Photo by the author

Above you see a photo of one of those little connectivity improvements that will only get attention at STB. Although it’s not terribly clear from the photo, this stop is a couple of blocks west of Sodo station, dramatically improving the connection between Link trains coming from Seatac and Route 21 buses headed toward West Seattle. According to Metro, this stop opened on March 2nd because of “customer complaints that the distance was too far between the previous stop at SB 4th Ave S & S Walker St and the next stop at SB 1st Ave S & S Lander St.” Those complaints were absolutely correct.

This is not one of those walk-across-the-room transfers — in fact, it’s not even close — but it makes this transfer at least plausible. It’s a negligible-cost solution to a real problem, and kudos to Metro for getting it done.

19 Replies to “Route 21 Gets a Little Bit Better”

  1. This is a big bucket of awesome! THANK YOU METRO!!!!

    Add the 50 to this stop, and it will be a wildly popular one once riders realize it is there. Make it a time point on the schedules, and riders will realize it is there.

    It might now be justified removing the stop to the north, in the midde of the block on 4th.

    1. The 50 and the 21 overlap on several stops from 1st & Lander all the way to 35th & Avalon. The 50 also has a stop considerably closer to the station between 4th and the Busway, so I’m not sure what purpose that would serve.

      1. I’m not suggesting removing the 50 westbound stop between the Busway and 4th, just adding a stop where the 21 now stops west of 4th, so that riders can catch whichever bus — 21 or 50 — comes first to go to all those stops in West Seattle served by both.

  2. Good for them!

    I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have taken the two parking spots right in front of the 4th & Lander gas station. Perhaps they figured they might as well serve that Seattle Schools facility, and then they had to weigh the merits of a closer transfer against the preference to stop in front of an actual, non-petroleum-distributing building.

    It’s worth noting that this 1200-foot transfer would be 425 feet shorter if only Sound Transit hadn’t put SoDo station an insane distance from the cross street — which serves absolutely no purpose, since the crossing gates come down and the warning lights flash the entire time the train is stopped in the station anyway.

    On a related note, the FHSC terminus is being built 710 feet from the major cross street and connecting bus transit. Yay!

  3. It’s excellent that the stop is finally there, but kinda weak that we now have yet another brand new Metro stop in a busy location without a shelter, bench or even a proper concrete landing pad. I realize those improvements take time but I shall be cranky if they aren’t already in the pipe.

      1. I was thinking the Link tracks but just looked at the route map on OBA and my vision of the route differed significantly from reality.

    1. That’s a great idea. how about a stop every 50 feet just to make everyone happy. seriously the stop at 3rd and lander is just fine. its not perfect but it makes connections easier. besides i believe buses can’t load or unload at railroad crossings.

  4. While connections are good in general, it’s not entirely clear to me which specific trips would make connecting in SODO the best option.

    Downtown->West Seattle – just take the C-line, or catch the 21 right out of downtown
    Ranier Valley->West Seattle – you’re already on the 50 anyway, just stay on. If you need to connect to the 21 to go south, that connection can be made just as easily in West Seattle as in SODO.

    And Airport/Tukwila->West Seattle is the domain of the 128.

    In the future, when Link extends northwards to the U-district and the demolition of the viaduct makes Link and the SODO busway the only reliable routes out of downtown to the south, this connection might start making sense (at least during rush hour). But until then, I just don’t see it having much value.

    1. It doesn’t matter how much you value the connection. Other people value it, have asked for it, and now have it. I saw riders trying to find the nonexistent stop before it was emplaced. I see riders using it now that it is. For many, it seemed like common sense that there would have been a bus stop there all along.

      Having six buses going to West Seattle six times an hour beats having only two buses per hour to West Seattle by a long shot (especially after the stop in front of the SPS HQ becomes a combined stop, which I’m sure it will given the concerted lobby that created the stop).

      The 128 is not that popular north of White Center. It may have something to do with the South Seattle Community College Knot.

    2. From anywhere the 50 goes in West Seattle, 50 -> Link is a vastly faster way to the airport than 128 -> Link. Hell, even RR C -> Link is faster. The 128 is intended to make local connections, and is not a good way to get all the way from West Seattle to Tukwila.

      1. Please forgive my ignorance, as I hadn’t actually looked at the map to see how slow and circuitous the 128 is until now. All those zig-zags look awful and I can see how out-of-direction travel to SODO on the 50 is much faster.

        Is there any hope of eliminating at least some of the 128’s twists and turns to create a straighter, simpler, and faster routing?

  5. The stop was originally marked with an unmarked bus stop and when trip planner told me i could make the transfer there i was confused. the driver didn’t know the stop existed yet it showed up in trip planner. luckily he let me on.

    1. When the 21 moved from 1st Ave to 4th there was originally a temporary stop there. It disappeared after a few weeks without explanation.

  6. Not so much that the walk to other stops is long, but it’s miserable because of roaring traffic, wide boulevard crossings, and poor walkways. This new stop also helps wayfinding considerably, to help people understand the route of the buses. Nice catch Martin…

  7. The photo isn’t showing how a wheelchair user can alight without overcoming the turf. This is a barrier to most wheelchair users.

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