Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Express bus vs light rail on my commute

I rode the King County Metro #355 bus to downtown again this morning, proudly wearing stickers for Mike McGinn and Mike O'Brien.

I got to thinking last night about exactly how long my morning commute took using various transit combinations, door to door. When driving and without significant traffic, it takes about 30 minutes plus another 5 minutes walking from one end of the parking lot to my office, though traffic often makes it worse. By comparison, yesterday it took me about 85 minutes to do the same trip using a bus/bike/light rail combo.

Yesterday's commute seems to me to have been about 15-20 minutes longer than it should have been, mostly because I perceive the light rail segment of the trip to be so much slower than a King County Metro #150. But it may also have been because my #355 bus was about 4 minutes late, which caused me to miss the connecting bus downtown.

So this morning I tried a direct comparison to yesterday's bus-LRT trip (with bike connections in between and on each end), this time substituting the King County Metro #150 for the light rail leg. The bike portion of the commute would be very similar, with a flat 3.3 mile bike ride at the end of the trip today compared to yesterday's 3.2 mile ride with a long downhill, though yesterday's ride had me waiting at one traffic light for more than a minute.

The first difference was that this morning's #355 bus didn't have a working Wi-Fi connection, unlike yesterday's. Must be a different bus, even though it ran at the same time, with the same driver. So unfortunately I couldn't post this as it was being written. Oh well.

Status halfway: my #355 bus was three minutes late from Greenwood, almost exactly like yesterday, which would again make me miss my connecting #150. The #355 made good time to the south end of downtown, and when I biked from its first downtown stop to the International District tunnel station and reached the top of the stairs leading down to the platform, I saw my #150 bus just then pulling out. Argh. It was also three minutes late, however.

Three minutes later, a light rail train arrived, giving me the same choice I had yesterday: take light rail or wait seven more minutes for my next bus. Yesterday I chose the train, today I waited for the bus.

The next #150 bus to arrive was also a couple minutes late, but I climbed on. With all the delays, my guess was that I would get to work at about the same time today as I did yesterday.

However, even while starting seven minutes later than the train plus a couple minutes of delay, I still arrived at work 10 minutes earlier today than I did yesterday (74 minutes today vs 84 minutes yesterday), with the only significant difference being that riding the train took a lot longer (more than 15 minutes longer) than riding an express bus, with all other factors being almost exactly equal.

1 comment:

Mr_Grant said...

Some feeder routes compete with Link. You can stand at bus stops on Third Ave above the tunnel, and catch routes going to the Link stations at Othello and Tukwila. It doesn't really make a lot of sense.