Ghosts of Route 4 Past (1972 Seattle Transit) – Photo by the Author

During the recent discussions of Martin’s proposal to improve mobility in the Rainier Valley, one of the central ideas to emerge was redundancy. Transit agencies shouldn’t have routes that compete with each other for the same origin-destination pairs. Whether you agreed with Martin’s proposal or not, it came from his recognition of this type of inefficiency.  Services that directly compete with each other for ridership cannibalize their own resources while diminishing productivity, frequency, and connections.

As a postscript to that conversation I’ve often wondered about the utility of Route 4, specifically whether its southern half could be eliminated and its resources distributed elsewhere.  Though in 2007 it had the highest ridership per mile of any Metro route, I have a distinct impression that it no longer serves any unique transit market and in fact diminishes the performance of Routes 3, 8, and 48, all of which serve unique destinations.  From 3rd/James to 23rd/Jefferson, the shared 3/4 provide 7-15 minute headways until 1am.  Once the 4 turns south on 23rd, it duplicates the 48.  From its turn at Dearborn it runs in a couplet on 24th and 26th, needlessly threading the needle between 23rd (Route 48) and MLK (Route 8).  Worst of all, it inexplicably terminates 1/2 a mile from Mount Baker TC, foregoing any connectivity with Link, the Rainier Valley, and other points south.  To serve Mount Baker TC, the only missing infrastructure is either a 1/2 mile of trolley wire along MLK or a left-turn trolley switch at Walker/Rainier.

What market does this route serve that could not be better met by more frequent gridded service?  As far as I can tell, perhaps only Judkins Park to Harborview.  From its southern terminus to downtown Seattle, Route 7 and Link provide some of the most frequent service in the region.  To the Central District, Routes 8 and 48 are faster and twice as frequent.  From the Central District to downtown, Routes 3/4 provide peak 7-15 minute headways, or there is half-hourly service on Routes 14 and 27.   The 2-4 buses per hour on Route 4 could be used to provide 15-minute headways on both the 14 and 27, or to provide all-day, 7-minute service on Route 3 as far as 23rd, with perhaps every other bus using Route 4’s Queen Anne terminus.  Do we need Route 4?

79 Replies to “Is Route 4 Redundant?”

  1. Well, transferring the buses themselves to the 27 would require electrification. The 14 and 3 could use them, though, especially since the 4 provides service to the 3’s loop on Queen Anne nights and Sundays.

    1. And the 27, along with the south end of the 48, along with the 8 and 11 DO need electrification, once we buy 400 new electric buses.

  2. Well, as Rowan and Martin used to say “You bet your Bippy” we need the 4.
    Both serve a heavily used corridor between QA and Central Dist. As loads drop off, they split and serve 4 distinct and equally important transit markets on the tails at end of the routes, where frequency is matched by demand.
    The 4 is the only way for many transit Dependant riders from Lighthouse for the Blind to connect to CBD routes.
    It ain’t broke, go fix something else!

      1. Isn’t that what the 8 and 48 do near Walker? I guess I’m making your point for you by saying why would you want more redundant service to terminate at a ‘dysfunctional’ transit center near Mt.Baker stn.
        Crossing Rainier for sight impaired employees at LHFB is scary even for me, so Link connections there seem like a good deal, but Rainier Speedway Freaks kinda screw that up. Then your faced with getting enough layover space for up to three trolleys, and passing wires, as the Walker layover provides. Just not a good enough reason to spend a couple a million so we can have a ‘grid’.
        Of course, that’s just one opinion, which is subject to revision, faults, memory lapses, and an occasional brain cramp. :) Mike

    1. Well, what we really need are some numbers on how many people ride that part of the 4 and then estimate how many of those would be served by other routes. With all respect to the folks at Lighthouse for the Blind, you can’t justify a 15-minute frequency route just to serve a small group of transit-dependent people. That’s what 30-minute or hourly local routes are for. Your comment that frequency is matched by demand sounds suspect to me. Most Metro routes do not match frequency to demand properly. That’s why this blog is always pushing them to do a better job. What they probably see is that the 3/4 as a whole is highly productive, so they probably wouldn’t notice if this tail is either unproductive or redundant.

    2. Aren’t you basically saying “we need the 4 so people in the 23rd/MLK corridor have a one-seat ride to downtown and Queen Anne”? (Especially considering how close the 8 gets to both!) I’ll have more on this in a new comment thread.

      Considering where LFTB is, shouldn’t the answer be improved pedestrian connections on Walker so they can take the 7 (or the 34 or 9 in Martin’s proposal)?

  3. At community meetings regarding transit service revisions in Rainier Valley, the idea of extending the 4 to the Mt. Baker TC was brought up and Metro staff were adamant that the 14 would be extended (contorted?) to serve MBTC and not the 4. I don’t know why, but Metro was real dug in on that issue.

    The 4’s terminal loop does serve the Lighthouse for the Blind, so there might be an issue associated with that.

    Let me ask also, are both the 3 and the 4 needed on the north end, too? Imagine running the 4 to the top of Queen Anne @15 minute headways on the existing route and then routing the 3N via the Counterbalance, passing Seattle Center on the west side.

      1. The routing of the 2 diverges away from the commercial district at the top of QA. Rerouting the 3 would mostly duplicate the 13, but not the 2.

  4. Are you arguing for the elimination of the 4’s southern half, and at the same time arguing for its trolley wire to be extended 1/2 mile to the Mount Baker TC?

    1. I just saying that it’s current configuration does little for connectivity. I’d probably rather see it eliminated, but failing that, extended the 1/2 mile.

      1. Be careful when you say that. It’s known that when you remove the wire, the neighborhoods will never let you reinstall it if you need it later.

        I’m hopeful for electrification of the 11 and 8.

      2. I definitely don’t want any net loss of trolley wire, I just don’t think it’s necessary to have trolley service on 24th and 26th. I too am hopeful for electrification of the 8 and 11, as well as the 9 if Martin’s RV idea ever gains momentum.

  5. Something to consider is that there can be a benefit to having routes overlap some of their paths to create synergies. Where I live in Chicago, my street is served by 2 express buses and a local. The combination of the 3 buses which all end up in downtown but take different paths, provide very frequent headways so that your wait for a bus is almost never more than 10 minutes and is often less then 4. This means that if I just want to get 1.5 miles down the street (before the bus paths diverge), I have several choices e.g basically any bus that comes by.

    Now admittedly, the density of my neighborhood is about 36,000/per sq mile but a similar strategy is also employed in a number of other neighborhoods in Chicago that don’t approach my section of the city’s high rise density.

    So, if some routes overlap, I think that’s a good thing.

    1. This is a common mistake in transit planning that Metro uses quite a bit. Think about the 71/72/73. They have three long tails that go through low-density neighborhoods, then combine at University Way and go downtown. It sounds like a great deal, but there are many problems with scheduling such a system. What you want is for all the buses coming down the Ave to be spaced out equally, but in practical terms since they are all coming from different places the scheduling doesn’t work out, and you get several bunched up. It’s also very confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the system to have several different-numbered buses all going to the same place one direction and many places in the other direction.

      The recent Metro Task Force report proposed to replace this system with a single “spine” route that could go from Northgate straight down to UW, stopping only at key transfer points (sort of like a mirror to future light rail). This route could be really high-frequency because it would be connecting major destination points. The 71/72/73 would be local routes connecting the current tail neighborhoods to the major route. Those people would have to transfer, but there aren’t that many of them and with high-frequency it wouldn’t be a painful transfer.

      The issue here is efficient use of resources. I love that on Pine St near where I live you can catch the 49, 10, 11, 43, and 14 to go downtown, but I would much rather have one or two routes that do the same thing but would also frequently take me to interesting destinations in the other direction. Instead our resources are divided. The grid system would be better, although we are limited by the I-5 crossings.

      While I have the floor, let me just point out that the 11 should just run straight down Madison all the way downtown, and the 10/12 should be one route that splits at the end to go down 15th or 19th. That would actually make sense.

      1. I think it’s an artifact of buses that they have variable performance on routes and will bunch up. In Chicago, they’ve made what I think is a good decision to allow buses to leap frog each other. I don’t think it’s all that important that buses be evenly spaced or adhere to a strict timetable as long as the route is served frequently. Chances are they will each have heavy loads at some point in their journey. For the 7(X)’s serving the Ave, with 60,000 people having to get around, a good chunk of them simply want frequent service to a point such as downtown/DSTT. Chances are there will be more than a bus full waiting at any one time during rushes to get on a bus and having multiple buses there is a good thing.

        If they come frequent enough, then if you are going north where the routes diverge, then you can select your specific bus.

      2. Keep in mind that a lot of the bus bunching on the 70-series is due to a consultant not realizing that they’re the same route between the U-District and downtown as chronicled on other comment threads.

      3. I can say with decent certainty that if you make the 10/12 one route, deleting it’s routing up Pike/Pine, the issue will be downtown terminals. Very few routes terminate downtown because of real estate. Actually, the 43 is the only one that comes to mind. I am using Stewart Street and Yesler way as North-South downtown limits. Already the routes who terminate near downtown (the 7, 49, 3, 4, 2, 1, etc), have to do weird loops to get started up again. It makes more sense to through-route trips because as you’re unloading passengers headed downtown, you’re loading up passengers headed out of downtown simultaneously. In another attempt to support my statement, the 11 probably should not terminate downtown and should continue to stay with the 125 as through-routing takes buses off the streets, requires less drivers, less fuel, etc…

      4. What if the 10/11/12 were all combined into one route? One end would be Madison all the way through downtown, and the other end would be Pike, branching at 15th and 19th. That solves the downtown-terminal problem, but still gets rid of the awkward criss-cross between the 11 and the 12.

      5. Aleks, you hit it on the head. That’s actually what I was trying to say, that the 11 should just be Madison all the way, and the 10/12 should be 15th or 19th alternating. It would still serve the same purpose, but would have fewer turns to deal with and would be easier to understand.

  6. Regarding the electrification of routes 9 and 11, for as long as I can remember, the route 11 has been connected to the 125 (South Seattle CC) which is unrealistic go electrify, and the route 9 is an express route. An express route cannot be a trolley and should not be a trolley, especially when it runs on Rainier Avenue.

    1. The 9 used to be a trolley route. It is possible to have local and express trolley routes with the correct infrastructure.

      1. The 9 may have been a trolley route, but if you’re suggesting it was an express as a trolley, I beg to differ, and suggest that you don’t understand the difference between a local and express route. An express route does not always take the same route as a local, and an express route ALWAYS skips stops. Trolleys cannot pass eachother (unless you’re suggesting adding passing wire along the entire route and 2 switches at every bus stop served by the express bus…and isn’t the whole purpose for this consideration to save money?). Additionally, everybody knows a trolley is not as fast as a diesel. The whole purpose of an express route is to save time.

        The 9 route may have been a trolley at one time, but so were all the other local routes. Just because things are possible doesn’t mean they are feasible, or responsible.

      2. There is still trolley wire at the end of the 9 where it goes around the block at Broadway & 10th Ave. Are you saying they’re not even using that wire for anything?

      3. The 9 trolley was local, and extended to the U district. When the 7/49 was split, the 9’s northern hours were added to the 49, and the 9 was made into a diesel express to Broadway.

    2. I guess all I can say is the Hastings Express in Vancouver was a trolley. In fact, by PNE there is a section of Hastings with five sets of wires. Two for the local in each direction; two for the express in each direction and one for buses providing extra service for the PNE.

      1. That’s awesome! Sure it’s expensive, but it’s worth it if we ever want to be a carbon-neutral, all-electric-transit city. The New York subway is all double-tracked so express trains can pass locals, and I’m sure everyone there is thankful they made that investment. Also new trolleybuses apparently can go off-wire for short distances, so it seems like they could pass just fine.

      1. Yes, Chad, trolley buses do pass other buses on 3rd Avenue skip stops. However, trolley buses DO NOT and CAN NOT pass other trolleys on 3rd avenue, with the ONLY exception being between Union and Pike going northbound where the 14 turns, between Cherry and James southbound where the 3 and 4 turn, and between University and Seneca, where the 2 turns. At these places, trolleys can pass each other, but after they pass, one must turn while the other goes straight…there is no passing otherwise.

      2. That is incorrect. There are a couple trolley sidings at a few locations on 3rd without turnouts immediately after (they just merge back to the main wire). I know because I go along 3rd each and every weekday. The drivers almost never use them, though.

      3. “The drivers almost never use them, though”

        I use them when I know I’m going to be a while but that’s rare. In my opinion, they are wired backwards. Currently your poles default to the outside wire – blocking the inside wire. A better arrangement would be to go through the inside wire by default. When you get up to the head of the zone and realize there is a wheelchair waiting for you in the crowd, you turn on your 4-ways to let drivers behind you know that you’ll be a while and they can switch to the outside wire.

        If you’re laying over on a “siding wire” and the driver behind you forgets to switch – no biggie. He/she can get out and switch poles to the outside and continue on – not so with the current arrangement.

  7. I’ve thought about this too before. I’d want to see some numbers. How many people actually ride the 4 from the Lighthouse for the Blind each day? If it’s a relatively significant number and can’t be better served by paratransit, then perhaps the tail of the 4 beyond 23rd & Jefferson could go at hal hour frequencies. Also, anecdotally, the 3 beyond 23rd and Jefferson seems to have very low ridership, and could be eliminated entirely. Then between the two of these eliminations, you could get good frequencies on the 14 and 27!

    1. OK, that’s quite enough. One of the best deli’s in Seattle is at the terminal for the 3 in Madrona. Are you proposing drivers eat fried chicken everyday at Ezell’s on 23rd or go out to MLK and have catfish?
      THIS IS A HUGE DEAL!

      1. I too think the tail of the 3 is worth keeping. It serves Madrona and East Cherry and fills a nice gap for east-west service between Union (2) and Yesler (27). It’s a unique market. I just don’t think the 4 can say the same.

      2. Madrona is already served by the 2. Cherry is four blocks south of Union and 5 blocks north of Yesler. And like I said, the 3 east of 23rd appears to get very few riders.

  8. The routes 3 and 4 generally run every 30 minutes each, and though they both mostly clear out at 23rd and Jefferson, there are still people that take it further. The frequency between downtown and 23rd and Jefferson is necessary as these buses are always full. It wouldn’t make any sense to terminate these routes at 23rd and Jefferson. All routes start empty and end empty. There’s no point ending a local route just because the bus is mostly empty. Sometimes routes are windy and quite often are not intended to carry people from end to end. They connect neighborhoods/landmarks often traveled between. I don’t think it’s fair to judge the whole route based on lack in ridership on 26th, 28th avenues.

      1. Also, if that is the case, we really should have a local route connecting the two tails to each other, then have one frequent route that just starts at 23rd/Jackson. That would improve reliability on the core frequent route.

      2. The 4 is needed because of the crush loads it carries between Harborview and downtown. The part past Harborview does not have high ridership (well during rush hour it does) but if you cut it out you’ll be left with just the 3 serving Harborview. You would need to replace the lost service going past Harborview with something else. Where are you going to turn this route around? Would having the 4 replacement stop at say Broadway/Jefferson save enough money to make it worthwhile?

    1. Well you would truncate the 4 at 23rd & Jefferson, or double frequencies on the 3. Frequently, both routes come every 15 minutes, combining for 7.5 min frequency. Zef, your idea for a half-hourly or so route taking care of the tails of those routes is great. It doesn’t make sense to have such high frequencies to such low-ridership corridors as the tails.

  9. Don’t forget the the 4 terminated at 26th/Judkins St for quite a long time, then the trolley wire was extended to serve Center Park/Light House for the Blind. Then, when I-90 was being buried, Metro started with a Route 97 that operated between downtown and Center Park. Then Route 39 (now route 34) served the facilities on the way between Rainier Beach and Downtown until Sept 88, then the 42 served it for awhile (via the detour) until the I-90 construction was completed and the Route 4 resumed service. Based on the proposed revamping of service map, that the proposed 34 could make a slight detour to serve Center Park/Lighthouse. It should be noted that some Metro transit planners would love to get rid of the 4 south, due to duplication with the 8 and 48.

    1. Thanks for the history lesson, Warren. I knew the #4 was “4 Judkins Park” but I didn’t realize it used to terminate there @ 26th/Judkins. That was before my time in the CD.

      I’m not sure how much sense it makes to put new service on the #14 when you’re going to be duplicating a whole chunk of its routing with the FH Streetcar soon – and the portion that gets most of the ridership at that. I like having the 3/4 couplet providing more frequent service on the busiest portion of that route as well. And I agree with Kerry – yes, much of the 3/4 ridership drops off east of 23rd, but you shouldn’t judge the route by its endpoint.

      If I were going to pick one of the two to kill, it would be the #4 past 23rd/Jefferson as opposed to the #3, as the southern part of the #4 has closer service (now that the #8 is at such high frequency compared to 10 years ago) than the #3. And as has been mentioned, while it would be great to have more service on the #27, you couldn’t use the trolleys there :)

      1. John,

        You make a really good point about the 8 frequency. Just 2 years ago it seemed that at least every other trip terminated at Group Health on E John Street, and the route ran once every 30 minutes. I don’t believe any of the trips terminate at Group Health now, and the frequency is still at least every 30 minutes, and runs later! Something to think about tho is that 23rd and Jackson is a major dropoff/pickup point on the 4 (and 14 and 48 and 8), so killing the route before 23rd and Jackson might not make sense either, at which point you’re left to wonder where the route turns around? Take a look at a map…there is no feasible place around here to turn it around, hehe.

      2. Actually, you should judge a route by its endpoint. Having a route that is full for most of the route but then is usually empty on the last mile or half mile is a bad route. You want strong “destination” endpoints so it is relatively full from end to end, otherwise you are wasting service hours, fuel, etc. It may be that this does count as a major destination or has sufficient density, but if the ridership is being split between 3 or 4 routes serving similar functions, then it is a waste of precious service hours.

        Regarding the 8, it may be nice for Rainier Valley but those of us in Capitol Hill wish dearly that it would go back to the way it used to be. The route is so long that it kills reliability by the time it gets here. We should have one route from Rainier Beach to Capitol Hill, and one from Capitol Hill to Uptown, and force the transfer for the minority who ride from end to end.

        The turnaround for the 4 is easy, just terminate it at 23rd/Jefferson. People going to 23rd/Jackson from downtown have many other options.

      3. Zef,

        Are you suggesting on the 8 to double buses on the streets, double operators operating buses, double fuel consumption, etc etc etc along the current route 8 corridor? Just so your bus is meeting it’s timepoints? That seems backwards to me. The busy part of the corridor is already served by the 43…and when you get the time, try http://www.onebusaway.org .

      4. Those of us in the CD are grateful for the ‘new’ 8, but I wouldn’t have a problem splitting it in half, particularly once the Broadway LINK station opens (that seems like a logical turnaround). Honestly, though, I don’t think you’re going to do all that much to improve on-time arrivals for the Cap Hill/Uptown piece given the disaster that is Denny.

      5. The 8 started with limited hours, but was so popular the schedule expanded and expanded and expanded. That’s usually the case with crosstown routes (48, 75, 30), and is an argument for a grid system. The 8 is now 15-minutes at peak hours due to Transit Now or some SLU businesses, I forget which.

        The southward leg was originally to bring some north-south service to the CD east of 23rd, where it has been severely lacking. And the major shopping destination for the CD and Rainier Valley is Broadway, so it had to go there.

        When Link opened, the 8 was extended to Rainier Beach. This is a tradeoff that looks good on paper but not so good on the ground. It provides a local bus on MLK that doesn’t go downtown, so it doesn’t compete with Link. The 48 previously served that corridor, and I think it should still do so. Because the 8 is s*l*o*w to Broadway due to the detour to 23rd, being so far east on Capitol Hill, and I don’t know why but it’s just slow. From south of Mt Baker, transfering to the 9 makes more sense, or taking Link to Capitol Hill station when it opens, or taking Link to Westlake and transfering. So why not ditch the 8 south of Mt Baker, re-extend the 48 and split it in the U-district, and rethink the MLK corridor in the CD.

      6. Kerry, I think you just need to do some simple math here. Splitting a route in two does not double the number of buses or drivers. Each bus and driver can go back and forth on each route in half the time, so you’re getting twice the frequency per operator. There is no net change in operating costs. Metro would claim they get more “efficiency” by making routes really really long, but that comes at the cost of reliability which matters a lot more to riders. Your comment about the 43 is not relevant because the 8 is used to go to Uptown, not Downtown. The issue is having to wait for the 8 because it is winding its way all the way from Rainier Beach. By the way, I do use onebusaway but I don’t think a very high percentage of people have smartphones or know about it. It is helpful to know how late my bus is, but it doesn’t really make it less annoying that it is late. Ending it at Mt Baker would probably be the best compromise, and would allow CD folks to get to Broadway. I could live with that.

      7. Some more on the history of route 8. The Broadway and Capitol Hill merchants associations lobbied Metro for years about a Cap Hill to Seattle Center direct link, but Metro didn’t want to start the route. Finally, Metro agreed to establish the 8, but demanded cuts in other routes to pay for the service. So the 10/12 headways were reduced to 15 minutes and there were trims in night service on (I think) the 3 and 13. The original 8 ran from Group Health to the Seattle Center on 30 minute headways with no night service. After about a year, the extension to Madison Valley was added–without any lobbying by the Cap Hill merchants. After a couple of years the buses were carrying crush loads to Capitol Hill at rush hour and the merchants associations went to Metro and asked for more service at rush hours.

        Metro said “no chance.”

        The merchants said “but look at how crowded the buses are at rush hour!”

        Metro said “true, but overall ridership isn’t high enough on the whole route to justify adding additional trips”. In other words, the lack of patronage on the south end of the route meant that no trips could be added to the busy north end.

        So it took a few more years to get additional trips between Capitol Hill and the Seattle Center, but now that the route is fully established, Metro seems more willing to support it.

  10. The Central District routes are heavily used, so I think consolidation is a tough sell. I’m glad that STB is initiating some of this discussion – because already we’ve seen cuts happen to late night and Sunday service on the CD routes.

    I’ve wondered if the 2 as well as the 4 could be eliminated in the CD with much more robust service 18 – 24 hours a day being transferred to the 12 and 3. It seems to me that the 3 or 12 could be rerouted to serve Virginia Mason, and the 3 could continue all the way to Lake Washington.

    1. The 2 is a pretty important, successful route so I don’t think it could be changed much. It’s really the only east-west route in that area.

    2. The 2 has solid ridership until 34th and we wouldn’t want the huge gap in East-West service between E Cherry and E Madison.

    3. “The Central District routes are heavily used”

      But are they used because they’re the best routing, or because they’re the only buses that exist? A large chunk of riders are going from downtown to Harborview, and another from downtown to somewhere west of 23rd. A few people go from 23rd S to downtown. Hardly anybody goes to/from James Street who wouldn’t prefer a less-steep alternative. Hardly anybody goes from Harborview to E Jefferson, or from Harborview to 23rd S. It also takes a heckuv a long time to go end-to-end due to the many small streets and turns plus the Harborview bottleneck. So the 4 does not serve Judkins Park-downtown very well.

      So there are three main markets: downtown-Harborview, downtown-Central District, and downtown-23rd S. The first could be improved with a fast/frequent route on Yesler to Harborview. The second could be improved by making a 3 and a “short 3” (going only to 23rd, similar to the 12’s situation). The third could be improved by more service on the 27, 14, 48, and perhaps an extension somewhere, improvements on Jackson street, extending the FH streetcar to downtown (5th Ave), and leveraging the Dearborn bypass (Martin’s #34 proposal for the 7/9).

  11. The 4 does seem redundant. Better to beef up the 3 and 27 instead, which have significant unique segments. And the night/Sunday 4 on Queen Anne already subsumes the 3, so why not do that full time but call it the 3? The Queen Anne loops are so small and residential that this doesn’t seem like a major time-loser.

    I’ve heard Metro wants to reroute the 3 someday to Yesler west of Harborview, to eliminate the bottlenecks on James. That raises the issue of whether both the 3 and 27 could run on the same street to 23rd. Although I suppose the need to serve Harborview and Providence would force the 3 to stay on Jefferson, plus the hill from Garfield HS to Yesler.

    1. Regarding “unique segments”, isn’t the same true about the 43? It overlaps with the 48 from the U-District to 23rd and John, the 8 from there to Summit and Olive, and the 14 (plus a zillion other buses) from there to downtown.

      As far as getting downtown, just about everyone in Cap Hill is already served by the 10/11/12/14/49, and the 43 is hardly the best route to downtown from the U-District…

      And (at least on John/Thomas), the 8 and 43 run within minutes of each other, so it’s not like the overlap really improves headway.

      I know it’s heresy, but I can’t help but wonder if the 43’s service hours wouldn’t be better spent beefing up everything around it.

      1. Yeah I kinda agree but I feel like the north end of 23rd should at least have a one-seat ride to Broadway. I’m not sure how that could be done best.

      2. Yes, the 43 is redundant. Truncate it at 23rd (with a nice transfer station), or consider eliminating it. John Street is “only” four blocks from Pine Street. But the Broadway area deserves a whole separate discussion.

        Briefly, the 43 and 49 are the most duplicative and grid-incorrect. The 9 and 10 make good grid routes, and the 11 can be straightened to all-Madison. I’ve suggested extending the 10 to 19th & Madison, which would subsume the tail of the 12. And the 9 would have to be re-extended to the U-district to cover 10th Ave E. Of course, this assumes raising the frequency on the 8, 9, 10, 11, and 48.

      3. This would be easier after U Link opens, since the 43 and 49 will then mostly be serving the people living in between. You could get rid of the 43 and just use the 48, but you would still want a new route going to downtown via John/Olive, otherwise you are making people on 23rd transfer twice (48 to the 8 to the 49) to go downtown.

      4. Combining the 10/11/12 into one route (possibly with two branches) would pretty much force a frequency improvement on the Madison section.

        That said, Mike, I’m curious why you say that the 10 is a good grid route. From a grid perspective, it seems like it would make more sense to have it split into two. The Pike/Pine segment would be replaced by the current 11 (albeit with much better frequency). The other segment would go along 15th (in Capitol Hill) and 12th (in First Hill), making the switch along Pine. This would add service to a currently bus-free corridor and keep the routes much straighter.

  12. Yes, the 4 is redundant, both the Queen Anne and CD tails. Rename all the buses 3’s, and stop half of them at 23rd/Jackson.

    Using the criterion of routes spaced at 1/2-mile intervals, the 27 is redundant to the 3/4 and the 14. The 14 & 27 could be combined into a single downtown/Jackson/Leschi route, and the 38 could be extended from Mt. Baker Link to serve the Mt. Baker tail of the 14.

    1. The 14 and 27 do seem close. On the other hand, the same can be said for the 66/67 and 70-series in the U-District, but I still don’t like the Task Force’s proposal to merge them, in part due to the walk involved. Then again, Yesler-Jackson might not be as challenging topographically.

      1. Depends on where you are, I guess. I walk between the two often, but generally between MLK and 23rd, where it’s relatively level.

        The 14 and 27 do seem somewhat duplicative in part, and service levels on both routes are fairly poor.

  13. During my abortive effort to improve Metro’s system map, I did notice how closely the 4 ran with the 8 and 48. It’s a lot more obvious when you isolate the 30-minute route from the 15-minute routes.

    There is a bit of a hole in east-west connectivity south of Jackson. It’s a full mile to Rainier along 23rd. Part of this is deficiencies in the street grid caused by topography, especially the actual park Judkins Park, but I think an east-west route on Massachusetts could be a good idea, possibly inheriting the Jackson leg of the 7. It could continue to LFTB, or serve the 14’s Mount Baker route and/or part of its 31st leg.

  14. The 3’s QA loop is really just 3 blocks, but it serves that NE corner of QA that, due to topography, can’t easily access another bus. A full-time combination of the 3 and 4 on QA, as the Nite/Sun routing does, would make the 3 about ten minutes slower for its loop riders.

    I ride QA buses every day and riders tend to board and alight pretty evenly along the lines. Where the routes join/split (2/13 at QA/Galer, 3/4 at QA/Boston) there are more people, but that is a function of the frequency doubling at those points.

    The 4’s QA loop is little used in my experience, but there aren’t exactly major destinations on Queen Anne Hill to drive ridership at the termini. The 2 and 4 terminate at elementary schools, the 3 terminates at a park, and the 1 terminates in a residential area. The exception is the 13, which has SPU as its terminus, but it has to compete with the faster 17 for SPU-downtown riders.

    1. The 4 East Queen Anne probably had higher ridership when Queen Anne High School actually was a high school.

  15. If you keep the 4, here is a thought:

    Revise the 14 on its current route to Mount Baker Transit Center then have it terminate at the Lighthouse for the Blind.

    Extend the 4 to Mount Baker Transit Center and have it end at current 14 terminal.

  16. Judkins Park resident here. The 4’s only purpose that I can see is to provide a direct route to Harborview. Otherwise it’s totally redundant in a day where the 14, 27, and 48 exist.

    Axe it, I say, and increase frequency on the 3 to keep the same level of service to Harborview. We could also extend the 14 further down 38th St, and make it loop back to end at the Columbia City Link station. Then we’d have no net loss of trolley wire, and there’d be some actual service east of Rainier between Genesee and McClellan, rather than that abortive stub it has now.

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