Today was a frightful day for everyone who rides Metro buses, and I wish the operator involved a speedy recovery.
But today is just the latest example of King County Metro's egregious disregard for effective communication with riders about disruptions to transit service. The incident happened around 9:20 AM, but the first mention of it on Metro's Twitter feed wasn't until 11:58 AM:
Really, @kcmetrobus? Service through downtown Seattle is severely disrupted and you say nothing about it?
But maybe I'm looking in the wrong place. After all, Metro runs an "Eye on Your Metro Commute" blog to tell us these things, right?
Nope. You see, this incident happened after 9 AM, and "Eye on Your Metro Commute" only covers the peak commute hours, because obviously anyone who rides buses in midday is a loser and We'll Get You There...When We Get You There.
But wait, hold on. The background image on Metro's Twitter feed has something to tell us.
Well you fell down on that last part, but OK, how about we give that website a try. Now, when I want to check for service alerts, it's probably because I'm on some street corner somewhere wondering where the fuck my bus is, so I'm sure that website is mobile-optimized.
Well, that's not exactly a responsive layout, but I guess those headers are big enough to hit without needing to zoom in. But which one do I want? I'm pretty sure I'm not concerned about "planned construction or events," but "Service Advisories" sounds closest...
Are you fucking kidding me? The lines in that table are too small to read, much less click on. And none of them seem to have anything to do with the disruption!
Hold on, let's go back to the first page. What's that in the upper right? "Metro Transit Alert RSS Feeds?" Hmm, that might be the ticket...assuming you have a mobile device that formats RSS in some readable format, which none of the ones I tried do. Otherwise, you can finally get the information you seek if you can pick it out of the RSS and HTML that surrounds it.
You see, Twitter is a service that is perfectly designed to deliver concise, timely updates to a large number of people. It should be the primary way information about service disruptions is disseminated online, not an afterthought.
A key word here is concise. Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, so it's important not to waste them, say by repeating yourself:
But maybe I'm being too harsh, I mean the Twitters are newfangled technology. It's not like there are any good examples of how to...
Or maybe there are.
But there is one sure way to get up-to-the-minute updates from @kcmetrobus — make sure @kcmetrobus is on the bus with you.
SDOT has just announced an open house for the Belltown-Uptown Transit Improvement Project on August 21st from 4-6 PM at the Urban Oasis Cafe, 2929 1st Avenue.
Following the Broad Street BAT lane which was installed a few months ago, this round of improvements includes new trolley wire on Denny Way between 1st and 3rd for eastbound buses, so that southbound 1, 2, and 13 buses can skip the dog-leg on 1st and Broad with its attendant unprotected left turn.
Excitingly, this project would also eliminate the terribly substandard stop at Warren and Denny in favor of a new stop just west of 2nd Avenue next to the Cisco building. This new stop would also have a shelter. I contacted SDOT and they confirmed that Metro will close the stop at 3rd and Broad (in the triangular parklet) and the 8 will serve this new stop.
Construction is planned for Fall, with Metro switching over as part of the February service change.
More information is available from the SDOT flyer.
Lately I've starting using Draft, a neat Markdown-based online text editor with built-in versioning by Nate Kontny.
Recently he added WebHooks support for publishing to places not natively supported. I recently moved my blog to GitHub Pages, and I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to publish directly from Draft?"
A few hours later, I have draft2github, a Node.js-based WebHook server to do just that. This post was published using it - hopefully the first of many in the near future.
[This was originally posted on my Angry Transit Nerd blog.]
SEATTLE - At a press conference this morning, ostensibly called to discuss looming cuts to bus service, King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond shocked reporters by launching into a tirade against the Washington State Legislature and his bosses on the Metropolitan King County Council.
He began by presenting a map showing potential reductions in service across the county. "So Shoreline, yeah, they're fucked. Wedgwood, Laurelhurst, fucked. Burien, totally fucked."
He then lambasted the Legislature for passing only a temporary funding source in 2011, setting the stage for the current crisis. "How the hell am I supposed to do long-term planning for regional growth when I don't know if the rug will be pulled out from under me next year? I keep getting complaints about overcrowded buses, and I can't do a damn thing about it. I'm not a fucking miracle worker. I can't turn water into wine and I can't turn shit into service hours. The motherfucking Legislature needs to stop using Metro as a political football and give me a funding source.
"And don't get me started on West Seattle. That backstabbing [Governor] Gregoire was supposed to get me an MVET as part of this tunnel deal, but she threw me under the bus at the first opportunity. Plus the measly mitigation funding is about to run out and the stupid tunnel boring machine isn't even in Seattle yet!"
Desmond then tore into the members of the King County Council, saying "They publicly order me to go find ways to cut costs, but then they pull me aside in the hallway and say, 'Don't touch the route that goes by my house, because my neighbor's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate rides it sometimes. So leave it alone.'" Pounding his fist on the podium, he added "it's fucking bullshit."
He then announced another fare increase to take effect next year, stating "I'm forwarding every piece of hate mail I get about this to Larry Phillips. Every damn one."
Desmond then became even more agitated, announcing that he was "going back to New York where the politicians realize that transit costs money." He then shouted "Desmond out," dropped the microphone on the floor, and stormed out of the room.
As of press time, King County Executive Dow Constantine had not responded to a request for comment.
[If you haven't figured it out by now, this piece is satire. For serious coverage of the press conference that happened today, see West Seattle Blog. Happy April Fool's Day.]
[This was originally posted on my Angry Transit Nerd blog.]
Today Metro released an updated proposal for the September restructuring associated with the start of RapidRide C & D. The headline change is that they're deferring changes to the 26, 28X, 31, and 355X until the opening of RapidRide E, a sensible move. Notably, the Queen Anne-Madrona restructure that Bruce Nourish of the Seattle Transit Blog has written about a couple times remains intact. However, in response to concerns about the loss of service on 6th Ave W, Metro has apparently done what an STB commenter suggested:
Concerning West Queen Anne service, why not extend Route 1 to serve 6th Ave W and Queen Anne Ave and terminate at the current Route 3 terminal? People on 6th Ave would still have some service and could transfer during off peak times to either route at Queen Anne Ave/Boston St. It would also provide a one-seat ride for 6th Ave W residents to downtown Queen Anne.
However it looks like that comes at a price for Kinnear residents, as the proposal would reduce off-peak frequency to 30 minutes and night frequency to 30-60 minutes, from current levels of 20 minutes mid-day and half-hourly until midnight.
- Route 5 would continue to operate on Aurora instead of moving to Dexter.
- The 15X would be preserved to prevent overcrowding on the D Line during peak.
- The 16 would be use a more direct routing to Northgate via North Seattle Community College.
- The new Route 18 would continue to First Hill via Yesler Way.
- New Route 40 has been renumbered Route 20 and would continue to the Admiral District, but would no longer have weekend service.
- All-day service to Colman Park would be preserved on the 27, but the 27 would use Boren Avenue and Seneca/Spring to downtown instead of Yesler. This makes no sense.
- Route 30 is off the chopping block, but would be truncated to only operate between the UW and Sand Point.
- Route 33 would be interlined with the new incomprehensible Route 27 so that buses continue to turn off 3rd Avenue and get stuck in freeway traffic.
- New Route 32 would use Stone Way instead of Wallingford Ave N, and W Mercer Place instead of Harrison in Uptown.
- Route 37 saved from the chopping block with 4 morning and 4 afternoon peak trips.
- Reduce peak frequency on the new Route 50 to 20-30 minutes.
- Retain peak-hour trips on the 55 to prevent overcrowding on the C Line.
- Make the 56X more express by travelling directly from Admiral Way to the West Seattle Freeway, skipping Chelan Ave SW.
- No added service on Route 120.
- Route 125 would continue to use the Viaduct instead of serving SODO, and would terminate at Westwood Village instead of backtracking to Alaska Junction.
- Route 128 would continue to double back on itself to serve South Seattle Community College instead of continuing to Alaska Junction via SW Genesee Street.
In many cases this constitutes a watering-down of the ambitious original proposal. But in light of the histrionics on the King County Council on Monday over one lousy bus route, getting these changes approved will still remain an uphill battle.