Every now and then there is a simple fix to an existing inefficiency that improves transit access, decreases travel time, and costs very little. Such an opportunity exists at the Olive Way/Melrose Ave on-ramp to northbound I-5.
In a well-known story, in 2005 Anirudh Sahni successfully lobbied for a morning-only Capitol Hill stop for Sound Transit Route 545 at Bellevue/Olive, sparing mostly Microsoft commuters living on the Hill an unpleasant walk over I-5 to Olive/Terry. (In the afternoons, however, Route 545 commuters still have a longer and even more unpleasant walk back up the hill from Denny/Stewart or 9th/Stewart.)
Made by 30 AM trips, the Bellevue/Olive deviation requires 5 turns in ½ a mile – 3 of which are signalized left turns (from Boren to Pine, Pine to Bellevue, and Bellevue to Olive) – adding a minimum of 5 minutes to each AM trip. Simply adding a stop at Melrose/Olive/I-5, a mere shift of about 750 feet, would save 2-3 hours of cumulative delay every day on the 545.
But the benefits of this stop would extend well beyond just the 545. At the cost of perhaps 30 seconds per trip, and without changing any routing at all, the stop could be also served by:
- U-District and Northgate express routes in the AM peak (41,71,72,73,205)
- All SR-520 PM peak routes (250,252,257,260,265,268,311,424)
- All outbound trips on the 255 and 545
- All off-peak northbound trips to Lynnwood (511) and Everett (510)
In all, over 350 daily trips could serve the stop. Just as one example, UW students living in the Summit Slope/Olive Way corridors – many of whom likely take the much slower 43/49 to the UDistrict rather than walk/bus to Convention Place – could see their travel times halved.
Sound Transit included this idea as a service change concept in their 2010 SIP (Service Implementation Plan), but calls and emails to Sound Transit and Metro staff indicated that there are no current plans to add the stop. Even more, the intersection has recently received a pedestrian safety upgrade (see photo above), and all that is needed now is a shelter and signage.
If you live on Capitol Hill, would you like to be able to get to Northgate, the UDistrict, Kirkland, Redmond, Everett, Lynnwood, etc much more quickly and without walking across Boren and I-5? Equipping dense neighborhoods with regional mobility is a central mandate of our agencies, and to me this stop seems to be very low-hanging fruit. How can we get it done?