KC Metro (click to enlarge)

With RapidRide B running from Downtown Bellevue to Overlake late next year, Metro is using the opportunity to reorganize service on the Eastside, resurrecting some ideas that have been floating around since at least 2006. This is also driven by the State and Federal requirement to add service over 520.

Routes suggested for added service: 212, 233, 245, 249, 255, 271

Routes suggested for revision: 221, 222, 230, 233, 240, 246, 249, 250, 253, 261, 265, 266, 272, 926

Suggested new route: 275

Routes suggested for deletion: 225, 229, 247, 250, 253, 256, 261, 266, 272, 926

The gist of these changes, I believe, is consolidating the buses that run all the way into Seattle and forcing transfers at hubs like Eastgate to get into Seattle. That’s a boon to transit-dependent people and reverse commuters (like me) for whom peak-only service is inadequate or useless; properly executed, there should be little pain for current one-seat rides who should retain a painless transfer to get to Seattle. In any case, less emphasis on peak routes and more on high-demand corridors is essential to a comprehensible system usable at all times of day.

You can share your feedback with an online survey, workshops on Nov. 3rd and 4th, by phone at 206-205-8788, or by email. Eliminating service, even when replaced by something arguably better, will always generate negative comments, so if you like these changes it’s important to make your voice heard.

Timeline for the changes is below the jump.

At the end of the fall 2010 comment period, Metro will review all comments and make a recommendation. The recommendation will be available for public review in early 2011, and will also be reviewed by a community sounding board composed of bus riders and key stakeholders.

Metro will forward its final recommendation to the King County Executive in March 2011. The Executive will review it and submit his recommendation to the King County Council for action. Changes approved by the Council will take place in October 2011.

37 Replies to “Metro to Reorganize Eastside Service”

  1. So is this Metro’s new strategy somewhat reminiscent of the airline’s “hub and spoke” route map policy they began back in the early 80’s? Meaning if you are getting from minor point A to minor point C, we’ll get you to major point B and you simply need to transfer to a bus taking to point C?

    The one seat rides will always be available from the transit centers, but not necessarily on the bus from your street? Seems like it and seems like a great idea. I especially like what they’re doing by dead-ending many routes at the light rail stations. Seems so Vancouver to me…maybe Metro is listening.

    1. Right out of the WTA playbook. Get hub and spoke in, then eliminate the paper transfer, forcing everyone to pay double, OR buy an ORCA card.

    2. The only problem is, if minor point A is in East KC and minor point C is in Seattle, it will probably take two transfers. A to OTC or BTC or Eastgate P&R, then downtown Seattle or U District, then C.

    1. “Hate to see the 250 finally go”

      Not me – I always hated driving a sparsely loaded 249 behind a sparsely loaded 250. It brought out the inner Sam/Norman/Dino Rossi in me wanting to cut wasteful government spending.

      Still wish they would just kill that stupid 219 – Seriously, buy taxi rides for all those folks or improve the overlapping DART service – it’ll be cheaper.

      1. The 219 is packed full of high school students during the school year, so its ridership can’t be that bad. It would, however, be much more useful if its terminus was extended to South Bellevue or Eastgate so that you could actually use it to commute to Seattle without a double transfer.

      2. “The 219 is packed full of high school students during the school year, so its ridership can’t be that bad.”

        Which 219 are you referring to? The 219 school tripper from International School or the 219 van route? I’ve driven both and both do have school kids on them for a single trip. The van routes (The A loop and B loops) continue for 2 or 3 more trips that are empty except for one or two passengers. Trust me, those trips are a waste of money.

      3. “I’m so glad that Sound Transit spent $4.4 million to build the Newcastle Transit Center”

        Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. To be fair, the 240 now serves the “Transit Center” and that’s about as good of a location as you’re going to get in Newcastle for a central transit hub.

        My biggest complaint is the duplication of crappy service on the 219 and 925. One or the other should be given all of the service hours and hopefully improved in quality of coverage. Given the low density of the area, I’d say the 925 should be the survivor, but passengers I’ve talked to don’t like DART service.

  2. How come the 242 isn’t on the list? I’d think it would be an easy candidate for deletion, what with the 542 and (now) 275…

  3. Awesome! I really like the strategy of deleting unnecessary routes but making frequency on existing routes better. Because eastside routes currently seem quite starved for frequency. And it looks like all of the deleted routes and deleted sections of routes have other routes either on the same street or close by.

    1. So Metro will delete routes 250, 256, 261, and 266 crossing the 520 bridge to downtown Seattle. Metro expects most of those riders to use ST 545 instead.

      In addition, Metro’s concept is for core trunk routes which then connect to local routes at locations like Overlake TC, Redmond TC, and Eastgate.

      How does Sound Transit respond to this shifting of riders and improve connecting service?

      Sound Transit proposes to reduce service on both ST 545 and ST 554 – weekdays from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes, and Sundays from every 30 minutes to every 60 minutes. Many of the connecting Metro routes run every 30 minutes, so having the ST routes running every 20 minutes means there can only be one good connection per hour. Oh, and these service reductions are the year that bridge tolling starts.


      It’s so great to have two separate agencies providing such well-coordinated service. Consistent fares? Consistent transfer policies? Synchronized planning process?

      1. You’re mixing intentional changes and budget reductions. Metro is intentionally reorganizing its service to build a stronger Eastside network. ST is unwillingly reducing service due to the tax climate, as Metro is also doing elsewhere. If you want frequent service on both systems, talk to the state about a stable taxing authority for both agencies. The Metro changes won’t occur until next October anyway, so maybe ST will restore the service by then. Both agencies agreed that Metro will provide feeder service to ST’s trunk routes, so ST is aware the trunk routes have to be there.

  4. This is just what the hub-and-spoke fans have been hoping for: eliminate parallel routes to downtown in favor of better service to the nearest transit center, and between the transit centers. Some of the routes look a bit indirect, and make detours for P&Rs (is it really necessary to increase local bus service to the P&Rs?), but at least it’s something to improve the intra-Eastside network.

    I’ve lived on both parts of the 230 at different times, first east of 164th and then on north Bellevue Way. This would make both of them require a new transfer. From 8th/Northup Way, transfer to the B if going to Bellevue, or transfer to an Eastgate-Seattle bus if going to Seattle. From north Bellevue Way, transfer to the 230 if going to Kirkland. (“I HOPE I DON’T HAVE TO WAIT AN HOUR FOR THE TRANSFER! Waiting at an isolated P&R really sucks.”) I don’t make those trips anymore, otherwise I might be more concerned.

    1. Hub and Spoke is great, so long as the transit agency understands the riders are being asked to sacrifice their one seat ride for efficiencies in the overall network – which should equate to better frequencies and spans on the routes that remain. When those very same riders are further penalized for having to transfer, that’s where they loose me. Transferee’s are what makes it work. Don’t turn right around and figure a way to screw them, because their now riding two buses. That’s just Bullsh!t, which is exactly what WTA has done.
      Metro looks at per hour costs for nearly everything they do(drivers, fuel, maint, etc). Then they somehow get religion and want to sell the very same service based on time of day, and zone traveled, and how you pay, etc.
      What’s so difficult about buying your MT/ST transit service by the hour(two options 2 hours or all day). Does it really matter that much where your going, or what time of day it is, or how many different vehicles (bus/link) it took you to get there?

      1. Timed transfers have existed at the Bellevue Transit Center for twenty years. The buses arrive at :15 and :45, and leave at :20 and :50. The schedule’s different when there’s four per hour but I’ve never had trouble transferring from the 550 to the 230/253. My mom sometimes has trouble walking from one end of the transit center to the other before the bus leaves, but now the 550 is in the middle rather than at the end so it’s easier, and I think the 271 is next to it.

        I don’t know if they can pull that off at all the TCs and P&Rs (which they apparently intend to use as TCs after the reorganization), but it’s working at BTC at least.

        I’m not optimistic about Metro increasing service because they’ve done so little over the years. But deleting the peak-only routes does free up a real number of service hours, and putting it into all-day service rather than split shifts is probably more efficient. So that should be enough for 15-minute service on RR B and some more runs on other routes.

        As for MS/ST service in 2-hour blocks, isn’t that what ORCA provides?

      2. “…but I’ve never had trouble transferring from the 550 to the 230/253”

        Your experience is better than mine, although I’d agree that it generally works pretty well at BTC.

        That said, I’ve had plenty of times where I’m pulling a 550 into the transit center with a group of antsy passengers begging me to stop this bus or that bus by honking the horn. I do my best but sometimes the bus is at the other end of the TC.

        I’d really like to see some brainstorming around the new radio system to see if there is anything to be done for improving transfers. Here’s an idea:

        Since the new system will enable two way text communication with the control center, there could be a menu option for frequent transfers. Say I’m driving Rapid Ride B into BTC. The menu could have buttons indicating that I have passengers transferring to the 230, 249, 240, etc… If I’m running late, I could make an announcement asking for anybody who needs a transfer. *At a red light or a stop* (key for safety) I could get into that menu and push a button for each route I hear requested. Simple, quick, and relatively safe assuming I can remember the routes until a stop or red light. Obviously, this idea needs some cooking, but getting transfers to work better is key. Not all drivers would do it, granted. But if enough passengers give us commendations for doing this consistently it’s a pretty easy thing to do. (You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours :)

  5. I went to Metro’s site, and I think they should include the pro’s and con’s of each route modification. In other words, they need to dumb it down and spell it out for people. A large percentage of their customers, I imagine, would score 90 or below on an IQ test, and for these people, you need to explain what the proposed changes mean, at a very simple, grade school level.

    1. “A large percentage of their customers, I imagine, would score 90 or below on an IQ test…”

      Classy as always, Sam. Do you ride the bus on the Eastside? Just curious.

      1. I don’t back down from what I said one bit.

        My point is, often Metro’s website is written by college grads, for college grads (or at least people who comprehend at at level), when they should be explaining things at a level that reaches those who may have cognitive issues, because those people a large percentage of Metro’s customers. And when Metro excludes … what … 20% to 40% of their customers from the process, it’s not only unfair, it’s against the law.

      2. You may have a valid point, but I think you’re overestimating the size of the population. Additionally, some of the people you’re talking about actually understand the bus system better than people from Google or Microsoft.

        Once you see somebody from Microsoft tap their pass on the way onto the bus day after day, even after you’ve repeatedly tried to explain “pay as you leave” to them, you may change your mind. Frankly, some of the most frustrating passengers to deal with are also the most intelligent.

      3. I’d say the cause for that is that these passengers see it as less important than other parts of their lives and would rather not focus on it.

    2. For each route, they have a detailed description of the changes, the justification of the change and a list of tradeoffs. Since one rider’s ‘pro’ may be another rider’s ‘con’, tradeoffs is a better term.

      It’s not written at a fourth grade level, but I’m not sure you could effectively do that.

    3. “I went to Metro’s site, and I think they should include the pro’s and con’s of each route modification. In other words, they need to dumb it down and spell it out for people.”

      You figured it out.

    4. The site does show the pros and cons of each route. Metro has always done this, showing which riders will be advantaged and which disadvantaged by each proposal. For those that would lose service, it explains where they would have to transfer at or walk to (or if it’s the only route in the neighborhood, drive to).

  6. I don’t like the changes to route 240 in this plan. By going through Eastgate instead of South Bellevue P&R, it makes it much more difficult to get from South Bellevue to Seattle. Peak-hour service from each P&R to Seattle is similar, but the 550 is much more frequent than the 554 off-peak (every 15 minutes on weekends instead of every half hour).

  7. I’m not familiar with the details of most of these routes, but I fully support the principles behind this effort. I hope it doesn’t get vetoed route-by-route by just a couple citizens objecting to losing their one-seat rides or having to walk an extra block (unless they are pointing out that bus transfers take too much time).

    The local routes will need to be timed very closely with the cross-lake routes, and the cross-lake routes may have to wait patiently an extra minute or two for connecting buses.

    This would be a good time to fix the west end of some of these routes as well — as in, move the buses through the DSTT more efficiently and dependably. The time buses and trains sit stuck in the DSTT costs a shipload of money (and deters ridership and fare recovery). And now, if the cross-lake buses get stuck in the tunnel an unscheduled amount of time, connecting buses may have to wait or run empty.

    So, I’m wondering if anyone can answer this question: Why can’t the unloading buses unload just anywhere along the tunnel platform, instead of taking up the space at a loading bay?

    Wouldn’t a unload/bay-1-load/unload/bay-2-load/unload sort of line-up solve a lot of the tangle?

    1. Most drivers on the 71/72/73 will open the doors for unloading as soon as they come to a stop at the tunnel platform, even if it’s in the wrong bay.

      1. Except they are still in-service through the entire tunnel, so they must make another stop at the proper flag for people intending to board going from say Westlake down to IDS.

  8. While I haven’t fully analysed the proposed changes if you are going to hub and spoke you need to ensure each hub has frequent service back to bellevue and seattle or have timed connections which is a whole nother can of worms

  9. I think I’m liking what I see although I’m concerned that some of the longer routes will become unreliable. Only time will tell.

    One omission: The 222 should be extended to cover the territory of the 210 and the 210 eliminated. Another option: Truncate the 210 at SBPR and link it to specific 550 trips that are offset by 15 minutes from the 222 for continued 15 minute headways from SBPR to Factoria/Allen rd during rush hour.

    I’ll miss the 222/233 one-seat ride from home to the base but I *think* the 249 should work with a transfer to the 233 or RapidRide B and a bit of a walk. Now, if the city of Bellevue would stop pissing money away on useless studies that will be ignored and build some more sidewalks…

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