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In the early 1990s, I was working on Capitol Hill and became part of the Broadway Business Improvement Association. One of the pet projects of the Broadway BIA was to establish a direct bus link between the Capitol Hill and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods. Prior to 1995, a bus trip from the Seattle Center to Capitol Hill required a transfer in downtown Seattle. The effort to establish the direct bus line between the two neighborhoods had been on-going since the late 1970s, with Metro steadfastly refusing to create the connection–usually citing a perceived lack of demand or lack of vehicles (a real problem in the 1980s). Finally, after nearly 2 decades of wrangling with Metro, a grand bargain was reached where service on other routes would be reduced and a new route–the 8–would run every 30 minutes, 6am to 6pm, weekdays only between Group Health Hospital and Lower Queen Anne. The 8 began service on Monday morning, February 13, 1995 and has been successfully serving riders every since.

The Rider Alert pamphlet for February 11, 1995 details the reductions and changes on routes 2, 10, 12, 13 and 43 needed to fund service hours for the 8. I don’t have a timetable from February 1995 that shows the original service schedule; but, this timetable shows that within 1 year evening service had been added. Weekend service, service until 11pm, the extension to Madison Valley and Rainier Valley and 15 minute peak headways all followed within a couple of years. Despite Metro’s initial misgivings, the 8 has been a huge success, and in 2014, it would be difficult to imagine what transit ridership would be like without the 8.

8 Replies to “The Creation of Route 8”

  1. And the 8 will be one of the lines that gets gutted when the reductions go into effect at the end of September.

    1. It will get cut back to Group Health, right?

      If you think it’s fairly important for network completeness to have the E-W portion of the 8 go at least as far east as the east-most major N-S crosstown service in the area, I totally agree. Even if the 8’s service on MLK north of Jackson or whatever is totally doomed, that’s the 48, on 23rd.

      I doubt this notion is lost on Metro planners; they’re forced to cut some meat along with the fat this time. Group Health may have some operational advantages that led it to be the original terminal and still exist today, such that John between 16th and 23rd is more expensive than the average 7-block extension… but I truly don’t know.

      @GoBH: I, for one, am glad y’all made the 8 happen. And I hope its continued ridership success leads SDOT to implement serious transit improvements on Denny in the next few years. There are studies planned on this, and I’ll try to make it out to any public meetings to support measures that help keep buses moving and pedestrians safe.

      1. Just to give credit where credit is due–most of the work was coordinated and carried out by Joe Rogel of the Deluxe Bar & Grill.

    2. The overwhelmingly largest chunk of ridership is east to 15th, which will be preserviced. When Metro was deciding the cuts it asked for community input on terminating at 15th vs 23rd & John or MLK & Madison. I supported MLK, which would cover almost all of my remaining trips (to City People’s Garden Store or someday to Luc) but I guess either the response was tepid or the need to cut service hours was so dire that MLK wasn’t affordable. I don’t see many current transfers to the 8 at 23rd & John, and Metro doesn’t seem inclined to delete the 43 as some activists wish, which would be the only other reason for that transfer point. It’s just not a good transfer point, in a 100% residential area that some people are afraid to walk in at night. It would require 5- or 10-minute bus service full-time to be a truly good transfer point.

  2. Many of Metro’s crosstown services have been hugely successful and led to expansions. Both the 8 and 31/32 have flourished like gangbusters; it’s hard to believe those markets were missed for so long, although of course I lived in that era and never though there would be routes on those streets so I transferred or walked. The older 48 and 44 have also been growing and growing. The 75 has not been as popular, but popular enough for Children’s Hospital to subsidize 15-minute peak service. The 50 and 60 have likewise not been as popular but have developed significant niches.

  3. Without detracting from the smashing success of the 8, it’s a damned shame Metro has never fixed the terrible night span of the 13, which dates back to this service change. Maybe back then, Queen Anne Ave was a sleepy place and late-night 13 ridership was poor, but now that QA Ave is full of 4-story New Urbanist stuff and the 13 is SPU’s primary connection to downtown, it’s just not good enough. It’s doubly annoying to me that the 2, which really does just wander off and die after the turn onto Galer, has much better late-night span.

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