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Seattle’s ongoing Transit Master Plan process* is designed to provide a list of transit spending priorities for the City of Seattle and should conclude in September 2011. In general, Seattle’s role is to fund capital projects like bus lanes, streetcars, and queue jumps; the TMP is not an attempt to redesign Metro’s route structure, and building infrastructure for routes that Metro is unable or disinclined to serve with high-frequency service would be silly.

The first step of the study, just completed and briefed to the Council’s Transportation Committee yesterday, established the quantitative criteria for scoring dozens of potential investment corridors**. Criteria were focused on current and potential ridership, current and future density, and social justice considerations. Overall, my personal impression was that corridors that connected dense and walkable neighborhoods generally tended to score the highest.

Stage I of the study selects the top 15 of these corridors for further analysis. Depending on how the precise corridor ranking plays out, the study will evaluate the most promising five or so of these for high capacity transit like BRT, streetcars, or light rail. The remainder will receive smaller-scale investments that can make buses work better. The 15 finalists are depicted in the map at right.

In a separate part of the study, Nelson/Nygaard will analyze circulation in the downtown core, hoping to make the system more usable and legible. The map below (the jump) indicates the areas of focus, fairly congruent with the inner parts of the trolleybus network.

Once the transit master plan is complete, it’s up to an entirely different committee (and, of course, elected officials) to determine what projects the city fund in the near to medium term using existing taxing authority, and to put a well-crafted measure on the ballot, presumably in fall 2012.

* for which I serve on the volunteer Advisory Group, although any opinions or implications here are purely my own.

** these do not necessarily correspond to individual Metro routes.

20 Replies to “Transit Master Plan Corridors Selected”

  1. Glad to see the 3S/4S corridor is on Yestler. Maybe we can get the city to move that trolley wire off James. But why do they have Seneca/Spring on there right next to Madison? It’s not on the UVTN, and Metro’s people seem to want to consolidate service on Madison/Marion.

  2. I don’t pretend to understand this stuff, but why would the slow milk-run through the neighborhoods (12) be prioritized over the already existing, fast, but apparently optional major transit corridor on 522 (12A)?

    Will they simply not have the transfer facilities at Roosevelt Station? If not, why not? That is a slow-boat to Northgate. It takes as long to get there as it does to get downtown. Unless they are planning on giving dedicated lanes to buses all the way to Northgate, no-one with a lick of sense is going to use that route as a shuttle to link; at least not to commute.

    1. It’s probably an amalgamation of two different routes – the currently existing 66/67 and part of the currently existing 75. No route currently directly connects from Roosevelt/12th to Lake City Way, and the routes on Lake City Way as it comes out of the freeway aren’t the most major of routes (522 is the best of the bunch and I don’t think it has a stop until a lot closer to Lake City).

      Besides, this is a plan to direct transit investment. If Lake City Way is already fast, it doesn’t need much investment.

      1. It’s fast to a point. It clearly needs some work from around 80th to I-5. The lack of a turn lane, a nasty merge, and multiple lights can back things up at certain times of day, both northbound and southbound, with buses stuck in the mix.

    2. I would also guess the 12A option is at least partially due to SDOT’s more limited role in changing the configuration of a state highway (SR-522), though SR-99 is identified.

    3. Even with Link open there is going to need to be an option for local transit between stations, especially with the wide station spacing. There are a lot of transit riders between Roosevelt and Northgate if you try to force them to walk to either Northgate or Roosevelt many, especially those in the middle will just get in their cars instead.

      Beyond that it is at least 10 years before North Link opens. Street improvements will help service before then, especially if Metro merges the 66/67/71/72/73/74 into a Downtown/U-District/Northgate route.

  3. I’ve only been a casual observer of the MTP, but here are a couple of my observations.

    1) Is there any point of evaluating #1, #9, and #10? It is already a done-deal to build RapidRide facilities on this corridor. Also, the SDOT and the state budget already funded the improvements on bus #44, which is #13 on the TMP map (except for #13A). This is another duplication which yields no benefit of studying.

    2) It’s obviously unnecessary to do #12 all the way to the UW. Light rail and #14 can cover the UW-Ravenna area. It might be however good to have it between 65th and Northgate to cover the long light rail station distance between Northgate and Roosevelt.

    3) It does not address the lack of east-west connections in Sounth Seattle, particularly in Rainer Valley.

    1. 1) This is about the city kicking in additional capital money on those corridors, over and above the service increases and (trivial) amounts of capital money that Metro is spending on them.

      2) It’s at least a decade until we get Link to Northgate, and there’s a critical need already for a fast, frequent trunk line from UW to Northgate. Metro is contemplating replacing the 7x’s with a route 80 that will be a full time express from the U-District to Downtown and then continue to Northgate, and that line would benefit mightily from transit capital improvements.

      3) As Martin says, this is about capital improvements in existing corridors, not an attempt to redraw the bus map; although yes, E-W connectivity is terrible to the south.

    2. It sounds like just a formal process thing. Officially they’re still evaluating them but everybody knows the C, D, and E corridors will have priority. RapidRide may be mediocre but it’s a start, and every improvement to those corridors has a multiplicative effect. The city can’t afford to squander the opportunity to make those corridors showcases of what they want to do in the rest of the city.

  4. So I know you say this is not a restructure of Metro routes, but I wish that it was.

    I say they scrap the entire existing system, implement all of these routes as BRT RapidRide C-Q (A and B are already taken) tomorrow, and then add in some less frequent local service to fill in the gaps as needed where the BRT network isn’t dense enough. They shouldn’t even wait until 2016 when the U-link is done, just do it now. Also, this would be a great restructure of the night network. Just say all RapidRides are 24 hrs, just like the A line.

    Then over time they can add better modalities; corridor 1 + 10 can be the new light rail the mayor wants, we can get streetcars on 11 and 8 etc…

    1. Sure, but the city has no power over the structure of Metro routes, nor the planning resources to do as good a job as Metro can do on any such restructure.

      1. Although, the City is able to advise Metro on what they think would work. If the City really wants something to be done (ie Snoqualamie River Road in Bellevue) they will study it and confer with Metro.

        I also know that Metro does take input from cities very seriously when considering whether to implement restructures.

      2. Seattle may lobby Metro on route structure. In the last six year plan, Seattle and Shoreline asked for the new hours in the West subarea to be used on Route 358X and they were. This year, Bellevue is lobbying on the Route 240 issue. Two years ago, Redmond and Bellevue asked that the B Line serve 152nd Avenue NE instead of 156th Avenue NE.

        In short, Seattle is free to lobby the county on route structure and they have done so in the past. Since Transit Now and Bridging the Gap, SDOT has spent $1.5 million per year on service partnerships.

  5. You might notice that corridor 7 follows Harrison St between 5th Ave N and Fairview, while 7A is the Denny Way route (currently used on the last leg of the 8).

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Harrison routing in print but it’s a rumor I’ve heard before as a way to improve East-West service due to congestion on Denny Way. It also appears in an unreleased draft South Lake Union/Uptown Mobility Plan.

    Of course, it requires connecting Harrison St across Aurora, and would unfortunately still have to use the Denny Way I-5 overpass. Metro doesn’t like Lakeview.

  6. I’d really like to see a better connection from Montlake across the north edge of the canal, providing better access from the Eastside to Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, and the many high-frequency north/south routes that intersect. Ideally it would extend across 520; specifically, I’d like to see the 542 re-routed in this manner (instead of duplicating service with the 48 and failing to provide as many helpful transfer options for those coming in from the Eastside).

    1. Totally agreed! From a grid perspective, the most logical place to send routes from the Eastside is *west* (perhaps along Pacific), not south (forcing all transfers to happen downtown).

  7. The issue is whether this complements the grid network we’d like to see in a decade or contradicts it. These are corridors, not routes; i.e., streets that one or more routes might travel on. So the question is, are there any streets here that we want to get transit off of? I don’t see any.

    #12 may be silly as a single bus route but it serves two important routes (66 and 75). A local Roosevelt-Northgate bus will still be necessary after North Link. As for Northgate-Lake City, Metro needs to decide between Northgate Way or 125th for a future RapidRide. It may choose on the basis of which one the city has improved the most. My own impression is that Northgate Way is more direct but less dense, so it may be worth moving transit away from it onto the 41’s route. In that case, making street improvements on Northgate Way may be counterproductive.

    My biggest doubt is the transfer point west of the West Seattle bridge. That needs to disappear. It forces buses to get off the highway for a little-used transfer in a concrete jungle. If the P&R is necessary, let the 120 or 125 serve it and the other routes can bypass it. West Seattle needs a better east-west connection, but not there. Genesee Street looks more promising.

    If Metro can be persuaded to send RapidRide from the Junction to 35th to White Center instead of Fauntleroy (which is unlikely), a route could be added from White Center – Fauntleroy – Alaska Junction – Genesee Street – Delridge – SCCC. That would connect most of west Seattle except Alki, but the 128 can fill in the rest.

    1. I agree about Northgate Way and density. The stretch from 15th over to Lake City Way is not likely to change from 100% single family residential to anything remotely dense. Whereas, there are a few apartments and churches along 125th between 15th & Lake City, especially the stretch at the base of the hill, so it’s not quite as uber-residential. So if I were king of the world, I’d probably route it along Northgate Way until 15th (that’s the corner with the mosque) and then head north on 15th to 125th.

  8. I hope the Stage II study boldly proposes that all downtown buses only be in transit-only lanes for the entire span of the CBD. That means no weaving in and out of general-purpose lanes.

    Then, consolidate stops for ease of transfer and ease of finding the DSTT entrances. Finally, convert the RFA to a POP zone, with ticket machines wherever ORCA TVMs aren’t an elevator ride away. Downtown will need more police anyway, as the population densifies.

    It is this desperately-needed modernization, not the silly DBT, that will save downtown from gridlock.

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