Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where's My Bus?

Icy, Snowy Conditions Make It Difficult to Keep to Schedule

Day Three of the 2012 snow storm is nearly complete, and buses are still on the road. Demand has been down this week, but many, many people are relying on Community Transit buses to get to work or wherever they need to go.

Today, our local buses deviated from our regular schedule because many roads were in bad condition due to accumulated snow and ice, and because predictions for today were worse than what actually materialized.

A combination of factors led to this schedule: we can't use articulated buses on icy roads (unless we chain them but those chains then break or severely slow down the buses on clear roads); like any business, we don't get everyone to show up on bad weather days; and our buses are interlined so that one bus may serve, say Route 120 for a trip, then it turns into Route 118. With fewer buses running and trips taking longer, the trips we can actually provide is like a patchwork among our routes.

This is hard to message to riders. What we said this morning is that we'd serve the first and last trips on each route, and there would likely be some buses in between. Not too helpful. We encouraged people to call customer information to learn if a bus was running on their route.

The good news is that buses were running all day on all routes, just not on regular schedule. That also may not be very helpful if you're trying to figure out when to travel, but we were able to provide a lot of service today. We also got more than 1,800 phone calls as riders asked where their bus was. Again, we couldn't tell them where it was but at least could say there was one out there, on the way.

On Seattle commuter routes, the Double Talls have proven their value. Not only can they fit more people than a regular bus, but they operate just fine in these conditions. By replacing old articulated buses with these double deckers, we have greatly increased the capacity we have for commuter service on snow days.

We have, and will continue to send alerts on any reroutes or major changes to service. Those are also posted on our website as soon as we get the information. Like our drivers and maintenance crews, our customer service and communications staff are working long days to provide you service.


  1. The Double Talls are awesome in the snow!!
    I'm so happy you added them to your fleet.
    I rode the 410 today from Seattle to Mariner P & R. We were stuck behind 2 Sound Transit buses who couldn't navigate the Olive Way incline between 6th & 9th. Our driver gently negotiated a path around the Sound buses, and from a complete stop, we powered right past them, and didn't look back!!
    It was so nice getting home at a decent hour!
    Thanks Community Transit.

  2. curious if first bus is before 6am will that bus really be there at 5:34am in the past the drivers have not been able to leave the bus base till after 6am so many commuters are standing at bus stops waiting for a bus at 5:34am the first bus out on the schedule but that's impossible because the first bus is not allowed to leave the bus base till 6:00am please please be honest if the bus are not leaving the bus base till 6am then the commuters should be told honestly the snow schedule is adjusted the first bus to arrive will be shortly after 6am Then we are not standing out in this awful weather for longer than we need be been there coming and going I so applaud the Bus drivers they are all so wonderful true heroes getting us back and forth in server conditions but I really need the desion makers to be upfront and honest thanks

  3. We have buses leave our base about 4 a.m. to make first trips that start @4:45 (Routes 227, 247, 277). What we have been experiencing this week is that we see some drivers getting in slightly behind their usual time, buses needing more time to warm up or to get chained and, of course, longer than usual trips to get to the route start point. We have been making adjustments to get as close to regular start times as possible, but not everything works as we'd like it to. To answer your question, Anon, we certainly do not hold our buses until 6 a.m.!

  4. The double talls are nice, but I want to impress how important the point is on the "Where's my bus phone calls." You really need to step it up and apply for a grant to GPS track and supply public data for all your coaches. Your service desperately needs to integrate with One Bus Away.

    - Riding CT / ST / Metro for over 15 years.

  5. @Othermark, we haven't been talking about it much because there is nothing to offer riders just yet, but we will soon be piloting new technologies that include GPS equipment on our buses and providing real-time information to customers. Throughout this year, this technology will roll out on various buses and should be on all our buses by the start of 2013. When we have that real-time information, riders will be able to get that information on our website, on their smartphones and likely through third parties like OneBusAway. It's been slow because, well, money's tight, y'know?

    1. you should spend that money on people actually driving buses...oh wait thats not how things work at CT...CT should be ashemed for laying off drivers and not trimming the fat upstairs in the admin dept...what good is it to know where my bus is if theres nobody to drive it

      from a passenger who will be waiting even longer at my stop

  6. It's very interesting that the double-deckers are better in snow & ice than articulateds. I wouldn't have guessed that. Is it because they put more weight on each axle? Because the articulateds tend to "fishtail"? Or something else?