Our Long National Nightmare is (Half) Over

[Update 9:12pm: Metro has now posted rider alerts at the relevant stops, explaining that the stop in front of the auto parts store is going away. My experience on Monday notwithstanding, drivers are not to serve the new stop until Saturday. As if to give me one final middle finger, my transfer from the more distant stop caused me to miss the train this afternoon by five seconds.

Why Metro doesn't post the rider alert at the same time they erect the new stop, I don't know.]

About 38 months after Link opening, southbound 7, 7X, 9, and 42 riders finally have a decent transfer to and from Link at Mt. Baker. I took the photo above Monday after my 7 stopped there. One can discern the contour of the stairs in the station superstructure at right, perfectly oriented to this plaza. Now more Rainier Avenue riders save time by taking the train and transferring instead of the one seat ride, another step towards allowing Metro to shift resources from largely redundant service.

But Link isn’t the only bonus. Transferring from Rainier Avenue buses to the southbound 8 usually involved a crossing of the Rainier Motor Speedway. Now, the easiest path is to the 8 stop just south of the intersection, involving zero busy street crossings.

Progress is slow, but it’s happening. Now Mt. Baker is something less than infinitely awful. If we could just get the northbound transfer right, we’d have a decent intermodal station.

Comments

  1. Carl says

    Too bad we are largely repeating the awful transfer situation at the UW/Husky station / Montlake. It would have been a great opportunity to create protected bus lanes on the east side of Montlake Blvd with a transfer center above the Link station that allows for buses to continue onto NE Pacific as well as Montlake

    • Brent says

      Hit the replay button:

      There are more riders projected to go to UW Medical Center than to UW Station. That’s why most of the buses will keep heading straight downtown instead. No, the argument still doesn’t make sense to me, especially since none of the 71-74 series buses serve UW Medical Center.

      Besides, UW is spending millions on re-landscaping their magnificent Rainier Vista. You can’t ruin the beautiful symmetry of the brand-new multi-million dollar landscaping just for the convenience of a few thousand commuters.

      • Carl says

        You are making the argument that the Link station should have been under Pacific St between the Hospital and the triangle – closer to most destinations and enable an easy transfer.

        Why do public institutions like UW seems so transit averse?

      • Brent says

        The station is where it is. I’m not arguing that it be re-engineered. I’m arguing that the triangle should be engineered so as to allow buses to serve both the station and UW Medical Center. That doesn’t mean the station has to be held up. That just means Rainier Vista should give way to sane traffic engineering, eventually.

        It’s a shame our legislators ask “How high” when UW says “Jump!” Instead, they should have said, “If you want your stadium money, we have other constituents who want a quick transfer between their buses and the new light rail station.”

      • says

        I’m not sure what you mean by that, but Rainier Vista allows people to transfer from UW Campus buses to Link and Pacific Place/Montlake buses fairly easily.

    • Lack Thereof says

      Yet again:

      Based on current ridership and future projections, the buses and their stops are in the right place. Far more riders will be going to the UW Medical Center (and the UW proper) than will be transferring to Link.

      The Link station is in the wrong place. Moving the bus stops to make Link transfers more convenient will inconvenience the majority of riders, and double down on a mistake.

  2. Bruce Nourish says

    If I’m reading it right, the bowtie concept would add the 8 to this stop, making common stops in both directions. Correct?

    At any rate, it’s good to see progress, even if it’s glacial. It only took three years to move a bus stop and delete the 42.

    • Bellinghammer says

      I don’t see why we have to wait for the bowtie to change the 8. Northbound, the 8 already doesn’t enter the transit center, and it doesn’t need to serve it southbound either. Rather than have two suboptimal SB #8 stops (at the Transit Center and at MLK/Winthrop, the SB 8 should turn right at McClellan, left on Rainier, serve the new stop, and proceed straight to ACRS/Walden. I’m guessing it’s the left onto Rainier where Metro would balk.

      Mt Baker TC is really only useful as layover space for the 48.

      • Seattleite says

        Someone needs to make sure Metro is aware of the Sunk Costs Fallacy.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_costs

        In rational decision making money/time/effort/ect that has already been spent should have ZERO weight on the best path forward. You can’t get that money back by chasing bad money with good, you only compound the initial bad decision. Realize it was mistake, adjust your plans to the best possible at this time and move on. Heck considering the glacial pace of Metro, by the time everythign is said and done, they might even make a little when selling the land.

      • David L says

        I see. I was assuming that your plan was going to replace MBTC as a passenger facility and preserve it only as layover space.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        If you really want to speed up the 8, build a stop on MLK and just stay on the road. People headed to Link can get off after it crosses Rainier, if one removes all the mucking around in the TC.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      Yes, the 8 would stop at the same place. But the real big deal is that there would be a new crosswalk connecting to the plaza, and northbound buses would let people off directly across the street thanks to a bus-only contraflow lane.

  3. Louis says

    Does this mean the southbound stop just north of here at McClellan will be closing soon?

    I’m also not sure how many drivers are even aware of this new stop. I was on a 9 yesterday afternoon and we drove right by this stop, passing up several passengers waiting at the stop unsuccessfully waving and yelling at the driver to be picked up.

    • mic says

      It’s very difficult to discriminate the intention of waving (tourist love to wave at drivers), or yelling, as the buses are pretty noisy on the inside.
      Policy is you must jump up and down vigorously, otherwise you’re not serious about wanting the bus. Signal flares and strobe lights are a plus too.

    • Brent says

      A lot of signs have already been updated to next week’s pick. This might be one of them. Still, rider alert signs that the stop is not yet active, or active for certain routes, would have helped avoid confusion. “Rider Alert: Routes 131 and 132 do not stop here until September 29. Please board 131 at … and 132 at …”.

      • Louis says

        Closing the southbound stop at McClellan seems like a good option here. This new stop is in a good spot with better visibility, and makes use of the dead promenade zone between Rainier and the light rail station.

        I use the McClellan stop 3-4 times a week and the combination of the inward-facing bus shelter on a skinny sidewalk up against a blank wall covered in dirt and spit doesn’t really make for a savory bus queuing experience.

  4. Brent says

    Is this stop permanent? Or will the TOD project be built on top of where it stands?

    Also, is there a way for the 7x to terminate at the station (both ways)? A clever way to make use of 7x deadhead would be to have it head south as an 8 in the morning, providing a lot of townhouse residents the opportunity to shuttle down to the next station without crossing Rainier, and then do the reverse in the evening, with the 8 signed to only go to Mt Baker Station.

      • Brent says

        Bruce,

        In addition to previous concerns about cutting off Rainier Beach High commuters, that plan would yank the direct ride on the 7 that was promised as alternative service to the soon-to-die 34.

        And it doesn’t address the poor transfer between northbound 7 and Mt Baker Station.

      • David L says

        What about a one-bus shuttle between Prentice and RBS that would replace all of those 7X trippers, combined with further stop dieting on the regular 7 to try to speed it up for the commuters?

        If I were Metro, I’d take a trade of one all-day bus (2 runs, or one run and two VTs) versus a giant load of trippers any day.

  5. Brent says

    Other side question related to Mt Baker Station:

    Is it ST policy yet that all new non-at-grade stations will feature a center platform, with at least two elevators?

  6. says

    This looks like a great spot for bus 48 to stop before laying over and turning around. Almost every time I aim for the airport (usually in a hurry, with luggage) I end up missing a train while waiting for bus 48 to turn left at a signal, then right at a signal and right again into the transit center, to give me the privilege of waiting again at a signal to walk back over to the station, which is on the same side of the street the bus was originally on.

    The question is how to turn the bus around to head north. The bus station is a lousy place to pick up Link transfer passengers too. Can we sell it off to a developer (maybe with an upzone?) and use the proceeds to make some tweak to the circulation in the area that allows Metro’s highest ridership bus line to directly serve the high capacity transit station at the end of its line? What would that have to be? Could the bus circle around the west side of the station? I’ve seen some cool concepts on this blog before that might be a good long term approach to the area. I don’t know exactly what is best here, but the status quo for the terminus of bus 48 will not suffice.

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2012/04/18/the-awfulness-of-mt-baker-station/

    • Bruce Nourish says

      I have a restructure idea for that, too, although writing it out here would probably derail this thread. I’ll try to write about it soon.

    • asdf says

      It may sound counter-intuitive, but you actually want to exit the 48 one stop before the transit center. There’s an extra 1/4 mile of walking distance, but you avoid having to wait for any stoplights, either on the bus or on foot.

  7. asdf says

    For northbound transfers, there’s already a nice pedestrian bridge over Ranier right next to the station. Unfortunately, the ST architect missed the ball and designed the station so, even though the bridge is at the same height as the platform, you have to go down and back up again.

    How much would it cost to connect the bridge and the station platform together. They come so close already, we’d literally be talking about 10-20 feet of elevated sidewalk.

  8. Warren on Beacon says

    note that if KC Metro got rid of the 7 Express, some of the Rt. 7 trolley trips during the peak period would need to be re-extended back to Prentice Street.

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