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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.

17 Replies to “Rainier Valley Restructure (Mt. Baker Station)”

  1. Seattle’s Transit Master Plan calls for “priority bus corridor” 5 on Rainier/23rd (Rainier Beach to U-District), 4 on Rainier/Jackson (Mt Baker to downtown), and 3 on Beacon/Broadway (Othello to U-District). (2012 summary, page 39). I’m not sure if Rainier/23rd is the best or not, but it’s what the city wants.

    I don’t quite understand the point of the 7 being express from Mt Baker to Jackson. North Rainier doesn’t seem a particular bottleneck to me except at the I-90 entrance. The other slowdowns are at Jackson Street and 3rd Avenue South. If you really want an effective express, use Dearborn Street rather than Jackson Street like the 42 did. It’s under capacity now that the I-90 entrance is no longer there.

  2. Hopefully someone at the City will forward a copy of the TMP to Metro because most of the currently proposed restructuring bears very little resemblance to TMP’s proposals. It’s also clear that development plans in SLU have exceeded those envisioned during the creation of the TMP. The TMP connects SLU to downtown and Capitol Hill and ignores the possibility of Fairview/Boren routing (for southbound passengers).

    How valuable would a Rainier Beach to University District corridor be once Link is running to the UD? It’s a great plan to develop the corridor as a high capacity corridor, but to expect one route to cover the entire corridor seems suspicious. And there’s very little indication that Metro is planning to implement one bus route for the entire corridor. Also, it’s hard to see any signs that the Othello to UD via 12th Ave corridor is being prepared for bus service anytime soon.

  3. I’d do a SE Seattle grid this way, in a nutshell:

    7 (south of 23rd) + 48S (breaking the Alt 1 67 through route)
    106 (south of RBS) + 8 (south of 23rd) + 9 (to 12th/Jackson) + Boren to SLU
    36 + 49 (breaking Alt 1’s Madison connection)
    107 extended to Othello via S Beacon Hill
    Frequent 50
    14 + FHSC along Jackson

    1. I like it but I’d want to keep service in the following corridors:

      Mt. Baker to Madison Valley along MLK
      Madison from 23rd to Downtown
      The current 7 routing between Mt. Baker and Downtown (Rainier/Jackson/3rd)

      The first can be solved by keeping the north half of the 38.
      The second by Madison BRT.
      The third would be a new route caused by splitting the 7.

      1. I’d keep the existing 8 in your first corridor (and serve Madison Park with a modified 11 also serving CHS).

        I’d serve most of your second corridor with an interlined 2 and short 12 (turning back at 15th).

        I wouldn’t serve your third corridor. I’d rather force transfers either at MBTC, at 12th/Jackson, or along Boren.

      2. The issue for the 8/38 is where do you lay the buses over. In addition part of the utility of the 8 for Madison Valley and the CD is from providing a connection to Capitol Hill. Perhaps the suggestion to run the 38 down Pike/Pine solves the problem.

        For Madison BRT I think it is a question of when not if at this point. However I’m in agreement the 2 should move to Madison. I’m not sure where the ETB turn backs are but you’d need to find turn back and layover space for the 12 as the downtown portion is likely to be a live loop. I see merit in serving Madison at least as far as Trader Joe’s or even 23rd/Madison Valley.

        I’m not sure about the third corridor. It is something I’ve seen on past restructure proposals. However those were all done pre-FHSC and didn’t have any other through route along Rainier between Jackson and Mt. Baker.

        Such a route could be an ETB from day 1 with no new wire. But as there are no large hills it doesn’t really get much benefit.

    2. I designed by proposal to use only existing infrastructure. The 36+49 isn’t currently possible (although it could be wired in 1 day) and the 48+7 isn’t currently possible either, but they are both worth discussing if someone finds a pot of gold.

      The 14 is a real problem. Jackson Street needs more service between 14th and MLK, but adding more service along 31st would be an extravagant waste of resources. I could see a 14B that branches off Jackson at MLK and runs down to MBTC. I also would consider a modified 4S that ran on MLK to Cherry and then went to First Hill. Southend riders would then have a path to First Hill without having to go downtown. The 38 would then not serve MBTC, it would likely run from Madison Valley to Cherry Street to Garfield HS.

      The 107 extension is a great idea. Or the S Beacon segment could be a southern extension of the 50 (with the 50’s Alki tail covered by another route.

      106+8+9=SLU: I think that’s a whopper of a route. I’d prefer a 60 (from Georegtown) to Boren/SLU. It will be tough to sell both the 36 and 60 not going downtown. Either the 36 or the 60 needs to provide service on Jackson.

      1. TBH, I’d rather have a diesel 7 + 48. The 48S is a reasonable route for trolley service, but the 7 really isn’t. It doesn’t gain anything from being electrified and with all the gradual curves on Rainier the wire does slow it down a bit. The presence of wire in the Rainier corridor is really a historical artifact.

      2. All things considered as charming as the ETBs are I wonder if their day has largely passed.

        Newer hybrid buses don’t have the problems climbing hills older coaches did, though the ETBs are still better.

        ETBs are hard to re-route and tend to be slow because of the need to keep them from dewiring through special work. There is also the need to maintain the overhead.

        On the other hand ETBs are still the champs at taking heavy loads up hills. Even on flat routes they have lower GHG emissions (assuming the power source is low GHG). There are also the Federal subsidies you don’t get for diesel routes.

        Going forward I’d like to see the following:
        1. Focus the ETB network where it does the most good. High frequency routes with low traffic speeds, preferably with lots of steep hills.
        2. Clean up the wire and special work to allow higher speeds. This is particularly important for any ETB on a TMP corridor.
        3. The next time ETB coaches are ordered consider buying ones with significant off-wire capability. This should allow more flexibility for routing and layovers and turn backs. Ideally it should allow the removal of much of the special work.

      3. We have some routes very appropriate for trolley service: 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 13, 43. In addition to that group the 8N, 11, and 48S would make good sense as trolleys, and the 1 makes sense because it should really be combined with the 2N. Steep hills really allow trolleys to shine.

        If I were dictator, though, I’d dieselize the 7, 44, and 70 at a minimum, and I would also spend a good deal to optimize special work and radius wire for faster speeds.

        Off-wire capability (which all of the new ETBs will have) is not really there to allow routine drops from the wire to get around special work. It takes too long to lower poles, start the engine, move around the work, and raise poles again. It’s there to allow trolleys to operate when there are things like construction reroutes, and it could also allow a simpler wire layout at the base.

      4. What about the 36 and 14?

        Also there are other parts of the city with nasty hills where the route could benefit from ETBs though in some cases the hill is a small portion of the route or the route goes somewhere inappropriate for ETB service. I’m thinking the 65 here though the same applies to the 16 in Alt 1.

        The 8S/38 between Mt. Baker and Capitol Hill could/should be an ETB for the same reasons as the 48S and the 10/11/12

        The 44 has the Market Street hill and the climb between the U-district and Wallingford though neither are particularly steep.

        I know the current off-wire capability is intended for emergencies and the bases. However I thought at least som cities were planning on using extended off-wire capabilities to service unwired portions of routes.

        Effectively I’m thinking something like a series hybrid with poles that can be raised and lowered from the driver’s seat. You wouldn’t want to do it for every bit of special work but automatic rewire spots could be installed at bus stops to reduce the time needed to switch modes.

      5. The 44 would have another significant hill to deal with if it just continued on 45th NE to Children’s.

      6. Two more advantages of a trolley bus are the quieter electric motor and a smoother ride for passengers (provided the driver is experienced). The quieter electric motor might seem to be a minor advantage, but in neighborhoods that are trying to reestablish sidewalk activity, having quieter buses might be a big factor (Madison Park: are you listening?).

  4. Why have another express line from MBTC to downtown? Is Link not serving the purpose?

    Is Rainier a desert north of MBTC?

    1. The 7 Express is an acknowledgement that the MBTC usually isn’t a quicker trip for people destined for Jackson St./ID, Pioneer Square or University Street. But once the U-Link extension is open, MBTC should be popular for riders heading to Capitol Hill or the UW. The time cost of transferring from the TC to the Link platform at Mt. Baker doesn’t usually pay off on shorter trips. On the longer trips, the time cost of transferring is less of consideration.

      The north end of Rainier Avenue isn’t a wasteland but the only stops that generate significant ridership are the intersection of Rainier/Walker/23rd and the I-90 station. (Dearborn might be considered, too, but I left it off.) Local service would still be provided on Rainier by the 48 between Walker and the MBTC along with the 88.

      1. The 1st sentence above should read: The 7 Express is an acknowledgement that a transfer at MBTC to Link usually isn’t a quicker trip….

  5. I actually would like to see the 9 run as an express and end in SLU – have the 7 Route to the cap hill station and 8, well, not sure what to do with it. Having lived at Rainier and Graham for several years, I had thought about this restructure MANY times. The one difference is to have it run to SLU rather than central downtown, sine that has become such a business hub.

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