King County Metro 180 at Burien TC
King County Metro 180 at Burien TC

Recently, King County Metro published the details of a minor service change that will take effect Tomorrow, June 9th. There’s nothing earth-shattering in here, but lots of small, good changes that set the stage for the major West Seattle-Ballard service change in September. Several Sound Transit routes change at the same time. Here are the highlights:

  • 10-minute Sunday headways on the Downtown to U-District 71/72/73 trunk. The busiest and most important transit corridor in the city gets an upgrade from 15-minute headways. While the night-Sunday service pattern (local on Eastlake) doesn’t optimally serve the vast majority of riders, who would be much better off with an extension of the weekday (express on I-5 or Eastlake) service pattern, this is a much-needed and comparatively cheap upgrade.
  • Inbound tunnel buses are reassigned to the foremost bay at each tunnel stop. This (perhaps rather obvious) operational change helps increase the capacity of each tunnel station by allowing buses that are primarily unloading to pull as far forward as possible, so as not to waste precious platform space. The increase in capacity will help offset the expected reduction in tunnel capacity due to the elimination of daytime Pay as You Leave rules when the Ride Free Area goes away in the fall.
  • Extension of evening Route 180 service between Kent Station and Burien Transit Center, which currently ends at 7:15. A small but significant improvement for mobility in South King.
  • Sound Transit picks up Bonney Lake-Sumner Sounder connection as Route 596. Adam noted in a post a few weeks ago that this marks ST’s first significant non-capital expenditure to improve access to their rail services.
  • More details about Route 99 (Waterfront): Route 99 will be extended later in the evening during the summer, but reduced to peak only during the winter; “Summer” will be early June through the end of September.
  • Deletions and restructures of a few “worst of the worst” routes, notably the 38, 79 and 219. Sadly, Metro will not put the 42 out of its misery until Fall February of 2013.
  • Ballard expresses acquire a stop at Elliott & Harrison. This area is very office-oriented, and I’m told local businesses were interested in better commuter access, especially with RapidRide skipping the Uptown stops nearest Harrison. It occurs to me that, once SDOT’s delayed West Thomas St overpass finally opens, smart commuters bound to or from Pioneer Square could use this stop to trade a long, slow bus ride though the CBD for a fast, scenic, flat bike ride along the waterfront.
  • Minor routing changes, schedule changes, added trips, or deleted trips to various other routes. Metro adopted a proposal I discussed on the blog previously, consolidating the 25 with the Stevens Way corridor through campus.

There are no changes to any rail services in the region.

57 Replies to “June Service Change Brings Minor Improvements”

  1. Anyone have any strategies for fixing the glaring error in the Fall 2012 (RapidRide C/D) restructure that has left Ballard with the Son of 42, aka the 61? When I asked @kcmetrobus why they punted on the 24 restructure, they claimed it was due to visibility concerns on Thorndyke. So instead of addressing or dismissing these concerns, they have kept Magnolia isolated from the burgeoning entertainment district directly across the ship canal, separated Sunset Hill from anything resembling usable off-peak service, and saddled Ballard with what is sure to become the next worst-performing route in the system.

    1. Ask for a truncated 24ish route that terminates at a D-Line station, and maybe you’ll get somewhere.

      1. The proposed 24 would have entered the North Beach loop, thus serving the terminus of the 48 and the “elbow” where the 18 becomes the current 75 to Northgate. This market obviously needs connecting service to RapidRide D, which is why Route 61 exists at all.

        The only other plausible arrangement I can think of would be to send the 48 on the North Beach loop instead of Loyal Heights and extend the 24 to 85th/15th (D line north terminus). But the 48 is already unreliable as it is; sending it up to North Beach would just exacerbate its unreliability.

    2. I’m told there was vigorous community opposition to any change on the 24. Bus stops in Magnolia were plastered with signs opposing the proposal.

      Possibly related? Larry Phillips lives in Magnolia.

      1. I’m already a member in good standing of the Central Ballard Residents’ Association. Unfortunately, the name of the organization is a bit of a misnomer. It should really have been titled the Central Ballard We Want More Free And Subsidized Parking Association.

      2. When I’ve occasionally ridden the 24 off-peak, a significant percentage of riders are going from one part of Magnolia to another. That may be why there’s opposition to removing the zigzag. They essentially use the zigzag to avoid walking up and down the hills.

      3. I don’t remember exact numbers, but around 25% of 20-25 riders on a Saturday afternoons. Of course, everybody except us got off before the last zig (Viewmont Way). BTW, that segment has a nice view and it’s a 15-minute walk from the terminus to the Discovery Park bluffs. Enjoy that segment while it lasts.

      4. I was surprised at the ridership on the 24. I expected one or two people or maybe zero, but it was a couple dozen over the course of the run. I guess Magnolia is not like Juanita or Timberlane or route 25.

    3. As for Sunset Hill, is service on the 18 really going to be that bad? Or is the walk too far?

      Few coastline neighborhoods in Seattle get bus service, as they only have half a walkshed. That’s not Metro picking on anyone. That’s just Metro planners following a basic planning principle for serving the most riders.

      1. Towards Sunset Hill, 32nd is at a significant elevation gain from 24th.

        We’re starting to see multifamily development happening on 32nd around the 60th St area. Right now the north end of the 17 doesn’t generate that much ridership, but that will increase as multifamily development happens. The 17 already generates a fair bit of ridership from the Locks area, though.

    4. Looking at the Fall 2012 restructure summaries, I was struck by how poor service is on Sundays. We have almost no frequent routes on Sundays! Even the 48 is at 30 minute frequencies. I’m not sure what the answer is to make local service at non-weekday-peak times better, but it’s essential to get people out of their cars.

  2. Route 42 goes away winter 2013. That’s the February pick. (Winter Solstice is late December, and that’s when winter formally begins.)

  3. Predictable plea on cue: Why go through the mess of trying to interline the 180 and 560 between Airport Station and Burien, and failing, when the 120 could do the job, and do it with much higher ridership?

    1. A peripheral concern perhaps, but maybe to avoid LINK conflicts they don’t want any CBD bus to have an airport headsign? “120-SeaTac Airport via Burien TC” would probably end up giving a fair number of tourists a long unwanted tour through Delridge.

      1. Lots of routes list on their headsigns destinations they aren’t particularly fast ways to get to. Consider the 16, the eastern spur of the 5, and whichever 6x bus it is that goes to Northgate from downtown. And, of course, the (soon to change) 75, which you can catch going northeast from the U District, signed toward Ballard. This seriously should not be a concern — tourists that came in from the airport will know they’re looking for a train in a tunnel, not a bus on 3rd Ave. Tourists are also likely to ask locals for help with the transit system, and the locals will almost certainly send them in the right direction.

      2. The main problem in 75-land is people getting on the 30 either (A) going the wrong way, or (B) not realizing it doesn’t continue to Lake City. Several times a month I see people on the northbound 30 thinking it’ll take them to the U-district or dowwntown, and then they end up in the middle of nowhere on Sand Point Way and have to turn around, or they get ejected from the bus at NOAA and have to walk back up to the road to catch another bus. This happens several times a month. In contrast, people unwittingly taking the 75 from UW to Ballard doesn’t seem to happen nearly as much, and anyway, they do get there eventually.

      3. Given tourist’s strong bias towards rail, plus the fact that all the tourist info is going to point them to Link, I don’t think tourists accidentally hopping on the 120 to go from downtown to the airport is going to be a concern.

    2. It’s not really “interlining” the 180 and 560. The 180 has been going to Burien for several years. The difference is that it used to be truncated evenings but now it won’t be. The main issue with the 180 is closing the gap between Kent and SeaTac station. Burien already has access to Link by the 140, while Kent has no other access to Link. Whether it should be the another route between Burien and SeaTac is a lesser issue. Sure, extend the 120.

      1. It’s so nice the 180 is being extended for hours of operation!!! I have been complaining about this forever. It’s the sole way people of Kent, Auburn, and the periphery can get to the airport on public transport. And, it’s an excellent alternative to the 150 when adding Link into the mix. The 180 has always had excellent reliability whereas the 150 does not, especially at peak. It’s just unfortunate this change has been made AFTER I’ve left Kent. Kudos to the work by Metro staff!

      2. The only way to get the 120 to end at the airport is to truncate the 180 there as well. Otherwise you have a needless duplication of services.

      3. @John Slyfield,

        That’s exactly what I’ve been advocating every time I bring this up. There are a lot more West Seattleites complaining about a two-seat ride with up to a 30-minute wait in Burien to get to the airport, than there are Kent residents wanting a one-seat ride to Burien, or vice versa.

      1. The loop around the block always seemed silly to begin with. There are other bus stops served by the #30 within a block or two of Brooklyn & Campus Pkwy in both directions. What the loop around the block was really about was the belief of somebody in power that the corner of Brooklyn & Campus Pkwy was special in that the #30 absolutely had to stop right there and not a block away, no matter what.

        Yes, that intersection is a transfer point, but a transfer point to what? The #30 shares stops with the 71, 72, and 73 all down the Ave. And it also shares stops with the #31 (which is thru-routed with #68) all throughout Fremont and Wallingford. And most of the #75 stops can be reached by just staying on the #30 without even transferring at all. And for the few transfers that are left, walking one block between stops really shouldn’t have been that big a deal.

    1. When I checked with OBA Sunday afternoon for Campus Parkway and Brooklyn departures, I got the response ‘No departures for the next 30 minutes.’
      Duh! The stop had only moved back to its original location a block away, at University Ave.

  4. While a good idea, I doubt anyone would do the suggested bus > bike transfer at the Elliot st overpass. The ride in from Ballard is already relatively flat and about 3.5 miles. I’ll have to pay attention though, maybe it will get popular.

    1. In general, I think your right, but the bike->bus transfer could still be an attractive option for people who are riding home and get caught in a sudden, unexpected downpour. If the city bikeshare proposal happens, this could also be an attractive option for novice riders who might want to take the bus all the way in the morning, but ride the bike at least a couple of miles in the afternoon.

  5. Many thanks to Metro for finally allowing all inbound Tunnel buses to stop as far forward as possible. Understand there’ll also start to be some control of order in which buses are dispatched into the DSTT.

    Mark Dublin

    1. How exciting. Perhaps Metro will eventually solve the problems of interlining buses and trains in a “bus/train” ROW.

      Of course, by the time they solve it, it will probably be time to kick the buses out of the tunnel. But maybe their lessons can be learned by some other municipality.

    2. where buses stop is really pointless without actually controlling the order in which they travel through the tunnel.

      1. Not entirely. If the inbound buses can pull all the way in, ordering among inbound buses doesn’t matter. It’s still good if front-bay outbound buses go in first, and rear-bay outbound buses go in last, but this makes some difference, especially in the morning when there are lots of inbound buses.

      2. I just don’t think order will matter as one can’t predict the probability that one bus will get slowed down disembarking a special needs or handicap patron, or is for singer other reason delayed. Have the models been run to understand this? When that happen all bets are off…

      3. You can’t control the order that buses will travel through the tunnel without timing down to minute exactly when each bus is going to enter the tunnel. Given the random delays from traffic, change fumblers, and wheelchairs that all the buses have to go through, this is impossible and we should not pretend otherwise.

      4. There is a bias in the DSTT signaling that allows inbound Northbound buses priority over tunnel routes starting at IDS. The buses starting from layover lanes 1-4 at IDS don’t get a yellow signal until the inbound buses have cleared out – at least the inbound buses that have already gone past the security gate and the 2nd signal in the busway near the merge with the I90 ramps. In short, if you can see a bus coming down the busway and you’re waiting for a yellow to start a 71, 72, 73, or 255, you know it’s going to be a long wait. Also, the Northbound 301, 76, and 77 originate from Central/Atlantic so they may need to pull into a layover lane to get this to work correctly.

        Southbound there is also a bit of a bias allowing inbound routes to go to the front, but it’s muddled and subject to driver decisions and visibility conditions. The I (Inbound?), C, and D bays are arranged left to right. Buses are supposed to yield to buses on their left, hence Inbound buses *should* get priority and be in front. But it doesn’t always work out that way. For one, when I’m pulling out of Bay D, I can’t always see buses coming up in Bays I because of the elevator shaft. Also, when I do see a bus there that should be in front of me, I’m already past the stop line so I probably should just go. In practice, I often stop with the stop line in the middle of my bus and wave the other driver on to get the inbound or Bay C buses in front of me (I’m currently driving only routes that drive through Bay D). Moving the inbound 255s to Bay I might also be a good plan, assuming it stays in the tunnel.

        Keeping in mind that inbound buses will tend to unload faster than outbound buses will load, reinforcing these biases through refresher training, a few lane tweaks, and even explicit signal manipulation will likely improve things a bit. Hopefully somebody at Metro besides a frontline grunt is thinking about this.

    3. Huh? The order is already set for outbound buses. It’s called the run card (scheduled departure time) and an accurate watch. If an outbound bus leaves late it’s because the operator was running very late inbound and had to take his 5 minute potty break.
      Inbound buses? Who cares where they stop?

      1. “Inbound buses? Who cares where they stop?”

        I do. Without some overriding ADA or other federal mandate, it is painful to see inbound buses stop at the rear bay (because that is where they are assigned to stop, for reasons I could never figure out), while forward-bay outbound buses wait in line in the tube.

        I’ve been an advocate of eliminating rear bays, but this tweak might just turn out to work better, and I’m glad they are testing it live sooner rather than later.

        I think Metro should get more credit for today’s changes than referring to them as “minor”. They are at least a 4 or 5 on the Richter scale, as the transit industry goes.

      2. If this is a 4 or 5 we need to see some 7 or 8s. The original Fall restructure proposal would have been a major improvement. The watered down Fall proposal is somewhere in between.

      3. @Brent. That’s what I meant. Don’t stop at an intermediate bay, when pulling forward works just as well for those wishing to alight. For local wanting to just hop down a few stops, make the last stop then off you go.

      4. See above. Inbound buses tend to unload faster than outbound buses that are operating at Pay as you enter times. Additionally, it typically takes less time to unload wheelchairs than it does to load them. Taking reasonable steps to get inbound buses in front will improve operations.

    4. One concern: Inbound buses will be *required to stop at the forward bay. They can’t deboard at the rear bay, call it good, and move on to the next station. Is there a reason inbound buses can’t just deboard wherever they end up in line at each platform?

  6. I guess what I’m really saying is that changes in bus order should be studied and data compiled before going to the work of moving buses around to get them in the right order.

  7. What’s wrong with that photo?
    Burien Transit Center conjures up shelters, hustle and bustle, and all the trappings of a proper ‘Center’. This just looks like a few people getting on a bus in the middle of nowhere unless you count the garbage can as close enough.
    “Just having a little fun with the photo Bruce”

  8. Extension hours for the 180 service to Kent is one of my major requests, so I can fly in later and take the 180 back from Seatac to Kent Station!

    It also provides a needed backbone East to West across Kent Valley…hooking me up with LINK service.

  9. So now if any bus in the tunnel is in the third spot or further back at the platform, then it will still pull up to the first or second spot for loading/unloading? Are there general guidelines that instruct drivers when to open or not open the doors if they’re further back? Sorry, I don’t know all the tunnel rules, but I am interested in the effects of people running back and forth on the platform.

    1. I observed a 71 going northbound at I District Station being third in line for Bay A. It was partially blocking Bay B, of course. It kept its doors closed and waited for the two buses in front to move.

      One of the buses ahead of it was an inbound 550, confirming that that route, too, is no longer deboarding at the rear bays. It was slightly unfortunate that the 550 pulled in ahead of the 71.

  10. The added frequency on 71/72/73 Sundays is long overdue. Even better would be to keep them on express routing evenings and Sundays, and add service at these times to the route #70 for local service along Eastlake and Fairview Aves between downtown and the University District. Perhaps shift hours from #66 to #70 and add weekend service on #67 instead of the #66.

    1. Agreed, the whole Eastlake corridor needs to be rethought from scratch as part of a wider NE Seattle restructure.

  11. I compared the MT 255 schedule in effect Oct 2011 – Feb 17, 2012 – the schedule with increased service due to tolling of the SR520 bridge – to the new schedule which went into effect on June 8.

    The Oct schedule offering 10-minute headways from Kirkland-> Seattle from 3:24pm to 6:54pm and then 13 and 15-min to 7:22pm. Similarly leaving Seatle, it offered 15 mins from 5:30am to 6:00am and 10 mins from 6:00am to 9:00 departing University St.

    The result of two successive reductions is now 10-min afternoon inbound headways do not start until 3:54pm (even though peak fares start at 3pm) and end at 5:54pm, increasing to 20 mins at 6:40pm. And morning outbound headways are now 30 mins at 5:30 and 6:00am, 10 mins from 6:13am to 8:23am dropping to 15 mins at 8:45am.

    The reductions were accomplished incrementally in two successive shake-ups without any announcement or policy decision, just a vague comment that “Two eastbound and two westbound off-peak trips will be deleted.” In fact two of the deleted trips charge peak fares and are during peak period, and the others are in the shoulders of the peak. Route 255 operating costs should have gone down with the implementation of 520 tolls since 520 congestion went down – and there was a promise of increased service on the 255 to offset implementation of tolls. It’s disappointing to see these service reductions applied incrementally instead of maintaining the promised 10-min headways.

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