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I have 3 historical timetables uploaded to my flickr account:

  • 7 RAINIER (1970)
  • 42 EMPIRE WAY (1972)
  • 9 BROADWAY (1976)

The 7 RAINIER of 1970 looks very similar to Metro’s route 7 of today.  The most notable routing difference is that the Henderson loop wasn’t used in 1970–there were turnback loops at Graham Street and Rose Street.  The midday schedule offered basic 10 minute headways on most of Rainier Avenue with every other bus turning back at Rose Street  (the Prentice loop was covered every 20 minutes).  Peak hour service added express runs and more local buses that turned back at Graham Street.

The 42 EMPIRE WAY of 1972 shows what transit service along MLK looked like before light rail (and the name change).  Bus service on the old 42 corridor has been replaced by the 8, 36, 106 and 107.  The basic service pattern in 1972 was 30 minute headways along Empire Way/MLK with hourly deviations to Holly Park.  At Rainier Beach the route split and covered tails that are parts of today’s 106 and 107 routes with hourly service on each tail.  There were no extensions to Skyway and Renton (they were added a few years later).

The 9 BROADWAY of 1976 was still using its historical routing that terminated south of the University Bridge at Martin Street.  Riders from Capitol Hill would then transfer on Eastlake to get to the University District.  There were a few trips that turned back at Aloha Street during peak hours, but the basic midday service pattern was 15 minute headways along the whole route with a live-loop in downtown Seattle.  The schedule also shows a Yesler-Broadway shuttle that ran just a few times a day, but eventually grew into route 60 and the First Hill Streetcar.

15 Replies to “Transit Timetable History”

  1. I love the programs on the that #7 schedule. Park and ride (from Seattle Center!) anywhere in Seattle for a dime (wait, after paying “regular fare” – maybe parking is a dime?). Weekend day passes for $0.75. Charter a Metro bus for your event or party. And now you can charge your fare to your Firstbank Card. Sadly, they had just started a policy of not giving change, and the bus driver no longer carries change or tokens.

    I wonder if you can still charter a Metro bus. Who volunteers to plan the first STB bar hopping meetup bus?

    1. The FTA doesn’t allow transit agencies to operate charter service. In their view, using buses paid for in part with federal funds to operate charter service is unfair competition against charter companies, who have to pay for their buses in full with private funds.

      1. Of course. Yet interestingly, you can still help fund Metro to serve your location. I believe there are more than a few colleges, hospitals, and corporate campuses that do this. This includes downtown Seattle.

        Actually, with the ride free area gone, I wonder if downtown Seattle still subsidizes Metro. I don’t see a reason to.

      2. The Ride Free Area money went to the free downtown shuttle, which basically connects homeless services in Pioneer Square and First Hill and runs daytime weekdays.

    2. From a read of the back of the 42 schedule: parking at the Seattle Center was free, 20c fare on a bus to downtown, then 10c fare on a special downtown shuttle bus.

      I find it interesting how the schedules were modernized between 1973 and 1976. The maps and schedule grid on the 9 schedule from 1976 are quite similar to today’s printed schedules. The earlier schedules, oh boy… The maps look like excerpts from the early-20th century streetcar maps, while the “schedule” was obviously produced on a manual typewriter.

      1. OK, I see why the printed schedules were so updated in 1976: Metro Transit had taken over from Seattle Transit.

        Pretty sad how little the schedules have changed since 1976. At this point the only “update” I see in the future for the printed schedules is the ceasing of the printers. Metro has updated the web schedule format; however, the individual route maps shown on the web will be brought into the 21st century soon.

  2. The 42 schedule is a little tough. Was there a separate schedule showing the departure times from Beacon and Juniper?

    1. No! The 7 timetable is likewise very mysterious about departure times from Rose Street to downtown. Once Metro Transit was created, the grid-style timetables and better maps began to appear, which made it easier to catch a bus.

    1. Older maps have it terminating on top of the hill. At Galer Street there’s a separated parking lane; that mayt have been the streetcar turnaround. So it was extended to Furhrman but not across the bridge, while the Eastlake routes went to the U-District. That may have reflected travel patterns at the time, and the smaller size of the UW.

    2. The original trolley system was designed in about 1941 and very few routes overlapped with other routes. But the headways on most routes were very short in the post-War era, so waits were likely very short. By the 1960s, transit ridership had dropped dramatically and headways had lengthened, which created longer waits for transfers.

      Even though the 9 Broadway didn’t cross the bridge, the 4 Montlake (which closely resembles today’s 43) did run to the University District; so there was a one-seat ride available between the University District and Capitol Hill.

      [I know I have a 4 Montlake timetable somewhere–I’ll post it if I find it.]

  3. In the 80s half the daytime 7s terminated at Graham Street, and none at Rose Street. Then the 9 started, going from the U-District to Broadway and Rose Street. That was the first time I saw Rose Street being used as a terminus, and it didn’t make sense to me why it stopped just short of Rainier Beach. A lot of other people apparently wondered the same thing because later it was extended to Rainier Beach.

  4. As a bus schedule collector, I find this to be very exciting, especially the old Seattle Transit schedules! The lack of mid-route checkpoints is intriguing. IMHO, most things about transit are better nowadays, but mid-route checkpoints are a double-edged sword. They make it easier to figure out when to get out there for the bus, but also require the driver to either drive slowly or wait at checkpoints to avoid getting ahead of schedule, which is frustrating for people already on the bus. I like the idea of “approximate” times once the route starts, or less frequent “hard” checkpoints, at least on frequent routes.

    Anyway, thanks for posting, GuyOnBeaconHill!

  5. One thing I forgot to post earlier: the death of paper schedules is probably coming soon (as in within the next decade or so). Even a fanatical collector like myself has quit taking paper schedules and started using phone apps to plan trips…. It’s just too much paper to accumulate at home. I don’t even try to collect most of the current schedules in my current home city, only out-of-town and/or significantly historic schedules interest me now. I guess we’ll have to start downloading to USB drives to keep track of our transit systems’ evolution through future years….

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