Metro is collecting ideas on how to improve service in Southeast Seattle:
This spring Metro is holding conversations with community organizations, bus riders, and residents of southeast Seattle about transit options in their community. Our goal is to learn about ways to make transit easier and more inviting to use. At every conversation, we ask people to tell us which transit options they use, why they use them, and how these services can be improved. We leave every conversation with a better understanding of how people travel around their community.
Areas of emphasis seem to be ORCA card access and dirty and/or dangerous stops. It also raises the possibility of stopping the 8 at Mt. Baker and resurrecting the old 42, but stopping in Pioneer Square instead of traveling downtown. I first caught wind of this idea late last year.
I think there are two ways of looking at this. One is that the set of one seat rides enabled by a revised 42 is pretty strong: retail along Rainier, the I-90 freeway station, and Little Saigon. To this Columbia City resident, the 8′s set of destinations between Mt. Baker and Madison Park don’t seem nearly as attractive: Garfield HS and Central District retail.
On the other hand, current service to the former set of places is extremely frequent, making transfers less painful than they would be to the 8. And the 8, by providing access to a whole different part of the city, offers better access to a whole network of cross routes. In other words, the 8/42 switch might increase the number of one-seat rides, but the advantage of a gridded network is turning the dreaded three-seat ride into two-seaters. The 8 does better at this.
From an access perspective, switching the 48 with the 8 would be the best of both worlds. It would provide access to the Rainier corridor and (in 2021) the freeway station, while still providing a one-seat ride through the central district.
However, both the 48 and the souped up 42 don’t solve the most serious problem with the 8: that it is too unreliable southbound to serve as a Link shuttle. This can only be solved by splitting the 8. Doing so in Madison Park would preserve connections and reliability, as MLK is seldom congested. It is a better use of resources than the alternatives.