Route 240 Proposal (Metro)

One feature of Metro’s planned Eastside service reorganization is shifting Route 240 to serve Eastgate. Here’s Metro’s writeup of the change:

Why these changes are being considered

  • Attract more riders through improved connections and reduced wait times.
  • Provide two-way, all-day service to portions of Richards Road and 112th Avenue SE, which have significant mixed-use density (offices, housing, courthouse, and hotels).
  • Provide a new all-day connection between Renton and Bellevue College via Newcastle, Factoria, and Eastgate.
  • Connect at the Eastgate Park-and-Ride with routes that serve Issaquah, Overlake, and Crossroads.


  • Trips to and from Bellevue would be about five minutes longer for riders in areas south of Factoria, such as Newcastle and Renton Highlands, but those riders would have improved connections with Eastgate, Bellevue College, Issaquah, Overlake, and Crossroads.
  • Riders along 112th Avenue SE, Richards Road, and SE 26th Street would have more frequent service and longer hours of service.
  • Bellevue High School would be served via revised Route 249 on 108th Avenue SE and Route 550 along Bellevue Way SE.
  • Riders between Clyde Hill and the Bellevue Transit Center would be served by revised Route 246 instead of Route 240, with shorter hours of service.

Much more below the jump…

Earlier this month, Bellevue DOT Director Goran G. Sparrman sent a letter to Metro indicating some concerns about this reroute:

[This project has] one notable exception to what appears to be the prevailing service design philosophy (i.e. attempting to minimize the degree to which a route deviates from the shortest path between start and end points of the route). While the City of Bellevue is very supportive of providing more frequent service to the Eastgate Park and Ride for riders coming from South King County we feel that the Connections Project recommendation for the Route 240 deviations comes at a significant penalty to customers oriented to downtown Bellevue…

The… recommendation for Route 240 would increase travel time by 10 minutes [actually 5*] for existing riders traveling to and from downtown Bellevue, the third largest employment center in the region and the Eastside’s major transit hub. This is due to the less direct, more circuitous routing via SE Eastgate Way and SE 26th St/Richards Road. This is a significant increase that would impact about 650 current weekday riders who originate in communities south of I-90 and board or alight in downtown Bellevue. As such, we urge you to discontinue consideration of extending Route 240 to Eastgate.

I find this discussion, which is being conducted at an amicable staff level, to be interesting because it cuts across a lot of debates about transit service.

The whole argument about direct routes and grids plays out here, as well as downtown vs. crosstown. Even the new service concept essentially connects the five main nodes in Bellevue rather than being a true arterial grid. That’s largely because old-school land use means that most arterial intersections don’t have enough there to warrant good service.

As someone who spends his fair share of time at Eastgate, I’ve always been struck by the total lack of connections from the South, which denies easy access to a wealth of routes serving the eastern part of Bellevue. It’s true that a better, more frequent connection between 240 and 245 at Factoria would solve a significant part of that problem. Furthermore, in the much longer run you have to think 240 riders would appreciate a connection to Link at South Bellevue.**

At any rate, I’m not all that familiar with this corridor, so I’m curious what the wisdom of the crowd has to say about all this.

* The previous proposal was for 10 minutes, which has been shortened to 5 with the new routing.

**Setting aside the alignment uncertainty here.

36 Replies to “Route 240 Diversion to Eastgate”

  1. Has an East-Link route from Mercer Island to Bellevue via Factoria and up Richards Road and Lake Hills Connector ever been considered? The upzone and development potential in Factoria along with seemingly better connectivity with future routes to the south or east might compensate for what I would assume to be an increase in travel time.

  2. I would hope Metro wouldn’t consider shifting the 240 to the Eastgate P&R without first having determined that a significant percentage of 240 riders are eventually going to Bellevue College or the Eastgate P&R. I’d like to know what that percentage is before I form an opinion on whether this is a good change or not.

    1. Perhaps Metro is actually looking at the ORCA data, including numbers of transfers between route pairs.

      I tend to believe that when Metro actually proposes changing a route, it does so for good reasons, and based on good data.

      I don’t want to second-guess a proposal to change a route path, because it is already nearly impossible to accomplish.

      I do hope their final decision is based on more than just a survey of current riders. That’s like asking participants on a Tuesday night conference call which night of the week is best for conference calls. Nine times out of ten, the answer will be Tuesday.

      1. It is my understanding that service planners are not looking at ORCA data.

        Not because they don’t want to. It’s just not available to them due to privacy issues.

      2. That’s silly. The ORCA data could be supplied with card IDs stripped off (but with linked trip information).

      3. @ aw, I hope I’m wrong with my understanding.

        In theory, you are correct, there shouldn’t be a problem.

        Do you know for a fact that planners have access to transfer data from ORCA?

      4. @2Tall, I don’t know anything, just theorizing. It would be idiotic if planners don’t have access to this data.

  3. I ride the 240 regularly, and quite a few folks transfer at Factoria heading to Bellevue College or to the Eastgate P&R to transfer to points east. I don’t know the percentage, but from my experience, it is significant enough to think that this change might be a good idea. It would take me a little longer to get to Bellevue Transit Center, but it would be quite a time saver for other places that I go.

  4. I know this is an argument against slowing the commute of the majority for the convenience of the minority, but on another level I see this as a downtown Bellevue workers vs college students issue.

    PS, this Eastgate P&R routing looks like it would add morel than 5 minutes.

  5. This service change will, I think, make it quicker for me to get (close) to the Cougar Mountain trailhead from downtown, which should clearly be one of Metro’s top priorities for their Eastside service.

    1. It would be typical for Metro to improve access to the Cougar Mountain Trail, while the parks department “mothballs” the park and puts a locked gate in front of the trailhead. Darn the state.

      1. Cougar Mountain is a King County park, not a State park. It’s safe for the moment.

        Squawk Mountain Park, to the north, is a State park.

  6. If there were a timed connection to the 245, and maybe something like the 554 or 210/212/214, then the 240 could stay on a more direct route.

    This is why freeway stations that allow connections can be so valuable – like the Montlake Flyer station, and wish that the 520 project included one at 108th Ave (near S. Kirkland P&R) and Factoria would be another natural location for a freeway station for I-90 buses. Connections make a transit system. Our HOV investments, often paid for by ST money, haven’t done much to create infrastructure that is very usable by transit. (How many buses use the I-405 to I-90 HOV ramp? none. How many routes use the NE 6th St ramps? Very few… What will the 520 improvements enable? Loss of Montlake Flyer station. And buses using the 108th HOV ramps cannot easily continue to/from the east.)

    1. Keep writing your county council member and any other official who represents you on the ST Board. The 520 Montlake stop problem is not solved. In order for a solution to come forward, some governing body has to want to solve the problem.

  7. It’s a piecemeal solution to a larger problem. Eastgate P&R is on the north side of the freeway, next to BC and not much else. The density is on the south side of I-90 along Factoria Boulevard (retail, employment, housing). Another solution would be a shuttle between central Factoria (Factoria Blvd and SE 38th st) and Eastgate P&R. In a future era when funding becomes available, I envision an aerial tramway from the P&R across I-90. This would raise transit above one of South Bellevue’s greatest development failures which is that there are only two ways across I-90 in South Bellevue – Factoria Boulevard and 150th Ave SE (not counting 142nd Ave SE which has very circuitous connections on each end). MT 246 runs the wrong direction to serve this function.

  8. Regarding Sparrman’s concerns, the 248 follows the old 240 routing from Factoria, for people really desperate for the fastest route from Factoria to Downtown Bellevue. Not that the stub of a route is very useful.

    If people are really worried about travel time to Downtown Bellevue from points south, they can hop the 560/566 at any freeway station. Even though the headways really suck, and all the local connections are peak-only. Still, it works for commuter traffic.

    As the 240 is the ONLY all-day route that runs through the neighborhoods from South Bellevue to Renton (Newcastle/Factoria/Renton Highlands), it makes sense for it to hit as many potential destinations near the route as possible; local transfers along the route are nonexistent for most of the day. A 5 minute increase in travel time for end-to-end riders is a small price to pay for extending all-day service to areas with none.

    The real losers here are Seattle-bound riders, who currently have fantastic frequent transfers at the S. Bellevue P&R, and will soon have to settle for less frequent transfers at Eastgate on the 554.

  9. Why does the current route use 108th instead of Bellevue Way? It seems like the reroute on 112th and the Wilburton P&R are a plus. What would it be like timewise to just turn around and take I-90 back to I-405 north to SE 8th?

    1. I won’t comment on the 108th routing, but I think VeloBusDriver commented on it in a previous post about the reroutes.

      Why use the freeways when you could serve Bellevue College and the residential areas on Richards Road? I haven’t looked, but are there other routes service the Lake Hills Connector and Richards Rd.?

      1. I would only use the freeways if it saved several minutes of travel time thereby eliminating what seems to be the only objection to the reroute. I don’t know how much time it would save if any at all. I don’t think there’s any ridership along that section of the Lake Hills Connector. It wouldn’t be any faster (maybe longer) but there might be more ridership demand if it went south instead of north on Richards Road and then got on I-90 and just followed the old route stopping at the S. Bellevue P&R. I’d still like to know about 108th and if it would be better to use 112th (like the proposed reroute) or if Wilburton P&R is a big deal then come into town on 114th.

      2. You don’t “serve” the Lake Hills Connector. There’s no developments of any kind on it and there never will be; the alignment cuts right through the middle of some very sensitive wetlands. It’s only purpose is as a shortcut from Eastgate to Downtown.

        As for Richards, no, there is no current service on that corridor. The 271 has frequent all-day service to the east, on 145th, and the 246 has low frequency midday-only service to the west, on 123rd.

        It’s about 1 1/2 miles between the two routes, which is actually a pretty close spacing for the Eastside. They both have stops where they cross Richards, the 246 at the LHC, and the 271 at 26th.

    2. The revised 249 will serve 108th ave SE. The revised 222 will serve the current 240 route except it will go on 112th ave instead of 108th, adding significant service to the hotel/courthouse district and IMO rightsizing 108th service. The 246 will reverse the loop from eastgate to factoria, adding ano8ther quick connection from btc to factoria.

      I’m acctually really excited about this proposed change, the 245-240 connection just does not work today.

      *although I am on the Bellevue Redmond Connections Sounding Board which reviewed this change, all opinions expressed are my own and general knowledge.

      1. Thank you, Daniel, for your service. Would you recommend a similar process in other localities? What would you do differently if you could do the process over?

        Oh, and out of curiosity, what kind of data did Metro put in front of you?

      2. Hi Brent,

        As far as I am aware, sounding boards are regularly formed when there is a major service shakeup in an area; it is a wonderful experience. The data they give us to review is the same material the service planners themselves look at.

  10. I’m a bit skeptical about this change. The most useful connection at Eastgate would probably be 240-245, but it’s already available at Factoria Mall, which is a better place to make the connection anyway because, if there’s a wait, you have the option of getting some shopping in, rather than just standing at the bus stop. If the connection is mistimed, this could be remedied by schedule adjustments; however, it should be noted that a perfectly timed connection is, by nature, an unreliable connection, as even with empty roads, all it takes is one person in a wheelchair for you to miss it.

    The Eastgate-Bellevue segment would also become redundant with the 271, although this too, could be mitigated by staggering the schedules during off-peak hours, rather than having the two busses go by back-to-back.

    It should be noted that the street network here was never designed for efficient transit operation and almost any routing through the area is going to suck. Given that it greatly improves access to BCC and those going to DT Bellevue can still use the 560/566, I think this is the least bad option.

    1. Route 560 doesn’t stop between Newport Hills P&R (which isn’t served by any local route save for the incredibly-infrequent 219) and South Bellevue P&R, so it’s useless for anyone going from South to Downtown Bellevue.

      1. It would be nice if a 240-566 transfer point could be added at Coal Creek Parkway, as the 240’s the only all-day local route in the whole southwestern eastside, and the only other transfer between the two routes is down at the Renton TC (which works great for southbound riders).

        It could be argued the 560 has enough stops along that stretch of 405 already, but the 566 has basically none. That would also give a good express connection to Overlake.

        The real answer, though, is for the cities of Newcastle and Factoria to get some cash and a Transit Now proposal together, and get increased service on the 219. The lack of local service in this area is the real issue, not the lack of fast connections to DT Bellevue.

  11. Eastgate opens up a couple direct transfers that aren’t available now; transfers to Issaquah all-day, as well as a ton of peak-only local routes around Eastgate.

    Right now, getting between Issaquah and Newcastle is unforgivably convoluted – you either go all the way to S. Bellevue P&R and double back, or add an extra transfer to bridge the 1.5 mile gap between Eastgate and Factoria.

  12. I thought the problem a bit more and came up another option that might improve things a bit:
    1) Truncate 240 to the Eastgate->Renton segment
    2) Truncate 271 to the U-district->Eastgate segment. This would use the proposed 240 routing from Bellevue->Eastgate, so no detours into BCC. Service from 240 would be redirected here, so there would be the same number of Eastgate->Bellevue trips per hour as before, they would just be evenly spaced, rather than bunched.
    3) New route 273 for the Eastgate->Issaquah segment of today’s 271
    4) Thru-route 271 at Eastgate so that every other bus turns into either a 240 or 273 and keeps on going (a few peek hour busses might terminate at Eastgate without doing this). Thus, anything that is a one-seat ride on the 271 or proposed 240 would remain so.

    – Improved travel time Bellevue->Issaquah
    – Better legibility – users have just one Bellueve->Eastgate route to remember. Plus, we have an addition to the frequent service corridor. With existing service hours, 271 could run every 15 minutes evening as Saturdays and every 30 minutes on Sundays.
    – Newcastle and factoria now have a one-seat ride to the U-district on 240->271, eliminating the transfer.

    The only drawback I can think of is that those going to BCC might have an extra 3-5 minutes of walking, which I believe is a small price to pay for the benefits this provides.

    When and if East Link eventually goes to South Bellevue Park-and-ride, the routes should be revised to connect with it. But that’s so far in the future, I don’t see any point in worrying about that now.

    1. Or move the 271 to the proposed 240 routing, extend the 240 to the U-District on the revised 271 routing, and renumber the 240 the 171 or 270 or something. Same result but you emphasize each route’s existence as a whole route in itself.

      (Actually, the proposed 240/271 is pretty close to a local all-day version of the 167 without service beyond Renton…)

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