Photo by Bre Pettis (Flickr – Creative Commons)

Despite our budgetary doldrums, it’s an exciting time to be a Seattle transit advocate.  Regional planning is focusing upon performance analysis and capital investment, and at last it seems possible, through the work of the Regional Transit Task Force and others, that radical changes could come to our bus network.   Last Monday’s record-breaking comment thread on Metro’s proposed revisions/cuts makes one thing clear: there is no shortage of enthusiasm and informed opinion any time big changes are proposed.

Two weeks ago I wrote a detailed yet exploratory post about what should happen to Capitol Hill bus service after U-Link.  My proposal sought to make one fundamental point:  that comprehensively higher frequencies can be wrought simply from existing inefficiencies, a point I believe I made well.  The strength of the comments and subsequent email exchanges with readers, however, made it clear that some of my routing choices were unwise and not fully thought through.  A big hat tip to readers such as Zef Wagner, Brent, über-commenter Bruce, and especially Morgan Wick, whose criticisms and suggestions have been particularly helpful.  Useful objections included:

  • Keeping the 2 on Spring/Seneca is duplicative and goes against Metro’s desire to move it to Marion/Madison.
  • Keeping the 3/4 on James perpetuates unnecessary conflicts with I-5 on-ramps, and Metro has already discussed moving it to Yesler.
  • Having the 11 serve the ferry terminal is an inconvenience and prohibits effective interlining with other routes.
  • My Route 12 idea was defective in a number of areas, but especially the 19th Ave tail.
  • Keep the 14N!
  • You can’t mathematically combine a 15-minute bus and a 10-minute bus and end up with 6-minute combined headways.
  • The 27 is pointlessly close to Jackson, and should be eliminated.

Agreeing with some of these and not others, what follows is a 2nd attempt.

An improved post-ULink proposal after the jump…

Maps By the Author – Infrequent/Peak Routes Are Not Shown, Downtown Routings are Not Shown

Differences from the original:

  • The map now indexes line widths to frequency, gives a clearer sense of service levels on combined segments, adds I-90 all-day routes, adds major parks, and other cosmetic improvements.
  • Diverts Route 2 to Marion/Madison, away from I-5 ramps on Seneca/Spring.
  • Diverts Route 3 to Yesler/8th/9th, away from I-5 ramps on James. Direct service to Harborview is retained.
  • Route 7 continues as a Rainier/Boren/Seattle Center service, but is routed to Fairview/Mercer instead of Denny. South Lake Union would then become the hub its growth dictates, with direct, gridded routes to Downtown, Eastlake, Seattle Center, First Hill, and Capitol Hill.
  • Runs Routes 2 and 11 at 12-minute headways for 6-minute combined service on Madison from 3rd to Broadway.
  • Keeps Route 14N to Summit, ‘paid’ for by….
  • Eliminating Routes 36 and 49, and consolidating them into Route 12.  Service would take the 36 routing to Jackson St, run on 12th Ave to Pine St, and then take the 49 routing to the UDistrict.  West of Broadway, Madison St would be served by Routes 2 and 11.  All service on 19th Ave E would be eliminated.
  • Diverts Route 48 to serve Lighthouse for the Blind, allowing for the elimination of Route 4 (H/T Morgan Wick).
  • Keeps Route 60 between White Center and Beacon Hill.

The proposal still only requires current operating resources (61 frequencies per hour), simplifies the network from 17 to 12 routes, offers radically better connectivity between non-CBD urban villages, pushes many trips to Link and the Streetcar, fulfills the mayoral promise to add service to both Boren and 12th, and offers 5-15 minute frequencies to everyone in the area between MLK/Downtown/Beacon Hill/UDistrict.

In the end I’m not nearly as attached to my routing choices as I am to the sort of network characteristics a system like this would provide. Simply put, we can and should get more for less.  As both taxpayers and riders we deserve it.  In the meantime, let’s get that emergency funding passed.

118 Replies to “Capitol Hill Mobility, Take 2”

  1. I love the 12. Very gridlike.

    My Rainier Valley proposal didn’t really know what to do with the 7/9. This is better, though more expensive.

    1. I’d combine the 7/9 with a 48 split in the U-District like Scenarios A, B, & C in the Rapid Trolley Network

      For those of you keeping score at home this was intended to be the transit portion of any Alaska Way Viaduct replacement. Scenarios A through C would have been part of the “Transit” in the Surface/Transit options and D through H would have been for various elevated and tunnel options.

  2. Although it would be an inconvenience for me personally to lose the 43, I like this. If I found a transit genie in a lamp one wish would be to add a Link station in the Montlake neighborhood.

      1. Maybe I should rephrase that: why isn’t anyone clamoring for electrifying the 48? :)

      2. I think it’s because it has no unique route, everywhere it goes is already covered by another route.

        My only concern about removing it is the ridership between/along John/Thomas, 23rd, and the U-District. People going from, say, 23rd and Aloha to downtown have to transfer twice to take Link (48 -> 8 -> Link) or transfer once 48 -> 11 and then walk from Madison to their eventual downtown destination.

        I would love to see the 48 electrified, at least from MBTC to the U-District. :)

      3. That is one reason I support keeping the 43, but have share a common routing with Route 8. Even if you kept Route 8 at 15-minute service, the two routes combined would brovide 7-8 minute service between 23rd/John and Lower Queen Anne. Either plan would still provide a reason to keep the 14 Summit.

      4. It’s not a question of killing the 43, it’s that it’s lower priority than other corridors, and if we have to make do with the existing amount of money then something has to be deleted.

        Moving the 43 to Seattle Center sounds strange. Seattle Center is not “just as good” as downtown. Is there high demand for going from 24th E to Seattle Center all day?

        Likewise, keeping the 14, while good for people at Summit, does nothing for people at 20th or 23rd. They aren’t going to ride or walk to the 14 and transfer to it.

  3. I think the biggest thing everyone should try to keep in mind is that as Link grows the centrality of downtown as the necessary destination of all transit service will diminish. Per why I like using the 7 as a second circumferential downtown route in addition to the 8. The 7 will really help better stitch together the neighborhoods that boarding downtown, but currently are not directly connected.

    One question. Do people think that the bus routes are sufficiently connected to the Capitol Hill Link station in the proposal? I’m on the fence.

    1. It looks tough to get to the Capitol Hill Link station from 23rd. Unless you’re near John you have to ride the 48 the wrong way for awhile to get to UW station, or have to transfer 48 -> 8 -> Link.

      1. That is among the reasons that the addition of Link does not obviate the 43. The 43 was a streetcar route going back to when these neighborhoods were developed, and it’s one of the highest ridership routes in the system. I don’t think it’s going to be popular to suggest some people transfer twice who have a direct trip now on the 43.

        The 43 serves a core need on Capitol Hill, with or without Link. It connects the areas to the east and northeast to Broadway as well as the future Capitol Hill Station, and the 8 connects the areas to the east and southeast to the same. The 49 brings folks from the north, and the First Hill streetcar line (among others) will bring folks from the south, while some buses will surely remain on the surface streets west to downtown. So all directions are covered to Capitol Hill Station.

        The 48 follows the one and only N/S surface corridor that extends across the ship canal east of Broadway / 10th Ave. It will serve future Link stations at Roosevelt, Brooklyn and UW as well as Mount Baker. It’s the highest ridership line and while it could potentially be split in two in the U District, it’s obviously here to stay on 23rd Ave.

        Even in the 43’s service area today, sometimes a transfer between the 48 to the 8 makes sense, particularly in the off hours when headways are greater. That’s okay and it’s standard in bus systems with overlapping routes.

        While this thought experiment is a good one, I suspect all of these high-ridership, core routes in much the same form will continue to make eminent sense for a long time. And all of them should be electrified — the 48 is the only holdout there.

      2. Looks like you are right and the 43 is among the trolley routes that wasn’t a streetcar. Here’s a <a href=""nice map from 1933 which I think is about the peak of streetcar routes.

        I maintain that the 43 will continue to serve both local as well as regional needs. There’s only one station on Capitol Hill, a large area with a population I believe around 60K. Many people in the Capitol Hill area will continue to make local trips even after Link opens. Riders using Link will have to get to a Link station somehow. Many will use buses to access the station from all directions in which there is significant demand.

        All over the world there are examples of local routes connecting adjacent high capacity rail stations that spaced too far apart for most folks to walk. This will be one of the longest stretches in Seattle without a rail station, and the topography makes it effectively longer still. Two transfers, one of them bus-to-bus, is perceived as a major inconvenience and tends to randomize schedules.

        I also resist the notion of eliminating all service on 19th Ave., though it may make sense to restructure it somehow. Our future is one in which there will be a larger proportion of the population using transit and depending on transit, and a much larger senior population. I don’t think it should be assumed that we need to eliminate whole routes in order to decrease headways; I choose to remain optimistic that there will be a consensus in favor of greater transit funding for by the time ULink opens. That would certainly be helpful.

      3. Jonathan that map does not show a streetcar that follows the 43’s current routing, though it does look like there was one that followed 23rd and then Madison to get downtown. Is that what you were referring to?

      4. Bruce,
        The 1941 map you show is a mostly a trolleybus map at the end of the streetcar period for Seattle. The only streetcar line on this map is the 8th NW and Phinney lines (the last line converted was 8th NW). However, the 4 Montlake pretty much followed the streetcar route via Pike/Madison/23rd E. Ironically, the trolleybus line you think does not make sense was the first line to become a trolleybus.

      5. Where, exactly would you be going on Link once you get there? If you’re going to downtown, just walk to 15th and take the 10, or walk to Madison and take the 11. If you’re going to the airport or Ranier Valley, just take the 48 to Mt. Baker station and transfer there. If the area around capitol hill station is actually your final destination, maybe public transport isn’t what you really need because your trip is too short. Maybe you should just walk or bike.

        Given that the areas up 23rd are not particularly dense neighborhoods, and the environment is very conducive to walking, I think this is good enough, given that we get good frequency on core routes in exchange.

      6. If you have to keep 19th service, those short-run 11s could be converted into long-run 12s. You’d have to renumber the Beacon Hill-12th-U-District service, but see below.

    1. I can’t understand why you people keep goofing with the 7! This proposal means that anyone between MtBakerTC and 14th & Jackson has to take 2 buses to get downtown. Why? Ditto for the new 12, why do riders between Beacon Hill Station and 12th & Jackson have to take 2 buses to downtown? There’s a tremendous amount of ridership in those neighborhoods that will be inconvenienced by the new 7 and 12 routes and the 14 will be crushed on Jackson.

      I’m not a big proponent of the 4S, but if 14 were to split at 23rd & Jackson into a Mt. Baker route and a Judkins Park (then to MBTC) route, it might work better.

      1. Sorry, here’s a better statement:

        “There’s a tremendous amount of ridership in those neighborhoods that will be inconvenienced by the new 7 and 12 routes. Also, expect the 14 to get crush loads on Jackson Street.”

        Also expect the 7 to be so slow travelling over First Hill during rush hours that it would be faster to run it through downtown.

      2. Because a good transit system isn’t just about getting downtown. As Link grows it will essentially replace downtown as the necessary destination to get anywhere else.

      3. Also because over the next 10-20 years a majority of the growth in downtown is going to be on the Denny Triangle and SLU areas, not the area we currently think of as downtown. Service from the south through downtown is not very time competitive and Link does not service that area of downtown well.

      4. Crush loads on the 14? I don’t know, Zack seems to make up for the loss of the 7/36 on Jackson by tripling frequency on the 14 and using the streetcar for combined 5 minute service on Jackson between IDS and 12th. Plus, I think the idea is that many people are now going downtown simply because that’s where their bus goes…it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what the demand is. That’s what the UVTN is all about.

      5. My most important complaint was left out: eliminating the 36 renders it incompatible with Martin’s Rainier Valley Mobility proposal, where the 36 served the purpose of giving people on Rainier south of Othello a one-seat ride to downtown.

        Also, I wouldn’t use the 12 number for a route that has nothing to do with the 12’s existing routing. Maybe 36 or 9.

      6. Or transfer to the frequent service on I-90.

        Another alternative could be to shorten Route 42 to operate between Mount Baker Station and along Dearborn. It could even cover the end of the 14S.

        One problem I might see is something that does what the 36 does today (turn on Jackson to go through town).

      7. Note that the 14 would run every 10 minutes in this plan instead of every 30. So the average wait to make a connection is 5 minutes. Those going downtown will pay on average only a 5 minute penalty. But the (probably larger, given the number of intersecting routes, though it would be good to check) number of people using the 7 to get to non-downtown routes would see their commute times decrease.

        Note that with three times as much frequency on the 14 you probably wouldn’t see crush loads either. This also reduces the number of buses downtown, likely increasing reliability for routes that do continue to go directly downtown.

      8. The 14 is already crush loaded on Jackson a couple of times a day (see page 20-21)

        Regarding the 14S tail, eliminating the 27’s redundant Jackson segment and moving the south terminus to MBTC (or even Columbia City w/ an intermediate stop at MBTC) would restore that service without the added cost of extending the 38.

      9. @Morgan, I agree that it doesn’t work with Martin’s RV proposal, but I think I’m clear in these posts that I’m not that interested in providing one-seat rides to all, whereas Martin’s proposal explicitly sought to do that. They’re different animals. I think a one-seat ride for folks south of Othello might be nice, but I personally don’t think it’s a priority. We spent billions on Link, and forcing transfers to a 7-10 minute rail service isn’t enough of a hardship to justify the duplicative expense of a one-seat ride.

      10. Remember the 14 between IDS and 14th Ave will be largely replaced by the First Hill Streetcar.

      11. Anyone who actually does what you said is taking a sub-optimal choice. If you’re anywhere within half a mile of either Mt. Baker station or I-90/Ranier Ave., the fastest route to downtown, by far, is either Link or an express bus along the freeway (550,554, etc.)

        Once you get more 1/4 mile or so north or I-90, then you can walk directly to a #14 stop, again no transfer necessary.

        Bottom line: just because you’re headed downtown and the bus that stops closest to your house says “downtown” on it, doesn’t make riding that bus to downtown the fastest way to get there. Given that we have finite resources, we can either have the #7 duplicate these other options, or we route it as Zack does and save large amounts of time for people headed to capitol hill or south lake union.

        Yes, for the small minority of people who can barely walk, live right by a #7 stop, and are going to the center of downtown, there might be a little bit of inconvenience with an extra transfer. However, this is a small enough minority that I say it’s well worth it for the benefit or everybody else.

      12. Most riders going downtown aren’t actually going downtown.

        Downtown is just the big hub in our current hub-and-spoke system. If the 7 passes around the periphery of downtown (i.e. Boren/mercer), it will cross pretty much every route into and out of the downtown hub. So those transfers can be moved out of the congested 3rd ave corridor, and people get faster trips overall.

        The exception is express service. Express routes are built around the concept of a hub/spoke system, and go straight from hub to hub, without making stops on the periphery of downtown. So under Zach’s system, to catch an express out of the city, your best bet would be either to walk to a downtown-bound route in the area (106, 39, 34, 42) instead of getting on the 7 in the first place, or to grab a high-frequency downtown-bound transfer (at Madison, any Link station, or the FHSC).

        For example: If I’m going to the north end, my current best trip is to take the 8 and then transfer to a northbound bus somewhere along Denny or at Mercer, bypassing downtown completely. Pretty much what would happen under Zach’s plan on the 7. However, if I’m going farther north, and I need a route out of Northgate Transit Center, I need to catch the 41 express to Northgate. Because that’s an Express, I’m forced to catch a slower, low-freqency E/W bus that goes into downtown instead of taking the 8, but I can still do it.

      13. Cascadian says “Note that the 14 would run every 10 minutes in this plan instead of every 30. So the average wait to make a connection is 5 minutes.”

        I’m guessing the average wait drops from 20 minutes to 10 minutes under this proposal: when you run buses with non-trivial route length every 10 minutes, you get 2 every 2 minutes rather than 1 every 10.

        This is actually a general issue with consolidating service to improve frequencies: the transfer penalty is greatly affected by bunching, so trips that start to require transfers get painful (and uncertain, time-wise) unless Metro has the power/money to work on bunching issues (with proof-of-payment fares, level boarding, bus bulbs, etc.)

      14. We can’t expect the 14 and the streetcar to be synchronized every 5 minutes. That’s hard enough to do with two identical buses; I don’t think it can be done between a trolleybus and a streetcar. They have different priorities at the streetlights, they get in and out of the traffic lane differently, etc.

    2. Double-check that map you linked to — there’s most certainly a left turn lane from Fairview Ave to Mercer in the final plan.

      That said, there’s still the issue of being forced onto Broad St for the foreseeable future if the bus takes a Mercer routing, so Denny might make more sense if not for the major traffic jams there. If Harrison is connected by then, that routing would also give the added benefit of going through the heart of SLU instead of skirting the edge as the 8 and 70 currently do.

    3. Does the Mercer project depend on the DBT, or is it going to happen anyway? If the DBT gets kibboshed, does the money for the Mercer project go away too?

      1. The Mercer project does not depend on the DBT. It’s funded separately, and we even got federal stimulus cash to do it.

        It’s the additional Aurora crossings between Denny and Mercer that depend on the DBT.

  4. It’s really hard to get excited about major changes to the service, with huge service cuts just around the corner and the two rail components still 5 years away.
    Even if the $20 tab is passed by the voters, it only provides $25 mil towards a $100 million annual hole.(
    With a tax measure that provides only a little relief for just two years, and a sluggish economic recovery for who knows how long, revamping an entire area, only to have to do it again, seems pointless.
    On the other hand, the simplified grid might be a savior for CapHill, with reduced frequencies, then add service as the budget recovers. Just one opinion, though!

    1. Good points, but regardless of where Metro is in 2016, service will need to be reorganized when Link opens.

    2. And I think the discussion of a restructure is especially important when there are service cuts looming. It provides the opportunity to consolidate resources.

      1. IF all the Zach’s ideas were adopted as is, but the frequency on all the remaining routes were capped at 10 min. service on the 3&7, and all other routes were 15 minutes, then 13 buses per hour could be cut.
        That’s about a 20% reduction in service, which is close to what is needed to share the pain around the region if car tabs fail to pass.
        That leaves reasonably good service levels, a new grid system to feed rail lines, and some wiggle room to make strategic ADDS betwee shakeups, for selected times when overloads occur. In other words, put back the service that is needed, at the times it is needed.
        Not a bad way to go!
        I have some heartburn with the loss of some of the routes, and don’t understand why Cherry is better than Jefferson for the 3(no wire), but it’s a discussion starter for sure.

      2. It would be expensive to move the 3/4 wire from Jefferson to Cherry. If that kind of money can be found it would be better spend electrifying the 48 or putting wire on Henderson so whatever route ends up serving Rainier avenue can connect to Rainier Beach station.

      3. And without running straight on James or axing the Yesler segment of the 27, Cherry vs. Jefferson comes out to be a wash, but Jefferson gets more non-Seattle U patrons.

  5. I missed a lot of the previous debate, mostly because I don’t go to the east side of Seattle much (it’s hard to get to from Queen Anne). So forgive me if I’m stomping on some great line. But in an effort to get rid of paralell lines (which are almost always bad for transit), could the 8 be moved to 23rd Ave S? Yes, you’d lose service on MLK north of the Mt. Baker Tunnel, but the 2, 3, and 27 can still bring you to those areas with a transfer. And it’s only a 4 block walk between MLK and 23rd. Plus then you’d bump up frequency down to 5 minutes on 23rd. I’d walk a few blocks for 5 minute service.

    1. There’s a pretty steep grade between MLK and 23rd, particularly between Union and Madison.

    2. You’re TOTALLY stomping on a great line. It’s not terribly unusual to have routes spaced a quarter-mile apart (although the separation here does narrow as you go southward), and there’s more than enough ridership/demand through the CD to warrant parallel routes.

      In addition, 23rd is often a slow-moving corridor, and it would hurt the 8’s speed. MLK is much less congested (with the exception of the Madison intersection at the PM rush). If it was practical to move the 48 off of 23rd I would recommend it, just for the speed improvements. But 23rd is the only routing that makes sense for it, and it’s nice and intuitive to have major N/S routes on all the major N/S arterials.

      The 8’s loop to 23rd at Yesler/Jackson needs to be eliminated, though.

      Please don’t truncate the 8. The 8 being stretched down here all-day was universally praised by CD residents, and it gives us our only good connection to both Capitol Hill and north-end buses (via Denny transfers to 15/16/18/358) while bypassing downtown. And it will have a direct transfer to Capitol Hill station when it opens.

      With the schedule reliability of both routes being what it is, I think trying to get 5 min headways on 23rd using these routes would be a futile effort anyway. Currently, both routes typically operate ±10 min from the schedule, narrowly avoiding bunching for most of the day.

      1. Could the 48 be made faster if it got traffic signal priority at some of lights, plus some stop consolidation?

      2. best thing you could do for the 48 is split it in the U District, period. Montlake kills it.

      3. Signal priority would be a big help, but might be difficult as most of those intersections are running at capacity for much of the day. The extra light cycles might simply cause gridlock, because prolonging an opposite-direction red could cause backups to stretch into the next light.

        Stop consolidation along 23rd has been studied a few times by Metro, but they’ve always decided against it; basically all of the stops are heavily used, and an awful lot of them are direct transfers to E/W routes. I think they found a couple stops to remove a few years back, but it wasn’t very many and I don’t recall exactly where they were.

        I disagree with splitting it at the U. Trips through the U-district are slow enough as-is without a transfer in the middle. And because both of the split buses would have to deal with u-district traffic, you’d get the worst of both worlds – an extra transfer and a new unreliable route.

      4. I agree that trips through the U District are slow, but isn’t this one of those “most people don’t take the route all the way through” issues? I’m a CD resident as well, and when I take the 48 north most of the trips I see are U-bound in the morning, which is part of the reason some of the trips end at Cowan (sp?) Park. How many people would transfer? How many more people will wind up taking the 8 to Broadway/John once the Cap Hill station is open?

      5. It’s been proposed to merge the Loyal Heights leg of the 48 with the tail of the 71 when Roosevelt Station opens (not that that helps us in the near future). The 48 between 65th and the U-District (or even UW Station) could then be cut entirely, replaced with the 73 or 373.

      6. The 48/71 merger could also work as a connecting service to the 80 super-express.

  6. I like this proposal, but have a couple of nitpicks:

    1) The 8 currently has a diversion to 23rd between Yesler and Jackson, which isn’t shown on your “current” map. I assume you intend to remove this diversion in your proposed service change.

    2) You have the 11 listed as “trolley/diesel.” I don’t remember from the previous proposal, is your plan to run a mix with trolleys as far as 23rd, with diesels continuing to Madison Park at half the frequency? 12-minute headways as far as 23rd, and 24 minutes to Madison Park?

    I’m sorry to see the 43 go, but the increased service on 8, 11, and 43 seems to mostly make up for it.

    1. Yeah, the #8 detour to 23rd/Jackson is not shown on my ‘current system’ map. My mistake. I’ll try to update it tonight.

      Re: the 11, yes in the first proposal I suggested partially electrifying the 11. We already have wire to 19th, to 23rd would be an easily doable extension, and of course all the way to Madison Park would be fantastic if we could minimize NIMBYism. Given the wealth of the area though, I think it’d be a tough sell, so I was thinking of alternating short-turn trolleys with MadPark diesels.

      1. If the 8 were also electrified, you could turn the 11 electrics south on MLK for a block or two to get them to a logical turn around. It’ll be another generation before the nitwit nimbys here in MadPark will stand for those horrifying wires to replace those noisy smelly diseasels.

      2. If 19th Ave service were to be kept, those short-run 11s could be converted into long-run 12s, requiring no trolley extention at the expense of no frequent service all the way to 23rd.

        Do you hear an echo in here?

  7. I like it a lot, although it’s not quite what I would do; some of these things I’ve discussed before, some not:

    1) I’d put the 14N out its misery. The grade’s a bit steep, but that alone doesn’t justify running the service when you consider all the things against it: it’s a dead-end bus, on a couplet, with half its walkshed killed by the freeway, providing no Link connection before downtown, and everyone on its unique walkshed is within 5 minutes walk of vastly superior bus or streetcar service and about 10 minutes walk of Link.

    2) I’d turn the 8 back at Jackson, making a loop from MLK to 23rd. This was the original extension that Metro’s planners suggested for the 8, years ago. It was designed to connect the commercial district, library and community center in that area with Capitol Hill. While going through the political process to add the service, a deal was reached to extend the 8 to Mount Baker. I’d truncate the 48 at the U-District and extend it to Ranier Beach. Note that I wouldn’t kill the 8 north of that, because MLK wanders east-west on a map, becoming much closer to 23rd Ave at the south. Up north is a longer gap with a steep grade; moreover, it doesn’t suffer all the other things that ail the 14N (broken walkshed, couplet, dead end.)

    3) I think Madison Valley residents would much be better served, and most 15th Ave residents no worse off, if you switched the tails of the 10 and 11 with their respective heads. An all-Madison routing will give MV residents a crappy Link transfer* followed by a very long ride. The densest part of the proposed 10 is on or near Pike/Pine, which is served by either bus (and some parts are walking distance to CHS), and there’s a lot more MV riders east of (say) 19th than 10 riders north of (say) John. Incidentally, Metro already believes that the (current) 11 warrants 15 minute daytime service, so I’d bake that in to any future revision as a 15 min corridor, all the way out.

    4) I think, taken with other proposed service changes that are slightly beyond the scope of this post, you’re over-serving Broadway and under-serving Eastlake. Some of Metro’s planners have the idea of abolishing the 66 and 25, improving headways on the 70 to 10 minutes, and abolishing the 7x’s in favor of a route 80 that will be express at all times from Downtown to the U-District. You can then through-route the 36 with the 70 — the demand balances exactly. North of Aloha, Broadway is not very dense. It needs 15 minute service at most, and the likely streetcar extension to Aloha meets most of the demand in the commercial district south of Aloha.

    5) Given #4, I prefer the idea of through-routing the 70 with the 36, abolishing the 7 in favor of the old 9 to the U-District (modified to serve 12th Ave), and changing the 34 to provide frequent service down to Genessee St. I admit this doesn’t provide great connectivity from First Hill to SLU, but I don’t see that as a blockbuster corridor that can’t be served decently with improved service on the 8, and transfers from the FHSC**.

    Anyway, I could certainly live with a bus network like you propose, and debates and disagreements like these are how we come up with good ideas. Thanks for this post.

    (*) Although the distances look the same on the map, the walk from Denny to Pike/Pine is MUCH more pedestrian-friendly and quicker than the walk from University or James to Marion/Madison.

    (**) I admit the 8 is slow and terrible in SLU, but that’s a problem we should address directly rather than creating another route through SLU.

    1. One more thing: I’d extend the 2 all the way down to 1st Ave. Trolley congestion on 3rd is why Metro runs the current 10/12 on 1st. Also, by serving the busy stop on Marion just east of 1st, you provide an excellent service to the ferry terminal without having to wander out to Western, because of the walkway that extends from the terminal to the west side of 1st; it’s a very ped-friendly transfer, and it costs almost nothing.

      Incidentally, you may recall a comment I made about the waterfront ages ago, that SDOT was contemplating a First Hill ETB circulator to boost mobility from the terminal to First Hill, which is apparently a big corridor. Live-looping two frequent service busses through 1st & Marion would meet that need.

      1. Your point about expanding trolley service to 1st/Marion to serve the ferry is a great idea, and could potentially eliminate the need in my proposal to dead-end the #11 at Colman Dock. I took the 11 all the way down Madison because the 99 is going away, the waterfront needs service, it completes the grid, and it’s strange that Wallingford and Northgate have direct service to the ferry terminal but not Capitol Hill or Madison Valley. But my question for you would be… What’s the future of the Marion ferry walkway given the AWV demolition mess?

      2. You know, I can’t find any info about it on WSDOT’s site, but given its popularity, I can’t imagine it permanently going away. Far more people use that ramp than walk in to the terminal on Western.

    2. My suggestions to Zach took the form of a proposed guest post in which I kept the 36 on its current routing, reinstated the 9, and sent the 60 up Boren, Fairview, and Mercer.

      I’d cut the 49 tomorrow normally – I’ve been constantly teasing the idea of some sort of loop around Volunteer Park – and if there were decent service from the U-District proper to UW Station I’d really question the need for it. But the 12th Ave service needs to end somewhere, and through-routing it on the current 49 routing makes as much sense as anything.

      I’ve also teased the idea of extending the 14 up Lakeview, but it’d probably be a low-ridership service for little gain.

      1. Theoretically you could extend the 14 east to Broadway, then north to the U-district, to replace the 49.

      2. It would require some awkward recursive movement on Belmont and Roy, though, unless you did something like Belmont Pl-Boyleston-Prospect, but that would sacrifice transfers from the FHSC…

    3. plus one on the ‘bring back the 9 (modified)’. I think Boren routing would be incredibly slow at peak for exactly the reasons the plan suggests moving the 2 and 3 (avoiding freeway traffic). Although I’m not at all clear where the $$ come from to run all that new wire.

  8. Continuing the #7 (or #9) up Boren through Pill Hill to the SLU bio-research complex sounds like a great idea.

    Still, I don’t see it likely that the #7 would ever cease to run through the CBD.

  9. There are two phases of restructure to consider:
    – 2016-2021, post U Link and pre NE 45th Street Link during deep bore construction;
    – after 2021, post Northgate and NE 45th Street Link.

    There are capital investments to consider, including the exisitng ETB infrastructure; it would not be cheap or easy to add overhead to Boren Avenue or other arterials. We should want as much of Capitol Hill transit to be electric traction as practical.

    Instead of deleting routes 43 and 49, they could be revised post U Link to extend to Pioneer Square via the new Route 3 Yesler Way overhead. Or, Route 49 could be merged with Route 36 via Broadway and 12th Avenue South. Or, if Denny Way or the SLU path of Route 8 were wired, Route 43 could be merged into routes 8 and 1 into a new ETB crosstown. The diesel Route 8 could be restructured.

    The First Hill Streetcar could be cancelled and its funds used to pay for the Yesler Way overhead, additional substation capacity, additional trolleybuses, and additional service frequency. It provides too little benefit for its high cost.

    Post 2016, traffic flow on 1st Avenue will improve and ETB service could be shifted there to fulfill the function of the stillborn Central Line streetcar.

    In addition to killing Route 25, how about killing Route 27 and making ETB Route 14 South more frequent; they are only three blocks apart. Leschi might get peak only service.

    a bicycle emphasis could be provided on 12th Avenue.

    Routes should go past a Link station if they can. Route 11 does that today on Pine Street. Could it become an ETB route?

    1. 12th is already great for biking…it’s my daily commute!

      Peak-only service to Leschi might be the best solution for the 27, but in this iteration I kept the 27 because Lake Washington access is important, because I’m not confident that even a 7.5-minute #3 on Yesler can handle all the growth expected at Yesler Terrace, and because I wanted to support the small business district at 20th/Yesler.

      1. One of my ideas (not the first one I proposed) was to turn the short-run 14 into a long-run 27. (The first idea I proposed was to switch the 4 to provide service to Lake Washington Blvd, and I also toyed with extending the 2 all the way down as well.)

    2. Cancelling the First Hill Streetcar must be a joke. Regardless of how useful it is, it has so much political support it’s not going anywhere. Plus, it’s being funded by ST2, not by anything that Metro controls. You’d have to remove it in ST3, and by that time it’ll already be built.

      The biggest problem with the First Hill Streetcar is that it doesn’t go far enough. If its west end went north to Pine Street, its east end went east to 23rd & Jackson, and its north end went to the U-district (obviously as a separate route from 23rd), you could truncate several more bus routes, and there wouldn’t be this dilemma of whether to keep the 7/14/36 on Jackson or the 9/60 on Broadway in order to avoid making people transfer twice (once when they reach the streetcar, and again when the streetcar ends).

      1. Actually, the biggest problem with the streetcar is insufficient frequency.

        Each of its 3 main segments (Aloha-Madison, Madison-Little Saigon, Little Saigon-Pioneer Sq) can be walked faster than the average wait time + the (also not terribly quick) travel time.

        That may be the Achilles heel of Zach’s plan. 10-minute frequencies on the 14 plus 12-minute frequencies on the streetcar don’t come nearly close enough to meeting the demand on the stretch from Little Saigon west.

      2. The 12-minute frequency prediction came from Sound Transit’s First Hill Streetcar Project page, which no longer exists.

        But these environmental-impact documents I just found are even worse:

        Yes, that says “10 minutes between streetcar arrivals during the peak hours and 15 minutes between arrivals during off-peak hours.”

        That’s embarrassing! And totally useless as a replacement for much more frequent current service on its southmost 3/4-mile segment!

      3. (In Seattle, off-peak never means “just evenings.” It means “ceases to be 10 minutes at 9:30, resumes being 10 minutes at 3:30, is useless in between.”)

        (Just like “evening frequencies” for RapidRide start at 6:30 or 7:00, whereas anywhere else in the world a major service wouldn’t drop to “evening” levels until at least 7:30 or 8.)

  10. I disagree with the decision to remove transit service from 19th avenue. I’m a bit biased because I used to live there but hear me out:

    The northern part of 19th ave (north of Mercer already has trolley wires in place and the seeds of what could become a transit friendly mixed use neighborhood like 15th ave or Broadway. It makes more sense to upgrade the neighborhood than it does to downgrade the bus services. Upzone to a continuous strip of NC40 on either side of 19th and to LR3 for the surrounding residential blocks. (You’ll notice this is the pattern for 15th ave South of Mercer) Develop a legal method to restrict new parking and use fees and tax money to increase frequency along 19th. Where the bus goes after it leaves 19th is another question.
    (select “detailed zoning” on the left)

    1. No area of Seattle other than downtown is dense and congested enough to justify running routes four blocks apart, and no upzone that’s going to happen there will change 19th Ave to alter that.

      Why does everyone have this preposterous love affair with 19th Ave service? Concentrating service on 15th makes service better for everyone within a few blocks of 15th (where all the density is today.) Running buses five minutes apart just means that people have to look up two separate stops on OneBusAway to decide where to walk to. And just ’cause there’s trolley wire there does not oblige us to run trolleys on 19th Ave indefinitely into the future.

      1. Count me in with Bruce.

        First, how can we justify running service at 4 block spacing, when we’re proposing to cut service from 8 to 16 block spacing in North Seattle?

        And second, I don’t know how much time you’ve spent on 19th, but there’s nothing there. Yes, it *could* be turned into a dense neighborhood, but it isn’t one now. We’re having a hard enough time upzoning areas around Link stations. There’s no way that 19th will be building up any time soon.

        Let’s redirect that service to where it will actually be used — i.e. CHS, Broadway, 15th, Madison, Pine, and the western slope.

      2. Does 15th actually have any more residential density than 19th? I can’t think of more than one or two 4ish story apartment buildings on 15th or adjacent blocks north of Pine/Pike, which is about the same as 19th.

        15th wins hands-down on retail density, of course.

      3. Aleks is very wrong about 19th, it has high residential density. It is mostly apartment buildings mixed with single-family. It is probably equivalent to 15th in residential density. What 19th doesn’t have is a very active business district. You can tell it used to be more of a business corridor but all the action has moved to 15th, Pike/Pine, and Broadway. It is also true that 19th will probably not increase density much beyond where its at now, but that’s also true for 15th. All the building is happening on Madison, Pike/Pine, and Broadway. All that said, the 4-block difference probably means the 12 should be cut if we have to cut lots of service.

      4. zef and Steve,

        You’re right, I spoke too hastily. What I meant to say is that 19th has neither the walkable urban fabric of a commercial street like Broadway or 15th, nor the residential density of an area like the western slope.

        If we had enough money to run service everywhere that could possibly warrant it, then sure, a 19th Ave bus would be great. But in the world of limited resources that we’re living in, I’d just rather spend those resources running buses to areas that are in more need of service.

  11. I like this improved idea, though I would that chunk of the 48 between U of W and Mt. Baker, electrify the whole line, and merge it into the 44.

    1. split the 43/44 for a reason :) would love to see 48 electrified, but can envision even worse bunching and ontime numbers if 44/48 merged.

      1. Wouldn’t the planned Rapid Trolley network alleviate some of the bunching issues through stop consolidation and signal priority? And besides, the combined 44/48 south is still shorter than the current 48.

      2. See Lack Thereof’s post on the 48 farther up. There’s not all that much you can do on 23rd with either consolidation or signal priority. I guess my other question would be, why? The 7/49 split and the 43/44 split were both done to improve service levels because the routes were long and hard to keep on-time (among other reasons). I’m not clear on what a 44/48S merger gets you.

      3. Scratch that. I meant, the 48 should be split for the same reason the other routes were split. Joining the 48S to the 44 would just cause the same problem we have now, only worse.

  12. the streetcars are the jokes. they cost too much for too little benefit. transit funds are too scarce.

    in SLU, the capital cost was $50 million per mile. in SLU, it attracts fewer rides per hour than routes 8, 17, 26, 28, or 70. the hours it took from southeast Seattle would have attracted more riders there or on Route 48. it is short and does not go any where. it does not run frequently enough.

    on First Hill, it cannot climb the hill directly, but must take a slower indirect path via South Jackson Street and 14th Avenue South. it is forecast to attract between 3,000 and 3,500 per day in 2030. routes 7, 14, and 36 carry loads of 8,000 per day on South Jackson Street today. as far as extending it, that takes big bucks that no one has. a more powerful vision would have completely replaced Route 49 by extending to the U District as was done in the 30s, but that was cost-prohibitive.

    as currently planned, they will not be compatible, as the FH line will have batteries for operation in areas of dense ETB operation.

    the capital funds would be better spent on service frequency. so, if we raise funds for transit, they would be better spent on frequency rather than on slow Nickels-Drago very local streetcars. if provided more separation and capacity, there may be a different story.

    consider Yesler Terrace again. routes 3 and 4 need not stop at 7.5-minute headway; why not five-minutes? if route 43 or 49 extended to Pioneer Square via Broadway, Madison, 9th Avenue, and Yesler, together the services would almost provide a moving sidewalk hill climb near the Pioneer Square entrance.

    1. Theoretically you may be right, but in the real world there are multiple agencies with differing mandates. The FHS, as I said above, was put in ST2 as compensation for deleting the First Hill Link station. If that hadn’t happened, there’s no guarantee that the money would have been given to Seattle/Metro for streetcars, or that it would even have gone to transit at all. If you really wanted to argue for an investment in trolleybuses instead of the streetcar, the time to do that was three years ago before ST2.

      Now the streetcar is being built, and we just have to make the best of it. More streetcars can be added later, the line can be extended, etc. A line could even be added down Rainier someday to replace the 7. So for those who want to see streetcars restored to Seattle, voila, there it is.

      1. Agency quibbling over funding is a terrible reason for a mode choice. It hurts everybody. I sure hope the 1st Hill streetcar isn’t a fiasco like the SLUT.

        those who want to see streetcars restored to Seattle, voila, there it is

        I love restoring old cars but I’d never want to see them replace the current generation of roller skates. If streetcars are good, good. If it’s just nostalgia… bad, bad, bad.

      2. It’s not agencies quibbling over funding. It’s that there was no visionary before ST2 saying, “Let’s expand the trolleybus network instead of building a First Hill streetcar”. At least, nobody that I heard. All I heard was (1) Broadway, Boren, and 12th competing for the streetcar line and (2) how Link between Intl Dist and Capitol Hill would be faster than the streetcar, so the streetcar benefits the middle of the route more than the ends.

        I’d rather look forward than backward. Looking forward, Metro has started to show more backbone in reorganizations, it has made a preliminary step toward keeping the trolley fleet (giving the possibility of expansion), Seattle’s working on its transit master plan, and the Seattle Streetcar and Rapid Trolley Network plans are sitting there waiting for somebody to follow up on them (and may get incorporated into the transit master plan?).

    2. What’s better – more service or better service?

      I’ll answer that – better service is superior because it sets up a scenario that demands more service. I don’t see the point of wasting capital funding on throwing more buses out there if they’re all just going to end up stuck in traffic. Instead, why doesn’t Metro use those funds for actual capital projects, like queue jumps, BATs, TSP, bus bulbs, and the like? Maybe we wouldn’t be saying things like “King County Metro – We’ll Get You There… Eventually”. But here you have SDOT, Metro’s little helper, making many of these capital improvements on the city’s dime. How far is Metro going to get with more reliable service if other cities like Bellevue don’t have the funds to put in BATs or TSP?

      I wouldn’t knock the streetcars… the mayor just said they’re getting to be as productive as the ETBs. If you really want more bus service, then start funding infrastructure to make it better.

  13. three agencies draw tax revenue from Seattle and attempt to attract transit ridership: ST, Metro, and Seattle. ST must spend west subarea funds in the west subarea. the question should have been how to maximize transit mobility in First Hill. there were many changes in the 96 plan approved by the ST board. the obvious one was dropping the First Hill station. parts of the 2008 plan have already been deferred.

    1. The 1st Hill Station was just a terrible idea worthy of top billing on the ST wall of shame. Double back from DT? Skip Capital Hill? It makes the Seattle Monorail Project look world class both in route planning and finance.

    2. The streetcar is odd, no doubt about it. Its main beneficiaries are Capitol Hill, Seattle University, Swedish, and Yesler Terrace, but not the rest of First Hill. In the end, First Hill will get its replacement for the station the same way they should have and would have without the streetcar, and we’re left figuring out what to do with the 49 when Brooklyn Station opens.

    3. Well spoken Mr. Eddiew. Transit dollars spent in an area should maximize ridership and cost efficiencies. All the other goals are secondary. The streetcar lines Seattle is building do neither, which sends a clear message to all the taxpayers driving cars, but are expected to subsidize a transit system that doesn’t work for them. Save your Money, vote NO next time!
      Here’s an exchange between Nathanael and myself several days ago on this very subject.
      I’ve stopped trying to make the point here on STB, as nobody is interested in listening to alternative viewpoints without getting their feathers ruffled.
      Seattle is scuttling a former world class bus system in favor of rail lines that provide great service for a very small slice of the general population, and do not lend themselves to saving the vast majority of riders either time or money.
      My mind is made up on this, so you need not respond. Just wanted Eddiew to know he’s not alone in his observations.

    4. Where were all you people when the First Hill streetcar was being debated?

      Neither a streetcar nor a bus can serve destinations that aren’t on a straight line. Didn’t First Hill want the streetcar over alternatives? If First Hill *didn’t* want the streetcar, ST would have just dropped it. Would we still have a 49 dilemma without the streetcar? (Yes.)

      Who are these “vast majority of drivers”? A lot of them live in low-density areas that are hard to serve by transit. Others work at low-density warehouses or scattered strip malls that are also hard to serve by transit. Others will drive even if there’s a door-to-door bus for their trip. (I’ve seen that more than once. “You drive from 5th & Wall to 95th & Aurora every week? There’s a bus that does exactly that.”)

      1. The 49 would probably be pushed into service to serve many of the same purposes the streetcar has now. I don’t know if it would still go all the way to the U-District, but it would look a lot like it does now.

      2. It’s a fair question Mike. Right now both Metro and ST enjoy favorable ratings from average citizens, most of whom drive, rather than use transit (about 8:1).
        If transit loses their favorable image, then getting future projects or even day to day operating expenses funded becomes really difficult. That’s the only point being made here. There is no ‘kill rail’ agenda, as some perceive. Only a call to rationalize spending across all agencies instead of focusing on individual budgets and the last positive vote anybody got.

      3. There was a debate about this many years ago, and Sound Transit did a big study comparing a streetcar with trolleybus improvements. In the end they decided that a streetcar would provide a better connection with light rail than a bus, and most of the neighborhood agreed. It’s not a perfect line, but it will be a really clear and high-quality transfer for people headed to Seattle University, Swedish, several clinics, Harborview, etc. It will allow commuters to avoid downtown completely. It doesn’t serve residents of First Hill all that well, but they have substantial bus service to choose from. Increasing the 60 frequency or going with Zach’s idea for the 7 would be good ways to improve First Hill’s north-south options.

  14. Orr: there were alternative voices. I suggested ETB options to ST in 2005-06, including the Yesler wire; I advocated other projects when ST2 was put together; I suspect ST wanted to include it as boardmembers wanted it.

    1. And I suspect ST wanted to include it because from the perspective of people in the area, “more trolleybuses” wasn’t much different from what they already had. A streetcar sucks, but at least it looks different from the 12 or 2.

      1. Exactly. First Hill felt burned by the deletion of the light rail station, so they expected a substantial new investment. More buses, while perhaps better for overall mobility, do not feel like a substantial investment. Emotion definitely played a role, sure, but we can’t pretend emotion doesn’t matter in this situation. The First Hill Streetcar will not only provide mobility, but will also remake Broadway. Do any of us really believe that a new Broadway trolleybus would have come with nice station plazas, a cycle-track, and general streetscape improvements? Streetcars only seem silly if you ignore the spillover benefits of any kind of real investment. Buses are seen as the cheapest option, therefore they do little to change a corridor. Even RapidRide is pretty limited in its impact on an area. Say what you will about the SLU streetcar, but South Lake Union would not be attracting as many major employers and residents without it. Greater frequencies on the 17 and 70 would not have been enough.

  15. “The 27 is pointlessly close to Jackson, and should be eliminated.”

    – not for those of us at the bottom of the hill!

    It should be extened to Mt. Baker Stn. But that can’t happen, I’m told.

    Not sure running it every 15 min. would work, though, since it’s constantly late outbound in the afternoons.

  16. It’s curious how this post, with its focus on Capitol Hill, seeks to improve efficiencies through a gentrifying neighborhood receiving rail transit, and cutting or rerouting the 4 lines (2,3,4,27) that cut east-west to the central district, serving a less well-healed and often infirm ridership.

    1. That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another way:

      – The new 3 will have the same frequencies as the current combined 3/4, but by rerouting to Yesler and skipping the 4’s long tail, the effective frequency and service quality will be higher for everyone living along the 3’s route.

      – The changes on the 2/11 create a high-frequency corridor through First Hill, where there currently is none.

      – The 8 and 48, both of which serve the CD, will have much-improved frequency.

      – 19th Ave in Capitol Hill will lose service entirely.

      – The 43 will be eliminated.

      To me, it sounds like “improving efficiencies” and “cutting or rerouting lines” are accurate descriptions of the whole plan. Lines in CH are being cut, and lines in the CD are being made more efficient. Individual routes change, but no neighborhood ends up with less service than it had before. So what’s the problem?

  17. Concretely, I’m responding to the objectives raised and enumerated at the beginning of the post, not the proposal itself, which does seem to maintain core services through the CD.

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