As every regular STB reader who’s not been hiding under a rock for a week probably knows, one of the more controversial ideas in Metro’s proposed Fall 2012 restructure is moving Route 5 from Aurora to Dexter, trading the speed of Aurora for the better connectivity to other routes, access to Fremont, and economy of service that Dexter provides. To help quantify that trade-off, last Friday I posted graphs that show the difference in travel times and reliability between Aurora and Dexter, and the day before that, I posted ridership charts for Routes 5 and 28.
In this post I’d like to float a slightly crazy idea, one that has not been proposed by Metro, but which may have, on balance, as much merit as the idea of switching Route 5 to Dexter, namely moving Route 16 to Dexter. The trade-off is similar in many respects: speed for access and connectivity, although with some minor differences, both pro and con.
The details are as follows: Route 16 would stop serving the Seattle Center detour, instead proceeding on exactly the same alignment from downtown as the proposed Route 5 on Dexter. It would turn right on 35th Ave to Wallingford Ave, then head north, rejoining the existing 16 alignment on 45th St. The proposed 28X would become a local bus, serving all stops on Aurora, probably with an additional preak express service that did not.
Arguments in favor:
- Would maintain the direct connections from Westlake, Dexter and Fremont to Wallingford and Green Lake, and from Lower Wallingford to Downtown, currently provided by Route 26, which would go away under the current proposal.
- Would provide additional direct service to the heart of Fremont, notably the extremely busy stop at 34th
- Would add another another possible connection to what would then essentially be a transit hub at Fremont, arguably adding to the quasi-gridded nature of the new system.
- Would consolidate all service in lower Wallingford onto one corridor on 35th and Wallingford Ave.
- Would shift frequent service away from the extremely-little-used local stops on Aurora to Dexter, which is an infinitely nicer pedestrian environment and much better walkshed.
- Would not make northbound trips slower or less reliable than the current Route 16; the unreliability of and time penalty of Dexter is similar to that of the northbound Seattle Center deviation.
- Would reduce the time spent on 45th St, which is often congested.
- Would almost certainly have more total riders, and riders per revenue hour, assuming no loss of riders from north due to the longer southbound travel times.
- Would make southbound trips slightly slower, although not much less reliable than the current alignment on Aurora and by the Seattle Center.
- Would route service away from well-used stops on Stone Way between 40th and 45th to Wallingford Ave, which currently has no service north of 40th St.
- Would not serve the Seattle Center. I’ve never seen this detour as an asset, and I still don’t.
What do 16/26 riders in the audience think? Charts and a little more analysis after the jump.
Ridership chart for Route 16:
Here’s what I see in the data:
- Good performance throughout the route. Only in two places — on Aurora and just northeast of Greenlake — are the stops little-used. This contrasts very favorably with Route 26 below, again (as with Route 5 vs Route 28) illustrating the importance of terminating routes at ridership centers if possible.
- Stops on Northgate are well-used. This illustrates the difficult choices faced when streamlining routes. The proposed re-route on 92nd St will make the bus much more reliable and faster in to Northgate TC, but may force some riders to walk from one side of the Northgate Mall to another, if their destination is NorthgateNorth (the Target/Best Buy etc. on Northgate Way). On the other hand, if their destination is the mall proper, arriving in to Northgate TC in only a slightly longer walk.
Ridership chart for Route 26:
Note that this chart is based on more recent data than the chart for Route 28, so the stop names on Dexter are different. Here’s what I see in the data:
- Great performance as far as Fremont, as expected from looking at Route 28’s data; good performance on 35th Ave.
- Not much activity on Wallingford, Thackery and Latona, outside of peak periods, except at 45th St and the terminus in East Green Lake (which is essentially right next to a 16 stop). Ridership slowly peters out, with almost no-one boarding the bus after it starts heading north, a stark contrast to Route 16.