Route 14, like many of Seattle’s trolleybus routes, can trace its alignment back more than a century, to Seattle’s original streetcar system, connecting the Mount Baker neighborhood to Downtown via Jackson St and 31st Ave. With the opening of Central Link, Route 14 was extended to Mount Baker TC; or, to be more exact, it now detours to Mount Baker TC before continuing to serve the older tail to Hanford St. Ridership chart and discussion, after the jump.
One brief note on the chart: for some reason, this data set has a problem with lots of “ghost riders” remaining on the bus at the south end of the midday trips. I don’t know why this is, and I chose to present the data as I found it rather than try and come up with an ad hoc method of correcting it. I suggest you mentally shift the red line about five points to the left.
This chart really tells a story of three different routes tied together:
- From 12th & Jackson (Little Saigon) to downtown, this is an urban route with bidirectional demand and heavy passenger churn in all time periods. Much of this is probably opportunistic ridership, taking the 14 in lieu of the more frequent 7 and 36.
- From 12th to 31st, this is a well-performing neighborhood route, with some passenger turnover associated with the commercial districts and community centers on Jackson St. Nighttime demand is almost all coming out from downtown.
- From 31st onwards, boardings and off-peak passenger load fall off a cliff; Mount Baker TC (shown as MLK/McClellan) is the only stop that stands out. This is not unexpected given the upscale demographics and relatively low residential density of that neighborhood, but it’s also possible that Metro’s close parallel services are reducing ridership on this segment.
It’s worth restating the the last point in more detail. Between Jackson St and McClellan St, Metro is operating four north-south routes in the space of less than half a mile (Google Map): Route 48 on 23rd Ave; Route 8 on MLK; Route 14 on 31st Ave, and Route 4S wandering between 23rd, MLK and the vestigial 24th/26th couplet near Judkins Park.
This close route spacing is not required by any terrain feature, nor is this amount of service justified by the observed ridership levels of these routes or the prevailing land-use patterns. Given that the 8 operates twice as frequently as the 14, and goes to many of the same places, I strongly suspect that it’s taking much of the 14′s potential ridership.
[UPDATE: I take back the part about terrain features between MLK and 31st. Between 23rd and MLK , the point stands.]
Route 14 bears a strong resemblance to Route 27, running a couple of blocks north on Yesler. I’ll present that data soon in another post.