train and bus in tunnelThe Link connections exercise, which has spilled much ink on this blog, has focused on many elements of route paths, but not much on downtown routing.

After March 2016, only eight routes are currently planned to be in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, according to Alternative 3 of Metro’s and Sound Transit’s Link connections route restructure process, released last week: Routes 41, 74, 101, 102, 106, 150, 255, and ST Express 550.

The original proposal kept Route 73 in the tunnel, but the new proposal for route 73 turned it into an all-day neighborhood route to UW. Route 255 was scheduled to leave the tunnel in all previous proposals, but now is being left in the tunnel due to route 73’s departure.

We have discussed which routes ought to be in the tunnel, from a systemic view. But we haven’t posed the question: Who wants *their* bus in the tunnel?

This question is directed towards those who actually ride those routes, or would if it were moved upstairs / downstairs. You can suggest that your bus be moved into the tunnel, moved out, or remain right where it is. If you want your bus to leave the tunnel, please say where you want it to go downtown (or if you don’t want it to go downtown at all). Please include reasons.

I will start with my own route, 132. I would prefer it not be in the tunnel. It would have to make two extra turns to get into downtown. If it ends up there, I will ride it just the same, though, and won’t mind too much.

114 Replies to “Who Wants Their Bus in the Tunnel?”

  1. I would nominate the 554 to be in the tunnel so that it shares a common stop with the 550 for those going to Mercer Island, and gets on and off the freeway faster. I would make room for it by moving the 255 to the surface.

    1. I think we have the same mindset on this (even though we mentioned very different areas). It makes sense for some buses — the buses that can quickly get from the freeway to the tunnel — to be in the tunnel. For those buses, it is nice to group them by area. The old 71/72/73/74 was that way. You could wait in the tunnel until one of those buses arrived, and then quickly get to the U-District.

      1. Could the thinking be that when LINK service opens, University Way passengers will get a faster and more reliable trip on the train than the bus?

        As a practical matter, 71-series has no “Express” service at all in the direction where the I-5 lanes are closed. If the neighborhood sections of those routes terminate at present LINK north-end terminal, couldn’t passengers’ whole trip be faster than now?

        Mark Dublin

    2. Since you ride frequently to Mercer Island, could you also offer an opinion on route 216, which also goes to Mercer Island Station, and is planned to leave the tunnel in March?

      1. The 216 is a crazy route and should be eliminated.

        There needs to be some serious analysis of the 212, 218 and 219, along with the 550 and 554 and how to get those routes working together to connect downtown Seattle, Mercer Island, Eastgate and Issaquah Highlands.

    3. You make a great case for removing the 550 from the tunnel – so it can share stops with the 554 which are on the surface.

      But in any case, adding more buses to the tunnel beyond the 8 listed is not an option. And we are only talking about a year or so of operation anyhow. All buses will have to leave the tunnel in 2017 when construction begins on the convention center expansion.

      1. +1
        I-90 corridor buses should all serve the same streets in DT Seattle, and have a more comprehensive and intuitive schedule for users to see. The current mess is ridiculous.

        same goes for all the 520 buses, they should have a common corridor through DT Seattle, and a comprehensive schedule instead of the fragmented and unintuitive mess we have to deal with today.

  2. I want the 41 in the tunnel when it is going with the express lanes. I’m ambivalent when it is not. When it goes with the express lanes, it is much faster to go in the tunnel. Otherwise, it has to make a couple turns to get there. If traffic is heavy downtown, it is probably worth it. When traffic is light, it probably isn’t. If I had to pick, I would put it in the tunnel as long as the tunnel is open (it just makes it easier to remember that way).

    I’m not sure if the 74 needs to go downtown but if it does, I hope it goes through the tunnel (as proposed). That gives someone trying to get to the U-District from downtown a couple choices. If a 74 is coming along soon, you can take it. Otherwise you take the train. For those in the U-District or upper campus, this is a one stop ride. For those heading north after that (e. g. Ravenna) that is a pretty nice shortcut.

    1. I’m surprised the 74 remains, but Metro says it’s full and needs more service. It also goes across all of northeast Seattle, so maybe in that way it “serves” all those areas with a transfer from a north-south route.

      1. I think it will be an extremely popular bus. Lots of people take the first 7x out of the tunnel. Now they will take either Link or the 74. For many, Link will be their second choice. They might look at the schedule, see Link and decide to wait for the 74. It’s a hefty walk from say, the dorms or the Ave, as well a transfer point for the 73/373 (if you are headed north on Roosevelt).

        In some ways I think Metro is taking a risk here. Instead of saying “just take the train” from the U-District to downtown, they are keeping one bus for that purpose. That bus might be really crowded. I guess it will work itself out (folks that don’t want to deal with the crowds on the bus will take the train instead).

      2. Another thought about the 74. I just realized that it’s being moved from the Ave onto Roosevelt (along with the 73). So that would put it even further from the UW Stadium station.

      3. Yeah, the 74 routing (using Roosevelt) makes some sense. It is a little faster, especially in the morning, when it can go from Roosevelt right onto the express lanes.

        So this gives it more coverage, if you will. One weird thing about it is that it avoids the heart of the U-District. If you want to get from downtown to the 45th and University Way, you will have to make a transfer or walk a few blocks. I can live with that, and wish they took that approach more often with these routes (bus speed is more important to me than being able to take a bus right outside my destination).

      4. That’s the point; it’s not for the U-District. If people living in the U-District shun Link and try to commute downtown on it, they’ll find it already full. Students going from downtown to UW will find it going the wrong way (southbound AM; northbound PM). Students living in the U-District going to part-time jobs downtown are probably working afternoon-evening, so at most they could use it in the PM peak. Students from northeast Seattle going to UW may use it but they also have other choices (67, 73, 372, 65, 75, 925?).

      5. Good point about the service hours for the 74. I forgot about that, and that will kill a lot of potential rides. All those students in all those dorms (or nearby housing) wanting to head downtown (for whatever reason) and they can’t do it with that bus.

        That being said, this is the only time when an express bus is much faster than going with Link — the express lanes are in your favor and traffic is really bad getting to Husky Stadium. So this basically gets those in the area to downtown significantly faster than transferring to Link. There are a lot of people in this category just because there are a lot of people in the greater U-District. Many, if not most work or go to school at the UW, but a lot work downtown. The further east and north you are, the more likely this is to be the case. It is perfectly reasonable, for example, to get a nice apartment in that tower on 47th or a cheap apodment off of 45th, or own a spot a bit further north close around 55th and have no connection to the UW. Or maybe your spouse does. Either way, a “shortcut” to the downtown will be handy.

      6. Traffic to Husky Stadium is not that bad. 15th has bus bulbs now, and Pacific Street has a transit lane at least southbound. I often take the 43 or 48 in the PM peak and most of the congestion is between the bridge and 520. The proposal has some forty buses an hour between 45th and UW Station so you shouldn’t have to wait more than two minutes.

    2. This as far as the 41 is concerned, but would there be any advantage in keeping the 41 NE 125th in the tunnel, and moving the 41 Lake City out of the tunnel? Or vice versa? Would it be too confusing? Or ease the 41 rider into not being in the tunnel in 2017? Or get the cash payers out of the tunnel?

      I throw it out there as the 41s bunch up big time.

      As a Lake City resident, my plan in 2016 (should both stay in the tunnel) through to 2017 is to either take the 41LC to Northgate and LC or Link to the 75,65,372, whichever comes first.

      1. As long as they both serve Northgate, I wouldn’t do that. Otherwise someone trying to get a ride to Northgate has to choose between the surface or the tunnel.

        But splitting the 41 is reasonable. You could save a fair amount of time if the express lane 41 to Lake City would take the 130th exit. That is a big change though (and would those on 5th out of service) so I wouldn’t think that would happen. I think we are stuck with the 41 heading up to Northgate, and doing so via the tunnel (until Northgate Link is complete).

      2. Like many other problems in the DSTT, Baselle, the problem is not the number of buses on any one route, but the fact the system makes no use of the dispatch controls built into it.

        The control tower at each portal was designed so that supervisors could time the release of every bus into the tunnel. Since 41’s originate there, and are carrying no inbound passengers, the buses could easily be spaced out.

        As with every system on headways that short, release should be timed for spacing, and run cards take effect at first timepoint outside station. Which under rush hour conditions on the 41, is the only way to keep a coach on time.

        Mark Dublin

    3. Since the 41 is transitional (until all buses are pulled from the tunnel), I look forward to the new 67 being upgraded to be a much better, much more useful line to us.

      The express routing of the 41 is great, but the reliability is not. At many times of day its way too infrequent and against peak it can be quickly go from the fastest way from Northgate to Downtown to the slowest.

      I hope we can get some exclusive lanes, electrification and other upgrades that could make the 67 Northeast Seattle’s answer to the Rapid Ride E…

      1. I agree — the 41 can be terrible if you are going against the express lanes. But I think the 67 could be extremely slow as well. It should be fine getting up to 80th or so, and maybe even across Lake City Way. But Roosevelt is slow, and making that set of turns on Northgate Way is going to be extremely slow. The city has probably done all that it will do in there (having added a bunch of lanes) and taken out the parking. I can’t imagine they can or will do much more. I think the 67 will be slow if they go with the current routing (via Roosevelt Way, instead of 5th). Not that 5th is always great, but it is usually much faster than going around. I can’t imagine a driver on Roosevelt and 80th who is headed for the Northgate Transit Center thinking “I know, I’ll keep going straight up Roosevelt, then take a couple of left turns and loop around.” instead of just taking a left on 80th and a right on 5th. If the desire is to pick up a handful more people, then looping around makes sense; but if the desire is a fast and frequent way of connecting different routes, then this will be a mistake.

      2. This is where the pre-Link and Link situations are very different.

        Pre-Link, almost no one on the 67 is actually going to ride all the way to NTC, except people getting on along Northgate Way. Every connection at NTC except those to the 16 and 40 can be made on Northgate Way with less backtracking. I think the most important ones will be to the 75, the 347/348, and the northbound 41. People terminating at Northgate also don’t need NTC — they need Northgate Mall or businesses along Northgate Way.

        Post-Link, especially post-Lynnwood Link, the Link connection gets more important and your argument gets more convincing. Even then, there is still the option of the Link connection at Roosevelt for southbound riders — it’s mostly northbound riders and those in the immediate vicinity of the station who will be affected by the button hook. For local travel to Northgate, I think the button hook routing is better, especially if the 5th routing would terminate at the station and force a transfer to get to Northgate Way or Northgate North.

  3. The 101 should stay in the tunnel for as long as it can. Even though it isn’t explicitly stated, it is well understood that the 101 is a freeway express route, and no surface route can really challenge the efficiency of entering southbound I-5 using the busway and Spokane St. The 101 runs with enough frequency to merit using the tunnel; forcing it to 2nd/4th (or worse, 3rd) avenue would be a mistake.

    The same logic could be applied to the 102 — but it isn’t nearly frequent enough. The 102 should get booted to the surface, as a peak-direction-only weekday commuter route. (Downtown route should be 2nd/4th, 4th, Royal Brougham, Busway).

    1. The problem is – the SODO busway is not actually all that fast, and, unlike trains, buses do not get the privilege of signal priority. It would be quicker to just stay on the freeway a little bit longer and use the Seneca St. exit, which is why I nominate the 101 for the surface. At least from what I’ve seen, the number of people that get on or off the 101 in SODO is really tiny.

      1. This could be improved substantially if they added an HOV ramp from I-5 to the busway. This would only make sense if we built another bus tunnel and expected buses from I-5 to use it. WSDOT actually has it as a project (on their big project list) but it is shelved for now (for good reason).

      2. I need to go to SODO often and I like the 100 series in the tunnel because they all stop at Stadium Station, Holgate, and Lander. I see a fair amount of people using all of these stops, especially on game days.

      3. The lights in SODO aren’t bad. It’s faster than the drag through 4th because of the traffic.

    2. Since you are a frequent rider of route 101, do you prefer the SODO Busday to the Seneca St exit when it finally has to leave the tunnel?

      1. The problem with Seneca St. is northbound freeway congestion when the northbound express lanes are open, especially between Spokane St and Seneca St.

        I would prefer to think creatively, using the Dearborn St. exit to get to 4th Avenue northbound, and the Edgar Martinez Dr. entrance southbound. If that can’t be worked, though, the busway will suffice. (It isn’t signal-priority though, and I do agree that it is an issue.)

    3. We can’t put all freeway express routes in the tunnel, so why should the 101 have privilege over the others? The 150’s justification is it has extremely high ridership. I would also boot the 106. It has been downgraded to a milk run so it doesn’t belong in the tunnel.

      1. It’s a moot point at this point. No new routes will be added to the tunnel. Those that remain wk be served eviction notices soon.

  4. the only buses that NEED to remain in the tunnel are the 41 and the 550 as they will eventually become light rail and it is important that people are trained accordingly …

    as for the rest of that list, I have no opinion.

    1. I think the key criteria is which routes have a predominant number of transfers to/from Link or its destinations.

      I haven’t been riding as much recently, but used to be a 550 rider and would definitely want it in the tunnel to make connections to the U District easier.

    2. I think there are more bus routes in that category. Basically, these are bus routes that go directly from downtown to a future station, then continue on. I’m having trouble figuring this out because I have to look at current routing as well as future routing. I looked at the all day map and the peak hour map, then looked at the new routing and the old routing (for the ones that don’t change their path) and came up with this:

      Express buses to the U-District — 74
      Express buses to Roosevelt — 64, 76, 316, 77*
      Express buses to Northgate — 41

      * A bit of stretch to say the 77 goes to the Roosevelt Park and Ride (it doesn’t), but it is also crazy to think this will exist once Link gets to Roosevelt. This will be replaced with a bus to the Roosevelt Station.

      Did I forget any of them?

      1. I sometimes ride the 74 or 76 to Ravenna area, and would like to see them kept together, whether in or out of the tunnel. NE 55th and 65th Streets are close enough that they’re both reasonable alternatives, and it doesn’t make sense to split them so a person has to decide if they want to wait in the tunnel or on the street. Also, they both serve the U-district (74 directly, 76 via the I-5/45th street stop) so should be kept together. I don’t think the 77 shares enough overlap with either of them to need all 3 buses in the same place.

      2. The 77 overlaps indirectly. If you are headed to Maple Leaf or Pinehurst, you might take the 77 to get directly there, or you might take the 74 or 76 and then transfer to the 73 or 373. It is hard to say which sets make the most sense to group together. Right now I’m focused on the original question — which ones would benefit me (me, me, me). Having all of those in the tunnel would do so.

      3. @Brent — yes, they are. But the whole point of this exercise is to suggest alternatives to what is scheduled. Or, more specifically, figure out which buses we wish were in the tunnel, and which ones we wish weren’t.

        @RossB (since we can’t edit comments) — I forgot to mention that the 77 “overlaps” with the 41. I personally live close enough to both that either one works (even though they don’t technically overlap, they cross each other). If you are transferring to a 347/348, then either bus would do as well (for your first bus).

    3. I agree with Gordon.

      I also think it would be a good time to brand DSTT buses for the general public – like putting a “T” on the route number or having a whole new identification system (colors? “DT1, DT2, DT3,…”?)

      The infrequent rider needs to know what is in and out of the tunnel as the number of routes there shinks. Nothing is meaner to a rider then to make a rider walk all the way to the platform only to find that the bus has been moved.

      1. All that and operate them like rapid rise with all door boarding/off board payment where and when infrastructure permits

      2. The all low-floor multi-door entry hillclimb trolleybus and a downtown reconfiguration east/west, north/south, least turns, junctions, overhead wire, should’ve happened years ago. Circulate these special ETBs downtown for frequent service and convenient transfers. Thru bus lines could make fewer stops 2nd/4th Aves, 12th Ave, etc. Trolleybus on 1st Ave.
        Streetcar Connector on 4th/5th Aves instead. Waterfront Streetcar.
        Bertha Plan B: 2000′ along seawall to an FEIS Pike/Pine portal.
        Extend Battery Street Tunnel. Lower Belltown decent options.
        Do Seattlers know what they’re doing?

      3. No point in improving signage at this point. Just keep it accurate is all. They’ll all get booted soon.

      4. I’d be happy to just see that buses and schedules have a tunnel icon on them.

        The multi-door boarding would be great if the buses were so equipped. Given the fewer number of buse routes, that would seem more feasible to do. The time to just board all those 550 riders one at a time causes delays in the tunnel today.

  5. I would like the 77 in the tunnel, but I’m not sure who I would trade with. But the 77 has a fair amount of overlap with the 41 and the 73. So someone in the tunnel might take the 41, the 77 or the or the 74 (and transfer to the 73) all to get to the same area. Taking the train might make sense as well (if you are headed to Maple Leaf and just miss the 77, you might take the train and then catch the 73).

  6. Just a reminder: If you ride the route, mention that you ride that route. If you are proposing something with a route you don’t regularly ride, please be forthright about that. Please and thanks.

  7. How many buses per hour can fit in the tunnel with the LINK running at 6 minutes headways?

    1. Excellent question. I have a followup. Does it matter where the buses are going? I can imagine a lot of these buses get paired. Is that the case? If so, then pairing a north end Metro bus with a south end Metro bus makes sense. But this would argue against having Link use it, because it can’t have a pair. Does this happen anymore, or not?

    2. Don’t be surprised when ALL buses are removed from the tunnel, when there are trains North, South, and East. I believe that is the plan.

  8. I just started riding the 216,218,219 trio to Issaquah Highlands P&R last week when I moved from DT Seattle. I believe they’re slated to be on the surface in March. I’m sort of ambivalent about that. It takes 5 minutes to get into/out of the tunnel from my work, whereas a surface stop would be quicker.

    Whatever time I save in walking to the stop will probably balance out with the time it takes the bus to get to I-90. It will be nice when there’s a few more runs (coming in the fall), I occasionally get passed up by full buses.

    I did see on Metro’s Interactive Map that accompanied Alternative 3 that they have these buses on 3rd Ave, not 2nd/4th, which seems crazy to me.

    1. All I-90 buses should serve the same corridor through DT, the current mess is ridiculous.

  9. Me, Me! I do! Every and any bus. The tunnel is dry, well lit, and there is almost always security. No stop lights or cars blocking the intersection (light rail not included), or turning right. I will put up with all the stairs and non functioning escalators to avoid getting soaked or accosted in the streets while waiting.

    1. Not me! The tunnel is poorly ventilated, sadly lit, and I can’t trust that security will be looking my way should something happen. I can’t even play on my phone when seeing my bus wait forever at the mouth of the tunnel, or check arrival times. I would rather get rained on and decline solicitation than have to descend for my bus.

  10. Currently, I ride the 255 to the eastside, because its much faster than the 545 through downtown.

    As soon as UW link opens, I’ll catch buses there.
    Hoping no UW bound buses stay in tunnel.

    Otherwise, I agree with Gordon.
    >….are the 41 and the 550 as they will eventually become light rail
    > and it is important that people are trained accordingly …

  11. My route is the 577/578. I do not want it to be in the tunnel. Although it has some weird surface routing now with a stop on 5th Ave on weekday mornings only, I don’t want it in the tunnel because I find the tunnel beneficial only when I am transferring to a route that is also in the tunnel (which, incidentally, are also routes that think should be on the surface rather than in the tunnel, IMO).

    1. As long as those routes are operated by pierce transit their is no need to worry. They lack the communication equipment needed by metro.

      1. Oh, of course. Especially since now even the 560 (Westwood Village – SeaTac – Bellevue) is operated by Pierce Transit, I think that it’s safe to say that the 577/578 will be operated by PT forever.

  12. I’ve made several comments here, and I realized after the fact that I forget about some buses. I live in the north end, and take buses like the 41, 73, 373 and 77. With the reorganization of the bus routes, and the various maps, it is hard for me to tell which buses run on the freeway and serve that area. From what I can tell, it is this:

    41, 64, 74, 76, 77, 316

    I could potentially take any of those buses. Some would require a transfer. I could also take Link and then transfer. Given the choice, I would prefer the following, in priority order (highest first):

    77 — Fastest way for me to get home
    41 — Almost as fast
    64, 76, 316 — Would require a transfer on 65th.
    74 — Would require a transfer on 45th.
    Link — Would require a transfer at Husky Stadium.

    1. Routes 64 and 66 are proposed to serve South Lake Union and First Hill, via Mercer, Fairview, and Boren.

      1. Ah, I missed that. Yeah, I forgot about that routing (even though I remember the discussion). So, yeah, scratch the 64 off that list — it doesn’t even go downtown (unless you consider South Lake Union and First Hill downtown).

    2. Just to follow up and look at the north end a little more realistically and with less selfishness, here are some thoughts:

      41 — This will be in the tunnel. I can’t imagine they push this out.

      Everything else is fair game (as far as I can tell). In general, it makes the most sense to bunch very similar buses together. So which buses are similar?

      74 and 76 — They both serve 65th. As Larry mentioned above, even though they get there on different streets, they are close enough to serve the same area before 65th.

      76 and 316 — They both serve the Roosevelt Park and Ride. These are the only buses that share the same freeway exit. They diverge from there, but since there are a lot of transfers from there, there is significant overlap here.

      77 and 74/76 — Those headed to the area served by the 77 can take a 74 or 76 instead and then transfer to the 73 or 373.

      74 and Link — Both serve the UW (at different ends of it).

      41 and 77 — Both serve Pinehurst (15th and 125th) and thus either one works as the first bus to the 347/348 as well.

      Ideally I would like to see all those buses stay in the tunnel. There are enough overlap to link them all. But right now only the 41 and 74 are slated to be in the tunnel. I would move the 255 out of the tunnel (as they originally proposed). How many buses could be move in? This is how I count it.

      255 — 23 trips at rush hour.

      76 — 11 trips at rush hour.
      316 — 11 trips at rush hour.
      77 — 8 trips at rush hour.

      So if the 255 is pushed out, you can only put two of those back in. It is tough call, but I would leave out the 316. Every other bus goes northeast, so there is more overlap. But I would also consider leaving out the 77.

      1. The problem with kicking the 316 but not the 76 out is that the bulk of the ridership on both are heading to the same stop (Green Lake P&R).

      2. Yeah, that would be the trade-off. Are there more riders getting off at that stop then there are riders on the 77? I don’t know the answer to that.

  13. I hate the tunnel. The delays in the tunnel are aggravating. Buses breakdown and no one can get around them. I ride the 77 or 41. Plus, no wireless so I feel doubly trapped.

  14. I ride the 255 into Seattle. I would prefer it stay in the tunnel. I’ve ridden the 545 and it get stuck in traffic on the surface streets. However I dislike the inconsistency/unreliability of buses in the tunnel (getting stuck behind Link or other buses).

    1. I ride the 545 into Seattle, and I agree it often gets stuck. However, the 255 also suffers the bad delays at the off-ramp, and at Stewart and Denny, and the few times I’ve ridden it I also got stuck for multiple light cycles at the entrance to the tunnel. I’m mildly in favor of the 545 routing.

  15. Nowadays, I mostly ride the 255 when in Seattle. Having lived elsewhere on the Eastside, I’ve had other buses at different times. No question at all for me that the 255 would be better off out of the tunnel, even off-peak. The tunnel slows the bus at every time of day.

    And frankly, I just find it unpleasant. Nothing quite as soul-deadening as a long wait for the 255 on a Sunday evening when I’ve gone into the tunnel without checking the timetable first.

    I think there’s a perception out there that having one’s bus in the tunnel is the premium product. This is reinforced by the slow pace of moving buses out. If the planners persist in keeping buses in the tunnel as long as possible, so the reasoning goes, then being in the tunnel must be a good thing.

    Riders whose bus has been in the tunnel for years (i.e. most tunnel users), don’t have a direct point of comparison except for Link construction. But they can see the slow pace at which buses are removed, and they can draw an inference from that.

    Metro (or whomever is driving these decisions) could be more proactive about promoting service on the surface. The messaging shouldn’t just be about making space for trains. It needs to be “we will make your bus better by moving it upstairs, and doing what we need to do to make the streets work”.

    1. I don’t share your opinion (maybe I’ve just got lucky) but I also ride a north end bus. As I mentioned above, a lot depends on the express lanes. If they are going in my favor, then the bus tunnel is very smooth. But otherwise it might as well go on the surface.

      But all the more reason to kick out the 255 and give that service over to north end buses. If I’m waiting to go to the UW, I might take a 74 or Link. Likewise with a bunch more buses (as mentioned here: Those are really an assortment of buses with a lot of overlap. The 255 is an independent bus that doesn’t overlap with any other bus in the bus tunnel. It comes close to overlapping with Link (I could see someone headed to Montlake taking Link or someone headed to UW Hospital taking the 255 to Montlake) but that is a pretty minor overlap, especially since Link travels so frequently.

    2. “…doing what we need to do to make the streets work.” You mean you are going to put your faith in metro on that point? Whoa! I’m a rider of 255/Link to Sea/Tac. For me already over an hour. I see tons of people getting off link with suitcases. Now we’d have to drag them to the street , find the bus stop, and wait. Great way to get people to give up one-seat rides. Leave the 255 in the tunnel till it connects to Link at UW Station.

      1. I would vastly rather have more reliable service on the surface the 20-22 days per month I ride the 255 to and from downtown than avoid a one-block schlep with my suitcase the twice monthly (at most) when I’m headed all the way to the airport.

  16. This is a bit of a tempest in a teapot since even the lucky tunnel buses will be kicked out a year after the reorganization. That will adversely affect me as the 550 goes to the surface as a bad reminder of yesteryear. But either we want ST2 Link or we don’t, and ST2 Link is incompatible with buses in the tunnel. And I’m in favor of the Convention Center’s expansion, which seems better than leaving a derelict station for some vague layover use. Especially since the station is almost as ugly as the freeway.

    1. >> even the lucky tunnel buses will be kicked out a year after the reorganization.

      I don’t follow you. I was assuming that the buses mentioned will coexist with U-Link. All buses will be kicked out with North Link, which is five years after that.

      1. OK, I still don’t what you are talking about. So we are definitely going to expand the convention center, and that definitely means kicking the buses out of the tunnel? Wow. I didn’t know that. Personally I think a convention center expansion is a bad idea, but this would only make it worse. Yes, it is only for a few years, but that is a bad few years (and for what?).

      2. Source for this 2017 thing is “Lazarus”.

        So go ahead and take it with a few Great Salt Lakes worth of salt.

      3. To be more specific:

        The convention center is absolutely looking to start construction in 2017.

        But it’s not clear why that would result in all buses being kicked out of the tunnel. For now, the convention center is saying that they need to preserve bus access at CPS until North Link opens.

      4. OK, by my reading they are still pretty early in the process.They aren’t done with their EIS. Kicking out all the buses would pretty much kill the EIS process, from where I sit. I think the buses will use the tunnel until Northgate Link is complete. As for the convention itself, it is probably going to happen — hopefully they will expand Freeway Park (cap more of the freeway).

  17. Not riding the bus regularly any more. Mercer Island to Downtown Redmond — or even Overlake — is not well served by transit; especially for people who live out of walking range of downtown and work programmers hours. Trip planners recommend going via downtown Seattle even from the P&R.

    When I worked in Seattle I took a mixture of buses — latterly the 212 — since I had other commitments that required that I drive to the North End anyway, and which made it difficult to make it to the MI P&R before 7:40 — but also the 202 [when getting to work was my only concern] the 550, the 554, the 515 and (in the morning the 216, 218, 219).

    The 202 of course is dead now. It’s somewhat surprising to me how infrequently it was badly delayed in traffic — remember it couldn’t use the express lanes. Partly, I suspect it was helped by the Mariner’s abject horribleness meaning that there were rarely stadium induced delays. Especially afternoons, it often outperformed the 554 getting to downtown MI.

    For the other buses, there really isn’t much difference in the morning. The principal choke points are getting off the express lanes, access to the tunnel, and the occasional delivery at Uwajimaya blocking 5th. Overall, it was a wash. In the evening, despite the hiccups with joint ops, the tunnel is experience was far superior. On the surface, crossing from 2nd up to 5th generally takes at least 5 minutes, often much more.

    The high order bit though, is that whatever they do they mustn’t repeat the mistake they made when they moved the 212 upstairs but left the 218 still serving Eastgate in the tunnel.

    1. ” Mercer Island to Downtown Redmond — or even Overlake — is not well served by transit”

      No, I’d say Mercer Island to Overlake is fine. Take the 550 to the BTC, and then transfer to 566/567/226/249/B, or the Microsoft shuttles if you’ve got a Microsoft badge. You’re right about getting to Redmond, though.

      1. My experience with the commute to Overlake is over 5 years old at this point. Then, at least, the connections at either Eastgate or in Downtown Bellevue were poorly timed, and it often took over an hour to make the downtown MI to Overlake journey: (compared to about 20 minutes by car). That’s in the only do it to make a political statement range.

        It looks like the 554-245 connection is now more reasonable at Eastgate, taking you down to only 45 minutes, still pretty horrible, and I’m not convinced I believe the half hour from Eastgate to Overlake — sometimes it feels like it takes longer than that just to get through Bellevue College — but at least not stupid bad.

        [via downtown Bellevue feels like it should work, but my experience has been that the ST buses don’t connect well, and that the surface buses, even the B, are just too slow].

      2. I’ve only been on the 245 to Eastgate a few times, but when I was, it was on time.

        The only problem with connecting to the 566/567 at Bellevue is that it’s coming up 405, so it’s a gamble when it’ll ever arrive. At the peak in the peak direction, when it’s frequent, it’s pretty good.

      3. Mercer Island to Overlake is pretty good these days; my average time is ~30 minutes, but is heavily dependent on the connection at Bellevue TC. The 566/7 have horrible reliability northbound due to traffic, so it is a total crapshoot whether you make or miss the connection.

        Getting to downtown Redmond is a bit trickier. My all-time best is 45 minutes, but I nailed every connection (through sheer luck). The 232 helps because you don’t need to stand around at Overlake wondering why the 545 and 542 are bunched so badly (I’ve been at OTC when three 545s and a 542 show up at once), but its morning schedule does not coordinate well with my work schedule (it gets to downtown Redmond at 7:10 and 8:10am). In the afternoons, it is perfect: 5:07pm departure from Redmond TC, usually arrives at Bellevue TC in time to grab the 5:35pm 550, which gets me to Mercer Island before 6pm (unless traffic sucks).

        Trip Planner generally likes to push the 550-545 connection downtown, which is more reliable but also longer. I prefer to take my chances via BTC and Overlake, which is more variable but faster.

      4. Committing from west Federal Way to Seattle University six days a week, with travel time a minimum of 90 minutes each way, it’s interesting to see someone complain about his long commute from Mercer Island to Redmond.

      5. Peak is mostly fine. It requires one transfer (550/232) if your timing is good, or two (550/566/545) if your timing isn’t as good. The transfers are what kills you; it makes the trip feel far slower than it actually is.

        Off-peak, the choices are either 550/RR B or 550/545, either of which probably takes roughly an hour, maybe a few minutes less.

        How is it taking you 90+ minutes Federal Way to Seattle U? From Federal Way TC that should take no more than an hour. Does it take you a long time to get to Federal Way TC?

      6. I’m not complaining, it isn’t the government’s job to make my commute convenient [although sometimes it certainly has]. I’m merely making an excuse for the fact that I don’t ride the bus to work now.

        From my house it seems to be a minimum of 75 minutes door to door by transit. That relies on fairly decent connections to peak time buses. In practice I travel in the post peak shoulders (partly because of family obligations, partly to avoid traffic, partly to fit into corporate culture), so my journey would be longer than that.

        From the P&R downtown, you can just about manage 45 minutes in the peak. If it’s a reliably achievable timetable, I’d actually consider using it if I lived downtown, and could make travelling in the peak work [not impossible, I’ve done it before]. A 15 minute time penalty for not having to sit for an hour when anything goes sidewise seems like a good tradeoff to me.

  18. I use the 255 to go to Kirkland sometimes, typically counter-peak, from around Dexter/Aloha. For my usage:

    – I typically bike to the bus and park it near CPS; I’ll use the last stop before the freeway whether it’s in the tunnel or not. If putting it on the surface meant there was an obscene slog between the last stop and the freeway that would be bad for me, but it’s not like the 255’s route from tunnel to the freeway is great any time of day.

    – Sometimes if I don’t bike I’ll take a bus downtown and transfer at Westlake. On these days, sometimes I walk home from Stewart/Yale. A bus that served Westlake and went this far north to get on I-5 would spend a lot of time on downtown surface streets. If it served the Olive Way Freeway Station it might be worth it. Maybe.

    – It’s nice (for me) that it goes downtown instead of stopping at UW. I know UW is a big transit node but… getting to UW on transit just sucks from where I live (three stupefying waits at red lights from the unreliability of the 70). And downtown has much nicer bike parking and, IIRC, lower theft rates than the U District. It’s possible that a UW transfer could be faster than a one-seat ride inbound in the evening, occasionally, but never outbound in the morning.

    – If that “bi-directional peak 311 down Mercer to LQA” idea happened, I would probably walk to that, and transfer to the 255 at Evérgreen Point — in this case it doesn’t matter whether the 255 goes downtown or to UW.

  19. Let’s go back to the beginning….trip times on the surface were dismal prior to tunnel operations. The benefits may not seem convenient but to me it is a well tuned operation. The number of coaches that use surface routing has limitations with out going back to the wall of coaches on the surface streets prior to 9/15/1990. What really needs to happen is for SDOT to actively manage traffic flow through the CBD.
    After nearly 37 years of watching finally SDOT is starting to really do meaningful planning……the mayor on board next you need the backing of the Downtown Business Association to make real changes there are going to be some real tough changes that will have to happen……remember when they changed many downtown streets in 1955 to one way direction? That was a radical change for its day…..density is not the light at the end of the tunnel of hope… is the train on short headways
    Change is difficult if was easy “we” would have done it a long time ago!

  20. I occasionally ride buses from downtown back to either Mercer Island or Issaquah. It is annoying that buses that go to the same place don’t depart from the same stop — Buses that go to I-90 ought to all either be in the tunnel or not. Mixing it up means I have to wait longer for a bus.

    1. While mildly untidy, and probably unfriendly to infrequent users, it isn’t that bad. Only an issue eastbound. Off peak it’s just the 554 outside and the 550 inside. Only common stops are MI and the Rainier Ave Freeway stop. AM peak adds the 212/217, but those are fast to Eastgate, and run on 2nd like the 554: no problem there. PM peak: The 554 is so infrequent in the peak (and so much slower than the limited stop expresses) that it isn’t worth bothering with. Other than it’s duplication of Metro’s 21x buses are there any destinations other than the Rainier Freeway station and Mercer Island where it isn’t the case that all buses to get there stop in the same place — I can’t think of any? For MI going home in the afternoon, I’d always use a tunnel bus. For Rainier, since everything can be made to stop there, either street is going to give you good frequency.

      1. But as a driver of a 554 peak hour trip, I do have full buses and standing room only. Why, because my trip is only $2.50 to the Suburbs vs $3.25 for KC Metro. For those who don’t get employer subsidized ORCA’s, a $2.50 pass vs. $3.25 pass on your own makes a big difference financially.

      2. Out of curiosity, how many riders get off on MI, or ride past Eastgate? My experience riding the 554 was very few in both cases, which suggested that most riders were using it as if it were a 212 with an extra stop. Given the overall fragility of out transportation infrastructure, it makes sense to take the first reasonable bus that comes.

  21. As an almost-every-day 255 rider, I want the 255 out of the tunnel, yesterday.

    At the times when I ride most, which are peak hours, the tunnel is far less reliable than the surface. Yes, sometimes there’s a horrible day on the surface too, but those days are far less frequent than the days when joint ops completely melts down northbound. It’s totally normal for me to spend 20 minutes on the USS platform waiting for a bus with a 10-minute headway, and then — on the same trip — spend 15 minutes to get from USS to Convention Place. And, to make matters worse, you can’t either check OneBusAway or let people at home know you’re delayed.

    Inbound, the difference is less extreme but it’s still there. If I’m on an inbound 255 and see that a 252/257/268/311 is right behind it approaching Evergreen Point, I’ll transfer, and usually save 2-3 minutes. This is especially true lately; it seems that drivers are being more careful about obeying the letter of the 5-mph speed limit and multiple stop bars inside the CHS facility. Meanwhile, the surface bus just drives right onto 5th Ave at street speed along a simple path.

    The tunnel is oversubscribed at this point. Only routes that can directly benefit from it, which don’t include SR-520 routes, should use it. The best candidates are I-90 routes (until East Link construction begins), I-5 express lanes routes, and to a lesser extent southbound I-5 routes where Sodo is a desired destination.

    1. Makes sense to me. I’m in favor of moving the 255 and moving some of the I-5 express lane buses in there instead. A few of them will already be there, like the 74 and 41. There are a lot of buses that have some overlap with those two, as I say here:

      So, my first choice would be 41, 74, 76, 77
      Second choice would be 41, 74, 76, 316

      Either choice could be made if we remove the 255. I think that would be better overall, as it would have more buses running through the tunnel that serve the same general area.

  22. As a daily Link rider my answer is None. (Of course.)

    Glad to hear that many bus riders are just as excited to get out of the tunnel as I am to see them go. I’ve been worried there is going to be some sort of outcry once people wake up to the fact that their route is changing and they’ll end up keeping more buses in the tunnel and the constant delays that come with them.

    Improving weather has me riding by bike all the way into downtown most days now but I am really counting on the improved headways and reliability getting through the tunnel come fall when the weather turns again.

    Currently I lose at least a couple of minutes on average in each direction waiting for buses between stops in the DSTT. The saving grace is that at least I get on at Westlake so I almost always get a seat. If I had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder while waiting in the dark like the poor saps that get on at University and Pioneer stations it would be too much for to deal with as my daily solution.

    I’m hoping to recoup 30+ minutes per week by this time next week. (Should save 1 minute on average waiting for the train to arrive with the new shorter headways so that’s 2 minutes per day x 5 = 10 minutes. Plus two minutes average delay in the tunnel each way due to buses so that’s 4 x 5 = 20 minutes. 10+ 20 = 30 more minutes to waste some other way ;)

  23. I don’t care if MY route is in the tunnel or not, but what I want is LOCAL routes in the tunnel. Metro has this stigma that it acts as if ALL tunnel routes HAVE to operate on a freeway, which in my mind is a bit cliché and outdated.

    Obviously, the local 71-73’s via Fairview are the few exceptions, but since Metro seemed very reluctant to have the tunnel open on evenings and Sundays for many years (WHY??? Not enough riders on evenings/Sundays? I THINK NOT!), the only time the 71-73 locals ran in the tunnel (until the coming of Link, with its full-time tunnel hours) was a handful of trips in each direction on early weekday mornings. (NOTE: For the short time the tunnel stayed open until 11 PM on weeknights, there was obviously more local service in the tunnel, but not as much as during the post-Link tunnel hours).

    Obviously the WSTT concept is more in favor of locals–5, 21, 26, 28, 131 & 132.

    1. For most local routes the existing tunnel portals are out of the way, too far east. As it’s built today (i.e. ignoring operational problems), I-90 routes and I-5 express-lane routes are best suited to take advantage of it, because of direct ramp access. Routes using I-5 but not the express lanes, routes using the SODO busway, routes using Eastlake or Fairview, or routes using Olive Way (the 43) can use the tunnel without going out of the way, but it only helps them to the extent it’s faster than downtown surface streets. For every other route it’s out of the way.

      Unfortunately the extent it’s faster than downtown surface streets is limited by congestion, so it sort of makes sense to prioritize freeway routes. But with all those freeway routes the tunnel has a very peak-heavy schedule with even more-peak-heavy ridership, is plagued by slow boarding and slow portal operations, and with the writing on the wall for joint operations, isn’t a natural target for investment. What’s sad is that the barriers to better operation are mostly self-imposed, and very visible… at some point, maybe at the end of PAYL, a successful effort to get the tunnel moving could have really changed the perception of Metro and ST.

    2. Through the generosity of Seattle taxpayers, routes 71-73 will no longer run local variants on Eastlake after this June, with route 70 taking up the slack.

  24. I ride the 76, 74, and 316. I would like them to stay in the tunnel. Link will not be a perfect solution for me to get home in Ravenna. I would like to be able to board whichever comes first. Otherwise I will have to put my eggs in one basket, which is not a good idea given how our transit system gets upset by traffic, special events, random bad days, etc.

    1. I ride the 316/76 if I’m early enough in the morning, and walk over to the 71/72/73 if I’m later. I can live with the 316/76 leaving the tunnel northbound if they also move to the non-express lanes and skip the stop at 45th and instead go direct to 65th. I think that without them being in the tunnel, they really no longer have any reason to exit at 42rd, which is often a cluster****.

      Anything but stewing on 7th & 44th only to re-enter I-5 to slowly futz out at 65th. Staying in the right lanes from Olive Way seems to be the way to go. It’s what people driving a car would do. 45th is a stupid stop for two routes that don’t serve it southbound.

  25. On a regular basis, I ride the 5, 26, 28, 40, D, and E. I’d love for these routes to use a hypothetical WSTT, but I don’t think any of them should use the existing DSTT. It would be too much of a diversion, and the DSTT is full as it is.

    I’m also a very occasional 255 rider. I would prefer for it to not be in the tunnel, and to use the same routing as the 545. Aside from probably being faster, it would allow me to opportunistically ride the 545 to Evergreen Point and the 540 to Kirkland.

  26. I nominate the 522 (and 312) into the tunnel. They both can take advantage of directly accessing the tunnel from the express lanes at peak and avoid the awful turn at 4th and pike in the afternoon peak which can often take several minutes. In afternoon peak, international district to westlake easily takes 20 minutes on surface streets (once traffic was so bad it took over 40 minutes to get out of downtown).

  27. All the buses that go to Tacoma. They spend more time slogging through Seattle than they do on the rest of the trip.

  28. I ride the 74 and occasionally the 41 and want them both to stay in the tunnel. Since I live in Sandpoint, and work in south Pioneer Square, I see the existence (present and future) of the 74 as proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy. However, I see its lack of reliability as proof that God is angry at me somehow. So I’m glad to have alternatives at the IDTS today. As of next year, my alternatives will be Link->75 and 41->75. From a purely self-serving perspective the current proposal could not be better for me

  29. In response to RossB’s multiple suggestions of keeping routes 41, 74, 76, 77, and 316 in the tunnel, I looked at current peak-of-peak hour outbound PM trips, and estimated what they would grow to based on new trips added from Alt 3. Estimates are in parentheses.

    Route 41: 14 (insatiable, but not scheduled to grow beyond 14)
    Route 74: 3 (5)
    Route 76: 4 (5)
    Route 77: 4 (4)
    Route 255: 7 (7)
    Route 316: 4 (5)

    Having just 41/74/255 outbound northbound in the PM peak-of-peak hour adds up to 26 buses. 41/74/76/77/316 adds up to 33 buses.

    Routes 71, 72, and 73 currently each have two outbound peak-of-peak hour trips, which brings the current count to 42, before counting the inbound 101, 106, 150, and 550 trips, with no change expected on the inbound count.

    1. That sounds very promising. But I would imagine Sound Transit wants a lot fewer buses in the tunnel than there are now. In other words, even though it would be less than there are now, we can’t just “add” (or keep) the 77 without taking out another bus.

      I think I’ll write my comments assuming this is the case, and will suggest removing the 255. The 255 has fewer advantages than the other buses. It doesn’t run in the express lanes, and doesn’t share coverage with any of the other buses. It does share coverage with Link, but very loosely — requiring a substantial walk. In fact, if we thought that walk wasn’t so substantial, we wouldn’t run the 255 downtown at all (we would ask all riders to switch to the train in Montlake/Husky Stadium).

  30. The all low-floor multi-door entry hillclimb trolleybus and a downtown reconfiguration, east/west, north/south, least turns, junctions, overhead wire, should’ve happened years ago. Circulate these special design ETBs downtown (Jackson-Mercer Alaskan Way past Broadway to 12th Ave) to get frequent service and convenient transfers with least ETBs. Thru bus lines could make fewer stops on 2nd/4th Aves, DSTT, Boren. Run trolleybus on 1st Ave and the Streetcar Connector on 4th/5th Aves instead. Get the Waterfront Streetcar back on historic Railway Ave to the Aquarium at least. Jeesh.

    [Off topic]

  31. I live in Pinehurst. I take the 41 or the 77 when I leave downtown as both routes drop me off at NE 125th and 15th Ave NE, one block from my place. Therefore, I really want the 77 to stay in the tunnel. That way I will be able to hop on whichever comes first.

  32. On a regular/semi regular basis, I take either the 41, 77, or 301 (I’m not counting the 303 because it’s not really a downtown bus). I was happy they took the 301 out of the tunnel, so I don’t want it to go back in. The 77, I’m okay with it leaving the tunnel. I remember taking it when it used the same alignment on 3rd as the 304/355 and I didn’t really have any complaints. I mean, I would like it to stay in for purely selfish reasons (dependent on the weather, I can either transfer at Northgate or take the 77 and walk an additional mile-I like having options).

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