Photo by Erubisu SEA

Although details will have to wait until staff are done with the October 2 service change, Metro is going to change service in Sodo and downtown for several years, until the viaduct sorts itself out, and various other construction projects happen:

Desmond said the construction projects are expected to be disruptive for all traffic, including buses. Although the road closures and construction projects will be phased over many years, Metro thinks it is best for bus riders if their routes change as few times as possible.

With that in mind, starting next February Metro will divert much of its downtown service away from First Avenue between Edgar Martinez Drive and Broad Street. Most of these bus routes will move to Third Avenue. It will also result in some changes for bus travel on Second and Fourth avenues, as some routes are moved there to accommodate the bus changes on First and Third.

35 Replies to “Metro Construction Reroutes in 2011”

  1. Only the Ballard buses and the non-viaduct West Seattle buses use 1st for any length, and these are through-routed with one another.

    You can’t really move “much” of this service off 1st without moving all of it.

    I’m not opposed to consolidating all transit into once central corridor downtown, but I can’t help but note that this becomes a problem south of Jackson, where connections between 1st, 4th, and the busway are extremely few and hostile to pedestrians. (Did they really need to make people walk in a giant circle on the new Royal Brougham overpass, while still keeping them waiting 2 minutes or more for a walk light to cross 4th?)

    1. I would love to see Metro take the opportunity to do a broader reorganization of downtown bus service:

      – All trolleybuses use 3rd (since 1st is closed).
      – *All* peak-only buses use 3rd (since it’s already bus-only during peak hours), *including* all the ones that currently use the tunnel.
      – The 66 moves to the tunnel.
      – All other non-trolleybuses currently operating on 3rd switch to 4th for NW and either 2nd or 5th for SE.
      – Change the 3rd Ave skip-stops so that one set is only for full-time buses and the other set is only for peak-only buses.

      This would take better advantage of 3rd’s transit-only peak hours, as well as make the tunnel routes (and the 3rd Ave stops) more consistent and less confusing. It also means that people who only use full-time routes can effectively completely ignore the complexity of the commuter routes, as well as the skip-stop nature of 3rd Ave.

      I’m sure there are logistical problems with this idea, but given how crowded the tunnel currently is at peak times, it seems like this couldn’t make things much worse… :)

      1. Hmm, a few problems I see:

        1. Having like destinations at one stop means more options for riders. By having peak buses stop at different stops than all-day buses, you take that flexibility away.

        2. The 66 can’t serve the Ferry Terminal if it is in the tunnel. Another route would have to go down there. I don’t think the 16 is enough to do it on its own.

        3. With the frequency of the 10/12, having it on 3rd and making the left across 3rd would hold up a lot of traffic. As it is, the 2, 3 and 4 all have to turn across 3rd.

      2. 1. Fair point. On the other hand, the current system takes away flexibility too. If I want to go to Ballard, do I wait at 1st (for the 18) or 3rd (for the 17)?

        We have to bifurcate the system somehow — it just isn’t possible for all buses to stop at all stops. I’d argue that it’s less likely for a commuter-bus rider to take a local than it is for a local rider to take a different bus.

        2. The 99 doesn’t count? ;) Fair enough, but I think that’s easy enough to fix. There are lots of other routes which could never be moved to the tunnel but which could easily be moved to the ferry terminal.

        3. That’s just because of the construction. Once 1st is reopened, I’d have no problem moving all of the 1/2/10/12/13 to 1st.

      3. The 3rd Avenue busway is optimized for maximum bus throughput as is. Skip stop operation provide capacity for twice as many bus routes than if all routes stopped at the same stops. See this post on Human Transit for a description of how busway capacity works. Apparently 3rd Ave is done right.

        If only peak-hour buses use half the stops, the “local” stops will be overcrowded with buses througout the day.

      4. Chad,

        I’m familiar with that post. I’d additionally point out two things:

        – The advantages cited in the post only apply for *exclusive* lanes, which is only true at rush hour. 3rd Ave is already much lower capacity during off-peak times.

        – According to the article, two skip-stop exclusive lanes are necessary when you have over 100 buses an hour. At rush hour, 3rd definitely has more than 100 buses an hour, but at off-peak times, I think it has much less. (100 buses an hour would be one bus almost every 30 seconds…)

      5. I agree, moving service around depending on the type of service is a bad idea becasue then you might have routes serving common destinations stopping in different places. Also moving routes into the tunnel is tricky. Those routes need to enter of exit downtown near the tunnel entrances…..66 does by CPS, but what abou the ferry. I guess you could revise a different route to serve the ferry, but why the 66???? It only requires a 40′ coach. Tunnel routes should be only routes needing 60′ coaches (and the new Orion Hybrids won’t be tunnel buses)

      6. To be honest, I’m mostly concerned with getting the peak-only buses out of the tunnel (which has congestion problems at peak), and moving them to 3rd (which already has way more capacity at peak than off-peak). If that means that more all-day buses should be moved to the tunnel, that’s fine; if it means that buses need to be moved to 2nd/4th, that’s fine too.

    2. Also, looking at the downtown Metro map, maybe Metro means that the 10/12 will remain on 1st? That would be weird, though, since I thought that construction was supposed to have an adverse impact on trolley wires. (Isn’t the 70 going to be de-electrified for a few years because of the changes?)

      1. I’m guessing they intend for the 10/12 and 11 to keep serving their tiny slivers of 1st — thus the relocation of “most” rather than “all” routes. This way, they can still technically provide 1st Ave service in the middle of downtown, and east-west service across downtown, for the mobility impaired. Presumably the speed and reliability of the 10 and 12 will drop to zero.

        Aleks, it is the residual traffic impact of construction elsewhere that is supposed to cause trouble on 1st, not construction on 1st itself (which would get in the way of trolley operations). They’re referring mostly to the first stage of Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement (the SoDo segment) getting underway.

        Meanwhile, let’s hope the 1st Ave Streetcar project (an atrocious idea) is enough of a ways off that it can get reassessed and cancelled before wasting anyone’s time and money digging up the street.

      2. 1. Take a proven slow technology. (I’m not sure how those Czech-made Škodas have so much less get-up-and-go than the 50-year-old ones running in Prague, but they do.)

        2. Put it on the most congested avenue with the thinnest lanes. (Left-turners and right-turners on 1st frequently manage to block two lanes, often including one in the other direction.)

        3. Run it every 10 minutes, perhaps every 15.

        4. Clap your hands and declare your transit problems solved!

        Seriously, have the people who came up with this one ever seen First Ave on a Friday or Saturday night? It will be faster to walk backwards on your hands than to take this thing!

    3. Can we move everything on 4th Ave S to the busway? That would give more reliability on game days. But is there a way they can get to the busway without going on Royal Brougham?

      1. I don’t suppose Metro or ST would consider a much more drastic game-day re-route of starting all those routes headed way south from Rainier Beach Station. Has either agency run the math to compare travel times based on real-life gridlock observations?

    4. I’m hopeful the I-90 trail extension will improve the pedestrian experience on Royal Brougham, but I’m not counting on it… a good crossing of 4th at Royal Brougham is crucial for Stadium station to be useful for getting to the game.

  2. I’d love to see the 15/18 move to 3rd Ave. That way you could chose either the 17/18 or 18/15 or 15/28 without having to walk (run) to 1st.

    1. At least the 17/26/28 finally make the same stops on 3rd now. Believe it or not, even getting that far was a battle. Agreed though, that it would be good to have all those routes make the same downtown stops, at least north to Virginia on 3rd.

    2. Having the 15/18 on 3rd would be closer to my transfers too. I always assumed there was somebody who needed it on 1st, but I never knew who it was.

      1. That’d be me, actually. There are people who work on First and the streets west of First and having the 18 run down First makes it very convenient for them/me. I can’t be the only one, can I?

  3. Truncating the 101/102/150, or some subset thereof, isn’t just about reducing duplicate-head, but also about reducing congestion on downtown streets, as space would open up to kick a couple routes downstairs. (But please don’t add any more peak-hour-only routes to the tunnel.)

    The bitter irony of having these three routes in the tunnel is that the fact of their being in the tunnel adds time to Link to make the 2-seat ride slower.

    I’m delighted ST is moving forward with 200th St Station, to relieve some more downtown congestion. Please tell me most of the south King County routes will be truncated there when the station opens. Otherwise, I’ll just have to cry over the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that got wasted.

    1. What about congestion in Rainier Beach? Where would all the 101/106/150s layover? The station wasn’t designed to be a major terminus.

      1. It was however designed to be a terminus with all those reversing tracks just south of the station. Perhaps the layover areas could be a bit south of the station where there seems to be a bit of vacant land, though the ownership of that land is unclear to me.

  4. If the city council wishes to reduce personal vehicle travel into downtown, they have the tool at their disposal: tolls.

    Watch how Good-to-Go works for a few months, and then use the same technology on each street entering the downtown core.

  5. Tolling Downtown runs the risk of killing Downtown businesses. Why pay to shop or eat Downtown when a number of the same businesses exist at Northgate or Southcenter or Bellevue Square with their plethora of “free” parking spaces?

    1. I agree. You risk everyone to flock to the burbs or Bellevue to do their shopping where it is free to park. I absolutely hate tolling. I moved here recently from Orlando, FL which is one of the highest tolled cities in the country. The worst part about it there is, there is virtually no alternate way of getting around town. Good luck trying to take the bus. You are literally trapped in driving everywhere and paying the tolls. It was horrible. The public transit here, while not perfect is worlds ahead of anything in FL. Tolling the new 520 might turn out to be a good idea though.

    2. Those who insist on free parking already shop at Southcenter or Bellevue Square. Every time the city raises parking fees or eliminates parking spaces, shops whine, “We’ll lose business!” But you have to choose between losing automobile customers and choking the city in traffic. What about the transit-riding customers who prefer not to walk through a Southcenter parking lot?

  6. It is my opinion that Metro would benefit from adding more routes to the tunnel (a process I call “tunnelization”) during these downtown construction projects, even if they are tunnelized only temporarily.

    Considering that a sizable chunk of Metro’s 60-foot hybrid fleet is operating non-tunnel routes (a complete waste of the hybrids’ potential IMO), Metro has the ability to tunnelize more routes. IMO I would like to see more SR-520 and South King County routes tunnelized.

    Which routes do you think are worthy of tunnelization?

    1. Which 520 routes are you thinking of? I think all the all-day routes are already in the tunnel, except the 545, and there aren’t enough ST hybrids to make that happen. I don’t think the tunnel has any more peak capacity, so adding commuter routes wouldn’t really work.

      1. While I do not have a preference for which routes are to be tunnelized, I am just stating my opinion that only 2 520 routes and 4 SKC routes (Link excluded!) is simply not enough.

        Moreover, I get annoyed by the fact that Metro uses its 60 foot hybrid fleet for non-tunnel routes on a regular basis. It was my understanding that they were originally purchased for tunnel service and tunnel service alone.

        I mean, if this was the heyday of the Breda dual-mode buses in the 90’s, then (unless there was a shortage of conventional diesel buses), you would very rarely see them running a non-tunnel route, especially one that does not go downtown.

        Running hybrids on non-tunnel routes is wasteful, since the route does not take advantage of the hybrids’ hush mode. My opinion: if Metro cannot operate a non-tunnel route with something other than a 60-foot hybrid, then (provided the route goes downtown), they might as well tunnelize that route!

      2. “Moreover, I get annoyed by the fact that Metro uses its 60 foot hybrid fleet for non-tunnel routes on a regular basis. It was my understanding that they were originally purchased for tunnel service and tunnel service alone.”

        That’s not correct. The original hybrid fleet was bought to operate in the tunnel, but since then many more hybrids have been purchased to operate non-tunnel routes.

      3. Don’t get me wrong, I think that putting more routes in the tunnel is a great idea. I’ve just spent a bit of time thinking about which routes it could be, and I can’t find any viable candidates. Keep in mind that there are some pretty firm constraints on tunnel routes:

        – They need to enter/exit downtown near the tunnel portals. I believe that this excludes all of the buses which go to West/South Seattle via the viaduct.

        – They need to be all-day. The tunnel is already too crowded at peak, so adding more peak-only service would not benefit anyone.

        – They need to be Metro-branded and Metro-operated buses. No ST/CT/PT.

        So, I’m just curious if you had thought of any particular routes which might be good candidates for tunnelization.

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