UW Station Integration Concept
UW Station Integration Concept

The Problem

Of the two stations scheduled to open in 2016 as part of the U-Link extension, the UW Station has both the most potential and the most challenges for improved bus-rail integration. This station, which is located on the east side of the Montlake Triangle, is isolated from the UW Campus and UW Medical Center by Montlake Boulevard NE, NE Pacific Street and NE Pacific Place.

Currently, the nearest pair of bus stops to the UW Station are located on NE Pacific Street in front of the UW Medical Center. These stops are roughly 900-1,000 feet away, approximately a 4-5 minute walk. While this might be acceptable for less important transfers, it is long for such an important one, particularly if Metro proposes restructures that significantly increase transfers to Link.

Metro staff have said in the past that they were looking at moving the northbound stop by the UW Medical Center several hundred feet east of its current location, but have not yet released any solid plans. Although this would help some, the walking distance for the northbound stop would still be 800 feet, with the southbound stop still over 1,000 feet away from the station.

The State Legislature recognized this challenge as far back as 2010 and asked WSDOT to study changes to improve transfers in the Montlake Triangle area as part of the SR-520 project. While the study was informative and  made several good suggestions, it does not reflect Sound Transit and Metro’s new vision of an integrated, user-friendly transit system.

Integration Opportunities

Fast and reliable bus-rail transfers aren’t rocket science, but they generally require early and integrated station design efforts. Mercer Island Station is an excellent example of how early station design efforts can make bus-rail transfer seamless. Designing stations with high-quality transfers in mind allows transit planners to improve the transit system as it evolves and grows.

Much to our excitement, Metro is already working with the public on bus system restructures that will improve transit service on Capitol Hill, in the U-District and in greater Northeast Seattle. By improving connections to the fast and reliable U-Link extension and redeploying service hours, Metro will be able to bring greater coverage and frequency to the entire system. The restructured transit system could also improve local feeder service between UW Station and rest of the the U-District, providing access to Link until the U-District Station opens in 2021.

Consolidation of Sound Transit and Metro service on SR-520, with routes terminating at the UW Station, also has the potential of providing a more frequent and connected Eastside transit network, and better service to UW, while freeing up operating hours for improved frequency and coverage for Eastside passengers to destinations like SLU. The travel time competitiveness would likely depend most on the speed and reliability of the SR-520 to UW Station connection, quality of schedule integration (like timed transfers or pulse systems), and the quality of the bus-rail transfer.

Bus Routing Concept

The figure above shows a concept of how buses could be better integrated with the station. It details three bus routing alignments: one for routes heading through the Montlake Triangle area (local and SR-520), a second for local routes terminating at UW Station, and a third for SR-520 routes terminating at UW Station. Most of these routing options could take advantage of existing, repurposed, or new bus only lanes and roads to avoid congestion. The concept works with or without a second Montlake bridge and the existing bus stops by the UW Medical Center will be preserved. Below are details for each routing alignment.

  • Through Routes: This routing alignment would bring buses like the 43, 48, and 271 closer to the UW Station. After crossing the Montlake Bridge (using the right lane which is less congested), northbound buses would turn right and travel through the E12 parking lot on a new bus only path, serving a new stop just south of the UW Station before continuing to the existing stop at the UW Medical Center. Southbound buses would turn left onto NE Pacific Place, first serving the UW Medical Center stop and then serving a new stop under the UW Station pedestrian bridge on Montlake Boulevard NE. Routes would continue to serve the existing bus stop by the UW Medical Center.
  • Local Terminating Routes: This routing alignment would be similar to the current route 44 alignment, but buses would layover directly adjacent to the UW Station. Each route would ideally have its own layover bay, allowing for a pulse based bus system which reduces rail to bus transfer times. Read more about pulse or “timed transfer” here.
  • SR-520 Terminating Routes: This routing alignment would be used for routes like the 255 and 545. Traveling from SR-520, buses would travel north along Montlake Boulevard NE and drop off passengers at a bus stop just west of the UW Station. Empty buses would then loop around, laying over with local terminating routes. Traveling back to SR-520, buses would use a new transit only westbound left turn at Montlake Boulevard NE and NE Pacific Street. This routing alignment has the most significant technical issues and would need detailed analysis.


While better bus-rail integration would have a host of benefits, there are also a variety of challenges. Consolidation and termination of SR-520 buses at UW Station could increase travel times to or from downtown during some times of day if bus-rail schedule integration is poor or there is no mitigation for congestion on Montlake Boulevard NE. Local routes would also see several minutes of additional travel time through the Montlake Triangle area. Major events like UW football games, although infrequent, would also likely require special accommodations.

In addition, routing of buses onto UW property would require a willingness on its part of the UW to facilitate and support this change. SDOT and WSDOT would need to coordinate on a variety of changes, including signal timing changes that may increase congestion. Support from the Montlake community would also be desirable. Finally, Sound Transit and Metro would need to study, plan, design, and finance a host of capital and operational changes in roughly a year.

The Takeaway

The opening of U-Link will be a game changer.  Sound Transit and Metro have the chance to build an integrated, user-friendly transit system and I hope this concept gets Metro, Sound Transit, WSDOT, SDOT, UW and the public thinking about how bus-rail integration at UW Station can be improved. I put this concept forward as a starting point for that discussion.

103 Replies to “Improving Bus-Rail Integration at UW Station”

  1. I support the local and 520 terminating routes solutions, but I can’t get on board with the through route proposal. I know the intersection isn’t great, but folks should be able to walk the extra 150 feet. No point in delaying the vast majority of riders going through only.

    1. Where do you get 150 ft from? See page 6 of the WSDOTs report for existing conditions (option A). I’ve made a few changes to the post to clarify.

      1. Three comments:

        1) If you are on a milk-run like the 48, does an extra minute really matter? If you go from eternity to eternity+one minute, will anybody notice or care?

        2) And post U-Link opening, how do you know that the majority of riders passing the Montlake Triangel won’t actually be transferring or terminating?

        3) Post U-Link opening, there will probably be a morve towards more terminating feeder type routes and less through routes anyhow.

      2. How bad the delay is for northbound through-routed buses depends on the particulars. Anyone that bikes in the corridor knows how long you have to wait during peak hours to cross Montlake at Pacific…

        So it’s just a matter of the calculation: what portion of passengers are going to transfer at that station, how much time to they save having a closer connection, how does that weigh against the extra time going through? And whether some kind of TSP is able to reduce wait times for buses that are now trying to cross the dominant traffic flow (this would be a hard fight) is a significant factor in how much through-riders are delayed.

      3. I would add that the value of the connection will change over time. Once U-Link opens to Northgate the value of this connection for local service will increase.

      4. I think that crossing is critical anyway. The hospital is a major destination. The pictures I’ve seen (http://1p40p3gwj70rhpc423s8rzjaz.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/MTP_Rendering.jpg) show both a prominent crosswalk as well as the overpass. There is a tradeoff here, beyond just the bus speed versus walking distance. There is a trade-off between walking to the hospital and walking to the train station. That has to be factored in as well.

        Eventually, when Link gets to the U-District (Brooklyn Station) very few people will transfer in this way. If you are coming from the north, you will have already transferred at the Brooklyn Station (and saved yourself a considerable amount of time). It would make sense for someone coming from the south (north Capitol Hill or Montlake) but mostly if you are headed north. If you are on Montlake and headed to Northgate then transferring in this fashion makes sense. But most other combinations (e. g. north Capitol Hill to downtown) would involve doing something different (e. g. taking a bus headed south).

        I’m not sure that many people will be trying to get to areas to the north (e. g. Northgate) from Montlake (or vice versa). I think there are likely to be just as many people who want a one seat ride to the hospital. If I just finished the evening shift as a nurse and I want to get home to my place at 55th in the U-District, I’m not going to bother with Link. I’ll just take the 48. And if I want to get from my place to somewhere on Link, I’m certainly not going to ride all the way down to Husky Stadium.

      5. I disagree, Adam. Once the train gets to Northgate, the value of this connection will decrease (see the second paragraph above). Bus routes can and will change, but as of right now, every bus that comes close to the stadium/hospital also comes close to 45th and Brooklyn. Buses from the northeast head through campus, while buses from the west and north head to the U-District. The main connection this provides is for 520 buses and a handful of folks headed from Montlake or north Capitol Hill to places north (Roosevelt, Northgate, etc.). Even if you are headed to the U-District from Montlake and this bus can drop you off right by the station (as shown on the map) I don’t think you would bother. You might as well stay on the bus, especially if you are headed to the south end of the U-District (Campus Parkway).

      6. The ‘several additional minutes” for through routes may be overstated. It looks like only one or two minutes. The main bottleneck is getting to the Montlake Bridge, and part of that is unchanged, while the other part is relative to the existing Pacific Street’s traffic. The main additional traffic would be Montlake Blvd, but WSDOT could, ahem, do something about that.

        In the 5-year interim between UW station and U-District station, the Pacific Street routes will gain an important role as shuttles, and that’s a lot of new transferring passengers. When U-District station opens, those people will go away again because they’ll stay on the train. Longer-term, there have been ideas such as a 271/48N route or a 48S/15th Ave NE route. Metro did say that the more we have through routes rather than terminating routes, the less need there is for layover spaces. The current plan has only one layover space as I understand.

      7. >> Where do you get 150 ft from?

        I think that is mixing up the issue. It really depends on which direction the bus is headed. For southbound buses, a bus route by the hospital might be shorter, if it is close to the crosswalk (i. e. close to Montlake Boulevard). It avoids going up and down a ramp. However, a stop along Montlake Boulevard would avoid crossing both crosswalks. But as I mentioned above, we need to improve those crosswalks just so people can quickly get to the hospital.

        For northbound buses it is completely different. The new routing saves considerable time in getting to the station. It is much closer and avoids the crossing.

        This brings up another issue, though. The train is underground (this isn’t Northgate). This means that the destination is the ground floor, not two stories up. If you drop people off on the west side of Montlake Boulevard, midway between the two crosswalks, a lot of people will (of course) take the overpass. But a significant number will try and jaywalk. Call it the Franklin High School Student Effect, named after the incident that occurred when a local high school student was punched after she jaywalked instead of taking the overpass. I’m not sure we want that.

        The more I think about, the more I agree with Stephen. Unlike the rest of what you have proposed, I don’t see it as a clear win. There is the time penalty (mentioned by Stephen) as well as the cost to hospital workers and patients, as well as the Franklin High School Student Effect. All that for a transfer that will be really minor in a few years (when U-District station opens).

        The 520 related proposal is excellent, and the essential connection for this station. The local terminating route is fine, too. But I would scrap the local connector plans, and simply push for moving both hospital stops further east. They should be as close to the crosswalk as possible. In other words, as close to Montlake Boulevard as possible. That would be just as good for hospital workers, and much better for folks transferring to Link.

      8. @RossB I’m not proposing to get rid of the existing UW Medical Center stops. That is a false choices that the past study made and I’ve updated the post to make that clear. The southbound stop would move across the street but it would essentially stay where it is now. I hadn’t though about the impact of the U-District station in that way so that’s a good point, but with that said my personal philosophy is that every station should be integrated with buses, especially the local routes. If this adds 1-2 minutes per direction I think it’s a slam dunk. If it’s more in the 3-4 minute range it gets more complicated.

      9. I would like to amend my last suggestion. I think the only part of this proposal I don’t like is the southbound through route part. The rest of it is fine. The northbound through route, for example, is great. It might be just as fast. You avoid a slow left turn lane, and add an extra stop as well. This compliments the other stop quite well, even for folks not getting on Link. If you are headed to the east end of the hospital, you can get off there, and cross the crosswalks with everyone that is headed that way from the train.

        But I still don’t like the southbound through route suggestion. I think we should simply push for an additional stop closer to Montlake Boulevard (on Pacific Street).

      10. @ Adam. First see my amendment — I now support the northbound through route. I don’t think there will be a time penalty, and if there is, it will be minor and worth it.

        I support everything but the southbound through route.

        >> The southbound stop would move to the across the street but it would essentially stay where it is now.

        OK, I’m confused. From the map, it looks like the southbound station is right by the new ramp. This makes sense if you expect people to take the new ramp. Is this not the case?

        I will assume this is the case and detail my opposition. Right now there is a southbound stop close to the cutoff between Pacific Place and Pacific Street (http://goo.gl/maps/FmvIk). If we did as you suggest, this would go away, because it is beyond the turnoff (on your map it is contained within a section where the arrows only head west). This stop is right next to the hospital. My alternative is to keep the same southbound routing as today, but add another stop, in the bus lane, very closer to Montlake Boulevard. Now you have two stops on Pacific Street, east of the Pacific Place turnoff.

        Now I’ll compare the two stops. By my estimations, a stop at the ramp would be 500 feet from this new stop, and require crossing two separate crosswalks (first to the island, then to the other side). At best this adds 500 feet (for someone trying to get to the east side of the hospital). If someone is trying to get a little further west, it adds more. So I think this would simply be worse for someone who worked at that end of the hospital.

        Then you have the jaywalking issue I mentioned, as well as the fact that you have to go up and down a ramp (as opposed to crossing two crosswalks). You also have a minor issue with buses going along this street (a route no bus currently takes, by the way). There is a bus lane on this section, but the bus lane becomes a right turn lane. So the bus has to merge with regular traffic (at some point after this stop). The same thing is true for buses along Pacific Street, but there the merge occurs after the intersection, and there is a special “jump ahead” light there (http://goo.gl/maps/b56wd).

        On the other hand, the northbound solution is a great and elegant suggestion. I think it works really well with the existing southbound route, along with a new southbound stop (close to Montlake Boulevard, as I suggested). This would allow Metro to keep the northbound stop where it is, or maybe add a stop (with an additional crosswalk) across the street from the other stop. Either way it gives you route symmetry, which is a minor thing, but it reduces confusion. If you took the 48 to the hospital, and then want to know how to get back home, it is logical to think that your stop is right across the street (especially if the street is two way). With my suggestion you would have that.

        Really, for me the final straw is the jaywalking issue. I was at a Husky basketball game the other day, and I saw a couple people do that. They didn’t want to back track and either take the overpass or cross the two crosswalks. So they ran across (and made it easily). This was the same street (Montlake Boulevard). This was around 7:30 at night, right before an event. I figure that won’t happen during rush hour (that would be crazy unless traffic is stopped both ways) but I do think it is a concern. If it can happen at 7:30, when the alternative was to probably walk an extra 50 feet, it can happen any night when the alternative is walking up and down a ramp. It was nowhere near game time, either (imagine if it is 8:00 PM and you are trying to catch the train). In general I don’t mind jaywalking, but I don’t think we should create a very tempting jaywalk situation across a very busy street.

        You could, of course, move the stop closer to the crosswalk (and thus avoid the ramp) but at that point you might as well go with my solution, since it would be just as far (and require two crossings, either way).

      11. @RossB Yes I expect people to take the new pedestrian ramp over Montlake.

        In my experience you get dangerous jaywalking when people are able to see their bus approaching and they bolt across the street. Because of how the UW Station and pedestrian bridge is designed people won’t be able to see their bus arriving until they are *already* on the bridge. This means they might run but won’t be at street level so jaywalking isn’t an issue. Transfer from bus to Link won’t be as big of an issue because people won’t be able to see the train. With that said I would like to see a new escalator on the west side of Montlake up to the new pedestrian bridge. I would have buses stop as far north on Montlake as possible so passengers are close to the new ped bridge, reducing backtracking.

        As for the UW Medical Center yes I would close the southbound stop right next to the UW Medical Center and move it to the triangle shaped corner of Pacific St and Pacific Pl.

        Because of this I actually think your idea has a much higher likelihood of having people running/jaywalking.

      12. You do realize the example I cited had nothing to do with chasing a bus. It was on that exact street, and it happened *last night*. Last night! If it is rare, then I am one lucky guy to see that (and happen to be talking about the subject just the following day). It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen it at that street, either (I’ve done it too) but it was fresh in my mind because of the expressions on the folks involved (they had sh** eating grins).

        The other example I cited had absolutely nothing to do with chasing buses, either. That happened around Franklin High School, in an area where they *force* people to take an overpass (there is no crosswalk). It happened so often around Franklin that they added a cop there to try and prevent it. One of those cops (and I’m sure he wasn’t the first assigned that duty) happened to get in an altercation that was caught on video. Again, this jaywalking was obviously not rare.

        None of these happened because of people chasing buses (or trains). They happened because people didn’t feel like going way out of there way to just get across the street. Coming from campus is one thing (the approach is long and high, so you gain little if anything by jaywalking) but next to the street is another.

      13. A new stop would be added and save through passengers minutes off of their commute. I can’t support the deviation, that’s bad transit planning.

    2. I’m on with this. At first glance, the through-route plan looks like 43/48/271 riders get a raw deal. I don’t think that’s actually true. The right lanes of the bridge span and Montlake Boulevard do move faster, and if some sort of traffic signal scheme is worked out to eject the buses from the northbound stop on Pacific St in an efficient manner, it may actually end up saving time otherwise spent negotiating the congestion between the (right-side) 520 freeway station, over the bridge span, and into one of the left turn lanes.

      I would make a change though — why limit the nice new E12 route to just the through-routes? The 520 buses should use them too, provided there’s enough space for two bus bays.

      1. I agree. I think it would save a little time and might end being easier on the UW. If additional bus bays or layover space is needed, they could be put on this section (to the south of the station). This might mean a little bit more walking, but I think the difference is minimal. I think the key is communicating with the UW and working out a good plan. There is so much land here that could be put to good use, not only for bus service, but for bike facilities as well.

      2. For SR-520 terminating routes I tried to reduce the walking distance as much as possible and having a layover location right next to the station. Otherwise I would route them on the through route alignment.

      3. >> For SR-520 terminating routes I tried to reduce the walking distance as much as possible and having a layover location right next to the station

        I think that makes a lot of sense. If you can make the transfer really fast and really easy, then folks will go along with truncating routes (which is better for everyone).

      4. If the 48 became truncated at the station, this could make sense since it would be terminal looping. But there are a whole host of through-routes that will not become truncated and that will continue along the routing of today, or close to it anyway. Let’s keep deviation madness to a minimum. It increases travel times, increases collision opportunities, and makes routings more complicated for operators to proceed along. Not to mention, a pattern like the above is really awkward for riders. The pairing of stops is very non-standard.

        I’m all for making connections seamless, and this would achieve that, but not at the cost of a readable, reliable, and efficient network.

  2. What sort of delay for 255/545 riders would be deemed acceptable for those buses to terminate at the new UW Station? And whose decision is it to stop the 255 at the Station instead of it remaining on its current route – Metro’s or ST’s?

    1. ST already has routes to the U-District, the 540 (Kirkland) and 542 (Redmond). So it’s not so much rerouting the 255 and 545 as merging them into the 540 and 542. Rerouting the 255 is Metro’s decision. Merging the 545 into the 542 is ST’s decision. Merging the 255 into the 540 is ST’s decision in consultation with Metro, and it would also require funds in ST’s budget, since I doubt Metro would just pay ST to run it permanently. So that would depend on whether ST has funds without cutting into its other ST2 responsibilities.

      Looking forward, I could see these routes first serving UW station but not terminating there, instead going toward campus and the U-District. Otherwise it would erase part of its existing service and dump people at the far corner fo campus. The 542 currently goes to 65th (Roosevelt Station), while the 540 makes the 15th/campus loop to 45th. Those will be important at least until U-District and Roosevelt Stations open, and could also provide some of the transfer shuttle capacity to there until then.

      1. Yeah, this is an “awkward phase”, when it comes to Link. Roosevelt and Northgate (and everything north of there) are really small potatoes compared to the U-District station. It should have been part of U-Link, but I guess we didn’t have the money. Anyway, I agree. The 540 and 542 should remain the same, until North Link is complete. I could see the 255 and 545 simply serving this station, and nothing more, though. In effect you would have a 542 to Roosevelt, and a 542 to Husky Stadium (much as you have a 73 to Jackson Park and a 73 to Cowen Park).

        I think to reroute the downtown buses you not only need a good connection, but you need it to be fast once you leave the freeway. I think I’ll start a new thread to discuss that.

      2. I think you are absolutely right Mike. The vision of trans-lake commuters
        who now travel to and from the U District and UW upper campus, being
        thrilled at the arbitrary definition of the stadium station as “University of
        Washington” seems doubtful to me. But what do I know? Perhaps most
        citizens of cold and rainy Greater Seattle have always wanted to have
        an extra transfer in their daily commutes and just didn’t know it.

      3. I don’t see a decision to terminate the 255 or 545 at UW Husky Station (or merge them into the 540 & 542) as being acceptable in any way.

        The entire Montlake ramps, Montlake Blvd & Montlake Bridge are congested during peak periods, and subject to bridge openings at off-peak periods. Building a new bridge is off the table and the political will to designate an existing lane for transit or HOV does not exist. There is nothing that will make transit service for riders who want to go downtown remotely attractive about having to endure this congestion and then have to make a forced transfer. Had the 520 bridge project included a transit or HOV bridge to the Husky Stadium lot, that would have been a good idea. Frankly even for 540 and 542 riders heading for most of the U-District, they don’t want to be dropped off here and make a forced transfer. And if all the 255 and 545 trips go into the U-District, then there aren’t any service hour savings.

  3. The public has been trying to get attention to bus-train transfer issues for years. The agencies are late to the party. The assumption all along, until recently, was that the station wouldn’t be used for transfers from SR 520 buses, so why design to enable such transfers? And so they didn’t.

    Metro didn’t participate in ST open houses to hear from the neighbors who wanted to find out how to ease transfers. Transit Acting as One didn’t arrive until the Constantine administration.

    But enough crying over millions of gallons of spilt oil.

    Any plan for bus-train connectivity at UW Station has to also take into account the final destinations of the riders. The rumored re-routing of some service to directly serve South Lake Union is a positive first step, IMHO.

    While discounting the possibility of SR 520 bus riders transferring at UW Station, the agencies correctly identified a major destination nearby: UW Medical Center. It isn’t just students, faculty, and staff that go there. There are lots of transit-dependent riders who go there, and may be choosing between paratransit and fixed routes based on the difficulty of getting from the bus stop or train station to the front door of wherever their appointment is. Truncating fixed routes isn’t the only opportunity for operational savings. Converting trips to UW medical facilities by provisional Access riders from a paratransit trip to a fixed-route trip is also an opportunity for savings. I don’t have the numbers to know whether the potential savings are in the same ballpark, but this is something Metro seems to be paying attention to in its Sounding Board materials.

    I very much wanted transfers at UW Station to be smoothe years ago, and was disappointed to keep getting told by ST that Metro would look at which buses would have transfers there during the last few months before the station opened. ST passed the buck, rather than designing to enable the option.

    So, at this point, truncating SR 520 routes at UW Station may be a net drag on commutes for both riders headed downtown and riders headed to campus. We can pray that ST and UW will redesign the traffic situation around the station to enable busways etc, but I’m hear to tell you, it ain’t happening.

    Through-routed local routes run up against the City’s new prioritization of reliability. But, then, there is almost no space to have routes terminate at UW Station So, through-routing will make sense, and the City will have to accept that it won’t be terribly reliable. But hey, most UW riders have pricey phones, so cleaning up the data fed to the apps may be a better investment. Given the lack of design for transfers, timing them is a pipe dream.

    For the majority of northeast Seattle riders on peak local routes headed to UW after the station opens, I would expect a majority of them are headed downtown, on Link. That should justify serving the station directly, as well as adding more service on these routes (372, 65, and 75), as they gain new riders headed to the station.

    1. Sadly given all of the money Sound Transit, WSDOT, the UW, and SDOT are spending in the Montlake area it is really too bad it hasn’t been possible to get all 5 parties including Metro on the Sam page as regards pedestrian, bike, and transit access.

      Given than the head of WSDOT, the King County Executive, and the Mayor of Seattle all sit on the ST board together there really is little excuse for the lack of co-ordination.

      1. I agree. I might add that the UW is a public university, and thus ultimately beholden to the state (as much as WSDOT is). To quote Cool Hand Luke: What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

  4. I appreciate this analysis as well. As another sounding board member, I’ve been disappointed by the lack of transfer stops near the station. In the last two sounding board meetings, I’ve heard transit planners reference stops on Stevens Way as being possible transfer drop-off stops. I’ve never seen a system with 1/3 mile walks for transfers mid-route. I’d support more terminating local feeders and the larger network changes they would support with a transfer plan like this.

    @Scott: Maybe we should email this story out to the rest of the board?

    1. As a 60 year old route 75 rider who tries to take transit to the airport and downtown whenever possible, it seems unreasonable to expect airport bound riders like me to walk from Stevens Way all the way to the Husky stadium station with baggage in tow. Currently, the trip to the airport involves 2 buses to get downtown, and a ride on the Link. I had hoped that with the arrival of Link into North Seattle, the trip to the airport (and downtown) would be much more streamlined with a close transfer stop for the 75. Schlepping luggage in the rain and/or in the dark over 1/4 mile from Stevens Way to Husky Stadium isn’t really very convenient, and does not qualify as a transfer in my book. I don’t see anything in that graphic that talks about what will happen to routes such as the 65, 68, and 75. I appreciate bringing this up at sounding board meetings.

      1. When North Link opens there may be other possibilities too. A lot of people have recommended a 65th Street route from Magnuson Park to Roosevelt Station, and Metro seems favorable to that too. The north part of the 75 is more difficult, but North Link and Lynnwood Link will open simultaneously, so it could go to Northgate Station (the default and worst case), 145th Station, or 130th Station (if it finds funding in ST3, hint).So you may not have to transfer at UW Station forever.

      2. North Link (to Northgate) opens in 2021. Lynnwood Link doesn’t open until 2 years later, in 2023

      3. Oh, there is the 2-year gap. I was thinking of how both north Link and Lynnwood Link are in ST2, when I expected only North Link. But they do have different opening dates, I forgot.

      4. Yeah, what Mike said. The U-District station will be huge as far as bus transfers are concerned. When it is done, the main bus to rail connection for Husky Stadium will be for 520 bus riders. Until then, some people will make the walk from Stevens Way, but a lot of people will do what they have done before. I doubt Metro will truncate the routes (for that reason). In other words, the 73 will still live, and it will still go downtown (it won’t be replaced by more 373 style service).

      5. If this were 2021, assuming everything stays on schedule, going to Northgate or Roosevelt stations would be a reasonable answer for 68 and 75 riders trying to get to the airport or downtown via Link. Not so much until then.

        Related issue: I assume Children’s Hospital, which has a fleet of vehicles to shuttle employees to and from their satellite parking lots, U District, and downtown, will want to stop at the new UW station to pick up and drop off employees who will use Link coming from the south. Does anybody know how or if that will work? Will there be a place for such employer transit vehicles to load and unload?

      6. More generally, I think UW Station is a bad transfer station, period. It will have to do in the 2016-2021 interim, but after that we should also think about minimizing transfers at that station. Eastside-UW routes will have no choice, but northeast Seattle routes will have several other choices including U-District, Roosevelt, Northgate (isolated), 130th (maybe), and 145th.

        This also throws into question the suggestion to reroute the 65/68/75 to UW Station. If they continue their existing campus routing, they’ll pass U-District station (3 blocks away). However, the campus roads themselves are the biggest bottlenecks in these routes. When I brought this up with Metro, the planner said they were originally not bottlenecks but they may have become so. I said they definitely have become bottlenecks, with the 75 taking an extra 10-15 minutes to crawl through them between 7:30am and 7pm. That’s mostly because of students loading/unloading and walking in front of the bus, and vehicle congestion. So hopefully the UW will speed them up somehow when the Triangle/Burke-Gilman construction finishes.

        For people coming from Montlake and further south, they could just stay on the bus to U-District station. That would mostly be if they’re going northbound. If they’re going southbound or to the Eastside, then they may just take the bus the other way to Capitol Hill Station, Rainier Station, or the downtown stations.

      7. “In other words, the 73 will still live, and it will still go downtown (it won’t be replaced by more 373 style service).”

        That’s a separate issue. 90% of people on the 71/72/73 are not going to 15th north of 65th. So the routes could either remain as-is, or Metro could go ahead with the 66/67/71/72/73/372/373 restructure. Or it could leave the 66 and 71 alone, convert the south part of the 72/73 to short 73s to 65th, and the north part of the 72 and 73 to the 372 and 373. The 66/67/71 would then wait until the North Link restructure, and then the short 73 would just be deleted.

      8. OK, I agree with this comment: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/01/30/improving-bus-rail-integration-at-uw-station/#comment-590149
        Very well said.

        The point raised in my other comment (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/01/30/improving-bus-rail-integration-at-uw-station/#comment-590153) was much simpler than you made it. One could easily make the argument that we should simply eliminate the 73 as soon as U-Link opens. Run the 373 instead, but a lot more often. The big problem with that is that folks don’t want to make that walk (as scenic as it will be). That is why Metro won’t do that. It goes to your other point. UW Station is a bad transfer station. The main value as a transfer station is for 520 (and only because we don’t don’t have a better one that is closer to 520).

        I wasn’t trying to get ahead of myself in recommending reroutes that should occur once Link gets to Northgate (or Lynnwood). I think this post nailed it as far as is concerned: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2013/08/19/your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really/

      9. After the terminus couldn’t they looped 75 down University, back Pacific to Montlake and proceed to Children’s. Then they would come close to station.

    2. Based on riding through campus during AM and PM peak for 6 years (on routes from northeast – 25, 31, 32, 65, 75), it appears the vast majority of use of the Steven’s way buses is by UW med center bound folks and Campus Park Way transfers to downtown (but also Freemont /Ballard and Eastlake to a lesser extent). The second most popular stop is the one just before Pend Oreille Road, but far less popular. The campus loop adds a huge amount of time to a relatively short distance. With Link open, the dominant use of these buses during peaks will be to UW medical and transfer to Link for downtown. It seems the best thing to do is reroute nearly all the campus loop buses down Montlake and up Pacific NE Pacific, likely with some terminations at the triangle. Leave enough through campus to serve the very few who use it.

      1. That would get a rider closer, but wouldn’t that be extremely slow? I know the loop isn’t great, but it isn’t stuck in traffic, is it?

      2. Forgot to add that the above is just discussing the overall routing. I agree the detailed routing at the Link station / UW Med and ease of access from the feeder buses is a very important topic!

      3. Assuming no reroute of 65, 68, and 75 onto Montlake Blvd, it would help if there were a stop at Rainier Vista and Stevens Way. That would cut a couple of minutes from the walk to UW Station.

      4. If you were riding during peak that may have been selection bias. I suspect college students are much less likely to work a 9-5 like schedule then are hospital staff. The times I’ve ridden through there it always seemed like there was a pretty healthy demand from college students, but this is just anecdotal.

        As vexing as it is, I think keeping the NE Seattle routes on Stevens way is the best option. Montlake Blvd. is sufficiently unreliable to make routing on it probably a bad idea, unless there were peak hour HOV/Transit lanes. I’d also point out that even with a 6 minute walk between Rainier Vista and Link, it is still as good if not better then the status quo.

  5. This is overall a very good idea, with a few caveats as mentioned by others. But I fear it is dead on arrival at the UW Administrative offices. Well, not just “dead”, but actually decomposing.

    Also, if you’re going to terminate the 520 buses at Husky, they really should continue around the campus loop or on down Pacific to the U-District so that the lines which are successors to “U-Trans” can be terminated.

    1. Don’t accept defeat prematurely. In wrestling you don’t give up until the bell rings, and sometimes you can succeed in the last 30 seconds. It’s not over until the UW finally says no. Pressure by students could convince the administrators. The UW has paid surprisingly little attention to students’ walking distances, and how convenient station entrances could make students more enthusiastic about taking transit. But as the station gets closer to opening and after it opens, people start thinking more concretely about “How it affects me”, and that can lead to positive shifts in the public’s mood and even the administrators’ mood. Other aspects of Link also show worse decisions in the 90s and 00s but gradually getting better over time. The most frustrating part is that the first things to open have the worst features because of bad decisions earlier, but that’s the flip side of getting service earlier. And things can be retrofitted after the fact, because the public mood will continue to shift over time, and eventually things become must-do’s.

      1. I agree. Besides, the UW can be bought out. Basically, that is what all the fussing is about. This is simply a matter of turf. The UW is a state institution. Ultimately, the governor (and legislature) are the ones that decide. But I can understand why someone at the UW, given all the cuts that have happened, doesn’t want to cut into the money they make from the parking. I can also understand why they don’t want the additional hassle that would be involved. But those aren’t intractable problems. Folks need to talk, and maybe negotiate, but there is no reason to assume that the UW has veto power, even if it doesn’t like what is proposed (and we shouldn’t assume that either).

  6. Something I should know- but admit I’ve lost track. Does the SR 520 rebuild still include a flyer stop at Montlake? If so, will it still have a stops for the 43 and the 48?

    Also, time-frame: Will the stations at Husky Stadium and Brooklyn open at the same time? Because a station directly on the “Ave” will be an excellent terminal for the 71-series.

    But if the Husky station opens earlier…how will connections be handled?

    Sorry for missed homework. To make up for absence, what’s my best source to bring me up to speed?

    Mark Dublin

    Mark Dublin

    1. The Husky Stadium station is due to open in 2016, the Brooklyn station doesn’t open until 2021.

    2. The flyer stop issue keeps changing. Last I heard downtown-bound buses would stop on the lid, cross an intersection, and get back on the freeway. But if this wholesale reorganization occurs, there won’t be any buses going downtown any more, so none to use the stop.

      1. Mike, the last WSDOT document for the Montlake lid had some comments re what they are contemplating for the Eastside buses. They are looking to have peak buses go downtown without stopping at Montlake. Off-peak buses would stop on the lid and provide ‘service similar to today’.

        I don’t understand how the WSDOT planning process is playing with either ST or Metro. Are they just marching ahead without waiting for the ST3 or joint ST-Metro processes to play out?

        The entire text is below (from Page 57 of the linked document -large PDF).

        SR 520 transit operations improvements:
        The SR 520 project includes infrastructure that will support regional transit plans developed by King County Metro and Sound Transit. The current highway design will help connect transit riders to destinations throughout the region, including downtown Seattle, the University of Washington, Capitol Hill and communities on the Eastside. The new SR 520 will improve transit operations in the following ways:
        – More reliable trips for buses with direct-access ramps on and off the highway.
        – Safer, easier connections for pedestrians and bicyclists on paths connecting bus stops, wider and better-signalized crosswalks, and local service bus stops near regional bus stops.
        – Better operations in Montlake with transit/HOV lanes on Montlake Boulevard East, local and regional bus stops on a new Montlake lid, and opportunities for transit signal priority.

        Future transit operations on the Montlake lid
        The Montlake Freeway Transit Station has been relocated to the top of the new Montlake lid. This will change future transit operations in the following ways:
        – Downtown Seattle to Eastside: During peak hours, buses will not stop at the Montlake lid, providing more direct service. During off-peak hours, transit agencies could operate buses on top of the Montlake lid, providing service similar to today.
        – Capitol Hill to the Eastside: Riders will have a short walk from a new local bus stop to regional bus stops on the Montlake lid at all hours.
        – Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle: Riders can ride Link light rail or local buses.

      2. What a joke. Why is WSDOT the apparent service planner here? Did they consult with agencies about their preferred service patterns? They want Capitol Hill to Eastside riders to depend on a local bus like the 43 in perpetuity? Ugh ugh ugh. They want less connectivity during peak than off-peak? They are requiring agencies, forever, to have a separate peak/off-peak service layer?

      3. The more I read about anything WSDOT is doing, the more I just want to blow the whole thing up and somehow build an agency that takes the full meaning of that “T” in their acronym seriously. They for whatever reason have become a bigger enemy of Seattle than every dry-land wheat farmer east of the Cascades could ever want to be.

      4. “Why is WSDOT the apparent service planner here?” They’re the top dog and it’s a freeway project. WSDOT is more concerned about building a freeway than intermodal transfers. ST has lesser authority than WSDOT or UW, so it jumps to their tune. Perhaps you’re imagining an umbrella transit authority, or a transit-and-roads authority, like some other countries have.

      5. @Bellinghammer: I don’t think they’re mandating any particular service patterns. They’re just justifying taking away the “fast with connectivity” option that we have today, by showing what sort of service patterns the infrastructure they’re building will support. The service pattern suggested is roughly similar to service between UW and Snohomish County: use the 45th Street freeway station with a connection to the 44 off-peak and reverse-peak, and take CT 8xx routes into campus during peak hours when the buses to downtown are in the express lanes.

        What the transit agencies actually do is up to them, obviously. They might decide it’s worth sending the 545 to the lid during forward-peak if it’s popular and not too slow. They might decide it’s worth keeping some eastside-UW and eastside-downtown services separate during more of the day than peak hours. They might decide they want to have some times of day when both downtown routes and UW-specific routes serve the Montlake area. Metro and ST might operate in totally different ways.

      6. “They for whatever reason have become a bigger enemy of Seattle than every dry-land wheat farmer east of the Cascades could ever want to be.”

        It makes sense on the context of Seattle’s’ history. Seattle had only 200,000-some people in the 1930s when streetcar suburbs went out of fashion. It didn’t have the 800,000 or 3 million people and 2-dimensional density that ensured the survival of urban rail in the automobile age like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York did. Instead Seattle went hog wild over Aurora Avenue and the Alaskan Way Viaduct and I-5 and 520. On the eve of the World’s Fair, city leaders were pointing to future I-5 and 520 as the city’s primary accomplishments for the future. The suburbs dropped trains and comprehensive buses even faster, or never had them at all, or were just small towns until the late 1960s. In my trip to Issaquah I learned that Issaquah/Snoqualmie had passenger trains only until the early 1920s or so. So either they switched to cars earlier than they had to, or the railroads just shut off passenger service that early anyway; I don’t know which. But anyway, all the cities and suburbs were united in FREEWAYS, FREEWAYS, FREEWAYS! during the middle of the 20th century, and WSDOT responded to that.

        Nowadays everybody has recognized that non-car modes need some infrastructure too, but the majority of residents and even more suburbanites just want to drive on the freeways and want WSDOT to focus on that, so that’s what it does. The mayors and county councilmembers are more forward-thinking, because they realize that non-car mobility will become increasingly essential to their city’s commerce, economy, and functioning, but at the same time they’re still heavily tied to the car/parking model that most of their citizens still demand. So they’re more forward-thinking than many of their residents, but not as forward-thinking as we’d like.

      7. At least for the interim plan, Montlake Freeway Station will remain open. In the final configuration, the bus stop at the top of the lid would be accessible to buses headed to/from the U-district, so even if the 255 and 545 were truncated, that stop would still get use.

        The business about peak-hour buses skipping Montlake and off-peak buses stopping at the lid on the way to downtown, I would not read to much into. That was just a best-guess service estimate that did not take Link into account at all. It is not a binding commitment. I personally think it would be a terrible idea, as it would squander a lot of service hours by making buses sit in traffic through downtown, along I-5, and, at least in the eastbound direction, down the Montlake exit ramp. Peak-hour is also precisely the period in which a switchover to Link would save downtown riders the most time, since that is when the traffic getting into downtown is worst.

        While WSDOT controls the roadway, it is ultimately Metro and ST’s decision how to route their buses and that decision has not been made yet.

      8. “During off-peak hours, transit agencies could operate buses on top of the Montlake lid, providing service similar to today.”
        They fail to mention that today the stop takes maybe 1 minute. Operation on top of the lid requires approx. 3 traffic lights. In the Eastbound direction it will require using the eastbound general purpose offramp, which is generally congested, a left turn, then a right turn, and then a traffic light where westbound offramp traffic that is headed south crosses the HOV lanes at a signal.
        That is not similar to today. Even though the freeway is bigger, it’s for the benefit of SOVs as the transit facilities are worse than what exists today. Almost everything that is promoted as features for transit at the Montlake intersection is at best retaining what is here today.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this for years, and totally agree with the proposed concept. If we forget calculating exact minutes to make transfers (which is important, I know) and focus on user experience for a second, I think this layout provides an incredible upgrade for Link riders. I’m sure everyone knows what it’s like standing on the wrong side of a busy road and watching your bus go by. It’s just so much LESS ANNOYING and less stressful to have a transfer stop right there.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I completely agree. As a general rule of thumb passengers should never need to cross a street to make a bus-rail transfers.

      1. I think that is a very interesting, and very reasonable suggestion. I believe in most cases, as in this one, the responsibility is Sound Transit’s, not the bus company’s. For example, this stop should have three entrances. One in the triangle, where most of the people will go (up to campus), one next to the hospital (where almost all of the remaining people will go) and the third at the stadium. That would solve the bus problem, without forcing buses to do crazy routing.

        In many ways the third is the least important. When there is a game, they can close the street and wave people across (as they do now). Sound Transit did it all backwards (as they have done in other locations).

      2. Never cross a street to make a bus-rail transfer? I’m pretty sure I don’t agree. Maybe if the streets are big-ass roads like Pacific and Montlake, and if the train stations are overbuilt and disorienting, and there’s little reason to worry about passengers going through.

        If your streets are normal urban arterials with normal signal cycles that don’t make pedestrians wait excessively crossing the street isn’t so bad. If your train stations are street-median light rail stations you’ll have to cross a street to get there by definition. Even larger grade-separated stations may require street crossings if there are good reasons not to make buses go around the block. Right here in downtown Seattle people exiting southbound buses on 3rd have to cross the street to get to the Westlake tunnel station; people exiting northbound buses have to cross to get to University Street (unless there’s some way I don’t know about). And that’s fine… better than bigger stations or circuitous bus routes.

      3. My first thought was very much like yours, Al. But then I thought about it some more, and while it my be a bit extreme, I think it is a reasonable suggestion. All that it requires is two portals (one on each side of the street). That might be overkill for most systems, but Good God, look at how huge that station is! All that money for a huge structure, and no entrances from the other side of the street (the hospital). That is nuts.

        Why not get rid of all the fluff above ground, and just run a couple tunnels to either side of the street? You can keep the overpass, since it serves as a nice way to connect the Burke Gilman with Montlake Boulevard (with or without a train station) but you really don’t need a two story, glass and concrete structure for a stop that is underground. It really is nuts. If you had no idea how our light rail line was being built, you would assume by looking at that thing that we decided to go elevated (I suppose they will add the track later). Seriously, why on earth do we have all this above ground stuff, when the train is underground? Shouldn’t we spend the money on connecting this to the hospital? I’m sure the folks in the wheelchairs will have a fun time — ride the elevator to the surface, then wheel your way over to the edge of Montlake Boulevard, wait for the light, then wait for the other light, then you are right by the main entrance. Oh, sorry, not the main entrance, but an entrance, with a ramp that requires going up. Oh well, that will be good exercise for those that have a manual wheelchair, and the rain should help them from getting too sweaty.

        By the way, the parking garage connects to the hospital and has an underground pathway connecting it to the hospital. This means that folks that drive don’t have to cross the street, but everyone else does.

    2. Those who plan transfer locations should first walk the distance involved. What looks easy on paper ain’t necessarily so when the feet or wheelchairs or stroller pushers have to do it.

  8. I totally concur with the above comments regarding the usage/utility of the 65, 68 and 75. I’ll add that for anyone in NE Seattle south of 80th, the idea of taking a bus to Northgate and then hopping onto Link is absurd. Yes, the campus routing should be junked in favor of taking riders to UW Station. But what hasn’t been mentioned is the horrible Montlake traffic, especially southbound, especially during the afternoon commute. As long as we are fantasizing about UW cooperation, how about taking the lane that runs parallel to Montlake from the station to U-Village and turning into a bus-only corridor? Of course, Pacific also can be a choke point but nothing compared to Montlake. If we are truly interested in apportioning space to transit and reducing our car-culture mentality then we have to look at the enormous space taken up by parking in the Montlake/U-Village area and see if that space can better be used to turn the area into a real transit hub.

    1. Montlake Blvd. is basically five lanes wide through that entire stretch. With a little work you could convert the center lane into a southbound peak hour (or all day) transit only lane, which would probably be enough to make the U-Link routing viable.

      1. Judging from past performance and the 5-year “temporary” status I would be very surprised if substantial infrastructure mprovements were made For buses serving the northeast. It would take a miracle for UW to allow peak hour buses through the parking lot and behind the stadium or for SDOT or WSDOT to upgrade mountlake boulevard with a reversible transit lane. I expect Stevens way will continue to be the only functional roadway serving the north and northeast. And not even that functional considering gridlock now regularly extends through the 45th/mountlake/pend orielle. Furthermore, what will the increased bike traffic on the BGT do to that traffic? Having bus commuted from Near U village to downtown almost 20 years I figure I’ll need to invest in some rain gear and a good bike lock if I want to use Link.

      2. One potential option I’ve wondered about is whether southbound buses could take Montlake as their primary route, but provide driver discretion to reroute through campus when traffic is really bad. The reroute would go down Stevens Way, 15th Ave., and Pacific St., ultimately dropping off downtown-bound riders at the same stop as the normal route. (The reroute would permit passengers to exit the bus at any of the existing bus stops along Stevens Way).

        In practice, Montlake would probably have to be solid all the back to Pend Orellie Road in order for the reroute to save time – in practice, this would be rare, but it would occasionally happen.

  9. As someone who rides the 30, 74, and 75, and works downtown, I want all three routes to loop as close as possible to the new UW Stadium station. Obviously not important for the 30 and 74 in 2021.

    1. I’m with you, HUB to station is too far to walk. Maybe after the 75 terminates they could loop it down University, back Pacific to Montlake and proceed to Children’s. This would bring them close to station. Only loss would be from University to HUB, but other buses could cover this section.

  10. As mentioned above, the biggest value of this station from a bus perspective is for SR 520 riders. Buses coming from 520 have the greatest potential for route truncation. As with any truncation, there will be folks who hate the idea, and want to see their bus follow the existing route, even if that route is fairly slow, unreliable, and infrequent.

    The changes described here would go a long way to make truncation palatable. There would be a short walk from the bus stop to the train stop. But unless other improvements are made, it won’t be much faster, or much more reliable. I have some ideas for speeding up the buses.

    Various ideas have been proposed, including adding a second bridge, either right next to the current one, or further east (lining up with 24th East or East Park Drive in Montlake). These plans have met with much opposition from Montlake residents. I don’t think they will happen. I will propose some major changes that might get local opposition, but I think everyone will accept the trade-off, since the folks that are most likely to lose out with my suggestions will lose out even worse if a new bridge is added.

    First of all, the latest plans for 520 include two exit lanes. One of those (the inside, or farthest north lane) should be HOV only. You would probably need a flyover ramp as a result to connect the HOV lane to the HOV ramp. This could, conceivably, simply be the end of the HOV lane (thus saving significant money). At the end of the two off ramps, there will be a light added. This will help the folks who exit 520 considerably. All of that is planned, or (as is the case with the flyover ramp) a fairly straightforward suggestion.

    From there, I really don’t know how much traffic there is in the right lane. If traffic backs up on Montlake Boulevard across the bridge, then I propose making the right lane HOV only all the way to the bus turnoff. Doing that would significantly backup SOV traffic. Too bad, so sad. There are other ways to get there. We did the same thing (“took a lane”) on Aurora and the world didn’t end.*

    So that basically gets you to the train station, but you also have to get back. Buses coming from the station heading southbound can choose either lane. They will choose the left lane. The right lane will be for SOV 520 only (and local access to Hamlin), from Pacific all the way to the eastbound 520 ramp. This can be enforced with curbs. Get in the right lane if you want to go to 520, and if you don’t want to go to 520, don’t get in the right lane. The left lane is for through traffic and HOV access to eastbound 520. That isn’t perfect. It means you share the road with through traffic, but this isn’t where the big backup is. There would be one lane flowing into two, with only the traffic light at Lake Washington Boulevard to slow everyone down. The next traffic light is several blocks away. You could easily argue against that (it doesn’t make walking through Montlake easy) but it does a great job of clearing out any congestion.

    * Some of these suggestions could lead to “road diets”. There wouldn’t be any reason to have two northbound lanes north of Lake Washington Boulevard (the turnoff to 520) so this little section would have a “road diet”. This would make things a little nicer for folks in the neighborhood, and go along with general plans for making 23rd/24th a little thinner. Rather than three lanes close to the 520 turnoff, there would be two (with the left lane being left turn only). There might have to be additional work to allow local access to prevent “cheaters” (folks that take a right on Hamlin, drive the local streets, then pop out again on Shelby). I have some ideas, but I won’t bore you with the details.

  11. I’ve always wondered how drop-off and pick-up are going to work at this end of line station. I can imagine that lots of NE Seattle residents will meet other household members at the station until North Link opens. If we’re talking about bus operations in mixed traffic, this is going to have to enter significantly into the discussion.

    1. Absolutely, and this is a big reason why providing decent bus connections at the station is going to be important. If we keep the bus network we have today, out of intertia, it is not surprising how people in NE Seattle are going to get downtown. Sure, during rush hour, they will continue to take their 64 or 76. At other times, anyone with another driver in the household is not going to slog it all the way downtown and through the U-district on the 71, nor slog it all the way through campus and the Children’s Hospital on the 65, on top of a 10-minute walk to reach the train. Instead, they will get their husband/wife/son/daughter/whatever to drive them to and from the station.

      In fact, I would argue that the increased pick-up and drop-off traffic around the station that would result if we don’t fix the buses is a good incentive for the UW to cooperate in allowing the station to function as a bus/train transfer point. Unless, of course, they plan on hiring full-time police officers to actively prevent people from picking up or dropping off commuters at the station.

      1. I’m glad someone else sees this problem, asdf2. I suspect that most of this traffic will come down 25th/Montlake, turn right onto Pacific Place where the passenger will hop out or in (if traffic is backed up on Mountlake they might hop in our out there), then continue to Pacific Street, and turn right into the U District.

        I hope that one of the route strategies considered is a virtual limited-stop bus extension of North Link next year. I’d maybe brand it as “Route North” and only have stops near where each North Link station would be. The service could then be dropped when North Link opens.

  12. This is an amazing post. Good job.

    My only concern is game day, I think people might get confused as to what stop to wait, since it’d be unlikely they could get buses through the loop at the bottom.

      1. Signage and communication are tough for older folks who just come down for games like five times a year, don’t see all that well, etc.

  13. In general, I am weary about delaying thru-riders to facilitate transfers, but this seems like one of those very rare cases where it’s worth it, if for no other reason than the shear volume of people that would be making the transfer. A scheme like this would also probably be necessary to overcome the political opposition any U-link restructuring would have from people losing their one-seat rides.

    If done right, the delay to thru-riders should be on the order of a minute or two. If this enables a system that allows nearly all the UW routes to run twice as frequently, it seems well worth-it.

    My only concern is what to do during Husky games, as the proposed scheme would subject people headed to and from downtown to local congestion around the stadium. One possible solution is to have 520 buses follow the 271’s Husky reroute, which stops at Montlake Freeway Station, then continues nonstop to 15th and 43rd (the bus takes the Roanoke Exit, then cuts over to the University Bridge and Campus Parkway). Of course, more bus lanes through the area would help this problem immensely.

    1. Husky games (at least football games) are so rare I wouldn’t worry about it. But if you include Basketball games and other events, it could be confusing.

      But UW based rerouting happens all the time. The 372/373 type buses simply get cancelled. This is a big pain in the ass for folks like me. I have no idea when the school is in session, I just want to take a fast bus to the U-District and then transfer to Fremont. So a simple re-route (like the one you suggested) is no big deal (especially compared to that). The game are known well in advance, so it is pretty easy to put the dates on the schedules.

  14. How far under the surface is the platform? I’m guessing at least 20 feet surface to bottom of channel at the canal, then at least maybe another 20 feet below the bottom of the canal for the platform, and it seems like the surface part of the station would maybe be another 30 feet or so above the water surface?

    I’m just trying to figure out if there is a way to create more station entrances that are closer to the center of campus and making up the difference diagonally using escalators.

    1. There was. Under the triangle is a multi story parking garage with a tunnel connection to the hospital. Up until last year there was a tunnel connection between the triangle garage and main campus centered on rainier vista. It was recently removed with the lowering of Pacific Pl.
      Early in the design of the station there were diagrams showing a ped tunnel connection between the garage and the station – which is approximately 3 stories under ground. This would have eliminated the need for all surface ped crossings, but I assume either the UW was not willing to give up the parking, or wanted to minimize non students/staff/patients in the garage.

      1. Given that the parking at the Triangle Garage is not really any cheaper than parking downtown, I would not think that downtown commuters parking there would be a concern. More likely, it’s a matter of liability, in that the University does not way to get sued if a commuter, not affiliated with them, gets run over by a car down there. (Of course, they could conceivably carve out a SeaTac-style walkway out of the garage, but that would take a serious bite out of the parking revenue.

    2. In general this is just another example of how poor Sound Transit does things. I understand that the UW has special concerns. They didn’t want the train to go close to the physics lab, so the train got rerouted to lower campus, and a station had to be built there. But Sound Transit should do a better job of working with the UW, to achieve better results. Sound Transit seems to be fixated on checking off boxes “Capitol Hill, done”, instead of figuring out how people will actually use this thing. So, here are the destinations for the area (the first three are all owned by the UW):

      1) The campus. The bulk of the campus sits well to the north and west of there (which is why Sound Transit originally wanted to put a station there). This is where a substantial number of riders will be headed.

      2) The hospital. This is the second biggest group of riders, and it is huge.

      3) The stadium. Very few people will be headed to the stadium unless there is actually a game. Even if you count other spots besides football, this happens very rarely. The distance people travel on those days is practically meaningless. Most of the people who attend a game either park in the parking lot (which means a sizable walk), park in the neighborhood (which means a much longer walk), ride a bus (which often drops people off quite a ways away) or walks from the neighborhood. For football and basketball games, cops control the traffic, making it possible to minimize the distance and hassle of walking through an otherwise inhospitable area. No matter where you put a station, it will be closer than 90% of the alternatives.

      So what does Sound Transit (with the cooperation of the UW) do: They build the station next to the least popular spot. They also fail to make underground tunnels to the other locations. The UW spends a bunch of money building a giant overpass so that students can get to the train — which is underground. Yes, you read that right. We built an overpass to get to an underground station. Meanwhile people who want to get to the hospital have to cross two crosswalks, after making their way to the surface.

      Then there is:

      4) Bus connections. The most important bus connection in the system is for SR 520. This could be solved easily by adding a station next to 520, but that didn’t happen.

      The obvious solution was for the UW to sell some of the parking space to Sound Transit, so they could put the station there. Now folks headed to upper campus would have a head start. Meanwhile, run a tunnel over to the UW hospital. Now you have addressed the two biggest concerns. This also means that the buses can continue the way they have always run (on Pacific Street). The only drawback is that on game day, lots of people exit the tunnels, and then suddenly want to cross the street. But that is exactly what the traffic cops are there for. They hold everyone back, then give the “all clear”, and everyone crosses until they blow the whistle. It isn’t rocket science, but somehow someone dropped the ball (or should I say, made the wrong call).

      1. You’re assuming Sound Transit is an equal negotiating partner with the UW. It’s not, because the UW is a state organization, so ST has to work around the UW’s priorities and permission. The UW does not seem interested in the best general-purpose station location, or in ceding parking for buses and layovers. Perhaps ST could have been more persuasive negotiators, but in the end it comes down to whether the UW sees ceding parking as in the UW’s interest, not in the general region’s interest.

  15. Regarding traffic backed up to Pend Orellie Road being rare: Yes, it only happens regularly from maybe 3pm to 6pm weekdays. That’s only three in 24 hours! And doesn’t happen as often on weekends. So, no problem with Montlake.

    Actually, I think this is an issue that should be brought up regardless of what rerouting is proposed. Often Montlake backs up on to 45th,which causes delays for the 65 and 75. If ever there was a demonstration project to get the (upper) middle class NE Seattleites thinking about transit it would be to see a bus pass them on Montlake. The other afternoon, at 4:30, it took me 55 minutes to get from Children’s to downtown by car. The Montlake “effect” spills over to the U-District and I-5 isn’t even worth thinking about at that time. So traffic gets pushed to Roosevelt, Eastlake, and then again pinches at Mercer, Olive, etc.

    (Talking to the choir) The whole grid needs to be thought of in holistic ways, where one choke point leads people to another and when this happens multiple times…hilarity ensues…

    1. This.

      I have to drive through this area frequently enough, and you’re spot on. It’s bad enough that the City put a readerboard on WB 45th east of U Village to tell you whether it was faster to go the one mile from there to 520 or to I-5 via 45th…which is NEVER a fun drive. It’s even extremely bad occasionally on Saturdays (like this past one).

      This chokepoint should be a major priority of SDOT. It would likely require cutting back into the hillside on the west side of Montlake and possibly some of the east side, and rebuilding the pedestrian bridges, but getting some sort of all-day transit only lane in there would be a huge factor in transit from NE Seattle. Even if it’s only one contraflow lane (it’s pretty narrow at the Hec Ed bridge location), it could make a huge difference. You’re exactly right about how seeing buses travel past your stationary car may make you re-think using transit for at least some of your trips.

  16. A few observations founded in living in northeast Seattle for about 40 years. I think some
    of the discussions here about Montlake between 45th and 520 (such as the problem with
    congestion being only from 3 to 6 or so) represent highly unrealistic perceptions. The
    congestion on Montlake can arise anytime the drawbridge is raised; and, I have observed
    that the growth of University Village as a ‘regional’ shopping target, has greatly enhanced
    the congestion outside peak hours, and particularly on weekends. A pick up and drop
    off of passengers for the Link at Husky stadium (known in some transit systems as “Kiss
    and Ride” ) does not seem to have entered the minds of the planners. There was a comment
    earlier suggesting NE Seattleites would like to drive to the Link at Husky Stadium and
    maybe park at the Triangle Garage. I think that is a non-starter since that garage is
    tasked with handling visitors and outpatient parking for the University Medical Center.
    Also, I am afraid the idea of giving Metro drivers the discretion to deviate from a Montlake
    route to Stevens Circle – 15th and Pacific–won’t work to speed up bus transit times. In
    the peak hour backups on Montlake, the passage through campus is slow both because
    of buses loading at campus stops, and because the Montlake choke point also backs up
    Pacific Street. All of the psychic energy of every contributor to the STB won’t, I fear,
    extract all the single occupancy drivers from their vehicles.

    1. ” I think that is a non-starter since that garage is
      tasked with handling visitors and outpatient parking for the University Medical Center.”

      For the most that is true. However, the UW does have a long-standing policy of opening up its parking lots for free parking on Sundays. If Sunday parking remains free, some lots, particularly the surface lot right next to the station, will fill up with people headed downtown, especially on Seahawks game days. The UW could react by requiring parking permits 7 days a week, although I suspect this would be unpopular with students who bus to campus on weekdays, but want to drive there on weekends when bus service isn’t as good.

      “I am afraid the idea of giving Metro drivers the discretion to deviate from a Montlake
      route to Stevens Circle – 15th and Pacific–won’t work to speed up bus transit times.”

      Even if the bus ends up getting to the bus stop by the station at the same time as if it sat in traffic, the route deviation would save considerable time for those headed to the middle campus. Even for downtown commuters, able-bodied people would likely get downtown fastest by getting off the bus at Stevens Way and walking from there. The option to stay on the bus as it loops around would exist mostly for people with disabilities.

      While I agree, the bad-traffic reroute scheme is not great, it’s worth asking if you have a better alternative before dismissing it. Assuming the physical roadway of Montlake Blvd. is fixed, and the only item in our control is what route the buses take, the only other reasonable alternative is to do what buses do today, and use the campus routing at all times, whether Montlake is actually congested or not. For downtown commuters, the do-nothing option would be exactly the same as my proposal when traffic on Montlake is really bad. The difference is that my proposal would allow people heading downtown to actually save some time when traffic on Montlake isn’t bad. Whereas, the do-nothing option guarantees hour-long trips between downtown and NE Seattle no matter what, for anybody that doesn’t drive.

  17. Though the above depiction of transfers at Husky Stadium is impressive, I am hesitant to embrace the overall idea of truncating Eastside routes. Unless there is a guarantee that buses will have their own right-of-way entering/exiting between Montlake and SR-520, traffic in the area is too unpredictable to force Eastside buses (and riders) to terminate at Husky Stadium. Everything from graduations, to boat traffic, busy summer weekends and game days – Eastside riders would simply trade their current
    I-5/SR520 commute troubles for another one. And on top of that, be forced to transfer in doing so.

    I can see the potential savings in resources by truncating Eastside routes at Husky Stadium. However, even as a transit nerd such as myself, I wouldn’t be too happy in having to transfer and lengthen my commute.

  18. One item that’s been overlooked in the discussion so far – is the pavement on the roads through the parking lot designed to handle the pounding it would take from numerous buses rolling over it every day? Given that the roadway was just built with only cars in mind, my guess would be “no”.

    1. Sound Transit just built a 1+ billion dollar subway from downtown Seattle to the UW… I think we can afford to reinforce a few hundred feet of roadway…

  19. I have a question I’m hoping someone can answer.

    Say it’s the year 2022, and I want to go from downtown to University Village. How do I do it? Looking at maps, there doesn’t appear to be any buses that go to UVillage that pass by the sites of either the UW Station, or the Brooklyn station.

    Am I expected to take Link, then transfer to a bus, than transfer to ANOTHER bus just to get to UVillage?

    Why aren’t there any bus routes that run straight across 45th Street? Will there be in the future? It seems like a pretty glaring and obvious lack in the transit system.

    1. Metro is deciding that now. Expect a proposal in March. There will be another reorganization in 2021 so it could change a second time.

      Metro has had buses on the 45th viaduct, but I think it avoids it due to congestion and the greater ridership of going through campus. Several of us have recommended rerouting the 44 to Ballard – UVillage or Ballard – Children’s, and extending the Ballard – UW subway the same way.

  20. Good point about how to get to U-Village form the UW Station, which is just one of the major destinations that need better service and direct linkage to the light rail stop. Case in point is Seattle Children’s Hospital, for both patient families and staff. Staff get ORCA cards as a perk, but unless one lives in North Seattle, or actually only in certain parts of NE Seattle, it’s a meaningless benefit as it’s so difficult to get there by bus. A relative of mine employed by Children’s lives in South Seattle and would need to take 3 buses to get to the hospital, taking at least 2 hours each way if connections worked, and not to mention the safety factors., and frequent unplanned extended hours for the clinical staff. I’ve long wondered by UWMC and Children’s aren’t served by the express routes that go to First Hill from just about everywhere. The opening of the light rail line is the perfect opportunity to create a new route offering direct, frequent 7-days/week service not only to U-Village but to Seattle Children’s, and beyond. And it would be great to create the a circular route ( so common outside the US) to include E-W service on arterials NE 75th St. and 25th NE, linking directly to the UW Station.

    1. It’s not just getting there from UW Station, but more importantly from Brooklyn Station. Why can’t you just take a bus straight across 45th? It’s insanity. Instead you’re supposed to not only transfer, but to take buses that go way down into the University.

      The idiots who design the bus routes in the whole Puget Sound region need to read this article:


      There are so few obvious routes going across Seattle East-West, that they should all have a bus route across the entire distance.

    2. Metro knows about grids. That’s why the 31/32, 48, and 40, not to mention the 8. All of these and their predecessors were extremely popular, which led to multiple rounds of expansion. The main impediments to more grid service are lack of service hours (which will thankfully change in June) and status-quo advocates (which is a more difficult issue, often with “three steps forward, two steps back”).

      The lack of buses on the 45th viaduct, as I said above, seems to be the concern that Montlake congestion spreads to 45th, and the higher ridership of going through campus. Years ago Metro had a 45th route (#30, Fremont – Laurelhurst) but it had poor ridership. More recently I think the 25 was on 45th east of 15th, but it was rerouted to campus to provide a single frequent corridor between the U-District and U Village.

      That also is one of the factors against rerouting the 65/68/75 to UW Station. The UW campus has a lot of on/offs, perhaps the majority on all those routes. And there’s huge demand for frequent service between the U-District and U-Village, although that may be partly caused by the forced transfer to the 71/72/73X and the lack of alternatives. That could argue for those routes to go to UW Station in 2016, but it could also argue for them to go back to campus and U-District Station in 2021. Meanwhile, I think the campus is an extreme bottleneck that must be sped up if buses are to continue going through it. But Metro may hesitate to reroute the buses to 45th, which may have even longer delays.

      1. If they don’t want to reroute any of the current routes, than add a new route going straight across 45th. It could even make very limited stops. And even if it had poor service frequency, it would be better than nothing.

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