King County Metro 24 in West Magnolia
King County Metro 24 in West Magnolia

Yesterday afternoon, King County Metro made public the legislative package which, after formal consideration (and possible amendment) by the King County Council, will turn the Fall 2012 restructure into a reality. To get to this point has taken about six months, during which Metro has presented two comprehensive restructure proposals, hosted several open houses and made numerous presentations to neighborhood groups. The process is now in the home stretch, but nothing is final until the full council votes.

As noted on the Metro Matters blog, the next opportunity for public input is on April 16th, from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM, at Union Station, where there will be an open house followed by public testimony to the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. Helpfully, with this latest revision, Metro has spared me the necessity of digesting all the changes for each area before I can discuss them: for a custom pamphlet describing the changes for you neighborhood, go the the System Restructure page on the Have a Say site, and click on the map in the “Neighborhood information sheets” box.

From the perspective of building a better transit system — one that serves more people and serves them faster, more frequently and more reliably, with the same amount of money — the primary effect of the public process so far has been to water down the original proposal, removing unpopular components and keeping popular ones, seemingly without respect to their merits, which sometimes results in strange routes that are almost certain to perform terribly. This pattern continues with yesterday’s revision.

After the jump, I’ll get into the details on the major changes since February.

The Good

  • West Seattle has come out pretty well overall. The current all-day network is a cat’s cradle of partially-overlapping infrequent downtown routes, virtually-unused neighborhood circulators and the well-used 128. This proposal improves the night-Sunday frequency of the 128, provides a new crosstown route (the 50, discussed below) and turns the rest into two full-time radial routes, both of which get big boosts in frequency. The sacrifices required are the proposed all-day hourly Route 22 (Arbor Heights to Alaska Junction), which will, I’m sure, perform terribly; and the retention of eight trips per day on Route 37.
  • Delridge gets the northern crosstown connection they’ve fought for (I mentioned this in a previous post). This revision of the proposal moves the proposed Route 50 from Admiral Way south to run through Alaska Junction and then east through North Delridge. Kudos to Metro, SDOT and the neighborhood for making it happen.
  • New Route 18, connecting Downtown, Fremont, Ballard, Crown Hill and Northgate, has survived, and has actually gained* 15 minute Saturday headways. This route will be a great asset to Metro’s riders, finally providing a good connection between the hearts of two vibrant and growing urban centers. On the downside, it looks from the map like the continuation to First Hill via Yesler has gone away — I’m not sure why.

The Bad

The Crazy New Route 2X
The Crazy New Route 2X
  • The Crazy New Routes 2X and 17. In what can only be an effort to head off complaints from Seattle Pacific University riders about the loss of Route 17, the 2X and the remnants of the 17 are stitched together to provide a peak-only connection from SPU to the Ballard business district; and from SPU to Downtown via Westlake. I understand what Metro is trying to do here, and I can understand the plight of SPU students who would otherwise be stuck with nothing but the (unimproved) 13, but these two routes, combined with the 17X that will continue to serve 32nd Ave NW (which the 17 will not) are going to look amazingly confusing on Metro’s system map. It may make sense to renumber at least the 17.
  • Routes 50 and 60 will detour into the VA Hospital parking lot. Martin wrote about the high cost of this little-used deviation years ago; it seems like it should have been removed as originally proposed.
  • Routes 11 and 125 through-routes restored; in previous proposals, they had been split, which would have improved the reliability of both routes. I suspect this was due to complaints from students travelling between South Seattle and Seattle Central community colleges. Once University Link opens, it would be interesting to explore the possibility of truncating Route 125 at SODO (similar to what was proposed in November). U-Link will provide excellent service to the doorstep of SCCC, and cutting back the 125 to SODO would save a lot of time from the 125, probably enough to boost the frequency of the remainder of the route; riders might be much more willing to take that transfer than a bus-to-bus transfer downtown that will increase their journey times. UPDATE: According to Metro, the 11 and 125 will both live-loop downtown. I thought otherwise because the 125 map in the legislative package appears to show the 125 proceeding to Capitol Hill via Pike and Pine. Apologies for this error.

The Ugly

  • Almost All Changes to the Trolleybus Network Abandoned. We covered Metro’s announcement abandoning changes to Routes 2 and 4 last month; as I noted at the time, in doing so, Metro chose to walk away from one of the most significant improvements it could have made to the Seattle bus network, in order to avoid controversy. That seems to have extended to all the trolleybus network, and the only changes now proposed is to split Route 14 and tweak the schedules on the separate parts, and to consolidate the terminals of Routes 3 and 4, a simple change that will affect a tiny number of riders, and which probably should have happened decades ago.
  • Magnolia Changes Abandoned. I’m not quite sure who could have taken offense at the proposed changes to service in Magnolia, as the only areas that would have lost service are West Viewmont Way and Texas Way/34th Ave W. West Viewmont is an extremely upscale area full of million-dollar houses, a most unlikely place for any significant transit ridership, especially since route 24 gets there via an absurdly long milk run across almost the entirety of Magnolia (much faster peak-only service would have been retained on Route 19). Texas Way (Route 33) is literally a road through a park, with almost no walkshed. I believe the ridership in both areas is practically nonexistent, and coverage of both areas only exists as a vestige of when Fort Lawton existed as an active military installation. Whereas in the previous proposal, Magnolia residents would have had a connection to Ballard, now Magnolia will remain a transit dead end. If abandoning the change was due to local opposition (and it’s hard to imagine what else it could be), the neighborhood has cut off its nose to spite its face. Or, perhaps more likely, a handful of people vociferously opposed to any change have scuttled a change that would have benefitted many more of their unwitting neighbors.
  • The New Route 61. Due to the abandonment of the Magnolia changes, and the necessity of providing some service to riders on 32nd Ave NW, a new shuttle route has been created, connecting North Beach, Sunset Hill, central Ballard, and Fremont at 30-minute frequency. Other than the Fremont-Ballard section, which will mostly poach riders from the frequent Route 18, this route doesn’t have much to offer anyone except a transfer to RapidRide D, and then not at a frequency that will make the transfer convenient. I predict this will perform terribly.
  • Route 50 is too infrequent. As a route that serves several dense residential neighborhoods, but doesn’t serve a major urban center, the 50 would benefit greatly from high-quality connections to radial downtown trunk lines such as Link, RapidRide C, and the 120. Unfortunately, at 30 minute headways, not many choice riders will go for that transfer; this will be particularly pronounced in the Seward Park area, where riders are trading the 39 and 34X for the 50. The 20-minute proposed peak frequencies, at least, should be upgraded to 15-minute to provide connections that match up with Link’s schedule.

To be completely frank, given how Metro had already walked away from the best part of the Fall restructure, and the way the Council handled the deletion of Route 42 earlier this year, I was surprised this latest revision didn’t turn out far worse. Beyond that, it seems to me that most of the “ugly” aspects of this proposal arise not from any disagreement over the merits of anything in the previous proposals, but from a value judgement that the right path for the agency and the County is to minimize controversy and criticism, rather than to maximize the benefits for the larger transit-riding and tax-paying public; and that’s not something that anything I could write would fix.

* At least going by the text of the restructure proposals, which have sometimes been wrong in details like this.

56 Replies to “Fall Restructure Further Watered Down”

  1. I was chatting with a planner at the open house on these routes, and he said the routing of the 18 to First Hill via Yesler was in trouble as SDOT hadn’t been able to provide layover space, so thats likely why this routing has gone.

  2. Ugh. This is so disappointing, I’m particularly miffed at the low frequency of the new 50, which I feel would have been very successful.

    1. We’ll take it… We’ve been fighting for several years now to get this route, and the neighborhood did a huge lobbying effort with SDOT, Metro, and City and County Councilmembers to make this come back and to maximize labor and funding from all involved to improve the area.

      I’d prefer more frequency, too, but 30-minute headways are workable on the West Seattle side of this route, where most users should be going for shopping or entertainment which can be planned around the headways rather than to commute to work or meetings.

  3. I am really disappointed in the changes Metro made to this proposal. Once again logic, and reason are thrown out the door. Some of these routes they dreamed up will be utter failures, like the 2x and the 61.
    As for the Magnolia routes, as a former resident, I know that many of my fellow riders wanted a route to Ballard, and I’m really surprised to see this go away. The previous proposal made a lot of sense, especially with an all day direct route from Magnolia Village to Downtown. Now that’s all gone, and all Magnolia is left with is crappy service to downtown that winds all over the place and a dumb route to the UW that no one uses.
    I know Metro planners are in a tough position, because the Council usually shys away from any criticism, but they know better, and that’s frustrating.
    I wonder what the whole point of this exercise is, to publish a plan that has significant needed changes, only to drop them the minute someone complains. People always complain. Most hate change, but unless they have a valid point, there’s no need to listen to them.

  4. While I’m certainly not happy about the loss of the Magnoia changes and the creation of the route 61, I believe there is one redeeming characteristic: frequent (15 min) service between the Ballard and Fremont cores until 11:00pm. (That’s if the schedules of the 18 and 61 are coordinated.)

    1. The 61 only goes to 8th Ave NW, not all the way to Fremont. I will get Ballardites to Fred Meyer, but that’s about it.
      What I don’t get is the whole in the schedule weekdays between 3-6pm. Is that due to the 17x still running during that time?

      1. Geez, maybe I should read it before I post it!

        “It”, not “I”, and “hole”, not “whole”.

      2. Thanks Mark Y. Somehow when I looked at the proposal last night I guess I imagined the 61 going to Fremont. I was probably seeing what I was hoping for.

    2. What Metro really should have done was turn the 48 down 32nd (or 24th) and had it terminate where the current 75 terminates in downtown Ballard. The 61 is going to be a ghost bus between 85th and Market St. And the resurrected 17 doesn’t make sense. Give us back our 32 to Magnolia!

      1. +1. The 48 extension down from Loyal Heights via 32nd would make a lot more sense than the 61.

  5. The peak period 17 is being timed to coordinate its schedule with Sounder trips to/from Tacoma, which will allow a one seat ride from South Lake Union to King Street Station. If this service is popular, it may increase demand for the 4th/5th Streetcar.

    Also, none of the links provide access to the new proposals. The King County Council’s release also links to the old proposals.

  6. Everyone here needs to go the council hearing and complain about how watered down this proposal has become.

  7. Just to put this all in perspective, this is the largest restructure Metro has done at one time ever. So, it is not surprising that they had to pull back from some sensible changes. I think they will continue to put changes forward and see what sticks.

    1. I hope you are right – that Metro will make further improvements, but perhaps a few at a time so that they are less controversial and will be obvious improvements.

  8. It is great to see the increased connections between Ballard and Fremont. I’m also not disappointed to see the 18 stop Downtown instead of on First Hill – it’s a heck of a milk run already and I think the trip up 1st Hill might make reliability even more iffy.

    Hopefully moving forward the Metro planners will look more towards incremental changes. I think they really overshot this time.

    1. Not sure that incremental changes would have worked given the goals they were set. Equally unsure if County Council would have played less politics with incremental changes.

    2. Eh? We’re talking about a corridor that’s so important that it made the TMP, and that they’re even considering building a streetcar for. How is that a milk run?

      1. Milk run as in it already stops in a lot of places (Northgate/Greenwood/Ballard/Fremont/West Queen Anne) and one more destination on the other side of Downtown would diminish reliability.

  9. As a resident of Magnolia, I am taken aback by how the already horrible transit options are going to be made worse! The only good news coming, as far I can can tell, is the Rapid Ride D line, which will have service to all three Magnolia access points. East-Went links will be decimated by the removal of the 17, the 33 is a milk run joke almost as bad as the 24. Magnolia needs to have catchment areas rationalized so buses run faster and have headways less the 30 minutes, and extend service hours.

    1. The original plan for Magnolia was brilliant, and I really don’t know what Metro was thinking by scrapping it.
      I used to live in Magnolia. There are a few businesses in the Village I would like to visit but I have to take a tour of Magnolia to get there, riding all the way around 28th and 34th Ave.

    2. Could you elaborate on how Magnolia’s service will get worse? From my perspective, it looks unchanged, if not slightly improved because of better frequencies during the midday on the 33. And, the new 32 will provide an E-W connection along Nickerson that’s currently provided by the 17.

      1. The 32 will go up Interbay, turn before the Ballard bridge, then cross over the Fremont bridge. If I needed to go Downtown, the RapidRide D line will get me there faster with shorter wait times, and I need walk to Nickerson to catch either. If I needed to go to Fremont or the U-district where the 32 will go, I can transfer to the 18 or 44 on the north side of the Ballard bridge, but without the 17, access down the east side of Queen Anne into SLU is curtailed. Now I have to ride the 33 into Belltown or Westlake Center and hope to run to catch the half-hour headway on the Streetcar to access that area. I doubt that a transfer in the U-district or Fremont will be able to beat the 45 minute ride via the 33, the old 17 took about 30 minutes. Taking my own vehicle is under 15, all for less then a 3 mile trip. Guess my ridership will be decreasing.

  10. Strange that a bus that starts in Ballard, takes a strange route through Interbay, up Queen Anne hill for a bunch of stops in a moderately sparse neighborhood, then finally starts to head downtown can have an EX in it. The 2EX is an express because it skips a few stops downtown? Bizzare.

    1. Queen Anne Hill is “moderately sparse?”

      Seems like a pretty busy place when I’m up there. Another decent-sized mixed use development will begin soon (on the Metropolitan Market site) and a smaller apartment project across the street will be finished shortly.

      Regardless, I agree that the 2X doesn’t make any sense.

      1. 6th has fairly large properties, so I believe there isn’t great ridership on the current 2X in that area (can’t find Bruce’s chart at the moment). It’s faster to loop the 2X down 6th thanks to the lack of traffic (though there are speed bumps), but the density’s all on Queen Anne Ave.

      2. Found it. 10 people on the bus from the start of the run until Galer. Actually, that’s not that bad for an area with little to no multifamily units (unless they’re walking up the hill from the west, rather than down to the #1).

    2. What is your data source and methodology for creating the excellent ridership plot you linked to below? I would like to reproduce plots like that for other routes.

  11. It’s still a step forward, and it shows Metro is making progress albeit slowly. I was most afraid the Alki-SODO-Rainier Valley route wouldn’t make it but miraculously it has. Other silver linings in this service change, besides the already-lauded 18 and 128:

    – It’s official that the 81 and 85 will be rolled into RapidRide C and D and the 120, and thus that RapidRide will have night owl.
    – The 5-Northgate branch is gone.
    – Truncating the 30 will improve its reliability, as most delays are due to the Mercer Mess or Fremont Bridge.
    – The Seattle-Des Moines milk runs (131 and 132) are finally dead. The reorganization of the 164 and 166 look good on the map although I don’t know the area much. They connect a wide part of south King County in a pretty straightforward manner: Burien – Des Moines – Kent, and Southcenter – SeaTac – Des Moines. It fixes the insane rectangle on the 166 where the westbound bus goes south on Pacific Highway, makes a loop that returns to its original point on Pac Hwy, and then turns north on Pac Hwy.

    I’ll miss the number 14 for Summit; 47 sounds like a dull number. Almost as bad as 49. I thought for sure when they split the 7 that the north half would be called the 6 because that number had been vacated earlier. Instead we got ugly old 49, which is really confusing in the U district because the 43, 48 and 49 share the same stops and those numbers all look like 48 at a distance.

    1. Rapid Rides C and D will not completely replace Routes 81 and 85. Only the 2:15am outbound trip is replaced. The 2 inbound trips and the 3:30am outbound trip are not replaced at all. Wonder if the night owl service will be eventually compromised since two routes are being killed off (don’t know if riders are making connections with 3:30am outbound trips).

      As why Route 6 number is not being used. Apparently it is considered a taboo number (with the Route 359), due to the Aurora Bridge incident in 1998.

      1. Routes 81 and 85 are gone. Their replacements might not be as good as the originals in the sense that they don’t have the 3:30 AM trip, but the 81 and 85 are unquestionably replaced.

        Also, while I agree it’s sad that we’re losing the 3:30 trips, I’m very happy that the routing is finally being rationalized. The sooner we can replace our bizarre late night routes with 24-hour extensions to frequent routes, the better.

      2. I assume it saves money because they can just extend the regular route shift by an hour or two rather than hiring a separate crew of drivers.

  12. Disappointed that the 4N tail is being retained – either the 3N tail (shorter) or the 13 tail (serving a major destination) would have been better choices.

    The 4N’s backtracking routes doesn’t generate a lot of ridership and the stretch of Queen Anne Avenue between Boston and Blaine (used by the 4N to get to its tail) is terribly congested during rush hour and on weekends.

    1. I agree, you still have the situation one downtown bus, the 13 heads South on QA Ave to Downtown, and the other bus, the new 3N+4N heads North on QA Ave to Downtown.
      I guess those without OBA are supposed to stand in the middle of the street until one comes!

  13. Route 123 riders aren’t pleased with the merging of routes 121, 122, and 123. Metro seemed to think that those who take route 123 northbound are going to the same destination as route 121 and 122 riders. Rather, those who take route 123 do so because of the difference in routing – the route serves a stop in Georgetown and several stops in SODO, with tranfer opportunities to Link at SODO or IDS, and the southern section of Downtown Seattle. Options will be to ride to Federal Center South on East Marginal Way and walk to 4th Ave S to transfer, or ride all the way downtown and transfer to southbound buses to areas of downtown south of Columbia St or to SODO.

    Glad to see, however, that the service frequency on Airport Way is returning to half-hour service, with faster service to Burien during non-peak periods.

    1. The thrice-watered-down plan is better than the status quo. But I’m sure it won’t make it through as is.

      We’ve got to learn to speak the neighborhoods’ language: “stupid”, “idiot”, “doesn’t listen”, “arrogant”, “gorilla”, etc. Logic seems to be getting us nowhere.

  14. I can live with the VA loop on the 50, as it is a smaller knot in that route than it is in the 60. Moreover, anyone who wants to avoid the 50’s VA knot can get around it on Link.

    The 60’s VA knot will nearly double the travel time between Beacon Hill Station and South Park when the bridge opens. I’ll be avoiding the 60 like the plague if this 8-turn, 10-minute knot stays in the route.

    Couldn’t we compromise, and keep the VA knot in the 50 while getting rid of it in the 60?

    Thankfully, the 132 will finally have a stop within a half mile of SODO Station, so that will be my path of choice for getting to just about anywhere outside of South Park. Thanks for doubling the frequency on the 132! I wish that could have happened over a year ago, when the bridge was decommissioned. It’s been quite irritating that the average wait+travel time between South Park and downtown has been longer than the average wait+travel time between Federal Way and downtown.

  15. The think I am most pleased about is that the C and D lines will remain at 15 minute headways until 11 PM 7 days a week – I was afraid they were going to drop back to 30 minutes much earlier than this. The new 18 will also be a good route as well.

    The 50, however, is absolutely insane. Yes, we do finally have a one-seat ride between West Seattle and the Ranier Valley. But it’s so full of twists and turns that we’ve managed to make the one-seat ride just barely faster than the 2-seat ride we are replacing, for a trip not that many people are making anyway.

    In West Seattle, except for the small tail, the 50 is redundant with the 21. In the Ranier Valley, the 50 is redundant with Link, except for the section by Seward Park.

    The detour into the VA parking lot just wastes the time of the few people that will be actually riding it, as does the stop in SODO. Seriously, of the tiny number of people who have SODO as a destination anyway, how many of them will actually benefit from the 50 vs. simply take Link or route 21 instead?

    And the 2Ex and 17 also seem crazy. An all-day route going top the top of Queen Anne extending to Ballard could make sense, as taking transit from Queen Anne north is pretty sub-par. However, by doing this with a single-direction-peak-only (SDPO) route, we provide a connection that nobody can benefit from unless they live in Ballard and work in upper Queen Anne – and since upper Queen Anne is a residential neighborhood, the number of people would would benefit from these trips will be almost nobody. Lower Queen Anne is already served by the D-line, so no need for the 2X for this. And no one in their right mind should be taking the 2X from Ballard all the way into downtown when the D-line is available instead.

    1. For non-West Seattle residents, the 50 makes West Seattle accessible from Link. Especially Alki, which is a major tourist attraction that people from all over the city go to, and more tourists would if it weren’t at the end of a minor milk run from downtown. What a way to say, “Don’t go here; there’s nothing important here unless you live in the neighborhood.” The water taxi is nice but it lands a couple miles from Alki Point and the neighborhood center, and who wants to wait for a shuttle?

      West Seattle could, with the right marketing, leverage this route to attract customers to all the business districts it passes through, and thus get more bus riders to come to West Seattle.

      For West Seattle residents (which I’ve never been), I assume the 50 will be attractive for getting to other Link stations, including UW and Bellevue when they come online.

      Agreed that the route is rather slow for West Seattle-Rainier Valley, especially for West Seattle to Othello Street. We may have to rethink this in the future: what do people really want in crosstown service in the south end? But it’s a long-desired start. As for essentially interlining the 39 into the 50, that’s as valuable as any other interlining: it concatenates two routes for operational efficiency, and it allows the 39 tail to survive when it may be too uneconomical as a separate route.

    2. If the 50 turns out to be low-ridership across Beacon Ridge (as its predecessor was), perhaps Metro should truncate it at SODO, delete the SODO-to-Columbia City segment, and attach the Seward Park “U” to a different southeast route. It may turn out that Central Link is actually the best way to make an “east-west” trip from West Seattle to Rainier Valley, especially if it’s significantly faster than the 50. Those going to Beacon Hill are probably fewer, and they can take the 60 anyway.

      Unlike in the north end, where people frequently travel from, say, a minor stop at 8th Ave NW to a minor stop at 8th Ave NE and expect a bus to go straight there, the lack of direct east-west roads in the south end make that impossible. Every flat space has a small walkshed. So that makes it more attractive to take rapid transit to that flat space and walking (or transferring to the 36, 8, 128, or 120) is more attractive there, because the alternative is not a quick straight bus to that block, but a meandering milk run that takes forever to reach a cross-ridge road and probably doesn’t even go to your destination block.

      1. I fail to see the value of the a Link transfer at SODO. If you’re going north on Link, you may as well ride the C and transfer downtown. If you’re going south, the only reason a transfer at SODO beats staying on the bus (and possibly transferring at Columbia City station, depending on where you’re headed) is because the #50 bus will waste so much time meandering through SODO and the VA hospital.

        If the 50 ran express through SODO, staying on the freeway without stopping at all, Google Maps estimates a travel time savings of 6 minutes each way with no traffic on the roads. When the Mariners are at home, the bus will get caught in all the game traffic, making things a lot worse.

        Yes, this freeway section of the 50 probably wouldn’t carry a huge number of passengers, but the tails of the 50 on both ends are necessary to provide coverage and if you’re going to have two separate shuttle routes on both ends, you may as well join them together with a 5 minute freeway segment since time-wise, it would be cheaper than having the bus turn around and layover to go back the other way.

        If we did this, we would have real cross-town connectivity in a way that’s time-competitive with driving. The service hours saved could be used to run the route more frequently. Or they could be used to extend the 50’s tail on West Seattle to perhaps go down Alki Ave. to California, providing an all-day route that could replace routes #37 and #775.

        Once you accept that the stop at SODO is redundant with other options and provides very little benefit for a relatively high costs, there are tons of possibilities.

      2. Maybe. That sounds like a hard sell to Metro though: an express route in a presumably low-ridership segment, in a way that cuts off West Seattle from its closest Link connection. It may be 5 minutes between freeway entrances, but then you have to go through the segment Columbian Way shares with 15th to get to Columbia City station. It would be another thing if the eastern freeway exit were right near Beacon Hill station but it’s a 15- or 20-minute walk from Columbian Way/Spokane St. Would it make other stops on Columbian and 15th? Does the route “serve” Beacon Hill much, given that it barely grazes the edge of the village? Or would most of the ridership come from MLK and further east? Is the potential ridership from West Seattle to central/eastern Rainier Valley more than the ridership from West Seattle to all Link stations (including Rainier Valley’s) combined?

        Regarding the C as an alternative: those at Alaska Junction can take the C instead. Those at Alki or Admiral would have to take the 50, transfer to the C, then transfer again to Link.

        I do like your proposed route to some extent, especially if it’s an express all the way to Columbia City station (with one stop at Columbian/Spokane St and another at the VA without going into its driveway). If there were another route from West Seattle to SODO it would be fine, but this is the only one, and it’s important to build up that corridor for a future rail line.

  16. Don’t forget the deviation into VA hospital is to service those who may be more physically challenged and cannot walk to Columbian Way (if the Route 50 did not deviate) or behind the hospital to Beacon Ave (where the more frequent Route 36 operates). I do agree that Route 60 should not serve the VA hospital (but maybe since this route serves a First Hill Hospitals, maybe the concept is a hospital connection between them), and keeping Route 50 VA deviation would be a compromise.

    1. The front-door stop at the VA remains a violation of Metro’s service standards. It is too many service hours expended for too few passengers. The math on the 60 is almost certainly uglier than the math on the 50, so I bet the 60 can be saved from the VA knot, with a little lobbying effort.

      Right now, the 60 is packed right before and after school. Some of those buses, at least, ought to be spared the VA knot, since there is no room for more passengers, much less anyone with a mobility device, on the off chance someone is waiting at the VA.

      With the 60’s good peak and all-weekday frequency, I wonder if having alternate buses (keeping in mind the school crushloads) skip the VA knot would be feasible. That’s an ugly solution, but would at least make the 60 rideable every other trip.

    2. As previously discussed on this blog, it would be far cheaper and better for everyone if the VA ran a special shuttle from the 36 stop to the hospital.

      1. Or, and even better, the VA could get some kind of grant to build an entrance and pedestrian path on the Beacon Ave side of the building. Then they can leave the Columbian Way entrance to the cars and valet parking.

    3. The front-door stop at the VA is nothing but a value judgement by Metro administrators that trips to the VA hospital are not only more important than all other trips, but they’re so much more important that it’s worth delaying a busload of people 5-10 minutes just to get a few feet closer to the front door.

      I’ve sat through this a few times on the 39. Usually the number of people getting on or off is on the order of zero or one. And I’ve never seen anybody get on or off there who looked incapable of walking to the regular stop on the street. Most of the people who would be riding a bus to the hospital are not sick patients anyway, but able-bodied employees commuting from home to work and back home again.

      For the few people that really need to access the hospital, but cannot walk the short distance to the street, there are lots of options available. IMHO, the simplest option is to install a phone at the bus stop on the street that has a direct line to the hospital’s front desk. Anyone who needs assistance getting from the bus stop to the hospital simply picks up the phone and asks for help. A few minutes later, someone comes by and either pushes the person in his/her wheelchair or provides a ride in a golf cart, similar to what is used to transport elderly and disabled people around airports. Unless the number of disabled people riding the bus to the hospital is a lot more than I think it is, the costs should be cheap – the service hours saved alone would make it pay for itself many times over. Plus, if more people ride the bus because its faster, fare revenue might increase as well.

      The other day, I took a look at some of Vancouver’s bus routes. I just picked a random arterial street and looked up what bus route goes down the street and how/when/where it runs. Not only are their routes much more frequent than ours, but they have mastered the wonderful concept that bus routes travel in straight lines down major arterials and don’t attempt to enumerate the specific destinations that people are traveling to, with routes catered to very specific needs. Here, we have reasonably straight routes going downtown, but cross-town routes are a tangled mess. We have lots of room for improvement here.

    4. The issue is the VA is a government facility, which makes it harder for Metro to not serve directly. It’s also by far the largest employment center on Beacon Hill besides Pac Med (I’m not sure which is bigger). You can say, in that case the facility should have reoriented its front door to a bus stop. But the automobile-thinking mentality dies hard, and in the meantime transit has some level of responsibility to get citizens to government facilities.

  17. I am a central Magnolia resident who was very excited about the proposed changes. It makes so much sense to reroute the 24 route through the Village area and then continue it up to Ballard. I was extremely disappointed to hear that those changes had been scrapped.

    My theory is that there are riders on the 24 who live along the eastern portion of the route (along the route’s 29th Ave W leg) who were vocal about the route changes. I seriously doubt anyone in western Magnolia (where you called out the million dollar homes) even knows there is a Metro route in their part of the neighborhood, so i can’t see them complaining about the changes.

  18. asdf, I don’t understand your comment about the 50 duplicating the 21 route. There are a few shared portions of this route. However, 21 does not service Delridge Community Center or Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. I am hoping the 50 will provide a stop near the Sodo Link Station on both east and westbound trips so we can take the Link to and from the airport without having to go all the way downtown and into the tunnel or haul our luggage from Sodo station across the RR tracks for 6 blocks down to 1st and Lander when coming home from a trip. Unfortunately, the terrific ST 560 routes from West Seattle to SeaTac have been reduced to peak hours weekdays only. I do like your idea for a call box on Columbia and a golf cart to pick up VA passengers.

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