Just over a year ago, Mayor McGinn formally recommended the Broadway/Yesler/14th/Jackson alignment for the First Hill Streetcar. At the end of his letter to the council, McGinn also pledged support for a number of related transit changes:
• Improving transit access to the Boren/Madison area, through measures such as speed and reliability improvements to existing Metro routes;
• Developing alternatives that provide north-south transit service in the 12th Avenue corridor;
• Extending the First Hill Streetcar to the north end of Broadway, to support the economic revitalization of Broadway and improve neighborhood access to the Capitol Hill light rail station.
In Seattle political realities have often dictated that we undertake Transit-Planning-By-Consolation-Prize. When First Hill lost its Link stop, it got the streetcar instead. When the Broadway alignment was chosen for the streetcar, McGinn then pledged support for additional service on the neglected alignments. As imprudent as such a patchwork approach may be for transit planning, it also opens up the broader discussion of how best to serve those markets. So, how should the arrival of rail affect bus service on Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the Central District? To my mind there are several important guiding principles:
- How can we best emphasize high-quality transfers?
- How can we create an intuitive grid amenable to spontaneous transit trips?
- How can we eliminate redundant CBD trips that could be made on LINK or the FHSC?
- How can we add service to 12th Avenue and Boren Avenue in an intelligent and non-duplicative way?
- How can we maintain our trolley network without being bound to its historical routing choices?
- And most of all, how can we do all of this with equivalent (or fewer) operating resources?
In the spirit of Martin’s Rainier Valley Mobility proposal, I started playing with scenarios. I intend this proposal strictly as a conversation starter: What are the pros and cons of a radical grid system in central Seattle? The bus routes below collectively represent about 99,000 boardings per day (2009 data), and wholesale changes would not be likely without the arrival of rail. But I’m convinced that by eliminating redundant routes and making peace with single transfers, we can offer 7-15 minute service on every route without incurring additional operating costs, while sensibly leveraging our investment in rail. So here’s a fairly radical sketch to tear apart in the comments:
Much more after the jump…
12th Avenue is only two blocks from Broadway, and the closer 12th Avenue gets to Capitol Hill Station the more duplicative bus service would become. But 12th Avenue is very valuable as the only north-south connection to Beacon Hill. So I propose eliminating Route 36 and turning Route 12 into a 19th Ave E/Madison/12th Ave/Beacon Hill/Othello crosstown service. With lower densities along 19th Ave E, some #12 runs could continue to terminate at 15th/Madison. To compensate for the loss of Route 12 on Madison St west of 12th Avenue, I propose making Route 11 an all-Madison bus (partially electrified, trolley service to 23rd alternating with diesel service to Madison Park). To then compensate for lost frequency on Pike-Pine, I propose running the 10 at 7.5 minute headways.
For Boren Avenue, reroute the 7 into a Rainier Valley to Lower Queen Anne service, running on Rainier Ave S, Boren Avenue, Denny Way, and Route 8’s LQA loop. Boren is wide, straight, currently lacks transit service (except for the strange anomaly of the peak-only #205), and serves a very dense residential neighborhood. Furthermore, Boren provides a fast bypass of downtown that could reduce pressure on downtown trolleys and dramatically speed up trips between First Hill, South Lake Union, and Lower Queen Anne. Some Route 7 passengers traveling to downtown could retain a one-seat ride option on the 39 (or the peak-only 34), or have several high-quality transfers to choose from (Link at Mt Baker, the Streetcar at Jackson, or frequent bus routes 14, 27, 3, 11, 2, or 10.
Other Route Changes
• Straighten the 2: Remove the bowtie at 11th and 13th. Install a transit-only signal so the 2 can stay on Union.
• Straighten the 3: Eliminate the time-consuming Harborview detour and run on James and Cherry to 34th. Service to 23rd Avenue every 7.5 minutes, and service to Madrona every 15 minutes.
• Eliminate the 4: Service on 24th and 26th Ave S. is redundant. An improved 3, 8, and 48 adequately absorb service demand.
• Straighten the 8: Remove the detour to 23rd/Jackson, stay on MLK.
• Eliminate the 9: Rainier Valley passengers traveling to Capitol Hill will transfer to LINK or FHSC, or walk from the new Route 7.
• Route 14: Summit portion eliminated, as a 4-block walk to Broadway is reasonable enough to eliminate the current half-hourly service. The Jackson St to Mt Baker segment continues. Service to Jackson/MLK every 10 minutes, service to 31st Ave S/Mt Baker every 20-30 minutes.
• Eliminate the 25. Possibly replaced with peak-only service from Boyer/Montlake to UW Station?
• Route 27: Service to Yesler/MLK every 15 minutes. Service to Colman Park every 30 minutes.
• Eliminate the 43. Route may be traveled via Route 48 and Route 8, both with 10 minute headways.
• Electrify the 48. Also separate the 48 from Loyal Heights service.
• Truncate the 49 to Capitol Hill Station. Service every 15 minutes.
• Eliminate the 60. Likely retain some form of service between White Center and Beacon Hill.
Benefits: This proposal reduces system complexity (from 17 central area routes to 11), saves platform hours by shortening and straightening routes, retains and expands our trolley network, provides new connectivity to First Hill, Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and Seattle University, pushes many trips to Link and the Streetcar.
Limitations: This proposal does not analyze full service hour requirements, route interlining, downtown routings, scheduling for optimal transfers, or routing changes outside the central area (such as the 70-series or the Queen Anne termini). It’s possible that these changes would be less efficient when all operational requirements are considered. This proposal would also require removing 2.4 miles of trolley wire (E Jefferson between 9th and 21st, and all of Route 4 South) and installing at least 4.5 miles of new wire (12th Ave between Madison and Jackson, Boren between Jackson and Denny, James/Cherry from 9th to 21st, and 23rd Ave between Jefferson and John). The proposal eliminates many politically popular one-seat rides in favor of network frequency. Walking distances to transit increase for riders in Summit and Judkins Park. Despite inefficiency, eliminating fixed-route service to Lighthouse for the Blind (Route 4) may be neither politically possible nor morally desirable.
134 Replies to “Capitol Hill Mobility”
Fuggetabout eliminating the 60. The South Park Neighborhood has fought long and hard for that line, and for seven-day service on that line. The VA won’t let go of it either.
Perhaps the 12 can be rolled into the 60? Or the 60 renumbered 12? At worst, terminate both lines at Beacon Hill Station. But hang out at BHS some time, ask which bus people there are waiting to catch southbound, and you’ll find out most of them are waiting for the 60.
The suggestions for eliminating other super-trunk routes going downtown are not likely to get the ECB seal of approval either. They certainly can’t be eliminated during hours Link is not running, and their elimination may create crushload bottlenecks through downtown on Link (which may be an outcome you seek?).
The 60 south of BHS is important, and definitely worth keeping. Rolling the 12/60 together in this would only work if you alternated diesel and trolley; I had intended the 12 as a trolley from Interlaken to Othello.
This analysis leaves out the East Link station at Rainier Ave & 23rd, which may provide the most direct access for CH residents to east side destinations and portends a need for bus connections in excess of the 48 to that vicinity.
One thing I love on the map: University Street Station is renamed Symphony Station!
Symphony Station is a a great idea; eliminates confusion for visitors and casual transit users.
I didn’t realize you had these mapping skills. You’re in trouble now. :-)
I like the overall drift here. But why would the 8 need 2 more BPH, if the route’s being slightly shortened?
It’s not clear to me from the chart, but I think the 3 bph you’re taking from the 60 truncates it at Beacon Hill, rather than eliminating it entirely. Do I have that right?
Martin and Brent, yes on truncating the 60 rather than eliminating it. East-west connectivity in the south end is definitely important! The 60 north of Beacon Hill wouldn’t make sense with this sketch, with first hill trips replaced by the 7 and the Capitol Hill trips replaced by the 12.
Re: the 8, I was suggesting 6 bph/10-minute headways to compensate for the loss of the 43.
This post lacks a lot of details Martin’s post had that would have helped to defend the proposal.
Intriguing, I like a lot of it, I’ll have to put my thinking cap on and look more at it this evening. A few comments offhand: the 12 on 19th should die altogether, or be added to Broadway. There’s no point splitting up the service like that when 19th Ave has minimal demand. I’d also keep the 14N to serve the western slope because there is LOTS of demand there. There’s also no reason to keep separate service on Seneca, that 2 could be moved to Madison to provide the turnback service to 19th.
Another problem that I alluded to yesterday is delays on James due to PM peak car congestion on the freeway. Having routes divert out of their way and not stay on the same arterial is generally undesirable, but the planners I spoke to at the open house said that much of the PM unreliability of downtown trolleys can be traced back to to James St.
The other practical problem with any of these Transit Knitting Club ideas (and I mean that in a totally nice way) is that you can’t actually design these routes properly unless you know the demand. For example, in our current trolley network, the demand for the 2N/13 vs 2S and 3N/4N vs 3S/4S is asymmetric in ways that vary at different times of day, forcing Metro to have really complex through-routings, in addition to busses that terminate in all kinds of places. Unless you know where the demand is, it’s impossible to design good through-routings.
There’s a planner I spoke to at the open house who had some REALLY cool ideas AND who knows all the stats about demand. I have his card, and if you’re able to work remotely once in a while, I could see if he was amenable to lunch.
The 14N would be more important with the 43 gone. It was when the 43 was added that service on the 14N decreased.
Intriguing post. Most changes make sense, I really only suggest rethought on one route change (as previously mentioned by some readers):
14N (serving Summit) travels directly through the heart of the densest neighborhood in the city. It is also a fairly flat route through an otherwise hellishly hilly part of town. Even this route’s first southbound runs at 6am are nearly full by the second stop, frequently with standing-room only before they even cross Olive. And who wants to walk up 4-6 blocks with a 40% grade? Can’t beat the speed of the hill-to-downtown route either.
Yesler. 3/4 on Yesler. No freeway troubles. Can still serve Harborview (from the south).
What’s the 902? Some sort of Portage Bay circulator?
Probably a DART shuttle to make up for the axing the 25.
AFAIK the 70 series (except maybe the 75?) isn’t on the block to be reworked when the UofW station opens. It is when the Roosevelt station opens. Basically what I’ve heard from the planners is that people won’t take the detour, and to top it off, the traffic in that neck of the woods will be bad enough that reliability will be a problem..
Of course, people won’t take the 7x’s to UW Station if those routes don’t go there.
But didn’t Metro decide that UW Medical Center is a major regional destination?
I was thinking more along the lines that the 7x routes would be truncated to UW Station. They definitely better be truncated once Roosevelt Station opens..
I suspect most riders wouldn’t be happy with both a transfer penalty and having to sit in traffic on Montlake/Pacific.
That’s why I want the walking portion of the transfer penalty reduced from five minutes to less than a minute.
Even with that penalty that should not have happened, transferring will be better than the Eastlake scenic route, and afford quicker access to more points on campus than the current 7x’s do, with their transfer penalty to get to the east side of campus.
I like it.
Now what would the strategy to get this plan or something like it actually put in place.
Why two routes that go from the Rainier Valley to LQA? Maybe it would make sense to turn around the 8 at Westlake.
No-one’s going to ride the 8 from the RV to LQA. It connects the RV to the CD, Cap Hill to SLU and LQA, and the CD to everywhere. Similarly the proposed 7 connects the RV to First Hil (which is crucial, and I believe is a huge gap in Metro’s frequent service map) and FH to SLU, although I don’t know if I’d put it on Denny, as that tends to be a parking lot, but there aren’t many good options as far as roads in SLU.
Connecting chains of dense neighborhoods in an organized, efficient, non-redundant manner is transit planning at its best.
People going to Seattle Center (work or events) take the 8 from Rainer Valley or Central District. There are also a fair number of offices on LQA and that upper part of Belltown.
This is a good conversation starter. I do think Harborview needs, and will retain, front door service via the 4 and 60 given the high demand and high needs ridership there. And I think the 10 or 49 are better candidates for continuing service via 12th ave than the 12.
Living near I-90 and Rainier I would object pretty strenuously to *eliminating* the 9, 36 and 60. That leaves only the 7 to get remotely close to Capitol Hill from the north Rainier Ave area. The only thing I don’t really like about transit access at my house is that the only connections to Cap Hill that run off peak (the 9 is an express and has very odd hours) don’t really get all that close to Pike/Pine/12th nexus. The 60 (which I have to walk up to 12th for) and 9 gets you to Broadway. The 36 and 7 gets you to 12th and Jackson … not very close. The 48 gets you to 23rd but that’s still quite a few blocks (up and over a hill) to get to Neumo’s. :)
In most cases from my house it’s faster to walk to Pike and 12th Ave than it is to take transit, especially outside of peak when the trip downtown and out has high transfer cost. Even with Link going to UW, that won’t be very helpful to those of us who live more than half a mile (up a steep hill as well for me) from a light rail station. Despite living “on” Beacon Hill I almost never take light rail because the stations aren’t very close to my house. I’ll sometimes take it home if it’s the most convenient way to get over I-5 (e.g. after a trip to SODO) but the buses are far more convenient most of the time.
Also, by “faster to walk” I mean that walking takes 30+ minutes and the bus takes just as long. If I use any bus other than the 60 or 48 I also risk a missed transfer that makes it even longer.
+1 on north RV to First Hill / south Capitol Hill mobility. I prefer Martin’s idea of rerouting the 7 to Broadway (or abolishing the 7 in favor of the 9 local). Another idea I heard from a planner at Metro was basically the same but the 7 would hang a left on on Broadway and Pike and go downtown.
The tradeoff for Link bending away west to serve Beacon Hill and the south end of downtown was leaving that gap, one that will not be filled by the First Hill streetcar. The 9 (on 12th or Broadway, I’ll take either) bridges that gap, cuts that corner like nothing else. I hope that when the U-Link restructure shakes out, we end up with something like that.
Note however that by that time you will have the option of transfer to a streetcar from Rainer and Jackson up to Broadway and Pike.
True, but I think the north end of the RV and First Hill have enough demand to justify a direct connection. Moreover, part of the premise of this is that we’ve promised 12th Ave a consolation prize. Subject to that assumption, this is the most useful service we can provide.
Also, I realize this is many years off, but the RV routes could be further optimized when East Link opens up a station at Rainier/23rd. This will also provide some coverage for RV, CD and NoBeHi. Its not optimal for every destination, but it opens up high quality service for those headed downtown, cap hill, or north.
As much as I like the idea of light rail, at the glacial pace they build it that’s not even worth considering (have you seen how fast the Swiss build rail and trolleys projects?) By the time it’s built, the neighborhood will be very different (and if my immediate block is any indication, much higher income households). What do we do in the mean time? The demographic changes in my immediate neighborhood means more households can afford more cars. I have friends next door that basically never take the bus because of how inconvienent it is to get anywhere even though they believe they should be.
We’re building it as fast as the money comes in and we can grind through the environmental and public process. As far as this crowd goes, you’re preaching to the choir that we should have built rail decades ago, but history is what it is, and it’s better late than never. Part of the hope with light rail is to attract choice riders who could or do own a car; and also to redirect the money now being used on long, slow, crowded routes like the 7 to making shorter, more frequent and punctual routes that connect neighborhoods to each other and to Link. Metro’s massive budget issues aren’t helping either.
I know it’s a pretty generic response, but the most effective things you and your neighbors can do is make these complaints and suggestions to Metro (particularly extending the hours on the 9) and vote and advocate for more transit funding among your friends and colleagues.
Oh, I do advocate for these things with coworkers and friends. My cynicism about rail projects and the time frames are literally about how slow it takes us to build things out even when everything is approved.
When I visited a Swiss friend a couple years ago, when I arrived they were ripping out and completely redoing a streetcar system near his apartment. The line had to remain open while they completely removed pavement, relaid track and redid shelters and pedestrian improvements. Most work was done at night. We left for 10 days. When we came back they had finished easily a kilometer of work. I don’t know the details of that project but a quick googling finds a light rail project that once construction started only took six years to build eight miles with twenty stations (http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/glattalbahn and http://www.railwaygazette.com/nc/news/single-view/view/glattfest-celebrates-glattalbahn-completion.html).
It’s going to take ST seven years to build half that distance and at much higher cost. And it only has two stations! Yes, we have tunnels and many light rail projects don’t, but I don’t think that can possibly account for all of the difference. Europe just builds this stuff faster than we do and we need to figure out how to do it. I think voters would support more transit and rail projects if they could see the benefits sooner rather than paying taxes for them for a decade to get just a few miles with promises of an actually usable system in twenty or thirty.
If you look at the schedule for U-Link, you can see about two years will be spent tunneling. It’s physically impossible to do than any faster. If we were building at-grade, yes, we would have been done already for a tenth of the price. Unfortunately, building at-grade from Westlake to the UW via Capitol Hill is physically impossible. Another option ST considered was at-grade down Westlake to the U-District, but they would have have missed the densest area and biggest short-haul ridership corridor in the state.
Even in the one place where ST was able to build at grade, in order to get the NIMBY/Save Our Valley people to shut up, they had to agree to completely rebuild and widen MLK, which added enormously to the cost and delay.
When you compare apples to apples, i.e. construction time for a purely at-grade project, we’re not that bad. The First Hill Streetcar is 2.2 miles and 13 stations and that will be constructed in 20 months:
I actually grew up in the UK, and looking at how different countries deal with big projects is interesting. The US lacks a strong, pro-transit central government to push through and guarantee the funding for big transit projects, but is also hobbled by incredibly tortuous environmental and public review requirements; it’s the worst of both worlds.
“down Eastlake to the U-District”
“7-15 minute service on every route without incurring additional operating costs”
Shouldn’t the first step in reorganizing the system be to save some bus hours of operation. If there is no ‘economy of scale’ for the 2 Bil investment in the subway system, then it sends a bad message. Build us a new system, and we’ll run it, plus it won’t save any money with the system it’s supposed to replace. Sure, more hours are nice, but that shouldn’t be a given.
I don’t think save some bus hours of operation should be the first step unless the agency cannot afford to operate those hours. If the agency can continue to operate those hours, then they should be redeployed to provide better connections to the rail service, provide for new markets that are not served now, or possibly some other priority that the agency might have.
You would also want to avoid the impression that the bus system is being dismantled to finance rail services, or you might end up with a situation as you have in LA with a very vocal and politically connected bus riders union – and then no changes might occur. In fact, even without a bus riders union some of the changes proposed for the Rainier Valley did not go forward because of politics.
This is completely wrongheaded. Rail is an enhancement to the transit system, not a way to replace bus service. Otherwise what would be the point? Just that we hate buses, so let’s build rail instead? New York City has frequent bus service and the subway system, last time I checked. Bus service in Seattle should be reorganized to eliminate obvious redundancies and should focus on feeding the light rail–it should not be cut back in any way.
That’s a mighty expensive ‘enhancement’, if it doesn’t allow you to remove a bunch of unproductive buses costing 4 bucks a rider, with a new subway system doing the same job at say 2 bucks a rider.
Do you think FedEx buys jumbo jets to move all the little jets to serve other small cities, or because it will save them operating costs?
If the light rail and reorganized bus service lead to increased bus ridership then it won’t cost 4 bucks per rider.
I don’t think those bus hours ‘belong’ to Capital Hill or even the west sub-area.
King Co. taxpayers are subsidizing both light rail and bus service to the tune of 75%. It’s unconscionable to automatically assume those savings (if any exist) belong to a particular neighborhood.
A lot of things are unconscionable, this is not one of them.
I just don’t see this as the point of rail. The main advantage rail has is speed and capacity. So you find the bus routes that are standing-room-only packed all the time and see if you can replace those with trains. That is exactly what we are doing, you might notice. The 41, 71, 72, and 73 express buses will all be replaced by light rail. So you have it exactly wrong–it is actually the most productive routes that should be replaced by rail, not the least productive. The issue is capacity and reliability. The 41 proves huge demand to Northgate, so much that the buses are packed beyond their capacity. We have to pay a lot of drivers to provide that service, so a train would be more cost-efficient.
@Zed: Because you say so? That’s the best you can do? Case dismissed.
@Zef: You’ve made my point. Eliminating the 41,71,72,73 portions between U-Dist to CBD saves a lot of bus hours. GREAT! My point is they don’t belong to the area they came from.
“so a train would be more cost-efficient.” I agree. But only if you get some savings from the less-efficient services. Otherwise, you’re just running up a higher bar tab, because somebody rang the bell.
@Mike, it’s your rhetoric, not mine.
Metro has long redeployed service hours in the same part of the city but they’re large sectors: northeast, southeast, west. I don’t know if it’s a regulation or just the spirit of subarea equity but it makes sense. No sector deserves less bus service than it has now.
zefwagner is right: rail should replace the most productive routes, and this is obvious with the 41/71/72/73. But in Capitol Hill and Beacon/Rainier, there are are no buses equivalent to Link, except maybe the 7X, 9, and 106. Link is the missing express service. If you’re looking to eliminate redundant routes, the 4 is obvious, and second the tail of the 12. But there isn’t much other low-hanging fruit. Beyond that you can consolidate routes to the same street or same route, if they’re within 4-5 blocks and it’s flat.
But we have to think carefully about changing destinations; i.e., restructuring the 7 or 36 so radically. It’s one of those things that may look good on paper but not so much on the ground. Like eliminating the 14-north or making it bend back to Capitol Hill stn. The 14-north gets as many riders in 10 blocks as the 30-east in gets in 65 blocks, and it would get more if it weren’t scheduled 5 minutes after the 43 and weren’t so unreliable. (People take the 43 and walk because they’re afraid the 14 might be 10 minutes late.) There’s no reason to destroy successful routes over distances less than three miles.
I still like reinstating the 9-local (UW-Rainier Beach), possibly with either it or the 60 moved to 12th.
Very interesting proposal, but I think it has a lot of problems as well. In general we should be very careful about proposing wholesale elimination of bus routes with established, built-in constituencies unless they are completely or mostly redundant with rail. We can certainly reduce frequencies on routes as demand declines, but a well-functioning local bus system complements, rather than competes, with rail. Our goal is not solely to boost ridership on Link, but rather to enhance mobility around the city.
The 43 should absolutely not be eliminated. This is a highly successful route that will be a perfect feeder to Link in both directions. Imagine you live in Montlake. If you want to go to Northgate, you catch the 48 or 43 north and transfer to Link. If you want to go to the airport or Bellevue, you take the 43 to the Capitol Hill Station. In your proposal the choices become muddled. You would have to transfer twice (48-8-Link) to go downtown–otherwise you would have to take the 48 north to University Station, then take Link the opposite direction. Nobody will do that, trust me. People will not go very far in one direction in order to go the other direction, even if it made logical sense in terms of travel time. Trust me, keep the 43.
The 14 should be kept for the same reason as the 10. Both are dense neighborhoods separated from the light rail station by a really steep hill. Link will not attract many riders from Bellevue/Summit or 15th, so they should keep their one-seat rides. The 14 is also affected by the problem I mentioned earlier, that people are not going to go backwards up a hill to go forwards down the hill.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the 9 and 60 also serve very specific markets that don’t really change with this proposal. The demand on the 9 is commuters from Rainier Valley to the First Hill employment area. Those people are not going to transfer to the streetcar less than a mile from their ultimate destination, and bus-link-streetcar or bus-link-bus again requires 2 transfers–almost always a deal-breaker. The 9 doesn’t eat up many bus hours anyway. Keep it. The 60 is a hugely successful crosstown route that will be a feeder to Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill stations, and serves the part of First Hill that was going to get a light rail station originally. That part of First Hill is not going to use the streetcar, so they need that bus connection.
The idea of straightening the 11 so it is Madison-only is great! Hopefully we can someday get trolley wire all the way down Madison. Then this 11 and eventually the 8 could be trolleybuses.
The idea of the 12 on 12th is interesting, but I would worry that the line wouldn’t provide a lot of value to 12th Avenue. It wouldn’t really go anywhere north, and south they would just get to Beacon Hill station.
Here’s what I would propose, and I would love to work with you to develop an alternative (since you have awesome mapping skills): The 49 would go from U District to Capitol Hill as it now does, but would continue on Broadway to Union, turn left onto Union then right onto 12th, continue on 12th down to Jackson, then go down Rainier. It would connect to the future Rainier station on East Link, then continue to end up at Mt Baker station. (Another option would be to have the 49 simply become the 7 at this point, much like in Martin’s proposal.) This would give 12th Ave residents a one-seat connection to 4 light rail stations (2 in each direction) and many employment destinations. The 49 makes the most sense to change because it is partially redundant–the Pine corridor will still have the 10 and much of the ridership from the Roanoke area will transfer at the Cap Hill station. The people in Roanoke are the only people in my proposal who would lose a one-seat ride, but the connection at the Capitol Hill station will be pretty seamless as the 49 will stop directly in front of the entrance on the west side of Broadway & Denny.
As for the 12, how about this? The 11 goes from Madison Valley all the way to 1st down Madison, then turns around and comes up Pike. This bus will alternate between being the 10 (Pine to 15th) and the 12 (Pine to 19th). Maybe two 10s for each 12. That way Pine still gets really strong bus service.
I like your idea for a Boren to Queen Anne route, although Denny and Boren need some transit priority to make this work.
Generally I think it would be a bad idea to remove any trolleywire unless the route has really poor ridership. That is a major capital investment and we should treat wire like we do train tracks–as a signal to developers that we are investing in service that they can count on. I’m not familiar enough with the 4 to know if ridership is that bad. I do think we should reroute trolleywire in some places to speed up buses. The obvious one is to move the 3/4 to Yesler so they are not backed up behind traffic getting on the freeway. Consider adding that to your proposal.
Overall, we should keep in mind that our geography largely prevents us from having a neat, idealized grid system. I see us as more of a network of neighborhoods. The important thing is to have frequent connections between dense nodes, rather than simply north-south and east-west routes. I envy Portland’s grid-system, but Portland is also very flat and has a pretty consistent grid. We need more crosstown routes and can hopefully get people to transfer more often, but our bus system also works really well and has high ridership. Let’s enhance both bus and rail, not harm one in service of the other.
“You would have to transfer twice (48-8-Link) to go downtown…” Or you could go 48-11, 48-2, or 48-3. We’re not trying to force everyone to take rail. If you’re trying to get to Bellevue, take the 8 straight down to I-90/Rainier; I believe there will be a direct connection to 23rd there. Trying to get to the airport? Take the 48 straight to its Mount Baker Station terminus. That’s the ultimate value of grids.
“The demand on the 9 is commuters from Rainier Valley to the First Hill employment area.” If this description is accurate, it seems to me the revised 7 serves this market better than the current 9, or any likely revision of it. And if this is the case, you’re falling into the same trap as the RV people who were down on Martin’s Rainier Valley proposal solely because it nominally cut the 7 but kept most of its functionality on the 9.
Good Ideas: 2, 4, 9, 10, 11, 25, 43.
The Others: (3) Try riding the existing 3/4 route. Harborview is a huge on/off station and it often causes delays with all the wheelchairs going up and down, but moving the 3 away from Harborview’s front door isn’t going to fly.
(7) Why do you people seem to hate the 7? I know it’s erratic and sometimes wild, but Rainier Valley needs a good, solid bus line that connects to the ID and downtown. If the 7 wanders over First Hill to Queen Anne and the ex-36 becomes the 12, then the 14 will be overloaded every trip between 12/Jackson and downtown. Jackson Street currently gets about 14 buses per hour from downtown and they are needed. The streetcar plus route 14 isn’t going to be enough service on Jackson. I think the 7 should run thru to Seattle Center East instead of turning back downtown.
(8) Metro needs to rethink the mission of the 8. It’s getting too long and will become unreliable at its extremes.
(12, 36, 60) No chance, spend some time riding a 36 or 60 and watch the on/off patterns. Those buses have big ridership and those passengers want east/west buses on Jackson. The 14 Summitt and 12 Interlaken could likely be interlined into one route with 30 minute headways during the midday and rush hour service to meet demand.
(14) Metro needs to solve the problem of the southend “serpent’s tongue”. Suggestions?
(49) Is it really a good idea to have a route terminate at the CH Station? It’s going to have huge passenger counts and it seems a little wasteful to end a route at that location (how much curbspace will be needed for bus layovers, why force transfers at that point?) I think it would be better to have the 49 continue on to another destination.
The existence of the 7 means that riders south of Genessee, who would be better served going downtown by a Link transfer, have to ride the 7 instead. Link is much better at maintaining headways under heavy loads, is underutilized and the marginal cost of a new rider there is almost zero.
I actually prefer Martin’s proposal (follow the Link in the piece) as that provides the I.D. and the north RV with frequent service on a shorter and more reliable route, while giving riders further south better transfer options.
Well, maybe they should have put Link where the demand is, on Rainier itself. Unfortunately it might have blocked some mountain views, oh woe!
Seriously, the Valley is geographically unsuited for the Light Rail spine and bus feeders idea. The ideal would be to have Link running to downtown, and have a bunch of east-west buses feeding people in. The problem is there are very few places where buses can run very far east-west. You need them to go from RV to Beacon Hill to West Seattle to make them very efficient–otherwise they are shuttles with a huge cost per rider. Plus people living on Rainier rightfully feel silly taking a bus 5 minutes west in order to transfer to link to go north. Transfers are bearable if they happen in the midpoint of a trip, too early or late and they seem ridiculous. We should really consider Rainier and MLK as completely separate markets deserving of their own transit solutions. MLK is rapidly densifying and ridership on Link will increase, don’t worry. We can’t expect this one line to be the way downtown for everyone in Rainier Valley.
That said, I think Martin’s proposal is the best thing I’ve seen on improving mobility and it should be seriously considered, although I understand the desire for a direct bus along Rainier. Eventually when East Link opens there will be a station at Rainier and I-90. At that point the 7 could easily be changed to go to Capitol Hill and riders could transfer at that station to go downtown.
I agree. There’s a paucity of good arterials E-W, and its really tough to serve the Seward Park area, given that, and its relatively low density.
Interesting point about East Link. Incidentally, the I-90 freeway station is already (on paper, at least) the fastest way to get from downtown to Judkins Park at rush hour.
My biggest problem with this proposal is that changing the 36 to the 12 renders it incompatible with the Rainier Valley Mobility proposal. Rainier south of Othello would require a transfer to Link. In fact, rerouting the south end of the 36 would be fairly pointless; the 7/9 could keep the Prentice loop.
How much ridership does the 60’s Harborview diversion have, and to what destinations?
Their first choice was to put Link on Rainier but they decided the street was too narrow and congested for it.
Zef,, I don’t feel silly at all taking the 39 for five or less minutes to get to the Othello station. Because it beats walking 20+ minutes for 1.3 miles up and down hills in the rain or choosing to not be bothered and getting in my car. The trouble is, the 39 only comes twice an hour at most and during the mid day, it sometimes comes once an hour.
So I still often choose not to bother. If the utility of a bus line is strictly defined by how many people utilize it at a given stop, then it would make sense to truncate a lot of bus lines. But in practice, having the line there is useful. So too, a circulator that can get people from Rainier to MLK can be very useful and would increase in it’s utility as people begin to realize the network convenience it would have. There are lots of business on MLK that are important to people in the RV but it is difficult for people to get to MLK except by car. A circulator or smart routing on longer runs that can go east west on places like Orcas and Graham in addition to the services on Henderson, Othello and Alaska would make life in the RV much better for people.
Great observations. Light Rail can justify a certain reduction in direct downtown frequencies on other routes (as long as connections are easy), but it does not make sense to eliminate crosstown service. Read my post right before yours for my idea of what to do with the 49.
My instinct is to agree on the 8, but I know that Metro planners love the new route and have told me it works very well compared to the old system. I have not actually noticed any delays coming from the south–all the delay comes from the beast that is Denny. I would love to see some additional trips that just go between Queen Anne and Capitol Hill like they used to do, but that might not have been very efficient from an operating standpoint. My main desires for the 8 are some kind of transit priority treatment on Denny and full electrification of the route.
Would the reconnection of the street grid — connecting John, Thomas and Harrison across Aurora — offer any hope of a more reliable route 8, somehow? Presumably those additional street connections will offload some of the demand for Denny, but with all the growth planned in that area, my fear is that we’d just have more jammed up E-W streets there unless some kind of transit priority is provided.
Part of that problem is traffic aiming for I-5 on-ramp at Yale. Just spotted this from WSDOT:
Yes, the main problem with Denny is that it is both a busy arterial in its own right and a giant off-and-on-ramp to I-5. I’m not sure how it could be rearranged. I suppose if the city could buy up some of the surface parking on the block between Minor and Yale, they could make a longer right-hand-turn lane and the buses could zip by in the through-lane. Or they could just close the ramps to and from Denny. Mercer has a more appropriate interchange for freeway traffic anyway.
Having those Aurora crossings would be great! I suppose the 8 could turn use John most of the way instead of Denny, then do a loop around Seattle Center. Interesting…although the turn to get back onto Denny to cross I-5 might be a doozy. It would require a transit signal priority for sure.
I sometimes wonder when Link is built if the 43 and 8 should share a common routing between 23rd and Lower Queen Anne. If each route ran every 15 minutes, then there could be a combined 7-8 minute service on the common portions. The section on lower Olive to downtown Seattle could be served by the 14 Summit.
Kaleci, that’s actually a great idea! I’ll have to examine that further, but it would probably work pretty well.
On the 14, some people have suggested keeping the 38 and extending it to the 14’s current terminus.
Small correction: Boren Ave should connect at Denny to Fairview, not Westlake. I’d love it if a street like you’ve drawn existed, but it doesn’t. :)
I think I big problem with a lot of routes on the hill is they don’t have a non-CBD anchor. Their ridership just kind of fizzles outs in the single family neighborhoods. 10 and 12 are perfect examples.
Somewhat true on the 10, but 15th Ave has some biz/entertainment/multifamily extending fairly far north, and it could grow if zoning permits. When I’ve been on it, it didn’t really empty out ’til Volunteer Park, which is almost the end.
Service on 19th Ave needs to go away, period. The 12 should always turn around on First Hill. I’m a bit mystified why Zach suggests continued service there.
So would you propose eliminating all local bus service in the city? Even though I think we should focus more on a frequent service network, there is still a social service and equity component to remember here. 19th should continue to have at least once or twice per hour service for those who are transit-dependent.
Huh? Are you suggesting people can’t walk four blocks to the bus? For the few people that actually cannot, paratransit is the correct service. Right now, anyone on 19th Ave is within four blocks of frequent service downtown, even if we eliminated the 12. The 12 performs much worse than the 10 (except on the First Hill turnback routing.)
And to be clear, I’m not suggesting axing 19th Ave service to spend it elsewhere in the city. I would use the hours to extend frequent service into the evening on the 10 — MUCH more useful to residents and visitors alike.
To clarify. From a design perspective it is best if your route has large anchors (like urban centers) at each end of the route. Between it might go through less dense neighborhoods but by having anchors at both ends you build bi-directional ridership, rather than uni-directional ridership just into downtown and then out in the afternoon. This isn’t always possible but if it works is it better.
OK, now I see what you were saying and I totally agree that having anchors at both ends is highly desirable, if it can be done; but the tail of the 10 has passable ridership and I can’t think of a good way of serving 15th Ave without dead-ending.
Extend the tail of the 10 along 15th Ave E, E Boston St, to meet with the 49 at 10th & Boston. This creates another transfer opportunity by not making people backtrack to Pine St to get to the 49 or transferring twice just to get to a parallel line.
Bruce, with more thought I do concede your point about 19th. I just get nervous about ripping out any of our trolleybus system. 19th is a historical streetcar suburb and it would just be a shame to eliminate it completely. I also just don’t see how it’s worth angering that neighborhood just to save one bus an hour.
One way to provide another anchor to the 10 would be for it to keep going on 15th, then turn left and hook up to 10th and on to the U District, sharing with the 49. It would make for a windy route, though.
Maybe… I suspect most riders for the U-District are just walking to the 43/48 for a much faster one-seat ride, and would continue to do so. Eastlake does not strike me as an urban center that would anchor much ridership, and people going to Broadway are probably better off walking.
@zef That last comment was a response to Oran.
I share your reluctance to reduce trolley service in any way, but yes, it’s very tough to justify that parallel route. Incidentally, the 19th Ave service is almost 15 minutes all day. The turnback routings at First Hill are mostly during the PM peak, and they are the only reason it’s not on the frequent service map. Axing the 19 or reducing it to hourly would free up a LOT of hours; I don’t know exactly how many, but it would go a long way towards getting frequent service in the evenings on the 10, which I suspect people who live there would actually prefer.
Zef: Not to mention the service on 19th Ave was also teh first trolley bus route.
19th to 15th is fairly steep – I’ve walked that stretch myself.
I’ve proposed routing the 15th route into a loop around Volunteer Park. I don’t see why people are so attached to the 49’s routing to the U-District, which Link makes mostly redundant. I think this is a chance to make the 25 more useful, but Zach eliminate service on Lakeview entirely.
It’s steep between 15th & 19th? I’ve walked that on Galer in a walking cast and it didn’t strike me as such; where are the steep parts? It was much easier than walking a block up Marion to get the 12 downtown.
I just remember taking the 12 to 19th one time, walking up to 15th on Republican I believe, and it was very steep uphill. I certainly remember the same being the case on Aloha.
Looking at Google Maps, Galer may be the one single point that’s the least steep, as 15th descends into the side of the Interlaken Ridge.
It is generally good to have an anchor on both ends of a bus route, though there are only two ways off Capitol Hill to the north — the University Bridge, and the Montlake Bridge. Continuing the 10 to 10th Ave. to meet the 49 is interesting, but otherwise I think the status quo is working fine on the northern end of Capitol Hill. The 10 and the 12 provide access to an area that needs it, and it doesn’t take much time on the clock to traverse the northern few blocks where ridership peters out. Living in Montlake, sometimes I take these routes to the terminus and enjoy the walk home through Interlaken Park.
In the big picture, Seattle’s topography south of the Ship Canal is sort of symmetric. You’ve got Queen Anne Hill on the west and Capitol Hill on the east, with Lake Union occupying the basin between them. Aurora hugs the inside slope of one hill, and I-5 hugs the inside slope of the other. On the inside corner of Queen Anne, the local route across the Ship Canal is the Fremont Bridge, and on the inside corner of Capitol Hill, it’s the University Bridge. 15th Ave. W and 24th Ave. E are the major N/S arterials on the outside of the hills, more or less, while Magnolia and Madison Park are like peninsulas hanging off the edges. We have a N/S rail corridor on the west, and soon will have another one (Link) on the east.
The 43 brings folks from the east and northeast to the commercial districts on 15th and Broadway — which is like the CBD of Capitol Hill — whereas the 8 brings folks from the east and southeast to the same districts, serving Madison Valley en route. When the Link station opens, it’ll be another big reason to go to Broadway. The steepness of the approaches to Capitol Hill from those directions adds to the value of those routes.
I do think it’s a worthwhile exercise to re-evaluate how the various routes approach, skirt or avoid, the CBD, post Link.
I don’t think it makes sense to eliminate the 36 to downtown. There’s a reason metro planners never proposed this when they realigned service in SE Seattle. Among other things, 1) it’s an inconvenience and no real time advantage to force people to transfer to the beacon hill light rail station if they want to go downtown, 2) there are a significant number of riders north of the station whose commutes downtown would be lengthened because they would have to backtrack to the station or transfer at 12th and Jackson, and 3) there are a large number of riders (including many elderly) going from beacon hill to the international district/chinatown that would not be well-served by this re-routing. Having said all that, it would be nice if there were better service from beacon hill to 12th ave because the 60 takes a long meandering route through first hill to serve the hospitals there. But I suspect it will be years before Metro has the resources to provide this service.
Actually, Metro planners proposed rerouting the 36 up Broadway to Capitol Hill, continuing on the U District in their Rapid Trolley Network.
I just meant Metro never proposed eliminating the 36 to downtown as part of its 2009-10 service realignment in connection w/ light rail opening. https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2008/10/06/southeast-seattle-service-changes/ I’m less familiar with the Rapid Trolley Network, but I think that was a more conceptual plan floated to the viaduct working group and would have been in addition to existing service. I agree that if there were additional resources, a direct connection between beacon hill and capital hill along broadway or 12th ave would be great. But if it meant eliminating 36 service to downtown there would be overwhelming and, I think, well-founded opposition from the community.
I think backtracking or transferring will eventually be worth it for North Beacon Hill passengers headed to the ID or Downtown. With buses every 10 minutes over the Rizal Bridge, Link every 7 minutes, streetcar service every 15 minutes, and local service on Jackson every 10 minutes, that wouldn’t be a bad deal in exchange for a transfer. And don’t worry about crush loads until we’re blessed with that problem; LINK can instantly double its capacity to 4-car trains as soon as demand warrants.
“LINK can instantly double its capacity to 4-car trains as soon as demand warrants”
… and the Capitol Hill tunnels are bored to PSST.
1) I’m surprised when I am at Beacon Hill Station and a 36 pulls up to drop off people who transfer to Link (although I am not sure if they are going north or south on Link)
2) Revising the 36 to cross Jackson to Capitol Hill will require some work on the overhead at 12th/Jackson. I don’t think a trolley can go through on 12th. I recall one MEHVA tour where the volunteers had to jump the trolley across Jackson. Anyway, given the complex wire network at that intersection, revising the 36 in 2009/10 was probably more money than Metro had.
The Rapid Trolley Network would replace most competing routes. See the plan for what it would and would not replace.
For transit to truely work in the region and to truely take advantage of the backbone provided by Link the region needs to get over its love for botique routes providing one-seat rides. A system based on transfers in a grid network or to a rail backbone can be faster and work better than the crazy quit of routes we currently have that zig and zag all over the place.
Just to restate the most important point from my comment above: the biggest problem with this proposal is that as a 12th Ave north-south bus route this revised 12 would not be very worthwhile.
As we know from the debate over the First Hill Streetcar routing, most people on 12th Ave and in Squire Park are not going to walk up a steep hill through Seattle University campus in order to access the streetcar. This is why the couplet was rejected. The campus acts as both a real and a psychological barrier. Therefore any north-south bus route should do some of the work the streetcar does for First Hill; namely, it should connect to light rail stations at both ends.
My proposal would be to reroute the 49 after University Link opens so that after connecting the U District and Capitol Hill, it continues on Broadway to Union, takes a left, then a right onto 12th Ave. It would then continue down 12th and down Rainier, connecting to the future Rainier/I-5 East Link station and to Mt Baker Station. This route would connect 4 light rail stations (including Brooklyn on the north end) through several dense neighborhoods. This would be a much more useful route for 12th Ave than this proposed 12 rerouting.
What do people think?
I think that’s a pretty good idea! That would allow one-seat rides from North Broadway/10th Ave through and past SeattleU, and provide nice connectivity with East Link, which I didn’t think about for this post.
This post is an exercise in efficiency planning…I made a proposal I like so that people could pick apart its problems, with the hope that people would start to talk more about how Link and the streetcar should affect our buses.
Would you be okay if I submitted a guest post based on this comment thread and my own thinking about a revised Capitol Hill bus network?
I’m interested in doing the same thing. Maybe it would be valuable for you, me, and Zach to all meet up and see if we can get on the same page.
I’d like to bounce some ideas off someone, but zef lost most of his credibility with me when he called the 43 a critical feeder to Link that shouldn’t be cut. He does have some interesting ideas but I’d like to see him respond to my concerns with that same post. I’d also like to hear his answers to these questions (and Zach can join in too):
*I have an idea to use the 4 to inherit the tail of the 27. What would be a good route to get there?
*What should we do with the 49 once Brooklyn Station renders its Capitol Hill-U-District service even more irrelevant? The answer may affect what I do now.
My e-mail is mwmailsea at yahoo dot com if we want to continue this conversation there.
I think it’s fantabulous, and other commenters (Zed) have mentioned a similar idea; it’s apparently what the 9 used to be a very long time ago, except the 12th Ave segment.
Not that long ago. I think they truncated it in ’05 or so at the earliest.
I agree with zefwagner that the 36 serves a major service that goes from Beacon Hill into the ID, particularly 12th and Jackson. I ride it at least 5 times a week, and most people are getting off between 12th and Jackson and 5th and Jackson.
And again, there isn’t any time savings for those going into downtown to get off of a Beacon Ave bus to transfer to link when going into downtown.
As for the straight-lining of the 8, that’d be a nightmare for hundreds and hundreds of Metro riders going to Washington Middle School and Garfield High School because the 8 is the only straight shot from south of Mt. Baker to those two schools. Otherwise, there is a transfer at the Mt. Baker station and a huge wait for the 48 at particular times of day.
And the 8 is the only way to get to LQA and Seattle Center. I’ve tried taking LINK to downtown and then transferring to something else, but the 8 is significantly easier.
While I intellectually appreciate these sorts of exercises in efficiencies, it often appears that the authors aren’t aware of how riders actually use the system. There are presumptions that rider’s destinations are downtown, Cap. Hill or the U-Dub. For those of us who rely solely on transit, we use the system quite differently than commuters. It’d behoove you to not make those sorts of assumptions.
Well said. The light rail system will mainly be geared towards commuters, so the bus routes that should be most reorganized are similar commuter buses, not the core frequent network that those of us without cars use on a daily basis just to get around town.
I think Link should be thought of as a way to transport large numbers of people from region to region in Seattle and that the bus system should feed it as much as possible. We should eliminate as many long haul bus trips into the CBD as possible and instead feed them to Link especially where there is no or not much time penalty in doing so. Eliminating buses in the CBD reduces congestion, noise and carbon based fuel usage.
@Limes, I live car-free on the border of the Central District and Madrona. I think such a grid in the CD serves people in our neighborhood very well, and if anything this DE-emphasizes downtown and Capitol Hill in favor of connecting urban villages and neighborhood hubs. Students at Garfield and Washington would have 50% more service on both the 48 and 8, with the small caveat that some students on the 8 might have to walk to 23rd. I think that’s reasonable?
Under this sketch the #12 would have the same frequency as the lost #36, and it would still connect Beacon Hill to 12th/Jackson every 10 minutes. Once on Jackson, yes one would have to transfer to the ID/downtown, but on a #14 with 10-minute service AND/OR a streetcar with 15 minute service. Combined headways (with proper spacing of the 14 and FHSC) of every 6 minutes!
You can’t have “proper headeways” between vehicles that have 10 and others that have 15 minute headways. What you get is a ten minute gap followed by two five minute gaps and then another ten minute gap.
You can’t “fix it” by offsetting then either. Say you have the 10 minute headway start on the hour and the fifteen minute five minutes later. You would have a vehicle on the hour, one at five past, one at ten past then two at twenty past, one at half past, one at twenty five til, another at twenty till then nothing until ten of, then one at five of and one on the hour to restart the schedule.
Trying for your “6 minute!” headways you’d have one on the hour, one at six after, one at ten after, then a ten minute gap until twenty after, with one following one minute later, then nine minutes til half past, then one at thirty six, another at forty one at fifty and then the one minute later trailer.
The same is true of any different “starting gap”. It will always look like the less frequent headway service is “wandering around” within the reliable shorter headway.
You just can’t “add together” dissimilar headways and get an even result.
The first bus routes that should be reorganized to use Link should be the ones that yield the longest trips on Link. Forcing transfers at Beacon Hill Station makes a lot less sense to me than forcing transfers at Rainier Beach Station, and even less sense than forcing some south King County transfers at 200th St Station.
All this trolley talk – I think we need Jefferson Base rebuilt.
If you want more people to ride transit who don’t already, why only increase frequency to inner city areas or dead-end terminuses? The 27 should be *extended* to end at Mt. Baker station; not dead end more frequently at Yesler/MLK.
Similarly, I predict it’ll be faster to walk between Broadway & Jackson than to ride the streetcar via 14th/Yesler. Two block wide dog’s legs do not rapid transit make.
How about using the money that is to be wasted on the streetcar to improve service. The streetcar is redundant service that will be slower to First Hill than current trolley bus service. The money saved could be put to service improvements. My understanding is that the 36 is one of the higher ridership routes and is cheaper than riding LINK. For low income folks that means a lot.
Which bus goes from west Jackson to Broadway? You can go through downtown but that’ll take longer due to congestion. Avoiding downtown congestion is a good thing. Which bus runs on lower Broadway frequently? The 60 runs every 30 minutes, the 9 is erratic, and the southbound “To Terminal” buses are only in the early evening.
The problem with the First Hill Streetcar is that it doesn’t turn north to Westlake or Pike Place. It would be easier to truncate buses at 12th & Jackson if people didn’t have to transfer twice to get to midtown.
Link is $1.75 from Beacon Hill to Westlake, or $2.00 from Rainier Beach to Westlake. Metro is $2.25 off-peak or $2.50 peak. So Link is already cheaper than Metro in those areas, and Metro will probably have another fare increase in the next year or two.
Link Light Rail ride from Westlake Station to Beacon Hill Station: $1.75
#39 off-peak bus ride: $2.25
The senior fare is 75 cents for both.
The youth fare for the #39 is $.75, while the Link youth fare for that trip is $1.25.
I’ve sometimes wondered if you had the 49 continue on Broadway to Jackson and 2nd Ave S and beefed up the 10 and the 49 to run every 10 minutes if you could do the same thing as the streetcar. And for how long could you operate that service level with the money being spent on the streetcar?
“The streetcar is redundant service that will be slower to First Hill than current trolley bus service.”
Both patently false claims. There is no current service from the I.D. to First Hill, and the 3/4 are already crowded at 10 minute headways from the north end of Pioneer Square to First Hill. Moreover First Hill is one of the few places in the city with uncontroversial mixed-use high-rise zoning; in time it will become a very dense urban environment. A streetcar will stimulate that development and provide high-quality transit as people and businesses move in.
There is no current service from I.D. to First Hill other than Route 211. Granted it is only peak hour, but it does get people from Sounder to First Hill.
I have to say, I really don’t understand why Metro/ST are so insistent on using rail to create new corridors, rather than upgrading existing ones.
For example, I think that the First Hill Streetcar should have started service, as a bus, the second that the alignment was announced. (Or at the next shakeup, but same idea.) And similarly, I’d like to see an all-day express service along the North Link corridor, or at least separate services connecting the nodes.
If these corridors have the demand to justify rail — and I believe they are — then surely they have the demand for bus service. Instead, there’s no express service between Capitol Hill and the U-District, despite the undoubtedly huge demand.
Of course, this service wouldn’t compare favorably to rail. It would have to make a few ugly diversions (e.g. crossing I-5 at Denny southbound). But still, it boggles my mind that we offer point-to-point service from Overlake to Ridgecrest, and yet not between the two biggest demand centers in the PNW outside of downtown.
The money comes from a different pot. You can’t turn ST hours into Metro hours without some sort of vote. The people bought a rail system with service to First Hill. Unfortunately, the engineering required for the station looked too risky to meet that commitment. So ST came up with an admittedly rather weak substitute.
I’m curious. Was the proposed First Hill station going to be between Rainer Valley and downtown? Can someone post a link to a map of this route please. I’m having a hard time seeing how you connect from a station there to the DSTT.
The train turned southeast from Westlake to Madison, then north to Capitol Hill. The station was somewhere around Boren/Madison or Bwy/Madison, I don’t remember exactly.
That would have been crazy. 1st off a stop that far north wouldn’t have been in a good location (especially Boren and Madison) and what would they knock down to make room for construction staging? Then another U-turn to get back to UW. If the station was on Broadway were they then going to skip putting a station in to serve Capital Hill or put two uber expensive underground stations 7 blocks apart. All that would not only double the cost but double the time from Montlake to Downtown. That’s a big deal if you want to use Montlake as a transfer point for transit using 520. The combo Streetcar and current routing (already a roller coaster) provides much better service for everybody and for a lot less money.
The point was that both First Hill and Capitol Hill are the largest pedestrian nodes in east Seattle besides downtown and the U-district, so they deserve downtown-like stop spacing. Capitol Hill station would have remained, and there was initially a third station at Bwy/Roy that was later dropped.
It’s only three minutes from Westlake to UW, so the First Hill detour would have “doubled” it to five minutes. That’s less of a big deal than I thought at the time. Getting from Westlake to Lynnwood in 28 minutes is pretty amazing, and an extra minute for First Hill is no big deal given its huge ridership. But soils and angles made the station unfeasable.
Making Montlake into an Eastside transfer station for downtown is a dream of transit fans, it’s not something that any transit agency or government has committed to or is planning for.
I meant UW station, but the same applies to the Montlake freeway station.
I have to say, I think the difficulty of connecting these high-demand nodes is a reason *to* tunnel, not a reason not to. A bus between the U-District and downtown that connects Capitol Hill and First Hill will be so slow as to be pretty much impractical. With grade separation, you can actually make that route workable.
Now, I somewhat agree with you that it seems silly for the train to backtrack so much. The First Hill Streetcar, for all its flaws, seems like a much better way to connect those nodes. I just wish that the streetcar could be getting at least partial grade separation. Even something as simple as train crossing gates would do wonders.
Interesting, have you guys considered doing one of these for N. Seattle post-North Link?
It’s a bit soon for that. Heck, I was surprised to see this post several years before U-Link opens. Martin’s Rainier Valley Mobility proposal was made a few months AFTER Central Link opened.
The soonest we may do something like that may be as RR lines in the north end prepare to open, more likely if a streetcar reaches the U-District before 2020 or as Metro prepares to rev up comment periods for bus restructuring. I’d be shocked if you didn’t see a similar post, though. North Seattle is one of the few places where a grid can, by and large, work.
It’s always good to speculate about the possibilities, which was why I suggested it the first place. And my experience lurking here has led me to see that many posters have been chomping at the bit on this idea already.
“By” maybe, but not “Large”. Phinney Ridge and Green Lake force a big hole in such a grid south of 85th and Bitter Lake does north of Northgate Way.
Actually the freeway does not help with creating a grid either.
There aren’t many modifications needed from the status quo for the north-south part of the grid near Green Lake, and the east-west part is pretty empty anyway. The main point of order is the lack of east-west service between Market and 85th.
I-5 is rarely a major east-west border; most of the major east-west routes cross the freeway fine. North-south, the main problem is near the U-District where the otherwise-largely-unnecessary 26 and 66/67 team up to fill parts of the 5th Ave part of the grid.
I think the biggest hinderance to another east-west route between Market and 85th is Phinney Ridge. A bus on 65th couldn’t get between 8th NW and Green Lake with the slopes and the off-set intersection at Phinney.
My idea is a “mirror” of the 48’s Phinney Ridge route. 65th-Linden-Winona-Wallingford-85th-80th. This would allow RR E to stay on Aurora.
Why is there not a bus on 50th is what I want to know.
Would you rather have frequent service on 45th, or hourly service on 50th, 45th, and 40th? In this day and age, in order for Metro to add new service, it has to pull service from somewhere else (and within the same ethnic/class designation of the route as well as the same sub-sub-area).
50th seems kind of close – isn’t that like 1/4 mile? (And there’s already service on 50th between the Ave and 20th on the 30.) 40th, though… I recently realized the distance between E/W blocks increases south of 45th until you hit the Ship Canal. A route roughly hugging the Ship Canal from the U-District to Ballard makes sense, and half of it exists as the 30/31.
The 46 used to be an express route between the U. District and Ballard that only stoppedat intersections where north-south routes operated. The stops from University Way was Lenora, Meridian, Stone Way (old Route 6), Phinney, 8th NW, 15th NW, downtown Ballard and then local stops between 24th NW and Shilshole.
Oh – I forgot to mention that it traveled on 50th between 15th NE and Stone Way then used Green Lake Way to N 46th Street.
the 9 goes up Jackson to 12th to Boren to Broadway. It could run more often if there was any ridership. The 10 used to run every 10 minutes during the day before the 8 took part of it’s budget. The problem with the 3 & 4 is more one of bunching and the fact that they are coming from Queen Anne downtown before they head up First Hill. There are a few that originate from 3& Virginia but there is limited layover space. Again the streetcars is a solution looking for a problem at a great expense. There is no reason a trolley bus couldn’t provide the same service and the infrastructure is already there. Wire exists from the ID to Broadway.
I waited a couple days to mull over this. Capitol Hill is probably the most difficult area to redesign because changing one route requires changing others, and all changes make some walks longer. I’d look at the scenarios from minimum to maximum.
Delete the 4, truncate the 12, move the 3 to Yesler west of Harborview (which Metro wants to do anyway).
Least disruptive. 8/43/49 stop directly at Capitol Hill stn. Keeps Madison-Pine, 15th-Pine, and 23rd-John connections.
10/11 have 3-block walk to Link. 10/11/43/49 “compete” with Link. Ungridlike.
(B) Zach’s proposal
– 7 reroute is intriguing.
– “12 on 12th” is great, but rest of route is disadvantage.
– Good 8/11 transfer.
– 12 is too arbitrary. Rerouting the 60 to 12th makes sense, but not eliminating the 36. Short stub on Madison is useless. Transfer between 12 and 10 is further than shown. 19th needs less service than rest of route; turnbacks make route complicated. No logical reason to connect 19th with 12th/Beacon; ungridlike.
– 11 loses Madison-Pine connection. Long walk from Bwy/Madison to Pine or Capitol Hill stn. Transfer between 11 and 10 is further than shown.
– Beacon/Rainier to midtown requires transferring twice (to FH streetcar then N-S bus).
– Maybe extend 49 to Pine to put Pike-Pine area into walkshed. A one-stop transfer to FH streetcar is too pendatic.
I feel too conflicted to offer an alternative proposal right now, but here are some ideas, some of which I have to thank other STBers for:
– Move the 10 to John to serve Capitol Hill stn directly. Faster to downtown, but minor opposition from those going to Pine area.
– Making the 11 all-Madison loses an important connection between Capitol Hill and Madison, which a lot of ppl use. It also bypasses Capitol Hill stn, which would be a fast track to either downtown or U-district (or airport or Eastside). How about two routes from Madison Park, one going to Seattle Center (8), and another to the ferry terminal (11). That’s a lot of service to Madison Park, but it’s only a mile redundancy.
– The 8 MLK is redundant with the 48, and you have to walk to one street or another for the next bus. Another reason to send the 8 to Madison Park. Although Metro’s opinion of the 8’s success is a counterargument.
– Some had proposed sending the 14 to Capitol Hill stn (perhaps joining to the 10). But it would have to turn at Bellevue/Denny and backtrack a bit, and that doesn’t seem worth it. The Link stations just aren’t in a good location for Summit (or for Madison or Union), and we shouldn’t penalize riders because of that. I’d keep the 14 as-is or truncate it at Macy’s.
– Hospitals by definition have disabled riders. That’s why the 3/4 stops at Harborview’s door, the 2 is on Seneca for Virginia Mason, and the 11/12 are on Madison for Swedish. Moving the 3/4 from Harborview ain’t gonna happen. (Moving it to Yesler west of 9th is already Metro’s goal.) Consolidating the 2/11/12 on Madison is intriguing but may not be feasable due to Virginia Mason.
– Everybody visits a hospital or a test clinic at some point, so everybody needs to get to First Hill. But First Hill has little shopping/entertainment, so healthy people don’t go to First Hill often unless they live there.
I’m surprised 3 & 4 riders haven’t asked for a separate route from Harborview given that it adds five minutes to every trip due to all the Harborview boardings. One way would be a First Hill/downtown circulator loop that would take care of all the hospitals, freeing the 2/3/4/12 to switch to other routings that minimize east Seattle/downtown travel times. I don’t know what those routings would be, but one idea would be to put the 3 on Yesler to 23rd, or Yesler-12th-Jefferson-23rd.
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