One of the best aspects of November’s restructure proposal was the inclusion of the Queen Anne-Madrona Restructure, a major rethinking of the transit corridor that runs from the north side of Queen Anne to Madrona through Belltown, Downtown, First Hill and the Central District. Although I’ve written about this restructure in whole or part, several times, one thing I’ve not discussed in detail is how it will improve the southern part of Route 2.
In the Fall 2012 proposal, the northern part of Route 2 would be deleted in favor of running Route 13 (serving Uptown and Queen Anne) every 15 minutes (or better) until 10 PM, seven days a week. The southern part of the 2 would be rerouted two blocks south from the current Seneca/Spring pair to Madison/Marion, as shown on the map above. Its frequency and times of service would remain unchanged.
On Madison, it would join the restructured Route 12, which would be disconnected from its current 1st Ave connection to Route 10. I’ve written in the past about how disconnecting Routes 10 and 12 would improve the reliability of both, without inconveniencing many riders. After the jump, I’ll examine more of the tradeoffs between the current and proposed routing of the 2, from both a systemwide point of view, and from that of current 2 riders.
Most of the effects seem to be positive for almost everyone:
- Frequency of service to the Central District will remain unchanged, while frequency from Downtown to First Hill will double. Both Routes 2 and 12 will still operate at the same frequency as they do now, but there’s a twist: Because the revised Routes 2 and 12 will share all stops between 1st Ave and 12th Ave, their schedules can be arranged to provide twice the frequency. This will be a boon for riders bound to or from First Hill.
- Destinations on Seneca are a flat, two-block walk further from Madison. Those destinations include Virginia Mason Medical Center*, Polyclinic, Horizon House, the Seattle Public Library and University Street Station. I suspect most 2 riders already walk further than that to reach their current bus stops.
- Should make Route 2 very reliable. Buses typically keep to their schedules very well on Madison. The current Route 2 is often late due to the long slog through Uptown and Belltown.
- The City of Seattle’s Transportation Master Plan calls for rapid trolleybus service on Madison. Madison has been extensively studied with a view to improving the speed and reliability of bus service. Consolidating less-frequent, closely-spaced routes down to a smaller number of streets makes it feasible to contemplate transit capital improvements such as bus lanes and queue jumps that further improve bus service. The Fall 2012 proposal brings rapid transit-like weekday frequencies to First Hill — at no cost to the city.
- Avoiding lane-blocking turns from 3rd Ave improves the speed and reliability of all routes on 3rd Ave. When the 2 turns left onto Spring, it usually blocks the passing lane for at least one light cycle, sometimes holding up buses behind it. Other routes in Metro’s network are being restructured for similar reasons — for example, Route 14 will now loop around on 2nd Ave between Pine and Pike rather than turning right on Pike from 3rd Ave, another lane-blocking turn.
- Makes the transit system easier to understand. After 2016, when West Seattle routes stop using the viaduct, it’s likely that virtually every bus on 3rd Ave will run the length of 3rd Ave from Virginia to Yesler. This makes the bus network visually simpler on a map, and creates a more grid-like system of east-west and north-south buses.
There’s only one disadvantage that I can see for current 2 riders:
- Riders bound for Westlake have to walk six blocks; riders bound for Belltown and Uptown have to transfer. With several frequent-service routes serving those destinations, and the stops close by, this seems like a reasonably easy transfer.
Every change to the bus network seems to draw out opposition from current riders for whom the current configuration works well, but the facts in this case seem to line up pretty squarely in favor of the proposed changes.
* Moreover, Virginia Mason has purchased and plans to extend into a block south of its current campus. Thus, Virginia Mason eventually will have a front door facing Madison, which would be very conveniently accessible to riders coming in on Madison’s improved bus service.