People sometimes ask me, “what would make Seattle’s transit system even better?” Well, over the years we at STB have suggested hundreds of possible improvements to buses, trains and ferries. With apologies to BuzzFeed, here are nine things that would make Seattle transit service better, a few of which are incredibly cheap (or even free) to implement.
1. Add More Full-time Bus Lanes
Bus-only lanes are an incredibly cheap and effective way to make buses faster and move more people using the same amount of street. Sadly, many of Seattle’s bus-only lanes end abruptly or revert to parking lanes outside of the afternoon peak. That might make sense if everyone worked 9-5 jobs downtown, but in today’s economy people are on the move all the time. Bus lanes should follow suit. 24/7 bus lanes on Fauntleroy Ave SW, 15th Ave NW, and Aurora Ave N (home of RapidRide C, D, and E respectively, among other routes) would be a great start. Painted red, of course.
2. Un-suck Denny Way
Route 8 is so unreliable it literally drives people to buy cars. With thousands of jobs in South Lake Union, and thousands of new apartments right up Capitol Hill, things will only get worse on Denny Way in the coming years. Moving a couple of bus stops and closing off Yale Ave would help things significantly for relatively little cost. Redirecting some freeway traffic to our shiny new Mercer St. on-ramps could help as well. If we want to be more ambitious, there’s always the gondola.
3. Add a Link Station at 130th St NE
Light rail to Lynnwood is currently slated to open in 2023, but the location of the stations themselves have not been finalized. We think a station at 130th St NE makes a ton of sense. It would better serve Lake City and provide fast cross-town bus connections to Link. While not exactly pedestrian friendly, it avoids the traffic on 145th. Good bus-rail connections re key to Link’s success.
4. Put Bus Rapid Transit on Madison St.
As one of Seattle’s designated transit priority corridors in Central Seattle, Madison Street should have fast, frequent transit between Downtown, First Hill, and the CD. Fortunately we don’t have to dream about this one – this project is already underway.
5. No More Fumbling for Quarters!
Seattle’s buses are just too damn popular for riders to be fumbling for change when they board, especially in the afternoon rush hour. Agencies should ameliorate the slowness caused by the end of the Ride Free Area by reducing the need for cash payments from the system as much as possible. Giving riders a discount for using ORCA cards, lowering or eliminating the $5 ORCA fee, and moving to a proof-of-payment system would all be steps in the right direction.
6. Add a Bus Station to the Olive Way Onramp
What if there were a way for express buses to the Eastside to stop on Capitol Hill without having to make half-a-dozen left turns along the way? by putting a bus stop at Olive Way and I-5, buses would be able to pick up Capitol Hill passengers with minimal delay.
7. Put RapidRide on Delridge Ave
Delridge Ave is one of the top 15 transit corridors in the city, as identified by the Transit Master Plan. Route 120, which currently runs on that street, has the highest ridership in West Seattle (though RapidRide C is closing in – showing how BRT can boost ridership). Upgrading the 120 to RapidRide standards is an easy win for mobility in an area with high transit ridership.
8. Move Routes 3 and 4 from James to Yesler
The 3 & 4 trolleybuses run through some of Seattle’s densest neighborhoods – from Queen Anne, to Belltown to Downtown to First Hill and the Central District. Keeping them on schedule through all that traffic is not an easy task. One relatively simple way to improve reliability for these core routes is to re-route them on Yesler between 3rd Ave and Harborview.
9. Extend Light Rail to Ballard and West Seattle
Ok, so this one’s obviously a lot bigger than the rest of the items on this list. An obvious candidate for the next regional ballot measure, this project would transform the city, connecting most of the dense neighborhoods with fast, frequent transit. Ballard-Downtown, Ballard-UW or both? As for light rail to West Seattle, how far South should it go?
Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments.