Metro Route 64
Metro Route 64, about to get better. Photo by zargoman.

With characteristic last-minute flair (no doubt intensified by this week’s festive Seahawks craziness), Metro posted information about the February service change late yesterday.  New schedules take effect Saturday, February 15, one week from tomorrow.  The big news, such as it is:

  • RapidRide E Line, replacing Route 358
  • Extension of Routes 64 and 65 to serve Jackson Park
  • No more VA Hospital loop on Routes 50 and 60
  • Stops downtown for Routes 17 and 18 will change

Sound Transit also posted a bulletin and new schedules this morning, and our own Brent White has diligently combed through the schedules to provide more detail on the very minor ST Express and Sounder changes.  Thank you, Brent!

Details for both Metro and Sound Transit below the jump.

RapidRide E Sign
New bus stop sign at 130th and Aurora.

RapidRide E Line

The biggest change is no surprise: the RapidRide E Line launches, replacing the venerable Route 358 along Aurora Ave. N.   Frequency will improve in the reverse peak (from 15 to 10 minutes), at night before 10 p.m. (from 30 to 15 minutes), and on Sunday (from 30 to 15 minutes).  New Owl trips will leave downtown at 2:15 and 3:30 a.m.  (Surprisingly, Route 82 also remains in place for now.)  Riders along Green Lake’s Linden Deviation will now need to catch southbound buses along Aurora, rather than Linden, although the route continues to serve Linden northbound.

E Line Map
RapidRide E Line north of the Ship Canal.  Map by Metro.

The most disruptive change is that northbound RapidRide E buses will pick up at new stops downtown.  Buses will now pick up at Pike, Seneca, and Cherry Streets and Prefontaine Place, and will not serve Pine (Macy’s), Union (Benaroya), Marion, or James.  This change is to facilitate off-board payment using new ORCA card readers which SDOT recently installed at the new stops, a couple of which are shared with the RapidRide D Line.  Riders may board using any door if they tap their ORCA cards at the reader or if they have a valid transfer.  Tap your ORCA and skip the line to board!

To make room for northbound RapidRide E buses, Routes 17 and 18 Express (and Route 37 drop-offs) will move to the stops formerly served by Route 358.  Moving these routes makes some sense, as their new stops are shared with Route 40.

Routes 64 and 65: Now to Jackson Park

Metro has made a very welcome change to Routes 64 and 65, extending them from their current northernmost stops in Lake City to Jackson Park via NE 145th St.  This provides an entirely new all-day connection between the two nearby neighborhoods, previously connected only by an out-of-the-way transfer or a ride on hourly Route 330 and a half-mile walk.  The change connects the densest part of  Lake City with two grocery stores, other businesses, and several new transfer opportunities.

This is an extremely low-cost change for both routes.  Route 64 coaches travel to and from base (or their next/previous trips) via NE 145th, so passengers will just ride part of the base route.  Route 65 coaches have been performing a wasteful deadhead from their northernmost stop to a terminal behind the Lake City Fred Meyer, because of a lack of reasonable all-day layover space in the vicinity of 30th Ave NE and NE 145th St.  The extension to Jackson Park won’t require any more hours than that deadhead.  This is a great move (although I may be biased in saying so, given the routing of my Frequent Network Plan‘s “Route 78”).

Routes 50 and 60: VA Hospital Speedup

Because of construction related to the VA Hospital’s new parking garage, Metro is temporarily removing Routes 50 and 60 from the VA Hospital driveway loop.  Route 50 will run straight along Columbian Way in both directions, while Route 60 will remain on 15 Ave S in both directions.

This change provides a huge improvement in service quality for almost all riders of both routes, and I (along with most of the STB staff) hope it becomes permanent.  If you like the faster and more reliable service that results, please tell Metro!

The VA Hospital loop is a notorious time sink.  The entire loop is subject to a 5 mph slow order for safety reasons, and buses frequently run much slower than that because of chronic congestion.  The loop adds 4 to 5 minutes to scheduled trip times on both Route 50 and Route 60, and can add more (delaying buses) during the afternoon.  We have covered the loop’s problems extensively in multiple previous posts, suggesting further accessibility improvements to the hospital’s Beacon Avenue entrance (which is very close to Route 36 stops) and noting that the loop fails to meet Metro’s own service guidelines for deviations because of its relatively low use and high time cost.

Route 50 buses will stop immediately outside the loop in both directions, while Route 60 buses will stop about one block away.  Route 36 buses, as always, will stop on Beacon Avenue South near the hospital’s east entrance.

Grab Bag

The usual minor items:

RapidRide C Line
Two added southbound PM peak trips and one added northbound weekday evening trip.

RapidRide D Line and Route 28
These routes will no longer use detours to reach the terminal behind QFC in Whittier Heights, because construction on 7th Ave NW is complete.  The D Line will use Holman Road to reach 7th Ave NW, and the 28 will use 8th Ave NW all the way to the terminal.

Route 8
A few weekday and weekend trips are being deleted.  In exchange, Metro is adding running time to other trips in an effort to make the PM peak schedule more realistic and reliable.

Routes 17X/18X
As noted earlier, these routes will be picking up at new stops on 3rd Avenue: James, Marion, Union, and Pine.

Route 41
Most trips will no longer serve the stop on 6th Ave S, in front of Central Base.  Use Routes 40, 124, 522, or 545 to reach downtown from this stop.

Route 512
New 5:00 a.m. trip from Everett on Saturday.

Route 513
One added weekday morning trip.  Service now runs every 15 minutes from 6:05 a.m.

Routes 542/545
Six Route 542 trips are converted into four weekday Route 545 trips, to match demand.  Span of service on Route 542 is essentially unaffected, but frequency is slightly reduced during certain time periods.

South Sounder/Route 567/Route 596, Route 535:
Very minor schedule changes.

57 Replies to “Metro and ST Service Changes: Feb. 15”

      1. No – For the under 21 crowd there is Beth’s or the 125th Street Bar & Grill (people could order from the bar).

    1. Yes, I was going to suggest this. Does somebody want to organize it? What and where is Olde 99 Pub? We should start from downtown because it’s easiest for people to get to. I’d suggest around Pioneer Square (in spite of its sketchy reputation) so we can see the most downtown stations.

      1. So why is it a great place? Is it an above-average pub, or it’s just something in Lindenville?

  1. Seriously, they should drop the word rapid from those routes. With that number of stops along Aurora this is a very-very slow ride.

    1. Are you saying that you would rather ride Ride B line to Redmond, the Ride C line to West Seattle, the Ride D line to Ballard, or the new Ride E line to Aurora Village TC? I ride Ride A line to Des Moines, and you will soon be able to ride F (sorry, ride Ride F) to Renton, while everyone around you will wonder why you ride letters, and say the word ride twice.

      We need some word before the word “Ride.” But I agree that it shouldn’t be the word “Rapid.”

      1. In Montgomery County, MD, you can already ride on RideOn buses… so we wouldn’t be the first place to do that!

      2. The term “Rapid” is always relative. Compared to the excruciating 253 of a few years, the B-line does look “rapid”, relatively speaking.

    2. It’s not very-very slow, just ho-hum. For very slow, see the 60 (discussed below), the 25 (almost to the University Bridge then backtrack to the Montlake Bridge), and the south half of the 128 (not physically that slow but a lot of turns and a lonely area). The 358 used to be much worse; it went to Seattle Center, got on Aurora, got off at Bridge Way, then Stone Way and west Green Lake (making the Linden Deviation twice as long).

      1. I think that was the old 6 that served these areas, still missed by many. There was also an express, the 359, that did not do that routing. After the Aurora Bridge tragedy in the late 90s these two routes were combined into today’s 358.

      2. The 6? “Still missed by many?” Worst, slowest bus in history.

        The 358, for all its warts, was a massive improvement and one of the better reorganizations Metro ever did.

      3. I wrote the 6 but accidentally erased it while editing. :) The 359 was something like every 30 minutes weekdays and Saturdays, and the 360 was peak only. So they only helped you if your schedule fit those, otherwise you were taking the 6 or waiting.

  2. It will provide about 10-15 minute service frequency most of the day, with 8-10 minute service during the weekday peak periods.

    Weasels. They’re going to stick that corridor with 15 minute headways off-peak daytime, and they won’t admit it. They’re replicating the C/D disaster, claiming it’s “service so frequent you don’t need a schedule!” when it’s rather obviously not. Hopefully they won’t persist with this charade and give us an actual schedule sooner. And to state the obvious, this route needs 10 minute headways off-peak daytime.

    1. With the E line, it’ll be “service so unreliable, you can’t use a schedule.” just as the 358 was,

    2. All the RapidRide routes have had schedules for a year, so I’m sure the E will.

      As for more frequency, it’s a matter of cost. Do you want to cut half the runs on the 5 to add them to the E? Or do you want to get the Legislature to allow Metro to raise some expansion money?

      1. David Orr: Regarding the old route 6 being missed: the main reason is that ithis route would make a stop southbound right before entering the Aurora Bridge, allowing for easy access to Fremont. The so-called Fremont stop that was later added way up on 46 for the 358 in no way could replace the convenience of the former stop on 38 and Linden.

      2. Elbar: Alas, David Lawson and Mike Orr are two different people. :)

        I think the real solution to the problem you describe is to add a stop on Aurora near Fremont. You could put a stop at 38th, like how the stop at 46th works, or you could build the “Fremont elevator” and put a stop at 34th.

        But either way, it seems silly to deviate the 358/E to serve Fremont, especially when so many other routes deviate *away* from Fremont. Most folks here know that I’m not a fan of running local service (e.g. the 5/16/26/28/40) on Aurora, and that I’d love to see all of those routes sent through Fremont (or continue to go through Fremont), but the 358/E is the one bus that unquestionably belongs there for its entire length.

      3. Elbar: Fremont/northend connectivity is a big weakness in the current network; I think everyone admits that. There are a lot of ingenious ways to solve it, most of which involve revising the 5.

        But having that stop is not at all worth delaying every one of the much higher number of people who need to travel between Aurora and downtown.

    3. I just remembered why the daytime frequency might be going down. It’s being supplemented by viaduct construction mitigation funds, which are about to run out, and the Legislature does not see fit to extend them to the end of construction. (“Hardworking Republican-voting citizens don’t ride the bus, they want their tax dollars going to it.”)

      I hear the 358 is overcrowded in the daytime, so this may make it worse.

  3. First stop for the E line is actually Yesler & Prefontaine Pl … where they have one of those Orca Podiums as well

  4. Your bullet point:

    Stops downtown for Routes 17 and 18 will change

    should be 17X and 18X. You have it correct later in the details.

  5. 1) I’m finding myself quite psyched to be able to put the 60 arrow back in my transit quiver. I had long ago given up on using it as an option to get to or from Georgetown, or relying on it as a connection from Link to First/Capitol Hills. I just couldn’t get past the excruciating laboriousness of it, the feeling that Metro was going out of its way to disrespect my time as a customer.

    For myself and most self-respecting passengers, the lower 60 and central 50 were mentally excised from the map, because they were incapable of serving a through- or connective purpose. If Metro cares about a cohesive network in the slightest, this change will be permanent.

    2) Any new information on how RR E’s clutzy fare policies have been or will be resolved? There’s zero chance of me being charged a Shoreline fare when tapping on the pedestal at Pike, or on the bus crossing Denny, right? Should we just expect two months of terrible peak boarding while one in every four passengers has the reader changed, until either Metro eliminates the zone fare or people notice the dwindling fare enforcement and stop bothering with the 2-zone hassle?

    3) A few weekday and weekend trips are being deleted. In exchange, Metro is adding running time. Groan. Huge groan. Richter scale, audible-in-British-Columbia groan. When Denny is congested, the 8 is screwed far worse than any minor adjustment can possibly handle. But on the shoulders of the Denny mess, all padding will do is give us “accidentally early” buses and make OBA unreliable. Metro needs to stop with the padding fetish. There are off-peak 40s scheduled to take >30 minutes from Ballard to downtown. Just yesterday, my 44 was four minutes “early” by the time it jaunted off as a suddenly-superfluous 43. We hadn’t been going especially fast. Metro is chasing the slowest common denominator as if that’s some sort of ideal. And now it is literally costing us much-needed trips. Enough!!

    1. No new information on Point 2. I expect, one way or another, we’ll get to a point where fareboxes and ORCA readers are all set for one zone and no one ever changes them. But that may take some time of people beating their heads against a wall.

      1. You could set the preferences on you ORCA account to default to one-zone fares. Traveling to Shoreline would then be the exception.

      2. I think all the off-board readers default to one-zone. Metro sent out a memo about how on-board readers will be set, but the outbound instructions sounded like something copy-pasted from back when PAYE was in effect, so I think it remains to be seen what will happen there.

      3. What they need to do is eliminate the threat of a $124 ticket if you don’t go to the driver and ask for a 2-zone fare. Just make it all one zone. The whole point of RapidRide is to increase ridership, so that should compensate for any lost revenue. Anyone who wants a premium experience will be on the 301 or 355 anyway.

      4. If you tap that card against that reader and it indicates a valid fare payment, then you should be able to board that bus for the length of the trip, no questions asked. I think we need to set most fare to $2.50 24/7 and county to city commuter specials (buses that operate only peak hours) to $3.00. Simplifies things a lot.

    2. I’m stunned that DP is upbeat about the 60, a route that’s significantly worse than his bugaboos the D and 40. It takes a long time to get anywhere on it, with or without the VA tour. It’s the textbook example of a coverage route. When I looked at an apartment on Beacon Hill where the 60 was the closest route, it wasn’t enough coverage for me (mainly because of the early cutoff).

      To be fair, it may not be possible to speed up the 60 on 15th and south of it, the roads are just slow and long. My biggest wish is that it would stay on Broadway rather than detouring to 9th.

      1. The 60 is slow in Capitol Hill/First Hill, but it’s really pretty good south of Jackson once the VA deviation is taken out. 15th S is reliable and a good driver can make very good time.

        There’s a reason I double down on the 15th S routing in both of my network plans — and, in the +33% one, extend the routing into South Park. It’s a quick and useful connection to Link and the ID.

      2. Be stunned if you want, but the arduous (and lightly-used) 40-minute trip from Beacon Hill Station to South Park is about to become a brisk 15-20 minute trip with the imminent re-opening of the nearly complete new South Park Bridge. I’m stunned. I just hope Metro doesn’t yank the frequency out from under this new rapid route, or turn it into a backward-headed shuttle to Othello Station.

        The best way to permanently remove the “VA tour”, as you aptly call it, is to balloon the ridership on the rapidized version of the route.

        Give us weekend night runs on the 60, and I’ll never have a 2-hour Odyssey home from Sounders matches again.

      3. What Brent said. The 60 provides quasi-grid connectivity through areas where the radial services are often even more mediocre (Georgetown to Beacon Hill Link, for example, is 2.3 miles in a perfectly straight line). Just off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen past trips where the 60 would have been awesomely helpful, had I not needed to protect my sanity from riding in circles on an empty bus.

        I hope Metro sees fit to make this improvement permanent, but the agency’s out-of-control padding obsession — and newly expressed willingness to openly delete runs in favor of enforced slowness, per the awful news about the 8 — leaves me less than confident.

  6. The 64/65 service addition is very nice and useful, but that it highlights something about the North Seattle map that’s always annoyed me; the lack of 145th crosstown service, which would make the network much more functional.

    1. A route between Lake City and Shoreline along 145 would be great to connect with ST buses in I-5 and the 522 that goes between Seattle and Woodinville.

    2. For right now, I think crosstown service on 130th (connecting the hearts of Lake City and Bitter Lake) should be a higher priority. But in the end, there should be crosstown routes on both 130th and 145th.

      1. One of the advantages of 145th is the ability to connect with the frequent all day service on I-5.

      2. That may well be true; I’m less familiar with that corridor and haven’t had cause to wish that bus exists, as I have with 145th. Still, better access to 145th freeway station would seems important. Part of my frustration is how to get from Greenwood to Everett efficiently, which I occasionally have need to do. Getting to that freeway station helps avoid needless backtracking through downtown of the U-District. If I’m going early enough I can leverage the 304, but that’s rare.

      3. Before Metro cutback the 28 to Carkeek Park, I thought and extension to Jackson Park would have been a great idea.

    3. I guess today the general function of east-west service between Shoreline and Lake City is filled by the 330, mostly on 155th. I’d guess 155th has more reliable travel times, and it’s certainly a more pleasant place to wait for a bus, but it misses the freeway stop and probably future light rail. I don’t think there’s a huge difference in density/destinations, but 145th probably has a little more around cross streets like 15th Ave NE and Aurora.

    4. I don’t understand what’s so exciting about extending the 64 and 65 to Jackson Park. Not many people in Lake City play golf, so it seems like the only beneficiaries are a dozen single-family houses. Of course, it will be useful when the Link station opens in ten years, so maybe it’s in preparation for that. But meanwhile the larger number of people going to Aurora or northwest Seattle will still have to wait for the 330 (or walk from Jackson Park, or wait 30-60 minutes for the 348). As for the greater number of transfers, what are they and who will they benefit?

      1. With the 68 slated for the chop, the extension of the 65 is actually quite beneficial for me because I have another option for connecting to the 348. Timed right (getting out of the store, the light on 45th/Mary Gates cooperating), I could make it home just as fast as taking the 68+348.

        It’s also good because it gives me another option on Sundays, when the 75 is timed so that it just barely misses connecting with the Shoreline busses.

      2. Mike, Jackson Park is not just a golf course, but also a commercial district and a residential neighborhood. For now, the primary benefit is to connect residents of the north Lake City apartment district with two grocery stores that are very close by — especially since the 64/65 miss Fred Meyer. There are also new 65/347, 65/348, and 65/373 transfers that could be useful for people traveling between Lake City or Meadowbrook/Wedgwood and many different parts of Shoreline.

        The 65 is qualitatively better than the 330 because it runs twice as often during the day, has even more frequent peak service, and runs nights and weekends.

      3. The excitement has nothing to do with the golf course, and everything to do with the commerce at 145th & 15th Ave NE, in addition to the bus connections. Now that the QFC in downtown Lake City is gone, the Jackson Park store is the upscale grocery destination for Lake City, at least until Safeway ups the ante and becomes the store requiring GMO foods to be labelled.

  7. “Use Routes 40, 124, 522, or 545 to reach downtown from this stop.”

    The Route Book for next shakeup shows the 40’s laying over on 6th Ave S on the nearside of S Royal Brougham which means they technically won’t be servicing the 6th Ave S stop as the layover is past that stop. It would be handy if they did service that stop, given the loss of the 41s but there is plenty of service down there with the 545, 522, and 24/124 and also Link only a short walk away.

    1. Thanks for the update. I’ve seen 40s laying over there in the past, and the drivers would typically let waiting passengers board, so I hope the same thing would happen after the shakeup.

  8. I was looking at the map of new downtown boarding locations, and I noticed that the 41, 71, 72, and 73 are listed as stopping on 3rd Ave when the tunnel is closed. However, the schedules for these routes have text and a map that suggests that they stop on 2nd and 4th when the tunnel is closed, and that’s what OneBusAway says, too. Clearly, one of these sources is wrong… does anyone know which it is? (Not a trick question, I’m honestly curious.)

    1. Aleks — They stop on 4th/2nd, and that’s a very good point. I’ll mention it to Metro PR.

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