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.
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.