With characteristic last-minute flair (no doubt intensified by this week’s festive Seahawks craziness), Metro posted information about the February service change late yesterday. New schedules take effect Saturday, February 15, one week from tomorrow. The big news, such as it is:
- RapidRide E Line, replacing Route 358
- Extension of Routes 64 and 65 to serve Jackson Park
- No more VA Hospital loop on Routes 50 and 60
- Stops downtown for Routes 17 and 18 will change
Sound Transit also posted a bulletin and new schedules this morning, and our own Brent White has diligently combed through the schedules to provide more detail on the very minor ST Express and Sounder changes. Thank you, Brent!
Details for both Metro and Sound Transit below the jump.
RapidRide E Line
The biggest change is no surprise: the RapidRide E Line launches, replacing the venerable Route 358 along Aurora Ave. N. Frequency will improve in the reverse peak (from 15 to 10 minutes), at night before 10 p.m. (from 30 to 15 minutes), and on Sunday (from 30 to 15 minutes). New Owl trips will leave downtown at 2:15 and 3:30 a.m. (Surprisingly, Route 82 also remains in place for now.) Riders along Green Lake’s Linden Deviation will now need to catch southbound buses along Aurora, rather than Linden, although the route continues to serve Linden northbound.
The most disruptive change is that northbound RapidRide E buses will pick up at new stops downtown. Buses will now pick up at Pike, Seneca, and Cherry Streets and Prefontaine Place, and will not serve Pine (Macy’s), Union (Benaroya), Marion, or James. This change is to facilitate off-board payment using new ORCA card readers which SDOT recently installed at the new stops, a couple of which are shared with the RapidRide D Line. Riders may board using any door if they tap their ORCA cards at the reader or if they have a valid transfer. Tap your ORCA and skip the line to board!
To make room for northbound RapidRide E buses, Routes 17 and 18 Express (and Route 37 drop-offs) will move to the stops formerly served by Route 358. Moving these routes makes some sense, as their new stops are shared with Route 40.
Routes 64 and 65: Now to Jackson Park
Metro has made a very welcome change to Routes 64 and 65, extending them from their current northernmost stops in Lake City to Jackson Park via NE 145th St. This provides an entirely new all-day connection between the two nearby neighborhoods, previously connected only by an out-of-the-way transfer or a ride on hourly Route 330 and a half-mile walk. The change connects the densest part of Lake City with two grocery stores, other businesses, and several new transfer opportunities.
This is an extremely low-cost change for both routes. Route 64 coaches travel to and from base (or their next/previous trips) via NE 145th, so passengers will just ride part of the base route. Route 65 coaches have been performing a wasteful deadhead from their northernmost stop to a terminal behind the Lake City Fred Meyer, because of a lack of reasonable all-day layover space in the vicinity of 30th Ave NE and NE 145th St. The extension to Jackson Park won’t require any more hours than that deadhead. This is a great move (although I may be biased in saying so, given the routing of my Frequent Network Plan‘s “Route 78”).
Routes 50 and 60: VA Hospital Speedup
Because of construction related to the VA Hospital’s new parking garage, Metro is temporarily removing Routes 50 and 60 from the VA Hospital driveway loop. Route 50 will run straight along Columbian Way in both directions, while Route 60 will remain on 15 Ave S in both directions.
This change provides a huge improvement in service quality for almost all riders of both routes, and I (along with most of the STB staff) hope it becomes permanent. If you like the faster and more reliable service that results, please tell Metro!
The VA Hospital loop is a notorious time sink. The entire loop is subject to a 5 mph slow order for safety reasons, and buses frequently run much slower than that because of chronic congestion. The loop adds 4 to 5 minutes to scheduled trip times on both Route 50 and Route 60, and can add more (delaying buses) during the afternoon. We have covered the loop’s problems extensively in multiple previous posts, suggesting further accessibility improvements to the hospital’s Beacon Avenue entrance (which is very close to Route 36 stops) and noting that the loop fails to meet Metro’s own service guidelines for deviations because of its relatively low use and high time cost.
Route 50 buses will stop immediately outside the loop in both directions, while Route 60 buses will stop about one block away. Route 36 buses, as always, will stop on Beacon Avenue South near the hospital’s east entrance.
The usual minor items:
RapidRide C Line
Two added southbound PM peak trips and one added northbound weekday evening trip.
RapidRide D Line and Route 28
These routes will no longer use detours to reach the terminal behind QFC in Whittier Heights, because construction on 7th Ave NW is complete. The D Line will use Holman Road to reach 7th Ave NW, and the 28 will use 8th Ave NW all the way to the terminal.
A few weekday and weekend trips are being deleted. In exchange, Metro is adding running time to other trips in an effort to make the PM peak schedule more realistic and reliable.
As noted earlier, these routes will be picking up at new stops on 3rd Avenue: James, Marion, Union, and Pine.
Most trips will no longer serve the stop on 6th Ave S, in front of Central Base. Use Routes 40, 124, 522, or 545 to reach downtown from this stop.
New 5:00 a.m. trip from Everett on Saturday.
One added weekday morning trip. Service now runs every 15 minutes from 6:05 a.m.
Six Route 542 trips are converted into four weekday Route 545 trips, to match demand. Span of service on Route 542 is essentially unaffected, but frequency is slightly reduced during certain time periods.
South Sounder/Route 567/Route 596, Route 535:
Very minor schedule changes.