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SDOT has started work on its second HCT corridor, “Roosevelt to Downtown”. It’s one of three HCT corridors in Seattle’s Transit Master Plan (TMP) adopted in 2012. The other two HCT corridors are Madison BRT, which is in design, and Ballard to Downtown, which was part of a joint light rail/streetcar study done by Sound Transit. The TMP also has fifteen Priority Bus Corridors, of which 23rd Avenue is about to start construction. The goal of the current Roosevelt study is to identify a “locally preferred alternative” mode and route by November. This summer SDOT will choose two alternatives and analyze them in detail.

SDOT held open houses last week to present their initial work and ask for comments. The initial alternative has a downtown rectangle (5th and Boren Avenues, Stewart and Virginia Streets), then goes north on Fairview Avenue N, Eastlake Avenue E, Roosevelt -11th-12th, NE 80th Street, and 5th Avenue NE to the Northgate transit center. Readers will recognize this as route 70 south of the Ship Canal and route 66 north of it. A “South Alternative” follows the SLU Streetcar’s routing from Valley Street on south. Most of the work done so far focuses on the corridor’s existing conditions and expected growth; i.e., the context for the line.

SDOT is heavily leaning toward BRT rather than rapid streetcar for this corridor; they said most of their results are pointing in that direction. One of the posters showed a chart of the unique advantages of BRT vs streetcars: BRT came out ahead in 8 of 11 metrics.


I have two reactions to the study. I’m glad the line goes all the way to Northgate, and I’m glad there’s no streetcar bias. I was afraid we were going to have to pry SDOT away from overuse of streetcars, but it seems to be happening naturally. Streetcars are a kind of anti-Goldilocks: more expensive than buses but slower than light rail. Seattle has so many transit needs that we need to focus on light rail in a few corridors and frequent buses in many corridors, not the streetcar middle ground which won’t be enough corridors and isn’t fast enough. So maybe in the Ballard-downtown corridor the city could also consider a “Route 40 BRT” rather than a streetcar.

The best thing about this Roosevelt line is it will serve as Link’s local shadow between downtown and Northgate, with transfers at Westlake, U-District, Roosevelt, and Northgate Stations. It doesn’t shadow Capitol Hill or Husky Stadium but it serves trips that don’t involve those areas. The transfer distance is two blocks at Westlake, three blocks at U-District, and direct at Roosevelt and Northgate. I was initially concerned about the three blocks at U-District, but I don’t see it as a dealbreaker. For many people on the Roosevelt line, the U-District is their destination so they won’t be transferring. Those going longer distances can transfer at Roosevelt Station just as easily. However, I urge the city to include a pleasant pedestrian path on 43rd Street between Roosevelt Way and Brooklyn Avenue as part of the project, to make the transfer as good as possible.

Highest Ridership Stops; Click to Enlarge
Highest Ridership Stops; Click to Enlarge

My biggest concern is that the city appears to be taking its TMP corridors as gospel and building them in isolation, without reconciling them to Metro’s goals. This leads to contradictions. Madison-BRT may replace an arguably more valuable Madison-Pine service (route 11). Metro is moving buses off Roosevelt Way in the U-District while Roosevelt HCT is doubling down on Roosevelt Way. None of the streetcar segments — SLU, First Hill, City Center Connector, Broadway Extension — address major transit needs, and they’re too short to replace any bus routes. Madison-BRT and the Broadway streetcar extension appear at odds with Metro’s 49 suggestion (Madison-Broadway). The net result is imposing routes and costs on Metro, thus diverting resources from whatever improvements Metro might have made instead.

I would like to see SDOT reconcile its corridors with Metro’s goals before solidifying any more lines, as I see Metro as being generally more correct in the current round of ideas. But what we ultimately need is a joint plan of both trunk routes and minor routes that both SDOT and Metro think is the best, rather than two different plans being pursued simultaneously and imposing things on each other. That said, the Roosevelt corridor is the one most compatible with Metro’s. It addresses proven demand on Roosevelt and Eastlake, and answers the question of what will shadow Link and serve the in-between stops.

You can comment on the Roosevelt HCT project at There’s no clear deadline but I would fill it out soon. SDOT’s current focus seems to be on high-level issues and what to study, rather than the exact routing and stations which will come later, so you may want to think on those issues in your comments.

130 Replies to “Roosevelt HCT is Underway”

    1. No, the current plan calls for double parking, plus UPS and FedX in a new center lane, but everyone must move when a bus rolls through. An Urban Harmony of Existence.
      Trust me, this will work!

  1. When I have taken the 70, it has seemed like it takes forever just to gt to through downtown. Extending this BRT corridor further south, especially with some buses coming out of the tunnel, seems like it might be worth considering.

  2. Isn’t BRT generally large spacing between stops? Why would you want to shadow LINK with BRT? Just run a regular bus. This corridor doesn’t make sense for fancy service, as anyone going any distance is going to be using LINK.

    Did they come up with these corridors in a vacuum, or did they consider the massive drop-off in ridership along Roosevelt once LINK goes in? If the former, there are many other parts of the city beyond “spine” and “spine’s shadow” that are languishing, and deserve attention, that are being ignored because of the spine fetish.

    1. Link, as is obvious from its inclusion on the map Mike includes above, makes the minor oopsie of hardly stopping anywhere, thus making itself extremely difficult to access and requiring the use of another mode of transportation to complete countless permutations of journeys even along a relatively similar vector.

      So perhaps it isn’t a bad idea to make that additional mode of transportation frequent and fast and reliable and legible and intuitive enough to use painlessly, rather than thoughtlessly neglecting holistic outcomes and thereby ensuring that most will continue to drive even after the lauded noderail is complete, as has long been the primary approach among ST planners and napkin-wielding STB denizens alike.

      Transit that works at all levels, and in concert between modes. You know, like in a real city.

      1. That’s part of the weakness of this corridor. There are patches of “real city” between the U-District and Northgate, but only patches. Transit won’t solve that problem. Having the City allow much taller buildings, including many more housing units, would be more effective in justifying mode-upgrade in this corridor.

      2. Spot on comment. Maybe the MT66 can feed the AHCT (new mode acronym needed for Seattle = Almost HCT), which in turn will feed the HCT Link, which will entice several I-5 motorist out of their now driverless Hydrogen 3 wheelers.

      3. I disagree, Brent.

        This is quite a long continuous corridor, and from Downtown at least as far as 80th, it is one of the few long continuous corridors anywhere in Seattle that traverses some degree of contiguous urban density and form. Sure, that density has peaks and valleys, and the quality of the form ebbs and flows, but there really are sources of ridership and destinations at all points along the way. Not “subway”-level sources, but absolutely “frequent thing worth investing in”-level sources.

        This corridor would be a source of robust, high-rate-of-turnover ridership in any city, and would appropriately qualify for the 7-minute frequencies that are standard for urban services elsewhere (but are stupidly deemed an extraordinary hurdle here).

        Also, a corridor this many miles long would not be judged by its endpoints in other cities, as you seem to be attempting to judge this proposal. If Northgate-to-Capitol Hill-like distances cannot be accomplished on modes faster than an arterial bus, people will get in their cars and drive those distances. (As people will, I promise you, continue to do once Link’s access penalties manifest themselves.)

      4. @d.p.

        Insinuating that Seattle isn’t a real city while our shoulders are still sore from patting ourselves on the back because Seattle is the fasted growing “real’ city in America is deeply unfair.

      5. Yeah, what d. p. said. If you look at the census maps, you can see it. For example, there are two census blocks that are bounded by NE 50th and NE 55th. Both are over 25,000 people per mile (very dense for Seattle). The tract to the east that extends from 45th to 55th is even more densely populated. The houses contain a lot of people, and there are just enough apartment buildings to get big numbers. Height does not always equal density, and this is a great example. I think you could make a decent case for a stop at 55th for that reason. But you don’t have one.

        Between Roosevelt and Northgate you have a tougher case to make, but this is not as sparsely populated as you might imagine. The map shows a Northgate growth area all the way to 92nd, which is just far enough to make walking to a station annoying. There are plenty of (mostly medical) buildings in the area. There are also a cluster of apartment buildings south of there on 5th (stretching from about 82nd to 85th). This is the area that is way too far for walking to Link. This is the area that will drive people to their cars unless you provide something like this proposal. The fact that there a decent number of apartments here shows the potential value of this line.

        South of the U-District you have Eastlake and a tiny place called South Lake Union. I’ve heard there are some people there. All in all, this is a very important line, and one worth investing in. My only complaint (as I said below) is that it doesn’t go on Brooklyn by the station.

      6. On your last point, I might agree if the subway were on the Ave. But Brooklyn and 11th are really pretty close — closer than most DSTT-to-surface transfers, for example. 43rd is also reasonably flat along this stretch. And for reasons I’m finding hard to explain, my gut tells me this will be a more common northbound transfer point than southbound (one short block further).

        So as long as the BRT stops are placed well, and (as Mike says) the wayfinding excellent, this doesn’t strike me as the sort of problematically laborious transfer for which we are so otherwise famous.

        If this is to be seen as an urban corridor service and not just a haphazard feeder, it makes more sense to keep the routing straight and efficient and conceptually legible than to detour it, at great time expense, just two short blocks to the station’s front door.

      7. Not only is Link station spacing long, but also deep enough in downtown it takes quite some time to actually get to the train. If you only need to go a short distance, you don’t want to spend an extra 5 minutes at each end.

    2. Uh-huh. So why are we spending all a resources along the walk-shed wasteland that is the shadow of I-5, with a shadow train, shadowed by a fancy-bus, when we should be spending the money on fast cross-town routes, and underserved areas like Lake City, Maple Leaf, West Seattle, SE Seattle and speeding up connecting routes like the 8?

      1. Could it be because neighborhood associations are insisting that growth only be allowed in the fumeshed of I-5?

      2. As I’m sure you know, I am strongly in favor of smartly expending resources in favor of uncompromised cross-town mobility, Lake City access, SE improvement, and wise cross-Duwamish investments that will genuinely save people time and difficulty.

        Maple Leaf is on the map at the top of this post, and among the places served by the project that is under discussion. If your main objection here is the detour away from Roosevelt to 5th, or the way Northgate Link’s terrible stop placement forces this route to ignore Northgate proper in order to provide a Link connection, then there’s a good chance I agree with you, though I’m not sure a perfect solution exists in the aftermath of ST’s accumulated errors.

      3. If its BRT, I think I’d follow the arterial out to Lake City Way which already is an urban village, and has reasonable stop spacing. Past 80th, heading left to (again) to feed even more buses through the transit warp of Northgate doesn’t make sense. At least have it run parallel on 5th to Northgate Way instead of stopping at Northgate Link.

      4. I don’t understand why they don’t end this HCT corridor in Lake City by turning east at the Northgate terminus.

      5. I think there is a very strong case for BRT out to Roosevelt. I think there is a pretty strong case for ending it there. After that, every route is problematic.They all have gaps. If you go to Northgate, you don’t pick up that many people. You do connect to a college and a lot of buses when you get there though. If you loop around to pick up more people, then the route becomes very indirect (which adds considerably to the cost, speed and efficiency of the route). If you extend this out to Lake City, then you spend a lot of money making a connection that will not be the long term connection for Lake City. The long term connection for Lake City is along 125th (to a station at 130th).

        I don’t see great value in any of these, but I think the best is out to Northgate on NE 5th (because it is the cheapest).

    3. The difference between “Roosvelt BRT” and the existing route 66 is not really “regular bus vs. fancy bus”. It’s off-board fare payment, signal priority, and a lot more frequency. This seems like a reasonable investment for the corridor. I am definitely glad that SDOT seems to be leaning towards Link’s local shadow being a bus, rather than a streetcar.

      1. Please no more busses that they will just reroute over I-5 in a few years. I’d rather have a route I can count on than more loud red busses.

        BRT in this town is a sham and there is nothing Rapidride does that could not be accomplished with a bus that isn’t painted red.

        The current streetcar isn’t much better but at least we could count on the route staying the same and actually connecting it to places people want to go to might make it useful.

        Extend the streetcar or just add a new normal Metro route to compliment the 70. Fancy bus stops don’t help anyone.

      2. Please no more busses that they will just reroute over I-5 in a few years. I’d rather have a route I can count on than more loud red busses.

        This project is seeking to serve a unique market (Downtown to UW via Eastlake) that wouldn’t be served by a bus routed on I-5. I think your fear of this service being moved to another corridor is misplaced. Also, the loud red buses you speak of have routes that are all but set in stone by the King County Council, so in that sense you can definitely count on them being where they are first set down, warts and all.

        …there is nothing Rapidride does that could not be accomplished with a bus that isn’t painted red.

        Yep and that’s exactly the point. It’s much more about what you do so the vehicle can move quickly and reliably to and through an area than the vehicle itself.

        The current streetcar isn’t much better but at least we could count on the route staying the same and actually connecting it to places people want to go to might make it useful.

        In what world is the streetcar better? The idea that we can count on the streetcar to remain in place was debunked in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s where, nationwide, we tore out or stopped running service on 1000s of miles of urban track.

        The particular iteration of the streetcar you are referring to is only as capacious as a bus, runs more slowly than a bus, and can get stuck behind things that a bus can go around. The only thing guaranteeing the permanence of the SLUT or the almost-First Hill Streetcar is the permanence of the markets they serve. However, if the SLUT is given dedicated lanes on Westlake—lanes that will also be used by the much faster, more capacious (on account of useful frequencies throughout the day, which is a result of actual utility to 1000s of people), and more useful RapidRide C and Route 40—the SLUT will be permanent only as long as the city is unwilling to admit it has made a mistake.

        Extend the streetcar or just add a new normal Metro route to compliment the 70.

        That route already exists and is called Route 66, and sometimes 71/2/3, depending on where you are going.

        Fancy bus stops don’t help anyone.

        Not entirely true. The “fancy” stops help with the image and legibility of the service which helps users to actually use the service. The “fancy” stops strive to treat transit riders like human beings who value their comfort, safety, convenience and surroundings.

      3. You make my point because the 71/72/73 and 66 are all going away from Eastlake next year. There will be increased service on the 70 which is only good for going downtown when there is no traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the 70 but going north it doesn’t go anywhere most people can’t walk already and going south it is mired in traffic.

        You say the routes are set in stone by the council yet that can all be changed with the stroke of a pen. Yes the old streetcars were ripped out but at least streetcars have the advantage of actually being set in stone (or at least asphalt)

        Everything the Rapidride does can be solved with multiple paypoints on a regular metro bus. In fact with a bus that has 1/3 to 1/2 of the seats removed with the ability to enter, exit, and pay in multiple locations you are pretty much at a rapidride. The problems still exist with Rapidride being difficult to enter and exit when the bus is full and not being able to have centrally located stops.

        The city needs to update signaling but really every bus should have the capability for priority. There is no need to brand bus stops and put orca readers outside.

        If you are actually going to make something, make a streetcar. Otherwise just add a normal bus route.

        BRT isn’t actually a thing and I don’t know why we talk about it like it is. It is just a bus we paint a different color that comes more often. So add a bus that comes more often and over the next few years let’s change how EVERY bus works.

        Rapidride is a farce and always will be.

      4. You’re completely right. This is yet another example where Metro and SDOT need some better coordination; Metro is moving continuous service off of Eastlake-Roosevelt in favor of distorting the network to hook up with Link (forcing a transfer for folks in Eastlake trying to get anywhere north of UW) while SDOT is looking to invest in a continuous service along the same corridor.

        Yep. You still have miles of streetcar tracks “set in stone” that have been paved over and are now aiding our streets’ deterioration. But how do set in stone tracks with no streetcars help anyone?

        Again, the RapidRides aren’t going anywhere because of the strength of the markets they serve. Additionally, any change in the RapidRides would be subject to at least the same processes as service changes and would take a concerted effort on the part of the Council to do something.

        I’m not sure why you rail so against RapidRide. It’s not BRT by any definition, but who cares? It represents worthwhile enhancements to useful services and they have been extremely popular. Yep there are flaws and foibles and what was promised wasn’t delivered but what was delivered represents much appreciated improvements.

        I agree that Metro should extend RapidRide treatments to as many routes as it can and that there is no need to paint the buses, though this aids legibility.

        BRT isn’t actually a thing and I don’t know why we talk about it like it is. It is just a bus we paint a different color that comes more often.

        This is the improvement that matters most so I don’t know what you are complaining about. There are additional capital improvements (dedicated running paths, signal priority, off-board payment, level boarding, branding and legibility improvements) that can leverage the investments in frequency (which improve travel times and reliability).

        So again I agree, these improvements don’t need to be associated with a package we call BRT or HCT, but large, misguided leaps seem to be the way we get things done here instead of the incremental, as-needed improvements that are constantly working towards improved transit access and mobility.

        Rapidride is a farce and always will be.

        Only to people who care more about semantics than improvements. For people who just want to get places, the RapidRides seem to be much more useful to them than the services they replaced.

      5. I dislike calling them BRT for the same reason I hate bike sharrows. Because pretend like we have done something when we haven’t. It’s just a bit of paint. So you can say we have HCT but is is just another bus that sits in traffic and we can pat ourselves on the back that we did something about transit but there isn’t much material change other than increased bus service levels. So just add a regular bus instead of an HCT checkbox that does little to address the issue.

        Sure it’s better than nothing and I’ll probably ride whatever they may manage to put in here. But streetcar or bus it doesn’t matter what they put in if they don’t take the lane away from cars.

        Given the current changes slated for 2016 I am already going through the distasteful process of car shopping. Granted if it works for most people I’ll still be happy. It’s not all about me and I know when I moved here that Eastlake was underserved by transit and always will be.

      6. What improvements in Eastlake service would keep you from buying a car?

      7. Actually this exact HCT route (wether bus or rail) that had transit only lanes for as much of the route as possible with signal priority.

        As much as I complain about the bus I will still ride it :)

        It doesn’t affect my daily commute in any way which I have structured to be as biking/walking friendly as possible because there is not an efficient way for me to get to work on the bus.

        But we don’t want me to start ranting about bike infrastructure on Eastlake/Fairview now do we? ;)

      8. RapidRide is not BRT. This is not RapidRide.

        RapidRide is a joke and everyone on here knows it. It has never gone through an official assessment (there are agencies that do such a thing) but I am confident it would receive a grade of “Not BRT”.

        The jury is still out on Madison BRT as well as this route, but the proposals and questions they are asking are promising. Unlike RapidRide, this is not just painting a bus a different color. This is grade separation, off board payment and level boarding. The only question is which side of the road the bus lane would be on. Put it on the left (inside) lane and next thing you know it is running like our light rail line down MLK. Even without signal priority it would run like a car at three in the morning — yes, it has to stop at the occasional traffic light, but you can move really fast when don’t have to deal with other cars.

        Comparing this to RapidRIde is not fair — different agencies and different proposals.

    4. The City’s TMP uses Metro’s ridership numbers from 2009 which is the year that Link opened and the Great Recession was in full effect. Not exactly in “a vacuum”, but not a real valid set of data to base future plans upon.

    5. Link is for traveling between urban villages, which is where the majority of pedestrian riders are and what has been most neglected in our previous transit networks. But Link doesn’t serve the in-between stops, such as me going to the Friendly Foam Shop or the Monkey Pub or Scarecrow Video around 52nd & Roosevelt. I used to live at 56th & University Way near there, so I would have it to where it goes, such as appointments on Eastlake. I would also have used Link to where it goes, such as downtown and Bellevue and Lynnwood. Both of them go to Northgate so I could take either one there.

      RossB: Do you think the line should remain on Roosevelt further north than 80th? That seemed to be the gist of the arguments on Metro’s alternatives, that there’s more apartments on Roosevelt and it’s closer to the center of Maple Leaf. I didn’t include it in the article because I don’t know the neighborhood well enough to say.

      1. To answer your question, Mike: No, I don’t think this should go on Roosevelt north of 80th. The difference in ridership is minimal between Roosevelt and 5th and the difference in time would be huge (assuming this runs to Northgate). Just to repeat what I said above: The map shows a Northgate growth area all the way to 92nd, which is just far enough to make walking to a station annoying. There are plenty of (mostly medical) buildings in the area. There are also a cluster of apartment buildings south of there on 5th (stretching from about 82nd to 85th). This is the area that is way too far for walking to Link. This is the area that will drive people to their cars unless you provide something like this proposal. The fact that there a decent number of apartments here shows the potential value of this line.

        You could go all the way around (like the proposed 67) but I think that is a big mistake. This is, in part, a feeder bus (at least at the north end). If I’m at 92nd and 5th, I’m definitely taking this bus, even though it is only half a mile to the station. If I’m at 85th and 5th, it is even an easier choice. I can take a bus either direction, really. But if the bus goes on Roosevelt Way north of 80th, I will have to slog through traffic if I’m headed to Northgate TC, which means that unless I’m really close to Northgate, I will want to head south. This limits the value of service like this. To make matters worse, that section is really hard to deal with. From Northgate Way to 5th, and from 5th to the transit center they have taken away all the parking (from what I remember and can see from the maps). They also spent a lot of money redoing the streets. But it is a natural bottleneck, and thus full of cars. Meanwhile, 5th south of 100th allows parking. You could take away the parking, add a bus lane, and get buses moving along there really quickly.

        For the top of Maple Leaf, the long term answer is a bus running from 65th or so to NE 130th. Those are your fastest routes to Link. You will still have to have a bus plodding along Northgate Way and heading to Northgate Transit Center, but that will be very local in nature. Buses running in circles (first heading north for five blocks, then south, just don’t make sense to me.

      2. @ d. p. You really need to get out more — that foam shop is awesome. Seriously though, I always thought it was amusing. An entire store selling nothing but foam. It’s a good place to go if you have a little project or want a really cheap bed.

      3. I can see the argument that Link would have been better with stations at Summit, 15th, 23rd, Montlake, 55th, etc. But it didn’t mainly because 55th and 23rd aren’t designated urban villages (or at least, 55th is at the edge of a village) so they weren’t considered major. What the city should have done was designate them villages and upzone them, and then it would have been easier to convince ST to include them. But that would have gotten the NIMBY opposition out in force, and they were stronger in the early 1990s and 00s than they are now. And rents weren’t escalating as fast, so it wasn’t as critical to get HCT to lower-cost areas as it is now. So ST is at fault, but city land use is also at fault, and they may have been equally significant factors.

      4. I don’t buy the argument that taking Roosevelt to Northgate ruins the line’s utility as a feeder line. If you want to get to Link from, say, Roosevelt and 85th, you will take the Roosevelt bus south to Roosevelt Station, not north to Northgate Station. The bus would be a straight shot.

      5. But what if you want to transfer to Link going north, or to the 40, or to some other route?

      6. A lot fewer people from Maple Leaf will be transferring to Link to go north than to go south, it doesn’t make sense to optimize service around that group of people. Connecting the center of Roosevelt to the center of Northgate is more important.

        Ideally, there would be buses on both Roosevelt and 5th, but the money does not presently exist to do so with a significant degradation in service frequency. So, if we have to choose, I say go with Roosevelt for the all-day route, although a parallel peak-only route that uses 5th may have some merit.

      7. We have limited money for a project like this. On a rider per dollar basis, I’m not sure if it makes sense to go any further than Roosevelt. Regardless of which way you go, there aren’t as many people (per mile or per stop) north of 65th.

        But if we are determined to go north to Northgate, then 5th is the way to go. There are several reasons for this:

        1) When you consider the entire project on per mile, per stop or per dollar basis, 5th is better, mainly because it is shorter. The vast majority of riders will use this on the southern end (from UW to South Lake Union). The more money and effort you spend on a marginal area, the more you dilute your efforts (that are better spent elsewhere). You could extend this through Northgate and up through Pinehurst and get a significant number of people, but you would never get the numbers you get from the greater UW and greater South Lake Union area.

        2) It is much easier to make this fast. The part of 5th north of the transit center already has no parking. You either widen (an already ridiculously wide) street, or “take lanes” from the cars. Good luck with that. Even Roosevelt Way is not easy. You might be able to squeeze in bus lanes by removing parking, but more than likely you would have to remove the bike lanes, and basically undo everything you did to make the area friendly for walking. On the other hand, the south part of 5th has a lot less challenges; it is wider and from my reckoning, can fit new bus lanes by just removing the parking. Even if you got new bus lanes on Roosevelt, Northgate Way and the north part of 5th, you still have several very long lights to deal with. It would be a shame to cut frequency on this run do to serving an area that is far less important north of the UW.

        3) It gets to Northgate Transit Center faster. Like it or not, we are stuck with the Northgate Transit Center where it is. It is a horrible location, but the one area where it can be reached quickly is from the south. Even with a stop at NE 130th, we will still have buses going every which way from here. So someone in an apartment on 85th and 5th, for example, could ride this to the transit center, then transfer to a bus headed west.

        4) This would provide a faster ride to North Seattle College. Once the bridge is built over the freeway, this will provide a fast ride to the college. This means that someone along 5th or even a bit further south could ride this north, then get to the school. The college is probably the biggest destination in the area and perhaps the biggest justification for running this as far north as Northgate. It would make sense to get there quickly.

  3. The lack of synchronization between Metro’s and Seattle’s goals is painful. Of course, Metro has Service Guidelines (which are great for determining service allocation, but not so great for designing the network), while Seattle has a Master Plan… er, several master plans that are not synchronized with each other.

    But a larger weakness in Seattle’s Transit Master Plan may be that it seems to ignore the existence of that high-capacity transit system Sound Transit is installing, known as Link Light Rail. In the case of Madison BRT, one has to wonder why the possibility of Madison/Broadway was not considered. I’m pretty sure that corridor would get much higher ridership, due to people from all over the region transferring at CHS to get to major First Hill employers, and do what the Broadway Almost-First-Hill Infrequent Streetcar was supposed to do.

    Realistically, ridership between downtown and UW will be swallowed up by Link. Ridership between downtown and Northgate will clearly be on Link. Ridership to apartments between the stations will be on local transit, but few will ride that anywhere close to the length of this corridor. Ridership between North Seattle bedroom neighborhoods and South Lake Union jobs seems to be the one real problem this corridor is trying to solve.

    That puts the baseline for justifying a project on this corridor as whether the resulting transit is at least an improvement over new routes 64 and 66, or could supersede these two routes based on being able to get through Eastlake even faster than the risky approach on I-5/Mercer.

    The streetcar could certainly be made to be faster on Eastlake, but not much faster. Unless the streetcar continues on beyond the U-District, there will be a transfer penalty in direct proportion to the line’s headway. If the bulk of rides using this line will be from employees living along the corridor, then the streetcar is a good option. If, instead, Eastlake is merely a bottleneck, from which riders in north Seattle living close in enough would ride multiple local tails that all become an Eastlake trunk, then major improvements to bus flow along Eastlake and Fairview would seem the winner.

    I have no idea what a single “high capacity” bus line all the way from downtown to Northgate, via SLU and Eastlake, would accomplish that hasn’t already been solved.

    1. “I have no idea what a single “high capacity” bus line all the way from downtown to Northgate, via SLU and Eastlake, would accomplish that hasn’t already been solved.”

      – signal priority along Roosevelt and Eastlake
      – off-board fare payment for faster service
      – enough frequency evenings and weekends to make a transfer to/from Link a viable option (Under alternative 3, the new 67 is no more frequent than the existing 66/67 combined – it drops to one trip per half-hour on weekends).

    2. I totally agree with Mike Orr on his statement above “My biggest concern is that the city appears to be taking its TMP corridors as gospel and building them in isolation, without reconciling them to Metro’s goals. This leads to contradictions. Madison-BRT may replace an arguably more valuable Madison-Pine service (route 11)”

      And yes, Brent you are so right too! It’s nice to see some voices finally speaking up about Seattle insane transportation mess. Yes, Metro should be in charge, we voted for that and there is so much other work for SDOT to do like answer the phone when citizens of Seattle call.

      The more this insanity goes on, the less chance that any transportation levy will pass including the Mayor’s $930 million dollar plan. I for one would like this mayor to promise to fix Broadway so Metro can do its job of moving people around. Move the bike land to 12th Ave and kill the street car before someone gets killed! The Broadway mess affects all planning for the current alternative Metro is proposing!

      1. The Broadway Streetcar has its disadvantages, but I fail to see how it would contribute to traffic deaths. Aren’t those overwhelmingly caused by people being hit by automobiles?

      2. My point ts that that Broadway is TOO narrow to support the streetcars and an unused bike lane! Having one lane in each direction, north south, for both cars, streetcars and buses is total madness.

        I’ve seen two cars trying to get into the same lane going north at the Harvard Market QFC and they nearly crashed trying to squeeze into to the one lane. This is happened before the streetcar ever started to run. People are going to get hurt by SDOT’s traffic planning on Broadway and I sure hope I’m wrong.

        Last point, who is going to subsidies the Broadway Street Car? The SLUT has Amazon, so I guess again it will be the citizens of Seattle!

    3. With regards to the Madison BRT, I think you answered your own question. They really didn’t want to admit that the streetcar is useless, and build something better, like the BRT line you suggested. By building a BRT line on Madison, you can build a decent line, and pretend that the streetcar is going to be used to connect Capitol Hill station and First Hill.

      With regards to this line, I think you are forgetting that the Link stations are too far apart. For example, most people would assume (after looking at a census map) that there is a station at NE 55th. There isn’t. South of the canal, Link goes on a very different route and serves nothing close to this route (Eastlake and South Lake Union). Making matters worse, the area is isolated (because of the freeway). This means cross cutting buses connecting to the stations in between just won’t work (witness the Metro 8).

      All this means that you are right — no one will ride this end to end. No will ride it from the major nodes (Northgate, Roosevelt and the UW) to another major node. But that isn’t the point of this route. The point is to connect the areas in between these major nodes (Maple Leaf, 55th, Eastlake and South Lake Union). Many of these areas are highly populated — just connecting 55th with Campus Parkway with BRT would be huge. The key here is not that the bus go super fast (the distances a typical rider rides will be small) but that boarding is super fast (and that the bus can at least not get stuck in traffic). This is the advantage of BRT. With a regular bus, when you consider the time spent waiting and boarding, it often doesn’t make sense to take a bus unless you are going a long ways. But with this bus, if done right, the opposite would be the case.

      Which is not to say that I am thrilled with the routing. I explain below why I think this bus (for the very reasons I mentioned) should go on Brooklyn, not Roosevelt, in the U-District. It is essential that the buses and trains work together.

      1. The FHSC outcome is even worse than that. The rebuild of Broadway between Denny and Madison-ish is so disastrous that you couldn’t send a bus (or anything else) quickly along that portion.

        This would be mediocre-to-bad for a Madison-reoriented 49 bus of moderate frequency. But it would be catastrophic for any BRT-branded project whose paramount goal is a 100% reliable connection from First Hill to downtown.

      2. Perhaps this corridor initiative could be more than just about transit improvements. Neighbors around Roosevelt Station worked hard to meet the bare minimum of growth desired by the city. Roosevelt BRT wasn’t part of that deal. If they want BRT past 55th, could it come conditioned upon accepting further upzones? outside the I-5 fumeshed?

        After all, there are other neighborhoods that have done a better job of accepting upzones, and they are also waiting in line for improved transit.

      3. I really don’t like the fact that the higher zoned areas are along arterials, but I think we need to accept that this easier from a political standpoint. I could easily see the north end of this (the end most in need of upzoning changing along with this). Just to break it down:

        1) Up to 55th it is pretty high density (over 25,000 people per square mile, which is high for Seattle). You could upzone here (it might happen anyway) but you won’t get a huge jump in population density, because it is already pretty dense.

        2) From about 55th to 75th there are apartments or other pretty tightly packed houses already. It isn’t as dense as to the south, but I think the gains from upzoning would be marginal.

        3) From 75th up to 80th there are nothing but houses (and the census numbers reflect that). This is an area that is ripe for upzoning, in my opinion. I think low rise would make a lot of sense, and not be that objectionable. Folks who live along Roosevelt (a busy street) and only a couple blocks from Lake City Way are probably a lot more tolerant to change of this nature.

        4) I think you could say the same thing about 80th as you could about that section of Roosevelt. Given our usual zoning (where we allow apartments on busy streets) it is kind of surprising to see nothing but houses here.

        5) The same is true for the few spots of 5th that lack apartments. There is a cluster from 82nd to 85th, as well as plenty north of 95th, so this wouldn’t be a radical change.

        So, yeah, I think that approach makes a lot of sense, although I wouldn’t draw the line at 55th, I would draw it at 65th. From 65th south this is really a big corridor. From Roosevelt to Northgate it isn’t. There just aren’t that many people who live in between there. You would still run buses along 5th and Roosevelt (over the top of Maple Leaf) but I don’t think you would make this kind of investment for those riders, unless upzoning came with it.

    4. “no one will ride this end to end”

      Routes in general aren’t meant to be ridden end to end for the most part, unless they’re point-to-point expresses. End-to-end would mean taking the split 48 from the U-District to Mt Baker, or the E from Pioneer Square to Aurora Village, or the old 75 from the U-District to Ballard. If a lot of people are taking it end-to-end, that says the network is broken and you need a faster service alongside it, because people shouldn’t have to take a local bus that far. The best local routes have a major destination or a lot of minor destinations around their middle. Which is what Roosevelt HCT has, and the E, and the split 48, and the old 75 monstrosity.

      1. Going further, what infuriates me about local routes — and why DP and I disagree about Link — is that I’ve spent too many times riding the 48 from the U-District to Columbia City (now transferring at Mt Baker), or the E from 46th or 85th Aurora Village, or the old 174 from the airport to downtown, and it stops at every frigging stop along the way. That means they’re well-used local routes, which is good, but they don’t address the needs of people going longer distances. Roosevelt HCT is exactly such a good local route which be hailed at every stop, but it shouldn’t be the fastest way to get from downtown to Northgate or the U-District to Northgate because that’s mutually exclusive with being a good local route.

      2. I also said “No will ride it from the major nodes (Northgate, Roosevelt and the UW) to another major node”. Of course, that suggests that South Lake Union is not a major node — which is ridiculous. But anyway, I think a lot of people ride the 44 from Ballard to the U-District. That isn’t end to end, but it might as well be (would it matter if the 44 turned around in campus?). That is my point about this bus — some buses (especially BRT) are meant as end to end, or major mode connectors. They often pick up people along the way, but that isn’t their primary purpose. Investing heavily in these buses (spending lots of money on infrastructure) makes sense. But this isn’t one of those buses.

        As far as stop spacing goes, there is always a trade-off. No one wants to ride a bus (or train) that stops at every little corner. But our city, like most cities, is not made up of convenient little min-towns, despite our civic leaders best efforts. The area around 55th has more people than the area around Roosevelt. Quite a bit more, actually (more than half as of the latest census). Roosevelt is growing, and may be growing faster, but if you give me a fifty meter head start, I can beat Usain Bolt (in the 100 — he would blow by me in the 200). In other words, I’m not sure if Roosevelt will ever catch up and be more populous than the area around 55th. So we skip a station there not because it isn’t justified (Shoreline has stops and has nothing even close to the number of potential riders) but because we don’t want the train to stop too often. But where is it going? To Lynnwood? So what? Lynnwood won’t have more riders — and those that do won’t complain about having to wait thirty seconds.

        There is a trade-off, you need to find the right balance. But Sound Transit has obviously screwed up and skipped plenty of stations (stations way more justified than 55th) in an effort to run half empty trains to minor suburbs (at a time when people are moving back into the city in droves). So the city is left running “patch up” buses like the north end of this one.

  4. There does seem to be a lack of communication between Metro and the city. Either that, or Metro assumes this will be built, and wants to get out of its way by not putting bus routes on the same streets. This map shows a corridor stretching from South Lake Union to Northgate. It shows the northern section of that corridor on 5th NE. It also shows that this is part of the “Northgate Urban Center Rezone”. All of this makes sense to me.

    But then why is Metro going to abandon that corridor? The current proposal has nothing on 5th, between 80th and Northgate Way. In other words, the new Metro routes could easily follow that corridor, but they don’t. I’m not suggesting they follow it from start to finish, but covering each section would make sense. Why is Seattle going to embark on making the connection between the Roosevelt neighborhood and Northgate Way (on 5th) much faster, while Metro would rather run a bus on Roosevelt Way (that will curve around and spend much of its time going in the wrong direction)? Why is Seattle the only agency that seems interested in fast, frequent bus service in this town?

  5. Given a 7-min headway and closely spaced stops this would be a great feeder line to Link stations.
    Currently the 66 from Northgate to Washington & 4th is listed as 42 mins.
    Link from Northgate to DT is listed at 14 mins.
    A key to maximizing Link is frequent metro feeder neighborhood runs, regardless if they are parallel to Link or not.

    1. I agree. The stop spacing north of the UW is small enough that this is needed. South of the UW this is really a completely separate corridor and not really parallel at all. If you are at the U-District station heading south and want to walk south, to Eastlake, would you get off at the next (southern) stop, at Husky Stadium? Of course not. What about Capitol Hill Station? No, not really, now you have to head back north and figure out how to cross the freeway. You either get off in the U-District, or get off at Westlake. These only look parallel if you are looking at really crude schematics.

    2. Link to Pioneer Sqr Station is 20. The 14 min. is only to Westlake. Minor point, but worth noting.
      Link is not designed to do anything well, so shaving minutes off the 66/6770 is probably the best SLU/Eastlake and all the riders more than a 1/2 mile from Link can expect to get. Sadly, it’s the City of Seattle that pushed for the tunnel under Cap Hill, and is now trying to clean up the mess that it created. (Thanks Norm).

      1. Hindsight is 20/20. Broadway & John was (and still is) the largest 24-hour pedestrian concentration between downtown and the U-District. The scope of SLU’s growth and changing trip patterns has caught a lot of people by surprise: it was not at all in the discussion of Link’s routing. The argument for Eastlake was lower cost, and it was not expected to have hardly any riders. The decisions that made SLU did not exist then and could have gone either way: Seattle approving a downtownish upzone, Amazon locating there, Amazon’s massive growth strategy, its customers choosing e-commerce and cloud services in a big way, the city-living tech workers going from an ignored niche to a city-design strategy, the reversal of suburbs-vs-city growth, all that was in the future. Perhaps the city should have foreseen it, but it was the result of hundreds of thousands of people’s individual decisions that could have gone either way. And Seattle just doesn’t have much experience being a big city or wanting to be a big city, so it makes mistakes along the way. Also, SLU is still rather sterile, without the variety of destinations that Capitol Hill has, and with its limited types of buildings and one-income-level segregation, it’s unclear when or if it will catch up.

      2. And of course, “Eastlake” meant in the I-5 express lanes, so even further from SLU destinations, and the stations would have been in the middle of the freeway like Montlake Flyer station. Moving Link to Broadway was the first urban success, part of the same movement that pushed for Link on Aurora and Pacific Highway rather than I-5.

      3. If we had to do it all over again, I would still keep our current routing. The problem is really the lack of stations, not the routing. I would add at least two more stops, at First Hill and where 520 crosses at Montlake. So my math is:

        First Hill = South Lake Union
        Capitol Hill > Eastlake
        520 in Montlake > Another Eastlake stop (I think it would be hard to make this connect to 520).

        No, the routing is fine, the lack of stations is not.

  6. While I think this is a great corridor if we had infinite funds, I’m concerned about the priority here. Between link and the 2 frequent coverage routes (70 and 67) service here will be quite good. Not ideal, but good.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of ther corridors that lack HCT entirely. Take the 8. Or the 48N or 48S. All of these routes get high enough ridership to deserve HCT-style improvements, (the 8 especially is much slower than it should be), and they are not shadowing another HCT facility in the exact same corridor.

    I say once all of the non-Link corridors have HCT we can go back and overlay more HCT on Link corridors, but until that happens lets focus on the gaps.

    1. I think the problem with the 8 is that you can’t do much with it. That doesn’t mean folks shouldn’t try, but it will be very difficult. With a little bit of work here (it really shouldn’t take much) you can do quite a bit along this corridor. Off board payment and level boarding will pay huge dividends here, while they wouldn’t matter much for the 8 (if your bus is stuck in traffic, saving twenty seconds when people board is meaningless). The biggest problem with the 8 is along Denny, and that isn’t an easy problem to solve. Not that the city shouldn’t look at it (and isn’t) but let’s not pretend the solution is easy.

      As far as this corridor is concerned, again (as said above) this isn’t about connecting a handful of nodes (Northgate, UW and downtown) to each other. It is about travel within the area (e. g. the north end of the U-District to the south) as well as some pretty big areas that Link simply doesn’t serve (like South Lake Union and Eastlake). It is one thing to tell people in the north end of the U-District (which has lots of people, by the way) that they should just walk 3/4 of a mile to the station (after all — what is an extra half hour out of your day — if you don’t like it, buy a car you loser) but it is quite another to tell someone in South Lake Union or Eastlake that they should take Link. How exactly are they supposed to take Link, anyway?

      There really is no shadow here — or at least there is no shadow for much of the line. Saying there is a shadow here is like saying folks on the 8 should be thrilled when they build East Link (that way they can ride from Judkins Park to Capitol Hill).

      1. To say that a bus down Roosevelt is going to save someone at 55th St. 30 minutes round trip is a big exaggeration. With four high-volume stops between 55th and 43rd, plus signals at 45th and 50th, at which even a BRT bus will probably not get any priority (too much cross-traffic), you’re probably looking at 8-10 mph, at best, between 55th and 43rd. Throw in a few minutes of wait time, plus another couple minutes to walk to the bus stop on Roosevelt, and the bus does not really get to Link any faster than just walking from home to Link directly.

        That’s not to say the Roosevelt bus is not useful. It will still have a big role to play for trips such as 55th/Roosevelt to 75th/Roosevelt that do not have a Link Station on either end. It will also be essential as a feeder bus for the lazy or disabled, or for ordinary people out in Maple Leaf, where the Link stop spacing is considerably wider, as well as for trips between Eastlake/South Lake Union and virtually anywhere to the north.

        But to get able-bodied people from 52nd or 55th to the U-district Station, not so much. And detouring a block to Brooklyn doesn’t really help things in any significant way. Which is why it is better for the bus to just stay on Roosevelt and focus on quicker trips to/from Eastlake and SLU. As d.p. said earlier, the transfer distance between Roosevelt and the U-district Station is really no worse than many transfers downtown. 2nd and Pine to Westlake Station is roughly equivalent.

      2. I meant 15 minutes of walking each way, not 30 minutes saved.

        But the savings are substantial. Not counting time spent at the bus stops or traffic lights, a bus could go twenty miles an hour from 55th to 45th (you have to consider acceleration/deceleration). For a half mile, that is 90 seconds. It does have to stop for stoplights — but so too does a pedestrian. This is a BRT bus, so boarding is quick, maybe thirty seconds per stop, with stops every five blocks. So add another 90 seconds and the trip takes three minutes longer (not counting traffic lights). The bus doesn’t run constantly (it isn’t an escalator) but it should still run every five minutes. Let’s assume six, which means a three minute (average) wait period. So altogether (not counting traffic lights) the trip takes six minutes. Walking takes ten minutes (not counting traffic lights). So that saves four minutes each way, or 8 minutes out of the day. My guess is for riders like this it becomes a “left shoulder” bus. As you start walking, you look over your left shoulder to see if is coming — if so, you wait, if not you just keep walking. Given the frequency, those that want to save time will take this more often than not.

        The connection to Link is just one additional advantage to this run. Just assume there was no Link station, but you didn’t run this any further than 55th. Where would you run it? The obvious answer is the Ave. It is far closer to the center of the action than Roosevelt is. That same rider, this time headed down the Ave, or over to south campus, or South lake Union, is far more likely to be closer to the Ave than Roosevelt. So now she walks an extra seven blocks each day. These things add up. Seven minutes here, five minutes there and the next thing you know, she just bought a cute little Fiat that saves her oodles of time.

        Meanwhile, the guy who travels back and forth from the Hutch to UW Medical Center tried taking this BRT, followed by a four block walk, followed by a very short train ride, but it was just too much. As a nurse he is on his feet all day anyway, and doesn’t really need the extra exercise walking down beautiful 45th from Roosevelt to Brooklyn. So he keeps his car — traffic isn’t bad in the middle of the day. The only bad part is commuting with it, but it isn’t like getting to work from Ballard by the bus was that great anyway.

        The only people who gain an advantage to a Roosevelt routing are those headed closer to Roosevelt Way than the Ave, or those who are in a hurry to get somewhere south of the Roosevelt Station to somewhere north of it. Compared to the huge numbers of people traveling to and from the rest of the UW (closer to The Ave) there are very few people in that category.

        The only real advantage to running this on Roosevelt is that it is cheaper and probably faster. But if that is really your priority, than I think it would make more sense to just end it at the Roosevelt Station. The numbers north of there won’t be huge, and can be served reasonably well with regular buses.

    2. The other corridors like Denny Way and Lake City are “Priority Bus Corridors” in the TMP, which is a lower level than HCT and essentially means street improvements. The only HCT corridors are Madison, Roosevelt/Eastlake, and Ballard/Westlake. This may have been an oversight by the TMP committee, and maybe some of them should be ugraded to HCT in the next TMP, especially if Lake City Link is a long time in coming. But it also reflects the streetcar interests of former mayor McGinn: expensive streetcar lines means fewer HCT corridors, and that may have been what knocked down Denny Way and Lake City.

      1. Thanks Mike — I didn’t know that (any of that). You are right, Lake City Way (especially north of 125th) and Denny should be very high priorities (as high as this).

    3. 100% Agreed. But the 8 situation is too difficult, both physically and politically so it won’t happen anytime soon. My guess is that no one at SDOT is particularly interested in dealing with that I-5 onramp.

      Beefing up the 66 should work for this corridor. Seems like a waste to be putting HCT here while other, busier corridors that will probably never get grade separated transit are getting nothing.

      1. What seems to be missed by those repeating this this artificially-polarizing argument is that this is about “beefing up” the 66, making it legible, and making it actually work.

        There’s not much more to this straightforward and relatively inexpensive proposal than organizing a legible transit corridor into the kind of non-sucky transit corridor that should be a minimum requirement in a city that wishes its residents to get around without cars.

  7. The only thing I don’t like about this is the fact that it doesn’t connect very well with Link in the U-District. This will run right by the Roosevelt station and right by the Northgate station. This is good. But I see no reason why this shouldn’t run on Brooklyn.

    Once Link gets to Northgate, no one will ride this from Northgate to the U-District. No one will ride this from Roosevelt to the U-District. But plenty of people will ride it half way in between Roosevelt and the U-District to the U-District. This is a very high population density area (for Seattle). Between 50th and 55th you have over 25,000 people per square mile. But as d. p. mentioned above, Link doesn’t really serve it. The stop spacing is too large. If you are on University Way and 55th, it is over half a mile to the station. If you are on 20th and 55th, it is close to a mile. Again, this is a very populous area — yet folks are just a bit too far to have a convenient walk to the station.

    It makes sense, then, to run a frequent bus connecting Link to the surrounding neighborhoods. It would especially be nice if the transfer time was minimized. BRT can do that (just as a streetcar or light rail can). Boarding and exiting is very fast. But forcing riders to walk several couple blocks out of their way just to catch their bus defeats the purpose of BRT. Now the transfer is a lot more time consuming. This might not be so bad if we assumed that most of the people riding the bus would be headed that direction anyway. But it is the opposite. Most people live east of Roosevelt, not west of it. Roosevelt is very close to the freeway, which essentially blocks a good chunk of the ridership (and most of those folks are better off taking a bus like the 26). Meanwhile, population density shrinks heading west, while it is very high all the way to the hill to the east (beyond 22nd). So someone at 15th and 55th trying to take the light rail to Capitol Hill has to walk five blocks over to catch the bus, then three blocks back to get on the train. In other words, this bus and this major investment is useless to her. This is your core ridership north of the canal, and you are throwing it away if the bus runs over on Roosevelt.

    The obvious answer is to send this bus east to Campus Parkway once it crosses the canal, then north up Brooklyn. Work will have to be done to make Brooklyn fast for buses, but that is the whole point of a project like this. Keep in mind, a bus doesn’t have to go 30 through here (that would be a really bad idea) but simply keep moving. If a bus can avoid being stopped by other traffic or stop signs or stop lights, then it will do just fine through here. Since there is very little cross traffic, I don’t see this as a major problem. Once north of the station, the bus should slide over to the Ave (University Way). I have no preference how you get back over to Roosevelt Way (Ravenna or 65th). But a fast, frequent bus should go right by the station, and serve the heart of this very popular area, not skirt the edges of it.

    1. @d. p. — (moving my rebuttal to here, where I lay out my argument for running this on Brooklyn).

      I often prefer speed over proximity to ridership. That is why, for example, I find the 67 proposal so annoying (it goes up Roosevelt and then curves around). But in this case, speed north of the ship canal is not that important. This will be a local, and the locals live to the east of there. There are way more people wanting to get from, say, Campus Parkway and Brooklyn to 55th and the Ave (which is where this bus could take them) versus Campus Parkway and Roosevelt to 55th and Roosevelt. The trade-off (in terms of speed) just isn’t worth it to me. If the Link station was on Roosevelt, I could maybe see it (ignore the heart of the U-District to serve a collector) but it isn’t. It is on Brooklyn, which is adjacent to the Ave. So either run this up the Ave or run it up Brooklyn — but running it three blocks away from the station, and four blocks away from the commercial center (and even further away from the campus itself) seems like a waste.

      Speaking of which, what if you wanted to go from the UW campus to South Lake Union? You have to walk an extra three blocks. I suppose no one would want to get to the largest university in the state from the area that owes its entire growth to that university. What if you are at The Hutch, and want to go the UW Hospital? You either walk an extra three blocks, or go around the other way (head south to Westlake). Again, no one would want to go from a major medical research center and the university that spawned it. They would much rather look at Audis on 11th, or Volkswagens on Roosevelt.

      These are the *long* trips. These are not the local trips that will come to define this route, and will justify the off board payment and level boarding aspect of BRT. Yet even these long trips are made much better if you run the bus on Brooklyn or The Ave (or both, as I suggest). It won’t be easy to make Brooklyn work really well for buses — but it won’t be that hard either. There are no major cross streets (other than 45th) and there is almost nothing there in terms of traffic. It will take Seattle re-thinking what they want to do with that street, but that is why the planners get paid the big bucks.

      1. Ross,

        We obviously share the same understanding that all service decisions involve trade-offs, that front-door access for all points must sometimes be traded for directness and speed and service frequency, and that riders have less tolerance for laborious/distant transfers than for a reasonable walk to access their first vehicle from their starting point.

        I think we’re just assessing the trade-offs distantly here.

        A few assessments I think you either haven’t considered or may be mismeasuring:

        2. Sometimes, a “laborious” transfer has more to do with the zags the bus must make to get you to the front door than with the actual walking time. I’m quite serious about this. Transit vehicles suck at turns already, and at many trafficky/pedestrian-heavy intersections west of campus, waiting for a couple of 90-degree turns could genuinely cost more time than the 2-block walk from 11th to Brooklyn would. Even today I’ll always prefer a 66 (if available) to a non-express-lane 70 series, because that Campus Parkway crawl and multiply-penalized turn on the Ave are so excruciating.

        I think you should draw a map of geographically-brief-yet-time-consuming detour onto Brooklyn that you propose. Then remove the underlying street map, and imagine that those buses are pulling into one of those off-street transit centers in the suburbs that we all know to be infuriating time- and resource-sucks. I think you may realize this isn’t all that different from South Kirkland, Tukwila International Blvd, or a through route bending to Northgate TC.

        2. 11th and Brooklyn really are that close. ~450 feet. Southbound 3rd Ave buses that stop at Pike are a similar distance from the nearest DSTT entrance (never mind the platforms).

        The walk from the Husky station threshold to the nearest bus stops on some connecting routes is likely to be nearly twice as far (800-900 feet). Without anything else around. Now that is a laborious and indirect transfer experience.

        3. The transfer distance and general UW/U-District access are different issues, and should not be conflated. While it is ideal to run any transit line as close as possible to the center axis of your major destinations, this can be directly and fiercely at odds with the desire for speed and directness along your complete and multifaceted corridor.

        Therefore, where the more direct path still drops passengers within the contiguous defined destination area (“the U-District”), even if not at its epicenter, that directness can prevail without passengers feeling inconvenienced. It is not a big deal that the D.C. Metro stop for the Capitol Building is two long blocks away. No one cares that both Montreal and Toronto’s core subway lines mostly run a block or so behind the avenues whose names the lines bear.

        11th and 43rd is still twice as close to the proper campus than 15th and Market is to anything that could be reasonably called the “destination center” of Ballard. And yet most parties have agreed it is important to keep RapidRide straight and legible, even if half its passengers get off at said intersection and make a bee-line to the west. (The LQA detour, saving less distance than a Ballard detour but far more than a Brooklyn detour, remains an infamous time waste and a dreadful opportunity cost for these very same reasons, in spite of non-negligible on/offs at LQA’s one “central” intersection.)

      2. Assessing differently…

        And how did I manage to start a list with “2”?

        Okay. Bed.

      3. p.s. I would encourage you to try a few trips on the services that exist today, and which from the Eastlake approach already almost precisely mirror the two options under discussion.

        Try it on a Sunday, so the traffic will be light and the 70-series locals will take Eastlake to the Ave (rather than take the highway or trolley-wire around to 15th). Grab a 66 from downtown to the area. Then turn around, head back to Eastlake, and return again on a zig-zagger.

        I honestly think you’ll be amazed by the difference in both real speed and perceived speed. The 66 just plows forward along its corridor, stopping only briefly to discharge. The 70s slow and turn and descend and wait for cross-traffic and pull over and inch left and hit another light and finally get to turn and then stop three more times in a block. The 66 has reached 55th before the 70-series even has 43rd in sight.

        It’s really amazing what aiming for straight can do.

      4. “Sometimes, a “laborious” transfer has more to do with the zags the bus must make to get you to the front door than with the actual walking time. ”

        Absolutely. This is a point that cannot be overstated, yet is easily ignored by people who do not regularly ride buses.

        The Roosevelt bus will serve plenty of destinations in Eastlake and SLU not served by Link, and there will be plenty of people who will stay on the bus through the U-district. More direct thru-service is definitely the right course of action.

      5. d.p. is right the current 71/72/73 is snot slow through the University District compared to the current 66/67.

        To be fair a good portion of the slowness is due to the heavy oassenger loads on the 71/72/73, the lack of all-door boarding, and change fumbling by passengers.

        However all of the problems of the corridor won’t be solved by a BRT treatment such as the difficulties caused by the large numbers of pedestrians particularly at the turn between University Way and Campus Parkway.

        Furthermore I believe Roosevelt/11th is enough of a transit corridor in its own right to merit service in spite of University Way/15th NE being only 3-5 blocks away.

      6. I hate to admit it, but you guys are probably right. I’m well familiar with the “hell, just let me out here and I will walk” phenomenon. A dogleg, any dogleg, is likely to take a while.

        Part of the reason I think this has potential, though, is because of Brooklyn Ave. To me, I think Brooklyn was an odd choice for the Link station, but provides the city with somewhat of a blank slate. No one drives on Brooklyn, so if the street were “given over” to buses, it would be easy to do. Local merchants might even like it — since it would draw folks over from the Ave. You would have to do plenty of work (replace stop signs with traffic lights) but that really doesn’t sound that hard. Hell, sidewalks are more expensive. I know I’ve been inconsistent here (suggesting another dogleg to serve the Ave) but I think transforming Brooklyn is the only idea that could be better than just running on Roosevelt.

        But getting over there is not easy. It is always going to more time consuming, and more expensive. From the south, you have only one turn on Campus Parkway and Brooklyn — the other turn (from Eastlake to Campus Parkway) is “free” both directions. However, in the evening, you are screwed going southbound. That ramp builds up, and there simply is no room to make it better (without spending money on a new ramp). I just don’t see that happening, which throws a huge monkey wrench into my plans. On the other hand, if you just keep going down Roosevelt Way, you could “take” a lane on Roosevelt (if not the bridge).

        So 43rd is your only inexpensive option. This means a couple of turns Southbound it means a couple of lights (you have to pass 11th before making a turn on Roosevelt). This also means you have thrown away one of the better arguments for a “Brooklyn” routing — that it would serve Campus Parkway.

        I think the on-ramp from Campus Parkway to the University Bridge pretty much kills this idea. I didn’t realize this until I started looking at the details. There are just too many turns and too many lights if you used 43rd, and too much traffic if you use that on-ramp.

        Assume for a second, that both runs are made — we have BRT buses on both Roosevelt and Brooklyn. If I leave the station, will I save time by walking three blocks over to Roosevelt, or should I just take the bus on newly revamped Brooklyn. It will take about three minutes to walk over to Roosevelt — but it will take three minutes by bus as well. Three lights equals three minutes — sigh — I’m afraid it just doesn’t pencil out.

        It’s a shame, too. BRT on Brooklyn would be a game changer. Brooklyn is a nice street, while Roosevelt/11th is not (there is a reason brand new auto stores locate there). But it isn’t worth slowing everyone down for the few people who would go from north U-District to South U-District (or to Link).

      7. Ross, I don’t know if you’re still trawling this post, but if you are, something to think about:

        Pertaining to Roosevelt-Eastlake HCT connecting with Link, a Ballard to UW light rail line with a 400-600′ station box at Brooklyn oriented East-West could have entrances that easily stretch from Brooklyn to Roosevelt, solving your Link connectivity concern while allowing a route on Roosevelt/11th to stay there.

      8. Good point, Shane — I hadn’t thought of that. Yeah, as I said, while I still prefer the *idea* of a more westerly route through the UW (it is, after all, where the people are) I just don’t see it working. Just to be clear — I never thought a Roosevelt route was bad, only that a route through Brooklyn or The Ave would be better. I no longer think that, and your point is another example of how good a Roosevelt route will be.

    2. There’s still the 48N or whatever number it gets. There will be a frequent route on 15th as far north as 65th, and that addresses your north U-District density of which I used to be one. North of 65th the argument weakens because density drops off significantly and the 72 and 73 have been trying for decades to gain ridership and failed.

      1. So the city is going to invest heavily in the 48 corridor, just like this? I didn’t get the memo — that is great news indeed.

        Sorry for the snark, but if we are going to invest heavily in a corridor through the U-District, then why not invest in one that is a lot more valuable to the people who will ride it. A 48N, as you call it, would be just as valuable and have just as many riders as the north end of this line. I have no problem combining the lines. Make the street improvements for Brooklyn and let both buses enjoy them. But again, many riders will get nothing out of this. Like you said, they will just ride the 48. They will see the city invest a bunch of money on bus improvements just a few blocks away from them — heading in the same general direction — but far enough away to be useless to them.

        Like you said, density (and locations) drop off weakly north of 65th. That is the thing — with Link, you really don’t need to get to that far off location very quickly with this bus.

        Like all choices, this is a trade-off. But here is how I look at, considering a rider coming from the south:

        1) If you are headed to the U-District (or within it), then you are better off with a routing close to the majority of riders (which is Brooklyn, if not the Ave).

        2) If you are connecting to Link (to go either direction) you are better off with a routing on Brooklyn.

        3) If you are headed to some place in between Roosevelt and the UW, you are probably still better off taking the small time penalty, because most of the time the walking penalty would be worse (again, most people are to the west of Roosevelt).

        4) It is only when you get to Roosevelt, headed south of the ship canal, where Roosevelt becomes faster. But you could also just ride the train one stop and then catch the bus.

        5) In between Roosevelt and Northgate, headed south of the ship canal, Roosevelt is faster — clearly. The little detour to the heart of the U-District costs you time.

        To me the trade-off is obvious. The groups in the fourth and fifth category are small compared to the UW. The UW is huge — the area between Roosevelt and Northgate is not. The vast majority of riders headed to the UW who would save time with a Brooklyn/University Way routing way outnumber those the handful of riders who would be inconvenienced by the “detour”. The fact that Link just so happens to sit west of Roosevelt (closer to the Ave and the university) just bolsters my case.

      2. Read the TMP. Corridor #14 is the 48N. Corridor #5 is Rainier-23rd (48S + 7 + Rainier Beach Station). The city has divided 23rd into three phases, the first of which (John to Jackson) has had hearings and will start construction soon. The other segments and corridors are scheduled later; I don’t know the schedule.

        What’s happening on 23rd is a “Complete Streets” approach, something to improve bus thorughput, simplify car paths, and address pedestrian and bicycle needs. (The bike paths aren’t always on the same street; sometimes a nearby residential street.) So it will be something like that.

        The Move Seattle levy promises “7 RapidRide Plus, frequent and reliable transit corridor projects”, specifically 23rd, Madison BRT, East Marginal Way, Market/45th, Rainier Avenue, Roosevelt to Downtown, Delridge, Lander Street, and route 40. It also has 5 “Corridor Safety Projects” (“Safe Routes to School”) and 52 “Paving Projects”. Among those, Lake City Way is a “safety project”, and 15th NE is a “paving project”.

      3. Wouldn’t it make sense to combine the two through the U-District. That would mean it would be:

        1) Cheaper
        2) Combine service through one of the most densely populated areas in the state.
        3) Provide for a better connection to Link.
        4) Connect the UW better with South Lake Union and Eastlake

        Having two corridors isn’t that bad if I thought both corridors could be run really fast and frequently, but I doubt they will. If the other corridor is improved, it will probably mean ten minutes buses, while this runs every five minutes. So someone at 55th and 16th headed to Link either walks a block and waits a while for a bus (and then gets off on 45th and walks a couple more blocks) or they walk five blocks over to 11th (and catches a bus right away heading north) or maybe six blocks if they are headed south.

        Meanwhile, someone on 55th and The Ave headed to Campus Parkway and The Ave walks a block over to 15th, then waits a while for a bus, then walks back to the Ave. This is contrast to today, when buses run frequently along there, albeit with different numbers (71, 72, 73).

        Just to be clear, if this really becomes high frequency BRT (every five minutes or less) then I am just fine with running two different lines. But again, for the third and fourth reason I mentioned, it still makes sense to run the buses up Brooklyn/University Way. But if a different bus (the 48N) runs along 15th I would have no problem at all with that.

        Personally, I would do the opposite. If we are going to have two parallel runs, then run the 48N up Roosevelt, somewhere north of Campus Parkway. This gives you coverage, while still giving the vast majority of people a fast and frequent way to get around (using this BRT).

        I think the only argument for running BRT on Roosevelt is that it is easier to implement and there would be fewer turns. The former means that it might save a lot of money (over BRT on Brooklyn and The Ave). The latter means it would probably result in higher frequency. I don’t think either one is worth it though — I think if you do it, you should do it right.

      4. That would make a route as long as the 48, which is being split in half because it’s too long to be reliable.

      5. I don’t follow you. What I’m suggesting is the same 48N, but with a do-si-do between it and the BRT.

        That being said, given the fact that I know no longer support a Brooklyn route for the BRT, I think it is a moot point. I could see Brooklyn being used for the 48N, but it would require completely revamping the street. That might be worth it, but it would mean a lot of new traffic lights, bus bulbs and things like that.

  8. Of course, if Link had stops a reasonable distance apart, we would have no need for a duplicative “shadow” service like this one.

    1. Correct, at least not for the north part of this. The south end (UW — Eastlake — South Lake Union) really isn’t much of a shadow (you need something for that part).

      1. Why must all routes be thought of as a fast connection to Link? The whole Roosevelt corridor serves a different group that has no use for Link, to get to the Eastlake/SLU area. Why go that far east when your destination is on the west side? Also, the Roosevelt corridor is a nice straight line, none of that Metro meandering and loop-de-looping.

      2. Why must all routes be thought of as a fast connection to Link?

        Yes. This.

        Link is but one element of the network and not necessarily the most important one, given it doesn’t serve any continuous area. For all the connective utility it affords, it might be better thought of as a Seattle’s Greatest Hits express overlay on a functional network.

      3. Really the question should be why we’re building a “Greatest Hits express overlay” in the first place. This train is costing billions of dollars. If we’re going to need to run a very frequent bus along the train route just to hit all of the popular destinations next to the train line that nevertheless aren’t walkable from anywhere that the train actually stops, we’ve done something terribly wrong.

      4. +1, Eric. We should start with the presumption that no line within the Seattle city limits should ever have any distance >1/2 mile between stops, and then justify any deviations from it.

  9. And if only there were a Link station at highway 520, you could run the 520 buses down this to connect to SLU and beyond.

    1. Don’t get me started — oh wait, too late. The lack of a 520 station has to be the stupidest, least defensible decision Link has ever made. I understand First Hill (political fear based on engineering fear). I understand building things out of order (same thing). I understand focusing on the “spine” and ignoring urban interests (politics). But why, if you are going to build a *suburban* based system, do you ignore 520?!! That is just crazy. That decision just changed the way I look at Sound Transit. I’m the son of a politician. I give our leaders a lot of slack. A lot of things that seem obvious (“Hey, let’s build a monorail”) really don’t pan out when you start planning things. But fail to build a 520 station — fail to even build a flat spot so it could be added later — fail to even consider the idea and mention it to people? That is just incompetent.

      Of course, the followup question was always going to be “But what will a bus do then, after dropping off everyone — it will have to turn around, right?”. My answer would have been “Don’t worry about it, send it to the next exit and we will do something with the bus.”. Your answer, of course, is that something. Get off on Roanoke, head down to Eastlake, and you have a very nice bus route indeed. Half the people — the people headed north to the UW or south to Capitol Hill and downtown, would get off the bus. The other half would stay on the bus and quickly get to Eastlake and South Lake Union. Oh, oh — and some people might combine the two — some people (hold onto your hats, folks) would take the bus from South Lake Union, then transfer to a train heading north — or even south (it blows the mind). It is like … like, like a network — yeah — a transit network! Wow, what a concept.

      1. Oh, there’s no shortage of places to send buses if they didn’t have to be stuck in the awful horror of traffic around the UW. With this, assuming “this” is some sort of dedicated transit lanes, SLU and Seattle Center might not be too bad, and maybe even an hourly trip to Volunteer Park so that one of the loops the 24 makes could be rationalized.

        Lots of other options too, but they are beyond the scope of Eastlake and therefore off topic here, and besides only fantasy anyway since there is no station there.

        But, as one of many examples, have something that goes south to the Madison BRT after stopping at the 520 station. It would give the hospitals an added connection to Northgate Link and 520, as well as Hill Residents a link going east to various places.

  10. This strikes me as totally redundant and pointless. Unless the only point is to connect the Eastlake neighborhood to either SLU or the Brooklyn Station, then I can’t see this being a priority.

    It’s as if SDOT is following a plan that was laid down in a vacuum and without any knowledge of what the other agencies were already doing. It’s things like this that lead the anti-transit R’s to call for lumping all the transit agencies into one.

    Not smart,nth is is not smart.

    1. I guess you never go from 55th to the Eastlake medical offices, or from Maple Leaf to Half Price Books, you don’t have a relative living in Eastlake, you don’t work in Northgate, etc…

      1. You don’t need High Capacity Transit to go to Half Priced Books.

        Nobody is arguing against local transit to supplement the true HCT that is already being built in this cooridor. But to build another, slower, lower capacity HCT line to parallel the first? Na, that is more than a little wasteful.

      2. And that’s not (just) me being rude.

        Cities are places with lots of people going lots of places to do lots of stuff, all the time. Where land use and quality transit make it feasible to do most of this stuff without cars, there are lots of people on the transit. At all distances. In all directions.

        That is why you may see a bus line running every 5 minutes — and packed — along every major street in such a city, including streets with available subways not terribly far away. Those are the “network effects” that arise from thorough transit systems in thoroughly built and populated environments. (By contrast, and contrary to popular STB/Lazarus belief, “network effects” do not arise from placing train stations alongside parking lots in Des Moines and Quiznoses in Issaquah.)

        So yeah, the southern half of this proposal constitutes a 100% exclusive medium-high-ish-demand corridor, while the northern half constitutes infill transit quality improvements on a consistently-all-day-medium-demand corridor, whose continued need is partially the creation idiots at ST who think like you.

      3. In Chicago the Clark bus (which I’m most familiar with) crosses east-west buses at Fullerton, Diversey, Belmont, Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, Lawrence, etc. These routes are about ten blocks apart and run every 5-10 minutes all day. Belmont and Lawrence are 30-minute night owls. The north-south buses west of Clark are Halsted, Ashland, Damen, Western, etc. They also run every 5-10 minutes. The Clark, Ashland, and Western routes are 30-minute night owls. All the daytime and evening runs are pretty full, and would be severely overcrowded if they didn’t run as often. But these are not the high-capacity transit! The HCT is the El, of which the Red and Brown lines are in the area. There’s also Ashland BRT, which looks like it’s still in design.

        San Francisco is similar. A grid of regular buses ten blocks apart, running every 5-10 minutes daytime and 15-20 minutes evening. 30-minute night owls are a mile apart. And those aren’t the HCT either! The HCT is Muni Metro (9 lines and counting), BART, and future BRT on Geary St and Van Ness Ave.

        Metro’s ridership hasn’t reached its potential partly due to infrequent buses, and partly due to low-density land use between the urban villages. But even with the current land use, several routes are overcrowded and ridership is going up, Prop 1 will set a 15-minute standard on several routes that drop off to 30 minutes evenings/Sundays. That’s an important step. But eventually we should reach a 5-10 minute daytime, 20 minute evening standard that many of our peer cities have.

      4. d.p. says that cities might have buses on a grid running every 5 minutes and they have “thoroughly built and populated environments”.

        Southeast Portland, which is primarily single family homes with a few scattered bits of other types of housing, is hardly what d.p. would refer to as “thoroughly built and populated environments”. Bus route 4 on Division? Peak period every 5 minutes. Bus route 14 on Foster 50th and Hawthorne? Peak period every 5 minutes. Route 9 on SE Powell? Every 7 minutes, peak period.

        Before the Great Recession service cutbacks? Some of these were every 3 minutes during some quarters.

        If you look through this area on Google Maps Satellite View, most of it looks like Outer Magnolia. How on earth do these bus routes get so crowded when they don’t run through anything worthwhile?

        All of these key east-west routes have north-south routes that feed into them at multiple points. From 82nd Avenue west there is the 72, 71, 75, 70, and then there is stuff like the 6, 10, 19 and 17 that cross feed these routes before they also head downtown. MAX Green Line goes downtown, but it also heavily ties together the 15, 4, 9, 17, and 14. I’ve watches a fair number of them transfer from the 10 as well, even though it is a several block walk from 94th and Harold to MAX. The 19 gets a few from the Green Line also.

        MAX doesn’t have many stops in the section along I-84. It really can’t if it is going to try to give improved transit service to areas in the east part of the county. Otherwise, you wind up with even more terrible Gresham to Portland transit times like those of the 4 and 9. So, if you need one of the places through there you can transfer from MAX to route 77 at 82nd Avenue or Hollywood Transit Center, and get closer than you probably would have if MAX had more frequent stations.

        So, even in (and perhaps especially in) areas with little density, a reasonable network really helps build up transit use as there are many different options available for start and end points.

      5. Glenn, a gridded network is appropriate anywhere there is an expanse of uniform and non-negligible density without overwhelming concentrations of density/demand (like a downtown CBD) that might justify distortions in the network. Such a network makes sense in these situations because the distribution of origins and destinations are also uniform and dispersed. This is just what you have in Portland from the river east until Gresham with density slowly trailing off along that same vector. The 5-minute headways you refer to are peak overlays on the all day 15-minute network to satisfy demand to and from downtown Portland; I doubt demand in Portland would fill up buses running 5-minute headways all day, though they would be appreciated.

        Another thing that aids the success of Portland’s frequent grid is the built-up quality of the corridors the arterial buses travel down—Burnside, Belmont, Hawthorne, Division, even 82nd and Cesar Chavez to an extent. If these activity corridors had more than a half-block depth, bumping all day headways up to 10 minutes might be conceivable.

      6. Over here, buses that run every 5 minutes all-day on all the major streets is pure fantasy. We can barely afford to run one or two of the most popular routes at 5-minute headways during rush hour.

        Somehow, the hourly cost of operating a bus is going to need to go down drastically before these kinds of headways are going to be financially feasible.

      7. Or…

        We could finally stop blowing all of our expensive hours on diversions, overlaps, cash-payers, elaborate descriptions of labyrinthine routes for lost tourists, pretending bikes-on-buses can scale, allowing 2×2 sloth to trump interior flow and egress, dipshits who can’t part with their dogs for five minutes, and whatever has made this still a thing.

        The hours are there. We just use them terribly.

      8. You know, a funny thing I’ve noticed in various gridded network proposals both professional and amateur is by having the buses follow more or less regularly spaced straight corridors rather than fragmented winding routes spread like peanut-butter there suddenly are a lot of service hours to run the grid frequently.

        If you want proof go look through the archives of Human Transit for the service hour neutral grid proposals Jarrett Walker has done professionally.

      9. From Shane Valle :

        …a gridded network is appropriate anywhere there is an expanse of uniform and non-negligible density without overwhelming concentrations of density/demand

        Such a network could exist in the Seattle area too. That network effect is, after all, what the discussion of this route is about. Trying to say that it parallels Link is a bit like saying TriMet’s MAX routes parallel bus route 77 and so one of them shouldn’t exist. There’s an express bus route to Everett and a local bus route to Northgate. They parallel each other! Obviously one should go – but only if you want to reduce the number of people that actually use transit.

        Seattle almost sort of has a network in places. Avoiding stations that would help create such network effects doesn’t increase the chances of it happening. Avoiding improved high capacity local routes that feed the longer distance routes don’t increase the chances of it happening either.

        In fact, in some ways a grid system in Seattle is easier to think of than in Portland. Here, the obvious transfer points are somewhat hard because there are so many of them. In Seattle, the road layout means there are obvious key transfer points to create a good grid.

        From asdf2:

        Somehow, the hourly cost of operating a bus is going to need to go down drastically before these kinds of headways are going to be financially feasible.

        Bus costs are slightly higher in Seattle than they are in Portland but not too bad. The little difference is likely because TriMet has made a decision to go without articulated buses. There are some routes that could use them, but the reality is that they really screw up the operation of the transit mall as they are too long for three buses to fit on a block. The articulateds cost a bit more to maintain so that might be the main difference in cost per hour.

        There are certainly some tradeoffs that have been made here. d.p. has already complained elsewhere about the early cutoff time for MAX red line to the airport. A route I used to ride regularly is gone now and doesn’t have replacement service within two miles. Routes that used to end at 9 before the recession still end at 8. Operating those southeast routes at such frequent intervals at peak periods eat an awful lot of service hours TriMet should be using elsewhere. In Seattle you have people that get passed up on peak period buses because there is no space for them. TriMet has made a decision to avoid that as much as possible at peak periods, but it comes at a cost of evening service span.

        Even so, if there were no feeder routes, SE Portland would have vastly less ridership.

      10. Glenn, I think Eastlake HCT and Link differ more dramatically than Trimet Line 77 and the Banfield MAX trunk. Between downtown and UW, Link tries and fails to serve a similar market to route 49 while Eastlake HCT would be an enhanced route 66. Even though those two corridors are less than a half mile apart for much of their length, they are separated by geography and I-5; there is no way to serve them both with a single line.

        North of UW is a different story; here Link could have been designed to adequately replace at least a bus line.

      11. “We could finally stop blowing all of our expensive hours on diversions, overlaps, cash-payers, elaborate descriptions of labyrinthine routes for lost tourists, ”

        We should definitely do these things, but it’s simply not enough. As obnoxious as these things are, they make up a relatively small proportion of the total service hours, and to get 15-minute routes upgraded to 5-minutes, the total number of service-hours would need to be tripled.

        If we were willing to focus the entire Metro and Sound Transit operating budgets entirely within the Seattle city limits and completely abandon all service too Bellevue, Redmond, Shoreline, Renton, or anywhere else (the complete opposite of the John Bailo model), then the math probably would support all the core Seattle route running every 5 minutes all day. But, the rest of the region would revolt and, even for people living in Seattle, it may not be such a good thing – a trip to Bellevue that, today, is a straight on the 550 or 271 would suddenly require a rental car.

      12. to get 15-minute routes upgraded to 5-minutes, the total number of service-hours would need to be tripled.

        Not so. Eliminating “diversions, overlaps, cash-payers, elaborate descriptions of labyrinthine routes for lost tourists” are precisely the things that would help close that gap and help move many routes into the realm of only needing to multiply service hours by 1.5 to 2 to reach 5 minute headways. Which is no small task, either.

        Every route doesn’t need to come every 5 minutes, but every 10 minutes should be the baseline for frequent. That is the sweet spot between levels of service that actually allow people to use transit as a network and where the proportional level of service gains of adding another bus per hour (to move the headways to ~8.5 minutes) have diminished (i.e. the walk-up passenger experiences only an average of ~0.75 minutes of time savings, ~1.5 minutes if you count a transfer).

    2. The only thing that doesn’t strike you as “redundant and pointless” is lots of long-distance radial rail, along I-5 or to Lake City-via-Crown Hill, barely stopping along the way, and requiring 3 available seats for every potential rider lest you declare it “over capacity”.

      Which is to say that you may not be the best conceptual arbiter of “redundancy and pointlessness”.

    3. You might want to read the previous comments before assuming you were the first one to come up with an idea, and no one responded to it.

      Asked —
      Answered —
      Answered again —
      and again —
      Asked Again (as part of a larger complaint about priorities) —
      Answered Again —

      Hell, just search for the word “parallel” in this comment thread and you can find arguments as to why this is not parallel, using that exact phrasing ( Really, there only about 60 comments here, about a third of them cover this topic, but you didn’t bother to read them, or if you did, you never came up with a new argument (or counter argument) to support your case. You instead decided to rehash the same argument, but without adding anything. That sounds … totally redundant and pointless.

      Really, feel free to dispute any of the claims (although I think the census charts are accurate) but in the words of the Grateful Dead, “Please don’t dominate the rap, jack, if you’ve got nothing new to say.”

  11. More by “eyeball” than data, but by that standard, neither Madison nor Eastlake look either wide enough, or with blocks long enough, to work with anything bigger than a standard 40′ trolleybus.

    Might be good to stage the project this way, on both streets. Since both arterials are already trolley-wired for buses, do like San Francisco, especially the Route 1 California on its way up Sacramento:

    Paint-stripe and symbol curb lanes through rush hours- except consider rush hour to end at midnight, not 6pm. And one further measure:

    Let every bus both “throw” traffic lights ahead of it, and also hold a green signal so bus doesn’t have to stop on one side of an intersection, and then again after crossing the same intersection to the bus stop.

    Run this setup for several years to see what happens. And then decide what mode best fits both Eastlake and Madison. Wouldn’t be a bad planning tool for other projects too.

    Also important: What does “Rapid Street Car” mean, when used as the name of a transit mode, rather than an assessment of how fast the car moves?


    Can anybody tell me what the definition of “Rapid Street Car” is?

    1. A rapid streetcar, I think, is a streetcar that might actually have a reserved lane.

      And isn’t Eastlake already served with 60-foot trolleybuses? I essentially agree with you: give the 60-foot buses their own lane and signal priority, and then talk about what other improvements need to be done. That’s the essential part; everything else can wait. (They’d need to be diesel or hybrid buses, though, since we don’t have trolley wire up to Northgate, and extending it would probably take years of Seattle Process.)

      1. If this is like Madison BRT, trolley wire is part of the project.

        The 66 is 60′, and the 71/72/73X go down Eastlake all day. I’m not sure if the 70 is 60′ because I rarely ride it.

      2. Right, but what Mark and I are saying is start this route at once by painting reserved lanes and running diesel/hybrid buses in them, and talk about stringing the trolley wire later since that’ll take a lot longer.

      3. I like the idea of restriping the street now, and would have put it in the article if I had space. But first there have to be a year of hearings on whether it’s acceptable to remove the parking, and the project will be rebuilding the street which may move the transit lanes.

  12. Wow! SDOT posts another useless on-line survey. How about asking about something that reveals something, like actually ranking what someone finds important, or what needs improving? I’m really hard-pressed to figure out how anyone can deduce anything substantive from the responses.

    Will someone at SDOT please go to learn how to actually design preference surveys and stop showing the public how inadequate SDOT public comment staff is?

  13. If they’re going over to Fifth NE, they should do so at 75th in order to avoid the odious intersection at 80th and Roosevelt and the narrow two blocks between them. Also, shifting over there gives closer access to East Green Lake via the Fifth NE overpass. A pair of stops at Fifth NE and Banner Way would be very popular.

    The intersection there would have to receive a light of course, but Banner Way is wide enough for bus lanes and Fifth NE just north of Banner could be widened a few feet into the vacant lot on the west side of the street to make a bus only left turn lane there.

    Obviously, it would be far better from a service standpoint to continue all the way on Roosevelt to 100th and just go through the neighborhood on 98th and 100th in a one-way couplet. With trolleys that would not be horrible.

    But the city apparently has decided to switch over to Fifth NE, and in that case, using 75th and Banner is MUCH better than passing through the terrible intersection at 80th and Roosevelt.

    1. I like that idea. The key is what you mentioned — the skinny blocks on 80th. There really is no room there for a new bus lane. You could add a turn signal there (to make that turn easier) but you could do the same on Banner (it is really overdue, even without a bus there). So basically that could give you a bus lane the whole way.

      The only problem is south bound. Along with the left turn, there is also traffic entering the freeway there (on 9th). I think a bus would end up mixing with traffic one way or another, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

      In general, I really like that idea. The turns are easier, and there would be two less turns heading northbound as well. Like you said, it is closer for folks in the apartments on 5th (and really aren’t any apartments on 80th or that part of Roosevelt). Please forward it to the folks in charge.

      1. Thanks, Ross. When you mention “traffic entering the freeway there (on 9th)” I gather you’re talking about the right turners from eastbound NE 75th. I can see that’s a potential delay point, especially if there are walkers using the southside cross walk.

        There is a six or so foot grass strip between the sidewalk and the northernmost westbound lane on 75th. There are two utility poles in it between Roosevelt and Ninth NE. If the rightmost lane becomes a bus lane there would not be that much traffic in it and the drivers would universally be professionals. So I’d propose removing the grass strip and moving the utility poles in order to gain about a half a lane and move everything over toward the north side. That should free up enough space so for a narrow right turn lane eastbound for a couple of houses’ to the west, The buses could not have a dedicated lane southbound between the curve off of Banner to 75th to the turn onto Roosevelt, but at least there would be enough room for the traffic and the buses to navigate around right turners. For large vehicles such as the buses that might mean intruding (slightly) on the almost never used left turn bay to northbound dead end Ninth NE.

        The westbound left turners on 75th might have a moment of discomfort when an articulated trolley weaves through the intersection, temporarily aimed at their front bumpers, but they wouldn’t get hit.

      2. Yeah, that is what I was talking about. The more I think about it, though, the less I think it is a problem. Once in a blue moon traffic backs up from the freeway onto 75th. But that is rare. So too are people walking there. It’s kind of an ugly street and there aren’t that many people along there. So solutions like you suggest would definitely work, but it might not even be needed.

        That is the great thing about this route. There are way more options that the city can play around with, at far less cost. 75th is already four lanes, while 80th is only three lanes wide (one parking lane and two general purpose). You could widen the sidewalk (and piss off the neighborhood) but why bother? Go the other way, take a lane (if you even need to), add a traffic light (which should have been done yesterday), and avoid a couple turns. I think it is a great idea. I would put in the comment myself but I already put in a comment pushing for a major overhaul of Brooklyn along with moving the BRT there, followed by a retraction after further consideration.

        Anyway, I think northbound, this works really well. Take the outside (right) lane. This would mean it would be shared, but I don’t see this as a problem. You could share it for those turning right on 9th, 8th and 6th, but that is only a handful of people, and won’t back up (unlike right turns on Madison). When you get close to 5th, you could even make it exclusive — since every bus makes a right here (cars could take a right in the left lane). That would save a huge amount of time, in traffic signal time alone.

        Southbound is pretty smooth and operates much the same way (using the outside/right lane). There are a lot more people turning right, but a savvy bus driver can just avoid them (made even easier with changes like you suggest). Once you get close to Roosevelt, once again, the bus takes the right lane and you can turn right from the left lane. So, from a driving perspective, the right turn lane can only be used for buses or those turning right onto the freeway. Unlike the other direction there will be significant numbers, but I think I made it out to be a bigger problem that it probably is. Overall that route sounds a lot better northbound, and at worse a toss up southbound.

    2. Obviously, it would be far better from a service standpoint to continue all the way on Roosevelt to 100th and just go through the neighborhood on 98th and 100th in a one-way couplet.

      Are there any good reasons the city is not considering locating this transit investment along the central axis of the area?

      1. I expect it’s because of the fishhook at the north end. As much as I’d love to use 100th and 98th, they really are very slow, narrow streets and would need a complete rebuilding to support buses.

        And Metro’s new trunk frequent service line will use Roosevelt so the area will get frequent service. I think the BRT should focus on quick service and let the FS local handle the short hops. Of course, by running them on the same streets people at the shared stops would get even better service, but apparently the city doesn’t want the slows that Roosevelt inevitably will have north of 75th.

      2. That’s unfortunate; getting from Roosevelt to Northgate aside, going down Roosevelt seems like the clear winner if you want to serve what activity areas there are while still being on the way to Northgate. 100th/98th is clearly a no-go given what’s currently there. There really aren’t any good (read: wide) east-west options beyond 80th.

        If the city goes with a transition to 5th, your Banner Way idea is a good one and I think the city should take a look.

      3. I doubt the city would reverse years of longstanding policy with regards to that neighborhood. They have tried very hard (with the encouragement of neighbors) to stop people from cutting through. It would be weird to suddenly say “never mind, we are going to send buses down your street, even though it isn’t an arterial, but we don’t want cars running down it either”.

        There are lots of problems with particular streets, too. 100th is very steep and narrow. Most of the streets are also really steep (which is probably why the arterial ended there) and narrow.

        95th might work — it has sidewalks and isn’t too steep. But it would still be a major change. The street is a clear residential street (with parking on one side, which means cars coming in opposite directions have to yield to each other). So you would get rid of parking and then try and tell other cars not to use an obvious cut through. You wouldn’t accomplish much, either, in my opinion — a few more apartments but not that many more (than the cluster on 5th you would avoid). Meanwhile, you still have the problem of making that part of Roosevelt fast (which is not nearly as easy as making that part of 5th and Banner fast) as well as running buses right by the school (the drivers are professionals, but the parents picking up their kids aren’t). Using 95th is not a crazy idea, but I doubt the locals would encourage it (even if it meant better service for their neighborhood).

        Looping around on Northgate Way could be done (that is what Metro is proposing for the 67) but there are a lot of drawbacks to that:
        I think many of the same arguments apply to using Banner as well (there is a lot to be said for a cheap, fast way to Northgate).

      4. As far as the top of Maple Leaf (Roosevelt Way) is concerned, I think the long term bus route would be one that included going by a station at NE 130th, and then all the way down Roosevelt (until at least 65th). That is a shadow bus run (connecting two stations) while covering a fair amount of moderately dense neighborhoods (Pinehurst and Maple Leaf). The 41 would be truncated, of course (one way or another) which means that there would be no bus running on 5th between Northgate Way and 130th. The 73 on this proposal includes that ( — obviously there are numerous ways this can go on either end, but I think the Roosevelt section is a fine bus route (always nice to have buses going straight).

    3. 100th was my initial idea when I asked RossB if he’d support staying on Roosevelt further north. He didn’t though, and I don’t know that area well enough to say. I do know that 5th is fast, because I’ve been on it many times on the 66 and in a car.

      Banner Way was a suggestion somebody put on the map at the open house. Again I know that Banner Way is faster than the surrounding streets, but I didn’t second the suggestion because I wasn’t sure if it would hurt the bus’s walkshed too much. But I wouldn’t mind if it was chosen, because I always disliked how the 66 turned at 75th and again at 80th.

      1. I think the walkshed might actually improve. It seems weird, but the intersection at Banner and 5th probably has more people within a quarter mile of a bus stop than a stop at 80th and Roosevelt. That’s because the only apartments in the area are on 5th (closer to Greenlake). For people in that area, the dividing line is roughly 72nd — south of there you might as well head over to Roosevelt (on 74th). but that is still plenty of apartment dwellers for which a stop here would be preferable. The difference is minimal compared to the time savings, even if you come out a little bit behind.

  14. I think every bus that serves the U-District (including Sound Transit buses) should stop at the future Brooklyn Station.

    1. I felt that way (or at least felt that this route should stop there). But after careful consideration (aided by many comments) I have reversed my opinion. Here is the comment thread — you can read to the end to see where I reversed my position (Emily Litella style — never mind).

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