Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why Were There So Many, Many #62 Buses Going Up And Down NE 45th Street On April 9-10 Week-end?

On the week-end of April 9 and 10, many residents reported numerous buses marked #62 travelling along NE 45th Street, just one bus after another. 

Neighbors living in that area were shocked to see so many buses and curious as they say there has never been any week-end bus service and additionally residents have never seen this bus number in the neighborhood. It's always been #25 and now #78 which started last month. 

Residents said:

I wanted to make you aware that we had probably 200+ Metro buses drive by our house this weekend, up and down NE 45th Street. On Saturday, there was never a time a bus was not coming, parked at, or leaving the Seattle Children's stop. Never. At times, there were more than one, sometimes one right behind the other. This started at 6:05 a.m. and was still running when I went to bed at 10:30 pm on Saturday. Today is Sunday, and it's the same thing. It's not the 78, it's the 62, which shouldn't even be this far south. I thought Laurelhurst was not getting bus service on Sunday at all, so this should not be going on.

The noise and vibration the numerous busses are creating going in and out and also while parked is an absolute neighborhood nuisance. They never turn off the bus while parked. And please note there were never any passengers on the bus, not one. Driver only.

I saw one Bus today, on Sunday, turn left from Sandpoint Way onto 40th Avenue and then turn left up NE 45th. There is no reason for them to do this. I suspect they are merely using this as a place to turn around! Nobody is riding these buses and it's not on any published route. If this is for Children's benefit, then this should be on their side, not in a residential neighborhood.

We can't be the only people bothered by this literal invasion of Metro buses. I intend to contact Metro as well. We've heard others are also annoyed.

We understand from Metro information and communications that the only busses running in Laurelhurst is the #78 on weekdays. And that other busses that would serve Laurelhurst on the week-ends stop on Sand Point near Children's Hospital and don't come into the neighborhood at all.  
We also noticed a bus, not #78, going eastbound on NE 45th Street and turning left onto 40th Avenue NE, going past the Emergency Room entrance then connecting back onto Sand Point Way. We have never seen a bus on this very narrow, very short road. It is dangerous to have a bus there as the hospital shuttles use that small road as well as emergency vehicles.

 The Laurelhurst Blog Staff contacted Metro representatives who said:
Starting on March 26, Metro introduced the new Route 62, which is currently operating every 15 minutes for most of the day. This route provides a new east-west, “crosstown” transit connection for riders to/from Northeast Seattle and Magnuson Park and NOAA, where one didn’t exist prior to the recent March service change.  
Weekdays the route travels to its terminus on the NOAA campus and makes a loop there. When NOAA is closed, after approximately 6:30pm on weeknights and all day on weekends, Route 62 loops through Magnuson Park on a 90-day “pilot” basis (through June 25th).  

The purpose of this 90-day pilot, as agreed to by Metro, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (SPR), and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is to enable the evaluation of community concerns, allow time and space to address funding questions (e.g., to address pavement damage); and assess any unintended consequences of transit operations in Magnuson Park—and to work collaboratively on solutions.

As part of the pilot, Metro agreed to reroute buses on the days when special events are occurring within Magnuson Park, as identified by SPR staff, to a turnaround loop elsewhere to maintain Route 62 service.   This turn around  would only be considered for use if Metro was unable to safely and efficiently use an alternative routing identified through Magnuson Park. 
On April 9-10, on a trial basis, Metro routed buses on that new turnaround loop which was in Laurelhurst. The route was going along Sand Point Way, left on 40th Avenue NE, left on NE 45th Street and then turning around just west of 45th Avenue Northeast, where bus operators have access to a comfort station.  
The bus you report going east on NE 45th and left on 40th might have been working to get back on route after a wrong turn. A district supervisor reported that some bus operators had to be assisted when they missed a turn and erroneously continued past the designated turnaround loop.  
With any reroute, or even regular bus service, a driver may occasionally make a wrong turn. This most often happens with new service or special routing. We continue to work with transit operators and reinforce new information to help them do a better job understanding specific reroute instructions. We apologize and ask for the public’s understanding on these relatively rare occurrences

In response to comments about busses bunching up on that week-end during the reroute on NE 45th Street, this happens with such frequent service, every 15-minutes along with some traffic delays, passengers boarding and exiting elsewhere, and the rhythm of individual drivers which all cause several buses to appear together unintentionally.  This is not the goal or plan.  
As well, this reroute required additional time than the normal schedule. As well, buses are typically empty, or near empty as they approach the end of a route. 

Regarding Bus #65: it operates regular service on weekdays and weekends on 40th Avenue Northeast between NE 45th Street and Sand Point Way.  The outbound Route 65 buses travels eastbound on NE 45th Street then turns left on 40th Avenue NE, serving Children’s Hospital, and then continues on 40th Avenue northbound, jogging west on NE 55th Street to 35th Avenue Northeast to Lake City. 

Metro is looking specifically at the April 9-10 operating experience and the comments the Laurelhurst Blog Staff sent us regarding community concerns, as we review the effectiveness of turning buses around in this location.  
We will consider the concerns expressed as we prepare for how transit service will operate during Magnuson Park activities and the necessity of future reroutes.  
Metro is continuing to evaluate the use of NE 45th Street/40th Avenue NE pathway (used April 9-10 weekend) and other potentially feasible rerouting paths in Northeast Seattle for future special event days, construction activity, or other disruptions at Magnuson Park.   
The Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Department agreed to temporarily pilot the use of Magnuson Park as a turnaround and terminal (on weekday evenings and weekends) while asking Metro to find alternative routing and terminal location on their special event days.  
SPR is the best source to ask how they determined which event dates would apply to a re-route and new turnaround in the neighborhood. 
This is an emerging topic we’re working on with SDOT and the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department. We’re noting issues raised by riders or the community as part of the evaluation.

Residents can receive reroute information, which are typically communicate to subscribers via Twitter and also available on Metro’s website as they become available.  Regarding the activity on April 9-10, a  transit alert was issued regarding the reroute to route subscribers on Friday, April 8. 

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) has contacted Metro to understand and gather information and told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff:
Metro's new route system is still in the testing mode. hat occurred on April 9-10 is a legitimate problem for this pilot route.
It is helpful that they are accepting constructive feedback to make future changes, as the whole system is a "work in progress".  
LCC, we believe, was not informed of the actual pilot route, but "some service" near Children's Hospital was mentioned by Metro on the weekend without details

LCC will be work with Metro and SDOT to be sure that that neighbors concerns are heard, and that NE 40th St is not used as a congested turnaround, especially on weekends.  
Residents can comment on this issue here or by phone at 206-553-3000. 

Go here to subscribe to transit alerts, including re-routes.



No comments: