26 Bus
Metro Route 26, by WhenEliseSings

As most STB readers probably know by now, Metro published its proposal for 17% service cuts yesterday.  No area of the county escapes significant pain, and any service that smells even slightly of empty seats would be cut or restructured.  In this post I’ll have a look at some of the more interesting (or scary) specifics within Seattle and North King County.  (A future post will cover the Eastside; cuts in South King County are more straightforward, although just as painful.)  A holistic look at the cuts, which are presented by Metro only route-by-route and in some not-so-informative area maps, reveals much more about what Metro is thinking for a funding-free future — and possibly a well-funded future as well.

Go below the jump for the details.

Night Service

The most consistent theme in the entire proposal is sharp cuts to late-night service.  Metro decided to shorten the span of service across nearly its entire network, with just a few exceptions, and a significant number of the “107 routes changed” are only changed to eliminate the last night trips.  At the big-picture level, these cuts would take Metro from a system that generally runs until midnight, with later trips at 1:00 or 2:15 on key routes, into a system that generally runs until 10:00 or 11:00, with later trips at midnight or 1:00 on key routes.  All “night owl” service (trips between 2:15 and 5:00 a.m.) would disappear.

While it appears justified if you look only at trip ridership, this change is heartbreaking to anyone who wants to see Seattle evolve into a place where car ownership is optional rather than mandatory for a significant number of residents.  No public transit at night means that more people will need to own cars only for nighttime activities, and that mobility for many of Seattle’s lowest-wage workers will become very difficult and expensive.  Lyft, Uber, and car2go will fill the gap for more affluent users, but others will be out of options.

Here is a list of when each revised all-day Seattle route will stop running under Metro’s proposal:

Unspecified: 28X, RR C, RR D (although both RR C and RR D have night reductions)
7:00 p.m.: 1, 14, 26X, 70, 71, 330, 331
9:00 p.m.: 50, 60, 346, 348
10:00 p.m.: 33, 128, 132, 345, 347
11:00 p.m.: 2, 8, 11, 13, 32, 40, 65, 107, 131, 372
Midnight: 3, 5, 16, 36, 41, 43, 48, 75, 106, 120
1:00 a.m.: 10, 44, 49, 73, 358 (RR E)
2:00 a.m.: 7, 124

Extensive Restructures

A gratifying surprise is that Metro is proposing real restructures to eliminate duplicative service, maintain frequency, and reassign the remaining service to where the most riders are.  Given the tight timetable involved, I feared that the agency would simply leave today’s network in place (complete with duplicative service) and cut frequencies across the board to unusable levels.  Diving into the details shows that there are seven separate restructures embedded in the Seattle part of this proposal alone, which makes this the most ambitious restructure effort Metro has ever announced.  These proposed restructures likely tip Metro’s hand about where it would like to go with the network even if funding were flush.  (If that’s not enough, there are at least two more restructures in the Eastside portion of the proposal, which I haven’t yet had time to figure out in detail.)  This is difficult and detailed teamwork that has been completed in an amazingly short time.  Metro’s planning staff should be given a hearty round of applause, and probably could use a few beers and a day off.

Some commenters here and elsewhere have suggested that the cuts could actually be a blessing in disguise, because they will provide political cover for restructures that will drastically improve the network once funding is restored.  The viewpoint is tempting — particularly after seeing some of the work Metro has done on this proposal — but I have to disagree emphatically with it.  The level of pain the cuts will create, and the level of mobility they will destroy, is just too great.  Political support for any restructures will suffer as riders associate them with drastic losses in mobility.  In an ideal world, the cuts would be forestalled, and then Metro would discuss restructures broadly similar to the ones in this proposal — but with the frequency, the long span of service, and the coverage routes to ensure they are seen as an improvement by at least a majority of riders.  I encourage readers to look at all of these restructures with a mind to what they might look like with full funding — in other words, with frequencies that are a real improvement over today’s, with adequate supplemental peak service, and with night service at least as late as today’s.

These are in the order, in my view, from “most dramatic” to “least dramatic.”  The maps are Metro’s; I wish they would show more clearly the difference between peak-only and all-day routes, but they’re better than nothing.  Read about them all, or jump to your favorite neighborhood:

First Hill, Central District | Northeast Seattle | West Seattle | Magnolia | Fremont, Wallingford | Beacon Hill | Queen Anne

First Hill and the Central District

Central Area Map
Metro’s map of the Central District restructure.

This restructure is extensive and has several parts: consolidation of service through First Hill, rationalization of service in the Central District, and a new approach to Yesler Terrace.  Much of it will be familiar to those who followed the 2012 restructure proposals, but there is one surprise.

Route 2 to Madison.  First Hill activists torpedoed a part of the proposed 2012 restructure that  would have consolidated east-west service through First Hill, currently divided between Seneca St and Madison St, onto Madison Street.  The restructure would have provided eight buses per hour along Madison.  Metro is now proposing a similar restructure — but with only five buses per hour, plus a modest amount of additional peak service.  Route 2 would be moved to Madison, and Route 12 would be almost eliminated (a few peak turnback trips, only as far as 15th, would remain).  It is not clear from Metro’s materials whether some trips on the new Route 2 would continue north to Queen Anne as Route 13; if they did, it would eliminate one major criticism of the 2012 restructure.  In principle, such a restructure is a wonderful idea, providing a consolidated, more frequent corridor through First Hill.  A frequency of only five buses per hour, though, will strain capacity to the breaking point; the current eight buses per hour are standing-room-only during much of the day.  It remains to be seen whether SDOT’s “Madison BRT” efforts could include funding to pick up some of the slack.

Routes 4 and 27 Eliminated.  The Central District becomes simpler, but loses a substantial amount of service.  Route 4 is eliminated, while service on route 3 becomes more frequent — but there is still a cut of downtown-Jefferson service, from the current eight buses per hour to six.  Route 27 is eliminated, with just the Yesler Terrace portion replaced by Route 106 (see below).  Route 14 adopts a much shorter span of service, turning into a daytime route only.

Route 8 Replaced by Route 106.  Perhaps the most interesting change is to current route 8 through the Central District (and on MLK through the Rainier Valley).  Route 8 is truncated to cover only the northern half of the current route.  The southern half is replaced by a radically changed route 106, which would entirely replace its current Georgetown routing with a routing through the Central District.  The route would travel along MLK between Rainier Beach and Jackson; use Jackson between MLK and 12th; and then cut over to Yesler for the final trip downtown, serving Yesler Terrace.  My hope is that the awkward Jackson/Yesler routing would change when SDOT completes its project to provide trolley wire along Yesler.  Outside of the Jackson/Yesler jog, the revised 106 is an interesting way to improve reliability along MLK and create a new connection between Renton, Skyway, the north Rainier Valley, and the Central District.  Riders on MLK north of Jackson, however, would lose all north/south service.  While ridership in the area is somewhat low today, Madison Valley would turn into an essentially transit-free zone.

Northeast Seattle

NE Seattle Map
Metro’s map of the Northeast Seattle restructure.

Metro’s long-simmering “80” proposal, which STB has been discussing for a couple of years (Bruce first mentioned it in 2011), is finally here.

Metro’s restructure in Northeast Seattle is possibly the most dramatic in the proposal, and is centered around a radically simplified vision of downtown-northeast service: a new “Route 73” which runs extremely often, along a single route.  This aspect of the proposal is reminiscent of the restructure that brought Route 120 to Delridge and Ambaum about a decade ago.  The new 73 would use the same route as today’s 71/72/73 service, express during the day and local at night, between downtown and University Way.  Going north from the U-District, it would shift west to Roosevelt Way at Ravenna Boulevard, and continue on Roosevelt Way all the way to Northgate.  North of Roosevelt, service on 5th Ave NE (today’s 66/67) would be eliminated, while service on 15th Ave NE (today’s 73) would be reduced to peak-only on the 373 and 77.  The 68 would also be eliminated.

All of today’s other downtown-northeast service would be restructured.  The 71 would turn into an hourly, daytime-only feeder route running between NOAA and the future Roosevelt Station along 65th Street.  Ravenna and Bryant riders would have to transfer to the 73 to reach downtown, and use the 372 or the 65 to reach the U-District.  The 72 would be collapsed into the 372, which would gain night and weekend service (and be truncated to end in Bothell).  The 74 would remain during peak hours, but the 30 would be cancelled altogether.

Of the area’s all-day routes, only the 65 and 75 would emerge unchanged (except for a shorter span at night).  This restructure contains the seeds of greatness, if only all of the routes were frequent and if North Link were open.  It brings North Seattle much closer to a logical, understandable grid of routes.  Today, though, it will cause pain for many riders, particularly those in Ravenna, Wedgwood, Bryant, and Maple Leaf, because of low frequencies and slow speeds.

West Seattle

West Seattle Map
Metro’s map of the West Seattle restructure.

Unfortunately for West Seattleites, the pain of the planned cuts is magnified for them.  Not only are they sharing in the general loss of CRC funding that will affect the whole system, but Metro is also losing state funding devoted to mitigation of the DBT construction project, which currently funds a significant portion of trips traveling over the West Seattle Bridge.  (Why that funding expires in 2014, when the DBT will not be complete until 2016 and the replacement bus corridor until 2018, may qualify as a Central Question of Philosophy.)

As a result, the cuts in West Seattle are perhaps more savage than anywhere else.  And one area, more than others, takes the brunt: High Point.  The neighborhood has been substantially redeveloped in the last few years, and has become an increasingly important transit destination.  It currently lies at the crossroads of the 21, providing frequent north-south service, and the 128, providing half-hourly east-west service.  The area will lose the 128 altogether — it is rerouted to travel east-west further north, between Alaska Junction and Pigeon Point, replacing lost off-peak service on the 125.  Meanwhile, 15-minute service on the 21 local will be replaced with half-hourly service on the 50, which is rerouted from Alki to Westwood Village via 35th Ave SW.  An area that formerly had frequent service to downtown and service to SSCC, White Center, and the Alaska Junction will now have less frequent service only to Westwood Village, 35th/Avalon, and Sodo.  In my opinion, this is the most painful cut in the entire proposal.

Other disappearing West Seattle routes include the 22, the 37, the 57, and the 113, all of which have relatively low ridership, but which together with the 21 make up a significant portion of the area’s service.  The 125, which has hemorrhaged ridership in recent years, becomes a peak-only route.  The 128 is rerouted out of North Admiral to Alki, to replace the 50 service that was moved to 35th Ave SW.  The 116, 118, and 119 expresses — Vashon-oriented service that also attracts some West Seattle riders — are truncated to begin and end at King Street Station; riders headed to the north end of downtown will have to transfer to or from other downtown service to complete their trips.

These cuts, however, allow salvaging of other core West Seattle routes despite the extreme loss of funding.  RR C and the 120, the highest-performing West Seattle routes, are unaffected except for late-night service.  The 21X, 55, and 56, the highest-ridership peak-only routes, largely remain in place (although the cut 57 means less frequency for many 56 riders).  This may be the clearest example in the proposal of retrenchment toward the service that serves the most, at the expense of everyone else.


Magnolia Map
Metro map of the Magnolia restructure.

Magnolia residents were unpleasantly surprised in 2012 when, upon rejecting a proposed money-saving restructure that would have straightened route 24 and given it a new connection to Ballard, they discovered that Metro’s alternative savings plan was to cut all night service to Magnolia after 9:00.  In early 2013, Metro restored one outbound 10:00 trip on both Magnolia core routes, but nothing else has changed.

In this proposal, the pain for Magnolia residents just gets worse.  As the single area of Seattle with the lowest off-peak ridership, Magnolia is absorbing a substantial share of the proposed cuts.  Two of the three all-day routes currently serving Magnolia, the 24 and the 31, are eliminated.  (The peak-only 19 is made into a loop covering a bit more of West Magnolia and renumbered “24.”)  The surviving route, the 33, is reconfigured into a loop-shaped milk run which awkwardly attempts to provide coverage to every semi-dense area in Magnolia.  While the loop is mainly centered around 28th Ave W and Thorndyke Ave W, the route also serves Magnolia Village (except at peak hour) via a long deviation using 15-mph Condon Way in both directions.  It attempts to serve the important intersection of 34th Ave W and Government Way through a deviation via W Emerson St, which I am frankly surprised can be used safely given its extreme steepness.  This route will provide essential coverage, but it will be slow and unwieldy for virtually all users, and will cut frequency between south Magnolia and downtown in half.  The revised 33 is the worst sort of spaghetti service, but given the magnitude of these cuts and the Magnolia ridership numbers, it’s easy to see that Metro had no other reasonable options.

Fremont and Wallingford

Fremont Wallingford Map
Metro map of the Fremont and Wallingford restructure.

The proposal makes major changes to Fremont and Wallingford service.  The largest change is a swap between the 16, on one hand, and the 26 and 28, on the other.  The 16 would serve central Fremont and Dexter, while the 26 and 28 would turn into all-day “express” versions of themselves, using Aurora with limited stops.  The new 26X would run only during the daytime, while the new 28X (which would exit Aurora at 39th, rather than 46th like today’s 28X) would run hourly at night as well.  The routing of the 5 and 40 would remain unchanged, although the 355 and 5X would be combined into a single route, slowing down north Greenwood commuters but offering them more frequency.

Daytime frequency on the 5, 16, 26, and 28 would be unchanged, which would have the effect of increasing service along Aurora while reducing it along Dexter and to central Fremont.  Frequency on the 40 would decrease; only six buses an hour would connect central Fremont and downtown, rather than the eight that run today.  Given extremely high ridership on today’s service between Fremont and downtown (particularly along the Dexter alignment), I am not convinced this change will provide adequate capacity for Fremont riders.

In my opinion, this restructure produces a few big winners and too many losers.  The relatively few off-peak riders along the northern segments of the 26 and 28 are the winners, as their service becomes faster all day and does not lose any frequency.  On the other hand, many more riders along the busier 16 alignment in Wallingford, although not losing frequency, will see their service become dramatically slower and more crowded.  Even more numerous Fremont riders will also lose frequency and capacity.  Finally, many central Ballard riders will lose frequency as a result of the 40 cut.  I think a more logical outcome with approximately the same resources would be to cut the 26 entirely (except for peak-hour express service), cut the 28 at night, preserve frequency on the 40 (at least between Ballard and downtown), and leave the 16 and daytime 28 in their current forms.

Another cut that will be painful for Fremont and Wallingford riders is that off-peak east-west frequency becomes half as frequent on what is now the 31/32 corridor, as the 31 is cut entirely.

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill Map
Metro Map of the Beacon Hill restructure.

South and west Beacon Hill undergo a significant restructure.  As mentioned above in the Central District section, the 106 is rerouted away from south Beacon Hill and Georgetown, to provide service to MLK and the Central District instead.  Furthermore, the 60 no longer provides north-south service in west Beacon Hill, becoming exclusively an east-west route between Westwood Village and Othello Station.

Both of these gaps are filled by an extension to route 107 which is intended to provide residents of south and west Beacon Hill (along with Cleveland High students) with connections to Link.  It uses the current 106 routing between Rainier Beach station and Albro Place, and the current 60 routing between Albro Place and Beacon Hill Station.  Unfortunately, the route only runs every half hour, so connections (particularly in the Link > 107 direction) may be frustrating.  The loss of the 60’s direct connection to the International District and First Hill will be aggravating to many west Beacon Hill residents, particularly since connecting service on the 36 is becoming less frequent.

There are two silver linings. First, the 60 would provide new east-west service on Graham Street on its way to Othello Station.  Although the part of Graham Street involved is very low-density, low-income residents of South Park, Georgetown, and White Center will find this service useful for reaching services along MLK (particularly the DSHS office).  Second, the 107 would no longer make the time-consuming VA hospital loop currently made by the 60, in either direction.  (The 50 also would skip the loop, although it would serve the stops at the base of the VA driveway.)

Queen Anne

Queen Anne Map
Metro map of the Queen Anne restructure.

I don’t know if Metro planners consciously adopted Bruce’s 2011 post, or independently came to the same result.  Queen Anne will have two frequent north-south routes, both running between Seattle Pacific and downtown.  One is the current 13, but with a frequency boost to every 15 minutes.  The other is like current route 3, except that it will terminate at Seattle Pacific rather than the old and odd Raye Street loop.  All-day service will be eliminated along current route 2 north of Galer Street, and along the 4 terminal loop by the old Queen Anne High School.  (Peak-hour service on route 29 would remain, although the route would be truncated to serve only the old 2 Express routing.)  The 1 will run only during the day, with no night service to any of West Queen Anne between Queen Anne Ave and 15th Ave W.

The shift of service from the current route 2 to the route 13 corridor is one of the few unambiguously good things to come out of this proposal.  Route 13 has much higher all-day ridership, and connects much more logical destinations for frequent service.  In a better funding environment, much of the affected area could be covered by the extension to route 1 which I proposed in my own Frequent Network Plan.  I hope Metro will consider the shift even in the absence of cuts.  Meanwhile, the streamlining of the 3 is equally welcome.

Just Plain Cuts

A number of low-ridership areas are losing all-day service altogether, without any significant replacement service.  Some are discussed above; others aren’t.  Many of them will seem familiar to longtime readers.  The following areas will have only peak service (or, if marked with an asterisk, no service at all) after these cuts are fully implemented:

  • Arbor Heights
  • Broadview* (west of 3rd NW)
  • Central Magnolia (outside of Magnolia Village)
  • Gatewood
  • Genesee Hill*
  • Horizon View*
  • Laurelhurst*
  • Leschi*
  • North Beach
  • North Ravenna
  • Shorewood*
  • Summit*
  • Sunset Hill
  • Upper Rainier Beach*
  • West Magnolia

While pretty much every cut to these neighborhoods is logical in terms of ridership, and restoring service to them is a lower priority than keeping well-used service in operation, it is still worth keeping in mind that these cuts significantly affect mobility for those without cars.

133 Replies to “A Closer Look At Metro’s Cuts: Seattle and North King County”

  1. Great analysis of the network structure, I concur with almost all of it, and the frequency and span reductions are, of course, devastating, particularly in West Seattle.

    I should note in passing that very few of the restructure ideas I’ve written about on this blog were wholly mine, they mostly arose from private conversations with Metro staff, so if they look similar to the proposal, that’s why.

    I agree that Fremont could be done better. I would put the 5 on the Fremont Bridge, make the all-day 28X local on Aurora, and provide all-day service on Thackery/Latona with an extension of the 71 that crossed back into the U-District on the south end.

    I will admit to some frustration that some of these changes have not been proposed before there was a crisis. The restructure of Eastlake (all day U-District express, 70-36 through route for local service, axe the 66) is decades overdue. The extension of the 3 to SPU (axing the vestigial dog-bone loops on the top of the hill) is also forehead-slappingly obvious.

    Finally, I will note that David and I met with Kevin Desmond and Victor Obeso a while ago, and among other things, shared our concern that if Metro gets more revenue, some of the unconditionally good ideas from this restructure (like Eastlake, Queen Anne above) would get shelved, once the money pressure was over. They assured us (and I was satisfied with their sincerity) that they were committed to a long-term process of restructuring and improving Metro’s service, particularly in areas like northeast Seattle, that have not seen a thorough rethinking of the network for decades.

    For me at least, the next item on my agenda is making sure Metro gets a stable new revenue source so we can avoid these cuts. Then I can go back to leaning on Metro to keep up the restructures and rider-oriented reforms.

    1. A few questions: Roosevelt is one-way southbound after 75th, so presume the new 73 would follow the current 66/67 pattern using 12th Avenue from Ravenna Blvd northward?
      The 66 serves many commuters in the Fred Hutch/South Lake Union area. If the 73 will follow the current express routing of the 70X buses, these workers will be very unhappy.

      1. These workers would presumably walk over to the other side of Fred Hutch and catch the 70. Given that the 70 is more frequent and reliably than the 66 today (the 66 today routinely gets stuck in ferry traffic coming out of its downtown terminal), many probably do this anyway.

    2. Hi Bruce,

      I am curious about your comments about service in Eastlake. I agree that some reorganization of the routes through the area make sense, but I have two questions:

      1.) Do you believe that the 70 — running at the proposed 10 minutes — is sufficient as the only bus stopping in Eastlake?

      2.) Why not have the 73 stop at one or two points in Eastlake (as the 66X does now) in order to provide more service to this neighborhood?

      1. The 73 will not stop in Eastlake, like the current 71/72/73 Expresses due to the fact that these buses will be using the I-5 Express lanes when possible. Upgrading to the 70 to 10 min headways should be fine. The 70 currently runs so frequent, that the 66 doesn’t really pick up or drop off that many passengers in Eastlake anyway.

      2. Thanks for your reply. I question whether the 70 alone will be sufficient in the AM peak periods with heavy crowds headed to FHCRC, Amazon, Gates, etc. I don’t ride the bus at that time, but I often see SRO buses and long, long lines at the bus stops in the morning.

        It’s also curious because the 70, under the proposed routes, ends service at 7 PM. So would the 73 become a local bus in the evening (like the current 71/72/73)?

      3. Eric, two points:

        1) The more frequent 70 would have the same peak capacity as the 70 + 66 do today, with more even headways.
        2) The new 73 would indeed be local in the evening just like the current 71/72/73.

      4. Thanks, David, for the clarification. It is very helpful in trying to understand what the proposed cuts might look like for my neighborhood.

        Is there a place to look up the peak capacity for a route (current or proposed)? I’m working my way through the 2013 Service Guidelines Report now and perhaps haven’t reached that section. But if there’s a handy reference that you use for determining this, please let me know!

      5. Capacity is just a function of frequency. The Metro cuts page will tell you the current and proposed frequency for every route that’s changing. The timetables will tell you the frequency for other routes. In your particular case, 2 buses per hour on the 66 plus 4 buses per hour on the 70 would be replaced with (during peak) 6 buses per hour on the 70. Off-peak, you’d see a cut.

      6. Ok — that’s what I was thinking but wanted to make sure.

        The concern, then, is that there are more than two 66 buses stopping in Eastlake during peak times. I ran a point-to-point schedule for Eastlake & Lynn (one of the 66 stops in Eastlake) to downtown for a weekday morning. Between 7-8 AM, 7 buses arrive (four 70, three 66). Between 8-9 AM, 8 buses arrive (four 70, four 66). Instead of those 15 buses during that high-demand period, only 12 would come through under the proposed changes. That’s also not accounting for the proposed deletion of the 25 that runs through Eastlake to downtown (which runs twice from 7-9 AM, meaning total current peak capacity could be seen as 17 buses).

        If that’s correct (and please correct me if my calculations are flawed), then I guess one counter-argument is that many of the people who are riding the 66 now would shift to the 73, which would reduce crowding during peak times on the buses that stop in Eastlake. To help determine if this is true, do you know if there is any data that identifies where most riders on the current 66 originate their trips?


      7. Well, you learn something new every day. I didn’t realize there was one hour in each direction when the 66 had 15-minute frequency. So between 8-9 a.m. southbound and between 5-6 p.m. northbound there would be a capacity cut under the reductions.

        I can’t give you exact numbers on the 66’s Eastlake ridership, but off the top of my head having looked at old stop-by-stop reports I think it’s somewhere between a quarter and a third of the ridership. Everyone who’s not currently going to or from Eastlake would presumably get on the 73 instead, because the 70 is slower than the 66. I do think the more uniform headways of a 10-minute 70 would be very beneficial, though — currently the 66 and 70 are not well spaced.

      8. I do think the more uniform headways of a 10-minute 70 would be very beneficial, though — currently the 66 and 70 are not well spaced.

        +1. There are currently 8 buses an hour on 23rd between Montlake and John, and 8 buses an hour on John between 23rd and Bellevue. However, because the 43 comes within minutes after the 8, the effective frequency is one bus every 15 minutes. Running 10-minute service on each corridor would be a reduction in service hours, but an improvement in real frequency. The same may be true here.

      9. Definitely agree about the spacing. I think simplification of the routes through Eastlake makes sense, I’m just nervous about peak overcrowding. I’m wondering if it would be possible to run the bigger buses during those early hours or if there are any other ways to mitigate overcrowding just during the early AM rush into South Lake Union and downtown. In any case, thank you for your replies!


  2. Some thoughts:

    – Loss of the 8 in Madison Valley isn’t good. Keep the 8 from Seattle Center to Mt. Baker Station.

    – MLK Way south of Mt. Baker would be served by the 101. Service would operate every 20 minutes to meet every other LINK train. 101 would start at Mt. Baker and end at Renton TC.

    – 14 would continue to serve Jackson, every 20 minutes during Weekday midday periods.

    – Extend the 60 from Othello to Renton along the path of the 106.

    – 26X should be extended along 65th from Green Lake and take over the 71.

    – Keep the 5 every 15 minutes and put it on Dexter, put the 16 on Aurora every 20 minutes.

    – Keep the 21. I am surprised that Metro would cut a frequent service line to a infrequent, crosstown service.

    – Better integration of the Water Taxi shuttles in West Seattle into the regular bus network.

    1. +1 on the 8.

      I’m okay with a restructure into an 8N and 8S, funding cuts or otherwise. And, I like Mt Baker as the breakpoint too, hooking into the new 8S-like 106, but looping around Yesler/23rd/Jackson, currently a nonsense part of the 8, would suddenly be a good option.

      1. Boo on not splitting the 8. As a semi-frequent rider of the north end, I feel terrible for being responsible for delaying someone’s commute on the south end.

  3. One other small thing: Metro’s documentation for the 14 doesn’t say they will cut the stupid tail on McClellan/Mount Rainier. Metro staff have told me on the record that the tail adds an extra bus to the 14 schedule at 30 minute headways. That tail provides minimal additional coverage, and virtually no ridership. Cutting it is very low-hanging fruit.

    1. Why in God’s name would they not cut that? Is it because it serves a very wealthy neighborhood?

      1. It appears to me that they bent over backwards to avoid several possible cuts that were proposed last time around and defeated by neighborhood opposition. This one is baffling, though, given the magnitude of other cuts elsewhere.

      2. I think the presence of trolley wire is part of it. If Metro cuts the service there may be pressure to take down the wire, which costs money and makes it much more expensive to restore the service later.

      3. Likely true, but only because that wire could serve no other useful purpose. Elsewhere, lots of unused wire remains either for vestigial reasons or for occasional use during reroutes. 9th avenue in First Hill, the old 9 wire at the Broadway/Aloha loop, and the two-way wire on Pine west of I-5 come to mind.

      4. When that segment almost died in the Central Link reorg, the question immediately came up “will you please take down that ugly wire if you’re not going to run buses?”

      5. “It appears to me that they bent over backwards to avoid several possible cuts that were proposed last time around and defeated by neighborhood opposition.”

        I’d buy that if they hadn’t proposed putting the 2 on Madison. The “Save Bus 2” campaign that scuppered that idea the first time it was proposed was the most powerful, best organized opposition to a restructure I’ve ever seen, hands down.

        “I think the presence of trolley wire is part of it.”

        I’d buy that if they hadn’t proposed axing the northern turnback loops of the 3 & 4. Those loops comprise significantly more wire, and are in an area almost as ritzy as that ridge of Mount Baker.

      6. I’d buy that if they hadn’t proposed putting the 2 on Madison. The “Save Bus 2″ campaign that scuppered that idea the first time it was proposed was the most powerful, best organized opposition to a restructure I’ve ever seen, hands down.


        I’d buy that if they hadn’t proposed axing the northern turnback loops of the 3 & 4. Those loops comprise significantly more wire, and are in an area almost as ritzy as that ridge of Mount Baker.

        Also the 47 and the 12. Those areas might not be ritzy, but that’s a lot of wire. And unlike the 4 turnbacks, Bellevue Ave and 19th Ave are not completely insane places to run a bus. In a better economic climate, you could imagine maintaining service on the 47 in particular, given the steep terrain.

    2. Removing the tail of the 14 wouldn’t even really leave residents there without service. I have walked there from Mt. Baker Link Station in as little as 10-15 minutes.

      And, no I don’t think of trolley wire as this ugly thing that must immediately be taken down the instant no bus is using it.

      1. And it’s like three minutes to the first 14 stop on 31st.

        I like trolley wires. They make trolleybuses look kind of like streetcars. Even empty wires give it a streetcar suburb feel.

        We mustn’t assume these cuts are permanent and start pulling down wire immediately. That would be just giving up. Leave them up for a year or two or three, in case we can get Metro back on its feet. It costs nothing to leave the wire there, whereas it costs significantly to take it down and put it back up.

        However, the Mt Baker tail may be an exception, because Mt Baker station has emerged as a stronger terminus. The tail wire only makes sense for a route going west to Beacon Hill, which is not in the cards.

  4. SE Seattle/Rainier Beach seems to come out of this relatively unscathed. Most important corridors will still have service. The only changes that I would question are re-routing the 60 on Graham St. between Swift and Beacon (that’s a mighty steep and narrow street) and 15 minute midday service between RBS and Renton on the 106. Currently, at 30 minute headways, those 106 buses are pretty empty–why double the service?

    1. Except for the elimination of the 8 as a route between the Rainier Valley and points north of Jackson. Rainier and Broadway are nearly unusable during the morning commute and the 8 is a great way to use transit to get around it. Without that option, I fear that many will get back in their cars.

    2. The 106 is getting double the service because it’s, for all practical purposes, a completely different route under the same number. The 8, which currently serves much of the proposed 106 corridor has 15-minute headways midday.

  5. Bias alert because it’s my neighborhood, but does the 3/4 restructure eliminate the turnbacks at 21st? Will all 3 trips go to Madrona?

    With the loss of the lowest-ridership part of the 8 in Madison Valley, I think it’s important to boost (or at least maintain) the east-west frequencies in the area to compensate. MLK/Jackson will have more frequency via the 14/106, MLK/Yesler loses service but that’s probably ok, MLK/Union will see the #2 go from 15 minutes to 12, and MLK/Madison keeps 30-minute frequency on the 11. I hope this restructure gives MLK/Cherry the mid-day boost from 30 to 15 on the #3.

    1. I just sent an email to Metro asking this, among other questions about minor ambiguities in the materials. I’ll update when I hear back.

    2. The lowest ridership part of the 8 is Madison Valley? That is my neighborhood, and many folks get on and off at the stop outside of Bailey Boushay House. We already lost one of our # 8 stops a few years ago (the one outside of Essential Bakery, on MLK).

  6. Excellent work. A few thoughts to the changes:

    One more reason why we need a bus stop on Aurora close to the troll in Fremont (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2013/04/04/connecting-fremont-to-rapidride-e/). By the way, this is something the city could do (with help from various agencies) instead of spending money on streetcars.

    Looking at the route for the new 73, I’m reminded of how important a train station is at 125th/130th. That route, if implemented, will be bogged down once it gets close to Northgate Way (and backtracks to Northgate). It has to turn around somewhere, but Northgate isn’t that special. It deserves service (and it has it via other routes) but it isn’t like the Bellevue Transit Center, which sits right in downtown Bellevue. The best part about the Northgate Transit Center is that it is right next to the express lane ramps, making it easy for buses (like the 41) to get downtown quickly. Other than that, it is terrible as a transit center, because getting to it is so hard. I have no problem with routing the 73 this way until the station gets built, but once it gets built, we can do much better (and building a station at 125th/130th is required to do so).

    Magnolia is problematic, to be sure. It is a strange place. The east has plenty of apartments while the west is sparsely populated. The central part of Magnolia is somewhere in between. Fortunately there is very little traffic, no stop lights, and very few stop signs on the west side. This is because unlike some sparsely populated areas, it is an isolated peninsula. This means that a single direction milk run through the area can be quite effective. It will go very fast (the only reason it will slow down is if people board, which is the whole point). Side note: This is one modification I would have made to David’s proposal — I would have added a one way loop for his 31, similar to what is proposed for the 24 in Metro’s plan. But changing the 31 the way that Metro does in this proposal is just a big loss. The folks who live in the apartments have to wait for the bus to wiggle its way through north central Magnolia. Unlike Viewmont, the bus will go slow through here. I see a lot of turns before it even gets on Government Way, let alone Gilman. While some of these changes look like a good idea (making lemonade out of lemons) this one is not. As you said, unfortunately, they didn’t have much of a choice.

  7. There’s no way King County voters will support another regressive tax proposed by, yet again, white, college educated urbanists.

    Raise fares, reduce costs. The days of crying wolf are over, we saw the Big Lie in Pierce County:

    “Oh my, what’s this, we found the money after all?

    1. King County would overwhelmingly support an increase in taxes to fund transit, if the state would let them. You can blame the state, and the state voters for the fact that it would have to be a regressive tax. My guess is that King County would support adding an income tax, but they can’t (by state law).

      1. Even if you are entirely against the additional taxation, shouldn’t conservatives care about local control? And don’t you trust the voters to let them make their choice? Metro isn’t asking for more taxes, they’re asking for the right to ask the voters for more taxes. Meanwhile, the legislature will raise gas taxes by a dime to fund new highways, and not one of us will get to vote on that. It’s the bitterest of pills to swallow.

      2. Ummm, even Seattle rejected the last regressive car tab prop. And King County rejected the I1098 income tax proposal by a whopping 10%.

        But keep hope alive.

      3. Flying Peter, King County voters supported ST2 in 2008 with 60.5% voting Yes, Transit Now in 2006 with 56.6% voting Yes, and the transit funding vote in 2000 with 52.9% voting Yes. That’s a history of voting yes for transit.

      4. Want to compare ST2 will a bail out for mismanaged Metro? Be my guest. Voters will reject.

    2. MVET is relatively progressive since it’s based on the value of the vehicle. Unfortunately, that would require legislative approval. Currently, Metro can only raise a flat car tab fee with existing legislation, and that would be regressive.

      1. And yet working class Seattle voters overwhelmingly rejected mcginn’s $60 car tab grab.

    3. Metro claims that they have raised fares and they have reduced costs; they also provide their reasoning for why raising fares more and reducing costs more are both not feasible going forward. Do you have a rebuttal to their assertions? How is Metro wrong here?

    4. Raise fares, reduce costs.

      Is that seriously your only suggestion? We’ve been doing those things for the past 13 years Rip Van Winkle, now what? Fares are 50% higher now than they were in 2008, and we’ve had round after round after round of “finding efficiencies” that have saved tens of millions of dollars, but Metro is down to the bare bones now. Let’s see some real answers out of you, from where do you suggest Metro can painlessly cut a fifth of the budget?

      “Oh my, what’s this, we found the money after all?

      You obvously haven’t ridden the bus in Pierce County anytime lately. PT only managed to dodge their second round cuts – the first round were the ones that hurt the most, taking the already overcrowded core routes down to 3 buses per hour. Transit in Pierce County is terrible – being able to continue providing terrible transit does not equal success.

      Metro is also not Pierce Transit. Metro has relentlessly pursued cost cutting in a way that PT and CT have not – that is why the legislature was willing to allow them the temporary stopgap CRC option that they denied to CT and PT. Pierce Transit and Community Transit have a long way to go to catch up to Metro when it comes to efficiencies.

  8. By the way, it is articles like this that keep me coming back to this blog. The coverage here is just outstanding. This is extremely well written, with detailed analysis you just can’t get anywhere (and that includes all of the newspapers). I especially appreciate this sentence:

    No public transit at night means that more people will need to own cars only for nighttime activities, and that mobility for many of Seattle’s lowest-wage workers will become very difficult and expensive.

    This is so true. I remember how hard it was living in Bellingham, where transit was pretty much non-existent at night. Trying to raise a kid while working at night was tough. It is really common for lower wage jobs to involve night time work (nursing aid, security guard, restaurant or bar work, etc.).

    I understand why Metro is proposing this change, but I kind of wish they proposed something that would hit the more well to do harder. It reminds of the government shut down. People whined about the parks closing (I know I hated it) but the folks who were hit the hardest were the poor. But if not for the parks closing (and other, similar closures) then there would have been a lot less pressure to settle. I wonder if the same approach might work in this case. Make cuts to the popular commuter runs, but leave in all night coverage as well as a lot of existing slower runs. The folks who prefer taking the bus for their daily commute will be forced to drive. Traffic will get worse — a lot worse. This will get people who could care less about the buses to demand we do something about the situation. I fear that these cuts will be more like the sequester — really bad, but unless you are paying attention, you don’t notice them.

    1. I really appreciate the coverage as well. This summary is so much more helpful than what’s on the Metro site.

    2. Ross,

      You may be spot on on the commuter/all day issue, but there is the danger of losing the support of commute riders. They vote while many lower income people do not. You could endanger the entire pro-transit coalition if you damage commuters too much.

  9. As far as I can tell, the cuts are almost entirely on surface routes. DSTT routes remain mostly unchanged except for surfacing the 106 and combining the 71/72/73 into the 8-minute all day 73. Overall tunnel load would remain at ~60 services per hour in peak of peak.

  10. Thorough as always David. The West Seattle cuts look brutal in particular, losing frequent combined service on the 50/128 from Admiral to the Junction that helped sweeten the last restructure, and the complete axing of a high-performing frequent route on 35th Ave SW and replacing it with half the frequency and requiring a transfer to reach downtown.

  11. Is all night-owl service going away? It says that there are no service changes for RapidRide A-Line, which runs 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Is this a mistake, or will Federal Way – Tukwila really have more night-owl service than Seattle?

    1. I don’t think the owl trips on RapidRide are going away. If you look at the note for the deletion of the 82, it says to use the E Line, which wouldn’t make sense if owl trips were being eliminated on RapidRide.

      But I could be wrong.

      1. Matt L, that is another of the questions I have in to Metro. I’ll update when they respond.

    2. From what I notice, there are many errors in the proposal for current conditions (“903 ends before 9”, when it runs until 10. Also, “181 ends before 10”, when it ends at 11:30 PM), which clashes with their specificity and non-general nature of the descriptions (1 southbound 193 trip will be cut, and EXACTLY 2 southbound trips of the 197 will be cut.), so I think that they planned on eliminating night-owl for RapidRide, because it would be irresponsible to keep it where not a lot of people use it.

      Or maybe it’s the airport. Yeah, I bet that’s it. I never use night owl, so I wouldn’t know.

  12. Decouple the RapidRide D from the C, extend it to Northgate TC (no NSCC deviation!). Have the 40 run only from 85th/24th to downtown via Fremont.

    Then couple the C and E! *ducks*

    1. I am a frequent 40 rider, and while I would not be happy with losing service down to 24th (which I use quite a bit) in exchange for the Rapid Ride D, it doesn’t seem like a completely bad idea.

      I think you will have a lot of trouble convincing Metro to drop service to the community college though, quite a number of people make use of that.

      What is the point of detaching D from C and attaching C to the new E though? The through service seems measurably less useful to the folks living in West Seattle…

      1. I think you will have a lot of trouble convincing Metro to drop service to the community college though, quite a number of people make use of that.

        Yeah, I don’t think that part’s happening. If you look at the Seattle TMP, corridor 10 (which is basically RapidRide D extended to Northgate) still makes the community college deviation. In addition to providing useful service to the college, this deviation avoids getting stuck in the traffic near the freeway ramps, making it one of the few situations in which a straighter route might actually be slower. (Another example is the proposed change to move the 3/4 to Yesler instead of James.)

      2. @Aleks Yeah unfortunately Northgate Way is a total mess near the freeway (especially on the Mall side of the freeway). The bridge at 92 is nearly always traffic free by comparison, and from there its a pretty quick shot north to the transit center.

        Not having a stop near the college (as you have to go right past it) seems like a pretty silly idea.

        Now… if this were a grade separated transit line we were designing, direct would be a lot better.

      3. I realized right after I hit “post” that I should have said 15th/85th. It would make a lot of sense to keep the turn down 85th to 15th and connect to the commercial center there, plus the RR D. Finding a terminus may be more difficult, but it could circle the Safeway and come back via Mary to 83rd. Hell, I would advocate sending it down 85th to Greenwood if it wouldn’t destroy reliability.

        The NSCC deviation adds too many turns and too much time. If they are going downtown, they wouldn’t be using the RR D anyways. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a walk up to Northgate Way if they want to go to Ballard (almost a mile from the very south part of campus), although that may be alleviated when the ped-bridge gets built in 202X.

        I somewhat joke about coupling the C to the E, because people on here seem very adamant about coupling the C to something, because “reasons”.

      4. If you’re trying to get to Target, the NSCC is actually deviating away from where you want to go

    2. Decouple the RapidRide D from the C, extend it to Northgate TC (no NSCC deviation!). Have the 40 run only from 85th/24th to downtown via Fremont.

      I’m 100% with you there.

      Then couple the C and E! *ducks*

      Unfortunately, the E is an exceptionally long route itself. If the C/D is too long to extend to Northgate, then the C/E is too long, too.

      There is an alternate approach: turn the 40 into a RapidRide route (truncated at 85th), and through-route the (modified) 40 with the C. That’s unlikely to happen any time soon, but in the fullness of time, it seems like the most plausible way to extend the D.

      1. That doesn’t sound impossible to imagine, the transfers might even be bearable with RR level service. That certainly seems like it would make the intersection of 15th and 85th an extremely busy one though… maybe a few safety upgrades would be in order?

        Crafting a bunch of new RR stops along the route of the 40 sounds expensive though. Not to mention there will be a lot of people complaining about how much service North Seattle would be getting (with what would now be 3 rapid rides running through Greenwood/Ballard).

        I think this is a discussion for when here is more money to be had for service hours rather than titanic cuts.

  13. I really wish that ST 522 would make at least one more stop somewhere along Lake City Way south of 125th. Like at 95th or 85th.

    It travels past those stops anyway so it won’t be changing routes. And it would do nicely for those who have to get to Downtown faster than the new combo of 372+73 will do at times when the 312 isn’t running. Going through the U-District even on the weekends is a time sink.

    1. I agree. I would like a stop on 75th, which would provide very fast transfer service from Lake City (and places north) to any bus that travels along Roosevelt as well as very fast service to downtown (as you point out).

    2. Would there be capacity on the buses for that? Or would it end up being like the Ranier Ave Freeway stops that are essentially useless in the peak? Would there be any issues like the ones Metro had with the afternoon 218 when they moved the 212 upstairs?

      1. The need for a stop on 75th is greatest off-peak when routes like the 77 aren’t running. Off-peak, there would be plenty of available capacity. Peak, I think you could make a good case that 522 buses should continue skipping this stop since they are already pretty packed by this point.

    3. And I guess I should have pointed out that there are already stops at 95th and 85th in place (not at 75th). The 95th stop is currently used in the off-peak by the 72 and nothing else, and the 85th stop isn’t used by anything in the off-peak hours. Especially with the 73 moving 5 blocks west after the proposed cuts, seems like 95th/85th and the ST 522 would be convenient and not terribly hard-to-implement changes… The stops are there, the bus is there, just have the bus permit a stop at one of these stops.

      I can’t say speak of other potential consequences, though…

    4. Yes! An additional 522 stop at 80th/15th Ave would be great, especially since the 72 nor 73 will no longer be serving that neighborhood.

    5. A 522 stop at 45th St. freeway station during the off-peak hours would make a huge difference too, by connecting Lake City and Bothell with not only the U-district, but also Fremont, Ballard, and Wallingford, much better than what we’ve got today. Of course, this would need to be an off-peak only stop in order to work – during the peak, the time cost of using the regular lanes instead of the express lanes just to serve this stop would be too much.

  14. Such proposals are often made to get people upset and eager to find funding. To that end, the restructuring has served its purpose.

    The contradiction of moving Route 2 to replace Route 12 on Madison is that it defeats the core intent of the Madison BRT in the first place. Route 11 is no where near BRT “worthy” in terms of frequency. This change puts a local bus on the street (not very fast like BRT is supposed to be) and then it would be off Madison at points east of 12th Avenue. Is this Metro’s way of saying that the Madison BRT should really be on Union east of 12th Avenue? This is going to need some serious rethinking and suggests that the Madison BRT project west of 12th Avenue is a huge waste of money.

    1. Huh? Madison BRT is based on the premise that Madison’s ridership to 23rd or MLK is high and would be higher if there were more frequent/fast transit; that it could productively become the main transit street in the area; and that it’s wide enough for full BRT treatment. It has nothing to do with Metro’s current routes, which are limited by Metro’s budget and historical precedents. It’s about what the city thinks it needs for the future. The 2 might very well keep its proposed route in a Madison BRT future, but that doesn’t mean the “Madison BRT route” itself would. And we don’t know what might happen to the 11 or 12. Most likely the 11 would be merged into the new route. Would the 12 still exist by then? If it stays at peak-only, the precedent for a 19th/Madison route may erode; it has always been an odd combination anyway.

    2. Except that Route 2/12 isn’t supposed to be BRT, nor is this solution.

      Madison BRT is its own exercise — we know almost nothing about it at this point, except that its a priority in the TMP. My take-away is that the 11 will be outright replaced with the future BRT service, and probably re-branded too.

      1. Also, keep in mind that something needs to be done about service to Madison Park.

        In some ways, I think that splitting the 8 is an important part of this. Given that Madison Park has said that they want no part of the city’s TMP plans, the “consolation prize” may be that a truncated 8 is rerouted up Madison, as a replacement for the 11. So basically, Madison Park will get more frequent service, but at the expense of losing their direct route to downtown.

      2. The TMP suggests that the 11 and 12 could be incorporated into it, the 11 by going straight from the ferry terminal to Madison Park, the 12 by backtracking from 24th to 19th on John St. This wasn’t meant to constrain Metro, but just to suggest how it could be implemented with the fewest changes to existing service. If the 12 can play along and use the lanes and stations, I don’t see why the 2 couldn’t.

    3. The city has been very clear that, among other things, a BRT line on Madison should be electric.

      While it would be nice to have an electric line that goes up to Madison/19th — where the wire currently ends — there aren’t any turnbacks. And, as we all know, the 19th Ave service is almost unused. Rerouting the 2 to Madison will provide electric service to as much of Madison as is currently possible.

      Metro could just say, screw it, we’re going to run diesel buses on the correct route until we have wire. But Madison is one of the steepest streets in the city. So that would be a waste of fuel, and probably a source of delays as well.

      Eventually, when the city is able to pay for extending wire (with a terminus) to 23rd or to MLK, then it will make sense to revisit the situation.

      1. Another option could be a BRT loop that builds together pieces of the 2, 8, 11, and 12. Consider the following:
        – Leave the ferry terminal on Marion, jog to Madison at 6th, continue all the way to MLK (11, 12)
        – Turn south on MLK (8)
        – Turn west on Union (2)
        – Jog back to Madison at 13th, and back down to the ferry docks. (2, 12)

        This solution entirely consumes the existing 2, 11, and 12 and repackages them into a single route. Service losses are on 19th north of Madison, and Madison Park and Madrona east of MLK, while key ridership points in the CD (Madison/MLK, 23rd/Union) are preserved. (I would bang the drum for electrics, but even diesel is better than nothing.)

      2. (This doesn’t involve the western route of the 2 — only the part east of downtown. That needs to be preserved some other way.)

    4. Everyone’s responses here are right.

      There is no Madison BRT yet, and if/when it is implemented, it will be an SDOT project, not a Metro one. Those Metro routes will be moved/deleted/replaced if Ed Murray decides to move forward with Madison BRT.

      1. He would be crazy not to. Of the suggested projects on the short list currently it is the most bang for the buck, and would solve one of the city’s biggest transportation issues (east-west).

        I don’t live in a part of town where I could use this and even I could see how obviously useful this would be.

    5. I believe that you responders are missing a basic point: The intent of this item is to discuss service reductions. You are assuming that a Madison BRT will be new or additional service. Thus, that is why I provided the comment in the first place.

      I also wonder how much demand will be occurring on Madison Street buses once Capitol Hill Light Rail Station is open, and the Broadway Streetcar is operating. These projects could take away lots of riders or alternatively add them. I believe that it’s too premature to spend money developing the Madison BRT corridor until the real-world rider patterns occur as a result of these major nearby investments in transit.

      1. You said that moving the 2 to Madison – Union may create a precedent for putting the future BRT on Madison – Union too, and that would be bad because it would leave the middle part of Madison without BRT service. I’m saying it would not create such a precedent, although the 2 could use the BRT facilities until it diverges. Madison BRT planning has already started; or at least they were hiring a director as of last summer. it’s a city project so it’s not affected by Metro’s budget. The TMP is clear that the BRT will go from the ferry terminal to 23rd, and their latest materials said they’re also studying to MLK (28th).

        The TMP was updated last year, identifies 15 citywide corridors that should be optimized for transit, alongside ST2 Link and the First Hill Streetcar. Three are recommended for streetcars (Westlake, Eastlake, and downtown), one is recommended for trolley BRT, and the rest are recommended for “Priority Bus Corridors”. So the citizens’ panel believed, and the mayor and council approved, that Madison Street has a bright ridership future even with Capitol Hill Station and the First Hill Streetcar. Because neither Link nor the streetcar really address east-west trips. And they’re not thinking about this year or 2016, but 2030 when the city is larger, more people are living near downtown, and hopefully commerce around Madison will be more bustling.

  15. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like anything can be done about this. Even if we do get to vote on it, it seems like it’s going to get voted down based on comments I’ve read in other places or even here. I’ve read so many comments here and in other places that Metro is blackmailing us, or that they should cut more fat, or that they should have used the money from the shelters and card readers (never mind that it was federal money for specific purposes). Or the money from the bus bulbs, or from having Wifi on Rapid Ride buses. Or whatever else they don’t like or don’t see the use for. (Yes I know the Wifi was there already for another reason, but I couldn’t remember the reason and no one would believe it anyway.)

    Or that fares should be raised so that they cover costs, and only give reduced fares to people with low incomes. One person even said that the tunnel should be postponed and the money not already spent used to keep bus service. Another complained about bike lanes.

    Also there’s the perception that this news was kept back until after the election. Never mind that this was first reported several months ago; people were saying since they brought it up yesterday, why not last week (presumably so we could vote Dow Constantine out of office, I guess).

    People don’t want more taxes of any kind. Even progressive people are saying car tab taxes or additional gas taxes will hurt poor people. Even people who ride buses or feel that transit is important are saying these things. I realize people are upset and venting, but will their minds change if it comes time to vote? I just don’t have very much hope about this.

    I don’t know how Metro could present their case in a way that people would believe the extra funds are really needed.

    1. Don’t be too discouraged by random online commenters. If comment sections ran the city, Ron Paul would be mayor.

      1. Very much agreed.

        Comment threads are not representative of the common viewpoints and are generally overrun with astroturfing blowhards and trolls.

      2. The $60 car tabs failed because the city did such a horrific job explaining where the money was going. Nowhere did they list a concrete list of specific projects that would be funded if the measure past. Instead, they simply gave a huge laundry list of projects that could be funded, then asked voters to trust them to pick the best ones. Not surprisingly, everyone assumed that the projects that would ultimately be funded would benefit someone else, and, hence, voted “no”.

        This should not be misconstrued as a referendum on cars vs. transit or anything of that nature.

      3. In particular, the pro-transit side was divided on that referendum, so some of them voted no and led to its defeat. Some felt it wasn’t enough transit investment to make obvious changes (which would lead to the public saying, “This didn’t do anything!”). Others wanted to defer the streetcar funding to help more bus routes instead. Others objected to the proportion of roads and sidewalks vs transit. So people were forced to choose between a smorgasbord of small benefits that wouldn’t really accomplish much anywhere, vs telling the city to come back with a better bill next time and saving their money for it.

  16. If they’re gonna eliminate the 4, then at least disconnect or take down the overhead wires!

    1. It costs a lot more to put them back up then it does to take them down. Why purposely remove expensive infrastructure when they could have the service restored in the future?

  17. The elimination of Rt. 27 means no service at all for folks in lower Leschi. They can’t just walk an extra half-mile to the next bus route — it’s straight uphill, on streets with no sidewalks. Looks like Metro’s message to transit-dependent folks in Leschi is: take taxicabs, or move.

    1. I don’t think there are many truly transit-dependent riders in lower Leschi, because there aren’t many riders of any sort in lower Leschi.

      But the area could be served at very low operational cost by extending the 2 south on Lake Washington Boulevard to the multifamily housing south of Leschi Market. That would take some capital expenditure to build wire and reconfigure one intersection, and would almost certainly inspire complaints about the wire, but it would be by far the cheapest way to serve the area once the capital improvements were done.

      1. If you take a closer look at the map, there is a mixture of staircases and park trails that can get you up and down the hill. It would be a workout, but entirely doable for people that are looking for a little bit of morning exercise on their way to work.

        Bike commute is another option. Leschi to the UW is pretty bikeable (Lake Washington Blvd. pretty much all the way).

        And, of course, no matter how many cuts metro makes, there will always be at least one bus route serving Leschi – the Microsoft Connector.

  18. In my opinion, this restructure produces a few big winners and too many losers. The relatively few off-peak riders along the northern segments of the 26 and 28 are the winners, as their service becomes faster all day and does not lose any frequency.

    I don’t think it’s quite accurate to paint this as a uniform win for daytime 26/28 riders north of the ship canal. The speed improvements only apply to those riders whose destination is downtown, or who are transferring downtown anyway. That can perhaps be said about a majority of the riders, but a significant minority use these buses to go to central Fremont, SLU, and points between. They will need to walk quite a bit farther to/from their stops due to the limited-stop Aurora routing, and will need to deal with Aurora’s general pedestrian hostility in the process.

    I can’t say these changes are unfair given what’s proposed for the rest of the system, but it can hardly be said that the new 28X won’t cause a lot of riders some real pain.

    1. The new 26 won’t run on evenings or weekends and Metro’s recommended replacement option, the 16, is going to be horrible. Fortunately, there exists one big mitigation that Metro didn’t mention – the 512 stop at the I-5/45th St. freeway station, which just got a whole lot more usable thanks to ST’s recent 510/511/512 restructuring.

      Yes, for present-day 26 riders, it will be a longer ride to the 512 than to the 26. However, in many cases, a similar walk in the opposite direction would be required anyway to access the 16. However, the 512, being a straight shot down I-5, is much, much faster than the 16. And, on Saturdays during the day, the 512 will have double the frequency of the 16 (every 15 minutes vs. every 30).

      Taking a look at the map, the 1-mile-walking-distance radius from the freeway station extends as far as 40th and Wallingford to the southwest or Latona Ave. and 63rd St. to the northwest. This is a significant chunk of the 26’s walkshed which will have a faster option than the 16, if they know about it and are willing to use it.

      1. The weird thing about the 512 is the gaps in operation to 45th St (no morning service weekdays until 9:35am and no service northbound from 2:30-7pm). I think it’s hard to get folks to use a route that doesn’t serve a stop consistently throughout the day and it’s also pretty creepy waiting there in the evenings. Another reason I haven’t used it as much is that they haven’t had the real time arrival data on OBA.

  19. Thanks for the summary of routes by latest hour. I was going to make a spreadsheet of transit availability by neighborhood and realized I’d need that last hour info, and I wasn’t looking forward to looking in every single PDF and schedule just to tally that.

    I’m feeling a bit unsettled as I ride my to-be-deleted route. On the one hand I’m glad it’s here now; on the other hand I can’t help thinking how much more difficult it will be in the future. But that’s almost a year away, so no sense in worrying about it now. So I’m not sure what to think about it all. I don’t want to just spend the next year being angry, because that just damages one’s own life for no real benefit.

    1. I feel the same way. I was riding my slated-for-deletion commuter route and we got stuck in the traffic from the power outage. While we were stopped for a bit, the driver (who had been talking to those of us up front for most of the long slog) said “well, since I have a captive audience, I thought I’d let you all know that this route is one of the ones that could go away under Metro’s service cut plans.” Most of the bus sighed and expressed frustration at losing the route. As some of us talked, several people said they had 0 faith that the cuts could be avoided.

      I’m in the same boat: I usually work an overnight schedule so losing the late night/early morning trips hurts even more than dropping the commuter routes, but having the commuter routes available is useful for a lot of people (even me when I have to be at work during the day :D). Right now, I’m not sure how to be anything other than pissed but hopefully that can be channeled into useful action.

  20. This is what WSDOT committed to for mitigation in the Record of Decision for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project:

    “Providing funding for increased bus service in the West Seattle, Ballard/Uptown, and Aurora Avenue corridors during parts of the construction period, as well as a bus travel time monitoring system. Increased bus service is currently provided for the S. Holgate Street to S. King Street Viaduct Replacement Project into 2014. Funding for this service may be extended as mitigation for this project, but funding for this extension has not yet been secured.”

    Personally, I pin this problem on the Legislature for not providing the additional funding to get us to 2016.


  21. David L. et al,

    As should be obvious to all, the cuts as presented are awful. Even where some of the restructures possess good ideas at their cores (pun intended), the frequency and span amputations yield a network that is essentially useless for elective mobility. The overloading of not-actually-frequent core routes would reinforce every impression of Seattle transit as inherently slow, unpleasant, laborious, not worthy of any self-respecting person’s time or money.

    I may be the only human being in Seattle who pays for an unlimited transit pass out-of-pocket, but I have done so nearly every month of the seven years I have lived here. I do so because having an unlimited (plus the occasional supplementary rush-hour quarter) pass offers me a sense of freedom and flexibility. I have continued to do so, even as my impatience with Metro’s lethargy has led me to car2go with increasing frequency — once a late-night or time-crunched last resort, car2go has taken over about half of my in-city trips, from evening outings to mid-morning to the counter-peak.

    If the cuts were enacted as described, I could no longer justify that monthly $81 expenditure. Frankly, my usage of Metro might decrease so drastically that the system would be lucky to earn $35-$40 from me in a month. After four successive fare increases (in no way justified by the quality of the product being sold), this proposal can’t help but seem like Metro gleefully launching itself into a death spiral irrelevance for any transit-rider-by-choice.

    The truth, though, is that this proposal still doesn’t look like 17% to me. In every quadrant of the city, multiple present-day routes of moderate frequency disappear into oblivion, and every adjacent route suffers 33%-66% contraction. Evening and Sunday service are, in many cases, cut 50% or more.

    Unless the intent is to retain 100% of peak-commute service — which would be a criminally stupid strategy, sparing the most politically influential group (and the one that pays nothing for its passes) from any and all pain — the presented plan cuts way more than 17% of the service total. Can I be proven wrong (with math!)? Otherwise, I am inclined to join those who accuse Metro of a most cynical “political theater”.

    In addition to a political path to sustainably restored funding that leads to improved service, I strongly desire to see Metro detail its restructure intentions (with math!) in a way that would construct a worthwhile service future. Otherwise, my patronage truly is lost to them.

    1. I buy a monthly pass out of pocket, for the same reasons. (My employer offers a tax-exempt pass (not a subsidy) but you have to through an out-of-state company two months in advance, and with the hassle and restrictions it just hasn’t been a priority.) I don’t drive so Car2go isn’t an option.

      The immunity of the peak-express network bothers me somewhat, but not as much as it bothers you. With the all-day network becoming pretty unbearable, the peak network becomes a more important fallback. It does get the largest number of people to work, at highest-congestion time. In many cases what it really does is compensate for the travel-time difference between evening local and daytime local, so it can be seen as a congestion mitigator like a transit lane is. Its biggest problem is being unidirectional, as if nobody works in Ballard. (I did in the early 2000s, and I could have used the PM express sometimes, except it was going the wrong direction. Now I could use another peak route every day, but it also goes the wrong direction.)

      In recent restructures in Seattle, Metro has restructured local routes while keeping peak routes the same, as a kind of bribe to minimize opposition to the change. I’m not sure if Metro is intentionally doing that again this time, or if it’s just reflexively following its past practice.

      1. But, at least from what I’m seeing, Metro isn’t keeping the peak routes the same. Just around me, the 242, 243, 250, 260, and 265 are all gone. Some of those are because they are low-performing (though the 243 and 250 have been fully occupied the few times I’ve ridden them) and others are consolidated with less-useful transfer points. This is going to increase the burden on Sound Transit routes, especially to the Eastside. Getting from Lake City/Northgate to Redmond solely by bus will involve two transfers to use the packed-to-the-gills 545 (41 to 545) or three (41/75 to 73 to 542) to use the slightly-less-full-but-suddenly-much-more-popular 542.

      2. Most 243 riders will be able to use the 555, with just a single transfer at Northgate (if they are not at Northgate already). Riders to Redmond can make the transfer to the very frequent 545 at Evergreen Point.

      3. Lake City to Redmond would be a two-seat ride, 372 to 542. It would work reasonably well during the peak, in both directions.

        Northgate to Redmond, the fastest route would be to take the 555 to Evergreen Point, then transfer to either a 542 or 545, whichever comes first. This would work on in the morning, assuming you can get out of bed early enough (the fact that the last 555 trip leaves Northgate as early as 8 AM). However, I can tell you from personal experience (this trip used to be my daily commute), the transfer to the 555 in the afternoon would extremely unreliable, due to unpredictable traffic along 520. The short answer is that biking or driving to the nearest 542 or Microsoft Connector stop is probably the only reasonble option.

        For 243 riders headed between Ravenna and Bellevue, biking down the Burke Gilman Trail to catch a 271 or 555 at Montlake is probably the only reasonable transit option.

      4. I was talking about peak routes in Seattle, like the 15X, 18X, 55, 56, 74, 76, and 355. With the local routes getting worse, the peak routes will become more important fallbacks. In South King County, the 15x expresses are being merged into local shuttles. I didn’t look at the Eastside peak network much; I just looked at the routes I would likely take (B, 235, 255, 271), and the 226 out of nostalgia.

      5. “With the local routes getting worse, the peak routes will become more important fallbacks.”

        Possibly, if you work downtown during the correct hours. I can definitely see some people with flexible work hours that used to sleep in in the morning switching to peak commute hours in order to get the best array of buses.

    2. I would like to see the math behind the cuts as well. Is there a place where Metro has provided it?

    3. Well, first of all, the cuts *are* more than 17%, because West Seattle is also losing the viaduct mitigation money.

      Short of deleting an entire route, cuts generally aren’t linear. That is, reducing a bus from 15-minute to 20-minute headways is not the same as a 25% service cut. Due to details about cycle times, layovers, etc., it’s possible that several such changes are only paying back about 17% of the service hours on that route.

      Of the 74 deleted routes, many are getting folded into other routes. For example, compared to the current 3/4, the new 3 loses a bit of night and Sunday service, but is otherwise unchanged (aside from the routing). I’m sure that represents less than a 17% cut. And for the buses that aren’t getting folded into replacement service, many of them are peak expresses (like the 7X or 48X), or infrequent milk runs (like the 25), or extremely short routes (like the 47 and the 19th Ave tail of the 12), which means that those cuts simply don’t save many service hours.

      Conversely, many of the most frequent buses aren’t losing any frequency at all. The 48 is unchaged. The 41 still has 5-minute frequency at peak. The 7 still has 10-minute frequency all day. In fact, of all the routes listed on Metro’s frequent service page, the only ones that will fall off the chart (without replacement) are the 5, 21, 31, and 40.

      In other words, if the highest-performing routes are also the ones that use the most service hours, and if you try to minimize the impact to those routes, then you will necessarily cut much more than 17% from everything else that remains. Which is what we’re seeing.

      Finally, even if you ran the numbers, my guess is that this *does* cut slightly greater than 17%, by design. Every service change, Metro reserves a certain number of service hours to address any problems that come up. With a service change of this magnitude, I would expect Metro to want to hold a greater number of hours in reserve. For example, a severe cut on one route might lead to lower than normal usage (because people avoid the bus), while a severe cut on a different route might lead to people being packed in like sardines. So it makes sense for Metro to save some service hours, to allocate to the routes that prove to fall into the latter category.

      1. It seems like they should be able to provide a table that explains the total number of hours cut from or added to each route and how that equals a 17% cut. Taking the West Seattle service off the top would seem reasonable. Holding additional hours in reserve seems dishonest in this setting unless it’s explicitly stated in the proposal. All they would need is an asterisk indicating the reduction proposal includes X number of hours for whatever.

    4. If I had a lot more time, I’d prepare an unofficial spreadsheet to estimate the actual magnitude of the proposed cuts. I don’t have that kind of time at the moment. But just looking through the cuts, 20% seems like a reasonable guess. Many routes are disappearing, but some others (particularly those that are taking on increased importance in the restructures) are actually adding service, and a number are staying the same except for cuts of a small number of trips at night.

      1. I know I keep harping on this and I’m preaching to the choir here, but the “small number of trips at night” cuts are devastating. Every time I’ve ridden the last couple of runs on the 41 or 40 or even 75, which is several times a month, they’ve been at least 40% occupied (well, the 75 maybe not, but it’s not being touched). I know Metro has better access to statistics than my anecdotes but I still can’t help but feel that the impact is going to be a lot greater. Without those later trips, people will get and use cars to make those trips which will turn into those same people using those cars for more trips. Never mind Car2Go; it stops at 125th yet 41 and 65 will take you all the way to 145th.

        Some of the efficiency gains and route restructures are really beneficial and useful, but the cuts inspiring them are terrible. Maybe Boeing gets all of their way and we get a transportation package that’s workable and useful.

      2. If Metro drops the ball like this, especially at night, Car2Go is going to have to expand to fill the gap. This means both a larger home area, with the entire city limits of Seattle as a goal, and more cars to ensure availability.

        Perhaps it might even make since for some sort of social service budget (ideally, NOT the budget that pays for operating buses) to provide a directly subsidize Car2Go trips for low income users during the evening hours when Metro isn’t up to the task. For low-income people, even a subsidy on the order of a dollar or two per trip would make a big difference.

        For daily commutes, this would still be too expensive. But it would still be useful for people that carpool most days, but need a backup way to get home if their carpool driver is calling in sick.

      3. “the “small number of trips at night” cuts are devastating”

        They are devastating. But that’s what cuts mean. I don’t stay out late like I used to because I get too tired, but the net effect is going to be, if I go to a late-night event in Lake City or West Seattle or Northgate or somewhere, it won’t just be a matter of walking a mile to the nearest trunk route, but walking the entire five or ten miles home. I don’t drive so Car2go is not an option.

        My bf used to work night shift at a Kent warehouse, sometimes starting at 2am, 3am, or 4am. The last 150 leaves at 1:23am. Sometimes that was just right, or sometimes he’d have to take it and then wait 45 minutes for his shift to start. Now it’s proposed to end “before 11 pm”. He’s on day shift now and not expecting to switch, so that’s all right, but he will be looking for an evening job soon at some medical facility somewhere. He got rid of his car earlier this year because it cost $125/month for parking and he was only using it a few times a month. He could get another car but he can’t really afford to and doesn’t want to.

        So yes, these will have large impacts, especially the ones ending at 9 and 10pm. But that’s what a service reduction means.

        My rant is that it’s bringing Seattle to a suburban level of service. Not as bad as it was in the 80s, but halfway there. Chicago and San Francisco have nothing to compare: the trunk routes run every 10 minutes in the daytime, 20 minutes in the evening, and 30 minute night owls. Every mile has a trunk route like that.

      4. They are devastating. But that’s what cuts mean.

        So, there are two discussions that we need to be having.

        The first — and the most pressing — is how we can stop these cuts from happening, now and ever again.

        The second is, if cuts of these magnitude really are happening, how can we make the best of it?

        There’s another thread for the first discussion, so I’m going to focus on the second.

        When you’re cutting service to the core like this, there are several factors we need to consider. One, of course, is productivity; you want to cut service in the way that affects the least number of riders. But another is something that, for the lack of a better word, I’ll call “suffering”.

        Suppose that there are two buses, and you have to cut one. One of them is full of rich riders who all own cars. The other one is full of poor riders who don’t. Which one do you cut? If all else is equal, the answer is clearly the first bus, because cutting the second one will negatively impact mobility, while the first one will only negatively impact bank accounts.

        For this reason, I believe that span of service, particularly night buses, should be prioritized greater than their productivity would allow. The kinds of people who ride the bus at 11 PM, or 3 AM, are probably the kind of people who can’t drive, or who shouldn’t be driving (e.g. because of intoxication or general tiredness). The kinds of people who ride the peak express bus at 8 AM are probably the kind of people who can easily switch to another form of transportation if they need to.

        Frankly, I actually think that span of service is more important than frequency, to an extent. I would much rather live next to a bus that runs every 20 minutes until 1 AM, than a bus that runs every 10 minutes until 7 PM. Of course, frequency is important too, but I’d rather wait 20 minutes for a bus than 12 hours!

      5. “Suppose that there are two buses, and you have to cut one. One of them is full of rich riders who all own cars. The other one is full of poor riders who don’t. Which one do you cut? If all else is equal, the answer is clearly the first bus, because cutting the second one will negatively impact mobility, while the first one will only negatively impact bank accounts.”

        I see your point, but you have to be really careful not to undermine the basis of political support for transit in general. People are, by and large, willing to pay something in their taxes out of compassion, to provide services for the less fortunate. People are also willing to pay far more for services that they see themselves actually using. As soon as you start arguing that transit is for poor people, you inevitably get to “a homeless shelter is not the Hilton”-type arguments, and people will start demanding lower taxes in exchange for worse service.

        Second, you can’t just blithely assume that 9-5 commuters are rich people who all own cars, while 11 PM riders are poor people who don’t. As you said, lower income people do work all hours and, yes, many of them do work 9-5. At the same time, there are people higher up the income ladder who are going downtown for a Mariners game or concert, would prefer to take transit to avoid dealing with parking, but still need a ride home at 10:30 PM when the game or concert is over.

        Third, forcing people to drive during the peak has externalizes on everyone who was already driving anyway by increasing traffic congestion. Forcing someone to drive in the middle of night, as long as the driver isn’t drunk, does not affect anyone else because the roads are empty at that time. (Forcing someone to own a car who didn’t previously is a different matter – this affects everyone in the neighborhood, even if the car just sits there and hardly ever gets driven – by increasing pressure on the parking supply. Thanks to Car2Go, even people who don’t own cars care at least somewhat about the availability of parking in their neighborhood.).

        All in all, a 17% cut is going to be extremely painful no matter how you it – there is simply no way to avoid it. But I do think Metro did as good a job as could reasonably be expected to minimize the pain, given that 17% of service has to be cut from somewhere.

        When I look at the impact on my personal mobility, I see a work commute that is completely unaffected (combination of Sound Transit and feet), with minor inconveniences in traveling around town on evenings and weekends during the day. Even during the evening, the routes I care most about (49, 73) will be running until at least midnight, even with the proposed cuts, which is almost always later than I stay out anyway. Overall, I envisioning myself biking a few trips that I would have otherwise bused, and/or spending a little bit of extra money each month on Car2Go, Uber, etc.

        On the other hand, if the cuts were to be done by preserving all routes and spans, but increasing headways across the board, the impact this would have on me, particularly for weekend trips, would be far greater. In fact, my biggest concern about the cuts, from a standpoint of my personal mobility, is that enough people will scream that all the restructurings will be canceled, and across-the-board drops in frequency is what we will get.

        Of course, the absolutely worst outcome, again, from a standpoint of my personal mobility, would be to cut all Sunday service and half of Saturday service, in an effort to preserve existing levels of of service on weekdays. I care more about having buses running when I’m free to take them somewhere than when I’m sitting in my office all day.

        I do realize that every person’s situation is different, but, at the same time, I don’t think my situation is unique. For the average person who does not own a car and does not have crazy work hours that begin at 2 AM, the difference between 15 minute headways and 30 minute headways of core routes on a Saturday or Sunday matter far more than whether service ends at 11 PM or 1 AM.

        One thing I would like suggest, though, that would significantly mitigate the cuts to evening service, would be to try to preserve existing spans of service, at least on core routes, on at least Friday and Saturday nights, when the number of people out and about is the greatest. I would gladly trade service ending an hour earlier on Sunday and Monday nights for later-running service on Friday and Saturday nights. The notion that the span of service in the evening has to be exactly the same Monday-Friday because it’s the “weekday” service category has never made sense to me – late night trips are usually about entertainment, not about work, and happen a lot more when there isn’t work the next day.

      6. Honestly, both sides of your coin seem like the Irreversible Downward Spiral talking. If the cuts are spread so evenly that the network becomes utterly devoid of anything resembling a reliable, frequent, straightforward ways to get from the-general-vicinity-of-point-A to the-general-vicinity-of-point-B, then the non-commute system is dead to choice users (or anyone not truly desperate). If you single out evening frequency and span for punishment, your system is just as dead for people with other options. The simple act of going to a movie should not require extraordinary effort or the cost of a Lyft home; a span truncated to before 11pm is just daring the city to revert to driving by default.

        Don’t underestimate the number of people who, like me, would stop buying monthly passes and use Metro as infrequently as possible to minimize pay-per-ride costs. Metro may only have a ~27% farebox recovery, but fare revenue is not nothing. A whole lot of people scaling back their ridership would make for a significant farebox hit, leading to yet another crisis and yet more cuts. (Thus the spiral.)

        I would argue that the unidirectional peak expresses are precisely where Metro should not endeavor nor pledge to “minimize the pain”. Think about it: these are the people for whom the decision to use transit has least to do with what they pay at the farebox. (A staggering percentage of white-collar downtowners pay nothing at all to ride Metro.) Instead, this is the group that chooses transit because it actually gives them a faster commute than driving (via peak-only bus lanes on many routes), and because it allows them to avoid the cost of downtown parking. The value of the ride as proportional dollar figure on the farebox is irrelevant. And frankly, most of this politically-influential group doesn’t give a shit what service is like any other time of day or in any other direction, as they have no intention of using it.

        If you want support for new and sustainable revenue, these people need to have some skin in the game. Presently they don’t.

      7. Furthermore, I continue to be unsatisfied with the justifications for why these whopping cuts, which seem like a hell of a lot more than 17%, should be deemed careful and conservative. (Aside from the new 73, David, I really can’t discern a single circumstance where a core route gets more frequent as a consequence of consolidation. Every other core route absorbs its cancelled neighbors with unaltered — or even reduced — mid-day and evening frequency.)

        To echo William Aitken in the prior thread, with labor accounting for the overwheming majority of Metro’s costs, it is not “anti-labor” to suggest reasonable changes to seniority/picks/overtime rules, so that the system will no longer lose service hours paying insane overtime for no good reason.

        Secondly, we need to have a talk about the known waste associated with cash payment, paper transfers and the abuse thereof. It’s nice that Metro has considered a “cashless area” to expedite service and as the launching pad to an eventual phase-out of paper transfers, but they haven’t made that a tenet of this proposal. As such, accusations of waste not confronted are given credence, pain is inflicted elsewhere unnecessarily, and scofflaws continue to enjoy real and perceived benefits at the expense of the honest public. (It occurred to me recently that most cities still using paper transfers treat them as single-use only, meaning that your second driver retains the slip. This strikes me as a good intermediate step: single-transfer trips remain possible without a surcharge or a penalty, but if you want an unlimited time-based transfer, get an ORCA! This would also snuff out the transfer black market overnight.)

        Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, the assertion that “reducing a bus from 15-minute to 20-minute headways is not the same as a 25% service cut… due to details about cycle times, layovers, etc.” strikes me as insane. If the needed layover/cycle time on a reduced number of vehicles prohibits 15-minute headways but allows for 18, then run the buses every 18 minutes, for fuck’s sake! Especially when you’re talking about consolidated core routes with suddenly-spiked demand. Are we really so slavish in our adherence to “clock-face” scheduling that we would willfully kneecap our own minimum service standard!?

        Guess which renowned “transit cities” rely upon clock-face scheduling as a sacrosanct service principle for core urban transit? None of them!

      8. @Aleks,

        If you screw the rich riders by cutting their bus, they will retaliate by voting for someone who will REALLY decimate the system. It’s sad, but that’s the game the way the rich play it.

      9. Routes that are increasing in frequency as a result of the restructures in these proposals:

        106 (Renton -> RBS and ex-27 (Yesler Terrace) components)

      10. I absolutely support d.p’s proposal to encourage Orca by phasing out paper transfers. Even Houston managed do this years ago – if you want to transfer without paying twice, you have to use their Q-card, which is the Houston equivalent of Orca.

        Unfortunately, this is not going to be nearly enough. While the wasted service hours from cash payers is bad, it’s not anywhere close to 17% of all service hours.

        The “death spiral” is absolutely a big concern. Every person who uses these cuts as an excuse to shift money from bus passes to gas and car payments is one more person who stops caring about the state of Metro, and the fewer people who have skin in the game, the harder it is, politically to get any kind of additional funding passed. To some extent, this even trickles down to transit in general, not just Metro – we can hope that people who give up on Metro now and start driving will vote for ST3 in 2016 – but if they conclude that transit is just inherently super-expensive and run by incompetents, they will not.

        And, the best way to keep as many people as possible with skin in the game, after the cuts is to target trips with relatively low ridership for elimination. Yes, such cuts do have the side effect of making nightlife for people who do not own cars more expensive. Yes, that’s bad, but when push comes to shove, all the options are bad and unless we can find more funding, we have no choice but to choose the least of the bad.

      11. Back when Bruce was in the habit of analyzing ridership patterns stop-by-stop and run-by-run in order to propose productive revisions, he referenced a number of studies that show a dramatic drop-off in early evening transit usage when late-evening transit availability is curtailed.

        This makes intuitive sense: even if individual late-evening runs look awful on paper, they’re the loss-leaders that get people to begin their evenings on transit in the first place.

        Cutting them entirely, or cutting them back to the point where no self-respecting person would expect to wait for them, is whisking the death spiral.

        If you want a transit system that exists for more than just commuting, usable span is non-negotiable.

        (Also, could the proposed cuts to RapidRide be what finally puts Metro in violation of its obligations to receive TransitNow taxes and federal “BRT” support?)

      12. David, doubled-checked your list. On top of the aforementioned 73, the 13 and the 3N are the only ones picking up the entire daytime slack for their cancelled neighbors (2N and 4N, respectively). As you yourself note, the 2N is picking up only a tiny fraction of the slack for the 12 — the 12 cut is an honest 75% deletion. The 5 is seeing 25-ish% cuts at all times of day, so I don’t know why it would be on your list.

        For the most part, “cut” means cut in this litany of revisions. Your handful of genuine “consolidation” examples only highlight by comparison how huge the percentage cuts are elsewhere — 33% in some quadrants and corridors, as much as 50% in others.

        I think Aleks may have hit on the terrible truth of the calculations, when he highlighted the “need” to round down to clock-face frequencies. Metro clearly should not be doing that.

      13. ” a dramatic drop-off in early evening transit usage when late-evening transit availability is curtailed.”

        Yup. Although on the bright side, cutting late evening transit means you can also cut early evening transit without stranding people on their way home from work – even if the trip “home” is just a detour to pick up the car to drive somewhere they could have bused directly from work in less time.

        One place where the non-transit-riding community will see the effect of this is that late afternoon traffic proceeding Mariner’s games is going to get a lot worse as people that currently bus to the games feel compelled to drive. No one wants to pay $40 for a game ticket, only to have to leave with the bases loaded and score tied in the 8th inning just to avoid missing the last bus home.

        While the number of additional drivers due to the cuts may seem small compared to the overall levels of traffic on the roads during the evening rush hour, when the roads are already at capacity, even small amounts of additional traffic can have large effects on the flow of traffic.

        That being said, short of securing additional funding from somewhere, I don’t know what else we can do. Transit furlough days on the first Thursday of every month? Kill all service outside of Seattle to preserve service within Seattle? Preserve span of service, but cut frequency across the board?

        All of these options are terrible – while there is certainly some low hanging fruit (half-empty peak express routes with long deadheads, trips to fringes like North Bend, etc.) simple math says that the low hanging fruit is simply not enough.

  22. What a strange map for the northeast. The “University District” text is actually over Ravenna. Looking at that, one could be forgiven for thinking that the 372 or 65 are convenient routes to UDistrict. They actually hug the southern-most parts of UDistrict, though. It looks like the 48 and 73 will be the preferred way of getting to northern/central UDistrict.

  23. Thanks for the analysis, very helpful.

    As a Magnolia resident who lives in between the present day 24 and 33 routes and works downtown, the Magnolia cuts will affect me less than most. But I have to mention that low off-peak ridership in Magnolia might just have to do with the fact that there’s no way to get to Ballard without going halfway downtown first, then changing buses and coming back. The only viable routes in and out of nearly all of Magnolia go downtown. So there’s heavy ridership during commute times, but for nearly everything else, the only viable way of getting in and out of Magnolia is to drive.

    This is especially fun when I have an appointment in Ballard late in the day. I take a bus from downtown to Ballard, then hope like hell that there’s a Car2Go available nearby when I’m done with my appointment. Usually it works out, but I’ve had a few long uphill walks, across the locks and up the hill. The sad thing is that it’s faster to just walk the couple of miles up to the top of Magnolia hill than it is to get a bus from Ballard.

    1. Thank your neighbors for spiking last year’s proposed restructure, which would have given Magnolia and Ballard a direct connection on the proposed revised 24.

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