Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011 Comes to a close

Well, its that time of year again, time for it to end. Seemed quick, and while I don't feel like I did much this year, looking back i actually did.

So this year biggest event to me was the approval of the CRC to save Metro (and my job), and that includes plans to dump the RFA by Oct.

While I visit Vancouver quite a bit, a highlight for the year was my visit Calgary for a couple of days (videos are here) and to Banff to take in some awesome views. Also had a one day visits to Spokane & Eugene for some transit riding.

A few other things to mention, the arrival of new buses, including Metros Orions & 60' Restyled New Flyers, and Sound Transit 60' non-hybrids.

Don't forget that Al visited us in Seattle, landmark event for him!!

I finally get to ride the West Coast Express Commuter Rail.

So, 2012? Sounder is supposed to extend to Lakewood next fall, major changes at Metro coming soon with routes drastically changing and the Ride Free Area vanishing, I'll be watching.

Below is the year end video looking back at this years filmings, don't forget to follow me on twitter if you don't for blurbs from my travels out and about. Thanks to you for reading and watching, have a great 2012!

West Coast Express

On Dec 10, Translink hosted its yearly Santa Train event, which includes a ride on the weekday/peak direction only West Coast Express Commuter Rail. This is a very difficult train to catch as a one day trip to Vancouver from here, so its much later departure, plus on a Saturday finally made this possible for me.

Just a few things to comment on about the operations of the WCE. First thing I noticed was a coffee shop on board the train. Get coffee and snacks all in route.

Like Sounder platforms, WCEs platforms are built to accommodate 7 cars, however, our train was a 10 car train. It appears 10 cars trains are a normal operation for them as well as they had the stopping down to a science. Clearly a 10 car train doesn't fit in the platform, so Cars 1 and 10 have the exit doors roped off and disabled, cars 2 and 9 have the doors closest to the end of the train, respectively, roped off in the same manner and only one door opens at stops. All doors open on cars 3-8. Might be the future of Sounder trains if ridership continues to rise.

If you purchase a "Return Ticket", lingo for RT ticket, it provides 2 things Sounder tickets do not. First, one way fare for the entire line is $11.50. A Return Ticket provides a slight discount, $1, AND it is valid on all Skytrains, buses and Seabus all day long! Despite our calls to Sound Transit to give us our day pass back, they refuse. (There is nothing wrong with a day pass Sound Transit, it makes things easy to use and understand, do YOU understand that?) ST should return Day Passes to paper tickets, for all to use.

One thing I was surprised WCE does not have is WiFi. There is none. If your spending upwards of 2 hours on this train per day, sure would be nice. With the high cost of this train, it should be an included service.

Overall is a very scenic ride, top speed I measured was 120km ph, or 73 mph. They have several ticket machines at every station as this train (like all of Translinks services) is honor based fares.

I took a few videos of the ride if you'd like to experience it for a YT point of view. I have hinted at Translink to run a train on a Saturday during the summer, but their response didn't sound promising. So for now it will be cloudy scenic rides.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Amtrak tests eTicketing in Northeast

Not in Portland Oregon, but the other Portland. Starting today Amtrak is testing out a new eTicketing program. You will be able to print off your ticket from home and simply take it aboard the train. The conductor will then scan it to mark it redeemed. What makes this even better, this will work with smartphones. You will be able to pull it up (much like Groupon offers) and it can be scanned and redeemed right there with no paperwork at all. Another upside for those forgetfuls, if you lose or misplace the eTicket, you can print another one, unlike paper tickets which are just like cash. Currently this is being tested on the Downeaster line between Boston and Portland ME.

Some details about eTicketing, It can not be used with Multi-Ride tickets, Monthly Passes, Group Tickets, onboard purchases and tickets issued by anyone except Amtrak (i.e. travel agency). Currently any itinerary with travel off the Downeaster line can not use this program yet, unless you purchase the tickets separately from your other travel plans. If all goes well, Amtrak hopes to roll this out across the system in 2012. Another agency joining the paperless revolution. I myself have a smartphone, and its very nice to be able to pull up coupons and paperwork on your phone for viewing or redeeming. Soon, with the recent introduction of mobile boarding passes on some airlines, travel is becoming almost paperless.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TriMets Budget Woes

So TriMet is at it again, claiming budget woes on the backs of it riders. According to Twitter reports, TriMet is considering another fare increase, and service cuts. Relying on a method of taxes tied to the job market, what did they expect in a recession? We all know TriMet thinks outside the bus, but never outside the box. One of the Board Reps suggested deleting WES service, since its the largest money loser in TriMets toy box. Why doesn't TriMet look at other possibilities for revenue? While we all know that MAX is a culprit, that they won't admit to, that ship has sailed and been fired at plenty. Heres some ideas, with the first being most import, and probably most controversial.

Cut the salaries of all Managers, Directors and Executives by 15%. Most of these employees make over $100,000 per year (Thats anyone with the above words in their titles, or who act in such a capacity). While they say they have had a wage freeze, and cut positions, theres more that can be done here. There are over 100 employees making over $100k per year that fall under the above category. That is a savings of at least $1.5 million! Those who actually provide the service to the riders, have taken a pay cut, in the way of the forced upon Medical Premium sharing costs. The riders have put up with less service, less options. The nation is tightening its belt, and TriMet Admin/Execs has done this in almost every way, except to themselves. These people are selfish to keep making these above average salaries on the backs of its riders. If you can not afford the paycut, then you shouldn't be living outside your means in a economic climate like this, and it certainly shouldn't become the problem of your riders and customers. Take a paycut to preserve service, to preserve jobs, and to do the right thing in this economy.

Add 3% to the Hotel Occupancy Tax This option can only be exercised after the option above has been put into place, its not fair to add taxes when execs are raking it in, and we will not be using these taxes to fund their salaries. In 2009 there were 19,465 hotel rooms available in the Portland area (Vancouver excluded), on average the occupancy rate is 63%, or 12,263 rooms occupied each night. Adding 3% to the tax is $3 per $100 spent on the room. The average room rate is slightly less. This has potential of up to $13 million in annual revenues. If this tax was in acted, it should be put in stone that it can only be used for bus operations. That is Bus Fuel, Bus maintenance, Bus Cleaners, Bus Drivers, VM personnel, Bus Shelters, Bus Flags etc. It may NOT be used for mangers of ANY kind, or capital projects under the exception of bus purchases or Bus Rapid Transit. The funds may not be used for MAX or WES under ANY circumstance. Also, the current operations budget must remain in force, you can not shift money from the current budget from bus to rail because of the new funding, this is made to improve bus service, and maintain high levels of quality bus service all over the region. The tax would only apply to the TriMet service district. This tax effects mostly business travelers and tourists, which many use the Free Rail Zone to get around the city centre. A weekly stay at $100 per night would cost $21 more for the week, its not much, but helps a great bit.

Charge $10 per year to car registrations An option just exercised here in Seattle, this should be a last resort option, and only added if the above two options are insufficient. Owning a car is a luxury, and this is minimal amount to help preserve bus service, or provide better service! This option adds $10 per year, or $20 to your car tab renewal. Theres about 520,000 registered cars in Multnomah county, adding up to $5.2 million per year, not including Washington and Clackamas counties. While this usually doesn't mow over well with car owners, they need be reminded their SOV status is causing much more harm. The terms of spending this revenue would be the same as option 2 above.

So its time for the Execs and managers and directors to step up, take a cut until things turn around, and help the agency do what it supposed to do, provide transit service to those who need it most, and to those who are willing to ditch their cars for it. Time to end the top heavy spending that TriMet has so selfishly held on to so tight, and provide a world class transit system. Your budget woes should include high salaries and service cuts at the same time. Once you have done that, then lets start the path to not good bus service, but GREAT bus service!

In completely unrelated news, TriMet is hiring Part-Time Bus Operators.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Free Rides dwindling in Portland

The Portland Afoot website, or magazine as its referred to is reporting that the Portland Streetcar is about to can the "Free Rail Zone" and leave that for MAX riders only. Making it fair for all riders of the system that will be riding from the eastside to the west as the Streetcar grows in size.

Unfortunately, with this plan, the Streetcar plans to charge more, MUCH more for a pass product. Currently the annual pass is $100 (or $8.33 month), the proposed pass will cost up to $45 a month. While it is a far cry from TriMets $81 pass that just increased double the usual price at fare increase time, for those in the NW or S Waterfront areas, it will be quite a jab in the wallet.

With all this, there is hope that better fare enforcement is coming, but there are no plans as of yet. Read Michaels entire entry, including the fare details on his site, Portland Afoot.

Meeting and Vote on the Congestion Reduction Charge

Friday, August 12, 2011

King County Metro is Saved from deep cuts, RFA going away

At a press conference this morning, it was announced that the Council has come up with the super-majority votes needed to pass the $20 Congestion Reduction Charge. With the deal, the Downtown Ride Free Area will be phased out by October 2012.

So, Metro Service is spared from deep cuts, and pay as you leave is leaving soon. There are some other parts to the deal, but these are the ones that matter most to me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Car is a Luxury, Transit is a Need

This was in response to many comments I see circulating the internet in regards to the $20 car tab fee for transit:

Because the media feeds info into your head, then you explode it like a turkey in a deep fat fryer into unreasonable assumptions, let help you better see, one life of a Metro Bus driver.

Not all Metro Drivers make the top scale, or make $60k a year. I am a Part Time operator, got this job after 16 months of unemployment a little over a year ago. I make $19.93/hour for my first 2 years. My regular shift has ranged in the last year from 2.5 hours to 3.35 hours per DAY! I am able to scrounge for extra work, and I get some here and there. Like over 1000 of my co-workers, I am on track to make around $20,000 this year (many will make less, very few will make more). This is the same as making only $9.61/hour if working a 40-hour week. According to all of you, this apparently calls for a wage reduction, because I am living the high life in my room I rent. Health insurance is not free to every operator. I do not have it, because it would cost me about $130/month, or about $1600 of my $20,000 salary. Everyone thinks we make too much money, of the 2700 or so operators, only 1700 are FT, and make the 60k yearly salary (some do not due to other reasons, like unpaid leaves). Sure, Some do make a lot more, but they worked for it. It wasn't a "Government handout", its not a performance bonus, we don't get those. They put in the extra hours to keep a bus going. Why do I do this, because I enjoy the work, unlike some people, it isn't always about the money.

Metro blows exactly $0 on light rail trains. Stop assuming thats their problem. Go knock on Sound Transits door if trains are a problem with you. Sound Transit pays for Metro to operate the trains. If you put a comment out there, saying your not voting yes because Metro needs to stop building trains, then your just the lazy/undereducated one for not learning about things first, and making grand assumptions. Don't forget all those Carpool lanes, those were roadways built with transit dollars. But because you SOV around town, those are of no use to you as well.

Why should you pay for something that you don't use? Well, lets see, you pay for Police, Fire, Schools, Parks, etc. I bet you love the Police when they pull you over for speeding, how about the fire department that you need to yield to, such an inconvenience, you have no kids in school, and you hate the noisy family friendly park......yet your paying for all of it! Transit is a public service, Like Police and Fire, it provides a service to the community in which you live in, and is not out to turn a profit. Its easy for you to say "Cut it". But you know, that sales clerk at Nordstrom that sold you that suit, that server at your favorite lunch spot that delivered your food, how about the IT support guy at your work, they could have all taken the bus. Why? Because on low retail/server salaries, they can not afford the LUXURIES of an automobile. $90/month is better for them, or is more affordable. Some people do not like paying for outrageous parking, or dealing with the current traffic situation. "Cut it" means some of them will not be able to serve you, or show up for work, only making our struggling economy worse. Just because the cost of riding the bus doesn't line up with your car payment, doesn't mean one isn't being "fair". Transit touches everyone in some fashion, be it the clerks at your favorite shops, the gas station attendant, or the fact that my bus kept 100 SOVs off the road and out of your way, don't think because your not using it, that it doesn't effect your quality of life.

A change I agree with, Ride Free Area needs to go away. A lot less money could be spent on one bus route that circles downtown, which I have proposed. Also our Transit GM makes less than the CEO of Community Transit, close to $30,000k/year less, and look how well they are fairing.

The squabble over $20 a year for two years, its $1.67 a month. Pocket change. Either way, you will be paying for it, thru $20/year, or through longer travel times in your SOV on the interstate. And little ol me? Well, if this fails, not to worry, I won't have a job to worry about going to, I will return to your taxpayer funded unemployment and food programs.

For what its worth, I'd be happy to contribute $20 of my paycheck once a year to help, sound fair?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Visit, a Few Rides on Calgary Transit.

Calgary Transit reminds me of the phrase "You don't know what you got until its gone". Real-Time Arrivals, A/C on Buses, Schedules at stops, Smart Card, Easy Access to schedules, TVMs that accept Credit Cards, Bills, and dispense Monthly Passes. These are all things Calgary Transit DOESN'T have. Tho very few machines do have Credit Card readers, they are few and far between. Real-Time Arrivals are coming for Rail in August. Some of my other observations while I toured Calgary on their system.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

At a Glance: Spokane Transit Authority

A few weeks ago I was able to take a very short trip to Spokane Washington, and ride a little bit of the system there. I uploaded many of my photos to Flickr, check them to get visuals of the equipment, and "The Plaza".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Driving a Bus Is.....

Have you been keeping track? If you have, you'd know its been a year, when I added "Operator" to the things I do Transit. Its been fun, its been challenging, its been a new experience. So for all those that wonder, I share my experiences, raves, and rants in:

Driving a Bus is.......

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Community Transits CEO explains her side

Watch this video from the Puget Sounds highest paid transit CEO:

My Response: She continues to blame the recession for another round of cuts in February. She shows the sales tax revenues dropping, but in the last year, the decline was small, and some how that still yields a 20% cut. She says bus purchases were delayed, they are receiving new buses, much of which are funded from elsewhere. She's prepared to support growth of Snohomish County, with bus cuts? She also mentions ridership has declined, wonder why, oh right, no Sunday service. The interview between Emmett and her say the recession appears to have no end in sight, yet they are projecting higher sales tax revenues. Buy Local for transit: this only works if those who depend on transit can get around on transit, say for example, on Sundays. She again says the revenues do not look like they are coming back, despite the projections.

She promises Responsibility for today, but in this video, she was never specific on what they have cut internally, upper management wise. I think a 20% pay cut is in order for Admin and Execs, see how that adds up!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poll Results: Many of you Want ETBs to hang around

88% of the 27 votes I got here want to keep ETBs in the Metro System, but 11% don't, wonder why? The Public Meeting is tomorrow, and we expect the actual decision very soon.

What do you want to see happen with King County Metros Trolley Bus System?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

King County Metro changes the seats

I was able to tour the newest buses about to hit the streets here in Seattle. I spent a short time looking at King County Metros newest 60' bus, and their new 40' Orions. Other photos from this visit can be found on my Flickr Account.

The biggest change, are the seats! Many agencies use these seats, and have for some time. They include Portlands TriMet in their Buses and Trains, Vancouver Translinks Buses, Los Angeles Metro Rapid Buses, Philadelphia SEPTA Buses, and Orange County (OCTA) Buses, to name a few. Metro has been using borderline premium seats in all its buses. Seats that are expensive to repair and replace.

It has been in my travels, that these new seats are durable, and despite the removal of the coil based cushions, these seats are comfortable. They are shaped ergonomically, and very space saving. The seat covering Metro chose is the same as the seats in the current in service 6800s, a vinyl, non-slip surface. These seats resist soaking up odors, spillages and more. Overall, these seats will help save Metro money, and will provide a better experience for the rider. It is very possible you will see these seats in all future Metro buses, including RapidRide, and personally I welcome the change.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This blog turns 2

April 9 2009 is when this blog was born.

And some thought it would only last a few months.

Don't forget my other components to this blog that have since been created:

Thanks to all my readers, commenters and more, for stopping by from time to time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PSTO Blog deleted.

Jeff, while not answering any of my requests for info, has now posted the fate of the blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What I Think: CT is about to tip over

Today, Joyce Eleanor, the areas highest paid transit CEO released a statement that more cuts are looming. In her letter, she says tax revenues are down. Per the Budget page, 2007 was $76.6 million, 2008 was $71.7 million, 2009 was $62.3 million and 2010 came in at $61.5 million. CT is projecting $62.7 million this year. From 2007, revenues are down $15.1 million. Or, if you want to add it up per year, Grand total loss $34 million. From last year its only $800,000 less. So where does that equal a 20% service reduction? Are fares down this much? She says the cuts when all done will equal 1/3 of the employees and service it had in 2007 (33%), but the sales tax revenues are only down 20%. Lets not forget fares were raised twice, so we don't know how much of that helped make up the lost difference.

Snohomish County already has lost Sunday Service (and Holidays too), how much more can they do to the area? Buy Local for transit, if on Sundays you cant get anyplace on the bus, your not shopping. Then, they want to lay off more employees, who will not have the money to buy taxed goods. Heres some tough questions: What if the execs and admin took a 20% pay cut? Would that save jobs? What if bonuses were cut (since service is being cut, there should be no bonuses)? What if OT is curtailed, watched more closely (execs & admins)? Can CT save jobs, and maybe restore (some) service then?

The Herald article on this has a statement from another Snohomish County transit agency Everett Transit, "We're like everyone else, we're still behind where we were in 2008 (in tax revenue) but we have seen several months of measured improvement, we're hanging in there." The article also mentions Sound Transit giving a similar statement. CTs Facebook post is already full of comments by people who are fed up with the agency.

I think its time for this top heavy agency to look at other alternatives, and take service cuts off the table. This is just my take, but you can read the budget plan here, and make your own opinion. Public Transit is a service to the community, its not like shuttering under-performing retail stores, this is something those with no car depend on, it shouldn't be treated like this with so much upper management.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

15th Ave Bridge to reopen Apr 15, 3 routes move back

Seattle DOT and their contractor have finished the important work on the 15th Ave Bridge in North Seattle and will reopen it Friday April 15th.

As a result, as you can see in the photo, King County Metro Route 73 will no longer serve Roosevelt Way and will (once again) begin servicing 15th Ave on Saturday April 16. Routes 77 & 373 will also make this change on Monday, April 18. Route 68 will still serve Roosevelt b/t 80th and Northgate Way.

As part of Metros stop spacing project, Not all stops will return. Northbound the following stops are scheduled to open: 15th Ave @ 80th St, 85th St, 90th, 95th, 100th, 103rd St, Northgate Way, & 115th St. Southbound is 15th Ave @ 115th St, Northgate Way, 104th St, 102nd St, 94th St, 89th St & 82nd St. Route 73 also makes the existing stops at, (SB) 80th, 75th, 70th, 65th, Cowen Pl@ 15th Ave, Univ Way@ Ravenna Blvd, & (NB) at Cowen@15th, 15th Ave@ 63rd, 65th, 70th, & 75th. Cowen, 63rd, 68th, 73rd and 77th are listed on the stop spacing website as currently open, but on the closure list.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seems TriMet is trying to steer you away from Twitter

In the last couple of days TriMet has been sending tweets, even emails out to steer you from sending any complaints, suggestions or commendations to them via social media. One reads "Have an experience you'd like to share?", then gives a link to their comment form. Another "Do you have a question or comment about our services?" Also complete with a link to the comment form.

They have even went to the extent to send me an email:
"Do you want to give us feedback about one of our operators? Do you need to report a broken ticket machine? Do you need to report an item you lost or found on one of our buses or MAX trains?

Visit to find the reporting forms for all of these issues.

You can also contact Customer Service directly by calling 503-238-RIDE. Thank you for your feedback."

Unlike Translink in Vancouver, TriMet wants to use Social Media in a one-way format, don't bother them with your questions, unless you want to use the form or call. TriMet has been very slow at adapting to Twitter, sending out service alerts late, and just "sorta" using it. Skimming thru the TriMet Twitter they are answering peoples questions and complaints (mine too), but judging by all the attention being given to "Use the form", they do not want to be answering you on Twitter, and maybe they are trying to run from it. TriMet needs to learn from Translink pilot Twitter project, which is VERY successful, it was made permanent.

TriMet has also taken this to Facebook, there are a few very vocal people (that it appears TriMet ignores, because the only respond to those who praise the service).

TriMet: Twitter and Facebook are great ways to communicate with your riders and users, embrace it, don't ruin it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

King County Metro says Trolley Buses should stay!

King County Metro here in Seattle has released its initial findings into the Electric Trolley Bus system, and the direction its headed. The conclusion of this report is positive for supporters. KC Exec Constantine said "the trolley buses are clean, quiet and modern trolleys can be very cost effective to operate over their lifetime".

Right now Metro runs 159 ETBs, 100 40' Gilligs and 59 refurbished Bredas. Those need to be replaced soon, and KCM was toying with ETBs, or Hybrids as their replacement. We have nearly 70 miles of wire around the city which carries 1/5 of the total ridership. ETBs traverse the steep hills better, and provide the city with a quieter transit system running by their homes.

I personally am happy to see this. Now Metro will look at new low floor equipment, which will help loading times with easier boardings. Also helping the decision seemed to be the fact that the new equipment will be able to run off wire for a couple of blocks if a blockage occurs (something no streetcar can do) with back up battery power.

There is a public hearing on April 27, which I hope will be positive. This will keep our ETB system, and upgrade the equipment for better mobility, and reliability. If you can, head to the meeting and show your support, and keep Electric Trolley Buses in this great city!

I have also created a poll in the right side bar, cast your vote!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life any moment

My thoughts and prayers are with those and families of the 3 people killed in Kelso by a train on Wednesday. One was an engineer with the BNSF who was 58, almost to retirement. Another was a Conductor Trainee, a 28 yo learning the job. Also, the Shuttle Driver, a 60 yo did not make it, but was not a railroad employee. The conductor, a BNSF employee is in critical condition at OHSU in Portland, he is 52.

I used to be a Crew Hauler for UP a few years ago, the easiest job on the railroad. You had to be alert tho, you don't look once, or twice, you check about a half a dozen times before crossing tracks. Train equipment is very unforgiving equipment, and the last thing you wanted was to be in its path. There are thousands of employees who run this equipment, and work with it in the yard, you are always on the lookout. Once when I was picking up a crew at the North end of Brooklyn Yard in Portland, an Amtrak train went by, at 50mph. Theres no crossings, therefore no horns, no bells, just it whisking by pretty quietly. Its a good job, but one mistake is usually your only mistake.

Unfortunately, the railroads continue to try and cut costs to boost profits, and have hired the cheapest they can contract with. That doesn't go without saying these drivers are not trying to be safe, but when your paying these guys minimum wage, you get a lower quality of work. I hope this incident sparks some changes.

As a transportation blogger, and once a railroad worker, this is a loss to our world. Its just a reminder of how short life is....and you never know. Be Safe in everything you do!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bus AD Fail

Whoever put up this ad didn't seem to notice,
How's My Driving?

Photo credit EBOperator

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crystal Method - Comin' Back

This is a bit of an older song from them, I really like it, plus I forgot how cool the video was.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

McGraw Square - An Idea That Makes No Sense

McGraw Square, a little "Transit Friendly" park at the Southern Terminus of the Streetcar Line. the SDOT Blog touts "The new plaza makes it easier to travel around downtown, and enhances connections from [SLUT] to other options like buses and Link Light Rail".

What?? That is farthest from what it does. The "park" did not add bus stops, add an entrance to the tunnel, nor did it make it easier or friendlier to cross that intersection to connect with transit. This was a $900,00 waste of taxpayers dollars, that could have been used to improve transit downtown, like adding shelters in the form of the high raised glass canopies that protrude from a nearby building. I just do not see this as an improvement on any transit related transactions, except a better encouragement for jaywalking to/from all sides of the park.

Save the Date - Adron Halls Transit Beer: Seattle Edition

February 26, 2011. Transit Beer is something local blogger Adron Hall started a few years ago in Portland. Its an informal get together of the local transit blogging community. Thats people who write, read and love talking transit. We usually go to a local establishment where you can order food and drinks, and converse.

This will be a chance for many of you Seattle readers to meet Adron, the writer behind Transit Sleuth and a chance to meet me. Also special guest from Portland, the TriMet driver and ranter himself, Al M will be there.

The place for this is at the Frontier Room, Belltown Seattle. Use the map below to get directions, be sure to select "By Transit".

I would love for my Twitter readers/followers, blog readers, and everyone I talk transit with to come on down and say Hi. There is no agenda, just come by, sit down, grab a bite, and have fun! Do let me know if you might make it, we will need to know how much space we might need. You can RSVP to the event here. If your not a Facebook user, you can leave a comment to this post.

Hope to meet some of you, and to chat with some of my longtime readers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TriMet wants money it could use for buses for Light Rail

TriMet, the agency so many outside of Portland praise, wants to use all the money it can get from a Flexible Funds Program to fund the Milwaukie Light Rail project. Doing this would not allow TriMet to obtain funds from it for 6 years for bus replacements.

This further proves TriMet wants to be a Light Rail agency, and wash their hands of bus service. Sadly, it doesn't surprise me. What is it going to take to get TriMet to use any funds it can get to replace buses that are barley holding on? I think the bus assignments should make sure that the oldest equipment runs on the routes upper management claims they take, maybe that will give them a better idea?

See the whole story at the Cascade Policy Institute Site.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

TransLink the leader in Social Media?

In the last few months, TransLink, Vancouver BC's transit provider, has staffed a person to run their Twitter account. It is typically updated from 6:30am to 11:30pm every day. The service comes from the customer service call centre, with one morning person and one afternoon person monitoring and sending out messages from the account. They send out reroute info, tips for riding, and upcoming transit changes. You can also send them a message, and they will respond to you very quickly.

As of right now it is a pilot program, that keeps getting extended month after month. I follow this account and its great to see what they are doing. Closer to home, Metro is trying, alerts get out about reroutes and issues, but what if they did the same thing Translink is doing? Although, I have reason to suspect if Metro had the level of activity as Translink, a few STB bloggers will still find something wrong with it. I think its a great idea, as I have mentioned before, this is a platform that people use, and its great to see Translink take it to the next level.

You can read about the project, submit your feedback, and look at stats of the first month of the project on their blog.

Update: This project is now permanent!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rant: Poor Planning leaves you waiting longer

15th Ave between Pacific St and 55th st in the U-District is a treacherous road to travel, dips, potholes everywhere. Well, SDOT is on track to fix that, but not in a fashion to make things any better. If you have traveled through this area recently by bus, odds are you were delayed. If you have traveled through here by car, please don't.

SDOT decided to close one lane in each direction at the same time, leaving only one lane open in each direction for buses and cars to share. The left turn lane into Campus from 15th has been abolished, causing longer back ups and delays, simply because only one bus can make a left turn per light cycle thanks to all the cars who chose not to avoid this stretch. A handful of routes come off of Campus Pkwy, must make a quick Right then left onto Campus, and typically this takes about 1-2 min at most. Now its taking upwards of 10-12 min at just this intersection. While Metro could detour us, its very possible they are simply unaware of what SDOT is changing on a whim and the after effects it is having.

So if your bus travels thru the U-Distric and even touches 15th Ave, it might be late, and work with us, we are trying. While cars who choose to not avoid the street and find a less traveled alternative such as University way or other streets to the West, and buses fight for the light (some fellow bus drivers are not so kind to let buses that have been waiting a while go ahead), your bus might be late, 10 min even. If you have complaints in regards to the late service, please do not call Metro, its not our fault, call SDOT! I'm sure the same office that made lanes narrower than a bus is wide for bike lanes had something to do with this planning.

The upside is I myself will not be driving thru here after Feb 5th, but I feel for the operators that will until they are done.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sound Transits D60LFR hits the streets

In my travels today, I came upon Sound Transits newest Non-Hybrid 60' bus running on CT operated Route 510. ST9557 is a quiet bus even with a regular diesel engine, and looks pretty slick. Check out the photos below taken by Dave Stubblefield while I was shooting the video seen at the bottom of the post.