[Update: To be clear, Metro would have to add at least a few stops on the 9. I don’t think the impact is big enough to alter the math.]

Although Metro executed a pretty major service revision in Southeast Seattle in response to Link’s opening, that change manifestly failed to provide frequent, efficient worthwhile Link connections to the great mass of people east of the line, particularly in the Rainier Avenue corridor. The, 7 one of the system’s workhorses, was left essentially unchanged and does not provide a transfer opportunity until it reaches Mt. Baker, by which time the transfer is essentially a wash time-wise. If that weren’t bad enough, the transfer from transit center to Link station there is a difficult one.

Aside from the core mission of serving the stations, connectivity within the Southeast hasn’t improved. Unlike more radical plans like my double-loop circulator proposal, trips between the dense, linear corridors along Beacon and Rainier Avenues can still involve three bus trips, with headways as long as 45 minutes.

Oran’s frequent service map (detail at right) illustrates the problem very well. Frequent service is siloed into three parallel corridors along Beacon, MLK, and Rainier. There is no frequent east/west connectivity at Columbia City, to the west only at Othello, and to the east only at Rainier Beach. If you live near, say, the Group Health on Rainier, forget it.

However, there is another alternative that roughly maintains the operating costs in this part of the city while improving the situation for most commuters. I have neither the ability nor the inclination to do a full service-hour analysis, but I will estimate the number of simultaneous buses necessary to operate each route during midday operations to show that the changes roughly pencil out.

More after the jump.

  • Eliminate the 7 (-13 buses). This would cause a riot, but it will become evident that all of the 7’s many purposes can be better met with other solutions.
  • Map by Oran
  • Eliminate the 38 and 42 (-2 buses total). These relics of the old system have no real purpose and are among Seattle’s worst performing routes. In the peak, the 42 is third worst and the 38 is dead last in the West subarea (excluding shuttle routing); off-peak, 8th and 5th worst, respectively.
  • Upgrade the 9 from 30 minute to 15 minute headways (+3 buses).
  • Turn the 34 into an all-day, local route with 15 minute headways as far as Rainier and Genesee and 30-minute headways through Seward Park (+4 buses).
  • Extend the 36 on Othello St, then turning South on Rainier to serve Rainier Beach at 10 minute headways and the Prentice Loop at the 7’s current levels (+4 buses)
  • Shorten the 39 by turning South on Rainier from Alaska St, then West on Othello St. Improve headways from 45 to 15 minutes (+4 buses, including some time savings by truncating the route).

My back-of-the-envelope analysis suggests that this incurs roughly zero additional operating costs. Benefits include:

  1. All residents on Rainier South of Alaska St. have a faster trip downtown thanks to an easy transfer at the nearest Link Station.
  2. Improved headways to First Hill and Capitol Hill on the 9.
  3. Improved headways along the entire 39 corridor, from 45 minutes to 15-30. Route 34 provides a more direct route to downtown than the old 39.
  4. All residents on Rainier also retain the option of a one-seat bus ride to downtown (via 34, 36, or 39) if they desire it. The one-seat ride to the I-90 overpass and Little Saigon also remains.
  5. Vastly improved connectivity between Beacon and Rainier.

You always have to give up something to get something. Disadvantages include:

  • Approximately $500,000 must be spent to extend trolley wire 1/2 mile along Othello St. It would also make sense, incidentally, to make the 9 a trolley; otherwise, the wire on Rainier north of Othello St. is pointless.
  • Headways on long-haul Rainier trips increase from 10 to 15 minutes (route 9 instead of 7). However, north of Genessee St. headways actually decrease to 7.5 minutes thanks to interlining with the 34.

Figuring out what to do with peak express buses is an exercise left to the reader. Evenings and weekends, there are fewer existing service hours to be reallocated. I would place the emphasis on maintaining 15-minute headways on the 9, which provides mobility along Rainier and a two-seat ride to downtown with a transfer at Mt. Baker, and maintaining lower frequencies on the new 34, 39, and 36 extension.

109 Replies to “Rainier Valley Mobility”

  1. Another thought would be to bring back the proposal for the 50 (West Seattle to SE via the VA) as a frequent service route. I’m not sure how that would fit with the rest of Martin’s proposal but It would be good for overall transit connectivity. Note routes like the 8, 44, 48, and 60 that provide connectivity between neighborhoods without going downtown first are some of Metro’s best performing routes.

    Another thought would be to provide better connectivity between Georgetown and Link/SE Seattle.

  2. Given that the 9 is an express route, how does someone get down Rainier Ave? I hate the 7 and avoid it as much as possible, but I don’t see in your plan how to get down Rainier Avenue.

    1. Agree. Most of the service hours are coming from the deleted 7.(Eliminate the 7 (-13 buses). This would cause a riot, but it will become evident that all of the 7′s many purposes can be better met with other solutions.)
      Because the 7 is so long, there are lots of ons/offs all along the way, with no way to make the connection except the express 9, which isn’t good enough.
      There’s a gap in the line between Genesse and Alaska, and then it’s a transfer to a different route entirely.
      Sorry, but the trade off to feed more riders to Link, by scraping the 7 is just not worth the ‘riot’ you have accurately predicted.

      1. I agree that one of the 7’s more obvious purposes that won’t be met is simply getting up and down Rainier Avenue. I used to ride the 7 a lot to get to points all around Rainier (and the 7X to get downtown). The 9X, being an express and of more limited hours, is not a substitute. Getting rid of the 7 as outlined above would then require a transfer which seems silly for a major transit corridor.

        I think if you lived around Group Health (mentioned as bad in the article), you options would be even worse.

        I also agree with Scott below that transit options for folks living north of Genessee would be worse. if you didn’t want to hoof it to the Transit center to start with to get to downtown, transferring at that point is worse than a wash IMHO. Better to xfer at I90 if you wanted to get downtown faster and you weren’t on a 7X (or were on the 9X).

      2. DJ,

        I specifically left alone the question of the 7X, and refer to the 9 rather than 9X. Everyone has a one-seat 15 min headway to downtown or any distance along Rainier.

    2. The 9 has a ton of stops, but I wouldn’t object to adding a few stops to fill any egregious gaps. I don’t think that alters the math.

  3. It seems like all your suggestion are designed to artificially boost Link ridership numbers than to make life easier for the residents of the rainier valley.

    (Eliminate the route 7, then those people will HAVE to take the train!)

    1. What is it with this “artifically boost” nonsense? We have a train running through the valley. There’s no reason not to plan our bus service with that in mind. Why spend money duplicating service?

      This doesn’t speak for or against Martin’s specific proposal.

      1. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t, on the one hand, say Rainier Ave is so far away from MLK that feeder bus routes must be created to get people to the train, and then on the other hand say they are so close together that it constitutes a duplication of service. BTW, Kyle, do you believe that East Link shouldn’t be built because it’s a duplication of existing bus service?

      2. The Rainier Ave situation is bad enough without even factoring in Link. There severely limited east-west mobility within the valley. Now that we have Link, we should leverage it as the north-south spine (particularly for trips from the RV to the ID and downtown) and refocus our bus service on serving the east-west and local routes.

        No, I don’t believe East Link duplicates bus service. The buses aren’t able to serve the same capacity as East Link. Therefore we are building the light rail and then removing the redundant bus service.

      3. You just fell into my trap and made my point. You’re reight, East Link won’t duplicate Seattle to Bellevue bus service, just as the route 7 service doesn’t duplicate Central Link.

      4. How did I fall into your trap? The 550 is going away when East Link opens because it will duplicate service.

      5. I’m not siding with Sam on “artificially boosting Link ridership”, but I am not for what Kyle is saying in eliminating routes because they “duplicate service.” This is like saying that buses in NYC should not run up and down every avenue because the subway does. Or, because there is a bus that runs down 2nd Ave, why have a bus run down 4th Ave?

        I know Seattle has some topography issues, but we should really consider mapping bus routes based on N/S and E/W service in a grid. People need to get over their fear two-seat rides. One-seat rides are terribly inefficient and to compensate for that, a lot of people offer circular route solutions which serve no purpose but their own (example – Person A lives around UW but wants to get to Pioneer Sq. Their solution, run a bus from UW to PS, up through Ballard and then back over to UW) Dumb!

      6. “Person A lives around UW but wants to get to Pioneer Sq. Their solution, run a bus from UW to PS, up through Ballard and then back over to UW”

        Who has ever advocated that? Loops are useful within neighborhoods but not across the city. For instance, a Ballard loop could serve 8th and 32nd NW, Leary Way, and 100-somethingth Street, transfering to downtown at Market or Fremont, replacing the 28 and 17, and providing new all-day Ballard-Fremont service. A Central District loop or two could improve the atrocious bus service east of 23rd, transfering at Broadway. But stay out of downtown and congested areas: focus on the smaller uncongested streets that aren’t on trunk routes.

      7. Grid service would work for North Seattle. But south of downtown, the Duwamish, the I-5 ridge, and the general long and narrow shape of southeast Seattle suggest other approaches. Routes that are purely east-west serve little purpose in southeast Seattle; better to take routes with a general north-south profile and bend them to meet Link as here.

      8. I have thought of a similar rectangle, but for Link. A downtown-Ballard-45th line would provide the left and top sides. With local buses, the distances are too long to ride two or three sides of the rectangle without wishing for an express route for part of the trip.

      9. I’m all for the loop bus routes, but not this gigantic loop from UW to Pioneer Square to Ballard to UW. I’ve always advocated for frequent, small loop routes that focus people to the LINK station closest to them. A LINK Loop from Columbia City to Seward Park and back, or eventually from Husky Stadium to Laurelhurst and back. It decreases duplicate service and gets them to LINK.

    2. Perhaps you should read the piece again. Everyone retains a one-seat bus ride to downtown, often a faster one.

  4. One variation of the 9 you purpose could be that after 8pm or so it would change back to the original 7 routing to downtown. This way you use a frequent transfer based network when headways are low, but then you go back and serve the major demand corridors when headways get longer.

    1. Maybe it’d be more palatable politically to, instead of increasing the 9 and deleting the 7, you instead modify the peak routing of the 7 to follow that of the 9 at the frequency you propose, and then delete the 9. This would fit in with Adam’s idea here, your suggestion to electrify the 9, and maybe even dispel the riot..

  5. As a resident of South Seattle – I agree the #7 should be eliminated and the resources from the route elimination should be used to better serve the Rainer Valley.

    We need smaller local “Feeder” routes that connect the train stations – with the people who travel the Rainer Ave Corridor I also agree about increasing #9 Service. (How about have long buses during rush hour. I have been on buses that turn away riders because they are too crowded.)

    The big problem still has to do with different fair structures. Not everyone has an Orca card. (Are there any statistics on what percentage of Route 7 riders that use Orca Cards?) Unfortunately, Metro and Sound Transit don’t seem to be working in unity to serve the Southeast Seattle Corridor. The best thing to do would sit down and redesign service from scratch.

    1. Getting people to change to Orca is a challenge, but it will happen eventually. Are Metro & Sound Transit working together at all?

      1. There’s an easy way to force the change right now. For a 3-month grace period, give away free ORCA cards. After that, double the cash fare for all tickets. ORCA users would continue to pay the same price as they do now.

      2. [Ryan] Don’t forget about the step of getting money on cards. Right now you fill yours online or in the train tunnel (or one or two other places). That gets those of us with computers access and credit cards, and a few people that happen to go to the transit tunnel often. But it probably misses a very large bus population. And that bus population is probably not the one you want to start charging double fares to.

        I think it’ll take something like bringing drug stores on board. Pay cash and they’ll add it to your Orca.

      3. This part of ORCA adoption is technically easy to fix. The TVMs on MLK are there. Anyone who rides a train once has the opportunity to buy an ORCA card right there. That’s different from the Eastside where there are no TVMs at all. The problem with ORCA adoption in RV is social: people either don’t have the money to prepay a few fares, or they think they don’t.

    2. On your point about fares, I think everything has been moving, all be it slowly, towards fare integration. For all the problems ORCA has, it is in my opinion the most important thing getting us to that.

      1. It’s still crazy that transit fares are so high in Seattle. It costs almost as much to take the bus to work as it does to park there and then you factor in the bus being late, the two or three crazy/stinky people, and then the rain, its a wonder anyone takes the bus. The bus fares should be half of what they are–it should cost me MUCH less to take the bus than to drive.

      1. It’s 3/4 of a mile long, so you’re never more that 3/8 of a mile from a Link station.

      2. The 38 suffers from being a stand-alone stump of a route. If it got people somewhere by being added on to another route, I bet it would have ridership. My vote would be to add it on to the end of the 14, to connect the Japanese-American corridor up through Leschi.

        Have the 27 take over that stump up Mt Baker Blvd, head south to Genessee Fields, and then west over to Columbia City Station, creating the better headway Martin seeks between Genessee, Columbia City, and Link.

  6. If you ride the 7 often enough, you realize that a large percentage (most?) of the riders on that route aren’t going downtown. If you eliminate the 7, a lot of riders will need to transfer from the 934 to get where they are going. And you would likely need to turn the 9 into a local route, instead of a skip-stop route, which would likely be another source of unrest. People have been complaining about the 7 for decades–it’s part of living in Rainier Valley–but it still seems to get a lot of riders.

    First, Rainier Valley needs a LINK station at Graham Street and a plan to develop the commercial and residential properties in that area. Then there needs to be bus a route that runs east-west on Graham Street that connects Rainier Avenue/Rainier Beach with Beacon Hill (maybe this is what the 38 should be doing). There’s a huge potential for the Othello to Columbia City neighborhood corridor on MLK, but there really needs to be a station at Graham Street.

    1. The fact that a route as duplicative and useless as the 38 remains is proof that removing the 7 is just politically impossible.

      I do find it ironically amusing that the only pure east/west connector route like what you’d ideally see at Othello or Columbia City instead runs directly between two relatively close Link stations. Thanks Metro!

      1. +1 on eliminating the 38.
        It actually makes some of the eastside routes look good.

        I’ll mention again that the 36 should really turn around at Pac Med. Especially with the new streecar coming, there isn’t a need to waste service hours running endlessly up S Jackson & 3rd Ave.

      2. I know the 38 runs fairly empty, and I’m not defending it. But you should remember that between the Mt. Baker Station and the Beacon Hill Station is a very steep hill. Without bus service on McClellan between the two stations, you are forcing riders to hike some pretty steep terrain.

      3. Then reroute existing service to make it more useful.

        (By the way, the steep-hill problem is the main reason I’m not convinced MLK, which runs at the base of the hill, was the most TOD-friendly route for Link.)

  7. “a lot of riders will need to transfer from the 934 to get where they are going”

    should read “9 to the 34”

    1. They AREN’T going downtown, yet they would need to transfer to the route that goes downtown (and only splits at Dearborn)? Where, exactly, are these people going?

  8. Nice work. That looks like a major improvement, for bus riders as well as people trying to get to the train. Eventually the train will go farther than downtown and connectivity to it will be more important for longer regional trips.

    1. This is an excellent point. Our entire transit system is oriented around downtown, and since Link is as well it becomes hard to convince people that the bus+link is better. This will however change as LINK expands and starts to connect areas that can only really be connected by multiple slow bus rides.

      1. I don’t think it is tough to convince people that bus+Link is better. Rather, I think it is tough to convince Metro planners that it is not that tough to convince people that bus+Link is better.

      2. Easy on the planners Brent, now that the droids and bean counters are in charge of the asylum. Route planning has evolved from an art and science to a political scrum.

  9. Eliminating the 7 would actually subtly decrease options for folks living north of Genesee. Although there might be more buses in the form of the 34 and interlined 9, they wouldn’t all go downtown. Commuters would either have to transfer to Link from the 9 to get downtown (problematic and not time effective generally at the Mt. Baker station), or wait for a less frequent 34. This would be further degradation of convenience and service for North Rainier residents. Remember that ridership drops off with transfers and particularly if transfers are difficult, and it drops off with less frequent service. I’m all for more 9s or 34s, but don’t make things even less convenient in northern Rainier Valley.

    1. Scott,

      On North Rainier the downtown headway drops from 10 min on the 7 to 15 on the 34. That’s hardly onerous.

    2. Frequency on the 9 is exactly the same as the 34, zso I’m not even sure what you mean.

  10. There’s a golden rule in bus route planning.

    Never, ever mess with a system’s best route unless you are damn sure you can make it better.

    While the concept is certainly intriguing (and a version of truncating 7 has floated somewhere [don’t recall, City of Seattle Transit Plan perhaps?]) it would be very politically challenging to do this.

    The fact that 42 is still around is a testament to the politics of that area.

    1. …or at least some kind of analysis as to why it is you best route.

      I’m also thinking that the 34 and the 7X could just head over Boren and serve South Lake Union instead of downtown. People on Martin’s 9 or 34 can transfer at I-90 to go downtown also.

    2. I think more analysis has to be done, but I’m “damn sure” this is better on a conceptual level.

      1. I agree that more analysis would have to be done.

        As it stands, we don’t know the following:
        Costs – if they’re in the ballpark
        Ridership impacts – how many existing riders are negatively affected
        Ridership gains – how many future riders this would attract

        Without knowing those three items, there is no way you can be “damn sure” that one concept is better than the other.

        I don’t see anything wrong with the concept, and there’s a lot to like. However, I would be careful about making claims that you cannot support with data.

    3. I think that is a great point but Link is purposefully going were the best routes are.

      1. Um, for top ridership, Link would be on Rainier rather than MLK. It was put on MLK because Rainier is too narrow and congested.

      2. I think you’re taking my statement too literally. Link went through the valley because it has such high demand.

  11. One problem with your Route 36 proposal, and any other trolley line you want to cross Link’s path, unless you go over a bridge, or under a tunnel, Trolley wires and Link wires can not cross. The voltages are significantly different.

      1. The Trolley and Streetcar are the same voltage. Same thing in San Francisco, common voltages. If you put that thing in with different voltages, and the trolley dewires and hits the higher voltage wire, it would not be good.

      2. Can’t you make the small section of Link trolleywire where it intersects with the bus trolleywire not be electrified, as there are always (well, were always until recently) at least two pantographs on the train, so one would still be collecting power while the other is going of the dead wire section? I feel like I heard about this kind of solution before.

      3. Are you sure about that, punkrawker? I’m told the streetcar and buses asleep different voltages, but my source could be wrong.

      4. The streetcar is 750V. I’ve heard 600V or 700V for the trolleybuses, not sure on that one. But Link is 1500V, so that’s kind of a big difference. I’m pretty sure that punkrawker is right that a stray trolley pole hitting Link’s OCS would have disasterous results.

      5. In the trolleybus/streetcar wire crossing, the trolleybus wire continues through uninterrupted. The poles should pass through as if nothing was there. How would the poles come off in a case like that? That said, some sparks flew during the streetcar inaugural event that got the crowd’s attention for a while while a trolley crossed the streetcar wires.

        Metro’s trolley buses use 700 V DC.

      6. Look at the picture carefully and also read the comments – The hot wire for the trolley is completely isolated from the wire for the streetcar. Regardless of what the voltages are, they *are* separate circuits served, most likely, by separate electrical substations.

      7. “If you put that thing in with different voltages, and the trolley dewires and hits the higher voltage wire, it would not be good.”

        Ah… I see what your concern is. Suffice it to say, that’s not a place I’d be concerned about losing my poles. I’d assume it’s subject to a slow order so I’d drive through slowly. That said, it’s a really smooth section of wire from the perspective of a trolley. Unless the road was *really* bumpy because of snow, construction, or debris on the roadway, losing poles here would be a *very* rare occurrence – even for a rookie trolley driver.

      8. We know that not all operators follow slow orders, and while I would agree it would be a rare occurrence, I think “rare” is a big risk KCM and ST wouldn’t want to take.

  12. Looks like Erica Barnett over at Publicola has already hauled out the pitchforks and torches.


    Good first draft, Martin. It’s worth considering as bus/Link connections can work well for those who want to go downtown. Every time I drive the 36 about a quarter to half of my bus empties out at Beacon hill station – only to have it fill back up by the time I get to Jackson.

    If only you can get past the “don’t eliminate my bus” inertia.

    1. I’m not understanding whose “destinations are on Rainier” that would require a transfer to the 34. According to Martin’s mockup, in the North Valley the 34 would leave for downtown on Dearborn before the 9 left Rainier on Jackson! Are “Guy on Beacon Hill” and Erica referring to the 9 currently being an express? Or to its failing to serve Rainier Beach south of its station? What the hell is wrong with the 9 serving intra-Valley trips?

  13. 9 (Rainier, Broadway): It would have to be local if the 7 is eliminated due to the breadth of intra-valley trips. The 9 could also continue to the U-district as it used to, and delete the 49 in favor of more service on the 11. [1]

    34 (RB, Seward Park, Genesee, Rainier, Dearborn, downtown): The proposed overlap on Rainier would be vital for downtown riders north of Mt Baker.

    36 (downtown, Beacon, Othello, RB): excellent idea. The loss of the 106 on Othello/Rainier has made it hard to get to Othello station from Hillman City.

    38 (McLellan): This was reinstated for residents who said they can’t walk up the steep hill. Check how many elderly people live on the hillside between the stations. If you split the 8 at Mt Baker (to increase on-time performance), the southern segment could continue to Beacon Hill subsuming the 38. It could also continue to West Seattle. :)

    39: Um, OK. But it breaks the connection between Seward Park and Columbia City station, which is an important east-west corridor.

    42: Gone, gone, gone. Make it an ex-route.

    Crosstown routes to West Seattle and Georgetown are important to build up the grid, even if it takes a while to gain ridership. Start with a van and limited hours, and work up.

    7: no chance in hell. Link competes with the 7X, not so much with the 7. Much of the 7 ridership is intra-valley, and most destinations are on Rainier not MLK. At best you could split the route somewhere between Mt Baker and Jackson, but remember the northern valley still needs to get downtown.

    9: it would have to be local if it replaces the 7. It could continue to the U-district and delete the 49 in favor of more service on the 10/11. Electrifying it would require making it local or eliminating the 7. However, I don’t see the 9 as a high-priority route overall, especially after the First Hill Streetcar and Capitol Hill Station come online. It could also be shifted to 12th for that missing 12th corridor.


    1. (Ignore the last two paragraphs. I tend to leave old stuff at the bottom when I’m editing, and then not realize it’s still there. But I do have misgivings about deleting the 7 and keeping the 9.)

      1. It would be great to see a West Seattle route land at SODO Station, for a quick-and-easy transfer to southbound Link.

    2. 9 (Rainier, Broadway): “The 9 could also continue to the U-district as it used to, and delete the 49 in favor of more service on the 11.” What?!? The 11 doesn’t share any routing with the 49 it doesn’t also share with the 10, and the Pine/Pike leg of the 49 will really be replaced when U-Link opens. I’d love it if the 9 returned to its former glory, but it would eventually be redundant with the First Hill Streetcar, as well as Link – and how would you give people on 12th Ave the bus service they were promised? The only reason we’re keeping even a minor remnant of the 49 once U-Link and the First Hill streetcar opens is to serve 10th Ave E.

      38 (McLellan) and proposal to extend to West Seattle: A decent but probably low-ridership-for-a-long-time idea, possibly the best way to keep the 38. The downside is losing the potential Route 50 idea to VA that might be higher-ridership. Perhaps the 39 could be routed down McClellan?

      Does ANYONE ride the 42? Who could have possibly killed killing it? Someone ignorant of Link and how the 8 would have replaced it on MLK? Couldn’t Metro think about killing it now?

      1. “9 (Rainier, Broadway): “The 9 could also continue to the U-district as it used to, and delete the 49 in favor of more service on the 11.” What?!? The 11 doesn’t share any routing with the 49 it doesn’t also share with the 10, and the Pine/Pike leg of the 49 will really be replaced when U-Link opens.”

        I meant to explain this. I thought about the 10 vs 11, but the 10 is already pretty frequent while the 11 probably has growth potential. This was extracted from a larger grid plan I’m mulling over. FWIW:

        * Make the 9 or 60 the main N-S route, continuing to the U district, and perhaps shifting one of them to 12th. Link won’t serve local stops, and the FH streetcar will cover only Jackson-Denny (or Prospect), but people’s trips may be half inside the streetcar area and half outside. As for a Rainier streetcar and UW streetcar, I’ll believe it when I see a concrete proposal.

        * Move the 11 to Madison/Marion, subsuming part of the 12 and not serving Pine Street.

        * Make the 10 the main Pine Street bus, and move all Pike/Pine buses to Pine (better connection to Westlake Station, and lose 2 turns on Bellevue). Extend the 10 from 15th/Garfield to 19th and go southbound on 19th to Madison, subsuming the 12’s tail. Delete the 12 and 49.

        * Truncate the 43 at 23rd, and add frequency to the 48. (Consider a future streetcar on 23rd, from Roosevelt stn to Mt Baker stn.) Consider deleting the 43, which is “only” 4 blocks from the 10 and also overlaps with the 8.

        * Add “something” on 12th, perhaps diverting the 9 or 60. (Transfer to FH streetcar at 12th/Jackson.)

        * Is the MLK segment between Madison and Mt Baker necessary? It’s six blocks from the 48. On the other hand, there’s a hillside between, and Metro service is minimal east of 23rd, so maybe it’s necessary.

        (All of this assumes greater frequency on the new routes, ideally 10-15 minutes.)

      2. And what about the 60’s diversion to serve Harborview? Actually, I suppose a bus on that stretch of Broadway isn’t too necessary with SU on one side, Swedish on the other, and the First Hill Streetcar…

      3. I wish the 60 didn’t divert to Harborview, it takes like twenty minutes to get from Pine Street to Jackson Street. But the First Hill residents specifically asked for that routing to go through the center of the neighborhood where a loit of elderly people live. Broadway skirts the edge of the neighborhod.

  14. I think the 34 should have 15 minute headways to Seward Park. There are no other routes down there, and it’s a ways from Rainier, but it’s potentially a good transit market.
    Also, the First Hill Streetcar will be going up Broadway, and a Rainier streetcar as far south as McClellan was proposed. Seems like a streetcar to replace the 9 along with most of the improvements you’ve outlined here would be great.

      1. This is a chicken-egg question. It reminds me of when the automobile extremists in Lake City were saying bike lanes on 125th were a bad investment because no bikers use 125th.

        Well, if frequency to Seward Park is bad (and it is), bus riders won’t go there. If it gets better, and the word gets out, bus riders might go there in much larger numbers.

      2. It’s got a solid amount of density of single-family homes with a lot of the residents commuting to downtown. It has a small commercial district of the type that works well with transit, and Seward Park itself is a big destination for people from all over SE Seattle, who would have greater access to it if the bus ran more often.

      3. Seward Park has the only natural market in the valley (PCC), plus there should be good transit to the park itself. Currently there’s an infrequent bus that ends in the early evening, or you can walk on Orcas Street over a couple hills. I was considering moving to Rainier Valley this summer, but the difficulty in getting to those places was one of the reasons I didn’t.

      4. Yeah, PCC is kind of out of the way, which is annoying. I love that they use one of those old neighborhood grocery store sites, but still wish they’d open a bigger one up by Columbia City or even Mount Baker station.

  15. Nostalgia can so blinding sometimes (as a railfan, I know from where I speak…). We speak of routes too much as self-contained entities, as evidenced by our Los Angeles-like phrasing “ride ‘The 7’ long enough and you’ll see that…” The 7 isn’t useful because it’s The Venerable 7, it’s useful because of the transit utility it provides. Providing additional utility with equivalent resources is what good planning is all about, and I think Martin’s idea does this very well. I’m astonished how many of the comments both here and on Publicola failed to grasp the nuances of his plan. Everyone at every point retains a one-seat ride, our massive investment in Link is better utilized…all by redirecting the capacity of one of Metro’s best routes, portions of which are currently redundant.

    1. A big part of the problem was that he didn’t specify that he’d be de-express-izing the 9, which I guess seemed obvious to him, but sometimes the obvious is what MOST needs to be said. (Then again, since he only takls about “adding some stops”, maybe he WON’T be entirely de-express-izing it…)

    2. I can agree with ‘nostalgia.’ I still miss route 6 and the way it would wind around Greenlake. The 358 bypasses it but all those people that live on Stone Way and 50th sure miss having a close bus route.

  16. Overall, these seem like some very well thought out options. I had a couple of other thoughts:
    Contact Patty Murray and suggest a new entrance to the VA Hospital on the east side of the hospital near Beacon Ave. This could be the new transit entrance the VA. Then the 36 would be the one-seat ride from downtown. After that, it might be possible to bring back the Route 50 concept.

    A co-worker and I were chatting about this – possibly extend the 27 to Mount Baker Station.

      1. But apparently it was not close enough to allow Metro to change the 39 into the 50 last year.

  17. Martins plan may well happen for a couple of reasons. Metro is hemorrhaging cash daily, and starting after next year, will need to make ‘wholesale’ cuts in service at least through 2014, shedding as many as 20 million riders per year.
    OTOH, ST has a decent positive cash flow for the time being, and could use some better ridership numbers to stay competitive in the New Starts world. Their dilemma is how that cash and debt reserve is directed towards either operations or construction, being damned if they do and damned if they don’t serve this or build that.
    Restructuring Rainier service to Link is a convenient way to shift operation costs from one ledger sheet to the other (MT to ST)- so you may see the cuts, but not many of the adds that make Martins plan viable.
    I think all the low hanging fruit in Metros tool kit of cuts have been reaped. Now is gut wrenching, teeth gnashing, bare knuckle brawling from here on out.

  18. A restructure of the 7 was examined in some detail as part of the Rapid Trolley Network. This is not new news. That plan, however, did not address the cross-valley issue as Martin did.


    I believe the biggest weakness of this plan is that you continue to have “route duplication” on Rainier. I understand why (keep 1 seat ride to downtown), but if you were to truly wipe the slate clean, I’m not sure you would do that. I’d need a lot more data before I could come up with a better scenario.

    1. We’re a long way before Seattleites are willing to give up their one-seat rides. U-Link and North Link may help because grid networks are more viable there.

      1. What is so unusual about wanting a one-seat ride? Transit should be convenient. The more inconvenient, the more ridership drops off.

  19. You are missing the point of the 7. It is a really simple, frequent route that you can rely on at virtually any time of day or night. If you split it up into a bunch of smaller routes you loose the frequency as well as the late night service; which means people can no longer rely on it for spontaneous discretionary trips.

    Improving the 7, instead of eliminating it, is what would really help Rainier Valley. Give it signal priority along Rainier Ave, a dedicated bus lane on S Jackson St (something many bus routes would benefit from,) and maybe even off-board fare collection.

    As it is now, it’s only really faster to take a feeder+link downtown during peak times when the 7 gets stuck in 10 minutes of traffic on Jackson, the rest of the day it’s a wash or faster to just take the 7.

    The real reason people hate the 7 is that is uses crappy old buses and a lot of poor people ride it. Stop hating on the 7, it’s a good route. I’m right with you on a lot of the other improvements, but they are not worth eliminating the 7.

    1. What part of the 7, other than going downtown, does the 9 not preserve? It’ll remain as frequent before 7 PM, and the loss of downtown trips suggests a reduction in frequency after that is feasible. And the owl trips can be preserved along the 7’s current routing as an 80-series route.

      1. First, half of the people on the 7, if not more, are are going to and from downtown. Forcing that many people to transfer when it doesn’t save them any time and may even lengthen their trip doesn’t make sense. Second, going from 10 minute to 15 minute headways represents a 50% increase in the time between buses, so the 9 would not be as frequent as the 7 currently is. Finally, the 9, 34, and 39 all do not run at night, so they would have to split the 7’s night time service hours. The 7’s 15 minutes headways split three ways would yield 45 minute headways for each of those routes. (Right? For some reason that math doesn’t feel quite right.) Imagine getting off Link and facing a 45 minute wait! It makes those routes pointless, you’d be better off just walking.

        But you are missing the point of my post; there is value in high frequency, all day routes like the 7 that you loose when you split them up. Ride the 7 at 11pm on a random Tuesday night, and you will be shocked at how many people are on it. Those people use it because they know they can just show up at the bus stop and get where they are going. They don’t have to check a schedule or worry about when the last bus is. If you take that security away, they will be less likely to use the bus.

      2. The headways go up to 15 minutes with the 9 (ten with the 7?), so it would not be as frequent. The 9 has something like 10 stops (that’s not “tons”) between Rainier Beach and 12th and Jackson, while the 7 has 31+ (I may have counted wrong, though). I know Martin said that the new 9 would be more localized, but unless all the current stops were added I think it would be a big big minus. After the 7’s stop diet this year I believe the stops are pretty close to the 1/4 mile ideal. I am not sure of the magnitude of the cost increase to keep all the stops, though.

        Personally, if the only real change would be changing the effective end point of the route from downtown to capitol hill, I think dropping 7 in favor of the new 9 is a cool idea, especially if the 7X and 9X routes still existed. However, lessening the frequency and getting rid of stops makes it far less compelling IMHO.

        Ultimately, though, the whole point of the exercise was to reallocate resources from the 7 to other concerns, so riders using the 7 for local travel or going downtown would be the losers, and those benefiting from the changes would be the winners. A lot of people ride the 7 (2nd most used route behind the 48 I think), but perhaps the changes would be better in the long run. Hard to say.

        I do agree with Kelly… the 7 is great because it is high frequency, stops a lot, and runs practically all the time. Convenient!

      3. Kelly, everyone realizes the 7 serves multiple purposes. It’s said very early in the original post. If you read it, you’ll see that everyone still has a one-seat ride downtown.

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