Back from the dead? (Martin – Flickr)
Back from the dead? (Martin – Flickr)

This morning, Metro has begun soliciting feedback on a proposal to connect Renton, Skyway, Rainier Beach, Mount Baker, and the International District with frequent service 7 days a week. The proposal resurrects a largely meritorious idea from the old transit cuts packages, merging the southern half of Route 8 (soon to be 38) with Route 106 while bringing the whole line up to 15 minute frequency. It also extends Route 107 to Beacon Hill Station, cuts Route 9 back to peak only, and adds peak trips on Route 124 to make up for some of the lost service in Georgetown. Disappointingly, the proposal also functionally resurrects Route 42 by extending the new 106 from Mount Baker to the International District along Rainier and Jackson.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.54.11 AMOur relatively painful experiences with Link restructures began with the 42, as Metro struggled to eliminate it upon Link’s opening, despite ridership levels that dropped to less than 175 riders per day. Both Bruce and Martin repeatedly made the case for the 42’s deletion: tied for the worst-performing all-day route in Seattle, riders had voted with their feet, strongly preferring the speed of Link and/or the frequency of Route 7 to the infrequent remains of Route 42. The service cost Metro roughly $400,000 per year prior to its final deletion in February 2013.

But many in the community felt burned by the experience, and Metro began a 3-year process to restructure the network in response to their concerns. This separate process, including a community advisory group, is a large part of why certain routes (such as Route 9) were left out of consideration in the ULink restructure.

This new extension proposal comes with a much higher price tag than the old 42. We estimate that at least 16,000 service hours – $2.5m annually – will be needed just for the International District extension. Is this extension worth it?

In addition to the poor performance of Route 42 between 2009-2013, preliminary analysis shows that riders headed to International District will have a faster, more frequent, and more reliable trip on Link or current bus routes from Renton, Skyway, Rainier Beach, and Mount Baker. Riders that stand to gain from the 106 extension are those headed to Little Saigon from Skyway, intermediate stops on MLK far from a Link station, locations such as Graham Street, or near the Asian Counseling and Referral Services (ACRS), the group that fought most vocally for the retention of Route 42. The current bus stop for Route 8 nearest to ACRS currently serves 41 riders per day.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.23.26 AM

There’s the additional problem of overlaying frequent routes that have unaligned frequencies, as this proposal would do on Rainier Ave S between Mount Baker and Jackson St. By overlaying a 15 minute service (106) with a 10-minute service (7), the resulting headways are necessarily uneven and can never match the 6-minute combined frequency that “10 buses per hour” would otherwise suggest. It’s simply not possible to run an effective ultra-frequent corridor this way, as it guarantees unbalanced loads, with crush loads on some buses trailed very closely by empty ones. This is de facto bus bunching as a matter of policy, and it’s a waste of valuable resources.

Combined Frequency Graphic-01

This proposal will add 66% more service to Rainier between Mount Baker and Jackson, but at the expense of leaving MLK riders with 15-minute frequency, missing a huge opportunity to improve transfers to Link (which operates every 6-10 minutes). Imagine a Rainier Valley in which Link, Route 7, Route 48, and Route 106 all ran every 10 minutes, all day, 6-7 days a week, with a single transfer point at Mount Baker. That network would be possible for the same amount of money on the table, if Metro were to invest in MLK frequency instead of adding a 4th route between Mount Baker and the International District.

The end goal isn’t an idealized grid that makes wonks happy, but a better transit network that offers more options, for more people, more reliably. I believe that this proposal does many good things, but the International District extension of Route 106 isn’t one of them. It keeps us further from the goal of a ultra-frequent network in SE Seattle, it wastes its highest frequency segments with uneven headways, and it resurrects a route for which there are very few unique destinations. By all means invest this kind of money in SE Seattle, but let’s find ways to do it better.

Take Metro’s survey here. Responses are due by December 23rd.

76 Replies to “Route 42, Back from the Dead?”

  1. Route 106 should replace the 9X and head up onto First Hill, operating N-S on Boren Ave to SLU

    This would provide First Hill with additional all-day N-S service while also connecting SE Seattle and First Hill with South Lake Union (where a lot of First Hill residents work)

    1. I agree.

      Unfortunately, as part of this restructure, Metro is proposing cutting the existing 9X to peak-only. This is even worse!

      1. Boren is no worse than many other streets that Metro runs service on, like Denny, 85th, and Pacific (just north of the Montlake bridge). Yet these services all have high ridership, because even with the delays, they’re plenty useful.

        Not to mention, Metro *does* run service on Boren — namely peak expresses! So the real question is, why should PM peak traffic (which is terrible everywhere in Seattle) block off-peak service on Boren?

      2. Traffic on a corridor is a reason to provide MORE transit service, not to ignore it. Just take make a GP lane a transit lane, and voila, move more people.

      3. It would need long recovery time (and the accompanying hours) but it could be useful. The delays at PM peak are almost all in the northbound direction, conveniently right before the route would reach a terminal in SLU. Just put in sufficiently long recovery (25 minutes on every PM peak trip ought to do it) and the route should work fine.

      4. I think you may be forgetting that Link will provide a fast, new way from Capitol Hill to SE Seattle. The 9X will be losing riders to Link anyway.

      5. There are not many destinations between Broadway/Jefferson and 23rd/Rainier. If the 9x used 23rd and Jefferson it could pass through the CD and by Swedish Cherry Hill as well as provide direct service to Rainier destinations for CD residents. That could be adventageous to lots of people.

      6. @Al — South of Broadway and Jefferson is Yesler Terrace. After Yesler is the big drop-off. Turning on Yesler wouldn’t get you as much as going along Jefferson. You would lose Swedish Cherry Hill and Garfield High School (although the latter is a short walk). But there are some destinations along Yesler and plenty of people.

        As far as Link losing riders to the 9X, I think it will lose a few, but only those that are within walking distance of each station (e. g. Rainier Beach to Seattle Central College). The transfer at Mount Baker is so bad that I don’t think anyone will get off the bus and take the train. They certainly won’t do so if it involves two transfers or a long walk. This means that those who are headed to First Hill (e. g. Seattle U.) will just stay on the bus. Even if you are close to Mount Baker, the 9 will get you there faster most days. It takes 16 minutes via the train from Mount Baker to CHS, and about that much time via the bus.

        What is crazy is that the 9X is being switched to express only. The one time of day where someone might take the train is during rush hour, when the bus can be awfully slow. To only run the bus during that time seems like a mistake.

  2. I’ll be expanding on this after the Thanksgiving holiday, but I see the International District extension as a straightforward tradeoff that doesn’t make sense.

    What we lose: we halve Georgetown-downtown service, which is a lifeline for people in a neighborhood that is otherwise remote and hard to reach by transit.

    What we gain: poorly scheduled, incomplete duplication of Route 7 and Link, roughly on a path that generated atrocious ridership numbers last time we tried it, and that will compromise reliability in the southbound direction.

    I otherwise like the 106 + 38 idea. But I really dislike the International District extension.

    1. Part of the problem is that route 60 takes the worst path through Georgetown, along its south edge, so few in Georgetown use it as a path to get downtown or other points north.

      If route 60 ran the length of Corson, continuing on as Lucille, between E Marginal Way S and 15th Ave S, it would run through the middle of Georgetown and take in twice the current walkshed, directly serve the Duwamish campus of South Seattle College, serve the main non-pub business section of Georgetown, give the neighbors on Beacon Hill west of Cleveland High School a couple bus stops, and save a little travel time in the process. With a more central path, route 60 could become Georgetown’s frequent route for heading downtown, and be more reliable than routes 106 and 124 have been.

      1. The 124 is scheduled at between 19 and 25 minutes, depending on time of day, to get from Georgetown to the heart of downtown. Even if the 60 became frequent, it plus Link would have a hard time competing with that. Georgetown is a neighborhood that is so close in that it shouldn’t be a challenge to provide a frequent bus to the core.

      2. I agree that there ought to be better frequency on route 124. It suffered from bad timing, having its frequency cut while the South Park Bridge was being replaced. Coming up with those hours is well outside the realm of low-hanging fruit. It would be nice if Boeing could pitch in and help.

        Regardless, the route 107 restructure is long overdue, to serve a huge portion of Cleveland High’s student body and staff. They aren’t suffering from a frequency deficit. They are suffering from the complete lack of a safe and convenient transit path to their school.

        Route 60 is already frequent, mid-day on weekdays, at three to four trips per hour each way, and then 30-minute headway well into the evening seven days a week. It is also pretty darn reliable other than around school bell time. With a streamlined path on Corson/Lucille and a good timed transfer at BHS, trip time from Georgetown to ID Station would be roughly 19 minutes, or 29 minutes when adding average wait time, giving it a slight competitive advantage over just route 124.

        The most direct approach to improve travel time from Georgetown to downtown would be better, safer bike infrastructure. There are those who are fighting such infrastructure in the name of providing freight with ROW priority. But then, Eugene Wasserman’s side lost the Move Seattle debate. We have a mandate now for safe bike paths through the SODO.

      3. MLK “is a neighborhood that is so close in that it shouldn’t be a challenge to provide a frequent bus to the core.” Georgetown is sparser and less populous, will still have three (3) routes directly downtown (124, 131, and 132) in addition to a basically north/south route that gets to the light rail in about 10 minutes, or would, if it didn’t meander needlessly through the pub crawl.

        Unlike route 8, route 9 is reliable.

        I can’t blame riders along MLK for being jealous.

        So, every neighborhood in south Seattle deserves a direct ride downtown, no matter how good their connection to the train. Is that what this will be reduced to?

        It isn’t train ridership that will suffer, or course, but the gridded bus network, such as it is.

    2. From Metro’s web page on the proposal: “Add trips to Route 124 – to keep the same level of service now provided between Georgetown and downtown Seattle by routes 106 and 124.”

      Since currently the 106 and 124 are each half-hourly midday for a combined 4 buses per hour, Metro must be proposing to improve the 124 to 15-minute service all day. Simple frequent service on 4th (131/132) and Airport Way (124) is much better for Georgetown-downtown service than the current jumble.

      1. Reliability on 4th is also horrible. Whenever I take the 131/132, they’re always 5-15 minutes late, sometimes 30 or 40 minutes. Since they’re through-routed with the 26/28, Fremont must have horrible reliability too.

      2. The detail page for the route 124 proposal doesn’t match that narrative. It just shows slightly-improved peak headway.

        Nor is the proposal detail page internally consistent. The narrative: “Add trips during peak periods and at night to replace service on revised Route 106.”

        Then the tables shows “no change” in span of service, and “no change” in frequency outside of peak.

        I suspect the idea was to add enough trips to handle current peak ridership on the combined 106/124.

      3. Fremont’s reliability problem is helped by the sheer quantity of 26/28s — and 40s, which are also helpful if you’re just trying to get downtown. It might also be upstream from the source of those delays, i.e. the Mercer Mess.

  3. This post and the one that preceded it need to be read together. I thought Shefali made two very important points this morning:

    “The 42 stuff, interestingly enough, was an opportunity to see [the routing issue] from someone else’s vantage point–not from a transit planner’s perceptive or an advocate’s, but as a daily, everyday user who now has to transfer two times. It also allowed us to build some credibility with groups that I think viewed us with, I wouldn’t say suspicion, but at arm’s length.”

    And then added this:

    “ECB: As a woman of color, how do you think women and people of color experience the transit system differently?

    SR: It’s a completely different experience. I’m a woman and a person of color. Granted, I present, probably, as sort of a middle-income person, but it feels different. As a woman, just thinking about my sense of safety–like, I don’t feel safe as a transit rider walking down MLK. I bet Andrew [Austin] or Rob [Johnson] would be OK walking from the Filipino Community Center to light rail. If we want to make the system attractive to all kinds of users, but especially women, who tend to rely disproportionately on transit, we have to make that system much more accessible. Bringing that experience to the policies we’re pushing and the work that we’re doing–that’s what has made us different.”

    I happen to agree with Shefali completely on this. And while I have no clue where she stands on the proposal Zach describes here, I do think it is important to consider the perspectives she’s talking about when examining this proposal.

    Personally I think this proposal is worth serious consideration, though I don’t see why it has to come at the expense of cutting back service on the 9X. It should also be an opportunity to push for more frequency on the 106. And if funding’s an issue, then let’s go get more funding, rather than pitting routes – and their users – against each other.

    1. I thought you would never approve any proposal that cuts any service anywhere ever. Or is that just when the service to be cut is highly visible? This proposal halves north-south frequency through Georgetown. That is a far more painful cut than the 9X, because by the time of this restructure the 9X has other frequent service (either the 7 or the FHSC, with a bypass of much of the route on Link as well) covering its entire length.

      1. You’re right about that. And that just bolsters the point I was starting to make in my earlier comment. Worth serious consideration, but shouldn’t come at expense of other users on other routes. Add service and frequency, but never take it away once it’s there.

      2. So, Robert, suppose Metro (for some weird reason) started an every-five-minute express from Richmond Beach to Enumclaw, making no intermediate stops. Unsurprisingly, it gets extremely low ridership… say, maybe two riders a day. Seeing this, Metro proposes to cut service… say, only run the super-express every hour instead of every five minutes. Would you support that frequency cut? If so, where would you draw the line?

      3. Robert, do you not see your philosophy as a deterrent to rolling out any new service, for fear it can’t be funded in perpetuity?

      4. Minor detail: Route 60 is also north-south. Yes, it mostly skirts Georgetown, on the side that keeps it from drawing downtown-bound ridership. But a travel-time-negative/revenue-positive re-route to Lucile/Corson would increase the amount of north-south service through Georgetown over the current situation, from four trips per hour to five trips per hour during the day.

        Extending route 107 enables route 60 to not have to serve the strip of 15th between Albro and Lucile. And route 124 could still serve the pub crawl.

        Save a little time and shift the savings to frequency on new route 106 (hopefully sans the reliability-killing extension).

    2. I agree that it’s important to consider local residents’ perspectives. However, considering that the 42 was one of Metro’s lowest-performing routes, I don’t think many local people thought it useful for themselves.

      1. I just want better service on MLK, and 10-minute service throughout the valley is worth fighting for, as is reliability on the entirety of the route. A 106 that runs from Renton-Mt Baker can be both frequent and reliable today, providing awesome new connections between SE Seattle communities. But a 106 that runs all the way to the ID cannot be reliable until Move Seattle does its RapidRide+ work on the Rainier corridor, and it’ll reintroduce the kind of unreliability that we just moved away from by decoupling Rainier Valley service from Denny Way. I think it’s acceptable in the interim to let there be transfer synergy between Link, Route 7, and Route 14 between Mount Baker and the ID. That’s already 16 buses or trains per hour (up to 20 during peak) between those two points.

  4. Looking at the overall network as a grid, I’ve always wondered if it might make sense to combine the 48 and the 7. Incidentally, I think extending the 106 in this fashion makes that more palatable. Asegment of Rainier Ave would lose 10 minute service, but with the 106 there it would still have 15 minute service (+ the 9x at peak). On the plus, 7 riders would gain much more connectivity, and still would be able to transfer to the (fast) Link if their destination was downtown. Given that the 48 and 7 both have 10 minute frequencies I think this would make a lot of sense to create a frequent N-S route that doesn’t go downtown.

    1. That’s a very interesting idea, and given the split of the 48, it might even be technically possible. Would it be politically possible, though? I’m afraid I doubt it.

      1. I will push so hard against this, I might actually run for elected office just on the basis of *not* combining the 48South and the 7. The whole stated point of splitting the 48 was to make it more frequent and more reliable, and people who want to go north of the cut can just pound sand and transfer to go five more blocks. Linking it with the 7 says sure, let’s just go with another long route that has its own reliability problems because people who live in the Central Area like to go south and that’s it.

      2. Adding the 7 south of MBS to the 48 wouldn’t add any chronic sources of delay. The worst delays on the 48S are at the north end (U-District and Montlake Bridge) and the worst delays on the 7 are also at the north end (Jackson and Rainier north of Dearborn).

      3. Actually, delays on Rainier have skyrocketed since the Columbia City to Hillman City road diet was created a few months ago. The short bus only lanes don’t help much.

    2. The Seattle Transit Master Plan (TMP) kind of proposes this, actually. With the usual disclaimer that corridors are not routes, the TMP’s Corridor 4 is essentially the northern section of the 7 (north of Mt Baker), while Corridor 5 is a combination of the 48 and the other half of the 7.

      I think this makes the most sense in the context of the “bolo tie” proposal that would break the intersection between MLK and Rainier. In that case, splitting/rearranging the routes would eliminate the need for the 7 to awkwardly cross between the two halves of Rainier.

      But I have no idea whether that will actually happen. And if it doesn’t, then it’s the proposed 7S+48 that would have to make awkward turns.

    3. A segment of Rainier Ave would lose 10 minute service

      Just to be clear, we’re talking about one of the most productive and heavily-used services in Metro’s network. I think that reducing frequency by 1/3 on any segment of Rainier would be a huge mistake.

    4. “7 riders … and still would be able to make the horrible transfer to the (fast) Link if their destination was downtown” There, fixed.

  5. I’ll resubmit my previous page2 Rainier Valley proposal: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/03/16/rainier-valley-restructure-othello-rainier-beach/

    Short summary:

    Othello Station becomes the transfer point for the south end of Rainier Valley with the 36, 50, 60 and 106 all converging there.

    The 7 becomes an express between Mt. Baker Station and 12th/Jackson, the 38 is moved to Rainier between MtBS and Jackson St to provide local service missed by the 7 and then the 38 continues to SLU via Boren.

    The 9 is deleted but the 106 is returned to Rainier Ave between Henderson and Othello

    1. Mt Baker makes more sense. The valley is a single unit, and people make a lot of trips from every part to every part, especially the many transit-dependent people. Mt Baker is the transition between the mixed-use southern part and the industrial-and-highway northern part. Forcing people to transfer in the middle of the mixed-use area would turn a trip to the supermarket into an ordeal. Forcing a transfer at the edge of the industrial area would affect only those who go into the industrial area, or are going beyond it to Little Saigon, Broadway or downtown.

      Judkins Park Station might also be a worthwhile terminus, as that would connect the southern part of the valley to both the Red Line and the Blue Line.

      1. Judkins Park, long term, would be a sensible terminal for the very reasons you mention. For now, though, that’s not for another 8 or so years and as you discuss, Mount Baker may work better right now.

    2. Except that the transfer to Mount Baker station is terrible, but the transfer at Othello is great.

      It is interesting because it has now come up three times on this post. The poor transfer at Mount Baker is the cause of many of the problems we have with the routes in the south end.

      Personally I like the general idea, but as I said in the other post, I think things will get better once Graham Street Station is added. I updated my proposal (based on Guy’s proposal and a Graham Street Station): https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z-ZcpzpzqRA0.k4695WJyJMf8

      The 50 seems a bit silly (a giant looping U) and is now a bit long (it might have to be split). But it connects both South Seattle College campuses with one another as well as frequent bus service and Link. Right now it isn’t easy to get to the main South Seattle College campus or even the Georgetown from the Southeast. This would change that.

      1. Transfers at Mt. Baker Station will likely pick up once Link is extended to UW. Currently, it’s not usually any faster to get off the 7 and transfer to Link to downtown when the 7 will likely be there just as fast. But for riders to UW (and maybe Capitol Hill), the transfer will make sense.

  6. Wasn’t the whole point of splitting route 38 from route 8 to make the southern route more reliable? So, then, we add an extension into downtown that brings back the unreliability. Meh. Just roll those hours into more frequency on new route 106.

    But the rest of the restructure I like, especially having route 107 serve Cleveland High School, which will make a lot of parents and students happy.

  7. Are you [self censored] kidding me? Metro can swing $2.5 million to reincarnate an extension that demonstrably few people used, but Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid running any more service through the smack middle of the city or having the soon-to-be-split-damn-the-alternatives 48 go just a little farther north until Roosevelt Station opens?

    Pasta on a Pogostick, what does Metro have against the portion of the city bounded by IH5, 520, the lake, and IH90? If you’re a student or work in downtown (or have a burning desire to visit the Needle every day), great. If you live in the area and want to get to businesses on Capitol Hill or north of the lake, you can just drive. Or if you want to get home after 11pm, good luck (but, hey, that northern 45 route can run until 1-in-the-freaking-morning).

  8. South East Seattle Transit Problems

    1. Bus service on Rainier Avenue is slow. The 7 gets bogged down in traffic and the 9 doesn’t run often enough to be real useful. My suggestion would be to delete the 9 and replace it with a re-routed 106 that would stay on Rainier until Othello St. The new 106 routing would connect the southern most portion of Rainier Valley and Skyway with Othello Station where riders could transfer to Link or the 36. In order to speed up the 7 along the northern part of Rainier Avenue, I would have the 7 follow the 9’s stop pattern between Mt. Baker TC and 12th & Jackson. The missed stops would be served by a re-routed 38 that would make all local stops along Rainier Avenue between Mt. Baker Station and Jackson St. I would like to see the 38 extended to SLU via Boren and Fairview.

    2. Transfers at Rainier Beach Station are difficult. There’s no neighborhood at RBS and the transfers require a lot of walking and circling by buses. Make Othello Station the central transfer point for the south end of Rainier Valley. The 36 and 50 are already meeting at Othello, Let’s add the 106 and the 60 (which could be thru-routed). Transferring at Othello requires less walking and there’s a growing business community there already. Make Othello Station the transit hub of south Rainier Valley.

    3. There’s no easy connection to Southcenter, Tukwila or Kent from Rainier Valley. Metro should create a new route from Othello/Rainier Beach to Southcenter or extend the existing 156 north.

    1. 2. There are no apartments at RBS. Getting from a 106 bus to the station requires crossing 1 1/2 streets. Getting from the station to a 106 bus requires crossing 1/2 street. There is no need to make transfers at RBS sound more complicated than they are. Granted, Othello Station is a more pleasant place to spend a little time between trip legs, and perhaps a quicker transfer, if the train doesn’t pass by right before you get to the station. (And, gosh, wouldn’t it be cool if route 106 ran every 10 minutes instead of crawling all the way to ID Station?)

      3. What is the F Line? Chopped liver?

      No, it is full of riders who ride the train and various buses to TIBS, and then catch it to Southcenter.

      1. As an ex-Link+140 commuter, it’s a great transfer. Frequency + bathroom + security guard. What more do you need?

      2. Well, they could move the F Line stop out to the street, and make it feasible to run to a store and get some junk food while waiting. It is faster to walk to a stop on the street than to loop through the parking lot on the bus. Metro’s service guidelines ought to force this move.

  9. Being a north Seattle resident, I don’t know enough about south Seattle/King Country to make any comment about the merit of the proposed restructure. But I can say one thing: at least they picked a different route number than 42. To me, the 4X routes are for north Seattle routes, so it doesn’t make sense to have the 42 service a south Seattle route.

    1. The 42 was a descendant of the 142, which was numbered at a time when many Renton routes had numbers in the 140s rather than the 100s.

    2. This is really a restoration of the 142 rather than the 42. The difference is that the 142 (and 42) ran on Dearborn rather than Jackson so they didn’t get caught in the Little Saigon congestion. That would be an option if you want something more expressful and reliable. So really the original problem is we should have kept the 142 rather than the 42, and made it more frequent, and focused on the valley on south rather than downtown. But the 106 is the descendant of the 142, and it didn’t go through the valley but only across it. The MLK segment was first given to the 48, then to the 8, but both of those severed the one-seat ride between the valley and Renton just when the gentrification was beginning and low-income people started being pushed out to Renton and Skyway.

    3. “The 42 was a descendant of the 142”

      The 142 may have been first but they ran concurrently for a decade or more. And given that inner services usually predate outer services, that would suggest the 42 was first. There was also the oddity that the 42 was extended to Skyway in the early morning before the 142 started its day. Did the 42 used to do that all day before the 142 came? And why did Skyway get service when the surrounding suburban neigborhoods of equal density didn’t?

      1. The 42 is not a descendant of the 142.

        The 42 Empire Way was around since the start of Seattle Transit in 1940. It ran down MLK to the city limits.

        The 106 is not the former 142. The 106 and the 142 existed concurrently, and along with the 107 all offered downtown Seattle to Renton service.

        The very first service restructure under the “six year plan” of the mid/late 1990s was Renton service in 1996. The Kennydale tails of the 106 and 107 were whacked off, the 107 quit going downtown, and the 101 was created as all day express service from Seattle to Renton.

        The 42, turning back in either Skyway or Rainier View, existing simultaneously to all these routes AND predated them.

  10. If we want to make the system attractive to all kinds of users, but especially women, who tend to rely disproportionately on transit, we have to make that system much more accessible.

    Somewhat off topic but why is this or is it a misconception? I’ve noticed anecdotally that on the eastside routes I haunt there seems to be more women. And I’m traveling during peak commute and I’m pretty sure the number of men in the workforce remains higher than the number of women.

    Anyway, at first I thought the specter of the 42 sounded like a good idea. There’s a long distance between Link stops and to get ridership up in the RV there has to be more connecting routes and “shadow service”. But stats on the previous poor performance and the explanation of why multiple routes on the same corridor without coordinated schedules (virtually impossible to do) makes sense.

    I hate to say it but “forced transfer” seems to be the only way to make Central Link “pay for itself”. What about a shuttle route that does nothing but go back and forth with 6 min headway all along the portion of MLK that is served by Link? Then terminate all other N/S routes at Link stations.

    Bottom line, I think Metro has still failed to provide the requisite feeder service to Link which is a major reason ridership hasn’t met expectations and failed to created TOD.

    1. Wouldn’t a 10m 106 that ran from Rainier Beach Starion to Mt. Baker Station on MLK be a pretty decent shadow service? Especially if it was reliable (biggest issue of current 8 southbound).

  11. This route does a lot of good things that will improve mobility and ridership: a one-seat ride between Renton and the middle of the valley that’s economically and culturally similar and connects families, a frequent route to Renton (if it’s full-time frequent), and a frequent transfer from Link to Renton to make it competitive with the 101. The extension to the International District is minor compared to that, and I think people are getting too hung up on that. Especially saying “Why didn’t Metro learn from the 42?” without even mentioning that the southern end actually goes somewhere. The reason it goes to Intl Dist is that the 106 did, so it’s not adding a dreaded one-seat ride to downtown, it’s just moving it east. And Intl Dist is not 3rd Avenue or Westlake, so that’s actually an achievement for those who don’t want one-seat rides to midtown. The beauty of this route is that it adds a crosstown connection (MLK to Renton) while also preserving the Renton to Jackson milk run for those who realllly want it, not by creating a new milk run, but by rejiggering an existing one to be more productive.

    I’ve been thinking for a while that we were too harsh on the 42. The reason people didn’t ride it is (1) it was less frequent than the 7 or 8, and (2) it didn’t go to Renton. The reason the 8 was made the frequent route on MLK was to wean people onto Link. But, as we’ve seen, the 8 doesn’t match people’s trip patterns well because nobody wants to go to northern MLK and there’s nothing there; they want to go to downtown or Broadway or the U-District. And Link with it’s stop spacing isn’t the easiest option for parts of the valley. Rather than continually fighting against a route to downtown, we should just accept it as Link’s local shadow.

    I wouldn’t mind if the 106 terminates at Mt Baker, and it would be great if it went up to 10-minute frequency, but I don’t think it’s worth jumping up and down and saying Metro’s proposal is really bad, because it would be a net gain. And a lot of other parts of the city might wonder why MLK should get 10-minute frequency when they don’t have it yet.

    1. The problem with the extension to the ID is the opportunity cost. I understand that it’s an astronomical number of hours — which isn’t surprising if you consider how long it takes buses to travel from 4/Jackson to Rainier/Dearborn. And all those hours are completely and totally duplicative of the already 10-minute 7, and we lose the opportunity to have 10-minute service on MLK, and we halve essential service in Georgetown, and we lose an actually unique connection between the RV and First Hill. There are just so many better things that could be done with the hours than bringing back the 42 zombie.

      Also, I don’t think the extension to Renton really helps the case for the north end of the route — anyone with any sense will transfer at RBS or Othello to Link, rather than waiting through the mess in and around Little Saigon.

      1. In fact, even at 10-minute frequency, if you timed it just right you could transfer to Link at Rainier Beach and catch the preceding 106 at Mount Baker, given how much faster Link is (10 minutes) than MLK bus service (22 minutes).

      2. Well, you could catch the previous 106 by paragliding from the platform of Mt Baker Station between the new TOD buildings and managing to land on the other side of Rainier. But your point about travel-time savings is nonetheless underrated.

        For me, I’d just stay on the train and walk to my destination in the I-District from I-District Station. I bet I beat anyone staying on extended route 106.

      3. Metro has not said it would increase the 106 to 10 minutes if it truncated it; it might take the hours for something else. I don’t mind asking for it and seeing if they’ll do it, but given that only a few corridors have 10-minute service now it really needs to be addressed on a citywide basis, not ad hoc for one route.

        Also, I have little faith that a 10-minute bus route can be reliable enough to always there when you step off a train. The advantage of 10-minute frequency is just that it shrinks the average wait time.

        I’m not so much concerned with transferring to Link to downtown because that will obviously have priority. I’m thinking about trips from Renton to Columbia City, Rainier Valley to the Renton Fred Meyer, etc. A one-seat ride there is just the kind of non-downtown neighborhood service we need. And raising it to at least 15 minutes will remove the deterrence of “Oh, I’ll go to Rainier Beach and I might have to wait 25 minute, so I’ll drive or not go.”

  12. I like the idea of extending the 107 to Beacon Hill. Makes a hell of a lot of sense. Moving the 106 is a good idea if ending at MBS with the possibility of 10 minute service. Otherwise I can’t see express to International District doing anything for people on a route that almost gets somwhere not to mention cramped layover area in the ID as is.

    And the 9X? It seems its only real function will be in the AM peak but how much ridership will there even be realistically for PM peak? I don’t recall the peak version of the 9X in the past being very successful. I think a better scenario may be to eliminate the 7 in favor for a all day limited stop 9X that can be a placeholder for future RapidRide conversion.

    1. It may be an interim step to deleting the 9. The 9 runs parallel to Link, but it’s far enough away that it may still be useful. I expected Metro to delete it when University Link opened, but instead it seems to be making it more frequent. So if it does downgrade it to peak-only, that may be to see if it can delete it later.

  13. I think we should consider a couple of ideas. What if the South End routes that come down Jackson terminated at King Street Station — like the way Capitol Hill Routes loop around Pike/Pine – this would save hours by not bringing them all through downtown.

    I like the 106 proposal, but I do think it adds extra service between Mt Baker Transit Center and Downtown. Why not get rid of the 9 completely and have the 106 go to Broadway instead of all the way to the ID. Transferring on Jackson is easy with the 7,14 and 36 providing frequent service from Little Saigon to the ID.

    I also think if we dump the 9 we should consider revising the 7. I could see a local 7 that goes between Mt Baker Transit Center and Rainier Beach and an all day express 7 that goes between Rainier Beach and Downtown. Rainier Avenue is largely cut off from the benefits of Link – so running an express or BRT route would really help connect that dense corridor to Downtown.

    1. Scratch that – I like the idea of the 106 terminating at IDS along with the other Jackson St routes. We should just get rid of the 9 and people can transfer to the streetcar to get to First Hill. If your coming from the valley your going to use Link to get to Seattle Central and other places on Capitol Hill.

  14. How much would it cost to get all-day 10-minute headway on the version of route 106 between Renton TC and Mt Baker TC?

    Could $2.5 million at least get 12-minute headway, to mesh with Link’s soon-to-be-implemented 6-minute peak headway?

  15. I appreciate that various people worked behind the scenes to come up with this proposal — and there is a lot of good in it. I am disappointed that nobody like Martin Duke was asked to participate, to broaden the discussion within this mostly secretive committee that just revealed itself. It appears that stakeholders were blackballed for not already supporting route 42.

    Nevertheless, if this committee came up with a report, I think it would be good for this committee to publicize their report, or some documentation of why they wanted this restructure proposal. Their words would probably carry more weight and shed more light than this proposal suddenly sprung by Metro with little background justification for it other that some secretive committee asked them to do it.

    Let’s hear from the private advocates of this proposal.

  16. I’m not particularly interested in defending the 42, but after Link opened, the 42 was a shell of its former self, and I assumed Metro was sabotaging it for intentionally poor ridership numbers. In addition to running it hourly, over a short span of service, the route was truncated so it didn’t even properly serve downtown, terminating in Pioneer Square. The destination sign read something like “3rd S & S Main” which is confusing enough to be uninviting.

    I agree that this proposal’s redundancy with the 7 is wasteful (run it on Dearborn?). And if anything, I think the route 9 should be expanded to seven days a week, rather than reduced to peak-only status.
    All I’m saying is that the low ridership numbers on the 42 were a little deceptive.

    1. The 42 had been a poor performer for decades. When Link started Metro planned to delete it in a Rainier Valley reorganization, but the Asian Counseling and Referral Service and its activists protested, and the county council vetoed it and forced Metro to keep the 42 running for a year while it outreached to the non-English speaking community about how to take alternative routes when it was gone. The hours were taken out of a planned Othello Street crosstown route to get Seward Park residents to Link; the route debuted at 45-minute frequency instead of 15 or 30, thus increasing the calls for P&Rs on MLK. The shortened 42 routing must have been approved by the council because Metro did it. It essentially went between two ACLS facilities, but their members rarely rode it, nor did many others, except Martin who lived near it.

Comments are closed.