Yesterday, Dow Constantine, King County Executive and chair of the Sound Transit Board, along with other regional officials, unveiled a high-level plan to improve integration between the region’s various transit agencies. The report covers a number of areas — station design, wayfinding, bus-train transfers, better trip planning and realtime arrival information through smart phones and displays — and the ideas there seem laudable. High-level political reports are less important for their details (which politicos usually just aren’t versed in) and more important for their sentiment, which tell staff and management which direction they should be heading with their work.
To me, though, the most interesting part are some of the ideas around network design, and there are more specifics here. Here’s a few, which stand out to me:
- Consolidate the 36 and 49 to create a connection between SE Seattle and the UDistrict via Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Beacon Hill. Some variation on the theme of strong north-south transit service on 10th Ave/Broadway/Beacon Ave has been floating around in post-2016 concept networks and the SDOT Transit Master Plan for some years. A complete amalgamation all the way from the U-District to Othello seems to me like it might have reliability issues, but at any rate, it’s good to have the idea explicitly on the table.
- Extend the 271 to Northgate via Maple Leaf and Roosevelt. This sounds, more or less, like connecting the 271 and 67, a variation on an idea I published once with the 48N and 271. Unsurprisingly, I think this is a great idea, although the 271 is currently infrequent on evenings and Sundays, so either 271 frequency would need to go up (an excellent idea, if expensive), or turnback trips would be needed, to provide full-time frequent service on the Roosevelt/Northgate corridor.
- Possible Route 8 revision to connect uptown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill and Madison Valley. This sounds like extending the 8 to service the 11 alignment in the Madison Valley. When Denny is uncongested, this will work amazingly well, but Denny is a disaster on most weekdays. I want to like this idea, but it will need to be coupled with changes in SLU, or with some other way to make sure Denny’s unreliability doesn’t ruin Madison Valley service the way it’s ruining Rainier Valley service today.
- Provide opportunity to connect Link riders to South Lake Union and First Hill. This sounds like what the two streetcars we’ve built are supposed to do.
- Restructure commuter service from East King County — routes 252, 255, 257, 268 and 311 — with ST Express Route 545. Could be good, but we’d have to see what the details are.
- Extend some commuter service beyond U District to other areas such as South Lake Union or Fremont. The South Lake Union idea is excellent. The future 520 west-side reversible HOV ramp seems like a great way to provide great peak bus service to SLU from the Eastside, avoiding a three seat bus-U Link-streetcar ride that won’t compete well with driving. I’m less sure about Fremont — there’s no good way* to get between the U-District and Fremont in the peak without hitting a wall of cars somewhere.
- Create better connections to U District and Link light rail service at University of Washington station for Laurelhurst, Sand Point and Ravenna. Good sentiment, but other than Childrens Hospital, not sure I’d consider Laurelhurst much of a priority.
Sadly absent are ideas about infill stations along the existing light rail segment, or about converting any of the “potential stations” on the Lynnwood Link alignment, notably at 130th St in Seattle, and 220th St in Lynnwood, into actual stations. Each one of these, while expensive, would offer significant access and connectivity improvements for local transit riders.
* Well, there is, if you can ride a bike.