The February, 2015 service change wasn’t expected to be all that exciting since June and September are when the big Prop 1 additions hit the streets. Western Central District residents, however, will see long-term reroutes on three major routes through the area beginning in early April. Metro is making these in conjunction with the 23rd Ave reconstruction being done by SDOT. The reroutes are expected to be in place from early April until approximately December, construction schedule permitting. As part of the street rebuild, 23rd Ave will generally be southbound only in the construction area; northbound traffic, including buses, will travel on Martin Luther King Jr Way. This will be the beginning of reroutes through the area. According to SDOT, these reroutes correspond to phase A of construction; phases B (E Cherry to E Union) and C (E Union to E John) are scheduled for 2016.

Since Metro doesn’t have maps published on its service change alert, I made some to show the changes.


Note: The green lines show the unchanged portions of the route. Blue is the route the bus will take while on reroute. Red are any segments that are removed or routed around during the change.

Route 4

Route 4 reroute map

Perhaps the most visible change is the truncation of route 4’s southern tail to Judkins Park. Route 4 will act like several route 3 trips and stop at 21st and E James, a block west of Ezell’s. It will then travel through the turnaround and return to downtown and east Queen Anne.

Route 8

Route 8 reroute map

Route 8 will no longer make the dogleg out to 23rd Ave S and S Jackson. Trips going both directions will stay on MLK Jr Way.

Route 48

Route 48 reroute map

In a reroute that may be confusing to riders but still preserves access to Garfield High School for northern students heading to class, route 48 will be rerouted onto MLK Jr Way only northbound. Trips starting at Mount Baker TC going to Loyal Heights will detour by going east on S Jackson, north on MLK, then coming back west on E Cherry before continuing north on 23rd Ave. Metro says that the 23rd Ave / E Cherry northbound stop will continue to be served. Southbound trips will stay on 23rd Ave, though Metro says that “traffic delays should be expected.”

29 Replies to “Feb 2015 service change brings long-term reroutes to western CD”

  1. Traditional first comment for notifications. I didn’t “editorialize” and write any opinions on whether I think the reroutes are good or bad. They’re here and will be around for several months so better to have a map to visualize things.

  2. This is the end of the 4’s tail. When the revitalization of 23rd has been completed, five will get you twenty that Metro doesn’t restore the service.

    1. If I were into betting money, I’d take your bet. Getting from the Lighthouse to the I-90/Rainier stop is no cakewalk, especially for most of the folks who hang out at the Lighthouse. Hopefully, the station will be designed to be a model of how to serve the deaf/blind community. Eight years and change to go.

  3. Could be progress by stealth. Metro takes advantage of construction to make reroutes it thinks should be done anyway (and Metro tried to do twice before). That sidesteps the objections of status quo activates by blaming it on the construction. Then as people use the new network and start liking it, the opposition might fizzle away and be revealed to be nothing.

    Several people have talked about the latent ridership affect. how those who prefer the status quo are vocal against losing something, but those who would gain often don’t realize it because they don’t follow the Metro-planning news, or currently drive, or don’t live in the area yet, or avoid the area because of the lack of the new routes. But they can turn out to be more numerous than the status quo advocates, sometimes twice as many. And now that the city has another street with better transit (i.e., a consolidated frequent corridor), people without cars and one-car families have another choice where to live, As they preferentially choose the area, it better aligns non-driving-wants with non-driving-haves, and increases transit mode share toward its natural level.

    I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill with these five-block diversions, because in themselves they won’t affect ridership or dwellings much, but they anticipate the next stage; i.e., merging the 4 completely into the 3 and extending frequent service deep into the CD. And that, coupled with the 3/4 Yesler project, would significantly improve those neighborhoods’ access to the rest of the city and region.

      1. (NVM, STB site search is my friend — the idea would be to go up 8th and 9th, past Harborview, and then follow the rest of the current 3/4 route on Jefferson).

  4. I like the way the “construction reroute” of the 8 is faster than straighter than the original route. Similar to the “construction reroute” having the 50 and 60 no longer meander through the VA hospital parking lot.

    Any chance this “construction reroute” of the 8 could become permanent?

  5. In other news, the 50 (but not the 60) is once again detouring inside the VA Hospital.

    Anyone who rides the 50 care to protest?

    1. It would be a much longer diversion on the 60. Thank you, Metro, for not restoring the VA parking lot crawl and not ruining the 60 for every other rider. It is not as if the 50 has riders to chase away, anyway.

      Still, the 60 has another problem: 15th Ave S has no service on weekend nights, and weekday nights cuts off early. Those service hours being poured into making the 50 longer should have gone to giving 15th Ave S full evening service. One could argue that putting these extra service hours into the 50, when there are other routes with much higher ridership waiting for improvements that require service hours, is a violation of Metro’s Service Guidelines. Indeed, adding the stop at all might be a violation.

      There are other options for serving the neighborhood, such as running the 106 up 15th Ave S all the way to Beacon Hill Station, and having the northbound 124 stay on E Marginal Way S up to Corson, turn on Corson (which becomes Lucille), and then turning left onto 15th Ave S, and running all the way to Beacon Hill Station. The Airport Way corridor, with most of its businesses shut down at night, is overserved, while 15th Ave S is treated as if it is shut down for the night. There are several apartment complexes that are a long walk from the nearest 36 stop. 15th Ave S is no West Magnolia.

    2. There are also larger problems on the 50.

      For starters, it is too short a bus, and too infrequent, to meet the demand of the summer throngs trying to get from California Ave down to Alki Beach. (Put those throngs onto another route, and the 50’s ridership would plummet.)

      Second, Metro did not invest in making the train/bus transfer stops any more palatable than standard neighborhood stops. If train/bus 2-seat rides are going to become attractive, the wait at these bus stops has to become attractive. I’d move these stops toward the top of the priority list for RTA signage and shelters. Syncing these bus schedules with Link better would also help. (e.g. Don’t have 20-minute headway when Link is running every 7.5 or 6 minutes.)

      The VA stop might actually increase ridership on the 50, as few others who have a reason to ride it seem to want to.

      1. Metro SHOULD solve the Alki problem with summer-only services like other places do. You could imagine it as increased service on the 37 perhaps. But there should be a Downtown to Alki route for tourists, another route for Discovery Park to Cruise Ship Terminal to Downtown would probably make sense, too.

      2. The stops on Alaska at MLK (Columbia City link station) are awful. There is nothing worse than being stuck sitting on a Route 50 bus for 2-3 minutes, and watching a train come into the station and then leave. The lack of good bus-rail transfers at this location is truly shameful. I don’t know why no one thought about it when the street and intersection were rebuilt, but after Metro forced all the Seward Park residents to change to the train with the Route 50 design, it’s just amazing how this basic problem has been neglected.

        While there is a few things that could be done, I think the only way to ultimately solve the problem is to add a stop both before and after MLK on Alaska. When they rebuilt the street, the traffic engineers and civil designers ignored the problem. Fixing it is going to require some rethinking of the corner.

      3. I severely doubt we’ll ever have stops on both sides of the street. Is the problem that the waits are generally too long on Alaska, or that an approaching train causes these extremely long waits that you’re always stuck on the wrong side of?

    3. 1. If you ride the 50 to the VA Hospital, it will be obvious that construction is nowhere near the point of allowing the permanent stop to be reopened any time soon. If that stop is closed permanently, then shame on the VA & Metro, it amounts to prioritizing the needs of disabled veterans with access to private transportation over those dependent on public. I use this stop weekly (now on Columbia) and regularly witness the VA with a team of valets waiting to assist people arriving by car, but those arriving by bus on Columbia are on their own. There were some volunteers at the Columbia stop providing directions the first few weeks after the VA stop was closed, but that didn’t last long. A win-win situation would be to reinstate the stop in front of the hospital at a site with level boarding, and have a lane to it with private vehicle restrictions that allows the buses to make the loop without excessive delays. If that can’t be accomplished, we should be writing our elected officials.

      2. 100+ years ago Alki was a beach resort. Today it is one of the densest residential neighborhoods in West Seattle. You propose to eliminate off-peak service during winter months for the residents of Alki and the Admiral corridor, the major east/west arterial in northern West Seattle? Brent, I would really like to know what is your riding experience on the 50 that influences your negative opinion of the route? If it is indeed “packed” in the summer (I don’t recall seeing this, and it runs right past my house on Admiral Way, most tourists use the Water Taxi and/or its shuttle), isn’t that a good thing? Did you get bumped while trying to get to the beach on the 50? We could certainly use more frequency on Sundays when it runs only hourly, and more late night service (to get the drunks
      home safely from Alki and to keep residents from being stranded when returning after 11:30 PM from other parts of the city). This is a good route for northwestern WS. Though it now takes longer to get downtown than the old all-day 56, it provides connectivity for much of northern West Seattle to three WS business districts instead of one (Admiral, Alaska and North Delridge). It also provides connections south and east (Sodo, Sodo Busway, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Tukwila, SeaTac, Renton , Kent, Tacoma) without having to go north on the AWV, often stuck in traffic, into downtown or to transfer in West Seattle first. With a low frequency route like the 50, a one seat ride to these destinations/transfer points is important to make the route useful and used. I have ridden the route from Alki beyond Beacon Avenue to Columbia City & Othello only on a few occasions so I can’t speak to the usefulness of this route east of Beacon Hill. If there is any way to prove that breaking up the route would improve its productivity I would support that, but for selfish reasons, I admit, would like to see the route from Alki to Beacon Avenue be preserved.

  6. I’m no fan of the 4’s tail, but without the 4 and with a peak-only 27, it’s worth noting that this leaves 23rd/Jackson with just a half-hourly 14 to Downtown. That’s not acceptable, IMO. Since every single #4 trip takes 30-45 minutes to go from 21st/Jefferson to 25th/Walker, layover, and get back to 21st/Jefferson, this 8-week closure will save a boatload of service hours. Those should be directly invested in additional Route 14 trips for the duration of the closure.

    1. But they’re not actually saving those service hours.

      Route 4 Judkins Park trips will operate as per the driver’s run cards, just will be truncated at 21/James. Metro is not rewriting the schedules for an 8-week truncation. Thus, the 4s will just have extreme recovery time.

      1. On the order of nearly an hour per run? That’s insane. If I were a driver I would feel quite lucky to get paid to sit around the C.D. all day. I wish we could be more responsive, and I don’t see why a temporary run card change is so hard. Those drivers will be sitting around 21/James, just as hundreds of bus riders will be standing at 23rd/Jackson, wondering when the hell they might be able to catch a bus Downtown.

    2. The 3 and 4 also takes inordinantly long to get from 23rd to downtown, so it’s more worthwhile to put service hours into anything else (the 14 or 27) than wasting it on the 4.

    3. 23rd and Jackson will still be served by the 48. Southbound’s stop will stay where it is because southbound service isn’t rerouted. The northbound stop will, my guess, move to just south of S Jackson along 23rd so the bus can pick up northbound 48 passengers just before (or just after, if the stop is put on S Jackson itself) turning right.

    1. Because 23rd/Jackson is a much bigger ridership generator than anywhere on MLK. I used to ride the 8 through there regularly, and the stop at 23/Jackson was always very busy- the rest of MLK, not so much. It’s not *always* about finding the fastest route between the terminals.

      1. While 23rd and Jackson is not dead, I don’t see a compelling destination that people can’t walk a couple of blocks to reach. Besides, one must ask the question of why people headed to 23rd and Jackson are on the 8 to begin within, and not the 48.

  7. Construction Reroutes are a part of regular operations some of you may not remember that during the last phase of I 90 Construction the route 4 terminated a 26 S S Judkins St ( the end the line from Summer 1940 to January 1978) My recollections of when I was an operator (1978 to 1983) there was very little housing south of S Irving St the reason for this was the planned RH Thompson Expressway (Early 1960s) and the planned completion of I 90 WSDOT owned many parcels in that area which stalled residential construction. Since that time multi family homes have been built and much of the old hosing stock is being replaced.
    I was informed that at this time when construction is completed the route 4 will resume operation to 25 S S Walker Center Park and …the Tennis Center
    I have had conversations with those guys about a schedule rewrite and they gave me the thumbs down…
    The 3/4 is very busy during the day and could certainly benefit from more logical recovery time…..but I cheerfully chose to stay in my lane for now

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