Capitol Hill Station in June 2014 (photo by the author)
Capitol Hill Station in June 2014 (photo by the author)

Later this week, Metro and Sound Transit will release their initial restructure plans for the opening of University Link next March. Broadly speaking, there will be two alternatives that will be taken to the public. The first will be an aggressive restructure and consolidation that markedly increases frequency and reduces network complexity, while the second will be a conservative restructure with only minor changes. The two alternatives seem designed for maximum contrast marking the poles of a wide range of possibilities, and undoubtedly the final product will be a mix of the two.

We have seen initial drafts of the plans and I have been serving on the Sounding Board, but Metro is still working on the plans and we expect there to be some minor changes prior to release, so we are holding off on writing for now. Once the plans go public, expect a series of 5 posts from STB staff, including:

  • 1 . Overview, or a broad analysis of the entire restructure from a network perspective.
  • 2. Northeast Seattle proposals
  • 3. SR-520 proposals
  • 4. Capitol Hill proposals
  • 5. Center City proposals, including proposed changes to tunnel operations, South Lake Union peak service, and more.

Also included in these posts will be a new mockup of the proposals using Oran’s Frequent Network Map, which will do an excellent job of quantifying the benefits and drawbacks of the proposals to the all-day transit network.

Stay tuned.

137 Replies to “U-Link Restructure Proposals Coming This Week”

  1. Do these restructure plans include rerouting most of the bus routes out of the downtown transit tunnel?

    I understand the intention is to increase the peak light rail frequency from 7-8 minutes to 5-6 minutes once the extension is open. My concern is that this will do little other than create a situation where more trains are backed up behind each other waiting for the buses to load/unload.

    As a daily commuter on the light rail it is very frustrating to experience daily delays once the train gets into the tunnel. The buses cannot load/unload nearly as efficiently, they cannot maintain a schedule as they get held up in traffic topside, and they show up in clumps further reducing efficiency. The delays are never particularly long but being stopped in a tunnel is particularly anxiety-inducing for some.

    I am thrilled that the light rail numbers are growing but I am concerned that the service level will further decrease as more commuters find the light rail useful without changes in the downtown transit tunnel. I also believe the delays are not particularly troublesome yet as the tunnel is at the end of the line. Once the extension opens the delays will cause ripples extending both ways out of downtown. The trains can and should maintain a strict schedule with few exceptions.

    1. Some routes will have to leave the tunnel to accommodate the more-frequent trains. Metro did a study last year to quantify the impact. It froze buses for several seconds at a time to simulate the additional time trains would take. I don’t know the results but it’s obvious that the tunnel is at capacity now, and any additonal delays or backups are unacceptable. So some routes will have to leave. I’ll defer on speculating which ones those might be.

    2. Tom, I’ve been hating every DSTT delay for 25 years this September. I don’t think it’s either the trains or the buses that cause these delays, but that delays of both stem from the system’s refusal to use the signaling equipment built into the project.

      Though when buses leave the Tunnel entirely, or get cut back to the two or three routes that may need to be kept for several more years, delay problem will probably go away.

      UW station will be completely different item. Trains won’t be held for arrival of buses subject to street traffic. Any more than escalators are held until users arrive.

      Sometimes seated versus standing loads will vary. But it would take quite a fleet of buses to overload a three car train.

      However- the mentality and habits that have kept the DSTT constantly under capacity for so long will have to be removed by public pressure if they don’t depart by themselves.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Speaking of capacity, and I know you’ve been in the trenches since day one on this, I can’t help to think there is little difference between ‘platooning several buses’ versus running a 3 or 4 car train-set through the current CPS-Link wye junction under Pine Street.
        90 second headways used to be the minimum in the DSTT between trains for initial design (2 min. if you count the stop at stations). It seems completely safe to me to merge two trains at that point, resulting in accommodating 4 min, headways from U-link with 4 min headways from Ballard-Uptown-SLU entering from CPS (elevated along Denny transitioning to a tunnel under Terry to 9th).
        2 minute merges at the wye, along with a safety stop for both seems very safe when coupled with positive train control.
        Your thoughts?

  2. How much impact will this Metro study have on Sound Transit routes? Almost half of SR-520 service is the 545 and 542, with the 540 potentially gaining much more importance if the 255 is truncated.

    Also, is it too late to influence the WSDOT plans for the 520 rebuild and a potential new Montlake bridge?

    1. The broader proposal has at least some effect on every Metro and ST route that crosses SR 520.

      1. Does the timing of the opening of the new 520 Bridge figure into the plan? Or is just about U-Link’s opening date?

      2. This is about U-Link. There may well be additional changes when the new Montlake interchange opens.

        I’m most excited about the cross-lake bike path. A bike-to-U-Link combo commute from my condo in south Kirkland would be pure awesome.

    1. Yep – can’t wait to see how much time us Eastside bus riders have to sacrifice to make sure you Seattle people have a nice subway experience ;) ;) ;).

      1. As an Eastside bus rider, I look forward to how much time I can retrieve from the traffic jams of I-5 and Stewart Street. :)

      2. Hi, I’m an eastside bus rider, and really really want to see the 545 and 255 terminated at UW station.
        A UW transfer point to light rail is vastly superior to a downtown transfer point.
        With the montlake flyer stops going away, it really is an either/or choice.

        I do not want to sit through wasted time on a bus on I5.

        The 550 is not slated to be moved out of the tunnel until its also redundant.

      3. Eastsiders will save some time (especially inbound) by avoiding Stewart and (for 255 riders) the CPS zigzag, but they’ll lose time if the transfers at UW Station are poor, which is too possible. One of the big questions we’ll have for Metro during this process is how they will improve the transfer experience at UW Station.

      4. Eastside riders will be back in the tunnel when East Link opens. So, yeah, there will be a period where it is west side only, but that is really only temporary.

        And of course if your favorite east side son didn’t spend so much time and effort fighting LR you Eastside riders would probably be back in the tunnel even sooner. So don’t blame us.

      5. It will have to be an awfully good transfer to beat the 545 or 255 as they now are going from the Montlake station to Westlake in the AM. That takes about 15 minutes or so in the morning. (And yes, I ride one or the other every day at rush hour – traffic really isn’t an issue on 520 and the short stretch of I-5 is, well, short). But, the PM rush hour is a whole ‘nother thing – there, Link and a transfer could make a serious dent in travel time as I-5 sits at a standstill often, assuming the transferred to bus doesn’t have to fight its way back to 520 through all the UW traffic! Can’t wait to see how the proposal.

      6. I, too, ride the 255 every day (except for a few occasions when I do a 540-xxx transfer). Remember that trip time from UWS to Westlake will be just 6 minutes. Some mornings, particularly with drivers who religiously observe the 5 mph CPS speed limit, the 255 spends more than that just screwing around on 9th and in CPS. It’s bad enough that in the mornings I will transfer at Evergreen Point if there is a 5th Ave bus other than the 545 (which is overloaded too often) right behind my 255. The UW Station transfer could end up being just as frustrating, but if it’s not it might be better even in the morning.

      7. Peak-period trains will be running every 6 minutes, so the transfer penalty will probably be dominated by walking, rather than waiting. The existing bus stop at Pacific St. and Pacific Pl. may move a couple hundred feet closer to the station, which will help some. Although, with the stoplights, simply getting off the bus back at Montlake and Shelby may very well be faster.

        As to traffic down the Montlake exit ramp, the existing ramp configuration is going to be replaced with a two-lane right-turn to Montlake, governed by a traffic light. Even without transit priority down the ramp, the new configuration should be quite a bit better for buses exiting the freeway than the existing one-lane-turn-and-merge. Unless of course, induced demand fills up the increased capacity added by the new ramp. The new exit ramp is scheduled to open later this year.

      8. What? Seriously, what? How in heavens name will Link (with all its flaws) possibly result in any sort of sacrifice by Eastside bus riders.

        Please elaborate.

      9. Ross – I put smiley faces on my post to make the use of the word “sacrifice” be a bit of a joke. The issue, has discussed above, is that U-Link’s opening may mean the truncation of 520 routes at the new Link station. This will turn a one seat ride into downtown for many Eastside riders into a two seat ride, and, depending on the Montlake mess, may mean a slower trip. Of course, it could be a wash or a faster one, but I’m not that optimistic. We’ll see. That’s the sort of “sacrifice” (again not too serious ;) that U-LInk may mean for us poor souls on the other side of the lake without light rail. Yet.

      10. Probably less than the First and Fifth Avenue residents and businesses had to lose when transit was taken completely off of their streets Downtown.

        Also, considering how much increasingly massive traffic jams caused by single accidents can lock up the whole region, it’s hard to think that every high capacity automobile remover won’t relieve blockage everywhere else.

        Really doubt you could prove that the East Side would be any better off if Seattle service was still kept slow and unreliable. But if you really think Seattle versus East Side is a zero-sum proposition….

        A certain state highway bridge can be left unfinished for about thirty years, and a Federal one closed to everything but interstate traffic, thereby totally liberating both subareas from each other.

        Until the present-day Bellevue Chamber of Commerce can file its way loose from the motel radiator. Though can’t remember if that motel right by the freeway is still there…


      11. @Eastside Rider — OK, sorry. It is hard for me to figure out the jokes, especially the satirical ones on the internet.

        Assuming that the buses do truncate at Husky Stadium, I think it will be a net overall benefit for east side riders. A one seat ride is nice, but you will (presumably) trade frequency and connectivity for occasional speed. The same is true all over our system. Riders of the old 41 will often have a slower ride downtown, but they will have the benefit of consistency as well as the stops along the way. The same is true for UW riders. The 71/72/73 buses are quite fast from Campus Parkway to downtown, but the train will include a stop at Capitol Hill*.

        For 520 riders, the devil is in the details. The county and the city need to sit down with the university and make the transition as easy as possible (as in this diagram — That alone would make a big difference. The changes to 520 (two lanes and a light) as mentioned above will also help things quite a bit.

        The time savings should be translated into extra frequency. If Metro or Sound Transit wants to make these sorts of changes popular, they should (at least initially) focus on applying the changes to the area that is truncated. That way folks see the savings immediately. If your bus drops you off at Husky Stadium, but it runs twice as often, it is obvious what you got out of it. But if the bus drops you off at Husky Stadium, then pours the savings throughout the area, people on the old bus routes are likely to whine about it.

        There will be times, of course, when going to (or from) Husky Stadium is a lot slower (because of Montlake Boulevard traffic). For those times, I think going directly downtown would make sense. Those are likely to be rush hour trips, so the schedule won’t be too crazy. I could see sending all of the east side to downtown buses to the UW during part of the day, but sending them to downtown at other times. Meanwhile, you keep the east side to UW routes.

        * I am not suggesting these buses change right now. But eventually (when Link gets to the UW) their route to downtown will go away.

      12. “if your favorite east side son didn’t spend so much time and effort fighting LR you Eastside riders would probably be back in the tunnel even sooner”

        Not probably, definitely. East Link was originally scheduled to open in 2021. But with the City Council obstruction and Surrey Downs opposition and the favorite son’s lawsuits, it slipped two years.

      13. Ross – definitely hard to tell when anyone is being less than serious here (or in any internet forum), I should know that and not try it! I look forward to seeing the full plans and to hopefully having the powers-that-be adopt the changes to the 520-to-station improvements you link to.

    2. From your lips to ST’s ears, David! I fear a 10 minute slog from 520 to the station, but I will put my pessimism aside and wait for the proposal!

      1. I think it is quite reasonable for the buses to go downtown when going downtown is significantly faster. If there really is a ten minute slog, and driving downtown is fast, then there is very little to be gained by going to the UW. Folks headed to the UW can take a different bus, while folks headed to Capitol Hill can just backtrack. But if going to the UW doesn’t save any service hours, then it is pointless.

        I think this situation will be rare, though. I think most of the day it will be faster to get to Husky Stadium, especially when the 520 changes are implemented (a light on the off ramp) and if they make it easy to get from a bus to the train (

        As I said above, the powers that be need to sit down and allow buses to turn around by the station. Other changes might need to be made as well (new signals) so that buses don’t get stuck. Getting to the station should be fairly easy once the light is added. The outside (eastern most) lane is not as popular (most drivers are trying to get over the bridge and then take a left). So it should move fairly well.

        I think the toughest situation will be heading away from the station towards 520. Traffic is often a mess through there. I would like to see the city “lock people in” to their lane before the bridge. In other words, if you are headed to 520 (as a SOV) then you have to be in the outside (western most) lane before the bridge. This prevents “cheaters” or folks who change lanes at the last minute. The bus would then use the inside (or driver’s left) lane. This lane should move fast, as it is only used by drivers headed to the Montlake/Central Area or buses and carpools.

      2. About the only time where I envision truncating 520 buses being a serious problem is during Husky Games. That can be solved with a temporarily reroute that serves Montlake Freeway Station and continues on downtown. Even then, the bus could stop at Westlake, rather than travel all the way through downtown.

        There are options to make the transfer experience easier, even if sending buses through the parking lot is off the table. For instance, network 1 has the 255 continue on to Children’s Hospital after serving the station, where it would likely pick up a considerable number of new riders, while existing riders get off. I have major concerns with the proposal’s subjecting downtown->Kirkland riders to the whims of traffic on southbound Montlake, but that problem could be solved by simply having the 255 bus do a 20-minute layover in the bus lane next to the station, using the 44’s temporary layover spot during the Montlake triangle construction. At least on weekdays, thru-riders would be able to transfer to the bus ahead of them when Montlake traffic is light. A layover in the middle route is kind of confusing, but that problem could be solved by branding the bus as two separate routes that happen to thru-route together in the northbound direction only.

  3. As a side question, do we have any better idea yet when ULink will actually open? Are we going to have a countdown clock as we did for previous openings?

    1. And, have there been any further inklings from ST that ULink will be ready to open early? I know there were some optimistic posts on this blog a while back, but I haven’t seen anything recently to indicate it might happen prior to 2016…

      1. Sound Transit posted a project update just last week that says service will start in 2016. It also says the UW station is 100% done, Capitol Hill station is 83% done, and track/electrical is 64% done. That sounds pretty close to me, but I understand if they’re not willing to commit to opening within the next 10 months at this time.

      2. And that report also says that testing for the new alignment will begin in fourth quarter 2015. What we don’t yet know is if they’ll be testing at the higher frequency, or the current one. The former would require removing some buses from the tunnel at the end of this year, while the later allows them to remain until March 2016

      3. I think Metro said testing starts in September, so that’s when some buses will have to leave the tunnel.

    2. They are currently planning on March 2016. That’s already six months earlier than their original schedule. I don’t see any reason to think it would be earlier than that.

      1. If you accept that the start of Link revenue service needs to happen at one of the standard schedule change opportunities, it’s hard to imagine service starting less than a year from now. From watching projects elsewhere, it seems to take 6+ months from the completion of track work to revenue service to commission signals, test and train operators. So the track & electrical work would have to be wrapped up this month to make September. They were 30 percent done this time last year, no they are 64 percent done. Even allowing for them, counting milestones rather than hours, completion doesn’t sound imminent.

      2. If you accept that the start of Link revenue service needs to happen at one of the standard schedule change opportunities, it’s hard to imagine service starting less than a year from now. From watching projects elsewhere, it seems to take 6+ months from the completion of track work to revenue service to commission signals, test and train operators. So the track & electrical work would have to be wrapped up this month to make September. They were 30 percent done this time last year, no they are 64 percent done. Even allowing for them counting milestones rather than hours, completion doesn’t sound imminent.

      3. FWIW, Central Link did NOT open at one of the standard schedule change opportunities – it opened when it was ready to open. I see no reason to expect U-link to be different. Bus changes, however, probably will wait for the next standard schedule change opportunity.

  4. Nothing is going to change the city more than U-Link opening. People across the city will be screaming for ST3 (and ST4 and ST5) when it finally does.

    1. I respectfully disagree. Unfortunately, U-Link is a misnomer (like Central Link). It doesn’t serve the “U”. The UW is a big campus, and includes a business district (known as the “U-District”). U-Link won’t serve that. It will only serve “lower campus”. This is a great stop (better than anything we have built so far) but it isn’t the best stop. It does wonders in connecting people to the UW Hospital, and (if they are willing to walk a ways) to the rest of the university, but it does little for folks headed to “upper campus”. Worst of all, it doesn’t connect riders with buses headed from the north, or the west, or the southwest. In other words, unlike the Brooklyn station, it does nothing to make transfers to Eastlake, Ballard, Fremont, Roosevelt, Maple Leaf, Lake City, etc. any better. It is good, but it is (sadly enough) one stop away from being great.

      In a few years we will have a station in the U-District. That stop will be a game changer. That stop will do exactly what you are saying. This is Beethoven’s 8th. A fine symphony — but just wait for the next one.

      1. Station at Brooklyn, Roosvelt, and Northgate will certainly be a huge help, but it’s an exaggeration to say that anyone not within walking distance of Husky Stadium won’t benefit.

        Even if the bus network remains completely unchanged, accessing Link from Northeast Seattle via the 65, 75, or 372 will likely get you downtown faster than slogging it all the way on the 71, or, worse, transferring to the 71/71/73 from a 65 or 372. However, if the 71/72/73 are able to be truncated, bigger benefits can arise when the service hours are re-invested into boosting frequency for all the other routes. Under the current system, trying to go north or east from the U-district in almost any directions involves a hodge-podge of 30-minute-frequency routes.

        I personally favor the 71/72/73 continuing to go downtown for 5 more years, at least for the peak-period-peak-direction trips that utilize the I-5 express lanes, simply because it gets downtown so fast and those buses are so well-used. I would run it frequently during the peak and keep the northbound trips running as late as 7 or 8 in the evening. However, the I-5 express lanes have limited hours and when they’re not available, even the “express” 71/72/73 still has to slog it down Eastlake with all the stoplights, including the even slower slog of getting into and out of Convention Place Station. on the surface. The existing scheme for traveling between the U-district to downtown, with so many different service patterns, wide variability of travel times even within a particular service pattern, different stops you have to wait at at different times of day (depending on specific origin->destination points), and unreliable service with lots of bunching make for an extremely confusing system. A frequent bus to a frequent train, with a well-signed walkway between the two, is much easier to understand.

      2. Yes given the option I would arrive on the AVE and depart via the stadium (down hill both ways) but the station location would not deter a UW student or staff from using Light Rail, very excited for Nothgate Link as that will provide the area exactly what they need.

      3. Well, my point is that the 71/72/73 carry the bulk of the riders from the UW to downtown. Metro could truncate all of those with this round of changes, but I doubt they will. Husky Stadium is extremely difficult to get to from the north or the west or the southwest (Eastlake). Traffic is just too nasty.

        The stop is next to the hospital (which is great) and compliments the other station (when it is built). It is also fairly close to the university itself. But it is a long ways from the business and residential district. There are thousands and thousands of people who live or work in the area and the Husky Stadium station does very little for them.

        But if I’m wrong, and Metro goes ahead and changes/truncates the routes, than you are absolutely correct.

        I want to be clear, though. You are correct in that UW to downtown rail is, by far, the biggest thing that we’ve built from a transportation standpoint since the bus tunnel was built (if not bigger). But my point is that UW to downtown includes the U-District, not just a stop by the hospital. It is a big step in the right direction to get a stop on Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium. But it would have been a giant leap if it included the U-District. Or, to put into numbers, I think Husky Stadium station and Capitol Hill station will have huge numbers of people, but I think Brooklyn will have more. We will see (of course).

      4. I’ve walked and bused by Pacific St. many times of day. Really, it’s only a problem during the PM peak – other times of day, it moves reliably, especially once the bus lane picks up. Even if Pacific St. is backed up during the PM peak, it’s important to remember that sending the bus directly downtown would likely be worse. At that hour, I-5 is backed up, Eastlake is backed up, and Stewart St. and 9th Ave. downtown are also backed up. It is not uncommon at 5 PM for a 71/72/73 to take a good 15 minutes just to get from the corner to Stewart and Eastlake to Convention Place Station. Given the choice, I would much rather put up with Pacific and have a train running every 6 minutes to change to.

      5. >> Pacific St. [is] only a problem during the PM peak – other times of day, it moves reliably, especially once the bus lane picks up.


        >> It’s important to remember that sending the bus directly downtown would likely be worse.

        I don’t think so. It depends on if the bus is using the tunnel, and if the express lanes are working. With the express lanes and the bus tunnel, the 71/72/73 run fairly fast.

        But that suggests a mix. Keep the express buses, but only run them during rush hour, and only with the express lanes. This would be very easy to understand, too. The express buses (like most express buses) would run only during rush hour, and only towards downtown. Do away with the Eastlake routing (add more 70 runs if necessary). The regular 71/72/73 buses, which would now represent the bulk of the runs, would go to Husky Stadium Station. That works for me (quite well, actually).

      6. I think we’re in agreement here. The trip I was referring to was specifically southbound trips during the PM peak. The express lanes are running north at that time, so there is no way to run a bus from the U-district to downtown at that time without running into severe congestion that would create a longer trip than a Link transfer, especially with Link running every 6 minutes.

        Going the other direction is a totally different story, and I agree that those buses cannot go away before 2021 because they carry so many riders and move so quickly.

        Alternative 1 essentially does exactly what you say – the 71/72/73 are replaced with just a 73, for which every run is express down the I-5 express lanes, with the 70 being the only bus to go down Eastlake. With the 67 running every 10-15 minutes all-day, the Link connection should not be a problem for people traveling outside of peak times.

      7. The 71/72/73 are severely overcrowded and delayed, so much that their overflow spreads to the 43, 49, 70, and 255 even though those take longer.

        NORTHBOUND: good until 7:30am. At 7:30 the bus switched to Eastlake and gets slower, and it becomes standing room only. At 9am it switches back to I-5 and gets faster, but it’s so crowded now that once a week you can’t get on a bus. Freeway traffic is variable, sometimes a slowdown, and sometimes a bottleneck at the end of the 45th ramp. Around 11:30am the express lanes open; I never ride it in the afternoon so I don’t know for sure, but I assume speed is good but standing spaces are iffy.

        SOUTHBOUND: Always uses Eastlake except AM peak. I haven’t ridden AM peak for years, but when I did it often slowed down approaching downtown. In the afternoons it’s OK until 3:30pm. Between 4:30 and 6:30pm you’re almost guaranteed to face: (1) pass-ups between 43rd and Campus Parkway, (2) 5-15 minute blockage getting onto Stewart Street, (3) slowdown on Stewart Street, and/or (4) delays getting to the Convention Place or Westlake bus bays. I’m one of the biggest express promoters around, and even I often take the 43 or 49 between 4:30 and 6:30pm to avoid the delays, overcrowding, and stress on the 71/72/73.

        So we can’t get Link fast enough, and the interim terminus at UW Station will be a significant problem for its entire 5 years. BUT, if people are so frustrated with the expresses that they’re even willing to take a 43, 49, 70, or 255, then shuttling down to UW Station will be better than that.

  5. Would Metro really truncate the 255 at UW station? I thought that the 255 was for, you know, getting to Kirkland. If you want to go to UW, you would take the 71-73, or 74 if you come at the right time. Those are the routes that should be truncated. I hardly ever ride the 255, so I don’t know the ridership patterns, but I would imagine that the bulk of riders sit right past Montlake freeway station and cross the 520, so it wouldn’t make sense to have all those riders get off at UW.

    Or at the very least, truncating the 255 should wait. Given that we’re extending Link, which is already a very busy transit route at commute, to the UW, a major commuter destination, and presumably truncating the 71-73 to make room for it, I think we should wait on trying to pack all the 255 riders on a train that may or may not be severely overcrowded at launch.

    1. A large purpose of Link is to provide a huge amount of passenger capacity that cannot easily be matched with buses. A 4-car train running every 10 minutes (6 minutes peak) will easily have enough room for all the 49/71/72/73 riders and then some. If for some reason, it doesn’t, that’s a good problem to have, with an obvious solution – run the trains more frequently!

      While it is true that far more people from Kirkland bus to downtown than the U-district (the 540 is an abysmal failure), a truncation of the 255 would not be about U-district vs. downtown, but about getting people from Kirkland to downtown more efficiently by turning buses around sooner. Considering the overhead of the light at Stewart and Denny, plus the slog into and out of the tunnel, the travel time impact of the Link connection would likely be minimal.

      Outside of rush hour, the 255 gets ok ridership, but not great, and the primary reason it runs as often as it does is vestiges of the old 40/40/20 system. Over time, service hours of the 255 will shift to other corridors, and a route truncation would allow this to happen without actually cutting frequency on the Kirkland->Seattle route. (Peak-period-peak-direction is a whole different story and will likely continue to behave as today).

    2. Are they really considering truncating the 7X’s? That will absolutely nuke ridership; crazy.

      Sure, do it once Link reaches Roosevelt or U-District. But most runs would be downtown by the time that a rider will deviate down Pacific only to turn off at the beginning of the bus lane, get off the bus at the Triangle garage, cross horrid Montlake Blvd (even if by circuitous pedestrian bridge), ride escalators down four stories to track level, get on a train and then head downtown.

      Truncate the 65, 68 and 75 at Husky? Sure. But not the 71, 72, and 73. For one thing, there’s no room; for another, it’s way out of the way.

      1. Bits of this could easily change in the version of the proposal to be released this week. But in earlier materials, the 66, 67, and 73 were all consolidated into an ultra-frequent 67 that would be through-routed with the 48S. A few vestigial 73X and 74X trips remained during peak hours only. The 71 was replaced by a frequent route along 65th that was connected to the south half of a revised 16. 72 riders would use the 372 or 65.

      2. Bring the 71-series straight down15th from Ravenna express, with one stop at 45th, and one at Campus Parkway.

        A rush hour reserved lane and some signal pre-empt would definitely deliver University District passengers faster than present routing, on their way to the LINK station.

        And any possible routing to LINK would give a more reliable weather and traffic proof ride than present one-way per rush hour I-5 paired with Eastlake service now.

        A green and white sign saying “Express” has never opened a blocked lane for a second.


      3. Well, it looks like it’s a done deal that the all-day 7X’s are gone, and what’s more the 70 is going to turn south at the 15th NE and run to the 44 terminal at the Triangle Garage. So people living in the already pretty dense and rapidly growing area north of about 43rd or 45th between I-5 and 15th NE must transfer to Link to go downtown except at the peak hours.

        That seems draconian to me, and thank goodness there will still be some I-5 Express Lane service during the peaks.

        Also, do the people living along Ravenna Boulevard between the Ave and Roosevelt know what’s coming? They have no buses running on their lovely street today and will have two frequent service lines (the 48N and 67) chugging by next year. Should be fun at the Roosevelt Neighborhood Council in the coming weeks.

      4. Oh, I forgot that the 49 uses the same loop as the 70, so folks from around 50th and Brooklyn can use it for a direct ride downtown. It’s slower and won’t serve the retail core to and from which most mid-day riders want to travel, but it’s something.

      5. Nor does the 49 serve SLU.

        Perhaps Metro will see fit to make the Eastlake service ultra-frequent (every 7-8 minutes) with two routes, one which makes the new routing to UW Hospital/Husky Stadium Station and one which serves the old route up to the 50th and Brooklyn loop. That would be ideal, because there are lots of new units going in around the loop, and having direct service to SLU would continue service to a destination not well-served from other areas of the city with apartments.

      6. Not truncating — eliminating. Under both proposals the 72 would be gone. Under the aggressive proposal the 71 would also be gone.

        the 73 would also be changed — either less off-peak service, or more service with a realignment depending on the proposal.

        Demand would be satisfied by Link.

        All-in-all a better proposal than I expected from Metro. Now we will see if they are actually serious about doing this.

      7. “So people living in the already pretty dense and rapidly growing area north of about 43rd or 45th between I-5 and 15th NE must transfer to Link to go downtown except at the peak hours. “.

        Not true – they will still have both the 70 and the 512, which stops on I-5 and 45th St. A transfer to Link will probably be at least as fast as a 73 down Eastlake anyway, if not faster.

        (Note: the proposal to change the 70’s terminal to the Montlake Triangle does sound questionable and I’m hoping it can be fixed before the final proposal. I think it was done purely for operational convenience because the Montlake Triangle happens to have trolley wire for the #44, along with a couple of additional layover slots post-construction. Almost nobody from Eastlake is going to be transferring to U-link at Husky Stadium).

      8. asdf,

        While I’ll grant that northbound service from downtown to I-5 and 45th is a reasonable alternative for the corridor along 45th, how many people do you see waiting at the southbound I-5 bus pad? It’s a terrible place to wait and requires walking over the freeway and negotiating the busy intersections at 5th and 7th NE, both of which massively favor cars over pedestrians.

        I’m glad you agree that re-routing the 70 to Triangle Garage is a mistake. If that is reverted then the problem I’m seeing is ameliorated.

      9. “All-in-all a better proposal than I expected from Metro.”

        Now it’s time for the restructuralists to put their money where their mouth is. You said you wanted to replace the 43 with the 8 and 48; here it is. And bye-bye 12 tail and 25.

        I was reluctant to delete the 43 because it connects all of Capitol Hill’s activity centers. But if the alternative is a half-hourly mid-day 43; that’s not very useful either because you have to wait for it or fit your schedule around it. So it’s probably better to just cut it at that point. But, will people be waiting 15 minutes to transfer between the 8 and 48, especially in the evening? Or will Metro time the transfers well? And will it make the 8 punctual, as if.

        There’s a surprising gap on Madison between Broadway and 23rd, but I expect Madison BRT will come to fill it in, someday.

      10. The 70 reroute may be temporary until U-District Station opens. The reroute does ensure that the gap between UW Station and the U-District is saturated with transit, so that may be part of the reason. But when U-District Station opens, will it make any sense to go to UW Station?

    3. From the urbanist article, it looks like the 255 remains the same as it is now during peak periods (as the 255X – but maybe not using the tunnel?), but off-peak it runs up to Children’s Hospital rather than going to the CBD, necessitating a transfer at U-Link for those heading downtown.

      1. According to that article, only half the peak trips run downtown. Which makes sense.

  6. Are they going to run LINK to downtown/Capitol Hill later than they do now? According to the online schedules, the last train northbound reaches Westlake station at just 12:48am. After that it directs you to transfer to Route 36 at Beacon Hill station. Route 36 doesn’t even go to Capitol Hill though.

    1. Probably not, but the 49 does run from downtown to Capitol Hill, and under alternative 1, the 49 runs a lot more frequently in the evenings.

      I’m hoping that in the final proposal, the 83 and 84 night-owl trips can be replaced with 24-hour service on the 49, in an effort to make the late-night bus network more legible.

      1. How about all-night service on LINK? It would be nice to be able to get to the airport via LINK in time to catch early morning flights.

      2. But that would require two transfers: LINK to 36 to 49. That’s horribly inconvenient.

        Is there a reason the trains stop at Beacon Hill instead of going all the way to the end? That’s terrible planning.

      3. They’re heading back to the yard; Beacon Hill is the last stop before the yard. Hopefully, once U Link is open, the last trains will head to the yard from that side of the line and thus go out of service from SODO not Beacon Hill.

      4. They’re going to the maintenance base between Beacon Hill and SODO where they spend the night.

      5. @CC,

        The options are for the trains to go out of service at the last station before the base, or to deadhead the trains back to base. Which is better?

        Shrinking the track maintenance schedule is not a viable option. Night-owl shadow service is, but would not be cheap, especially on a per-rider calculation.

    2. I understand that they’re heading to the yard, but I don’t get why they can’t finish their runs to Westlake (or UW next year), then turn around and go back down to Beacon Hill and to the yard. It would be a hell of a lot better for riders.

      Is there another subway system in the world that finishes its runs at night in the middle of the line like that? I doubt it.

      1. Would they skip all stops to the yard, or would they give people at least some partial late-night service? So it’s still the same problem. People would rather have some partial night service rather than none.

      2. Current service also dictates how late the DSTT is open which is a large piece of the operations budget for both ST and KC. Do we know if the DSTT will remain open later than it currently is?

  7. I like how the aggressive alternative completely eliminates the 71 and 72, with additional changes to the 73 too. And even the non-aggressive alternative eliminates the 72.

    So, ya, that is encouraging. So maybe Metro is finally beginning to understand….

    Haven’t discerned the impact to tunnel routes yet, but it has to be fewer (an improvement). I

    1. Impact to the tunnel routes peak hours, alternative 1:

      41, 101, 106, 21x, 550: same.
      71: zero.
      72: zero.
      73: 10 trips unidirectional? (alt 1); 15 min (alt 2)
      74: same
      76: 3 more trips (alt 1); same (alt 2)
      77: same
      255: same

      1. Well….the 316 could pick up some frequency per Alt 1, which is good over all, but I don’t like the prospect of Metro adding peak only service back into the tunnel.

        As much trouble has Metro has had running buses reliably in the tunnel all these years, I’d prefer to see them back off a bit on peak only tunnel routes and just focus on getting their basic service to operate reliably and not to interfere with Link.

        But the potential elimination of the 71 and 72 is huge. That will really help.

      2. If the 71/72/73 is going run at all, it needs to run in the tunnel because the of the connection to the I-5 express lanes. The 255 should be moved upstairs.

      3. Biggest bunching problems seem to be the 41 which really slow things down NB in the DSTT. Lets hope that KC is able to solve this in the next year.

    2. So I get the elimination of the 72, but the 71 I’m struggling with–where is off-peak Wedgwood service going to come from under that scenario? (The chart says 16 but that must be wrong). Maybe Wedgwood ridership is so bad we shouldn’t care, but it seems like a network failure to leave it out altogether.

      1. Look at the map; the 16 takes a turn east at Green Lake and goes to Wedgewood. Its northern half is taken over by the 26. It seems a loss for Wedgewood, but beefing up the 65 will help offset it.

      2. My first thought on the 16 is it’s a long slow milk run. But it also does some other things. It fulfills a long-desired crosstown route between northeast Seattle and the rest of north Seattle, at least west to Greenlake, and arguably further to Fremont. With transfers to the 48 (Loyal Heights) and 44 (Ballard) and 26 (Northgate).

        Making the 26 and 28 all-express (on Aurora) has been in two previous Metro proposals. But a corollary to that is, something has to take over Dexter/Fremont. That’s slower than Aurora but it has one advantage: it guarantees the route will be 15-minute frequent. So it essentially props up the frequency on NE 65th, making it into a slow but frequent route. That’s better than a slow infrequent route, and it’s much better than the cut scenario which had hourly (!) service on NE 65th.

      3. Ah, right, should have looked harder. I like the improvement in crosstown service that produces a great deal, but it still seems like a loss for Wedgwood.

        Curiously, it lists the 48N as 30 on Sunday, but calls that “no change” but that fails to take into account the Prop 1 service bump in September?

      4. None of this proposal takes Prop 1 into account; note that the 47 is completely ignored here.

        While Seattle voters have approved buying extra service hours from Metro starting in June, this restructure process is only based off the current network. After getting public feedback in March, the agencies will come back to the sounding board to craft a final proposal for the King County Council by July.

      5. Replacement Wedgwood service comes from transfers, which are made more palatable by increased frequency. To get downtown you’d use the 65 and transfer to Link. To get to the U-District you’d use the 65 and walk or transfer to frequent N/S service from 40th/15th. To get to Roosevelt you’d use the 16. Remember that all of these will run every 15 minutes

      6. If you read the proposal closely, alternative 1 is a huge win for Wedgwood, while alternative 2 is a loss. In alternative 1, you get the choice of either the 372 or the 65 to connect to Link. Not only are both running every 15 minutes, but those who live between 25th and 35th will have the luxury of taking whichever of the two routes comes first, making the effective frequency even better, especially heading home in the evenings. Wedgwood also gets the new 16 to Roosevelt, while runs more frequently than the current 71 does, plus a direct connection to Green Lake, Wallingford, and Fremont, which would be an hour+ ride with the bus network of today.

        A very time number of people would need to either ride the 16 or walk about 15 minutes to the #65 to reach Link. For such people, getting downtown might take slightly longer than the current #71, but given that this is only a small piece of Wedgwood halfway between the 65 and 75, which has nothing there but single-family homes, and that the 16 is a frequent route (15 minutes 7 days a week), I think this is reasonable.

        Compare this with alternative 2. Wedgwood still loses the one-seat ride to downtown on the 71, but they don’t gain any frequency on the 65 to compensate, and the truncated 71 they’re left with is a half-hourly shuttle that goes only to Roosevelt. Network 2’s #71 will probably attract close to zero riders.

  8. “But sending all those buses to Northgate is a mistake.” (RossB Urbanist comment)

    The traffic is north and east of the mall. The 67 comes in on the southeast side so it misses the traffic. Likewise the 26 is finally rerouted to 92nd, so it also misses the traffic.

    1. Except the 67 doesn’t; in the Urbanist map, it’s routed up Roosevelt to Northgate Way. That’s the same routing taken in the pre-Prop-1 proposal, so Metro evidently thinks serving the Roosevelt neighborhood along the old 73 path is more important… but at the least, some transit priority is needed.

      1. Yeah, that is my take, and that is why I wrote the criticism (same RossB). Hopefully by the end of the week they will finish their work and make things easier to understand (by producing actual maps with actual routes).

        Even if buses from the south go up the south side, it does little for folks coming from the north. There are quite a few people that live north of Northgate Way. Those that want to head downtown take the 41. Those that want to go to the U-District take the 73 (or 373). Plenty of people (myself included) sometimes take the 73 because it is faster. If buses from the north go through the Northgate traffic mess, then it means (presumably) a two seat ride for those headed to either downtown or the U-District. But the worse part is that it is a very slow ride (even if it happens to be one seat). Staying on Roosevelt (or 15th) is much faster (no detour and less traffic). That pushes the transfer out to Roosevelt and Northgate Way. But that is better, in my opinion, then the Northgate Transfer Station. Metro loves the station, but it is in a terrible spot. The only good thing about it is that it provides fast service via the freeway (when the express lanes are going in the right direction). Since the 41 crosses Roosevelt (and 15th) anyway, I don’t see the advantage of looping the frequent Roosevelt buses over to the slow Transit Center. You get almost as good connectivity by simply heading up Roosevelt/15th until you are past 125th. The population dwindles after that (check out the census maps) so turning around where the old 73 turns around (136th) makes a lot of sense.

        As I said over at the Urbanist, I think buses traveling on Roosevelt north of 75th is a great idea. There are very few people living along 15th NE (until you get to Pinehurst). So consolidating service to Roosevelt will make things a lot better for a lot of people. It also connects neighborhoods better. If I want to get from Pinehurst to Northgate, I can take the 41 or the 347/348. But getting from Pinehurst to the heart of Maple Leaf (Roosevelt) is a two seat ride unless I want to walk a quarter mile (from 15th to Roosevelt). The 73 was actually re-routed to use Roosevelt while the bridge on 15th was being worked on. Other than the dog leg at the end (getting from Roosevelt over to the ave) it was an improvement (from what I could tell).

  9. Wow. I am shocked by all of this. How does anyone think a light rail station by the hospital is even remotely an alternative to service to the Ave or upper campus? 45th & the Ave is a mile from Pacific & Montlake.

    Selfishly, this makes my commute terrible. Instead of a one seat ride on the 43, I either have a two seat bus ride (one of those buses would be the never on time 8n) with a best case similar peak frequency vs the current 43. Or, I have a bus-train-bus connection also with the 8n but going the other way. Or a bus-train-walk. None of which are as good.

    I could understand making these kinds of changes when Brooklyn station opens. But not now.

    1. Nobody does; it’s just that they only had enough money to get to UW so it was further along when ST2 passed, and they couldn’t build U-District first because it’s geographically further.

    2. Could you describe in more detail where you are coming from and where you are going to. There might be a better option that you are missing.

      1. I am coming from John & 17th and going to 45th & the Ave. I suppose I could walk to 23rd and get the 48 from there but that is a mile walk each day.

        Additionally, getting rid of the 12 and the 43 makes getting downtown from eastern Capitol Hill a lot more difficult.

      2. The simplest option is to just walk to the 48. It’s only 4/10 of a mile each way, and will get you within a block of where you’re trying to go – maybe even right there if the 48 moves from 15th to the Ave., which is being considered. Under network 1, the 48 also runs more frequently, with a bus every 10 minutes, rather than every 15. So, at the end of the day, it’s an extra 5 minutes walking vs. less wait time – mostly a wash.

        To go downtown under network 1, you would get to choose between either walking to Capitol Hill Station and riding Link (about 1/2 mile each way, but possibly faster overall) or walking 2 blocks to 15th and riding the 10. Note that with prop 1 money (not factored into Metro’s preliminary plans), the #10 runs every 15 minutes day and night, 7 days a week, starting this June.

        Unless walking a couple of blocks is a significant hardship, I don’t see this as a loss.

        As to the loss of the 43, consider the network 2 alternative where the 43 runs every 30 minutes and the 48 every 15 minutes. Ask yourself if you would really go through the extra bother of timing schedules to meet the 43 and waiting an extra half-hour if you just missed one, rather than walk a few extra blocks to the 48.

      3. Except it’s not more frequency. Currently, peak of peak 43 comes every six minutes. So, it’s more walking for less frequent service. What is the benefit to me again?

        I have walked to Broadway plenty of times, I could be downtown on the 12 or 43 by the time I could walk to Capitol Hill station.

        The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is Metro’s way to screw Seattle after Prop 1. Cut all of this Seattle service and then make the city buy it back with Prop 1 money.

      4. Except the total Seattle service hours under this proposal are identical to what we now have. It can’t be designed to screw Seattle. A lot of them are going north of the Ship Canal, and others are going to the 8N.

      5. And a lot of the service hours are going to the 311 and 372 which go outside the city.

        If Alternative 1 is what happens, I’ll never vote for another Metro funding increase. Alternative 2 would make me think long and hard about whether I should vote for it.

      6. If you look closely, the 311 trips are coming out of the 252 (being deleted) and 255 (truncated, but no frequency increase), not Seattle routes. Even the 372 stops at Bothell, not Woodinville, and evening/weekend trips would actually terminate around Lake City, not follow the 522 out to Bothell.

        In reality, where most of the resources are going is not out into the suburbs, but maintaining that 15-minute frequency of service on more routes during more hours of the day. The do-nothing alternative leaves a lot of important corridors running only every half hour after 7 PM. That has a much greater impact on one’s ability to get around than needing to walk an extra 1/4 mile to catch the bus.

        Fortunately, with prop 1 money, service in capitol hill will probably be quite a bit better than what’s outlined in either proposal. The 10, 12, and 48, are all getting upgrades this year, and that investment is not suddenly going to disappear. I suspect that by the time the public process finishes and prop 1 money is added, the 12 and 43 will continue to exist in some form, perhaps peak hours only.

      7. I wouldn’t be so quick to assume service hours are being shifted out of Seattle. While some additional hors are going to the 311 and 372 there are also other outside of Seattle routes losing service hours.

        Remember this plan was drawn up with the baseline assumption Metro would be losing service hours system wide. As Metro isn’t cutting and Seattle has additional service hours due to prop 1 some of the areas losing service may be able to retain it and many routes may see additional frequency.

        While not 100% ideal from the perspective of a frequent gridded bus network Alternative 1 moves us much closer than we were previously.

        I understand you are upset about losing your one seat ride, so am I. I no longer have a relatively fast off-peak trip to downtown or the Northgate Transit center via the 66.

        However I think the net gain of a frequent gridded network ofsets most of the downsides.

        If every transit user insists on a one seat ride to every one of their destinations there is no easy way to provide a frequent and fast transit network as the service hours are spread out like peanut butter everywhere. Bus routes are slow because they twist and turn to pick up every little poket of riders. Routes are infrequent because there are so many of them and because the ridership of any one route is relatively low.

        I understand why Metro riders don’t like transfers as Metro has historicaly done a shitty job with them except downtown. However the Alternative 1 network is frequent enough for that to not be the case for many riders.

        Between the opening of U-link, and a frequent 8N and 48S it isn’t rocket science to expect the 43 to go away. Indeed the Rapid Trolley Network plan of 2008 has many of the same restructures proposed in Alternative 1.

      8. What makes me not drive to work is frequent, reasonably fast, one seat ride service close to where I live. When that goes away, I drive. Walking almost a mile every day is not “close to where I live”.

        In the “what do we get from Prop 1” article here:

        Both the 12 and 43 were getting increased frequency. Now they are going away or in the case of Alt 2 getting reduced? How does that make any sense.

      9. Another thing is that it is somewhat selfish to expect the same number of buses between Capitol Hill and the U-district as before. While you may live right at the halfway point between Capitol Hill Station and the 48, and headed all the way to 45th and the Ave., a good chunk of the 43’s riders live closer to Capitol Hill Station and going either downtown or places in the UW campus a bit closer to the Link station than where you are going. These riders will switch to the train.

        While frequent bus service between capitol hill and the U-district is still warrented (witness the 49 gaining frequency under alternative 1), the number of buses that is needed is simply not as much as it would be without Link.

        Again, I am sorry if you end up needing to walk a few extra blocks, but as far as the restructure goes, your trip is really the worst-case scenario as far as capitol hill->U-district trips go; considering that it’s the worst case, it’s really not that bad. And if you insist on a 43 running every 6 minutes just because it did before, you need to think about other people who would be worse off for whom those buses would have to be taken from. For instance, is it fair for other people who live near you that work in SLU to have a less frequent #8 so you don’t have to walk a few extra very short blocks?

      10. @PeteyNice

        How is the 8 to either the 48 or the 49 not an option for you? No need to walk a mile. With the proposed frequencies you shouldn’t have much of a wait for a transfer.

        I suspect the 12 will stick around given Prop 1 money, perhaps as a peak-only route. But given frequent enough service on the 8 and the 48 there is simply no reason to waste service hours on the 43, especially once Northgate Link opens.

      11. Regarding the Prop 1 extra service, I know it’s confusing, but this map is essentially a “what if Prop 1 expires the day U-Link opens?” scenario. As Metro chooses which parts of each option to adopt, they’ll be negotiating with Seattle for where to add the Prop 1 money. The 12 and 47 are probably going to be staying, for example.

      12. @Chris Stefan you assume I care at all about “frequent gridded network”. I do not. I care about going where I need to (which on transit is the U-District and Downtown) quickly and conveniently. Right now, I essentially have that and with what was promised in Prop 1 this was only going to improve. With the 12, 43 and 10 in a pinch I have frequent service downtown and good peak service to the U-District.

        No matter what they do to frequency, the 8n is going to be awful unless they take it off of Denny or make Denny transit only. Since neither of those are going to happen it will continue to be something you cannot count on. Trading fast frequent service to my primary destinations for one unreliable route that requires a transfer to get anywhere is not a deal I like.

      13. “this plan was drawn up with the baseline assumption Metro would be losing service hours system wide.”

        I don’t think that’s true. Metro had a few months after the cancellation of the cuts to revise the proposal. This proposal is based on Seattle’s existing service hours, and I doubt it shifts hours to the suburbs because that would be highly controversial when Seattle has the most underservice and the 40/40/20 rule is gone.

        Every revenue-neutral reorg has some losers and opposition. But we have to look at what’s best for the largest and widest cross-section of the city’s population, not a few individuals near legacy routes (which were created when the population distribution and travel patterns were different). And we also have to focus on full-time frequent corridors because that makes the network the most effective, even if we have to reduce some parallel service to pay for it. But as asdf2 said, the Prop 1 money will go on top of this, and will increase frequency further and/or do some partial restorations.

        What Metro is really asking with these two proposals is: how important is the 43 vs greater frequency on the 8 and 48? Is a half-hourly 43 still worthwhile? That’s exactly what it wants public feedback on. I’m reluctant to delete the 43, but at the same time reducing it to half-hourly makes it ineffective as a core route, so maybe we should just delete it. “Expanded peak” might be an option with Prop 1, running say 6-10am and 2-8pm weekdays.

        The 12 has some other factors. It’s high-ridership west of Broadway, which the 49 would serve. It’s moderate ridership between Broadway and 15th, and low east of there. (“Low” may mean full peak hours, as with the 47, but that might suggest it should be a peak-only route.) But the only trolley turnaround is around 12th, so it has to either turn back there or go to the end. That’s really what’s propping up 19th Avenue service, and why the 12 was increased in the Prop 1 formula. Because it’s underserving part of the route, not the entire route, but trolleybuses can’t turn around just anywhere. And in my opinion, service from eastern Capitol Hill to western Madison is less useful than service from eastern Capitol Hill to Pine or John/Olive. Another factor is Madison BRT, which will restore frequent Madison service to at least 23rd, thus partially replacing the 12, although it will be a few years before it opens.

      14. PeteyNice, part of the service you are enjoying now is an artifact of an old and inefficient service pattern. The only reason you have all that peak-of-peak service on the 43 is because trolleys are using that wire to get to the start of their trips on the 44, replacing diesels that do the earliest 44 trips so that trolleys don’t have to sign out at 3 a.m. The volume of riders on the northbound 43 doesn’t justify that sort of frequency.

      15. “The only reason you have all that peak-of-peak service on the 43 is because trolleys are using that wire to get to the start of their trips on the 44, replacing diesels that do the earliest 44 trips so that trolleys don’t have to sign out at 3 a.m.”

        Why is that an important consideration? Are they trying to reduce the service hours of the trolleybuses to extend their life until their replacements come on-line? Is Atlantic Base not open at 3am? Do they need to send additional buses out to cover the off-peak service on the 44?

        I would think that if I lived along the 44 route, I’d prefer to have a trolleybus pass by at 4am than a deisel. With the off-wire capability of the new coaches, it seems like they wouldn’t necessarily have to travel under wire to get to route terminals. Could that lead to some more efficient service patterns?

      16. There are three good reasons to avoid signing out trolleys that early just to operate deadheads to Ballard via east Capitol Hill. First, the base opens at 3:45 a.m, with the first possible pullout at about 4 a.m. — you’d have to open it earlier, with everything that implies (daily window supervisor overtime, changes to various procedures described in the contract, etc). Second, you would be reducing nighttime maintenance windows for the current artic trolley fleet, which is 26 years old and has to last about another year and a half before all replacements are in place. Third, drivers tend to *hate* sign-ins before about 5 a.m., because it gets really hard to get enough sleep — adding a bunch before 4 a.m. wouldn’t be popular with the union.

        The off-wire capability is meant to get around short obstructions, not to operate 8-mile deadheads at up to 35 mph. The early trips are operated by 2600-series hybrids (now the only non-RapidRide/trolley artics operating out of Central or Atlantic Base) that are quiet enough that they really don’t bother neighbors much.

      17. Is the wire energized 24 hours? Is it a significant electricity waste and expense to keep it on for just one or two routes? Is it possible to energize only portions (the 7, 44, and 49) or is it all or nothing?

      18. The wire is active 24 hours. Since buses operate on most portions of the wire almost 24 hours, and little energy is lost when they are not operating, the savings from deactivating portions of the wire would be minimal.

    3. Because all the serious students are closer to SE campus anyhow. That is where you will find your med, engineers and scientific types, and they don’t mind walking a bit.

    1. I fail to see how more conventioneers will impact the tunnel. Once U-Link opens, the trains will be much fuller between UW and downtown than they are between downtown and the airport. More conventioneers will simply fill up some empty space on the south leg.

      Worst-case scenario (and what a wonderful problem it would be to have): ST starts using 3-car trains all day, without upgrading frequency.

      1. Note the maps in the posted link.

        Expansion of the Convention Center occurs on land that is now the Convention Place Station. Once construction on the expansion begins in late 2016 or early 2017 all buses will have to be out of the DSTT permanently.

        Basically the surfacing of all DSTT bus routes will be caused by Convention Center expansion and not by Link expansion. This will necessitate a rather larger Metro service adjustment in late 2016 or early 2017. Alt 1 better prepares for this.

  10. I can’t follow the proposals without maps. A pair of Oran-style maps showing service levels before and after the proposed restructures would be helpful.

  11. So, after staring at the maps linked by the Urbanist…

    The 48 split seems like an excellent idea. Now, how much trolley wire is needed to trolleystitute the 48S? Not much, right? Save some operating money…

    The 8 split seems like an even better idea, except that the 8S ends up with a really weird route.

    Losing service on 19th Avenue seems like a serious mistake. Keep/restore the #12 trolley. This also retains through service on Madison. The #8S can then be routed more directly.

    Losing service to all of Laurelhurst definitely seems like a mistake.

    1. Restoration of service along 19th could be something to be funded with prop 1 money. Metro’s proposals, as presented, assume current (pre-prop 1) levels of funding, so the actual level of service will be quite a bit better than this.

      As to Larualhurst, nobody there is riding the buses anyway, and it’s not that far of a walk to Sand Point Way, so, yes, eliminating the loop through the neighborhood is the right call, and it something that should have happened years ago, Link or no Link.

      1. I have to agree, over the past 25 years I’ve watched Metro try to figure out what to do with Laurelhurst service. There is near zero ridership on the neighborhood loop and Children’s is the only thing that keeps the ridership of whatever route serves Laurelhurst from looking worse than it already is.

        At a certain point you have to take a “use it or lose it” attitude toward transit service. On the other hand you should ensure you aren’t causing a transit service death spiral where ridership is low because the service is poor so service gets cut causing ridership to drop even more.

        I don’t think a death spiral applies to Laurelhurst or Magnolia but may be what happened to the 47.

      2. Looking at it again, I had my scale off (never having been to that part of Seattle). (Block size was misleading me for some reason.) Service on Sand Point Way is sufficient to serve most of Laurelhurst anyway — the walking distance is shorter than I realized.

    2. >>Losing service to all of Laurelhurst definitely seems like a mistake.<<

      According to Google Maps, it's a 23 minute walk from Sand Point Way to the end of that peninsula. That is absurd. I don't care if only 30 people a day use that neighbourhood loop. You can't completely cut off an entire area to the point where people are walking over a mile to the nearest bus stop.

      LINK was supposed to improve transit service.

      1. I don’ think the Laurelhurst loop is going away. But it is hard to justify in a baseline service model represented by Alternative 1. I’m betting Seattle’s Prop 1 will probably keep the loop afloat a few years.

        In the meantime, doing things like opposing expansion of Children’s Hospital will not help bring better transit to the neighborhood in the long run. Want to keep the loop? Allow more employment and more housing in the neighborhood.

      2. Your estimate of how many people use the loop is considerably too high. Given the income levels in the area, it’s a complete, total waste of money.

      3. “The loop” does not have to be served by a route going on Delmar Road and Lakeview Boulevard to downtown. It could be a shuttle attached to, e.g., the 255. But as David says, nobody has ridden it for decades, and there’s no steep hill barrier to the nearby routes (unlike the 27).

      4. Mike, now you’ve done it. Robert is going to come in here and say that we actually do need a frequent one-seat bus just for the one daily rider who goes from the loop to Boylston.

      5. Why do people who live on the Laurelhurst loop or West Montlake don’t ride the 25? “Income” is just a proxy for “not as convenient as driving”. If the service sucks then no one other than people in poverty will ride it. That’s generally not the case in Seattle. They can’t drive to the station as there is no park & ride so the only way to get those residents to stations is by bus.

        I like Mike’s idea of a short shuttle. It’s far cheaper than keeping the 25 as-is. The city can trial it and cancel it if it doesn’t work. I’ll bet though that even that wouldn’t please Robert.

      6. If Robert cares about travel time like anyone who seriously wanted to take a bus would, he’d take the 25 to Campus Parkway and transfer to the 71/72/73X. And under proposal 1 he could take the 255 to UW Station and transfer to Link. The 25 is a seriously crooked milk run west of the U-District, and that’s why nobody takes it. That area may be necessary for coverage within that area, but nobody is going to prefer to go from Laurelhurst to downtown that way. Those who want a one-seat ride with someone else driving can take Uber, but the Uber driver is not going to go that route either.

  12. I grew up in a neighbourhood in a suburb in Canada that was very similar to Laurelhurst. It was near a large lake, in an area basically “cut off” from the larger grid. Yet we had transit service from a route that did a “neighbourhood loop” just like the current Laurelhurst loop. And it had hardly any riders as well. When I would ride that segment, I was usually the only passenger on the bus. If I was lucky, there might be one other passenger. Yet they ran it to ensure that everyone lived within easy walking distance of transit. And looking at the transit maps for that suburb, that loop is still served.

    It doesn’t matter if the Laurelhurst loop usually has only one or two passengers on each bus. The service is probably very important to the few people who use it. And asking them to walk a mile is crazy.

    It’s not like its costing millions of dollars a year to serve that small loop. It couldn’t take more than 6 or 7 minutes I’m guessing for a bus to travel the entire loop. Cutting out the loop wouldn’t even allow you to serve whatever route is serving it (currently 25) with even one fewer bus. Thus I really don’t see how cutting out the loop would save any money at all.

    1. The solution is easy: just run 255 where 25 now runs. It won’t even require any additional vehicles. You could just increase scheduled headways by 1 minute or whatever was required.

      1. 255 uses (and needs) articulated coaches, which won’t fit around a couple of the corners in the loop. That is also why they’re developing a new terminal down on 40th Ave NE rather than using the existing 25 terminal, which fits 40-footers only.

        Equipment issue aside, It would require one extra coach full-time, unless you want to screw up headways for 99.9% of the riders. That extra coach would be operating purely to serve a service that has less than 15 riders daily. That’s an absolutely terrible use of funds, and all the more so because none of those 15 riders are disabled or low-income. If you’re really that concerned about access for Laurelhurst a less inefficient solution would be to give everyone in Laurelhurst cab rides for a bus fare whenever they want one. That shows how absurd the loop is.

        Real bus service that actually serves people (routes 65/75) is not that far away, 10-15 minutes walk for most of Laurelhurst. Able-bodied kids can get to it easily by walking or biking.

      1. But the 25 isn’t going to be running anymore. You would run the 255 there instead. According to the plan, the 255 will run every 15 minutes peak and midday. So AT MOST, you would need to deploy one additional bus (I’m assuming the loop takes well under 15 minutes to drive). Or you could just run the same number of buses, and add 1-2 minutes to the headways. Or reduce the time the spend stopped at the other end of the route (in Kirkland) of the route by 1-2 minutes.

        Even if you add one bus, that is not going to cost millions of dollars a year to run.

        It’s not just about incomes in the area either. I told of how I rode a similar bus route in Canada growing up. I lived in a pretty wealthy area. Everyone owned a car. But I was riding that bus as a kid/young teen before i was able to drive. If I was going no more than a few miles I’d ride my bike (unless it was winter). But if I was going to the mall on the other end of town I’d take the bus.

    2. I feel for kids growing up in low-density areas because I was one of them. And I know adults who break their leg or their car breaks down and they wish they had more nearby buses. But the ultimate problem is the land use, and there’s only so much the transit system can do to mitigate it. The people who are responsible for the kid’s isolation are their parents, who bought the house there and created incremental demand for such isolated housing. Why don’t the parents take some responsibility for their child’s isolation? When I was in high school and my parents divorced and each of them moved at different times, I encouraged them to choose apartments near the suburban downtown, since it’d be convenient for them and convenient for me, and that’s what they did.

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