Page Two articles are from our reader community.

The 43 BALLARD/MONTLAKE/DOWNTOWN was one of Metro’s early hits. When it was created, the new route 43 combined most of the old 4 Montlake route with the busiest part of the 30 Ballard/Laurelhurst route and connected the University District with Ballard and Capitol Hill. Ridership soared on the whole corridor and by the late 1970s, the 43 BALLARD timetable shows peak hour service running as frequently as every 4 minutes between the University District and Ballard. Most trips, however, were operated using standard length diesel buses. But it was undeniable that ridership on the 43 was booming.

Unfortunately, timekeeping on the route was atrocious. The current 43 and 44 routes are known to be slow and unreliable; but back in the 1980s, there were several bottlenecks that caused even worse delays. The turnback 43 MONTLAKE trips (from Ballard) used a terminal that was located south of the Montlake Bridge, so when the bridge opened, the bus would often be delayed. The turnback loop that the current route 44 uses has eliminated the need for 2 bridge crossings, which makes for much better timekeeping. There also was a different street configuration in the area where the current 44 passes under the Aurora Bridge. In 1979, to get onto Greenlake Way N. (the street that travels under the Aurora Bridge), the westbound 43 would head north on Woodland Park Ave. from Midvale and have to wait at a stop sign before making a pedal-to-the-metal left turn onto Greenlake Way N. The delay at that point could be very lengthy because of the high traffic volume on Greenlake Way. When the route was electrified, the city reconfigured the streets in that area to make it easier for the 43 to get onto Greenlake Way.

Back in 1979, the entire route between downtown Seattle and Ballard was designated the 43. The 44 FIRST HILL route was an extension of the 43 through downtown Seattle that operated via 1st Avenue and Madison Street to 15th & Madison (weekdays only). The 44 augmented service provided by the 13 – 19th Avenue route on Madison Street.

There are some interesting things to note in the 43 timetable. The extension to Shilshole was considered part of the 43 route and many of the trips from Shilshole ran all the way to First Hill (as route 44), which made timekeeping very unreliable. There also were trips that originated at 46th & Phinney during morning peak. Overall, the 43 and 44 of today look very similar to the 43 of 1979, but Metro and SDOT have made numerous routing and scheduling improvements that make the 43 and 44 much more reliable today compared to the service that was provided 35 years ago. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a subway between Ballard and the U District?

12 Replies to “43 & 44 In 1979”

  1. Interesting that two years ago in the last KC Metro crisis Metro threatened to cut the 43 unless they got funding. I’m surprised that they didn’t cut the route with the present crisis. Or maybe they threatened to cut the route just to get everyone all in a tither and make noise.

    1. Are you sure Metro threatened to cut the 43? It has always been activists wanting that, and Metro refusing to consider it. There was a lot of misinterpretation of Metro’s statements during the hearings for the 2-year funding in 2012. People saw the 72/72/73 on the cut/reorg list and thought Metro would eliminate all UW-downtown service. That would never happen unless Metro went completely out of business, because it’s the largest ridership generator and would cripple the university (and the U-Pass is funding some of the service).

      Likewise, Metro may have suggested deleting the 43, but in that case most of the hours would be reassigned to the 48, 11, and/or 49, and only a few hours would be lost. The shortage is only 16% (or 20% at the earlier worst estimate), so it doesn’t make sense to delete 100% of the hours in the highest-ridership area. Metro could eliminate evening service on the 10 and 11 and 60 to keep the 43 running.

  2. What the hell is with cutting service in Capitol Hill, if it wasn’t already one of the densest and most populated neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest, and its also obviously getting a ton of new pedestrian-oriented urban development?!?! They should be adding bus service (and bus lanes), if anything.

    1. That’s what cuts mean: Metro doesn’t have the money to pay for the service, even if an increase is needed. Metro is not going to delete all routes in the Central District to keep Capitol Hill going, even if Capitol Hill is the highest-ridership area. Instead Capitol Hill will have to take some cuts too. But Metro will inevitably organize it to preserve most of the service in the downtown-Broadway-UW corridor, because it serves the center of the hill and most of the riders. (Whether it would be specifically on Broadway-10th Ave, or John-23rd, or both, is a secondary issue, along with whether it would be a one-seat ride or require a transfer. U-Link and Northgate Link will obviate part of the need in 2016 and 2021 anyway.)

      As to why the cuts are happening, see declining sales-tax revenue after the recession, deadlock in the legislature, county residents hating $60 car tabs, increasing ridership and congestion which strain the existing service hours, and the rising cost of fuel and materials and medical benefits.

    2. Not to mention the delay of rail lines far beyond the time they would have been useful. For buses the cost per hour is not too different between TriMet and KCM. TriMet, however, has the advantage of only paying $0.46 per passenger mile for MAX passengers, which is what about a third of the passengers take.

  3. When did articulated buses first appear? The 226 (Seattle-Bellevue-Overlake) was a single bus when I started riding around 1978, and switched to articulated a couple years later.

    1. The 1400s (of which there were 151) entered service in 1976. The 2000s (of which there were 202) boosted the fleet in 1983.

      1. I liked that first generation of MAN articulateds. From the manual destination signs to the very distinctive sound. Classic bus.

      2. The MAN articulateds were nice. They were one of the few coaches that didn’t feel old and worn out when they were finally retired.

      3. I recall that for several years as the MAN coaches were being phased out in Seattle, I would spot them, still in Metro Yellow, Tan & White colors plying the streets of Chicago as the CTA scrambled to maintain its operations.

  4. I can assume that the 43 helped to kill off the summit service (route 47). Before the route 43, route 14 (then the summit route), carried those riders around the Bellevue Ave area. there was no Route 8 or 43 around then to compete. Of course, though 43 is successful, it totally duplicates Routes 8 and 48. If I was a Summit resident, I can’t see any reason to vote YES on the Seattle Transit Initiative, if the 47 is not coming back. There is no plans to cut back route 43 service at this time.

    1. Metro could have increased the 14’s ridership by scheduling it halfway between the 43’s and making it on time. Instead it scheduled it three minutes after the 43, and it was always five or ten minutes late. So people that arrive five minutes early for the 14 found the 43 there, and if they did pass it up waiting for the 14, they might end up waiting until the next 43 came anyway. So the 43 was stealing the 14’s ridership. If the 14 came halfway between the 43s, or a few minutes before the 43, then everyone who could take it would (both those going to Summit and those just going to Olive), and its ridership would be better.

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