LETTER: Resident says Metro Transit has reduced afternoon bus routes for Burien

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

Dear City Council & City Manager,

Over the past year it has become obvious that Metro has reduced bus capacity between Burien and Downtown Seattle, specifically the afternoon routes to Burien, by removing articulated buses from the routes.

The below public records request and chart confirms that the capacity has been cut by over 10%.

Metro’s Service Guidelines states: “Overcrowding is defined as a trip that on average has 25 to 50 percent more riders than seats (depending on service frequency) or has people standing for longer than 20 minutes.”

This reduction has caused over crowding, delays, and unsafe conditions for riders with sudden stops. It also goes against their service guidelines because a ride from downtown runs about 30 minutes.

Requests to Metro have been ignored so I’m bringing this to your attention since the situation will likely worsen once the Merrill Gardens and Pillar Properties projects are completed.

Best Regards,
Bryan Wiseman
Burien Resident

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11 Responses to “LETTER: Resident says Metro Transit has reduced afternoon bus routes for Burien”
  1. Lee Moyer says:

    The chart shows ridership was at 50% so they dropped the capacity by 10%. They kept the same number of trips so service convenience wasn’t affected. This all makes sense. Where is the evidence of overcrowding?

    • Janet says:

      Well, perhaps we could take photos as we balance in the aisles. I have lbeen standing on a regular basis on the evening commute, and with the entire aisle full of other standing riders. It really is noticeable and a long time to be standing.

  2. Burienite says:

    I rode the 123 for 10 years. Rarely did I need to stand. Are you trying to say that busses should run at less than capacity so everyone has a seat?

    • Shari says:

      I believe there’s something in between the two extremes. It’s so full now (much higher than even a year ago) that you can hardly even find a place to stand, and just getting on and off is often like a wrestling match. Really unsafe and seemingly unnecessary on a few of the rush hour runs where they’re still using the very short buses with lower capacity.

  3. Terri Lien says:

    I ride the bus everyday to and from work. I catch the bus everyday on 2nd Ave & Marion at about 4:10, and I stand ever day. The entire isle is full of people standing from the back all the way to the front.

  4. Out here on the edge says:

    First let me say, I am a big supporter of Metro and public transportation and have ridden the buses of King County my whole life. As someone in her late 60’s, I have sometimes had to stand on many of the various routes, whether they be Metro or Sound Transit. Though occasionally a person will offer me their seat, this is much rarer than it was in the past, when I was usually the one offering my seat to another passenger. I once had to ask the driver to stop before he left the curb, because not only was I standing, but there was a young woman holding a baby also standing in front of me. The driver did thank me for letting him know. the bus was simply too full for him to see down the aisle.

    Most drivers are conscious of their passengers but, some are not, taking off before people have found a seat or a place to stand. There are some portions of the buses that can be hard to find a place to hang on to for stability especially if one is carrying shopping bags or the like. If we are going to encourage people to use public transportation and that includes when they are shopping, or on the way to the airport with their luggage, we need buses that accommodate their needs.

    There are certainly big variations on most of the commuter routes, in the number of passenger from run to run, depending on time of day. Those people who are on the ‘full’ buses need to let Metro know that they need either larger buses or more frequent buses at that time of day. I applaud Mr. Wiseman’s bringing this issue to everyone’s attention and encourage him to continue to contact Metro until the situation is resolved.

    If Metro wants to grow it’s ridership, it will do well to make riding the bus look inviting and not overfull with too many people standing. As we have an aging population, Metro and their drivers need to also be mindful of the needs of seniors as well.

  5. Jeff Switzer, Metro Transit says:

    Thanks for sharing your concerns, everyone. Here is some information that might help answer questions you have about our service, and respond to Mr. Wiseman.

    Metro reviews assignment of articulated buses each service change. At present there are more routes and trips that need articulated buses than we have available, and we continue to review ridership and crowding data each service change to match articulated buses to the busiest routes. In Spring 2016, Metro moved some articulated buses away from routes 121, 122, and 123 to assign to other routes that were experiencing overcrowding. We did not make changes to the number of trips on the 121, 122, or 123, but recognize many riders have experienced more crowded buses riding between Burien and Seattle since that time because of the use of smaller buses on some trips.

    Metro is taking some actions that should provide some improvement soon. At the next service change in March 2017, we will be adding three more trips to route 121. We will also be increasing the percentage of trips on these three routes that are assigned articulated buses. Right now, about 49% of trips on these three routes combined have articulated buses. This will increase to 58% of trips starting in March. Both the added trips and the assignment of more articulated buses should help improve service for riders in Burien.

    I hope this is helpful.

    • Bryan W says:

      Thanks Jeff for the information. This is very helpful to know what’s in the works and hopefully the changes will help.

  6. Joey D says:


    I am an occasional rider on the 122 line. As I’ve been re-evaluating my commute options in the new year I’ve been considering riding more (perhaps, exclusively) to save on fuel and parking costs but the numbers above have me concerned as it seems like the 122 in particular seems to have taken the biggest hit (percentage-wise).

    While you spoke to adding more service to the 121 (the most popular of the three, but which also had the least impact year-over-year on a percentage basis) I noticed that you didn’t speak to the 122 at all.

    What is Metro Transit’s plans, especially in light of ST3’s passage, for bringing 122 back up to par – or perhaps even increasing service over what we saw in 2015?

    • Jeff Switzer, Metro Transit says:

      Routes 121, 122, and 123 are scheduled together between Burien and downtown Seattle, so riders who board at the Burien Transit Center can take whichever route is coming next. Because of how the route are scheduled to work together, we expect that adding trips on Route 121 will result in less crowding on the whole set of routes. These routes are not regularly crowded south of the Burien Transit Center so we are adding trips on Route 121 that will only travel between the Transit Center and downtown Seattle. These services are funded by Metro’s budget, not connected to Sound Transit’s ST3 ballot measure. –Jeff

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