King County Metro 44
King County Metro 4258. Flikr user Kris Leisten.

There’s much we still don’t know about Metro’s finances and future service levels: Will county sales tax revenues continue to increase? Will the reduction in Metro’s reserves cover next year’s gap in funds? Will Metro go ahead with some of the much-needed network restructures, particularly in northeast Seattle, Kirkland, and south King County? But, whatever the answers to those questions, it does seem certain now that the effect of Prop 1 will overwhelmingly be to expand service in Seattle.

Because that’s a good thing, and I want, at last, to talk about some unambiguously good news, and because I can’t let Frank have all the fun with the Buzzfeed-inspired listicles, here are nine major service improvements (as distinct from capital investments) which, if Prop 1 passes, Seattle could make immediately after money started coming in. All of these ideas require no capital improvements, no new buses, no network changes, no public process, and no coordination with any cities or agencies other than King County Metro, but every single one of them would make Seattle a measurably easier place to live car-free, because all-day and evening frequency is your freedom to move around the city without a car.

  • Improve Routes 5, 40, and 41 to 15-minute service on evenings and Sundays. North Seattle is a place where, outside the U-District and RapidRide corridors, usable transit service packs up and leaves at 7 PM every day, not to be seen again until 6 AM the next morning — except on Sunday, where it never puts in an appearance at all. Extending 15-minute headways to 10 PM on these core, high-performing routes in and between Lake City, Greenwood, Northgate and Ballard would revolutionize car-free mobility in the north end, and drive transit use up and car ownership down on future rail corridors.
  • Improve Route 120 to 15-minute service on evenings and Sundays, as far as Westwood Village. After RapidRide C, hands-down the next-most-important service in West Seattle is Route 120. Upgrading this route is a little trickier, because Prop 1 money can only be spent on routes with 80% of their stops in Seattle, and about half of the 120 is in Burien. So, we can’t fix the whole thing, but we can fix the connection between the Delridge neighborhood and downtown, and its shopping district at Westwood Village, by adding short-turn trips in the evenings and Sundays that terminate at Westwood Village.
  • Improve Routes 10, 12 and 49 to 15-minute service on evenings and Sundays. Pine St, served by Route 10, and future BRT corridor Madison St, served by Route 12, are some of Seattle’s most destination-rich streets outside the Central Business District — and Pine St in particular does not go to bed at 7 PM, so its transit service shouldn’t either. Route 49, which serves Pine St and Broadway, uniquely among all of Metro’s network, runs every 15 minutes at all times except Sunday evening. That’s a detrimental oddity in the network which we could fix in short order.
  • Break the through-route of Routes 43 & 44, 7 & 49. In the evenings and on Sundays, buses on Route 43 continue as Route 44 after the U-District, and vice versa; similarly with Routes 7 and 49, which each terminate in downtown during the weekday. These through-routes save Metro money, at the expense of on-time performance. In particular, on Sundays in the summer, between events downtown, boat traffic at the Montlake Bridge, and events in the U-District, Route 44 can be almost unusable. It would tremendously benefit riders if these routes were operated on Sundays, and maybe in the evenings, the way they are during the weekday.

There are, of course, many other improvements that could be made, and I’m aware that this list neglects several important segments of the city. The list above is just a taste of the things that can be done immediately: improvements in other parts of the city will require more homework, and possibly capital work, network changes, or public outreach. But, I want to inject some simplicity into a convoluted debate: Seattle needs more service on core, frequent routes, and Prop 1 could buy us lots of that. Here’s what we can start with.

107 Replies to “Nine Awesome Service Improvements Prop 1 Could Pay For”

      1. If you break up that through route, the D should go to the International District, or even to the stadiums.

      2. Well, the other two splits require no coaches. Now that I think about it, a full time split of C/D would require buying more buses.

      3. I would favor keeping the through-routing in the evenings. At least until U Link opens, the through-routes mentioned provide important connectivity during off-peak times when transfer penalties are long/unpredictable and transfer locations feel less safe. When traveling alone at night I always appreciated the 43/49 interline for going between Ballard/Cap Hill for travel time/reliability/safety reasons – probably not a trip I would make by transit otherwise.

        I would also love to see an increase in peak frequency on the 49, (in addition to weekends) particularly with the 47 gone.

      4. Unfortunately, making improvements to Rapid Ride require new red buses. New red buses are expensive, take a long time to be delivered, and aren’t allowable uses for Seattle Prop 1 money. Rapid Ride isn’t “just paint” – red buses must be manufactured red.

        My first thought after reading the list was “improve Rapid Ride C/D/E frequency to 10 min all day and evening” but that would require transit vehicle procurement.

      5. All the time we see CT runs using ST coaches, ST runs using CT coaches, Metro runs using ST coaches, and ST runs using Metro coaches. There’s no reason why a few extra C/D/E runs couldn’t be done with remaining Metro artics. More service>brand integrity.

      6. Doing so regularly could potentially threaten the FTA grant funding through which RapidRide was established (and, most expensively, all those red buses were bought). The FTA, at least at the time, was very into separate branding. There’s no such threat if CT or Metro switch their coaches with ST’s.

      7. I agree with Briana – That 44/43 through-route feels like a lifesaver if it’s nighttime and you’re trying to get from Ballard to Capitol Hill. If we could make the transfer penalty go away via more frequency and an improved sense of safety in the U-District, I could be up for it. 7/49 seems less necessary to keep through-routed, based solely on my personal anecdotal evidence only.

      8. Colors aside, The Rapid Ride Fleet has a different W/C configuration with the passive restraints, plus a 3rd door. Normal buses would work though, although may be a bit slower at loading/unloading.

      9. At least until U Link opens, the through-routes mentioned provide important connectivity during off-peak times when transfer penalties are long/unpredictable and transfer locations feel less safe.

        I tend to agree with this, except I don’t think there’s any good reason to feel particularly unsafe transferring at the medical center. I’m not sure how much would be gained by breaking the throughrouting, but I do occasionally do the late-night Cap hill to Ballard commute and it seems like it would suffer a bit. That increased reliability would come at the expense of through-riders, right? As in, if my 43 is 10 minutes late, I miss my 44 connection?

      10. So, we can’t expand the popular RapidRide service because we can’t get more buses? That’s crazy. RapidRide opened in 2010 and Metro will be needing to place an order to replace those buses by the end of this decade (based on the 12 year life span of a transit coach, maybe sooner if they reach their mileage limit). The cuirrent RR fleet consists of 113 coaches. Let’s start thinking about ways to expand and improve the RR brand, rather than wringing our hands because we don’t know how to get more red buses.

    1. While we’re at it, extend the D up towards Northgate. At least far enough to provide a transfer opportunity between it and the E.

      They run so close and yet we still can’t take advantage of the frequency to make transfers that would actually work in this city.

      1. Wow, I was just thinking that while I was glancing at the RapidRide map while waiting for the E last night. That would be great for riders who want to connect between Aurora and Ballard, instead of having to ride to 46th and transfer to the 44.

        The only drawback I can see is service duplication with the 40, unless Metro truly makes the D and actual BRT (in terms of number of stops between 15th Ave NW and Northgate).

      2. Then turn back the 40 at 85th, or at the current D layover. I’m agnostic about which route would be best to be extended.

      3. Metro supposedly wanted to terminate the D at Northgate but it wouldn’t fit in the RapidRide budget. So if it does get the opportunity someday, it probably will switch the 40 and the D. But that requires the special branded coaches (not a bulk order), as well as the fiber optics and ORCA readers and stations to extend a RapidRide line.

      4. That new all-concrete street Metro built in Crown Hill (7th Ave NW) for D Line buses couldn’t have been cheap. Metro could have also did what they did with most RapidRide stops: cut out ORCA readers and fancy stations and replace it with a sign post. Such a lost opportunity to connect the E and D together.

        Good time to make Metro start buying more badly-needed 3-door diesel bendy buses. In the next order, paint most of them in teal/purple/green and a few in red. To heck with the interior color. It’s not like RapidRide buses are actually special or have any unique design elements (unlike Swift), they’re the same as the rest of the fleet but with an extra door.

      5. Mike B –

        No! No! No!

        Metro does not need any more articulated coaches.

        Metro, as a proportion of its fleet, operates more articulated coaches than any other bus fleet in America.

        In 1979, Metro, faced with increasing frequency on many routes or getting bigger buses, bought bigger buses. And then they bought some more. And even more after that. As a result, many of our urban routes have not seen a serious headway-bump in 35 years! Metro’s solution has been to just buy more artics and throw them out there.

        If you take a look at the routes that used artics exclusively a decade ago … well, they were busy but not packed out. I’m thinking of the 5/54/55, 71/72/73, 41/307, 358, 43/44, 7, etc (as recently as mid-00s, the 15/18 were still using about a 60/40 artic/standard split).

        Those same routes, that used artics on every trip all the time a decade ago are the same routes that are totally packed out. Trust me, in 2004, you would never encounter the PM Peak crowding issues on the 71-series that you see today.

        Meanwhile, Metro has continued to “throw artics” at urban service, even route that really aren’t suitable for them. The 8 is the perfect example. We’d do a lot better with that route (just for manueverability and considerations like ‘don’t block the box’ on Denny) if it was all 40ft with rush hour turnbacks at Group Health for 7.5-minute service on the busiest section (Denny). Instead, Metro threw all artics on it and reliability has suffered. If you talk to the operators they point out how hard it is to deal with the big bus on those short blocks with all the traffic on Denny. They just can’t take advantage of holes and do the ‘little things’ that make a big difference. (FWIW – this shake-up Metro has at least one 40ft day base assigned to the 8).

        We’re seeing the same phenomenon right before our eyes on the 40. When it was rolled out there was one daybase artic, one AM peak artic run, and one PM peak artic run. With this fall’s service change we the route has slowly moved to more than 50% of the runs as artics.

        The 40 doesn’t need more capacity in the form of bigger buses. It needs more capacity in the form of more frequency!

        We are so far behind on our urban frequency in this city because of Metro’s excessive use of artics. I would like to see prop 1 funding used for a headway bump on some of these routes and a larger mix of 40ftrs in service on appropriate corridors.

      6. You’re mixing the symptom with the disease. We don’t have a lack of frequency because of artics, we have artics because we are unwilling to pay for frequency. Artic and 40′ operating costs are within a dollar or two an hour of each other — it’s not like we could just buy a bunch of extra 40′ buses and double frequency at no extra cost.

      7. We are NOT rehashing the Uptown deviation again.

        Would save some big red buses, though. Can’t deny that.

      8. The 24 through Magnolia is another example of a route that is operated with artics, but shouldn’t be. The streets are not designed for vehicles that big with not-so-great suspensions. The result is a bus that crawls at half the speed of cars going down the same street, even when not making a single stop. Nor are passenger loads anywhere near the level of requiring such large buses.

      9. Have operated all the Magnolia routes many times, and there’s really no difference from the operator’s perspective between using a 40′ or 60′ coach on any of them. The reason things can move slowly is that the streets are narrow and bumpy. That’s just the nature of bus service in older cities.

        The routes definitely do require 60′ coaches at peak time and definitely do not require them at any other time, but there’s really no drawback to using one on those routes.

        There are places where 60′ coaches cause real problems elsewhere in the network, particularly in the trolley network.

      10. I’ve been on 24s, 31s and 33s being operated with artics and glad they were due to the number of people on them.

        Ideally it / they would be split into a core artic route and several 30 ft feeder routes with guaranteed timed transfer at a key point or two. Guaranteed timed transfers and large transit agencies in the USA don’t seem to be compatible.

      11. At what times were they SRO? We need to distinguish between peak-only crowding and all-day crowding because their solutions are different. Also, the Magnolia routes are through-routed iwth other routes. Breaking the through-route increases expenses and layovers, on top of needing another bus.

      12. I don’t visit Seattle often enough to give a really good pattern, but sometimes there are 10-15 people that get on the 33 at 28th & Blaine. I’m guessing these are people coming from the west side of Magnolia and eschewing the roundabout route of the 24. Maybe they used the 31 to get there from the village area or drove?

        The couple of times I have gotten on crowded artic 24s I got off at 28th and Raye and walked down the hill (missed the 33), and they were still fairly crowded there.

      13. David,
        Is there anywhere Metro regularly schedules 60′ buses that it really shouldn’t in your opinion? IOW the ‘real problems’ you mention not just that the passenger loads don’t justify the big bus.

      14. Not really, because 60′ coaches do a very good job of fitting into the operating envelope of 40′ coaches unless the roads *both* 1) are narrow and 2) have sharp turns. Metro Safety is conservative about these things and won’t schedule 60-footers where there are significant operational problems. The only place where I ever felt a bit tight driving one is through Lake Dell Ave on the 27, and that was just a matter of driving very slowly so I could see oncoming cars in time to adjust.

        These are all the places I can think of in Seattle where 60-footers really won’t work:

        2S – won’t fit into Madrona Park terminal zone
        3S – won’t fit through Madrona terminal loop
        4N – won’t fit through Nob Hill terminal loop
        10 – won’t fit around corner from Grandview Pl onto Garfield St
        12 – can’t handle Marion St breakover angles and can’t fit into 19th Ave E terminal zone
        14 – can make it through Mt. Baker Blvd turnback only with difficulty
        25 – can’t fit through Children’s Hospital terminal loop and would be tight at W Laurel Dr/E Laurel Dr
        47 (now gone) – can’t make it around traffic circles on Belmont Ave E without hitting curbs
        50 – can’t make turn from Admiral Way to California Ave
        116 (pier trips) – can’t turn around on ferry dock
        345 – won’t fit into Northwest Hospital and Four Freedoms driveways

      15. Biggest trouble spot in Magnolia I think is the 33 turn from Blaine onto 28th, and they do ok there if the driver pulls up to the bus stop sign rather than trying to stop at the shelter. Not pulling forward far enough leaves the trailer sticking out in the road, blocking traffic.

        22nd is bad for most any vehicle wider than a VW microbus. Pickups with wide mirrors have to be careful there, let alone buses. However, there would be a major revolt if the parking on the west side, which really shouldn’t be there any more with modern vehicle widths, were to be taken away.

      16. 22nd is horrible, but it’s no worse with an artic than a 40′ coach. Buses should just stay on Thorndyke/20th/Gilman.

  1. Short-turning 120’s is going to be a real hard sell unless you have them layover somewhere besides Westwood Village. There’s already a loud group of people who think there are too many RR C and 21 buses laying over there.

    I’m not saying it’s not a good idea, just that there will be a lot of push back from the neighborhood.

    1. Interline them with 21s (they are operated from the same base using the same equipment) and carefully schedule the layover schedule, and there shouldn’t be too much of an impact, especially since the short-turn trips would be in the evening.

      1. I’m not suggesting a through-route at Westwood Village, just an interline. Incoming 120 coaches lay over and then leave as route 21 coaches (still through-routed with route 5), and vice versa. Interlining like that adds some flexibility and often allows for comparable reliability with less total layover time. It’s a nice tool where layover spaces, equipment, and frequency allow.

    2. Metro used to layover a number of routes in White Center. Presumably some of that curb space is available … Short turn 120s could go and layover in White Center (which is, after all, the city limits).

      1. I agree. Extend the short term 120s to White Center. Layover capacity is available, avoids congesting Westwood layover spaces, and provides a badly needed improvement in Westwood-White Center connectivity.

  2. Current evening frequency leads me to believe that Metro thinks only a handful of people ride the bus at night. While ridership indeed drops after 7, it is still heavy enough to maintain 15 minute service on many routes. The most surprising of them all is the 41.

    Short-turning service could also be used on the 5. Many buses are mostly empty when they reach Shoreline. So 15 minute frequency may be best if coaches turnaround somewhere between 135th and 145th.

  3. I’m not so sure Prop 1 will pass. It has been advertised as a tool to alleviate cuts, however I know a lot of folk won’t be happy with it as an expansion tool. It would go a long way if specific expansions were listed on the ballot.

    1. Also, I think it should come after U-link is implemented so that metro has a better feel on what extra buses will be available and how route tweaks will save money.

    2. Yes, but it’s still worth thinking about what expansions we’d want if it passes. Until now we’ve talked theoretically, “It would be nice to expand someday.” Now we have an opportunity to, and we’d better decide quickly what we want. Because that can be part of the campaign of why people should vote for it anyway now, and also to pressure the politicians and Metro management to prioritize this way and make a public promise to do so.

    3. Agreed. Specific improvements would definitely help Prop 8 pass, now that the threat of cuts is (temporarily) over.

    4. If advocates can get this message out NOW then I still like our chances in November. “Cuts suck, vote yes for more service.”

  4. I’m a transit user and fan, so I’ll likely vote yes. However, this whole thing has made ST seem like the stable, good looking older brother to Metro’s flaky, disheveled, and slightly dim younger brother. Seriously, everything about ST seems so grown up compared to Metro these days, from rolling stock to administration.

    1. It helps that ST is a 100% new agency created in 1996, has one of the largest capitol budgets in the United States, and has a very clear goal: build regional transit. (It’s worth remembering ST had some serious growing pains in the early 2000’s when the cost of Link from U-Dist to the Airport tripled and the timeline doubled.)

      Metro, OTOH, has been pieced together over the decades, had it’s budget blown apart a couple times in recent history, and operates buses with minimal concern for capital expenditures.

    2. Sound Transit also has the “Sexyness” that the partner agencies (Metro, PT, CT, etc.) do not have. Because they have the sexy toys like Light Rail and Commuter rail they tend to get more attention than the local agencies and more money than the local agencies.

    3. The only fair comparison to Metro is a large city’s agency with some two hundred local routes. Regional-only agencies don’t have the tons of low-income cash fumblers and fare evaders and violent indivuduals because they tend to stay near their home areas and don’t ue the regional express routes much.

    4. I would also point out that with light rail ST is able to move passengers at a fairly cheap rate compared to the regional average with buses, and the regional expresses are pretty economical. Metro gets stuck with the expensive local traffic on buses trapped in freeway entrance ramp congestion.

    1. Amen to that. On many Sundays people are stewed like sardines on the 48, especially during the summer with the many GreenLake-bound families. If a bus is 15-minute-headway-worthy the rest of the week, It should be so on Sundays also.

      1. Furthermore, 30-minute headways combined with poorly reliability can sometimes lead to as much as an hour-long gap between buses. At least with 15-minute headways, a bus can only get delayed a maximum of 15 minutes before its follower will pass it and provide people with some relief.

  5. I like the 34/44 through-route. I can catch a single bus from Group Health to Ballard! the 43/44 transfer is the worst because both buses are usually late by random amounts when arriving at U District, so transfers that should be possible on paper are not.

    1. Agreed, I make frequent use of the 43/44 through-route as well. That said, if the 43 and 44 were frequent, and at all reliable *ever*, I probably wouldn’t care. As it is, sometimes they’re so late that one could walk from the U-District to Ballard in less time.

      1. How does the 44->43 transfer compare with going downtown and taking the 40 or D-line? It at least looks geographically better on the map. In another year and a half, when Link is available for the first segment (albeit with a little extra walking), I would think it would easily beat going through the U-district, unless the downtown->Ballard bus gets heavily delayed.

      2. I live in north Fremont, so there’s not really great options coming from Capitol Hill even during the day. Once Stadium Station opens, that definitely could change the picture.

  6. This is a great list, but how do you justify expanding off-peak service when their are overloads/pass-ups during peak periods? Perhaps a better use of funding would be further reducing peak headways.

    1. I think David is assuming that, because it’s hard to argue against people banging on your door pleading to give you money at certain times. But we also have to think about what should be the upper limit for the peak network so it doesn’t cannibalize the all-day network. An example is the 47. It was full peak hours but almost empty off-peak. You could probably add new peak routes in West Seattle, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, and Bitter Lake and they’d be full too. But if you go too far with that you end up with no off-peak service at all, and that makes it impossible to live without a car. So the all-day network is the primary one, and the peak network is extra. Also, it costs more to run peak service because you have to hire split-shift drivers and buy buses that are used only a few hours a day. So there has to be a balance.

      1. Mike, I think you meant Bruce.

        There is enough money in Prop 1 to do both everything Bruce suggests here and the investments to peak service listed as necessary in Metro’s 2013 SGR.

        The two types of investment have different purposes, and both are necessary for the long-term success of transit in the city, which itself is necessary for continued economic growth. People don’t like to use broken transit, and peak investments (whether of service hours or capital projects) are fixing what’s most obviously broken. But people also don’t switch to transit, especially for trips other than commutes, unless the all-day network provides good basic mobility to the most important neighborhoods. Right now it does that only weekday and Saturday middays. But people need to travel in the evenings and on Sundays as well.

    2. I didn’t say that wasn’t valuable, indeed, I think adding service to relieve crowding would be a good idea. I just wanted a to publicize a set of unambiguously excellent improvements that SDOT could start negotiating for the day after Prop 1’s results are certified. Things that require increasing peak fleet, or delaying the retirement of coaches, might take longer to bring online.

      There is also the issue that many of the most valuable peak improvements that could be done would be capital improvements. It’s good to address overloads, but if your bus still moves at 5 mph in traffic, it still sucks. In the off-peak, buses mostly move pretty well, and thus we get a lot of mobility for the buck.

      1. And while uncomfortable peak conditions absolutely do exist, and absolutely do suck*, it is the off-peak and evening lapses that truly keep this city’s transit a third-class experience, belittled and avoided by the vast majority of those who have the option.

        An all-day, all-evening, all-weekend network that actually works is, in the long-term, the paradigm-shifting investment this town needs to make.

        *(mostly an own-goal since Metro refuses to arrange their urban vehicles with any standing room at all)

      2. Absolutely. Many cities have commute hour trips where it is expected to be SRO, to the point where there’s unspoken etiquette for how to handle it (who gets seats, etc.). We should be working towards making a car unnecessary for any activity, not just for commutes.

      3. One good way frame the question is to think of all the Lyft/Uber/Car2Go trips you’re taken in the past month and ask yourself what reasonable service improvement would it take for you to have made the trip by transit instead.

        My guess would be that all of Bruce’s proposals would get a lot of hits.

        Two additional items I would like to suggest would be 15-minute service between Fremont and the U-district in the evenings (after the 31 currently stops running), and extending the hours of the 71/72/73 express service to 10 PM, 7 days a week, rather than force crush-loads coming out of downtown onto the local variant as early as 7 PM, like the system does today. (At least for the interim until U-link opens for service). Upgrading the 48 to every 15 minutes on Sundays would be useful as well.

      4. I look at it as a suburban level of bus service in the city. No wonder so many people drive. Or they say, “I lived for years in Chicago without a car no problem, but in Greenwood (or Ballard) I found you really need a car to get around.”

  7. How about additional Ballard Express buses (at least the 15X) so that express headways are at least 10 minutes (as opposed to 15 minutes) each during rush hour?

    1. Yes! I’m suprised there is no mention of extending the 15x/18x (at least till 9 am and 7 pm) and running them more frequently. Total easy win.

  8. Bruce, I agree with everything you’ve written here, but I’d add a couple of routes to the always-frequent-service list.

    1. 48 (especially 48S) – this is one of the highest-ridership routes in the city and essential to mobility in many areas. It’s not frequent on Saturday evening or any time on Sunday.
    2. 8N – passengers on this one absorb all the buses Metro can possibly throw at it. I know it’s galling to make more buses sit in the Denny time sink but the demand is there. It’s not frequent evenings or Sundays.

    I would also look at the cost of extending the 70 (and accordingly making the 71/72/73 into express service) into the evening and on Sunday.

    Like your suggestions, none of these requires anything other than money to be implemented.

    1. So I agree that all of those routes need more service. Perhaps a more exact criteria for the routes I wrote about here is that they are routes which are close to their canonical form (absent a total network redesign). The routes I’ve listed don’t need any major work, whereas the 8 and 48, in addition to more service, need to be split for the added frequency to be most useful, and that implies public outreach and other homework.

      I wanted a list of improvements that, once Prop 1 is certified, could be added to the next service change, no matter what happens with Metro’s finances, even given the not-fast pace that the county typically moves.

      1. I agree that all of those routes need further work in an ideal world, but I think you can add the service I’m requesting at a service change without any need for outreach or route changes.

        8 – add GHC short-turn trips between the full-length trips. This is the same service pattern the route had at peak hour before it was extended with the Link restructure.
        48 – either just boost the frequency of the full route (expensive) or add short-turn 48S trips that lay over either at 12NE/NE47, where there is definitely room at night, or further north at Ravenna/65th (current 73 short-turn layover zone).
        70/71/72/73 – I’m not sure why this one would need any work at all.

  9. I am definitely not in favor of breaking the 49 as a through route. In my opinion transfers exponentially decrease the efficiency of taking transit at least from a user perspective. I live on north Broadway and work in pioneer square when I first moved to Seattle I took the 14 I think which later became the 47 or the 49 to work. Now I have to transfer and it averages out to be a 45 minute commute where I can walk in 35 minutes and bike in less than 10. I try taking the bus again every 3 months or so and it turns out to be a disaster. The only time I do take the 49 is when I’m working late as it is a through route.

    1. SeattleCommuter, I know it doesn’t help you right now, but in a year your commute will be directly served by Link. So as far as relative priorities are concerned, Pioneer Square–North Broadway should be at the low end of the consideration scale.

  10. The through route on the 49 is one of the few reliable and relatively speedy ways to get from southeast Seattle to Capitol Hill and/or the U District and back at night or on Sundays without a downtown transfer at Third and Pine, which isn’t the greatest stop late at night. Sure, SE Seattle riders are used to transfers — with only one bus (albeit a frequent one, the 7), getting anywhere north of downtown means switching buses at least once, but the logic for eliminating the only transfer-free route between Rainier Beach/Columbia City etc. and neighborhoods to the north escapes me.

    1. The logic is that splitting them makes them significantly more reliable for the rather-greater number of riders using them for short trips within one half of the pair, e.g. Wallingford-Ballard on the 44, or Pine/Broadway to the U-District on the 49.

      I grant you than this logic becomes rather more compelling after U-Link opens.

      1. I too use the 7/49 interline as my way home to North Capitol Hill from the Mariners and Sounders stadia. But I’m very much looking forward to trading that for a mediocre streetcar for a year before getting my U-Link subway. The answer for SE Seattle to Capitol Hill is Link, full stop. But IMO there should still be a Rainier Valley/First Hill//Pike-Pine/SLU crosstown bus in the near future.

      2. I used to use the 43/44 through-route frequently on the way home to Ballard from evenings out on Capitol Hill. With the advent of UberX and car2go, I find myself using it rather infrequently, as it takes near to an hour to complete that run, but at those times it’s a perfectly reliable routing.

      3. Good point. WHEN U-Link opens, it will make sense to eliminate this duplicative through-link. Until then, though, it is reliable and allows riders to avoid hanging around at Third and Pine late at night. This is less of an issue on a route like the 43-44. Additionally, I’d like to see the numbers showing that far more people use the 7 or the 49 exclusively, rather than some portion of both routes — going from the U district to the ID, for example, or from Capitol Hill to Mount Baker. I’m not convinced that a mandatory transfer downtown is serving the greatest good or providing dramatically better reliability to however many people never cross that north-south line.

      4. Once the Link is extended to Cap Hill, I’ll definitely be riding that over the 7/49 from my place in South Seattle. Like Erica said, coming back from the Hill to Rainier Beach/CC ain’t the most fun thing to do at 1 AM.

        Next all we need is extended, late, late night Link hours… :P

      5. There’s a very small subset of trips for which the 7/49 interline is all that useful. Recall that once upon a time, the 7 and 9 operated essentially the same route, except that the 7 diverted downtown between Pine and Jackson. The splitting of the 7 coincided with making the 9 much less useful, but the FHSC will cover that entire gap. If you’re going from anywhere north of Broadway to anywhere south of Little Saigon, it’s a rather indirect trip for which you’re more likely to use it because it’s the only option, transfer or no transfer, at that time of night than anything else.

        U-District to Chinatown is better served by the 70-series, and U-District to Little Saigon riders that are able-bodied enough might well walk there from Chinatown – to say nothing of the nighttime 49 trips that head right down Broadway to Atlantic Base. For both U-District to Little Saigon and Capitol Hill to Mount Baker, it’s hard to justify being so transferphobic as to take such an indirect route.

      6. There are three differences between the old 9 (before the 7/49 split) and today’s 9:

        1) It previously went all the way to the U-District
        2) It had a somewhat longer span of service, running until about 10 pm
        3) It ran local, not express

        It was still weekday-only, and still very slow.

    2. The logic for opposing “eliminating the only transfer-free route between Rainier Beach/Columbia City etc. and neighborhoods to the north” after also opposing a restructure that would have traded its redundancy with Link for making it a much stronger, more consistent connection to those “neighborhoods to the north” escapes me.

  11. Prop. 1 should be taken off this November ballot. The regressive tax is no longer needed for the original purpose. I voted “yes” on the King County one, but will vote “No”. on the Seattle one.

    The folks who still support this are losing credibility. Big-time.


    1. Instead, it’s being used for a new purpose: More service, which is also badly needed.

      And could it even be taken off the ballot, even if everyone wanted it to be?

      1. Oh geez, here we go. I’m getting less and less optimistic about it passing if even former supporters are going to be against it now.

        I would also be really surprised if the ballots aren’t already printed up.

      2. Yes. I realize new service is needed. But…Prop. 1 was purposed to **rescue** Metro bus cuts in Seattle. I am all for a NEW plan. But, to push this on Seattle voters now, when the original purpose has evaporated is rather lame. To say the least…

      3. And it still will rescue cuts, namely the September ones, since transit advocates are pushing to bring back routes like the 47. Also, the county has not said that *all* cuts are off the table, just the 2015 ones that are the subject of this year’s budget process, plus they may be reinstated if sales tax revenue doesn’t meet projections.

        Finally, do you realize that there are no other major options for “progressive” taxes to fund transit? And that leaving Metro perpetually in crisis mode is very not-progressive? Holding our collective breath and pushing the state for solutions HAS NOT WORKED. It is very easy for anti-transit folks to get what they want: just say and vote “no.” Pro-transit folks have to push for everything and now we get a shot at doing it ourselves. We finally have a situation where we can say “vote yes because cuts SUCK and because we can actually get more service into this system” and NOW you want to walk away? So because it’s no longer a “hold your nose and vote to keep what meager scraps we have” that turns into a no? That’s silly, in my opinion.

        Vote yes in November, now more than ever.

      4. Maybe if they re-word the question on ballot to:
        “Should the money that comes from the new taxes go to save and also increase bus service levels in Seattle,” or something a long the lines of that. I think if they do re-word the question it mightget more people to vote “yes” on the ballot because it also increase services for them.

    2. It’s way too late to change things now. Ballots have already been distributed. See RCW 29A.40.070.

  12. The 8 is also a workhorse and could use 15-minute headways until 10 PM. I would take that far more often then, instead of a 49/43 + 1/2/3/4/13/etc combination.

  13. You know what’s going to happen? Seattle will pass Proposition 1 and “buy back” service which wouldn’t have been cut anyway, so the money actually will go to county service. Metro will just shift the hours that are being bought to “other services”.


      1. How can a Seattle proposition forbid Metro management from moving funding around? I’m not being a smart-ass; it’s a common problem in large organizations.

        If sales tax revenue for Metro as a whole were not improving, then the method that Prop 1 uses to minimize such revenue shifting — i.e. purchasing hours for specific routes scheduled for cuts — would work just fine, But sales tax revenue is increasing; you just read that the Metro Council has put the February cuts on hold and is considering doing so for June’s. Now they already knew that Prop 1’s passage would delay — actually mostly cancel — February so they’d delayed implementing February until June in order to give the planners time to respond.

        But now they’re talking about delaying June’s. If they do so it will be because they’re able to apply all of the increase sales tax revenues to the planned cuts of February and June which were outside Seattle. The cuts within Seattle will have been saved by the Prop 1 purchases.

        As I recall, February and June together were originally to have been a bit less than 300,000 hours total. For this exercise lets assume they were 50-50 city/county. Now Seattle buys back its 150,000 hours with targeted purchases. The county still receives a reduction of 150,000 hours.

        Now, independently of that and ignoring Prop 1, lets say that sales tax revenues increase such that the needed cuts drop to 200,000 hours.

        Now, combine them. By the end of June 2015 service planned annual service hours will have declined by 200,000 hours, for which the voters of Seattle will have paid directly for 150,000 hours. So 50,000 of those restored hours in the county will be paid for by additional sales tax revenues which would have gone to lessen the cuts within the City, except that the City already paid for them itself.

        Now if the City could convince the Metro Council not to spend those 50,000 doubly funded hours on county services, then the dreams of increased service in the city being spun by Bruce in this post could come true. But the Metro Council is dominated by county representatives — which is appropriate since more county residents live outside the City — so why would they?

      2. The language isn’t as bulletproof as I remembered, but the idea is that there will be an interlocal agreement forbidding Metro from moving funding as you suggest:

        “Before funding any service, the Transportation Department anticipates that there will be an interlocal agreement funding transit service in Seattle at levels comparable to those in place following the September 2014 service changes. The Transportation Department intends for this interlocal agreement to ensure that the Proposition 1 Revenues will not supplant other funding for routes operating within Seattle that Metro Transit would otherwise provide in accordance with the adopted Metro Transit Service Guidelines.”

        Such an agreement can’t prevent Metro from funding a suburban trip rather than a Seattle trip around the edges, but it can prevent a massive shift in the allocation of non-Prop 1 revenue to the suburbs.

    1. Edmonton is thinking (or re-thinking if you prefer) of changing how they do business, to form a grid of frequent routes. Check out Human Transit and/or the Edmonton Journal.

      1. Edmonton is a pancake flat almost perfectly round, recently built city with wide arterials throughout. IOW, a grid transit planner’s sweet dream. Let’s applaud (and perhaps envy) their ideal topography and great rubber tire infrastructure, but not try to emulate them.

      2. We also enjoy a density baseline, from 85th down to South Seattle, that while pretty unimpressive on the global density scale, easily bests Edmonton’s.

        That means that we really could support a network of 7-minute core bus lines blanketing the parts of the city where frequent transit could really mean damn, if only we were willing to junk our infrequent zagarrific nightmare legacy system, and trust people to use transfers that actually make sense!

        Just how much of Metro’s non-commute business needs to be lost to Uber before people get a clue that higher-taxes-for-the-same-old-shit is not acceptable?

Comments are closed.