Madison Corridor Map
TMP Madison Corridor

Tomorrow, from 5 to 7 PM, at the Silver Cloud Hotel on Broadway, the Seattle Department of Transportation will host an open house for the Madison BRT project. Madison Street, from Colman Dock to 23rd Ave, was identified in Seattle’s 2012 Transit Master Plan as a high-priority corridor which deserves investment for faster, more frequent, and more reliable transit service. Preliminary feasibility analysis indicated that 40′ buses or trolleybuses were the only viable vehicles on Madison, due to its severe slopes and hill breaks.

Last week, I sat down with Maria Koengeter, the SDOT planner in charge of this project. This meeting, and the work done so far, is essentially about the “homework” of the design: defining the purpose and need, surveying current conditions, identifying specific locations likely to be problematic, and getting agreement from key stakeholders on those things. The serious analysis and problem-solving work will take place in the coming months, notably including:

  • The evaluations of different terminals, 23rd or MLK at the east end (and where to find layover space), and how best to connect with the waterfront at the west (here’s my take on the latter);
  • Possible service patterns, either an open busway which could be used by services that then turn down 23rd or Broadway, or a closed service; and
  • The choice or center or curb running, and if center running, whether to use island platforms with left-side doors.

I’ll be there, and I hope to see lots of STB readers there. While SDOT seems to have pervasively good ideas about transit right-of-way, signal priority and high-quality stops, it’s always good for them to hear from the public about the importance of those things.

81 Replies to “Tomorrow: Madison BRT Open House”

  1. The plans for Madison BRT are 100% intertwined with the future plans for the Route 2 bus and whether or not Prop 1 passes or fails.

    If the route 2 IS moved to Madison from Union/Spring/Seneca … then would it make more sense to have the BRT bus line follow the current rt 2’s route east of 12th ave?

    This would leave a gap on Madison from 12th ave to 16th ave (although the 11 could easily be rerouted from Pine on that segment being a Diesel but route)

    What happens if the 2 is moved to Madison west of 12th ave (regardless of Prop 1)? Does Madison then have both a BRT line AND the route 2 bus? (that seems excessive since they’ll both loop together at the waterfront).

    The 2 already carries a lot of passengers … seems like it would make sense to have the BRT bus line head up Union east of 12th than stay on Madison.

    As for the buses … having special buses with left hand doors will just be confusing to all. Curb BUS lanes painted RED with queue jumping lights at major intersections is the way to go.

    Furthermore …

    at this point, SDOT is distancing itself (100%) from RapidRide … as this line is intended to be an actual BRT line … not express/frequent bus service like RapidRide.

    However, I think that if implemented … it should still be branded as Rapid Ride (even tho trolley bus) … the “M Line” if you will … as people understand the concept now with the better stops, real time indicator signs, off-board fare payment, etc …

    That and when they have to go Diesel on weekends … then they have an existing fleet of buses they can use … and diesel Rapid Ride buses would cause less confusion than all of a sudden substituting blue/teal/green normal metro buses on the route.

    just my 2 cents.

    1. I second the RapidRide M Line idea. However, when I put that exact question to Michael James with SDOT (if SDOT had plans to brand the Madison service as a RapidRide M Line) he replied that it will probably be branded differently as it will be a different product (trolley buses, possibly center-running, better priority treatments). For network comprehensibility, I think it makes all the sense in the world to brand the Madison service as RapidRide.

    2. RapidRide is a long-term dead end. The initial round went through because that’s what federal grants were favoring at the time. Now the grants are favoring higher-level BRT and lower-level incremental improvements. Adding RapidRide lines means extra expenses for hotdog-red buses (which can’t be interchanged with other routes, or allow “partial RapidRide” branding like a Madison-Union route 2) — but what passengers want is just more transit lanes and frequency and real-time displays, please. RapidRide also creates lettered routes that don’t tell you anything about which part of the county they’re in. The grant required a distinct brand and now we’re stuck with it, but we probably don’t want those constraints on new routes going forward.

  2. How fixed are the locations of these stops, or that the loop back is on Marion?

    I’m extremely concerned by the poor connectivity between the DSTT. Imagine that I arrive downtown via Link or any of the tunnel busses. How do I get to Madison and Boren? Madison and 18th? Do I get off at University Street and have to walk to 4th and Marion? That’s a pretty long walk for a transfer between two core services!!

    Instead, I would suggest something a little more complicated. Maybe downtown-bound Madison BRT moves over to Seneca, which allows there to be a stop at 3rd and Seneca, so you can get to the DSTT without have to cross any streets at all. Then, turn down Alaska way and create a single contra-flow lane up Madison for Cap Hill bound traffic.

    Either way, connection between Madison BRT and the DSTT is the single most important connection that needs to be made. It’s egregious that basically there is no thought to it.

    1. The connection to the DSTT is the most important transit connection that needs to be made; the most important connections period are between the various destinations and residences along the route. I think I’d agree that the DSTT transfer in the diagram in this article is unusually bad, but there is a real tradeoff if people have to sit through extra turns, time, and distance, out-of-direction for many, on the way to their destinations.

      1. I think that’s a perfectly fair statement. However — I don’t think there’s really an unacceptable tradeoff here. With my proposed routing you can connect directly to DSTT w/ the exact same number of turns. It’s one block further to the NW than it potentially needs to be (e.g. which results in 2 additional blocks of travel), but for the tradeoff of connecting directly to the tunnel it seems like a very reasonable tradeoff.

      2. If you’re talking about going inbound on Seneca instead of Madison, that is two extra turns and two extra blocks for inbound riders, compared to going straight on Madison. What street do you make the jog on? How are bus lanes and signal priority going to work for those turns? Is Seneca going to be slower or more congested than Madison? With favorable answers to these questions it’s just two blocks; with unfavorable answers it’s two blocks that could sink the whole route.

      3. No gonna lie: that isn’t bad.

        Kind of ingenious putting the inbound zag on a low-traffic stretch on 9th. I think everyone was worried you’d try to send it across 6th in the thick of rush hour.

        The only shame is the uncoupling of a few pair of now-unintuitive stops. On the other hand, that Virginia Mason stop can finally shut the “save bus 2” people up.

      4. I like the 9th to Seneca routing. There’s already wire on 9th, and it helps avoid the rush hour mess of cars on Madison near I-5.

    2. Blame the design of the tunnel. Makes no sense that they bypassed the ferry terminal back when designing it

    3. It sounds like the map is conceptual, and at this point they’re just deciding on what they want to decide. I certainly hope that the Marion couplet is nixed, because those turning delays aren’t very BRTish.

      1. Yeah a two-way Madison with a contraflow eastbound transit-only lane between the Waterfront and 6th Avenue sounds pretty appealing.

      2. Any downtown live loop you can construct will have at at least the number of turns as the loop on that map, precisely because it is a live loop. Riders will merely experience the turns at different times on their trip.

        The reason to do two-way Madison would be legibility. The reason not to do it would be the high cost, and the limited width of Madison.

      3. The legibility benefit is real and potent, as is being able to have the tunnel transfer be the same “two short, flat blocks” from the same station in both directions (as opposed to having westbound be a closer transfer to University and eastbound be closer to Pioneer Square).

        If SDOT decides to send the bus all the way to Alaska, then it’s an easy choice to circle the block back to Madison via Western. If SDOT decides to live-loop via Western or 1st, then it becomes a lot more complicated.

        One other thing, though: In order for that “two short, flat blocks” transfer claim to be legitimate, the BRT stops really have to be at 3rd. They just do.

        And that probably means adding a stop at 8th as well. First Hill is truly steep, and if this project wants to claim most of the hill as its catchment area (so as to render the 2 and the milk60 redundant), one really must accept that the swath of mid-way hill between 3rd and Boren is not an especially easy walk from either.

    4. I know we’re talking serious money, but when you descend into the Moscow metro, or São Paulo metro, or even a few stations on the underground segments of the Chicago blue line, you can surface blocks away from your point of entry.

      As deep as the Link stations are, it seems like there could be some better use of all those mezzanines, stairs and elevators beyond going straight up.

      1. Vendors, proof of purchase boundaries (don’t even need turnstiles yet, just the gate-like things they have at Sea-Tac to funnel passengers near the readers), and connections to pedestrian tunnels/other stations.

        All of these are potential uses that are squandered right now, but are also reasons I’m not upset that we’re building mezzanines.

      2. Here’s an example: the Clark / Lake station on the CTA blue line. Read down the page and see all the different entrances they have for this station:
        http://www.transitchicago.com/travel_information/station.aspx?mbp=y&StopId=43

        The Lake / Wells entrance is two blocks from the station platform, or a bit over 1,000 feet.

        Turnstes or no, all those mezzanines and passageways can be very useful in creating a larger station catchment area. Among other things, it increases walking speed because there are fewer road crossings.

        So, it seems to me that they should at least look at what an added connection to Madison would cost.

  3. A few more items for the glossary:

    * Open / closed service pattern / busway (“Possible service patterns, either an open busway which could be used by services that then turn down 23rd or Broadway, or a closed service”)
    * Hill break

    +1 for using ordinary buses + red paint (in the lanes and on the bus, for branding): having a few left-doored buses increases maintenance complexity for no real gain.

    1. Open busway. I can’t think of any advantages of a closed busway, especially with Madison Park and Madrona and Montlake all being far past the end of the busway. The only reason for a closed busway would be to prevent too many buses from slowing the trunk buses down. But (1) there won’t be that many buses. (2) Even if there were, Metro could keep the slowest local buses out of the busway.

      1. I’m not necessarily advocating for it — but I would point out that some left-side boarding door boarding platforms with paid fare areas could justify designing a closed system here. Metro would have to have a dedicated fleet of left-side boarding buses for this corridor or we would have a very large fleet to replace by the time we switched out all the new buses we just ordered for the 2 and 12, as well as the 11.

  4. If I remember correctly, Metro tried to electrify the 11 years ago but the Madison Park neighborhood rejected it. So what makes this different?

      1. We’ll see – MLK/Madison is a viable BRT destination as well, as well as a far more suitable place to put a turnback. There may not need to be a guideway east of 23rd, but there’s no reason not to send the bus at least to the bottom of MLK, if not all the way to Lake Washington Blvd (or, hell, Lake Washington itself).

    1. That was in the 1960s from what I hear. Madison Park has different residents now, with different transit desires, different climate concerns, and it has more businesses that want customers. The differences may not be that great, but at the same time you can’t say that nothing has changed in the past thirty or forty years. What Madison Park probably asked was to be outside of the BRT study area, as Magnolia asked for wrt RapidRide and Link. Primarily to avoid upzones, not so much to avoid trolley wires. The city is also looking at the cost of a longer BRT road, so it didn’t want to extend the study area too far. Extensions can always be added later. But in any case, one of the line alternatives is extending some or all of the BRT trolleybuses to Madison Park, even without changes in the roadway or stations. Mad Park may or may not have strong opinions about that, but we can’t just assume that what they thought in the 1960s is the same as what they think now.

      1. So what exactly does happen to Madison Park, once this BRT line goes through. Will some of the Madison buses (perhaps one every half hour) go on through to serve them? Will they have to ride a shuttle to 23rd and transfer? Or will they just be left without service entirely?

      2. It was not in the 1960s when Metro looked at adding trolley service to Madison Park.

        The 11 Madison Park was a trolley bus until 1963 when the wire was removed by Seattle Transit. When exactly would they have been studying putting the wire back in on a route that had just been removed? Seattle Transit administration continued to reduce and pull back the trolley system through the 60s (including the 3/4, which was the Queen Anne service we know and the 3 Jefferson Park (todays 36) and the 4 Montlake (basically the 43)) which were eliminated in 68. Expansion wasn’t on the radar until Metro’s takeover in 1973.

        In the late 70s, early 80s Metro looked at wiring the 11 (I’m not sure if it was meant for the system rebuild of 1979 or was a possibility, like the 15/18, considered in the early-mid-80s). The neighborhood objected because their utility wires had been buried underground.

  5. I’m sure the map shown is just generic and for planning purposes, but it’s concerning not to see a 3rd Avenue stop. How the hell could you not serve 3rd?

    Also, though this is just me being silly, the map makes it look like there could be an intermodal Sounder/Amtrak transfer at Madison. Oh, if only: “Now arriving King St Station. Next Stop: Financial District Station.” ;)

  6. I’m also concerned about the terminal options as presented. A Madison-23rd-Thomas-19th-Interlaken alignment would be nuts, and a Madison Park alignment would only be acceptable if we could convince the neighborhood to permit trolley wire. I don’t want to see a kludgy dual mode solution wherein we pay top dollar for dual mode buses that have to raise or lower wire mid-run.

    My thoughts are that there are 3 tolerable termini:

    1. 23rd Avenue (with a likely layover at that weird extra bit of ROW at 20th/John?)
    2. Madrona via Route 2’s alignment with a short turn at 34th instead of Madrona Park
    3. UW Station. I think a Madison/23rd/Montlake BRT would do smashingly well, and you’d only need 4 blocks of new trolley wire, or none at all if you went Madison/19th/Thomas/23rd. When combined with an electrified 48 (RapidRide G?), then you could have 3-5 minute interlined trolley service between East Capitol Hill/Montlake and UW Station.

    1. I think of your 3 suggested termini Madrona is clearly the preferred option, at least for half the trips (depending on the overall frequency of the route). I wish I had already published the 2014 FNP so I could refer to it to explain why… but in a nutshell, the others screw up what could be a very good grid in the area, and will result in lower frequency than you could achieve with the same resources by going to Madrona. East-west service in the area near Madison/23rd is provided along Thomas, and north-south service along 23rd would be redundant with a more frequent 48 through an area (Montlake) that doesn’t warrant super-mega-frequent service.

      If the frequency is 7 minutes or better then you could have half the trips go to Madrona Park and the other half to 15th or 23rd.

    2. The Interlaken backtrack is just a placeholder, to show how it could be integrated with the fewest changes to the status quo. SDOT does not have the authority to decide how the 12 will go, and it’s way too early to decide that anyway. 19th Avenue is also going away with the pending cuts, and even if it survives that it might go away with the Capitol Hill reorg.

    3. The 43’s predecessor used to go on Madison – 23rd, so there is a precedent. However, John/Olive has more destinations than Madison (except for medical-related trips), so rerouting it may hurt more riders than it helps. On the other hand, Pike/Olive/John doesn’t win any speed awards.

      What Madison ultimately needs is a wider variety of destinations to complement this BRT treatment. Then people won’t be so mad if their bus is diverted from Olive or Pine. The First Hill part needs more non-medical shops, and the downtown part needs more retail in the ground floor of buildings, and housing above. There’s a big new project somewhere on Madison downtown, replacing an office building, so hopefully it will be more mixed-use than its predecessor. There’s also the rebuild of Rainier Square a couple blocks away.

      1. There’s a big new project somewhere on Madison downtown, replacing an office building

        Are you talking about the project that’s been closing the south side sidewalk between 5th and 6th for the last several weeks? I agree more mixed-use development is needed in general, but that location might not be the best – it’s quite close to the freeway, and Madison as a whole is far from the DSTT. Still, anywhere’s better than nowhere.

  7. Does anyone know the reason this line wont run all the way down Madison to Lake Washington (Madison Park)? Is the answer simply that Madison Park residents don’t want trolley wires? or is there operational/cost issues that don’t pencil out if the line is extended.

      1. As a resident of Mad Park, I’d agree that there is a small but very vocal group opposed to trolley wires. More importantly, as census tract(s) with one of the oldest average ages in the city, there is a lot of built-in opposition to any change of any kind, least of all one that might bring “different” people into the ‘hood. It is getting younger, however slowly. The city arborists are also being more assertive about trimming the trees hanging over Madison east of 32nd E. When the 43 goes away, the 11 could run on its route from the CBD to 23rd, then continue to Mad Park along the traditional 11 route. And yes, the Madison RR should turn back at or near MLK.

      2. Also as a resident of Mad Park, I’d amend that to say that there is a small but vocal group of people opposed to everything.

        I do think that if there was a more reliable, faster service downtown, it might be more popular. The 11 sucks, particularly outbound. I would go back to trying to ride it if it were consistent and faster to downtown–joining a trunk BRT line at MLK or even 23rd would be a dramatic improvement along those lines.

        Our firm is moving from Bellevue to DT Seattle next year (to the delight of all of us, even the suburbanites, even the guy from Issaquah Highlands) and it may be that I end up just taking the train to Cap Hill and transfering there after 2016, if only because there are plenty of things to do around that station and it makes for a nice break. Having both as an alternative is far better than a bus that takes as long to go three miles as the drive to Bellevue from Mad Park currently is.

    1. Madison becomes much less dense after MLK, nor is there any connecting service, so ridership potential down there is very limited, and the cost of building that much wire is high.

    2. Also — isn’t seattle instead planning on connecting the 11 to the 8 so that you have service from Madison Park to the light rail station and then on to Queen Anne? This makes sense as a complement to Madison BRT that terminates at 23rd (or maybe instead follows the route of the 2).

      1. Stephen, if they do that, they will need to bring back the 47. Some form of service between downtown and northwestern Cap Hill is necessary. Alternately, my upcoming suggestion is to modify the 10 and 11 to use Olive and serve CHS, while making both of them more frequent (much more frequent, in the 11’s case).

      2. Seattle is not “planning” to connect the 11 and the 8. It can’t force Metro to change routes, and it would defer to Metro’s judgment on anything as big as cutting off Madison Park – downtown service. Seattle’s TMP is a list of where transit needs are, not a comprehensive list of all routes. If a Denny Way – Madison Park route is enacted, it would probably replace the 8, but it may or may not replace the 11. There are other alternatives for modifying the 11 than outright deleting it.

  8. “Preliminary feasibility analysis indicated that 40′ buses or trolleybuses were the only viable vehicles on Madison, due to its severe slopes and hill breaks.”

    Does this mean that streetcars are out, too, unless we wanted to put in a San-Francisco-esque cable-car system?

    1. Yes. The grade is between 7-10% between 1st Avenue and Boren. From Boren to 23rd, the alignment ranges from -3% to 6%.

    2. The transit master plan proposed several trunk corridors, and preferred streetcars for all of them except this one, because Madison is too steep for modern streetcars.

      1. Actually, the city’s transit master plan outlines about two dozen core corridors for focused speed and capacity investments, most of which are entirely mode-neutral.

        For the specific study to which you refer, the streetcar-boosting faction went corridor-shopping for their beloved toy and did some funny numbers tricks to make places like Eastlake seem of much greater value than they are… but also seriously studied the Madison BRT project because everyone knows First Hill transit is a disaster* and that the study would expose its absurdity if the Madison corridor weren’t addressed.

        *(despite, y’know…)

    3. After visiting San Francisco for a weekend, and being exhausted going up the big hills, it was more or less adding insult to injury when a completely full cable car would ride past. The concept of a cable car is nifty, but the implementation details seem absurd. A tiny little car that you have to hang onto the side of, having to fumble to pay a cash-only fare (that’s absurdly high, compared to bus fare), and poorly marked stops make for a baffling experience. Granted, I was only there for a weekend. It might be super awesome when you experience it for a long time.

      I’d just say, to heck with going down Madison in downtown. Why not find a slightly less steep route a block or two away and then get 60′ ETB’s to run the route? It can’t be that annoying to move the downtown stops a few blocks and keep the rest of the route running down Madison.

      1. The cable car is pretty much just an expensive tourist attraction these days. Muni 30 serves most of the areas the cable car does, very frequently and at a fraction of the cost.

      2. It’s not the steepness that’s a problem, it’s the hill breaks. Traversing dozens of hill breaks every trip, a dozen trips a day, will do in the articulating joint on the coach. Pine and Yesler are the closest streets that do not have such hill breaks.

      3. There is always a modern elevated cable-pulled option, like those operating in Las Vegas or getting ready to open in Oakland. Oh and don’t forget gondolas!

  9. I’m wondering how this projects effects and ties in with other transit changes in the area like the 12’s 19th Avenue bus service elimination, also the possible combined 8/11 route change.

    I’d like to see dedicated center bus lanes with right side island platforms for Madison BRT

    1. Anything can happen. This project is mainly just the roadway. Route decisions will be Metro’s, who probably won’t say until later. We may know more next year when Metro reveals its Capitol Hill restructure for Link.

      Although if it’s “closed BRT”, that’s intrinsically a route decision, which Metro will have to work around.

  10. I honestly don’t get this as an all-day BRT route. Where are the folks going? The “anchors” are the Coleman Dock area are the west end and 23rd and Madison at the east end. Neither of those is a huge traffic generator. There is a large cluster of trip attractors between about Fourteenth and Seventh Avenues and some significant trip generators in that strip too. But there’s vanishingly little connectivity between the BRT line and anything else except Second and Fourth Avenue buses. Both Madison and Marion are very steep between Second and Fifth Avenues, so the planned stops at Second and Fourth are difficult to access from any other transit except buses on those north south streets.

    Some of those bus routes may be carrying a few riders destined to and from the hospital complex, but I can’t imagine that there will be huge numbers of people from the suburbs traveling to hospitals. They’ll drive. So far as the dock is concerned, are there really a large number of people traveling between Kitsap County and the hospitals? If so, won’t they drive? Folks headed to the hospital complex from Seattle proper will mostly be traveling on Third Avenue and will transfer to what ever local service survives in the corridor.

    Yes, there will be demand for peak hour travel between the housing in the corridor and the office tower cluster which is nicely served by the route. And there are plenty of folks coming across from Winslow headed for the office towers. But a lot of that demand could be accommodated by adding peak hour turnbacks on the current route 12 and live looping it on Alaskan Way or Western, which have been discussed before on the blog. It goes to 19th Avenue, which is certainly walking distance from the apartments on Madison out to about 21st.

    Or, there’s route 60 at the peak in the corridor; similarly there could be an overlay “61” that goes as far as MLK during the peaks to sweep up the folks between 19th and Madison Valley.

    I’m sure the planners at SDOT know what they’re doing, but it just doesn’t seem very coherent without better connections. There’s no doubt Seattle topography is challenging but without direct stops at Third most of the mid-day traffic is going to be on local buses, because they connect with the retail core around Westlake.

    1. It’s not for trips from one end to the other. It’s for overlapping shorter trips all along the corridor. The ferry terminal is to address the longstanding issue of “There aren’t enough buses from the ferry terminal to downtown and it’s a hill.” Most people will probably get on/off at 3rd, including those going from Queen Anne to the hospitals or Fremont to the hospitals. Patients from all over end up at the hospitals, and their relatives come from all over, plus outpatient appointments, and tens of thousands of workers. Then there’s people going to Chop Suey and Piecora’s Pizza and Trader Joe’s. Oh, and Seattle U. Finally, the BRT could be a common pathway for the 2, 11, and 43, which wouldn’t get caught in traffic or stoplights as much as they do currently. That would be somewhat of a tradeoff because there are a wider variety of destinations on Pine than Madison, but it may make sense if Madison is to become the primary east-west street and gain more destinations over time.

      1. That’s the first thing that needs to be fixed. Really, truly non-negotiable. Are they trying to court the accusations of the Cullen crowd that they don’t care about people with non-downtown transfers?

      2. Oh, I just remembered that this map was drawn up by the Streetcar Study folks, and so they’re trying to force everyone to transfer at 1st to their Streetcar To Nowhere. Wankers.

      3. If serving Colman Dock is the issue, wouldn’t it make more sense to just build a tail track or track loop from First Avenue directly to the dock, an have trains waiting for ferry arrivals that head either north (to Westlake and South Lake Union) south (to Sounder, Amtrak Link’s ID station and eventually to First Hill hospitals) In fact, a three line streetcar system: South Lake Union to Capitol Hill, South Lake Union to Colman Dock, and Capitol Hill to Colman Dock (the last two could even be a timed transfer) could offer many operational advantages like redundancy if one of the segments is shut down because of an accident or there is added special events service that is needed. Frankly, I’d support using the Madison money spent doing that instead.

      4. You’d junk the busy linear corridor for the meandering fantasy corridor? How magnanimous of you.

        You are aware that the pedestrian “dock” is about 50 feet above street level, right?

        And that ferries are relatively infrequent long-distance services that make no sense to assign “designated” high-frequency services to meet?

        And that rationalizing our exceedingly awful transportation to First Hill, the highly dense area immediately adjacent to downtown, has NOTHING WHATSOFUCKINGEVER TO DO WITH MEETING FERRIES, which just happen to land at the bottom of Madison?

        Not sure I’ve ever seen so much dumb in a single comment. Has STB no bottom to its incubation of asinine ideas?

      5. Al, there is a level connection between the ferries and First Avenue for walk-on passengers.

        Unlike d.p. I do support the First Avenue streetcar, but I agree there is no need to route the tracks directly in front of the terminal.

        Like d.p. I support the idea of Madison BRT and even if the ferry dock went away tomorrow believe it would still make sense as a project.

        Madison is a corridor of continuous employment, housing, retail, and medical office density from the waterfront all the way to at least 17th with only slightly lower density East of there until MLK.

      6. Thank you, Chris.

        I know that my last comment lashed out harder than even my lashy standard of lashiness, but I don’t know what it’s going to take to familiarize this city with the concept of “knowing what the hell you’re talking about before you muck up the conversation with your input”.

        A problem that infects this place at every level, from the “civic leaders” to the schoolteachers to the transit commenters on break from mucking up Windows 10.

      7. Wow, d.p. I didn’t mean to get you in such a dander. I’d have to admit that I have serious operational concerns about a linked streetcar project on First Avenue. Ironically, trying to salvage productivity for the streetcars by introducing branching is the same principle as moving routes to Madison to salvage productivity for this project.

        I assure you that I know plenty about rail and bus transit operations. I have witnessed major operational screw-ups like the notorious Muni Metro dead-end problem before the turn back to the meltdown from the T-line service design, to the BART missing tail track problem in San Francisco. These problems were ignored in the system design, and only emerged once they became operational.

        One wonderful thing about this blog is an open discussion about different ideas. It’s a breath of fresh air among an agency environment whose message is often to ignore anything other than what they want to do. Sometimes it takes several iterations and dozens of alternatives to be looked at before a great solution can be found. I am so grateful that the STB is here and would hate to see it denigrate into censorship or insulting posters!

      8. Sorry, but screw that.

        You suggested junking the direct Madison corridor because you couldn’t possibly understand why it would be needed, as long as there’s a streetcar travelling 17 miles out of the way to the same destination.

        That level of stupidity has no place at the table.

    2. As a now-regular 12 rider, I notice that the 12’s downtown demand tends to be for destinations south of Madison. The 10/11/43 cover the northern part of downtown and their corridors have much more night and weekend activity. On Saturdays, the 12 corridor is arguably overserved at 15 minute headways 9am-6pm with the hospitals as the only major demand driver. The stadiums are walkable for the able-bodied but I don’t think that amounts to much ridership.

      Interestingly, my usual buses on the 12 are already mostly full with 19th Ave E riders by the time the bus reaches Madison. Madison BRT wouldn’t be that useful to 19th Ave residents unless they live close to Madison.

      The speed of the 12 isn’t really a big issue for me (although in mph terms it must be awful). The distances are pretty short which limits the amount of travel time that can be cut with a BRT upgrade. I probably spend as much time walking to/from the bus stops and waiting for the bus to arrive than I do actually on the 12.

      1. Alex, you’ve made great points. This just seems too short for a reasonable BRT. Add some priority treatments at chokepoints and call it good.

      2. And I do not understand why the “tail” of the 12 is in jeapordy. Nineteenth Avenue has had transit service since the early 1900’s and it has the dense, beautiful bones that result from it.

      3. Bruce has poured over the stop-by-stops. 19th is empty outside of peak. As in, literally empty, on pretty much every trip.

        Emptier than the 47, which was empty off-peak despite being, like, 30-40x as dense as 19th.

        Meanwhile, the 10 runs busy all day, and could easily support 10-minute all-day service, and 7 at rush hour — “frequent” service by real-city definitions — if consolidated and rationalized.

        You know that 19th and 15th are only 1300 feet from one another, right? And not especially steep (far less than Summit to Broadway). They’re the two closest parallel downtown-bound routes in the city. And it’s not like the stops on 15th are especially arduous lateral walks from one another.

        19th is practically the definition of service that should be consolidated to create a better service nearby.

        Why is Seattle so damned averse to seeing what an efficient, spontaneity-enabling transit network would look like?

      4. “my usual buses on the 12 are already mostly full with 19th Ave E riders by the time the bus reaches Madison”

        At what times? Is this only during the morning peak?

      5. There is a reason 19th avenue keeps getting put up on the chopping block. In spite of being a moderately dense pre-auto neighborhood it has disappointingly low ridership outside of the peaks.

        There is other transit service nearby on 15th, 23rd, and John with much better all-day ridership. Due to geography, like Summit, it is difficult to make 19th “on the way” to anywhere else to solve the all-day ridership problem.

        Perhaps the ridership issues of both corridors could be solved by restructuring, say a Summit-Olive-John-19th shuttle, but I’m doubtful.

      6. Mike, yes, this is during the AM peak 7:30-8:30. I can’t speak to other weekday inbound times, but it stands to reason that the 12 is a peak-dependent route. As I said, the Saturday service seems far out of line with the demand I’ve seen. I haven’t had a reason to ride the 12 on Sunday since I moved.

        It seems like the Madison/19th corridor has two distinct demand streams. There are weekday peak commuters, primarily living east of 12th along Madison and along 19th. Then there are hospital workers with a variety of work schedules, some who live in the same corridor but many others who are connecting from other transit. BRT would be great for most hospital workers and for peak commuters who can walk to Madison. Worst case it adds another up to 3/4 mile of walking for someone who lives further north on 19th and works south of Madison.

        Link will also reduce bus ridership, although much more in the Pine corridor than along Madison. Even walking to Link from 19th/Thomas is not entirely unreasonable – 0.7 miles with a moderate hill.

  11. The problem with planning the Madison project (I refuse to call a short, frequent-stop route “bus rapid transit”) is that there isn’t a clear consensus on what to do, even among staff. The service planners keep try to merge it with an existing line, which results in odd hybrid routing issues, like the one with the 2 or the one with the 12 or the one with the 11. The corridor proposal itself is really set up to be a short-distance shuttle service, and even then the connections Downtown are not convenient to many people and there’s almost no way a wheelchair passenger can use many of the Downtown stops. It suffers from the interest to do “something” but not really have a clear plan on what gets used after it’s done. It reminds me of the decision to invade Iraq – we have convinced everyone that there is a bad problem so we have the need to do something to show we are doing something.

    Frankly, the service planning here is a complete mess. The Transit Master Plan route doesn’t match the proposed any of the routes but the 11, and even then it doesn’t extend all the way to Madison Park and Route 11 is not very frequent. There can’t be a healthy discussion on what to design until the service strategy has consensus. It’s silly for the City to spend capital resources on an expensive BRT station at 23rd that won’t get much use, for example.

    Overall, I think it’s not prudent to simply stop designing this project for at least 2 years. Not only for the reasons above, but there are a few other big things that will affect demand and traffic flow that we should wait for:

    1. We should wait until the impact of both the First Hill Streetcar project and the Capitol Hill Link station are both in service. Some of those folks that walk to Madison Street (or Seneca Street for that matter) will switch to one of these new services. Some will make Link transfers at Capitol Hill and take Route 8 rather than take a Madison bus and walk a few blocks and make a Link transfer at University Street, for example.
    2. We should wait until the AWV replacement is in place. We won’t know what actual closure of Downtown Seattle ramps will do to traffic patterns until the ramps are fully closed. There may be new opportunities to switch the one-way streets downtown in a variety of ways that we haven’t thought about, and turn some of those streets into mostly transit-only streets.
    3. We should revisit the Transit Master Plan to plan a corridor of suitable length by connecting it better to a regional system. Colman Dock and 23rd are the wrong corridor end points. Maybe we could interline it with RapidRide E, for example?

    In sum, this needs to be sent back to the service planning drawing board before we spend any money on capital facilities.

    1. What part of build a grid of fast, frequent transit services in straight lines through busy, multi-faceted areas is so hard for people in this city to understand?

      For the first time ever, a non-circuitous plan is proffered to address the fucking nightmare that is currently involved in going east-west out of downtown, and people back-bend to the floorboards to fight it.

      Link does nothing for the places this proposal addresses. NOTHING. ST went out of its way to ensure that. The First Hill Tour Of Every Back Alley In Little Saigon And Of Broadway’s Worst Traffic Car does even less.

      2 miles, meanwhile, is a perfectly reasonable distance to want to be able to travel quickly. In fact, 1 mile is a reasonable distance to want to travel quickly. 1/2 a mile would be a reasonable distance to want to travel quickly. WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST CLAMORING TO MOVE ABOUT THE CITY AT A SNAIL’S PACE?

      Mass transit need not be part of a suburban boondoggle to justify moving lots of people toward their destinations rapidly and unimpeded. In fact, the suburban boondoggles are the ones that routinely fail to aid people’s routines in any tangible way.

      Fixing First Hill needed to happen about 3 decades ago. And you’re bright idea is “delay”!!!!!!?

      1. The desire of service planners to merge this with an existing route is exactly what is wrong with transit in this city. We have a zillion routes winding all over the place that are unreliable with infrequent service. All because there was a route there in 1947, because some vocal group wants a one-seat ride or front door service, or because service planners keep patching a bunch of unrelated trip-pairs into route that look as if a 3 year-old has scribbled on a map of the city.

        Sure building a true frequent grid in Seattle is harder than in cities with a nice continuous Euclidean grid of arterials, but that does not mean it shouldn’t even be attempted.

      2. There is an existing route that is crying out to be merged with Madison BRT: the 2. The Madison 2 could be part of a wonderful frequent grid.

        I really need to get out a post about the Capitol Hill/First Hill/Central District portion of my latest network plan. A frequent and fast grid is very much possible in this part of Seattle, but it will require a few new ideas.

      3. Yes, the City should delay this project! The TMP proposes making the Madison BRT out of Routes 11 and 12. The 12 is up for probable elimination and the 11 is even discussed for rerouting here. This priority TMP recommendation in its current form is no longer valid. Trying to push other routes to Madison may seem logical — but those ideas have not been fully vetted and moving routes to save face on a capital project recommendation before it’s even designed is a really bad way to do transit planning. Designing for operational service should always come before spending capital money on the street. It reminds me of the times in other cities when I seen beautiful bus shelters but there are no buses serving them.

        Keep in mind that this is a City project, not a Metro project. It’s about building capital facilities and not running bus routes. Why would anyone propose to move ahead to build capital facilities without an accepted, high-frequency operating plan? Build it first, and let’s figure out the buses later? Isn’t that the same logic that led to the First Hill Streetcar project – sold as a “good idea” and became committed as a project, only to find out that the alignment has grade problems so it has to run this silly circuitous alignment to 14th before returning to Broadway? It was too late to pull back the project by that time. It’s not too late to pull in the reins on Madison until the service needs are defined.

        I’d consider doing what some other poster suggested – implement transit signal priority and not do anything else for now. The TMP actually identifies many corridors that need attention. Transit signal priority in all of them would be more advantageous for us riders, and it’s relatively non-controversial and doesn’t require route restructuring.

      4. But it isn’t about “making Madison out of other services”. It’s about remaking mobility from scratch, in a place where it has been broken literally for half a century.

        Madison/Marion is the only couplet downtown that continues to function thanks to no freeway on-ramps. Madison is the central spine of First Hill, and is wide enough to take lanes. It also passes about 50 major destinations in the mere 2 miles under discussion.

        Madison is the obvious place for consolidated and expedited transit. If Metro lacks the balls to consolidate and expedite themselves, then we’ll do it for them. It should have happened 20 years ago.

        There’s nothing “complicated” to figure out about this. When you suggest “delay” for the sake of dotting every administrative “i” and crossing every operation “t” before we can even get the ball rolling, what you’re describing is the “Seattle Process”.

        Well, the Seattle Process is a fucking disease. And our decades and decades of shit transit and shit cops and shit zoning and shit architecture and shit braindead citizenry are all the evidence you should need.

        NO DELAYS!

  12. Post-meeting report. There was a medium-sized crowd (larger than the CCC but not nearly like the Link open houses) and a general summary presentation. I put in comments to adhere to a high BRT standard; consider the Madison-Seneca-9th couplet; 3rd Avenue stations; and “open BRT” to allow a future fanning out to Union, Madison, and 23rd.

    They’re also looking at a cycletrack. Probably not on Madison but on some neighboring street. I wrote that it should be in the flattest possible place, and maybe a spur from Pike/Pine would be better than a cycletrack up the steep hills.

    Another few tidbits: A sign said that 30% of Seattle’s jobs and 10% of residents are within a half-mile of Madison. My first thought was, “Of course, it’s downtown.’ Then I realized that’s a lot of potential riders. The sign also said some 45% of residents both live and work in the area, and car ownership is half the city’s average. And the neighborhood is going to add some 5-digits of jobs and 4-digits of residents in the next twenty years. So all that sounds like a good reason for a strong east-west route.

    There was also a FAQ distributed. It said that nothing in this plan will affect route 2 on Seneca. I’m not sure if that’s anti-consolidation or neutral. Hopefully it’s neutral (to avoid tying Metro’s hands, and to reasure the “Save Route 2” folks that this isn’t a nefarious plot against them) rather than anti-consolidation (we don’t want the 2 and we’re designing the BRT to exclude it).

    Also it said “No decisions have been made”, but all the materials were on the Madison-Marion-6th couplet with no indication of considering alternatives. So that’s an unfortunate sign. But I’m telling them to consider alternatives anyway.

    1. Thanks for the update. I’ve mostly given up on the idea that these public events have any value or effect, but this one I really would’ve liked to be at, had I not been hacking up both lungs all week.

      Sad to hear that along the primary segment (downtown to 23rd), they’re already treating every routing choice and station location as a fait accompli. Not having a station at 3rd is absolutely unacceptable.

      8th is probably a must as well, with many hundreds of vertical feet separating Boren from downtown. That’s the steepest part of the whole route, and widest gap as currently drawn. It’s irrational.

      Even keeping 8th, the plan still deletes 7 stop pairs, which will be significant in its speed impact.

      If the 2 people still refuse to allow their bus on this infinitely faster corridor, then they should have their sanity checked.

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