These riders will be very happy in September.  Photo by Oran Viriyincy.
These riders will be very happy in September. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

We (well, at least incorrigible transit nerds) have been waiting with bated breath since the passage of Seattle’s Proposition 1 in November to see the contract between the City of Seattle and King County Metro which is required under the text of Prop 1. It’s finally here, posted to the King County Council’s website as an attachment to the ordinance through which the Council will most likely approve it.

There are all sorts of interesting details in the contract language which we will probably poke at in future posts.  But for now we wanted to share the good stuff: specific service improvements.  The improvements affect most routes in the city of Seattle.  About half of them will be implemented in June, and the other half in September.  Many of the June improvements are subtle schedule changes to improve reliability (mostly increasing run time and recovery time), while the September improvements are a bit more visible.

The City of Seattle chose the improvements in two ways.  First, all of the reliability and overcrowding improvements identified as necessary in Metro’s 2014 Service Guidelines Report were included.  Second, once those needs were taken care of, city staff selected improvements after analysis applying the county’s Service Guidelines, the city’s Transit Master Plan, and Metro route performance data.  Broadly, the improvements fit into two categories: 1) reliability improvements on existing service, and 2) new trips on existing routes, including both peak and off-peak frequency improvements.  There are no restructures in this initial round of improvements, for obvious reasons of speed and ease of implementation.  Nevertheless, these improvements will make the system significantly easier to use, especially nights and weekends.  They should also relieve some dysfunction during rush hours.  Specifics below the jump.

Reliability Improvements

The following routes will see schedule changes to improve reliability, nearly all in June:  C Line, D Line, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 21X, 24, 25, 26, 26X, 27, 28, 28X, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 48, 49, 55, 56, 57, 60, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 74, 76, 83, 99.

A larger reliability improvement will come to riders of Routes 7, 43, 44, and 49.  These routes are currently through-routed evenings, nights, and Sundays (7 with 49, and 43 with 44).  Both through-routes will be broken evenings and Sundays, and will remain in place only at night after 10 p.m.

Frequency Improvements

The following are the frequency improvements included, listed by route.  In general, “evenings” means 7:00 to 10:00 p.m, while “nights” means after 10:00 p.m, generally through midnight or 1:00 a.m.

C Line and D Line (June): This is the costliest, most substantial improvement in the whole package.  Peak frequency to 7-8 minutes.  Weekday midday and weekend daytime to 12 minutes.  Weekday and weekend nights to 15 minutes.

Route 2S (September): Weekday and Saturday evenings to 15 minutes.

Routes 3/4 (September): Weekend nights and early mornings to 30 minutes.

Route 5: Weekday and Saturday evenings to 15 minutes in June.  Sunday evenings to 15 minutes in September.

Route 5X: 4 new peak trips in both directions.

Route 7 (September): 2 new peak trips in both directions. Weekend daytime to 12 minutes.

Route 8: 1 new peak trip in both directions in June.  Longer span of 15-minute service on Saturdays in September.  Weekend late nights to 30 minutes in September.

Route 9 (September): Peak frequency to 20 minutes.

Route 10 (June): Weekday late nights/early mornings, weekend evenings, and Sunday daytime all to 15 minutes.

Route 11 (September): Weekday midday and Saturday daytime to 15 minutes.

Route 12 (September): Weekday and Saturday evenings to 15 minutes.

Route 14 (September): Weekday nights to 30 minutes.

Route 15 (June): 2 new peak trips in both directions.

Route 16: 3 new afternoon peak trips in June. Weekday and weekend evenings and Sunday daytime to 20 minutes in September.

Route 17 (June): 1 new morning afternoon peak trip.

Route 18 (June): 1 new morning peak trip.

Route 19 (June): Restored, with 5 morning and 6 afternoon trips.

Route 24 (June): 1 new afternoon peak trip.  Weekday evenings to 30 minutes.

Route 25 (September): Peak frequency to 30 minutes.

Route 27 (June): Weekday midday and evening service restored at 30-minute frequency.

Route 28 (June): 1 new morning peak trip.

Route 30 (September): 2 additional hours of span extending toward the midday.  This should result in morning service until about 10:00 and afternoon service starting around 2:00.

Routes 31/32 (September): Weekday nights to 30 minutes.

Route 33 (September): 2 new peak trips in both directions.  Weekday evenings and weekend daytime to 30 minutes.

Route 40: An unspecified number of new peak trips in June.  Weekday and Saturday evenings to 15 minutes in June.  Sunday daytime to 15 minutes in September.

Route 41: 1 new peak trip in both directions in June. Weekday evenings to 15 minutes and weekday nights to 30 minutes in June.  Sunday daytime to 15 minutes in September.

Route 43 (September): Saturday daytime to 15 minutes.

Route 44: Weekday middays to 12 minutes in June.  Peak frequency to 10 minutes and Saturday daytime to 12 minutes in September.

Route 47 (June): Restored, with 30-minute peak and 45-minute midday frequency, weekdays only.

Route 48: 1 new peak trip in both directions in June.  Sunday daytime and Saturday evenings to 15 minutes in September.

Route 49 (September): Weekday nights to 15 minutes.

Route 55 (June): 4 new peak trips in both directions.

Route 60 (June): Weekday evenings to 30 minutes.

Routes 66/67 (September): Saturday daytime to 15 minutes (presumably by operating Route 67 on Saturday).  Weekday night service on Route 66 to 30 minutes.

Route 68 (September): Saturday 30-minute daytime service over a longer span.  New Sunday daytime 30-minute service.

Route 70 (September): 1 new morning peak trip.  New 15-minute service Sundays, evenings, and nights (in conjunction with all 71/72/73 trips being converted to express trips).

Route 71: 1 new afternoon peak trip in June.  All local trips converted to express in September.

Route 72: 1 new afternoon peak trip in June. All nights and Sundays to 30 minutes in September.  All local trips converted to express in September.

Route 73 (September): All nights and Sundays to 30 minutes.  All local trips converted to express.

Route 74 (June): 1 new morning peak trip.

Route 120 (June): 3 new morning peak trips originating at White Center.

Route 125 (June): Weekend daytime to 30 minutes, including restored Sunday service.

Full Weekday Service: The City of Seattle will pay for Metro not to implement “Reduced Weekday” schedules on Seattle routes.  The “Reduced Weekday” schedule is typically operated on inconsistently observed holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day.  It cancels selected trips on high-ridership routes, and has typically resulted in large schedule gaps, overcrowded trips, and lots of inconvenienced riders.

152 Replies to “Final Prop 1 Contract and Seattle Bus Improvements”

    1. Yes. And, to be clear, the contract does not say “weekdays only.” It just provides a low number of off-peak hours for the 47 which, I think, can only cover weekday daytime service.

  1. Thanks for the synopsis, David!

    If I understand the gist of this process, this is basically most of the service hours the City of Seattle is going to add for the duration of the approved extra taxes, and that adding more probably means enacting efficiencies on existing routes (such as when U-Link opens), or reducing the spending needed on the ORCA LIFT (which may happen due to the minimum wage increase and/or the disappearance of affordable housing with no replacement allowed.).

    I’m somewhat disappointed that 15th Ave S will remain without service on weekend nights for the foreseeable future. But if the 106 were re-routed to serve 15th Ave S instead of Airport Way, that service could be provided, cloggage in the tunnel could be reduced, and the need for evening 60 service would be somewhat lessened.

    I sully support passage of this contract, as is.

    But I don’t want this action to be the end of route improvements in Seattle.

    1. The U-Link restructure is underway now. The first proposal comes out in February if I remember right, so the council can vote on it in June. I applied for the sounding board but was not selected; however, the meetings are open to public observers. I don’t have the meeting schedule onhand but I think they’re this month and next month. Link starts a year from now (sometime between January and March). I don’t know when the bus changes would be (September, Februrary, or June). But this Prop 1 contract gives a new baseline to make changes from, so some of the routes above may be changed again 3-6 months after.

      Somebody said that tax will raise more money than this over time, and David said “this initial round of improvements” implying more will come later.

      I put in a plug for the 106 revision at a U-Link open house, and was told it was only proposed to compensate for cuts on the 14 (which was going to peak-only or something). Since the 14 cuts aren’t coming, Metro dosen’t seem interested in pursuing the 106 revision. But I suggested it anyway, and you can too. I mentioned it would improve the connection between Rainier Valley and Renton, where many people have relatives or travel between.

      1. The first proposal will be public in March, refined, and then presented again for public comment in May. Council adoption is likely in June, with some changes beginning in September for testing but the broader restructure happening in March 2016.

      2. Mike, how do you make these types of suggestions and how can we do the same? Is it a matter of e-mailing the customer service address, hitting up our county councilmember, or something different?

      3. I wrote my comments at an open house and mentioned them to the staff there. You can email suggestions anytime; the address is on the website somewhere.

    2. Totally agree. Such a drag that the 60 doesn’t run on Saturday night and apparently won’t start now.

  2. What to people think of the return of the 47? Looking at a map it seemed like one of the “good” cuts — i.e. it doesn’t connect any unique destinations, it’s walkshed is entirely in the walkshed of other routes, it’s not frequent enough to be reliable as a part of a frequent all-day network etc… So is it a good thing that it’s back (as opposed to spending those hours to beef up service on routes that could be more useful)?

    1. I heard that there were many complaints about former 47 riders who had to work up the hill to catch the 49 (remember there are some who are not as mobile). This seems to be a compromise by just restoring weekday service but not weekend service.

    2. Restoration of the 47 and midday service on the 27 are largely in response to those communities being by far the most vocal and activist in the wake of the September 2014 cuts.

    3. I think the 47 is worth restoring because the Summit Slope walkshed is so severely damaged by I-5. If it were a matter of choosing to walk to either Broadway or Eastlake, then the 47 wouldn’t be needed. But try drawing a 1/2 mile walkshed around Bellevue/Roy and you’ll see that both the 49 and 43 are on the edge of that zone. And the 14 (later 47) has always performed well in peak, so a weekday restoration makes sense.

    4. The 47 is a bit of a touchy subject, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it. I love that the corridor is serviced, and aesthetically the 47 is one of my favorite routes in Seattle. Its return is barely defensible in that residents in the Bellevue/Summit area have essentially no options to the west (I-5) and it’s a reasonably steep hill up to Broadway.

      What I would really like to see in this area is more mixed-use development. It’s one of the densest neighborhoods in Seattle but unfortunately it’s zoned almost exclusively residential. There are improvements coming, but the neighborhood could definitely legitimize its service if it were to become more of an all-the-time destination rather than just peak commuter service.

      1. “What I would really like to see in this area is more mixed-use development.”

        And you think restoring service on the 47 is a touchy subject? :)

      2. There’s a small but growing amount already, with new entrants such as Single Shot, Analog Coffee, and Cafe Barjot taking their place alongside Sun Liquor, Top Pot, The Lookout, and more. There would have been even more if the Council hadn’t balked on that neighborhood retail bill a couple years ago.

    5. The 47 is pretty well used as a commuter route, it would probably be worth having 15 min headways during morning/afternoon rush (in a perfect world). But ridership was pretty light on weekends and non-peak.

    6. I lived on the 47 for five years until 2010, and now live where the 43 and 47 overlap. I also once looked at an apartment at the very end of the 47, and tested the walking distance from there to Pine Street and Westlake Station. It’s longer than it looks, some 40 minutes to Westlake. East of Melrose is steep; you can’t walk up and down it when it’s snowing. The outcry that led to its restoration was from elderly people who can’t walk up and down to Broadway no matter what the weather is.

      Metro sabotaged the 14’s ridership with its scheduling. Eastbound it was scheduled three minutes after the 43, but it was always at least ten minutes late and sometimes ten. So even people who wanted to take the 14 were scared into taking the 43 instead, both to avoid waiting a few extra minutes, and because the few minutes might turn into a lot of minutes and a second 43 would come before the 14. When the route was split, the 47’s schedule was better sometimes but not all the time, and the 45-minute headways meant you had to remember whether this was the hour it came on the :15 or not, and if you didn’t know you had to hope.

      What Metro should do is schedule the 47 a few minutes before the 43, or halfway between the 43s. Then it would reach its natural ridership ceiling, and also cannibalize some 43 riders rather than the other way around. Metro could also run the 47 peak-only, which is when it’s full. This proposal is essentially like that but with some midday service.

      As to whether the 47 should be reinstated at all, I don’t have a strong opinion on it, but it’s nice and benefits me, and also those people on Roy Street and those elderly people. Summit is just a difficult transit geography so it’s a tradeoff no matter how you restructure. I favor strengthening the 43. Others want to delete the 43 and strengthen the 48+8 or 48+8+47. I’ve also thought about turning the 47 into a Summit-John route to Capitol Hill Station (or further to replace the 10’s or 12’s tail), but it would require a sharp left turn at Bellevue & Denny which may be too much for a bus.

      1. The old “full” 14 was atrociously scheduled. No idea if the new 1/14 and (past and future) 47 are any better.

    7. “What I would really like to see in this area is more mixed-use development. It’s one of the densest neighborhoods in Seattle but unfortunately it’s zoned almost exclusively residential.”

      That’s what I thought at first, but it’s so close to Broadway and Pike-Pine that the businesses are close enough. And you see pedestrians 24 hours. And it’s what the golden age of streetcars developed. I’d like to see more mixed-use but it’s not that urgent.

      1. It’s what the golden age of streetcars developed; then the golden age of freeways came through like a tornado. Even though some of the buildings look the same the people have different transportation needs and different tools available. About the only thing that’s exactly the same is that transit that runs every 45 minutes is not a growth proposition.

        This is an old trolley route like the old trolley routes on Queen Anne. CBD to a residential neighborhood, stop and turn around. It’s a dense neighborhood but not really on the way anywhere. What might we do if trolley wire was no object? I guess some people don’t like the tails of the 10 and 12 running N-S right next to eachother, so maybe head east down Roy, Broadway (at the north edge of the business district), and Aloha, providing coverage to mitigate moving the 12’s tail elsewhere? It still stops in the middle of nowhere, close to the Montlake Freeway Station and UW but probably not worth duplicating the 48 and 43 (that would be like a variant of the 43 that skips the most important commercial districts and the light rail station, which is absurd).

        So maybe that means the 47’s salvation, if it has one, will be transit’s rising tide lifting all routes, just as the receding tide left it to run aground…

    8. One point is that the 43 and 49 have been exploding in evening ridership the past three years, and that often spreads to the 10 and 11. Often I’m at 4th & Pike in the evening, and a 43 or 49 comes and thirty people get on it. Then ten or fifteen minutes later another one comes, and another thirty people get on it. I often wait for the 43 (and earlier the 47), so I see them doing this repeatedly. Some of them are clearly “49 only” or “43 only” or “49 or 43 only”, but it sure looks like 80% of them are just getting on the first bus that goes “toward Broadway” or “toward 15th” or “toward the U-District”. That suggests that general ridership in that corridor is growing, so it would eventually grow on the 47 too. Of course, a lot of these people will switch to U-Link, but a lot will not.

    9. Perfect plan: the 47 makes sense as a rush hour line only. That’s only when it was full and it is perfect to relieve rush-hour pressure off the other nearby all-day frequent overcrowded lines by providing service for the large number of people who live in one of the densest census tracts in the Pacific Northwest. Its so short anyway that’s its not a huge expense and there would probably need to be additional short-turn buses on the 43 & 49 anyway if there wasn’t the 47 (now with additional funds).

  3. Bathroom breaks are good news for drivers, clean-up staff, and the Federal authorities who should have put people in jail for taking the breaks away. But exactly like with the post-fare-box tunnel, adding time to schedules is major symptom for lameness.

    I hope I missed something because it’s pretty early, but does Prop 1 include any of the transit-only lanes or signal-priority measures to stamp all these schedules “Burn Before Reading”?

    As Brad Pitt tells John Malkovich in the movie: “Huh, huh, huh, huh, huh! You think a Schwinn is a BICYCLE!?” Just askin’.

    Mark

    1. Prop 1 is operations money only. By its own terms it can’t be used to support capital projects.

      Good news, though: the city is also developing a plan for transit capital improvements (like TSP and bus lanes). I’d expect to hear about that Real Soon Now.

      1. Plans are good news, David. But have any of our transit-related agencies ever had any lack of them? If we had a plan-burning engine- same fuel category as feed-lot floors- we’d save enough diesel to get the oil trains out of Sounder’s way forever.

        Any reason those terms didn’t include the capital projects needed to avoid half hour gaps devouring all the operations money in the proposition? And what can be done politically to keep self-defeating “terms” out of future propositions?

        Mark

    2. If any entity is contractually obligating itself to have all runs on a route, all day, be treated as taking the same amount of time to drive, regardless of time of day, then the padding in the middle of off-peak runs would quickly become noticed as a citywide nuisance to riders. I hope the details in the language allow that problem to be undone, rather than set in legal stone.

      1. This.

        My stomach churned at the further celebration of enforced slowness.

        More arbitrary blocks deemed to require 6 minutes to traverse. More routes for which OneBusAway becomes a farce.

      2. Thank the state auditor. You need more time one way or another for reliability. The auditor will yell at Metro and there will be a chorus of “Waste!” if that time is made up of longer layovers than look necessary from an office in Olympia. Therefore longer running times.

      3. Some padding is necessary because traffic jams and wheelchairs show up at random on different days, and padding is the only way to have a consistent schedule at all.

      4. After all the negative diaper-related press, that take just comes across as tone-deaf spin… spinning in the wrong direction, even. “The breaks will still be short, but at least your trip will be guaranteed slower every time!”

        Just make sure the running times are commensurate with non-extraordinary reality — a competent driver in non-extraordinary traffic conditions — at both peak and off-peak times. Then add a reasonable expectation of recovery at one end, and a longer break at the other end that guarantees genuine mental decompression and bathroom time.

        Randomly adding 5 minutes to multiple points on the run card — and especially doing so in a way that completely messes up OBA data — is pretty much the worst of all worlds.

        ——

        I would further add that part of the problem is too many service adds just bringing every mediocre route up to minimum non-excruciating-wait standards (15 at best, still plenty of 30), which still leads to hard-to-schedule layovers and driver overlaps that simply don’t happen when you focus on a 10-minute network of fewer, but better, routes.

        It also to complaints about empty buses in the evenings, you’re still running a ton of mediocre-to-good services at 9:30 and a ton of not-good-enough-to-be-anything-but-a-last-resort routes after 10:00. Both the evening and the late evening could be both infinitely more allocated-hours-efficient and more appealing to riders if they focused on a core network that got you around town legibly and painlessly. The inclusion of every Seattle route above, good or bad, suggests that Metro continues to value complexity and mediocrity over improvements that would be palpable to the riding/on-the-fence-about-riding public.

        Failure to improve the network structure is leading to a gigantic amount of operating waste here, for only moderate gain.

      5. This is exactly what I expected would happen, btw. Everyone claims better-network-making restructures could still happen, but with the leverage of a crisis replaced by the perception of a windfall, inertia continues to rule the day.

        I’m starting to regret my vote for the proposition.

      6. Restructures are coming, just not immediately. Having large-scale restructures ready for June or September would have been akin to accelerating a Breda coach from zero to sixty in seven seconds.

      7. Right… and Metro is gradually evolving into an agency that cares about best service practices for mass-transit applications.

        How many times have we heard this before?

        And yet here’s some more peanut butter to slather on the 24 + 33 (not rationalized), on the 2 + 12 (neither combined nor staggered), and on the Twentyfreakingfive.

      8. d.p., we’ve heard it before because it’s right. Change just happens very slowly given the resistance that is mustered to it. There will be a U-Link restructure in 2016. I understand that more and less effective options are on the table. City and Metro staff appear to favor the more effective and dramatic option. Once these improvements are in place, I expect we’ll probably also revisit the Queen Anne and First Hill restructures. Unfortunately, it seems the Central District one is dead for the moment. And you know why? Effective community advocacy of dead-end service patterns on the 27 and, to a lesser extent, the 4.

        As for your specific examples, most of the Magnolia improvements are there as immediate overcrowding fixes; the 24 became severely overcrowded when the 19 went away, while the 33 has had an overcrowding issue for awhile. The only other change is a few new trips in the evening, which are just restoring service that was there before the recession. Nothing about the 24/33 changes makes a restructure any more difficult. Neither the city nor Metro particularly loves the new 25 trips but under the Service Guidelines they either need to provide 30-minute peak service or cut the route, and this is intended to be a minimum-pain set of changes.

      9. Resistence and bureaucracy. But it is improving slowly, and council and public attitudes are gradually getting better.

      10. You know what would really improve “public attitudes”? TRANSIT THAT SIMPLY WORKED.

        All of the above equivocating is simply “blah, blah, blah” in a city where your basic 1-mile trip from Capitol Hill to downtown still involves five potential routes, all of which just left at the same fucking time and left you stranded for 29 more minutes, then missing your equally poorly designed connection.

        It’s “blah, blah, blah” in a city that has been car2go’s most successful venture anywhere, and a primary player in the Uber/Lyft market.

        Metro doesn’t get to claim that gradualism in its urban service will turn it imminently into the mass transit system that we have been lacking. A complete, top-down rebranding is required for that: “Your bus route will be legible and obvious. It will come quickly no matter what time of day it is, and it will move with purpose. You’ll never sit five cycles in the non-moving lane next to the moving lane, because we’ll make sure of it. You’ll never get totally screwed by a connection, because we’ll make sure of it. We’re not interested in stasis, because we know our system has never been remotely good enough to meet the demands of your busy lifestyle.”

        All the current “blah, blah, blah”ing will get us is a bunch of mostly-empty peanut-butter buses that give funding opponents reason to say “I told you so”.

      11. d.p., I enthusiastically and wholeheartedly agree that would cause a sea change in Seattle transit ridership, and Seattle urban living, within a year.

        Tragically, that wasn’t on the ballot. We need to keep pressing Metro, the city council, and the county council to get it there.

      12. Just so you know, I’m not yelling this in a vacuum here. All of the world’s great transit systems — much greater than ours is, or will ever be — have realized that “plugging along” with ingrained approaches and habits is a recipe for degradation, poor results, and public resentment.

        There’s a reason that you’ll see major top-to- bottom housecleaning every 20 years from even the MTAs and TFLs. Better service integrations are always out there. Enhanced commitments to vehicle maintenance, customer safety and experience, and the sense that the system is there to serve passenger trips well (rather than to give a faceless bureaucracy job security) are always possible.

        A vague pledge of incrementalism, and doubling down on our most conspicuous artifacts of brokenness, is precisely how the best transit reinventions are not done elsewhere.

      13. d.p., I happen to agree with you, but I also read the comments above about resistance to change. Somewhere in here, I can’t remember if it’s on this thread or the open thread, I read that the Central District restructures are “dead” because of community opposition. This seems to be a recurring theme in Seattle. Density is “dead” except in very small areas because of community opposition. Repositioning the 2, dead. Chopping the 4, dead. The 8 restructure from the service cut plan, apparently dead (man, how I really wanted this). Making a gridded bus network, dead. Any restructure that looks like the 2011 change, dead. So far, the only “far fetched” idea that seems to be still alive is maybe someday kinda sorta hopefully in the future running the 40 in-service to First Hill and if-we-can-ever-find-the-time-and-cash relocating the 3 and 4.

        Here’s my big question: Who the heck is making up this “community” and how can I stick my nose in it? Because writing e-mails and being an active transit advocate doesn’t seem to help very much, otherwise 80% of the really good ideas written up on Seattle Transit Blog would be implemented. Who are the people who have such massive sway in this town?

      14. d.p. – for years, you have been complaining about service between downtown and Ballard being insufficiently frequently, especially during the evenings. However, what I see on the corridor is this:

        D line – Peak frequency to 7-8 minutes. Weekday midday and weekend daytime to 12 minutes. Weekday and weekend nights to 15 minutes.

        40 – Weekday and Saturday evenings to 15 minutes in June. Sunday daytime to 15 minutes in September.

        Is this not precisely what you have been asking for ever since the 2012 restructure?

      15. d.p., the more I think about this, the more it sticks in my craw. I think you’re so blinded by (justifiable) rage at the current network that you don’t see how these changes are setting up Metro for easier restructures in the future. And the more I think about it, the more I see they are. Let’s look at a few of these changes.

        2S/12 evening frequency both to 15 minutes. This will enable a revenue-neutral restructure, whenever the Council and/or SDOT gets around to braving Joanna’s and Horizon House’s slings and arrows again, that will give Madison service every 5 minutes at peak and every 7-8 minutes over a span lasting from 6 am to 10 pm, with 15-minute service thereafter until 1 am. If some 49 trips are moved to Madison then Joanna may not even have to get off her duff to complain.

        10/11 midday and evening frequency boost. The central feature of my long-delayed 2014 FNP in Capitol Hill is staggered service on a 12-minute 10 and a 12-minute 11, both rerouted to John Street, and together replacing in their entirety those five poorly scheduled Cap Hill-downtown routes you bemoan today. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how these frequency improvements point toward that end. The 10 and 11 can now alternate during midday times and late at night, and I bet they will. Split the 43 frequency between them, and you do even better than my proposal does: 5-minute frequency up the hill middays and 10-minute frequency at night.

        24/33 evening and Saturday frequency boost: Now there’s enough frequency in Magnolia to give a restructured 24 15-minute frequency over a very long span 6 days a week, which might even persuade the residents to adopt that pattern. Without this increase, a restructure to put just one N/S route through Magnolia and extend it to Ballard would look a lot uglier — like it did when it was shot down.

        40 evening and Sunday frequency boost. Now there will be regular enough 26/28/40 frequency every period except late nights to allow major improvements in SLU north/south service, which I’d expect concurrent with or shortly after RapidRide C is expanded there.

        This is a long game. The city is playing it very well indeed, and Metro is going along. You’re not seeing it because you want everything to be so immediate. But this same long game got us all the routes that actually work – the 120, RR C, RR E (and the 358 before it), the 40 (for all its remaining warts), the continuously improved 7 and 70, and on and on.

      16. ASDF, don’t get me wrong. This news is fantastic for getting in and out of Ballard.

        For the first time ever, all three of our routes will become “Metro frequent”, and two of those routes will offer significant weekday periods in which they rise to the level of “real-world frequent”. For the first time in Metro’s fragmented history, the routes will offer omni-directional transfers that will actually work painlessly enough to be considered a network by the non-delusional.

        But make no mistake: it took work (and lumps) to get the Ballard services trimmed down to 3 that will function so well in concert. The 17-cum-61 had to die. So did the overlapping, overscheduled one-seat-to-everywhere that was the 75.

        The approach itemized above prescribes the exact opposite for the rest of the city.

        And while I’m probably found on the 40, D, or 44 more than on any other routes, I’d like to be able to painlessly transfer to other places as well. That you think I would only care about the effect on the three Ballard routes reinforces just how parochial our fragmented network has made us, just how far from the forefront of our minds a painless in-city “anywhere to anywhere” is expected to be.

        I get where David’s service-hour logic comes from, why he feels these proposals mathematically advantage certain corridors for a brighter future. I just don’t see the evidence that Metro will ever follow through on such endeavors without being forced. That a full quivver of 15/20/30-minute existing routes into the sort-of evenings is seen as “good enough” suggests to me that inertia will continue to be the order of the day. Again, unless forced.

        And as I said above, plodding along with whatever is familiar is a great way to get a transit system to slowly degrade, and to remain forever a sub-par mobility option for its existing mode-sliver and for tens of thousands of forgone elective riders alike.

      17. d.p.: the MTA in NY has never done a major housecleaning. EVER. Not in its entire history.

        Transport for London is actually a very forward-thinking and progressive organization.

      18. Wrong again, Nathanael.

        Bob Kiley, 1983-1990. Pretty much metamorphosed the MTA from a 24/7 Charles Bronson dystopia into a public transit system that the public would once again use.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Kiley#Minneapolis.2C_Boston_and_New_York

        Today there’s FasTrack — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Subway#FASTRACK — the strategic program of remedial maintenance, well-branded and relayed to customers.

        Along the way there have been countless useful service revisions and improved attention to connections. Sending the “M” uptown actually saved money! Do you think the nimrods in Seattle would ever make such a common-sense change?

        And how about CityTicket? Leveraging excess capacity to offer reasonably-priced and faster trips to city dwellers? Who’d have thunk it? Apparently Mayor de Blasio is pushing for full fare integration with connecting subways, too.

        To suggest that the MTA is driven by inertia and averse to improvement is simply inaccurate.

  4. Route 68 service getting new Sunday service? Route 68 is okay on weekdays, but Saturday, it is a terrible performer already. How come Route 50 is not getting additional frequencies, especially at nights and Sundays (only runs hourly now). That needs to be fixed in a future change, Route 50 might be one of the few city of Seattle routes that only runs hourly.

    I hope that this measure does not simply just add more service hours but also reorganize some service too for more efficiencies (like combining the Routes 72 and 372 for one example), and reorganize the night owl service too.

    1. The Service Guidelines Report doesn’t support your claim about the 68 being a terrible performer on Saturday, and it supports reaching a target service level of 15 minutes for the 68 during days off-peak and 30 minutes at night. On the other hand, it does show that the 50 is a terrible performer at night, and doesn’t support any frequency improvements to the 50 corridor.

      I know it’s not quite that simple because the 50 is a crosstown corridor that needs frequency to develop, but the ridership numbers don’t support your assertions.

      1. I’m not sure whether improved route frequency or a little capital expenditure for the major bus stops would do more for 50 ridership. The westbound stop at SODO Station needs perpetual pruning to see the sign, and misses the opportunity to pick up some riders at the 21 stop in front of the Seattle Public Schools HQ. An RTA sign, not hidden by trees branches, might help a lot.

        Indeed, connecting bus stops at all the Link stations ought to be elevated to the status of “major bus stop” for purposes of capital investment, instead of focusing on purpetually redoing/beautifying 3rd Ave in every way except making it a 24/7 off-board payment bus-only street.

        And speaking of 3rd Ave, where are all these new peak runs going to fit?

      2. The 50 covers a lot of low density areas with slow, indirect service, and, predictably, performs poorly–especially at night. Avoiding wasting extra platform hours on something like that is precisely what the service guidelines were created to do.

      3. (I have nothing against the capital improvements you suggest, mind you. It’s just that has nothing to do with the allocation of prop. 1 service hours.)

      4. My biggest frustration with the 50 is hourly service to Alki evenings and Sundays. People from all over the city go to Alki, for the beach in the summer and the restaurants and ocean waves in the winter, and they would more if it was half-hourly. Several times I have not gone to Alki on Sunday or not gone to the Admiral theater because the bus was hourly and I didn’t want to fit my life around the schedule or be stuck there when I wanted to leave. If the entire 50 can’t be more frequent, how about a half-hourly shuttle from Alaska Junction to Alki.

      5. Tolerable service to Alki would be a boon, especially in the summer.

        But it’s never existed. The 56 was hourly at night, and before that the 37 was also hourly and ended rather early in the evening.

        This may be one of those vicious cycles where there’s no night ridership because there’s no night service but it’s hard to improve service because of low ridership. Alki has the density and development patterns to have higher off-peak ridership than it does.

      6. “If the entire 50 can’t be more frequent, how about a half-hourly shuttle from Alaska Junction to Alki.”

        Or extend the 128 that extra mile, like Metro was proposing to do before the restructuring plans got tabled.

    2. Admittedly I’m biased because I ride the 68. But if I were to add hours to the 68, I’d add them weekday evenings, not Sundays. On weekdays leaving UW, the rush hour window is 3-4:30 and the last trip of the day leaves UW at 6. Considering how late UW tends to skew for students and employees, that doesn’t seem to be the best use of hours.

      1. I think part of the reason is that (for now) the 372 is weekdays only and therefore there is no service on 25th NE on Sundays. At least there is service on the 372 after the 68 stops running weekday evenings.

      2. When the weekend hours of a route is restricted to daytime hours on Saturdays only, it is easy to forget that the route exists, even during the hours that it is running, when so much of the weekend, it isn’t running. When you think of it this way, the presence of Sunday service may actually help the 68’s ridership on Saturdays.

        Also, as DavidL said, there is no other service on 25th Ave. on weekends at all. The U-village may not be the greatest transit draw, but it’s enough of a destination to deserve at least some service on Sundays.

  5. As a part-time driver who really truly enjoyed my “Reduced Weekday” unpaid time off, I’m gonna miss those days next December!

      1. The trick lies in finding pieces of work small enough that they only contain one run, and that’s the run that is “Reduced” away. There are very few of those; many (most?) small pieces have two runs, and only one of them is reduced.

        The piece I’m driving right now has only one run of route 76.

        But! The larger picture is that this transit thing is not about >ME< individually as a passenger or as a driver! Better service = greater good.

      2. There ought to be some nice single trippers on a bunch of long South and East routes that have RW schedules: 121/122, 143, 157, 158/159, 167, 218/219, 311, 342…

  6. Lots of interesting information in that agreement document.

    King County Metro is concerned that it may not be able to purchase more of the special RapidRide buses during the “Agreement period” (June 2015-December 31, 2017). If they run out of red buses King County Metro will “use standard 60’ Diesel/Hybrid buses to operate added service”. Hopefully we won’t see any high floor buses, but no matter what it will be a confusing change for riders expecting to see a red bus.

    It also seems like we could be waiting a while to see the end of the through-routing of the RapidRide C & D lines. The contract says that King County may want the city to participate in “an interagency team to evaluate and/or plan for the proposed change.” No timeline given.
    My guess is that King County is concerned about the cost of building new RapidRide stations in SLU and that Seattle will stop funding the additional service in 2018 (leaving King County stuck having to fund more expensive RapidRide routes).

    Also the contract states that if King County Metro purchases more trolleybuses to operate the additional services and Seattle later cancels the agreement, the city has to agree to buy the trolleybuses that are no longer needed.

    1. Not separating the RapidRides is an utter failure on the City and County’s part. More frequency is great, but it just means more bunched up RapidRide buses.

      1. Patience: it’s still likely to happen, but a lot of details need to be worked out and there wasn’t time to include it in this round of improvements.

    2. I don’t think it’ll be confusing. The majority of riders just want a bus, any bus, to show up and take them where they need to go. I live in Chicago, and ride the J14 often. There are special, wrapped blue buses for the service, and sometimes they appear on other routes and sometimes unwrapped buses appear on the Jump service. As long as the destination sign is correct, riders will be just fine.

      1. Haha. That’s actually not a bad idea.
        There was a requirement from the feds that the C/D lines need to use specially branded buses, although exceptions can be made. On the other hand, to my knowledge, the F line didn’t receive any federal funding (along with its federal requirements) so there should be no reason why Metro can’t borrow some of those buses (17 total) for use on the C/D lines.

        There wouldn’t be a big impact to running 2-door 60 foot buses (since there are only 8 all-door boarding stations) or 40-foot buses (since the ridership on the F is a third of the ridership on the D). Plus if you wrap the buses in red it would be hard to tell the difference.

      1. There aren’t any mentions of the split, just of an increase in service. Splitting the line will require new infrastructure in SLU, so there has to be a timeline somewhere.

      2. I meant the comment thread above.

        Here’s the information that you’re looking for:

        If, in the County’s determination, the City proposes a significant change or restructure to a route or corridor, such as a possible City service investment to separate the RapidRide C&D lines, the City agrees, if requested by the County, to participate in an interagency team to evaluate and/or plan for the proposed change. The Parties will agree on team composition and allocation of additional costs related to planning and implementation of such changes prior to committing resources to such an effort. If the Parties agree to the service and capital investment needed to achieve the service changes, the team will be responsible for analyzing and developing an implementation plan addressing not only service pathways but also facilities, coaches, terminals, equipment, and any other relevant issues and support needs.

        Again, I read this to mean that King County is concerned about the cost of building new RapidRide stations in SLU and that Seattle will stop funding the additional service in 2018 (leaving King County stuck having to fund more expensive RapidRide routes).

  7. Glad to see the C get a boost, along with the 10/11 off-peak (although I’m not sure it needs that much new service). And yay for no more reduced weekends, which must have seemed better on paper than the mess they’ve become in practice.

    I’m struggling to see the need for more evening 12 service. The 12 isn’t a top performer off-peak as it is. The inbound AM peak is badly overcrowded but off-peak, not so much. However, if this is going to happen, can we at least get SDOT to remove or limit street parking on Madison? Forcing the bus to change lanes to avoid 1-2 blocks of parking is ridiculous.

    1. I have a feeling the 10/11 frequency boost, especially at night, may be an early preparation for moving the 49 off Pine. The city seems interested in using the 49 as part of the Madison BRT solution, and of course the city TMP previously wanted to connect the 49 with the 36 to create a straight north/south corridor.

      Similarly, building evening frequency on both the 2 and 12 may be preparation for the First Hill restructure.

      1. If we get a 49-Madison, might we get that Seattle TMP corridor 3 anyway via a straightened 60 from Capitol Hill to Othello, with the 107 taking over 15th Ave S service?

      2. That would be the Broadway-Madison route Metro mentioned at the U-Link open house. So the city is interested in it too, and you think the 49/36 idea has fallen out of favor? One advantage of 49-Madison is it would give western Madison direct access to a Link station, namely Capitol Hill Station. It could also be part of a general idea to push all buses off Pine to either Madison or John. Moving the 10 to John is also in the mix, again to give it direct access to Capitol Hill Station.

        That would leave only the 11, depending on whether it remains as-is or becomes an all-Madison route. The latter looks better on a map and would fit naturally into Madison BRT, but the current route seems more useful in connecting people to where they want to go.

    2. Street parking on Madison will go away entirely in a few years (between I-5 and 23rd anyway) as part of the BRT project.

      1. Right, I’m looking forward to that but that is years away. I’m just impatient.

        It is literally 1 block of parking EB (13th-14th) that gets in the way in the evening. Sometimes it is just 1 parked car in the lane.

      2. I think there’s two blocks including the short one between 14th and Pike, but regardless, there is no reason to have those few spots there. It is a real slowdown for buses and cars heading east, and it serves no purpose as there is street parking available immediately to the south. The block between 14th and Pike is completely vacant now and will be redeveloped, so there isn’t even the “but people live/shop here!” excuse.

        Getting rid of that parking NOW will improve service and prepare Madison for the BRT plans. It would mean two lanes uninterrupted between Broadway and 23rd.

        (Strangely enough, there is parking allowed on both sides of Madison between I-5 and Broadway 20 hours a day, but because there’s a turn lane there the traffic doesn’t seem as bad. That said, opening it up and providing some sort of dedication for buses would be a huge boon to the only street in Seattle that travels from Sound to lake.)

    3. Speaking for myself, the 12 is infrequent enough after 7pm, that, depending on my trip, I often end up either walking all the way up/down Madison to/from downtown, detouring on route 10 or 11, or skipping the trip altogether.

      I wouldn’t expect a more frequent Route 12 to be packed evenings, at least in the short-term, but my bet is that a more frequent Route 12 would boost ridership because it would make trips on and near Madison convenient for more people- nobody will wait 30 minutes for a bus if they have any other choice.

      (During rush hour, it’s also often faster for me to walk along Madison than to sit in the 12 stuck in traffic, but that’s another story)

  8. Does this mean restructuring is off the table?

    Certainly the frequency improvements are welcome, but things like the 1/2/3/4/13 restructure can do a lot for efficiency and even better frequencies. In any case, U Link, East Link, and North Link are going to force restructures in the next 8 years.

    1. IIRC the Queen Anne/SPU restructure will go through anyway once the SPU layover expansion is live.

    2. “Does this mean restructuring is off the table?”

      The usual restructure opponents would like to think so, basing their position on language in Prop 1 that specifically says the first priority was to prevent the restructure Metro initially proposed for next month.

      The city (by which I mean all of the mayor, the councilmembers involved in this issue, and staff) doesn’t think so, but pols are also seeking not to antagonize the loud and effective restructure opponents.

      If I had to guess, I’d guess that we won’t see any restructure proposals except for the U-Link one until after all of the improvements described in this post are in place. That will allow the city to take credit for concrete improvements, help the case that the restructure represents continued improvement, and give memories of the painful cut/restructure proposals a bit more time to fade.

    3. The RapidRide C/D restructure brought in a lot of changes far from those routes, and it would have been more if Metro hadn’t withdrawn some of them. So Metro clearly sees new trunk openings as the best opportunity to pack in other changes with the least opposition. So I expect the U-Link restructure will be far reaching, and the North Link restructure after that, because those will be Metro’s only opportunities to “blame it on Link” or “blame it on RapidRide” and “By the way, did you notice the 10-minute frequency on Link and 15-minute on RapidRide” (i.e., look over here not there).

  9. So for the 71-73, does “All local trips converted to express in September” mean that it will take I-5 downtown instead of eastlake ave?

    1. No. Eastlake is faster than I-5 for southbound trips at all times when the Express Lanes are closed and for northbound trips at PM AM peak. I don’t know if maybe a few more northbound trips might use the regular lanes.

      1. “and for northbound trips at PM peak”

        Surely this’s a misprint, given that’s just when the express lanes are open northbound?

      2. I have a really, really hard time believing that it’s actually faster during those times.

        Eastlake has a lot of stop lights, and a much lower speed limit than I-5. I would think that even if it had to go up to 45th st. and take I-5 between 45th and Olive way, it would normally be faster. I have missed buses to south King county waiting at lights on eastlake.

        But, apparently I-5 is only faster northbound in the AM peak?? When I-5 is crammed with commuters?

        My brain just doesn’t get it. Is this bus not able to use regular I-5 lanes or something?

      3. Northbound, I think there may be some times (particularly Saturday) when Eastlake is used but I-5 regular lanes would be faster. Not sure what the reason for using Eastlake at those times is.

        Southbound, think about what you’re asking the bus to do. It would have to pick up passengers at Campus/12th, use 40th and 7th to get to 45th, and then get on I-5 at 45th. 7th is a horrible time sink during the afternoon, as any unfortunate 64, 76, or 355 rider knows. Then you have to make the left turn onto 45th and the next left turn onto I-5, where there is almost always a backup. By the time an I-5 bus would actually get onto the freeway, the Eastlake bus is already past the worst of the lights, which is Lynn Street. And, most afternoons, I-5 itself is moving slowly; once the Eastlake bus gets past Lynn, it will in all likelihood be moving faster than I-5.

        Edit: I just realized I also have personal history with this question. When I was studying full-time at UW and driving nights at Metro, I needed to get from the UW campus to Central Base in a hurry (5:30 class end -> 6:10 or so sign-in). I’d park my car along Roosevelt, and I experimented with two routes: one using Eastlake to the I-5 entrance at Boylston Ave, and the other using 45th as I described. It wasn’t even close — the Eastlake route was 10 minutes faster.

      4. “Northbound AM peak trips use I-5 GP lanes, yes?”

        It uses Eastlake between 7:30am-9:00am, and I-5 before and after that.

      5. (Sigh) I better enjoy local service in the tunnel while it lasts (it’s the reason I wanted longer tunnel hours in the first place!). While they’re at it, they should revise the I-5 NB GP lanes trips to serve the stop at Roosevelt & 42nd, by the UW Clinic.

    2. Has there been any talk about transit signal priority along Eastlake? Given the shear volume of buses that use it, along with very light traffic on the cross-streets, one would thing this would be a no-brainer. Even if the express buses along Eastlake will go away with upcoming Link restructures, local service on Eastlake is probably going to remain indefinitely.

  10. Transit Planning in a Vacuum?
    There is deafening silence on the fact these are changes being made for September 2015, lasting until Feb’16, at which time the much touted 70,000 riders per day will start riding the new Link extension from the U-Dist.
    Either,
    a. Link will not be moved up
    b. The hordes of riders will not come from buses currently running
    c. Metro, SDOT and ST still talk a lot, but in different languages,
    d. Adding a bunch of service late this year, has nothing to do with cutting it next year,
    e. none of the above,
    f. I’m an idiot. (ps, Brent doesn’t get to vote)

    1. I don’t understand. Why not add service now, when we have the money and the demand, and re-org around Ulink when the time comes? Is your position we just shouldn’t spend the money at all until 2016? Why?

      1. Because fall ridership is historically lower than at other times of the year and UW is out for much of December. Why pump up some routes, it they are going to get dumped in the spring and summer shakeups. Fix some other routes, or god forbid, bank some of the revenue for when it’s needed.

      2. “Because fall ridership is historically lower than at other times of the year and UW is out for much of December.”

        Wrong on both counts. October is the highest-ridership month of the year for weekday service on both Metro and Sound Transit, and the trend continues in November until Thanksgiving week. UW, being on the quarter system, typically operates until the week of Christmas and then restarts immediately after New Year.

        Routes won’t get “dumped.” They’ll be restructured, and hopefully the new routes will have as high or even higher service levels as the existing routes after these improvements. There’s no reason you need to wait until a restructure to add service.

      3. Because fall ridership is historically lower than at other times of the year

        What on earth are you talking about? This is demonstrably false. There are places you could get away with making falsehoods like this seem true through authoritative assertion, but recall this a blog populated primarily by transit geeks.

        The restructure, if done properly (and I have a lot more hope the Metro of 2016 will do it properly than I would have in the Metro of 2006) won’t take away service.

        Besides, this is what the voters voted for. We wanted to pass this thing because we desperately need more service ASAP. I’ve heard a bit of grumbling we have to wait six whole months for it. To not bother with it because it would be administratively easier to do it all in one big change would piss voters off royally, and with good reason.

      4. David and djw: You missed my point. Average boardings for Metro in the fall of were 386k daily boardings according to Metros 2013 data, whereas in the spring they rose to 396k per month – that’s more. Cherry picking Oct is but one month in 4. Summer dropped back to 382k, but by then Link will be running, so it’s a moot point.

      5. It’s pretty silly to average out a period that includes both the highest-ridership weeks of the year and a bunch of holiday weeks when half the changes in this batch are about ameloriating the worst peak overcrowding problems in the system. If there is any time in the year when peak overcrowding relief is needed, it’s October and November.

      6. In addition to what David says, the differences in those seasonal averages are trivial; the problems the extra service is intended to address will be there regardless. And again, sitting on the money for a year and half after the people voted for immediate relief would have been seen, correctly, as a pretty clear betrayal of the will of the voters. Your effort to complain about everything leads you to complain about some very real problems, but this isn’t one of them.

    2. These changes are being planned at the same time, by the same planners. It’s not two silos. It’s just that one has to be decided six months before the other. So Prop 1 is finalized now, while U-Link is still in flux and hasn’t had its public hearings yet. The voters did say, “Fix the overcrowding ASAP!!! And don’t wait to fill in the evening/weekend service. And show us some benefit for our taxes soon.” It’s not really a problem to beef up a route now and reorganize it six months later; that’s not two reorganizations. The main thing I’m worried about is beefing up the 12’s tail and then it may be harder to delete it later.

    3. It seems clear that the 49 is Metro’s favorite route on Capitol Hill. It has had frequent evenings since the early 2000s, and night owl. So it may move to Madison but it will doubtless take its hours with it and maybe get more. It’s less clear what will happen to the 10, 11, 12, and 43. Although 10-John sounds the most likely.

      1. The 49 gets the love because it has the ridership. Right now, if you look at all measures, it’s fair to say it’s the second most productive route in the system behind RapidRide D.

  11. I’m disappointed there won’t be more (at least some basic weekend service) on the 55/56/57. Just moved to the Admiral District and on the weekends it feels like you’re living in outer space.

    The C/D improvements (on nights and weekends, particularly) are huge, though. Much less having to wait around being offered drugs late at night at 3rd and Pine. Apologies if I missed this, but Is there still talk of extending those routes (D down to Pioneer Square, C up to SLU)?

    1. The C/D are likely to be split, just not in these first two rounds. Look for it next year probably, as they’ve still got to figure out an SLU terminus for the C.

  12. Selfishly, I’m rather disappointed that the 8 is getting only 1 new peak trip each way. That bus is crammed every day morning and evening rush. Even at 7pm, the line to get on the 8 at Westlake and Denny is usually 20-30 people long.

  13. Am I a bad transit nerd if I say that I’m somewhat disappointed by this plan? I am definitely glad to see the 41 receive 30 minute night service and the C & D a much need boost.

    But it seems as if there wasn’t much thought put into these new service hours. I work graveyard at a hotel in downtown. Each time I see the 66 drive past my work, I count the number of people on board because it always a pitiful number. It varies between 2-4. Same thing for the 70’s inbound after 1 a.m: only about 2 or 3 riders on a 60 ft bus at 1:45 in the morning. What. A. WASTE!

    I’m glad to see the 70’s go express 24/7, and the 44 getting a boost as well. But to see the 47 restored, the 11 OVER-served and I’m hesitant on the 67 & 68 – it just seems that whoever did the planning just dumped a bunch of hours onto the system without any careful examination.

    Only ONE added trip on the 8? Only THREE for the 120, yet the 125 gets an entire Sunday back?

    1. Late night service provides important lifelines for (primarily low wage) workers, and takes drunk drivers off the road. There’s a case to be made that the rides it provides have greater social value. But even if you disagree with that philosophy, as many here do, you can surely see the important political logic to avoiding needless controversy by sneaking some cuts into the happy occasion of adding lots of service.

      Only ONE added trip on the 8?

      This, to my mind, is the biggest WTF head-scratcher in the proposal.

      1. There may be more to the 8 changes than meets the eye. The route is getting a huge number of additional hours in the “reliability improvement” column. I’m not yet privy to the exact details of what reliability improvements will be made. But it seems likely to me that all those hours will pay for a substantial number of extra buses on the 8, especially during PM peak. That means that even if no more trips are listed on the schedule, buses should arrive much closer to scheduled time, particularly near the end of PM peak when right now they are suffering cascading delays. The effect for riders is similar to adding more trips.

      2. I want late night service too, but it must be placed in corridors with careful planning. I can see having service after 2a on the 70’s, but outbound and on Fri & Saturday nights only. Not on Sundays and weeknights like they currently are now.

      3. Agreed the 8 needs better service but with the traffic clogging the buses on Denny, adding buses to it is almost like creating more lemmings to be slaughtered (in this case more to be stuck in traffic).

    2. Careful with evaluating ridership based on what you see at one point in the route. I don’t know where your hotel is, but you may be seeing buses before the passengers get on or after they get off. The 70s have high ridership on essentially all trips until the end of service. The 66 is light inbound, but does well outbound.

      There was a clear bias in these decisions to focus on having a usable 7-day, 16-hour frequent network rather than increasing peak capacity. The peak investments are the minimum necessary to satisfy the Service Guidelines criteria, while the city is out ahead of the Service Guidelines on some frequent evening and weekend service.

      The 120 is a special case, because Prop 1 is not legally allowed to fund full trips unless Burien buys in. Any trips added to the 120 have to be short-turn trips. That makes improvements to the 120 a bit of a thicket of complications.

      1. In the aforementioned examples, I see the outbound 66 just before it exist the CBD. Though I agree, David, that we must be careful in making a general assessment of an entire route based on a small portion, I just don’t see the 66 having many riders getting on and off elsewhere on the route (with the exception of 45th and 65th streets) at night. As for the 70’s, late night service is a great investment, but should be emphasized on fri & saturdays alone.

        I fear that we may be romanticizing the notion of late night frequency. I’m definitely a proponent, but we must invest in such service WHEN it is actually needed.

      2. Reyes, the problem is one of communication. It is very difficult to make legible transit schedules with trips that only apply to Friday and Saturday, especially when that’s not been done in the past several years with Metro. To make such a dramatic change now, in just a few months, is untenable. Places like Dublin and Vancouver have some late night Fri/Sat trips, but even there the desire is for them to be seven-day. (Dublin only cut its NiteLink service back to weekends in response to budget cuts, not because ridership required it.)

      3. The problem with the 66 is that anyone headed between downtown and the U-district is going to prefer the 71/72/73’s increased frequency. Since the 66 does not share common stops with the 71/72/73, people still wait for the 71/72/73, even if the 66 may be coming first.

        North of the U-district, the 66 actually provides unique coverage down Roosevelt that is not met with other routes (except for the 67).

        There is some amount of redundancy between the 66, 70, 71, 72, and 73 for the downtown->U-district segment, but under the assumption that it will be restructured away just over a year from now, when U-link opens, it doesn’t bother me too much.

      4. My hunch is that the 66 will/could be replaced with 67 trips, but last I checked there wasn’t much momentum for restructuring the 70-series. That would probably require a lot of bus priority work on Pacific St at minimum to deliver those riders to the Link station.

  14. Reduced weekend was also implemented on Christmas Eve and the entire WEEK after Christmas. It was all longer waits and crush-loaded buses during peak hours when I went to work Dec. 29-31. Does Metro really think that many people get a full week off between Christmas and New Year’s?

    Also, I note with some irritation that the final 76 run to downtown this morning was one of the short, non-articulated buses. It’s almost always packed full in a longer articulated bus, but it just blew right past all of us at the final stop (and probably multiple other stops) before the freeway. My employer was understanding about my being late, but not everyone is so lucky. Hopefully the extra funding will somehow prevent boneheaded decisions like that?

    1. Since the 76 is a tunnel route, a 40′ bus would never be dispatched on it (at least not in these days of plentiful 60′ hybrids). It’s almost certain that what you saw was an emergency fill-in for a broken or severely delayed bus. In that situation Metro will use any bus and operator that can make it to the terminal more or less on time.

    2. “Does Metro really think that many people get a full week off between Christmas and New Year’s?”

      The reduced weekdays were due to Metro’s reduced budget after the recession, as sales-tax receipts have been recovering slowly. It’s not because Metro thinks nobody works or travels then.

  15. Re: Like greatness, having stupidity thrust on us instead.

    Since the State Auditor is a public official and therefore accessible to constituents, might be a good idea for the ATU president and reps from both Metro and Sound Transit came down here to Olympia to help out how to work out way to avoid infuriating operations.

    Which like every single other thing that delays transit, wastes thousands of dollars per year if not more. Which makes every transit person involved look like the exact kind of idiot bureaucrats who cause voters to turn down transit propositions.

    And especially make Democrats those elections. Not fair, but backhanded compliment. The kind of people who have to miss work time or get fired because I-5 takes an extra hour mostly vote for Republicans to get the attention of Democrat-leaning bureaucrats like auditors who mess up the transit they’re paying for, and transit officials who knuckle under.

    Olympia trip needs to be made on transit- with infractions for late report. The more critical the level of education, the more rigorous the course. Oh, and officials should also have to take a WASL test composed of multiple choice calculus story- problems.

    Mark Dublin

  16. I am confused by this:

    “A larger reliability improvement will come to riders of Routes 7, 43, 44, and 49. These routes are currently through-routed evenings, nights, and Sundays (7 with 49, and 43 with 44). Both through-routes will be broken evenings and Sundays, and will remain in place only at night after 10 p.m.”

    Currently, the 43 and 44 are through routed all day weekdays except between 9AM and 2:30PM.

    1. Currently, the 43 and 44 are through-routed for all trips weekdays only before 7 a.m. and in the evening. (In the evening until 10 pm, 44 frequency is higher than 43 frequency, so some 44 trips turn back at UWMC.) There are a few isolated through-routed trips during the midday and peak hours, but most trips are separated.

    2. I don’t think this is much of an advantage; it’s actually a disadvantage. The 7/49 and 43/44 don’t have nearly as much reliability problems in the evenings, and there are actual people who benefit from the restored interlining, especially since that’s the same time period that neighboring routes drop to half-hourly.

      1. Agreed. Living in north Fremont, taking the 43->44 is a great way to get back from a late night on Capitol Hill. The other option is taking a bus the other way downtown, and waiting for the E which drops down to a “RapidRide” 30 minute headway around 9:30. It was actually better with the 358, because at least it shared stops with the 5 and 16 so there was no guessing which stop to walk to.

      2. Agreed, keeping the lines broken in two later is bad and will greatly discourage off-peak bus travel in particular for Capitol Hill which gets a one seat ride Downtown-Financial area, Pioneer Square, Intl District, Rainier as well as Ballard, Wallingford and Phinney Ridge.

      3. The 43->44 thru-route is also extremely useful for people connecting between Wallingford/Ballard and the Eastside, since the 44 only serves Montlake freeway station when it is thru-routed with the 43.

  17. Be careful with your summaries: the 17EX will gain an extra run in the MORNING peak period, not PM, as says the actual ordinance language.

  18. I know this money is for operations but we also really need capital improvements to speed up busy urban bus routes. Its ridiculous to see several packed-to-the-gills buses (like say on Pine or Pike) waiting at traffic lights and stuck in SOV congestion and its operation money being completely wasted. On a route like Pike/Pine or Madison (or any major radial route) with the frequency of buses we are talking a huge waste of funds as well as wasted time for tens of thousands of riders on a spatially efficient HOV.

  19. I’m so happy about these changes as a whole that I want to celebrate. Finally 15-minute evening service on the 5, 10, and 40, and almost on the 16 and 48. Finally a full-time 70 and full-time express 71/72/73. In San Francisco, Chicago, and inner Vancouver, practically all routes have at least 20-minute frequency evenings, and many have 10 or 15. People say, “I never had a car in Chicago, but in north Seattle I found you really have to have one.” We need to get away from this suburban level of bus service in the city; if you want people to drive less, the buses have to be there. Now it’s finally starting to happen on a larger scale.

    1. I am really pleased to get improved service on the 16 and 48. But had hoped the 16 would do away with the cumbersome North Seattle College/Northlake Way/Fifth Avenue detour. And am wondering why routes that were considered ‘underperformers’ and actually scheduled for deletion, such as the 25, were instead given MORE service hours.

  20. King County taxpayers are getting shafted!
    The two most expensive services that Metro provides to the city of Seattle will continue to be paid for 100% by Metro: Center Park Bus and Access.

    None of those costs are being passed on to the city, even though increased bus service will mean increased costs for both services.

    Council, do not sign this contract!!

    1. How would increased bus service along existing lines increase costs for those services? Access is a hard Federal requirement for service within such-and-such distance of existing routes; running a bus along that route twice as often won’t change anything. And Center Park Bus, I think, is a contract route which also won’t be affected by these changes. You could make a good argument that Seattle should be paying for it, but this contract won’t make it any more expensive.

      1. Increased service into the evening and late nights increases the size of the Access service area = more trips = increased cost.

        Center Park is paid for 100% by Metro and follows the Access service area. Increased service area = more trips = increased cost.

      2. Except that service isn’t being provided any later into the night. It’s just running more frequently within the period of time where service already exists, which won’t change the Access service area at all.

        There are a few changes that you might think would minimally increase the service area, but except for the 68 on Saturday evenings and Sundays, they’re all within 3/4 mile of existing routes (the 125 is close enough to the 120, the 30 to the 71, and the 47 to the 49). While the incremental increase for the 68 should technically be paid by Seattle, I think the area and time period in question is small enough to not kill the contract over.

    2. I have bad news for you, sirdoug: Seattle residents are King County taxpayers, too. We just happen to be buying more service from city tax dollars than other cities contribute. Nobody’s getting “shafted.”

      1. What happens when Seattle starts buying service that’s not just frequency increases, but span?
        What happen when Seattle starts buying new routes that cover more area?

        The inevitable increased costs for Access aren’t coming from Seattle taxpayers alone, as was promised by Metro management. Taxpayers from Bellevue, Redmond, Kent, and Federal Way will be ask to chip in to an extent that’s over and above their fair share, for service that their residents aren’t receiving!

        This could be a significant liability for the County that’s hidden within this agreement. Put the liability where it belongs – charge the city for these increased costs!

        Metro needs to show that there will be zero increased costs to the County for Access + CPB or rewrite this thing to protect everyone else from being stuck with Seattle’s liabilities.

      2. In the future, should Seattle purchase such routes, I agree with you. However, I showed above that they’re near-zero with this rendition. And I would oppose most increases in the coverage area; the places that’re now > 3/4 mile from a bus route are, at least by and large, those that aren’t able to support one. But increasing coverage span is another thing. And in that case, I agree Seattle should pay for Access. If the county council or Metro management wants to add a clause to this contract reiterating so, I wouldn’t object at all.

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