A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about making transit work better at the two stops at Fremont & 34th. Those two stops are among the busiest, and most readily improvable, stops in north Seattle, and I was happy to receive an email from the Mayor’s office last week indicating that work was in progress along the lines I described.
There are, however, quite a few more valuable, but low-cost investments that can be made on the stretch of Leary Way and 36th St between Fremont and Ballard to improve transit speed and reliability, and rider comfort at stops. In particular, there are four stops in Fremont which would really benefit from bus bulbs, which prevent delays due to the bus having to turn out of traffic.
Ideas for improvements, after the jump.
- Bus bulb outside Norm’s Ale House. As you can see from the picture above and right, the sidewalk and curb here are falling apart. This is a busy stop, and between ale house patrons, transit riders, passers-by, street trees and furniture, it can get crowded. This part of 36th has lots of car traffic turning in from the Fremont Bridge, and buses are often trapped until the light changes. The city could make buses faster and more reliable, and do every other sidewalk user an enormous favor, by reconstructing and extending the sidewalk here, and putting in a shelter. If I could do just one bus bulb on 36th St, it would be this one.
- Move the eastbound stop at 36th St & Phinney Ave a block east, and add a bus bulb. As you can see from the top photo, the sidewalk here is also in terrible condition, and should be rebuilt and extended. However, this stop isn’t really located in an ideal place — it’s more than a block away from its westbound counterpart (outside Norm’s). The smart thing to do is build a new bus bulb just east of Francis Ave, and close this stop.
- Move both stops at 1st Ave NW slightly west, and add bus bulbs. The westbound stop awkwardly straddles a driveway, and the eastbound stop is a very pretty sidewalk garden (shown above), which nevertheless prevents riders from using the back door, or any door when drivers unhelpfully park their cars in the front of the bus zone. One of the additional benefits of bus bulbs is that they discourage parked cars from intruding on the zone, and taxis from loitering there, both of which can be a problem in Fremont.
- Add an eastbound stop at 8th Ave NW & Leary. Between 8th Ave NW and 15th Ave NW, Leary has not recently had transit service, so all facilities there are new, or, in one case, unbuilt. I contacted Metro about this, and they’re working on it: “Seattle has given us preliminary approval to place a stop [west] of the signal, however there is dense ivy within the planter strip and no clear area for passengers to board or exit the bus. Paving improvements can take a year or more by the time the survey, design, permitting and construction process is complete.” This section of Leary has peak-period parking restrictions, fewer people seem to park in the street, and the stops aren’t as heavily used, so while bus bulbs would be nice in this section, they’re not nearly as important as in Ballard or Fremont.
- Fix the “Bog Stop” eastbound at 11th Ave NW. Part of the bargain in having more widely-spaced bus stops is that the remaining stops are civilized places to wait, with a bench, a printed schedule, a lighted shelter, and ideally a real-time arrival sign at the busier stops. This stop is nothing more than a post placed in a slimy strip of grass landscaping. Metro is working on installing a concrete pad in 2013, but I’d really like to see all of these stops get shelters and benches.
- Take down the crossbuck from the abandoned railroad tracks at 14th Ave NW. In the ’60s, Bardahl Oil was served by a spur of what is now the Ballard Terminal Railroad, on Shilshole. Those tracks have long ago been abandoned and partially paved over, but the crossbuck, at which Metro drivers are required to stop, was never removed, and now delays every bus by ten seconds to a couple of minutes (if it causes the bus to miss the light). This is obviously nuts, and so I wrote to Metro and SDOT in December, asking that it be taken down, and was told it should happen “soon”.
- Fix the infamous “Hedge Stop”, eastbound at 20th Ave NW. One of my earliest transit experiences in Seattle was almost being passed at this stop while coming home from Ballard after midnight, and I’ve never stopped ranting about it since. Metro responded thus to my previous post regarding this stop: “Yes, we are aware of the ‘Hedge Stop’. We are considering relocating the stop just north in front of the Ballard Landmark retirement community. This would achieve better stop spacing, better facilities (with awning, lighting, and new sidewalk) that better serves the dense housing on both sides of the street. Several considerations, such as a substantial amount of parking removal and the presence of an existing loading zone, will need to be addressed prior to a decision to relocate. The city of Seattle will also need to review and ultimately has approval authority over whether or not this relocation can or should be allowed.”
East of 8th Ave NW, Leary carries six to eight buses per hour per direction during the day, on important, well used routes; and is part of the city’s Urban Village Transit Network. While resources are scarce, it’s a place that should be a high priority for the city and Metro to improve.