All-day two-way routes. Click to enlarge (pdf)

Metro is going through the process of revising its routes throughout Bellevue and Redmond to take advantage of RapidRide B opening in October 2011. The first draft of these changes came out last October, and yesterday Metro released the latest iteration. Random observations:

  • The proposal trades peak commuter service for all-day service, a principle that I strongly support. Peak routes 225, 229, 247, 256, 261, 266, and 272 are all gone. Many all-day routes are lengthened; the 271 would join the ranks of 15-minute headway frequent routes, which in East King County are currently only the 545, 550, and what will become RR B.
  • It’s a great website. Route maps and system maps, plus explanations of each route that concisely explore the tradeoffs.
  • In the system map above you can see the tension between a simple, direct, gridded network and hitting the key nodes. The north side is sort of like a grid if you squint hard enough, but the south is spaghetti as everything gets funneled through Bellevue College, where the demand is, and Metro tries to serve winding suburban streets.
  • In retrospect, there are lot of problems with the placement and layout of the Eastgate Park and Ride.
  • If these are your routes, you should attend a meeting or take the survey.

72 Replies to “Metro Revises Eastside Route Proposal”

  1. I asked this in yesterdays posting but I think this is a more appropriate place so I’ll ask it again here.
    I have a question about rapid ride line b, will it be another crappy eastside bus line that doesn’t go anywhere after 11:30 or will it be more similar to line a? I work in North Redmond I get off at 11:30 at night. This means I also have to live in north redmond because of the poor bus service. I can’t stand Redmond the dining options are fast food, teriyaki and over priced Thai food. Everything closes at 9 with the exception of a couple of bars that I hate. The walkability is deplorable too. If line b has good service hours I will move to crossroads without hesitating.

    1. Don’t quote me on this but from my understanding all Rapidride routes will have similar service levels.

  2. If you take the proposed 249 out it looks a lot let less like spaghetti. That looks like a total milk run. Maybe it’s necessary so those neighborhoods feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.

    1. That certainly could be the case but I think a lot of it could also be that all of the bus routes are converging on BCC/Eastgate and the street network simply isn’t a grid in this area.

  3. Wes, a couple of things. If you work in north Redmond, and live in north Redmond, you must live pretty close to work. Why not walk or bike to work? Secondly, I think you’re being unrealistic in criticizing a suburb because it’s too much like a suburb. And I think you’re wrong about the restaurants in Redmond. Compared to many suburbs, Redmond’s variety is better than most. They have a good selection of asian and Indian cuisine. Crappy bus service after 11:30 PM, again, it’s a suburb. There is hardly anyone out and about in Redmond after 11:30 at night, so why should there be great bus service?

    And if you want to know what Rapid Ride B will look like schedule-wise, for a guide you should look at Rapid Ride A’s schedule, which shows half hour service until 12:30 AM, then hourly service until 3 AM. But there may not be the same level of service after midnight for B that there is for A because of a greater need for late night service between Tukwila and Federal Way.

    1. I still think if there were better and later bus connections between Redmond transit center and Bellevue transit center that they could get a lot more riders if they marketed it. I still disagree about The variety of food in north Redmond. South Redmond has a lot of variety. Oh and I do walk or bike to work some times.

    2. Metro has said (I think i read this on the website) that the service on RapidRide B at night will be essentially identical to the 253, which is hourly until 12:30 and then no service at all after that.

      IMHO this is terrible. I would love service like RR A on the Eastside. Essentially, the way it works right know is if you want to get around on the Eastside after 12:30 you’re completely screwed because there is literally zero service. Not “infrequent” service—literally, there is not a single bus in the entire city of Redmond between 1am and 4:30am. And yes, Redmond is a suburb, but there are over 50,000 people living there. Bellevue, which has a single one way (from Seattle -> Bellevue, 2 times a night) route between 1am and 4:30, the 280, is a city over over 125,000 people.

      I understand that demand is lowest at those hours, but I think it’s unconscionable that that market of 200,000 people gets virtually no service for that entire segment of the day.

      1. That really is disappointing but understandable. RapidRide should have 15 min or better service until 10 pm, at the very least. RapidRide should mean service you can depend on, 24 hours a day, every day (the long term goal anyway). Metro sells it as “the best of Metro” but the level of service doesn’t even match the 7! Hopefully with funding, they will improve the service.

      2. Devil’s advocate: is anyone in Redmond (or Bellevue) or their respective city governments communicating this to Metro? Oran’s point comparing to the 7 is interesting…but if Metro were to try to cut late-night service frequency on the 7, I’m pretty sure they’d hear about it in detail from Seattle folks and government.

    3. It’s a question of money, again. I asked the Metro rep at the meetup whether the other RapidRides would have a schedule comparable to A, and stressed the importance of 15-minute service till 10pm and half-hour owls. He said Metro’s targeting an earlier time, I can’t remember if it was 7pm or 8pm for frequent service, and couldn’t guarantee any owls. So don’t expect more than the current 230/253. The A was a special case because Pac Highway already had 24 hour service.

      However, once RapidRide routes are established, we can ask Metro to funnel any new resources into filling in their schedule gaps.

      Also, for night owl in Seattle, I’m not sure if we’re really better off replacing the 81/82/85 with C/D/E. That would make it a long walk to some of the former stops (and a very difficult walk in West Seattle with the steep hills) — and people want stops close to their house in the wee hours for safety. The part that most needs owl service and has never gotten it is Aurora from 85th to 205th, so maybe they should focus on that.

      1. It’s a really a shame that seattles rather large middle class has this ridiculous idea that transit is only for immigrants and minorities.

      2. I’m pretty weary of the money excuse. Metro is choosing quantity over quality, spreading hours and service everywhere instead of getting RapidRide up to the standard it should be at.

      3. I’d like to see night owl service improved, preferably 30 min service on the RapidRide lines with crosstown timed transfers. That would make it equal to what San Francisco does. They just run the same routes 24 hours with some owl-only routes to cover more ground.

      4. I like the simplicity of reusing existing routes with 24-hour frequency, but in many cases, the demand for owl service is low enough that it’s worthwhile to explicitly trade off efficiency for coverage.


        Even NYC runs different service during late nights than during the day. :)

      5. Thank you to Martin for being willing to let his hair down a bit.

        Mass transit lines don’t cease at 8:00 PM. And dropping to time-pointed half-hourly-or-less service is effectively ceasing as a mass transit line.

        The world is full of people who won’t even begin a trip on public transit without some assurance that their return journey will be equally quick and painless. (Frankly, those of us who start a trip with the full knowledge that the return journey will be hell probably have some kind of psychological disorder.)

        That Metro refuses to grasp a concept this basic leaves me with no hope for its future as a quality transit service provider, barring a complete administrative restructuring.

      6. It’s surprising, perhaps, how many times, visiting how many cities, I have said “Can I take public transportation? Nope, it shuts down too early at night. Have to rent a car.” There seems to be a fundamental commuter mentality in transit administration most places.

  4. With the deletion of the 253, I notice that now it will require a transfer to go from the BTC to the area just north of Fred Meyer, on 148th Ave NE between 24th and 40th streets, an area filled with Microsoft buildings and apartment buildings. It looks like people will have to transfer to the 221 or 249 to get to this area.

    1. Last year I worked in MS building 115 (which is at 148th and 32nd). Although i preferred to take the 253, I would sometimes take the other busses that go on 40th st, and it really is only a ~5 min walk from 40th st. I don’t think that a significant number of people will change their ridership patterns because of that change. Moreover, this brings the B line right in front of the Commons, which has a lot more MS employees than Cedar Court (the buildings along 148th south of 36th).

    2. Sam,
      check out propsed Route 249; it would connect BTC and that segment of 148th Avenue NE without a transfer.

      1. Alternatively, it’s not that bad of a walk across the new 36th street bridge from 152nd to that area of 148th. The stop location for the B-Line isn’t too horrible, either at the Overlake P&R stop or the 156th stop.

        That new 36th street bridge has opened up a lot of different options..

    3. Sam, using the 566 gets me from BTC to any of those buildings. Microsoft also provides building-to-building shuttle service, so anyone going to those buildings can take a shuttle from downtown Bellevue or Overlake already. There’s not much demand for that bus service.

      1. That’s one of the unfortunate things about Microsoft, in general, really. By virtue of being so big, they end up functioning as a monopoly buyer (monopsony, if you will). I heard that a number of restaurant owners in the Overlake area were really upset when the Commons opened, because Microsoft employees no longer needed to leave campus for lunch, and there wasn’t enough non-MS business to stay profitable.

        Or, to bring this back to transit, the 542 is almost empty, and yet the Microsoft Connector route to Green Lake has a waiting list. Without the Connector, I imagine that the 542 would be much more popular.

        For Microsoft FTEs, this situation is fine (who needs a public bus when you have free shuttles?), but for everyone else (including MS contractors), they now have to settle for substandard service, even though there’s clearly the ridership to support more.

        I don’t mean this as a criticism of Microsoft — MS has been very good about working with Metro and local governments to coordinate service. It’s just an unfortunate situation.

      2. The low ridership on the 542 demonstrates 2 things:

        1. How difficult it is going to be to maintain decent transit service to Montlake/UW when the Montlake Flyer station is closed. It is really a superior solution for all but rush hour to maintain the Montlake flyer station. it’s not going to be economically sustainable to have buses dedicated to Montlake/UW from Kirkland or Redmond (and they’ve not designed it to be efficiently terminate/transfer at the UW/Husky Link station)

        2. How poor the HOV/transit design is at NE 40th. Shifting the HOV lane to the center will make it worse. If there were a center transit station maybe it could work. Now we have a tradeoff that has the ST 545 leave the freeway and go through 10 traffic lights to server the Overlake Transit Center – which adds 8 minutes to the journey time for people coming from Redmond, and corresponding operating costs – or the 542 skips the OTC and few from Microsoft ride it because they have an extra 8 minutes walk – across a lot of traffic and intersections.

      3. The most pressing issue for me is losing access to 520 buses at night and on weekends. After WSDOT said off-peak buses can stop on the lid, I’m no longer too concerned about losing the flyer stop.

      4. Exactly right, Carl. I commute from 23rd & John to Bellevue/Crossroads, transferring at Montlake and again at Overlake. On the way out, I usually get down to the flyer stop, then check OneBusAway to see if it’s worth going “upstairs” to catch a 542 rather than wait for a crowded 545. Coming back home, I never take the 542. It’s faster to just wait at Overlake for the next 545 than to cross 520 to the 542 stop.

        Losing the flyer stops would at least make the morning decision easier: It’s the 542 or nothing. Well, maybe some other U-District-to-520 route with a transfer at Evergreen Point would work, but there’s no way I’m making a 3 transfer trip. I saw someone else comment once that WSDOT should put a gap in the Jersey barrier on the Montlake on-ramp so that all the buses could share the flyer stop. That would be great!

        Overlake: A center transit stop (or HOV access) would be great, but only for a few routes (542, 545, 268). I don’t know if there’s enough ridership or time savings to warrant it. Maybe if there’s a rebuild for East Link. ;-)

      5. The U-District to Evergreen Point transfer option won’t work with the 271 once 520 is rebuilt with center HOV lanes – the 271 won’t be able to serve Evergreen Point any longer.

        Oran – are you sure they are configuring the Montlake lid to allow buses/to from I-5 to serve the Montlake lid? I’m not sure the signals and road configuration will allow either WB lid to 520 WB onramp, nor Montlake Blvd NB right turn onto WB lid ramp.

      6. Carl- the latest WSDOT folio on SR 520 transit options says:

        Downtown Seattle to Eastside: During peak hours, buses will not stop at the Montlake lid, providing more direct service. During off-peak hours, transit agencies could operate buses on top of the Montlake lid, providing service similar to today.

        The design you see now is not a final design. Anyway, changing curb radius, paint lines, and signalization is very cheap compared to acquiring more ROW and building a center freeway stop.

  5. To me the problem with rapid line B is that 8th street is VERY congested by 405, it’s never going to be ‘rapid’ unless there is a dedicated bus/carpool lane to get through there. Sometimes it’s backed up a half mile at lunch time, I can’t imagine it at rush hour.

    1. That whole area is undergoing a big change. Some ramps for 405 will be moved to the new NE 10th bridge. Long term there will be large chunks of the street grid around 116th reintegrated.

      In the short run, that area will be a mess, but it does move. Bellevue can move stuff around with their traffic management system and TSP would help. That said, dedicated HOV 3+/Transit/BAT lanes are what are truly needed. I’ve lived on the Eastside long enough to not hold my breath though.

  6. BTW, if anyone thinks it’s useless to go to one of these meetings; that the decisions have already been made and are set in stone, that’s not true. If enough people complain about something, Metro does listen and may make a change. Case in point, a few years ago when the route 248 was created, at first it did not go into the Bear Creek P&R. It completely bypassed it by a good half mile, staying on Avondale Way, instead. People called in and complained, and Metro pretty quickly made it service the P&R.

  7. Before the 249 wasn’t particularly useful on the NE 24th segment because it completely bypassed the large employment centers in S. Overlake.
    I see the new configuration of the 249 a bit differently, and despite its squigglyness, I think its actually a pretty good idea, as long as you dont expect it to be a good way to go long distnaces. Instead, its 5 useful, shortish segments that happen happen to share the same route number.

    Segment 1: Overlake transit center to/from Idylwood park.
    Segment 2: Idylwood park to/from S. Overlake shopping and employment
    Segment 3: S. Kirkland to/from S. Overlake via
    Segment 4: Bellevue TC to/from S.Kirkalnd park and ride
    Segment 5: Bellevue TC to/From S. Bellevue Park and Ride

    Its a horrible way to go from the start of the route to the end of the route – but the same is true for the B-Line (from DT Redmond to DT Bellevue it would be quicker to transfer using the 545/566, for example). But its actually a pretty good route for each of the segments listed above.

    1. The proposed 249 route that followed 104th to Bellevue way and then BTC was a better route than this latest iteration and passed more high density housing. When traffic gets bad on Bellevue way, the 249 will get bogged down. This routing will also add an extra mile onto my current bus ride into Bellevue with the dogleg from SE 10th/Bellevue Way/108th.

      The biggest downside I see is having to ride the bus with Betsy from Surrey Downs and listen to her gripe about East Link. On the plus side, I’ll now be able to take a bus directly to Hellevue Square – Oh, goody!

      1. Guess my “Sarcasm” tags were removed because they looked like HTML. Suffice it to say the 2nd paragraph was not at all serious.

        And yes, Surrey Downs’ folks use transit – I’ve picked up some on the 240 and possibly the 555/556. I’m sure there is a significant minority in SD that are chomping at the bit for a SE 8th station. Sadly, their voices are being drowned out by the rabid few.

  8. Yaay, finally Metro is courageous enough to replace peak-express routes with local routes, and finally the Eastside can get 15-minute service Kirkland-Overlake-Eastgate and Kirkland-Bellevue (if the 230 and 234 are run alternatingly).

      1. This is something that Metro needs to hype somehow.

        I know this is a whole other can of worms but this is a perfect example of when names can communicate meta data about a route. I guess you could see that 230 and 234 are related but not as related at 230A and 230B.

        Naming this way can be done by adding another number to the end of the previous number. I saw this in Karlsruche. For example route 11, 12, 13 are all a variation of route 1. In NYC they add suffixes to routes that show which borough the bus runs in.

        I know a naming scheme like this would be a complete departure from the existing naming system, and doesn’t make sense to implement now, but in the next few years with system wide service reductions/changes it would be good to at least revisit this issue.

    1. The operating cost is what really sells this for me. I’d love to see an in-depth look at to why this service is so much cheaper to operate than equivalent service in other regions, and other service in Eugene.

      I’m also eagerly awaiting Metro’s 2010 route performance numbers. Let’s see how much RR A costs!

  9. I love the idea of making the 271 a 15 minute route. I like trading peak-only commuter routes for all-day ones too. But 60 min. headways on RR B is awful. Metro’s so worried about protecting the RR brand it’s not branding the West Seattle line until tunnel or south viaduct replacement work finishes, yet it’s going to use the brand on an hourly route on the Eastside? That seems too ridiculous to be true even. BRT needs at least a 15 min. headway if not 10 or less.

    1. Where did you see that RR B will be at 60 minute headways? It’s directly replacing the 253 (which has 30 min headways) and pulling service/cutting several other routes. The linked PDF shows 245, 271, and RR B all at 10-15 min daytime headways.

      1. As discussed earlier, the “RapidRide” headways are only until 8 or so at night. At that point metro has said that the headways will be equivalent to the 253’s headways which has hourly headways at that point, until 12:30 when it has no service. So unless you only consider peak service or mid-day as relevant, it has huge chunks of service with hourly or worse headways.

  10. I’m wholeheartedly in support of localizing the 225, 229, and 256.

    However, a lot of the 225 and 229 riders would then have to face the gamble of whether to wait at-grade for the 554 or below-grade for the other commuter-hour far east I-90 routes. With the removal of the 225 and 229 from the tunnel, is there room for the 554 to join most of the rest of the east I-90 routes in the tunnel?

    The same goes for riders choosing whether to wait at-grade for the 545 or in the tunnel for the 255. Could the 545 move down to the tunnel or the 255 upstairs, so they are together?

    I predict that this was already considered, but that changing the total number of *ST* or *Metro* runs in the tunnel (not the combination thereof) was the blocker. If that is the case, it’s high time for the leadership of the two agencies to sit down together and realize you are all working for the same taxpayers (roughly speaking).

    1. Perhaps renumber the routes so that the 554 becomes a Metro route, the 255 becomes an ST route, and then swap the two in the tunnel. Would that get by the multiple-governance book-balancing issues?

      1. Unless you restructure them, renaming them “as-is” violates what ST Express service is supposed to be. I already said in an earlier post that the 255 does not have the characteristics of an ST Express route (very limited stops, mostly freeway running). The money comes from completely different pots each with their own rules (Metro: 40-40-20, ST: subarea equity).

    2. It is high time. The tunnel joint use agreement is up for renegotiation next year.

      Metro is adding trips to the 212 to compensate for the loss of 225 and 229. So those trips might take up the existing slots. The 554 doesn’t really help in this case as the transfers are at the park and ride. The 554 also has less frequent service (30 min) during rush hour compared to the 212.

      Just in the case of replacing the 256, if you want to go somewhere along Northup Way or NE 20th, you’d want to transfer at S Kirkland, not Overlake, as the proposed 249 goes towards Lake Sammamish first before going back west. So that means 255 is the better choice over the 545.

      It would be nice to put 545 and 554 in the tunnel but the impact on Link/bus reliability must be considered. There’s likely excess capacity off-peak but during peak it’s often jammed.

      1. Consider the impact if the 255 were kicked upstairs (with or without moving any more I-90 trips downstairs).

        With only one bus bay in the northbound direction, I bet reliability would be improved.

      2. Why just the 255? The 550 also stops there. And what about the southbound?

        The problem of front bay buses getting stuck behind rear bay buses can be solved through intelligently sequencing buses in the correct order. That was done in the tunnel when it first opened (automatically and manually). I thought they were going to do that with joint operations.

      3. It would also help if in-bound buses would just stop as far up the platform as possible. It’s incredibly stupid that in-bound Eastside buses stop at bays B & D instead of just pulling all the way up.

      4. Last I heard, the inbound buses don’t have to stop at the bays. They just pull all the way forward to the end of the platform. Hence, the 255 will have a bay all to itself, unless the rest of the northbound buses get split up.

      5. In my experience some drivers pull up and some stop at the rear bay on inbound buses. I wonder if they’ve recently changed the policy but not all drivers have gotten wind of the changes yet, which seems to happen fairly often.

      6. Some of us have figured out the “drop off as far forward as you can” trick. I honestly don’t know if there is a policy requirement to drop off at the assigned bay or if going as far forward as possible is kosher, but I’ve never heard of anybody being written up for it.

        You only have to get stuck in the tube a few times to realize this is a wise use of tunnel capacity – Can’t say I understand why it’s not policy.

      7. Maybe the tunnel should mostly have all-day bus routes, and not peak-only routes. That would use it more fully and not gum it up at peaks.

      8. I’d like to see the routes slated to be replaced by Link or HCT in the future be in the tunnel. So 510 Everett, 511 Lynnwood, 522 Woodinville, 545 Redmond, and 554 Issaquah should be in the tunnel.

      9. I wouldn’t want to separate the 510-513 from the Community Transit routes, at least outbound. Since Community Transit isn’t part of the tunnel joint-use agreement, they won’t all get moved downstairs.

        I do want the 101, 102, 106, and 150 out of the tunnel because, as southbound routes, they are unlikely to have passengers transferring between them and Link in the tunnel. (If they do, then the truncation argument kicks back in.)

        The sum total of all routes that might get replaced partially by Link is rather huge, and far beyond the capacity of the tunnel. So, I’ll just be happy if the routes in the tunnel are 1) primarily all-day; 2) comprised of all the routes going to a set of various popular destinations (e.g. Northgate, the U, and S. Bellevue P&R); and 3) going in directions that make them likely to have lots of transfers with Link (for which ORCA data ought to reduce the guess work).

        The weakness in my suggestion of just I-90 routes and near north I-5 routes in the tunnel, I suppose, is the volume of commuter routes. But then, the 76, 77, 301, and 316 might be good candidates for kicking upstairs because they aren’t going to Northgate or the U.

        There might also be a good natural split among the I-90 routes, such as separating the routes that go to Eastgate P&R, and kick all of those upstairs, while pushing all routes that don’t go that far east on I-90 (e.g. 202 and 210) downstairs. This would provide substantial peak-hour relief in the tunnel.

    3. At least some of the 225 & 229 trips in the tunnel will be replaced with 212 trips. That said, I don’t believe it will be a 1 for 1 replacement.

      An interesting topic would be how to make transfers at Eastgate, or any other potential forced transfer point, as easy and painless as possible.

      1. I’ve got an idea: Let’s separate the express service stop from the local service stop and put them on opposite sides of a busy state highway. People will appreciate the five minutes daily each way of exercise getting between them.

  11. Two questions:
    1) What happened to the 255?
    2) Would the corridor served by both the 230 and the 234 be a frequent service corridor?

    1. 1) The 255 routing is unchanged but will get frequent service all day in the peak direction and almost frequent service in the reverse peak, this February. The proposed Eastside changes would add frequent service in the reverse peak direction using the 256’s hours.

      2) Yes. “Schedule routes 230 and 234 between the Kirkland and Bellevue transit centers to be evenly spaced in both directions at all times of service.” “Provide frequent service between the Bellevue and Kirkland transit centers via the hospital district along 116th Avenue NE.”

  12. Since the tunnel agreement is up for renogotiation, can we redo the list of tunnel routes in its entirety?

    I’d love to see *all* the I-90 routes consolidated into the tunnel; the 101, 102, 106, and 150 kicked upstairs and re-routed (except for the 106) to make use of the new ramp that the 577 uses; and the 255 kicked upstairs in order to consolidate it with the rest of the SR 520 routes.

    That would just leave one bay each way.

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