Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

With a little help from the Angry Birds Cast!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Schedule Changes to Amtrak Cascades Service 1/3-3/31

Union Pacific Railroad is going at it with Track Maintenance again, this means some changes to Cascades and Coast Starlight Service from Jan 3 thru March 31.

Trains 500, 506, 516, 501, 513, 507, & 509 have no changes.

Train 504 and 508 will not run.

Coast Starlight 11 will depart Seattle at 11:45a arrive Portland at 3:50p & 14 will depart Portland at 6:20p and arrive Seattle at 10:45p.

Train 508 is canceled, and replaced with 514, departing Portland at 5:15p arriving Seattle at 8:50p. Judging by the travel time, this train will still be Talgo Equipment.

This leaves a bigger gap in morning departures from Seattle, and delays one Portland departure by almost an hour. The Coast Starlight will run the entire route from Seattle to Los Angeles by train. Schedules revert back on April 1st 2011. The WSDOT Passenger Service Notice is here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TriMet employs its usual 'MAX is Priority' Plan

TriMet has been awarded a federal grant for a system to recoup the energy from braking. It will cost $4.2 Million, to save $168,000 in energy costs. Thats a little over 23 years to recoup the cost spent. $4.2 million will buy 7 hybrid buses, or 10 regular buses (approx costs).

This is the usual stance TriMet takes, they get money, ask for money, set aside money for MAX and rail projects, and continue to neglect the deteriorating bus system. Are you surprised?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As 2010 comes to a close

Its another year in the books. Personally for me it was a year of a lot of changes. I have relocated from Portland to Seattle, and added driving transit to my frequent transit riding lifestyle. Without a doubt, TriMet is still a focus in my blog, now that I work with a similar company, its interesting to see the comparisons. I have started a twitter feed to send out my rants and raves on. I also want to thank some of the Seattle bloggers for the warm welcome, and partaking in my blogging adventures. Heres a look back at some of the highlights (and lowlights?) of 2010, plus, of course, a year-end video, my yearbook of some of my favorite videos made throughout the year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Poll Results: McFarlanes Approval rating is at 24%

Heres the results to the most recent poll regarding McFarlanes performance as GM with TriMet. A total of 33 vote were logged, a record for this blog, but I think represents an accurate view of my readers. Why do you feel McFarlane deserves a 24% approval?

8 (24%)
25 (75%)

(Approve 24.24% Disapprove 75.76%)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Translink SkyTrain turns 25 tomorrow

SkyTrain, a 100% automated Rail Mass Transit system turns 25 tomorrow. Read more about the opening day celebrations 25 years ago, and an issue of Vancouver Rapid Transit Project Quarterly from 1985 on Translinks blog, The Buzzer.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Translinks Reindeer Buses

Vancouvers Translink has taken Christmas to a new fun level, With Reindeer buses. Big antlers, big red nose, eyes, and decorated inside, its a fun way to celebrate this time of year.

Translinks blog, The Buzzer, has a story on the history of the buses, and links to photo galleries to get a closer look at the decorated vehicles.

Vancouver BC Translink Trolley Bus floating around Seattle

Vancouver BCs Translink has loaned a New Flyer E40LFR Electric Trolley bus to King County Metro for a very short time, So we can try it out, stare at it, slobber all over it, etc etc.

I hope we get a whole bunch of these, I have taken a ride in a few while in service in Vancouver, and they are nice.

VeloBusDriver was able to get some shots of it, including the photo to the left, and has uploaded them here, take a look.

Oran also got some shots and the videos below.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Take the Poll: McFarlanes Approval Rating

Only one week left to vote, if you haven't already, on if you approve or disapprove Neil McFarlanes' work as TriMets GM over the last few months. The Poll is on the right in the sidebar. Feel Free to comment as well.

And not just for TriMet employees, but Riders too. Is he taking the system in a better direction for you, over Fred Hansen?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The end of the Day-Pass as we know near

Thats right kiddies, effective January 1st 2011, Day Passes at Metro are out! Also gone, Family Fares. However, you will need 25 cents more to travel around town starting the same day. Since you will need a higher Pass denomination, that will be $9 more a month.

This brings me to my fares suggestions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Metro still Rolls

Last week was an interesting week for Metro and the Seattle Area. On Monday, Metro put all of its buses on snow routes, then the snow arrived. That then became the longest day for many operators. I myself was stuck in the 4th Ave mess, which was a direct result of the I-5 Parking lot. Semis were stopped in the middle of the freeway to put chains on, forcing traffic to make up their own lanes to get around. Also blocking the freeway (and some roadways), Metro and Community Transit Artics. Metro chained up all of its buses except for the low floor 40' buses, which still didn't stop 60' buses from jack-knifing. In my travels, most of the older high floor buses were stuck. Community Transit, chose not to chain anything, and had 60' buses up 4th avenue clogging up the place (seemed too many buses running). Even one CT artic bus on Olive got stuck, trying to get out, ended up blocking Olive all the way across. One driver of another CT bus I saw hopped out and had a bucket of sand, which he used to make over the summit of the I-5 NB On Ramp.

Friday, November 19, 2010

King County Metro Drivers Ratify Contract

69% of King County Metro Drivers and Mechanics who voted yesterday, decidied to approve the new contract. Giving up COLA for one year, and a handful of rules changes to better utilize Part Time Operators are big points in what is our new contract. The new contract is from November 1, 2010 - October 31, 2013.

Information in regards to the new contract are publicly available on ATU's Website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fellow Transit Bloggers Link Update

The blogasphere has been changing quite a bit lately. I have a handful of new blogs linking to me, so I have updated the links list with some new blogs. I hope these blogs live on.

Read on to check out some details about the blogs in the Links list to the right.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Take the "Area" out of Ride Free Area

Seattle's King County Metro bus system has something we call the Ride Free Area. It's a zone within the downtown Seattle core that from the hours of 6 am to 7 pm, rides are free on all of the buses. Salt Lake City has a similar system, but without the hours restriction. TriMet in Portland used to have a Fareless Square that allowed free rides on all buses and trains, but has been reduced to rail services only. With all the cuts in transit funding due to lower tax revenues, chopping Ride Free Areas seems like a money saver, but is there a way to do it and still maintain movability thru downtown on Transit?

As noted in a recent study, it is believed that much of the fare evasion comes as a result of the Pay-as-you-leave structure on our buses away from the RFA. Something to the tune of $62,000 per week is lost in fare revenue due to fare evasion. Now I am not saying its solely due to the RFA, but it is a large contributing factor. Of Metro Drivers surveyed, about 50% want it gone! I join that count. In one route I drive, it begins outside the RFA, travels thru the RFA and emerges out the other side, without ever changing my route sign. It leads to confusion. Discontinuing the RFA does not prove popular with the city and those that use it, so whats a fair meet-me-in-the-middle way to do it?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Those with slashed service said No!

The TriMet Bond measure fails. Its where it failed that is becoming obvious, and I would think I would have maybe picked up on this. As TriMet has slashed, chopped, and whittled away at bus service, its important to take note where this effects most riders. In those news releases, they have cut 12 lines in Washington County, That is they do not run on Saturday, Sunday or Both. They have cut, or threatened to cut 6 lines in Clackamas County. In Multnomah, They have cut a handful of lines, but Portland has good service, that runs (somewhat) frequently.

Multnomah County Voters approved the Bond 59% to 41%. But Washington County Voters Said No to the tune of 56%, and Clackamas follows suit with a whopping 60% saying NO!. Would you blame them? TriMet is going to buy new buses, and improve stops....for buses that don't run in my county? Center Garage has the majority of the new buses bought in the last 10 years, which most run within Portland and Multnomah County. While Clackamas County has seen more Low Floors, they are older buses. Washington County has 40 of TriMets newest buses, most which never get seen on routes within Washington county except the 57. The 52, 76 and 78 sometimes get them, if theres some left over. The 2 Counties that voted No get the oldest of the fleet, but their service has been cut to where they may have resorted to find other means of transportation.

TriMet has recently posted a response to the failure of the bond. They say this was due to the economy. Well sure, it because they have shot themselves in the foot. You cut service to 2 of 3 the counties rather heavily, then ask them to buy new equipment, with no promise in sight of that service returning. Bus Service cuts have fed the decline in ridership, and making downtowns' Fareless Square Rail only, naturally boosted Rail numbers. This bond measure was to benefit the elderly, whom of which many live in the outlying areas where service was chopped. McFarlane goes on to say that he hope operators will continue to provide great service, which in response to the Bond measure I am sure they will. But its until you sit down, and work something out with your operators union, which you have not, that the overall culture will change.

While you continue to ask for federal dollars for rail projects and not buses, its you TriMet, that left your bus riding customers on the curb.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Legos Gone Transit!

This is awesome, From Legos Website:

Catch the tram or hop the bus at the LEGO® City transport station!

A LEGO® fan choice, this transport station is packed with details and vehicles. Get out of town your way on 3 different platforms for 4 LEGO City vehicles. Shop the trackside kiosk. Keep the roads clear for cruising with the street sweeper then race away in the flashy yellow sports car.

  • Includes 6 minifigures: bus driver, tram driver, bicyclist, shop assistant, garbage truck driver and passenger
  • Also includes City bus, tram, street sweeper and sports car
  • 3 platforms for commuter vehicles
  • Open City bus roof to seat 6 passengers and 1 driver
  • Open tram doors to load passengers!
  • Compatible with LEGO train tracks
  • Tram measures 12.5” (32cm) and bus measures 9.5” (24cm)
If anyone wants to get me one for Christmas, I wont say no!

Friday, October 29, 2010

King County Metro to try out Electric Bus

Not Electric Trolley buses, but battery powered electric buses. This keeps Metro on the cutting edge of bus technology, and looking to keep making our fleet one of the greenest in the nation.

Read the official Metro News Release for more info.

(Photo is for illustration purposes, and may not reflect the actual bus KCM will get.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

King County Metro Union reaches tentative agreement

King County Metro and ATU 587 have reached a tentative agreement that forgoes the 2011 COLA increase. Per the new article found on King County Executive Dow Constantine page, those represented by ATU, bus drivers, Link Light Rail Operators, maintenance and clerical transit focused positions will give up the increase for only 1 of the 3 years the contract will be good for. The rest of the details have not been released yet as they still need to be released to the union members for a vote.

This is good news that our contract is moving forward in a positive direction, unlike TriMet in Portland, who's contract was up 11 months ago, and no agreement in sight.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is TriMet doing?

Articles, Letters, calls from the public pour in to the view of the world. They want light rail stopped, operators want a contract, the people of Portland want reliable and frequent bus service.

Where is TriMet and its "leadership" in all this? Oh thats right, pushing forward on light rail, reminding its front line workers they mean nothing to management, and cutting service tot he point where people are turning away. When is TriMet, mainly Neil McFarlane going to step up, and answer the public??

Building employee moral is something TriMet Management tossed in the garbage a few months back. Now, McFarlane steps forward, sends a letter to its union employees stating "Starting Jan 1st you will pay your medical costs, and a salary freeze also". This is what union negotiations are for, TriMet says it is at an impasse. Which means, its can't have everything it wants, and now its kicking and screaming like a little kids on the cereal aisle. If you want your employees to take a salary freeze, and cover portions of medical, you need to bring that to the table. If it doesn't fly, you need to rethink your plan.

Bus/Light Rail operators are the frontline workers, next are the mechanics, then Customer Service, without them, you, TriMet Management, have no service to run, and your out of a job!

To TriMet Management, and Neil McFarlane: Step up, get real, and Grow up, face the public, tell them why you don't want to serve the best interests of your riders. They have told you want they want, and don't want. Yet you still push on with your progressive rail agenda. Adding a bond measure to pay for buses, this was the biggest yell into the city "We have mismanaged our funds, we need your bail out". It's time you realize who cuts your paycheck, and makes your position available........the public (taxpayers) and your frontline union employees.

To TriMet Frontline employees: Don't give up, I see your strong bond with each other, your fed up, and its time for TriMet Management to step up to the plate, and be responsible for what they have done! Rock On! You have my Support!

TriMet, if your not answering the public, then....What ARE you doing with our money?

There is a poll to the right, mark your approval rating of Neil McFarlanes first 4 months as TriMets GM.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seattle Transit System Map 1958

Courtesy of Oran Viriyincy, this is what transit in Seattle looked like in 1958. The weirdest thing to me is the absence of I-5. Click the image to go to the Original size on Oran's Flickr Page and check it out!

40 People By....

Very interesting to see how taking public transit, walking or biking actually leaves a smaller footprint. You can see what out roads would look like if people who took the bus, drove.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rant: The Impatient Road to No-Where

So much hostility these days towards bus drivers. So much in Portland and here in Seattle. We make too much, we have too good of benefits, unions are bad. Really? And what qualifies YOU to make that determination?

It seems to me, that many of the people who criticize transit operators, do not ride transit. I bet they don't know much about transit at all. So who are these people? Lets turn the finger around, and see how this sounds.

While driving my bus in normal daily interactions, I pick up 30-40 people per trip. These people get on, some smile, some say Hi, some thank me, some do not, most pay the correct fare and respect the bus by not defacing it. While I transport my bus load of people, I will get narrowly cut off by either a Luxury Car (BMW, Lexus, etc) or a SUV, carrying ONE person a handful of times a day. Why does this person feel the need to cut off my large heavy piece of equipment of 4000% occupancy rate of their vehicle? Its the impatient road to no-where. They are in such a hurry, they cut me off to save, thats right, up to 7 seconds off their day, and risk so much more.

Makes you wonder, What do these people do for a living? Well, Commissioned salesman comes to mind. Their goal, is to sell you insurance or products to enhance your daily life, and reap a commission off it. So, you, the customer get to pay MORE for your service to cover that commission, its not coming out of the companies wallet. Some salesman will tell you anything to get their commission, even if its a little white lie. They then take your hard earned money, and buy nice cars, and think they are the coolest cat in town, and behaving like a kindergartner is the best way to show it.

So the question is, why are bus drivers under fire for making 9,000-120,000/year, when higher management (not necessarily referring to transit here), commissioned salesman, and more of the like, take home MORE than that, and get left alone? The bus driver, whom must show up to work ON TIME, not on a flex schedule, does not get a regular lunch schedule to go out with friends or colleges, and sometimes miss out on happy hour, work their shift while dealing with self-centered, arrogant, asshole single occupant drivers that cut off and other wise take major risks to save 7 seconds, gets nailed by a Republican Party Group, meanwhile, CEOs of the same party take home MORE pay, for less credible work, and its ok? The bus yesterday that had to slam on brakes due to being cut off to close is a prime example of how disrespected bus drivers are on the road. A few people were injured as a result of one persons (the car) careless self-centered act. This is what bus drivers are paid to do, navigate a large bus of people from point A to Point B, and dodge the arrogant single occupant vehicles, its more than you think.

So before you leave nasty comments on this blog, or any other story about Transit operators wages and benefits, you'd better think that last time you rode a bus. Did the passengers make it unpleasant for you, take too long because it was stuck in traffic, well none of those are the drivers fault. If you have never ridden a bus, and you drive yourself to work, you have NO room to talk about what we make, and how we make it.

Remember this, all the bus drivers APPLIED for the job, no one is keeping us there against our will. We are there because the job posting was attractive, good pay, good benefits, and some of, well, a lot of us, enjoy the job. We have a corner office that offers some of the best views of the region. Now if you have a problem with that, then you should have applied to become a Transit operator. If your telling your self "No Way, why would I do that" (or you think your too good for that), keep your negative comments to yourself, they mean nothing. You should pick on someone your own size, like the single occupant traffic congestion causing CEO that will cut me off later this afternoon because he makes MORE than I do.

Friday, October 8, 2010

RapidRide Launch Day Video

Filmed by Dave Stubblefield, compiled and edited by me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ST9624 2010 New Flyer DE60LF

To go into service with the Fall 2010 Shakeup:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Opinion: Facts about TriMets Bond Measure - Say No!

TriMet has decided to send a Bond measure to voters to help buy new buses. Despite being mentioned in a few places by a fairly vocal bus rider, TriMet could apply for funds for new buses just like they do Light Rail. But, shortly after TriMet announces they are short on the Light Rail project no one wants, this bond measure magically appears.

TriMet had targeted this measure to "Help improve service for those with disabilities and the elderly". This is like the qualifications to get on Home Makeover, you win over the producers of the show by giving your story, and they pick the one mostly likely to "Touch Home". Thats exactly what TriMet is doing here. You would think that is this group of people is what TriMet is interested in serving, then they would stop cutting bus service! You would see more Rail cuts, but TriMets rail agenda won't allow that.

TriMet keeps telling us the economic downturn has delayed bus purchases, meanwhile the same place the MAX money comes from seems to remain untapped for bus purchases. TriMet says "We can not use those funds for operations". We get that! But why are you building a new Light Rail line, which when open will come out of the already cash strapped operations fund? This is what the public means by "STOP BUILDING LIGHT RAIL". Sure you got the money to build it, but you do not have the money to operate it, unless you continue on the unpopular path of slashing more bus service.

TriMet has only mismanaged money from the start, otherwise they have more newer buses already. They would make it a priority. Rail is priority, because they spent so much money buying it, now they have to run it. So why not spend so much money buying buses, Hybrids, Artics, state of the art, and run them with the same logic as light rail!!

"Why do this now" they ask...the elderly population is growing, we are all growing, Fred Hansen grew old, its what happens, why are we taking a bond measure to projected elderly population, when there is already an elderly population crying out at the cuts TriMet is making to where they already live. More of them depend on buses then rail, and if that was a true TriMet priority, they would have answered to that long ago.

Personally, I think this is an embarrassment to the agency, this only brings to the forefront how poorly management and the board of directors have run the place, approved cuts and spending with asking questions, finding more information to make an INFORMED decision. Why didn't any Board members come up with this idea before the Milwaukie light rail plan was adopted? Because the public, those they serve, were not first priority.

Its time to step up, and "Say No!" to this act of desperation because they have made a big mistake. This needs to be brought to the attention of the FTA, and congress, and get the light rail money moved to buying buses and making improvements, which ARE capital projects. TriMet, you are not fooling anyone with your "It can not be used for operations" bit in regards to the light rail money, it CAN be used to buy the new buses your asking for money for, in which you plenty to do so, if not more. Do not build light rail if you can not afford to run what you have now, period, simple business economics.

There is a poll to the right to vote on your take.

Say No!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Photos now on Flickr

I have decided to give Flickr a try. I have uploaded my limit for the month, but will add more as time and space allows. For now, its worth a look if you'd like to see what I have.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Animated Ads on Buses?

Saw this on one of Vancouver BC's buses, it looks like an LED Ad Sign.

A ride on a Vancouver Trolley Bus!

I really hope Seattle gets some of these!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labor Day Round-Up

Most agencies are on a Sunday Schedule this Monday, other details below. Also many changes are in store around this time each year.

King County Metro service change is October 2. Major changes are small, route 174 is out, RapidRide is in. Also note, Sounder does not run Monday, all Customer Service offices are closed for the holiday on Monday. Community Transit will have NO service.

TriMet Raised fares 5 cents, and passes $2 on 9/1. Also they increased the shipping charges for the online store due to "Increased Costs". Stamps only went up about 3 cents didn't they? Also look for more cuts effective 9/5, as usual bus riders suffer the most, but MAX was included this time, and the WES was spared once again.

BART is making minor changes to schedules on 9/13, mostly to benefit transfers, which is a good thing!

SF MUNI RESTORES service effective 9/4!! 61% of the service reductions are being restored. Much of the service is in headways, notably the OWL and evening routes. Also many later trips that were cut are returning.

Sacramento RT implemented some minor changes to 4 weekday routes.

OCTA will have minor schedule and route adjustments. The bus book will now cost $1.

NCTDs Coaster will run on Monday for a Padres Game only!

And Americas #1 Transit agency, San Diego's MTS, is also Restoring a lot of service due to extra funds from the state. No cuts or fare increases here.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hey Wait a Minute, This is a Metro Bus!

"Yes Sir, but it is still a Sound Transit Route".

This is the common response being heard a little extra these days as Metro buses appear to be taking over the Sound Transit routes. Why the confusion? Well, METROs Fares page does say "Metro Paper transfers are only valid on Metro buses". So this leads to the confusion when a Metro bus is substituted in, and when one ST route overlaps a Metro route, and not everyone reads signs, just notices the equipment, it makes it a bit harder for the operator to explain.

As of late ST Buses that serve the east routes have been caving in left and right , leaving no choice but to run the service with Metro equipment, From Metro Hybrids to the D60s and even a few Gillig 3200's. 13 brand new shiny ST Hybrids are about to take to the streets shortly, and a handful more are on order! In the meantime, you may get a variety of equipment so Sound Transit and Metro can still get you there.

As a reminder, Sound Transit Routes do NOT accept paper transfers. If you have an ORCA card, you can transfer between Metro and ST as you always have.

METRO transfers are only good on METRO routes, nothing else, .......well, maybe a bookmark too.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Editorial: TriMet losing points fast

TriMet was named "Americas Best Large Transit Agency" by the APTA is 1989. A title TriMet has not earned since. Why? Well we can examine why San Diego won the award for 2009. "MTS has also substantially renewed its bus fleet, adding 224 new vehicles over the last three years." In the last 3 years TriMet has added 40. They have not even added as many new buses in 10 years! And now, they want a bond measure to buy new buses, coincidentally 2 weeks after the Milwaukie MAX line funding was shorted.

San Diegos award continues on "On the labor front, MTS re-negotiated union contracts that resulted in higher starting pay for new hires and for top-step bus operators, but implemented significant work rule changes that resulted in reduced absenteeism, limited overtime, and savings that allowed MTS to completely absorb the higher pay." TriMet can not agree on union contracts, because it can't get its money affairs in order. This hurts employee moral, which trickles down to the riders, and makes it un-enjoyable. One last note on why San Diego got the award "During the last three years, ridership climbed 12.3 percent from Fiscal Year 2006 to FY 2008. Fare revenue jumped 12 percent over the same time period and subsidy per passenger decreased 14.1 percent. Farebox recovery increased to 38.4 percent in 2008". TriMet continues to experience a loss in riders, mainly because they are cutting essential bus service & running unreliable equipment, that people want to avoid. The "I love MAX" mentality TriMet management has will fail if buses keep disappearing, like it or not.

A TriMet bus driver runs over 5 pedestrians, TriMet still, has not technically fired the driver. She was placed on Administrative Leave. If you hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk here in Seattle as a bus driver, they tell you "That will end your career here". This is the same as PPD Officers getting off scott free after killing someone for no good reason (as viewed by the public).

A TriMet bus hits a Bicyclist. Fortunately the Bicyclist will be OK. This is shortly after the pedestrian incident, which occurred after the GM planned to roll out a safety program. It also appears to be a left turn accident. This can only say the safety program either still is inefficient, or nothing has changed.

HUGE Service cuts continue to be targeted to bus riders. Cancelation of more routes, the Westside hardly has any service on weekends! This last round, after about 3 or 4 rounds, finally include MAX, but still fails to include one of TriMets lowest ridership/highest cost lines, WES. Meanwhile, the Feds cut back funding for the new MAX line, so now they are going to try and "Make it work". In other words, force it. Instead of trying to "Force" the finds to bus service, that is see if they can re-direct the money for a new fleet, bus stop improvements and more. New bus service and equipment is essentially a capital project. Lets not forget the slap in the face purchase of 4 Hybrids, thats can be trashed on line 72. C-Tran has more hybrids, and are a much smaller agency.

The agency is wasting taxpayer resources controlling blogs ran by employees. Dan Christensen and Al Margulies have both been called into meeting to talk about their blogs. Its these individuals way to expressing themselves, leave them alone. Technically, it is not TriMets place to tell anyone, including employees, what they can say about anything on their personal blog (unless it releases sensitive confidential information).

The money being spent is being viewed by many as not being spent wisely. Ridership is down, Fares are up, Service is being cut. But hey, they have TransitTracker by text now, with ADs! It is not exactly a way to earn points, the biggest point loser for TriMet in my opinion is the lack of respecting the public response. The public does not want light rail right now, they want buses, and a bond measure is the wrong way to go about it when you have a light rail project no one wants right now, in limbo. WES still runs far below expectations, despite being the FOCUS of the public response, nothing was done. Once you, TriMet, start listening to your passengers, you will see changes for the better, and TriMet wont always have a negative item attached to it. One way to open up to the public, is to open up TriMet. Agencies such as Sound Transit and BART publish the Board Meeting Videos online, Sound Transits CEO writes a weekly email on what they have done and what they have spent, its an idea TriMet should embrace.

I will say, I have seen more of the new GM in the news representing the agency more than Fred Hansen ever did, and I think that is a step in the right direction, but he still has a long way to go to remove the impression Fred left.

Erik Halstead Editorial on the Bond Measure

Read about it here

I Agree!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Community Transit by Numbers

In CEO Joyce Eleanors Letter to the public in regards to service cuts, she said the agency needed to chop Sunday Service in order to save $13.6 Million. She said they worked hard to look at Service cuts and reductions. Well This blog post is to tell you what they didn't look at, Overtime!

In 2009 Community Transit paid out $2.8 million in Overtime to Coach Operators and Transit Supervisors. Just Overtime. 16 Operators made over $20,000 in Overtime, 3 made more than 35,000, and the top overtime earner made over $48,000 in just Overtime. Overtime accounts for 9.56% of the total wages for Operators, and 13.47% for Supervisors. Also, 100% of Supervisors had over time, Average OT was $13,364. 94.5% of operators had overtime averaging $5,925. Only 5.5% of operators had no overtime, this includes PT.

As Far as regular wages, the top earner made $112,639, plus $48,140 in OT for a total of $160,779.

Another Note to make, the CEO, Joyce Eleanor, Makes the Highest wage for a CEO in a Transit Agency in the Puget Sound at $204,341. Its only second in the Northwest behind TriMets CEO in Portland.

Compare to METRO? Sure, Kevin Desmond Makes $172,768. Only 6.22% of Operator Wages are Overtime with an average of $4,291. I do not know the Supervisors statistics at this time.

CT only has about 400 operators, and has $2.23 million in OT. Supervisors add about $500,000 to that, I see other places they can cut, besides service. Also, as a side note, the Overtime could fund 28 new regular operator positions at CT, Minus a few for the cost of benefits.

No Fare Metro Blog

Theres a blog I recently found, called No Fare Metro.

It's slogan is "Exploring the viability of a free bus system in Seattle". While it does have articles on Fare-Free Transit, It also features news rolls, and an article or two relating to Drivers wages. So far, most seem to be just passing on news articles, instead of opinion or editorial pieces. One thing I am surprised it does not touch on, is the RFA.

You can check it out, and see what you think, I am not really sure where it is headed just yet.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Low Balance Clipper Card still rides

In the Bay Area, riders on AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit have been able to use a Stored Value Card called Translink for a little while now. They have now changed the name to Clipper Card, and added SF Muni, BART & CalTrain.

In reading about this, a change to using your card on SF Muni I thought was pretty nice for card holders who might have depleted their funds. As long as you have $0.01 on your card, and you tap, you will still be able to ride. Here in Seattle, the ORCA card will let you ride, but you owe the difference as a cash fare if you don't have enough. On Clipper, the system essentially "Overdraws" your card. If you have $1.00 on your card, and it is a $2.00 ride, your card will be overdrawn $1.00. Next time you reload it, lets say with $20, you will have $19 available. I personally think this is a nice feature. With so many people going cashless, this helps if you don't have any cash because you can reload with your card later, or make plans to have cash, instead of being caught with not enough to ride.

A down fall to SF Muni, this should help some complaints about transfer times with ORCA, Clipper only gives you a 90 minute transfer period. So ORCA card users should be happy with the 119 minute transfer time they have.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Poll Results: Mcfarlane was named gm

I am a bit behind on the poll, my apologies to my loyal readers on that.
Only 8 votes, but they are good votes, 74% of you think the new GM at TriMet will focus on rail over buses. 1 of you thinks bus service may improve, but not before MAX. And 1 of you thinks he really will make a difference. He has said one of his priorites is to restore bus service, but how can we carry on with that while the next MAX line is pushing forward, and TriMet is ordering only 4 new buses?

mcfarlane was named gm, do you think changes are ahead?

Yes, I think it will improve over all service
1 (12%)
Yes, but MAX will still be ahead
1 (12%)
No, This guy loves rail, and buses will still suffer
5 (62%)
No, hes a spitting image of Fred Hansen
1 (12%)

Votes so far: 8
Poll closed

Klingons Take over a Trolley Station in San Diego

San Diego MTS is a great transit system, and they know how to have a little fun. Check out their gallery on Facebook of them transforming the Gaslamp Trolley Station into Klingon Territory for this years Comic-Con Convention.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

TriMet to get Hybrids?

Don't get overly excited now. According to the FTAs Article on Stimulus funds, TriMet is getting only 18 of them.

They are going to be put on the 72, one of TriMets heavily used lines. That way, they can get destroyed, graffitti-ed on, and broken in a jiff! But hey, this is a step in the right direction, We have called for years now for them to buy hybrids, and its about damn time!

But lets take a step back..........I will believe it, when I see them take the streets! Supposedly there was a presentation about it, but since I just told you about it, theres no need to waste your time looking at a bunch of politicians toot their horns. I hope this will lead to more, better bus procurement in the future.

Theres More: TriMet always undercuts us when possible, according to the news release, they are only getting 4 to start with. Its almost "Why even bother". But with TriMet, You have to take what you can get when it comes to buses.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Freds Last Day!

Today, June 30th 2 thousand and 10, is Fred Hansen's Last Day as GM at TriMet.

Wonder where he will pop up next.

I just hope McFarland does not give a us a reason to say "Just Like Fred".

Bye Fred!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Editorial: Ranting Al, Your Pal

The blogger of Rantings of a TriMet Bus Driver is at the focus of a lot of criticism because of his blog. I have known Al Margulies, or "Ranting Al" for a little over a year now, and have been reading his blog for sometime longer than that. Al's blog has been up for a couple of years now. His blog features everything from his daily encounters as a transit operator, to news in transit to news of the weird. It is Al's outlet for saying what is on his mind, sharing stories he likes, and pointing out where TriMet is favoring spending money everywhere except on buses.

In a story he did for KGW News he points out how he has had a 14 year clean safety record, and does not feel distracted with passengers conversing with him. One guy in the story says "bus drivers should be respected, but [Al] is not one of them". I want to know why not? Sure, as a fellow transit operator for another transit agency, I will side with operators. On this case, theres is no reason not to respect Al, he drives safe, he tries to keep on schedule, and focuses on being a safe driver. The ever so positive speaking spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said "It's ok to have a blog, but while your operating we would like you to focus on driving the bus". At what point did that become a problem? He is not posting to his blog while driving, or at work. His blog, and driving happen at different times of the day. He does not film while driving, someone else might. That only proves that customers, riders, chat with operators. Chatting with riders is something the the job entails, and you see it on many of the buses traveling about TriMets system. Operators are not robots, they are not puppets or drones. They are Bus Drivers, Human, Tourist Information, Trip Planners, Tour Guides, Customer Service Counter, and so much more.

Al's blog is not causing any harm. Sure it might piss you off from time to time, but I certainly do not think its a distraction to his job of operating a transit vehicle safely. Al will gladly point out where TriMet spends money, link to a few of my posts and videos, and give you his opinion of calling out stops. And when the spokeswoman of TriMet has spent some time behind the wheel of line 72, then we can take her comments of distracted driving with a little more respect. Until then, how do you know what distracted driving is compared to everything else operators do in a days work?

Al's blog is a fun read for sure, and the critics should stick to rating movies. I hope to keep reading his blog daily, there would be a gaping hole in the Transit Blogging Landscape without it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Calling TriMet, heres a golden opportunity!!

Look at that beauty, and 226 are for sale at a discount. TriMet might want to have a look at it here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mariners shuttle will end next week

A Lawsuit brought on by private charter companies so they can provide the same service at 5X the fare to the rider. Hey folks, METRO is still a great price at $2 each way, even if you come from a bit farther, your King County Metro Operated Sound Transit Routes are only $2.50. I urge everyone to take METRO to the games, do not feed into the charter companies round-about ways of trying to make a profit. A part of another article said "Starline had to layoff 32 people", heres an interesting fact, METRO has hired about THREE times that since the beginning of the year. Support local, union jobs, your METRO driver. Support KC Metro as a service, and pass on the buses that are in it for a profit!

News Release from the SeattlePI, also read the other story in regards to this for more background.

It's official: The Mariners shuttle express is coming to an end.

After a federal court ruling last week, King County Metro Transit officials said Wednesday they are sending the Mariner's a 14-day notice they plan to end the service, as required by the contract with the team.

"That notice states that Metro's special transportation services for the baseball games will end after the June 18-24 home stand. This will allow time for Metro and the Mariners to give fans adequate advance notice, so they can make alternative transportation plans," Metro said in a news release.

The shuttle briefly resumed this year after Democratic Sen. Patty Murray fought for a provision in the federal transportation spending bill allowing the Mariners and Seattle Sounders soccer team to contract with Metro to provide shuttle service for fans. The "Murrary provision" was in response to Bush administration ruling that public transit agencies could not provide special service to games and other public events if private charter companies were able and willing to do so.

A federal judge struck down the provision last week.

The shuttle service was popular with fans, who could ride from Eastgate, South Bellevue, South Kirkland and Northgate for $5 each way. From a transit perspective, it also kept cars off the road. Private companies charge higher prices.

Fans still can take regular bus or light rail service to games.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What does your CEO Make?

As Transit agencies cut service, lower benefits and freeze pay raises, the CEO or GMs salaries typically comes into play.

So this brings the question, What does your Transit agencies CEO or GM make?

This was posted back in February, I have moved it up to reflect updated information.

Here are the Annual Pay Rates of Select NW Agencies head Transit Execs:
(From Highest to Lowest)
(Daily Ridership, Routes & Fleet B=Bus, LR=Lightrail, CR=Commuter Rail)

Fred Hansen, General Manager TriMet, Portland $256,954
(Neil McFarlane, GM As of July 1, 2010 $217,000)
(324,080/Routes 81B, 4LR, 1CR/Fleet 660B, 127LR, 6CR)
Joyce Eleanor, CEO Community Transit, Everett $204,341
(40,000/Routes 63B/Fleet 282B)
Joni Earl, CEO Sound Transit, Seattle $195,467
(57,725/Routes 30B, 2LR, 2CR/Fleet 240B, 38LR, 58CR)
Kevin Desmond, General Manger King County Metro, Seattle $170,869
(400,457/Routes 223B/Fleet 1443B)
Lynne Griffith, CEO Pierce Transit, Lakewood $169,180
(57,689/Routes 52B/Fleet 200B)
Mark Pangborn, General Manager Lane Transit District, Eugene $125,358
(38,376/Routes 38B/Fleet 102B)
Jeff Hamm, CEO/Executive Director C-Tran, Vancouver $123,496
(19,000/Routes 29B/Fleet 111B)
Mike Harbour, General Manager Intercity Transit, Olympia $122,990
(14,000/Routes 23B/Fleet 135B)
Allan Pollock, General Manager Cherriots, Salem $108,737 (apporx)
(10,000/Routes 24B/Fleet 65B)

Note: Puget Sound agencies have contracts to operate Sound Transit routes that originate in their county. These agencies numbers may not include Sound Transit Route ridership. Amounts are pay rates from 07-09, depending on the most current information available.

Originally posted 2/2010, Updated 6/2010