Metro to Cut Magnolia Night Service in September

King County Metro 24 in Magnolia

King County Metro 24 in Magnolia

There’s a nasty little item buried in Metro’s package of administrative changes for the September shakeup. Service between downtown and Magnolia (Routes 24 & 33) will end at 9:30 PM, along with service on Route 27. This means that the last bus departing downtown on those routes will do so around 9:30 PM, and as Magnolia has no other bus service in the evenings (Route 31 ends at 7:30 PM), this completely cuts Magnolia off from the bus network after that time. Back in April, when pressure from residents caused Metro to suddenly drop the Magnolia restructure, I argued:

Whereas in the previous proposal, Magnolia residents would have had a connection to Ballard, now Magnolia will remain a transit dead end. If abandoning the change was due to local opposition (and it’s hard to imagine what else it could be), the neighborhood has cut off its nose to spite its face. Or, perhaps more likely, a handful of people vociferously opposed to any change have scuttled a change that would have benefitted many more of their unwitting neighbors.

To that we may now add that the unwillingness to contemplate this route change is not just a missed opportunity to improve the neighborhood’s connectivity, but has now undeniably degraded the utility of transit in Magnolia. Along with frequency, span of service is a fundamental determinant of usefulness in a fixed-route service, and there are, for example, a raft of events in downtown Seattle and at the Seattle Center for which Magnolia residents will no longer be able to use transit, and Magnolia is now even more inaccessible to transit visitors from other neighborhoods than it was before — no mean feat.

I queried Metro about the rationale for this change, and received an answer from lead service planner David Hull, after the jump.

This night period span reduction is consistent with our service guideline direction.  Route 24 night period performance ranks in the bottom 25% for route serving Seattle core areas.  Other routes that night period productivity ranks in the bottom 25% (rides per platform hour and passenger miles per platform hour) will also see span and/or frequency reductions in September.  The productivity guidelines were administered consistently — examples are routes 14N, 14S[*], and 27.

I can’t argue with the truth of these statements, but there are alternatives besides maintaining the status quo and cutting service altogether, and if there is any situation that warrants the effort to find a middle ground, it is surely this one. Consider the differing geographic value of Routes 24 and 33 versus Route 27:

Comparions of Routes 24/33 and 27 (Metro Map)

Between 12th Ave and 31st Ave, the 27 is fairly flat three-block walk away from Route 14, and west of 12th Ave, most of the 27’s walkshed is within walking distance of the 3 and 4. The only people losing access to transit are the relatively small number on the sliver of land near Lakeside, who’d have a very steep walk up a hill to 31st Ave. By contrast, almost everything in Magnolia is at least a mile walk away (in most cases, on steep hills) from the nearest bus service on 15th Ave NW.

While Magnolia, due to its high income demograpics and low density, is unlikely to ever be a source of blockbuster ridership for Metro, the 24 proposed in the original Fall restructure concept had a real chance of performing much better. It provided a connection between Ballard and Magnolia, and it provided much more direct service to the only two areas of multifamily housing in Magnolia, on 34th Ave W at McGraw St (Magnolia Village) and Government Way, avoiding Route 24’s absurd zigzag.

I would argue that the correct response to the problem of underutilized service in Magnolia was not to kill night service, but to change the route structure, and give the modified service a chance to thrive, or at least cut back night service to just a handful of trips and see what happens. In choosing to axe night service, Metro is gratuitously cutting off a significant number of people from bus service altogether. It may be that this “dumb cut” garners less opposition from the neighborhood than a smart restructure, but what’s the point of having professional transit planners if Metro or the King County Council is just going to disregard their opinion and treat routing decisions as a popularity contest?

* The situation with the 14S is slightly complicated and leads us a little off-topic, but bears on this discussion because I subsequently assume the 14S will run later than the 27. Hull again:

The 14S is not losing span or frequency using a strict definition of the word.  The change to the 14S affects the segment between 31st Avenue S and S Hanford Street in the Mount Baker neighborhood.

The segment Hull is referring to is the vestigial tail of Route 14S, a classic example of a bus to nowhere, which should have been deleted in 2007 when the 14S was extended to connect with Link at Mount Baker TC, and was again slated for deletion in the early iterations of the September restructure. Despite that fact that this segment is only half a mile long, requires backtracking half a mile McClellan St on every single trip, and has pathetic ridership numbers, Metro just can’t bring itself to swing the axe. Instead:

The segment [will see] reduced frequency at night when operating a 30-minute headway the over the entire route requires an a additional coach. … [T]his means that after about 7:00 p.m. only buses coming out of service will serve the segment between 31st Avenue S and S Hanford Street on their way to the base. This means that this neighborhood gets hourly service until about 10:00 p.m.  [Then] a two hour or so window of no service then a cleanup trip about midnight. Given the low ridership along this segment, it made sense to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of Route 14S at night.

My bet for Metro deleting this segment is around 2020.

Comments

  1. GuyOnBeaconHill says

    Although it sounds dramatic, this change amounts to cutting 1 outbound trip from the 33 schedule (at 10:10pm) and 3 outbound trips from the 24 schedule (10:37pm, 11:37pm & 12:45am). What’s the actual ridership on those routes after they cross the Magnolia Bridge?

    • Bruce Nourish says

      Probably pretty lame, but I’d argue that the right questions to ask are different:

      * What could it have been if Metro had been willing to restructure the 24? I’d bet it would have been significantly better.
      * What will this do to early evening inbound ridership? If you don’t think the bus will be there to take you home from an evening event, you’re not going to take it there.

    • David L says

      The people it will affect, it will really affect. Some years ago I lived on Magnolia (along the 33, but within close walking distance of the 24) and worked a 3 to 11 shift. If this had happened during that time, I would have had to move or lose my job. I didn’t get paid enough to take cabs or drive, I had to wear business clothes so biking wasn’t an option, and the walk from 15th to my place would have been 35 minutes up a steep hill.

      • Kevin R says

        I agree. This move makes the Magnolia neighborhood off limits for folks who don’t drive but who need to be out after a certain hour. If anything it validates the Community Club’s efforts to turn Magnolia into Broadmoor.

      • Scott Stidell says

        not really.

        From Broadmoor you can walk right outside the gate and catch the 11…or the 84 Owl. ;)

  2. Charles says

    But it’s the same choice Metro is making in other parts of the city including Broadview which will have only “peak period” service on express routes. The use case you mention of forcing people to leave downtown early to get home also exists for many other sections of the city. Even on heavily trafficked routes such as the #7 you’ll find a surprising schedule gap in the late evening/night southbound runs that can make getting home from evening activities challenging.

    What is also a larger issue is that people who live in these neighborhoods don’t just want to go to/from downtown, they want to go to adjacent neighborhoods and commercial districts. Like it or not, there is limited shopping options on Magnolia hill. Residents are likely to go to Interbay or Ballard to purchase a number of things. Transit doesn’t do a great job of supporting those usage patterns.

    We know the answer to this is increased density to create viable local neighborhoods with sustaining commerce. I think there is plenty of opportunity on Magnolia to create dense housing just as West Seattle and Ballard are doing without disrupting the overall culture that exists there.

    • Bruce Nourish says

      “Residents are likely to go to Interbay or Ballard to purchase a number of things. Transit doesn’t do a great job of supporting those usage patterns.”

      Yup, and the restructured 24 would have done just that.

    • Mike Orr says

      “there is plenty of opportunity on Magnolia to create dense housing”

      This is a joke, right? The reason the urban villages and rapid transit bypass Magnolia is because it’s so rabidly opposed to higher density, like Broadmoor and Laurelhurst. It was deemed easier to go around these neighborhoods than to force them to change. Part of the deal was that they would not get increased transit, because transit is related to density. The 24 restructuring was a revenue-neutral way to give Magnolia more connectivity without increasing transit costs.

      It’s possible that the loss of night service will make Magnolia more amenable to a downtown-Magnolia-Ballard restructure in the next few years. The 61 (32nd NW) will be a shuttle, so it could easily be attached to the 24 if Magnolia consents.

      • East Coast Cynic says

        “The reason the urban villages and rapid transit bypass Magnolia is because it’s so rabidly opposed to higher density, like Broadmoor and Laurelhurst.”

        Ultimately, its not density per se, but the opposition grounded in a fear of people that they believe would come to the neighborhood if it became more dense, e.g., 31 RACKS.

      • Mike Orr says

        If the 61 is terminating at Fremont rather than 15th/Leary as a post below says, it would be harder to attach to the 24. So Magnolia may have lost that opportunity in favor of Ballard-Fremont connectivity.

        But does this mean that both the 61 and 40 will overlap between Ballard and Fremont? Does it mean they’ll combined give 15-minute service? Or will one run two minutes after the other as often happens on uncoordinated routes?

    • Casey says

      Cutting the 28 local north of the Carkeek QFC is smart. Most of the stretch north of NE 103rd is only 3 blocks off of Greenwood and the 5. And infact, all trips on the 5 will be to Shoreline CC, making it 15 min service most of the day(M-Sat, Start of Service until evenings). And those who live on 8th Ave NW between NE 125th & NE 132, will have a longer walk, but from experience, I rarely ever picked up or dropped off passengers in that area, outside of peak hours. That’s why the 28X still will serves everything north of NE 103rd.

  3. Brent says

    If carpooling and vanpooling are okay for Beach Dr SW, then certainly, people who can afford to live in Magnolia can afford to spill a few bucks on a cab from the closest QFC on 15th Ave W, next to a RapidRide stop.

    That, or walk that not-too-long distance to the only apartments in Magnolia.

    But ideally, Magnolia could give up a little bit of 1-seat ride-ness in favor of greater span of connection to RR, if their obstinate neighborhood association (you know, the one that can’t stand the idea of bus lanes) weren’t so unable to listen to suggestions from professionals.

    If you think Metro shoots itself in the foot, you haven’t dealt with the Magnolia Community Club.

    • Matthew Johnson says

      Do you live in Magnolia? How would you go about getting a message to the people upset about this cut pointing out that this is the result of not being willing to consider any improvements?

    • Mark Y says

      There are people (quite a few of them actually) that live in apartments in Magnolia. I was one of them for 18 months. It’s not just a bastion for the rich.
      From my old apartment it’s a one mile walk to the QFC, up a steep hill. It’s hardly an area conducive to walking. Maybe for the folks that live at the base of the hill or along Thorndyke, but there are apartments and small condos all the way up W Manor Pl.
      The number one complaint I heard about transit in Magnolia while I was living there wasn’t the hour frequency at night or crazy zig-zag, but that there’s no way to get to Ballard without taking at least an hour. I give credit to Metro for trying, but I think as long as they’re going to listen to a few cranky people, this never stood a chance.

      • Brent says

        Maybe Magnolia East Slope needs to form its own neighborhood group to counter the Magnolia Car Club.

      • Mike Orr says

        The East slope seems to have the least service with the hourly 33, at least the northern part that doesn’t overlap with the 31. I wondered whether this accurately reflects Gilman/Government Way’s ridership potential relative to the Thorndyke area and Central Magnolia. Does it really have less potential that justifies the lesser service?

    • Heywood says

      If you think those riding the bus at night are “rich” Magnolians, think again. The riders to and from Magnolia at night are working people – some coming home, some going home. Metro has taken away from working poor who have evening employment either downtown on in Magnolia their only means of transportation. Don’t believe me? Go speak to the night-time riders. I did.

  4. Kevin R says

    This seems to be part of a shift within Metro to walk away from engaging choice riders. I understand they’re under significant economic pressure but as a long-term strategy these kinds of moves will chase choice riders away. I feel the same way abut the increase in required transfers proposes in the initial 9/12 restructure.

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      Cutting low ridership service isn’t about getting rid of choice riders, it’s about preserving and building upon high ridership service. High ridership routes don’t necessarily mean a low number a choice riders. I’ve seen some comments from multiple people that indicate there is a dichotomy between a productive, high ridership system and a system that gets choice riders. This is absolutely not the case and in fact is the exact opposite. High ridership systems also have the highest number of choice riders.

      Metro’s service delivery policy is that service with performance in the lowest 25% must either be restructured or have span of service or frequency reduced. This is a good policy.

      • Bruce Nourish says

        Agree entirely. And to be clear, if Metro had actually restructured Magnolia to make the routes more sensible and late-night usage still didn’t improve, I would have no problem about cutting back the span. What I object to is cutting back the span without a serious attempt at restructure, especially when the current service structure is so forehead-slappingly stupid.

      • Nathanael says

        Bruce’s complaint is that the restructuring was rejected, with “dumb cuts” made instead.

        Try restructuring first! If the street grid weren’t broken I’d suggest a straight shot along Dravus from 15th to 34th, which would speed up trips to Ballard. Incidentally, why IS the street grid broken between 30th and 31st? A hill? It looks perfectly viable for a road.

      • says

        @Nathaniel: As a runner that sometimes does a straight shot along Dravus for a challenge I’ll corroborate Mark Y. on this one — it’s really steep. Even the connection to Barrett is really steep and it’s taking a nice oblique way down.

        Even if you bought out all the land to run a bus through, I have a hard time believing the people living on that hill would quietly accept either loud diesel buses struggling up it or trolley wire. Dravus, by the top of that hill, isn’t exactly a booming arterial.

      • David L says

        A bus could not physically make it up Dravus, and would not be able to stop in the wet on the way down.

      • Kevin R says

        @Adam the effect of moves like this is to make more areas less accessible by transit. That can mean that a neighborhood’s transit share may peak at the point that Metro starts removing service which could then create a feedback loop where less service continues to lead to lower ridership and so to less service and so on. The lack of service could also reduce the potential economic diversity of particular areas as car ownership becomes more necessary since transit service has been curtailed. You’re essentially then giving the folks on Magnolia the invitation to pull up the drawbridge at night.

      • Mike Orr says

        Or Magnolia could look at van shuttles to Seattle Center, Ballard, and Downtown; either in partnership with Metro or some other arrangement.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        “If the street grid weren’t broken I’d suggest a straight shot along Dravus from 15th to 34th, which would speed up trips to Ballard.”

        You’ve obviously never been to Magnolia.

      • Nathanael says

        I come from a part of the country where roads go straight up 30% grades. :shrug: I do know that buses usually are less grade-capable.

  5. Matt the Engineer says

    This is a case where land use decisions end up effecting transit service. Magnolia is effectively a suburb, and the service they end up with is commuter suburban service.

    This would be a great time to argue the need for density. If they allowed, say, 65′ buildings all around the area of 32nd and McGraw (the closest equivallent of a Magnolia downtown), then in a decade or two they’d be ready for real city service, at least to that node.

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      I actually disagree. I think density should be concentrated in areas were transit can serve it will, and Magnolia will never be that.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        I reluctantly agree. Unless, of course, we can convince Magnolia to build themselves a gondola to the Interbay station of the Seattle Subway.

      • says

        It may be that Magnolia will never, as a matter of fact, house significant density, or have a direct, efficient transit connection to points north given its history and current built environment. But that’s not written into the hills any more than it is for, say, Cap Hill. The high parts of Magnolia are probably harder, physically, to serve with transit than the high parts of Cap Hill. But the valley down the middle? Much easier. Given a different development history maybe there would be a bridge near the locks and a bus or trolley route going through Magnolia to Ballard the way the 49 goes through Cap Hill to the U District today. (In this alternate universe everything north of the Ship Canal would have developed differently because of different bridge locations, and the older-built and denser Magnolia, which today comprises two separate hills and the valley between them, might be considered three separate neighborhoods).

      • Mike Orr says

        But consider that Magnolia has envisioned itself as a suburb ever since the first houses were built there. It never wanted to be as dense as Capitol Hill or Lower Queen Anne. That’s why it developed the way it did.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        Matt, we would like a six-lane tunnel to West Seattle, please. You can run a train in it, or whatever it is you people do, as long as you don’t get in the way.

    • Mark Y says

      They call that area the “village”. You’ll never get 65′ buildings there. The townsfolk would come out with torches and pitchforks if anyone dared propose it.

    • East Coast Cynic says

      Over their cold car steering wheel hands will they allow massive development of 65′ buildings in Magnolia.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        Correct. You hate us, but we hate you even more. And guess what? We’ve got more money than you have, and anyone who observes Seattle politics knows exactly what that means. So I suggest that you go screw with people who don’t count, like in Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, and Northgate.

  6. Kyle S. says

    Thanks to Magnolia’s refusal of the 24 restructure, not only have they lost all bus service past 9:30 PM, but they’ve also cost the residents of North Beach, 32nd Ave NW, and the portion of Market Street from the Locks to Ballard Ave their connection to downtown as well, instead resulting in the creation of the abominable Route 61.

    Of those, only Market Street currently has anything resembling density (and a fair bit of it!), but there are a few multifamily projects in the works for 32nd NW, and a few already exist there and in Loyal Heights.

    I know we don’t need to give everyone a one-seat ride (especially not a relatively low-ridership area like Sunset Hill and Loyal Heights), and it would be one thing if Metro had extended Route 48 to Balllard Ave & Market St. Instead we’ve wound up with the Son of 42, which is certainly going to immediately qualify for executive deletion under the same 25% rule that axed Magnolia service.

    I hope Larry Phillips is happy with himself.

    • Anon says

      I’ve thrown around extending the 48 to downtown Ballard, as it will connect Ballard to places like Greenwood, Greenlake and Ravenna, with a one seat ride.

      However, to make this a viable run, they need to do the split in the U-District, something Metro has balked at due to to layover capacity. However, with live loops beginning to appear downtown, why couldn’t they have the 48N and 48S live loop in the U-District?

      • Bruce Nourish says

        The 48 extension to downtown Ballard is indeed interesting, and I intend to write about it at some point.

      • d.p. says

        Each half of the 48 is long enough and unreliable enough on its own that you’d be guaranteeing every trip would leave the U-District wildly off-headway, just as it does today.

        I’m not nearly as bullish on live-loops as Bruce is. They only really work when the service is very frequent and attains enough of a standardized speed and service quality that you can guarantee a smooth service loop.*

        The Capitol Hill buses don’t have this. With frequencies oscillating from 15 to 30 minutes, ineffective timetables for interlining, and huge variation in driver speed**, even headways will be non-existent by the time the buses hit their boomerang point. In spite of the fact that none of the Capitol Hill buses face terrible traffic in the inbound direction.

        *Two of the four branches of Boston’s Green Line are live-looped. Even at 6-10 minute de jure headways on each branch, people definitely notice the variation in the outbound direction. The only reason it’s not disastrous is that de facto headways of more than 10-12 minutes on a single branch are extremely uncommon.

        **Given that there’s rarely much traffic southbound on 15th Ave East, I’m always baffled when a 10 bus makes the turn onto Pine Street totally empty… and already 5 minutes late. The only explanation is that it is driven by one of the small-but-not-negligible minority of drivers who just don’t bother to leave the terminal on time, because they want to finish reading a chapter or eating a sandwich. With Metro bending over backward to accommodate the slowest of the slow — slowing official schedules to a crawl and padding layover times — there’s no excuse for buses being late out of the gate, or for driver’s on core routes treating it like a Sunday excursion rather than a core service. If Metro ever hopes to achieve the standardization of service necessary to call itself “mass transit”, it will probably have to replace the system of “driver picks” with one of assignments, and actively prevent drivers with histories of tardiness from driving high-demand services. Maybe then live-loops might work.

      • East Coast Cynic says

        “Given that there’s rarely much traffic southbound on 15th Ave East, I’m always baffled when a 10 bus makes the turn onto Pine Street totally empty… and already 5 minutes late. The only explanation is that it is driven by one of the small-but-not-negligible minority of drivers who just don’t bother to leave the terminal on time, because they want to finish reading a chapter or eating a sandwich. With Metro bending over backward to accommodate the slowest of the slow — slowing official schedules to a crawl and padding layover times — there’s no excuse for buses being late out of the gate, or for driver’s on core routes treating it like a Sunday excursion rather than a core service. If Metro ever hopes to achieve the standardization of service necessary to call itself “mass transit”, it will probably have to replace the system of “driver picks” with one of assignments, and actively prevent drivers with histories of tardiness from driving high-demand services. ”

        We need a post entirely dedicated to service issues.

        Not only am I disappointed by drivers who don’t take being on time seriously, but ones who decide that they want to drive a small bus on a peak time route that normally uses a large articulated bus–I understand that sometimes due to mechanical issues a driver will be assigned a small bus, which tends to happen on occasion; but when the driver drives the small bus the whole week on a rush hour route (personal convenience?), isn’t that ludicrous and isn’t that possibly due to bad driver judgement?

      • David L says

        East Coast Cynic, drivers do not choose their equipment. Management decides what equipment regularly operates any given trip, and occasionally maintenance will substitute different equipment if there is a shortage of the specified equipment.

    • d.p. says

      …they’ve also cost the residents of North Beach, 32nd Ave NW, and the portion of Market Street from the Locks to Ballard Ave their connection to downtown as well, instead resulting in the creation of the abominable Route 61.

      Not really.

      As much as I liked the way the revised 24 would have connected Ballard and Magnolia, no Sunset Hill resident in their right mind would ever have used it as a one-seat ride to downtown.

      People from west of Old Ballard would have used the 24 exactly the way they will use the 61: as a transfer to RapidRide or the new 18. And in this regard the 61 is actually more versatile: it continues to 8th Ave West and the 28, thereby doubling connective access to Fremont and South Lake Union.

      Of course, the success of the 24/61 as a feeder route was always dependent on RapidRide really being designed for speed and run “so frequently you don’t need a schedule”, which as we all know is not happening. This is the reason that Sunset Hillers will refuse to use it, and not because it doesn’t snake through Magnolia for a ridiculously long one-seat to downtown.

      • Anon says

        I was trying to wrap my brain around why they would pick the 40, then I realized that it’s essentially an extremely local and long compliment to the 41.

        I’m glad to have a direct bus to Fremont, and the decoupling of the 75 to/from Northgate is nice, but I gotta wonder how late this bus is going to be, either direction, through Ballard.

      • David L says

        People love one-seat rides. Part of the reason is reliability of transfers, and part of it is just laziness. I guarantee that more Sunset Hill riders would have stayed on the revised 24 than would have transferred to RR D.

      • d.p. says

        Sorry, but no, they wouldn’t. Even by the lax standard of what passes for rational behavior in Seattle, that would be insane.

        Sunset Hill to downtown via Magnolia Village would have been a 50- or 60-minute trip. For all of RapidRide’s flaws, the difference in travel time and directness of service would have been clear as day.

        And no, people do not “love” one-seat rides (they’re just hesitant to give up one-seat rides for alternate service that represents a dubious improvement). The most successful, effective, well-used and well-loved transit systems on earth are all built around easy, obvious, and direct system connections. No exceptions.

      • Mike Orr says

        You underestimate the number of one-seat riders. They have repeatedly thwarted consolidation on the 4S, 26, 42, etc, etc. Have you done a survey to confirm that Sunset Hill has fewer one-seat riders than the rest of the city? A fully rational system would have moved all service on 32nd to 24th to create a 15-minute frequent route. I don’t think there are any steep hills between those streets.

      • d.p. says

        What part of “Seattle doesn’t have a ‘successful, effective, well-used and well-loved transit system'” don’t you get, Mike?

      • d.p. says

        Nevertheless, Sunset Hill riders were never going to take a 50-minute joyride around Magnolia just to get downtown. Even the most habit-enslaved have their limits.

      • David L says

        Let’s be realistic here. During the midday, a trip from Loyal Heights to downtown on the 17 is just short of 40 minutes. 10 minutes (!) of that is getting a few blocks through Cascade where the lights are horrendously timed. We can estimate with reasonable fidelity, based on current runtimes, that the “new” 24 would take approximately 24-26 minutes from 34th/Government to downtown. (It currently takes 16 from 28th/Blaine; add 5-6 for Condon Way and 34th, and 2-4 more for 3rd Ave vs. 2nd.) Add 10 more minutes from Sunset Hill to Ballard, and about 8-10 more from Ballard to 34th/Government. You have a total trip time of about 45 minutes — only about 6 longer than today.

        The bus is covering more distance and making more turns, but it’s not getting stuck in South Lake Union or Cascade. You can move quickly through Magnolia and down Elliott.

      • d.p. says

        As I’ve said before, I actually liked that “new 24″ because the many potential origin-destination pairs along its route — Sunset Hill to Ballard, West Ballard to RapidRide, Ballard to Magnolia, Magnolia to Denny, etc — would have ensured decent demand along its entire route.

        But your end-to-end ride math is off.

        The current 17 is scheduled for 15 minutes from terminus to the Ballard Bridge. Then you have the bridge crossing (2 minutes) and the navigating around Magnolia’s ridges to the north end of 34th. I can’t remember if the 24 was supposed to take Emerson or Dravus, but either way this is not a straight shot and is not quick. Both the 31 and 33 take surprisingly long on the segments of this that they each currently do. You’d be looking at a minimum of 7-8 minutes before you even reached 34th/Government. At which point, as you say, you’re still 25 minutes from downtown.

        And all of that presumes perfect driver timeliness and no traffic.

        50-52 minutes is a long time to be in a single seat, to go only 7 miles.

        Even here, one-seat bias ain’t that strong.

      • David L says

        It won’t take 7-8 minutes from 15th/Leary to 34th/Government. Once you’re on the bridge, it’s a right turn on Emerson, one traffic light which is usually green, another right turn on Gilman, and about two more minutes of driving on Gilman. This routing won’t get stuck on 22nd which is where the 31 and 33 lose time, and it won’t make as many stops as the 33 does in peak hour I’m assuming it will take 10 minutes from Ballard/Market to 34/Government, and I’d put money down that’s about right at midday.

        If they used Dravus for some dumb reason it would take significantly longer.

      • David L says

        One more thought… if people one-seat ride on the 22 rather than transferring to the 54/55 at Alaska Junction, which a surprising number of them do, they would surely one-seat ride the new 24 rather than transferring to RR D. Remember, the new 24 would make up some of the time it loses in Magnolia by not making the Uptown jog.

      • d.p. says

        You are correct that the failure of RapidRide to ensure actual rapidity along its entire length, and especially on the Queen Anne detour, changes the calculus — suddenly its a savings of 5-10 minutes rather than a savings of 15-20, and the frequency isn’t high enough to guarantee that savings.

        But I still think you’re wrong on the actual numbers. Also, people are less likely to endure what feels like a significant and irrational geographic detour. That’s what sets this example apart from the 22/54 example: at least the 22 feels like it’s going in a straight line. Add the unknowns of viaduct traffic and the occasional extreme lateness of the 54 in getting to the Junction, and I can see why someone might opt to stay in the seat they already have.

        Even on that example, my bet is that most of those staying on the 22 are heading to the south end of downtown, while anyone heading toward Seneca or beyond switches to the 56.

        As for the Dravus question, I have two words for you: Nickerson overpass. And not just at rush hour; that thing’s a nightmare any time someone so much as thinks of opening the bridge. Dravus, meanwhile, is the primary pedestrian gateway to Magnolia, and currently has no connective access to the 15th corridor. Running the 24 and the 31 via that intersection would create an east-west transfer hub for the first time — something that can never exist with the nightmare half a mile to the north.

      • David L says

        Eh. As a former resident of that area, frequent 33 and 17 driver, and occasional 31 driver, I think you’re overblowing the issues with Emerson, which only apply NB in any case. The 15th/Dravus light is far, far worse than the Emerson overpass… and it’s bad every time and in both directions, not just when the bridge is open in one direction. What’s worse, the current configuration does not work for buses turning right from SB 15th to WB Dravus, because they will need to split the lanes to make that turn, and most of the green time for the right turn motion occurs when there is traffic already waiting in the left lane waiting to turn left.

        I see the benefits of getting connectivity between 15/Dravus and the rest of Magnolia, but I think it would add a lot of time to the schedule and would make your “50-60 minute” fears actually come true. There are two very good reasons the 31 uses Emerson rather than Dravus, and serving Manor Place housing is only one of them.

  7. says

    There is a bright side to this, though, which Bruce hinted at: it’s an example of what will happen when communities obstruct Metro’s attempts to improve low-performance routes. If you just take an obstructionist, “don’t touch my [unused] service!” stance to route modifications – as opposed to working with Metro to tweak the modification – your route could simply be cut.

    You get what you ask for.

    • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

      Has it ever occurred to you that most of the people in Magnolia would prefer to be cut off from the rest of the city? In fact, if I had my druthers, we’d secede and become our own city. Something tells me that Magnolia exports a lot more by way of revenue that it consumes by way of city services. You need us a lot more than we need you.

      • Nathanael says

        The “something” is your own ego. It’s pretty clear where the tax base of Seattle is, and it ain’t Magnolia — it’s the central business district.

  8. Alex says

    What bothers me is the short notice of these changes – living near transit is a very important consideration when you don’t own a car. You can argue that transit-dependent individuals shouldn’t choose to live on Magnolia in the first place, but for some, at least, the existing transit was good enough. However, when said transit disappears after 9:30PM in two months, most people aren’t going to be able to move to a more transit-friendly neighborhood that quickly.

    • Mike Orr says

      This gets into a more general problem, that you don’t know which routes will be strengthened or weakened long-term, so you don’t know where to buy a house or lease an apartment. Metro is starting to commit to some corridors with RapidRide, but there are still vast areas of the city with undifferentiated mediorcre service. Will there always be buses on 32nd NW, 8th NW, Greenwood, and Latona? Or are these just holding patterns until neighboring routes get more frequent, and it would be better to live near the other routes. But which routes should you live near?

      • Bruce Nourish says

        I can’t see a future with tons of service on 32nd NW or Latona, although I doubt it’ll go away altogether, but there’s no way Greenwood and 8th lose service. There are no viable alternatives, and both are decently well used.

      • says

        @Bruce: You know that and I know that (though probably not as well as you do). But does someone just moving to Seattle know that? Does someone that’s lived in Seattle but isn’t a transit geek know that?

        And say Latona or 8th have bus service. Where does it go? The original version of the Fall restructure sent Latona service away from lower Fremont and downtown and to the U District. And 8th NW service away from lower Fremont and down Aurora. It probably was a good restructure, creating lines worth strengthening in the future. But then I have a friend that owns a house near the 28 that works in lower Fremont, not an accidental choice. We’ll have to break some eggs to create lines worth strengthening (lower Fremont, a place with significant transit demand served by a motley collection of weak routes that were all up for major changes in the original Fall restructure, is all over an example of this).

  9. Zach Shaner says

    Reducing span on the 27 without boosting frequency on the 14S irks me to no end. One consequence of it will be to falsely reinforce, in perpetuity, the supposed necessity of the 4S (which runs until 1:52 am).

    Instead of THREE separate half-hourlys (4S, 14, 27), now with newly reduced spans of service!, there should be frequent service from the 23rd/Jackson hub to downtown…*period*. Metro should give S. Jackson St. and the 14S a chance as a frequent service corridor…all it would take is selective dieselization on short-turn trips or (preferably) a turnback wire near MLK/Jackson.

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2012/02/03/the-central-district-deserves-better/

    • David L says

      Jackson is a terminal mess from 5th all the way to Rainier. If there is frequent service from that area to downtown, it should run along Yesler, not Jackson.

  10. Benjamin C says

    Time for a restructure of Metro and it’s relationship with King County. Not sure what that would look like, but I’m tired of fighting with a transit agency in addition to transit critics.

    • Matthew Johnson says

      As harsh as it sounds the only thing I can think of is to withhold further funding until the County Council does something to depoliticize Metro.

      The CRC only lasts another year. What if transit supporters refused to support a replacement or we lobbied our legislators not to support a replacement unless the County Council stops screwing up Metro?

      • Bernie says

        Yep, politicians will continue to hand out free candy until the bowl is empty. A transit diet is the only way to change that behavior.

      • Mike Orr says

        Then we might get stuck with severe cuts that last for several years and maybe decades. Many bus riders would switch to cars, and another generation growing up believing transit won’t be there when they need it. Opposition to reducing parking requirements would increase. Overcrowding and lateness would increase, further pushing people to cars. And Seattle would lose what reputation it has for better-than-average-American transit.

  11. Cinesea says

    Magnolia. Not every part of Seattle needs to have the density level of Capitol Hill or University District, or even Fremont. A city is comprised of different density levels to accomodate different styles of homes and different desires of the people that live there. So, if you are a transit user, you probably are NOT going to choose to live in a neighborhood like Magnolia. Or Laurelhurst. Or Broadview. Those neighborhoods should also not be forced to increase their density when there are neighborhoods like Greenwood and Northgate that would greatly benefit from increased density–and already are asking for it. So, since some neighborhoods are less dense and don’t require many bus routes, how about we take our limited resources and put them where there already is density and increase the bus service there?

    • Alex Bailey says

      Because it would be even better and more efficient to have made a route that goes through magnolia, (downtown to ballard or the u-district) than to have all three routes serving magnolia (24, 31, 33) use it as their terminus, thereby making none of the routes productive enough to warrant late night service. Moreover, Metro initially DID propose to fix this but it rolled over under pressure from some moronic neighborhood association members and now the rest of Magnolia (myself included) is screwed over as a result. Although it is a breath of fresh air to see a meddling neighborhood group get taken to task by the generally feeble Metro for once.

    • Casey says

      Mt Baker neighborhood was strongly against loosing their quiet electric buses, for a diesel bus.

  12. asdf says

    One nice advantage of being geographically close to downtown is that when Metro cuts your bus service, you have options to fall back on. Most of Magnolia is within a 30 minute bike ride of downtown (and Ballard too, for that matter), or a 30 minute walk from the RapidRide D stop on 15th and Dravus.

    Only people who are both low income and disabled and make trips home from downtown after 9:30 PM are really being screwed by this, which I don’t think is that many. And absolute worst case, a cab ride from downtown to Magnolia is still only $15 or so.

    • David L says

      That works for people on Government Way, but how do you plan for anyone but Lance Armstrong to get to housing on Manor Place or 28th, or for that matter on Viewmont Way or in Magnolia Village? Magnolia is essentially two very tall ridges with a valley in between. No biker is going up Manor Way or Dravus Street.

      • asdf says

        Ride your bike to the base of the hill, then walk up. Yes, it’s steep, but it’s short.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        That’s a good one, asdf. Who knew that the Seattle Transit Blog had such a sly sense of humor?

  13. SMP Belltown says

    Will this have any impact on Metro service along Western/Elliot Ave. between Denny and Mercer streets? (That stretch of service where other bus traffic is routed through Uptown.)

    • David L says

      Yes. The Magnolia buses are the only service along that stretch that actually makes stops. There will be no service down there late at night. Almost no one rides it anyway; that is pretty much a business-hours corridor. The late-night 24 and 33 ridership consists of people going from downtown to Magnolia.

  14. Andrew M says

    As somebody who rents an inexpensive dwelling in Magnolia, with access to transit as one the major selection criteria, I feel like Metro just spat on me. It was bad enough that when I moved here from out of town I didn’t realize how bad the service was on the 33 and 31, but now it’s getting worse. My ridership will be going down. The entire “convenience” factor of transit is now lost if I have to plan that much ahead, I might as well just drive now.

  15. the358 says

    Was considering a move to Magnolia in about 5 years due to school issues (want to be in transportation zone for Queen Anne Elementary when my youngest starts kindergarten). Am now scratching Magnolia off my list and realizing I need to start laying the groundwork to convince my suburban-raised husband to live in a townhouse, since that’s all we’ll be able to afford on Queen Anne. (I’m fine with the townhouse, but hubby wants to be a farmer. Insert me rolling my eyes.)

    • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

      A garden-hating “New Urbanist” (insert me rolling my eyes). Enjoy the townhouse, and especially enjoy thwarting the hubby. Ought to be great for the marriage.

      • the358 says

        Wow, what’s with the anger and personal attack, dude? Seriously, now I’m REALLY glad we’re nixing Magnolia from our list.

        And for the record, I got nothing against gardens. Just gardening. Seriously, who actually enjoys pulling weeds in the hot sun? If so, please come to my house because you will find heaven in my flower beds.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        Nothing personal intended. I don’t know you. It was only a general statement. I do have to say that if you’re scratching Magnolia off your list because the Metro is cutting bus service, and roll your eyes at the idea of having a garden, it wassn’t a great idea to consider this part of town to begin with.

        I like Queen Anne. A little crowded and hectic, and the stroller-pushing ultra-mom factor is maybe a bit much for my taste, but there are some good restaurants over there. Hell of a time finding a parking spot though, and if what I read on this blog and hear from the city is right, that will only get worse.

        Funny thing is that you’ll pay as much (and maybe even more) for that townhouse than you’d pay for a typical single family joint, complete with that dreaded garden, over here. But hey, if you’re happy and can convince your husband that “farming” sucks, who am I to try to convince you otherwise? I think people should live how they want to live.

        Queen Anne is becoming the new Capitol Hill in a certain kind of way. Crowded, faster pace, noisier than I prefer. But then, Magnolia is dead boring. People say to me, “aren’t you bored living there?” I answer, “Damn right! That’s the whole point.”

        One last thing: I hate pulling weeds in the hot sun or any other time. I tend to hire that one out.

  16. Ben B says

    I live in Magnolia now, in a very inexpensive 2 bd apartment with an apartment-mate, I picked it because my 33 bus stops directly in front of it and the 24 gets me darn close later in the evening. This service change directly effects me late at night and generally really blows. I would have loved to see the 33 and 24 change to the restructured routing, but I’d really hate to be caught in the mess that is 3rd Ave peak bus travel with the extra 19 and 24 buses on it or generally deal with the crowd at 3rd and Pike, period. All that being said, the multifamily magnolia resident is about 20 years younger, 20 times more transit reliant, and 20 times less ridiculous when it comes to change than the average single family magnolia resident. Unfortunately we’re not the ones donating to most of the elected officials.

    • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

      Ben, you really need to find a place in Fremont or Ballard. Honest, you do, because Magnolia is never, ever going to be hip enough for you.

  17. I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

    It’s clear that the Seattle Transit Blog despises anyone in Magnolia who lives in a single-family house. Part of me wants to respond with a series of expletives, but we don’t do that here. I know, it’s terrible. We’re NIMBYs, and we tend to be a little old-school Seattle around here, and this makes us the enemy. Even if, as in my case, I have an electric car. But I live in Magnolia, and I own my house, and you hate me.

    Now, as far as the bus service here goes, before I retired (uh-oh, I’m not in my 20s or 30s so there’s another reason to have me killed) I rode the bus every day to my job downtown. I appreciated that service. Saved me a boatload of money relative to the outrageous parking rates in the building where I worked.

    Whoever wrote that the cuts to Magnolia’s bus service will really affect that handful of non-driving people was right. But this is what happens when the powers that be, supported by your short-sighted blog, pours money into ultra-expensive, money-sucking light rail.

    I do hope that the people who depend on the bus system understand what is going to happen in Seattle. You need to look at Portland, which is cutting bus service because they need to keep their light rail glamor project going, even though their light rail has been a notorious money pit that will only get deeper. But, see, poor people ride the bus and yuppies ride the light rail, so bus service will lose. You heard it here first. If you think it’s tough now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Seattle’s bus system is going to get squashed like a bug.

    The one positive aspect of the cuts to Magnolia bus service is they make it even less likely that the city will stick poverty housing in Discovery Park like they want to. Like the rest of the NIMBYs up here, I don’t want it, and without effective public transportation it’ll make even less sense to put it there. Not that it made any sense to begin with.

    The other benefit is that there’ll be even less chance that anyone will even think of trying to turn Magnolia Village into Ballard. And thank God for that. Ballard used to be a lot of fun, but now it’s places where you pay 5 bucks for a damn cupcake. And what’s with all the drooling homeless over there? Did McGinn order the city to start dumping the bums there after sundown?

    Without night time bus service, and then eventually further cuts, our “Outer Mongolia” character will be safer for longer. We’ve got a whole bunch of people who want to turn Seattle into San Francisco. Well then, I guess we’ll need a Pacific Heights, won’t we? Call it the law of unintended consequences. You can wreck Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Eastlake, Capitol Hill, and on and on, but I can be reasonably assured that I was right when I found my place in Magnolia and said to the other half, “The rest of this city might go to hell, but Magnolia is forever.”

    • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

      p.s.: Don’t tell me that you’ll fund your future transit dreams with higher taxes. You know that $60 car tax that got rejected last fall? The “No” campaign started in Magnolia, and it can be repeated as often as need be.

      • Nathanael says

        Dude, Magnolia rejected improvements to bus service, and as a result they got bus service cut entirely. Your irrational rail hatred has nothing to do with the facts here.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        Dude, I’m fine with getting bus service cut entirely, for the reasons I already gave.

    • the358 says

      Dude, I thought I was a crotchety old Seattle type (born and raised–in fact my grandfather went to Broadway High School, and my great grandmother was born here in the pioneer days), but I clearly have nothing on you. What on earth is wrong with Wallingford? It’s looked the same as it has for probably the last 30 years, other than the bit right around Stone & 45th. I would hardly call that “ruining” the place. Magnolia probably looks nothing like it did when you were born. The world did not end when it got developed into SFHs, and it would not end by having better bus service.

      And god forbid that the poor get to live someplace lovely like Discovery Park. Seriously? You want to be THAT guy, who doesn’t want “those” people moving to his neighborhood? Yikes.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        Yes, I am “that guy.” It occurs to me that all the yammering from the Community Club might have had a strategic purpose: to get Metro to start withdrawing service.

        Think about it, if you can. McGinn wants to stash poor people at Discovery Park where naval housing used to be. But if bus service ends at 9:30 p.m., that whole idea will be a non-starter. Same goes for Magnolia Village. Works for me. I hope all those yuppies in Ballard love their new neighbors.

      • I'm Magnolia and I Don't Care says

        Oh, you asked about Wallingford. Well, they’ve made it impossible to drive down 45th, and soon enough they’re going to allow 60-foot buildings on all four corners of 34th & Stone. It will completely wreck the area, and that’s too bad. It really is, but there’s nothing we can do about it because neither you nor downtown has ever cared.

        But at least we’ll be able to sit in Outer Mongolia and know that it won’t happen to us any time soon. Pretty hard for even the “new urbanists” to justify any of this when the bus service over here is part-time at best, and bound to get worse.



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