Metro’s response to WWRHAH’s letter, December 5, 2013

WWRHAH sent Kevin Desmond, director of King County Metro, a list of some concerns weeks ago. We just got his reply, copied here for you.

Thank you for your email of November 7, 2013 about the Transit Center located at the
Westwood Village Shopping Center near Roxhill Park. I appreciate you bringing the concerns of the Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council to my attention. Safety and security is a high priority for all of us involved in keeping transit riders and community members safe. I apologize for not getting back to you before your December 2nd meeting. We were working to make sure we had all the components to respond to your email as completely as possible.

In the fall of 2012, Metro implemented a series of route restructures in West Seattle that provided additional service to Westwood Village on the RapidRide C Line and Route 21, both of which end service on Southwest Barton Street adjacent to Roxhill Park. In addition, routes 22, 60, 125, and 560 were routed to the east side of Westwood Village along 25th Avenue Southwest. These changes have resulted in the creation of a new transit hub at Westwood Village that connects people to the many services offered there – shopping, dining, fitness, medical services, recreation, and other opportunities. Connections between transit services at Westwood Village also expand the number of places that people can travel and offer new mobility to many residents of West Seattle and beyond. As you have observed, these transit enhancements have generated new activity in and around the bus zone.

After receiving your email, we took some immediate actions to assess the situation in your community, including inspecting the stops involved and increasing Metro Transit Police patrols. Below you’ll find a summary of the steps we’ve taken:

Provision of security: A special Metro Transit Police detail provides enhanced patrols in the West Seattle/Southwest King County area, including at Westwood Village. These patrols address transit crime and disorder issues, and any behavior that is not consistent with the Metro Code of Conduct. We have stepped up patrols at Westwood Village bus stops for a limited period of time in response to your concerns. We are also continuing to work closely with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to support policing activities in the area. Metro Transit Police will contact the local SPD precinct to review security issues in the area and evaluate potential additional policing activities that could be undertaken at Westwood Village.

Additional lighting at Southwest Barton Street and area bus stops: The RapidRide bus stop is well lit with pedestrian-level light fixtures, but the sidewalk to the west towards Southwest 29th Street has no lighting. Existing street lighting in the area is on the north side of Southwest Barton Street. Metro staff evaluated this area and determined that it would be difficult and costly to provide additional lighting along the sidewalk adjacent to the park as there are no existing power sources that could be utilized. Metro then contacted the Seattle Parks Department to see if they have any plans to upgrade the lighting in Roxhill Park. Capital projects at the park were recently completed, and at this point in time the Parks Department has no funding for additional projects in the area. The Parks Department indicated that it will consider this need as a major maintenance request list, and may conduct a lighting study that would guide future investments in this area.

Cleaning and maintenance of the Roxhill Park RapidRide bus stops: Metro is committed to the ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the RapidRide bus stop located just past Roxhill Park in front of the greenbelt. Metro Facilities Maintenance crews clean this stop three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The crews empty the litter receptacle, pick up trash in the vicinity of the stop and shelter, remove graffiti, repair vandalized elements, and pressure wash shelter pads as needed. We reviewed our cleaning schedule, which exceeds many Rapid Ride stops and is consistent with sheltered locations of similar ridership and customer patterns. As an improvement, we will be changing the existing litter receptacle at this location to a solar compacting receptacle in order to control and confine the amount of litter that may accumulate.

Provide better connections to White Center: While the fall 2012 route restructure did shift service away from White Center to Westwood Village, White Center continues to be served by six all-day routes. Routes 60, 120, and 560 provide all-day connections between Westwood Village and White Center. Despite the changes, we have been able to maintain good transit connections for many people, including enhanced service between White Center and Westwood Village.

The “wall of buses” on Southwest Barton Street: Due to frequent service provided by the RapidRide C Line and Route 21, buses do overlap at the terminal along Southwest Barton Street, with as many as three or four buses in this area at a time throughout much of the day. There are even more buses in this area during morning and afternoon peak periods when service operates more frequently. Metro staff is also concerned about the number of buses in this area during peak periods. This past September, we revised the schedules for some C Line trips to reduce the number of buses that end there in the morning, but have not yet been able to do that in the afternoon. We continue to look at other options including alternative sites to park the buses. However, any options that would extend the routes in search of an alternative layover location would increase our costs and are therefore not feasible at this point in time.

Lack of parking in Westwood Village parking lot: The Westwood Village hub was not intended as a park-and-ride destination and park-and-rides are not generally provided in Seattle. That said, Metro Transit Route Facilities planners will be observing the parking situation at Westwood Village to identify parking needs for people trying to access transit service at this location. As a result of these observations, we may attempt to contact the mall and see if anything can be done to reserve a number of parking spots for transit users.

Thank you again for your email. I hope we can continue to work together to address these concerns. Metro Service Planning staff would be happy to meet with you on site to review these matters in more detail. If you have further questions or comments, please contact Marty Minkoff, Supervisor of Service Planning, at 206-477-5799 or via e-mail at marty.minkoff@kingcounty.gov.

We are, as can be expected, disappointed with this response. As Metro is (unsurprisingly, considering broader circumstances with Olympia’s foolishness) tapped for cash right now, we’re working in WWRHAH now on some alternatives detailed in our December 3rd, 2013 meeting notes. If anyone would like to come by a WWRHAH meeting to work on this with us, we meet 1st Tuesday of every month upstairs in the SW Branch of the library on 35th. Meetings are short and brisk: 615-745pm.

We’re also on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WWRHAH/

We’re conducting a survey right now with our 200+ Facebook members to see what to prioritize in 2014 – we can use more feedback!

This will help inform us for 2014 now that we’ve gotten a grip on what improvements to work on for Roxhill Park, the Roxbury Street safety study is done and public hearings are coming in January, and we helped found the West Seattle Transportation Coalition in 2013. I don’t know if we can top all that in 2014, but we’re going to try with your help.

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