Route 240 Proposal (Metro)

As part of the Eastside service restructure centered around RapidRide B, Metro proposed altering the 240 to provide the only direct connectivity between Renton and the Eastgate Park and Ride, and by extension Bellevue College.

As we reported in February, City of Bellevue staff argued against this alignment, mainly because it would increase travel times to Downtown Bellevue, the main transit market in the area, and a high-quality transfer to the 245 would serve Eastgate adequately. That argument apparently swayed Metro, which changed the recommendation.

Yesterday the King County Council overruled Metro and re-instituted the change, which will take effect in October with the other changes:

Council Vice Chair Jane Hague sponsored the amendment, which will provide greater bus service to Bellevue College. Hague offered the amendment last week after students raised concerns during public testimony that the current proposed route were inconvenient for bus riders and would encourage students to drive – only adding to the region’s gridlock.

“I want to commend the Bellevue College students that testified before the Council,” said Hague. “They really did a good job and this change would not have happened without their activism.”

Just another example of how showing up and testifying in support of feasible changes can be quite effective.

60 Replies to “Route 240 to Serve Eastgate After All”

  1. This is sort of off topic, but related to the broader Rapid Ride B Eastside realignment: I can’t believe I’ve missed this but the RR B realignment is going to eliminate the stop and ALL service to NE 8th & 120th near the new Bartell Drugs, Home Depot, Best Buy, Uwajimaya, and my favorite Eastside Indian restaurant. Normally I’d say folks can walk the 4 blocks from the Overlake Hospital stop at 116th, but there is no sidewalk along the south side of NE 8th and crossing over to the other side requires multiple crossings of very busy streets (with Lots of impatient Barrier Motors test drivers to boot – not to mention their speedy and generally inconsiderate staff in BM labeled support cars – But I digress…).

    If I were going to add one stop to RR B, this would be it, along with a Queue jumping light for RR B to get the jump on traffic in the General purpose lanes. Has this been discussed at all?

    1. It looks to me from arial photos (see map) that there is sidewalk most of the way along the south side of NE 8th between 116th NE and 120th NE. But if I were going toward the Best Buy or Home Depot, I’d take the driveway at the Burger King to the grocery store parking lot and cut through there. There’s a walkway that goes through the middle of the lot, past the Starbucks and onto 120th NE. For Bartell, you can approach from the back along the access road and go through their parking lot.

    2. I feel sentimental about this change since the 240 was the bus route that I would occassionally take from Bellevue High School to my parents home in Clyde Hill. I’m sure the 240 was annoying to ride at around 3pm in the afternoon for regular commuters. (sorry!)

      1. Luckily, the 885 (after school variant of 240 which goes from Bellevue HS through the Clyde Hill neighborhood) will still exist.

      2. I’ve driven the 240 school tripper that gets stuffed between the regular trips on the 240 to keep buses from getting overloaded. I’m not good at dealing with kids (I have none of my own) but I’ve never really had problems with Eastside kids. That said, I do wonder about the sanity of the few adults that get onto a bus packed with high school students. The morning routes aren’t too bad but get a day’s worth of pop and junk food in the little monsters and MAN can they be loud. :)

  2. I really thought 240 going direct to DT Bellevue with an easy transfer to the 245 was a better plan. It would connect better with East Link in the future, and it was actually a frequent, high-quality transfer at Factoria, something that’s most likely an unfamiliar concept to an eastside rider.

    It’s a shame that Metro has trained riders to assume that any transfer will be 20-40 minutes. This re-routing would have been a win-win, but no one trusts that transfers can be quick and painless, and instead prefer a longer, slower 1 seat ride. And so Newcastle loses its practical East Link connection.

    1. I live in Newcastle, and am one of those who asked for the 240 to go via Eastgate. It fits where I and most of the folks that I know travel regularly, and it is only a little longer to get to BTC. While I’d love a Newcastle-BTC express bus, or better yet a Newcastle -Seattle route that runs all day, I’m fine with the current plan.

      1. “While I’d love a Newcastle-BTC express bus, or better yet a Newcastle -Seattle route that runs all day[.]”

        In the long run, once East Link opens, this bus network will put you further away from that. Admittedly I don’t live in this area, but a frequent-service route from Newcastle to South Bellevue Station seems to give you two for the price of one, which can’t be done with an Eastgate routing. Frequent service matters much more for transfer-based networks as it’s much harder to coordinate a frequent-infrequent transfer trip than a frequent-frequent transfer trip or a one-seat infrequent trip.

        Of course, Metro will have plenty of time to revise this network when East Link gets close to completion.

      2. Why even consider Link which is at least ten years out when making decisions about routes today. Link extensions will always result in their own round of route revisions. This round was supposedly driven by the RapidRide B Line though I’m at a loss to understand why RR would have anything to do with 240 routing unless the reasoning was that it will enable people to get from BTC to Crossroads and Overlake faster so it’s OK to add that time to bus connections to BTC from the south?

      3. Because it takes time for riders to adapt to a bus network, and it’s less disruptive in the future if you can build ridership on a network that’s future-compatible in a way that this 240 routing isn’t.

        Also, ST’s 2011 DSIP calls for implementation of BRT features on the 550 (more frequency, off-board payment, signal priority etc.) in the next few years to drive ridership on that route in preparation for East Link, so this isn’t purely a discussion about something that’s going to happen in 12 years. It’s possible that if ST’s Eastside revenue picks up in a couple of years that Eastsiders might have BRT service with a frequency that approaches that of Link; 240 riders would then have had ready access to that.

        I’m not going to say this was the wrong choice, as I don’t know the area and demand patterns well enough, but I do think it’s unfortunate that there won’t be a 240-like frequent service route through S. Bellevue P&R in the foreseeable future before the East Link shakeup.

      4. I’m full of crap. I misread the service frequency chart, so I thought the 240 had the 245’s new frequency. So the 240 isn’t going to be frequent service all-day, but I think it might have been better from a network-development if it (or a similar route) went through S. Bellevue.

      5. Also, ST’s 2011 DSIP calls for implementation of BRT features on the 550 (more frequency, off-board payment, signal priority etc.) in the next few years to drive ridership on that route in preparation for East Link

        The 550 already has the proposed East Link headways of 10 minutes peak and 15 minutes off peak except after 8PM when it goes to 30 minutes. There’s just not demand after that for more service. Two car trains every 15 minutes are going to be running virtually empty most runs. Even after ball games there’s loads of empty seats on the bus. If routing to the Swamp & Ride doesn’t make sense now it won’t when Link opens. One downside I see with the old route is that it’s duplicative service with the 550 from South Bellevue. The reroute provides a new transit corridor that trades a P&R with nothing around it and only four bus routes for a larger P&R with 16 bus routes and two college campuses. It seems that the City of Bellevue’s issue with commuters from Renton would be better addressed by peak hour express service that mimics the northern half of the 566 route since the 240 is a slow boat irregardless of which route it takes.

      6. Flogging a dead horse, Bernie. Link’s going through South Bellevue.

        And there is no formally proposed headway for East Link yet, so I know for a fact that you’re just blowing smoke. People I know at ST (who work in the relevant departments) are suggesting 8 minute East Link headways on-peak.

        If you read my comments (which I don’t really expect of you any more, of course), you’d also have noted that I didn’t say I think this was a wrong choice. I said it would have been better from a network development perspective in the long run, and I think I justified that reasonably well. It’s quite possible there’s more short-term ridership at Eastgate; that wasn’t my point.

      7. And there is no formally proposed headway for East Link yet, so I know for a fact that you’re just blowing smoke.

        Just assuming what ST puts out is valid:
        Operating Plan Summary – Sound Transit

      8. Ops plans beyond a couple of years out are highly speculative. Obviously, there will be frequent service on East Link at all times when such service is provided on Central Link. Whether it’s 7, 8, 10 or whatever minutes has yet to be decided or even officially contemplated by the ops staff.

      9. Yet you want to establish ridership patterns based on link service that’s a decade out so that riders have time to adapt. My original point exactly:

        Why even consider Link which is at least ten years out when making decisions about routes today. Link extensions will always result in their own round of route revisions.

        Riders are going to have to adapt all over again anyway and there’s sure to be many more reroutes between now and light rail reaching the eastside. You chose routes for what makes sense now rather than ten years of suboptimal service.

      10. There is no question about the alignment or whether there will be frequent service to South Bellevue. The minutia of scheduling are are not known yet. It’s also very likely that the 550 corridor will get more service and modest capital improvements well before East Link to try and drive ridership — ST wants to do this with service to the north, too.

        Trying to conflate a major rerouting from S Bellevue to Eastgate, which considerably changes the web of service connectedness, with petulance over whether there will be six or seven or eight trains per hour at South Bellevue is just stupid.

      11. So really what you’re sore about is Metro deciding that better connections and direct service to a major transit destination are more important than trying to drive up ridership on the 550 in anticipation Link Light Rail.

      12. The 550 is already ST’s most popular route. There is no need to drive its ridership up. If the 240 changes help out the 554 and 555/556, there’s nothing wrong with that.

      13. They really need a local bus stop next to the Eastgate Freeway Station ramp though, currently the transfer option is requiring people taking the 222 and 245 from Factoria to go right by the freeway stop all the way up 142nd Pl SE and get off at a stop 300 ft up hill adjacent to Bellevue College, which is just real plain stupid.

  3. Bruce, a reliable transfer would be good, but Metro needs to do a lot to build trust in transfers on the Eastside. I often see the 245 just far enough in front of the 240 that catching up to it is impossible, and the 30 minute wait for the next one sucks for such a short ride. I have often walked instead, but many folks cannot or won’t do that.

    1. Route 245 is going to 15-minutes all day on weekdays, meaning that your average transfer time between 240 and 245 will be 7.5 minutes – i.e. you don’t need a timed transfer.

      This change costs more, permanently reduces ridership potential from Newcastle to downtown Bellevue and to Seattle (554 transfer is harder than a 550 transfer), duplicates service with Route 245, and is highly unlikely to net more riders as a result. Brilliant.

      1. The 240 runs at 30 minute headways all day [hourly at night]. I have friends who do the 245-240 connection at Factoria right now, they say the transfer almost always takes 30 minutes even though game theory suggests the transfer should take 15 minutes half the time because the 245 runs at 15 minute headways.

        The 240 and 245 are not timed connections at Factoria. Rather, they randomly meet. I believe the 245 is timed based on the 255 pulse in Kirkland and the 240 is timed based upon the 550 arrival time in Bellevue. In addition, the 222 and 240 currently leave every fifteen minutes, providing even headways from Bellevue to Factoria.

      2. Daniel,

        The 245 will be going to 15 minute midday service during the same service change that route 240 is being rerouted.

        Today its not the case, but it will be shortly.

        Once that happens the transfer penalty is reduced dramatically.

      3. My apologies, I was referencing the afternoon and evening peak. For the purposes of my friends (who only ride at that time), the times they would connect from the 245 to the 240, the 245 runs at 15 minute headways and the 240 every 30 minutes.

        The transfer penalty in Factoria going from the 245 to the 240 right now in the afternoon is 22.5 minutes–either 15 or 30 minutes–because the 240 is always a little bit ahead of the 245 so there is no possible quick connection. The most important reason the transfer penalty will be reduced in October is because the schedules will be changed on the Eastside. The random connection at Factoria (or, now Eastgate) cannot possibly be worse, so it only has upside.

        The cost benefit analysis for this change is interesting. One one side are intra-Eastside riders who appreciate the all day connectivity to Issaquah, Lake Hills, East Bellevue, Overlake, and–most importantly–a Bellevue College connection to Renton. On the other side is non-peak connectivity to Mercer Island, the Rainer Valley and Downtown Seattle. During peak times, the combined headways of Eastgate-Seattle routes are better than the 550 in South Bellevue. However, non-peak service is worse at Eastgate. Of course, these riders could go through Renton and ride the 101 to Seattle after taking the 240 in the other direction.

      4. What really seems to be missing is a fast frequent connection from Eastgate to DT Bellevue. The “best” you can do is the 555/556 which is 16 minutes, only has 30 minute headways and stops running after 6:30. If it went direct on I-405 would it save any time or would the traffic and lack of HOV to HOV connections between I-90 and I-405 end up being just as long? It’s 24 minutes via Metro 271 but at least it’s every 10 minutes most of the day. Any schedules that show what the 240 time from Eastgate to DT Bellevue will be? If it’s in the 15 minute range that’s another big win for the reroute.

      5. The 246 takes 17 minutes from Eastgate to Bellevue.

        However, I do not believe Eastgate Park and Ride-Bellevue is actually a large market. Park and rides are not especially good at generating traffic–especially intra-city traffic. Rather the market is from Bellevue College, which is well served with the 271 (which takes 15 minutes to go from the College to Bellevue Transit Center). I’m guessing 15 minutes would be accurate, the 240 will remain time competitive (roughly 5 minute deviation) with the 241 from Bellevue to Factoria.

      6. Daniel,
        It sounds like your friends need to choose their Route 245 trips better. :)

      7. To be fair, these are the same friends who transfered from the 550 to the 240 (Seattle to Newcastle) at the Bellevue Transit Center :-P

      8. Let’s take one of the areas Daniel brought up a bit further.

        What is the impact of an extra 5 minutes to ridership? Route 222 and 240 both travel between Factoria and downtown Bellevue. Route 240 has twice the ridership from Factoria to downtown Bellevue and from downtown Bellevue to Factoria as does Route 222. Travel time – especially for such a short trip – matters.

        Ridership from the southern portions of Route 240 will be permanently reduced as a result of this deviation to Eastgate, as the market to downtown Bellevue far exceeds any other destination in the vicinity.

        The Council should monitor not only what the ridership on Route 240 does, but also the ridership loss that Route 245 experiences as a result.

      9. Newcastle-Bellevue riders don’t get hurt by this… much. It’s Newcastle-Seattle riders I’m concerned with.

        Daniel’s misguided friends who make the 550-240 transfer at BTC are losing about 20 minutes by doing so, rather than grabbing it at South Bellevue (extra time traveling into/out of DT Bellevue). This routing change makes that less-efficient transfer mandatory, and then adds another 5 minutes to the trip by detouring to Eastgate.

        Of course, it does add a Newcastle-Seattle connection via the 554 at Eastgate, but the 554 is not a frequent route off-peak, and probably won’t become one in the foreseeable future. I don’t think Seattle-Newcastle riders are getting a fair trade, giving up the 550/E.Link connection for a 554 connection.

        It works out great for BCC students, though. And colleges are always massive transit trip generators.

      10. 2Tall, I respectfully disagree with your statement that the Downtown Bellevue market is far more important than the Eastgate market for the 240. 13% of Bellevue College students are from Renton and the Eastgate employment area is the 5th largest employment area on the Eastside. In my opinion, the potential riders from going to Eastgate are greater than the riders lost due to the deviation time. Of course, this is something reasonable people can disagree upon.

      11. Bellevue far exceeds any other destination in the vicinity.

        That’s true but from Renton to DT Bellevue there are much better options than the 240 milk run. We’re really taking about Newcastle here. That’s Newcastle WA (pop. 10k), not Newcastle UK (pop. +1/4 million). It’s just as likely that household members want to get to a job in Factoria, a class at Bellevue College (really hard to stop calling it BCC) or even Crossroads as opposed to DT Bellevue or Seattle. And if they’re trying to get to the UW then Eastgate is also a win.

      12. Bernie, it’s actually Newcastle and the Renton Highlands. I think 12th and Sunset is the farthest you can go on the 240 from BTC without taking less time to go to the Renton transit center first. Conveniently, whenever I used to take the 240 I would go to that location…

      13. Daniel,

        Colleges are an excellent transit market, no doubt. The question is what you give up for it. And does that warrant the cost?

        How many of that 13 percent of BC students live within a walkshed of the 240? That number doesn’t mean much unless they are.

        Regardless, let’s put this down as I don’t believe there are sufficient benefits for this change. And we can respectfully disagree on this!

      14. Perhaps we need to push for an increase on the 554. It is the regional route between Seattle and the area just north and south of I-90, and it’s a potential Link corridor. It should be at least half-hourly in the evenings, if not 15 minutes in the daytime. If Metro/ST are promoting the Eastgate P&R as the premier transfer point for buses east/west/north/south, it needs to have at least semi-frequent service. There’s pent up demand that’s not being realized by the current scheduling.

  4. I’m glad this change was passed; good job Bellevue College!

    I still think having the 240 go through South Bellevue and hop on I-90 to the Eastgate Freeway Station then take the 245 routing to Factoria would be better. However the time has passed for that idea, I’m just happy any change was passed.

    Also, while we’re on the DT Bellevue to Newcastle subject, the 600K reduction moves the terminus of the 114 to Bellevue instead of Seattle. In essence, that would be a peak only express version of the 240.

    Also worth noting, the revised 222 (241) will take 108th Ave SE instead of 112th Ave SE going from DT Bellevue to the South Bellevue Park and Ride. The 249 will go down Main Street and Bellevue Way to access Enatai/Beaux Arts Village.

    1. What surprises me is that if the major impetus to change Route 240 was to get to Bellevue College, why didn’t the amendment from Jane Hague include routing through the college?

      1. Routing through the College is a complete waste of time. Eastgate is close enough (8 minute walk, whereas going through the college would take at least 10 minutes for the bus) and still retains the market for Renton/Newcastle-Bellevue traffic.

      2. That doesn’t answer the question of why the Councilmember did not include actually serving Bellevue College in the amendment.

      3. Kaleci,

        The Bellevue College students lobbied for an Eastgate deviation, not going through campus. Going through the campus would not make operational sense so they did not peruse that option. As far as I know, the difference between deviating the 240 to Eastgate and keeping it at South Bellevue was a coin flip. Going to Eastgate is serving the College, at least within a 10 minute walkshed. The net time for going through the campus is a wash for students anyway, so they only asked for the realistic goal of Eastgate.

  5. How much longer will this actually take? I’m guessing 5 or 10 minutes. Eastgate Way has few cross-streets, the Lake Hills Connector is fast, SE 8th doesn’t have much traffic, and 112th is faster than 108th. So the actual time-loss may be minimal compared to serving the college, more of Eastgate, and new transfers to Issaquah and Crossroads. (And Somerset?)

    This shows again the unfortunate location of the South Bellevue P&R. Ideally it would be at the center of a + that the 550, 554, and 240 would all pass through conveniently. But there’s only so much we can do given the locations of the existing roads.

    1. Yep, ST was claiming 5 minutes. Goran Sparrman was saying 10 minutes. Probably both are right depending on what time of day it is and traffic. Also, from what Daniel Warwick says above Metro addressed some of the COB concern with other route tweaks.

      1. Both are probably right, regardless. One version of the 240 deviation would have taken roughly 10 minutes and follow SE 36th St like the 245 in order to serve T-Mobile and higher density. However the current reroute uses Eastgate Way which should be a straight shot [with minimal traffic] because it has very little density; it is in between a park and I-90.

        As far as I know, the deviation will take roughly five minutes, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

      2. Or Metro and Bellevue may time it differently, I am honestly not sure. We will know when the schedule comes out.

      3. ST was claiming five minutes? Isn’t this a Metro route? Wouldn’t it be Metro estimating this?

      4. There have been at least two different proposals for the alignment of Route 240 to Eastgate. A previous proposal had a 10 minute running time and the current version has a 5 minute running time.

      5. I think I added a point of confusion here. My comment on the added time being 10 minutes according to Goran Sparrman (head of Bellevue Dept of Transportation) was testimony at a hearing I watched on BTV. The 5 minute number is from Metro and I’m pretty sure ST has no involvement.

      6. Somehow no one realized but my experiences with the 555 westbound in afternoon traffic down SE Eastgate Way are always quite horrible, that 3/4 mile down hill (west) from the P&R and to Richards Road can take a whole 10 minutes.

  6. While I’m generally opposed to route detours, this one doesn’t seem so bad since, at least they’re taking the fastest route they can while still going to Eastgate and 560/566 will still provide faster service from Renton to Bellevue.

    Some big questions that I’m curious about:
    1) If the 240 and 271 are both going from DT Bellevue to Eastgate, will their schedules be coordinated on evenings and weekends so you get a bus every 15-30 minutes, rather than 2 buses back-to-back every 30-60 minutes?

    2) Will the 240 be timed to meet the 554? Is the 240 reliable enough to make such a timed connection at Eastgate worthwhile?

    1. You don’t want to coordinate ANYTHING with the 271. It makes a lot of detours and takes 25 minutes to get from Eastgate P&R to BTC at peak time, where the 240’s proposed route shouldn’t take more than 15.

      1. Well, relatively speaking 15 min. isn’t bad. In fact it’s better than any current alternative and will have much better frequency. I would expect there to be a less than 10 min connection but with limited service on the eastside trying to serve a large dispersed population at least it’s an incremental improvement.

    2. The 240’s schedule is based upon the 550 pulse in Bellevue. In addition, it will be based upon being 15 minutes removed from the 241, providing frequent service between the nodes of BTC and Factoria. The 241, while also dependent on the 550 pulse, will be dependent on the 226 (old 233) as they will be interlined like the current 233 and 222. The 226’s schedule will be dependent on the pulse at BTC. It’s up to the schedulers, but I would guess you could only add one more connection opportunity–the 240 in Renton, 226 at Eastgate, or a combination of the 226, 245, and 221 from Bellevue College to Crossroads (if scheduled optimally, you could have service midday every 7.5 minutes from the College to Crossroads), or another priority. It’s up to the scheduler and I am not sure what he or she values most.

      It would also be hard to time a connection from a 30 minute headway route to a 20 minute headway route, especially when accounting for the time it takes to walk from the bays to the Freeway Station.

      The 240 will be timed against the 241. I’m not sure if it’s possible to time it against the 271. The way I see it, the 240 and 271 serve significantly different markets going from BTC to the Eastgate Park and Ride, so it may not be worth it to schedule around it. I do not believe the Park and Ride is an actual generator of traffic at night, its vicinity consists of I-90, the College, and a few offices.

      1. I should probably note, though you’ve probably already figured it out, I was on the Sounding Board which provided input on a lot of these Eastside changes. My opinions are my own and based on public information. They are not representative of any organization I am, have been, or will be affiliated with.

      2. The 271 is often on the same pulse as the 550 (at least in the WB direction) this means the 240 and 271 will likely be leaving Eastgate at roughly the same time.

    3. I am not sure how you can coordinate the 240 and the 554 when one stops in the P&R loop and the other is on the freeway station (four floors up and in the middle of the freeway).

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