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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).

5 Replies to “Proposed Changes to the new 67 and 73”

  1. Re #2: I sent in my comments yesterday, and said I half thought the 67 should remain on 5th but I wasn’t 100% sure. If I’d known that you (a neighborhood resident) decisively preferred 5th, I would have been stronger for it. So I hope you sent your feedback to Metro as well as posting here.

    Re #4: There are insufficient service hours to run the 73 or 373 weekends. That’s not a minor adjustment but a whole route. Having a weekend routing for the 67 would be a hard sell; usually weekend routings are just for construction (49) or to save money (3/4). I could see people on 5th saying they don’t want to lose their service on weekends.

    1. Yeah, I’m definitely going to send an email to Metro and include a link to this.

      As far as #4, I agree that I doubt that there is the money for running the 73 on the weekend. I just throw that out there.

      A weekend routing for the 67, though, seems like a good compromise. I could see coming with a different number (say the 68) for that purpose. The current 68 (slated for removal) has a very similar routing (it winds around Northgate Way) so this would actually make a lot of sense. Only run the new 68 on the weekends, and the 67/73 on the weekdays. That is pretty easy to understand.

      There are examples everywhere (including many of the new routes) where routes simply disappear on the weekend. It seems to me that people have to get used to the fact that things change during the weekend. As far as people on the southern part of 5th are concerned, they are not losing weekend service, but gaining weekday service. The current proposal has absolutely nothing for them any day of the week. Like lots of other places in the city, if you stop at a particular bus stop, you might be disappointed to see that your bus is not coming today. You will have to walk to another bus stop. But otherwise people just roll with it and adjust (my nearest bus stop includes the 373 and the 77, neither of which runs on the weekend).

  2. I see your point, but I still believe the real destination is not the transit center, the businesses around Northgate, including the mall, Target, and Best Buy. These are unquestionably better served by the Roosevelt routing, and with the 73 gone on weekends, the transfers between the 67 and the 347/348 are also better with the Roosevelt routing. Meanwhile, those who live next to the transit center or want to reach the Group Health campus just south of the transit don’t need to ride the bus all the way around (although they certain can do so) – they can just get off the bus at Roosevelt and 100th St. or 103rd St. and walk.

    I also believe that separate weekday/weekend routing is confusing and will inevitably lead to people waiting at the wrong bus stop for a bus that is never going to show up, and that we should avoid doing this as much as possible.

    With regards to connections to the 40, 345, or 346, the Roosevelt routing is not nearly as bad as it looks. At worst, it would add about 5 minutes or so. In practice, most trips involving a connection between the 67 and to the 40 could be made more quickly by taking the E, 5, or some other bus south, then connecting to the 45, 44, or 16. Many of the remaining trips (those right on Meridian), you can simply walk from 5th and Northgate and avoid the transit center and that pesky connection completely.

    I have no doubt that when Northgate Station opens, the need to better serve the transit center will increase, and we can talk about adding a bus then – perhaps if the 73 ends up dying a quiet death (because it’s riders end up shifting to more frequent service on Roosevelt, regardless of what people say they will do now), or when routes like the 41, 76, 77 become obsolete, finding money to pay for services like this won’t be too difficult.

    1. You say that like walking between 5th and Roosevelt on 100th is easy. That is a very steep hill with no sidewalks coming up off of 5th avenue. 103rd is marginally better with some sidewalks and less of an incline.

      1. Yeah, I don’t understand your reasoning. Everyone is headed to the mall, but they can’t approach the mall from the other side, even though they would get there faster. At the same time, those headed to the south end of 5th will just walk. Huh? The big problem with the routing is that it isn’t straight. It curves around. It really isn’t a choice between two spots, but how you get there. In what world would someone drive that way? No one would leave the transit center then head north before heading south on Roosevelt. That is crazy, but that is what Metro will do, because apparently, they feel like everyone has all the time in the world and apparently they have oodles of service hours to spend on buses going around in loops.

        The amount of time spent on that section is not trivial. Traffic is really bad, and this will continue, if not accelerate (as more people move in). This will basically lead to five more years of “Screw Metro, it takes too damn long” and even “Hell, it was faster before — can you believe that?”.

        If you really believe that the destination is the Target (really — that is where everyone is headed?) then why do you think Metro ended at the transit center? Why not just turn around there, or better yet, just keep going on Northgate Way, then take a right on Meridian. The obvious reason is that it isn’t about the Target, or the mall at all. It is about the connections to the other buses and the biggest (by far) destination in the area, which is the college. That is why this is a “special bus”. That is why this is designed to run frequently. But now you are basically telling every student that they should spend an extra five or ten minutes taking a series of left turns (and waiting for traffic) before they can get to school. Like I said, they will just get a car. It is obvious that the city of Seattle (SDOT in particular) values speed. Funny how they spent a huge amount of money fixing that specific route (Northgate Way to 5th) but even they don’t want buses going that way. Somehow they know that route is slow, so there is no point in going that way (and there is nothing they can do about it — they’ve tried, but there is only so much you can do). Maybe they should clue in Metro.

        As for a different bus route on the weekend, there are literally dozens of buses that don’t run on the weekend. The 373 doesn’t. The 73 won’t. So this has a different routing — big deal. The 73 right now has three variations. There is the express, which skips Eastlake. There is the 73 to Cowen Park and then there is the 73 to Jackson Park. The last two happen at the same day at the same time of day! Talk about confusing. While waiting, you have no idea what the 73 does, until you actually see the sign on the bus (73 Cowen Park or 73 Jackson Park). This is way simpler. If folks are really confused, then just create another number for the weekend routing. That actually makes a lot of sense. From the north, it works like this:

        73 — Runs south along Roosevelt on weekdays only
        67 — Runs south from Northgate along 5th on weekdays only
        68 — Runs north from Northgate on 5th, then south on Roosevelt on weekends only

        This sounds really simple to me. It didn’t occur to me until Mike mentioned it. I would update this post, but I can’t (new rules for Page 2 blogging).

        But maybe I’m working myself up for nothing. Perhaps this is all part of a grand plan between Metro and the city. Build this run and you will soon have folks complaining about the time it takes to get from Northgate to Roosevelt (and the UW). Next thing you know, SDOT has a solution. They build a real BRT route connecting Northgate, Roosevelt, the UW, Eastlake and South Lake Union, with 5 minute frequency. Metro can keep this milk run, but cut down the frequency, and folks will just transfer. Or they can go back to trying to build a grid (Hint: You want buses to go the same general direction, not loop around).

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