Route 14 in Little Saigon
Route 14 in Little Saigon

Route 14, like many of Seattle’s trolleybus routes, can trace its alignment back more than a century, to Seattle’s original streetcar system, connecting the Mount Baker neighborhood to Downtown via Jackson St and 31st Ave. With the opening of Central Link, Route 14 was extended to Mount Baker TC; or, to be more exact, it now detours to Mount Baker TC before continuing to serve the older tail to Hanford St. Ridership chart and discussion, after the jump.

Ridership Patterns on King County Metro 14S
Ridership Patterns on King County Metro 14S

One brief note on the chart: for some reason, this data set has a problem with lots of “ghost riders” remaining on the bus at the south end of the midday trips. I don’t know why this is, and I chose to present the data as I found it rather than try and come up with an ad hoc method of correcting it. I suggest you mentally shift the red line about five points to the left.

This chart really tells a story of three different routes tied together:

  • From 12th & Jackson (Little Saigon) to downtown, this is an urban route with bidirectional demand and heavy passenger churn in all time periods. Much of this is probably opportunistic ridership, taking the 14 in lieu of the more frequent 7 and 36.
  • From 12th to 31st, this is a well-performing neighborhood route, with some passenger turnover associated with the commercial districts and community centers on Jackson St. Nighttime demand is almost all coming out from downtown.
  • From 31st onwards, boardings and off-peak passenger load fall off a cliff; Mount Baker TC (shown as MLK/McClellan) is the only stop that stands out. This is not unexpected given the upscale demographics and relatively low residential density of that neighborhood, but it’s also possible that Metro’s close parallel services are reducing ridership on this segment.

It’s worth restating the the last point in more detail. Between Jackson St and McClellan St, Metro is operating four north-south routes in the space of less than half a mile (Google Map): Route 48 on 23rd Ave; Route 8 on MLK; Route 14 on 31st Ave, and Route 4S wandering between 23rd, MLK and the vestigial 24th/26th couplet near Judkins Park.

This close route spacing is not required by any terrain feature, nor is this amount of service justified by the observed ridership levels of these routes or the prevailing land-use patterns. Given that the 8 operates twice as frequently as the 14, and goes to many of the same places, I strongly suspect that it’s taking much of the 14’s potential ridership.

[UPDATE: I take back the part about terrain features between MLK and 31st. Between 23rd and MLK , the point stands.]

Route 14 bears a strong resemblance to Route 27, running a couple of blocks north on Yesler. I’ll present that data soon in another post.

80 Replies to “Ridership Patterns on Route 14”

  1. Seeing how short the route of the 27 will be off peak, does it make sense to remove it and add frequency to part of the 14s?

    1. The short tail of the 27 serves a useful purpose, because between Yesler and Jackson, the hill and the interstate constitute major barriers to mobility, which is not the case once you get past 12th Ave.

      1. I’m curious whether the 27’s demand to 12th is more like the “urban” part of the 14 to 12th, or the “neighborhood” part to 31st.

        Given the terrible congestion on Jackson, and the fact that Jackson is already served by the 7, 36, and (soon) the FHSC, could it make sense (with new wire) to run the 14 along Yesler to 12th, and then cross back to Jackson via Boren?

        I’m not a regular 14 rider, so don’t take this as a serious suggestion; I’m just hoping that someone more familiar with the area (or the data) could comment on whether this makes sense.

      2. I am a regular 14 and 27 rider, and can answer that question: yes and no. Or more precisely, it would make sense if you extended the 27 past 14th, then jogged over to Jackson. 14th is a terrible intersection that adds time to the 14.

        I don’t take the 27 because it’s on my way. I take it because it’s lightning quick – 7 minutes from 20th to downtown. I don’t know how long it takes the 14 for this trip, but I can estimate: close to forever.

        Of course, adding wires to do this would probably be required.

      3. Adding that wire would also enable the 3/4 to avoid James, so it’s a win-win.

        What Matt said about the 14 vs. the 27 – if I’m downtown headed to 23rd/Jackson, it’s faster to take the 27 (if it appears) and walk than it is to wait for the 14.

  2. I see that the 38 is not proposed for elimination or restructuring. I wonder why it wasn’t considered for splicing onto the vestige-free 14S.

    1. Primarily because no-one has the cash to hang the necessary trolleybus wire. There are also issues with 40′ coaches bottoming out somewhere on this route.

      1. Just a note:

        The route 38 is a South Base route, which has 30ft coaches. I haven’t seen a route 38 bus lately, but I imagine that they are already operating with a 30′ coach on this route. If not, South Base also has Vans (26′). Using the data shown, the lack of ridership demand between Mt Baker TC and Hanford St would justify connecting the 38 with the 14 on this stretch. The only obstacle I can see is that the 38 only runs between 9a and 4p.

    2. This route restructuring was focused mostly on NW and W seattle. Hopefully we’ll see other changes in the future, especially in the Ranier valley.

    3. The McClellan hillclimb is a perfect fit for a trolleybus, and would make a perfect tail.

      Unfortunately, reality interferes. We’re limited to 30′ coaches on the hill from Rainier up to at least 21st, because of the nasty grading at the cross streets. It was listed on the list of routes limited to small buses a few weeks back.

  3. I used to ride this route daily twenty years ago, from downtown to Mt Baker where I had a job in a private home. I loved it: it was busy through the ID, but not obnoxious, like the 36, and after it crossed Rainier, it pretty much dropped off. Lots of kids going to Franklin, and lots of very well-dressed African American Senior Citizens who, now that I think of it, we’re probably going to the Central District Senior Center. A very civilized ride to a very stuffy job. (I didn’t last long) Plus, the scenery was great.

    I suppose these days I would take Link to the Mt. Baker station, and transfer to the 14. That little detour to the TC wouldn’t work very well for a person going downtown on the bus. it must add at least ten minutes.

    Slightly OT, but I think the layout of that TC is ridiculous. Couldn’t they have put a skybridge in? Crossing Rainier is a real pain.

    1. The Mount Baker TC is indeed an atrocious design. I’ve yet to find anyone who can tell me, on or off the record, who was responsible for it, or how it happened. A skybridge isn’t in the cards (again, no-one has the money), but martin did mention that there is a possibility of fixing the bus flow through there, as part of a possible future redesign of the Rainier/MLK intersection.

      https://seattletransitblog.com/2011/05/07/potential-relief-for-mt-baker-transfers/

      1. I can tell you it wasn’t the Metro Planners 1st or even 2nd choice as to how to integrate bus and rail into a facility. You might want to follow up with SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club, along with directions being given by ST as to what was possible at the time (space, money and traffic configs). The ‘lot across the street’ was to my knowledge the best compromise solution at the time, but one that is pretty dysfunctional as a major transfer hub.
        If you think Mt.Baker sucks, you’re really going to hate how Huskey Stadium is going to work out IMHO.
        The paltry onesies and twosie on/offs at Mt.Baker from the 14 really tell the tale of how well it’s working.

      2. I used this station a couple times yesterday while it was raining particularly hard and was reminded how badly transfers work here. It seems as though the station was designed to have buses flow through at the street level directly below the platform, but now that is a giant area of nothingness. My only guess is that it was difficult to get buses headed north on MLK and Rainier into the station without causing large delays. If they turned this intersection into a giant roundabout (as I’ve heard proposed) this could resolve the issue.

      3. Oran: I think that plan you linked was assuming the purchase of the Firestone property, which was ruled out for some reason. Instead they bought the KFC. I’m sure the KFC was much cheaper – fast food operates on a razor thin profit margin, while tire & lube shops are licenses to print money.

        Of course, the Firestone moved to a new location a few months after the station opened. I bet now Sound Transit could buy that land much cheaper.

    1. Agreed – once you’ve been forced to pay for an expensive elevated station, at least the byproduct is an awesome built-in transfer area directly below the platforms. Now it sits there as empty space.

    2. I remember a long time back a ST official speaking, and when questioned about Mt Baker, the reason it wound up like it did was the funky ped brige at MLK/Rainier (which is non ADA complaint, and if they touched it, they would have to rebuild it), and objections from the UW Laundry. So becasue of that the best oppertunity for transifers to/from buses to LINK in the MLK segment went away.

      1. I don’t buy it. It seems like just creating a pedestrian crossing along with large, well-lit stops on both sides of Rainier would have worked BETTER for riders transferring. The only buses that lay over at Mount Baker are the 38 and the 48, and I’m sure they could have found some curb space nearby to lay those buses over rather than build that crappy TC.

  4. That pretty much matches with my experience after driving the 14 for a year. I’d add that there are a lot of transfers to/from the 60 at 12th.

    RE: Mt. Baker TC: Taking the 14 from Mt. Baker to Mt. Baker TC and transferring to Link is indeed faster than taking the 14 the whole way. This is especially true if your ultimate destination is near Westlake and/or traffic is thick. I timed it many times and provided for very generous walking time. Most folks seemed content staying on the bus even after I explained how to do the transfer and how much faster it was.

    In retrospect, spending money on lighting and pedestrian improvements from the old 14 route may have been a better investment. That loop adds 7 sections of “special work” to the tail of the 14 which really slows the 14 down. (I lost my poles more in that section than any other part of the system – save the twitchy switch at 4th & Jackson. The county originally tried to eliminate the tail of the 14 heading up to the current terminal and replace that with the 38. That probably was the better, and frankly less expensive, choice. Besides, the comfort station at Mt Baker TC is more convenient and there is a Starbucks close by.

    Another case of a wealthy neighborhood screaming to preserve lightly used, but expensive, transit service I suppose. Sigh…

    1. Well, it looks like it has totally backfired upon them, because now they’ll lose their service entirely. Should have tacked themselves onto the 38 when they had the chance.

      1. Methinks they’ll still be tacked on to the 38 once they see the alternative is no service entirely, since I don’t think the 38 is being eliminated right now. Metro is still going to take comments on this restructure.

      2. Metro is apparently not planning to extend the 38 to compensate, otherwise it would be listed in the restructuring.

  5. I live near Franklin High, and I rode the 14 to Downtown until Link opened. I ride Link now (10-12 min. walk; not worth waiting for the 14 to get me to the stupid transit center). At the time they were planning service changes for Link, they proposed cutting off the McClellan tail of the 14 and letting the 38 coming down from Beacon Hill go all the way up to Hunter Blvd and reverse, as a way of getting the Hunter Blvd folks to the transit center. I commented, as an affected rider, in favor of the proposal. As Velobusdriver says, the wealthy neighbors screamed about losing their one-trip ride to DT, and thus we have the idiotic routing you see. My observations tell me that no one up on the hill rides the 14 to Downtown OR to the Transit Center. I really wish Metro had what it takes to stand up to these whiners.

    1. I don’t think the neighborhood issue was so much saving a one-seat ride to downtown, as much as it was save our quiet trolleybuses versus sending noisy diesel route 38 up here.

      1. See, that I can kind of understand. It’s the converse I can’t understand. How can Madison Park actually prefer diesels to a bit of wire?

      2. @Aleks: Here’s how.

        1. I’m sure Madison Park is not unanimous in their preference for diesels.

        2. Most people are a lot more attached to what they have than what they don’t — they’re more likely to make noise about the downside of change than to celebrate its upside.

        So one neighborhood wants to save noisy but visually unobtrusive buses, the other wants to save its wired but quite buses.

      3. A lot of people think trolley wires spoil the view. Enough that Metro had to consider them a “negative impact” when it was evaluating whether to replace or scrap the trolley fleet. I presume it’s also a factor when they evaluate whether to add new wire.

        I think the opposite: trolley wires are an asset to the neighborhood, because they evoke Seattle’s streetcar history, they promise somewhat frequent service, trolleybuses are quieter and smoother than diesel buses, and you can see where the route goes. Sometimes when I’m telling drivers how to find their way, I say, “Follow the trolley wires.”

      4. Right, I mean I understand it, I just don’t *get* it. The visual impact of trolley lines is so tiny compared to the visual impact (and the noise and the smell) of diesel buses, or passenger cars and trucks for that matter.

        And hell, it’s not even like all the electrical wires are buried.

  6. Jackson needs more transit to 23rd, not less. And continuing to 31st makes sense because it’s the only route that far east except the 27 which will be truncated. If those aren’t feasable as turnaround locations, the additional distance to Mt Baker TC is not very far. It would make the most sense to make the 14-north peak only and put the hours on the 14-south, either as a turnback or all the way to Mt Baker TC.

  7. Your comment that “this close route spacing is not required by any terrain feature” is way off base. There’s a 90 foot elevation gain in the four blocks between MLK and 31st for most of the parallel paths of the 14 and 8. That would disuade the vast majority of people from walking to an alternate route.

    I also don’t understand your consistent advocacy against the tails of Central District trolley bus routes. Yes, traffic drops off. But that’s expected for the tail of any route – there will obviously be fewer people getting on and off on the last few stops than the middle. But the cost of that service is minimal because the average speed for those stretches is typically fast.

    And yes, these tails often serve “wealthy” areas. But they’re areas that are consistent supporters of transit, which might not be the case any longer if you succeed in diminishing the utility of transit for them.

    I’m also anxiously awaiting the time when you’ll share your transit-slashing insight on some routes outside the CD. Believe it or not, there’s plenty of them around the county that have consistently low ridership for their entire length, not just on the ends.

    1. For example, who actually rides the 25? At present, it takes the same amount of time (at least) to get from Lauralhurst to Montlake as a jogger on the Burke Gilman trail.

      1. I actually have a friend who used to live on Boyer Ave, right in front of a 25 stop. I took the 25 to her house once, because I was waiting at Montlake for a 43/48 and the 25 happened to come first.

        But yeah, the 25 needs to go away. It’s one of the least productive routes in Seattle.

      2. The 25 seems like an example of those social-equity routes. I rode it twice when I was living akinda near one of the stops, and about two elderly people were on it.

    2. Believe it or not, I’ve spent the last several weeks writing posts about why trolleybus routes in Queen Anne should be cut back, often in the same posts as the ones advocating cutting the tail of the 4S in the CD. Those same restructures would also extend frequent service out to Madrona on the 3S, and make the 2S more reliable. It’s also incorrect that “the cost of that service is minimal” because infrequent routes that wander off to termini out in the neighborhoods are some of the more expensive urban services to operate because they often require long layovers to maintain clock face headways.

      I disagree that the elevation gain between the 14 and the 8 is a major barrier to mobility. A barrier to mobility is something that prevents the vast majority of of riders from accessing the route, like between Taylor Ave and Aurora Ave in East Queen Anne. However, the main problem with overservice is the 4S, which almost exactly duplicates the 8.

      The idea that I am somehow persecuting the Central District seems to be a persistent figment in the imaginations of some of its residents, but it is not bourne out by the facts. I have advocated for ridership-oriented restructures throughout the city and will continue to. The only route I have publicly suggested cutting in the CD is the 4S.

      1. The hIll between 31st and MLK is nearly a cliff in spots and is quite steep a number of the E/W streets do not go all the way between 31st and MLK. Dropping the 14 on 31st means cutting a neighborhood off from transit.

      2. I have never, ever suggested killing the 14, nor would I. I have suggested axing the 4S, which almost exactly duplicates the 8 and 48.

      3. Your comment that “termini out in the neighborhoods are some of the more expensive urban services” makes no sense. The most unreliable segments of these routes are the parts that pass through the congested parts of downtown. Whether you end the #14 at MLK or Hunter Blvd, you’d have long layovers at the termini due to the unpredictable travel times through the ID and downtown.

        The lower ridership tails will always have more consistent time performance and will always be the smallest contributors to the need for long layovers. Furthermore, the tail’s contribution to the cost of the routes is small, and the transit utility that they provide to the easternmost neighborhoods is very valuable to residents that have no other non-SOV options.

        I would hope that the goal of this site is to encourage the development, political support, and broad use of transit in the Seattle area. An obsessive focus on reducing transit service to one or two neighborhoods that are both heavy users and big supporters of transit is not helping you achieve that goal.

        While there’s many opportunities to improve the efficiency of the Metro system, the high ridership and low cost performance of the 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, and 14 should put them way at the bottom of the list of opportunities for your “expertise”.

      4. there will obviously be fewer people getting on and off on the last few stops than the middle.

        Sorry, but you provide no logical basis for this assertion, and I would beg to differ with its premise.

        There will almost certainly be a larger number of riders on the middle segments of a run, but that has no bearing on where the people get on and off.

      5. Adding to Kyle’s comment: where people get on and off is determined by route design. The ideal transit line would have anchors i.e. a major destination at each end. That means you’ll have plenty of people riding all the way to the end.

      6. “Your comment that “termini out in the neighborhoods are some of the more expensive urban services” makes no sense.”

        Please read this post, which explains why infrequent routes to outlying terminals are inefficient:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2011/10/17/why-current-queen-anne-madrona-service-is-inefficient/

        “the transit utility that they provide to the easternmost neighborhoods is very valuable to residents that have no other non-SOV options.”

        Please explain to me how deleting the 4S will leave anyone with no non-SOV options.

        “I would hope that the goal of this site is to encourage the development, political support, and broad use of transit in the Seattle area.”

        That is exactly what this blog is all about, it is what I am about, it is what Metro’s ridership oriented restructures are about. Efficiency and ridership-oriented service planning ARE the pro-transit positions. Service planning based on arbitrary regional formulas, the assumption that no routes can ever be deleted or changed in a major way, and that we should not care about cost-ineffective, duplicative service are three of the big reasons Metro is in a hole.

        “An obsessive focus on reducing transit service to one or two neighborhoods…”

        I am not obsessed about the Central District or Queen Anne. I have written about it multiple times to address new issues that commenters bring up when I write about them. When I first pointed out that the 4S was little-used and duplicative (something Zach first wrote about, nearly a year before I did), people asked what was really gained by deleting it, so I wrote a post about that. Then people claimed that the 2N was much better-used than the 13, so I wrote about that. People still didn’t understand quite how the proposed restructure could save so much money, so I wrote about that.

        I assure you, my “obsession” is in your head, not mine.

        “While there’s many opportunities to improve the efficiency of the Metro system, the high ridership and low cost performance of the 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, and 14 should put them way at the bottom of the list of opportunities for your ‘expertise’.”

        Thanks for insulting me, that speaks volumes about the quality of your arguments. Most of the ideas I present, in fact, generally not mine, rather they come from people who are much better versed in the intricacies of Metro’s network and service planning generally. I write about them because, as carless regular transit rider throughout the city, I think they are excellent.

      7. Scott,

        First of all, I assure you that none of us are picking on the CD. Bruce has publicly written entire blog posts calling for the deletion of the 19th Ave tail of the 12 (Capitol Hill), the 42 (Rainier Valley), and the 2N and 4N (Queen Anne). For my part, nothing would make me happier than to take all the service hours we’re wasting on useless routes like the 25 and use them to bolster the frequency on routes that need it, like the 14S.

        Second, like Kyle said, it’s not at all a given that the tail of a route is the weakest segment. That’s often true for tails in residential neighborhoods, like the 1 in Queen Anne. But it’s definitely not true for routes between two destinations, like the 43/49 between downtown and Broadway, or the 44 between UW and Ballard. The best routes are ones that have strong, consistent demand along the whole length; these routes can be scheduled at super high frequencies, which makes them more efficient to run (for the capacity you get), and much easier to ride (since, at high enough frequencies, you truly don’t need a schedule).

        Third, regarding the cost of tails, the key observation is that one frequent route is much cheaper to run than two infrequent ones. The current bus network is based on the idea of providing service from downtown or UW to pretty much every little corner or Seattle. But, for the most part, we can’t afford to run those routes more often than every 30 minutes. That causes the layover problem that Bruce described. If you take the whole network, and chop off all the long tails that serve almost no riders, then suddenly you can afford to run lots more routes at 15 minute frequency, or even better. That’s where you get the savings. A 15-minute frequency route does not cost twice as much to run as a 30-minute frequency route; the extra cost is much smaller.

        And finally, while the 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, and 14 perform well compared to other city routes, they do not perform nearly as well as they should. That’s the point of Bruce’s posts. In all of these cases, a highly-productive core is tied to a minimally-productive tail. It’s a mistake to look at a single route and say “well, it’s got lots of riders, so let’s not change it at all”. Looking at the stop-by-stop data can show trends that whole-route numbers miss.

  8. As long as we’re on the subject of RT14 ridership patterns, a number of you think the quality of the transfer has a lot to do with how many riders will actually use it; myself included.
    Now, transfer that bit of wisdom to truncating I-5 routes to feed Link at Henderson Stn. Transit riders will vote with their feet, and leave both the buses and railcars with the VACANT signs turned on for a very long time to come. Forcing someone to endure a side trip off to LinkLand, when their final destination is easily insight is the height of transit planning stupidity. There is no obvious benefit for the rider. Only a marginal cost saving for one agency at the expense of another.

    1. Don’t worry, Mike. Metro hasn’t proposed any forced transfers to Link. They’ve suggested some forced transfers to other bus routes in West Seattle, but not to Link. I’ve submitted comments somewhat critical of the proposed 50, due to the loss of one-seat riders, and the lack of new connectivity.

      As it is, several routes have forced transfers to the 101 in Renton, when they could extend those routes up to Henderson Station (which, I agree, is a more accurate name than 1-mile-from-Rainier Beach Station). The point of truncating the 101 is not to force more transfers, but to move the transfer point from Renton to Henderson Station.

      For now, I’m still fighting an uphill battle to get Metro to allow the 132 to reach TIBS, instead of spending extra service hours to divert to the less-useful Burien TC.

      BTW, Mike, what neighborhood are you from?

      1. While I would like to see the 101 truncated at Ranier Beach Station, in exchange for service every 15 minutes instead of every 30, one of three things would have to happen:
        1) I-5 traffic getting consistently worse, at all times of day, to the point where riders are screaming at Metro that they want the transfer to Link in order to get to downtown faster.

        2) The Ranier Valley, especially the immediate vicinity of the Link stations undergoing a massive redevelopment to the point where people in Renton demand fast and frequent service there, not the pile of crap called route 106.

        3) More people starting to use transit to get to places other than downtown. As long as you have one bus going directly to your destination, 15 minute vs. 30 minute headways doesn’t make that much difference, as long as you remember the schedule and time it – and when your form of access is driving to the park-and-ride, you can always time your arrival to match the bus. Add transfers, though, and frequency starts to become very important as, without it, waits become unpredictable and the whole system becomes unusable. I expect that when Link extends northward, the transit modeshare between trips south of downtown and north of downtown has the potential to increase rapidly, as the delays going through downtown are drastically reduced – especially in places where Link is easily accessible.

    2. As envisioned in the EIS, those stations (Henderson and McClellan) would’ve had good transfer points unlike what was actually built. In fact, the ridership forecasting model (at least the one prepared in 1998) assumed that many routes including the 101, 102, 106, and 150 would be truncated at or rerouted through Link stations.

      Vancouver didn’t have problems truncating all their suburban routes and doubled their frequency to connect with the Canada Line, which has quadruple Link’s ridership BTW, but they didn’t have to compete with I-5 and another agency.

      1. I’m really hoping that Metro does the right thing with U-Link and North Link, and truncates every route in sight. It should be politically much easier to truncate routes in Capitol Hill and North Seattle, and anyway, the time savings will be much more dramatic (since traffic along the future Link corridor is really that bad).

        Once we prove that Link transfers work, maybe Rainier Valley residents will start complaining that their routes *don’t* go to Link stations. :)

      2. What routes would Metro truncate in Capitol Hill? All the routes that pass by Capitol Hill Station act as feeders from elsewhere.

        Surely they’d kill the 9 and 43 entirely. Would they truncate the 60 at Beacon Hill? That’s pretty much all I can think of.

      3. Kyle,

        It’s less about truncating routes at CHS, and more about adjusting routes to take advantage of the new super-fast route to downtown.

        In other comments, I have advocated for the following restructures:

        – Replace the 49/9/36 with a new “TMP Corridor 3” route, i.e. from the U-District to Othello via 10th Ave E/Broadway (to John), 12th, and Beacon.

        – Reroute the 43 along Madison between downtown and 23rd, and delete the 12.

        – Reroute the 10 so that it connects to Link. I actually somewhat doubt this will happen, but Metro may decide that Pine is too close to Link/Madison to deserve its own set of frequent routes.

        – Either reroute the 11 down Madison (to form part of that HCT corridor), or down John/Denny (to connect with Link). In the latter case, consider connecting it with the 10.

        I don’t know that all of these will, or even should, happen. (Though I’m really hopeful about straightening the 9/49, and just generally decreasing the number of routes making the awful slog up Pike.) The point is that these are all possibilities, and even star performers like the 43/49 could easily become the new 42.

      4. Aleks,

        If the connection slows down the total wait+travel time, even after rolling the service hours back into the truncated routes, then a primary point of Link is being defeated.

        Also, we have to get past the paradigm that Link is primarily a fast route downtown. It is that. But it is also a fast route to the airport, and will be a fast route to UW, Northgate, Lynnwood, downtown Bellevue, and Microsoft. Part of convincing neighborhood groups to do the math is the extra connectivity. In most cases, the wait+travel time downtown will be a wash.

        The biggest problem with forcing transfers at SODO Station is that riders will have to wait a few more minutes to catch the train, by which time they could have been all the way across downtown. Come up with calculated examples of how rolling service hours into more frequency on a route will cause transfering to Link at SODO Station to actually reduce wait+travel time, and you might pique more interest in the proposal. Given that those routes are almost at their termini/transitions, I don’t see how it could be done, though.

      5. Holy subject change, Batman! :)

        I admit that I don’t have any calculated examples at the moment. (I’ll try to come up with some.) But I think it’s worth noting that changing a route from 30-minute to 15-minute frequency saves 7.5 minutes of expected wait time. That means that a Link transfer will be faster in all cases.

        Really, this whole thing feels like a giant instance of the prisoners’ dilemma. For any individual neighborhood (except for the ones where buses from downtown go at 2 miles per hour), it’s better to demand that their routes go downtown. But if all of the neighborhoods could get together and agree to give up direct rides to downtown in exchange for Link-frequency feeder service, then everyone would be better off.

  9. This close route spacing is not required by any terrain feature…

    At the peak of Mt. Baker (directly above the I-90 tunnel), it most definitely is. 31st is hundreds of feet above MLK, with only extremely steep side streets and a less-than-intuitive system of staircases connecting the two. The terrain-based argument here is even stronger than the argument for the 1.

    Shame, though, that the demographics of 31st (like those of 10th West) don’t support the service at a level that would justify dedicated service independently of the terrain issue.

    1. Ah… Already covered by Scott. (With the reasonable consensus that the 4 should be the object of criticism rather than the 14.)

      Carry on.

  10. Disclaimer: I’m not a regular 8 or 14 rider, so don’t take this as a serious suggestion; I’m just hoping that someone more familiar with the area (or the data) could comment on whether this makes sense.

    Back when we were talking about the 8, many people questioned the need for two frequent routes with such a small spacing. The consensus, I believe, was that the northern portion of MLK was significantly downhill from 23rd, and so practically speaking, the routes are not as close together as they appear.

    Now, I’m hearing many people make a similar claim for 31st.

    So the logical question is, why not string these two together? That is, delete the 8 south of Jackson, and instead, from 23rd/Jackson to Mount Baker, have it follow the 14S route.

    Again, I am absolutely *not* saying we should do this. I’m just curious whether something like this would make any sense.

    1. That would make quite a bit of sense, I think. They’re both low density (although there’s more L2 zoning along MLK than 31st). It would be hard for some folks south of I-90 to swallow losing both the 4s and 8 running on MLK, though. And the residents of the high-dollar properties around the 31st corridor would probably not be happy trading 4 silent trolleys per hour for 8 of Metro’s loudest diesels.

      Practical and workable? Probably yes. Community support? Probably no.

      1. If we ever electrify the 8, it would make a lot of sense to shift it over to 31st between Jackson and McClellan, in order to use the 14’s trolley wire. It is about a half-mile between 23rd and 31st, which is the typical distance between transit routes.

        If the 14S were to be eliminated, the 38 could be extended to the 14’s Mt. Baker tail, and the 27 could be switched from Yesler to Jackson between Boren and 31st.

      2. If the 8 is moved off MLK at I-90, it will no longer stop right at the entrance to the future Rainier/I-90 light rail station.

      3. You’re thinking of the 48 on 23rd Ave S. The 8 will never stop at an East Link station on MLK.

    2. I was thinking of truncating the 8 too. That would give more even route spacing between Rainier, 31st, and Lakeside. Putting the 8 on 31st would be a possibility I guess. But not to replace the 14. Part of the 14’s job is Jackson between Rainier and 31st, and it needs all the bus service it has and then some.

  11. I have got to say, I love those trolley buses. Talking about quiet! I attended the UW in 1969 through 1972. I lived in a north facing Terry Hall dorm room. Campus Parkway was the street I looked onto. Those GM buses used to go down that slope towards the west and “BRAHHHHHHH. BRAHHHHHHH.” The noise reverberated against the concrete retaining walls to Terry Hall. “BRAHHHHH. BRAHHHHH”.

    It was my understanding, at the time, that prior to 1969, or so, there used to be trolley buses on that line. There are now. The students residing in Terry Hall today, do not realize how fortunate they are that the trolley buses are back on that route.

    Today’s students only have to worry about the noise from the occasional souped-up junk Honda Civic…. LOL

      1. You bet! But nothing, except a semi using compression brakes was louder than those GM “New Look” buses. LOL. OK, maybe a jackhammer at two yards from your head…or a Boeing 727 at take-off…

  12. The routing on 31st is as far east as you can go without putting residents to the west out of a 5 minute walkshed – and that’s completely ignoring the severe slope. If MLK service is cut/moved, that leaves people around 28th in the position of having to make a 8+ minute walk to 23rd, or to climb the severe slope up to 31st. Cut/move 23rd service, and everyone west of 23rd and east of 16th is stuck with a long walk, or having to take a route through downtown.

    Basically, make a walkshed map of the N/S routes through the CD and you see that it’s very hard to get acceptable coverage without duplicative service for those between MLK and 23rd. The street map and the geography just doesn’t cooperate – the arterials are spaced all wrong for good even coverage.

    So the question we have to ask is, are we committed to a 5 minute walk to transit for city residents? These are all low density neighborhoods, and will always be low productivity – that’s a reality we have to live with. Sure, there’s a lot of suburban neighborhoods outside the city with similar density and no service at all, but is that really a reason to cut off in-city neighborhoods from transit? If we come up with a metric, draw a line and say “This is not dense enough for transit”, are we helping or hurting the system?

    I think transit within a 5-minute walk is a minimum level of service that should be maintained in areas currently served in-city. It’s less cost effective than other service, sure, but it’s still worth spending the money.

    I don’t feel good about taking the 14 off of 31st.

    1. A 5-12 minute walk to transit is perfectly acceptable if…

      A) the transit reached is quantifiably better than what could be feasibly offered closer; and
      B) the topography cooperates.

      MLK and 23rd are never more than 4-6 minutes walk from one another. Alas, the topography between the two is more extreme on some stretches than others.

      Between MLK and 31st the topography is extreme.

      1. MLK and 23rd are never more than 4-6 minutes walk from one another.

        True. But even in the areas that don’t have extreme topography (say, from Union to Yesler), there’s not many other options for N/S corridors. Take away 23rd service, and now the people 5 minutes to the west of 23rd are 10 minutes away from MLK (too far, IMO). And there’s no other N/S arterial available until you get all the way over to 14th. To the east, there’s a similar situation.

        The service is duplicative between MLK & 23rd, yes, but there’s not an alternative routing available that maintains service to the areas east of MLK and west of 23rd.

      2. No one’s suggesting we change the 48.

        How would a reroute of the 8 away from MLK have any impact on what you’re saying? It sounds like everyone between 23rd and 31st is still within a 5-minute flat walk of one or the other, even taking hills into account.

      3. It sounds like everyone between 23rd and 31st is still within a 5-minute flat walk of one or the other, even taking hills into account.

        North of Jackson, there is no service on 31st (the arterial ends at Yesler). South of Jackson, 31st is separated from MLK by steep grades.

      4. Lack,

        The routing that I have in mind as I ask these questions is:

        – 48: does not change
        – 8: same as today north of Jackson, and same as today’s 14 south of Jackson (with appropriate connecting service along Jackson)

        Can you cite an intersection that would not be within a 4-6 minute level walk of one of those two routes, but is within a 4-6 minute level walk of the 48/8/14S today?

        I’m honestly asking, since I don’t know the area well enough to say.

      5. I’m thinking specifically of the addresses right at the base of the steepest slope – say, around Bradner/Atlantic or 29th/Atlantic.

        That’s a tricky place. You’re approaching a 1/2 mile (although relatively flat) walk to 23rd and the 48, and a 30-40 foot elevation gain to walk to 31st and the 14. Google Maps puts a walking time estimate of 6 minutes for 3 blocks on that hill.

        The main issue is that basically ALL of the elevation gain is in the blocks from 29th-31st. There are a lot of staircases in this neighborhood.

        Go a half mile north or south from Sam Smith Park, and the slope is lessened by a great deal. But the area surrounding the park is the hardest one to cover, which is roughly the middle half of the rerouted section.

        I think it could work. It stretches the limits of what I consider an acceptable walk, but not by much. The numbers of households put out of a 5 minute walk from a stop would probably number only in the dozens. And it’s a low density/low productivity section anyway (although growing!). However, there’s an SHA building at MLK & Walker whose residents would not be terribly happy about losing their front door service, and who are currently the most outspoken proponents of preserving the 4’s tail (amusingly, the next block over, clients of the Lighthouse for the Blind shun their literal front-door 4 stop, preferring to make the 5 minute walk to the 7/48 stop on Rainier).

  13. Interestingly, the TC outbound table does not seem to show both of my favorite stops. OneBusAway has this correct, it lists:
    S JACKSON ST & MARTIN L KING JR WAY S
    Stop # 12021 – E bound
    and
    S JACKSON ST & 28TH AVE S
    Stop # 12030 – E bound

    These stops are one block from each other. In spite of the stop consolidation that happened not too long ago, and eliminate stops in both directions that were most convenient for me in favor of stops at least a block further in each direction, for some reason both of these stops were preserved. One block from each other. My guess is that it has to do with the fact that each of these two stops are in front of adjacent churches, which apparently gets special treatment when it comes to stop consolidation. Okay, well and fair, lots of disabled getting off at a church, one block in one direction or another, one church getting a stop while the other doesn’t – I can see that might be too big a problem to deal with. But… It would be nice if that at least weren’t obscured in the data.

    Above shows for Eastbound on Jackson:
    Jackson/26th
    Jackson/28th
    should be:
    Jackson/MLK
    Jackson/28th

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