments, but only between Downtown and Olsen/Hillsdale Hwy, so for those along the lines West of that, its now 34 min.

Line 75 is heading for 18 min Weekdays and 17 min weekends.

HOWEVER, in recent searches, I have turned up the following NEW definition of Frequent Service from a "40 years of service" flyer:

TriMet’s 12 Frequent Service bus lines operate every 15 minutes or better during weekday rush hours. These lines offer low-floor, air-conditioned vehicles, shelters and schedule information in addition to increased service frequency. The 164-mile Frequent Service network carries 57% of all bus trips, with 46% of weekly bus-service hours.

>>>>"operate every 15 minutes or better during weekday rush hours"!!!!!!!!!!

So through some sort of secret meeting, or process, the definition has changed.

I am not fooled, as far as most riders are concerned, TriMet now has 1 real Frequent Service Line, Line 72. Line 14 is upholding the Frequent Service on weekdays only, so it does not fit the original criteria. I am not surprised, Decay the bus service, hell they are not even buying new buses yet, as per their own TIP plan! Fred hates buses, we know this, maybe it time to split MAX and Buses into two different operations, then the bus funding can't go to MAX. San Diego Transit operates this way, so It can be done.

Heres the Service changes, or reductions for that matter. But planning and designing for the next MAX line is underway, as always, priorities are all screwed up!

Last Month PugetPasses will be available is December

Pierce Transit

After the first of the year, you have the choice of using an ORCA card or paying with Cash. PugetPasses are going away and as of Dec.15, all monthly PugetPasses will be issued on an ORCA card. Don't wait until the last minute, avoid the frusteration of long lines and long wait time, get yours today online.

3 Things to watch in Philadelphia

Septa Fares to Rise, City Workers may strike, How the SEPTA deal was made:

Read about it here

Monday, November 9, 2009

SEPTA Strike ENDS! Its Over!

First Buses are running
Weekly TransPass sparks problems with riders

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Daimler Buses North America (Orion) on Facebook!

They post news of orders there, check it out!

TriMet not in 3Q New Flyer orders

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, November 5, 2009; New Flyer Industries Inc. (TSX:NFI.UN) (“New Flyer” or the “Company”), the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses in Canada and the United States, announced today that the total order activity during the third quarter of 2009 totaled 541 buses (622 equivalent production units or “EUs”) for a total of US $265 million. Of these orders, 223 buses (245 EUs) are new orders and 318 buses (377 EUs) are exercised options.

These orders are from both current and new customers and are for a variety of vehicle configurations and propulsion systems, including 35-, 40- and 60-foot buses with clean diesel, diesel-electric hybrid, gasoline-electric hybrid and compressed natural gas (“CNG”) propulsion systems. Approximately 35% of the EUs representing these orders (or 218 EUs) are cleanpropulsion (i.e., hybrid or natural gas) vehicles, which is a significant segment of New Flyer’s annual production.

Some of the larger order activity during the quarter included:
  • Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority in Charleston, NC has ordered 11 35-foot diesel buses with options for an additional 119 buses
  • Regional Transportation Commission in Reno, NV has exercised options to purchase 8 60-foot diesel-electric buses
  • Calgary Transit in Calgary, AB has purchased 22 additional 60-foot diesel buses
  • Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority in Cincinnati, OH has exercised options for 30 40-foot diesel buses, four 30-foot diesel-electric buses and three 40-foot dieselelectric buses
  • The Hamilton Street Railway Company in Hamilton , ON has exercised options to purchase 15 40-foot diesel-electric buses
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in Washington, DC has provided Notice to Proceed for an additional 48 40-foot diesel-electric buses
  • Fairfax County in Fairfax, VA has exercised options to purchase 31 40-foot diesel buses
  • The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, MA has exercised options to purchase 25 60-foot diesel-electric buses
  • Milwaukee Transit in Milwaukee, WI has exercised options for 90 40-foot diesel buses
New Flyer’s total order backlog at the end of the third quarter (October 4, 2009) was 8,949 EUs, down from the 9,425 EUs as of July 5, 2009. This reduction was consistent with management expectations that total order activity in the second half of 2009 would be lower than the order activity during the same period in 2008.

The dollar value of the order backlog as of October 4, 2009 was approximately US $3.86 billion, down slightly from the backlog of US $4.0 billion reported as of July 5, 2009. Clean propulsion vehicles now represent approximately 72% of the total backlog.

New Flyer’s current backlog consists of the following mix of products:

Firm EUs
Options EUs
40 foot and under buses
60 foot buses

During the third quarter, a total of 106 EUs worth of options expired - primarily from one US Transit Authority. This specific customer holds a multi-year contract with New Flyer and recently ordered buses to be built from their 2010 held options, which allowed the 2009 options to expire.

Options included in the backlog expire, if not exercised, as follows:

Expiry Year
Option EUs

Currently, New Flyer has approximately 12,300 EUs in the company’s new potential order pipeline (or bid universe) for heavy-duty transit buses in Canada and the US. This is a significant increase from the approximately 11,000 EUs reported as of July 5, 2009.

NOTE: All dollar amounts are stated in US currency based on an exchange rate of US $1.00 = Cdn $1.08 to calculate the value of the Canadian contracts in this release.


Septa Strike Day 6

Saturday, November 7, 2009

SEPTA Strike Day 5

Press Conference Earlier today

Union Pres challenges Media to go to Picket Line, Fox did, Union Pres doesn't believe what Media was told

Summary of negotiations from both sides, no ones stories match

Friday, November 6, 2009

Great Editorial

Slamming the SEPTA Union Workers for striking with a contract offer that beats even the most seasoned worker at many companies today.

TWU 234 side in SEPTA Strike

Local 234 SEPTA Transit Strike: Day 3 from TWU International on Vimeo.

SEPTA Twitters

From Strikes to Anger, its all here:

SEPTA Strike was ALMOST to end

Talks resumed, then broke down

Thursday, November 5, 2009

SEPTA Strike Updates

Union and SEPTA Talks Resume
Commuters paying more for commutes

People of Public Transit

Great Website of photos of transit riders.


Another Blow to SEPTA

Regional Rail train hits and kills Track Inspector, 3 Lines were suspended, Strike Continues
(When video goes to "Break", skip to 4:45 to continue video)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Being Kicked harder while already Down

SEPTA Regional Rail Train catches Fire during commute
Passenger describes incident on train:

SEPTA Union President News Confrence

Says Pensions are causing strike, Wage increases amount given my Mayor false

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Buses, subways halted by Philly transit strike
Philly Mayor Nutter Irate at Surprise Strike:
Striking Unions have no talks set:
SEPTA Commuters furious:
About the Strike: