Metro Proposes Consolidating Stops on Route 44

King County Metro 44 in Ballard

It’s Not Garbage Anymore

From the Metro Future Blog:

Metro Transit is planning to reduce the number of closely spaced bus stops along Route 44 between Ballard and the University District, a change that will help buses move faster, keep to a more reliable schedule and reduce Metro’s operating and maintenance costs.

Route 44 currently makes about 30 stops each direction between Ballard and the University District. Metro plans to remove 5 bus stops in each direction in late September 2012, increasing the average spacing between stops from about 900 feet to 1,050 feet.

As a result of this change, about 7 percent of Route 44 riders will have to catch their buses at different stops.

[…] After considering public comments and making any modifications, Metro will close stops in late September. Comments are due by Friday, Sept. 7, via:

  • Fill out an online comment form.
  • Call Metro’s message line, 206-263-4478, and record your message, including the location of your stop.

As with virtually any change Metro ever proposes in Seattle, this has drawn protest from a “concerned” neighborhood organization, in this case the Ballard District Council; and as usual, it seems to be opposition which doesn’t exhibit much understanding of how good transit services actually work. After the jump, let’s look at which of the 44’s stops in Ballard are proposed to be removed, and which will stay (there’s one other stop slated for closure in the Montlake Triangle), and how the closures would affect riders.

Bus stop consolidation in Ballard

Bus stop consolidation proposal in Ballard

The stops slated for closure here are extremely close together, one or two blocks in all cases, and there is absolutely no complicating factor (steep grade, lack of pedestrian crossings, etc.) in play which could require special mobility consideration, nor are any of these stops optimal transfer points to any other service.  (There is a steep grade east of 5th Ave NW, but those riders can walk west to 8th). In the absence of any such factor, the 1/4 mile standard is, for a slower, local service such as the 44, the best compromise between length of walk to a stop and the need for the bus to keep moving and stay on schedule.

This is why 1/4 mile is codified in Metro’s Service Guidelines, and why Metro has been engaged in a systematic (if painfully slow) effort to fix stop spacings on many high ridership routes through the city (36, 70, 75, other parts of the 44, to name a few). Moreover, closing stops allows Metro and the city to focus their limited money on the remaining stops, improving them with bus bulbs and improved shelters, which is exactly what SDOT is currently doing with the stops on 28th Ave NW and Market. So the net effect of this project is to make the 44 in Ballard significantly faster and more reliable, at minimal cost, more than making up for the fractionally longer walk to some stops.

I realize this is all pretty basic stuff to anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while, but it’s important, in this case, for Metro to hear feedback from regular riders who care about improved speed and reliability throughout the transit system, particularly in dense urban villages such as Ballard, which will most enjoy the benefits of such improvements. I encourage readers, especially those in Ballard, to fill out the feedback form, to let Metro know you support these changes, and why; while you’re at it, consider telling Metro to close the embarrassingly substandard “hedge stop” on Leary.

NOTE: Metro’s inset map is on the project page is buggy, here is a PDF of the stop consolidation proposal, which should eventually make its way onto that page.

Comments

    • Anon says

      I too, will be losing my stops on 17th. And while I’m sad to lose them after all these years, it’s not that much farther to the stop on 20th. And anything to speed up the sloooooooooow crawl down Market St is A-OK in my book.

      • Ryan on Summit says

        Why do you want to make it hard for tourists to take the bus to the locks from downtown Ballard?

      • AndrewN says

        Ryan, there would continue to be a stop at the layover on 32nd Ave NW, which is still in front of the locks. Removing the 30th Ave NW stops would make the spacing more consistent.

      • d.p. says

        Nobody really gets on at this terminal stop, even though it is between a 7-11 and a Red Mill and next to a senior center. Functionally, the stop in front of the Lock gates is the first stop on the line.

        This is one of those examples where logic trumps math: It doesn’t make sense to ask people to walk a block west, wait for a crossing light, and get on at the terminal… just to pull out, wait another whole cycle for a short green light, and zip past the very place where you could have caught the same vehicle 3 minutes later.

        As Nathanael wrote the other day, nobody will thank you for making them spend more time on the vehicle unnecessarily. That distinguishes this circumstance from the other stop deletions.

        Anyway, the stop by the Locks is in-lane, so the delay is negligible, especially when you realize that this is the true starting point of the line.

      • David L says

        Tourists can’t use the Locks stop to get to the Locks anyway, because it’s after the layover. If they ride to the end of the line to get to the locks, they can easily find their way back to the same place to go home from the locks.

      • David L says

        d.p., at least when I used to drive the 44, I picked up a lot more people at the terminal than I did at the Locks stop. There were usually several people waiting at the terminal.

      • d.p. says

        Must be a time-of-day thing.

        Any time I’ve ever gotten on in front of the Locks, the bus has been empty.

      • d.p. says

        Why would anyone stay on to the terminus to get to the Locks, either? It makes much more sense to leave the bus right after 54th and Market split. (Mileage may vary depending on how well visitors know the area.)

      • David L says

        Quite possibly. For some odd reason I only drove the 44 in the afternoon or at night a couple of times in my whole career. I was almost always driving it in either the morning or the PM peak.

      • asdf says

        “Why would anyone stay on to the terminus to get to the Locks, either?”

        I did that a couple of times, not realizing the bus would go straight on market instead of turn on 54th. But since then, I’ve always gotten off the bus at 28th to go to the locks and walked from there.

        I’d be fine walking to 28th to catch the bus eastbound, but I don’t think that stop has much of a delay – it’s in-lane and there’s no signal immediately ahead that it will mess up the timing for.

      • d.p. says

        FYI, asdf, you can get off immediately after the fork and walk a straight path between the nearest two buildings of the Lock Vista complex. Or walk back around the Taco Time. Still closer.

        Unlike the superfluous and time-wasting stops between 28th and 3rd, there would be not that much benefit and a few articulable downsides (significant backtracking + extra lights and crossings) to deleting this pair of stops.

  1. Kevin R says

    This proposal makes the stop spacing much more consistent with other parts of the 44 route. I’m surprised that stop reduction hasn’t happened prior to this – especially on the portion between 15th NW and 5th/6th NW.

    • d.p. says

      This should have happened ages ago.

      And in fact, the first press release regarding the 44 stop diet came from Metro nearly a year and a half ago!

      Imagine the hours of our lives that could have been saved if they had implemented the changes immediately, with or without the bus bulbs!

      Why are we even still debating this?

  2. Stephen says

    I disagree that:

    the 1/4 mile standard is, for a slower, local service such as the 44, the best compromise

    …is applicable here. Though the 44 is a slow local service today, that doesn’t mean it SHOULD be. The 44 is an important service that connects 3 urban villages, and runs with RapidRide frequency. The reason it is slower is lack of TSP/dedicated lanes, and most importantly, too many stops. As such, it would be most appropriate for the stop spacing of the 44 to more closely match that of RapidRide (~.4 mi), and then a future investment in TSP would make the 44 as much of a RapidRide as the other metro routes.

    • David L says

      You’d need more than TSP to make the 44 fast, you’d need dedicated bus lanes on 46th/45th from Phinney to the U-district. That will happen over Wallingford merchants’ and UW commuters’ dead bodies.

  3. Ralphie says

    It is amazing to me how many people do not understand that the 44 is a local not an express bus. It is suppose to be convenient to bus riders. The speed changes are very minimal for the lack of convenience they cause.

    Several of the bus stops are near activity centers like Ballard Swedish Hospital

    As a regular reader of this blog it is very distressing to read the dismissive comments to neighborhood concerns, people who are seniors and people who have some infirmities. This is not the way to build support for more tax payer supported funding for transit. Transit is just not for healthy 25 years old

    • AndrewN says

      The stops closest to activity centers in Ballard would be retained. The stops at Ballard Ave would stay. The stops at 20th (WB) and Tallman (EB) would continue to serve Swedish and are actually closer to the main enterance than the stops at 17th. Safeway would still served by the stops at 15th, although WB travelers would maybe need to walk another 100 or 200 feet than they would today. A 1/4 mile on flat terrain seems reasonable to me; it should only be significantly less when justified. Ralphie, out of curiousity, which stops do you not want closed and why?

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      Just because a route is local doesn’t mean it should be as slow as a snail.

      Convenient transit is something that gets everyone to where you want to go, the faster the better, and eliminating duplicative and closely spaced stops is the cheapest way to speed up local service. Fast transit service is the best way to get public support. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overheard first time riders say something along the lines of “Oh this isn’t so bad, but it’s just too slow.”

      Also I feel for those that have mobility issues but if a rider can’t walk one block then they are probably already riding ACCESS. That is the proper role of ACCESS in the transit system. For example if someone can walk from 20th and Market to Swedish and they can just as easily walk from 17th and Market.

    • Brett says

      Dismissed. Our mainline bus network should be designed to serve the masses, not the elderly or infirm. Those riders are best served by paratransit or DART services. The majority of bus riders are healthy enough to walk 1/4 mile and it probably is a bonus to all riders’ health and well-being to do so on a daily basis.

      The way to build more support from taxpayers is to create a system that more taxpayers will use. Slow, meandering, stop-at-ever-block systems are the antithesis of that.

      • LHaile says

        It’s important to remember that seniors and customers with disabilities have a right to utilize public transport just like anyone else. Although some may have the ability to walk 1/4 mile, weather conditions may impact one’s ability to walk that 1/4 mile (due to health conditions for example, one may not have the ability to walk 1/4 mile during extremely hot weather). Or, one who’s visually impaired may experience some difficulty traveling that 1/4 mile during the winter due to the condution of the sidewalk (it may take some time to shovel out a path of travel on the sidewalk after a snow storm has passed). These individuals still have the right to use transit–it may be the only ride they have.

        Also, it’s important to remember that not every senior or person with a disability is eligible for paratransit.As a result, the bus may be their only means of transport. I’m for trying to speed up buses. It should be done however in a manner that will make the travel experience convenient and accessible for all.

      • Andrew N says

        LHaile, the nice part about Seattle is that we don’t have to deal with extremely hot weather or massive snow storms. You could maybe try to apply these concerns elsewhere, but not Seattle. Additionally, from my experience living in Ballard, when snow makes it difficult to walk on the sidewalk, the 44 is not running at all due to the slope of Market St (west of 6th).

        Market St in Ballard has nice wide sidewalks, curb ramps at all intersections, many signalized street crossings, curb bulbs at many intersections, and several locations with public benches and seating. Not to mention, it’s flat. It’s hard to argue that walking along Market is not accessible.

      • says

        LHaile, this particular change really isn’t a big deal worthy of platitudes. They aren’t turning the 44 into RapidRide with no local shadow (if they were doing that, you’d be right to get on the soap box and talk about access). The change is in a flat part of the city with a regular street grid, the worst-case additional walking distance added is pretty small, and most people’s additional walking distance is less than that. And it’s in line with existing Metro policy on stop spacing for local routes, which is actually a pretty darn reasonable policy.

    • Kyle S. says

      Hi. I live in Ballard and ride the 44.

      While the 44 is indeed not an express, it is a trunk route. “Local” is not synonymous with “stops every 2 blocks.”

      There is always a need to balance stop proximity and frequency with service quality. Right now the 44’s service quality is abysmal, and removing these stops will improve the service through Ballard with minimal impact to actual riders.

    • David L says

      Taxpayer support for transit is harmed when transit is slow and unreliable. The 44 is as slow and unreliable as Metro routes get. There are many causes for this, and some of them are not politically feasible to address for the moment. But stops every block or two are definitely a contributing factor.

  4. Adam Bejan Parast says

    As a rider bus stops every block are infuriating. Stop and go, stop and go. They make the bus maddeningly slow even when there isn’t traffic and all the accelerating and decelerating is annoying when you’re trying to read. And when there is traffic it’s hard for the bus to re-enter traffic. It’s like driving along a road looking for a place to park every block. You would never do that in a car and we shouldn’t force our buses to either.

    Metro should by default remove all bus stops that are a block apart system-wide, only adding them back when there are legitimate access concerns.

    • Ralphie says

      The 44 is a local, locals make a lot of stops. To get people to ride the bus you need to mindful of activity centers, topography and apartment density.

      You approach sounds efficient, but has nothing to do with the reality of getting people to ride the bus.

      • Chetan says

        Its still a local if the bus stops every 2 blocks, rather than every block. And it speeds up the ride for everyone else.

        The 44 may be a local, but there is no express running on the same corridor. So a large number of 44 riders are staying for a large section of the route, and would prefer a faster ride.

      • Adam Bejan Parast says

        Ok so what is the “reality of getting people to ride the bus” because I have a very hard time believing that a stop every block is the reason.

        Golly gee mom, the 44 has a bus stop every block… I really want to go ride it now!

      • David L says

        You can do all the good zoning you want, but if the bus stops every block, it’s going to be so slow that fewer people are going to ride it.

        About every 1/4 mile (3-5 blocks apart depending on the size of the blocks) is much better, even for local buses.

      • PhillipG says

        To get people to ride the bus you need to mindful of activity centers, topography and apartment density.

        To get people to choose to ride the bus, service needs to be fast, frequent, and reliable. The people I’ve known who ride the 44 use it because they don’t have another choice.

        When going between the U-District and Ballard, I usually bike on the Burke-Gilman Trail, because it’s at least 10-20 minutes faster than taking the 44, even apart from waiting for the bus. If I had a car, I’d drive to Ballard instead of taking the 44, and I absolutely hate to drive. Occasionally, I’d even consider running the whole way instead of riding the 44.

      • Lack Thereof says

        The reality of people riding the bus is this: For most of a year, my wife’s preferred commute was to ride the 44 for 75% of its length (after riding the 48s for 75% of its length.

        Don’t say we can’t do it because it’s a local route. We have a system of nothing but unreliable, interminably slow “local routes”, and people do have to ride them nearly end-to-end, because there is no frequent, convenient alternative. And that’s why a transit rider has to budget 2 hours for a crosstown trip in Seattle.

        The reality of getting people to ride the bus involves having it not take forever to get across town.

    • wes kirkman says

      Amen Adam. Awhile ago I prepared a study of why the 49 is so slow (like one needs one) for a transportation class. Thankfully SDOT installed in-street stops on Pine as waiting for cars to yield was one of the worst contributors to lost time. However, similar to the 44, the 49 has many locations where 2, 3, or 4 stops are within one or one and a half block of each other; each stop adds time which keeps it from being a viable form of transportation. Walking an extra block is not a big deal and there are options for the few that can’t walk a block.

      Now if only Metro will address my nemesis: the number 2…slowest bus in the history of slow buses.

      • David L says

        If we can’t move it to Marion/Madison, taking out stops on Spring Street and allowing the 2 to cruise up Spring in the left lane would be an excellent start.

  5. says

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say the King County Metro probably doesn’t want to send people from the bus (maybe $2 per ride) to ACCESS ($20 or more per ride). I agree that 1/4 of a mile is the maximum distance between local bus stops so that they can continue to serve the elderly, infirm, or just lazy people who will get in their car and drive if they have to walk too far. In LA, we have uniform stop spacing of about 1 mile for our rapid buses, including near the ends of the line where the buses are empty. Does it make any sense for an empty bus to blow by passengers who want to take the bus because the empty bus is “rapid”? Are there even a lot of people on the bus at 26th Ave NW, which is right after the bus starts its trip?

    • Adam Bejan Parast says

      To your first point, Metro obviously has an incentive not to want to increase ACCESS trips, but if someone already can’t walk a block to a bus stop they are probably already using ACCESS. As for Swedish the 17th Ave stop is actually closer than the 20th Ave stop.

      As for your second point, closer stop spacing the end of a line increases access to that service at the ends for riders, but for the agency results in increase bus cycle time, which either means increase operating costs or less frequent/reliable service.

      • Ralphie says

        On some routes in Seattle’s single family neighborhoods it might be cheaper to get people to use Access than the run near empty buses.

      • Adam Bejan Parast says

        @Ralphie ACCESS is only for those that aren’t able to use fixed route service and make a trip that is within 3/4 of a mile of fixed route service.

        http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/accessible/accessvan.html
        http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/accessible/paratransit.html

        What you’re thinking of is DART, which is a semi-demand responsive service mostly intended for rural areas were fixed route service is not efficient to run. Metro is in the process of looking at alternative service delivery methods.

        http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/dart/dartinfo.html
        http://metro.kingcounty.gov/have-a-say/projects/alternative-service/

        If you’re going to browbeat STB for advocating for things that make transit better for users please at least be informed about what you say. If you don’t know, ask first. We don’t just advocate for things because we have a problem with the elderly or infirm on buses, and accusing us of such isn’t the kind of discussion we want on the blog.

      • asdf says

        It is also important to remember that even if a bus superficially appears empty while it is delayed, the delay is actually impacting not just the people on the bus now, but everyone who will board the bus at a any point during the route. The only difference is that they are spending the delay time standing at the bus stop rather than sitting on the bus.

      • Brent says

        The apparently-empty-buses syndrome is common on Metro routes because they have a strong anchor at one end (downtown or UW) and no anchor at the other, in the middle of an SFH neighborhood. So, they are empty at one end (which is a political problem when seeking votes from taxpayers) and full at the other.

        Metro has no buses that are empty for the length of the route. The emptiest have been axed during the service reinvestment process.

        As to Access, the average cost is closer to $38 per ride. Group rides help keep the average cost down, while adding more random single-rider trips will usually cost more than $38. To the extent that fixed routes can serve clients who would otherwise take paratransit because they can’t safely get to the bus stop, Metro does pay much attention to how to keep clients on fixed routes, where possible.

    • AndrewN says

      Chris, regarding the stop at 26th Ave NW, the eastbound stop has 67 total daily boardings (as of July 2011) for all 3 routes that stop there. When there are 88 eastbound trips on the 44 per day and 51 trips on the other routes, does it make sense to have an out-of-lane stop to serve 0.6 boardings/trip? I’m feeling that the effect on reliability is not worth stop, even with a not full bus.

    • Jason says

      Metro bus service may cost ~$2 per ride, but the actual cost to run the service is much more then $2 per ride. Easy to forget that.

  6. Matt the Engineer says

    I’ve never ridden the 44, and hence am shocked at the map above. How long have people been putting up with every-block stops? I’d likely get out and walk at the first stop, and still beat the bus.

    There should be almost nowhere in our system with stops one block apart. For this to happen 10 times on one segment of one line is amazing to me.

    • Mike Orr says

      The streetcars were built with close stop spacing, presumably because in those days they were competing with walking, not driving. They shared the road with pedestrians and horse carriages so they had to stick to a pedestrian-safe speed. When buses replaced the streetcars, they generally kept the same stops. Ballard’s one-block spacing is no different than the Ave until 2004-ish, or East Olive Way and Pine Street until 2011. Rainier Avenue also went on a stop diet I hear.

      • Bruce Nourish says

        Bernie is correct. At one point a couple decades ago, prevailing wisdom at Metro regarded very close stop spacing as a brilliant idea and bus bulbs as a terrible idea, and made changes accordingly over many years. Fortunately, Metro Facilities has now stopped crippling Metro’s services in that way, and the agency is slowly digging its way out of that mostly post-war self-dug hole.

  7. ironymaiden says

    it is easier to do a transfer from a northbound bus to a westbound 44 at the 14th ave stop rather than crossing the wide 15th/market intersection with it’s vanishingly short walk signal twice. keeping the 14th stop would increase the utility of RapidRide for me and others who live west of 15th.

    • Kyle S. says

      15’s walk signal isn’t vanishingly short; it’s actually quite perfectly timed. What screws peds over is the distance between the walk buttons on each corner and the variable-length turn signal. If not many cars are queued up to turn, the time window for pressing the button to cross perpendicular might expire before you have a chance to hit it. Then you’re stuck waiting for a full light cycle.

    • Andrew N says

      I feel that the additional utility of only crossing once at that light would be offset by the extra ~200 feet needed to walk to the stop at 14th (not to mention the delay for the riders of the 44 who would have to stop at 14th).

      Additionally, during peak periods (3-7pm), transfers from NB RapidRide to downtown Ballard can be much more easily accommodated at Leary (with no walking required), where the more-frequent 17X, 18X, and 29 will stop.

      • ironymaiden says

        i’ll be interested to see how the stop placement there is handled. that’s another intersection that’s cruddy to cross once, let alone twice.

      • Andrew N says

        @ironnymaiden, the 17X, 18X, 29, and 62 will use the RapidRide stops at 15th & Leary. The Metro trip planner shows the the stops for 40 and 61 will be far side (i.e, SE corner for EB and NW corner for WB). For these new stops, the far side location helps avoid congestion when the Ballard Bridge is up (particularly eastbound).

      • d.p. says

        I probably would have preferred the NE corner for westbound 40/61s. Many more people will transfer west-to-north and north-to-west than will transfer west-to-south. (No one will transfer south-to-west.)

        That lane rarely experiences back-ups, and it has the longest green by far of any of the four cardinal directions (so missing lights from the stop is less of an issue).

        On the other hand, putting the eastbound stop on the SE corner to avoid bridge-related nightmares was the correct decision.

  8. Ralphie says

    Earlier in the thread someone asked me which bus stops I thought should be saved. The stops I thought should be saved are 26th,17th, 14th and Market. They are all within the growing Ballard Urban Village and are near current or major developments.

    Someone described the problem with eliminating the stop at 14th and Market. The 18x does not go where the 44 does westbound and is only during rush hour.

    When I discussed Access as a replacement for some bus service I did mean it as I said. Most other people can drive to other bus lines or walk.

    • Bruce Nourish says

      So three-quarters of those proposed stop closures?

      All of the residents and visitors of those new developments will cheerfully walk the extra block or two to a slightly faster, more reliable 44, just like they do in the rest of the city and the rest of the world, including much, much denser cities and neighborhoods. Heck, even in Seattle, the CBD and Belltown have four block stop spacing on 3rd Ave, and nothing, absolutely nothing, proposed in Ballard even approaches those densities or could generate the rider numbers we have in Belltown or the CBD.

      • Ralphie says

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of bus riders in Ballard surpasses the number of bus riders in Belltown. I can only assume many of the resident’s in Belltown walk to the CBD.

    • David L says

      They are all within the growing Ballard Urban Village and are near current or major developments.

      So are other stops that are not being removed.

    • Andrew N says

      Raphie, my comment related to the 18X also mentioned the 29 and 17X, which will go the same places that the 44 goes; the 18X does share a very busy stop with the 44, so don’t discount it completely. I should also mention the 62, which will go in the off-peak direction from the Locks to the 15th & Leary stop during the peaks, providing yet another opportunity to have a no-walk transfer during peak periods. Yes, during the off-peak at 15th & Market walking would be required for a transfer, but only 300 feet from NB RapidRide D to the WB 44.

      Regarding keeping all the stops within the Urban Village, I have a few thoughts. Most new developments in Ballard are on or within two blocks of Market Street; because of their proximity to Market, their walking distance to a stop will always be fairly short. For example, someone living at the new AVA Ballad apartment building at 14th & Market wouldn’t have a stop in front of their building after the stops are closed, but a stop would be located only about 600 feet east or west. Additionally, many of the newer buildings have higher-income renters (relative to existing rentals in Ballard) who are likely to be able to afford a car; transit speed and reliability is a large factor in encouraging those residents to leave their cars at home. Also, bus spacing in downtown, Belltown, and on The Ave (all areas that are growing) are all greater than for the 44 in Ballard.

      • Ralphie says

        I read the paper. The author made the point that stop spacing depends on who you are serving. Many years ago a study of the Route 44 showed that most people who took the bus had very local destinations, there was not much Ballard to the UDistrict riders.

      • d.p. says

        A yes. That oft-referenced study published “many years ago” in the Journal of Stuff I Just Made Up.

        Ballard and the U-District are barely 3 miles apart. Any trip that you can possibly take along this corridor is “local” — the fact that many of them take 5 times longer than they should on the 44 notwithstanding.

        Even someone taking this bus just from Central Ballard to East Ballard will benefit from these stop revision. There are literally no losers in this change.

      • says

        In any event, a stop every block on flat land is overkill compared to the other busy routes in Seattle. The 49 stops every two blocks on busy Broadway in Capitol Hill. The 2 and 3 in the hilly Central District stop every 2-3 blocks. The 7 in the Rainier Valley, which has a good local ridership along the line, has an average stop spacing of 1,100 feet or 3-4 blocks. This is nothing groundbreaking.

        So while other busy transit routes in the city have a stop spacing between 2-4 blocks, in Ballard a big deal is being made over stopping every block versus every two blocks.

        I couldn’t find the study you referenced but I did find one by the the city in 2010. According to that study:

        Route 44 served approximately 6,000 weekday boardings during the fall 2008 period. Ridership is heavily influenced by commute travel, with 40 to 60 percent of the daily ridership occurring in the combined AM and PM weekday commute peak periods. Maximum loads are generally observed in the University District and Wallingford areas, where PM ridership reaches 50 persons on each bus in the outbound (westbound) direction.

        The busiest stops are also in the U District and Wallingford, which are busier than the busiest Ballard stops.

        Why not make the bus stop every half block instead of the current every block! Better access! Right?

        It takes the same time for the bus to slow down, stop, and accelerate from the stop, regardless of how many people are boarding or exiting that stop. Every stop made, adds more uncertainty and travel time, regardless of how far the stops are spaced.

      • Bernie says

        in the Journal of Stuff I Just Made Up…Ballard and the U-District are barely 3 miles apart.

        Well, I had to check this one. Ballard to I-5 is 3 miles. Ballard to the “U District” is 4 miles as the crow flies. Ballard to Montlake is at least 5 miles. That explains why it takes at least 20 minutes to drive there (~15mph average)… and why I can do it just as fast on my bicycle. Seattle roads suck. Buses aren’t going to do anywhere close to a car so 1/2 hour Ballard to UW is as good as it gets.

      • d.p. says

        I was counting 15th & Market (the future “Gateway to Ballard” or whatever) to the bus stop at 45th & The Ave. 3.2 miles, as the road network flies.

        In my cheap-as-possible Ballard Spur map (linked in my reply to Doug below), the underground line was 3 miles on the dot.

        Add an extra even .5 mile from NW 24th.

      • d.p. says

        If you want to take my words literally, the distance between the border of Ballard and the threshold of the U-District is actually only two miles.

        Any way you slice it, though, you’d be straining to call it more than 3.5 (as you did).

      • Mike Orr says

        “Many years ago a study of the Route 44 showed that most people who took the bus had very local destinations, there was not much Ballard to the UDistrict riders.”

        That’s because they’re driving because the bus is so godawful slow!

  9. Doug says

    Wait til we have the seattle subway and there are fewer stops, greater speed, and a consolidation of the population. A nice stroll to the station will be welcomed.

    • David L says

      Yep. Stations at Ballard Ave, 15th or so, just north of lower Fremont, just south of central Wallingford, somewhere between Latona and 8th, and 43/Brooklyn would do just fine.

      • d.p. says

        When I submitted my own fully-underground-yet-as-inexpensive-as-possible Ballard Spur map a while back, I posited that a station under 56th Street with entrances at both 15th and 17th would probably be close enough to serve all of Central Ballard.

        Again, this wasn’t a “perfect world” map, but one with an eye toward cost-consciousness. Nevertheless, notice how much more reasonable the resultant stop spacing is than on the Link line we’re actually getting!

  10. Cinesea says

    A bit off topic here…How can we convince Shoreline Community College to give priority to busses? When bus #5 is leaving to go to downtown, it can take sometimes 10 minutes just to break through the traffic leaving the college and trying to get through the two stop signs in it’s first quarter-mile of the route. When it is 10 minutes late hitting 145th and Greenwood, and THEN is 10 minutes late through the rest of the route, obviously the holdup is the 10 minutes at the beginning…

    • asdf says

      The simplest fix is to put a 10 minute layover in the schedule right after the second stop sign. People who can will just walk the first 1/4 mile and get on the bus after the congestion. People who can’t will have minor additional delays for the layover period. But at least this way, we mostly guarantee the bus starts the rest of the route on time.

  11. Brent says

    As y’all know, I love stop consolidations. But I’m not sure why stops closest to transfer points (e.g. the stops at 15th Ave NW) tend to get put on the axe list. The same thing happened during the 73 stop consolidation.

    I guess it is because of lower boardings at these stops. But these stops are the most essential for a network that involves transfers, especially if we want elderly, disabled, etc riders to accept the concept of multiple-seat rides.

    • Brent says

      Oh, wait. I mis-read the map, thinking the double line was 15th. Please disregard and expirgate my comment.

  12. Brent says

    Is it too late to have a gondola be a part of the studies for high-capacity transit to Ballard?



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