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ST has released the new booklet for the service change effective June 11th 12th. Significant revenue-related cuts to express service begin now.  Changes listed in the booklet:

  • The 599 eliminated.
  • The Burien-West Seattle leg of the 560 is now peak-only.
  • On Sundays only, ST will consolidate the 510 and 511 into a 512 that serves both markets.
  • No more 535s on Sunday.
  • Fewer trips on the 540, 554, and 566. The 554 becomes a 20-minute headway route.
  • One more 550 trip.
  • The 586 goes into summer-quarter mode, meaning less service.
  • A new Tacoma Link stop at S 11th St opens sometime this summer. Headways drop to every 12 minutes, all day, Monday-Saturday, and every 24 minutes at all other times. This is up from 10 or 20 minutes currently. It’s far past time that ST published a schedule for service that infrequent.

There are “minor schedule adjustments” and route changes all over the place, so if you use ST check it out.

There’s no obvious change to the Central Link schedule, but there’s mention of “minor adjustments.” Because weekday headways are advertised as “10-15 minutes” there’s no way of telling if they’re cutting any of the trains that used to provide 10 minute headways during the day. [UPDATE: Oran says “The minor changes to Central Link [are] the extension of the last 3 trips of the night to Beacon Hill Station and route 36 trip to downtown connecting with the last Link trip. I wrote about that 2 months ago.]

61 Replies to “Sound Transit June 2011 Service Change”

    1. 2014
      • Potential restructure of Route 540 in conjunction with opening of HOV direct access
      ramps at SR 520/108th Avenue NE.

      I assume this means a dogleg on Northup Way to serve South Kirkland P&R? Personally I’d love to see the route cross 405 at NE 70th and stop at Wilburton P&R but HOV access at that lot bites and instead of fixing this 405 expansion plans will make it even worse.

      1. Don’t you mean Houghton Park and Ride? Wilburton Park and Ride is down there on SE 8th St (soon to be served by Bellevue LINK, just kidding).

      2. Route 540 already serves S Kirkland P&R. So whatever they meant by that, I don’t know. Could just be a fancy way of saying “we’ll use those ramps”.

      3. Yea, good catch, Houghton P&R which seems to be not much more than a storage lot for van pools now days. How I would love to see a flyer stop there. Wilburton really won’t be too far of a walk from any of the proposed Bellevue stations south of DT and I think it’s going to be served by the 240 reroute too.

      4. Wilburton, the useless P&R that probably will get no transfers to/from the revised 240. I can’t imagine why anyone would park at Wilberton to avoid the free parking in Bellevue or Renton.

      5. Well, Wilburton is at 64% capacity; certainly not great but better than useless. my favorite Houghton is a 36%. Total use is 119 vs 167 but as I’ve pointed out Houghton is partly long term vehicle storage. Off course the champion of useless is that shining example of TOD, Overlake with 203 spaces and only 77 used, 38%. Surprising is all the new capacity at Brickyard (where did that name come from?) is going largely unused (443 total, 237 used, 54%). Transfers from the 240? Maybe to the 952.

      6. Hmmm, another surprise from the P&R usage reports is the Redmond TC parking garage. Up from 55% usage in Q4 2009 to 95% by the end of 2010. And that in a year when many transit facilities were seeing a decline. Just a matter of people learning new habits or due in large part to new housing coming on line in DT Redmond? I’m guessing the former since most of DT Redmond is an easy walk to the TC.

      7. “Off course the champion of useless is that shining example of TOD, Overlake with 203 spaces and only 77 used, 38%”

        Why would you expect high parking utilization at a transit-oriented development?

      8. Good point, ST should nix the East Link 130th P&R in Bel-Red. Likewise the car temple at S. 200th.

      9. If there were plans for TOD at those stations I would agree with you. But you seem to be against that too.

      10. What do you mean if there were plans. The entire Bel-Red plan is focused on TOD. And Seatac has/had grand plans for a “village” at S. 200th. It’s true I was initially opposed to most aspects of the Bel-Red plan but I’ve come to accept it and in fact embrace some of it as I’ve learned more and some of the plans have matured. The biggest change has been the design of the NE 15/16 corridor which started out as a NE 8th style scar and has evolved into something that is closer to Old Main Street but with the bike and pedestrian corridor included in the initial construction. The stream daylighting has also been integrated into the road planning and property acquisitions completed. There’s still lots more to fight for; like Goff Creek that runs across where ST wants to locate a surface P&R along a 2 block stretch of the Link ROW and holding developers feet to the fire to make sure that “Green Building Design” doesn’t just mean maximizing the green that goes into their pockets. I’d also like to see incentives for jobs other than just the vanilla collar flavor. One idea (which is going to be a hard sell) is that instead of just rebuilding or relocating the Houghton Transfer Station (which is in the works) build a state of the art incineration plant possibly where the current Eastside Metro Base is.

      11. “One idea (which is going to be a hard sell) is that instead of just rebuilding or relocating the Houghton Transfer Station (which is in the works) build a state of the art incineration plant possibly where the current Eastside Metro Base is.”

        Bernie, Not that I think the City of Bellevue will ever allow an incineration plant within it’s city limits but where would Metro move it’s Eastside Campus to?

      12. where would Metro move it’s Eastside Campus to?

        Don’t know, the area near Marymoor identified as a possible MF for East Link maybe? The “abandon” Houghton P&R and the old Houghton landfill + current transfer station? I know COB has a very keen interest in acquiring the property but I’ve never actually heard why? The whole idea would be easier to sell (99% short of impossible instead of 99.9% impossible) if the eastside rail line wasn’t dead.

      13. COB has a very keen interest in acquiring the property

        The Metro base property, not the dump which is in Kirkland.

      14. “Wilburton, the useless P&R that probably will get no transfers to/from the revised 240. I can’t imagine why anyone would park at Wilberton to avoid the free parking in Bellevue or Renton.”

        South Bellevue gets plenty of folks who catch the first bus into DT Bellevue. Wilburton, which is mostly marooned right now for DT Bellevue traffic, will be for those willing to use a schedule vs just catching the next bus that comes along.

        “One idea (which is going to be a hard sell) is … [to] build a state of the art incineration plant possibly where the current Eastside Metro Base is.”

        Bernie, you are the master of understatement. “Hard sell”? Um, yeah… Good luck with that. Maybe we could convince the fine folks up in Skagit County to retrofit their failed incinerator instead.

      15. “Seatac has/had grand plans for a “village” at S. 200th”

        Is this true? I thought that was going to be at SeaTac station, not 200th. But the owner of the property at SeaTac stn station wouldn’t sell.

      16. “South Bellevue gets plenty of folks who catch the first bus into DT Bellevue.”

        Um, why are they doing that? And filling up the P&R so that people going to Seattle can’t find a place to park.

      17. Oops, it was the Seatac Station plans I was thinking of. The only plans for S. 200th seem to revolve around how big the garage should be. Seattle Southside has a short description of plans for a multifamily neighborhood around the Tukwila International Boulevard Station and the airport station along with TOD plans for an area “bordered by I-5, I-405, West Valley Highway, and South 180th Street.” Hey, I can see Russia Sounder from my cash register :=

      18. “Um, why are they doing that?”

        I can’t say for sure. Parking in DT Bellevue is getting more expensive but I can’t imagine it’s expensive enough to get people to park and take a bus 1.5 miles, but maybe…

        It also might be that they are just using the P&R as intended – as their closest location to access the bus network. Hop a 550 into DT Bellevue and then transfer to a Sound Transit 566 to Overlake. Either way, when a 550 drops off at South Bellevue heading towards Seattle, a larger number of people get off than you’d expect.

      19. Maybe we could convince the fine folks up in Skagit County to retrofit their failed incinerator instead.

        Velo, thanks for that info. I thought the one in Spokane was the only one in our State. I’ve found out a little bit about the one in Skagit. It’s a very elegant layout with designer Italian kilns, all I’ve got to do is get Prada to brand it and it’s a “shoe” in for Bellevue ;-) I think the reason it closed was at least in part due to federal regulations declaring the ash as hazardous waste. There’s a guy up there now that appears to be serious about wanting all the county garbage which in conjunction with wood waste from saw mills he plans to turn into diesel fuel.

      20. Parking in DT Bellevue is getting more expensive but I can’t imagine it’s expensive enough to get people to park and take a bus 1.5 miles, but maybe…

        I know someone that works in DT Bellevue and she’s paid more than the price of a transit pass to give up her parking spot (rides a bike most days). Weekday parking for business in Bellevue is just as expensive as downtown Seattle (as is the cost of class A office space). BTC is the major transfer node on the eastside and has no park & ride stalls. Wilburton has decent bus connections plus it’s just about the only nearby lot where you’re guaranteed to be able to find a space. S. Bellevue has the most frequent “shuttle” into BTC especially outside of peak hours.

    2. [Tacoma Link] boardings declined 8 percent during the first half of 2010 compared with the same period a year earlier. A combination of factors, including fewer special events at the Tacoma Dome and Tacoma Convention Center, reduced retail activity and less employment in downtown Tacoma contributed towards the decline.

      Things don’t bode well for the second half of 2010 since Russel didn’t move out until the end of October and MorphoTrak will move to Federal Way this summer. So why are they eliminating the 599 a year before the Sounder extension to Lakewood is open and expanding service on a tram that has declining ridership?

      1. Read the SIP — all of it. The city’s paying for the extra station and the Tacoma Link O&M budget won’t change.

        The 599 has appalling performance, as you can see. I’m told they’ve switched to using paratransit vans on that run because there are so few riders. Evidently suburban commuters prefer comfy one-seat train rides to busses.

      2. Fair enough, I hadn’t read down to the part where they gave the numbers for the 599. Yikes, the cost per boarding was more than Sounder North!

        Evidently suburban commuters prefer comfy one-seat train rides to busses.

        I’m not sure about that as the stated purpose of this route was to “develop the
        market for future Sounder service operating directly to Lakewood.” The 590-595 buses carry 5k people every weekday and those riders may continue to prefer the one hour $3.50 fare bus ride from Lakewood compared $4.50 South Sounder fare that’s an hour plus whatever the travel time ends up being for Lakewood to Tacoma Dome Station.

        Auburn/Sumner/Puyallup riders however seem to have a clear preference for the train. This is the first time I’ve seen an individual breakdown for the North and South Sounder routes. North, other than special event trains should just go away. An hour and ten minute bus ride that costs $3.64/boarding (virtually 100% farebox recovery) vs a one hour train ride that costs $20.28/boarding. The train costs the rider $1 more and the tax payers $16. That’s a $36 a day incentive to commute from Everett or $720/mo. That would be enough to rent a small apartment in the RV and only having to pay Link fares would save another $90/mo.

  1. The minor changes to Central Link is the extension of the last 3 trips of the night to Beacon Hill Station and route 36 trip to downtown connecting with the last Link trip. I wrote about that 2 months ago. Search the Blog for “Beacon Hill Night Service”.

  2. *grr* Saying “fewer trips” on the 540 doesn’t cover it at all. It goes from a real all-day every-30-minutes both-ways route from 6am to 9pm to a Kirkland->UW AM, UW->Kirkland PM commuter route. There’s also a 5 hour gap in service mid-day, the latest trip from Kirkland->UW runs at 5:40pm, and the last AM trip from UW->Kirkland has a 15 minute layover from where you catch it to actually going to Kirkland.

    Fortunately, I work for MS, so I’ll be taking the Connector to Redmond, then the shuttle back to Kirkland, but it’d suck to not have that option. Hopefully, they’ll actually start tolling the 520, and that will actually have a measurable effect on the speed to get through Montlake in the morning.

    1. Does anybody know when tolling on 520 is going to start? Major change like that seems like a bad time to cut UW-Kirkland service at all. Wonder if that last trip can be rescheduled to meet the Kirkland bus?

      I think you got this one in while I was typing the comment below. Point still holds, especially about the resources of the region. Microsoft definitely has money for transportation. I believe it was one of the signatories to recent admonition to Bellevue City Council to get moving on light rail.

      Maybe they’d be amenable politically and financially to helping restore UW/Kirkland service- if only to keep the extra bridge car traffic resulting from the service cut out of the way of the 545.

      Mark Dublin

      1. On the news today, they are still having problems getting the system to work reliably. Testing is hoped to be wrapped up this month with tolling starting in July.

    2. I believe one justification for cutting back on the 540 was that riders could use the 255 instead, which now runs every 15 minutes all day.

      So, in essence, the 540 requires duplicating a large segment of the 255 route to save people coming from the U-district a relatively small amount of time.

      1. Uh, except that involves the slog down to the Montlake Flyer Station. Not something I have any objection and just one of the damn good reasons to lobby WSDOT, Metro, UW, Santa’s elfs, etc. to keep this important asset in the 520 do-over. But yeah, since this route is primarily a school bus I think the students can tough it out (builds character). Back in the day (1979), UW used to pay Metro to run service from Redmond that stopped right in front of the HUB. If UW wants to save the 540 then they should cough up the dough.

      2. 542 and the 545 both serve the Microsoft campus and neither terminate at the UW campus. Pretty different animal than the 540 or the 255 (my bus :-).

      3. Last I heard, the plan of record for the new bridge is:

        – During peak hours, there will be two sets of buses between the Eastside and Seattle. One set will go to the U-District, while the other will go to downtown.

        – At other times, the U-District routes will not run. Instead, the downtown routes will exit 520 at the Montlake lid, stop there, and reenter 520 after.

        Both the refactoring of the 540 and the creation of the 542 support this plan.

      4. If the downtown buses do get off the freeway off-peak, will it be a direct transfer to the 43/48?

      5. How exactly will the buses exit and then re-enter 520, particularly going eastbound? The interchange diagrams [PDF] I’ve seen make it look possible westbound (albeit inconsistent with the lane alignments and probably against the signaling), but the eastbound on/off-ramps remained configured as they are today: directly adjacent. In the revised interchange it is not possible to exit and re-enter SR-520 eastbound at Montlake without either a sharp u-turn or complex turn-around routing through multiple intersections.

      6. My hope is that the state’s budget shortfall will postpone the Seattle side of 520 so that they don’t close the Montlake flyer stop until after U-link finishes. Then, they can make the downtown routes peak only and make the U-district route all-day with a quick transfer to Link to get downtown. To avoid unacceptable waits for the bus on the way back east, the saved service hours can be reinvested to run everything more frequently.

  3. This post and one below really deal with the same subject: keeping a critical part of our regional infrastructure alive and growing in the face of an economic disaster. [Ot]

    Key word is “regional”. All the most advanced thinking on business and government seems to agree that we’re coming into a time when, as real economic engines, regions are certainly more important than states and provinces. Maybe also more than countries. And especially tailored to times like these.

    For starters, why not have Sound Transit take over all intercounty express service, allowing CT and Pierce to concentrate on their local routes? And then start looking at other ways to start using the combined resources of the region to remedy the shortfalls of its parts- and thereby cure them.

    I’m willing to let the Discovery Institute get credit for talking about this first- if they’ll admit that the Creator wants us to do things like this for ourselves.

    Mark Dublin

    1. For starters, why not have Sound Transit take over all intercounty express service, allowing CT and Pierce to concentrate on their local routes?

      And conversely, why does ST have routes which are entirely within Metro’s jurisdiction? (They might do the same thing for Pierce/CT too, but I’m not as familiar with those routes.)

      Some rationalization could be in order.

      1. I’m guessing ST runs some King County-only buses because they fit well into its system conceptually. To a user, that matters more than the rather arbitrary county boundaries.

      2. Those routes stay within King County, but go between Sound Transit subareas (East King to North King on the 554, for example).

      3. I’m guessing ST runs some King County-only buses because they fit well into its system conceptually.

        What’s the conceptual difference between the 540/542/545/550 on the one hand, and the 255/271 on the other?

        To a user, that matters more than the rather arbitrary county boundaries.

        To a user, the fact that there are three different transit agencies that run buses into Seattle is a distraction. It would be better for everyone if all those buses had a common (ST) branding. I think that branding and fare consistency are two of the main reasons why people advocate for consolidating the transit agencies, and those are both easy fixes even without any administrative changes.

        But given the current system, where some routes have Metro colors and others have ST or CT branding, I think it would make much more sense if the ST branding were only used for services that couldn’t be provided by a county agency.

      4. The “why” is that these are legacy routes. Transferring them to another agency is not the simplest thing in the world. It means the offloading agency would gain money but the onloading agency would have new expenses. In this case, ST would have expenses it hadn’t budgeted for in ST2, and it can’t just go raise taxes to compensate. There was a lot of stink when the 550 was created: people complained for years that they suddenly had to pay more for the same bus. Actually, I think the 550 kept Metro’s fare for a couple years to avoid the stink, and then switched to ST’s fare. So it’s easier to create new ST Express routes than to convert routes. The 522 and 554 weren’t opposed as much because their routes were more different from their predecessors (the 307 went to Northgate and then downtown, and the 210 moseyed all over Newport Hills and Somerset).

        I think Metro does want to convert regional routes to ST, but only slowly one at a time. It’s happier to let ST create new routes and then reorganize its routes to meet them.

      5. Except now Metro fares are more expensive then ST fares. it is cheaper to take 550 from Downtown Seattle to Bellevue than it is the 261.

    2. You’ve hit the nail on the head, but it shouldent be a 1:1 takeover of service. Not only cant ST afford that, theres way too much duplication right now that could be streamlined, and consolidated while producing a more attractive end product (i.e. higher frequency on core trunk lines). all costs $$$ though.

    1. As one of the Ludditic schedule fumblers, I wish Metro could just list which routes have any schedule changes at all. Then I’d cross out the end date on the schedules in my wallet, and keep using them.

  4. Oops, I meant “Green” timetables. I agree with you guys that a timetable for Tacoma LINK is now needed, with the odd ball 12-24 minute frequencies. Of course, the more appalling thing is the LACK of a Central LINK schedule, especially during the periods when LINK operates every 15 minutes or worse (early AM and late PM).

    1. Yeah… a system that operates on 3-5 minute headways can get away without a schedule, but no schedule with 10-15+ minute headways is really pushing it…

    2. Imagine how much bus service the City of Tacoma could buy if they weren’t wasting money on that unnecessary infill station…

      1. the infill station funding is from a diffrent source than pt’s operational funding. in any event because its a one time shot and not a revenue stream you wouldent gain much service from it. its kinda awkwardly but but there should have always been a station at 11th.

    1. I believe there’s actually four of those coaches without the fairings and all are will go to Metro operated ST routes. Haven’t heard why they don’t have the fairings though. Maybe a cost cutting move?

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