I hate to kick Metro while they are in what may be a transitional stage for them, but I happened to notice adverts splashed on my favorite sites with the slogan: “More buses, more options. Thanks Seattle Voters.”
Something about that slogan invites derision especially since my husband has been talking about leaving earlier to catch his bus since the changes in June. Why? I’ll let another Wallingford resident Erik Blazing tell it:
For several years now, my morning commute was usually via the last run of the 26X (the one that arrives at 40th & Wallingford ~8:38am). That run was always served by one of the large articulated buses. It wasn’t a particularly full bus- people at the later stops typically had to stand, but it wasn’t completely packed.Metro updates their routes/schedules quarterly, which I’ve seen on other routes, but it’s never impacted the 26X until the June 6 changes this year. They switched the last morning run of the 26X to one of the shorter, non-articulated buses… with the predictable result of that run becoming overcrowded. It’s less comfortable, of course, but also causes passengers to get left behind. Most Wallingfordians can get on the bus, but the poor folks at the last two stops (40th & Stone Way, and Bridge Way just before the Aurora Bridge) typically get left behind. As far as I know, none of the other runs of the 26X were impacted- they still use the articulated buses. Since it’s the last Express run of the day (even though it’s not particularly late in the morning by today’s standards), it leaves people stuck.I submitted a customer service complaint via Metro’s website and got a response (unfortunately I deleted it, otherwise I’d forward it to you). The service rep explained that Metro has a limited number of the higher-capacity articulated buses, and that it uses ridership data to decide which routes & runs to use them on. They implied that the last run of the 26X didn’t make the cut and that other routes/times warranted the larger vehicle instead. They pointed out the quarterly schedule updates and implied that the larger vehicle would be reinstated if the data showed it was needed.I’m a pretty avid transit user and I regularly use maybe a dozen different routes. I believe what they say… that run of the 26X was less crowded than some of the other routes I’m familiar with. But it does leave Wallingford residents who are late commuters (say, ones who leave home after 8:20am… like me and a ton of other people) with a transit quandary. All of the routes that go downtown in a reasonable amount of time (the 26X, 16, 71, 72, 73, 74) are overcrowded to the point where they fill up and have to leave passengers behind. This is a daily occurrence, not an isolated thing. Other route options, like the 26 local (which is easily the stupidest bus route I’ve ever used in any city), are so slow that they’re not viable vs. driving, biking, or even walking.The ultimate solution to this is going to come next year when the light rail opens to Husky Stadium, which will completely remake the transit patterns in Wallingford. The 26 local will be eliminated and the 26 will become an “all-day express”, which I think makes a ton of sense. I don’t see why they don’t make that change earlier, but I’ll take it. I’m guessing that the easy access to Husky Stadium via the Burke Gilman trail and routes 31 & 32 will push Wallingford residents towards the train, and I’ll definitely be one of them. The train will be both faster and more predictable. We need to build more train lines, but progress on that front is extremely slow.