pine st lane

The Seattle Department of Transportation is proposing to install six blocks of 24/7 bus lane, downtown, on Pine St, between 9th Ave and 3rd Ave. The proposed installation will mirror a similar installation on Pike St, between 2nd and 7th, completed last summer: It will be a painting and signage exercise in the right-hand curb lane, with turns permitted. If approved, the lane should be installed this fall. You can send comments on this proposal to jonathan.dong@seattle.gov.

I don’t have much to say on this specific proposal, except “Yes, please do this last year.” Pike/Pine is the primary transit corridor for service between Westlake Station, the downtown core, and Capitol Hill; plus it serves more than half a dozen suburban commuter routes in the peak periods. Riders on these routes deserve all the relief from car traffic they can get. The opening of University Link next year will change the nature of Pike/Pine, making it an east-west oriented corridor, but by no means negating its importance to the transit network.

If this lane is installed as described, buses making the Pike/Pine loop will be have continuous lanes starting west of I-5, with just one problematic gap: One long block southbound on 2nd Ave. Buses here bog down terribly in the afternoon peak, although I’m not sure what can be done about this, given the eventual certainty that SDOT will (and should) extend the 2nd Ave cycletrack north along that block and into Belltown.

Perhaps, then the next area for attention should be the intersection of Pike and Boren, another rush-hour schedule killer. A well-executed BAT lane and queue jump could free buses from traffic, and get Pike St riders quickly across First Hill’s worst car sewer.

30 Replies to “SDOT Proposes Pine St BAT Lane”

  1. With Pike having a bus lane from 2nd to 7th and Pine having one from 2nd to 9th, there would be just one missing piece for transit reliability: putting eastbound buses back on Pine from 8th to Bellevue Ave. No suffering through the Boren mess, the trolley wire is already there, and 8th Avenue and eastbound Pine are never congested. We really need to do it.

    1. This is nice, but there’s other things that need to be looked at downtown for the Pike/Pine couplet.

      1. 2nd Ave is a complete disaster for buses coming around the western terminal stops. It shouldn’t take nearly as long as it does for a bus to go from 5th and Pine to 4th and Pike, especially during the PM rush. If I were king, I’d fix this first.

      2. The eastbound lanes on Pike work….sort of. One of the big problems is the presence of the express bus stop at 6th, which causes Capitol Hill bound buses to have to merge into the center lane, and then back into the right lane to pick up at Convention Place.

      3. The Pike lanes don’t go to 9th. This always struck me as a bizarre oversight. Boren would be nice, but that’s asking a lot of two lanes between 9th and Boren. (Still, it’s only two whole blocks.) Shifting to eastbound Pine at 8th negates the need for most of this.

    2. I had forgotten about that wire. Yes, that should just happen. Relocating the Pike stops would be easier and cheaper than fixing Boren.

    3. When the buses used to switch to Pine at 7th, only the routes that stayed on Pine did (10, 11, 49); the ones that went to Olive Way didn’t (43, 47). That means if you’re at 9th & Pine going east, the routes are split between two stops and you can’t just take the next one. That was one reason why Convention Place wasn’t well used. So switching to Pine would mean either returning to that un-ideal situation, or putting all routes on Pine. If you put all routes on Pine, the 43 and 47 would turn left twice.

      1. Post U Link, the 43 will be peak only and the 47 is already a minimally important route. It’s the future 10/11 I care about.

      2. …but the restructured 11 would be on Olive, making the same turns as the 43. That complicates matters a bit. Hmmm.

      3. Fix the Denny Disaster, cut the new!11, extend the 8 to Madison Park, beef up the 8 and 47. There.

        (Much easier said than done, of course.)

      4. Not that complicated IMO. Move the dedicated left signal from Pike to Pine, and your stops are at 4th/Pike, 8th/Pike (on 8th under the Conv. Ctr), and at Melrose.

        The left turn at 8th is a mess because of the queuing exprss lanes traffic, but uniquely there is no oncoming traffic to slow things, as Pike is one-way eastbound until 8th. So if a cycletrack is built on Pike as planed, it might present the (expensive) opportunity for left-side bus lanes with island stops, allowing the bike path to be on the right and out of the way of the express lane ramp. In such a case the left turns wouldn’t be an issue.

      5. I think the split was to avoid a left-right-left turn. Each turn slows the bus down because it has to wait for traffic going straight, and the bus intrinsically has to slow down to turn.

    4. It would be really nice and convenient as a transfer having the Capitol Hill bound buses turn onto Pine at 8th to serve Convention Place station more directly. Right now it is needlessly complex going from the tunnel to the buses on Pike (like at Westlake Station to Pike/4th). Why no grand entrance to Westlake Station from Westlake Park???? Then again in a few years CPS is gone but being the wire is there, this could happen now.

      1. That’s exactly the problem. Convention Place was marketed as being convenient for Capitol Hill, but it’s not at all. (1) The eastbound buses were formerly split and now all of them are two blocks away on Pike (and the express lanes entrance effectively adds an intersection). (2) You have to walk across the freeway to get to the station. (3) The southbound routes are split between three different bays, so if you’re going to Pioneer Square you have to guess which one will come next. (4) Conventioneers don’t use the station much because they can just as easily go to Westlake, and they’re usually coming from their hotel, not from the convention center itself. (5) The express lanes go the wrong way if you live on Capitol Hill and work in north Seattle.

  2. Pine is a lot less congested than Pike, that said most of the congestion and impediments to transit on Pine are from right turning motorists especially at 4th and 6th. So I do wonder how BAT lanes will solve anything here with right turning cars still blocking the BAT lanes.

    One other item regarding this corridor is that SDOT needs to give more green traffic light time to Pine and Pike traffic at Boren.

    Oh and when is the Spring Street bus lane going in by SPL main branch?

    1. Do BAT lanes ever actually work the way they’re supposed to? Every example I’ve seen a photo of is full of cars, for whatever reason. They’re like the half-assed version of bus lanes…

  3. How about on 2ND (at Pike) shifting the left turn lane to where the parking lane is and putting a bus only left turn lane where the current left turn lane is (given the bus lane is on the right of general traffic on Pike)?

    1. Assuming the cycle track is extended, there will be little or no parking to take. A second turn lane there would reduce 2nd to a single GP through lane, which I don’t see as likely to happen.

      1. Space being at such a premium, some sort of smart signaling scheme should be considered. A bus-only left turn lane might not hurt either. I’d take the lane on Pacific St onto SB Montlake as inspiration.

  4. I feel like a lot of the cars in the right lane are already turning right as soon as they can. Only a really patient driver would want to drive in the right lane on Pine more than absolutely necessary. You’re much better off staying in the center lane until you need to turn.

    One of the big causes of delays on Pine seems to be right-turning cars. A BAT lane will still allow turns, however, so it won’t solve that issue.

    1. Yeah, I ride the bus down this stretch daily and most drivers strategically use the center lane when possible because the right lane is filled with people turning right blocked by people crossing the street.

      Maybe shorten the green light intervals on the avenues to give people time to cross the street and be mostly done before Pine is allowed to go? Basically, codification of the behavior of the benign jaywalker.

  5. Is it true that the original plan when DSTT was being built was to have a contraflow bus lane up Pine but was killed by the Roosevelt Hotel and that this would explain the rather poor transfer from the tunnel to Pike Street buses?

  6. I feel like there should be higher priorities. With U-Link around the corner, a BAT lane on Pike St. Why not focus some efforts on North/South through SLU. Get Westlake’s BAT lane finished for the trolley and buses coming in that way or maybe extend a BAT lane north of where the 3rd Ave bus corridor starts so that RapidRide E and D don’t get stuck in the move onto 3rd Ave as much.

    1. Nope no war that I can see. Just keep taking pavement and parking away while pondering ways to penalize and tax evil car drivers even more, even though they won’t be able to park or use any lanes by the time the transit zealots are done.

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