Metro bus near Northgate Transit Center

The King County Council will soon consider the restructure proposal that Metro submitted last week to take effect in March. They’ve set up an online form for public testimony on these changes. Our sources tell us that the initial comments from this tool, not widely publicized, are running heavily against any changes.

Most STB readers likely understand some basic principles of bus service planning. The University Link restructure enables higher frequency and easy trips to more locations by placing less emphasis on one-seat rides. It also leverages the enormous time advantage of transferring to U-Link from many parts of Northeast Seattle. During peak hours, most riders will still retain their direct buses if they so choose.

The rough STB staff consensus is that the Northeast Seattle changes are a huge step forward for transit connectivity and frequency. The Capitol Hill changes, while significantly watered down from a fantastic first draft, make some important improvements over the status quo for the 8, 11, 48, and 49.

Service changes of this magnitude are a huge organizational effort for Metro, and if the Council strangles this proposal it will only make Metro even more reluctant to rationalize the network County-wide. Moving this plan forward is critical to the system’s ability to improve in speed, efficiency, and usability.

So take a few moments to fill out the short form and tell the Council what you think about what Metro has done. It’s not clear what the deadline is, and there will be no new information, so do it now.

93 Replies to “ACTION ALERT: U-Link Restructure Feedback”

  1. Done. Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t notice anything about the comment form in the release last week, is it new? Was it publicized at all or only pointed out to those who complained (would explain why initial results were negative)?

    1. The “Save the Restructure” movement has begun.

      How did other people know about the comment form when we didn’t?

      1. This. It’s like the no-change-ever crowd has extrasensory ability to figure out any and all feedback opportunities, no matter how well hidden.

        I left my comments, focusing on how great the NE Seattle stuff is.

    2. Now that I’m explicitly looking for it, I do see a small link from the Link Connections page: “From this point forward, comments on these recommended changes should be directed to the King County Council. Learn more »”

      This definitely isn’t anywhere close to enough publicity to get a good cross-section of opinion. Thank you, Martin, for pointing this out.

  2. Will do later today, once I assemble my thoughts.

    When the form asks “Please write the bus route number(s),” I assume that’s all the routes I’m planning to talk about?

    1. Yeah, it’s quite clear that this was setup to gather complaints from people who don’t like their current route changing.

      1. I’m not one to complain about opportunities for online testimony. It gives us more equal footing with those who don’t need to take the day off from work, and bring their loud voices and pitchforks to the hearings. It enables us to engage more in a debate than a screaming match.

        Moreover, the testimony page was put up on August 24th, the day before the Executive’s announcement went live.

      2. The form says “Public Testimony” so It’s an alternative to the in-person testimony during hearings. Recent Metro hearings have gotten hundreds of speakers and it’s taken three or more hours to go through all of them, so it’s not surprising that the county wants to offer an alternative. However, an alternative is only effective if the public knows about it, so the county will have to do better about publicizing it. The name and address are required for all testimony for the public record, and the route number field is similar to those on several Metro feedback forms. People do want to categorize input by route for a lot of reasons, both good and bad. So it’s not just a conspiracy, other than the fact that public input in general tends to bias toward status quo preservation and against innovations. Because those who benefit from a change often don’t know about it until it happens, or they don’t live in the area yet.

      3. Why is complaining about a route change automatically a bad thing? Here on the eastside, I remember when the route 233 was changing into a new route called the 248. And the planners, at first, decided the 248, unlike the 233, would not serve the Bear Creek P&R. It would stay on Avondale road. But a lot of people complained because it was a further walk to stores like Target and Fred Meyer, and because if someone did want to go to the P&R to transfer, it would have been about a half mile walk. Metro listened to all the complains and very quickly had the 248 going to the P&R. Sometimes Metro planners make mistakes.

      4. It’s not “automatically” a bad thing. The reason the public-comment periods is to get input on travel patterns that Metro may not be aware of. So for instance, Pinehurst felt its service had been cut to unreasonable levels, and asked Metro to modify the restructure, and it did. On Capitol Hill, the problem is that there are too many people going in too many different directions for a limited number of service hours to accommodate all of them, so Metro has to choose which segments to prioritize.

        I don’t know about northeast Redmond’s travel patterns well, but the general problem with detouring into malls and P&Rs is that it slows down people who aren’t going there, and thus it slows down the general transit network and makes it less competitive with driving. In Redmond it may be true that most people are going to Target or the P&R, but in other cases it’s a myth. The same situation happens at Tukwila Intl Blvd Station, where the F detours into it rather than going past it. It’s only a 30-second walk from the street to the train entrance. But that detour takes some 2-3 minutes, which slows down an already-windy “rapid” ride. People do travel from Burien to Southcenter without getting off at TIB.

      5. About 10 years ago, I lived up on Avondale, at the tail of what was the 233, not the 248. I commuted to Microsoft. I gave the bus a try a couple of times, but ended up driving almost every day, the biggest reason being that the 233 wasted so much time going in and out of Bear Creek P&R (a 10+ minute detour to pick up an average of about 1 passenger per trip).

        Today, because of people like Sam, anyone living in that area is now subjected to that detour to go literally anywhere out of their home by public transit, at least during hours where the 232 isn’t running. While it’s still better than the old system (because at least the 232 runs during peak hours), it’s still enough of a turn-off to make transit virtually irrelevant.

  3. the changes for Capitol Hill are pathetic. They only benefit the core of Capitol Hill itself and DUPLICATE this precious link service Capitol Hill is receiving.

    That being said, the NE Seattle changes are reasonably good … although I asked that they switch the terminus of the 75 and the 65 (would prefer the 75 to loop at Husky Stadium instead of through-routing with the 32/33 on Stevens Way)

    1. What makes you say the Capitol Hill changes are duplicating Link? Are you talking about the 11/10/49 running between CHS and Westlake? I agree that’s too much service – the 49 should be sent down to Madison – but that shouldn’t scuttle the rest of the restructure.

      1. Gordon has been saying this since the restructure came out, and I still don’t understand it. The only route that duplicates Link — the 43 — would be canceled. The few other routes that are changing are changing to connect more easily with Link, not to “duplicate” it.

        He’s got a point that Metro missed a major opportunity to connect Link with First Hill by caving on the 49-Madison, but that is not nearly a good enough reason to get rid of the whole restructure.

      2. Well, there is some minor argument that the routes that run between CHS and Westlake are duplicating Link service, but that’s neither here nor there, given that a yes or no vote doesn’t change that corridor being overserved after U-Link opens. We’ll see how ridership develops, and there are always future opportunities to redeploy the overservice. At least those buses won’t be wasting their time sitting in a parking lot on I-5.

        It is a stretch to say route 43 duplicates Link service. That’s almost like saying Amtrak duplicates Southwest Airlines service from Seattle to Dallas.

      3. Should we also delete the 70 because it duplicates the 71/72/73X? A significant percentage of riders are going to Broadway and will switch to Link. But another percentage goes to the stops in between or beyond the station. That’s the reason for keeping the bus routes. Cutting their frequency in half would cause longer wait times and depress ridership. Long-term we should expect both that people will switch to Link and they’ll be replaced by other riders going to the other stops. That’s what happened on Swift and the 101: both routes gained ridership. It will probably happen with East Link and the B, and certainly on Capitol Hill. There’s also thousands of new apartments being built as we speak.

      4. I think it is more accurate to say route 43 duplicates routes 48 and 8 (in its current path). Route 48 will get a frequency bump. Route 8 hasn’t gotten as kind treatment in this process.

        Route 70 will get 15-minute headway (10- at peak) from 6 am to 1 am seven days a week. That has to be better than waiting for a 71/72/73 bus to show up at random times.

      5. The 43 doesn’t duplicate the 8 because the 8 doesn’t go downtown; they’re different transit markets. The only part they overlap in is trips between 23rd and Bellevue Ave. That’s the point of all this. Deleting the 43 would leave a potential hole, and the conservative answer is to keep the hole filled for now. A previous proposal did it with the 12; the current one does it with the 11. Those cause cascading impacts in other areas, which is what make the 12 and 11 reorgs so controversial. If we go back to the frequent 43, then the 48 doesn’t split and the 8 doesn’t either, and they lose their frequency improvements. If we go to a half-hourly 43 as in Alternative 2, then the route becomes practically useless because people don’t want to wait or be a slave to a schedule; it no longer fulfills that purpose that people want the 43 for so we might as well delete it.

    2. Alternative 1 was far superior to what we ended up with for Capitol Hill. Didn’t Reg, who has been one of the biggest crirics of Alt 1, say that each plan presented thereafter has only gotten worse? Would Reg go back to Alt 1, instead of the current plan, given the choice?

      But I’m still excited about the historic precedent of route 48 getting moved to Link frequency 6 days a week. And I’ll take 15-minute headway over the current 30-minute headway on the seventh day, too. That’s just one of a platoon of routes getting serious frequency bumps.

      And there is no excuse for holding up the northeast Seattle route restructure beyond March. Northeast Seattleites have waited for good bus connections to Link for years. I wish it could happen the day U-Link opens, instead of March.

      1. Mike, as I’ve said before, I agree with you about keeping the Route 43.

        1. It does not “duplicate LINK”, anymore than the Route 8 does on MLK. Both places, LINK is express, buses mentioned are local.

        2. Timed transfers have their place- mainly at either transit centers or LINK stations. Or shopping complexes of any size, providing shelter, bathrooms, and amenities like coffee shops.

        But street corners? Until every bus route involved has reserved lanes and signal pre-empt, a timed transfer is a wish that cannot ever be a promise.

        3. My three-column balance sheet- with its notorious-color column for capital bought but left unused.

        Especially when hanging in plain sight. If Capitol Hill gets gentrified enough that Dori Monson isn’t afraid to go there, he’ll be screaming and pointing to it every broadcast.

        4. Suggestion: don’t take down the wire until the 48 gets wired, as I think is planned. Never know when any trolley route will need a diversion or a turn-back.

        Mark Dublin

    3. “11/10/49 running between CHS and Westlake? I agree that’s too much service – the 49 should be sent down to Madison”

      It’s a precautionary conservative move to not downgrade either John or Pine until we see how the station actually affects trip patterns. In principle I agree with pushing Pine service out to John and Madison, or consolidating John service on Pine, but the back of my mind says, “What if Metro underestimated this corridor? Then you’d have something that looks good on paper but not so well on the ground.” Likewise, I hesitate on the 49-Madison because a frequent Madison route should go further east than Broadway.

      And for those who say the reorg is reducing service to some block east of CHS, I have to say that the part west of CHS is more critical. East of CHS affects only those who go there, while west of CHS affects everybody who goes near Capitol Hill, which is a lot more people, and where ridership losses due to over-downgrading a street would have a bigger impact on the network and transit’s mode share. This again is why I’ve asked Metro to review Capitol Hill in 2017 or 2018 to see how well the reorg is doing and how siginficant any holes are, and whether it’s OK to now downgrade either John or Pine.

    4. Brent,

      I think the weekday frequency bump on the 8 to 12 minute headways and some of the frequency changes to 10 minute headways on the 48 are as a result of this proposal. But all the changes to the Route 70 frequency and the 48 evening/Sunday frequency are as a result of Prop 1 this September. I guess my question is if that single limited change to the 8 and the bump in 48 frequencies are worth the cancelation of the 43 given there are hardly any other changes on Capitol Hill. I sort of like Mike’s approach, where some of the questionable parts of the restructuring are held off on until after U Link opens to see how travel patterns are altered.

      1. The frequency change to the 49 is also part of this proposal and will not happen without it.

      2. I also failed to mention the split of route 38 from route 8, making both more reliable, and making it easier to add more frequency to route 8. If I could change one thing about the Capitol Hill restructure, it would be to put route 8 back on John west of Madison, and plow whatever savings there are into decreasing peak headway. I will be surprised if that route is not beyond capacity from Day One of the restructure. We should listen to Danny Westneat (but only this once). I also hope the City can scrounge up a little more funding to get route 8 up to 10-day mid-day frequency, not only for a timed transifer with Link, but for a timed transfer with route 48, to make the elimination of route 43 essentially pain-free.

        If the City has to beg South Lake Union businesses to throw in some funds, do it!

      3. To be clear, my approach means accepting the proposed changes. The radical parts are those beyond it.

    5. Gordon – the problem of swapping the 65 and 75 does with the 64 and 74. If the 65 is thru routed with 31/32, then it loses the connection with LINK (Husky Stadium Stop), thus the 64 would have remain going to downtown instead of serving SLU/FH. The 74 already serves downtown, so portions of Sand Point Way still have access to downtown, hence the 75 does not have to serve the Husky Stadium Stop directly.

  4. Testimony submitted.

    I only listed the routes I was highlighting, and focused on frequency improvements. I am a little concerned that a detracting councilmember could sort the testimony by route number and say “See! Nobody likes what is planned for this route!”

    The reality is that if the council does nothing, thousands of hours of bus service will be wasted sitting in traffic on I-5 instead of providing neighborhood service. Voting No in order to defend this or that piece of neighborhood service would have the opposite effect of that intended.

    1. 1 hour commute today via I-5 express bus from north Seattle.

      Watched a crush-loaded, steamy 76 beside me.

      How many of those people would rather be riding Link? All of them, even if they think otherwise now.

      1. But route 76 will have twice as many runs after next March, if the Council votes Yes. And there will be twice the frequency on routes 65, 67, and 372, which cross route 76’s neighborhood tail.

        Those riders are getting the belt, the suspenders, and the Sansabelt slacks.

      2. The tail of the 76 may actually get downtown faster by taking the 78 to Link, even when the 76 is running. The reason is that the 76 gets extremely crowded and stops at just about every block to load up passengers. The I-5 express lanes also experience regular congestion approaching downtown. From 65th/25th, it’s about 30 minutes to Westlake Station, which would mean about 40-45 minutes from the 76’s tail in Wedgwood.

        By contrast, the 78 would likely carry a “hidden express” element, as most of the riders along Sand Point Way would end up being poached by the 65 or 75, while in Lauralhurst, the 78 will probably blow by nearly all of the stops without actually stopping (who rides the bus in Lauralhurst anyway). Of course, the UW campus would still be a crawl, but if you can get from 70th/50th to Ranier Vista within 30 minutes, you can probably walk over to Link and still get to Westlake at parity with today’s 76, but with less crowds and a chance to get up and stretch your legs in the middle of the trip. Once the 76 is removed from the tunnel, the 78/Link connection starts to look like the superior option.

        Of course, simply getting on a bike and riding the Burke-Gilman trail to Link would probably be even faster than the 78.

      3. Depending on where you are starting from in North Seattle I don’t think one can assume that taking a bus to the Stadium drop off point, getting down to the Link platform, waiting for and then getting on the light rail for the ride to downtown is going to be a speedy and efficient alternative to taking an express bus, even in rush hour traffic.

        Take for example the new route 67. Metro says it’ll take 30-40 minutes to get from Northgate to the Stadium drop off point. Once you get dropped off somewhere by the stadium I’m (optimistically) assuming it’ll be ten minutes to get to the station and on a light rail car for the eight minute ride downtown. I think it’s safe to assume it’ll consistently take 45 minutes to get downtown.

        I get that Metro is trying to funnel people to the Stadium light rail station. That makes sense within a certain radius, maybe from maybe NE 80th Street southward? Depending on where you are coming from in NE Seattle the fastest way downtown is still going to be via the Northgate Transit center. Just as the airlines say the closest exit may be behind you, sometimes the fastest way downtown is to go north to the Northgate Transit center and then take the 41 express bus from there.

        I hope Metro is planning on restoring bus routes (i.e. current 66/67) back to the Northgate transit center come 2021 when the light rail finally makes it that far.

      4. “And there will be twice the frequency on routes 65, 67, and 372, which cross route 76’s neighborhood tail.”

        I would have posted sooner, but was still recovering from the 52(!) hour power outage in NE Seattle from the weekend’s windstorm. A bit of pedantry about the 372. While it technically is doubling in frequency, since the 68 and 72 are both being cancelled, the frequency along 25th Ave NE and Lake City Way isn’t actually increasing since it’s every 15 minutes on weekdays already.

        Also, I wish Metro would stop calling it the 372X in its proposals. You can’t have an express bus if there’s no more local buses to compare it to. By my rough estimate, there’s 9 stops between 125th St and 55th St that would be deleted completely if the 68 and 72 go away and the 372 stays express (ignoring a little rush hour service on the 312) So why not just have the 372 become a local bus making all stops along Lake City Way and 25th Ave?

    2. The reality is that if the council does nothing, thousands of hours of bus service will be wasted sitting in traffic on I-5 instead of providing neighborhood service. Voting No in order to defend this or that piece of neighborhood service would have the opposite effect of that intended.

      100% this.

  5. People are upset with the Capitol Hill changes (and justifiably so) because they don’t do much to improve (or even change) the network.

    But lost in all of that is an important fact, the changes do improve frequency.

    Don’t forget, when thinking about the changes, that they would result in the following improvements:

    8: 15 to 12 minutes
    11: 30 to 15 minutes
    48: 15 to 10 minutes
    49: 15 to 12 minutes

    1. The 10 also gets a big bump in service nights & weekends, from 30 to 15 minutes, while the 12 gets slightly more frequency at night and a slightly longer span of service every day. It’s just too bad that neither will connect anyone to Link any better than they do today.

      1. “It’s just too bad that neither will connect anyone to Link any better than they do today.”

        If a route drops me three blocks from a Link station, but runs twice as frequently as it used to, that definitely qualifies as connecting people to Link better, in my book. Yes, it could be better still, if the routes went right by the station (assuming it didn’t add enough time to the trip to counteract the transfer penalty from walking three blocks).

      2. Why would you get off the 10 and walk 0.4 miles down to Broadway to catch Link when you could just stay on the 10 and get a one-seat ride to downtown? If you’re going somewhere other than downtown, transfer at Westlake.

    2. The 10’s increase already occurred, and 11 and 12’s increase is in September. Those are with or without the reorg. The ones with 12 minutes and 10 minutes I’m not sure about; I think they come from deleting the 43 so they’re dependent on the reorg.

      1. Mike,

        I think this is what the key issue is for wider public support of the Link restructure, frequency. Prop 1 has improved frequencies to a point where many of these changes have no difference in the number of buses per hour on major corridors. That’s not to say these aren’t good changes but in many areas, there are no visible improvements. I think many in Northeast Seattle would be satisfied if the hours going to spilt routes went instead to weekend 30 minute service on the 73/78. That will fill many of the gaps in coverage and access to U Link. But as most on here have said, the Northeast Seattle improvements are pretty great besides the plain stupidity of keeping the 31/32/75/372x on campus in both directions. As far as Capitol Hill goes, these changes don’t really do much of anything useful. Without the network proposed in Alternative 1, it appears that the current system might actually be better for U Link connectivity than these changes. With alternative 1, I was dead set on eliminating the 43 but now I almost see it as improving connections to/from Capitol Hill Station. It’s not like the 48 isn’t getting a frequency boost this September anyhow.

    3. I think in practice, the details of Capitol Hill network will matter a lot less than people think it will. Pretty much everyone with half a mile of the Link Station (in some cases, as much as a mile) will just walk to Link. It’s only the single-family home areas on the outskirts of Capitol Hill where the walking distance to Link is enough to make the frequency of the bus really important.

    4. I think in general — not just in Capitol Hill — that is my chief complaint. It improves the network a bit, just not as much as it should. In other words, it isn’t as much of a grid as I would like, but it is a step in the right direction. I applaud Metro for taking it, especially since the U-Link project isn’t a line that begs for bus route changes. Conventional wisdom, on this blog as well as the streets, was that little would be done to funnel people to Husky Stadium. Unlike the U-District station, it was very problematic from a truncation standpoint. But Metro took a very aggressive restructuring, which will help things.

      Capitol Hill was doomed from the start. The fault lies with Sound Transit, not Metro, however. You just can’t plop in a single station (with no concern about the cross streets) and tell Metro to just deal with it. They did, but folks don’t like a lot of the ideas. For many it will work out much better, but others, not so much.

      As for me, personally, I will have to check the smart phone now to decide where to stand. I used to just stand on the Ave and wait for a 73 or 373, but now they run on different streets through the U-District. If I’m impatient, I could catch the 67, which gets me fairly close to my house. Except that it runs on a third street through the U-District. I suppose I could take the 62, and “meet them at the pass” so to speak (at 65th, where at least two of the buses converge). I’ll have to figure out if that costs me time (it might be the opposite and be faster).

      Overall, it is hard to figure out what the theme is with these changes. I think it is a mix. It is much more of a grid, but of course, the grid is not consistent. Along with the buses going to essentially the same spot but running on different streets, the bus routes aren’t very linear. Rather than focus on bus speed, the routes deviate to get a few more passengers. With the 62, that might be fine — maybe that bus is reasonably fast and at least it keeps heading the same general direction. For the 67 I think it is a lost opportunity. For every rider it picks up along the tortured route it takes, there will be riders on connecting buses who just give up on the system altogether (and drive).

      But anyway, I never went into this much detail on the comments (too late at this point). I gave them a one sentence summary: I like the changes overall and want them implemented.

  6. Anyone know what the rules are for commenting if you no longer live in Seattle? The form is asking for an address.

    1. Do you still live in the area? If so, I’d just put my current address. (Especially if it’s in King County – this is, after all, the county council.)

    2. It’s King County Metro, and anybody who works, shops, attends school, or does social or cultural activities in the area, or has family or goes to parks there, is part of the transit market.

  7. Done – asked them to eliminate the 19th Ave jog on the 8 and 11 (stay on John from 15th to Madison) and thanked them for the increased freq on #11

    1. That returns it to the last alternative, the unpublished one that Reg N has been ranting against. The 8 can “stay” on John because it’s already there, but the 11 would be “moving to John”.

      1. Precisely – I could have written that somewhat more clearly. Reg speaks for very, very few here in Madison Park. I ride the 11 at least 5 and often 6 days a week at various times. The numbers alighting between 23rd and 15th are very few except at 19th to change to the 12. Likewise, eastward on Madison, there are a number of folks who board at 17th and again at 22nd but very few at 18th, 20th or 23rd. Having both both 8 and 11 routed on John will inconveninece only a small handful of Madison Park residents each day while improving access to Group Health, Link and Broadway.

      2. Madison BRT is in planning, but its implementation depends on the Move Seattle vote in November, and that may not be full funding because the ST3 project list also has an item for it. Even if these pass, we don’t know when it would start construction and finish, or how many new operation hours it will get, or whether the hours will have to be taken from the 11 and 12.

  8. Put in my very supportive comments for NE Seattle and made ’em well written and quotable. Looking forward to using the 372, 65, 75, and new 62!

    1. I’m very impressed with the proposed changes to the bus network in NE Seattle. Just the improved frequency is enough to make me want this proposal to go through, but the focus on utilizing connections helps even more. I’d rather transfer between two frequent routes than have to plan my trips around when the one-seat ride bus will actually show up (every 30 minutes or 60 minutes, currently). It’s much more freeing to be able to walk out the door whenever you’re ready to leave, head to the bus stop, and catch the next bus that shows up, rather than figuring out when the bus should show up and hoping it will continue to be on that same schedule (instead of becoming even more late or suddenly catching up in its schedule).

      I noticed they changed the new 16 to 62 — probably a pretty good choice.

  9. Not that supportive of the changes that would affect my commute–the 16 will be MUCH slower for those that depend on it commuting between Wallingford and Downtown. I guess there’s always the E Line. Yes, it’s better for people that live in Fremont center, but will add travel time for me.

    1. There’s also the all-day 26X on 40th Street. But, yes, there’re sadly some losers with this change, just like there’re winners.

    2. Yeah, in an ideal world, there would be a few peak trips on a short “16 Express” just covering the part of the route between downtown and Greenlake. Particularly in the evening, Dexter’s not all that fun.

      1. The 26’s “slightly different route through Wallingford” misses almost all of Wallingford — and, in most cases, is down a steep hill from it. There is a role for a faster peak-hour bus between downtown and actual Wallingford, not just its SFH far southern and eastern edges.

      2. Yeah–I agree that the 16 has tons of issues north of Wallingford, but as it stands now is a pretty direct shot from Wallingford to Downtown. The E Line is fine for me personally–unless I want to put my bike on the bus (try carrying it down stairs and then being forced to bike on N 46th…Oy).

        I’m a fan of most of the changes, but the 26 is not a great option for most I think. Agree with the points about it missing most of Wallingford (center).

      3. A fast bus like a 16x would be great for those who don’t want to slog through Wallingford, Fremont, and South Lake Union. Or an all-day route like the peak-hour 316.

      4. If you’re talking about people north of Wallingford, the new all-day 26x seems exactly what you’re looking for.

      5. One idea that was proposed at one of the Sounding Board meetings was to modify the 26 to take Wallingford Ave. north all the way to 45th, then head east along 45th to Latona/Thackary before resuming the existing route 26. This would leave central Wallingford with the option of both an express to downtown and a local to Fremont/Dexter.

        The only problem with the idea (and probably big reason why it went nowhere) was that it would leave a stretch of 40th just west of I-5 with no bus to downtown, even though they would still have service on the 31 and 32. If the 31 and 32 could be modified to take a direct path down Pacific St. to the Link Station (avoiding campus parkway and Stevens Way), the idea could almost work as, even with the connection, a trip to downtown would likely be faster than today’s route 26, and when the 31 is running, it would also be more frequent. But, in the real world, such a routing would require that the bus take southbound Montlake to thru-route with the 75, which would make for unreliable service, plus piss off riders headed to upper campus, rather than downtown. Meanwhile, with the existing route, the twists and turns through campus, plus the extra walk necessitated by those twists and turns, takes up too much time. So, the idea was abandoned.

      6. I like the idea of changing the 31/32 route. You wouldn’t have to go southbound on Montlake to thru-route with the 75. You could do like the new 73, which swings by the stadium heading east, but runs through campus heading west. That would essentially expand the gap that currently exists between east and west bound.

        Or you just live with the current routing in the U-District. Those on the new 73 can handle the transfer — it seems like those on the 31/32 can as well.

        Those who want to avoid a transfer after getting off the train can walk the (very scnenic) path to the bus. Those that don’t can catch any number of buses and then catch the 31/32 as they cross.

        One advantage of the current routing (over expanding the gap) is that it is a bit better for transfers. For example, I would take the 31/32 from Fremont, then take the 73 or 373 from there. Under the current routing it is great. If the 31/32 mimicked the 73 (westbound on Pacific, eastbound through campus) it requires a bit more walking to make that transfer. Not terrible, but not ideal.

        I have no idea which is faster. I would guess that the route the new 73 is taking is fastest (assuming it connects to another bus). Personally, I favor speed over saving a couple blocks of walking. I would say the lack of consideration for speed as well as the lack of interest in consolidating similar paths is the biggest weakness with this set of changes. Overall, I like them, but having a bus (the 67) make button hook turns in congested traffic is not good for anyone. Having three buses (the 67, 73 and 67) run on three different streets even though they overlap a general service area (UW to Roosevelt) is not good either. I can’t help but think that in both cases, they were overly concerned about convenience — forcing people to either make a transfer or walk a couple blocks. A valid concern, but sometimes (as they’ve shown in other ways) you should sacrifice a little of that for a faster, more frequent network.

  10. I know this is very much the unpopular position, but I truly believe that the radical restructuring in Northeast Seattle is premature. Montlake and Pacific is a lousy place to transfer, all the time. During the day it’s overwhelmed by traffic, and at night its windy and far from anywhere inviting.

    Every person transferring to a bus there will be crossing Montlake, either on the skybridge or at the light. Neither will be quick. Yes, Metro and the City are doing their damndest to make the transfers work as well as possible, but it’s just a bad place for them.

    I realize that without this restructuring Link ridership is likely to be a disappointment, and that might hurt next year’s vote; the nay-sayers will be out in force if ridership is 80% of forecast or less. But forcing many people to ride out of direction and then change in that noisy, rather dangerous place, is not going to help ridership either.

    I have not responded to the survey because there are plenty of other people who are saying the same thing, and I don’t live in King County any longer. So I don’t want to influence the vote. But the facts on the ground say “Not yet”.

    1. Those “rides out of direction” will in most cases be faster than the chugs along Eastlake they’re replacing.

      Also, think about what your position implies… it implies keeping 30-minute service through *all* of Northeast Seattle, no exceptions until you get clear up to 125th.

      1. David,

        I honestly don’t think that most of Northeast Seattle really needs FS bus. It’s all SFH except for a few nodes which, yes, should be linked more frequently. The SFH’s cost so much that both adults are working 45 hours a week to pay for them; they’re not around to take the bus in the middle of the day.

        There are four routes which ought to be FS: Northgate to the hospital (and Link of course) via Roosevelt, Lake City Way down 25th to Link, the hospital and U district (more 372), Lake City to Northgate and downtown (the 41), and Magnuson Park to Link, the hospital and U District. Two of them already are FS, and I can’t see why the hours from the least used of the 7X’s (the 72) can’t be diverted to make the FS 372. Just run 73 and 71 expresses to downtown and let the 72 which has the best access to Link of the three routes be foreced.

        But fifteen minute service on 65th before Roosevelt Station opens? Why? Fifteen minute service on 35th? Why? Fifteen minute service north of Magnuson? Why?

        When Link goes all the way to Northgate, sure, force transfers to and from it for the remaining 7X’s, either at Roosevelt of Brookly. Brooklyn, 65th and 12th and Northgate TC are all perfectly good places to transfer (though they really should have spent another $15 million and put an underground tunnel to the south side of 65th; it’s what subways do).

        But Montlake and Pacific not a good place and never will be. There will be large numbers of people crowding into the narrow sidewalk on the west side of Montlake. Buses will clog each other unmercifully because the traffic is too thick to allow one at the back of the queue to pull out and pass others ahead of it. Think how the bus clusters in the tunnel are limited by the slowest member. The same thing will happen at the Triangle Garage. The elevator is great for differently abled people, but it’s not a solution for the huge numbers of riders who have to transfer. They’ll have to take the rather circuitous walk to the middle of the Triangle to get to the walkway.

        There are just a lot of anti-rider elements there. A lot.

      2. If you’ve ever actually been on the 71/72/73 during the Eastlake crawl, you’d prefer the new network. If you’ve ever been passed by a 71/72/73 with no room for you, you’d prefer the new network. If you’ve ever waited 20+ minutes in the tunnel for a 71/72/73 that’s supposed to come every 10 minutes on paper, watching 3+ Link trains go by in the process, you’d prefer the new network. If you ever take transit between Northeast Seattle and the airport, where, one way or another, you’d have to transfer to Link anyway, you’d prefer the new network. Because even with a few minutes walk between bus and train, it still beats the unreliable, low-frequency hour-long slog of today.

      3. asdf,

        Many or most of the people crowding onto the 7X’s along the Ave walked there from campus. They’ll be walking the other direction to Husky Stadium from the day that Link opens. It’s obviously superior for someone anywhere on the Upper Campus, even near 15th NE.

        That will mean that crowding will vanish from 7X’s which might continue to run downtown.

        Obviously, we’ll see what happens next March. I predict that mid-day bus ridership from north of the campus will fall until North Link reaches Northgate and the other three stations open. Then people will be willing to make the transfers and will come back. Remember that the area being served is very affluent. The people living there have choices; few are “transit dependent”.

      4. While I sympathize with your general statement (this is too radical a change given the geography of the new stations) I completely disagree with the idea that the north end is all SFH, except for a few nodes. I live in a SFH area, and it is ridiculously sparsely populated. It makes SFH areas like Fremont or Wallingford look like Brooklyn. The lots are way too big, to put it mildly.

        Yet just a couple blocks away from the houses are several apartment buildings. A bit further down there are a bunch more. This explains the dark colors on the census maps ( Neither Northgate nor Lake City, but something in between (Pinehurst). Perhaps that is one of the nodes you meant. Fair enough. But in general, there are plenty of people in various areas, not just in the big nodes.

        For most of them, the reason they drive is simple: bus service isn’t that good. It is fine for getting downtown, and OK to the U-District, but other than that, not that good. But even service to the U-District it isn’t great. That is probably the biggest step in the right direction here — service to the UW will be better. Not only is the UW a huge destination for the area, but it serves as a major transit crossroads. From Fremont to Northgate, for example, could involve a transfer in the U-District. But that route only makes sense if the transfer penalty is minor. Higher frequency gets us closer to that. What is true for Northgate is true for Roosevelt. The greater Roosevelt area is large (especially on the west side of the freeway) and booming (on the east side of the freeway). It is reasonable to assume that folks want a fast, frequent connection to the second biggest urban center in the state (the UW).

        Time will tell, of course. Some of these buses may be quite empty when the dust settles. I hope not. But more to the point, I hope that folks don’t draw the wrong conclusion if they are. There are small flaws in the structure in my opinion, and often the little things make a difference. If the buses aren’t as popular as we hope, then I hope people conclude that some of the flaws caused the problem, not that the area was inappropriate for a well functioning grid.

      5. I have still seen no rational explanation for why there isn’t an underground passage direct from the mezzanine of University of Washington station *into* the triangle, rather than the insane up-and-over route which they are building.

    2. Riders on buses passing by/near the station won’t have several minutes added to their trip looping through a parking lot. But bus stops are being moved to minimize walking distance to the station. For buses pulling up along the west side of Montlake along the Rainier Vista planter strip, there is an elevator up to the pedestrian bridge.

      WSDOT has bent over backwards to try to smoothe the path for buses.

      Again, hours saved from moving service off of the I-5 slog is a primary ingredient of dramatically increasing frequency on a long list of bus routes.

    3. I think it is a trade-off, and not an obvious one. You are not alone in thinking that this is premature. I think most people thought it was when Metro started the process. We assumed that there would be little change, since the Husky Stadium station is so awkward from a bus transfer standpoint. But we were wrong — Metro proposed a fairly dramatic set of changes.

      While I have concerns about some of the changes (voiced above) I think in general it is a solid step in the right direction. I’m not convinced that it will make getting to downtown much easier, but I think our bus system is too focused on getting downtown. If you ask the average person on the street about Metro, they will say the same thing — it is great for going downtown, but terrible otherwise. I think this will change now, if this is implemented. Overall, I think that is a good thing.

      I think there is also a subtle political process occurring. I’ve been meeting with some folks to discuss the station at NE 130th. I mentioned that I find Sound Transit’s attitude towards that station infuriating. It is such an obvious station from a transit network standpoint, but ST has dragged their feet on it. Someone mentioned that there is some history behind this. Metro said they were going to change the routes in response to Central Link, but didn’t. Sound Transit felt burned, and now is hesitant to build stations (or routes) based on promises of restructures. An apples and oranges comparison perhaps — and maybe a big exaggeration of the attitudes of the board members (this is all gossip) — but not a crazy idea. Now perhaps the pendulum has swung the other direction. You have two stations that clearly have not been designed for bus transfers at all (despite being good stations) but Metro is talking about redoing every route in the area in response to it. This may give Sound Transit confidence in Metro, and mean that the NE 130th station gets built sooner. It may (and this is a stretch) allow them to focus more on building light rail that complements the bus service, with the confidence that the bus service will actually be delivered.

      I will say that even though I liked this piece, the one part I disagree with is the idea that this will make Metro hesitant to make changes later. I don’t buy that. If U-Link included the U-District, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The restructures would be a lot easier, and the advantages for the average rider so much greater that it would be obviously worth it. When Link gets to the U-District (and Roosevelt and Northgate) there will of course be a major restructure. The big question is how things will be in the next five years. Overall, I think this will make it better, but it is close. Frankly, the trade-offs are so complex that I trust the opinion of folks like David, who have looked at it in great detail (not that you haven’t). But if the worse part of this is that some people spend a few extra minutes transferring to Link, I can live with that, knowing that service within the north end will be much better.

      1. This, especially 130th.

        I also think the reverse – that 145th is over-proportionally popular with Sound Transit because they can control all elements around it. No problem getting the 522 white bus to connect with the white Link choo choo at 145th.

        No green, teal, or purple bus needed to make friends with as it would be with 130th.

        In light of this, the proposed 522 85th stop is also a win; its possible that ST and Metro can use this knit themselves closer together and build some trust.

      2. I agree baselle. The stop at 85th is long overdue, and does suggest a little more cooperation between the two agencies.

        I think you may be on to something with regards to 145th. I would argue that 130th makes sense anyway. After all, Lake City represents a very high percentage of the ridership on the existing 522. I’m sure it is even bigger for folks headed north in the morning or middle of the day (headed to UW Bothell)

        But in defense of Sound Transit, 145th is a shorter route. If you ignore Metro bus routes, it seems like a bit of a tossup. But when you consider the overall network, then 130th is the winner. That being said, I’m really not that concerned with the routing of the new 522 as long as NE 130th is built. If the 522 goes to 145th, so be it. This would simply mean that the new 41 (as I’m calling it) is extended to 145th. So basically, the new 41 would start at 145th and Lake City Way, head south to 125th, then west to the station and keep going until Greenwood Avenue. Such a bus would be a great candidate for BRT. You have a combination of high population density (along Lake City Way) and moderate density in other areas (Pinehurst and Bitter Lake) along with a fantastic set of connecting transit routes (Link, Aurora, Greenwood Avenue). Even the minor connection points would be great. For example, a bus along 35th NE (serving Wedgewood) or Sand Point Way would converge on Lake City. This means someone from the north end of Lake City (close to 145th) would take the new 41 to Lake City, then transfer to get to Wedgewood or Sand Point. A bus like this would have huge ridership, and very frequent service would be warranted. I could see that bus running every couple minutes.

        Which means that folks at the north end of the lake who want to see a bus go to 145th should be careful what they ask for. Such a bus would not run that often, because it wouldn’t have the end to end ridership that the new 41 would. But they might be able to leverage the overall huge ridership of the other route to get a lot more frequency.

      3. I hope you’re right and that the aggressive bus system restructure convinces ST to build 130th Station.

        I have my doubts, however, given that we discovered that the wacky the ST ridership model assumes that nobody is riding the buses at all.

    4. I truly believe that the radical restructuring in Northeast Seattle is premature.

      Last night I went to visit a friend, who is visiting from Seattle. They are staying in Northwest Portland.

      It took me an hour to get there.

      Half an hour of this was spent going about 12 miles on MAX.

      The other half an hour was spent in the last mile, slogging through traffic on a local bus route that feeds MAX.

      This would have been vastly worse had the local bus route not been altered to get closer to a MAX station.

      Link may not be a teleporter from the Husky Stadium Parking Lot to downtown, but it might as well be compared to local bus service. If such a huge speed improvement suddenly becomes available, it does a disservice to those who have suffered through decades of slow bus service to not deliver them to a place where they have a chance to take advantage of the vastly faster service. Before the Link station opens, there is very little need to deliver anyone to that particular location. It’s an underground parking structure and a stadium that gets used once in a while. With the Link station, this now becomes a regionally important place just because it is probably about 10 minutes from downtown Seattle. Once that station opens, parts of the University of Washington will be closer to downtown Seattle than South Lake Union, in terms of travel time.

      When the transportation infrastructure changes that much, passengers expect there to be some way for them to leverage that infrastructure. The station is in a highly inconvenient location, but even there it alters the landscape pretty severely.

      1. Glenn,

        You are of course correct about the potential for game-changing reliability improvements with Link. But the bus transfers as designed by ST are orders of magnitude less convenient than those MAX provides, except at 82nd where it makes the same mistake that’s happening at Roosevelt. Everywhere on Westside MAX the bus interchange is excellent.

        Many people on STB begged ST to extend the mezzanine westward under Montlake to the garage wall, but they refused. Had they done so the path from the train platform to the sidewalk there would have been three levels and a hundred and fifty yards shorter. But apparently the “construction impacts on traffic” of such an obvious “subway-style” improvement were unacceptable to Sound Transit.

        Yes, the skybridge is certainly better than nothing and is fine for people headed to campus and even the hospital. It’s out of the way to UWMC, but with the availability of the garage underpass, it’s separated from traffic all the way.

        It’s almost like the planners at ST really would prefer to work for the highway department and hope if they tug their forelocks enough avoiding inconveniencing the autoistas in any way, the Highwaymen will let them join their club some day. In every place they put a station they’ve put it on one side of the arterial street along which it’s traveling. So, people transferring to or from buses in one or the other direction always have to cross that major arterial.

        That’s not the “subway way”; you either put the station box directly under the street with entrances on both sides or you build an underground walkway to the “away” side. That is subway design 101; you DON’T make people cross the street at grade if it can in any way be avoided.

        But every Sound Transit station built and planned except the at-grade ones in the middle of MLK does so.

        They’re even placing the Roosevelt station on the “wrong side” of one-way 12th NE so in both directions people transferring to and from buses on Lake City Way or Roosevelt to the north will have to cross the street unless the bus “live loops” on NE 66th or 67th. Maybe that’s the “secret plan”, but the “60% Design Document” trumpets “Connections to buses on NE 65th St, 12th Ave NE and Roosevelt Way NE” on the cover, with no mention of curbside access to the station.

        NE 66th appears to be dedicated to “Kiss’N’Ride” in the street level plan maps, but there is an unidentified “dark blob” along the southside curb on 67th which MIGHT be a bus zone. One of the illustrations (confusingly) shows a bus stopped on 66th right in the eastbound “three minute stop” zone. So maybe there’s some hope that Metro will use 67th or 66th to get people to the station without crossing streets every time. But it’s not certain.

        Oh, belay that, the “unidentified dark blob” is the ghost of the station box under the street; there are no “reserved spaces” on 67th. Apparently all bus service will be on Roosevelt, 12th or NE 65th only. So everybody crosses the street over and over and over.

        Back to Husky Stadium Station, so far as service to the upper campus, sure, students will walk. They walk between classes; they walk to lunch in the U-District. Walking is “whatever” for them. But the choice riders of Northeast Seattle will be offended by this very unpleasant and even dangerous transfer.

      2. This is a temporary situation (the UW Stadium station being a transit hub of sorts) for five years until Link gets to Northgate in 2021.

        One thing I haven’t seen talked about is all the bus routes (over 100 according to the Seattle Times) that use the bus tunnel. They are all going to be booted out to the surface streets in downtown next year. There are relatively few people going to the UW Stadium on the light rail in comparison to all the people on all those buses. Their commutes are going to get a whole lot worse!

      3. “Many people on STB begged ST to extend the mezzanine westward under Montlake to the garage wall, but they refused.”

        Can anyone figure out WTF was going on there? There is precisely zero excuse for not doing this, unless there’s an enormous storm sewer in the way or something, which nobody has claimed.

        I mean, it can always be retrofitted afterwards, AND IT SHOULD BE. Put “direct mezz-Triangle connection” into the ST3 projects list and vote down ST3 if it isn’t done. There’s nothing in the current list more useful.

        Also, everything else Anandakos said. Deliberately mislocating all the stations so that people have to cross the street to get to them… it’s really deranged. The cost of the extra pedestrian crossings is very low as a percentage of the overall cost of the project, but it’s been necessary to fight even to get a crossing over *I-5*.

        It would be unwise to support any further Sound Transit projects until some heads are kicked in and the management is replaced with people who understand Metro Station Design 101. ‘Cuz this is ridiculous; they’ve seriously made this error on every single station except the ones on MLK? Yowza.

      4. Can anyone figure out WTF was going on there?

        The University of Washington doesn’t care about anyone going anywhere else.

        And Sound Transit folds over the moment they come up against opposition.

      5. ST can’t tell the UW what to do because it’s a higher level of government. The UW was apparently concerned about a greater security burden if non-hospital/non-UW people are in the tunnel.

      6. Um, riiiiight. Is there something really weird about your state legal system? Under most state legal systems, a transit authority like Sound Transit could eminent-domain the land away from the U of W (yes, even though it’s a state university).

    5. @anadakos I totally disagree the revisions will not function well and will result in reduced ridership. I am certain their will considerable growth in ridership. It will be interesting to see how it all works though. Time will tell.

      1. I would assume funneling everyone in NE Seattle to the UW Stadium is temporary (if you can consider five years as “temporary”). Once the light rail is running to Northgate I’d expect Metro to rework the bus routes to get people to the Brooklyn, Roosevelt or Northgate stations.

      2. Ron,

        The revisions would/will be great when Brooklyn, Roosevelt and Northgate open, with the caveat that B & R have the “one side of the street” flaw discussed above. Northgate at least will be within the same plot of land as the bus center.

        Having a grid with frequent service backbones is absolutely the best form of transit, I agree. And you know what? If the damn station were under the Triangle or at the base of Rainier Vista it would be just fine. Pacific Place could become bus only, at least south/westbound and people would have a perfectly acceptable transfer experience.

        But putting the station in a parking lot for the stadium was just another poke in the eye for the riders.

      3. You act as if it were all ST’s decision. ST put the station the only place the UW allowed it to be.

  11. Martin,

    Thank you for posting this info on the blog and could you please give us a heads up about how and when one can testify on the Metro changes.

    The following is what I’ve sent the Council as well as Metro:

    I’ve have reviewed the August 25, 2015 Metro proposal and I am sorry to say it fails since:

    1. It lengthens the runs of the 8/11 which are already among the most unreliable routes.

    2. It does not allow for seamless transfers between the 11 and 12 going east and west.

    3. It removes the 8 from John/Thomas.

    4. It does not allow seamless access to the Community College on Broadway and other places on East Pine.

    5. It duplicates service on East Madison from 19th to 24th which does solve any problems, but eliminates access to bus service on East John between 19th and 23rd Ave East.

    6. It will require changes in the 19th Ave East and East Madison intersection for 60 foot buses to turn west or north.

    I know that Metro has spent the last two months trying to work this out and I believe that plan could be made palatable by moving the 8 back to East John/Thomas and by having the 11 continue west to 12th Ave East where it would turn north to John and light rail. These are easy fixes and would leave the rest of the plan intact!

    Amazingly this plan has united the users of the 8, 11 and 43 in opposition to the Metro 2016 Capitol Hill restructure! I look forward to talking to you about these issues. If this plan can’t be modified then I would suggest like others are, that the Capitol Hill changes be postponed until after the implantation of Light Rail so that the impact of it and the Prop One changes can be reviewed!

    1. I can also live with the bus turning right on 15th Ave East instead of 12th Ave East at East Pine.

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