Yarrow Point

[UPDATE 8/9/12, 11:22am: We received word via a WSDOT consultant that the shuttle operating hours have since been extended:

As of this morning, the shuttle, which runs between Evergreen Point Road and the new temporary transit stop on Northeast Points Drive, west of 92nd Avenue Northeast, operates 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.]

Thanks to ongoing long-term construction of SR-520 on the Eastside, the eastbound stop of the Yarrow Point Freeway Station will be closed for roughly 18 months.  The closure is already in effect, having started last Saturday.  According to Metro, regular Yarrow Point riders will have to use other stops, which will prove to be a challenge given the station’s far-removed location from other stops and routes.

One interesting mitigation strategy is the provision of a free shuttle that will run limited hours in the afternoon peak between Yarrow Point and Evergreen Point.  Interestingly enough, the shuttle is not being provided by Metro and appears to be privately operated (PDF):

Effective Monday, August 6, and until further notice, a private, free, non-Metro Shuttle van operates on Weekdays from 5-8 PM (see above) between the eastbound Evergreen Point Station and Points Dr & 92nd Av NE.

During these times, exit eastbound buses at Evergreen Point Station and walk to the top of the pedestrian walkway. A private van marked ‘Shuttle’ operates about every 15 minutes on Weekdays between 5-8 PM, and will take passengers to the temporary bus stop northbound on Points Dr just west of 92nd Av NE.

I can’t attest to how well this shuttle will be used, but it does set an interesting precedent for construction mitigation, particularly given the fact that Metro doesn’t seem to be paying a cent for it.  It will be intriguing to see, however, how riders might respond to having to hop into a van devoid of any Metro livery.

27 Replies to “520 Construction Update: Yarrow Point Closed Eastbound”

  1. The way this closure was implemented was virtually unconscionable. Metro says the stop gets about 60 riders/day and Sound Transit says 90/day – I don’t know if that is additive or different estimates, so it’s not a high volume stop, but it’s not nothing, either.

    The project is called the Eastside Transit and HOV project, and there will be a new freeway stop here when it is all done. WS-DOT promised the affected communities that transit access would be maintained at 92nd Ave throughout the project.

    With less than one week’s notice a flyer was distributed. The flyer was designed to mislead all but the most serious transit geeks as it said that replacement service would be provided at a temporary stop on Points Drive & 92nd Ave. Then that Friday night the access route to the stop was demolished and jersey barriers were placed in front of it.

    With very little notice and no public input, in the dark of the night, the stop was gone – despite a promise by WS-DOT throughout the project to maintain access, on a project called the Eastside Transit project. What a way to maintain and build ridership. Or does WS-DOT really want to increase driving and toll revenue?

    Since much of the parking at Evergreen Point was eliminated, some residents had been using Points Drive as “Park & Hide”. That was largely rendered impossible now.

    Walking from the Evergreen Point station might have been an alternative. There used to be a path headed east from that station, but WS-DOT closed that as part of the construction, too, and you’d literally need to walk west to 76th, south to 24th, east to 84th, and back north to Points Drive, a very circuitous route.

    So transit service which was provided at 92nd Ave for forty years, that was promised to be maintained, was gone over a weekend with no public process or public input. Literally a hundred trips a day with routes 255 and 545 providing 7 day/week 18 hour/day and lots of additional peak and weekday routes (167, 242, 243, 250, 252, 257, 265, 311, 540, 542, 555, 556 come to mind) will continue to roll right through but no longer stop.

    The misleading flyer about the temporary stop on Points Drive? Private high school service and a single peak-hour route, Metro 260 with 3 trips leaving downtown between 415pm and 515pm. Walking route from Evergreen Point? Not provided. Continuing on and returning via westbound service isn’t very practical. On the 545 the next stop is Overlake Transit Center, and in the evenings and weekends the timing requires a long wait for the return. Similarly with the 255.

    While it’s not a high volume stop, it is essentially the only access to transit for Yarrow Point and much of Clyde Hill. And it provided a place to park since Evergreen Point’s parking was mostly sacrificed for construction.

    But the process was ridiculous with no advance notice, no public input, and effectively zero consideration of the existing riders. The private shuttle wasn’t offered until rider complaints started coming in. And like most shuttles it probably won’t draw enough riders to justify it, and many will either elect to drive, or to arrange for rides.

    There is a cautionary tale here for how quickly bus service that has existed for four decades and disappear – in this case for about 18 months as they promise it will be restored in 2014.

    1. How many of those daily riders are schoolkids using the 982/986/992? I’d guess a substantial number. Those services are making the Points Drive stop.

      This area is exceedingly wealthy; there is literally no lower-income presence anywhere near the stop. Transit is a convenience for these folks, not a lifeline. The only local service in the area (the 924) was terminated for total lack of ridership many years ago.

      1. It never fails that someone has to comment that because an area is wealthy and people have cars they shouldn’t complain about loss of transit service.

        Serving this stop caused virtually zero operating costs to Metro or Sound Transit as the buses are already running through the area to other destinations. Incremental riders means incremental revenue. Maybe our citizens are doing their part to reduce pollution and oil consumption and reduce congestion. They pay taxes for Metro and ST just like everyone else. Transit isn’t an income-dependent social service – it is a service for all, and everyone benefits when more people ride.

      2. You’re right that the stop is normally very easy to serve given current service patterns. And that’s why it has such good service despite the low ridership it attracts.

        But during the construction, serving it would incur a whole lot of extra expense (for the service hours necessary to detour every 520 bus onto Points Drive); a whole lot of inconvenience for other riders whose service would take longer; and probably a legal battle to overcome NIMBY reaction from local residents who wouldn’t want 100 buses a day going by their homes.

        If the riders served by the stop were transit-dependent, that expense and inconvenience might be worth it. (And, indeed, Metro is rerouting the buses for the transit-dependent schoolkids.) But since they’re not, I think it’s sensible of Metro to avoid the expense and inconvenience and just make those few riders, who have lots of options at their disposal, temporarily find another way.

      3. The real issue is that during the 4-year EIS process led by WS-DOT the communities were told that transit service would be maintained throughout the project via detours and temporary stops.

        Then with about 3 days’ notice the stop was removed and they essentially said “just kidding” and 1-way service plus 3 peak buses per day is what they meant by maintaining service.

        The issue isn’t Metro or ST – it’s that WS-DOT didn’t keep their word. They spend tons of money to keep auto access open and to build temporary roads and parking for their vehicles. Within the project budget they could have also kept a path and stop. Not only did they elect not to do so, they lied about it, and then sprung the change with 3 days’ notice.

        This is an example of how you cannot depend on bus service. I have lived in the community since the 1980’s and the service has been here over 40 years. And it’s gone in a blink after being promised.

        Frankly just like WS-DOT will be blithely eliminating the Montlake stop – even though it is a great connecting point to north-south service, and an easy walk to both Husky stadium, U-Hospital and the coming Link station. Calling this 140-foot-wide highway a transit project is cynicism of the highest order.

    2. And in the end, Carl, you’ll get an even better transit connection across 520 with significantly more reliability. So while you may have to deal with a few years of construction and temporary inconvenience, the future benefits greatly outweigh the near-term costs.

  2. What strikes me as odd is that Metro can freely farm out operating assignments to contractors (businesses, not temps), but seems to feel it has to hold some marginal assignments, like loader, for operators, on grounds that loading is part of the operator job description.

    Well, then, maybe they can’t hire “loaders”, but it seems clear they can contract someone to do so. I’d rather have Metro drivers do the operating, where operating is to be done, than contract that out, before we pay operators to stand and hold an ORCA reader while the work they were hired to do (operate a bus) gets contracted out.

    1. I don’t think Metro contracted for the shuttle – I believe it was either WS-DOT or their contractor ECC which arranged for the private shuttle.

      1. Regardless, I’m not a fan of contracting out bus operations in general, which Metro does a lot of.

    1. The overwhelming bulk of morning riders are going west. The westbound stop remains open. For the very few riders going east, it’s not nearly as painful to take a westbound bus to Evergreen Point and transfer there as it is to double back when traveling eastbound.

    2. Yeah, this was my morning stop, having brought my bike over the bridge from Montlake. Used to be up the path, over the over-pass, down the lightly-traveled part of Points Drive, then up Lake WA Blvd, which has a bike lane, to Kirkland.

      Now, it’s all of that, still, but first I have to go up a long incline on the much heavier traveled part of Points Dr., with no bike lane. Overall, it only adds .6 miles, but it’s not a pleasant .6 miles at all.

      1. @David: True enough, but that means I can only catch a 255 (or a 540, if I get out of the house early enough). Now, I can catch literally any bus that stops at the Montlake Flyer station, including all of the East Base-bound buses.

        Waiting for the 255 (which does run quite frequently, granted) would increase my commute time from ~35 minutes to ~45-50 minutes, assuming that the first 255 that came along had room on the bike rack, and that I was close to the front of the bike-queue.

    3. Stephen, see my comment to the article below. Seems ECC has expanded the shuttle service to the morning (6:30am – 8:00pm).

  3. When I saw the signs for this closure my first thought was what a huge service cut it was, then next: well, that’s the difference between good transit service and durable transit service.

    For what it’s worth, if you’re walking from Evergreen you can use 28th, there’s a path through to 84th.

    1. WS-DOT closed the walking path between 84th & the Evergreen Point station. You are supposed to detour to NE 24th St. Altogether it is about 3 times as far as the direct walking path was.

      1. They closed the path that connects 28th to 84th? I used it just last week and didn’t see any notice that it would be closed… I thought they only closed the path along the north side of the freeway!

  4. Update today from the City of Clyde Hill:

    Starting this morning, ECC will expand the hours of free shuttle service for bus riders between the Evergreen Point Road flyer stop and the temporary stop at the corner of 92nd Avenue Northeast and Northeast Points Drive.

    Revised hours of operation for the shuttle will be from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    The shuttle replaces Metro bus service that was stopped at the eastbound 92nd Avenue Northeast flyer stop for construction of the 92nd Avenue Northeast lid.

    I saw the shuttle this morning circling back and forth between the Evergreen Point stop and 92nd Ave @ Points Dr. It is an light brown 17-passenger van with no markings other than two magnetic “SHUTTLE” placards on the side. Works for me.

    I agree with everything @Carl mentioned above – but it’s nice to see ECC providing this service. Not let’s just hope it will continue for the full 18 months of this closure.

  5. Unlikely to go anywhere, I know, but I’ve sent an email to Clyde Hill and Yarrow Point City/Town Halls, requesting a bike-lane on the South (uphill) side of NE 28th St and Points Drive NE, as that’s the bike-detour while this stop is closed, and it doesn’t feel super-safe going slowly uphill with cars whizzing by on their way to the freeway.

    1. Some days when traffic is heavy in that direction I go straight up the hill on 28th to 92nd rather than take Points Drive. It’s a pretty steep climb, not as bad as 24th. I haven’t really had major problems on Points Drive. A couple comically witless drivers have yelled comically witless insults at me, but that’s basically par for the course.

  6. While the sudden closure of the eastbound 92nd Ave bus stop is a bit of a shock, it is important to remember here that the number of users impacted is a lot less than some may think.

    I go by that stop each day between Seattle and Redmond and my personal experience is that most people using the stop are either transferring buses or have bikes with them – both of which can easily use the Evergreen Point Rd. stop instead.

    Furthermore, it is not necessary to walk all the way to Evergreen Point Rd. for alternative access, as the 271 stops on 84th. The hide-and-riders who use the 92nd Ave stop today should be able to park a few blocks west and use the 271 instead (if they’re heading to the U-district), or South Kirkland P&R (if they’re headed downtown).

    And I find it difficult to believe that any of the few people living within walking distance of the Yarrow Point freeway station are really transit dependent – the houses there are extremely large and expensive.

    1. @asdf – thanks for reminding me that my “extremely large and expensive” house must mean that I can just go buy a car today after work because the bus stop one block from my hose closed down.

  7. Someone above was complaining about how this stop was closed sudden and without warning. But, it was mentioned on the Metro Online and there was a rider alert posted at that stop a couple week prior to the closure.

    It was also pointed out, that on average only 60 riders used this stop per day, and I’d say from experience most of these riders are commuters being dropped off. So, they are not SOL, they have option of the rerouted outbound 260 trips at peak hour to get home. WSDOT has been closing these freeway stops in the evening for construction especially at Evergreen Pt, on and off for many months and it’s just something that is going to have to be worked around.

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