Eastlake bus stop. Photo by flickr user photocoyote.

Central District News is reporting, in an impressive scoop, that the city is developing a transit master plan, in the model of the city’s bicycle and pedestrian master plans. They quote the mayor’s office:

The new Transit Master Plan, which we expect to begin developing within the next few months, is envisioned to serve as a blueprint for transit investments in the same way that the recently adopted Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans are guiding the development of improvement to help make biking and walking easier in Seattle.

Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan outlined the broad goals of the transit master plan to the neighborhood blog:

  • Develop transit service and capital investment priorities and recommendations
  • Make commitments to provide minimum levels of speed and reliability for high-ridership transit routes
  • Identify minimum service frequencies and span of service for high-ridership routes
  • Generate more transit funding to support growth in Seattle and the region
  • Improve coordination with Metro and Sound Transit planning activities
  • Include a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transit vehicles

When asked about how much public feedback would be incorporated into the plan, Sheridan told us that “public involvement is absolutely needed” to shape the plan.”

“There will also be an advisory committee supporting the work made up of members of the public,” Sheridan said. “However, full details concerning these elements have not yet been worked out.”

The plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011.

28 Replies to “City to Develop Transit Master Plan”

  1. This is very welcome but this is not being proposed in a vacuum like the ped and bike master plan. In 2005 the city adopted the Urban Village Transit Network (UVTN) plan… although that plan assumes the Green Line which we all know didn’t materialize but the Mayor wants. More info here, summary here.

    1. I don’t think it’s being proposed in a vacuum. I think it’ll be in concert with the neighborhood plan.

      1. I hope they plan to incorporate the prior work contained in the City’s ICT study, streetcar studies, the Metro Rapid Trolley Network plan, the UVTN, and other prior transit plans and studies for the City of Seattle.

      2. I really hope the streetcar network is included. Streetcars do a much better job than buses at getting affluent car owners to go car-free. They can also be integrated with our light rail system, linking more dense neighborhoods to high-speed transit with rail-to-rail transfers. We have an excellent network plan that so far has been ignored by the city council and the mayor. The First Hill Streetcar is only happening because Sound Transit is paying for it. The city needs to make this investment in our future.

      3. Couldn’t agree more. I think either the University extension or the Ballard/Fremont one to the SLUT will be a part of McGinns rail ballot measure.

        I’m worried about the Central Line though. :/

      4. The Central Line is in flux because a light rail line to West Seattle (or to Ballard via Interbay) would most likely run along First Avenue in more of a streetcar configuration before switching to grade-separated light rail as moves away from downtown. I believe this is why McGinn is opposed to the Central Line, because he wants First Ave available for light rail. I think that makes sense, so the Streetcar Network should be changed. The Central Line should start in the ID and follow the same tracks as the First Streetcar along Jackson but go all the way to 23rd, then turn right and go down 23rd to connect to East Link, then continue south to Mt Baker Station.

    2. Yaaaay! This is exactly what’s needed. A plan, not just adding had hoc service here and there. Maybe they’ll take a cue from CT and define transit corridors. Tell people where transit will and won’t be, and they’ll be able to move accordingly.

      I assume the report will be a consolidation/reevaluation of the previous reports. That in itself will be worthwhile, especially before the upcoming rail lines are set in stone. As somebody commented, things get downtown-centric sometimes; e.g., the SLUT was not one of the top priority transit needs yet it got to the head of the line, while UW-to-Ballard which has been severely strained for decades got the shaft.

    1. Not so fast Groan. You’re bypassing the steering committee process, to be followed by expert review panels, and citizen workshops to digest the results.

  2. King County Metro and Sound Transit need to be fully represented at every step.

    No surprises please for the folks who actually build and operate transit in Seattle.

    1. Given the description, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be involved. One of the main bullet points is on “coordination with Metro and Sound Transit”.

      I’m most excited about seeing community groups get involved though.

      1. In actual City practice, “coordination” can mean as little as keeping someone at the transit agency on an email list.

        I’m talking about KCM and ST being At The Table, and actively participating; maybe that’s spelled out in the details somewhere. I hope so.

      2. Hmmm…I’m imagining what a great deal of help it will be to have Metro and Sound Transit, the agencies that “actually build and operate transit in the city,” at the table…they have been so great to date, building bus and light rail systems that serve the city so weakly, sending most new service to the suburbs, etc.

        I see no reason that Metro and ST should have more than token representation, other than to achieve political buy-in to activate the SDOT plan. I have much more faith in the City to know what is needed in the city.

      3. There was a news story I saw over the weekend about the number of security cameras that weren’t functioning in the NY subway. This of course became news after the bombings in Russia. What people in NY seemed to point the finger at was that the subway was run by MTA which as an association didn’t really seem to answer to anybody. Unlike say NYPD where the mayor can largely just “get it done”. I don’t know how the MTA is organized but it sounded a lot like ST where different government entities appointed board members. I have know doubt the City would run things more efficiently and be better for Seattle. I think it would probably be a more equitable distribution of the funds that actually pay for transit. The difficulty is that with Metro and even more with ST we’re trying to build a regional system. Only the State could take control and I don’t think anybody really wants that.

      4. This is great news! In addition to KC Metro and ST, this master transit plan really needs to involve the ferry system (which brings in the state), the privately owned Seattle Monorail group, any streetcar studies (as is mentioned in this blog), possibly even Amtrak, Greyhound and Trailways. I would like to see all these organizations coordinate times and maps.

        Is anyone in this blog from any of these groups, including the city and mayor’s office? Are they actually listening to us? I love Oran’s maps, there needs to be one, logical, consistent map that all local agencies use. Plus an effort to adjust schedules to make for seamless, or nearly seamless, transportation.

        I mean, if I want to take Amtrak to Portland some Friday, I need to take a bus to the Mount Baker LINK station and LINK to King Street. Do I really need to look at the KCM, ST and Amtrak site to plan all this. As was pointed out by Oran, LINK is listed as route 599 on KCM’s site and Amtrak is not listed anywhere.

        This is the time and group to bring every agency together and coordinate efforts. I think the city did a fairly good job on the ped and bike plan, I am looking forward to good results from this transit plan.

      5. Regarding the need to look at multiple schedules: Sweden has a wonderful on-line country-wide ‘trip-planner’ system called “ResPlus” that will create a schedule for you — just tell them where you are starting out from and where you want to end up. Gives you several options, as well as the option to purchase tickets for most segments on-line.

    2. The City’s transit guy, Bryant, is pretty good. I doubt he would choose to allocate most bus service to the suburbs, or get rid of the trolley buses, like Metro wants to do. Might be best to minimize Metro involvement.

      1. The mayor is working on an initiative called “Walk, Bike, Ride” which would fund all three of the plans. We don’t know if this would be a TBD, a bond issue or what, but it is being worked on.

      2. That type of initiative I would love to see. Rather than work to connect Ballard and West Seattle via rail only right now, I would love to see a billion dollar package that builds 3 streetcar lines (Central, Ballard, U-Line) for about 500 million and then use the other 500 million to make cycling and pedestrian improvements – say two way cycle track on 1st Ave and a cycle track connection up Pike to capitol hill.

      3. Hear, hear. Light rail to West Seattle and Ballard is very expensive because both require major water crossings. It is doubtful a ballot measure could raise enough revenue to do both, and even if it did there wouldn’t be any left over for the bike and ped plans. The streetcar lines are much less expensive and could be well integrated with the bike and ped plans. I would argue that since light rail and streetcars are the same basic technology (just different stop spacing and right-of-way), McGinn could finesse his promise of “light rail” to include the Ballard-Fremont Streetcar. West Seattle is just going to have to wait unless they are willing to give light rail a full dedicated lane of the West Seattle Bridge.

  3. This seems like it could be a great chance for seattletransitblog and other online entities to help compile suggestions, recommendations, or qualitative information in a way the city couldn’t. I haven’t had a chance to come up with any specific suggestions but I do think this website represents a way of engaging the public that the city does not possess.
    I’m thinking about surveys or informal votes on proposals and taking that information to the city. Do you think that a niche could exist for this website to contribute some community information/input?

    1. That’s a great idea. We could make submissions and the STB folks can judge them and organize the best ideas and send them to the city.

  4. It would be great to have the county to go through a process like this, especially now that we have a rail spine around which to redo routes.

    As someone who lives by the city limits, I’m afraid the city master plan can only do so much to help my neighborhood. We have three bus routes, only one of which the city is willing to help improve with more headway, because that is the one route that stays within the city limits (except for one side of the road from downtown South Park to downtown Georgetown). It is also the one route that doesn’t go downtown.

    So, during rush hour, we have 12 buses per hour go through South Park, only 2 of which head downtown. Don’t political boundaries just wreak havoc on transportation systems?

    One thing the city is being asked to help fund is the South Park Bridge, which the city should since the majority of the beneficiaries from this bridge are Seattleites. However, the city could ask that one of the lanes be HOV/freight/transit (There aren’t enough buses crossing the bridge to just make it transit only), and the other be a toll lane for SOVs, with the tolls used to fund the city’s contribution to replacing the bridge. The shovel-ready design of the bridge wouldn’t change much. It would simply be a matter of adding tolling machinery and striping.

    There would be few caught in the tolling who would have a legitimate whine about the necessity of driving. If they need to take the family to multiple destinations, then they have the HOV lane. If they are using the bridge for commercial purposes, then its a business expense.

    Since it will take a few years to replace the bridge, I hope the city can help with some sort of replacement foot access across the Duwamish. Gondolas and paddleboats might not be bicyle-ready, I suppose. A small foot ferry ought to serve the purpose. Either that, or get the Coast Guard to explain why the current bridge can’t be left open for foot traffic, and roped off to automobile traffic.

    A city masterplan needs to consider that Seattleites don’t just travel by bus within the city limits. Many of us travel outside the city quite frequently. We need help nudging the county to modernize the lines that give us access to out-of-town destinations.

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