Frequent All-Day Eastside Service

Back in April we supported, and the County Council soon after passed, revisions to Eastside transit service as part of the RapidRide B-Line roll out. It was a largely an uneventful process minus some disagreement between the City of Bellevue and the College of Bellevue over the 240. We supported the process Metro followed, but we were also particularly fond of the proposal because it emphasized frequent, all-day service in the highest ridership corridors.

Well now I have a map that succinctly shows just that point. The image above shows frequent, all-day service before (red dotted lines) and after (blue lines) the service change. The map actually understates the point, since the 255 from South Kirkland P&R to Totem Lake TC currently goes to 30 minute headways in the reverse-peak direction during peak periods, much to my annoyance since this is the bus I take to get to work.

Currently the only frequent, all-day service is the interlined segment of the 230/253 (Bellevue TC to Crossroads) and ST 545 and 550. After the service changes are implemented this level of service will be expanded to the B-Line, 234/235 interlined segment (Bellevue TC to Kirkland TC), 245,255,271 and ST 545 and 550, an increase from 3 to 7 routes. Combined these routes do a much better job of linking the largest activity nodes on the Eastside and better integrating Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland with frequent service. Most importantly, besides the additional 23K platform hours to the B-Line, no additional service was added. All service hours were either transferred from eliminated routes, or gained through consolidation of routes.

With the launch of the B-Line and more concentrated and frequent service on major corridors, the new network brings a level of service to transit supportive areas of the Eastside that starts to allow for a low or car-free lifestyle, something that is currently hard to do on the Eastside.

45 Replies to “Frequent, All-Day Eastside Service”

    1. Nevermind, it looks like there was some flip-flopping on the decision to serve Eastgate on the 240 or not.

      I can’t imagine that the loss of 15 minute service along a common routing is a big loss between Bellevue and Factoria, though.

      1. It’s not a huge loss for Bellevue-Factoria. It’s a bit of a loss for seattle-bound transfers that get punted to the 554, but pretty equal on all other counts.

        I used to have strong feelings against the 240 @ Eastgate, but now I think it’s pretty ok. the 554’s an underused route, and the 550 often crowded. Switching the 240 to Eastgate will do some load-balancing on the two routes, and might even result in ST upping the 554’s frequency a bit.

  1. Hopefully the same thing happense with the C,D,E, and F lines (provided they actually get funding)

    1. The D already connects to decent frequency on the 44 and 48, and there aren’t many other routes in the area at all – the 17, 18, and 75. The D and E in general aren’t great opportunities to streamline service because of how gridded North Seattle is already, though Shoreline could stand to see some improvements in service (the 331 and 345 come to mind).

      Is there much “on the way” of the F, or is it primarily a Burien-Tukwila Int’l Blvd-Southcenter-Renton point-to-point service? Not that improving connections at those places aren’t valuable…

      I suspect Metro will use each line’s launch to institute some of the changes needed to help their financial situation.

      1. there’s frequent service on the 120, 180, 124, RapidRide A, Link (duh), 150, and 106, and all of those will connect with RapidRide F.

      2. not to mention it will connect link at tib with southcenter the tukwilla sounder and amtrak station and renton. personally id like to see a freeway station built there to connect I5 buses with those destinations as well.

  2. In addition, if Metro schedulers schedule it correctly, there will be a frequent nodal connection between BTC and Factoria using the 240, 241, and 246–the 246 will probably be the quickest one.

    In addition, interesting for commuters, there will be lots of peak-only frequent service:
    532/535 Lynnwood-Bellevue
    540 Kirkland-UD (I think both ways)
    542 Redmond-Green Lake (two ways)
    566 Kent-Overlake (Auburn service is always every 30 minutes)
    212 Eastgate-Seattle
    218 Issaquah-Eastgate-Seattle
    212+217 reverse peak service Seattle-Factoria-Eastgate

    1. The issue for me is I’m doing the reverse commute (north on 405 in the AM) which means bus connections are up against a 12-15 min drive or a 30 min bike ride. Totem Lake TC is a 15 min walk back south to the office, that coupled with the out of direction travel time and the 15 min + walk at the start plus transfer time plus the new ST fare structure pretty much eliminates it as a reasonable route. But for the vast majority I think these changes will be a big improvement for the Kirkland/Bellevue Totem Lake/Overlake area.

  3. What’s the new service between S. Kirkland P&R and Bellevue TC that looks like it’s running down 116th Ave NE? That would put frequent service within a mile of my house. That starts to make walk/bus a reasonable alternative to biking in inclement weather. As it is now I have to ride/drive 3 of the 7 miles to work to catch a not so frequent bus which is a non-starter.

      1. As I’m sure you know, the 249 will also run from South Kirkland to 116th on Northup–will run at 15 minute frequencies.

      2. Looks like the 235 will be the winner for me but if all of the 249 routes go to S. Kirkland that opens up some other options. Right now the “tail” is scheduled exactly opposite to what I’d usually need. More 255 service is overall the big gain for me. If they speed up the milk run between S. Kirkland and Totem Lake that’s a bonus.

      3. Yes, 249 will always go to South Kirkland (at 30 minute frequencies, 234+235 at 30 minute; combining for 15 minute)

        If you’re coming from 116th and Northup, a stop area I am familiar with, you won’t be able to combine the headways of 234 and 235 because there is not a stop on Northup going toward South Kirkland after 116th until after you pass under I-405.

      4. @Bernie How do you think the 255 north of S Kirkland can be speed up? You have to hit the Kirkland TC so that makes backtracking from S Kirkland to 405 no faster. From my perspective the only way to significantly speed up the travel time to Totem Lake is to use the BNSF ROW, which is years off at the least.

      5. Well, the 249 on NE 20th at 130th Ave NE is the closest stop since it will start going to S. Kirkland in the AM (.7 miles, easy walk). I’ve just never paid any attention to it because it hasn’t been useful before. It’s 1.3 miles over to Northup and 116th but an easy bike ride using the 520 trail. The 249 might be useful (if it’s not a 30 min wait) for our son coming back from Bellingham on weekends.

      6. About the only way to speed it up would be to eliminate stops which wouldn’t do much. I’m hoping the 235 will be faster but that’s probably wishful thinking. Since it duplicates the 234 along the lake can they skip stop? I guess the 234/255 run the same route along Market so same question there. I understand why but it’s annoying that going from S. Kirkland to Totem Lake takes forever and nothing uses the freeway or goes to Houghton P&R, which has acres of parking and virtually no transit.

  4. Is RapidRide B anything more than the route 253 running more frequently and with red buses, and a routing change between Overlake P&R and 148th NE/NE 40th?

    Does it have any dedicated lanes on NE 8th St or 156th Ave NE or NE 24th St or NE 40th St (areas that get congested)? Is there any signal pre-emption or queue jumping at traffic signals? Are there significantly fewer stops?

    1. Looks like there is signal preemption and fewer stops…see this site:

      The blurb towards the bottom of the pages states “This corridor will be improved with transit signal priority, a system in which traffic signals recognize an approaching bus and make green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster.”

      Also, the map on the site shows the stops/stations, and there will be fewer stops.

    2. Signal priority is the big upgrade we’ll be getting over the 253. On the bel/red street grid, with it’s half-mile superblocks and looong rush-hour light cycles, TSP should make a huge difference in moving these buses through the congestion.

      There is also a stop diet. No dedicated ROW yet, but I believe TSP will be adequate on its own at the moment.

      1. Along NE 8th St it already felt like the 253/230 stops were fairly widely spaced. There might have been room for improvement along 156th Ave NE. The bigger issue is waiting at traffic lights along 156th Ave NE and in the Overlake area, like the left from 156th onto 24th, and then the light to cross Bel-Red.

        It will be interesting to see how it performs. Of course, if it is like RRA, they won’t issue a schedule so we can’t see whether they are scheduling any improved travel times.

      2. Have you taken the A Line recently? I know when it opened TSP wasn’t operational but I assume it is by now.

  5. I’d like to see a greater emphasis on frequent service on evenings and weekends, as opposed to midday on weekdays.

    I can’t speak for others, but for me, my weekday travels are almost always home->work in the morning and work->home in the afternoon. Travel during the day happens only when there’s something important enough to justify taking time off work, which happens only a few days a year.

    Evenings and weekends, however, are my free time, which means that that’s the time I have available to go places and that’s the time I really value frequency for spontaneous travel. The traditional response to this is that transit is for getting to work and back and for other trips, you are supposed to drive your car. The problem with that logic is that if your goal is to reduce the number of cars people own (and the large sums of money paid to buy, insure, and maintain them, plus the space to park them), people need a car-free way to be able to travel spontaneously during their free time. Hence, the importance of frequent service on evenings and weekends.

    Looking at the evening and weekend picture, the frequent map is much worse than what’s shown above. The RRB line will be a significant improvement, but on Sundays during the day, the only routes that will be better than once an hour are the RRB, 545, 550, 554, 245, and 255, with RRB being the only route that operates better than every half hour. The 271 running just one trip per hour from Bellevue to the U-district is especially poor, considering the start of tolling on the 520 bridge (550->71/72/73 is not a viable replacement option – it’s way too slow. Even when East Link gets built, it will still be slower than the 271 for that trip).

    If revenues increase in the future, this is something I would like to see some improvement in.

    1. The thing is, most commerce happens during business hours. That’s when most people are actually out on the road and why the eastside HOV lanes open to all traffic after 7PM. It’s not that many decades ago that virtually all businesses shut down on Sunday and it’s still the most common day for a business to be closed (2nd is Monday I believe instead of Saturday now days). If you’re after a car free lifestyle then I think there are plenty of areas in the big city where walking is an option or late night/weekend service is available. The “land use” part of transit should encourage that, not try to cover the entire county. The economic barrier to entry of owning a car(s). garage, insurance. etc. to live out in suburbia isn’t such a bad thing. And there are nodes outside of Seattle where it’s increasingly possible to live without a car; like Overlake, Crossroads and DT Redmond and Kirkland. You could even live in Bridle Trails and have anything from an apartment to a horse ranch and be withing walking distance of decent bus service, grocery store, bowling ally, restaurants, tennis club, good schools (public & private) and the county transfer station to boot :=

    2. I believe the idea is to improve mobility for people who don’t work, so they don’t feel trapped in their house all day, under the assumption that providing commuter buses is sufficient for people who do. Others may correct or expand on me.

      1. Uh, OK… provide a 75% subsidy on world travel and I’ll quit wasting my time working and hire someone else to look after the house. Then we don’t need to spend that money on people who are working all day. Only one question, without people “working all day”, where does the tax revenue come from?

      2. The priority has to be; peak commute, day time service and then evening/late night service where there is sufficient demand. Peak commute service is obvious, it’s where the “peak” demand is and in the case of many bottle necks mass transit is the only thing that makes the world go round. During the day is next because that’s when essential trips, shopping, going to the doctor, etc. occur. Of course some people work night shifts and you may need emergency services after midnight but the return for investment in transit starts to approach zero.

    3. This is where Adam’s statement, “The new network brings a level of service to transit supportive areas of the Eastside that starts to allow for a low or car-free lifestyle,” is quite optimistic. The operative word here is “starts”. Maybe it will get people used to the idea of frequent buses weekdays and they’ll demand the hours be extended.

      The ironic thing about frequent buses in the mid-day is that people with 9-to-5 jobs can’t use them. At best they can make a short trip between 5 and 7pm on the way home. The mid-day service mainly benefits those who start work late, or go to school, or stay-at-home spouses, or those on vacation, or those who take time off work to go to the doctor, or the few carless businessmen who take transit to meetings, etc.

      The low Sunday service goes back to the days when most people went to church, they thought it was wrong to work on Sundays, and they also thought it was wrong to go out to shopping or amusements on Sundays. But I think a larger factor nowadays is the union and Sunday pay differential. Sundays are the most expensive days to staff, so agencies put their least number of hours then. This shortchanges the public, who nowadays do shop on Sundays as much as they do on Saturdays, except that they can’t get around because the buses run at half-frequency on Sundays, so they don’t get as much done on Sundays and commerce suffers.

      1. Yeah, “start” is the operative word. I put it in there very purposfully because as someone who grew up in Kirkland and work in Totem Lake, I know it isn’t easy to live without a car on the Eastside. I put that sentence in because I think 15 minute service is where you start to hit a threshold were people start to consider transit service something that they can rely.

      2. I don’t think you should look at this as a start to make the eastside a car free zone. It never will be unless it becomes completely redeveloped in an urban manner. Of course you can live car free on the eastside now and reach all neccessary locations by transit or walking if you have stable employment that is served by transit and if you’re willing to give up access to most of eastside destinations. What the frequent service can do is substantially reduce the dependance on the car for “all” trips and maybe eliminate the need for multiple cars in a household. Having flexibility in the evening commute is important because there’s often something you want to do besides go straight home. If you need the car after work you have no choice but to drive in in the morning. During the day a worker may not leave but customers/patients/clients do visit and some of that demand can be met with transit if there is sufficient flexibility. I might use the bus to go to the doctor if I know my max wait time is 30 minutes. Not likely if it’s an hour. The route network seems to be a good start because the eastside has developed to the point where there are definite “nodes” that make sense and transit is one key to continued concentration.

      3. Man you guys never rest…no matter how many times people decisively move to low density areas…successful low density areas which as in the case of Bellevue have created better schools than Seattle, you guys want to sleeze your way in and “densify” it to the destruction of everything that people moved to get away from!

        [ad hom]

  6. I sometimes wonder if the Eastside overemphasizes the Seattle link to the detriment of creating good intra-Eastside, intra-suburban transit.

    Because people like the low density, it seems that lots of small vannish style shuttles, scurrying around the neighborhoods would be far, far better than a single expensive block-busting high capital line.

    1. John has solved the bridge problem! People are so fed up with non-free parking in Seattle that they’re no longer going there, and now five bridge lanes are empty. That means we can just get rid of 520 without replacing it.

      Seriously, the Eastside has two transportation problems. One is getting to Seattle. The other is everything else. The number of people going to Seattle may be lesser but it’s still large enough to fill 12+ freeway lanes. Plus, it’s easier for transit to address it because of the forced-funneling of people across the bridges and the large numbers of people going to concentrated destinations (downtown and UW). The other Eastside traffic is more diffuse. A 405 line would be somewhat inconvenient for going from downtown Bellevue to Kirkland, and it would be unusable for those going from Overlake to Bellevue College. So the Eastsiders wisely chose to tackle the largest single transit problem first, and the one which could be most effectively addressed.

      1. If the problem is people who want to work in the Eastside, and then for some unknown reason decide to reside across a lake and other major waterways in Seattle so they can have beachfront access, then it should not be the principle effort of the government or the taxpayers to create monstrosities in order to accommodate them. Should mass transit include flying G5’s to Eastern Montana because “people want to live there”?

      2. John, consider two worker families where one works in Seattle and the other on the Eastside. One will have to cross the lake, unless they live north or south in which case they’ll both have horrible commutes.

      3. That’s a valid reason…but is it the majority case?

        Has anyone analyzed exactly who is using 520 and I-90 and the reasons why? What are the demographics? What are the origin and destinations?

        And so on…

      4. ‘Should mass transit include flying G5′s to Eastern Montana because “people want to live there”?’

        In the Bailoworld there’s high speed rail to eastern Montana.

        (In the Orr world there’s high speed rail to Chicago, which may have a stop in Miles City.)

      5. I’m sure Bozeman and Glascow have their own bus services you can use once you get there, unlike Bellevue.

        In Belleviewer’s world there is adequate Bellevue-centric bus service, focusing on east side commerce at reasonable cost – instead of focuing a high cost structure system (ST,CT,MT) running on the 1960s metropolitan transit routes to take people, in comfort, to work in downtown seattle.

        But with these continued cutbacks and focusing on high density city to city and mall to mall traffic – I can’t get across downtown bellevue.

        We keep hearing the circulator bus is coming, then we hear that circulator’s won’t work – but in the meantime their is no circulation – only arteries out in in one direction the morning and veins back at night.

    2. I think the fact that Sound Transit has taken on a primary role in providing the service across the bridges has allowed King County Metro to focus on improving on the services within East King County. Other than preventing Eastside tax dollars from going into Seattle, that was probably one of the visions the Eastside elected officials had when they came up with Sound Move in 1996.

    3. I sometimes wonder if the Eastside overemphasizes the Seattle link to the detriment of creating good intra-Eastside, intra-suburban transit.

      That statement is completely correct, but we’re working on it! The October service change will get rid of an enormous amount of expensive neighborhood one way peak only service. Soon (in Bellevue), we will only have the 250 and 265. There will always be an enormous amount of demand for Seattle CBD and UW trips, but the most effective way to use East money is with routes like the 212 and 542. Either one way peak routes which get on the highway right after filling up or two way peak routes to our job centers.

  7. B Line will be faster than Route 253 for several reasons: off-board fare collection at stations (ORCA holders can board at any door); three doors; low floors; no tie-down for wheel chairs; signal priority; fewer stops; no devation to the Overlake Village P&R roadway. so, the buses will move more and sit still less. with tighter headway, intending passengers will have to wait less. there will be choke points: NE 40th Street has heavy traffic; Microsoft has big garage west of SR-520; 148th Avenue NE has heavy northbound traffic in the p.m.; NE 8th Street has heavy traffic near the I-405 interchange.

    1. I guess the main question is what has Metro’s experience with the A Line been? Looking at one trip on the A Line and comparing it to a trip on Route 174, what has the reduction of travel time been?

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