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.

Despite the stuck buses, I think Metro handled the snow well. They sent out alerts and updates via their twitter page, and online. They informed the media of what was going on. Metro did their best to get thru most of last week, and kept buses moving. Timetables had snow routes in them, though many customers did not know what the snow routes were. Metro has recently released a detailed video about how to sign up for alerts, emails and texts in regards to changing conditions. It also goes into detail how to use the snow alert maps and webpage. (There is also a glimpse of a 194 sporting a D60 bus.) CT finally got it together the next day, sending out mostly 40' buses that were chained, one of which I think was going a bit fast due to the sparks it was kicking up. Also handling the snow were the operators, many operators had their time at work for that day doubled or more, but kept going, and kept positive attitudes. Metro lets you know where to wait, the operators keep things moving as best they can. To help operators, trainers were out (at least at my base) to answer questions for operators, about where to go, clear up any confusion, and in my case, answer questions about using different base and Y Routes. Metro tried their best to arm us with the info we needed to get thru our day.

My only two suggestions, not complaints, are that while Metro cancelled many routes, snow routing should perhaps run on a Reduced Weekday Schedule, and assign 40' coaches to as many runs as possible, especially ones that go up hills, or have tricky turns. 60' bus on the 41 for example works out ok, its mostly a straight shot. With Metro looking to expand the artic fleet, this idea will run short on equipment. Secondly, while deactivating the Real Bus Tracking feed is to avoid confusion of when your bus is actually coming may seem like a good idea, I think it would be nice to know if a bus is coming at all. You would need to keep in mind reroutes and slower travel times, but the decision to wait for a bus that you know is coming, or just walk would be made easier if the feed just remained on. It would also point out reroutes, if your at a stop that buses keep "passing by", but haven't seen one, your bus is re-routed and you might want to look into it.

My complaint, the City of Seattle has work to do. First and foremost, who times traffic lights, or who doesn't might be the better question. So many lights are set to let the herd go while the next block turns red, effectively moving very little traffic, and causing cross traffic to block intersections. Most Lights make NO sense in moving a street of traffic along smoothly. Secondly, while some articles tout Metro failed, I think the city failed. They have this big plan, but acted on it too slowly, blaming motorists on city streets. I also want to make note that the failure to reverse the Express lanes Northbound on Monday was a poor, and i mean grade F decision, period!

The city did not plan for snow, they were not out sanding until it started to fall, Metro had chained up hours before. The writer that gave Metro an almost failing grade, must not ride the bus, and appreciate what goes in to getting you home safely in all conditions, or the fact that many bus drivers made it into work to do their best to move passengers around this city at a greater time of need. She has a computer, but if she's not riding the bus, she wouldn't know about anything because she's not involved with Metros Website, or alerts program. Based on the comments others have left for her, she only made herself looked uninformed about the snow. Many of my passengers were grateful for my arrival, and safe transportation to their destination, you can't tell me they didn't know what was going on.

They say more snow is potentially coming this winter, be prepared, go to Metros Snow Page on how to get alerts, or simply familiarize yourself with the page, so you know where to look quickly and easily for info about transit in your area. While operators are doing their best to get you from point A to point B in snow, it helps if you know where they will be running so they can pick you up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I predict that we will have 2 more major snow events this winter. One before Christmas (in the next 3 weeks) and one in mid to late January.