Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Increasing transit ridership

Nice article in today's P-I for first-time bus riders: Gas prices killing your budget? Why not hop on the bus instead? Covers the basics. Includes a pic of the ID station where I get on my bus southbound to Tukwila, mornings. My favorite quote: "Most of all, be prepared for an adventure at times."

And why not indeed?

A couple thoughts on this reported increase in transit ridership in Seattle: first, I've definitely noticed that some of the buses I ride are more crowded than they were a few months ago. Not that they're exactly crowded yet; the 355 used to rarely have a standee a few months ago, and now it seems to have half a dozen, at times. But there's probably room for a couple dozen more before that bus gets what I would consider to be "packed". The 150, going opposite the direction of the commute (Seattle to Tukwila, mornings), still has less than half its seats full. Same situation in the afternoon. Most of the time these days, my bike is the only one on the rack on either of these buses (or the 101, also opposite the direction of the commute). Second, all things considered, the P-I's reported 6% increase since last year really isn't that much, sad to say, though of course any increase in public transit use is to be applauded.

Meanwhile, I drove to Olympia for a Memorial Day get-together with some good friends. The freeways seemed practically deserted. This was amazing ... can that many fewer people really be making elective car trips? It's a very hopeful development.

Finally, after all my griping about the Sounder over the past few months, I've actually managed to catch it a few more times in recent weeks. I am appalled at its minuscule ridership north to Seattle in the afternoon: in four trips on the Sounder over the past few months, I've never counted more than 10 people in my train car, which is what I saw on my first trip. In what, 95 seats per car? The last two trips, I counted just 6 people in my train car, and no more than 60 people (and probably somewhat less) on a train with a seating capacity of nearly 600. There are somewhat more people waiting for the train to go south again, however ... I figure there were something like 100-150 the last time I rode past them to King Street Station.

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