Aurora/38th
Aurora Ave & 38th St, looking north

One of the problems with the current Route 358, which will persist with RapidRide E as currently planned, is the lack of access to Fremont. The core of Fremont is on Fremont Ave at 35th St, about two blocks west of Aurora Ave, but roughly 100′ below the deck of the George Washington Bridge, which carries Aurora Ave at that point, and the entire hillside north of the Ship Canal around Aurora is densely built-up. Routes 5 and 16, which travel over the Aurora Bridge, but exit near 38th St to serve Greenwood and Wallingford respectively, have stops on the Fremont Ave/Bridge Way ramps which provide peripheral access to Fremont. The E Line’s nearest stop, however, will be on Aurora at 46th St  — almost a mile walk from the center of Fremont.

I suspect there is a relatively cheap and straightforward solution to this problem, and moreover, other engineering work that Metro and SDOT are engaged in further north on Aurora as part of the RapidRide project could lay the groundwork for implementing it. The basic idea is to add a pair of E Line stops on Aurora, just north of 38th St, which sounds extremely simple, but if it were simple, it would probably have been done a long time ago. The northbound stop would be fairly straightforward, but there are multiple issues with a southbound stop, given the road’s current configuration.

The first problem is evident from the photo above. The curb lane disappears at 38th St, and the two center lanes of Aurora carry continuous, high-speed traffic. There would be no safe way for the bus to merge in to those lanes from a stationary position, and this is a show-stopper — Metro will not build or use such a hazardous facility. So, we need to come up with another lane south of 38th St if this idea is to have a chance. After the jump, let’s look at a photo taken one block south of the one above.

Fremont Ave Ramp
Fremont Ave Ramp, looking north

It looks from this photo as if there was once a narrow curbside lane, subsequently painted out. My guess from looking at it is that it’s about 7′-8′ wide — not enough for a bus lane. But there’s piece of 1930’s vintage sidewalk there that’s narrow, almost unconnected and virtually never used, that could be cut back enough to make a 10′ lane — just wide enough to squeeze a bus through. I am, in almost all cases, vigorously opposed on principle to removing or narrowing sidewalks to facilitate vehicle travel, but in this case, the minuscule utility of this sidewalk seems to be greatly outweighed by the dramatically improved transit access that space could be used to provide.

The final problem is also evident from this photo: under the current ramp setup, the curb lane would create a collision hazard, with accelerating cars at risk of broadsiding buses that would be hidden behind the trees as they approached. Modern expressways provide merge lanes to allow drivers to safely execute merges at speed, but this is not a luxury afforded to drivers on 1930’s vintage roads like Aurora. SDOT has solved the problem by making the curb lane north of here a parking lane, and then eliminating it altogether, so no merging is required. If we were able to squeeze in a new bus lane here, how would we make the Fremont Ave ramp safe?

Here’s where SDOT and Metro’s RapidRide work from further north comes in: the agencies have exactly the same problem at 46th St, where a curbside parking lane north of 46th is being eliminated to provide a BAT lane, which would create a merge hazard at the Phinney Ave ramp. As I understand it (and this is preliminary), SDOT’s engineers are planning to use a transit-actuated ramp meter to stop traffic on the ramp when the bus pulls out of the 46th St stop. This prioritizes the bus over general traffic and eliminates the safety issue. This technique, if it proves successful, could be applied here.

I’m told that a 38th St stop pair is not currently within scope for the E Line, but it should be. The engineering, design, and road work required to make this stop happen would amount to a minor capital project, only slightly larger in scope and cost than of most RapidRide stops, and if this stop pair were built, I suspect they’d rapidly become some of the better-used RapidRide stops north of the Ship Canal, because they would fix a big hole in RapidRide’s coverage of one of the denser parts of Aurora. At a minimum, SDOT and Metro should work together to complete a feasibility study to confirm whether or not these stops could be added, and how much they would cost.

111 Replies to “Connecting Fremont to RapidRide E”

  1. Why not have transit only lanes and elevator connections going up from the Fremont core to two bridge stations?

    1. You could, but that would turn a $200k, six month project into a $20+ million, six year project.

      1. Yeah, I know. Just throwing that out there anyway. If someone could think up the SR99 DBT, can’t I fantasize about this?

      2. How are you going to stabilize the elevator shafts? The bridge sidewalks are cantilevered out of nothing and would make rather flimsy objects to which to attach the shafts.

        And would you want to ride a 100 foot elevator with absolutely no building around it?

        Stops at 38th and Aurora, with suitable pedestrian access to the stairs down to Fremont under the bridge would be perfectly adequate.

        Bruce,

        One slight change I suggest is to put the southbound stop within the little pocket park beside which the remnant sidewalk passes. The reason for that is that the cars will be trying to cut in front of a stopped bus to turn from southbound Aurora to 38th if the stop is nearside 38th. Also, there’s already a signaled cross-walk between the pocket park and the south side of the Fremont Way to Aurora on ramp (the southbound one that Bruce said needs a ramp meter).

        If the stop is nearside 38th, either people will have to walk down “upper” 38th to Linden and cross both “lower” 38th and Fremont Way, or cross upper 38th where the cars are turning right quickly and walk around the pocket park to the on-ramp crossing. That’s the shorter of the two routes from nearside 38th to the stairs, but more dangerous.

        You’d also need one of those bus-actuated meters on the westbound “upper” 38th to northbound Aurora ramp, because the cars won’t be able to see a northbound bus pulling into the acceleration lane to stop. I don’t think you can put the stop at the eastside pocket park without widening the bridge over 38th.

        Other than those two details, it’s a great idea.

      3. Calm down Anandakos, I wasn’t being serious.

        However, why not have some buildings included around those elevator shafts with ample amounts of affordable housing with a direct connection to transit?

        Doesn’t anyone have any imagination?

  2. Re: sidewalk issue. Couldn’t we just move the sidewalk over a few feet? There’s just grass there, and would only require a little retaining wall and a minor rework of that underpass.

    1. You could build a new piece of sidewalk from the south side of the underpass to the north side of the ramp fairly easily, although you might have to saw down a couple of trees. I’m not sure if that’s worth the effort, though, as the only place to go from there would be the unmarked crosswalk across the mouth of the ramp to the bridge. That’s such a sketchy pedestrian pathway I don’t know if it makes sense to spend money on it, rather than have people use the far safer signalized crosswalk north of the bus stop.

      Making a connection to 38th St or the north side of the underpass would require cantilevering out from the existing underpass roof, which is undoubtedly possible, and would be a much more useful pedestrian connection than to the south, but multiplies the expense of the project overall.

      1. I can guarantee you that the majority of riders coming from Fremont are not going to be using the crosswalks and waiting two lights when their onebusaway says their bus is going to be there in 2 minutes. They’ll sprint across the on-ramp, as they always did when the triangle from hell was there, prior to the modification.

        Just put the stop next beyond the on-ramp, near the stairs. Then you will start getting many more pedestrians who will start thinking it might be easier and quicker to do a quick climb and grab the fancy new E.

  3. That’s not a good spot. Pedestrian access is difficult and dangerous.

    Put the stop near the stairs coming up from the troll. Make the existing lights pause on-ramp traffic for the E, so that people aren’t accelerating into the back of the bus, and your job is done.

    1. And install a northbound slide for thrill-seeking passengers exiting, in memorial for the 359 bus tragedy.

    2. I agree, put the stop on the beginning of the bridge, then it will have better pedestrian access (via the stairs).

      1. Any improvements to the pedestrian access routes will have to be ADA compliant—stairs?

  4. I think Fremont is already very well served by Metro Transit. This feels like a non-issue for me.

    1. I have to agree with Sue. the focus for Fremont should be the improvements to the 26, 28, and especially the 40. If we could cut the time between downtown and Fremont on these lines, RR E is a non issue.

      1. 1. Fremont is NOT well-served by transit–there is no transit connection from Upper to Lower Fremont from N 46th to N 34th or 36th. Not on Fremont Ave and not on Stone, which is the eastern border of the Fremont urban village. 2. The plan for delay at the Phinney on-ramp at N 46th is going to create further havoc on N 46th going east-west, which is currently so congested for several hours morning and evening that it is almost useless.

      2. Well, i guess i’m looking at how the RR E could really improve it. I think the empahsis from Fremont should be focused on improving the routes that are there and to push for a street car/other higher capacity transit. Build the bus/bike/pedestrian bridge over the ship canal…etc. Adding a stop to the E makes no sense – physically or otherwise.

      3. Those of us coming from the North would love to have a stop near 38th. Currently I don’t go to Fremont unless I have to because transit connections are a pain. Going south across the bridge and waiting for another bus to take me back north to downtown Fremont is currently the fastest way (which is too slow).

    2. Do you realize that the Fremont neighborhood extends to N.50th Street? Do you realize that most Fremont residents that don’t live within a block of 35th and Fremont? Transit is a HUGE issue for the neighborhood, and has been for years. Getting downtown isn’t the big problem; getting anywhere else is (upper Fremont, Ballard). Route 40 improved access to Ballard and Downtown, but at the expense of routes 17 & 18. I’m glad that transit access is a non-issue for you, but most Fremont residents aren’t as fortunate.

      1. The proposed stop would only improve access for Fremont residents further to the south. North Fremont residents already have a stop at 46th.

      2. I suspect most people who live below (like in condos and apartments on 35th and 34th) are not going to hike up to the bridge to catch a bus. Their stop is at 34th and Fremont (and 35th to the east, and 36th/Leary to the west). This new stop (which I agree should be at the top of the steps), would primarily serve people from 38th to 40th and mostly west of Aurora (try walking to this spot from 41st and Whitman), but only for a block or so (west of Linden, you’ve got the 5). It’s a smallish service area compared to Fremont’s overall transit needs. What’s the incentive? Faster service?

    3. Fremont is well served if your target destination is downtown. It is not well-served if your target destination is anywhere along Aurora north of Fremont. For example, I once needed to make a trip like this:

      https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Wallingford+Ave+N&daddr=Leary+Way+NW&hl=en&ll=47.679605,-122.348299&spn=0.056285,0.132093&sll=47.680934,-122.349586&sspn=0.056284,0.132093&geocode=Fdjr1wIdGU61-A%3BFYko1wIdu-u0-A&t=h&mra=ltm&z=14

      With the 16 being horrendously slow and unreliable, the only reasonable option was to take the 358 and walk all the way from Aurora on 46th. (This was before the RapidRide D reshuffling – today, the 40 is the best option, at least on paper, but it goes way out of the way – from from ideal).

      1. Isn’t that the case for pretty much all of Seattle? Easy trips downtown, annoying as heck anywhere else?

      2. Fremont and Queen Anne are especially egregious because the transit goes around them as if they’re in the middle of a “U”.

  5. I would only support adding this stop to the E Line if we could cut at least one other stop someplace else. I propose the stop at 95th (Dunn Lumber) and the one at 125th (which happens to be my stop). It takes 45 minutes to an hour to commute between downtown and Bitter Lake, and RapidRide-izing the line is only going to shave a few minutes off that. Adding another stop is going backwards in terms of improving the speed of service along this route, so, if Fremont needs access to Rapid Ride, then let’s cut some less productive stop(s).

    Also, frequently the buses driving over the Aurora Bridge stradle two lanes as they cross the bridge, because the lanes on the bridge are EXTREMELY narrow. So, I’m not sure adding a southbound lane at the north end of the bridge would really do anything for the problem you’re describing.

    1. I would be totally OK with killing some of the other minor stops on the E Line, with or without this stop.

      1. +1. I mean I get Shoreline doesn’t want to do that, but at least in the city can we be smarter?

    2. Normally I would agree, but this isn’t just any stop in a single-family neighborhood like, ahem, 95th. Fremont is denser and more transit-using than anywhere north of it, and this stop would probably add 10-15% to the E’s ridership. (Hmm, that could be a reason for those standing on crowded 358 runs to oppose it….)

      Fremont went through an interesting change in September, going from having spotty/slow service to downtown to suddenly having 8 buses an hour, half of them going on Westlake. Fremont-downtown is probably overserved now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s rightly served. Adding an E stop could allow the 26/28 to downsize as they probably should. Although I doubt they will since Metro is probably happy about the 15-minute service on Dexter. However, other neighborhoods, who can only wish they had 15-minute service all day and evening, like Greenwood and Madison for instance, would beg to differ.

      1. Lower Fremont got a big frequency boost, but according to schedules the 40 isn’t any faster between 3rd/Pine and 35th/Fremont than the 26/28. Actually by the schedules it’s a minute slower. Why? North of around Mercer the 40 is faster but closer to downtown it’s really slow. It’s not especially reliable either — it can be subject to huge delays not only on the north end of downtown, but also in Ballard and around Northgate.

        All that frequency means it’s usually OK… though this evening I managed to walk all the way from Ballard to lower Fremont along the route of the 40 without a single bus passing me (OBA showed none even close). Must have been some bunching. Speed and reliability improvements are needed on many segments of the 40 (there was a post on here a while ago about that…).

      2. With the 31, 32 and 26 all running on the same streets between Fremont and Wallingford it seems that some changes could be made to accommodate people who don’t want to walk up that steep hill. Metro used to run the old route 30 from SPU through Fremont to the top of the hill and then on to Laurelhurst via 45th St., but ridership was low and Metro killed the service. Fremont wasn’t the center of the universe in those days. If Metro ever does get into expansion mode again, the 13 is an obvious choice to extend across the bridge, run up the hill and connect to the UD. Together, the 44 and 13 could provide 8 buses and hour through Wallingford.

  6. As a resident of Fremont, I’m not concerned about this. I already have great access to downtown via the 5, 16, 26, 26X, 28, and 40. It’s ok that I can’t take the 5X, 28X, or 358X, since I can usually hope on one of the 6 above routes any time of day without waiting more than 5 to 15 minutes. I’m willing to sacrifice waiting that extra 1 to 2 minutes so that residents further north of me on the Aurora Ave Corridor can get home quicker.

    This post is a non-issue. I’d rather that resources are allocated towards real problems, like grade-separated transit, buses to Golden Gardens & Shilshole Marina, or all-day service to my mom’s house on Sunset Hill. Living in Fremont, my transit access is already better than most of the city.

    1. Golden Gardens? Are you kidding me?

      This may come as a shock to Seattleites but good transit allows you to travel to every point of the compass, not just downtown. Currently it’s almost impossible to go north out of Fremont. Does that not strike you as a problem?

      1. Great point. I live around 85th and Aurora and I would love a connection to Fremont. Having easy Downtown access is fantastic but it would better connections between neighborhoods is also important.

      2. I am super confused. The above-mentioned routes all go north out of Fremont. Fremont is a one-seat ride from my place in Bitter Lake, on the 5, which also provides a one-seat ride from Fremont to Phinney Ridge and Greenwood (and Shoreline CC). The 16 goes to Northgate, the 26 goes to Green Lake, the 40 goes to Ballard (I guess that’s more west-northwest), the 28 goes to whatever you call that neighborhood that’s in between Ballard and Phinney Ridge. For the person at 85th & Aurora, walk over to Greenwood or Wallingford, whichever is closer, and catch the 5 or 16 respectively. I am just not seeing what northern destination people from Fremont can’t reach. Honest question, not trying to be argumentative, I really am super confused.

      3. The 5 is at least half a mile from Aurora, and the Fremont & 39th stop is a little over a quarter mile from the center of Fremont. If you’re willing and able to walk that far for local transit service, then yes, that trip will work for you, but most people aren’t.

      4. Again, the route spaghetti is all we know.

        If it’s faster to walk 1.5 miles uphill — something the vast majority won’t do — than it is to walk to the already-out-of-the-way stop, wait 15-40 minutes for the unreliable bus, and take it the same distance, then you don’t actually have any connectivity at all.

      5. I am still confused. (And sorry, I feel like I’m coming off as a jerk, but I’m honestly not seeing the problem this stop would solve.) So, you’re saying people in Fremont want to go someplace on Aurora north of Fremont, and it’s too far for them to walk from Greenwood? What exactly are these destinations on Aurora that they are attempting to reach via transit? I mean, I live between Greenwood and Aurora, and I am having trouble imagining what would draw someone out of Fremont to visit our horrible unwalkable hooker-filled neighborhood.

        Also, when we say that the 5 is too far from downtown Fremont for most people to access, we’re talking about the distance from 35th to 39th, aren’t we? So, 4 blocks? That’s a barrier now?

      6. As I said below, I should have said: “Going north is so slow and inconvenient that anybody to the north with a car just drives it.”

        As to what destinations are up there, it’s not for me to care. Masses of people ride the 358 throughout the length of Aurora at all times of day, and masses of people use the stops at 34th/Fremont at all times of day; and those two facts are reason enough to provide better connections between this new trunk route and the ridership center of Fremont.

      7. FYI, the358: North 45th Street is a dividing line in the numbered-block grid.

        Above 45th, numbered blocks are 265 feet long. 45th to 65th is thus precisely one mile.

        Below 45th, numbered blocks are 430 feet long. That’s why 35th to 39th — your “so, 4 blocks?” — is over 1/3 of a mile.

        And it so happens that this particular 1/3 of a mile is up a hill of aggressive grade, with zero building frontage and retaining walls with low-hanging and very wet foliage flanking both sides. It’s an awful walk to make when the transit you aim to reach isn’t even fast or frequent.

      8. Nobody would do this walk along Aurora itself – they would use adjacent streets instead, which are not nearly as ugly.

        And yes, connections between Shoreline and Fremont do suck today and suck a lot. A RapidRide E stop closer to Fremont is the best way to improve this.

      9. What destinations are there? Fred Meyer, Gold’s Gym, a jiu-jitsu school at 95th (that 95th I just dissed :), transfer to the 48, an ice-skating rink, a used computer-parts store (105th), a friend’s house (that 95th again), Costco, all of Snohomish County….

      10. The 5 doesn’t connect to anything on the north end. If anyone comes from Aurora Village (anyone from Snohomish County that isn’t near a freeway) they’ll be taking the 358. I would not care at for the proposed stop if the 5 continued on after SCC and ended at Aurora Village. My current choices are ride the 358, transfer to the 5 then get off at 36th or just get off Aurora and 46th on the 358 and walk it. Walking as been faster so far.

      11. You know, I hadn’t considered the connection to the Aurora Village hub. That is actually a really good reason to give a better connection to the line to Fremont. (Honestly, I don’t mean to undersell my neighborhood, but we just don’t have a lot to offer the average transit rider. Unless, you know, you’re looking for a lady of the evening. If so, please stop leaving your bright orange condoms in front of my house.) I’m sold on studying it at least.

    2. “I only ever go one place, but my route spaghetti never makes me wait more that 15 minutes to go that one place.”

      That might be the single worst defense of the Metro status quo that I’ve ever read.

      And heaven forbid that someone “further north” should actually want to get to Fremont.

    3. Somebody misses the 46.

      I’ve always though it odd that you can’t go from the heart of Fremont north. If not a RR E stop, perhaps the 5 along Dexter & Fremont Avenues instead of Aurora? That would require a bit of 26/28 restructuring to avoid overwhelming the area around the Fremont Bridge.

      1. Did the change the 5 since the last time I rode it? I thought it got off at Bridge Way and stopped all of, what is that, three blocks north of “downtown” Fremont. http://metro.kingcounty.gov/cftemplates/show_map.cfm?BUS_ROUTE=005&DAY_NAV=WSU

        Again, I am super confused about this “you can’t go north” argument. Honestly, me and my kid have taken the 5 home to Bitter Lake from visiting the troll. The 3 blocks to the 5 stop wasn’t burdensome on him, and he’s 5 and whines about walking long distances.

      2. Perhaps I should not have said you “can’t go north”, and should instead have said: “Going north is so slow and inconvenient that anybody to the north with a car just drives it.”

      3. The 5 comes by every 15 minutes all day on weekdays until 8PM, then it’s every half hour. By Seattle standards, that’s pretty darn good.

        I am with you on the “slow” thing though. That route stops every five seconds and has a somewhat meandering route through upper Fremont. I would totally support straigtening it out so it stays on Fremont and turns left at 50th (adding service to the south entrance of the zoo and the rose garden there) instead of where it does.

        Maybe my real confusion is, why would anybody want better access to Rapid Ride? Because, I don’t think it’s going to be noticeably faster than the 358, and, I am guessing it’ll still just as sketchy. If it WAS going to be a truly fast way to get north, then YES, I see why it’s worth investing in getting more people on it. But it’s not going to be much faster than the 5.

      4. Not possible to go from Aurora and and N 46th, or from N. 50th and Phinney to the center of downtown Fremont via transit sans “transit spaghetti.” While N 39th to N 34th might seem to be an easy 5 blocks, it’s a long steep climb. The 5 is only about 1/4 mile from Aurora on N 46th, so it’s a walk at both ends of the route for anyone living in Upper Fremont trying to get to downtown Fremont. In sum, maybe good connections to downtown, but terrible local connections.

      5. Andrew,

        You are about to get a large posse of torch bearing Phinney Ridge and Greenwood residents in your front yard, dragging Madame La Guillotine. DO NOT MESS WITH THE 5’s ACCESS TO DOWNTOWN.

      6. the358: Please read D.P. @ 3:07: the 5 does not provide service to downtown Fremont except to the vigorous, and even we find it long and unpleasant when it’s raining and up hill. From the Troll you are already half way up the hill. Take your kid down to 35th next time and then walk up Fremont hill to 39th.

      7. Anakandos: it’s great that Greenwood has quasi-express service to downtown via Aurora. Why shouldn’t Fremont have the same? (This is also why I’ve been pushing for an all-day 15X for Ballard….)

      8. the358, there’s this place called Snohomish County. The 5 doesn’t connect to it. If anyone living north near Aurora or just east of it want’s to take advantage of the 5’s “sort of near Fremont” stop they need to walk up a huge hill from Aurora to Greenwood and wait for another bus. The 5 is the best worst bus I’ve ever ridden. It could be really useful if someone who actually rode it sat down and planned it. Having it end and not connect to buses on Aurora when it’s so close was a very silly move. At the very least have it go to SCC then come down the hill to connect to Aurora. With both the 358 and 5 running every 15 minutes it would be an easy connection. Even better run it north and then pinch in to Aurora village. People could connect to it from all over. Currently using SCC as the anchor makes little sense.

      9. Metro has raised the issue of extending the 5 to Aurora Village. It’s one of those things that would have been done if Metro’s budget weren’t so tight.

      10. Mike,

        By “Fremont” I presume you’re speaking of “downtown Fremont” (e.g. 34th to 36th between Phinney and Woodland Park). And if so, you are absolutely correct, it is a big activity center and growing. However, that issue was discussed in long detail last week in the Rapid Streetcar post and comments.

        I don’t think anyone disagrees that central Fremont needs, deserves and would strongly use some sort of rapid connection to downtown. It’s just that for relatively vigorous people heading to the core and east side of that central area, the 5 — and when Seattle Center isn’t having some sort of event, the 16 — provide very nearly express service outbound from the CBD.

        No, it’s not ideal for inbound to the CBD because of the climb up the stairs, so the focus should be on the 40 for now until a decision on the Fremont/Ballard streetcar (if and how) is made.

        Right now it’s scheduled at 20 minutes from 34th and Fremont to 3rd and Union in the base service period. The 5 from “Aurora Bridge On Ramp” (the gold standard) takes 14 minutes to Third and Pike.

        Now the 40 is never going to match the flyer up on the big street; if nothing else it has to contend with the random and ever more frequent openings of the Fremont Bridge. And there are relatively few stops on the route as it is, so stop consolidation won’t help. But maybe with a little signal pre-emption to be shared with the SLUS it could be gotten down to 17 minutes. That’s certainly better than the hike up to 38th or 39th and Fremont Way for someone starting anywhere west of Troll Avenue.

      11. As a regular 40 rider, no, I would say the single biggest problem between downtown and Fremont southbound is Mercer, particularly in the PM peak. It’s worse there than the 26/28 were at Dexter before the ‘don’t block the box’ paint job; it’s not uncommon to wait ten minutes to get the three or four block distance in stopped traffic before finally crossing Mercer again.

        Any streetcar proposal for Fremont is going to have to deal with that blockage too.

    4. Ah, yes. The age old “I have mine, screw you” method of transit planning.

      For better or worse, RapidRide E is the main spine of transit service along the Highway 99 corridor for the foreseeable future. For the cost of adding one stop, you’d convert a two seat ride with backtracking into a one seat ride with a .5 mile walk for anybody who lives along 9 miles of moderately dense housing and wants to work in Fremont. This proposal is a no-brainer to study, even if the details may be a bit tricky to implement.

      1. Exactly. Rapid ride is probably going to be the fastest, most frequent service for Fremont for a long time. If we get a Link line from Ballard to the UW that includes Fremont, we will still want a line going north and south from there. Rapid Ride will probably be it, for many years to come.

      2. So, we’re envisioning people living somewhere north of here on Aurora, living in some of the more dense housing areas (like Bitter Lake, or, I guess near Oak Tree there’s some apartments?) who want to go to Fremont, and will walk a half-mile from the stop to downtown Fremont. Is that right? Again, I think the 5 and the 16 serve that purpose relatively well already. If a half-mile walk is OK from this stop to downtown Fremont, why isn’t it OK on the other end of the route, to walk from Aurora to Greenwood?

        I guess I just feel like, we have super scarce resources right now. This looks kind of involved and expensive. I’m not seeing that the benefit (a faster trip from up north to Fremont) is worth the cost that would be involved.

      3. Bruce intentionally offered an inexpensive version of a proposal. Frankly, I’d like to see the cheap version built quickly, yet bundled with a study package and a promise to eventually implement a permanent, elevator-supported stop on the bridge itself. Even that would be a pretty small capitol project in the grand scheme of capital projects.

        Limited resources are exactly why we should not be bypassing directly-on-the-way destinations with the trunk route into which we’re plowing those limited resources. Calling the 16 an adequate alternative makes me presume that you have never been on the 16 in your entire life.

      4. “Again, I think the 5 and the 16 serve that purpose relatively well already.”

        There are people in Fremont who don’t think so. I only go to Fremont occasionally, but I have experienced the walk from downtown Fremont to the 5 a few times, and I agree it’s not “serving” downtown Fremont. I also have a friend who lives in Phinney Ridge, and he talks about how it’s not close to downtown Fremont and the 31/32, and how frustrating it is for him to walk it or to convince his wife and daughter to do so when they’re with him. It’s enough of a disincentive to make some people drive. If it were flat it wouldn’t matter as much, but the 5 stop is on the side of a hill.

    5. Dave,

      This is mostly for folks who want to go between Seattle and Shoreline north of Green Lake and Shoreline and Fremont. You’re right that people won’t climb up to the bridge to ride the RRE to go from “downtown” Fremont to the CBD. They might vice-versa if the RRE comes first…..

      1. I live at 45th and Fremont, and the only regular car trip I take is to the PCC in Fremont. I’ve tried, and it’s just not practical to carry two bags of groceries up the hill. I can take the 5 for 4 blocks, or walk the whole distance. I was excited about the proposal for the 5 to use westlake/fremont bridge, because the 358 and the 5 are so similar thorugh Fremont anyway. I understand that might have reliability problems and my weekly grocery trip isn’t as important as reliable service along the entire 5 corridor, but this is the problem people are talking about.

      2. Jei–Fremont Neighborhood Council and others have pushed for downtown/uptown Fremont connection for years. We actually had it for a while but it got eliminated again because it wasn’t part of a route with sufficient ridership. (Remnant is the tiled bench at 43rd–that was one of the stops.) This connection is one of Fremont’s biggest transit needs.

  7. Um…no. The (not-so) Rapid Ride E to my place would be even slower. Why do I want to go to Fremont? My residence is more than 150 blocks away! The 358 currently takes an hour to go from my place to downtown (3rd/Virginia). The RR E is planning to shave only a couple minutes. To me, if Metro, SDOT and STB push for Fremont service, then increase 301 service from Shoreline/Richmond Beach. Stop at NE 145th St…possibly as the route heads downtown.

      1. Metro shafts Shoreline! All this post is proposing is to further screw over those like myself that don’t want to drive downtown or change buses. When something is advertised as rapid, I expect limited stops, preferential lanes…but get neither.

        Now STB wants Fremont service by a “minimal” shift to Fremont. How much time will that add to the non-peak trip to or from Shoreline? No thanks! Give me better Express service from Shoreline!

      2. But what if you want to get to Shoreline from Fremont. Keep in mind that Fremont has more businesses and people than most of the stops along the way. If the Rapid Ride E is too slow, then remove some of the other stops. I can think of several I would remove before removing this one.

      3. I’m sorry, Charlotte, that you bought into the lie that you could live eleven miles out of town and still teleport yourself to the center instantaneous with limited access freeways and BART-style park-and-ride services.

        You love to gloat about your lifetime of backasswardly autocentric transportation management. If true, than you have personally created many of the problems about which you now complain.

        RapidRide should be exponentially better than it is. But the world does not owe your “teleporter transit”. Certainly not at the expense of the greater connectivity achieved by stopping at a major transit destination that is literally right on the way.

      4. Again: we need two kinds of transit. Premium service that we charge a premium for that gets commuters to downtown jobs fast, and transit for people who want to live a car-free life and don’t want it to take two hours to get from Judson Park to Magnuson Park for their kid’s soccer game. These are two different kinds of transit and when we try to make one route do both, nobody is happy. Add runs to the commuter routes like the 301, and charge more for it (employer-paid Orca passes can cover the cost), and then people will stop complaining that it takes an hour and a half to get downtown on Rapid Ride, because they will be commuting on the expensive commuter routes instead. But when your only service to downtown from a suburb is on one of these stops-every-five-blocks-takes-an-hour routes, and then you name it rapid, the CharlotteRoyals of the world are going to get their pitchforks out. That’s why we have to stop doing this stupid thing we do of trying to make a route be all things to all people.

      5. How many times do I have to remind you that Metro already tried adding service to the 301, and stopped the extra service because no one rode it?

      6. It blows me away that 12,000 a day ride the 358 and it’s packed constantly but we can’t justify more service. The Swift has 1/3 that ridership and comes more often. Rapidride E won’t change this.

      7. “Metro already tried adding service to the 301”

        It was probably “extended peak” rather than all day service. People didn’t ride it because it wasn’t running when they were traveling. And I’m not sure the 301 is the primary need here. It’s not just the travel time from 175th to downtown that’s important. It’s also the travel time from 85th to either downtown or Aurora Village, the travel time from 46th, etc. If Aurora had fewer stops it could bring the end-to-end travel time down from 45 minutes to almost 30, and that would be fast enough that you wouldn’t need an express or a limited-stop overlay.

    1. A Fremont stop would have a negligible effect on the E’s travel time. The 358 is too slow for reasons that are far bigger than one Fremont stop. Namely, that it stops every 5 blocks, and it makes the Linden deviation, and it doesn’t have full BAT lanes in Seattle. Fremont would add a little 30 seconds, so your 45-minute trip from Aurora Village would take 45:30. Not enough difference to notice, but in exchange it puts the densest, most transit-using neighborhood in north-central Seattle on the line. It gives several thousand Fremonters a quasi-express to downtown and significantly better connections to the north. If you counted the number of people a half-mile around the Fremont stop and compared it to the same number of people around your Shoreline stop, you’d end up with a lot larger circle around your stop, maybe a mile circle.

      1. They need to spread out the 358/Rapidride E stops. I’ve found the Swift stops to be a bit far apart (1.1 miles) sometimes but 3/4 mile is OK. Just dropping stops, being able to board all doors and have Swift style accessible spots would make the route much better without really investing THAT much in it.

  8. Problem is sight lines.

    If a bus stops there, drivers passing it won’t see the cars merging over, nor will the drivers merging in see traffic they’re merging with.

    The trees are what creates that problem. You’d have peds crossing too, unless you dig up the troll.

    1. Trees can be cut down (yes, even in Seattle) or windowed. I don’t see any issue with merging there provided SDOT and Metro make enough improvements to calm the nerves of Metro Safety. Hell, the merge onto 520 EB at Montlake is more of a leap of faith than this. At least here you have some wiggle room if some moron decides not to yield.

      1. I agree, trees can be cut down. I was thinking that when I read this post and looked at the area earlier (I have been a proponent of this idea for some time). Just as Bruce is “in almost all cases, vigorously opposed on principle to removing or narrowing sidewalks…” I feel the same way about trees. But this would be a huge improvement to the area. In short, it would be better for trees everywhere if these few were cut down to expand the sidewalk, give safer sight lines or both.

    2. I think you need to walk the area. The bus stop would be on the north side of 38th St, way outside the sight lines of any car on the ramps. As the bus approached the ramps, the meters would kick in to stop traffic. This is non-issue.

  9. The bigger issue here is the substandard state of Aurora from from Queen Anne to Green lake. The lane width on the bridge is completely unacceptable. SDOT studied removing the sidewalks on it to increase lane width and hanging a pedestrian/cycle path to the outside of the bridge. The underpasses at 38th and 46th need to be totally rebuilt and enlarged to handle current and future transit, car, truck, ped. and cyclist needs. The even bigger issue here is how to increase the ability of SDOT to fund these significant projects…

    1. The underpasses at 38th and 46th are two of the biggest transportation atrocities in the entire city, and show the shortsightedness of the original design funneling everyone downtown. Just try getting onto northbound Aurora from the west!

      A huge swath of problems could be addressed if these locations were rebuilt and turned into proper diamond interchanges, including that buses could utilize stops on the ramps and then get back into Aurora. Sadly it would require demolition of several structures including one large apartment/commercial development on the E side of Aurora at 38th, but most of the rest is SFH.

    2. Yes, the buses do often use two lanes to cross the bridge. I barely want to use one lane (especially the curb lane) the occasional times that I cross the bridge in my car. Even in the car it is pretty scary narrow.

      1. +1. That bridge is REALLY narrow. Even if a bus is only taking up one lane, nobody wants to try to pass them on the bridge. It’s pretty terrifying.

  10. Would it be worthwhile to add just the NB stop even if we can’t afford the capital work for the SB stop? When I was working at the Google Fremont office I’d take the 5/16 from downtown if they showed up first and walk, so I could have used this stop on RR E. Because of the less-attractive uphill walk and schedule unreliability I never did the reverse trip though. It’s easy for Fremonters to get back downtown on other routes, but no SB stop would make there be no compelling round-trip for them to travel north on E.

    1. I think the main point of doing this would be travel between Fremont and points north. It’s easy enough to get between Fremont and anywhere south of there.

  11. Excellent post. I agree completely. Like it or not, Rapid Ride will be the fastest and most frequent way to serve this area. Even if they add a Link route from Ballard to the UW and include a Fremont stop, you will want a way to go north and south very quickly and very frequently. In other words, we have to make Rapid Ride work better than a standard bus. Boardings and exits have to be faster. Traffic light priority has to work better, etc. When Rapid Ride really is rapid (and frequent) then it should serve areas that make sense to serve. Fremont is one of those areas.

  12. Of course, it’s worth noting that any realistic northbound stop location for RR E in this part of Fremont isn’t going to be any easier to get to from the core of lower Fremont than the existing stops for routes 5 and 16.

    1. (It’s true of southbound stops, too, and actually these stops along Aurora would be even harder to get to than the existing 5/16 stops because they’re “shielded off” by Bridge Way and Fremont Way, where the existing stops are along on the outside of the “shield”).

    2. This is the point I’m trying to make. If the 5 stop at 39th and Fremont is too far to walk, how is this stop any better?

      1. It would be about the same walk at the beginning of the trip. Depending on where you’re going, it could be a shorter walk at the end of the trip. There’s a whole strip of land that’s closer to Aurora than either the 5 or the 16. Trips between this area and Fremont would be improved if the RapidRide E line had a stop just north of the Aurora bridge.

      2. Because we have to walk 3/4 a mile up hill to get to the 5 then walk 3/4 mile to Fremont. If the 358 stopped here we would have cut our walk in half. That’s the difference – 100% improvement.

      3. The whole point of Rapid Ride is that it is better than regular buses. It should be faster to board and exit. It should get preferential treatment when it comes to traffic lights, etc. In other words, it should be more rapid and more frequent than regular buses. If it does this, then adding a stop at Fremont makes sense. In other words, if it comes every five minutes and gets from downtown to Fremont five minutes faster than the 5, then people will walk the extra distance without worrying about. Furthermore, there are spots to the east that are probably as dense as most of the spots further on (there is a big apartment building on Stone Way as well as new buildings going up around there).

      4. @RossB: The 358 and 5 (and 26X during rush hour) all take the exact same route between Fremont and downtown Seattle. Anything we do to make the 358 faster between Fremont and downtown also makes the 5, 26X, and (to a lesser degree) 16 faster… some of the downtown improvements will also ultimately help the 26, 28, and (to a lesser degree) 40.

        Where there’s an important distinction between the 5 and the 358 is farther north. If you’re going to Shoreline the 358 should usually be faster (though Aurora is hardly faster than Greenwood north of 85th or so) and if you’re going to Snohomish County only the 358 goes to Aurora Village where you can transfer to CT routes.

      5. One difference between the 5 and the 358 is that the 5 remains throughrouted with a route with awful reliability. It’s not uncommon to have 45 minute – 1 hour gaps in the northbound 5 on Sundays.

    3. True enough, but if your destination is closer to Aurora than it is to either the 5 or 16, adding an E Line stop at the north end of the bridge is still a net win in transportation access.

      1. A pretty small one, really.

        I think running the 5 down Fremont and Dexter would be a bigger win, but some reconfiguration would have to happen first to make that lower section of Fremont Ave basically functional for transit. Something like… building a bridge at 3rd Ave W with one lane in each direction for general traffic plus cycling and walking paths, then turning one lane on the Fremont Bridge and its northern approach (all the way to 3rd Ave W on Leary) to bus-only in each direction… by limiting flow from Leary toward the Fremont Bridge southbound (I’m assuming around half the current Fremont Bridge drivers would be willing to go to the new bridge… many are coming from Leary and few seem to have any reason to be right there) backups don’t propagate so far north up Fremont Ave. This is basically the “transit and bike bridge at 3rd Ave W” idea except swapping the 3rd Ave W transit facility with one of the general traffic lanes from the Fremont Bridge.

        Well, anyway, I don’t think that idea’s on anyone’s radar but it’s obviously perfect :).

      2. ORLY? I thought Bruce thought the Fremont Bridge needed to be replaced with a higher bridge… but maybe I have that wrong. If lower Fremont somehow looks like that 10 years from now I’ll never criticize SDOT again (LOL fingers crossed).

    4. The difference is that RapidRide is a core line that is intended to come often and be more reliable (which is not hard, as the 5 and 16 set the bar very low).

      It also goes further north, it does so in a straighter and more legible manner, and so it can contribute to a usable grid of transit north of the Ship Canal in a way that the 5 and 16 cannot.

      If this stop existed, it might actually be worth walking to, even if only to ride the bus a couple of stops and switch to the 44 or 48. The 5 and 16 almost never justify the walk to reach them.

      1. Separate the issues–some of us are talking about busing within Fremont from top to bottom of hill and back (e.g., to PCC from near the zoo) while some of us are talking about rapid access from downtown Fremont to downtown Seattle. One bus run can’t solve both.

      2. And this article is about the 358 having a stop at 36th.

        It really comes down to this – if you’re coming from downtown Seattle to Fremont you’re covered. If you’re coming from Greenwood you’re reasonably covered. If you’re coming from anywhere else north you’re screwed. This stop isn’t perfect but it would increase my likelihood of working in Fremont by quite a lot.

      3. Exactly d. p. The idea that “the 5 or 16 go there, so why bother” misses the whole point of Rapid Ride. Those buses are special buses (it isn’t just the paint job). Boarding and exiting should be faster. It will have fewer stops. It will get preferential treatment with regards to traffic lights, etc. If it doesn’t, then it is a failure, and it doesn’t matter where it goes. If it succeeds, then it should cover the dense areas (while maintaining a good big of distance between stops to keep up speed) and Fremont is a dense area (far more dense than most of the stops along there).

      4. @Grant: This article is about the 358 having a stop at 38th. 36th and 38th sound close, but there’s a world of difference in terms of accessibility from lower Fremont (because for 38th you have to cross the interchange and for 36th you don’t). 36th is only possible with expensive and unstudied infrastructure.

  13. My dream improvement for the E-line would be to construct two freeway stations long the deep bore tunnel at the north and south end of downtown. Then, re-route the E to use the tunnel and thru-route it with the C, at the same time, breaking the thru-route between the D and the C. Yes, it would be very expensive. But being able to serve downtown without waiting for all those lights in Belltown would be huge.

    1. That would be freaking fantastic, but so expensive as to be impossible. It would actually look kind of like BRT!

      We’d also have a bunch of whiners complaining that the DBT stops made them walk an extra two blocks, and telling us it’s better for the bus ride to take twice as long as long as it stops right in front of their destination.

  14. I agree with the need for some way to connect Fremont.

    I also think that there should be a stop at SB 50th for folks wishing to go to the Woodland Park Zoo, as 45th is a poor alternative.

    Further north, in Shoreline I would’ve liked to have seen changes to other routes to provide local service so that RapidRide E wouldn’t be a red-and-yellow-painted #358 instead. Examples would have been the #345, which could have continued on 115th to Aurora and north, perhaps route-deviating to Four Freedoms and back, then cutting over to Shoreline CC at 160th. The #5 provides ample service on Greenwood. The #316, which duplicates the #345 and #346, could have deviated to Aurora at 90th or 115th, staying there to 175th or even 185th or 205th to provide local service.

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