King County Metro 120 and 132 in Belltown
King County Metro 120 and 132 in Belltown

In the wake of Prop 1’s passage, the City of Seattle finds itself in a position to purchase more bus service. For some bus routes, however, that may be easier said than done.

Consider the 120. Serving White Center and West Seattle along Delridge Way, it claims 7,000 riders in a largely transit-dependent part of town and serves one of 15 designated bus priority corridors in Seattle’s Transit Master Plan. As one of the city’s 10 busiest routes, it would be a good candidate for RapidRide treatment someday.

Despite its popularity, the 120 drops to half-hourly service in the evenings and on Sundays, and would probably benefit from the supplemental funding enabled by the recently-passed Prop. 1. However, since more than 20% of the route’s stops are outside the city limits, the 120 is technically ineligible for Prop. 1 money. This has caused some legitimate concern from West Seattle residents:

If the City of Seattle would like to improve service on the 120, they have a few options:

  1. Create a “short turn” version of the route that doesn’t stray too far from the city line. Some trips would end at the Burien Transit Center and others end closer to Seattle (possibly at the layover space at 15th Ave SW and SW Roxbury in White Center)
  2. Find a way to use some of the $3M in Prop. 1 “regional partnership” funds to partner with Burien or the County, though it’s not clear that additional service on the 120 is the highest priority for those funds
  3. Convince Burien to provide matching funds for the rest of the route
  4. Annex White Center (!)

Of all of these, the first is probably the most straightforward. Burien City Manager Kamuron Gurol told me via email that his constituents had not expressed significant desire for more service on the 120, but were instead focused on the potential loss of service on the commuter express routes 121 and 122, both of which were spared the axe in the recently-improved budget.

A shortened 120 is not optimal. Even setting aside potential rider confusion, a 120 that terminated at, say, Westwood Village would be roughly 1/3 shorter than the normal 120. Nonetheless, it may be the path of least resistance for providing more frequent service between the Delridge area and Downtown.

And thus we get our first lesson in the interesting budget and planning games that will start to happen in the wake of Prop. 1. The chess board just got a little more complicated.

60 Replies to “Will Route 120 Be the First Test of Prop 1’s 80/20 Rule?”

  1. I was confused when I first heard the 120 might be ineligible. For some reason I thought the annexation of White Center had already happened.

    Two somewhat technical questions:

    1. Is there any way an entity called “White Center” could pony up matching funds, or does its unincorporated status rule that out that kind of collective action? (I assume it probably can’t)

    2. Let’s say Burien is perhaps amenable to pitching in, but is being stingy. Do we need to get them to pitch in for their full share, whatever that may be, or for just enough to make up the difference to get to the 80% threshold?

    1. Question 2 is a great one. I think the county, acting on White Center’s behalf, could assumedly find the money in a couch, and allocate it to the 120. That would likely get coverage above 80% of stops, but the rule might be that the non-Seattle portion needs a match representing the full difference in cost for the upgrades.

      King County could reallocate service hours to cover Burien’s portion, even without the blessing of the Burien City Council to pull money from other Burien routes.

      A more draconian approach to get the 120 to 80% of stops in Seattle is a stop uber-consolidation outside of Seattle, but that would kind of defeat the point.

      Extending the 120 north of downtown might also get it to 80%, but I don’t know if there would be ridership demand for going further to any particular point. Maybe a loop to FIrst Hill.

      Or, pre-emptively re-route the 120 to 4th Ave S. I have a hunch the rider demographics would do well with transfers to Rainier Valley, more so than other West Seattle routes. But then, I think the city would not be amused at having to pay for the extra hours needed for the re-route, on top of paying for service to Burien TC. It might also have deleterious effects on ridership.

      Really, the county needs to step up, and move a pool of money away from somewhere, into a 120 service match. This shouldn’t become another situation like governments not stepping up to take responsibility for the South Park Bridge. But at least in this situation, Seattle is willing to pony up roughly 70% of the money.

      1. The county could create a TBD covering White Center and have the residents vote to tax themselves to support this service [It might be able to impose a twenty dollar car tab on it’s own, since it’s an unincorporated area].

        The county can’t just find money under the couch fro this.

        First, about half the council and the executive believe we don’t have enough money to run the current service.

        Second, if it does find money, this new money needs to be applied to the county’s highest priorities first. If this isn’t even the highest priority of local residents — as the article seems to imply — it’s difficult to imagine it could be the highest priority county wide. Note that this includes priority inside Seattle — just because Seattle has chosen to pay for some service in it’s borders, doesn’t mean it’s needs shouldn’t be met from county funds wherever possible.

      2. I don’t see what’s wrong with short runs. It’s better than skipping the route, and it could also be applied to routes like the 5 that are in danger of losing out too. And the existence of the short runs in June — or even just the specter of the county council approving them in February — could be enough to spur Burien and the county to support the rest of the route.

      3. Yeah, I think a short run will probably have to do for now. Everything else is a lot more complicated and would take a while. Maybe Burien wants to jump on this and pony up a little money, but maybe not. Besides, the big problem is that this serves an unincorporated area, and asking them to chip in is complicated.

        But I would say that unlike some buses, a truncation on the 120 really hurts. I am guessing, but just by looking at the map, one of the big values of this run is that it connects various communities along the way. As this bus makes its way from Burien (at a transit center, no less) it goes through areas that have roughly the same population all the way through the city, until it gets on the West Seattle freeway. This is in contrast to a lot of buses, where the population and destinations really drop off as you leave the city.

        That being said, I don’t think the 5 will be truncated. Shoreline College isn’t that far away from Seattle, and thus the route is well within the 80% rule (I assume). It is a decent destination, and one that Seattle riders probably go to a fair amount. But I do wonder if city representatives will bargain with Shoreline, and ask them to chip in a little money for this (which would make a lot of sense for them, if they assume we aren’t bluffing).

        I think there are a lot of buses that could be truncated, though, or made into new routes. The 373 is a good example. It spends a significant amount of its time in Shoreline. I really doubt there are that many people who travel from, say, Jackson Park to Meridian Park. Almost everyone is simply trying to get to the U-District. So truncate the thing at 145th unless Shoreline ponies up some money. Basically have it follow the 73 route, except only go to the U-District (not go downtown). That would make the most sense if you are trying to provide the most value to Seattle riders.

        There is president for this sort of thing, even without a new number. The 73 sometimes only goes to Cowen Park. I always find this irritating, and wish they would use new numbers (or letters). I find it annoying to have to walk up right to the bus and wait until it says “Jackson Park” or “Cowen Park”. A few letters (e. g. ‘J’ and ‘C’) and people would figure out very quickly and be able to see it from a distance. A little off topic, but if we start truncating new routes, it will become more of an issue.

      4. and it could also be applied to routes like the 5 that are in danger of losing out too.

        That can’t possibly be right. The 5 only goes 15 blocks into Shoreline. There’s no way that segment contains 10% of its stops, let alone 20%.

      5. If it turns back at the transfer point south of Roxbury, it will still be within walking distance of most of White Center.

      6. Ross,

        Well, there is a president, too. The President of ATU local 587…… ;-)

        To the substance, I agree that the turnbacks are better than no service. 16th and Roxbury is within walking distance for healthy transit-dependent people who live in the dense part of White Center.

        So far as the 373, it’s not going to be cut is it? I thought that the county had decided to forbear for at least two shakeups.

        And of course the 5 is a no-brainer. It has gone to Shoreline CC since Metro was established. For a while the 5 split and went half the time to Northgate, but that’s gone now with the 40 Frequent Service. A long time ago the 5 had regular turnbacks at 90th in the base service periods Weekdays and Saturdays. Fifteen minutes to 85th back in the 1970’s. Good service.

      7. I have no idea what is going to be cut, but my understanding is that the city isn’t going to simply make up for the cuts, but add service. I personally would love extra 373 service, right up to the city border. A truncated 373, if you will. I know our 71/72/73 type buses are work horses, and move a lot of people from the U-District to the downtown, but those tend to be very unreliable. I can count on a 373 arriving on time, but I can’t count on a 73.

        Meanwhile, Link will soon get to Husky Stadium. I don’t think Metro will start replacing any of the 73s with 373s (or 72s with 372s). But if I’m standing on 15th NE, waiting for a bus to take me downtown, and see a 373, I think I would take it, especially if it looks like the 73 is going to appear ten minutes later. The walk from Stevens Parkway to the Link station isn’t that bad (and quite pleasant on a nice day). Besides, when Link opens, that will be (by far) the fastest way to get to Capitol Hill from that area of town. It makes sense to add more buses that get close to Link, even if they aren’t as close as we would like.

        From what I can tell, a truncated 373 would take about 60% of the time that a regular 373 would. So you can get five of these buses for the cost of three. Five buses in the evening would get you 15 minute service from 4:00 to 6:45. I would add a few more, just so that we would get 15 minutes combined service with the 373 and 73 as well as the better connection to Capitol Hill.

    2. “I thought the annexation of White Center had already happened.”

      Part of Highline was annexed to Burien a few years ago but the part closest to Seattle wasn’t included. The south part clearly wanted to go with Burien while the north part was unclear, and I think Seattle was preparing an offer that wasn’t quite ready yet. Culturally, a lot of people preferred Burien both because they’re not big city types (otherwise they would have lived north of the border) and because they’d have a larger influence in Burien than in Seattle. However, I’d like to see it as part of Seattle because it’s more urban and denser than most of the suburbs, so it has potential to become an urban center. But all this was before the crash, which made cities more reluctant to make commitments to areas requiring subsidies.

      1. The annexation of White Center (and unincorporated North Highline) is under current consideration. If Seattle moves ahead, it would go to a vote in 2016.

        Seattle needs to move on the preliminary steps before the end of this year. There is an available sales tax credit, worth $50 million over ten years for White Center, that would no longer be available if they don’t act.

        http://westseattleblog.com/2014/12/seattle-annexation-for-white-center-council-to-consider-it-again/

      2. I was curious about this too. Burien now goes as far North as SW 112th and 116th St. Roxbury is effectively 96th so there’s about 16 to 20 blocks between the two cities now.

        http://www.burienwa.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/657

        I think truncating the new runs makes the most sense. You’d add late night runs, but the new ones would end at White Center or Westwood Village.

      3. Culturally, a lot of people preferred Burien both because they’re not big city types (otherwise they would have lived north of the border)

        A lot of those in White Center and southern Burien would have preferred to live north of the border, but couldn’t afford the higher housing prices. I know me and my wife fall into that category.

        I guess it’s time for apartment/condo dwellers on Ambaum to start reminding the Burien City Council that we do in fact exist, and we do in fact vote. Seems like the City Council frequently forgets that they have any constituents who don’t live on Lake Burien.

  2. Could someone outline why annexing White Center into Seattle would be either a good or bad idea? (This sounds vaguely familiar too — has there been an annexation vote before?)

    1. In short, Seattle would likely spend more on infrastructure upgrade costs than it would take in in new tax revenue. That’s the conventional wisdom. But if a future light rail line is coming, a massive upzone (Does White Center have zoning?) could alter that math.

      Likewise, Burien was only interested in annexing the neighborhoods with high property tax assessments and business districts with good sales tax revenue.

    2. From the King County point of view it makes a lot of sense to fill in the gaps between the cities. The county is responsible for police, fire, and other services outside of city limits. White Center is now a ribbon 16 to 20 blocks wide from route 509 to the waterfront. Ultimately there can be a situation where houses that are are only a few blocks apart would be served by Seattle, Burien, or County services and there can end up being a lot of duplication of services.

      However, I believe that Burien is still being served by King County services so it isn’t a big problem now.

      1. Looking at the map, I have to agree that it makes sense from a county/state point of view for either Seattle or Burien to annex White Center. These sorts of gaps, urbanized areas between other cities which are unincorporated for tax avoidance / gerrymandering / sprawl reasons, are problematic.

  3. The Burien City Council is right to not get directly involved in funding transit service. It has never been their responsibility.

    That said, the King County Council has essentially carte blanche over where to put service. If they want the service hours to come out of Burien, they could do creative things like:

    1. Have the 122 stay on Des Moines Memorial Way, and take a right turn at 156th Way to head to Tukwila International Boulevard Station.
    2. Have the 132 go to TIBS, instead of Burien TC, saving a few minutes on each run, all day. This wouldn’ just free up some hours to invest in the 120 all day, but would also be a huge improvement in connectivity for riders like me. What was once the major source of ridership west of TIBS, the drug clinic, is now a regional water runoff detention pond.

    If the county doesn’t want to invest in service hours or improve routing on the 132 while using fewer hours, consider a one-time capital expenditure: Double-talls for the 121!

    1. Great ideas. There are a ton of things that could be done; what I’m interested in (and what I hinted at in the post) is what *will* be done, given the incentives created by Prop 1.

      It maybe unwise to over-generalize from this one example, but I can see a future where long-distance, all-day frequent routes that cross jurisdictions (like the 120) gradually lose political support in favor of express routes used by commuters & “choice” riders. Right or wrong, it’s an interesting potential consequence of the post-Prop-1 world. But I’m probably getting way ahead of myself.

      1. I suspect if you took a scientific poll out in the suburbs, you’d get overwhelming support for deprioritizing all-day frequent routes in favor of commuter buses, so I’d look at this as democracy in action. It’s hard to get too upset about that.

      2. I could easily see this as a trend, for the reasons you and William mentioned. But I think there are exceptions, and this may be one of them. Not only is the population spread out throughout here (unlike most of Seattle, where the population increases substantially as you enter the city) but Burien is a reasonable destination, especially for transfers. For example, if you want to take a bus from White Center (or even a bit north) to SeaTac, you will want to travel this corridor. Plus there are plenty of small community shops all along here. I would love to see the numbers on this route, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a fair number of riders get on and off well before downtown.

      3. I should have looked at the ridership numbers before I posted. It pretty much confirmed what I thought. While the bulk of riders are traveling to or from downtown, a substantial number aren’t. There are quite a few people who get on the bus at 15th and Roxbury, and are then headed south. There seem to be a fair number getting on a south bound bus after that as well. One can only guess how many get on the bus right before then and then get off later, but I would imagine there are few. Truncating this bus would hurt. I hope for the sake of the riders it doesn’t happen, but I could easily seeing that happen. I know we aren’t really talking about truncation of all of the 120 buses, but not adding in new service for folks that could really use it would be a shame.

      4. William,

        It may be Democracy, but it’s the “beggar thy neighbor” sort. The people who ride all day Frequent Service routes for the most part have no choice in the matter. Many cannot drive because of a disability, license forfeiture or because they are uninsurable. Others simply cannot afford a car.

        There are only a few of us transit geeks to ride because it’s transit.

    2. It’s a smaller version of what we’ve seen in Snohomish County. When CT faced cuts it proposed to shift hours from the commuter routes to make a more frequent all day network. Public feedback was no, keep the commuter runs, because there’s a large contingent of people there who only take transit for the Seattle runs or think that’s what makes transit taxes worth paying. Burien’s attitude about the 121/122 vs 120 sounds like the same thing.

      In any case, the Burien city council should get involved in transit funding for the same reason Seattle is. Countywide voters rejected Plan A, so it falls to the cities to fund any transit improvements they want. White Center shows an oversight in this approach: what do unincorporated areas do? But King County has been trying to get rid of unincorporated urban areas for over a decade, so it would say “Here’s another reason to incorporate or join a city.”

      1. The key difference of course is that voters in Seattle supported Metro’s Prop 1. Burien’s voters did not.

      2. The vote was split fairly evenly along this corridor south of the city. I’m guessing folks along here opposed it, but not by very much. For example, in the area next to the transit center, they supported it. It really was the areas further out that opposed it strongly. It is possible the same political dynamic will play out here. A strong, largely poor minority (which doesn’t vote as often) may be overwhelmed by a wealthier population that only wants to preserve their express bus. They already have their car, and aren’t too concerned if their fellow citizen doesn’t.

  4. “Burien City Manager Kamuron Gurol told me via email that his constituents had not expressed significant desire for more service on the 120”

    Considering the linguistic and cultural diversity of Burien (35% speak a language other than English), this statement may be technically true and yet not reflect on-the-ground sentiment.

    Peak period overcrowding isn’t so much an issue on the Burien segment of the 120, but I am sure frequent riders would appreciate improved evening and Sunday frequency.

    1. I agree, especially for this corridor. This is a working class bus, and my guess is those folks don’t write in to city hall a lot (see my previous comment).

  5. Look at the Map of King County Prop 1 and you’ll see why Option 1 is the best choice. There weren’t too many “yes” districts south of Roxbury St. If Burien wants more service on the 120, they can approach Seattle to negotiate, likewise with White Center/King County.

    It’s totally selfish, but Seattle should focus on Seattle and not waste money negotiating with adjacent jurisdictions that don’t seem to want our help, especially jurisdictions that resoundingly voted no on Prop 1.

    1. Yeah. Both demonstrated demand and expressed interest in the route outside of city limits peaks at White Center. Default action item 1 and the 80/20 rule inarguably allow improved service as far as White Center.

      I’m really not seeing any further complications with this outcome.

      1. “Expressed interest in the route” by whom? The voters in an off peak election? The folks who actually live along this corridor and are too busy taking care of their kids, trying to get their way to work and back to fill out a “change of address” form so they can even get a ballot? Besides, look at the election map and the ridership map again. A significant number of folks get off the bus at the Burien Transit Center. The people in that district actually voted in favor of this proposition. There are also plenty of people getting on and off the bus along the way — this isn’t a suburban express. It is a working class bus, and serves that need really well.

        If we take the easy way out and don’t add service, then so be it. But don’t pretend this is “what the people in the area want”, when it is quite likely that is simply a case of the people in this area being overwhelmed by other (wealthier) people.

        Oh, and what about “the people” in Seattle that voted for this? Don’t they deserve service that benefits them? A shop keeper in Seattle might just want his employees to show up to work on time, or be a little less sleep deprived when they do. Or maybe someone in south West Seattle wants to ride the bus to the airport.

        Again, I don’t know if extending this into Burien is a good use of Seattle money or not. Maybe there are better ways to spend this money. But don’t assume that this is that easy a decision just because this (heavily used) bus has the misfortune of crossing borders.

      2. d.p.

        I agree wholeheartedly, but only in theory. I looked pretty hard for a reasonable turn-back at 116th. I couldn’t see one; maybe you or someone else could, because that would be optimum.

        It might even make the folks there want to join the city a bit more.

      3. Ross,

        Your point about the Burien TC is well taken. The area round it is pale blue, so it supported KC Prop 1. However, please remember that Burien TC is also served by the 131 and 132 with direct service to Seattle, one or the other leaving downtown Seattle every fifteen minutes until 9:30 and then every half hour. The 131 can even be said to serve the Ambaum corridor, although with a walk to be sure.

        And anyway the service through the Ambaum corridor will be every half hour in the evening and on Sunday, exactly as it is now. Unless, that is, the King County Council blinks or the expected sales tax revenues really don’t come and they have to cut the evening/weekend service.

        In the meantime, don’t bark until someone steps on your tail. This is not a cut; it’s simply giving voters in Seattle what they were promised — a promise which jerks like “Lincoln/Norman”, “Crossrip” and the like constantly yammered in Crosscut and on The Crimes would not be kept. Of course they don’t actually give a damn if it’s kept or not. ANY excuse to attack transit is good enough for them, but we don’t want to give them ammunition to use next time they stand up a straw man.

      4. Exactly. I never said the 120 between Burien and White Center wasn’t used, or that it wouldn’t benefit from increased off-peak service.

        I merely said it was less busy past White Center, which happens to be true. I also said its service boost is less of a priority for Burien, which has other (faster) buses. This is also true.

        Anandakos, the turnback can be at any point past the White Center business district (as long as it’s not more than 20%-of-stops past Roxbury). Obviously, the further the better, from riders’ standpoint, but the usage drop-off is fairly steady once you cross 100th.

        If 107th is the last cross street that can handle the weight of buses, then for now the turnback will just have to be there.

      5. >> I merely said it was less busy past White Center, which happens to be true.

        If that is true, it is just barely true. For outbound, the biggest boarding stop, outside of downtown, is at 15th/Roxbury, at the edge of White Center. There are some riders who board at stops just north of there as well, like Delridge and Thistle. It is unlikely that those riders get off before White Center, since isn’t that far away. It is far more likely that they get off later. The biggest deboarding stop is at the Burien Transit Center. I doubt many of those riders rode the bus all the way from downtown, because there are much faster alternatives.

        This bus serves a couple purposes. It connects riders to downtown. It also connects riders from one neighborhood to another, on an obviously connected corridor. From what I can tell, the former represents the majority of ridership, but that isn’t obvious by looking at the graph (I would rather see the raw data, so I could do the math). For the latter, the connection between neighborhoods inside and outside Seattle appears bigger than the connecting simply inside the city. This suggests that a Metro 120, truncated at the edge of the city, would be far less popular for Seattle riders as well as those outside the city. Again, I don’t know if serving the full 120 is worth the money, but I don’t think we can easily dismiss the people who ride it across the borders.

      6. What faster alternatives? As far as I know, outside peak expresses the 120 is the fastest way to get from downtown to Westwood Village, White Center, or Burien.

      7. You’re right. I conflated the much faster (peak expresses) with the more evening-frequent (combined 131/132) that were mentioned above. Those can’t help people along the rest of the 120 corridor between Burien and White Center, but for Burien proper riders, they seem to be a bit faster.

        Ross,

        White Center is a absolutely a major on-off point, in both directions. What this most strongly suggests is that the 120 is functionally two major segments running as a combined route.

        The White Center-Burien segment does less heavy business than the White Center-Seattle segment, but it still does well. It could still benefit from increased frequency. Its riders most certainly deserve it.

        But that’s the county’s business. It just is.

        We’re reached a political juncture that has required Seattle to start going it alone — on both a funding and a service-prioritizing basis — in order to start getting anything that resembles useful transit in the city, and I’ll be damned if we’re going to start churning out legal fictions that redirect our finite resources to significant service expenditures between White Center (not in Seattle) and Burien (also not Seattle)!

      8. d.p.,

        Your last comment was extremely well said. People need to face political reality: Republicans rampant in the State legislature and Congress are not going to help transit in any way if they can avoid it. Perhaps they can’t completely avoid it in order to get a roads bill through the Democratic House here in Washington, but they’ll try. So that means Seattle needs to get out the brass knuckles and fight for itself.

        Republicans love them some Socialism when it’s the “Greenies” and “Libruls” paying the bills. Throughout the state there are Republican officeholders at all levels feasting on the rich cream of King County’s — and especially Seattle’s — tax receipts while decrying the residents as “slackers” and “liberal takers”. They’ve made their position clear (read Senator King’s article in Crosscut last week): “Highways uber alles and rob the general fund whenever you can to get them.” To them “congestion relief” is a pretty phrase for “Fire up the bulldozers and knock down some city scum’s house so I can get to work!”

        They’re more in love with their cars than the lives of their kids and grandkids. So, I like Mme. Antoinette’s famous dictum when asked about jostling in the lines for bread: “Let them sit still!”

  6. Potentially increased service on the 120 would be a pretty good reason for White Center folks to vote yes on annexation. That’s a much better deal than what we up in the north got when we joined the city (still waiting for sidewalks…)

  7. Shorten the route so we can expand it ourselves, and screw the burbs. They aren’t paying.

    If you don’t pay for it, you don’t get it. Hyper-localism is really popular with suburban folk when they perceive they will pay less in taxes. When they realize they’ll also be getting less service, then they suddenly get “aren’t we all in this together?” religion.

    No, we’re not all in this together.

      1. Unfortunately, the evidence is that the poor in the suburbs are generally voting against public transportation — or not voting at all. They are not merely being screwed by the rich, they are also screwing themselves.

  8. Hmmm… If service along Delridge way is the key, a shorter 120 is not optimal, 80% of the *stops*, not distance, must be in Seattle proper, and if keeping the Burien transit center connection on these new trips is something that if possible should be pursued, then I think the solution is the creation of route 120x.

    It’s like the regular 120, except between White Center and Burien, it takes the 509 freeway instead of local roads. If you include the highest allowed number of White Center stops + one stop at Burien TC, it can still satisfy the requirement that 80% of the stops must be in Seattle.

    1. That’s a plausible alternative! I’d also suggest looking at doing the same thing but ending the line at TIBS instead. That would be quite an improvement in access for Delridge residents!

    2. The detour to 509 isn’t worth it. There is virtually never any significant congestion on the current 120 route. Keep it there and just stop at the intersection near the Burien Goodwill and the Burien TC en route to TIBS.

    3. I like that idea a lot, whether the bus cuts over to the freeway or not. There aren’t that many riders between White Center and the Burien Transit Center, but a lot in White Center and the Burien TC. I don’t think that part of the route (if there are no stops) would take very long to drive, either. It also simplifies things quite a bit. There is no need to figure out a turnaround or layover spot — just end it at the Burien Transit Center as before. The route designation itself is simpler, too, as you said — it just becomes an “express”, even though the only thing it expresses over is a handful of stops in Burien. This makes it a lot easier for riders. Plus, if you look at the distance from the last White Center stop (128th) to the transit center, it isn’t enormous. Even if you usually took a bus stop in between there, it will only cost you about a half mile of walking (at most).

      I wonder what the highest allowed number of White Center stops is? It looks to me like the area could use some stop consolidation. Ideally this would happen for the 120 as a whole, otherwise it causes confusion. If not, then this express makes fewer stops within White Center. There are plenty of similar bus stops (places where a non-express will stop, but the nearest express/non-express bus stop is only a couple blocks away). I don’t like that when I’m chasing a bus, but it is better than nothing and might prove to be a little faster and a little more popular. That is one of the great things about this suggestion. Unlike a truncation, such a route might be more popular than the regular bus. For example, someone on Delridge trying to get to get to the Burien Transit Center might prefer this bus, if it gets there five minutes sooner.

    4. If it’s about simply number of stops, and if 120 is a good route for rapid ride treatment, then maybe outside of Seattle they could also just reduce the stop frequency enough to keep 80% in Seattle. Or add more stops in Seattle.

      But somehow I don’t think that was the original intent of the 80/20 rule.

    5. The “express bridge” between White Center and Burien has to compete with other Seattle routes that may be more deserving.

    6. d.p.,

      If it be 107th, that would certainly be a big improvement over Roxbury. Isn’t it 96th or maybe 98th? 107th would be half way to 116th where the density falls off a bit.

    7. I’m sorry but people would see this transparent violation of the standards as cheating, pure and simple. And if the point is to serve the Ambaum Corridor because the density is roughly the same as the Delridge end as Ross claims, hello! It fails. Driving through a neighborhood without stopping is not “service”.

      As I pointed out above, Burien TC also gets service to and from downtown Seattle via the 131 and 132. Now it’s obvious from the picture heading the post that Metro doesn’t try to alternate the departures so that people don’t have to wait in the rain. But that can be fixed if it needs to be.

  9. Burien City Manager Kamuron Gurol told me via email that his constituents had not expressed significant desire for more service on the 120, but were instead focused on the potential loss of service on the commuter express routes 121 and 122, both of which were spared the axe in the recently-improved budget.

    What a load of horsecrap. If he can’t hear the cries for better 120 service coming out of the Ambaum apartment complexes, then he’s deaf.

    Burien city councilmembers Steve Armstrong and Nancy Tosta have both mentioned the need for additional service on the 120 to me. Of course that was back during election time, so maybe they didn’t really mean it.

  10. Are you-all assuming that the 80-20 rule be applied on a route-by-route or service change basis? That sort of rule can only be sensibly applied (if it ever can be sensible) on a programmatic basis over some multi-year time period. Applying “the rule” to a specific service change proposal is a losing proposition and a terrible precedent.

    1. I don’t understand your question. The money will buy additional runs on certain routes. (Assuming Metro doesn’t reorganize the routes. If it does, then the runs would apply to the new routes.) Most of the money is restricted to routes that have at least 80% of their stops in Seattle. A separate matching fund is available to partner with suburbs on other routes (those that don’t qualify for the first fund). The city and Metro will choose a group of runs to fund at next June’s service change. Those changes will be “permanent” until the next recession wipes out the money or Metro reorganizes again. Somebody said the proposition revenue will continue increasing after June, so that will allow additional rounds of improvements after that. All those rounds will work the same way. The main unknown here is Frank’s #1: would the city and Metro be willing to fund short runs to make them qualify under the 80% rule?

      Does that address your concern?

  11. Those are four great ideas. If they are all politically impossible, or simply unpalatable like short runs, why not simply create a short run under another name, say, route 20?

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