Route 25 Proposed Change
Route 25 Proposed Change

I’m a little late to the punch here, but Metro is proposing a last-minute addition to the June service change proposal, which will probably go before the King County Council next week (and was passed out of committee last week). The proposed addition relates to Route 25, a relatively little-used route serving Eastlake, Montlake, the U-District and Laurelhurst. The idea is shown on the two map excerpts above: between Campus Parkway and the U-Village, the current alignment on 15th Ave NE and 45th St (shown in blue) would be deleted in favor of Route 25 joining Routes 65, 68, 75 and 372 on Stevens Way and Pend-Orielle Road, passing the UW HUB.

The motivation behind this change is to consolidate all the routes going between the U-District and the U-Village onto one pathway, providing a more frequent and thus more useful service on that common segment. University Heights, the neighborhood served by the current alignment of Route 25, already enjoys much more frequent service to Downtown and other destinations just to the west on 15th Ave and University Ave; the stops on 45th St are little used. The change seems uncontroversial, and it’s pretty small stuff, certainly, compared to what we’ve discussed recently.

Nevertheless, if you have feedback or questions on this suggested change, email them to Metro planner Jack Whisner ( The desire to have this included with the June restructure means the period for public comment is short: it ends January 20th (yes, tomorrow).

51 Replies to “Metro Proposes Minor Revision to Route 25”

  1. The 25 east of the U-district sees very little use. (just from empirical observation, I have no actual data).
    So they might as well terminate the route at Campus PkWy, and use the savings to add frequency to popular routes (i.e. 75, or 65).
    But that’d probably be too big of a change to push through last minute.

    The proposed change is definitely a change for the better, it will increase the use of this route from Campus parkway through 45 st, i.e. for as long as it is aligned with the 65/75, and reduce the stretch where it runs completely empty to just the Laurel Hurst loop.

    Good stuff, major low hanging fruit.

    1. Yes, but then Laurelhurst will have no service. Also isn’t Route 25 the only bus that serves Children’s Hospital? That’s a major place of employment.

      1. Route 75 serves the other side of Childrens, on Sand Point Way.

        While there is, of course, geographic value in serving all areas of the city, there comes a point when ridership is so low you have to pull the plug. I haven’t seen the boarding data for the 25 yet, but it might be one of those cases.

  2. This change will make the 25 an even slower, hourly, 7-mile route (versus 4.3 miles on I-5) between downtown and UVillage, and strangely it will continue to be the only one-seat ride between those two points. This is the milk run of all milk runs.

    I’d probably rather cut the route altogether, but if it’s going to operate, perhaps it should be consolidated with the reduced 14N? Instead of running an hourly Eastlake-Montlake-UW service (#25) AND a 45-minute downtown-Summit service, why not combine them? For the same cost you could run a half-hourly downtown-UVillage route via Summit/Belmont/Lakeview/Boylston/Harvard/University Bridge/UW Campus. (Albeit a diesel instead of a trolley.)

    It would connect the northwest slope of Capitol Hill and the density on Belmont Ave E to the rest of the Hill, connect Eastlake and North Capitol Hill, save Metro from the operational oddity of running a <2 mile trolley route (the soon-to-be independent 14N).

    Could that work?

    1. Yeah, I didn’t want to get into it in this piece, but there’s a pretty compelling case that the 25 should just be deleted, although given that it will have taken taken years to delete the 42, which is even more pointless and less patronized, I’m not sure if we can count on Metro to even attempt do the right thing here.

      I have other ideas for serving the north part of Summit Slope that I will discuss after the smoke clears from this restructure.

    2. I’m a pretty big supporter of the #25, probably because it goes right by my house and I take it all the time, but I like your idea about combining it with the #14N. That stretch if Belmont is pretty steep and a little tight looking, but on the other hand I see school buses managing it all the time. All in all it seems like a very sensible idea to me!

      1. Brian, could you give me a rough idea of where you live? Obviously, the current 25 works well for you, but judging by the numbers, it doesn’t work for that many people. I’m interested in figuring out some alternatives for people who are on the unique parts of the 25.

      2. Anecdotally, every morning at 6th/Olive I see lots of people getting on both the 25 and 66. I think they’re almost all transfers trying to get the last mile from downtown to the Eastlake Ave section of Cascade/SLU, and I bet the bus is nearly empty by the time it crosses I-5.

      3. I’ve ridden the 25 in the mornings a few times out of curiosity. A ton of those northbound riders get off by Fred Hutch, on the last stop on Eastlake.

    3. However, it would cause the splitting of the 14 to happen in June rather than October, which means Metro would have to get on it quick.

    4. That also gives you an excuse to run via Bellevue 2-way instead of Summit NB, because screw couplets.

  3. I understand that 25 is underperformed. I rode it few times and I think they should reroute it to some different streets that should help boost ridership. I also think it should serve weekend too. There is almost no bus services by University Village area at evenings (after 7pm) and weekends. They should add more buses because many employees who work at University Village and Children’s Hospital rely heavy on buses to get around. Most of them refused to work on weekend because of that. I am one of them. That need to be changed.

    1. Childrens is also served by the 75 (on Sand Point Way), although looking at the schedule, I can see what you mean about the infrequency of service. It looks like the 75 only operates once or twice an hour in the early evening — it’s a very strange schedule.

      If the 75 ran more frequently, would that work for you?

      1. Nope. 75 route doesn’t go near my home. I use 31/68 route to get to University Village (I live in Fremont/Wallingford area). I sometime use 30 because they have a bus stop just few blocks north of University Village. I sometime use 25 if I am in downtown Seattle and need to ahead to University Village or ahead to downtown Seattle from University Village.

  4. The motivation behind this change is to consolidate all the routes going between the U-District and the U-Village onto one pathway, providing a more frequent and thus more useful service on that common segment.

    …But the effect is that you literally can not continue east from the major transfer point at University and 45th — a focal point of ridership so high that we’re about to build a major subway station there — without crawling more than a mile out of your way and stopping at 15 stop signs.

    As I’ve said before, the areas east of campus do not meet the demand criteria for building a subway — the UW-Ballard line would be ill-advised to saddle itself with 50% additional construction costs for a mall and a sole remote medical center — but they are busy enough to deserve some direct system access. The 44 should be going straight, now, to create an unbroken corridor.

    The “consolidated” slow boat through undergrad Hades is not the way to do this.

    1. The 44 should be going straight, now, to create an unbroken corridor.

      1. There’s no trolley wire east of 15th Ave.

      2. Montlake is a disaster. Are you going to send the 44 to Children’s instead of UW Med Center?

      1. #2: Yes. That is precisely what should happen.

        It involves extending the trolley wire, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, just that it will take longer.

      2. So would you recommend the 44 take over the entire tail of the 25 and loop through Laurelhurst? Or would you rather it terminate at Children’s and force a transfer for Laurelhurst residents?

      3. Until Link goes to 45th (2020) I don’t think it makes any sense to move the 44 away from SR-520 and Montlake Triangle.

      4. I’d be in support of #2, it’s what I assumed he meant. 15th/pacific is a transit spine, transfers are approaching instant. 44 doesn’t need to be a one-seat with that level of transfer service.

        Where the tail goes after Childrens is anywhere. I wouldn’t keep the 25’s existing loop, because I do not like large 1-way loops, but to keep things simple it could be preserved.

        But Laurelhurst would be vastly overserved at the 44’s frequency, and you probably couldn’t pay for it out of just the 25’s service hours. And while I’m sure that would be a great growth neighborhood with the right connections to the Brooklyn station, it’s not zoned for growth past 35th/blakely. You’d need to have most of the buses be turnbacks at u-village/ravenna, which would add a second thing I hate. But the main concern is just being able to get down there from the U-district, which it would accomplish.

        In the long term, I’d like to see the 25 be shortened to just a u-shaped route between Brooklyn station and Montlake station, infrequently serving the same residential neighborhood south of Portage Bay that it serves now. Laurelhurst could be tacked on to either end of that u, depending on which one is the quickest (and it would probably be more reliable tacked on to the Brooklyn end).

        And there is currently a path east from the transfer point that doesn’t involve going through the U – the 30. It doesn’t serve the mall directly, but does serve the commercial strip directly north of it.

      5. Adam: During peak (which is when it matters), you *already* have to transfer to get from the 44 to the freeway station. It’s an agonizingly annoying one-stop transfer, but in my experience, most people choose to transfer, rather than make the unpleasant walk from UWMC.

      6. And yet, Aleks, we’re choosing not to build Husky Station with direct connection to the bus system, while we simultaneously rip out the Montlake flyer stop.

        It’s like our planners live in bizarro-world!

      7. @Aleks: Sometimes I take the 44 to the Montlake Flyer Stop during the morning rush, and I always make the walk. I take the underpass under Pacific, don’t have to go through the stupidly awful Pacific/Montlake intersection. It’s pretty common for me to walk without stopping from UWMC all the way to the flyer stop. Almost no place in this region has a transfer instant enough for me to choose a 3-seat ride over a 2-seat with a walk.

    2. How many people currently take the 25 from 45th & U-Way to University Village? (Nobody raises hand.) I thought not. Extending the 44 or building a subway to Children’s makes sense. Expecting people to ride an hourly bus when just down the street are six buses an hour going to the same place (65,68,75 at Campus Parkway) does not make sense.

      I would like to get all those buses *out* of campus to improve the travel time, especially when University Link opens. But adding the 25 to the rest of them is not going to make things measurably worse.

      1. Amen. I see this as a simple medium term change, that allows the coaches that currently go empty from Campus PkWy to Laurel Hurst, to maybe pick up some of the 20 or so people regularly waiting at campus stops (quite a few of them just go to U-Village or the subsequent stops on 45th).

        Once Link opens at the stadium and in the U-district, I hope we’ll see much more fundamental bus routing changes going along with that.

      2. by the way check out the map that Oran posted

        I like that the NE routes all go along Montlake Blvd. Since 520 tolls Montlake Blvd, isn’t the mess it used to be during rush hour anymore. So running bus service there is feasible now (and the always could have just built a southbound bus lane anyway).

        But check out the 25 on that map. Now that’s a route that is useful for folks living in the NE (the north half at least). direct shot down to UW medical center (big contingent on the 65 now), and direct access to east side, and cap hill transfers (another large market I think, though currently mostly using their car)

      3. How many people currently take the 25 from 45th & U-Way to University Village?

        I do, if OneBusAway shows it coming. And it feels like I’ve won the lottery, not having to do the matriculation mambo on the other routes.

        But you’re right; the split routing is unsustainable. All service should use a route that moves faster than 1 mph between scheduled classes.

      4. We can’t assume 520 driving patterns are stable after just three weeks, If people get sick of driving longer distances, get sick of the new I-90 traffic, or I-90 gets tolls, 520 and Montlake will get bad again. If it happens right after we move a lot of buses into those paths, it’ll take another year or longer to change the routes again.

    3. “As I’ve said before, the areas east of campus do not meet the demand criteria for building a subway — the UW-Ballard line would be ill-advised to saddle itself with 50% additional construction costs for a mall and a sole remote medical center — but they are busy enough to deserve some direct system access. The 44 should be going straight, now, to create an unbroken corridor”

      Both of these are longer-term projects. The dislocation of a soon-to-be-hourly route will not jepordize them. Extending trolley routes is not ripe until the trolley-replacement plan is underway and Metro has a hope of more funding. Everyone who cares about trolley extensions knows the 8,11,44,and 48 are the most needed. The subway routing is not ripe until we’re closer to a ballot measure, several years away.

      I won’t trust anyone’s judgment on U-Village/Children’s ridership potential until I see ST’s analysis and alternatives analysis, because people have been underestimating potential and excluding areas based on current travel patterns, which reflect the current bus routes. U-District folk have long written off U-Village because it was so difficult to get to without a car and so car-oriented, and even with the increased campus routes they haven’t changed their habits. That would change with a single frequent route on 45th or a subway. Suddenly U-Village would be on the subway line, making that branch of a store easy to get to. Future renovations in and around U-Village might include more dense housing: the profits will increasingly appeal to developers and mall owners.

      1. I’m not buying that a route on 45th St vs Stevens would do much for U-Village ridership. Eastbound, the stop for U-Village is the same for the 25 as the 65 and 75. Westbound, you have to walk a couple of minutes further east for the 65+75 stop. That’s not a deal breaker for most riders.

      2. Bruce, it’s not about stop placement. It’s about 3 minutes versus 15 minutes to go 3/4 of a mile.

        That said, we all seem to agree that this is a negligible matter for a single, inconsistent route. And yet it’s important to keep emphasizing the principle of non-detoured service that’s a nightmare for through-trips: on 45th NE, non-detoured service will entirely cease to exist!

        Mike: I think the 44, electric or not, should keep going straight to give east-west travelers the option to continue traveling east-west. A pretty easy solution to the “U-District folk have long written off U-Village” problem, not to mention for Children’s patients and commuters. This will be even more important when North Link is on-line, but it’s still and unmet need today.

        But there’s no way a first-phase subway line could be justified there. Brooklyn-Children’s is 1.5 miles — that’s half as far as Brooklyn-Ballard, and there’s no way you can successfully argue that those two eastern destinations, with almost nothing around them, justify the expense that the myriad destinations and population centers west of Brooklyn do.

        Again, I think one should be able to access U-Village better than one can today. But many, many millions of subway dollars to reach yet another mall? Let’s put our feet down about that.

        (Also, the problem with Ben’s “purple line” is that it guarantees a transfer at Brooklyn station, hobbling the argument that Ballard-downtown via Brooklyn can be just as fast as Ballard-downtown direct. This risks the entire project… for one small hospital and another mall.)

      3. Yeah, I should have been more clear: I rather like the idea of moving those buses to 45th St once U-Link and North Link are open. Having the UW stations bracketing campus will (for better or worse) push transit activity away from the HUB and onto the Montlake Triangle and the street grid west of campus.

        In the interim, I’d prefer we consolidate service down to one path.

      4. It’s about the quality of the trip. I’m not supporting Link because of the future people who may switch to transit. I’m supporting it because the existing bus service is so substandard, and ditto for the 44. The U-Village/Children’s subway extension is just an idea at this point. Nothing we say today is going to determine whether that route gets chosen, or whether $600 million gets spent on that vs something else. There will be time to decide that in the alternatives analysis when we have engineering and cost/benefit data. In the meantime it’s a good concept to express the kind of mobility we want and where transit is underserved. A frequent 44 to Children’s may be adequate, but let’s not foreclose on the possibility of something better until it’s time to commit to something.

        I’m not in favor of a Ballard spur (Ballard-Brooklyn-downtown one-seat ride) without reassurance it won’t underserve the Northgate section. ST has effectively promised 8-minute all-day service in that corridor and 4-minutes peak, and people have been preparing for finally getting frequent transit in parts of Seattle. There’s no way politically ST can renege on that promise, unless it doesn’t have enough money. I’ve been hearing time and again that the Intl Dist-Northgate tubes will be full with ST2. That may or may not be true but that’s what I’ve heard. If you can build the Ballard spur without decreasing frequency on downtown-Northgate, OK. But not if you’re chipping away at Seattle’s only promised frequent corridor.

        Also, the Ballard segment is so short and grade-separated that it may be possible to serve it with 1- or 2-car trains every 5 minutes without costing too much. That would make the transfer relatively painless, like a proper train-to-train transfer.

      5. I really don’t think ST has “promised” Northgate 4 minutes peak service, Mike. It’s more that they’ve said 4-minute service will be necessary for the UW-Cap Hill-downtown segment. 4-minute service all the way to Northgate would only occur as an unnecessary corollary (i.e. overservice) in the absence of a route split.

        There’s no reason to have 4-minute service all the way to Northgate unless the demand justifies it. 6-8 minute service is still infinitely better than any other service in this entire city, and would already be exponentially more attractive to riders than any alternatives, or than any transit we’ve ever had in Seattle.

        That said, there’s no reason you couldn’t still have 4-minutes service on one of the branches if the demand one day became high enough to justify it.

      6. Remember, Metro still considers 10-minute service at peak and 15 minutes much of the day to be “ultra-frequent” service for the purposes of RapidRide. That’s the apples-to-apples we’re dealing with, and why we need to fight hard for real subways other than North Link.

        It makes no sense to overserve Northgate 3-fold why continuing to underserve everywhere else. That defies logic.

      7. Sorry for nitpicking your “underserving Northgate” aside, though.

        Otherwise, I completely agree with your post, especially the part where we need to stop ignoring the often-warped “new riders” metric and realize that any corridor that currently generates decent ridership in spite of our crap service is clearly a place for real transit, with new riders following inevitably along the same corridors once the transit is good enough to warrant their patronage.

        As for the 44 replacement: the key goal, now that the mayor has paid ST to bump the study up to this year, is to get this totally viable alternative included in it, so that we don’t wind up with a study that claims “a north-south subway is too expensive and therefore a crappy Westlake streetcar is your only choice.” That would be a disaster for generations to come.

  5. Geez, might as well just send the 25 down Montlake. Maybe most of the 45th segment is close to 15th, but it’s still the only way from 45th/15th/University Way to U-Village that doesn’t involve a lengthy walk from 55th/25th or a pointless transfer off an incredibly short ride (but incredibly long walk) on busy 15th or slow University Way. And not only are they rushing it through, they’re doing so in the middle of a snowstorm! Are we sure it can’t wait for October? Sure it’s little used, but that’s because it’s so incredibly infrequent; swapping it out for the 75, I suspect, would make a huge difference.

    1. The notices have been posted at bus stops for a while, I just happen to be late on reporting about it.

      A few 25 trips will be deleted in the June cuts, so the schedules will have to be redone anyway. Doing it at all at once will save staff time.

    2. Given the winding path the 75 takes through Sand Point, it might be a peachy idea to move the 75 to 45th in exchange for the 25 moving to campus. That would at least provide all-week service on 45th.

      But I don’t suspect it matters much. How many of the riders who take these routes to the U-District are actually trying to get to the campus, versus elsewhere in the U-District?

  6. On paper, the 25 should be useful to me because it goes within about 1/4 mile from where I live (just west of the Burke-Gilman overpass). In practice, the 25 is so slow an infrequent, I don’t think I’ve ridden it more than once or twice the past year, and even those times the only reason I took it was because I was waiting for a 43 or 48 and it just happened to come first.

    Overall, I consider the 25 a complete pile of crap and I would not at all be opposed to getting rid of it in favor of more frequent service on other routes. If a complete elimination of the 25 were the price of extending 70, 71X, 72X, and 73X to operate on evenings and Sundays, I would consider it a huge win.

    My commute to work often begins by jogging the Burke-Gilman to the corner of Montlake and 520 where I catch the 542 or 545. Every once and awhile, when I pass underneath the 45th St. viaduct, I see a 25 bus head west on 45th St. When this happens, I usually arrive at 520/Montlake at about the same time the as the 25 bus, which means the 25 bus actually moves no faster than a person jogging.

    The stop at Brooklyn Ave and Campus Parkway is the height of idiocy. Every other bus that goes down 15th goes in a straight line down 15th and there is no reason for the 25 to waste time looping around so a couple people are spared having to walk one block. The only real benefit this stop has is to provide at least one location where someone going to Childrens can wait for either a 25 or 75, whichever comes first. With this upcoming restructuring, we’ll have that anyway with the campus stops, which makes this loop-de-loop stop especially useless.

    1. I also believe the Children’s Hospital operates their own shuttle to the U-district. I don’t know exactly when it runs or where it stops, but walking through the U-district, I’ve seen those bus go around quite frequently on weekdays during the day, the same hours that the 25 operates.

      If the 25 were someday killed, this shuttle could be a useful alternative for some of today’s 25 riders.

      1. Only if it was open to the public, which is unlikely thanks to liability laws and jury-verdicts.

      2. The Shuttles to my knowledge ARE open to the public.

        BUT the 25 serves much more of Laurelhurst then the shuttles could ever manage to fill because of the Laurelhurst loop that the 25 takes.

      3. Do they ask for proof of Children’s affiliation? How can they when students make occasional trips there, and families are visiting patients? The UW-Harborview shuttle does not ask for proof of student/staff status, or at least it didn’t when I worked at Harborview and rode it all the time. I even asked when I wasn’t working there if it was OK to ride it, and the driver said it’s for anybody going that way.

  7. I live on the Laurelhurst loop portion of the 25 route, and used to take it regularly. Without the 25 I would have had to walk 0.9 miles to the 75. I have to say I’m not completely thrilled by the idea of cutting it, even if it makes sense on the ridership numbers.

  8. Bring back the old (IIRC) 30/32 service to Laurelhurst.

    30 was a shuttle from Laurelhurst to the U-District via 45th where it connected with the 71/72/73’s to the tunnel, and the ETBs to Ballard and Capitol Hill.

    32 was a peak direction express from Laurelhurst into downtown Seatlle.

    U-Village, Children’s Hospital and Laurelhurst are entitled to service.

    1. There is no law or policy that “entitles” any part of the county to service. We should serve areas where, considering all the factors such as ridership, geographic value, social equity etc. suggests that it is a good use of public money.

      I do like the Laurelhurst shuttle idea.

  9. I love a one-seat ride, but even I transfer when going from downtown to my kid’s pediatrician’s office (across the street from Children’s). It just takes way too long on the 25, it’s MUCH faster to take a bus to the U-District and transfer to a 75. I can’t imagine how painful it would be to be a regular commuter from Laurelhurst to downtown on the 25.

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