With the proposed U-link restructures headed for council this week, I recorded a podcast with Zach and David to talk about the restructure, the history, and what will change when U-link opens next year.   We tried to give a good overview of the changes, some of the challenges (both technical and political) and the potential benefits for riders.  David’s frequent network proposal also makes a brief appearance. Enjoy!

PS: the podcast is now available on iTunes

19 Replies to “Podcast: Restructuring Bus Service for U-Link”

  1. I’ve been pondering the fact that route 38 will now be much, much shorter than the current route 8, maybe even too short.

    The previous route 38 — Mt Baker Station to Beacon Hill Station at-grade — had great reliability and poor ridership. I don’t want the new route 38 to be cursed by that number.

    So, consider what would happen if the southern portion of route 106 were to be through-routed with route 38, and the northern portion of route 106 through-routed with the neighborhood portion of route 101, detoured to stay on MLK all the way to Rainier Beach Station.

    1. I too feel that Route 38 will end up as a low-ridership orphan. The restructuring creates as transfer “wall” in that only Link and Metro 7/7x/9 will travel through Mt. Baker Station. Everything else will end there.

      I think Metro should ultimately modify Route 38 to better serve other areas. It could link further southward towards Renton or SouthCeenter, link westward into Beacon Hill and maybe the ID as a local circulator route, link eastward to replace the dead Hunter Blvd segment of Route 14 and double back to serve Rainier Ave businesses as a local circulator route, or some other configuration.

      I see the need to do a separate mini-restructuring near the Mt. Baker Transit Center once this major restructuring is refined in the next year that allows Route 38 to continue beyond the MBTC terminus in order to generate productivity as well as improve MLK accessibility..

    2. The 38 is too short to make much sense. It doesn’t go to any significant destinations; it’s basically a shuttle. I like the 38/106 idea, or even from Mt Baker to the Renton Highlands. That would connect culturally and economically similar areas, which means people would probably use it to visit relatives and shop in the ethnic stores and they’d appreciate the one-seat ride.

      Another possibility would be to replace the Rainier part of the 50, from Mt Baker Station to MLK to Henderson Street to Seward Park to Columbia City Station. But that would lose service on Othello Street so it may not be feasable.

      1. Is it? At 5.5 miles, the route is longer than the 1, 10, 11, 14, or 47, and roughly the same length as classic trolley routes like the 2, 3, or 4.

      2. Those are also really short routes, and the only reason they’re like that is the physical barriers all over the place and the scattered density patterns. But all those routes have at least one major destination (downtown) and some have two or three (Broadway and Seattle Center). The 38 will take you to Mt Baker (not much there yet), Safeway, a couple pho restaurants, and that’s about it. Everything else requires a transfer. Originally Metro proposed to split the route at Madison, but it got pushed further and further south to make the north route more useful, but that made the south route less useful. Its main advantage is that being short and away from congestion, it’ll be reliable. But it looks like a holding pattern until Metro finds something to attach it to.

    3. I notice that too. In one of the other proposals, route 8 replaced route 11 on Madison from Denny way to Madison park. I think it would be a good idea maybe to not have the 8 go all the way to Madison park (that’s a lot of unnecessary redundancy right there, but it would make a solid east-west connection), but to have the 8 end at a loop on Madison somewhere and have the 38 go all the way up to the same Madison loop. As it stands now, if you want to go between Central District and the Rainer Valley, it would actually be worse under the new plan because although reliability would be better on both routes 8 and 38, the remaining unreliability compounded by the transfer penalty would probably result in 8 to/from 38 transfers missing their connections for the most part.

      Although, I don’t generally ride the 8 so I wouldn’t know, but if the 8’s reliability is so bad that having a transfer penalty + the unreliability of the 38 would actually be better than today’s 8, then forget most of this comment.

  2. Great podcast. For your theme song, you should get the robotic LINK voice to say, “Now entering… Seattle Transit Blog *beep beep*”

    1. Except it would be “Next station… Seattle Transit Blog Station.”

      “[Cut! Retake!]”

      “Next: Seattle Transit Blog!”

  3. If the proposal gets rejected, then they should change nothing, just rename the proposed route 78 to route 71 and resubmit, then it will be accepted.

  4. Of course the meeting on 10/6 is in NE Seattle, the only area that wins in the restructure. I really hate people saying that U-Link is the same as the current express buses. Husky Stadium Station is a mile away from where the express buses run and buses can take 10+ minutes to get there from Husky Stadium. Not to mention the unpleasantness of the transfer in general. I am happy for NE Seattle but don’t bury the lede, lots of people are getting screwed to make that happen.

    1. That “only area” is an entire fifth of the city. The place where the hearing is held has particularly bad service, both temporally and geographically. It has been a no-brainer for decades that there should be an east-west route on 65th, and it’s finally happening.

      As for “a mile from where the express buses run”, David answered that well in the podcast: taking a bus down to Husky Station, plus a 10-minute walk, 3-minute wait, and 8 minute train ride is still faster than taking the 71/72/73X a lot of the time, and — here’s a key word — reliable. The morning the freeway was closed there was heavy traffic on Eastlake and my bus arrived at Campus Parkway 20 minutes late, or 10 minutes after my transfer had left. Southbound in the afternoon, I’ve stopped taking the Xs between 4:30 and 6:30pm because they’re too often prone to bottlenecks at Denny Way, 9th & Olive, getting into Westlake Station, and getting into University Street Station. Metro plans to saturate the gap between UW Station and 45th with twenty buses an hour peak and down to six, so that you’ll never have to wait more than 3-10 minutes for a bus.

      There are controversies and tradeoffs on Capitol Hill and around Roosevelt, but that’s hardly 90% of the restructure as your “only area” implies.

Comments are closed.