Editorial: Approve Metro’s Proposed Eastside Changes

Proposed All-Day, Two-Way Systems

STB wholeheartedly supports the proposed changes to Eastside bus service on multiple levels.

First we support the process that Metro has undertaken. It has done a good job of reaching out to riders, providing information in an easy to understand and accessible manner in addition to revising the proposal in response to feedback. Metro hasn’t been shy to propose changes that will lead to a much better, integrated transit system, and this is great to see.

Second we support this proposed changes because it leverages the investments made in the B Line. Metro is making significant investments, both capital and operating in the B Line and the last thing Metro should do is compete with its self. This certainly will mean elimination of one-seat rides for some riders, and that’s okay. They’ll complain but the needs of the greater community, and a more frequent and focused transit system, must be paramount. Over the next ten years ensuring network revisions are done with a systems level and focused approach will be important with Lines C,D and E and imperative with U Link and North Link. We see this proposal as a stepping stone, and getting it right is critical.

Third, we support the proposed changes because it emphasizes core routes, where the demand is and where transit service can be competitive. Historically Eastside routes have had a fairly “flat” structure. This proposal starts to move away from this, prioritizing the highest ridership routes above others. This includes the B Line (parts of route 230 and 253) and route 255 and 271. These are Metro’s four most used Eastside routes. This is where Metro needs to go system wide, and this proposal is a good move in the that direction.

We urge you to either submit a comment of support via e-mail at community.relations@kingcounty.gov or in person at tonight’s meeting at Mercer Island Community Center from 6pm to 8pm.




Comments

  1. says

    Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but why does RapidLine B take a detour to Overlake P&R? Is the ridership worth the time spent on left turns/non-arterials? I have the impression that Overlake P&R is not a high-traffic P&R…

    • Cascadian says

      There’s a lot of retail in that area, and the skipped section of 156th is low-density office buildings (mostly Microsoft) that are adequately served by other stops and routes.

    • Daniel Warwick says

      My understanding is that in 2007 and 2008 when the B Line was created, the city of Redmond expected development on the old Group Health site next to the Overlake PR. Obviously nothing has happened the past few years. When East Link starts going to Overlake, it will provide a closer connection to Seattle. In addition, it helps to mitigate the loss of service on 148th between NE 24th and NE 40th. Especially considering there will not (at current time) be a B Line station on NE 40th…

      If you’re coming to the Mercer Island public meeting say hi to me. I’ll be in the red and silver tie.

      *full disclosure, I was on the Sounding Board which reviewed these changes, but these are my personal opinions, not necessarily of the board.

    • Eric says

      I was sort of assuming that the B-line would at least stay on 156, rather than detouring off the street to go into Overlake Park&Ride (if I’m wrong on this, the term “rapid ride” becomes almots a complete joke).

      One advantage of going to 152nd St. vs. staying on 156th is that it makes travel times through the corridor at least predictable during the afternoon peak period (even if it’s a predictable 2 minutes longer during all the other times of the day). Getting from 31st St. to 24th St. along 156th can take anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes, depending on traffic. This would lead to a lot of random bus bunching and longer-than-desirable waits for people boarding the bus further down the line.

      • Eric says

        (Correction)

        I was sort of assuming that the B-line would at least stay on 152nd St., rather than detouring off the street to go into Overlake Park&Ride (if I’m wrong on this, the term “rapid ride” becomes almots a complete joke).

        One advantage of going to 152nd St. vs. staying on 156th is that it makes travel times through the corridor at least predictable during the afternoon peak period (even if it’s a predictable 2 minutes longer during all the other times of the day). Getting from 31st St. to 24th St. along 156th can take anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes, depending on traffic. This would lead to a lot of random bus bunching and longer-than-desirable waits for people boarding the bus further down the line.

      • Daniel Warwick says

        An articulated bus can’t get into the Park and Ride bays anyway…there will no longer be any buses going into the Overlake PR bays after October, 1 (other than terminating 242/269)

    • Lack Thereof says

      There’s a few direct transfers at Overlake P&R that aren’t duplicated at Overlake TC: 242 (north Seattle), 250 (downtown Seattle), and 269 (Sammamish/North Issaquah).

      All three are commute-time-only routes; the 269 has the most service out of them, bringing commuters from the outlying suburbs in. That’s the connection I’d keep above all, to try and bring in “choice” riders trying to avoid the congestion on SR-202 out of Sammamish. Getting a connection to the B line could be a boon for the 269.

      With some very simple reroutes, the B line could easily skip Overlake P&R. However, I think the real reason is that Metro isn’t ready to give up on Overlake P&R entirely, and they’re not willing to skip an official “transit hub” that close to the line. As long as Overlake P&R is an active Metro facility, they kind of have to serve it.

      In the long term, that routing will probably work out and Overlake P&R could get popular, when the old Group Health site is redeveloped. It’s got potential for TOD. The left turns shouldn’t be much of a hold up, considering that RR B is supposed to have signal priority.

      • EB Operator says

        An important reason the B-line is going to Overlake P&R is because it has available parking capacity unlike Overlake TC which is currently at capacity. Also, articulated coaches can indeed get into the P&R bays as I’ve actually done it in a DE60LF. You just have to swing wide on 152nd just as the 40 footers have to.

  2. Aleks says

    A few random questions:

    1. Did anyone consider an all-148th alignment for RapidRide B? My understanding is that 148th has a lot more all-day use, while 156th is primarily Microsoft. An alignment along 148th would avoid six turns, including the very congested 40th St crossing. You would lose a connection with freeway buses, but you could possibly mitigate that by adding a 148th/520 flyer stop.

    As much as I like having frequent buses from Microsoft, I can’t help but wonder how useful it is to have super-frequent service running along a corporate campus. Most of the transit-riding MS population takes two Eastside trips a day, one to work and one home. It’s hardly the kind of all-day demand corridor that needs RapidRide.

    2. Why do the 221 and 233 switch places? Why not have the 233 go down 164th? Then, assuming RR B was all-148th, the 221 can cross 520 at 40th (like it does today), make the Overlake P&R detour, and head straight down 156th along the new-233 route to Bellevue College?

    3. Seriously, what is with that 233 run? It’s practically a circle.

    • Bruce says

      All day demand corridors are vanishingly rare on the Eastside. Look at the performance stats:

      http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/2009/2009-RtPerf.pdf
      http://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/spr_2009_ridership.jpg

      The 212, 218, 229, 225 and 312 are one-way peaks*, and and the 255 is a freeway-running bus for much of its length, so none of those really make sense as Rapid Ride corridors. Thus the two best RR candidates are the 230 E and the 253; presumably Metro’s planners welded them together to make the best RapidRide corridor they could and then rebuild the rest of the Eastside network around it.

      Without wishing to start another massive subarea-equity flamewar, I cannot help but observe that RapidRide B is solely a child of King County politics. The farebox recovery and ridership are mediocre by the standards of the west subarea. The money that will be spent on this project would, in a sane world, be spent RapidRide-ing the 120 or splitting the 48 in the U-District and electrifying one or both segments.

      * There are technically a handful of reverse-peak runs on the 212 serving Eastgate only.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Even within the City of Seattle the 120 should take precedence over the 54 for RapidRide conversion if you are just looking at ridership. In spring 2009 the 120 was the 10th highest ridership route with close to 7k. The 54 is the 41st highest ridership route with with about half the ridership.

      • Bruce says

        My only speculation would be that Seattle might be hoping or expecting the Junction to grow much more than White Center / Delridge, and that influenced the choice. RR is also thought of as a precursor to and ridership driver for rail, which, when it happens in West Seattle, will surely go to the Junction as its first major destination.

      • Kaleci says

        Adam,
        Does that include Route 55, which also operates between the Junction and downtown Seattle?

      • Bruce says

        The 55 is about 2.3k and the 54 is about 3.4k. Unless Metro restructures West Seattle service to force route 55 riders to transfer at the Junction the way they currently have to after 8 PM, not all of those riders are guaranteed RR riders.

      • Warren on Beacon says

        It is most likely that the 55 probably operate weekday peak direction only, so the commuters are not forced to transfer, otherwise KC Metro would restructure to avoid duplication. The 128 duplicates the 55 between Admiral and Alaska Junctions, so there might be enhanced service on the 128 (and would need to be extended to the 55 terminal). As for 54 vs 120, remember portions of the west seattle rapid ride service is funded differently from the other rapid ride routes, since it is probably mitigation for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, so keep that in mind.

    • Daniel Warwick says

      NE 8th St and 156th Ave NE is Crossroads–the nexus of East Bellevue. It makes sense for 226 (233), 221, and 245 to go there.

  3. Luk says

    Just got back from the meeting.
    There weren’t any big opposition to the RR B, but few concern about the stop spacing along NE 8th. A lot of voices on accessibility for disableds and elderlies for the areas that got their service rerouted or deleted. Also hopefully they will reroute the 240 to serve BCC, but doesn’t seem to be an option this time around, maybe that can be consider for the 02/2012 service change. Oh and I should have speak up on adding local bus stops on the Eastgate Freeway Stn for real connections to 554 thoughout the day. Does anyone know if they have plan to implement that?

    • Daniel Warwick says

      Metro/ST staff have said that adding N/S stops on the Freeway Station would not be ADA compliant without expensive modifications–the bridge sidewalks are not wide enough.

    • Mike Orr says

      I was surprised when somebody said several BCC students are asking for a route from Renton to the college. I didn’t know Rentonites went to BCC. It sounds reasonable for a route, but not the 240. Otherwise there would be no route from Renton to downtown Bellevue, or it would have to make a huge detour and come back.

      • Daniel Warwick says

        It’s actually not a huge deviation, 5 minutes at most for a Renton-Eastgate-Bellevue CBD route. Actually, 13% of the students at Bellevue College are from Renton.

  4. Eric says

    If 271 is supposed to be one of the “core” routes, why is Sunday service still just once an hour? I realize that available service hours are finite, but getting the 271 to every 30 minutes (at least the segment going across the 520 bridge to Bellevue) is more important that running the 233, which is mostly just a duplication of the corridor already service with RapidRide B and 249.

  5. Greenwood Rider says

    Nice article, thanks! I really appreciate that STB has become engaged in the nuts and bolts of making transit better. You’re making a real, positive difference on issues like this one.

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