Archive for the ‘Commute Planning’ Category

A South Bellevue Park & Ride Alternative Story

The South Bellevue Park-and-Ride will be closing on May 30th, 2017. We would like to provide those who are affected by this closure some ideas for exploring a new commute, provided through our fictional commuter, “Caffeinated Carey.”.

Caffeinated Carey’s New Morning Commute

Current Route – 23 min from South Bellevue Park-and-Ride to King County Courthouse in Seattle

New Route – 44 minutes from Wilburton Park-and-Ride to King County Courthouse in Seattle

Every morning, I wake up, grab my cup of coffee and hop into my car to start my morning commute to the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride. This park-and-ride is usually full, but I can normally find parking if I get there before 8:30 a.m. A few weeks ago, a sign was posted alerting bus commuters that it was going to close for at least five years due to construction of the new East Link light rail station. I was slightly comforted in knowing that the future South Bellevue Station will include bus and paratransit transfer facilities and a 1,500-stall parking garage (almost 1,000 more than current stalls). But all I could think about was what about how my current commute was going to change during those five years.

I figured now is as good a time as any to try my new commute so I could be prepared for the closure when it happens.

I started researching the new park-and-ride lots Sound Transit has secured, as well as those park-and-rides with existing capacity, to help with the displacement of cars from the lot.

Sound Transit’s resources include a web page about the closure and their East Link Replacement Parking Interactive Map.  I located the nearest park-and-ride to me on the interactive map, the Wilburton Park-and-Ride, which is only an additional five-minute drive from the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride. This trip did require a transfer, but according to Google Maps, it looked like the best option.

The following morning, I packed everything a few minutes earlier and headed to the new station to catch the 8:04 a.m. King Country Metro 240. Parking was relatively easy, though I made a note to remember the parking lot is much smaller than the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride. I walked about 5 minutes to SE 8th St & 118th Ave SE. I wanted to make sure I head I got on the quickest route, so I used my One Bus Away app that showed me arrival times of neighboring stations and bus stops. This bus then dropped me off a few minutes later at the Eastgate Park-and-Ride where I walked I caught route King Country Metro 212 dropped me off about two blocks away from my destination, and in less than five minutes I was at the Courthouse. Heading back home I had a few options, but I found that taking the Sound Transit 550 gets me faster to Bellevue in the evenings. I exited at the Bellevue Transit Center, and caught the King County Metro 246, or King County Metro 240, whichever came first since both buses travel to the Wilburton Park-and-Ride.

For now, this is a good substitution while I wait for the light rail to come across to the Eastside; and I still have time to grab my morning triple shot latte on ice before jumping on the bus!

-Sincerely, Caffeinated Carey

********

To those who can relate to Caffeinated Carey’s story due to the closure of South Bellevue and Park-and-Ride, Choose Your Way Bellevue is here to assist with making the transition to your new commute an easier one. The 550, 555, and 556, 241 and 249 will continue to serve Bellevue Way in front of the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride when it closes. There will not be a park-and-ride in that vicinity; however, I would encourage you to plan ahead and look for an alternative park-and-ride that may work for you. (Note that you may need to transfer buses from your alternative lot in order to get where you need to go.) Or, try sharing the ride!

In fact, your new route may turn out to be faster than your old one. Recently, a commuter discovered that parking at the Newport Hills Park-and-Ride and taking the King County Metro Route 111 was 15 minutes faster than her current commute parking at the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride and taking the Sound Transit 550!

Try checking for a new route from home, rather than the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride; you may be surprised what you find! Some other helpful resources for planning your route include:

If you are having trouble figuring out your new commute, we are here to help! You may request Choose Your Way Bellevue custom commute assistance at any time.

Stay tuned to our blog for more examples in the future of how people are adjusting their commutes regarding the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride closure.

-Choose Your Way Bellevue staffer Sandee

 

Thursday, May 4th, 2017 4:23 PM | by Sandee Ditt | Add a Comment

Mariners opening day is fast approaching and now that I’m working in Bellevue, I wanted to get a jump start on my commute to the night games. I started by weighing my advantages and disadvantages of driving to the game. Dealing with rush hour traffic AND game day traffic sounded dreadful. I decided to test out my game day route when I came across some Sounders tickets. I jumped on Google Maps, adjusted the “arrive by” time, and saw the 550 from Bellevue Transit Center would get me to the game by 7:00 p.m. Along the way, I was surprised to see so many fans boarding the bus in Bellevue.

Mercer Island Park ‘n’Ride Sounder fans boarding the bus.

Most of the major transit hubs like Mercer Island Park and Ride have open spots after 5 p.m. Getting on and jumping off with the rest of the Sounder’s crowd was great, and getting dropped off 8 minutes from the stadium was even better. Not only did I arrive in time to have a drink before heading into the stadium, I even beat the friend I was meeting who was coming from downtown Seattle!

When leaving the game, I was glad that I wasn’t one of the cars stuck at the traffic lights or dodging fans in the parking lots. Jumping on the bus and heading home was a breeze. I live in Seattle, so it was a much quicker commute from the stadium on route 5, but I witnessed many people heading to the International District/Chinatown station to catch their bus and/or train out of Seattle.

Traveling home alone on the bus after the game at 10:00 p.m. also wasn’t very intimidating as there were so many fans on the street. A nice perk of taking a Metro bus home was being able to ask the bus driver about a block in advance to stop a bit closer to my house on the normal route. Metro’s program called Night Stop that runs between 8:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m. allows you to ask a Metro driver to stop somewhere nearer your destination, if it is safe for the bus to do so. It was a nice bonus at the end of the night!

Friday, April 7th, 2017 4:58 PM | by Sandee Ditt | Add a Comment

Counterintuitive, but true.

Click for video.

We’ve all been there, sitting in our cars stuck in a never-ending gridlock and we think to ourselves, if only there were more lanes we’d all be moving along! Road rage sets in, and no matter what poignant story NPR is piping through the radio waves, our stress levels rise and we arrive at our destination full of hatred for our fellow man. Or, perhaps you’re more calm and hold it in, but that anxiety goes somewhere; there is mounting evidence that our commute tension is hijacking our health and wellbeing. Either way, you’re not alone in thinking traffic here is the worst–It actually is! Second worst in the nation for evening rush hour congestion, and fourth worst for overall congestion, that is.

Recently, when solicited for ideas on how to improve commutes in and around the Sound, one respondent said “Super simple. MORE LANES IDIOTS.” First of all, it’s ‘MORE LANES comma IDIOTS’, but that’s beside the point. Many researchers have taken the time to investigate this common and seemingly logical thought only to come up with the same answer: More lanes don’t mean less traffic. In fact, adding lanes almost always results in the same proportion of traffic as before. “As civil engineer and sustainability advocate Charles Marohn so eloquently put it, ‘Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants.’”

Click for image source.

What is “induced demand”?

Induced demand is the concept that demand is relative to supply. In terms of traffic, this means that by increasing road capacity (supply) there will be more cars taking those roads (increased demand). Essentially, as we add lanes more people decide to drive in those lanes. How could this be, you ask? Well, for a brief period widening a road may result in less traffic. But alas! This sweet, sweet commute is fleeting. As more drivers realize this route is now faster and easier, more drivers will take it. What is more, those that weren’t driving (either taking public transit or avoiding leisure trips altogether) are now likely to be incentivized to drive; it being so quick and easy and all. More roads can also attract more business and their associated road use. Essentially, you may be stuck in traffic whether the road has two lanes or six.

Image: Vox.com

So what are the facts?

In 2009 two economists compared data on new roads built and the total number of miles driven in 228 US cities between 1980 and 2000. What they found was a precise correlation.  According to Wired, “If a city had increased its road capacity by 10 percent between 1980 and 1990, then the amount of driving in that city went up by 10 percent. If the amount of roads in the same city then went up by 11 percent between 1990 and 2000, the total number of miles driven also went up by 11 percent. It’s like the two figures were moving in perfect lockstep, changing at the same exact rate”.

Of course, there are limits. If we were to build a highway 100 lanes across, drivers would have a hard time filling it up. Within reason, though, induced demand is a cold, hard fact, even when controlling for factors such as population growth and transit service. Forward-thinking departments of transportation across the nation are beginning to accept this fact, including CalTrans (California Department of Transportation) in the state perhaps most synonymous with gridlock frustrations, and reconsidering the allocation of precious transportation dollars.

The Lone Star State and the lone success story

I’m sure some readers out there are thinking to themselves, this so-called research is skewed! This article is biased! Where are the stats on Texas, where increased road capacity reduced traffic? Well, it’s true that in Texas an anomaly happened. The state decided to build more lanes and it did in fact reduce the average commute time by half, but experts say this won’t last in the long run.

What can we do?

Take lanes away. No, I’m not nuts. In fact, research has shown that the induced demand trend also works in reverse. When cities take away lanes, traffic will end up readjusting itself so that approximately the same ratio of cars to road exists. It’s been done internationally with great success in congested cities such as Paris and Seoul, where more drivers decided to go by foot or public transit rather than drive when road capacity was reduced. However, there are limits; taking away a massive thoroughfare and replacing it with a single lane road won’t exactly slim down with ease.

Is there hope for my commute?

So, are we doomed to live our lives in metal boxes on wheels, crawling along at a snail’s pace, with our hands glued to the steering wheel and our eyes narrowed at the car ahead? Well, that depends on if we can change our culture. America is arguably the most car-centric nation on earth, and proud of it. This means that until we collectively decide that driving isn’t the coolest, the best, the easiest, or the only way to get where we’re going, there will always be traffic no matter how many roads we build ourselves.

As always, Choose Your Way Bellevue is happy to dig into the details and plan that non-drive-alone commute for you!

The takeaway

Whether you become a diehard bus rider, aerodynamic-spandex-wearing biker, or a stay a steadfast driver we wish you luck in getting from A to B. We hope you’ll continue to look at issues from every angle, and of course, recognize the influence social, political, and economic factors have on each other. Traffic and transportation is a big issue that won’t be tackled with any one-size-fits-all solution.

Leave your comments below or email us with questions, comments, or fresh ideas. We’d love to hear about your commute experiences- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

 

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staff

Monday, March 13th, 2017 4:05 PM | by Paige Anderson | Add a Comment

The South Bellevue Park-and-Ride will be closed for approximately five years during construction. ST Express buses 550, 555 and 556, and Metro buses 241 and 249 will continue to serve Bellevue Way Southeast next to the closed park-and-ride during construction. The future South Bellevue Station will include bus and paratransit transfer facilities and a 1,500-stall parking garage. Sound Transit expects to receive a construction schedule from the contractor soon that will identify the closure date, to be announced through East Link construction alerts. Stay informed by subscribing to Sound Transit’s East Link alerts at soundtransit.org/subscribe.

With a closure like this, it’s a great time to evaluate all of your options and we’re here to help.

Sound Transit identified replacement and existing park-and-ride lots with additional parking capacity and also expanded service on routes traveling to downtown Seattle and Bellevue. Visit the links below to discover replacement park-and-ride lots and new routes to find an alternative lot that works best for your lifestyle and location. There may even be a carpool or vanpool option that can get you to your destination.

We realize the park-and-ride closure may have a big impact on your commute. If you would like help navigating your options, fill out a custom commute planning inquiry and the Choose Your Way Bellevue team will help you find your way. You can always visit ChooseYourWayBellevue.org for information about alternatives to driving alone.

Choose Your Way Bellevue has created a new “East Link and Travel Options” page to help you get around during East Link construction. The new page will be updated with relevant information throughout the various stages of construction as they emerge, including frequent commute plans we’ve created for commuters. Let us know how we can support you during this change in our environment!

-Augusta, Choose Your Way Bellevue staff

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 10:26 AM | by augusta | Add a Comment

Planning of Commute – Anxiety Level 6/10

I would consider myself an intermediate Seattle bus traveler. I used to ride the bus every day to get to work in South Lake Union, or to neighboring areas like Capitol Hill and Queen Anne, but never one to take me across multiple cities. So in regards to intercity public transportation, I’m a novice at best. So the night before my second day at my new job in Bellevue, I decided to map out my path of travel and outline any red flags such as road closures and “what if” scenarios if buses were late. Using this time resting my eyes, meditating, maybe actually having breakfast – sounded a lot more tempting than driving during rush hour to get back home in Seattle. I used every source I could think of: Google Maps, One Bus Away, Metro Trip Planner – anything that could give me a good sense of timing.

Morning of Commute – Anxiety Level 7/10

I found that I could take the bus right outside my door down to the University Street tunnel station and transfer easily to a bus that came about every 8-15 minutes to downtown Bellevue. As I waited, I noticed I didn’t have reception down in the tunnel station. I glanced across the way and saw a sign that said free Wi-Fi on the platform! PERFECT! I quickly logged in and checked my One Bus Away app and notice that my bus was running behind. If I had checked before I could have made it in time for the bus ahead of it, but after getting a little confused with which way to head off of the bus, I just barely missed it. A gentleman next to me mentioned that usually this bus is right on time, so I’ll count today as an anomaly. Once it arrived a few minutes later, the bus was a bit crowded, but I was able to get on. As we were cruising swiftly by traffic on I-90 I realized that we were quickly making up time for the late departure. I arrived at the Bellevue Transit Center and at work a few minutes late, but not bad for a first timer.

Week 2 of Commuting to Bellevue– Anxiety Level 1/10

Two weeks later – When I wake up, I quickly check my One Bus Away (an app a fellow bus rider suggested to me), to see when my bus is arriving, I keep it on hand as it updates regularly and I can easily walk out my door about 2 minutes beforehand. I now have a routine down and can sometimes catch an extra wink or two in the morning due to how consistent my travel time is now into work. The 550 has been on time (give or take 2-3 minutes) every day, and I’ve always scored an open seat.  I’m glad I didn’t let one hiccup deter me from trying the route again, but it comes by so often that even if you do miss a bus, you know the next one is just right around the corner.

Tips:

  • No “Cutsy’s”! –Unspoken protocol for commuters traveling to and from the Eastside, make sure to wait in whatever line is forming for the bus at your platform. When your bus arrives, some may get on, others won’t, just step forward and make sure not to jump ahead of anyone that is getting on the same bus! On day 1, this formal line was a foreign concept to me as it’s usually a free for all on Seattle downtown buses, but I quickly learned that you either get in line, or wait until the end of it to get on.

Overhead space for extra items

  • Have extra bags or books? The Sound Transit buses have overhead space compartments for just those things. Another plus was overhead extra lighting, so make sure to bring that book or set of notes to review!
  • Stand clear of the back doors or they won’t be able to close.
  • Have your fare ready!
  • Also, make sure to enjoy the view!

    View off the I-90 bridge

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 9:59 AM | by Sandee Ditt | Add a Comment

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