Map of Proposed C Line Change, near Alaska Junction
Proposed C Line Change

SDOT and Metro are proposing a simple improvement to RapidRide C:

The proposal would revise the northbound RapidRide C Line route from its current routing on 44th Avenue[…]. Instead of turning left onto SW Edmunds Street, inbound RapidRide buses would remain on California Avenue SW before turning right onto SW Alaska Street. This realignment would reduce morning peak travel times an average of about one minute. It provides a more direct route through West Seattle and eliminates transit delay time due to vehicle congestion at the existing transit stop on SW Alaska Street at 44th Avenue SW. Routing for outbound service would not change under this proposal.

Transit riders heading into Downtown Seattle would board the RapidRide C Line east of California Avenue, across the street from the new Junction Plaza park. Four parking spaces on the SW corner of SW Alaska Street would be removed to provide enough space for the transit stop. […]

If approved, the new routing is proposed for implementation in early 2015.

It seems to me that this change will make the C Line faster, more reliable, and more direct, while maintaining the utility of the Alaska Junction transfer point. Relocating a bus stop shouldn’t be particularly expensive, so it sounds like a great idea to me. If you have thoughts on the project, email them to Jonathan Dong.

The same SDOT study which yielded this proposal is also studying improvements on the outbound D Line in Ballard, namely a queue jump northbound at Emerson, and a northbound BAT lane between Leary and Market (which might entail widening the roadway). Information on the feasibility of those potential D Line improvements are expected before the end of the year.

116 Replies to “SDOT & Metro Propose Straightening RapidRide C”

  1. Aren’t these stops relatively new? If so, why didn’t they think of this before building the stop?

    1. The stops are relatively new, but their placement was determined back around 2008 during the planning process.

  2. There are concerns about this from a variety of fronts – SDOT believes this will add one minute in saved time per run, but with some downsides:

    1. California in that stretch of the Junction is currently bus free and has heavy car, bike, and pedestrian traffic.

    2. The turning radius on that right turn to Alaska is tight.

    3. As expected, concerns from local merchants on lost parking capacity and the moving (again) of the bike corral there, which is currently in a ‘free’ space that consumed no car parking capacity.

    4. Disrupting and changing access availability for seniors and the blind, who have raised concerns over this change.

    This seems to actually be a fairly pronounced change and the feedback has been fairly negative, from my observation, from all fronts so far. The minute savings is nice, but I’m not sure if the additional disruption is worth it. At least one more community meeting will discuss this during the study period – we’ve invited all stakeholders to the December 9th West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting.

    1. RE #1, the C Line wouldn’t stop on California, and it’s along the 2-block-long 4-lane portion of California. Market St in downtown Ballard works as a car, pedestrian, and bus streets… and the buses even stop in-lane there. I’d expect it to work smoothly in Alaska Junction.

      RE #2, the right lane on EB Alaska east of California is very wide, which should facilitate the turn comfortably. The lane is wide to accommodate EB traffic from west of California since Alaska doesn’t line up through the intersection.

      RE #4, yes this is a change. But it’s close and any transfer would be though one of the city’s most pedestrian-friendly intersections, with its all-walk phase.

      1. How long has it been since you’ve been on Market Street between 22nd and 24th in Ballard- especially at PM rush on a week night?

        Or maybe “works” is same definition as the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel: every vehicle that goes in one end eventually comes out the other.

        “Would work with a bus lane on either side” is at least a maybe.

        Mark Dublin

    2. Lost parking is going to be the biggest complaint. Weren’t people already complaining that the bike corral took up a parking space, even though it really didn’t?

      1. Speaking personally I would say that shoving the massive buses into a ped and bike friendly EXTREMELY narrow business zone is the biggest problem. We could shave more than a minute off each run by finishing the bus lane on Avalon and ruthlessly enforcing it by SPD during peak times.

      2. “EXTREMELY NARROW!!!”*

        *(six generous lanes and extra-wide sidewalks, 80 feet building-to-building)

        What I said about West Seattle being hilariously deluded about its intensely antiurban form and biases caused controversy why?

      3. d.p.

        I’m not sure I’d call all six lanes “generous”, but certainly the four driving lanes are. And the solidly packed parking lanes provide a fine buffer between the “massive” buses and pedestrians on the sidewalk. It’s not like California is a building to building pedestrian mall like Bell Street between Third and First. There is fairly heavy traffic in that block.

        The sole problem I see with this is separating the RapidRide stop from the others. There may be some runner conflicts crossing California. The good news is that the C-Line is supposed to get its base period frequency increased from the current fifteen minutes.

        Also, the related question below about the 55 stopping at the same set of stops is a good one. There is currently no left turn allowed from California southbound to Alaska eastbound, so the 55 is still going to have to make the 44th SW deviation. Will it stop twice on Alaska, both east and west of California? That would not be efficient, but having it pass by stops where potential transfers will be deboarding seems punitive.

      4. No reason not to have all downtown-bound buses share the farside stop.

        Frankly, no reason for any east-west buses to stop west of California anymore.

    3. If this is the kind of hand-wringing non-support we can expect from West Seattle Transportation Coalition on such an innocuous change, God help us if and when we come to build rail there and have to make genuinely-difficult cost-constrained choices about alignment and stations, decisions which will ineluctably cook someone’s goose.

      You think blind people can’t learn a new stop location? You think SDOT hasn’t checked to see if coaches can make that turn? Good heavens, this whining is so West Seattle.

      1. You nailed it. I live in West Seattle, and the anti-everything attitudes out there are just crazy.


        At least that seems to be the default reaction of West Seattle to pretty much everything.

      3. 1. I didn’t indicate any WSTC positions; I summarized feedback seen so far.

        2. There ARE things that can do much more good like finishing and enforcing the Avalon bus lane.

        3. The superior and condescending tone is unhelpful.

      4. As for rail and other things, I suggest you pay attention before assuming what our positions are. Hint: absolute support. We don’t toe every Urbanist line or STB type line, however, as our group is a membership group of many groups.

      5. So your “absolute support” is sort of like the “absolute support” ST and the city got in Roosevelt.

        “Multi-billion-dollar rail to my picket-fenced front door, now, please. But make sure you shove all those evil newcomers over to the corner where no one wants to be, and that every citizen has dedicated parking right outside the rail stop, and that 99% of the surrounding area is encased in amber.”

      6. The amateur and unprofessional sniping here is disappointing. I expected better from STB than Seattle Times level commenting.

      7. For the record, my concern was/is not for blind people. We can and do learn new bus stops all the time and have no difficulty crossing streets. My concern is for those who use wheelchairs, walkers, support canes and such. They will be missing bus connections. The views I expressed are my own.

      8. My comment above was an literal description of the Roosevelt outcome, and just as accurately reflects the “concerns” about “managed” growth most often expressed by West Seattle partisans.

        But hey, at least you want everyone else to pay $4 billion for your private subway.

        What was that about a grasp of reality?

      9. I really have nothing more to offer than to say that now I understand why many people in real life have told me you’re the most boring and ineffective person on this site. Cheers.

      10. I’m sure all you’ve been told about me is that I vocally distrust West Seattle’s entitlement, exceptionalism, and proclivity for cutting in line for urban services over areas that actually participate in the the urban organism.

        All of which you’ve doubled down on above.

        Cheers to you too.

      11. 2. There ARE things that can do much more good like finishing and enforcing the Avalon bus lane.

        This is just misdirection. Insofar as there are things we can do to shave a minute off a very busy bus route that’s supposed to be “rapid”, we should do ALL of them, in the order that it becomes politically feasible to do them. That there’s more somewhat low-hanging fruit out there for improving the C is great, but it’s absolutely not an argument against immediately straightening the C.

      12. For what it’s worth, I think it is unfair to say that all of West Seattle is unwilling to embrace urbanity or even tolerate the changes that would be required for light rail to be feasible in the area. In many ways, I think it is irrelevant. The Roosevelt fiasco was caused, more than anything, by a failure to communicate. It is essential that we don’t repeat the previous mistake. The city needs to make clear that if light rail is built, it will come with some changes. Many will embrace them, many will oppose them, but they will have to be made. If there is enough opposition to them, then it shouldn’t be built.

        But even if West Seattle embraced every change in zoning, every reduction in parking, every road diet or lane taken away from a car, it still wouldn’t make sense. Even if West Seattle were Queen Anne, it probably wouldn’t make sense. Unlike Queen Anne, it has nothing along the way, nor anything after it. All this, and it is more expensive than Queen Anne (which is plenty expensive). Arguing over whether “West Seattle is worthy” really misses the point. From a geographic standpoint, West Seattle light rail is simply out of luck.

        No one is suggesting that we build light rail to Interbay for Interbay’s sake, but if we build light rail to Ballard via 15th, then you sure as hell want to add a station there. But West Seattle, unlike Magnolia, has no neighboring neighborhood that is more worthy than it. From a cost benefit standpoint, West Seattle light rail is about the same as a line ending in Magnolia. You would have less ridership in Magnolia but it would be a lot cheaper. Blame the Duwamish, blame the hills, blame the city founders for all of that industry between SoDo and West Seattle, but don’t blame West Seattle residents.

      13. I can most certainly blame West Seattle residents — and politicians — for treating the nonsensical as both inevitable and worthy of priority, no matter how willfully detached the place remains.

      14. The “hand-wringing” you criticize, Bruce, is because residents in West Seattle know more about how that street and intersection work and are simply raising some concerns to be looked at before going ahead. That doesn’t mean “non-support.”

        We also aren’t as wildly dismissive as many STB supporters who care only about what is best for the transit system, and often pay little attention to any affects on other livability issues. Of course, that’s to be expected since some members are quite happy to just dismiss existing residents entirely when planning for the future.

      15. The anti-West Seattle views of many supporters here is also a sign of the lack of understanding some have. Your willingness to simply dismiss 1/7 of the City’s population is a huge oversight… not to mention ignorance of the growth and density potential. While we’re trying to make sure growth happens in a more planned way than Ballard, how the heck do you think Ballard got that way? For all you new, young people with no sense of history and local culture, Ballard used to be a sleepy little neighborhood full of older Scandinavian folks. No one dreamed of going there to have microbrews and fancy meals. We can plan just fine for increased density — and ridership — in West Seattle. However, the current population justifies it just fine. We also don’t need to END the line in West Seattle, when it could very easily continue South to pick up more ridership outside the city.

      16. Seemingly unlike the average West Seattle partisan, many of us here are marked by our urban wanderer tendencies.

        So yes, we’ve all noticed how West Seattle (and the next areas southward) are laid out, and how suburban (even by Seattle standards) are the areas whose zoning is basically ossified. We’ve also observed what you call “planned density” — a handful of megablocks, lots of parking, little room for organic low-rise to take hold, low pedestrian appeal.

        $4 billion dollars. A massive new bridge and a massive new tunnel. 1/3 of the density of the Central District, and a single sub-Upper Queen Anne commercial district.

        1/7 of the city. All the line jumping. All the tax moneys.

      17. Frankly for the cost and ridership the only alternative that really makes sense for serving West Seattle with rail is option A3 via the Delridge corridor. This avoids expensive tunnels and a high-level bridge. It still lets transit riders avoid the worst choke points in and out of West Seattle. The downside is other than White Center and the Delridge neighborhood it doesn’t really serve West Seattle directly.

        But then again I’m OK with that. I really don’t see West Seattle embracing TOD and density even if one of the expensive options serving every major activity center is built. Frankly I put much more stock in the grand plans of Burien, Seatac, and Tukwilla becoming reality than I do in ever seeing Alaska Junction, Morgan Junction, High Point, or Westwood becoming like Ballard.

        Hell it is more likely we’d see upper Queen Anne embrace real density around a potential station there than ever seeing the same around the Junction or along California.

      18. Have you actually BEEN to the Junction lately? Do you realize that West Seattle has added a few hundred units in the area in the last few years and is slated to add a few hundred more in just the next year or two?

      19. OK compared to what is there a few hundred units is impressive for West Seattle but pretty damn paltry compared to the U District, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Belltown or SLU.

      20. First of all, West Seattle is bigger than any of those neighborhoods you just mentioned… And I keep saying that you miss potential. Nothing compares to Capitol Hill, which is dense and has a light rail station being built in the middle of it. SLU is only great because we literally demolished an existing neighborhood and started over from scratch, and folks in groups like this tend to forget that we displaced a whole lot of people and businesses in the process. Just because you like what’s there now, doesn’t mean it was an unqualified success. And the same goes for Ballard. Ballard has had twice the growth of the West Seattle Junction area, but it has ALSO destroyed many great things about that neighborhood, and is actually a great example of the City FAILING in its oversight by allowing too much growth too fast. So, excuse me if West Seattle has taken ALL of the growth it was supposed to, and if some of its longtime residents are wary of letting developers destroy its character — as they have done in the neighborhoods you mention.

      21. Lots of people, myself and many on this blog included, are upset about the code-based architectural disasters that have befallen Ballard and elsewhere.

        But few in Ballard are upset that the neighborhood has become busy, vibrant… urban!

        And that’s where you tip your hand. West Seattle has “taken” (a tiny amount of) growth. Like a foul-tasting medicine. Gagging on it and fighting it all the way.

        There’s a fundamental difference in your relationship to the city in which you belong. West Seattle is an outcropping of self-isolating escapees.

      22. And that’s where you tip your hand. West Seattle has “taken” (a tiny amount of) growth. Like a foul-tasting medicine. Gagging on it and fighting it all the way.

        You mean a self-selecting group of people complaining online in comments, predominantly on one website, and a small self-selecting group of mostly regular attendees at certain community events, and a single — very small, like a dozen people out of 88,000 — who formed a specific anti-development group over their one specific micro-neighborhood and made t-shirts and sweatshirts and a web presence to inflate themselves for political reasons.

        There’s a fundamental difference in your relationship to the city in which you belong. West Seattle is an outcropping of self-isolating escapees.

        Technically the City of Seattle is a seditionist spur of escapees who arranged a legal coup de’tat of their West Seattle forebears to seize the original lands of Seattle. See; Donner Party. West Seattle is Best Seattle.

    4. 1. The bike corral will not be threatened. The buses must swing wide to navigate the turn on to Alaska.
      2. When the bus stops on Alaska it is wider than parking spots and will likely intrude slightly into the EB through lane.
      3. Riders transferring from other routes at the Alaska/California transfer hub will need to navigate the intersection… no more running between buses unless they have more mobility than seniors and persons with disabilities. This point is my primary objection to the proposal. The alleged cost saving of one minute for 96 trips / day @ approx $150/ route hour will be in the neighborhood of only $82,000. Is this savings worth the lost goodwill of riders who regularly transfer at this very busy transit site?
      4. It would be very useful to relieve C-line bottlenecks to access SR99 for the final route segment to Seneca. Why not change that routing to the planned changes for the post-Bertha period at least for the inbound trips?

      1. *2. …PROPOSED Alaska site

        Also, the new Equity apartment move ins/outs need parking. Was this discussed during the design reviews? (I’m a newbie)

      2. The alleged cost saving of one minute for 96 trips / day @ approx $150/ route hour will be in the neighborhood of only $82,000.

        This is a terrible way to evaluate the savings. It also puts 4 hours a year back in the hands of thousands of daily commuters. Our allergy to sensible transportation policy and any change whatsoever steals far more hours of these peoples lives as it is.

      3. @djw, I extended the costs that Metro seeks to reduce. SDOT has an on-going dialog with Metro regarding this proposal. They are conducting their outreach with community groups where transit is, or may not be an issue of great interest. Neither SDOT nor Metro has mentioned rider surveys at that RR stop.
        I don’t know the numbers of riders transferring between RR C-line and the other routes at that location. I have observed riders running between RR and the other routes. Those riders will have an opinion that is most relevant to the saved 8 hours / year (actually a max of 1 minute * 365 days, 61 minutes / 1 hour, if they ride that route once every day). For transferring riders that saving would be jeopardized by the 30 second all-way-crossing at the intersection. We shouldn’t, and can’t, evaluate the change for those regular commuters boarding RR at the Alaska Junction. They should be surveyed either at peak hour at the site.
        Again, I would rather see SDOT advocating for a solution to the peak period delays where the WSB C-line converges for the SR99 exit. What is the plan for the rerouting caused by the AWV demolition? Perhaps that change could be implemented sooner if it involves the WSB exit at Fourth Avenue?

    5. I don’t know if the savings is so minute, Joe — if this is your trip to work and it’s a minute shorter on average, then you get back a full 8 hours per year. That is hardly minute! If you get on a bus and ask each rider if s/he would like an extra 8 hours per year, I think the aggregated “yes, of course”s would overwhelm the negative feedback that you currently hear.

      As for the merchants of West Seattle, I wish I knew them better, but I’ve been there exactly twice since first coming to Seattle because it’s such a pain to get there. If we can incrementally improve bus service, they’d also see more business from people like me, whom they currently don’t even know about.

      I also don’t see why it’s a problem for buses to be on streets well-used by pedestrians and cyclists. Isn’t that most streets in Copenhagen? I’m more confident in the driving ability of professional operators than random laypeople — it’s the number of cars that should be reduced if we want to decrease the number of casualties.

      1. I also don’t see why it’s a problem for buses to be on streets well-used by pedestrians and cyclists. Isn’t that most streets in Copenhagen?

        Yeah, this worry is a strong indication the worrier is very confused, or just casting about for reasons to oppose change. Buses are far safer than cars for ped/cyclists.

      2. California Avenue is worth spending an afternoon strolling. I’m quite impressed with the variety of businesses and pedestrian ambience and architecture and housing — it reminds me of University Way in the 80s. The C makes it easy to get to. It may be frustrating if you take it every day at rush hour, but for just getting to West Seattle occasionally it’s great.

      3. It would definitely be worth your while to take the C line to the Junction and have breakfast at old-time Easy Street.

    6. Good to know. If the usual suspects are going to whine about a couple of parking spots as too high a cost to pay for making “rapidride” actually move as at a rate slightly closer to “rapid,” we who take transit seriously need to balance out these absurd NIMBYs with lots of positive feedback. I’ve submitted mine and am encouraging others in my network to do the same; I hope others will do the same.

    7. Joe, I live in West Seattle and read the comments in the West Seattle Blog, and it really seems from these that there is a lot of resistance to change here, along with complaints, right or wrong, that West Seattle gets the short end or forgotten. I cringe every time something something is posted there about a new development, to see all the comments about how new development is going to ruin West Seattle and parking, etc. And complaints about density, when actually W.S. Is far from dense. It seems like at least some people want things to stay like they were whenever they moved here. I realize not everyone in West Seattle has those feelings, but I can easily see how people from other areas can get that impression.

    8. #2 – The right turn from California to Alaska will be an easier turn to make than the current turn from 44th to Alaska.

      #4 – The proposed configuration has the potential to be safer. Transferring passengers simply exit their bus, walk to either corner on the west side of California, and then cross directly to the C Line platform – no need to jaywalk or cross and then backtrack to your stop.

    9. Joe, I, like you, am a West Seattleite. Alaska Junction could really use a transit mall since now so many local feeder routes must connect to RR. (Unless we are going to get all day direct downtown service restored as some voters seem to think…). The eastbound RR stop solution we have now is a botch job. Peds, strollers, wheelchairs, bikes all have to squeeze onto a narrow sidewalk dodging trees with traffic whizzing by perilously close. I would like to see West Seattle citizens, merchants, and SDOT have the courage to eliminate the free street parking on California for 1 block between Edmonds & Alaska and create a true transit mall on California with RR stops opposite each other. Move the bike corral to where we asked for it in the 1st place, in front of Husky Deli (supported by the owner but the community balked at giving up 1 parking space). I would have more respect for the positions I hear coming from the WSTC except for the continuing undercurrent of giving preference to car drivers. If you want better transit, you sure have a funny way of showing it. I won’t even go into the latest micro housing thread on the WS blog, that was just plain embarrassing. To the general public: We don’t all think that way. It’s a full time job trying to counteract the negativity, shortsightedness and naïveté of some of those threads.

      1. The Junction seems like a better, more compact location for a transit center/mall than does the Westwood Village location with its disconnected spread-out stops and what feels like rather unsafe surroundings.

  3. My pet peeve with the C bus is its going in and out of “bus only” lanes several times from the junction to downtown. Is anything being done to make them continuous? (I know, I know, money…)

  4. Why on earth does rapid ride take that detour if there isn’t a stop on 44th? It makes me think there had to be some structural reason (eg impossible turning radius), but then what has changed?

    1. Because all the bus stops in the transfer point of Alaska Junction are between 44th Ave SW & California Ave. In order to serve both the inbound and outbound stops, the bus has to use 44th Ave SW to get to and from the bus stops.

  5. If this change is made, do we know if the inbound 55’s would be moved to this new stop? I would hope so, so that common routes would be at the same stop. Otherwise AM commuters would have to play the game of deciding which side of the street to stand on, for the bus that shows up first.

  6. “the new routing is proposed for implementation in early 2015 retroactively to 2012, before we made a mockery of our flagship brand.”

  7. The jagged geometry and tight right turn will cause some buses to roll on the curb, threatening pedestrians. I wouldn’t be surprised if some bus drivers swing left like a semi-trucker, straddling the northbound lanes of California Ave. for a second or two before whipping a right turn.

    1. I know. Just like they mow down all those pedestrians at 3rd & Columbia every day, where the turn is far tighter.

      Why oh why have we not learned from the nightmare of 3rd & Columbia, and forced all transit riders everywhere to go four blocks out of their way just to make a simple right turn!?

      1. The proposed WS Junction turn is tighter than 3rd and Columbia, so C drivers would need to be extra careful not to cut the corner – and the situation could be helped with lane or curb re-engineering. It’s not necessarily a fatal flaw, just a challenge to keep in mind.

        Other buses do sometimes roll up on the other curb already, turning right from Alaska onto SB California. The best bus operators don’t do this, but it can happen.

        Maybe some bus drivers can share their views….

      2. “The proposed WS Junction turn is tighter than 3rd and Columbia.” No, it is not. I can’t foresee buses having any trouble with that corner.

      3. The proposed WS Junction turn is tighter than 3rd and Columbia,

        What is the basis for this claim? Speaking as someone who has observed both those intersections, it does not seem plausible to me.

      4. Mike Lindblom,

        The only place where I routinely witness buses jumping the curb is on the westbound route 44, where 45th becomes Midvale Pl.

        That’s at only a 30-degree angle. Yet it happens constantly.

        And even there, it’s not about a lane being especially thin. There’s a mis-designed curb bulb on the right, but the real issue is a misleadingly painted lane fork leading up to the left-side island, which sends drivers to the right of the lane and therefore onto the curb bulb.

        California/Alaska is a standard right-angle turn from wide boulevard to wide boulevard, without obstruction. It will not cause problems.

      5. Madison onto MLK is also difficult for the 8 eastbound, but also 45 degrees, from the there-pretty-slender Madison. 45 << 90.

      6. z7,

        That’s not a 45 degree turn, it’s more like 110 or 115 degrees, a bit more than a right angle (90 degree) turn. Continuing straight on Madison would be zero degrees. Turning to a perpendicular street like 29th Avenue East would be 90 degrees. MLK crosses at a non-perpendicular angle, and the eastbound 8 is taking the sharper half of the turn.

      7. Do you even know what the block and intersection you’re arguing about looks like? You’re comparing a one-way street to a two-way street that’s a terrible vehicle bottleneck when there’s traffic.

        An additional problem to factor in is where the bus should run when that section of California Ave is closed for festivals. Would it revert to current configuration?

      8. I’m comparing situations where buses make 90-degree turns from wide-but-busy streets to other wide-but-busy streets.

        Both cases involve right-hand turns from lanes with adjacent lanes headed in the same direction of travel.

        And yes, I’ve been to the Junction many times. The streets are fucking wide, and this “debate” is fucking ridiculous.

    2. Wish I’d seen this one sooner, Mike. Wish I was still driving, and could show you in person. You’re more than right that first proposed turn will return buses to present routing as soon as they get the power pole, signs, and wires out of the intersection.

      But there’s another guy named Mike Lindblom who would never dare talking about a transit driver “whipping” a 60′ bus around any turn anywhere- for fear of being traded to Rupert Murdoch to cover Kim Kardashian, space aliens and the incredible Bat Boy.

      Passenger falling accidents out of that kind of coach handling would give Safety same impression as crunching somebody’s BMW or Ferrari against a fire hydrant.

      Especially if monetary damages for compound fractures are involved. Take a ride on Rapid Ride or anything else sixty feet long, get a grey wig and creaky accent so you can pose as a senior citizen and ride right front seat, where you can watch the driver.

      Also, check explanation below about right turns. First Breda I took around the northbound to eastbound turn at from 15th NE onto NE 65th convinced Metro to change its mind about firing me for attendance at Metro Council meetings.


      1. I remember those Bredas clipping the utility pole on NE 65th & 15th NE fairly regularly.

        Among many things they did not do well was turn.

    3. …And while in an ideal world, I’d argue that there’s no reason to close major transit through-streets for a clambake, the fact is that much busier transit junctions (see: all of central Ballard) get closed multiple times per summer.

      There is no reason to endorse a dumb detour 365 days a year just so that you can get out of calling it a “detour” for a single weekend.

      It’s slow, laborious, and indirect. It’s a detour. Why the hell does anyone think this is a good idea?

      1. They close 2 blocks of the ave for the University District Farmers market every Saturday for 7 months of the year. There is also the street fair which closes the entire ave for 2 days.

        Yet the 71, 72, and 73 aren’t forced to use Brooklyn through the U-District 365 days a year because some event closes portions of the Ave from time to time.

  8. I’ve been thinking about this change for years. The route through 44th feels painfully long and slow. It pointlessly adds a left-turn at a 5-way intersection and a tight right-turn without any gains for riders. It is the sort of circuitous, inefficient route that makes me feel crazy for not driving. In fact, it is sort of what you would expect for regular humble metro service. If we are aspiring towards Bus Rapid Transit it is just unacceptable. BRT succeeds if it makes riders feel their time is valuable, not to be wasted for the convenience of car-drivers.

    1. Exactly.

      Why does Seattle in general, and West Seattle in particular, seem intent on being defined by resistance to making easy and obvious improvements for the good of all?

      1. Statements like this make me laugh… West Seattleites are defined by arguing and organizing for what West Seattle wants and makes sense to those people actually living here. So what you’re actually whining about is why we don’t make decisions that make sense FOR YOU, isn’t it?

        In case you haven’t noticed West Seattle is LARGER than Ballard, with TWICE THE POPULATION, all of whom have to cross one of two bridges to take the most direct route to Downtown. Transit ridership is HIGHER here than it is in Ballard.

        If some of you weren’t so stuck in your opinions, maybe you’d relish the opportunities for growth, density and TOD instead of always arguing for what’s best for you.

      2. You’re just making things up now. As of 2013, there are roughly 60,000 people in 98107 and 98117 combined. That covers the roughly 5 square miles of “greater Ballard”, which is, as I’ve mentioned, contiguous with multiple additional built-up neighborhoods.

        The supposed “85,000” people that reside in “West Seattle” includes every single soul west of 509 and north of the city boundary. That includes a whole shitload of people whose access to the city has nothing to do with California or Fauntleroy or any part of the West Seattle Bridge, because they’re so far south that they have a direct shot to 509.

        And most importantly, these people are spread across well over a dozen square miles.

        And that’s the real point. West Seattle isn’t dense. Not in its center. Not anywhere. Even by Seattle’s weak standards.

        You don’t just get to claim that $4 billion worth of rail will magically get used because you have a lot of people absolutely nowhere near it.

      3. Well, I guess d.p. has “beaten” me, then… Clearly you know more than all the Seattleites over the last CENTURY who have been advocating for rail to BOTH Ballard AND West Seattle. I tip my hat to you for clearly showing how you simply know more than all of us. I’m glad you won’t be joining all the folks making our neighborhood one of the fastest-growing areas of the City.

      4. How many bus lines go from West Seattle over the 1st Ave S bridge, versus how many go over the West Seattle Bridge? How many people would take Light Rail grade separated going north that currently drive over 509/1st Ave to SR99?

        And that’s the real point. West Seattle isn’t dense. Not in its center. Not anywhere. Even by Seattle’s weak standards.

        Seattle’s overall population density is 7,774 people per square mile as of 2013, putting it roughly equal to Baltimore and Minneapolis. West Seattle’s population density as of 2013 is approximately 5,371 people per square mile, on par with San Jose and Saint Paul. Both San Jose and Saint Paul have Light Rail.

        But never mind, I know you’ve got irrational blinders on about your loathing and distaste for our area and no amount of evidence will convince you, from every comment I’ve seen of you. You look at West Seattle and pretend we’re living in an equivalent of the Shire.

      5. Joe, fortunately d.p. will not visit the boring West Seattle so his cloud of gloom will not pollute the peninsula. Therefore, he has no standing in this issue except at the ballot box. He will certainly not sit on the corner to build a traffic profile for Alaska/California to confirm his biases.

      6. San Jose’s light rail is a ridership disaster, despite costing about 1/20th what a W.S. bridged/tunneled line would cost.

        St. Paul light rail goes between its downtown and the downtown of its significant other. The averaged population density of the rest of that municipality is entirely irrelevant.

        You said it yourself: W.S.’s population density is low even compared to a city-wide average that includes Wedgwood and Bitter Lake and industrial South Park and upper Broadview and parts of Skyway.

        This city has a ton of very low density areas. The C.D. and the corridor above the Ship Canal are bit among them. West Seattle most certainly is.

      7. @d.p., in your opinion what density would warrant a LRT investment anywhere? What threshold do you stand for?

      8. And yes, I think West Seattle is something far worse than merely entitled, fact-averse, and self-aggrandizing.

        I think it is boring

      9. Like this conversation!

        It’s a good thing that the Sound Transit board and then voters will ultimately decide (and hopefully in a Presidential 2016 cycle to heavily stack the odds in favor) and not anonymous cranks who consistently slam every single local rail project except grudging support of the UW rail work underway in the comments section.

        “Because I dislike something everyone more too! Pay heed to my delusional solipsistic unqualified world view, and pay no heed to nearly every single STB commenter routinely calling me on it! They’re all wrong!”

      10. Whatever.

        I spent the weekend in Vancouver, which has about 42 denser, busier, more populated, and less isolated areas than West Seattle that don’t envision rail coming to their front door anytime soon.

        Would you advocate a $4 billion Skytrain across to the Burrard Inlet? Oh… wait… North Vancouver has actual urbanity.

        Sorry to break it to you, but this city/region is not about to vote itself into half a century’s debt because you love the smell of your own farts.

      11. The issue I have isn’t so much that West Seattle shouldn’t have light rail. To me it is a question of which projects to prioritize. I don’t think Link to West Seattle should be at the expense of serving Ballard. With a $15 billion ST3 it will be difficult to fit Ballard-Downtown-West Seattle into the North King budget. Serving West Seattle in ST3 means forgoing either Ballard-Downtown or UW-Ballard. It means choosing the cheapest non-streetcar Ballard-Downtown option and skipping Queen Anne and Fremont.

        Some here (and elsewhere) seem to feel West Seattle should be at the head of the line for any further rail expansion in Seattle.

      12. I’ve not noticed anyone advocating for West Seattle over Ballard for LRT. ST’s public outreach teams didn’t separate those in the mix of alternatives and did add a new downtown tunnel station for a one-seat, continuous ride. It must be near the current tunnel for transfers.

      13. Anyone who is advocating West Seattle must be served in ST3 is effectively advocating Ballard should be skipped. This may not be intentional but simple math means it is so. In a $15 billion ST3 package North King is going to have somewhat less than $5 billion. The least expensive options that serve the Junction are at least $4 billion. Ballard-Downtown and Ballard-UW both cost more than what is left.

      14. I don’t know, probably because there has been vocal opposition to simple things like this change or proper bus lanes that would make RapidRide C work much better.

      15. … wondering why SDOT is pushing this. They claim Metro would save money. They don’t say how much and Metro says it wasn’t their idea to reroute the C-line at Alaska Junction.

  9. The current setup — with all the bus bays on the same block — is ideal for transfers.

    I haven’t timed the light cycle for Alaska & California, but it feels awfully long. That walk-all-ways signal lengthens the interval between pedestrian crossings, and I can easily imagine being stranded on the west side of California as the C rounds the corner from NB California onto EB Alaska, then loads and takes off before I can cross.

    That’s already a problem for transfers headed the other direction — west-bound buses are held up on the east side of the intersection while the connecting 128s or 50s pull away across the street. I’ve begun many a long walk following this sequence of events.

    1. This signal sequence would actually be a plus for RapidRide because there are two signal aspects (out of four) where right turns have the green arrow, whereas nowadays they only get the short EB light on Alaska.

      1. @Mike Lindblom, the proposed RR turn to Alaska does have a right arrow and the bus could use that signal ONLY if it is the first vehicle at the red light and no other vehicles are ahead of it traveling further north on California.

    2. “The current setup — with all the bus bays on the same block — is ideal for transfers.”

      Many of these “ideal” transfers are accomplished by jaywalking across Alaska, often from behind the driver in our blind spot or obscured by the A Pillar. From a long term safety perspective, the current arrangement leaves much to be desired.

      1. I appreciate your perspective as a driver. I’m not a traffic planner, so if there is a way to improve safety on Alaska without diminishing utility for riders, I’d love to hear ideas.

        Moving the stop across the street will likely encourage more jaywalking across California, which is arguably riskier for pedestrians than crossing mid-block on Alaska.

      2. Velo,

        How about “mall-ifying” SW Alaska for the block west of California. Right now there are two lanes eastbound, presumably to let traffic get around stopped buses, but the street isn’t wide enough to allow the same thing westbound.

        Why not grab the bull by the horns and say “Both Oregon and Edmunds serve as east-west arterials for the neighborhood west of the Junction, so lets narrow the street even further to one lane each direction and put in a mid-block cross-walk to support transfers.”

        In other words, make it a transit mall by discouraging auto use. Don’t ban them until the project is tested, but make using Alaska unreliable because there might be a bus loading in-lane.

        Obviously, with such a system coach operators must observe a protocol at 44th and California that prioritizes the Rapid Rides. If a bus approaches from the north, even a bit before an RR arrives at the intersection from the south, the inferior bus should wait for the RR to turn into the street before following it. That will allow the RR to approach the intersection and gain any signal preference without worrying about a bus turning onto California having to wait for pedestrians.

      3. This plan still makes the major transit conduit through the area take 3 right-angle turns in order to functionally make 1.

        Large vehicles are not efficient at making 90-degree turns. They can do so without mowing pedestrians down, but it will never be fast, especially when you’re adding left turns that involve oncoming traffic and signal phasing (even prioritized).

        This is, by the way, precisely why the Downtown Streetcar will
        Be stupid and uncompetitive even with all the priority in the world. Too many turns.

        So when you have the opportunity to make only 1 turn, you don’t come up with a plan to make 3! Ever.

        Why is this so hard for people to understand?

      4. Maybe because you’re trying to argue with people who actually walk, transit and drive through there?

      5. Well, Velo above drives this very bus regularly.

        And here’s a guy who hates that the current arrangement makes him feel like a 2nd-class citizen every day. And you just shouted him down.

        So who’s arguing against lived experience, again?

      6. @Anandakos, EB Alaska at the bus stops is two lanes with the left lane for left turns and the right lane is used by through traffic across California. Each of the four converging streets has a left turn lane dedicated or allowed on signal — NB California allows left turn for transit only.

  10. Regarding the D:

    1. A Queue jump northbound at Emerson

    I don’t get it — anyone?

    2. A northbound BAT lane between Leary and Market

    Yes. I just happened to eyeball the curb in this area the other day to see if a bus lane was possible if they snatched a bit of right of way — it clearly is. This would help not just the D but also extend the lane for buses coming over the bridge who don’t come back from underpass and make the merge less dangerous for drivers when traffic is full speed.

    Additional issue: An additional light with a crosswalk and defined left turn lanes is needed for the long run up in to Ballard on 15th. The current setup is extremely pedestrian hostile and left turns southbound will be more dangerous if there are fully three lanes northbound. Adding planting strips to stop some of the more dangerous driving behaviors I regularly see in that turn lane wouldnt be a bad idea either.

    1. Northbound at Emerson the D uses the pocket lane at the stop there, and then has to merge into traffic twice, once with traffic heading north from W Nickerson/Emerson, and then again onto 15th as it goes from 3 lanes to 2. In the afternoon this is especially time consuming.

      That being said, there’s not traffic lights there now, so how a queue jump would work is beyond me.

  11. Did anyone read about the meeting in West Seattle and the comments? Those folks are Crazy and need to get a life.

  12. Recalling my time driving the 54 and the 55, I think best approach would be present route with signal- pre-empted traffic lights at California and Edmunds and Alaska crossing California.

    Would rather cross California going straight than turning on or off of it at that corner- especially with a bus top right at the corner.

    Steering geometry for right turn on our current artics is like this: the driver must angle the bus left until the rear wheel is at the corner- and wheel has to be held tight against the corner so no vehicle can get trapped between bus and curb.
    This is called “protecting your pocket”- and squashing any car in there is automatically the bus driver’s fault.

    When back wheel is at the corner, the driver looks straight down the lane he’s turning into, and then keeps his eye on the tire and the whole rear right corner in the mirror.

    Go out and look at that intersection, and think about a sixty foot bus angled left with its back wheel against the corner. Do-able with no traffic or heavy pedestrian flow. Otherwise- works even worse than Market Street between 22nd and 24th in Ballard.

    BTW- 4000 series MAN artics had “steerable” rear axle and power on center axle. Required less leftward button-hook- but outside rear corner was “blind” on a turn- in other words, while driver could protect to certain extent, had to rely on listening for horns or screams for events to the outside rear.

    That intersection, just don’t do what’s planned, period and paragraph.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Thanks Mark,

      Your proposal for signal priority (and I’d say maybe for the RR’s only pre-emption) instead of the re-route makes a lot of sense.

      1. Ever driven a RapidRide bus? Either of you?

        Well, I ride one around the multiple right-angle turns on the Uptown detour on a regular basis.

        Not perfect, but doable.

        Mercer & Queen Anne is both busier and tighter than the junction.

        Mark is wrong. Pointless detours are wrong.

        Go re-read the comment above from this non-regular commenter about how this detour makes him feel like Metro and Seattle actively penalize their transit users:

        Not everyone loves to ride around aimlessly as much as Mark does.

    2. Mark, what if
      A. EB Alaska buses approaching California could trigger a signal- pre-empted traffic light timing change when the doors close. I often watch the RR close the door while the traffic signal changes to red against the driver.
      B.How does signal pre-emption work?

  13. There is a lot of ignorance about West Seattle on this comment string. There are legitimate reasons for both supporting and opposing this change and we would all be better served by less name calling and more thoughtful analysis.

    First, West Seattle is not the NIMBY backwater you paint it as. We have our NIMBY’s and they often dominate comment strings–but no more than Wallingford or many other neighborhoods. Second, growth is rapidly coming to the West Seattle Junction. There are actually more units permitted or being built in the next few years than there are in Ballard. There are four cranes there right now. The “triangle” area just west of the Junction was recently rezoned for density by DPD. Third, the WS demographic is changing–many more young people. Did you know that WS also has the highest percentage of new gay residents? Fourth, look at the ST analysis of new corridors and you will see that WS actually rates very high for potential ridership as a prospective corridor. Finally, WS is no different from Ballard in many ways. The heart of Ballard is very dense now after the growth of the past ten years, but anything north of 60th is all single-family. The West Seattle Junction, the Triangle, the Morgan Junction, and White Center/Westwood are all seeing strong growth.

    Look forward to the future of West Seattle, not towards the past. After all, we are building towards what will be, not what is.

    1. There are actually more units permitted or being built in the next few years than there are in Ballard.

      This is not true.

      …anything north of 60th is all single-family.

      Not true.

      Finally, WS is no different from Ballard in many ways.

      Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

      One of those images has nearly 10,000 more people than the other, and growing. One image contains a ton a SF 5000, the other has not a square inch of single-family. See the difference in ground coverage, the difference in units per block, the difference in number of businesses, the difference in the number of urban dimensions (three versus two). The Triangle Quarantine would be comparatively piss-ant even if it were being built for pedestrians… which it is not.

      You can compare the places all you want, but your comparison in nil. Meanwhile, Ballard is immediately adjacent to Fremont, Wallingford, Queen Anne, Phinney, and Greenwood — an urban continuum. West Seattle is adjacent to loading docks and water.

      Just because the it looks all symmetrical on a map does not make it so.

      1. Posting maps doesn’t show a thing. I know Ballard is more developed–NOW. That wasn’t my point. I doubt you have been to West Seattle recently. And the vast majority of Ballard is still single-family. As is most of your “urban continuum”. Check the permits on file at DPD. My point was simply that West Seattle is rapidly changing and that many people on this blog haven’t kept up with the changes. BTW–there are plenty of NIMBY’s on Upper QA and in Wallingford.

      2. There’s plently of single-family in Ballard, but there’s almost nowhere zoned exclusively for it. Meanwhile, very little of the large urbanized continuum eastward exists on 5000-square-foot lots.

        West Seattle, on the other hand, is 90% zoned for s.f. 5000. Now and forever.

        The maps show the massive present-day discrepancy. The zoning and the attitudes toward it show that is likely to change significantly enough to justify rail to your detached and very, very sprawling part of town.

        I’ve been recently enough, and I’m aware that there have been changes. I’m also aware of how massively overstated these changes tend to be by West Seattle “me-firsters”. The Triangle, for example, is both anti-pedestrian and pretty damned insignificant in the scheme of the city.

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