It’s Metro and Sound Transit service change time again! But this service change will be more fun than most for Seattle riders, because Metro will be adding the first of two rounds of new service funded by Seattle Prop 1. The changes will start on Saturday, June 6.
In addition to the new service in Seattle, there are a few other changes of interest at Metro. Most importantly, there will be long-term disruption in the Central District as SDOT begins its 23rd Ave rebuilding project. Route 4 will be temporarily truncated at Garfield High School on weekdays, and there will be major reroutes of routes 8 and 48. Also, there are new contracted “alternative service” routes in Mercer Island and Burien, and revisions to service patterns in Jackson Park, Factoria, and Clyde Hill. Details below the jump.
Seattle Service Additions
Let’s start with the best news first. The first half of the Prop 1 improvements includes two things: 1) new trips to improve frequency and reduce overcrowding on a bunch of routes, and 2) schedule adjustments to help with routes that are chronically delayed. The list is almost identical to the one in the Prop 1 interlocal agreement between Seattle and King County. If you remember something that’s not here, don’t worry—there will also be many further improvements at the end of September, when the second half of Prop 1 comes online.
The following routes are getting schedule adjustments for reliability: RapidRide C, RapidRide D, 1, 2, 7, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21X, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 48, 49, 55,
56, 57, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 74, 76, 83, and 99.
All-Day and Off-Peak Frequency Improvements
RapidRide C and D: This is the big one. Improved to 8-minute peak frequency at peak hours; 12-minute weekday and Saturday midday frequency; and 15-minute night frequency until about 11:30 p.m., seven days a week.
5: Improved to 15-minute frequency weekday and Saturday evenings, until about 11 p.m.
10: Improved to 15-minute frequency weekday and Saturday evenings until about 11 p.m. and Saturday morning before 7 a.m.
21: Improved to 15-minute northbound frequency Saturday evenings, until about 8 p.m.
24: Extended span from 9 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
27: Restored all-day service, seven days a week. The frequencies are 30 minutes weekday middays and hourly evenings and weekends.
40: Improved to 15-minute frequency weekday and Saturday evenings until about 10 p.m. and 30-minute frequency nights until midnight, seven days a week.
41: Improved to 15-minute frequency weekday and Saturday evenings until about 10 p.m. and 30-minute frequency nights until midnight, seven days a week.
44: Improvement to 12-minute frequency weekday and Saturday middays.
47: Restored route, with 20-minute peak frequency; 35 minutes midday frequency, seven days a week; and no evening/night service.
60: Improved to 15-minute peak frequency in the peak direction and 30-minute frequency evenings, with span extended to about 10 p.m. on weekends.
73: One new trip in each direction on Sunday improves frequency to 30 minutes for an additional hour in the afternoon.
125: Improved to 30-minute frequency weekends until about 6:30 p.m.
Peak Overcrowding Relief
5X: Improved from 8 morning/6 afternoon trips to 12 morning/10 afternoon trips.
8: One new afternoon eastbound trip creates 10-minute headways from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
15: Improved from 6 morning/7 afternoon trips to 8 morning/9 afternoon trips.
16: Two new afternoon northbound trips extend the part of peak hour with 15-minute headways.
17: Improved from 6 to 7 morning trips.
18: Improved from 8 to 9 afternoon trips.
19: Route restored, with 5 morning and 5 afternoon trips.
40: Improved to 10-minute peak frequency.
48: One new morning southbound trip extends the part of peak hour with 10-minute headways.
55: Improved from 7 morning/8 afternoon trips to 10 morning/11 afternoon trips.
73: Two new southbound trips from Cowen Park to downtown will be added at an unspecified time.
74: Improved from 8 to 9 morning trips.
120: Three new morning trips beginning at White Center will be added.
312: Improved from 13 morning/18 afternoon trips to 15 morning/20 afternoon trips. Two trips in each direction to go before the level of service from deleted route 306 is fully restored.
Central District Construction Changes
On June 8, SDOT will begin construction on 23rd Ave. between Jackson and Cherry. This will lead to changes to routes 4, 8, and 48, which all serve that portion of 23rd, for about 8 months while construction is ongoing. The construction reroutes are shown on the map below.
Route 8 will skip its usual deviation to 23rd in both directions, running along MLK. Northbound, route 48 will deviate to MLK between Jackson and Cherry; southbound, it will be unchanged, but prone to delays.
The big change is to route 4. Weekdays, Route 4 will no longer serve 23rd or Judkins Park at all, terminating at 21st and James just like the short trips on route 3. Weekends, it will be close to normal; it will use the full regular route southbound, and use MLK northbound between Judkins and Cherry. Metro’s Jeff Switzer explained that construction cannot safely happen with trolley wire active, and Metro simply does not have enough diesel buses available on weekdays to operate all route 3/4 service with diesel buses. We asked whether it would be possible to extend the life of some 1990s diesel buses currently being retired from Metro’s Bellevue fleet in order to operate route 4, and Jeff replied that Metro’s Seattle bases are no longer prepared to service or maintain the type of buses being retired.
For most weekday daytime riders, the disruption should not be too traumatic, with frequent service on the 3, 7, 8, and 48 covering all of the 4’s territory. The time when the change will be harder is on weekday nights, when neither the 8 nor the 48 is frequent and yet transfers will still be necessary. Nighttime riders on the 23rd Ave portion of the 4 are very few, but those few will not have many options until route 48 gains more nighttime frequency in September.
Alternative Service in Burien and Mercer Island
Metro is starting two new “Community Shuttle” contract routes using HopeLink DART vans, each of which partially replaces service deleted in the September 2014 cuts.
Route 630 is a peak-hour, one-way commuter route between central Mercer Island, north Mercer Island, First Hill, and downtown, partially replacing deleted routes 202 and 205. There will be 5 trips in each direction. To my recollection, this is the first time Metro has used a contractor to operate peak-hour, long-distance commuter service. The move is highly unusual given that one-way commuter service is expensive to run and historically tends to get cut if it cannot fill up full-size buses.
Route 631 in Burien is more typical of DART service, and will be very similar to routes currently operating in Renton, Kent, and Auburn. It’s a circulator replacing deleted route 139, and connects Burien TC, Highline Hospital, and Gregory Heights. It will run “about” every 30 minutes during midday daytime hours only.
The usual grab bag of miscellaneous items:
- Route 73 will be shortened in Jackson Park. It will share the route 65 terminal behind QFC, and will no longer go through the 20th Ave NE loop.
- Route 246 will be extended from Clyde Hill Elementary to the Yarrow Point Freeway Station. This is a great move for local connectivity in Clyde Hill — and would make it easier to move the 271 so it can serve Evergreen Point.
- Route 245 apparently will be live-looped in Factoria, and will lay over at Eastgate Park and Ride after completing the Factoria live-loop. This bizarre, user-unfriendly change means that northbound 245 riders from Factoria will have to get off the bus at Eastgate and and get on a different 245 bus to continue north to Crossroads or Microsoft. I asked Metro for further explanation of this change and will update this post when they provide a response.
- Route 200, as predicted, is getting booted from Fred Meyer in Issaquah. Instead of serving Fred Meyer and the nearby Microsoft and Siemens offices, it will go up the hill to Issaquah Highlands P&R.
- RapidRide F southbound, and Route 167 in both directions, are being revised to use Park Av N between The Landing and downtown Renton.
- Sound Transit will have no significant changes to ST Express or Central Link service. (But stay tuned for welcome changes to Central Link in August.)