ST Express 522 at UW Bothell (Photo by Oran)
ST Express 522 at UW Bothell (Photo by Oran)
While the schedules for all of Sound Transit’s trains and streetcars will remain unchanged with the September 27 service change, a few of the ST Express bus routes will have schedule tweaks, with only weekday service impacted. The new schedule books can now be found on Sound Transit vehicles.

Route 522 will have some northbound runs terminate at UW Bothell for the first time, balancing out the morning runs that were already starting at UW Bothell. The impacted runs are every other afternoon peak-direction run starting from 6th and Atlantic from 4:22 pm to 5:55 pm. This will help enable the addition of a morning and afternoon peak-direction run.

Route 555 will have two new mid-morning runs leaving Northgate TC at 8:49 and 9:24, terminating at Bellevue TC. Previously, all 555s continued on to Issaquah Highlands P&R.

Route 590 is losing its first morning southbound run, which is being converted to a 594 run which will go to DuPont Station instead of Commerce St. The first morning run of route 590 will now be departing Eastlake and Stewart at 6:00 am.

Route 592 will have both of its morning counter-peak runs from Seattle to DuPont Station eliminated. Also, morning service from Olympia will be starting a half hour later (4:42), and ending a half hour later (last bus departing Olympia TC at 7:12).

Route 594 will have one of its evening northbound runs start from DuPont Station at 4:44 pm, and its first morning southbound run continue to DuPont Station, leaving Eastlake and Stewart at 5:30 am and arriving at 7:12 am.

31 Replies to “ST Express Minor Service Changes”

  1. Hooray for the extra 555 trips! The SIP indicated we wouldn’t be getting any service changes so this is a pleasant surprise, and I imagine we have Jim Moore to thank. Now if we could just get another evening trip…

    1. Are the extra 555 runs just previous dead heads now running most of the way home in revenue service, or are these new platform hours?

      1. Back when I used to live near Northgate, I would observe route 556 buses pull into Northgate TC as late as 9:30 and change their signs to East Base. With East Base located a mere 1 mile from Bellevue Transit Center, nearly all of new service hours are coming from deadheads, which is one reason why this change is a no-brainer that should have happened years ago.

        I also would not be surprised to see these new runs get quite a bit of use. Microsoft has a lot of office space in downtown Bellevue that didn’t exist a few years ago, and there is currently no Microsoft Connector bus serving the Northgate neighborhood, so the 555 would be the way for anyone who lives in Northgate and works in the Bellevue office to get to work. Under the old schedule, the last bus leaves the transit center at the time that most tech workers are just getting out of bed, so the end result is everyone drives. With the new schedule, the bus has somewhat of a chance.

      2. I don’t see a whole lot of Microsoft badges on the runs I’m on. Either that or they don’t display them as proudly as the 545 riders do. Also FWIW it sounds like a lot of the people that catch the 555 are driving and parking at Northgate

      3. Don’t forget about the 242, running from Northgate to Microsoft’s main campus until next February. Its last departure from Northgate is 8:56 AM, so I’d assume most Microsoftees would be taking that route. Maybe the 9:24 555 will catch some more, but I’d assume its main users would be people working in downtown Bellevue.

      4. The 242 is scheduled for deletion in the February round of cuts. Since it spends so much time on the Eastside, I doubt a successful Seattle vote would save it. In any case, the 242 doesn’t go to Bellevue, so for the Bellevue workers, the 555 is the go-to option.

        As to the number of Microsoft workers that end up using it, we will have to see. Most simply keep their badges in their wallets, so it’s not always obvious who’s a Microsoft worker just by looking at them. There is also the schedule factor. Most Microsoft people like to sleep in and, for many people, getting up at the crack of dawn, just to conform to the bus schedule is more trouble than it’s worth – it’s easier (albeit, a lot more expensive) to just drive back and forth everyday. Hopefully, in the long run, the new schedule will win some of these potential riders back, especially with the newly installed bus lanes along 520 west.

        That said, it’s important to remember that most potential riders aren’t following the transit blog as closely as we are and might not find out about the two extra trips until a friend happens to mention it – this could take months, or even years to happen, so even if ridership on the two new trips is low initially, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily stay that way. When the 542 first began service, nearly every trip was practically empty. Now, the seats are mostly full, and some trips even have people standing. Ridership on any route or trip does not happen overnight.

      5. I would be one of the techworkers who would ride the 555 much more, since as asdf says, I am literally waking up at its last run. I keep my badge in my wallet — I think you have to just count Lumia 920s / HTC 8xs. I’ve already shifted my afternoon commute to the 555 about 75% of the time, so no reason it can’t happen in the mornings.

        There are a lot of Lincoln Square / Bungie / Expedia / “other Bellevue techpeople” who currently transfer onto the 271 and get off one stop before the transit center. It’s unclear if the speed from the 555 would outweigh the farther walk — I wouldn’t do it, personally, but maybe others will.

      6. Right, I only know about the Montlake -> Bellevue portion. No idea about techworkers who actually live in Northgate. Montlake catches a good amount of Bellevue / Issaquah (?)-bound Capitol Hill folks via the 545 or the 43.

  2. Happy to see that ST is doing what it can to minimize the pain in Lake City. 6 306 trips each way will go away. Metro is replacing one of them with a 312 trip, and now ST is replacing another one with a 522 trip. Four more to go.

  3. I wonder if the extra 555 service (and the termination of that extra service at BTC) is the beginning of a split of the 555 into Issaquah – Bellevue and Northgate – Bellevue. I can’t imagine there is that much traffic between these two distant points.

    1. Metro’s February cut truncates the 271 east of Eastagate. Maybe both ST and Metro are rethinking Issaquah-Bellevue-UW service.

      And when East Link opens, it may be just as fast to take a bus from Issaquah to East Link, and Link to UW. The “520 is shorter” geography mainly applies to Bellevue-UW and Redmond-UW.

      1. The City of Bellevue sees Issaquah-Bellevue-UW as a logical express corridor to complement East Link. I think the 555/556 is around to stay, although higher volume on the Bellevue-UW/Northgate segment may justify more trips terminating at Bellevue. I think the 271 will eventually dissolve into the 555/556, with local service replacing it along Richards Road, but most of the BCC students using the express.

        In the near term, the proposed February 271 cut is something different — a reflection of the fact that the Newport Way segment has very low demand and has nothing in common with the high-demand Eastgate-Bellevue and Bellevue-UW corridors that make up the rest of the route. The City of Bellevue sees that service returning only if funding improves from the current situation.

    1. I agree. A stop around 15th would be good as a connector as well as serve the folks who live or frequent the area.

    2. I have been wanting this for years. A 522 stop on Lake City Way near 15th Ave/80th. This area will have no service, as I understand it, when the 72 and 73 go away next year; even now it is bad, especially evenings and weekends, when these two routes run only once an hour.

  4. Ok. So the 594 will go to DuPont sometimes? That’s interesting, and ever so slightly confusing. So now if you commute from Tacoma to DuPont really early in the morning, you’re in luck!

    Personally, though, since intercity transit refuses to make its Olympia express stop in DuPont, and Pierce Transit obviously not going near it, I think it might be good for Sound Transit to put DuPont on half of the off peak 594 runs as well. This would give DuPont an hourly connection to the rest of the world seven days a week.

      1. Besides the obvious problem of figuring out how to pay for such an extension, there is also the problem that it would get stuck in traffic around the JBLM and kill reliability for everyone else catching the bus further north. If we want to give DuPont off-peak service, it should be in the form of a shuttle with a transfer at Tacoma Dome.

      2. These buses also spend a fair amount of time getting to and from the freeway in the first place.

        If the shuttle were operated with a DMU or so on the existing TacomaRail line, you would not have to worry about traffic, and not worry about the traffic lights and localized congestion around the traffic lights to get to and from the freeway.

        It is about 15 miles from DuPont to the Tacoma Dome Station on this line. Making this trip currently on the 592 to connect to Sounder takes about an hour. 592 to 605 is an hour and 15 minutes.

        Upgrade the railroad just to class 3 standards (many short lines are this grade of track) which allows 60 mph passenger speeds, and this becomes at worst a 20 minute trip if you have slow station stops.

        DuPont alone won’t justify that upgrade, but keep in mind this would also reduce costs at Intercity Transit, since they would no longer have to run their expresses to downtown Tacoma, but instead would probably be just as fast if not faster to transfer at DuPont. Furthermore, with all the congestion on that part of Interstate 5, there is obviously some sort of demand for transportation through Fort Lewis.

        Picture an operation similar to the New Jersey Transit RiverLINE. 34 miles of fright railroad essentially had diesel powered light rail added to it. Don’t make the mistake of comparing this to the Sounder extension between Tacoma and Lakewood, as doing that required the construction of new track and land acquisition associated with connecting two lines that had previously never been connected before. Lakewood to DuPont is land that already has track on it and is in operation. Add a few concrete platforms and replace some ties (slow speed ratings of lines like this are almost always due to the number of detected tie defects per mile) and this line becomes much more useful.

        You would not want to operate the Sounder trains on it though. They are hugely expensive to operate, and really make no sense to run south of Tacoma. From Tacoma to DuPont diesel light rail cars, similar to what the RiverLINE uses, would work just fine as a feeder service for Tacoma.

      3. Maybe this is off topic, but is there any possibility of extending the HOV lane all the way to Olympia? Would that help with the JBLM daily jam-up?

    1. The only reason for these 594 extensions is because they are connecting with peak 592 runs. Before the Lakewood station opened and the 592 restructure they ran 592s off peak between Lakewood and DuPont.

      1. My bad should have meant reverse peak from Lakewood to DuPont in the am and vice versa. Basically letting people on between Lakewood and DuPont where the bus otherwise would have run empty.

        My apologies for the incorrect statement.

      2. That’s smart, though. The 592 does have these super long deadheads. I can only hope that some of these trips after getting to Seattle turn into 590 trips so their run back to Pierce County is not wasted, and vice versa.

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