Metro presented its new “Alternative 3″ U-Link restructure proposal. As part of that process, I would like to propose the following changes for the 67 and 73:
1) As David Lawson suggested, combine the 73 and 373 through the U-District.
2) Have the 67 use 5th Ave. NE, instead of Roosevelt Way, north of 80th and south of the transit center. This is the routing that the city is proposing for a new high speed corridor. A shorter, less congested route will make the connection between Northgate and Roosevelt much faster. This will, in turn, reduce the number of service hours necessary for this route, which can increase frequency on this (or other) buses.
A fast connection to Northgate Transit Center is important. This is a major connection point to other buses. For example, if you are traveling from Northwest Hospital to the UW Medical Center (both owned by UW Medicine) then you would use this bus. Likewise, if you are headed to North Seattle College from the UW. It makes sense to provide a fast, convenient connection between the very popular Northgate Transit Center, Roosevelt and the UW.
This isn’t without its drawbacks. There are probably more people along the currently proposed route. But I believe the difference is small, and not worth the substantial difference in distance (4.4 miles versus 5.5 miles). The distance isn’t the only problem. You have several turns in a very high traffic area. It is simply a lot quicker (and a lot more direct) to use the southern part of 5th. This area is not devoid of apartments or other destinations either. There are plenty of apartments and offices at the bottom of the hill (close to the transit center) as well as up on top (around 85th). Compared to the rest of the area (the transit center, the Roosevelt neighborhood or the UW) the number of additional people served by the currently proposed routing is small. It doesn’t make sense to slow down the bulk of riders just to serve a handful of additional people (while leaving out a different handful).
Of course, this would mean no service on Roosevelt Way through Maple Leaf. There would also be no weekend service on the northern part of Maple Leaf at all (on any street). Which is why I propose the following:
3) Move the 73 and 373 to Roosevelt Way. This routing has been used before — when the bridge over Thornton Creek on 15th was being repaired. This will, of course, slow down the 73, ever so slightly. But it is hard to justify slowing down a bus like the 67 so that the 73 can run faster, since the 67 is much more frequent. Since the 73 is slated to follow Roosevelt on the south end anyway (south of 65th), this routing will reduce the number of turns. This means that the speed difference will be minor, if there is one. Overall, the combination is much faster and much less congested.
4) Either make the changes to the 67 applicable on the weekdays only, or run the 73 on the weekend. Either way, you would get needed coverage for the north part of Maple Leaf. Having a weekend routing is nothing new. If you can’t find the service hours to run the 73 on the weekends, this is a good solution. The vast majority of riders on the 67 will only experience a delay, as opposed to a loss of service. Only those on the southern part of 5th (who are currently slated to have no service at all) are left out on the weekend. Those on Roosevelt Way would hardly notice the change (since the southern part of the 67 and 73 are very similar). Overall, it is less confusing than other changes for the weekend (such as a complete lack of service, which is common).