Student Downtown Lunch Bus Rush
Photo by Oran

Although Metro is already eliminating certain low-productivity trips, riders are currently being shielded from the full force of the budget shortfall by some efficiency measures and running down a surplus in the reservecapital fund. Through 2015, Metro faces further cuts, as reported earlier, in the neighborhood of 400,000 annual service hours, or 11% of the current total*. Metro’s current tax revenue is very close to the limit set by the state legislature, and no extension of that authority is on the horizon.

King County’s Regional Transit Task Force, a group of citizens, officials, and stakeholders chartered to review the principles by which Metro allocates service, tonight will receive from staff a report which outlines, in rough draft form, a potential service scenario that reflects these cuts.  Staff were directed to follow the criteria below the jump,where you’ll also find much, much more:

1. Provide transit services to serve the mobility needs of students, people in low wage jobs and people dependent on transit for basic mobility in places where the highest numbers of such people live and work.

2. Provide transit services with a priority on employment centers where the most people, jobs and job growth are present and in corridors with high park-and-ride demand and available capacity.

3. Match the frequency and hours of operation of transit services to the market.

4. Provide transit services that are designed to maximize productivity and cost effective use of resources.

5. Deliver transit service throughout Metro’s service area and match the right type of service with the market served.

6. Prioritize services to the most productive corridors that serve the most people, while matching the frequency, hours of operation and type of transit services to the market.

7. Control costs and provide a stable baseline service level of transit services and programs.

There’s a mom-and-apple-pie aspect to many of these principles, but what isn’t there is Metro’s current cuts policy from the County Council: reductions in each subarea in strict proportion to existing service, or 62% to West (Seattle/Shoreline), 17% to East, and 21% to South King County.

Metro’s draft reduction plan R-1 is summarized below:

Unsurprisingly, cutting service involves cutting low-productivity, high-cost trips and therefore increases productivity and reduces cost per rider. Resources are shifted from “peak commuter” routes — unproductive in raw ridership, but productive in rider miles traveled — to “frequent arterial” service (5-20min headways sometimes, at least 30min all day), which is the reverse.

Local” service (no better than 30 min headways) takes a big hit, in many cases replaced by inefficient “hourly” service which maintains skeletal countywide service for the transit-dependent.

The overall package reduces ridership by 2.5%. The cuts fall 62% on West, 25% on East, and 14% on South, so in fact it’s Seattle-neutral with respect to current policy and it’s actually the South that benefits at the expense of the East.

Some illustrative examples of route changes are:

  • Consolidate many routes into the 5 and divert to serve Fremont; some Bellevue routes into the B line; and 66-68, 71-73 into a single Northgate/UW/DT route.
  • Shorten/reroute  the 21, 123, 260, and 271.
  • Start the RapidRide F Line, and new routes to replace the 71 to View Ridge, serve Kent-Des Moines, and route 227 (Eastgate-Crossroads).
  • Abolish the 7X, 158, 159, 196, 201, 225, 229, 266, and 912.

It’s important to understand that this is a conceptual draft to inform the task force, not a firm plan. This post is already too long, so I’ll just say that a lot of this stuff is basic rationalization of the system that should happen whether or not there’s a funding crisis, but is politically much easier to do in the context of a shortfall. Indeed, the approach of making people transfer to express service is one I advocated for over a year ago.

*Those 400,000 hours include Metro’s previously planned growth through 2015, so it’s not actually 11% of the buses running now. There were 3.495m platform hours in Fall 2009; add 146,000 for RapidRide and state-mandated SR520 improvements, subtract 200,000 for planned 2010-11 cuts, and the 400,000 in further cuts needed, and you get a net of 454,000 hours below Fall 2009 levels.

129 Replies to “Metro Discussing Service Reduction Plan”

    1. I don’t like Eyman’s initiatives either, but there’s a lot of voters you’d have to go after too.

      1. I think there are a lot of voters who, if given the chance, would now not vote for I-695 given how it has seriously crippled Washington State’s transportation infrastructure.

      2. The state legislature is too gutless to try to overturn any Eyman initiatives. Any chance of filing an initiative to do so?

      3. I-695 itself was declared unconstitutional – what’s on the books now was passed by said gutless legislature. A repeal of it, depending on what parts it repealed, might suffer the same problem.

      4. An initiative repealing what’s on the books would at the very least be a big slap in the face to Eyman. And if the supreme court overturned, there’s a slight possibility that the gutless legislature will do something similar if it’s the confirmed will of the voters.

      5. Bad news: I-1053, which reinstates the unconstitutional 2/3 majority for tax increases, will be on the ballot this fall.

  1. The frankness of this initial report is a breath of fresh air: “Often headways are based on policy rather than demand.” (page 6) Love it.

    Given the dire financial circumstances, these changes (if actualized) would represent a huge step in the right direction. Low-income service is preserved, bad service gets cut, and good service gets better. By their own analysis, frequent arterial services are by far the most productive, and in this scenario their service allocation share increases from 22% to 33% (East), from 40%-49% (South), and from 71-78% (West). Baby steps for sure, but good ones.

    I’m convinced that Metro could go much further still without too much political trouble. Take Mercer Island as just one of many possible examples: This sketch calls for cutting Route 201 (overdue!), but could just as easily cut routes 202 and 205. If ST shifted the 554 schedule forward by 15 minutes, Mercer Island would have 7.5 minute service all day to DT Seattle without the benefit of any Metro service at all. With a timed-transfer every 30 minutes on an all-day Route 204 to serve Island Crest Way, Mercer Island wouldn’t need any additional transit service. There are dozens of examples like this.

    1. As a Mercer Islander who takes the 202 into and out of Seattle most of the week, I say go for it. Transfers from the 204 to the 550 or 554 are so easy and seamless that I would happily give up my one-seat ride. Just extend the 204 operating hours! The last bus within 4 miles of the south end leaves around 7, meaning I have a dark, hilly and frequently wet bike ride back to the south end if I work late. And count out going out or visiting friends at night. I’d be fine if they reduced the non-peak headways of the 204 to 45 minutes or an hour if that’s what it took to get later coverage beyond the Park and Ride.

    2. From Publicola on Fri 2 July:

      “Metro is facing a budget shortfall of $60 million and the prospect of 400,000 hours of service cuts next year. Drivers receive overtime pay at a rate of time-and-a-half for any shift longer than eight hours and for any week longer than 40 hours, as well as for any work on a day they would ordinarily have off.”

      If this is true, it is imperative that when the ATU contract is renegotiated, this practice should be ended except for emergencies. For the time being (next 4-6 years) it would be wiser to pay part-timers straight time instead of 1.5 time for full timers to preserve jobs and save money – goals, I should hope – for both Metro and the ATU..

  2. If they take away the 7X, I’m going back to my car. The local 7 is unbearable. There’s no reason why it should take 35-45 minutes to go three or four miles at peak hours.

    1. And why does Rainier Valley get screwed again? Why not take away express buses somewhere else?

      1. If I understand correctly, the plan will also reduce the number of express routes from the U-District by combining the 66/71/72/73.

    2. Because Link is a half mile away, although of course not every 7X stop corresponds to a Link station. You can’t provide premium service to every possible trip.

      Meanwhile SDOT and Metro are putting tons of money into improving the 7, through stop consolidation and things like curb bulbs.

      And you’re free to go back to your car. Any scenario that matches service to current revenue is going to induce someone to do that.

      The Rainier Valley (where I live) was last “screwed” by being first to get the largest transit investment in the region’s history.

      1. Link is not the miracle you make it out to be. The process of catching a local 7 (or other bus) and waiting for and transfering to Link, then riding downtown on Link, often takes longer than just catching a local 7 and riding it downtown. Link isn’t really a travel time improvement for most people in Rainier Valley, particularly in the north half of the valley. The express buses beat link every time for me. I’m glad Link exists, but it doesn’t really do much for most people in the valley with respect to commuting to/from work or downtown or going anywhere else for that matter (except the airport). Link only serves a few stops in a narrow corridor (on MLK, nowhere near most of Rainier or Seward Park or many other parts of the valley), and those stops aren’t really walkable for a lot of (most?) people. Convenient, fast transit in the valley has shrunken repeatedly over the last 5-10 years, despite deployment of Link.

        Stop consolidation isn’t really an improvement, either, since it will alienate additional users even though it may speed some bus/trip times. Stop consolidation pushes the burden of transit – moving people from point A to point B – in part onto the transit riders by forcing additional walk/bike/drive time to more distant stops, etc. Stop consolidation can actually be a hidden service reduction.

      2. I’m not saying it’s a miracle, I’m saying that riders in the Southeast have a viable alternative that may not, in some cases, be quite as fast as what they currently do. That’s the kind of hit that people are going to have to take all over the county.

        Is the 7 too slow or is the number of stops just right? It can’t be both.

      3. Scott’s problem could be fixed so easily…

        1. Reasonable stop consolidation on the 7 local. No stop-deletion overkill; not tripling everyone’s walk; but chosen with an eye towards speed (making difficult lights, etc.)

        2. Fix the Mt. Baker Station transfer. Relocate on-street bus stops and crosswalks to make the connection as short and logical as possible.

        2b. Get SDOT to prioritize the pedestrian signal, which currently makes pedestrians wait minutes at a time, missing trains and no doubt contributing to the sense that Link is useless to them.

        Done and done. (Though I might also note that the 7 is a route that would be especially improved by eliminating paper transfers and encouraging pervasive ORCA adoption.)

      4. More broadly, we have to do a much better job of getting people at random points on Rainier to the nearest Link station, rather than all the way to Mt. Baker.

        Even at the cost of direct downtown service.

      5. Agreed, Martin.

        I chose the Mt. Baker example because it is where the two north/south corridors literally meet.

        And to be honest, any time I see a Google map of the Rainier Valley, I’m shocked anew at how few east/west through streets exist at all. (There are sometimes miles between them. Unless streets actually get built through, both north/south corridors will remain the primary transit corridors, necessitating the workable transfer between them.)

      6. Perhaps the 7 should turn left on Alaska to connect to Columbia City station, then a different route could cover Genessee and the northern part of Rainier?

      7. You can’t just cut off north of Alaska from South of Alaska, so at best you’d have to split the route. Furthermore, you’d have to string trolley wire, and even then you’d probably not be able to cross the overhead wire on MLK.

      8. Ah yes, the wire would be an issue. But is there really a lot of Columbia City-Mount Baker bus traffic?

      9. Actually, yes, Eric. It remains one of the busiest stretches on the entire line. It doesn’t help that S. Edmunds is still a relatively “uninviting” pedestrian through-way between Columbia City Station and Columbia City proper after dark. Many still prefer hopping on the #7 to walking alone.

        That said, Martin makes a good point: theres no reason that those coming from the southern reaches of the #7 should be expected to slog all the way up Rainier to Mt. Baker Station for a transfer. There should be some easy way for them to get across Henderson or Othello. Switching to Link there (as opposed to halfway to downtown) really could save the far-southeastern-Seattleites 15 minutes off their trip!

      10. There are solutions to allow trolley wire and lightrail or streetcar catenary to cross. In fact, there must be one implemented where the 70 crosses the SLU streetcar line.

      11. I looked at the one at Virginia and Westlake yesterday; looks like the trolley wire is connected and the streetcar has a dead spot there.

      12. I completely disagree about stop consolidation. On the 26/28 it’s a net improvement for most users because the ride is not only faster but less stop/go. I now have to walk farther to catch the bus when I need it, but those couple extra blocks are not a burden for most riders. (I do support convenient stop locations for people with disabilities, though Metro also provides Access for curb service anywhere.)

        Also, keep in mind that transit service has been on the ropes for the last 10 years, when I-695 eliminated about $106m in annual Metro revenue:

      13. I personally think this is fantastic. I love the consolidation of many routes and even more so making it so there aren’t as many “one seat” rides. This bus system needs to clean up all these duplicate routes out there and soon. This will save so much money and waste.

        I love how Vancouver has fed all their buses into SkyTrain and have little, if any, duplication on their bus routes downtown. I actually see shades of this in this plan and it makes me hopeful.

        As I’ve said on this blog until I’m blue in the face…walking a distance to a bus stop or train station is a good thing and transfers are not something to look down upon. I realize Seattle isn’t London, Tokyo or even NYC, however it would be nice if we become much less like LA.

      14. Collecting White Rock and Delta passengers at Richmond for a longish trip to Vancouver is not like making Rainier Valley county residents transfer at Mt Baker — it’s more like making south county residents transfer at Des Moines. The length of a Rainier Valley-downtown trip is short enough that it’s borderline whether a transfer is more efficient or worth the inconvenience. That’s why reroutes down there are so controversial. In contrast, I don’t think transfers at Northgate, South Bellevue, or Des Moines would be as controversial because the common segment is a longer distance.

        The other thing is that with Vancouver’s geography, the buses were all passing near a train station anyway. That’s less the case in Kent, where you’d need serious BRT to match the speed (irony!) of the 150. And Renton riders would have something to say about transfering at Rainier Beach and then facing a 30-minute Link trip on top of that.

      15. It would be more analogous to making South King / Pierce County bus riders transfer to Link at TIB or maybe even Rainier Beach. Richmond to downtown Vancouver on the Canada Line is only 14km and takes about 25 minutes.

  3. Combining the routes 66,67,68,71,72,73 into one route from Northgate to Udist to Seattle certainly gets folks ready for N.Link, but good luck getting all those riders to accept the new transfer policy. What kind of headways would that require?

    1. I don’t actually understand the plan there. The draft has one example:

      69 (View Ridge)
      New 30-minute route replacing Route 71 tail to View Ridge
      Riders will need to transfer from local to frequent route to reach downtown Seattle or U. District

      But isn’t the 71 is already a 30-minute route that is coordinated with other “tails” to Lake City and Jackson Park to form one frequent Downtown-Univ Express? Would the 64/74/76/79 commuter routes also be consolidated? 30 and 65?

      I also don’t get how the 66/67/68 play in–eliminating the UW campus and Eastlake portions? Currently the 66/67 combined provide 15 min service from the U-District to Northgate, would that drop to 30 mins?

      1. It sounds like the 66/67/68 will disappear completely. At no point on those routes is anyone further than 10 blocks from 15th Ave NE (although Seattle has plenty of poorly lit sidewalks to make the walk seem longer, and non-through streets to make the walk actually longer).

        So a short walk, or in a few cases a local feeder, would bring all involved to 15th Ave to catch a (darnit-it-had-better-be) ultra-frequent and infinitely more reliable route.

        Of course, it wouldn’t hurt for the ultra-frequent north/south to be complemented by ultra-frequent east-west (like making the 48 go straight on 65th rather than duplicating the 70s and 43 as much as it does).

      2. The University District also has some steep hills. Living basically right on Roosevelt Way, I’m dreading having to go from the 66 and 67 to an already crowded 70-series for basically all my north-south transit needs (save for a possible super-I-5 route replacing parts of the 64 and express versions of the 70-series). It’s a shame these changes need to be instituted a year before U-Link opens, when natural route shortening would occur (for example, the 66 being sacrificed to 15-minute 67 frequency) and some of the U District-Downtown traffic would move to Link. I know why my “terminate the 70-series at UW station” idea is problematic, but Brooklyn station isn’t a natural bus terminus, and while said super-I-5 route would probably serve the 45th St freeway station, there doesn’t seem to be a logical way for it to serve Campus Parkway and allow the 70-series express to be cut (and thus condense Eastlake service onto longer hours for the 70). (Though that may not be the logic they’re working with, considering they want to turn the 225 and 229 into more frequent 212 service instead of the 212 into more frequent 554 service!) Perhaps once U-Link opens this mega-66-73-sans-70 route could divert onto the UW campus, replacing the 67 and 68’s service there?

        It seems that many of these changes – this mega-route and the revised 5 – would effectively create RapidRide candidates where there might not have been before, the latter running rather close to… is it the D that will replace the 358? (I have another comment on this coming.)

      3. Oh, and it sounds like you’re really asking for a split of the 48 – you still need service on 23rd between John/Madison and Mount Baker Station (or maybe only to Jefferson where the 4 hops on, but it jogs to MLK later).

      4. Yes, Morgan.

        The 48 from the U-District to Mt. Baker — despite its overlaps with the 43 — serves a valid purpose as one of the city’s only reliably straight north/south routes that doesn’t divert to downtown.

        The other half could serve the same purpose as a straight-ish east/west route, Sound-to-Lake, along 85th-Green Lake-65th. Even though many of its riders desire the U-District as their destination, it need not be a one-seat ride if the 15th NE corridor is as well-served as this proposal suggests.

        Having an ultra-reliable east/west through-service crossing an ultra-reliable north/south through-service would handily beat what exists now, transfers included.

      5. Also, the theory behind corridor consolidation is that the 71/72/73 wouldn’t be as overloaded with headways made near-constant and far more reliable than they are now.

        The 66 always seems a great idea in theory — especially since it continues to be semi-express in Eastlake even after the 70s drop to local. But the stretch between 75th and Northgate is so zig-zagalicious that it just seems silly.

        As for Brooklyn Station: it’s main drawback as a transfer point is that it won’t exist for a very, very long time.

      6. You don’t live in the U District, Wedgwood or Maple Leaf, obviously.

        It’s about half a mile to go from, say, 22nd Ave NE to 15th. And much of that walk is gradually uphill. I had no problem with such a walk when I lived there, but it did take me about 10-15 minutes of brisk walking, and when my family came to visit me from out of town they got winded after a couple of uphill blocks and had to stop.

        It’s not anything other than blithely short-sighted and dismissive to say, “Oh, it’s just 10 blocks so deal with it.” Those 10 blocks are not 10 blocks in, say, Manhattan or anywhere else in the country for that matter. The hills in this city exacerbate the difficulty in walking many single blocks, let alone several.

  4. I’m really happy about the 5 getting rerouted through Fremont. I walk from 34th to 39th way more than I’d like. :)

    1. Yes! Better connections between the 44 and 5 means it’s easier to get between Greenwood, Phinney, and Fremont, as long as frequent service is maintained.

    2. This is fantastic news. I’ve always thought it was a little ridiculous that four routes come through lower Fremont and not a single one of them just goes straight — it’s always seemed the perfect illustration of Metro’s essential structural flaw.

      That said, the 5 will need to see a decent bump in frequency (which increases travel speed by reducing dwell times and bunching) in order to make up for no longer using Aurora.

      Any other details on the 5 example? Will it absorb the 28?

      1. Given this is spurred by a CUT in service hours, I highly doubt much frequency of any kind can get added, especially with nearly every route losing frequency to meet the budget.

    3. Hmmm…don’t like this at all. The part on Aurora was the best part. It was fast! Now we have to tool around on Dexter or Westlake to get downtown? If headways are increased a lot then that would be an acceptable exchange. It goes to 30 minute headways a little early. I wonder if they are doing this to sort of mimic the proposed streetcar line going that way?

      Oran – How does this improve the 44 and 5 connections? I would only see this as the case if the 5 increases in frequency. That and whenever they put the 44 on a stop diet, but that’s another argument.

      It takes about the same time to get to Phinney from Montlake Flyer if I just stay on the 545 and go downtown and take the 5 up north as it does to get off at Montlake and wait for the 43/44 right home. Silly!

      1. I meant that it’s a direct route between Fremont and Phinney. The lack of a direct route between those neighborhoods always puzzles me. I was in Fremont and I wanted to get to Phinney and 65th by bus. Sure take the 5! But getting to the 5 from 34th St involves walking up a hill for 7 minutes. I didn’t realize that until later because there was no information at Fremont telling me how to get there.

      2. When does the 358 get replaced by RapidRide? When it does, will there be a relatively easy transfer to the new 5 in Fremont? Condensing service on Westlake/Dexter to the Fremont Bridge is a good idea, as is straight up-and-down service on Fremont Ave N, but I have a feeling a good chunk of the 5’s own current ridership would rather take the D (or whatever it is) at least as far as Fremont than pick up the scraps of the 26, 28, 30, and the like.

      3. Despite the transfer, this will do wonders for Ballard-to-Fremont trips. Currently, one must choose between the 17 (infrequent, and requires crossing the ship canal twice — once on the bus, once on foot — with the potential delays inherent in doing so), the 44/28 combo (timed transfer is non-existant, and 24th-to-8th is the slowest part of the 44), or the 46 (midday-only hourly service; essentially pointless as it currently exists).

        The slog that is the first part of the 44 would remain, but with quick service up the hill followed by an ultra-frequent 5 down the hill, Ballard-to-Fremont would, for the first time ever, be doable on a whim and without excessive strategy.

      4. As far as I can tell, the 46 exists to provide service to Golden Gardens. Like with other hourly routes, I think it’s a prime candidate for conversion to a tail route that requires a transfer (in this case to the 44).

      5. Midday hourly service between Golden Gardens and Fremont was added in September 2008. The 46 is just mostly an overlay on parts of routes 44, 28, 30, 31, 16. I think it’s time to reconsider.

    4. I’d like to see the 5 turn at 46th & Phinney Ave N and then get onto Fremont Ave N from 46th, instead of 43rd (as currently). The 5’s current routing appears to be a holdover from the streetcar days, but now the 60′ articulated buses have to wait for traffic on Fremont to clear in order to make the wide right turn from 43rd to Fremont. The 5 really needs to be moved off of N 43rd St entirely. People currently boarding/alighting along 43rd should be able to walk 3 blocks to N 46th St. Otherwise, I’m just hoping for better headways; whether the 5 takes Aurora or goes down through Fremont is not terribly important to me. Better transfers to/from other routes might be nice.

      1. Why not eliminate extra turns and have it serve Fremont all the way to 50th?

      2. There’s a retirement home at 46th and Phinney, and I’m guessing they would strongly object to having the bus moved.

      3. In my experience, there are definitely more seniors boarding the 44 than the 5 at any point in time. Of course, if the 5 were rerouted, I’d imagine that many of them might take the opportunity to go to Fremont.

  5. The long term unintended consequence of these kinds of cuts and so called “efficiency” is to increase the perception in the public that public transportation is unreliable, inconvenient, huge waste of time, and is too much of a hassle to get me to where I want/need to go when I want to go. People will again choose the car over public transportation even if it cost them more. The frequency of service, multitude of routes, nearness of stops, and ease of transfer are some of the factors that in the long term will make or break a transit system.

    In a tangential example, one of the reasons that Google is still more popular for search results than its competitors such as Bing is that it has mastered the value of the long tail result. It’s those small esoteric results that leave people impressed with the utility of the service. Jettisoning “low value” routes that obviously serve somebody or stop consolidation or the myriad of annoying service diminutions destroys the value of public transportation and stops the progress of reducing car trips thereby increasing this country’s contribution to global warming, as well as our financial hemorrhaging going to imported oil.

    1. Your argument that these service cuts will reduce ridership is undeniable. However, the question is how it will affect ridership compared to the legal alternatives.

      Metro planners quantify the drop in ridership as 2.5%. That’s not bad for an 11% service cut. Instead, we could raise fares $1 across the board. How would that compare?

      1. Ridership will go down, but productivity will go up. Draw your own conclusions on that. Of course, IMO a system should go through a “cut” every few years, to find these efficincies and enact them for the betterment of the system. Of course with a mock cut, you can keep some of the fluff but the intent is to re-align service with where the riders and community is.

    2. In a tangential example, one of the reasons that Google is still more popular for search results than its competitors such as Bing is that it has mastered the value of the long tail result. It’s those small esoteric results that leave people impressed with the utility of the service.

      What? The main measure of a search engine is “Is what I want in the first 5 results?” I could really care less that a query returns 1,000,000 results – I’m not going to look at them all.

      Certainly reducing the geographic coverage or frequency of transit service is going to make it more inconvenient for some users, and may induce them to drive. But reducing uncertainty in the transit system by building a network of frequent arterial routes instead of a grab bag of routes which serve two random points and run only twice a day could attract more riders.

      1. The quality of results is simply better for Google particularly for “esoteric” e.g. less common queries. That impacts the perception that people have for the utility of the service over it’s competitors. The analogy I’m making to Metro service is that all of these cuts create a perception that the service is less useful and cause people to make other less desirable (to society) choices.

        I conclude from your example that suburban service should be abandoned in favor of a fully matured urban service. Is that correct?

        What about channeling arterial service to the extent possible onto rapid rides and Link and increasing the network of short routes to help people get between those 2 random points they so often want to get to?

      2. Charles,

        What about channeling arterial service to the extent possible onto rapid rides and Link and increasing the network of short routes to help people get between those 2 random points they so often want to get to?

        That’s exactly what this plan is.

      3. I think this is the key. There is of course a balancing point but as someone that lives in Kirkland right now I much rather have 10-20 minute headway fast arterial/freeway service to Downtown Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond than 30 minute or 1 hour service that snakes through neighborhood. Just take a look at 236. This bus is 2 blocks from my house but I have never ridden it in my life. I have ridden the 255 hundreds if not thousands of times.

      4. That’s funny, Adam. The 236 passes right in front of my house yet I rarely take it anywhere. I just walk a little further to catch the 255. Hourly service on weekends make it even more useless and I see it empty a lot of the time.

      5. If you look at the detailed break down this “local” service for the eastside is the largest scaled back service of any area or type.

      6. The people most affected by such cuts would be people who can’t drive. I’d say it’s useless to me, because I spend most of my time in Seattle, but other people in my house, who can’t drive, use it to run errands in Woodinville and get to work.

  6. On the whole the examples sound like positive changes. If we get more money in the future, it can expand a more rational network.

    Peak commuter trips from Kent and Auburn should become timed connections to Sounder at Kent and Auburn.

    You have to wonder if some of the resources paying for express bus service between Seattle and Tacoma that runs at the same time as Sounder should be shifted elsewhere where they are less redundant. The downtown Seattle bus stops are all near Link stations, and the transfer at ID is easy. It sure seems that there is a 590-series coach every 3-5 minutes during the peak. I know it’s a different agency, but it’s the same principle.

    1. “It sure seems that there is a 590-series coach every 3-5 minutes during the peak. I know it’s a different agency, but it’s the same principle.”

      Hmm….combine agencies?

      1. Actually the 590-series and Sounder are run by the same agency!

        I meant that the article was about Metro rationalization – but in some areas ST could avoid duplication too.

      2. Sounder and the 59x serve diffrent markets. Sounder is mainly (right now) for the Kent,Auburn,Sumner,Puyallup valleys with some ridership out of tacoma. Atleast in the morning it’s still quicker to take the bus from TDS to downtown. This will change when service is extended to lakewood though. Origonally, IMO, this was actually ST’s intent however they found that ridership still remanined steady on the 59x series services. I think a comprehensive multi-agency transit study is needed for the I-5 corridor, from Olympia to Everett to find ways to streamline, optimize and improve transit service. I think there are a lot of ways to optimize the service, even if it means you consolidate the routes but have diffrent operators (i.e. one trip is Metro ran, the next Sound Transit, etc. and funded by same) Also, if you change funding formulas around, for example you have portions of the Olympia Express paid for by Sound Transit, but Intercity picks up the cost south of the county line. again, you’d re-align service to eliminate some of the duplication of service and orginze it logically instead of the build a P&R and run a bus to downtown seattle mentality of metro in times past.

      3. Sounder serves additional markets, but I am not sure that I would say that the the 59x markets are not also served by Sounder, and the extensions to Lakewood, Dupont, Gig Harbor and downtown could be served by timed transfers at Tacoma Dome station.

        Even if Sounder takes longer, the transit system is not obligated to provide an express bus ride for $3.00.

        In fact, if you think about it, with the ST bus we provide a $3.00 bus ride which is scheduled to take about 45-60 minutes depending on where you alight in Seattle, with stops throughout downtown Seattle without transfer. The route is driven only with 40-foot coaches (presumably a 60-foot coach cannot maintain freeway speeds on the hills), many of which people like Starline would describe as “luxury coaches”, so they have a capacity of about 50 riders, with one operator, and the capital and maintenance of that coach. Because of the unpredictability of freeway traffic they probably can only do a single run during peak periods, or need either a lengthy layover or deadhead before doing another trip, so it may well require 2.5 “platform hours” for a single run.

        We have largely parallel train service, which is scheduled for 59 minutes to King St. station, with about 6 minutes of slack in the schedule, and a relatively easy transfer to the ID station for Link or bus connections to downtown. The incremental cost to run an additional coach with a capacity of (not sure 150? 200?) is virtually zero operating costs, just the capital of a railcar plus periodic maintenance. But we charge the rider $4.75 for the train ride, I guess because we consider it higher quality.

        But the marginal loss per rider on that bus trip has to be many dollars greater than on Sounder, yet we over-subsidize that bus trip to make it a cheaper cost to the rider. I don’t think that is rational. Wouldn’t it be cheaper if, during the hours that Sounder operates, the 59x buses would instead drop riders at Tacoma Dome station, and go pick up more riders (requiring far fewer buses and operators and maybe allowing use of 60-foot coaches), and we just charge $3.00 (e.g. the equivalent fare, so no one’s being asked to pay more)?

        The 59x series seems like a wasteful, redundant service that has to be very costly to provide, esp. given that we have a high capacity, parallel service operating.

      4. No, the buses are much cheaper to operate. I’ve never been able to find the cost per boarding for North and South Sounder separated out but even if you factor out the handicap of North Sounder it’s a push for the $1.75 to cover the increased cost.

        The 59x is 50 minutes and Sounder is 60 minutes from Tacoma to King Street Stations. Of course I’d rather spend 60 minutes on a train than 50 minutes on a bus but that extra $70 a month is a deal breaker for some commuters. Maybe it’s time to do what’s common practice in Europe (and I’d guess the rest of the world) and start offering commuter and business class on the train. Eliminate the buses and add a cattle car with the same cramped accommodations as the bus and charge $3.

        As far a layovers and dead head costs it’s worse with Sounder. Only one train makes a reverse trip. The rest you’re paying a Union minimum for the train crew to provide one hour of revenue service and you have a lot more money tied up in equipment costs sitting idle. Buses can easily be rerouted when in Seattle to serve for example the I-90 corridor. Maybe ST should look at trains from Tacoma continuing north to Everett to provide the North Sounder service. The Tacoma trains and crew are sitting idle. That cost may well be more than the marginal cost of some extra fuel and trackage fees to BNSF.

        If capacity is available pushing the bus riders onto Sounder would help the economics of the train but it really is hard to compete on a cost basis with the bus (which is why Amtrak is cheaper when you ride one of the routes with the Thruway buses to Bellingham instead of a train).

      5. “No, the buses are much cheaper to operate”

        I have to believe that this is due to the fact that the train service isn’t fully “up to speed”.

        Maybe it’s time to do what’s common practice in Europe (and I’d guess the rest of the world) and start offering commuter and business class on the train. Eliminate the buses and add a cattle car with the same cramped accommodations as the bus and charge $3.

        Can’t argue with that!

        As far a layovers and dead head costs it’s worse with Sounder. Only one train makes a reverse trip.

        This is fixable by increasing train service. Which is already planned. I believe it’s dependent on track improvements? (BNSF won’t allow more trains per day until the track improvements are made.)

        Maybe ST should look at trains from Tacoma continuing north to Everett to provide the North Sounder service.

        It does seem like a no-brainer of an idea, doesn’t it? I’m guessing there’s currently a scheduling problem.

      6. We can’t possibly have a discussion about whether buses or trains are cheaper to operate without having a lengthy discussion of which overhead and capital costs are allocated to which service, how to account for the cost of the freeway and HOV lanes, etc. But I’m not trying to compare the absolute cost of bus vs. train service. We are already running train service. We are running 7 peak-direction peak-hour trains every day. Should we be running parallel bus service at the same time?

        For every 50-passenger bus we operate, the incremental operating cost is the full cost of buying, maintaining and operating that bus. It’s almost all marginal cost.

        If we move 50 passengers onto an existing train, we have close to zero marginal cost. If we move 200 passengers onto a train that is already at capacity, we may have the cost of one additional coach, but we’ve saved the cost of operating and maintaining 4 buses.

        If the buses are so much cheaper, and we have enough roadway capacity, then we should shut Sounder and operate buses. Once we decide to operate Sounder, we should shift bus passengers from parallel routes onto Sounder.

        About the least efficient thing we can do is to operate Sounder and operate parallel buses and then undercut the Sounder fare.

        By the way, they use five trains sets to make the seven trips. The first two trains do a reverse commute run and then a second peak direction trip. Operating through to Everett is not efficient because the demand and train sizes are much lower. The trains reverse within 10-15 minutes.

      7. Trains are more expensive per boarding. That’s what ST’s numbers report and why the fare is higher. We don’t know what the exact delta is but adding cars is far from zero marginal cost. You have to buy and maintain the car, fuel prices go up as you add weight and I think we’re close to what we can run and maintain schedules with the existing locomotives. Plus BNSF is going to charge more.

        It’s not really parallel service. Sounder runs 7 trips from Tacoma Station but the 590 provides 37 trips. Try and maintain six minute headways with the train and see what happens to cost. Plus the 590 provides another dozen trips from 8-10AM. I might be willing to spend an extra 10 minutes to ride the train but not likely to want to get there two hours early.

        The 59x series has many more collection points. To provide the same service you’ll have to pay for more parking at the train stations and/or run feeder buses both of which eat away any efficiency gained by transferring people to the trains. If it came down to either or I think the south sound would overwhelmingly choose the express buses.

      8. “Trains are more expensive per boarding.”

        That’s a meaningless statement. Cost per boarding is a derived figure.

      9. The fare is higher because ST considers it higher quality service. It’s parallel service during the hours Sounder runs. There is no reason that Sounder has to provide 6-minute headways, that’s needed on the bus to create capacity. I am not advocating canceling 59x service outside the Sounder operating window, but I would restructure the service so that during the Sounder operating times, the buses would feed the Tacoma Dome Sounder station with timed transfers. Outside Sounder hours direct buses would continue to operate Tacoma-Seattle. $4.75 is a reasonable fare for a 31-mile express bus. NY charges $5.50 for express buses going much shorter distances.

      10. PS: I explicitly said I wasn’t entering the debate of whether Sounder or ST Express buses are more expensive to operate because you can’t do that without looking at all the assumptions, grants, etc. I started from the statement that if we run trains, then we should fill them and not operate competing service – that is the least efficient thing we can do. The cost per boarding, with all kinds of assumptions and allocations, has nothing to do with the marginal cost of additional riders on an existing train.

      11. I’d agree that an extra 10 minutes on the train is no big deal; in fact I’d much rather spend 60 minutes on a train than 50 minutes on a bus. Part of the day Sounder runs 20 minute headways but that gets as high as 40 minutes. You can connect one bus with a timed transfer but you can’t make up for the 6-10 minute headways of the buses so best case is 10 minutes but other people will see commutes grow by over 1/2 and hour. Running the feeder service going to be just about as expensive. You still have to invest in the buses. They will be full going to the Sounder Station but deadheading half the time as they return to pick up another load of passengers. You get some reduction in platform hours but probably only about 30%. And South Sounder already has pretty decent ridership so you’re looking an increase in rolling stock to cover the bus riders.

      12. Sounder and the 59x also draw diffrent markets. The big one is the price point, some employers may not pay for a 4 or 5 dollar puget pass.

        Also, it would be very capital intensive (but good for the riders) if you were to eliminate the 59x and funnel them onto sounder. Because you’d have to expand the span of service for the trains, plus adding whole new trainsets. Of course BNSF is not going to let you onto their track for free, so i’m sure you could wind up pumping a billion dollars easily into the Lakewood-Seattle segment really easily, involving triple tracking, double tracking the Connection and Lakeview Line, etc. Than of course theres the fees to run the trains, and you’d probally have to run them every fifteen minutes peak to meet the demand, plus broadinging the shoulder of the service and adding off peak service as well. Than if you want express trains to Tacoma and Lakewood….

        And with service of that magnitude, lets not forget electrification to quicken the service up, and been “green” as well.
        Let them dollars roll!

      13. Okay – a couple of thoughts come to mind.

        Adding another car or two to the train is not possible as Sound Transit already operates seven-car trains on the south end and takes up all the platform space at a number of stations. To add an eighth car would require extending all the stations platforms. This will take time before you could add the approximate 300 people per train that the buses carry (I estimated these from the 2010 Service Implementation Plan on ST’s website). It would have been nice if ST separated northbound and southbound train trips in the SIP to see how full the train is in the peak direction.

        I don’t think ST will ever be able to have trains continue through Seattle between the north end and south end. Given the number of slides that occur on the north end, you wouldn’t want the entire train schedule affected if there was an event on the north end.

      14. The average operating cost per rider on the 59x’s is probably lower than that for Sounder, but the relevant figure is *marginal* operating cost per rider — the additional operating cost of adding one more passenger.

        I rather doubt that the 59x’s marginal operating cost (i.e. adding another bus run for every 50 passengers) can compete with Sounder’s, mostly because Sounder has so many seats left to fill.

        This debate will hopefully become moot when 200th St Station opens, and many of the 59x’s and 57x’s can terminate there. If most of the 59x’s and 57x’s continue to bypass the south terminus of Link and head downtown, then 200th St Station will be a $300 million boondoggle.

      15. Here’s how I would guess at the re-routing of the 57x’s and 59x’s once various South Link stations open:

        574: Re-route to serve 200th St Station on the way to Airport Station, and truncate on the other end at Commerce Street in Tacoma (if the 594 is also truncated at 200th). The 574 would serve the intermediate stops (Federal Way, Star Lake, and Kent-Des-Moines until the 578 is re-routed), while the 594 would provide the direct ride between Tacoma and the south terminus of Link. Move the truncation point south as each new station opens, with airport riders transferring to Link once Des Moines Station is open. A local Metro route would have to take over service between SeaTac City Hall and the airport on 188th St.

        577: Discontinue upon opening of 200th St Station. Service to the south end of Link would be provided by both a more frequent 574 and the Line A RapidRide. Note that the 578 is planned to provide the direct service to downtown Seattle for the foreseeable future with the 577 being the peak-hour version of the 578 sans Sounder station connections.

        578: Re-route to serve Kent Station, and then diagonal up Kent-Des-Moines Rd, to cover the stop at the P&R before heading to 200th, then the airport. Once Des Moines Station is open, have the route terminate there, and provide Sounder-hour service just between Kent Station and Des Moines Station.

        586: Discontinue when U-Link opens for service.

        590: Keep running straight through between downtowns until Des Moines Station opens, as the frequency is so great that neither Link nor Sounder can compete with it (since it will still be ca. 15 minutes faster than either in travel time). After Des Moines Station opens, terminate there, as it is the fastest point for transferring to Link.

        592: Truncate at 200th St Station (continuing on to Airport Station), in order to serve the greatest number of riders trying to get to/from Olympia. Move the truncation point as each station comes open. Eventually convince InterCity Transit to join Sound Transit in exchange for building Sounder out to Olympia, at which point the 592 would extend all the way to Olympia during non-Sounder hours.

        593: is already scheduled for elimination once South Tacoma Station opens.

        594: Truncate at 200th St Station (continuing onto Airport Station), and then re-truncate at Des Moines Station (no longer continuing to Airport Station), to serve the most riders and fill up the mid-day buses, while eliminating non-peak hour duplicate head.

        595: Truncate at 200th (continuing to Airport), and give Gig Harbor a tax break resulting from the reduced bus service hours. I bet they’ll take the tax break over the premium service that skips Central Link. Re-truncate as each new Link station opens.

        599: is already scheduled to be eliminated when Lakewood Station opens.

    2. That makes sense for the peak-only routes but not the 594. Occasional riders remember, “Sounder runs a few times during peak hours; the 594 runs every half hour all day/evening/weekend.” So if they’re traveling peak hours and don’t have the Sounder schedule on hand, they’ll just take the 594. If they arrive at the bus stop and find a two-hour gap, and then realize they have to go to the train station a mile away, that’s a big inconvenience, and not appropriate for a main trunk route like the 594. Ideally Link or Sounder would run all day and take over the 594 completely, but we’re a long way from that.

  7. Wow, these are some interesting changes. But as a driver I don’t see how some of these changes will work.
    The 7X should stay. I like the change on the 21 by cutting out the Arbor Hts loop on local service, but why the Juction-Westwood. 21 needs to run downtown. Shorten the 22 to White Center-Junction or run it hourly, not the 21. Running the 5 thorugh Fremont okay, but why not cut off the Northgate 5’s at Greenwood & Holman and require a transfer to the 75(thats what is required at night or Sunday’s). Then you would continue 15min midday service between Greenwood and Downtown.
    Why does Mercer Island still need two vans on Sundays……30min service on the 204??? The 22,33,56,72,73, part of the 75,,131,132,230,245,253 don’t even have 30min service on Sunday’s… I know there is more hourly routes, but just a few examples of busy core routes that have hourly service on Sunday, and there are more I can think of that could be reduced to hourly service on Sundays(17,23,27 to name a few).
    Finally, get rid of the 201….no one rides it! Delete the Finn Hill loop on the 260 is good, but still needs to serve NE 116th St. If they delete the 196, they should extend the 177….you would still have deleted a number of trips, but it’s still good to have S Fed Way P&R.
    I have been brainstoriming other ideas of routes to shorten or combine or revise, but I don’t have time to share all that right now.

    1. As indicated in the post, these are illustrative examples. There will doubtless be more changes if a plan like this ever comes to fruition.

      1. Examples, maybe, but somebody spent a lot of time coming up with a sample network that gets the job done of reducing service hours to the level needed, so maybe “trial balloons” would be just as good a description.

      2. Yes, but there’s quite a bit of sausage making before Metro releases a full plan. The Task Force will comment, many rounds of public comment and protest, and no doubt the County Council will muck with it in many ways.

      3. After reading some of it, I took “illustrative examples” to mean “you could, for example, create one mega-route out of six existing routes, including three that already combine to form one of the most popular and frequent parts of the system”. I don’t think it necessarily means any of these have even been seriously considered. Some of the “examples”, the task force will go “hey, that’s a good idea”. Others, they’ll decide aren’t such good ideas. And still others won’t even be officially considered. And maybe the task force will adopt an entirely different strategy from the one outlined here.

  8. Martin said it, but commenters seem to have missed it. This is not a Metro proposal for service cuts. It is a scenario for 400,000 hours of cuts for the task force to discuss based on the values they said were most important in their deliberations. \

    Perhaps the headline should read “Metro Task Force Considers Service Reduction Plan”

    Of course any real proposal would come from the executive to the council, who would make the ultimate decision.

    And Martin–you may want to check your numbers on subareas and the level of cuts. I am not sure that includes Rapid Ride and the partnership programs with Children’s Hospital and others.

    1. I took the total service hours in Fall 2009, and compared it to the total hours after the cuts. RapidRide, etc. is all built into that.

  9. I don’t think I understand the bit about percentage cuts.

    “but what isn’t there is Metro’s current cuts policy from the County Council: reductions in each subarea in strict proportion to existing service, or 62% to West (Seattle/Shoreline), 17% to East, and 21% to South King County.”

    “The cuts fall 62% on West, 25% on East, and 14% on South, so in fact it’s Seattle-neutral with respect to current policy”

    How I read that is they followed the Council’s proportional cuts (at least in Seattle). This means when we add service, Seattle gets a much smaller fraction than the E and S. But when we remove service, it’s proportional to size (most cuts in Seattle). Wouldn’t it make more sense for services be cut by 20/40/40? Otherwise we’ll slowly ratchet Seattle service out of existance.

    1. Right, which is why it’s Seattle-neutral with respect to current policy.

      1. I get that, but it seems like a strange way to say it. The first quote seems to be celebrating the fact that they aren’t bound to use current policy. The second quote says that they’re using current policy yet doesn’t call this out as a bad thing (“Seattle-neutral” sounds environmentally friendly, pH-balanced and fat-free).

      2. Well, the guidance doesn’t measure the equity thing, which is what the quote’s referring to. They’re also deviating from the formula, although not in a way that matters to people in Seattle.

    2. Exactly. The majority on the county council want to shift service hours from Seattle to the suburbs. So they’re perfectly happy that a cut + restoration does this automatically.

  10. Excellent article Martin, very well done.

    A question about one of your links about East Bellevue ( What happened with the changes in 2006? None of the maps look remotely like the current map.

    When do you think Metro will post all of their proposed changes or what the team comes up with? I’m a student and live near a badly performing route (249) that I really don’t want to be cut.

    1. The East Bellevue changes were never executed, partly due to public protest at elimination of routes, and partly due to budget issues (I believe)

      It’s not at all clear that these changes will happen in anything like this form. First of all, and perversely, the legislature could come through with more money and abort this entire process. The first cuts would occur in 2012, so you’d start circulating stuff for public comment sometime in 2011.

      1. It’s too bad as the East Bellevue route rationalizations were not completed as they would have improved connections at three major points with frequent service (BTC, Overlake TC, and Eastgate TC), and created a good all-day route between Bellevue and Redmond, and rationalized NE 8th service between Crossroads and downtown Bellevue. It would still be good if something like this happened out of the task force – and it will be needed at the time of the RapidRide service in any event. Maybe they are waiting for RapidRide to force the changes.

    2. I wonder why they didn’t go through with changing the 252 and 257 in that proposal. I’m usually the last person left on the 257 after Brickyard. Most of the people riding the 257 get on west of 405. Maybe I had a different opinion back when I filled the survey but now it makes sense. Had it changed, I’d get the 252 as another option in addition to 257 because I live close to Brickyard. I still however oppose cutting all 255 trips to Totem Lake, not when they don’t improve frequency and span of the connecting routes.

  11. While there’s obviously a need for consolidation I wonder it would work on the northern portions for the 72/73. One goes to Northgate/Pinehurst/Jackson Park and the other goes to Lake City. And by my house the routes are almost a mile apart.

    Selfishly, I hope I don’t lose my bus stop on 15th Ave NE since I just bought a house less than a block away but I guess we’ll see… There’s a good argument for a fixed line like light rail I guess.

    And I suppose this might be more incentive for me to push for a streetcar from Northgate to Lake City if it only makes it to one of those… :¬)

    1. If I were them I’d be cutting the Lake City portion since it’s largely duplicated by the 41 372 and 522.

      1. There are several problems I see with eliminating the 72 from lake city. First off the 72 is a Seattle only route so there is only the on/off peak one zone fare. This eliminates the potential for overpayment or underpayment of fares. Second, if they were combine roll the 72 into 372 they would probably need to greatly increase service (See link) on the 372 which is probably lead to 372 to be inefficient since most off the people will have gotten off at 130th st.

      2. I think the main purpose of the 72 might be the leg on 80th St. East-west service along NW/N 85th St, NE 80th St, and up to Lake City could virtually obviate the need for the 72 (with transfers) while potentially allowing a truncation of the 48.

  12. As long as were talking cuts, who pays for the First Hill Streetcar, in 2013 and beyond.
    Cost will be somewhat comparable to Tacoma Link, which run over 4 mil per year. That will certainly be a burden on Metro’s budget and subject to area revenue splits, or to SDOT’s budget. I couldn’t find anything on either Seattle or ST’s website.

    1. I’m pretty sure that ST pays the operating costs of the First Hill Streetcar in perpetuity.

      1. If that’s the case, it begs the question: What’s regional about a streetcar between two link stations? Maybe that’s the deal ST had to cut to eliminate the first hill station, but 5 million a year, forever, starts to add up to some serious walking around money.

      2. It was probably cheaper to build and maintain a separate streetcar than to deal with a tunnel through the nasty soil conditions beneath First Hill.

      3. For this last time:

        This had very little to do with “nasty soil conditions” and everything to do with Bush-era FTA algorithms for recommending Federal funding.

        Yeesh. Sometimes Seattleites sound like they think Seattle invented hills, bodies of water, and unevenly packed soil.

        The world is full of cities like us, and those cities are often full of subways.

      4. The Sound Transit engineering reports really did say that a First Hill station would be fraught with engineering difficulty.

        You know, the sort of stuff which causes 500% cost overruns.

        There’s hills and then there’s hills. The engineers didn’t want to go through First Hill. (Capitol Hill was fine though.)

      5. What’s regional about Tacoma Link? It’s a streetcar that operates solely within Tacoma. But it extends the reach of Sounder and ST Express services from Tacoma Dome and therefore enhances the value of those services. The same argument can be made that the First Hill Streetcar enhances Link.

        Interestingly enough, Tacoma Link is the only service that Sound Transit operates directly.

    2. Who pays for the South Lake Union line? i seem to recall Metro is getting soaked for it.

      1. SLUT O/M costs by agreement between City of Seattle (25%) and KC Metro (75%), which took effect the first full shakeup after Central LINK was running. That meant the September 2009 shakeup, which happened to be the same shakeup when SE Seattle service reorganization happened. It is a perception that hours that were saved in SE Seattle were supposed to stay in the community, but no, we had to help pay for the “Paul Allen Toy Train” instead. BTW – I only rode the SLUT once, and only because I took an out of town guest on the toy train. Otherwise, I refuse to ride it.

      2. By the way Martin posted about how there was NOT a net cut in SE Seattle Metro

        People like to look at the timing of the Link shakeup and Metro taking over SLUS operation and say that they are related, but it’s really not. Metro is constantly tweaking where hours are going; for example, they increased frequency on the 8. I’d bet even without the streetcar an equivalent number of hours would have been sent to SLU anyway. That doesn’t mean it was the best idea, of course, but it’s unrealistic to move thousands of residents and jobs into an area and not expect some changes in transit.

  13. My idea: eliminate evening/Sunday service on route 65 and replace the Lake City-NE 65th segment of that route with a new tail on route 71 (signed “71 to Lake City via U District”). Route 71 Night/Sunday service would then alternate between the existing View Ridge/NE 85th tail (60 min frequency) and the “new” 35th Ave NE/Lake City tail (route 65, DOES NOT serve View Ridge, also 60 min frequency). Routing between 35th/65th and Downtown would remain the same on both tails.

    1. Well that’s a blast from the past from back when the 25 served 35th Ave NE.

  14. I’m not seeing any political will around going to war with neighborhoods around shifting/ending routes. I bet the service reductions will be called “suspensions” and will largely impact Sunday and midday service in the City (times when people who are more likely to raise a ruckus about such things don’t tend to use the bus).

    I do welcome any conversation that moves us away from 20/40/40 in the long run.

    PS – I take the local 26 pretty frequently and experience firsthand what the trip through Downtown Fremont does to the trip length. I think the current 5 riders and the neighborhoods that they live in will likely fight a rerouting that could add up to 10 minutes to a trip depending when the bridge goes up.

  15. Some of these ideas anticipate bus-Link restructurings that the hub-and-spoke crowd have been advocating (i.e., frequent service between neighborhood centers; local service from neighborhood centers). If Metro implements these before the new stations open rather than afterward, it will focus the backlash against forced transfers to “a bus service change” rather than “that damn train ruined my commute”.

    The 66-73 consolidation is especially interesting and shows forward thinking. Put all the Link-duplicate service on a single route, let people get used to the idea of transfering in the U-district, and then when Link opens delete the UW-downtown segment. However, there are steep hills between 15th and 25th, so I’m not sure you can eliminate a 25th Ave bus. I would recommend a 25th Ave bus to UW station, which would open the 25th NE/23rd S corridor envisioned by the monorail proposal.

    Abolishing the 7X would be good, although Rainier also needs more local circulators.

    As for consolidating “many routes” into the 5, I wish they had been more specific. Would this include the 26, 28, and 17? It’s hard to evaluate the proposal without knowing this.

    Replacing the 71/72/73 tails would be interesting. I think a 65th street bus from Greenlake to Sand Point would be productive. The 72 is so bad it should be put out of its misery. Not only do you have to wait an hour for it, but it’s slow with all those turns on little streets. Northeast Seattle just has bad bus service east of 15th and north of 65th. Any kind of frequent route up there would be an improvement.

    1. An east-west route from Sand Point to Greenlake makes much sense, but it may be more productive to start it at 65th at Sand Point, then have it turn right at 55th and then left at 75th. It would then serve both the middle school on 75th and still be close enough to Roosevelt High. 75th is a wide arterial that could use more public transit to take some of the burden off 65th.

      I’ll miss Route 66, since it happens to be one of my favorite fast routes to get downtown, bypassing the congested U-District.

      Since both the 67 and 68 are linked with other routes (65 to Lake City and 31 to Magnolia respectively), will these remain?

  16. Guys in the comments… where are you getting any idea that there’s going to be room for frequency increases on any routes beyond what was proposed out of mitigated necessity? This is a SERVICE CUT. These changes are getting made because Metro has to cut $60 million from their budget. If anything, frequency increases only mean MORE cuts than what’s already on the table. This proposal has nothing to do with improving service and everything to do with hemming $60 million off the budget.

    1. If you look at the draft proposal, you’ll notice that the number of service hours actually increases for frequent arterial service.

      Many of us here believe in “addition through subtraction”. There are, in my opinion, a number of very unproductive parts of the Metro bus system. Cutting them would ostensibly result in a decrease in service, but in practice, it would (I believe) actually make the system better.

      For example, suppose that the suggestion to replace the 66/67/68/71/72/73 with a single trunk route from Northgate to downtown via the U-District was implemented. On paper, this would be a service cut. In practice, there are 200 combined trips per hour on these routes, which translates into 10 trips per hour for a 20 hour day (5am to 1am). A 10% service cut would bring it down to 9 trips per hour. That’s still one bus every 7 minutes all day. (Obviously, service would probably be more frequent at peak times and less frequent otherwise).

      Seven minute headways are the kind of frequency that lets people take truly spontaneous trips. This change would help a lot more people than it hurt. And yet, on paper, it’s a 10% service cut.

      1. Right. Meanwhile, several other commuters are now several more blocks away from a route than they were before. Many can’t comfortably walk more than a few blocks. Many more will say ‘screw it’ to walking 6-10 blocks and just drive.

        You’re helping some people and hurting others, and it does this discussion little good to ignore the people who are adversely affected by these cuts.

    2. Likewise for Fremont, you currently have: 17 (half-hour headways), 26 & 28 (half-hour headways, combined making 15 minute), 5 (15-30 minute headways with some going to Northgate). A straight service cut might reduce the 17 to hourly, and turn the 26 into a shuttle (thus reducing downtown-Fremont service to half-hourly). But if you combine the downtown-Fremont service hours into a super-route, you may be able to reduce hours and improve service. (Although the improvement may not be 100%: it may slow down some trips or eliminate service on some streets.)

      Consider a super-route anticipating the SLUT expansion, going downtown-Westlake express-Fremont-Leary Way-Ballard. That would give speed and frequency to Fremont, provide missing Fremont-Ballard service, and prepare the ridership market for the SLUT extension. (Or as Norman hopes, the SLUT expansion could be cancelled if this is deemed sufficient.) Then the 26/28 can be combined to a U-shaped route Broadview-Fremont-Greenlake. The 17 can return to Dexter to provide downtown-Dexter-Nickerson-Sunset service. The 5 can be truncated at Fremont (sorry Aurora express fans, but we need to cut). The 5-Northgate service could be signed as 5N, or ideally provided by an east-west route with timed transfers.

      1. Meanwhile, streamlining the route cuts off service to several areas. Many people will have to walk a long distance to get to the central route. Many just won’t bother. That’s not good for Metro and certainly not good for Seattle.

  17. More places to load your ORCA Card:

    King County –
    3020 45th Street Northeast
    Seattle, WA 98105

    6911 Coal Creek Parkway Southeast
    Newcastle, WA 98059-3136

    Kitsap County –
    2890 Bucklin Hill Road Northwest
    Silverdale, WA 98383

    1401 McWilliams Road Northeast
    Bremerton, WA 98311

    900 N. Callow Avenue
    Bremerton, WA 98312

  18. I thank the Metro staff for getting the ball rolling on smart service reductions that in many cases will actually improve connectivity and service.

    The 131/134 is a very low ridership line, but I’d hate to see it cut altogether. (Its low ridership does point out, though, the general disinterest among South Parkers in taking lots of trips to downtown Burien, as compared to the Tukwila light rail station, which our neighborhood is begging for.)

    If the 131/134 were straightened to head across the 1st Ave Bridge after the Olsen-Meyer P&R stop, and headed straight downtown instead of backtracking through Georgetown, I bet ridership would go way up. It would soften the blow of reducing frequency on the 121/122/123. As a South Parker, I’d be fine with that, so long as we got a 132-like route that would go to TIBS instead of Burien, to give us 30-minute headway going downtown. If the eastsiders can get mitigation bus hours for 520 construction, I hope the county and Seattle can give us some mitigation bus service while replacing the South Park Bridge.

    Plus, by heading straight downtown, the 131/134 would be able to use the HOV lane on the 1st Ave Bridge.

    1. Make sure to send your suggestions directly to Metro so that they see them. You also might want to start a petition among South Park residents, because it sounds like they’re getting seriously shortchanged with the bridge closure and lack of bus improvements.

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