With all the focus on the plans to restructure service in the north end these days, I’d like to propose an Alternative 1 for the Rainier Valley with a focus on the routes that serve Mt. Baker Transit Center. Currently, transit service at MBTC is provided by Link and Metro routes 7, 8, 9, 14 and 48. The changes I’m proposing affect the 7, 8 and 9. The 14 is desperately in need of re-organization, but that’s a matter of neighborhood politics and I’m not going to get into that mess. The 48 is also not discussed because it is more involved with the north end restructures.
Route 7 This bus goes where almost everybody wants to go, but it’s just too damn slow. The change I propose would be to make the 7 an express bus from the MBTC to 12th and Jackson. From Henderson Street (the Rainier Beach terminal) to the MBTC the 7 would make all of its current stops. Then, on the segment between MBTC and Jackson Street, the 7 would make no stops except at the intersection of Rainier/Walker/23rd Avenue and at I-90 Station. Service would be provided every 10 minutes and would continue to provided by trolley buses.
Route 8 In order to avoid confusion, I’m going to designate the new 8 as the 88.
Between Rainier Beach and the MBTC the 88 serves as the shadow bus for Link, so I don’t propose any changes on that segment. But north of MBTC I would switch the routing to Rainier Avenue where the 88 would make all stops to Jackson Street (covering stops skipped by the express 7). At Jackson Street the 88 would follow the FHSC routing (14th Ave. S. > Yesler) to Boren. The 88 would then follow Boren all the way to Fairview and it would terminate in South Lake Union. Service would be provided every 15 minutes.
Route 9 Deleted
There would need to be an additional route designated to provide service on the MLK corridor between MBTC and Madison Valley, but I don’t think that corridor needs to be regarded as a high priority/frequent service corridor. The current 8 has generated some new ridership along MLK, but not enough to warrant high frequency service. And compared to the ridership that would be generated by the proposed new 88, I think it’s better to invest the service hours in a route that connects Rainier Valley to SLU via Boren.
The 88 would also relieve some pressure on the current 8. By using Boren, the 88 would provide an opportunity for riders to transfer to every Metro route that serves Capitol Hill, First Hill and the CD. Service on Boren would be congested during peak hours, but the 88 would provide an alternative to the 8 and the streetcar for commuters to the south end.