Last week, just in time for Memorial Day, both Metro and Sound Transit published details of their upcoming service changes, which will begin Saturday, June 7. Both sets of changes are minor, with the only significant news being the start of Metro’s RapidRide F Line connecting Burien, Southcenter, and Renton.
The major Metro cuts scheduled to take effect as a result of Proposition 1’s failure do not start now. The first of four phases of cuts is scheduled for the service change beginning September 27, 2014, with more cuts to follow at all three service changes during 2015.
Details of the June changes are below the jump.
The most important Sound Transit change is one that doesn’t affect actual service: there is now a printed timetable for Link in the newest ST brochure, which will presumably appear online on June 7. This is great news, particularly during early mornings and late nights when Link frequency is 15 minutes. Actual changes to service are very minor indeed:
- Tiny schedule revisions to Routes 532 and 535
- A couple new stops in the Denny Triangle for certain trips on routes 577 and 578
- Routine summer cut to Route 586 Tacoma-UW service
RapidRide F Line
Metro’s big news is the start of the RapidRide F Line, the last of the six RapidRide lines currently planned. The F Line will replace Route 140, with mostly identical routing (although with fewer stops), on an east-west corridor connecting Burien, Tukwila International Boulevard Station (TIBS), Southcenter, Tukwila Sounder Station, downtown Renton, and The Landing in north Renton. (Here is the F Line map depicted above.) The only routing difference between the two routes is in southwest Renton, where the F Line will use Route 110’s current routing along SW 16th St, Lind Ave SW, and SW 7 St, rather than the Route 140 routing along Grady Way. This change gives the F Line access to a few additional destinations and allows Metro to delete Route 110 as well as Route 140. (It should also reduce running time during the afternoon, when Grady Way can get quite congested.
The schedule is a significant improvement. Like Route 140, the F Line will run every 15 minutes during the day weekdays and Saturdays. But the F Line will run more often–every 10 minutes–during weekday peak hours (assuring good connections to both Link and Sounder), and it will maintain 15-minute frequency on Sundays instead of Route 140’s 30-minute frequency. The F Line will also run over two hours longer at night than Route 140, ending around midnight. It will use the same low-floor articulated buses as the other RapidRide lines, a significant upgrade in capacity from the 40-foot Orion coaches (with the occasional 30-footer) currently in use.
New SR-520 Freeway Stations: Worse Transfers for Route 271
Sometime in late June, a few weeks after the service change, SR-520 routes will begin using new Evergreen Point and Yarrow Point freeway stations located in the center of the roadway. The stations are positioned in the center to match the new, full-width HOV lanes being built as part of the Evergreen Point Bridge replacement project. This change should be seamless to most users, but there is one major wrinkle: Route 271 will no longer serve Evergreen Point Station in either direction. There is not enough distance between Evergreen Point Station and the 84th Ave NE interchange for Route 271 buses to traverse all lanes of SR-520 safely.
This change will make transfers more inconvenient for travelers between west Bellevue and many Seattle destinations, and for off-peak travelers between Redmond/Kirkland and much of North Seattle. Instead of an easy same-stop transfer at Evergreen Point Station, these riders will have to transfer at Montlake, which is not nearly as convenient. Westbound travelers will need to walk nearly 1000 feet between Montlake Blvd E & E Shelby St (where Route 271 stops) and the westbound Montlake flyer stop. Able-bodied eastbound travelers need only climb or descend the Montlake stairs, but there is no ADA-accessible way to make the eastbound transfer. Given that the current SR-520 service pattern provides excellent transfers between three very frequent all-day routes (255/271/545), this is a major regression.
South Park Bridge: Speeding Up Route 60
The South Park Bridge should reopen sometime during the summer. Route 60 will return to its historical routing using the bridge immediately or very soon upon the reopening. This will shave 5-8 minutes from Route 60 trips in both directions, a very welcome development. With the South Park Bridge open and the VA Hospital loop closed, Route 60 will become a very quick way to reach Link and Beacon Hill from South Park and White Center.
There are only a few other changes to Metro service in June, as the agency saves its powder for the major changes to come in September. Here they are:
- Some PM peak Route 21 trips will no longer do the time-consuming “double loop” around Roxhill Park. The non-“double loop” trips will lay over at 35th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St, and proceed directly toward downtown along 35th Ave SW. This means inbound Route 21 trips will only leave Westwood Village every 30 minutes during the PM peak. Inbound PM peak riders may want to walk from Westwood Village to 35th Ave SW and SW Barton St for more frequent service.
- Outbound Route 121 and 122 trips will use Bell St instead of Lenora St (no longer stopping in front of Cinerama).
- The following routes will see the usual summer service reductions lasting throughout the UW and Shoreline Community College summer quarters: 31, 32, 48, 65, 67, 68, 75, 167, 197, 205, 271, 277, 331, 372, 373.
As a reminder, the following cuts are not happening in June, but are currently scheduled to happen beginning September 27 (with many more cuts scheduled for 2015). If you ride any of the services listed below, it’s a good time to start thinking about alternatives.
- Delete the following lower-performing routes entirely, with no replacement: 7X, 19, 47, 48X, 61, 62, 82, 83, 84, 139, 152, 161, 173, 210, 211, 213, 243, 250, 260, 265, 280, 306, 909, 919, 927, and 935
- Turn all-day routes 27, 30, and 931 into peak-only, one-way service
- Delete peak-hour service on Route 200
- Delete Routes 202, 205, 209, and 215, replacing only with shuttle service on Routes 204 and 208
- Delete night service on Routes 236, 238, 249, 331, and 903