All-electronic tolling begins Spring 2011 on the 520 Bridge
In Spring 2011, some may avoid paying tolls by taking transit.

This October and next February, Metro will add service to Routes 255, 265, 271, and 311 as part of the Lake Washington Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA). Sound Transit is also adding service in October by introducing Route 542 between Redmond and the University District. The increased service will provide an alternative to paying a toll to cross the 520 bridge or driving other congested routes. Variable tolling on the SR 520 bridge will begin in Spring 2011.

According to the SR 520 and SR 522 Service Implementation Plan, tolls are expected to increase transit demand by 15-35%. A recent poll suggests that tolls will encourage transit use, with 16% of respondents choosing transit as one of many alternatives to tolls. That figure increases to 22% if both 520 and I-90 were tolled. Currently, 15,000 riders cross the 520 bridge every day. Routes 255 and 271 together provide 4,300 crosslake trips each weekday.

Funding for the 28,000 additional annual service hours will come from the property tax for transit, a part of which is dedicated to SR 520 service. On the transit capital side, the UPA grant provides $41 million, including $31 million for 41 new hybrid buses—28 for Metro and 13 for Sound Transit. Other investments include the recently completed Redmond P&R garage, a South Kirkland P&R garage (by 2014), new bus shelters, and real-time information displays.

Details of service additions and changes after the jump.

Route 255

  • October 2010 – All peak-period trips that currently begin or end at the Kirkland Transit Center will now be extended further north to the Totem Lake Transit Center. Service to Brickyard P&R will not change.
  • February 2011 – Increased weekday frequency between Totem Lake Transit Center and downtown Seattle from 30-minute headways to 10-20 minute headways. Headways will be shorter in the peak direction and longer in the off-peak direction.

Route 265

October 2010 – Revised routing in Seattle to serve Boren Ave on First Hill. Up to 3 new trips in the morning and up to 3 new trips in the afternoon. These changes will encourage greater use of the Houghton Park and Ride and provide a one-seat ride from Houghton and Redmond to First Hill employment centers.

Route 271

October 2010 – Service frequency between U District, Bellevue, and Eastgate P&R will increase to every 10 minutes during peak, more 15 minute service during midday, and to extent funding allows, more frequent service during the evening (30-60 min instead of 60 min headway). Routing in U District changed to layover on the UW campus at Memorial Way and delete service north of NE 45th St and west of 15th Ave NE, matching the 540.

Route 311

October 2010 – Up to 3 morning trips from Woodinville to downtown Seattle and up to 3 afternoon trips to Woodinville will be added. No changes to Duvall trips.

Sound Transit Route 542 (new)

October 2010 – New express route serving Redmond to I-5/NE 65th St P&R via University District Express with 15-minute service in both directions, from 6 am to 10 am and from 2 pm to 7 pm.

Route 309 (new but unfunded)

In addition to these service increases that’ll be implemented soon, Metro developed a new Route 309 designed to mitigate impacts of traffic diversion from a tolled SR 520 to SR 522. The peak-only route will provide up to 10 trips (5 morning SB, 5 afternoon NB) between Kenmore P&R and South Lake Union/First Hill. It will access SLU via the I-5 express lanes at Mercer St and First Hill via Boren Ave. However, this proposal is currently not funded.

65 Replies to “SR 520 Transit Service Increasing Soon”

  1. I don’t understand the deletion of the routing north of NE 45th on the 271. I routinely see a half dozen people still on when the coach is headed to its layover near the fire station, and at least that many get on at the stop outside American Apparel.
    Also, operators are specifically instructed to not let anyone board or alight at the Memorial Way layover, so the first and last stop will be NE 43rd. I don’t know why this rule is in effect.

    I suppose that’ll cut down on about 4 minutes of driving each way though.

    1. The traffic congestion on 45th between Roosevelt and 15th is so consistently terrible that I think it makes sense to remove routes that don’t absolutely need to be there from that stretch. It really can’t take more buses during peak times. It’ll probably make the 271 more reliable too.

      1. More reliable – and more importantly, I’m pretty sure this move saves a proverbial bus in an area where there are a ton of other routes heading further north.

  2. Why can’t South Park get similar mitigation when our bus routes are cut off? (rhetorical question)

    1. Are there anywhere near that many riders going over that bridge? Where is that service going?

      1. The 60 is the highest-ridership route over the bridge (mostly because it is the most frequent, which is mostly because that is the one route the city subsidizes). That route is beset not only by the huge South-Park loop-de-loop that will be used as the re-route, but also by the Olsen Meyer P&R stop that adds about 5 minutes to the route, and the VA parking lot crawl that often adds more than 10 minutes to the route.

        The Access buses are using a different pickup/drop-off location at the VA now. Perhaps that would be a better stop for the fixed-route buses.

        Completing the sidewalk and bike lanes between Roxbury and Cloverdale would enable the P&R stop to be moved up to street level, if a stairway, ramps, and bus bulbs are also installed. There is, unfortunately, a businessman in the neighborhood fighting against bike lanes on this pseudo-highway (and he, ironically, was also involved in lobbying against Nickerson St safety improvements, as he has business dealings in Interbay).

        As you know, the 60 was once a shortcut to Link, via Beacon Hill Station. Due to the issues listed above, it is now the slow scenic route.

        So, the best mitigation, in the short term, is to enable better connection directly downtown, as well as to TIBS (which the neighborhood association is lobbying for). The 132 is the second-highest ridership route through South Park, and has always gone over the 1st Ave Bridge, except for re-routes. It will probably increase ridership after the bridge closes. From South Park north, it is usually pretty full. South of South Park, it drops to less than half full, and to almost nothing south of Burien TC.

        My preferred capital mitigation for South Park is a lengthy list of small projects listed in a tome the neighborhood has put together. Second to that, the neighborhood is insistent on letting someone outside the neighborhood deal with safety improvements west of Highway 509. So, it seems to have fallen to me. The sidewalk completion in the Olsen-to-Cloverdale missing link will dis-entrap pedestrians at the new housing development next to the P&R (ironically, owned by Wallace Properties, FWIW) and enable safe passage for the most popular route to get to West Seattle. Completion of the bike trail to Georgetown would enable bikers from South Park to commute downtown. I’d like the mayor to move these up in the Bridging the Gap list, as an apology to South Park for the city totally ignoring my neighborhood when it comes to transportation connectivity.

        As for bus operations mitigation, my neighborhood wants more frequency getting downtown (on the 132, which runs only hourly), and a route to connect to TIBS. A new route, say a 133, with its northbound time offset a half hour from the 132 from South Park, but instead going to TIBS instead of Burien TC would take care of this wish list. In the long run, we’d be able to see whether more passengers are taking the 132 or the 133 going south, so that Metro can decide where to shift service in the distant future.

        As for the 131/134, they both scoliate over to Georgetown before heading downtown. The re-route that sends them back south will make the route nearly empty probably (as compared to already being one of the lowest-ridership routes in the county). I don’t want to see S 4th Ave and S 1st Ave lose service entirely, so I’d like to see these routes head north over the 1st Ave Bridge instead of doing the loop-de-loop through South Park, and then follow the path of the 121/122/123 with two express stops: One just beyond the bridge so that Boeing employees can transfer to go south, and the current 121 stop at Federal Center. Scavenging some service on the 121/122/123 and possibly 60 ought to make this more direct route and the 133 doable with no overall increase in service hours. It would give riders along these two corridors, as well as from Olsen/Meyer P&R, a much faster commute downtown.

  3. This is the first time I’ve heard of MT 309, too bad there’s not money for it right now but seems like a good idea.

    1. I like the idea too of the route too, but I’m not clear on how this reduces congestion shifted from 520. Are they trying to get people to drive from the Eastside to Kenmore P&R then transfer to the 309? The Kenmore P&R is already 99% full.

      1. No. It’s mostly for people who live along SR 522 who’ll be affected by increased traffic. Metro found that about 1,000 people who work in SLU/First Hill live within 0.25 mile of 522. They expect 300 people (600 boardings) to ride Route 309. Also the route may lead some people who already ride the 306/312/522 and transfer to the 70/98 Streetcar or 2/3/4 to take the more direct 309, saving them 10-20 minutes.

  4. Great news that tolling is on the horizon and that there are mitigation plans for those who want to avoid the toll by taking public transit. Tolling really needs to be used more in this region – not only to raise revenue, but also to encourage other forms of transportation.

  5. Can someone explain to me the tolling process on the 520? I believe (but don’t quote me), that if you don’t have the “Good to Go” transponder in your car, a camera will take a picture of your license plate and send you a ticket for the price of the toll? Isn’t this similar to what is happening on 167 currently with the HOT lanes?

    1. It works like on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a gantry of readers above each lane and a gantry of cameras to read license plates but there are no tollbooths.

      WSDOT has a FAQ page on tolling for more information.

      Drivers can pay the toll online or over the phone after using the bridge. Or wait for a bill is sent to the registered vehicle owner to pay within 80 days. If the toll isn’t paid within 80 days, it becomes a violation and a fine is added. Instead of using a transponder, you can register your license plate number with your account to pay tolls.

      The HOT lanes don’t have photo enforcement. Enforcement is done by a WSP trooper who watches a special light that flashes when a toll is paid. If the vehicle is illegally using the lane, it will be pulled over.

      1. Apparently the license option isn’t available yet:

        “With Good To Go! all tolls are collected electronically. You can set up a prepaid Good To Go! account by purchasing a Pass (transponder) to mount in your vehicle or by registering your license plate for photo identification (coming Spring 2011). When driving on a tolled facility, your Pass (transponder) or license plate (Spring 2011) is scanned and the toll is deducted from your prepaid account. Automatic replenishment allows you to easily manage your account by authorizing payments from your bank account or credit card.”

      2. Why would anyone ever purchase a transponder if you can just set up automatic payments for your license plate? It seems like the transponder is just an additional level of complication. Frankly, I think all tolls everywhere should just be linked to your license plate.

      3. I think it’s because some toll facilities are not equipped with cameras and may not charge a toll for carpools. The SR 167 HOT lanes are a prime example of this.

      4. Thanks. I thought it was similar to the Narrows as well, but I know Narrows has toll booths but 520 won’t.

      5. I assume that it’ll work just like any parking ticket. If you don’t pay, the company that wants the money contacts the RO (Registered Owner) and tells them they got a ticket. The rental company looks up who was using the car at that time and contacts that customer for reimbursement or makes them pay the finer directly.

      6. All those facilities that take FasTrak in California and EZ-Pass in the “Northeast” (broad definition as it includes Illinois now) have cash-payment booths.

        Except in the case of HOT or Hybrid Lanes like I-15 in San Diego (HOT) and SR91 (Hybrid, not HOT, charges everyone a toll, gives a discount to HOVs). Those are cashless and thus anyone using them will get not a toll collection, but a fine. (Excepting an HOV on i-15).


        is a system designed to ease the way for rental car users, but IMHO it is a bit of a rip-off, and others agree:

  6. Personally, I’m excited to see these service increases on the 255, 271, and 311. I never thought I’d see 10-20 minute service on the 255. Here’s hoping it becomes a RapidRide route in the future.

    But I’m still concerned with the loss of the Montlake Flyer Stop, especially during evening and night hours. I’m afraid the ability to stay in the U-District until midnight, then board the last 255 home at Montlake will disappear unless they add more late night service on the 271 and coordinate their schedules.

    1. You’ll also have the 542 to get you to the East Side, that should help. And of course once eventually U-Link opens it’ll be a quick hop downtown.Will they close the Montlake Flyer stop when they start construction, when it’s finished, or during?

      1. The 542 won’t help me in the situation I described as it is a peak-only route (for now). There’s plenty of peak-period service but not much in the evenings. The 271 stops running after 10 pm. Service on the 540 was reduced and last trip departs 9:30 pm. So getting to Kirkland and beyond after that is difficult. ST is considering service improvements on the 540, 542, 545, 555 and 556 to mitigate construction impacts, subject to funding, of course.

        I look forward to U-Link. If they are going to that frequent service on the 255, they should just truncate the line to UW Link Station when it opens.

        The flyer stop will likely close when they begin to construct the west side portion of SR 520, whenever that is.

      2. The issue of the loss of the Montlake Flyer stop should be treated as much more important than it seems to be for every rider headed to/from the University District and also to/from the 23rd Ave corridor and Capitol Hill.

        Providing service without the Montlake Flyer stop won’t be an issue during the peak periods/peak direction (though it will be slower for people coming from south of 520).

        But during off-peak periods, especially nights and weekends, it will be imposssible to provide good service. ST once ran the 540 on weekends and later in the evening, and there wasn’t enough demand to justify it, and it’s been cut back. Now there is no weekend service and very little service after 8pm weekdays. The ST 542 will likely be the same. By keeping Montlake as a transfer point for routes 545 and 255, particularly evenings and weekends, it will be possible to maintain the network connectivity which makes good headways and span of service possible.

        I don’t see why, when we are going spend $3 billion, and widen the roadway, transit riders should give up a facility they’ve had for 40 years that works extremely well. I’m not sure that ST and MT recognize or care about the off-peak connectivity.

  7. Routes 255 and 271 together provide 4,300 crosslake trips each weekday.

    Between the 255 and 271 I count 164 bus trips on a weekday so that’s 26 riders per bus average. That sounds about right. I don’t ride during peak commute but evenings and weekends I’ve counted an average of about 18 people on the 255. For an agency that’s whining about not having enough money it strikes me as odd that they would dilute ridership on a route that is nowhere close to capacity. If we see a 35% increase most buses will still be operating at less than half capacity. It will be convenient to have shorter headways but other than perhaps a few peak commute buses this is a waste.

    1. Using this logic, you wouldn’t need to add lanes to I-405 (either GP or HOV/HOT). Since the lanes aren’t full during off-peak times, people can just choose to travel off-peak, right?

      If you look at any bus route, even rush hour service, there are trips at the edges of peak that have *plenty* of capacity. Using your argument, we’d never add any service until every single bus was packed.

      Or am I missing something?

      1. Yeah, you missed the part where I said I wasn’t talking about peak hours since I don’t use that route at those times. But, when you look at the route performance reports it appears the existing service is no where close to capacity. The low end of the estimate for increased demand was 15% and probably could be covered without any increased service. The range of 15-35% is a shot in the dark because the tolling rates haven’t even been fixed yet. The numbers I’ve heard thrown around would put the max SOV toll during peak at around $3. It’s hard to see 3 out of 10 drivers deciding they’re suddenly going to start riding the bus which costs them about the same as the tolls. Especially, if you believe the hype, that upwards of 20% are going to take I-90 or 522; the 520 bridge is going to be wide open.

      2. It’s hard to see 3 out of 10 drivers deciding they’re suddenly going to start riding the bus

        Oops. Not 30% of the current drivers; 30% more than currently use transit which would be an additional 4,500 people. 190,000 people travel the SR 520 Evergreen Point Bridge every day. Subtract out 15,000 currently using transit you only need ~3% (4,500/175,000) to make the switch. That seems more reasonable. However, Metro is currently running over 500 buses a day back and forth across the bridge (that’s not including the ST express buses). Does anybody seriously believe we can’t cram 9 more people in each bus?

    1. It just says SR-522 from Kenmore, but I assume there would be a stop in Lake City.

  8. On route 255, nor sure how adding service between Kirkland Transit Center and Totem Lake benefits people needing to cross the 520 bridge. That’s local community service.

    How about restoring 30 minute headways on the 255 in the evenings, which were once provided by the combination of 255, 251 and 254?

    I agree with the earlier posting to push to retain Montlake Flyer stop. It still doesn’t sit right that with an increase in the width of the highway the SOVs and HOVs get more real estate but the bus riders lose a station that’s used by thousands of riders per day – and that makes evenings and weekends accessible when there might be no economically viable bus service to the UW. Transferring off the 255 or 545 at Montlake to a 43 or 48 is a lot better than transferring at Evergreen Pt to the 271 that might come hourly at night or Sundays. If the 540 can run late evenings and weekends, don’t hold your breath for the 542 either.

    1. On route 255, nor sure how adding service between Kirkland Transit Center and Totem Lake benefits people needing to cross the 520 bridge.

      There are a number of trips that start at S. Kirkland and go into Seattle. I think what they are saying is that these will be extended to provide the same level of cross lake trips to riders from Totem Lake TC.

      A “me too” on incorporating a flyer stop at Montlake with the dedicated HOV/transit exit. It’s just silly not to do that combined with increased service on the 43/48/etc. Even Off Peak the 48 exceeds the route metrics for the best Eastside Peak Hour buses and it is a transfer point to 15 eastside routes. We don’t need another draw bridge if we reduce instead of increase the number of vehicles trying to cross the Cut.

      1. There are a number of trips that start at S. Kirkland and go into Seattle. I think what they are saying is that these will be extended to provide the same level of cross lake trips to riders from Totem Lake TC.

        All the trips that end at S. Kirkland P&R or Kirkland Transit Center are peak hour, peak direction trips. During peak periods, there is faster express service available on routes 252, 257 and 260 to get you from the outlying areas of route 255 to Montlake and Seattle. During peak periods route 255 is scheduled for up to 73 minutes to make one run for its whole length, while the time between International District to S. Kirkland P&R is around 30 minutes. It’s a questionable use of bridge mitigation money to use the service hours to extend the 255 during peak hours, which creates no new 520 crossings, and is redundant with faster service. If the money were used to keep 255 headways at 30 minutes till midnight, then you are introducing new service at times when there are no alternative routes operating

    2. As someone that will be commuting from Seattle to Totem Lake it is important to me. If there was an express route to Totem Lake that would be another story but there isn’t.

      1. The 255 trips being extended from Kirkland to Totem Lake aren’t in the reverse direction, either, unless they are killing the 256. In the reverse direction the 255 and 256 combine to make low headways between Seattle and S. Kirkland P&R, then the 256 serves the Northup corridor jobsites.

        When 255 headways are improved you will benefit, but it is still an extremely slow run between S. Kirkland and Totem Lake. The hills and meandering really slow it down. It does make me wonder whether a high capacity Rapid-style route should be developed, Perhaps Totem Lake – Houghton – S. Kirkland – Montlake – Seattle, with good connections to local buses at S. Kirkland, Houghton and Totem Lake/Kingsgate. The problem with this route, though, is that it misses downtown Kirkland, and that the connections at Houghton and S. Kirkland are terrible for efficient transit service. For efficiency you’d want to use stops on the freeway, but they don’t exist at S. Kirkland, and exiting/reentering the freeway there would add 5-10 minutes to the trip, particularly eastbound, and at Houghton the stops aren’t in the HOV lane, and it’s a long walk from the southbound stop.

        So an alternative trunk Rapid route would be Kirkland – S. Kirkland – Montlake – Seattle, with local connections to 230, 234, replacement for 255, etc. But the Kirkland – S. Kirkland route is not fast, and there wouldn’t be a fast route to Totem Lake/Kingsgate. But at least you wouldn’t need to run 60-foot coaches through Juanita and Totem Lake just to have capacity on 520.

        Maybe the real answer is to build a freeway station on 520 @ S. Kirkland, and then have an alternating service pattern, with one routing Seattle – Montlake – S. Kirkland – downtown Kirkland, and the other routing Seattle – Montlake – S. Kirkland freeway station – Houghton – Totem Lake/Kingsgate. This would permit higher combined headways on the trunk to S. Kirkland and then 2 branches. This should include a center freeway station at Houghton.

        For this trunk system to be effective and served at good headways, I think the Montlake design either needs to have the Montlake station there, or a road design that means the buses will be truncated at Montlake with onward travel by Link – but that should mean a direct connection at the UW/Husky station, not crossing drawbridges with SOV traffic and expecting riders to walk to/from stops on Pacific St near the UW hospital.

        I can’t help but think that the whole concept of BRT across 520 hasn’t been planned, and that it should get planned before the new bridge is built.

      2. I don’t think the 255 extension is to benefit people who park at Totem Lake TC but to increase service to all the points between Totem Lake and S. Kirkland. When I ride the 255 into Seattle (these are always off peak or weekend trips) the majority of the people going across 520 are already on the bus before it stops at S. Kirkland. Likewise, going the other direction I’d say no more than a 1/4 of the people get off at S. Kirkland. As far as driving 60′ coaches I’ve never been on a trip where a 40′ coach wouldn’t have had enough seats for everyone, even directly after a Mariners game lets out.

        S. Kirkland and S. Bellevue are similar in that they are great local P&R lots but have terrible freeway connections. Neither one should warrant the investment of a multi-story garage. In the case of S. Kirkland we have Houghton which not only is directly adjacent to the freeway but is an intercept point north of the 520/405 interchange. Spending the money on direct HOV access makes a lot more sense than expanding S. Kirkland.

      3. “S. Kirkland and S. Bellevue are similar in that they are great local P&R lots but have terrible freeway connections.”

        Hey Bernie, I’m not purposely picking on you today, but South Bellevue Park and Ride’s freeway access is infinitely better than South Kirkland’s, as well as virtually all of the Eastside park and rides. You’ve got less than a half mile of Bellevue way, with no lights, that leads to and from I-90 with access to 405. That stretch only becomes congested during heavy game traffic.

        Can you name a P&R with better freeway access? (Possibly Mercer Island, but I’d quibble with that selection for a laundry list of reasons)

      4. David Seater –

        The new HOV ramps to/from the West will help buses between Seattle going to S. Kirkland. However, I don’t think they will make for efficient routings if any such buses were to be continuing either toward Redmond or toward Houghton/Kingsgate. I.e. they don’t allow for a flyer-style stop, which could allow short headway service with a short walk up to the P&R.

        I do not believe that there are any center stops being built at Houghton for a Rapid route that could go from Seattle toware Houghton/Kingsgate.

        Bernie –

        esp. at peak periods the 255 has a good number of P&R riders. My suggestion is not that the 255 should be operated with 40-foot coaches, but that beyond downtown Kirkland, there is no need for a 60-foot coach. The service to Juanita, Totem Lake and Brickyard could be in a 40-foot coach if it were a time connection in Kirkland, and the 255 reversed there.

        The Houghton P&R has terrible access to southbound buses already on 405. It involves crossing the freeway, walking down the hill and then back up to the stop. And it’s not on the HOV lane, so some I-405 buses don’t even stop there. The P&R is primarily served by buses exiting the freeway there (e.g. 265). If this P&R is to become important, a center HOV station needs to be built like at Kingsgate.

      5. Yes, I’d like to see a center HOV flyer stop at Houghton instead of increasing capacity at S. Kirkland by building a multi-story garage. It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg dilemma at Houghton now. The lot doesn’t get much use because it doesn’t have many decent connections. It’s amazing all of the money being spent on lids for Medina and Hunts Point and the creation of center stops where there is hardly any ridership. One center stop at the old toll plaza should be enough.

      6. What’s amazing is that they aren’t putting money into maintaining the Montlake Flyer stops which is used by thousands daily.

  9. Route 265.. changes will encourage greater use of the Houghton Park and Ride

    That makes sense. According to the 2009 report Houghton is at 29% capacity and S. Kirkland is at 106% . It makes a lot more sense than a South Kirkland P&R garage (by 2014). Instead of building another SOV temple put the money into a center exit from the HOV lanes to Houghton. It wouldn’t need to be as elaborate as the Totem Lake TC which had a $7.7 million dollar budget but even that’s a bargain compared to the $10.5 million Redmond P&R Garage which is at a whooping 55% of capacity (yep, $4.7 million of capital sitting idle).

  10. “Currently, 15,000 riders cross the 520 bridge every day. Routes 255 and 271 together provide 4,300 crosslake trips each weekday.”

    So, what routes are the other 10,700 riders per day using? The 265 and 311 combine for 10,700 riders per day? Or there are other routes, also? Or what?

    1. Pull up the route map for the 48. At Montlake you’ll see transfers to 15 routes that cross the bridge. For someone that rides transit as much as you and is a big proponent of buses I’m surprised you can’t rattle off all 15 off the top of your head. Or what?

      1. I think that only includes the routes that stop at the Montlake Freeway Station, enroute to downtown or Northgate, not buses that exit or enter 520 at Montlake.

        For ST routes, ridership numbers are easy to find; just look in the quarterly ridership reports

        540 77,035
        545 445,621
        555/556 70,853

        Conversion of quarterly ridership to avg. weekday ridership is left as an exercise for the troll.

      2. According to One Bus Away there are 24 routes making stops at Evergreen Point (Eastbound). I assume every route that crosses the bridge stops there.

        167, 242, 243, 250, 252, 255, 256, 257, 260, 261, 265, 266, 268, 271, 272, 277, 280, 311, 540, 545, 555, 556, 982, 986

        Interestingly there are only 23 routes going Westbound. Apparently the 280 just does two clockwise laps around the lake as an OWL route.

        Based on the route frequencies, the 545 probably has the largest share of the riders over the bridge. Just eyeballing the timetable it has as many trips as the 255 and 271 combined.

      3. I only ride the bus if I’m going to downtown Seattle. From Queen Anne Hill, that does not require crossing the 520 bridge. If I’m going to the east side, I drive my car, of course.

      4. WashDOT will be pleased to collect your $6-8 in tolls for each round trip to the Eastside.

      5. Why do you drive to the East Side (I’m sure WashDOT won’t mind though)?

      6. Actually, I only go to Mercer Island, normally, which I consider the Eastside, although, I’m not sure if that is technically considered “eastside” or not. So, I use I-90, obviously. And I almost never make that trip during rush hours.

        Why do I drive to Mercer Island? Because I can make it to exactly where I want to go on Mercer Island from the time I step out my door on Queen Anne Hill in 17 to 20 minutes. You tell me how I can make that trip in 17 to 20 minutes using transit, and I will consider it. By the way, I park for free on Mercer Island.

      7. If you’re traveling off-peak I’d say go ahead and drive then. Transit usually doesn’t compete on time except during peak commute; however, it does allow you to read or do other things while on the bus. We usually take transit, but if we need to visit friends who live out of the city we’ll use zipcar.

        Of course, you’ll probably still be paying a toll on I-90. Gas tax revenues are no longer covering highways costs because of more fuel-efficient cars and inflation since the tax rate was last raised.

      8. You’ll be paying a toll to drive to Mercer Island by 2012. Once 520 tolling starts, I-90 will be gridlocked, probably even off-peak. People will complain and someone will hire a consultant who will prepare a report that says that the solution to the I-90 gridlock is to put tolls on I-90 which are equal to, or maybe just a bit lower than, the 520 tolls. They’ll have some outreach meetings where people who never want tolls will complain and others like us will say that we should use some of the toll revenue to increase bus service, and then, voila, I-90 tolls.

        Maybe it will take until 2013 to go through that process.

      9. I live on the Eastside and take transit everywhere I can.

        I think a bike+transit combo could reasonably get you there in no more than twice the drive time.

  11. So, do the cameras pick up the front or rear licence plate, or both?
    How about mud splashed plates or at night and your little licence bulb isn’t working?
    Can they still read it?
    Maybe that’s the 5% ‘un-collectable’ they’re estimating on lost revenue.

  12. I will be very interested to see how much better SR 520 operates once tolling is in place. My intuition is that the traffic queues will be significantly reduced and the time of stop-and-go congestion will be reduced, an effect similar to ramp metering (or a recession!), but more pronounced. There will still be congestion at the toll rates we are currently politically able to tolerate.

    A free-flowing highway lane can carry over 2000 vph (vehicles per hour.) A highly congested lane will carry closer to 1200 vph. That’s why the bridge seems to open up heading west — once you are past the bottleneck in Medina where the on-ramp and HOV merge in just before the bridge – once the bottleneck has limited the volume – it flows.

    The fundamental limiting factor in the trans-lake vehicular volume may be the interchanges in Montlake and at I-5, rather than the 4 lane bridge. To the extent congestion cannot be eliminated, HOV lanes do help, but congestion could be flat-out eliminated on today’s 4 lane highway if we charge a high enough toll. Of course that has its downsides as well.

    We may be living with a 4 lane section in Seattle for a long time whether we like it or not, so we’ll need to get the most out of what we have. This increase in transit service is certainly a great step in that direction.

  13. Maybe I’m missing something.

    Are any of these routes designed to increase frequency from the Westside to the Eastside?

    255 is increasing trips from Totem Lake to downtown, but what about the other direction??

    Just wondering….

    1. 542 will serve people commuting to Microsoft. 271 will serve people commuting to Bellevue. These are both major destinations for reverse commuters.

  14. To echo other comments on this issue I think it is rather silly to eliminate the rather heavily used Montlake flyer stops without providing a replacement that offers the same level of service.

    Given the fights over SE Seattle service I don’t think Metro has the guts to drop the 520 routes serving downtown once U-Link opens. I also don’t have any confidence the service levels from either downtown or the University District will match what is currently offered with the Montlake Flyer stop, especially off-peak.

    1. To expand on this a bit, I think it is possible to re-design the Montlake interchange in such a way as to provide HOV ramps in both directions. Buses could exit 520, stop on the lid, and get back on the HOV lanes. There is no need for something as elaborate as the Evergreen Point station.

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