Bus 2
Bus 2, waiting for yet another red light. By Neil Hodges.

The south half of Metro Route 2 chugs from downtown Seattle to Madrona Park and back via Seneca and Union Streets, a traffic light interrupting its progress on nearly every block.  Virginia Mason Medical Center, First Hill, and the north part of the Central District pass by during the leisurely trip.  We’ll call this part of the route “Bus 2,” the identity it has taken on in recent years, ignoring for now the part of the route serving Queen Anne.  Bus 2 is a Seattle institution.  Its routing hasn’t changed since the 1940 opening of Seattle Transit’s original trolleybus network, except for minor revisions downtown.  (Edit:  That claim isn’t quite true, as pointed out by eddiew in the comments.  The route originally used Madison, rather than Seneca and Union, between 9th and the “bowtie” at Union and 12th.)

As it has for many years, Bus 2 comes every 15 minutes during the day, and every 30 minutes nights and Sundays.  Almost every trip on Bus 2 is full between downtown and Virginia Mason, where approximately half of its passengers are headed at most times of day.  The passengers are a mix of old Seattle, new Seattle, and everything in between.  Bus 2 is a microcosm of its changing city, encompassing in its 40 feet all the decades it has spent trundling back and forth.  The remaining passengers leave in a steady trickle between Boren Avenue in First Hill and MLK Jr. Way in the Central District.  Few people use Bus 2 in Madrona or Madrona Park.  But the driver does get to enjoy Metro’s most scenic layover, at the lake’s edge, if Bus 2 is on time.

Bus 2 is rarely on time, except late at night.  The most heavily used part of the route, the seven-block stretch between Virginia Mason and downtown, is often seriously delayed by traffic congestion, especially eastbound toward the hospital.  Every rider of Bus 2 knows the drill of sitting through multiple cycles at each traffic light along Spring Street, stuck behind cars trying to get onto southbound I-5 at 6th Avenue.   Depending on time of day, the entire three-and-a-half-mile trip is scheduled to take anywhere from 23 to 36 minutes, for an average speed of five to seven miles per hour — and that’s after waiting for the bus.  The result: Bus 2 gets its riders where they want to go, but slowly, often more slowly than walking.

Other Metro bus routes, also traveling east and west, overlap with the parts of Bus 2 that nearly all of its riders use.  Route 12 runs along Madison Street, within two blocks of Bus 2 all the way from downtown to 17th Avenue.  Routes 10 and 11 run along Pine Street, two to four blocks away, as far east as 15th Avenue.  All three of these routes are a very short walk from Bus 2, although none serves Bus 2’s exact routing.  All of them are faster, and more reliable, than Bus 2, mostly because traffic moves faster along the streets they serve than it does on congested Spring and Seneca.

And yet lots of reasonable people ride, and love, Bus 2.  Trying to improve it, even with all its flaws, is a big deal.  And the process can be done better.  More after the jump.

Fall 2012 Restructure: Proposed Changes to Routes 2 & 12
Fall 2012 Restructure: Proposed Changes to Routes 2 & 12

Metro has proposed to restructure Bus 2 heavily on three separate occasions, always with two goals: 1) take advantage of the faster streets nearby to speed up service, and 2) make buses come more often along those faster streets.  The restructure above, proposed for Fall 2012, is a good example; it would move Bus 2 from slow Seneca Street to faster Madison Street, together with Route 12.

Each time Metro proposed a restructure, intense and well-organized citizen opposition arose, seeking to keep Bus 2 the way it is.  Bus 2 has inspired a tsunami of protective physical and electronic ink; a new grassroots organization called “Save Bus 2”; and some of the most effective political organizing Metro and King County have ever encountered.  Through these efforts Bus 2 has elbowed its way into the consciousness of everyone who follows transit happenings in Seattle, even those who never set foot in First Hill or the Central District.  Twice, restructures have been defeated through the political process.  Nevertheless, Metro is trying a third time, out of funding necessity; a revised Bus 2 restructure is in Metro’s proposal for service cuts to happen if the April 22 “Save Metro” vote fails.

This repetitive history leads to two questions.  First, why do people care so much about Bus 2, which, even its most passionate advocates admit, is slow, chronically delayed, and mostly duplicative?  Second, why does Metro keep trying to restructure Bus 2, even after so much resistance and political defeat?

Bus 2 is a great lens through which to look at the restructuring process.  It can teach us why certain riders hate restructures enough to organize politically, and why Metro and transit activists doggedly pursue those same restructures even through such intense resistance.

And, I argue, Bus 2 can show us why well-planned restructures have much more to offer, and much less to fear, than affected riders — even the best-informed ones — often think.

The riders of Bus 2 who organize each time Metro suggests a restructure are a friendly bunch.  They include elderly residents of First Hill who have lived in the same place for decades, regular patients of Virginia Mason with mobility impairments, and neighborhood activists whose passion for the well-being of their small piece of Seattle is clear.  Listening to their arguments, as STB guest writer and general eminence Mike Orr recently did at a meeting about the “Save Metro” vote, one feels sympathy for their fears.  Their principal fears about the restructures are these two:

1) it is unfair to take away bus service along Seneca Street and to Virginia Mason that people have relied on since 1940, when ridership is not low; and
2) the restructured service pattern would force transfers to reach some downtown destinations that are inconvenient and may be difficult for those with mobility impairments.

Much of the heated discussion about restructures of Bus 2, here and in other forums, has zoomed in on the validity of these fears, often in foot-by-foot detail.  While my personal view is that both of them are substantially overstated, this post is not about debating them.  Let’s accept the fears as valid, for the time being.

But let’s also do something which is too rare in these discussions: focus, at that same level of detail, on the potential gains from the restructures.

“Loss aversion” is a widely (if not universally) accepted principle of psychology which holds that people expect to lose more happiness from losing something valuable they already have than they expect to gain from getting something equally (or even more) valuable that is new to them.  In any discussion of political change, we see loss aversion at work, as people focus strongly on the losses that change could bring.  At the local level, we see this with zoning changes, where the discussion focuses on loss of neighborhood character, and traffic reconfigurations, where people talk about the well-trod travel paths that are bound to change.  And transit restructures are no exception, as the most heated discussion is always about whatever will get worse — and, in any budget-neutral restructure, something is bound to get worse.

Because of loss aversion, proponents of restructures have an uphill battle from the start.  Too often, both Metro and activists talk in abstract transit-geek terms like “well-spaced corridors” or “lower headways,” which mean nothing to the public.  We don’t always bring the improvements into concrete form, so that people who stand to gain but are not transit geeks can get excited enough about what they’re getting to help offset who fear their losses.

So what would Bus 2 riders get from a restructure that moves Bus 2 to Madison Street?  Believe it or not, a whole lot of good things.

Faster speed.  At PM peak, the one-mile trip from 3rd Avenue to Broadway is scheduled for 15 minutes on Bus 2, and usually takes 3 to 5 minutes longer.  Oddly enough, that is a 10-minute trip on Route 10 and a 12-minute trip on route 12, and both of those routes are much more reliable than Bus 2.

Even faster speed in the future.  The City of Seattle sees Madison Street as a workable place for a major investment in bus speed.  The city is studying dedicated bus lanes and lights that turn green for buses, so that the trip up and down First Hill would get even faster.  Because of the I-5 interchange traffic and the narrowness of Seneca Street on First Hill, these are not solutions that could work for Seneca Street or Bus 2.

Less waiting at bus stops.  Right now, Bus 2 runs every 15 minutes all day, meaning that someone arriving at the bus stop at a random time can expect to wait about eight minutes for a bus — time that, as any bus rider well knows, feels much longer than it actually is.  By moving Bus 2 to Madison Street rather than Seneca, where it would run alongside Route 12, riders could expect an average wait of just four minutes per bus — or two minutes during rush hour.  Even if the Save Metro vote fails and Metro has to cut service, the wait on Madison would be shorter than the wait for Bus 2 today — six minutes, or four minutes during rush hour.

Fewer major delays and long waits.  When the bus runs every 15 minutes, you are in for a very long wait if a bus has any sort of problem like a mechanical issue, a passenger needing an ambulance, or a police incident.  You might be standing at the bus stop for half an hour, causing you to miss a doctor’s appointment or be late for work.  That long wait gets dramatically shorter when more buses are available.  If Bus 2 were moved to Madison, you wouldn’t ever wait longer than 15 minutes even if a bus went out of service.

A better environment at bus stops.  If more buses serve a particular stop, more passengers will use that stop, which is almost always a good thing for passengers.  More eyes in an area deter criminal activity and promote a sense of safety.  Moving Bus 2 to Madison would roughly double the volume of passengers using Madison stops at all times of day.

These benefits are not unique to proposed restructures of Bus 2.  They are the usual motivation behind almost every restructure that either Metro or an interloper like me proposes or executes.  And there is often a compelling case to be made that, for nearly all passengers, the benefits outweigh the potential harms that current users fear.  There is no way to make that case without making clear exactly what the benefits are, and why ordinary bus riders, not just people who enjoy playing with maps in their spare time, can get excited about restructured bus service.  Without understanding the benefits, we can’t say why they are worth the losses that people see so naturally, and fear so much.

Spend more time talking about the good stuff.  That is how, just maybe, we can fix some of the longest-standing problems with Seattle transit — problems like the slowness, unreliability, and long waits that affect poor Bus 2 and all of its passengers.

146 Replies to “Why We Restructure: A Bit More About “Bus 2””

  1. >>Too often, both Metro and activists talk in abstract transit-geek terms like “well-spaced corridors” or “lower headways,” which mean nothing to the public. We don’t always bring the improvements into concrete form, so that people who stand to gain but are not transit geeks can get excited enough about what they’re getting to help offset who fear their losses.<<

    THANK YOU. I wish STB and Metro had editorial policies that nothing can go and be released to the public without explicit approval from a Real World Grounding And Applications Editor AND with approval from an Empathy Editor.

    No offense. That's where half the fights (especially about density) are lost outright. Especially the latter.

  2. As always, lots of good ideas here. I’m not sure I’m convinced that resistance to efficiency re-routing is necessarily always irrational. Is it really irrational to prefer to wait at a covered bus stop for an extra four minutes, or to sit on a warm bus for an extra ten, when the alternative is a five minute walk uphill in the rain? Given the 12’s parallelism, is it arguable that the people who take Bus2 now are precisely the people who already feel this way?

    I totally agree that transit restructures explained more experientially would be a great help! You make a compelling argument here, and I think I’m sold on it. I’m just thinking about in general, as a transit blog reader but not commenter, that it sometimes comes off as though time is the only consideration that really matters and everyone who doesn’t feel that way is irrational, or, at best, uninformed. Time cost is, of course, the most easily quantifiable metric here, but I don’t think that necessarily makes other considerations misguided/crazy.

    As an aside, personally, I never feel safer at a crowded bus stop, but that’s just me.

    1. +1 on the crowded bus stop argument. It may *be* safer, per capita, but with all those routes, nobody knows who is hanging out forever, looking for buyers or victims. Okay, we know who some of the professional panhandlers are, what their story is, and what corner is theirs. I’m talking about the stolen goods resellers, pickpockets, purse stealers, and drug dealers. We got ’em, and large crowds at stops isn’t a deterrent.

  3. Any route that serves hospitals and retirement homes is going to be slow. Passengers who are ill or aged move slower than 30 year old young professionals. And unfortunately, Bus 2 runs right into VM and a number of retirement homes.

    I’d love to see Bus 2 moved to Madison and I think the community could be persuaded to support the move if the benefits were clearly explained. I’m not sure the live-loop routing would be accepted, however. Bus 2 currently turns on/off of 3rd Avenue which allows tranferring riders to walk to their connections on a level street. If Bus 2 live-loops, riders needing to make connections will have to walk up or down a steep hill to make those connections and those riders who are ill or aged won’t be able to easily make that walk.

    1. If the stops were properly placed at the corners of 3rd & marion/madison, the transfer hillclimb could be virtually eliminated.

      1. Unless the stop is in the middle of the intersection you’re going to be waiting for, entering, and exiting the bus on a pretty significant incline. It’s a hard problem to solve comprehensively, and I think we’ll always have important bus stops on hills — stops used by route 2 at/along 3rd Ave seem to be particularly important, so if we move them they deserve some attention!

        If we expect most people boarding at 3rd to ride uphill (and most people exiting there to be coming from up the hill), near-side stops would mean most people would descend to transfers instead of climbing to them, and it would put the front door closer to level ground. That would help some people. Additional street furniture would help some people. If we could provide a level place for wheelchair users to wait at 3rd and Marion that would help (with a near-side stop they might be able to wait up by 3rd where it’s level). Today’s stops on Madison and Marion aren’t worthy of their proposed use.

  4. Thank you for writing in English!

    I’m afraid, though, that failure of the Route 2 restructures isn’t merely because we are losing the debate with our Transit-Geek-Investobabble. It’s that we aren’t even engaging in the debate.

    We publish pieces here, and hope something comes of it. The opponent of the restructures makes the rounds and riles up constituent groups, or at the very least collects signatures and contact info. She organizes. We publicize. What we’re missing, to borrow Ben’s phrase, is “shoe leather”.

    Watch as she runs right through our meager efforts, like the Auburn wide receiver who caught the Alabama field goal attempt that fell short and runs easily the other way for a national-championship-winning touchdown, while we bloggers stand around looking like the ‘Bama special teams that didn’t realize someone could actually do that. We lost the game because we didn’t even show up to play.

    1. It would seem that the Bus 2 riders could be split into 2 groups: the riders between Madrona Park and 12th Avenue and the riders from Broadway to downtown. The riders who live on the eastern part of the route suffer more from the slow going on Spring and Seneca than the riders going only to Virginia Mason. If Bus 2 were routed onto Madison, a passenger from 34th Avenue might get downtown 5 minutes faster, but that leaves the question of how to serve Virginia Mason riders who aren’t able to manage walking up and down steep hills.

      1. that leaves the question of how to serve Virginia Mason riders who aren’t able to manage walking up and down steep hills

        Well, no one has to walk up or down steep hills to reach Virginia Mason from Madison St. Madison and Seneca climb the exact same hill, and the avenues between them on the hillside are flat and walkable.

        The Madison stops would need to be rearranged slightly, though, so that there would be an uphill stop at 9th for VM access, rather than skipping that block.

      2. So, why not have a bus between downtown and Virginia Mason, that could be arranged to get people who use such a facility to the most popular places downtown they want to get to? Do it as a loop, and make it free. Where have I heard that idea before?

      3. Another (minority, I’m sure) use of the 2 is as a one-seater from Capitol Hill to Belltown / LQA, for those occasions when it’s too cold / late / inebriated to risk transferring downtown. It’s very much a southern cousin of the 8, in this respect.

  5. if I were the Route 2 restructure opponent, the first question I would ask after reading this article is “So, why can’t the route 2 buses get signal priority?”

    1. My guess is that Union/Seneca is a fairly minor street compared to all of the major streets that cross it, so it would probably mess with cross traffic flow too much. Also because SDOT is terrible at getting the ball rolling on TSP.

      In the meantime, it seems like energy could be better used consolidating stops (not likely) or moving stops far side of intersections (more likely), to speed up the bus a little bit. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the 2, picking up passengers at a stop, only to pull away just in time to hit a red light.

    2. Here we get back into transit geek territory, but the answer to that question is unavoidably geeky.

      The worst-performing part of Bus 2 is eastbound Spring Street. Signal priority there wouldn’t do a bit of good, because the problem is excess car traffic headed for I-5 which blocks buses from getting through the intersections at 4th, 5th, and occasionally even 3rd (also blocking other buses) on the existing green signals.

      There is also an I-5 problem on westbound Seneca. WSDOT feels, rightly or wrongly, that a backup from the Seneca Street offramp onto I-5 is a safety disaster to be avoided at all costs. Thus I-5 gets a huge part of the signal cycle at 6th/Seneca, resulting in 2+ minute waits for Seneca traffic such as Bus 2. You can’t implement signal priority there without getting WSDOT to change its mind.

      Further east, signal priority is possible, but won’t accomplish much without dedicated transit lanes. Seneca is too narrow to take away parallel parking for bus lanes — you’d have bus lanes below the minimum safe width.

      All of these are reasons why SDOT sees Madison, rather than Seneca, as the proper street for investment in transit speed to and from First Hill. To the north, Pike/Pine are also better candidates, either in their current configuration or with a two-way, transit-priority Pine.

      1. I don’t suppose you made a similar map to the one above, featuring the Pike/Pine routes, perhaps with the street grid, to show just how close routes are in either direction.

      2. No. I did no mapmaking for this post. The map above is from Metro’s first 2012 restructure proposal, borrowed from the post Bruce wrote about it at the time.

        If the April 22 vote fails and/or Metro returns with yet another Route 2 restructuring proposal, I’ll talk about it some more. In that event I’ll make some maps.

      3. Great post David, as always.
        As a former MT2 driver for many years, the backups were real, but a bit overstated in your lead up. Maybe it’s gotten horrible lately, but I generally enjoyed a full break on the Lake Washington. However, that was pre- ‘slash the break times’ suggested by the KC Auditor, so maybe the actual data now supports this. That would be a great tool to have the actual minutes late, by time of day to support the change, instead of the usual anecdotal evidence. Showing how Madison’ faster and more predictable speed would save bus AND rider hours, which would be a powerful argument.
        Talking to a good friend of mine at Horizon House (chief opponent of the restructure), gives an entirely different perspective on the change and it’s impacts on the retirement/medically challenged community. Their fears are genuine, and they are willing to spend the shoe leather to save their route. Perhaps not enough effort was given to belay those fears, such as running a special bus down Madison for several weeks, with volunteer riders to evaluate the change first hand, identify the obstacles, and make recommendations to improve the experience. Then they can become your allies, not your enemies. (PS, heaven help Metro if they ignore the changes requested, such as stop location, and sidewalk improvements getting to Madison)
        Many RT2 riders begin their trip along 3rd Ave, then ride up the hill. The restructure requires all those riders to transfer, which isn’t to be taken lightly, as Metro is not famous for providing for safe, comfortable transfer experiences given our wind and rain in the canyons of high rise Seattle many days of the year.
        ‘Just my 2 cents worth’

      4. It’s somewhat illogical that so many drivers try to get onto I-5 at Spring St. It’s usually faster and easier to use the James St. entrance.

        When (if?) the 3/4 move off James, maybe more auto traffic could be routed to the James St. freeway entrance and the Spring St. ramp could be restructured for HOV/transit use only.

      5. mic, I also spent my fair share of time driving Route 2, in 2003 and 2004.

        Back then, the serious delays were limited to PM peak. Today, they’ve gotten worse, and are present pretty much from lunch hour to mid-evening. I don’t know if this is because of other changes downtown (causing more people to try to access I-5 via Spring) or just growth before and after the recession.

        Layovers are also shorter. They were never long on the 2, but now they are typically under ten minutes on both ends.

      6. GuyOnBeaconHill: The 3 and 4 seem to suffer from the same problem as the 2 and it’s complicated by the right turn/left turn they have to do to get around Harborview. I’ve been on route 3 and 4 buses that take a long time to make the right onto 9th and then another very long time to have enough room to make the left onto James. That’s caused by the massive backup trying to go south on IH-5 from James as well.

        I think the problem, at least at James, could be fixed by having the James/5th/6th square be treated as an actual four-way intersection. Starting at WB James at SB 5th, go clockwise. WB James has a green to continue on James and green arrow at NB 6th to go north on IH-5. Then SB 6th has a green to go straight towards SB IH-5 and a green light to continue onto WB James. Keep cycling where only one leg can go at each time, at least during peak times, and it gives time for each street to empty without backing up at least a block.

        I’m not a professional traffic designer so I guess this has either been tried and rejected or considered and rejected at both James and Spring. If so, does anyone know why?

  6. Some might wonder if what’s really going on is wealthy Queen Anne route 2 riders, after years of complaining about late buses, were told the reason they are often late is because of the 2 getting bogged down going past Virginia Mason. And Metro, wanting to appease the more powerful northend riders, are trying to quicken the route for them at the expense of the poorer southend 2 riders.

    1. Ouch! For once, I have to partially agree with Sam.

      But I’m also aware that the well-to-do vocal organizer of opposition to moving route 2 wants to keep her one-seat ride to Lower Queen Anne.

    2. A large part of the opposition to the restructure was people defending their 1-seat ride between Madrona and Queen Anne, two wealthy and privileged neighborhoods at opposite ends of the line. So no, I don’t buy your theory.

      1. Talking about urban bus routes in terms of terminal to terminal indicates a low understanding of how people actually use busses.

      2. Yet it is again and again (successfully) used as an argument to preserve existing service patterns.

      3. I’m not sure I would say that was ‘a large part’ of the opposition, and honestly I don’t think characterizing the opposition to the restructure in terms of ‘wealthy and powerful neighborhoods don’t like the change’ is accurate either. The prime opponent y’all are thinking of lives in the CD, not Madrona, and while we are definitely getting wealthier we sure as hell aren’t QA.

        I think the real point here is the one made previously – lack of shoe leather will cost the restructure. Stay tuned for news on that front.

    3. Easy solution to that nonsense, but might cost a little money:

      Mandate that Metro needs to tabulate and publish all the feedback they get, and to specify the demographic locations of WHERE the particular feedback is coming from. There is a legitimate use for that information, to breakdown and highlight the needs of various locations and demographic groups.

      Now, if that means that some locations and demographics get embarrassed, well…

  7. I wonder if the way to solve this particular problem (and similar ones) is to offer plenty of amenities to go along with it. In this case, most of us like this idea, because it would lead to faster, more frequent buses. But for folks who don’t care, or have gotten used to thing the way they are, they only see this as an extra block or two to walk. But maybe we can invest in top notch bus stops. With the high number of older folks on this route, maybe this would be a great place to use the RapidRide buses. We wouldn’t have to call them RapidRide, but maybe “full mobility” buses. I’m not sure about other amenities that could be added, but given the number of people that use this route, I think they would make sense.

    1. I’m all for adding any amenity that makes the transition easier. Make sure we are using exclusively low-floor buses from day 1, using diesels if necessary while we wait for the new low-floor trolleys. Move stops on Madison to farside 9th in both directions, for a short (1 1/2 blocks) and flat walk to Virginia Mason’s 9th entrance. Move the bus stops near 3rd on Madison and Marion (this is one situation where maybe a nearside stop, westbound, is warranted). Fix any issues such as rough sidewalks or poor sightlines that make the walk difficult. Provide good accessibility features both at bus stops and along sidewalks. But don’t make everyone suffer through bus rides that take 15 minutes or more to go one lousy mile.

      1. Exactly. That is what I’m talking about. Your post is all about presentation, or marketing, as it were. Metro has done a poor job in the past with this issue because they haven’t emphasized the positive. The improvements you mention in this paragraph are huge improvements for folks on this line (as best I can guess). Low-floor buses? Excellent. Flat walk? Outstanding. This, along with the improvements mentioned in the main post (faster, more frequent service) could tip the scales towards this change.

      2. Yes, the stop WB 9th&Madison is a minimal shelter for maybe one wheelchair to only get 1/2 soaked in a rain storm. Double the length, and double the width to the whole sidewalk, with some side panels, and real time info, plus great lighting. That’s what I’m talking about.

      1. David, two things. First off, I notice you didn’t say I was wrong, you only said I was being insulting. Secondly, please tell me, in very general terms, what group do you think is pushing for the route 2 to be sped up, and what group doesn’t want it to change? In the above link, at the bottom, the Save Route 2 folks say this: “These changes disproportionately impact seniors, disabled and vulnerable populations.” If seniors and the disabled are fighting for it to stay the same, who’s pressuring for it to be changed? A different group of seniors and disabled? I doubt it. The people pressuring Metro to speed up and make changes to the 2 are not the aforementioned groups. Then who are they?

      2. “Seniors and persons with disabilities” are not a monolithic group, but a bunch of individuals with varying preferences. We know that some people fitting into one of those categories are part of Save Bus 2. But Save Bus 2 is not speaking for everyone, and lots of people, including seniors and people with disabilities, value faster and more frequent bus service.

      3. David, I don’t understand your complaint. Sam only presented the opposing viewpoint. He never said he agreed with it.

        I think it is reasonable to address each argument made in the flyer with a counter argument. I think you already have, in the main post, as well as your response to me, but I think it would make sense to argue each point, item by item. Sometimes you have to just say “yes, but it will be better in other ways”. Other times you will shred the argument into pieces “Delay? It will be faster and more frequent.”.

      4. Ross, your confusion is warranted. In my haste I replied to the wrong Sam post. My first snarky reply was intended to answer this:

        Faster trips isn’t an issue most route 2 riders don’t care about. Transit geeks and planners, and perhaps wealthier riders, sure, are pushing for a faster route

    1. So their points are:

      It’s one of the most heavily-used buses.
      That’s never justification for freezing a route in amber.
      Less-active stops are less safe.
      No evidence is provided that the stops will be less active. If it’s one of the most heavily-used routes in the system, the demand it carries will shift and eliminate that problem.
      Madison is more congested than Seneca
      Metro obviously doesn’t think so.
      Don’t want transfers; want one-seat rides to front doors in both Queen Anne and Madrona
      This is the most detrimental bias our system exhibits. Requiring a transfer from north/south to east/west over 4.5 miles in the densest part of the city is imminently reasonable.
      Steep transfers required to 3rd Ave; no longer connects to Light Rail
      Ah, specifics. These we can talk about.

  8. If the #2 riders from Downtown were interested in a faster trip, they would already be hiking over to Madison to catch the #12. My guess is that these riders are not able to make that hike. For some folks over a certain age, any walk up or down an incline that extends for more than a block is a hike.

    The #12 stops on Marion are already well populated when I’m riding, especially when a ferry docks The population of riders is not nearly as scary as the crowds @ 3rd & Pike.

    1. Faster trips isn’t an issue most route 2 riders don’t care about. Transit geeks and planners, and perhaps wealthier riders, sure, are pushing for a faster route, but people opposed to changing the route 2 all said, “The route 2 is not broken, and it doesn’t need to be changed. Changing it will hurt us.” That’s their main message. And you are right, for many folks, especially the elderly and disabled, moving the route a couple of blocks further away is a very big deal, even more so when it’s being moved away from a major hospital.

      1. I’m sorry to report that the years that I used both the 2 and the 12, I found that the 2 usually moved faster between Third Avenue and Twelfth Avenue E. There are no signals between Boren and Broadway on Route 2 and the bus always cleared Boren fairly easily. I find many signals on Madison, and it often takes two or even three cycles to clear Boren on Route 12.

      2. I think David got his posts mixed up. So, to paraphrase him: it isn’t just wealthy riders who want a faster ride.

        But yes, the rest of your post makes sense. This is why what I said earlier makes sense: offer something else beside faster service. Offer better buses, nicer stations, etc. There will still be people who don’t want things to change, but overall, it will be better.

    2. Regarding the people who board or deboard on Spring Street, you’ve probably got a point. But how many Bus 2 riders do get on/off there, and how many are forced to ride through there to/from Union Street or Madrona?

      I have no idea, but I think that would be one of the more valuable pieces of information to judge this change.

  9. Great post, David! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had similar thoughts waiting for the 2. I vastly prefer to walk across I-5 and pick up the 2 at Town Hall (8th & Seneca) rather than sit through several light cycles on Spring. Your idea to move it to Pike/Pine deserves some more attention.

    I wonder if Metro’s given any thought to extending the eastbound contra-flow lane on Seneca, currently used by buses exiting the Viaduct, all the way up to 8th. It’s probably not worth it given the extra trolley wire that would need to be constructed and the disruption to businesses on Seneca, but I’ve often thought that would be a decent alternative to the Spring St. routing.

  10. All this is predicated on Madison being a faster street than Seneca. As a 25-year First Hill resident, and a frequent rider of both Routes 2 and 12, I can tell you this is NOT the case. Leave Route 2 alone, it is NOT broken, and nearly half its ridership is destined for points north of Seneca Street downtown, so why force them to transfer, especially since most of them are boarding west of Broadway? Splitting Route 10 and 12 did NOTHING to help the reliability of Route 12, it is just as bad as ever. Don’t subject Route 2 to the same delays. If you want to speed up the 2, give transit an exclusive eastbound lane on Seneca between 3rd and 6th Avenues, and fix the signal at 6th & Seneca so that it doesn’t stay red against WB Seneca for 5 minutes while SOV traffic from I-5 floods the streets of downtown Seattle.

    1. And to think, all of this could have been avoided if we’d built the f@#$ing First Hill Link station…

    2. The data (both scheduled and actual trip times) disagree with you on Madison vs. Seneca. There is a problem sometimes on Madison westbound approaching 7th, but that would be fixed by adding a transit-only lane (for which there is no room on Seneca). Eastbound, it’s no contest. Contra your comment, the 12 is generally reliable, and the split helped its reliability quite a lot.

      As to the conclusion that Route 2 “is NOT broken,” I don’t even know what to say. If a bus that averages less than 5 mph through its downtown-First Hill segment “is NOT broken,” I don’t know what would be “broken.” Buses should be faster than walking. That part of the 2 usually isn’t, except at night.

    3. I would support Drew Robinson’s observations. Madison St is congested throughout the day; and the change of #12 from a through-route with #10 has done nothing to improve reliability. Furthermore, a number of my neighbors here on First Hill have real mobility issues and find the transfer points on Madison and Marion to present both challenges to walking up and down severe grades and the spreading of 3rd Avenue stops meaning lots of encounters with weather.

      As for the improvements on Madison, it appears that much of this entails the implementation of BRT, right? At least at the conceptual stage, there are only two stations on First Hill–which again raises questions about the ‘short walks’ that we will get to take in order to reach a bus.

      First Hill is being impacted by multiple forces of change from both public and private agencies and the planning of each of these appears to be conceived without relationship to the others. The unintended consequences are having a negative impact on this neighborhood.

      1. The “only two stops” is for the specific BRT line only. The 2 would continue as local service with all stops, but would benefit from the reserved lanes and signal priority that the BRT line would bring to Madison.

  11. One good point … Madison and Marion don’t have to share the road with 1-5-bound traffic, Seneca does. The southbound 2 gets delayed by cars lining up to enter the freeway.

  12. As a former Route 2 rider, I can tell you that Route 2 directly goes to the DSTT, and Route 12 doesn’t. The plan to move it to Madison would make more sense if the linking of the Route to 2 north was kept in place so riders could reach a DSTT station. However, many of the plans being pushed won’t pass by a DSTT station and instead the route runs to Colman Dock. Route 2 riders lose direct connectivity to the DSTT.

    I realize that the “hearty” young bucks who post on here don’t mind the walk, but there are many on the 2 that do. I don’t think I ever rode Route 2 without seeing at least one person in a wheelchair, walker, or cane – or with luggage or a stroller with a baby riding along. The extra blocks to reach the DSTT are significant for those folk. In fact, it seems incongruous to have any route that serves Virginia Mason or Swedish (with many mobility limited riders) that does not directly serve the DSTT.

    1. Metro proposes the Colman Dock live-loop because it wants to avoid buses turning on and off 3rd Avenue in the highest-congestion part of the downtown core.

      But I’m not really sure it should insist on that in this particular case.

      Perhaps there is a workable compromise with a restructured 2 using Madison and Marion, but also using 3rd at least as far as Westlake. There are a lot of reasons such a compromise wouldn’t be optimal, but it’s still clearly better than the existing Spring/Seneca situation, particularly after further transit priority investments are made on Madison.

      Another possibility is to add transit priority elements on 1st (such as allowing buses to use the Center City Connector’s exclusive ROW) and then restore a version of the old 10/12 through route, but now with reliability.

    2. Opposition to restructuring the 2 breaks down into thirds: (1) keeping it on Seneca, (2) preserving the one-seat ride between Madrona and Uptown, and (3) the long transfer distance between Madison Street and the DSTT. So allowing the 2 to continue turning would eliminate a third of the opposition, and that’s substantial. Metro has found no other way to mitigate the three-block distance between Madison and the DSTT, so this would seem like a good compromise. It won’t improve traffic flow on 3rd but it won’t make it worse either.

      1. Alternately, use 4th and 2nd for the preexisting bus lanes. Turn it around at Pine to have level, direct tunnel access.

    1. You are correct and I misread the 1963 map. At that time, Route 2 used Seneca only as far as 9th, and then Madison between 9th and the bowtie. I will edit the post to clarify.

  13. I wish the 2 could use 8th Avenue between Seneca Street and the Pike/Piine couplet. That would resolve some of the arguments I remember for keeping the route as is. One major reason being access to the downtown shopping.

    My 1968 Seattle Transit map has a routing of inbound on Madison, right on 6th Ave, left on Union, right on 1st Ave to Queen Anne. The routing toward Madrona was along 1st Ave, left on Pike St, right on 5th Ave, left on Spring St, right on 9th Ave and left on Madison. I can’t seem to locate my 1941 or 1947 transit map.

  14. In quite a number of cities, anything used as often as the Metro trolley coach network would have been converted to low floor boarding quite some time ago. Sure, I know the financial limitations, but stairs at each door have an impact on speed. This is particularly the case with a route serving a hospital.

    Talking of street improvements and all that to get the speed up is good, but some low floor trolley coaches would sure help too.

    1. When these show up, you can expect a resurgence in respect for the trolleybus network. Not only will they be low-floor, they’ll reduce energy costs even more with regenerative braking, and they’ll be able to go off-wire for short distances.

      (At the moment the off-wire capability is only intended for bypassing accidents and construction. After they use it for a while to bypass under-construction specialwork at intersections, eventually I suspect they’ll decide that it’s worth using it to avoid building the complex and expensive specialwork at intersections. Then maybe sometime SDOT or Metro will realize that wiring more streets is worth it.)

  15. I completely agree with your high-level points. Our wonky arguments for restructuring aren’t very compelling to existing riders, and we need to do a better job of speaking their language.

    In addition, I think we should remember that some restructures intentionally make things a bit worse for a small number of existing riders, in return for making things better for a large number of *future* riders. The problem is that many of those future riders aren’t invested in Metro’s decisions, while all of the current riders are invested. So we should think long and hard about how to identify the people who would benefit from the proposed changes — even if they’re not currently riding the bus in question, or even riding buses at all — and communicate our message to them in a way that they’ll appreciate.

    Regarding the 2 in particular, there are two things I wanted to add.

    Like someone else said above, most of the people who currently ride the 2 to Virginia Mason are doing so with the knowledge that they could ride the 12 if they wanted to. They choose the 2 for some subset of the following reasons:

    – They think it’s a faster bus trip (leaving aside whether this is actually true)
    – They think it’s a faster end-to-end trip, taking into account walking time
    – They want front-door access to VM
    – They want a one-seat ride from 3rd Ave

    In this respect, the 2 is very different from other proposed restructures. Back when the 17 was still around, some of its riders liked that it used Nickerson, but other riders were actually coming from Fremont and would have preferred a routing on Leary. So, among the group of people riding the 17, they were not universally opposed to the change. In contrast, because the 12 already exists, everyone who currently rides the 2 is someone who has decided that the 12 would not meet their needs.

    That’s all I have to say about the second-order point. Now, onto the restructure itself.

    Virginia Mason is a really, really important destination. Due to the street layout in the area, service on Madison is not a perfect substitute. The Virginia Mason front door is at Seneca; to get there, patients will have to walk around the block, a hilly walk in any direction. Alternatively, patients can use the unstaffed door at Spring (not a pleasant experience if you need to check in or don’t know what you’re looking for), or they can use the Buck Pavilion entrance at 9th Ave (also a hilly walk from Madison). If they’re heading to the Lindeman Pavilion, then they either need to cross over via the skybridge, or they need to exit the building and walk back outside to the front door. None of these offer a great solution for patients who need to check in for an appointment, which can only be done at Buck floor 1, Lindeman floor 2, and main hospital floor 4 (all of which are at least 1 elevator ride away from the Spring entrance, and maybe 2).

    For people with mobility issues, downhill isn’t necessarily any easier than uphill. It requires greater balance than walking flat. So it’s not enough to create two separate stops so that passengers can walk downhill to both.

    The current Virginia Mason front door is uniquely well situated for transit access. The bus stop is immediately outside. The street is relatively narrow and slow-moving, which is an ideal condition for crossing. Madison is a much more difficult street to cross if you’re not able-bodied.

    In many ways, the situation is comparable to Harborview. Looking at a map, the logical corridor for the 3 is along Cherry Street from downtown to 34th. However, Metro uses Jefferson between 9th and 23rd, and I believe that’s largely to provide front-door service to Harborview, rather than forcing riders to walk even a single extra block. Does it make sense to penalize all riders from the CD with this deviation? Maybe, maybe not. But I think it’s vital to preserve this front-door access to Harborview — and I think it’s vital to preserve access to Virginia Mason, too.

    For riders coming from Madrona, I think you’re absolutely right that it’s better to take the faster path to downtown. Geographically speaking, I think that means Madison. (I’ve argued previously that SDOT should reconstruct the “bowtie” to prioritize through traffic between Madison in the west and Union in the east; I think routing the 2 along Pine will lose a lot of time from the awkward turns.) However, I do think that there’s a place for some amount of front-door service to Virginia Mason, for the subset of riders who care more about the directness than about frequency or speed. And yes, these riders do exist.

    My final point is about the corridor itself. As you’ve said, Seneca/Spring is slow for two reasons: it’s narrow, but more than that, it’s competing with I-5 traffic. To me, the answer here is obvious. Seneca/Spring are not streets that are capable of handling the kind of demand generated by a freeway exit. Riders heading to/from the freeway can use a different access point, such as James or Mercer. Federal highway standards would never allow the construction of an access point like Seneca/Spring today. Decommission these access points, and return the full width of Seneca/Spring to the local road network.

    1. I think we should remember that some restructures intentionally make things a bit worse for a small number of existing riders, in return for making things better for a large number of *future* riders. The problem is that many of those future riders aren’t invested in Metro’s decisions, while all of the current riders are invested.

      This can’t ever be emphasized enough, and I should have mentioned it.

      Seneca/Spring are not streets that are capable of handling the kind of demand generated by a freeway exit. Riders heading to/from the freeway can use a different access point, such as James or Mercer.

      I’m good with the idea of decommissioning Spring/Seneca, especially Spring (James and Howell together have plenty of capacity), but if you think “Save Bus 2” made a lot of noise, just wait until you propose it…

      The current Virginia Mason front door is uniquely well situated for transit access.

      Perhaps then it needs a coverage route so it can have service for those who can’t make the walk without slowing down everyone headed to First Hill or the north half of the Central District. Bring back a version of the old 944 shuttle?

      1. It took a long time to get to these posts, but they are priceless. “I’m doing something for other riders and look at these ponies I’ve gotten you that you don’t want” is not an argument to someone who is being inconvenienced by a reroute. “You have a legitimate need for some of the service I’m proposing taking away from you and here is what I’m proposing to accommodate those needs” is. The riders at Horizon House (full disclosure: I have some shirttail relatives there, though I have no idea if they ever take the bus) are not going away, because when they die they get replaced by people just like them. They have a legitimate need that is simply geographically not served by moving their bus to Madison. Propose a substitute that takes care of their need. Don’t act like their need is not legitimate or the needs of others (let alone others who currently don’t ride the bus) are more important. The 2 may be frustrating to some, but to others it’s exactly what they need.

      2. Breadbaker: It’s not always possible to make everything better for everybody. As an extreme example, imagine that there was a bus that ran every 2 minutes between a single-family house in Laurelhurst and a single-family house in Magnolia, making no stops in between. Suppose that the bus has 10 daily riders. Metro proposes to delete the route, and use the service hours to double frequency on the 44. There will be 10 riders who are inconvenienced by this change, but there will be thousands of riders whose lives will be improved through the better use of service hours.

        Yes, that’s an extreme example. If we mandate that every service change is an improvement for every single existing rider, then we will never be able to change the bus system, even when doing so would have huge potential benefits. Our mandate should be to make the bus system better in general. We should avoid pointless churn, but we also shouldn’t be afraid to redirect service hours when doing so lets us make game-changing improvements to other parts of the network.

        Having said that, *in this particular instance*, I agree with you that Virginia Mason is an important destination that is not adequately served by service on Madison. But I would still believe that even if the 2 didn’t currently exist. As another example, I think Children’s Hospital is a destination that is currently poorly served by transit (and unnecessarily so), and I would really like to see the 44 rerouted to serve Children’s directly.

      3. I’m good with the idea of decommissioning Spring/Seneca, especially Spring (James and Howell together have plenty of capacity), but if you think “Save Bus 2″ made a lot of noise, just wait until you propose it…

        Keep in mind that the new Alaskan Way Viaduct will have no exits south of Mercer/Republican and north of Atlantic. There are some people who have flipped out about this, but they haven’t been very loud, and they haven’t succeeded in changing WSDOT’s plans.

        No modern highway would have as many interchanges as I-5 has through downtown Seattle. And no modern highway would have interchanges that spill out onto roads that are as narrow as many of the roads in downtown Seattle. Even WSDOT knows this.

        I really do think that closing some downtown access points is something that we should put our weight behind. Other than a few people who will have to drive a bit further, I’m having a hard time of figuring out who would strongly oppose such a plan.

        Perhaps then it needs a coverage route so it can have service for those who can’t make the walk without slowing down everyone headed to First Hill or the north half of the Central District. Bring back a version of the old 944 shuttle?

        I’m not sure what the right answer is. I think there needs to be a way to get from 3rd/Pike to Virginia Mason. I think it would be ideal for this route to avoid crossing I-5 at Spring St, to avoid going through the bowtie intersection at 12th/Madison/Union, and to avoid congestion on 3rd Ave from turns. It would also be good to have a stop at 9th Ave in front of Buck Pavilion (ideally on the correct side of the street). Putting all of these together, it seems like there are two options. You can take 2nd -> Pike -> 8th -> Seneca -> Boren -> Spring -> 9th -> Seneca -> 8th -> Pine -> 2nd, or you can take 3rd -> Marion/Madison -> 9th -> Seneca -> Boren -> Madison -> 1st -> Pine -> 3rd. Ironically, both of these are much more complicated than the current route.

      4. I really do think that closing some downtown access points is something that we should put our weight behind.

        I agree. If it were up to me, we’d have a big interchange at James; a big interchange at Stewart/Howell/Olive (with an easier way to go west from the northbound Olive Way offramp than currently exists); bidirectional HOV-only Express Lanes access from Pike and Cherry; and nothing else. But it’s hard to get there from here because of the way the right-of-way is currently configured. In particular, there is a shortage of capacity into downtown from northbound I-5 (because the c./d. has only one lane and Olive is so poorly designed), and closing the Seneca Street offramp is going to make that worse.

        By contrast, the new 99 will have all the northbound capacity into downtown you could possibly want at the Atlantic Street offramp.

        I think there needs to be a way to get from 3rd/Pike to Virginia Mason.

        There is no one-seat ride from 3rd/Pike to Swedish, a bigger hospital than Virginia Mason. People have figured out how to get there, and there is no great complaint of poor access to Swedish.

        Short of a reconfiguration of I-5, we shouldn’t have any core bus service on Spring or Seneca Streets. A circulator or coverage route would be fine. Once the Yesler wire is complete, you could even run a First Hill circulator using trolleys.

      5. @Aleks — I agree. Removing the exits on 99, though, was simply a matter of cost. In this case, you would have to show that are getting something that is better than what you are giving up. To me, it isn’t just a matter of improving the downtown traffic. I think it would also improve traffic flow on I-5 through downtown (fewer people changing lanes, slowing down, etc.). This is huge. If this actually improved traffic flow through downtown then you would have a lot more people cheering for it then against it.

      6. If it’s a choice between some Google Glass and Vibram FiveFingers-wearing techie getting to his home 5 minutes sooner or a fragile, legally blind octogenarian being let off at Virgina Mason’s doorstep, I choose the latter.

      7. I agree. If it were up to me, we’d have a big interchange at James; a big interchange at Stewart/Howell/Olive (with an easier way to go west from the northbound Olive Way offramp than currently exists); bidirectional HOV-only Express Lanes access from Pike and Cherry; and nothing else.

        I presume you’re not counting Mercer, which is definitely the most important access point in the vicinity of north downtown.

        In the short term, let’s assume that we don’t have the money for any major construction projects. Even so, many of the downtown exits hurt mobility more than they help. They do so in at least three ways:

        – They increase congestion on I-5 without increasing mobility, which is bad for everyone (more GHG per mile traveled, etc). This makes I-5 less attractive for regional traffic than it should be, and so that traffic diverts to other paths (e.g. SR-99).

        – They make I-5 more attractive for local traffic than it should be, which creates unnecessary movement and queueing between local streets and I-5.

        – They inhibit cross-town movement.

        I agree with you about all the access points you’ve proposed to close. I would go a step further, and argue that we should also close James and Stewart/Howell/Olive, keeping only Mercer and SR-519. Both of these access points connect to extremely wide streets that can easily handle huge amounts of traffic (well, after the Mercer Corridor Project is done). Can they handle every last vehicle that currently uses the downtown I-5 exits? Probably not, but this change could also be expected to move a lot of trips off of I-5 entirely. People will stop using I-5 to get between James and Mercer (I’ve had taxi drivers who do stuff like this).

        In between those two, every one of the existing access points is fatally flawed. Either they’re way too twisty and narrow, or they connect to streets that just aren’t capable of adequately serving both regional and local traffic.

        Again — the AWV tunnel will have no interchanges between Mercer and Atlantic. I don’t see why I-5 needs any interchanges between those two points, either.

      8. We are veering off-topic, so I’ll keep this short… but I think Mercer and I-90/519 are not enough alone. (I forgot to include Mercer, because both Metro and I rarely use it, because it is already a useless pit of slowness at peak time…)

      9. There’s no question that removing exits downtown would improve traffic flow on I-5 through downtown. The 520 bridge itself has much less congestion than 520 leading up to the bridge, and it’s precisely because there are no exits and no lane changes on that stretch.

        One other thing — I want to be clear that I’m not under the delusion that Mercer and Atlantic/519 can handle every single vehicle that currently exits or enters I-5 via the downtown access points. Rather, my argument is that the system will continue to function without any of the downtown access points. Mercer and Atlantic/519 will handle more vehicles than they currently do; some number of trips will shift from I-5 to the local street grid; and some number of trips will shift from the local street grid to I-5 (staying on I-5 all the way through downtown). Trip patterns will be different, but everything will still work, and there will be much less interference between I-5 and the local grid (which will ultimately benefit both).

      10. One of the problems with the Spring / Seneca ramps from I-5 is that they do so by creating 5-way intersections out of what was supposed to have been simple standard cross-wise intersections.

        I know, it goes off topic with this, but the fact is that it also illustrates how dealing with transportation issues in a simple fashion doesn’t work. Re-routing Route 2 really only answers a small symptom of a much larger series of problems – those problems being the mess Interstate 5 has created in the area. Satisfactory solution of the Route 2 problem really isn’t going to happen until a massive, expensive and (a key point here) well thought out rebuilding of the whole mess happens.

      11. The first question is: who would be responsible for a project such as closing the Seneca/Spring ramps? Who do you have to *convince*, in other words?

      12. The hard obstacle would be convincing WSDOT, and probably the state legislature as well (there would certainly be a legislative campaign against it).

        The easy part would be convincing the City once you had already convinced WSDOT. Both are needed.

    2. The logical corridor for the 3 is along Cherry Street from downtown to 34th. However, Metro uses Jefferson between 9th and 23rd, and I believe that’s largely to provide front-door service to Harborview, rather than forcing riders to walk even a single extra block.

      I doubt any such conscious decision was ever made.

      The James Way/East Cherry connection exhibits every sign of being a nascent-auto-era creation, like the Second Ave Extension or the later Green Lake Way. My hunch is that early East Cherry was just as quiet through the C.D. as regular Cherry is on First Hill.

      The 3/4 trolleys, east of 9th, presumably continue to snake where the streetcars had snaked since the beginning of time. Inertia Based Transit strikes again.

      1. And probably because the car barn and trolley base was at one time located on Jefferson at 14th.

    3. “They choose the 2 for some subset of the following reasons”

      Not necessarily. They could be taking the 2 because it’s the closest route and it exists. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re opposed to consolidating it. I take the 47 because it’s the closest to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to consolidating it.

      1. Sure. My point is just that there are fewer people in your situation choosing to ride the 2, compared to other routes in a similar situation.

        Consider the 44. If someone wants to go from Ballard to U-Village, there is no single bus they can currently take. So they’ll probably take the 44 to the U-District, and then some other bus for the rest of the journey. In other words, many current 44 riders are people who strongly oppose the current routing, but have no good alternative.

        In contrast, if someone wants to go from downtown to First Hill without getting stuck in I-5 traffic, they’ll already take the 12. Or they’ll opportunistically take either the 2 or 12, depending on what comes first. Or they’ll take the 2 because it’s faster on balance when you factor in walking and waiting, even though they’d prefer more frequent service on Madison. But among the subset of riders who always take the 2 and never take the 12, they will be disproportionately inclined to support the current routing. It’s not a hard and fast rule, just a probability.

    4. Never forget that Virginia Mason recently completed a substantial expansion and in front of Boren, a major car thoroughfare and future bus corridor, they put up a blank brick wall.

      1. The blank wall on Boren is a real shame. But I don’t think it’s really Virginia Mason’s fault. My understanding is that the relevant section of Boren isn’t actually zoned for commercial use. Major institution zoning is a bizarre and byzantine process that I don’t really understand, but the VM Major Institution Master Plan was approved by the city, and the city didn’t ask for retail along Boren (or anything else, really). A hospital entrance on Boren would have been nice, but I don’t think it would have been meaningfully better than what’s there now.

        The VM master plan does call for street-level retail in the new Boren/Madison building.

        Next time, we just need to pay more attention to the master plan approval process, and demand that there aren’t any blank walls.

    5. What you are calling the VM front door is not actually the front door. It’s one of many side entrances VM has. The front door and main reception area is midblock on 9th.

      1. I suppose it depends on what you mean by “the front door”. 925 Seneca Street is the main entrance to the hospital. The 4th floor of the VM complex is also one of the gateways to many different parts of the hospital. It’s the same level as the cafeteria and chapel; it is linked to the Buck Pavilion and Jones Pavilion; it has elevators that go to every floor of the main hospital, as well as the Inn at Virginia Mason. Finally, the bus stop there is also within walking distance of the front door of the Lindeman Pavilion and the Health Resources Building.

        1100 Ninth Ave is the main entrance to the Buck Pavilion, which is the primary outpatient facility. It’s the main mailing address (though not the only address) of the main medical complex. However, the Lindeman Pavilion is the other major outpatient facility, and getting from Buck to Lindeman requires walking a greater distance and taking two elevators.

        I think that a stop on 9th Ave between Seneca and Spring would be really nice, especially since it’s flat (unlike the Seneca stop). But as a replacement for the Seneca stop, it would meaningfully increase foot traffic into the already-crowded Buck Pavilion entrance, which is something worth thinking about.

  16. Would trolley wires fit under the Convention Center on 8th Avenue?

    Inbound, Bus 2 could follow Seneca to 8th Avenue, then turn north on 8th Avenue, turn left on Pine and follow the 10/11 live loop routing to 1st Avenue, Pike Street and back to 8th Avenue.

  17. How about a reversal of the “roles” of Madison and Seneca from your idea here? Madison has lots of I-5 traffic and that often bogs down the buses near I-5. The AWV replacement will close the Seneca off-ramp anyway, which frees Seattle to make Seneca a transit mall all the way down to First Avenue. So why not turn Seneca into mostly a two-way transit mall (some local vehicle access) for both the 12 and the 2 with signal priority and pre-paid transit stops, and give Madison completely over to autos? It would require re-thinking the TMP and some local circulation/parking but it could have some real benefit, like there wouldn’t be the steep inclines and awkward street jogs near I-5 like those on Marion and Spring today.

    1. Al S.: That idea has some merit, but also a couple of problems to solve.

      First, you have to deal with the Seneca offramp from I-5. It will be hard to close that ramp because the only alternative is the Madison ramp, which is accessible only from the I-90 collector-distributor. I’m not sure the ramp from northbound I-5 to the collector/distributor has enough capacity to accommodate the traffic. Alternately, you could force traffic from the ramp onto Sixth Avenue northbound, but then you would still have the signal cycle issue at 6th and Seneca.

      Second, as with Madison, you would still have some steep-incline issues downtown. (This is not a disadvantage vs. Madison, but it’s not really an advantage either.)

      Third, now Swedish — almost twice the size of Virginia Mason, and used by more low-income patients — is the hospital that people have to walk two blocks to reach.

      One other thing to consider is that full-time transit lanes on Madison, coupled with a queue jump westbound at 7th, would essentially solve the conflict with I-5 traffic on Madison.

  18. Idea for a post. Profile or take us through the genesis of both sides of this kind of situation. How does the idea of a possible restructure first get on Metro’s radar? Does data alert them to it, or do complaints? Also, I’m also interested in how a community protest begins, as it relates to the changing or cutting of a specific transit route. Is there one person who usually gets the ball rolling? For example, who started the previous Save Route 2 protest, and why, and how did they get it to spread to the point where they got the restructure nixed?

  19. While we have veered off topic a bit (solving Spring St. congestion by closing I-5 access) and then some more (close all the downtown access and exit points?), I have to confess somehow no one has resolved where the cars and drivers are going to go instead. If you think a bunch of old folks on First Hill can be annoyed, just bring in the Downtown Association and then duck.

    1. Given that the topic at hand is restructuring Route 2 to avoid freeway congestion on Spring St, I think that talking about ways to mitigate freeway congestion on Spring St is on-topic. But you might disagree. :)

      FWIW, the Downtown Seattle Association didn’t manage to get any extra access points for the new Alaskan Way Viaduct. Is that because they don’t have as much power as we think? Or is it because the Association recognizes that separating local traffic from regional traffic will actually simplify traffic patterns in Seattle? Either one seems plausible.

      Where will all the cars go? Well, when San Francisco closed the Central Freeway (100,000 daily cars), they all dispersed onto surface streets. That’s about the same number of vehicles that currently use the downtown exits (in total). It turns out that a rich, two-dimensional street grid can easily accommodate the extra traffic — especially when you factor in the travel to and from the freeway that becomes unnecessary when trips shift to the grid.

      In my experience, whenever a city rebuilds an urban freeway, the new one has fewer access points than the old one. I’m not aware of any city that has regretted doing this.

  20. After reading these comments, I’ve been thinking about the access problem to downtown all day. It is a valid problem, both because of the steep slopes necessary for Madison/Marion stops and because the DSTT stations are so poorly positioned for a Madison/Marion line.

    And the more I think about it, the more I think the only good solution is to bring back the 1st Avenue through-route (then between routes 10 and 12), which went away as part of the September 2012 restructure. But there’s a reason the through-route went away, and we have to address it.

    The problem with the through-route was bad reliability, particularly southbound (from the 10 to the 12) before games or at party time in Pioneer Square, but also northbound because of tourist traffic at Pike Street. Here’s my solution:

    1) Build the Center City Connector. Do it the right way, by taking away all 1st Avenue street parking and giving the CCC its own full-time, dedicated right-of-way with signal priority.
    2) Run buses along the CCC right-of-way. Give buses the same signal priority as the CCC, and have them use the same platforms (with a “notch” for low-floor bus lifts if necessary).
    3) Ban all left turns from 1st, in both directions, between Stewart and Yesler, except transit at Marion. People in other cities learn to make three rights, and they can here too.
    4) Provide queue jumps for turning buses:
    a) for the right turn from NB 1st onto EB Pike; and
    b) for the left turn from SB 1st onto Marion.

    This would preserve the speed of “Madison BRT”; provide a connection from Madison to the Westlake area and flat stops; restore service from Pike/Pine to more of downtown; avoid turns on/off 3rd and splintering Madison corridor service; and provide reliability no worse than the current live loops. All we need is an assist from the city, which it seems inclined to provide anyway.

    1. Where exactly can you make three rights on 1st southbound? The topology makes this proposal impossible north of Seneca Street.

      1. The only currently legal left turn that affects is University Street. I’d have people turn sooner or later.

    2. Exactly how bad are *right* turns on/off 3rd?

      I’m curious about something like what you’re suggesting, but avoiding the risk of 1st Ave congestion:

      – Build trolley wire on 2nd between Pine and Marion, in the *leftmost* lane.
      – Build bus islands at one or two key stops on 2nd, such as University Street Station.
      – Coming from First Hill, the 10/12 takes Madison to 3rd to Pike.
      – Coming from Capitol Hill, the 10/12 takes Pine to 2nd (leftmost lane) to Marion.

      The benefit of using 2nd is that both “left” turns are going from a one-way street to another one-way street, so they’re basically as easy as right turns. You also have a two-way stop in front of the University Street Station (albeit different doors).

      1. Aleks, that could be a solution if it’s impossible to get the dedicated ROW I’m looking for on 1st. The right turn from 3rd onto Pike, though, is highly troublesome. It can take more than one signal cycle, and always holds up northbound traffic for at least one signal cycle. Eliminating it was one of the best effects of the 7/49 restructure, and I’d like to see cars banned from it too. (Honestly, I think we’re now at the point where we should ban cars entirely from 3rd between Yesler and Broad from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

      2. Exactly how bad are *right* turns on/off 3rd?

        Pretty bad at rush hour due to heavy pedestrian traffic in the crosswalks. Kind of a nice problem to have.

    3. 3) Ban all left turns from 1st, in both directions, between Stewart and Yesler, except transit at Marion. People in other cities learn to make three rights, and they can here too.

      The first time I visited Seattle, I was very surprised that there were so many major streets in the downtown area that were two way streets. Quite a number of cities adopted one way street grids decades ago. I certainly understand why it would be difficult in places in Seattle, but that doesn’t make any less traffic accumulate behind someone making a left turn. It seems like it may be worth considering if it is worthwhile expanding the one-way street system to unplug some of this.

      1. I hate one-way streets. They make local traffic movement harder. If you’re trying to get to a destination that’s on the “wrong side” of a one-way street, you often have to make a series of turns to reorient yourself.

        Paradoxically, one-way streets can *increase* congestion, since cars must take roundabout paths. Think about how drivers circling for parking create congestion, even though they aren’t going anywhere; the same is true for drivers stymied by one-way streets.

        A recent study found that the capacity of a one-way street network is always lower than the capacity of a two-way street network where left turns are banned. For especially short trips, the highest-capacity option is split-phase signals, where left turns are allowed for a short time and then prohibited. The linked article also describes other problems with one-way streets; they interfere with bicyclists and pedestrians, reduce visibility of local businesses, and possibly even decrease safety.

        I think one-way streets are occasionally useful. Portland’s transit mall is a great example. The “inverted couplet” design makes it possible to transfer between 5th and 6th without ever crossing a street. 5th and 6th are close together (the intervening blocks are very small), and there is no elevation gap, and they follow largely the same path for their whole route.

        The biggest problem with inverted couplets in Seattle is simply our terrain. Couplets, in general, don’t make sense on streets with radically different grades. That excludes every avenue downtown. You also don’t want couplets to be more than a couple of hundred feet apart. That excludes Pike/Pine. Leaving aside the I-5 issue, I think Spring/Madison could be an interesting one. The bus would go south on Madison, turn right onto 1st, then right onto Spring, and back up the hill. But in general, the default answer should be to run a bus on a single two-way street.

        Some people have made the argument that it’s easier for pedestrians to cross a narrow street with traffic in one direction, than to cross a wide street with traffic in two directions. I agree. But this is a function of road width more than road use.

        More generally, I would personally support restoring all of Seattle’s downtown avenues to two-way operation, while banning all left turns between Stewart/Yesler at all times (including transit), and considering the restoration of two-way access on many of our streets (most notably Pike, Pike, Seneca, Spring, Madison, and Marion). Of course, this is qualified by the fact that the streets in question must be wide enough for a lane of traffic in each direction, and the the left lane cannot be blocked by a left-hand I-5 exit. But I do think that most of the avenues could easily become 2-way again.

      2. I’m in between Glenn and Aleks on this question. Aleks, I think the study you are citing doesn’t take into account the increased possibilities for signal synchronization on one-way streets, which are very meaningful in Seattle.

        The 2nd and 4th couplet is the best example of this. At certain times of day, vehicles (and a mountain of deadheading buses, including virtually all of the ones employed in NW Seattle service) can get through the corridor all the way from Denny to Jackson (or the reverse) without a stop, which saves a ludicrous amount of time, without having any serious side effects. You can’t accomplish that with a grid of two-way streets.

        On the other hand, I would support conversion to two-way operation where there is no possibility for such signal synchronization or where it wouldn’t have much effect. That is nearly all of the east-west streets, except possibly Pike and Pine, as well as 5th and 6th. There’s a strong case for converting both Madison and Pine into two-way operation with strong transit priority.

      3. One item I don’t see mentioned in the study is that it is vastly easier to get good traffic light synchronization on a network of one way streets. Properly implemented, this has a pretty good impact on all traffic.

        Here in Portland, the conversion of East Burnside into a couplet for several blocks has worked reasonably well at freeing up some of the congestion in that area – but then again that is how our streets are arranged (Hawthorne / Madison, Belmont / Morrison) so people are used to it. It is really difficult for the main roads into our downtown to have enough capacity as two way roads. For example, to get the capacity that the Hawthorne / Madison couplet has with two way streets, you would have to split traffic into downtown equally between westbound on Hawthorne and westbound on Madison, then re-merge them before they cross the Hawthorne bridge. Traffic just doesn’t split that way naturally so the best capacity option winds up being a couplet. Also, left turns at 11th and Hawthorne and Highway 99E and Hawthorne become a non-issue as they are from one way streets to one way streets.

        It is also vastly easier for a bus to turn on one way streets. Portland’s transit mall would be hugely difficult to operate with left turns banned and two way streets as opposed to a left turn from a one way street to a one way street.

        Certainly, as I said, I understand why you wouldn’t want to do it that way in Seattle though. Also, after watching the catastrophe they made of the Mercer Mess in trying to make a couplet out of that, I can well understand the skepticism about couplets.

      4. If you have really narrow streets and really small blocks, then I think one-way streets and inverted couplets can work great. The Portland transit mall works really well, and I wouldn’t change it.

        How is Seattle different? Well, most of our downtown streets are much wider, and the next street over is a hilly walk away. In the other direction, the blocks are much wider than in Portland. So however you try to do it, it’s hard to pick two streets that could work well together as a pair.

        I can actually think of a few streets that might work. Brooklyn (northbound) and University Way (southbound), perhaps. Spring and Madison, if you could fix the I-5 problem. E Green Lake and Woodlawn, for a section of the 48.

        But most other examples don’t work. Pike and Pine are much too far apart. The downtown avenues are separated by steep hills. Likewise for Bellevue and Summit in Capitol Hill. Mercer and Roy are too asymmetrical, plus Mercer has way too much traffic. Most other streets with buses aren’t close to any other arterial.

      5. There are lots of people on both sides of the one-way streets issue. I tend to be “pro” because it makes the streets simpler and eliminates half the left turns. Fewer turning patterns makes it easier for pedestrians and bicycles to cross the intersections, and for bicycles to turn. It also eliminates cars lining up behind left-turning cars in the middle lanes.

        However, the way downtown Seattle’s streets became one-way is a scandal. Previously streetcars had the right of way in the center lanes. Automobile drivers wanted to get rid of the streetcars so they wouldn’t get in front of turning cars. Making the streets one-way required removing the streetcars. So the anti-streetcar movement rallied behind one-way streets. And now we don’t have any transit lanes when we need them.

      6. If you have really narrow streets and really small blocks, then I think one-way streets and inverted couplets can work great. The Portland transit mall works really well, and I wouldn’t change it.

        Of course, Portland being Portland, all of our wide streets in downtown are one way, and the two way streets are the tiny narrow ones.

        Reading this thread has made me really appreciate how big a favor the various planners did for downtown Portland by putting I-5 on the east side of the river. Sure, traffic still backs up there and occasionally trouble happens on the south side of downtown, but it doesn’t tend to back up onto key transit route streets anywhere near as bad as downtown Seattle. I had never thought of how bad things would be had I-5 taken the route of (now demolished) Harbor Drive through downtown instead. Sure, our version of I-405 gets backed up too, but at least that is far enough west that it somewhat avoids the downtown core as well.

        The more I think about it, the more I think maybe Alek’s idea in a previous thread of making I-405 the new I-5 and avoid Seattle completely is a great idea to help all manner of transit and congestion problems.

      7. David,

        I completely agree that, in certain situations, one-way streets can increase the flow of traffic. And, in certain situations, that can be very appropriate.

        The reason I want to eliminate most of our one-way streets has less to do with traffic flow (which I agree will be worse in some situations), and more to do with urban form. 2nd and 4th are both very wide streets, and the constant flow of fast-moving traffic (especially on 2nd) discourages pedestrians and cyclists. I think that allowing two-way traffic flow would foster modal diversity, and it would improve the perceived safety of walking downtown.

        For what it’s worth, I think 3rd Ave has the same problem, if not more so. The constant flow of buses, especially during peak, creates a visual “wall” that many people find uncomfortable to walk around. It’s similar to having a very narrow and overcrowded street, except that there’s nothing interesting on one of the two sides (assuming that you’re not boarding one of the buses). There are a handful of ways to address this problem, without spending a bucket of money. One of my favorites is to make buses more visually transparent (like the South Lake Union Streetcar). But I think both this and the one-way question are difficult problems, and I don’t think there’s a perfect solution.

      8. With signal synchronization, the speed that one has to travel at to hit every green makes a huge difference in the character of the street. Synchronize signals for 12 mph and you enable not just cars, but also cyclists to hit every green. You also keep car speeds down, which makes life safer for everyone, especially cyclists and pedestrians.

        On the other hand, signals synchronized for faster travel simply become one more way to prioritize car travel over all other modes. Cars and deadhead buses may make every light, but in-service buses will be waiting at every light. As will cyclists and pedestrians who cannot keep up with the 30 mph target speed. They also encourage drivers to travel faster than they should be, in order to make lights, thereby increasing the safety risk for everyone else.

        With regards to one-way streets, it doesn’t make much difference for pedestrian mobility, since all sidewalks are two-way. But it does make a significant difference for bicycle mobility. Especially for cases like Pine St. where the least-steep route up the hill is one way for traffic going down the hill. Overall, I agree with Alex that a friendlier city for non-motorized users is more important than carrying cars through the area quickly.

  21. I drive both the Rte 2 and the Rte 12 on occasion, and during the day Eastbound Madison is frequently backed up from 7th Ave (where the ramp from I5 is) to at least Broadway and usually to 14th, when it opens up to two lanes again.
    I don’t find the Rte 2 during the day to be significantly slower to drive than the Rte 12, both one lane roads with lots of lights, one servicing Virginia Mason (and the methadone clinic in the morning, Mon-Sat), the other serving Swedish Medical Center, and Pacific Medical Center’s pill hill clinics.
    Like the article said, the real upside of the Rte 2 is Madrona and the Lk Washington terminal. Certainly the most interesting part of the drive and a wonderful place to enjoy a break most of the year.

    1. Regarding the lots of lights situation, Specifically to the Route 2 question though: the second paragraph points out during the days this route only operates once every 15 minutes. Looking at the timetable, there do appear to be a few cases where the route operates on 10 minute headways. A few cases have it operate in the 7 or 9 minute range.

      So, it isn’t as if this route is one of these frequent service routes that has something go past every 3 minutes or so.

      It really doesn’t seem to me as if this would really be that big an obstacle to traffic signal pre-emption. Once every 10 minutes at most, and usually once every 15 minutes, the signals have to adjust to a detected trolley coach on the wires. It seems to me that this could be made up with by lengthening the light cycle for the next few cycles until the time periods allocated for each lane get balanced out again.

    2. Ah yes. The methodone clinic. It’s at one of those stops that gets lots of morning boardings even though it’s not on the “awareness” radar screen by anyone other than the Route 2 riders. Riders are acutely aware of it because the bus is usually quiet until the clinic patrons board, and then a rider can’t help but hear some pretty interesting life stories…

    3. Mike, just imagine Madison with TSP and full-time bus lanes in both directions. Then it would be no contest. That’s possible on Madison, and not on Seneca.

  22. I never take the 2 or 12 unless I’m going all the way to Madrona. The reason is that the buses are at least twice as frequent on Pine Street and James Street. It’s just not worth it to go to a #2 or 12 stop and possibly wait 20 minutes when it takes less time than that to walk from a 3/4 or 10/11/(49/43) stop to a Union/Seneca destination. Sometimes I take the 12 westbound where it’s paired with the 11. I would do the same thing eastbound if the 2 and 12 were paired at the same stops. But not when they’re each on their own unique street.

    So I’m an example of the people who would start riding the 2 if it were consolidated to Madison.

    1. I was thinking along the same lines. For anyone capable of walking a few blocks, transferring to the 2 from downtown to get to Virginia Mason doesn’t seen worth it unless you happen to see it coming and, even then, depending on traffic, it might still not be. To date, I’ve had one appointment there a few years ago, and I’m pretty sure I walked from the #49 stop on Broadway and Pine. In another couple years, the best option will probably be to just walk or bike-share from the Capitol Hill Link Station.

      That said, the 2’s ridership numbers do speak for themselves and, for an area so close to the center of town, as long as there’s enough people who don’t want to walk to fill up a bus, providing a bus for these people does not bother me in the least.

      In general, though, finding a way to achieve effective mobility by any means other than a personal car for people who can’t walk a couple of blocks is extremely difficult. Any transit system oriented towards this is either going to going circuitous routing, lots of transfers, or be extremely expensive to operate. For infrequent trips, especially for someone suffering from a temporary injury, there is nothing wrong with relying on rides from friends/Lyft/Uber/etc. to get around.

  23. Maybe you would do well to work with that well-to-do organizer and pick HER brain a bit. Obviously she represents more than herself.

  24. The old 12 was a much better bus downtown when it connected with another route. Madison/Marion turn around does not connect with much. Now what is left of the 12 seems threatened.

  25. Giving this some further thought, I wonder if a slight reroute of the 60 might help out. The 60 connects with light rail at Beacon Hill and soon to open Capitol Hill stations. The 2 could then operate on Madison or the necessary overhead could be built where it could also use the Pike/Pine couplet.

    The front door of Virginia Mason would be served by the 60 and the group of peak routes (64, 193, 265, 303).

    1. Once the First Hill Streetcar begins operation, the 60 (north of Mt. Baker Station) is slated for extinction.

      1. Why? It provides more coverage on First Hill and if the streetcar is scheduled to begin this year, Metro should have something about it on their website. I would think that council approval is needed to remove a portion of the route.

      2. I echo the question “why?” The 60 has developed a significant traffic between Beacon Hill, the east end of the International District, First Hill and Broadway. Practically no one rides the route for more than 1/2 its full distance, but the trips overlap. It’s called urban transit. The First Hill Streetcar (so-called) will serve the eastern edge of First Hill. That is no substitute for the 60.

      3. Says who? Aside from Metro’s 17% cut scenario, I haven’t heard any indication that Metro plans to cut or change the 60 when the FHSC opens.

      4. Metro has put substantial effort into the Westwood Village – Beacon – Broadway crosstown corridor, and it has been very successful. So it’s not likely Metro will throw that all way, especially since there’s no reasonable alternative for many of the trip pairs. The FHS isn’t substantial enough to support a bus reorganization; it will probably wait until University Link.

        The most likely scenario is moving the 60 to 12th south of Denny, because that’s an underserved area and would have the least duplication with the FHS or Link. Beyond that, there may be some shuffling of the Broadway and 12th corridors and which one connects to Beacon, MLK, and Rainier, but there will certainly be something from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill that’s more or less like the 60.

        Forcing people to transfer to the FHS at Jackson sounds so un-Metro like (so what about that deleting the 43 idea, hmm?), and forcing them to transfer to Link at Beacon Hill station ignores all the destinations in between and doesn’t take into account that Link makes an indirect “U” from Beacon Hill Station to Capitol Hill Station — precisely the kind of case you’d want a bus connecting the ends of the “U”.

  26. Worth noting: I personally take the 2 for two interconnected reasons. First, the 554’s Seneca St stop is very close to the 2’s stop outside the library; second, it is very common for the 2 to arrive there very shortly after the 554. The transfer from the 554 at Cherry to the 12 is not horrible, but also not quite so serendipitous, and the 2 is definitely easier to transfer to than the 12 for multiple other reasons from multiple other buses.

  27. What about just extending the Convention Center – Waterfront gondola up to Virginia Mason? You can’t get much more separated from freeway on ramp traffic than.

    1. I like the idea, but you’d have to convince the people operating it to pay for it. I suppose if Virginia Mason itself were willing to chip in, it could happen.

  28. To return to the “shoe leather” point made at the very beginning. I see 130 comments on a blog, some long and detailed, full of all kinds of great and compelling information. I don’t see anyone (myself included) who has volunteered to make posters and fliers explaining the benefits of a restructured 2 in language that is clear and compelling to neighborhood residents; or to walk the streets of the CD and Madrona and First Hill and Queen Anne putting up those posters and distributing those fliers; or to create a website that those fliers can link to for folks who want more information. Unless that happens, we can expect to lose a third time; the game will be over before it’s even begun.

    Steve

    PS I didn’t real all 130 comments, so forgive me if I missed someone who did do this. I scanned and did a bunch of keyword searches though.

    PPS I’m in a position to volunteer to walk around and put up posters that someone else makes, but not to design or print them.

    1. I’m in a position to design posters, and I can look into printing them, but not to put them up.

      Maybe we should get in touch next time Metro proposes a restructuring?

  29. I am one of the supporters to keep the bus #2 as it is. Many of my reasons for this have been laid out in this thread. However, there is one point that I think this thread misses: I continue to support the current route because I believe that this known route effectively serves my rider community better than the reroutes that have been proposed by Metro.

    Throughout this thread, many of you have offered some great solutions that I think could address many of my concerns. Yet, many of these are not the solutions that I have seen in the Metro proposals.

    I appreciate the passion and understanding of transit demonstrated on this blog community. In the past however, I felt that this community tended to belittle the vulnerability and needs of some of the Bus 2 ridership. David’s article and this thread did not come off this way to me. Thanks.

    It has been and remains my hope we can be less adversarial and focus more on our mutual desire for an efficient AND effective route that better serves our collective rider community.

  30. One of the sad facts of aging and mobility impairments is that as we get older, a short trip to some starts to become an impassable barrier. Even a 2-block shift can be too far if you are using a walker, a wheelchair, or just old knees.

    The reason folks use the #2 is because it is accessible. It gets them where they need to go. The ageist concept that every bus driver can travel another quarter-mile each way to access a bus is not supported by the #2’s ridership – if they wanted to go faster, they would walk two blocks.

    King County would do much better to make investments in traffic signals and improve the roadway and keep the 10th most popular route in the system intact.

  31. Thanks VMMC and Twitter for alerting me to this discussion. I rely on routes 40 and 2 to get me to Virginia Mason. I can’t drive for now, but even when I can, I prefer to take the bus in town. On days when I can still walk, when the weather is good and my knees are OK, I might amble up the hill from 3rd Avenue. Other days, I need the 2. Once I’m on a 2, I don’t care if it takes while. I’m using it because it gets me where I need to go.

    I’ve tried route 12 just to see how it works, but it doesn’t work for me. Changing the stops for the 12 would be better than not changing them, but on a day of bad knees or weather, trust me, I’d be wanting to be on route 2.

  32. I can not believe only one person mentioned the library as being part of the route 2 stops. Being one of the most used buildings by the public, having only one bus serving it is kind of sad. And now Transit wants that to go away too. If the bus is that crowded, slow, and keeps getting stuck in traffic, why not increase the frequency of the route? I believe at one time, the 2 use to run every 8 minutes. Most of these delays seemed to start when the routes were cut to the 15 and 30 minutes.

    1. The 12 already serves the library on the other side of the building, and the rerouted 2 would do the same. Or, just cross the street, and you’ll get to all the Fourth Avenue buses.

      Perhaps some stops could be moved a block to serve the library even better, but they’re already at least as close as the westbound 2’s stop.

      1. Then the 2 currently isn’t serving the library, because its westbound stop is a block away on Seneca Street. It serves the library on its way up the hill, but people going down the hill are “stuck” one block away on Seneca Street.

        Actually, by your standard, this change would enable the 2 to serve the library for the first time: the 12 has a stop just on the other side of Fifth Avenue, and the liveloop allows people to use that stop in either direction.

      2. One reason the 2 is more popular and accessible and useful for the library is due to the fact that it is more difficult to transfer to and from the 12. The situation for transfers for the 12 downtown is not good. As I said before it is poorly connected to good transfer spots to other buses or to the transit tunnel. This situation should not be compounded by moving the 2 to Madison.

    2. To my knowledge the 2 has never run more frequently than every 15 minutes, except occasionally during peak when buses are spaced a bit more closely.

      Frequency is nice for helping with waits and transfers, but doesn’t address slowness. Both frequency and speed are necessary. By having the 2 and 12 share Madison and Marion (where, as mentioned, they would both serve the library) you would get both.

  33. Old folks don’t like change. Lotsa old folks on First Hill and lotsa old folks travel to VM using the 2.

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