As a concession to the various free on-street parking interests, many of Seattle’s Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes only operate in the peak direction during rush hour. Unfortunately, the peak direction is defined by the downtown core, which is a mere subset of where the jobs are.
Witness the photo above, the situation in the evening going South on Elliott Avenue. The 24 is going in the “off-peak” direction and is therefore unworthy of adequate priority treatments. Traffic stopped at the light, combined with a handful of cars allowed to park in the right lane, mean that the bus has to wait until the light changes to come up and serve the passengers. Inevitably, this will take the entire light cycle and the bus will have to wait for another red light.
The dozen or so parked cars in the picture, allowed to use these spaces and saving their drivers perhaps a few minutes of walking, add to similar delays for substantially more people at this stop, and on this bus trip, alone. Multiplied over the many trips in the afternoon peak, the misallocation of space is staggering.
Within Central Seattle, the idea of “peak” and “contra-peak” directions is obsolete. Jobs are scattered everywhere in the triangle formed by Lower Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and Sodo, and many cars and buses there have to travel back into downtown to get to where they’re going. It’s time to abolish these distinctions and make sure buses can operate reliably.