Subject Stop circled in red (Google Maps)

There are several high-volume bus stops in the County that don’t seem to be well placed considering the likely destinations of travelers. One such stop is the northbound at 5th and Jackson, which is the first stop for the 554 after getting off the freeway. Google Maps tells me it also serves the 111, 114, 210, 214, 215, 250, 252, 257, 260, 261, 265, 266, 268, and 311.

The obvious destination here, of course, is the International District/Chinatown tunnel station, for both light rail and some of the most important bus routes in the County. Since there is no easy bus access to the I-90 corridor from South King County, this is the natural transfer point for people trying to make this trip.

With that in mind, the ideal place to site this stop is right at King St, across a relatively narrow street from the station. Instead, riders must sit through the light across Jackson St. and get dropped off at Main St. This is not only a block and two pedestrian crossings away from the tunnel, but also surrounded by parking lots on three sides.

Sometimes businesses oppose a bus stop right in front of their entrance, and perhaps that’s what’s happening here. Although this isn’t the system’s greatest atrocity, it does sometimes make the difference between catching a transfer and not.

31 Replies to “The 5th & Jackson Stop”

  1. Fair enough point, and yes, directly adjacent to or combined with a major rail station would be the optimal situation. This is not much different than bus/rail integration at Mt.Baker Stn, or transfers like the airport and 520 ‘redo’.

    Several points before you start unbolting the bus shelter and signage.
    1. All Trolley buses enter/exit the base from 5th/Jackson. More congestion makes staying on schedule more difficult.
    2. Adding to the congestion along 5th are the business deliveries and access. It’s the dreaded ‘wall of buses’ that scares everyone.
    3. Adding streetcar operations to an already busy intersection really makes things interesting. (If the decision is to keep the trolleys, then I think they need to find another base route to reach 4th/Jackson.
    I’ll take the short walk from the current stops to IDS any day over the walk after the Montlake flyer stops disappear.

    1. Mike, the buses in question are already traveling on 5th between Airport Way and Jackson. This would simply be a matter of taking out the street parking between Weller and King and putting a stop at King.
      The buses using the Northbound 5th and Main stop are already interacting with all of the trolley buses travelling through 5th and Jackson.
      The buses are already creating a wall and interacting with business delieveries. Though truth be told there actually isn’t that much interaction with any business access other than the loading dock for Uwajimaya. The block between Weller and King is mostly vacant and doesn’t really have any delievery traffic.
      Again the issue of dealing with the N/S bus traffic on 5th is going to be an issue with a streetcar no matter what is done with the NB stop.

  2. Here’s another:
    All westbound coaches stop at the west side of 9th avenue on Pine, though the entry to Convention Place station is on the east side of the intersection. Silly.

  3. “The obvious destination here, of course …”

    Presumably a large percentage of people are also originating their trip at this bus stop, and catching other routes in order to travel north and east.

      1. I thought most of the ridership on the routes serving this stop were peak and inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening.

        For commuters a transfer to the tunnel is likely a wash as staying on until a later stop is likely faster than transfering to a tunnel bus. I don’t think there are all that many people trying to transfer to/from link or Sounder here.

        That said there is plenty of space in the 3 blocks South of Jackson for buses to stop. Even with the loading docks at both the old and new Uwajimaya sites. The buses are already on 5th, having them pull into a stop at 5th & King isn’t going to increase congestion any more than is already there on 5th. The Publix hotel is currently empty and the old Uwajimaya bulding presents a blank wall and a loading dock to the 5th Ave street front. No real room for businesses to object. Besides the increased foot traffic might actually help some of the businesses in the area.

      2. I always thought it was weird that the 554 gets off I-90, then doesn’t stop for about 5 blocks. It seems like a stop south of Weller street would be convenient for transfer to ID station or KSS. I think that would avoid the trolleybus traffic too. Don’t they use Weller Street to get to/from Atlantic Base?

      3. “I think that would avoid the trolleybus traffic too. Don’t they use Weller Street to get to/from Atlantic Base?”

        No. We use Airport way S and 5th Ave S. ALL trolley buses move through 5th Ave S & S Jackson St on their way to AND from the base. The wire on Weller is part of a turnaround from Jackson.

  4. As one who used to ride the 111 frequently, I agree that the location is annoying. Even siting it a bit south of King would be better than at Main.. That said almost all buses serving that stop are peak-only and I’m not particularly worried about peak bus to Eastside transfers. Given a larger fleet of hybrids, most of those problems could be fixed by tunneling the 554/577/578 and ideally building a center platform at IDS in preparation for East Link.. For Eastside to Renton/SeaTac or Kent/Auburn trips, the 560 and 566 are faster. Are there any Federal Way to Eastside direct buses remaining since ST consolidated the 564/565 into the 566?

    1. The idea of tunneling those routes has come up before but there’s still not enough mid-day ridership to truly warrant the capacity of the 60′ coaches.

    2. Well, there are 13 more 9600’s coming next week. So yes, you could add the 554, but it doesn’t really need a 60ft coach……they are better served on the 522,545. Also, the 577(needs 60ft bus)/578(does not)….577 operated by Metro, 578 by PT(PT not going through tunnel). 577/578 is a common route and you can’t have it stop in two different places for outbound trips. Not to mention that there is a rumor that the 577 will go to PT along with the 566 in February.

      And do we really need more buses in the tunnel anyway….NO!

  5. Instead of this being a case of businesses not wanting a bus stop outside their front door, perhaps Metro and ST doesn’t want to put a bus stop in front the sketchy tavern with a red awning. That place scares me!

  6. I understand what everyone is saying here, but by putting a stop northbound on 5th Ave S before Jackson St, you run the risk of holding up other coaches. %th is a busy street with all the deadheading AB coaches and the coaches inbound from I-90 (AM) and the coaches coming from layovers at AB/CB to start 520 commuter trips. Some might not know that when a delivery truck is parked on the street on 5th Ave, we often need to go over the center line to safely pass it. So if you add a stop south of Jackson you will be slowing other northbound bus traffic that doesn’t need to stop.

    Now the only buses that use that stop are the (AM) 111,114,210,214,215,554(all-day) inbound dropping off….how many of those commuters are going to transfer to Link S/B?….not many cuase most of them work downtown. Those that do, it’s only one block to the 5th/Jackson entrance to the tunnel. And the 2 blocks from the Sounder stairs at 4/Jackson if anybody is going to catch the reverse Sounder.
    I don’t see a problem with this stop here in the PM because anyone taking Link can transfer further up in downtown if they don’t want to walk one block to the stop and these coaches need to stay on 5th to avoid the busy 4th/Jackson stop.

  7. Kind of off subject and may even add more fuel to this debate, but a parking lot on the corner of 5th and Jackson?!?! Seriously?! I wish they could turn that into some sort of transit center a la the Mount Baker Station or possibly relocate Greyhound there.

    1. What is with Seattle and “transit centers?” Instead of stopping outside, across from, or under stuff on the way to somewhere, let’s drive in circles and pull in and out of “bays” for five minutes!

      Mt. Baker station is the worst transfer point I’ve ever seen. Wait for the bus to circle in, walk across the transit center, wait 3+ minutes for a walk light, walk another 500 feet, turn 180 degrees and backtrack up the stairway to the train platform. Horrible!

      Maybe the lot at 5th & Jackson should become a building? Like in a city!

      1. LA has plenty of off street transit centers as well. usually though they double as terminal locations and faciliate bus layover, crew changes, etc without disrupting street traffic. Downtown its all on-street obviously with the exception of the patasaurus transit center by union station.

      2. The new Redmond Transit Center has all but 1 bay as pull-outs off the street. No circling or turning required. I think the new Kirkland Transit Center will be similar.

      3. I do agree that the Redmond Transit Center is a lesser evil: it still requires a two-block detour for any east-west through routes, but at least there’s no circling.

        And Mt. Baker “bays” many of its routes on Rainier northbound. Though that’s no excuse for the silly 14 routing or, much worse, the southbound 8 loop-di-loop when the next stop (Winthrop) is closer to the train anyway. Missing a train connection from the 48 because you were forced to drive the long way around to the transit center (which is further from the train than any logical stop on Rainier would have been anyway) is no picnic either.

        I hope you’re right about Kirkland, as it would suggest an upswing in the learning curve. Then all that would be needed is to fix all the time-sucking older ones.

      4. The Mount Baker transit center is not there because Metro thought that’s the best place for it. It’s there because they couldn’t get the land adjacent to the station.

      5. The Mount Baker transit didn’t need to exist at all! Most of the routes, mercifully, don’t actually pull through it. The 8 and 48 southbound would both have connected better to the train without it. Something altogether different should have been done with restructuring the 14. And the 38 is negligible.

        And if pulling off-street (for the 48 and 38 termini only) was absolutely necessary, this is right under the tracks:,+Seattle,+WA&sll=37.055177,-95.668945&sspn=23.801745,33.881836&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Mt+Baker,+Seattle,+Washington&ll=47.576877,-122.297734&spn=0.001239,0.002068&t=h&z=19

      6. I’d like to believe that in the future when the area gets developed and the streets become more pedestrian friendly, there will be pressure to have the Mt Baker transit center removed. It’s very barebones for what is typically considered a transit center around here, a patch of concrete and very basic shelters. The last thing we need is more pavement in this city.

      7. Notably, in LA the Patsouras Transit Center in Union Station is mainly used for longer-distance freeway buses where
        (a) Union Station is in fact the destination;
        (b) the Transit Center has easier and faster freeway access than the roadside stops around Union Station would.

        The buses not heading for the freeway mostly stop on the street outside Union Station.

  8. What about the existing stop at Northbound 4th and Jackson – West side of Union Station? Would only require a jog down Airport Way to 4th, and much more pedestrian friendly to both King Street Station and IDS. Stop could be improved vis a vis “bus bulbs” like on 3rd, or make the right-hand lane transit/turn only for that block between Airport Way and Jackson.

  9. I always get a kick with a 554 or 556 driver will do the Issaquah TC “circle” followed by a “hope you enjoyed your tour of the transit center, here’s our stop”

  10. Makes lot of sense to have the stop right across the street from the King Street eastbound stop. I have never seen buses bunch at this location, so I don’t see why there could not be a stop there. Makes for an easier access to the tunnel and the ID. On the other hand, a bus stop across the old INS building would be a good alternative if the King Street location is not possible.

    1. Mismatched north and south stops are a pain for casual or new bus riders anyway. Unless there’s a compelling reason not to, why not put the two stops opposite each other?

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