[UPDATE: Either people are skimming or I’m not writing clearly, so I’ll make the prescription shorter: A+, no flyer stop; create good 24/7 service from the Eastside to UW; pay for it with some specific revenue increments and by curtailing off-peak service from the Eastside to DT Seattle. If you work through the permutations, you’ll see that all the connections still work out.]
There’s a lot of fear among transit riders that the loss of a Montlake flyer stop on SR520 will make bus service a lot harder to use in that corridor. That fear is a reasonable one, in spite of the cost and the wider footprint that would have to be cut out of the neighborhood. However, it would be a relatively simple matter to reorganize bus service to minimize the impact. More after the jump.
There are two primary uses for the current stop. One is for riders on Montlake Blvd. headed to the Eastside. The A+ option has HOV access ramps that will allow access from the South to UW-Eastside buses.
The other use is Eastsiders heading to UW. In the peak hours there’s plenty of service from all points to UW (277, 540, 542, 271, 556) in addition to the downtown buses. Evenings and weekends, however, you’re much more likely to have a long wait unless you take a downtown bus and transfer at Montlake.
What’s needed to solve this problem is better direct service to UW. On the revenue side, the County has a new $3m property tax fund for SR 520 service. That’s about 24,000 service hours, or 3 buses running 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sound Transit 2 also has an ill-defined commitment to BRT over the bridge.
That may not get you enough buses to have continuous, frequent service from all points on the Eastside to both UW and downtown Seattle. However, at the low-volume times the emphasis should shift to serving the UW. Eastsiders headed downtown will have decent options by either taking East Link downtown, or a bus to UW station and transferring, depending on where they live.
Life without a flyer stop requires changes to people’s routines, but with intelligent bus route planning there’s no need for connectivity to degrade below the current situation.