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!