Oakland, Go Vote…

…and Portland, we should be standing up for better BRT around the area that connects the high ridership lines. #72, #4, #9 and many others. Have interweave and connect with the town centers and fold into the light rail, as well as provide rapid acces to the city center.

Drop the lethargic idea that we only need 40 foot busses and let’s move more people in an easier way.

Phoenix, Huge Light Rail Ridership Increases!

Impressive, Phoenix isn’t my favorite city, primarily for idealogical reasons and the mere physics of a city smack in the middle of a desert. But some people there are trying to improve things and make it…  sustainable? Not sure that’s possible, but this news is a good thing for sure.

The light rail that Phoenix had built a number of years ago has seen a surge in ridership.

Total Boardings for August: 1,166,156 vs 982,776 in July.

Avg. Weekday Boardings: 42,054 vs 34,168 in July.

Avg Saturday Boardings: 28,592 vs 27,935 in July.

Avg Sunday / Holiday Boardings: 21,138 vs 25,585 in July.

My suggestion, if you’re going to go live in the desert (at your own risk) then be sure to live along the light rail line. Better value for your money and less reliance on a single mode of transport (your car) is a good thing.

Learning From Each Other

Trimet, which considering comparative performance, does a great job comparative to King County Metro on a cost basis. Crazy you say, crazy not I say. They carry less per capita in their city core (i.e. the city itself, not the metropolitan area) than Trimet does, yet Metro does so at almost 2x the price per passenger as Trimet. Even though I think there isn’t much Trimet should imitate from Metro, there are two things I absolutely think they should invest in. These two things, would be easy investments since our neighbor Seattle has so much experience with them and has done most of the research and data gathering around it already.

  1. The first one is easy. Let’s get trolley buses back. Trimet’s diesel buses are nasty, especially those older buses. The older buses, based on what information I’ve been able to gather are dirtier than people riding in a bunch of huge SUVs. They’re barely worth running from an environmental pollution perspective. We need to toss those puppies in the recycling bin and get on board with the some trolley buses. If we’re really serious we’ll get trolley buses that can serve in my second suggestions…
  2. 60 ft BRT buses and some BRT routes to go with those buses! I love the light rail and over time the light rail will save the city a huge sum of money over BRT. But right now we need increased capabilities on the #72, the #9, and many other routes. Matter of fact, let’s toss WES and replace it with a nice clean BRT that can be bumped up to serious rail service – ya know – when Portland is like 4 million people. (whenever that happens)

These two things I know have been on the table and off the table, and overall Trimet has done alright. But they really need to start looking at some of these options. Once the city has a complete north, south, east, and western build out of light rail it is time to build up those rail lines even more by interconnecting them with BRT routes. Then the BRT routes can be shifted over the years as the BRT routes are bumped up to LRT or such. But for now, let’s get some serious frequency and capacity along the core routes of the city and build out those areas even more.

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. I’m not going to complain like some of the light rail haters do and bus lovers gushing over buses do, but overall, Trimet should put a little emphasis on the services around the light rail.

A Few Commutes :: Seattle to Bellevue :: Day #1

I’d had planned to get the 7:06am #37 into town for my transfer to the #550, but as I walked out to get the bus it rolled by at 7:02am. At almost 5 minutes early, that just seemed freakishly early for a bus. But it is one of those oddball things that happens regularly in Seattle. In this city they don’t just say expect the bus to be on time to five minutes late, but instead say it might be 5 minutes early or 10 minutes late. It’s all a crapshoot in this city.

Miss The Bus, You Walk

After missing the #37 I walked up, about a half mile, to the more frequent stops. The #37 was within 200ft of where I am staying this week, however the #37 only has about 8 frequencies in the morning and about that many in the evening. Yes, it is an odd set, which I can’t even begin to understand how that works out logically.

On my way to the other stop, there was one glorious advantage to walking here besides the frequent bus service. There is a diner open for breakfast and a coffee shop serving as early as 5:30am. Fortunately for my soul it had been open for hours, as it was about 7:16am now. I ordered a soy cappuccino and a croissant, my main default order.

A Little Review of the Java Stop

This place was wonderfully quaint with a warm and cozy feel to it. On the cold days during winter I can imagine this little coffee shop is ideal to sit and enjoy and hot drink. Being it the onset of fall, I was actually wearing my hoodie, to offset the chilly weather. But it made for perfect coffee drinking temperatures. The coffee was a decent cappuccino, and the croissant tasted a bit like a “boxed and shipped two weeks ago croissant”. So even though the appearance and feel of the coffee shop was stellar, the coffee and croissant were lacking. However, by most American standards, this was a decent espresso. Keep in mind, I’m a coffee snob from Portland, my baseline is a little wonky.

Overall, I give the coffee shop a 3 out of 5 stars. For another baseline, I rate 95% of Starbucks as a 1 or 2 star out of 5. You know I’m just longing for coffee when I drinking their burnt swill. Stumptown Coffee would generally be a 4 or higher.

The Bus Ride

After that stop I crossed the street, which is a bit treacherous this time of day with the traffic zooming up and down the street here. There’s no crosswalk for a quarter mile, so it makes it pointless to cross legally. But I made it in spite of the treacherous design. I stood at the stop for about 2 minutes and a #54 changing to a #5 arrived. Meanwhile as I stepped aboard the bus a #21 Express flew by in the inner lane. I know a number of good souls that ride the #21 Express.

When I boarded there was standing room only, albeit only two of us were standing. I considered this good fortune, as TriMet buses in the AM hours are often crush capacity. To put that in laymen’s terms, because no one is actually getting crushed, but people are indeed elbow to elbow and often brush against each other. It takes a cooperative people to use transit in those conditions. Which fortunately the people who are open minded enough and thoughtful enough to take transit to work are often exactly those people. Good souls, brave souls, and thoughtful souls.

We arrived downtown after sitting in traffic for about 5-8 minutes. A trip that would normally take about 15-20 minutes took about 20-25 this morning. But no matter I was in line and doing well based on my schedule. We arrived in the downtown tunnel and I literally walked up to the #550 as a beautiful young lady stowed her bike on the front racks.

Be Cordial, Don’t Hit on the Pretty Girls

I’m not one of those wierdo types that tries to hit on every sexy lady on transit. I actually detest those fools. I will admit though that I do prefer a seat next to a pretty lady in good physical shape versus the alternatives. In this case, the pretty young lady stowing the bike on the front of the bus actually came and sat right next to me. I couldn’t complain at all.

I then removed my laptop to knock out this blog entry and a little work. The #550 is an ok ride, it is relatively smooth, but it is a bus. So I’m going to rant for just a few lines.

Bus Rant

Compared to streetcars, light rail, passenger trains, ferries and other modes, the bus just sucks by comparison. It is at the whim of the road, which is often left unmaintained and violently bumpy, costs pushed off onto . Buses don’t handle this well at all and vibrate, bounce and swing in cumbersome ways that make working on a laptop difficult. This has been slightly mitigated by such beautiful advances like the Mac Book Air and other laptops that make it easy, but overall it still sucks.

I’ll also admit though a huge part of this rough ride is dependent on the driver. If the driver is a foot slammer, then it makes conditions 10x worse, often making it impossible to do anything except hold on. When I actually get a seat on transit, I’d rather not have a jack ass driving the bus.

Bellevue

I finally arrived in my workplace for the day. Bellevue is a shiny city, barely a decade old. It is indeed a city, albeit being little more than a vertical strip mall from the perspective of culture. It lacks almost every amenity that a truly developed city has, but the citizens of this city are trying to alleviate this. So far, it’s going to be a few more decades. Bellevue, reminds me of Portland’s Pearl District, albeit an even newer feel.

For the trip home, I’m sure a slew of crazy things await. Until then, good day to you dear readers.