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Today I rode the C line to work. This route starts at SW Roxbury Street and connects West Seattle to downtown. It heads north on SW Fauntleroy Way to California Avenue and the West Seattle Junction and then downtown.
I arrived at the Fauntleroy Ferry terminal stop at about 8:15. I tapped my ORCA card on the reader and good news: I have a more than $5.00 remaining on the card!
I chatted with a city librarian who was also taking the C line for the first time. We agreed that we like the ORCA system but we wondered what fare enforcement is provided to insure that everyone pays. We have not seen any enforcement, though that is sure to change as we get beyond this first week of service on the C-line
The electronic sign said the next bus would arrive in two minutes. It actually took about 8 minutes for the bus to arrive. Six people boarded with me and we had our choice of seats on the large articulated bus.
I started my stop watch as we moved north on Fauntleroy. The first automatic bus stop announcement occurred at the Morgan Junction where at least 20 people boarded.
More people boarded at SW Findlay Street and at the Alaska Junction at least 30 people boarded. People were now standing and it was getting crowded.
The heat and ventilation system came on at SW 35 Street and SW Alaskan Way. At the SW Avalon stop, people were choosing not to get on because they could see that the bus was crowded.
I was in the middle of the bus. There was room for more people if those on the bus would have moved to the center. There were no announcements encouraging riders to make room for more passengers.
As the bus headed downhill on Avalon to the West Seattle Bridge, the driver no longer stopped to pick up waiting people. The bus was full.
The bus merged with traffic creeping toward Highway 99. Once the bus got onto 99 the trip went quickly due to the new bus-only lanes on this just-completed section of the Viaduct replacement project
I got off on Seneca between 2nd and 3rd, the first downtown stop. People were jostling to get off the crowded bus. Total travel time was 33.41.8 minutes.
Seneca is a steep hill. The vertical distance from the bus to the sidewalk was a long step. It may be difficult for some because of the pitch of the sidewalk.
As I got off the bus I saw Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom writing up his notes. He had been riding the same bus. We compared our impressions and experiences.
Here are a few suggestions I have for Metro: The arrival information signs at the bus stops should be accurate. Hopefully this is just an opening week glitch. The LED signs with the route number and location of the next stop are a great addition to Metro buses, but on RapideRide and other articulated buses, another sign mounted in the mid-section would make it easier for passengers in the back see over riders standing up in front section. Some of the crowding on the C-line could be alleviated by the driver asking passengers to move to the center of the bus; Metro needs to deploy more RapidRide vehicles to reduce the intense crowding we’re seeing at peak hours on both the C and D lines; Finally, I will ask SDOT to work with Metro to ensure that the vertical distance down to the sidewalk is safe for all passengers.