SounderBruce (Flickr)
SounderBruce (Flickr)

[CORRECTION: We mistakenly asserted that Metro did not test the feasibility of the 19th Avenue turn prior to implementing the Route 11 change. Metro replied by email to stress that they did test the turn, it failed, they requested street improvements from SDOT, the restructure passed, and then SDOT denied the request. We regret the error and the original post has been updated below.]

The saga of restructuring bus service for University Link continues this week, with Metro transmitting the official restructure details in two packages (A and B). These packages are the marching orders needed for each department (marketing, facilities, operations etc) to implement the changes in time for March 2016 service change. There are lots of small changes in these packages, and we’ll cover the rest of them in a subsequent article. But the big news isn’t in these packages, because it’s a non-change: the Capitol Hill restructure is basically dead.

Due to the technical inability to make the 135° turn from East Madison to 19th Avenue, Routes 8 and 11 will no longer move to 19th Avenue and E Thomas St, but will continue on their current routings, with Route 8 on John/Thomas and Route 11 on Madison/Pine (though Route 8 will still split from Route 38 and get a boost to 12-minute frequency). As an “administrative change” – in which no stop is more than a half mile from its current routing – the 19th Avenue deviation was neither part of the restructure as adopted by Council nor released for public feedback. We are told that its inclusion met political objectives to secure Council votes, but Metro apparently did not test the operational feasibility of the the route prior to the restructure’s adoption. Metro approved the proposal without SDOT approving the necessary street improvements, which SDOT subsequently denied after the restructure was passed.

Analysis and lamentations after the jump.

Link (Dis)connections

Astonishingly, despite a year of public process for a project called “Link Connections,” fewer neighborhoods will have connections to Capitol Hill Station after the restructure than if they had left the network untouched. As a refresher, the excellent Alternative 1 would have provided approximately 25 buses/streetcars per hour to Capitol Hill Station from all directions, including First Hill, Madison Park, Summit, the Central District, and more. Even some of the weaker alternatives, such as Alternative 3, would have provided a connection from East Capitol Hill to CHS via 19th Avenue and E Thomas Street on a restructured Route 12.

We are ending up with a worse version of the universally panned Alternative 2. To jog your memory, Alternative 2 was a status quo alternative that mostly left the network alone except for reducing Route 43 to all-day 30-minute frequency and moving Route 9 to terminate at Group Health for extra frequency between 15th Avenue and Link. But now we’re getting Alternative 2 but with neither an all-day 43 nor adequate service between Capitol Hill Station-15th.

There are some good changes remaining, especially 10-minute frequency on Route 49 and the needed split of Route 8 at Mt Baker. But without Route 11 serving Capitol Hill Station, the net effect of this restructure in East Capitol Hill is a substantial service cut, with Route 43 cut back to peak-only, service from Downtown to Olive Way and Summit being reduced to just the lifeline 47, and a redundant glut of 15 buses per hour continuing down Pike/Pine into Downtown Seattle. Without any near-term provision for improving traffic on Denny Way, Route 8 will now be the only route connecting to Capitol Hill Station from anywhere east of Broadway. Transfers at 23rd and John will be frequent but uneven, with total all-day service on 23rd north of Madison reduced from 8 buses per hour to 6, and all-day service on John/Thomas reduced from 8 buses per hour to 5.  In fact, given the likelihood of a ‘soft open’ for ULink prior to the restructure, it is sad that the best bus access many residents will have to Link in the first few days it’s open.

Pre-Restructure Corrected-01

Alternative 1 Corrected-01

Final Plan Corrected #2-01

A Failure for Agency Integration

Taken in totality, this process has been a disappointing failure in Capitol Hill, with good network proposals being progressively degraded by the loudest neighborhood voices. County Executive Constantine’s big push for integrated agency planning is off to a rough start, as this process has been a strong illustration of structural interagency problems creating absurd outcomes: Metro seems unable to sustain substantive improvements through public process, and Sound Transit is almost entirely powerless to improve transit access to its ‘neighborhood’ Seattle stations (including the Rainier Valley, Capitol Hill, and soon Roosevelt). We must learn from this quickly, both to quickly fix the mistakes made for ULink and to resolve not to repeat them when Northgate Link opens.

241 Replies to “Metro Cancels Capitol Hill Restructure, Cuts Access to Link”

    1. Peak only. 9 inbound runs between 5:25-9:13am, and 7 outbound runs between 3:16-6:40pm, with a one hour gap between the final two outbound trips (5:42pm and 6:40pm).

    2. If the 43 is still here: Good. Especially if it runs whole service day. Long-term route, wire already there, no need for transfers. And if I’m wrong? Just take it off the schedule again. Passenger desire for or against equally easy to determine, and fix.

      Mark Dublin

      1. It’s not, Mark. Just a handful of peak-only, peak-direction runs. They’re basically in service deadheads, and almost all diesel. Only two runs in each direction will be trolley.

      2. It’s half-hourly, ish. See page 14 here.

        Inbound runs will be at 5:25, 5:43, 6:07, 6:41, 7:14, 7:44, 8:12, 8:36, and 9:13am.
        Outbound runs will be at 3:16, 3:44, 4:19, 4:46, 5:12, 5:42, and 6:40pm.

      3. Wait, it isn’t even bidirectional? What?? This would be the perfect bidirectional peak route because there are major commuter destinations at both ends (downtown, UW). And only two trips per direction are trolleys??

      4. Yeah, seriously, how many service hours would it cost to make the peak 43 bidirectional?

        Holy hell this is terrible. I know the political constraints really hampered Metro, but even so this is just completely unacceptable.

  1. This is a disaster for Capitol Hill and Summit.

    But let’s not over-hype this. The 49 and 48 are still getting increased frequency. And, even more significantly, Northeast Seattle is getting hugely better service connecting to U-Link. I think this is still a net gain for Seattle as a whole… but it’s a disaster for Capitol Hill specifically.

    1. Agreed. NE Seattle still has a net positive network from the restructure, but aside from Route 48/49 riders and a subset of Route 8 riders there’s not much gain in Capitol Hill, and yes Summit and Hilltop are getting hosed.

      1. Really, I lose route # 72 that takes me directly to downtown and instead I have to walk across the UW Campus to get to the Light Rail Station and I have heard that it can take from 7 to 10 minutes to do the walk each way and this walk is not under cover and you do know that it does rain in Seattle.

        Right now I catch the #72 at my stop at 633 am and get to the Westlake Station at 7 am. If I catch the # 372 at the same time it takes about 15 minutes to get to Stevens Way followed by the walk and lets say that takes those 7 to 10 minutes meaning I get to the Light Rail Station at 658 am. On the # 72 I would be within 2 minutes of the Westlake Station. But under this “so called improvement” I am still at the Husky Stadium Light Rail Station. So assuming that a Light Rail train leaves somewhere between at 7 am and 706 am I am still around 8 to 10 minutes away from the Westlake Station.

        So under this “so called improvement” I am arriving at least 10 minutes later then I do today.

        I contacted Rod Dembowksi about this when this change was announced earlier this year and complained to him and he sympathized with me and agreed that it was not an improvement. But as it turned out the only thing he cared about was saving his own route # 71 which he and his family rides. So at the end route #71 was saved and is routed directly to the Husky Light Rail Station. And the riders of route # 72 they got the middle finger from Metro and Demembowski. And Demenbowski is a typical politician who only cares about serving himself and doesn’t care one iota about anyone else and you can say the same about the rest of the King County Council and the politicians then wonder why they are rated so low with used car salesmen in the trust factor.

      2. Good comment, Jeff. This is why the idea of this being a total disaster is hyperbole. It wasn’t too long ago that the consensus on this blog was that nothing would happen with this phase of Link. Making changes on Capitol Hill was just too hard and not warranted, given the addition of only one stop, and not a very convenient one at that. Likewise with the north end. This is not like adding the U-District station, where the transfer will actually save a considerable amount of time. Everyone assumed that Metro wouldn’t do anything this go round, and wait until light rail got to Northgate, when the big changes would occur.

        Metro certainly screwed up; they pulled the rug out from under a lot of folks that worked hard to make a restructure work. But let’s not pretend that the restructure would have been transit Nirvana. Given the number of stops and the street grid for Seattle, it couldn’t be.

      3. If it’s any consolation, that 71 will probably get hosed too once Convention Place station demolition begins.

      4. Hi Jeff, if you board inbound at 6:33am, you may benefit from a change that we on the Sounding Board introduced and fought for, namely the addition of a Sound Transit Route 522 stop at Lake City Way and 20th Ave NE. We recognized that there was a hole in the network in your area, and asked ST to consider the change, which the Board recently approved.

        The 312 currently stops there and gets to Convention Place in just 10 minutes, and you can expect the same results on the 522, though it is likely to be very crowded and you may have to stand. If that stop will work for you, your commute time will actually be cut in half.

    2. There’s still time for “better late than never”, too. It’s politically difficult to win on something abstract; perhaps opinions will swing slightly differently once U-Link has actually opened and people are riding trains.

      1. Zach,

        From where I live I would have to walk 7 blocks straight up a hill to get to the stop for the 522 at Lake City Way and 20th Avenue. That is not an improvement in service. And the same for your suggestion for the 312 as to get to that stop at NE 95th is not convenient either.

        I suggested that the #72 be continued but instead of turning right on Campus Way it would go straight on University Way to Pacific and then go left to the Light Rail Station. That is what Dembowski did for saving his precious route # 71 but as I said he and Metro gave the middle to the riders of route # 72.

        I made the suggestion on route # 72 to a couple of Metro planners at public meetings but talking to them was useless. Hell, I would have been better off to talk to a wall because the wall would have been more responsive then those Metro planners. The same with that public hearing at Magnuson Park as that whole hearing was a farce because nothing anybody said made a difference. It was also interesting that within days of the hearting Metro announced that route # 71 would be saved plus some other minor changes. Hell there is no way that Metro made those changes in a couple of changes as this is a government agency and no government agency works that fast.

        I also told the Metro planners that right now when route #372 reaches my stop many times it is already standing room and now they are adding the riders of route # 72. and they had no response to that. What a joke this change is and is absolutely no improvement and there nothing Metro or anyone else can convince me otherwise.

      2. To Glenn in Portland

        Route # 71 will no longer go downtown after the changes but instead will be routed directly to the Link Rail Station at Husky Stadium which is exactly what I proposed that Metro do for route # 72.. But route # 72 was not the pet project for Dembowski so obviously he didn’t care one bit. So I have said before and I will repeat again Metro and Dembowski gave the middle finger to the riders of route # 72.

      3. With respect to the 522, you should time how long it actually takes to walk 7 blocks up the hill. If it’s on the order of 15 minutes or so, the trip will probably be faster overall. Alternatively, the 372 looks to be gaining frequency to compensate for the loss of the 72.

    3. I’m not sure increased frequency on the 48 and 49 is worth cutting off neighborhoods to Cap Hill Station in a restructure intended to connect them. Several people on here took the position that they’d rather see no change and see how trip patterns developed. At this point, I’m with them.

      1. Increasing frequency on the 48, 49, and 8, at the cost of cutting the 43 – those’re basically the only changes here.

        If only it wasn’t for the Denny Disaster, I think this’d be worth it… What’d it cost to add an all-day fifteen-minute bus from Pike-Pine to Madison and MLK?

  2. At least Metro is staying consistent with past bus/rail integration “efforts”. Politics really limit the usefulness and efficiency of our bus network.

  3. Why is it that Seattle organizations are so utterly spineless when it comes to making useful changes? Why is it that everybody is content with the status quo? This is truly an absurd outcome in every sense of the term. I have nowhere to direct my anger, so I just want to yell and hit things.

    Is there some secret to getting functional bus networks oriented around high capacity corridors like they have in Vancouver and San Francisco? We’re basically the only city left on the west coast that fails so hard whenever we try to fix things like this. Do we need to take to the streets? Do we need to demand –with pitchforks and torches– reasonable transit? This is not a complex issue, as this post has shown, basic math shows us the colossal and embarrassing failure that this is.

    Why is it so hard to be from Seattle?

    1. What do you mean you have no where to direct your anger? You have a County Council and County Executive to direct your anger toward.

      The truth is bus restructures are a political process, and transit advocates repeatedly lose. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

      1. No… not even in the same country anymore. I’m still invested in high-quality transit though.

    2. Feel free to direct your anger at these folks. I know I will be.

      Kevin Desmond, Metro GM

      Contact the Executive Office
      Dow Constantine
      Main phone: 206-263-9600

      Contact your councilmember
      Rod Dembowski
      District 1

      Larry Gossett
      District 2

      Kathy Lambert
      District 3

      Larry Phillips
      Council Chair, District 4

      Dave Upthegrove
      District 5

      Jane Hague
      Council Vice Chair, District 6

      Pete von Reichbauer
      District 7

      Joe McDermott
      Council Vice Chair, District 8

      Reagan Dunn
      District 9

      1. If you live in District 2, you might also contact the incoming councilmember, Jeanne Kohl-Welles (currently a state senator)..

        If you live in District 6, you might also contact the incoming councilmember, Claudia Balducci (currently Bellevue Mayor).

    3. “Why is it that Seattle organizations are so utterly spineless when it comes to making useful changes? Why is it that everybody is content with the status quo?”

      The status quo activists are strong enough to scare the council in believing they might be voted out of office if they restructure. The pro-restructure side is getting stronger but is not yet strong enough to consistently win. What’s needed is a larger number of voices and a more unified message so that we look like a larger percentage of the voters.

      There’s also an intrinsic status-quo bias. It’s easier to not give new service than to take away somebody’s old service that has been around for decades. The people who are losing a legacy routing complain more loudly. The previous network was parallel half-hourly routes a few blocks apart, so it’s the remnants of that that they’re trying to keep. The people who support those routes tend to be the same ones who like one-seat milk runs and don’t care about frequency, so they oppose every measure to consolidate the network into frequent corridors that will get the most people out of their cars.

      “Do we need to take to the streets? Do we need to demand –with pitchforks and torches– reasonable transit?”

      More or less. That’s what the opponents are doing. Not so much in-street protests but at council meetings. Although I think there have been one or two rallies for better bus service that have included some of their messages.

      1. Madison Valley folks also had meetings with Metro staff, conveniently scheduled during the day so that people who work or go to school couldn’t attend.

      2. I don’t think it’s obliviousness, Morgan. The agency folks have lives after working hours as well. I find that when agencies do have after-hours events they get relatively good attendance, but folks need to remind the agencies (and Council!) these issues matter.

  4. What I want to know is, where were all of the anti-change protesters when I-5 was first being built?

    1. I’ll forgive you because you weren’t alive to witness it, but there were MANY anti-highway activists at that time. If not for them Seattle would have more highways cutting through it. Fighting the Interstate was fruitless because it was a federal project and cut through a lot of what people considered ‘blight’.

    2. It was a different era then. MOHAI has an exhibit of the 1962 world’s fair with a TV clip of the then-mayor and council saying I-5 and 520 would be the greatest improvement Seattle has ever seen and would lead it into the future. This was a few years before they were built, when 99 was the main north-south route and I-90 was highway 10 and terminated at Rainier. But the heady thinking was a “ring” comprising I-5, 99, Spokane Street, and a Bay Freeway (at Mercer). Obviously that didn’t get built, and 99 wasn’t upgraded to freeway standards. Other proposed freeways include the Thompson through the Arboretum and Central District, a cross-sound freeway to Vashon and Bainbridge Islands, NE 50th Street, 15th Ave W/NW, etc. The biggest showdown was against the Thompson freeway over the Arboretum, which killed it and the other proposals. The west sound didn’t want the Cross-Sound freeway because it would bring growth. And the others were nixed. There was significant opposition to gutting First Hill but it failed.

  5. This disappoints me, too. I chalk this up to a lack of communicating or perceiving vision.

    The only solace I find is that that it will allow for public perception about using Link to awaken so that changes later in 2016 or 2017 will be less controversial. Sometimes a system has to open before many riders will “get it”.

    1. I’d love to be an optimist, but to be honest, I doubt it. Central Link has been around since 2009, and if anything, the movement to restructure Renton/Kent service has weakened since then.

      Maybe it will be different in Capitol Hill, because the trip from CHS to Westlake by Link will be so dramatically faster than the trip by bus (given usual traffic). But I don’t think that most people will be clamoring for better connections to CHS. I think that CHS will be primarily accessed by pedestrians and cyclists, not by bus riders.

      1. In terms of public opinion, I’m actually afraid of the opposite. We’ve set a horrible example here. People still believe that light rail should (and will) serve every neighborhood. Witness the only story this week covered by The Stranger. Not this story, which is important news that effects the readers as well as the employees of that newspaper (and newsworthy based on how it happened). Not a reasonable proposal that represents the consensus view of many if not most of the transit experts on this blog ( But this story — — a proposal that would allow Seattle to pass Mexico City and have the second longest mass transit system in North America (with over 150 miles of rail).

        I believe that most people who use CHS as well as Husky Stadium will walk or bike there, as Aleks said. People will view the transit system that way (which is easy to do if you have been to New York City or Washington D. C.). At the same time, they will probably continue to view lines and mileage as more important than stations. There will be no complaining about a lack of First Hill station, because it doesn’t seem that bad unless you think about it. The idea of a bus/rail model, so successfully used in cites like Toronto and Vancouver will be lost on them, while we continue to pursue the failed BART model.

    1. There will always be a RegN, there will always be people who can’t bear change, this is a part of every city and although tangible, I feel the blame is misplaced. What we shouldn’t accept are agencies and officials who refuse to be bold, who cave to these few voices every time, at the expense of thousands of others.

      I knew the restructure would be an exercise in seeing how the sausage is made, but I didn’t expect that we would see the sausage made and then thrown in the garbage because it turns out a few people prefer a the forty year-old can of spam that is our current network.

      I will probably use Madison BRT every day but I can’t bear to watch the process after this experience. It’s quality will degrade to the inevitable standard Rapid Ride, or worse Rapid Ride but 3x more expensive.

      1. Yes, there will always be a RegN and his friends that can’t understand change or visualize opportunities. But maybe Metro will be able to find more consensus about service changes once Link is extended and serving CHS. Once the station is open and people are actually using it, maybe the picture will be clearer about what can and can’t be changed to serve more people more efficiently.

        Look at Rainier Valley–Metro made many changes to transit service with the expectation that riders would be willing to transfer between buses and trains at Mt. Baker Station. But the reality is that most riders aren’t willing to make that transfer, so Metro is proposing to revise service in Rainier Valley again. The original service plan might have been better if the changes had been made after Link was opened and people had a chance to adjust to the new opportunities.

        The reality is that there are too many people opposed to any sort of change to Capitol Hill service. But once the station is open and operating, more people will see the opportunities that the station offers and maybe, the folks with their heads in the sand will be outnumbered by the visionary (or pragmatic) crowd.

    1. Perhaps Capitol Hill needs more people with a lot of time on their hands to do some yelling for us.

    2. I think the Madison Park rabble-rousers had a huge role is scuttling the service change, but let’s see what happens a year from now when there isn’t any direct transit service from Madison Park to CHS. Once the station is open and its value is seen, how many of those neighborhood activists are going to be calling for a service change that connects their neighborhood to Link? Likely quite a few.

      1. A year from now Madison Park folk will still be happily riding the 11 downtown, just as they always have. They’ll still be riding the 11 to Safeway and Trader Joe’s, just as they always have. Meanwhile the rest of us who live between Madison Park and Capitol Hill Station will be walking to the station because the 8 is stuck on Denny and the 10, 11, and 12 still don’t go anywhere near the station..

      2. I live in Madison Park, and I think this sucks. I also made myself clear to the powers that be, but as you have mentioned, David, when you actually need to be places during the day, face time is hard to put in with those people.

        I ride the 11 twice a day, every day. You’d be surprised how many people are already on the 6:45 or 7am buses by 36th, and few to none get off the bus until central Capitol Hill (except for transfers at 23rd, which would have happened at John anyway). I was very much looking forward to hopping up the hill on the train, which would bypass most of the time and all of the discomfort of the eastbound afternoon 11, and transferring there. Now there is little point, as the time savings will be eaten up by the walk to the bus.

        I’m pretty sure “happily riding the bus” isn’t the m.o. of most people from Madison Park; that bus is a giant time suck. It was faster for me to drive to/from our Bellevue office than it is to take the 11 to and from Westlake. The train would have given another, more frequent, faster-in-the-PM option. It’s even worse for anyone going anywhere downtown other than Westlake.

  6. I’m done.

    I supported Prop 1, even though their projections of revenue doom were wildly false, because I thought an environment of revenue growth would be an easier one to make restructures.

    Prop 1 lost, but Seattle got its money, and in any case revenue is growing back strongly. Metro could have easily bought off interest groups and made the changes their professional planners recommended, but they chose not to. I can only conclude that the only thing that will fix Metro is an environment of draconian cuts where they have no choice but to do the right thing. That approach will involve much more human suffering, but pencil me in as a “no” vote the next time Metro has to come back to us for more funding.

      1. The NE Seattle changes are great, but nearly incomprehensible given the lack of action elsewhere. We’re going to have to revisit that network again in 2021, while not much is going to change in Kirkland or Capitol Hill.

      2. Madison BRT won’t go all the way to Madison Park. Residents there are already up in arms about a (so far completely fictional) reduction in service on the 11 as a result of BRT. They also were opposed to an all-Madison 11 as part of the restructure because it wouldn’t go downtown via Pine. The only way to please them seems to be frequent 1-seat rides from Madison Park to everywhere else.

      3. I (and several other Mad Park posters here, albeit not the most vocal one) only wanted a direct service to that large and expensive new rail station that connects us to the rest of the region — you know, the kind of service that actual cities with functioning transit systems seem to be able to manage. We would have PREFERRED transferring, or at least the option to do so. Unless you’re going to Westlake, riders of the 11 have to transfer to get most places anyway.

        I lived in NE Seattle for many decades and I am very happy with the changes happening there – I may not have moved had they happened years ago. But please don’t lump all “residents” of a given area into one pot. Most people don’t have the time to attend daytime meetings even if they are aware of them, and I have a feeling that most people who actually RIDE the 11 daily would have answered in the affirmative if asked “do you want direct service to the new subway.”

      4. I do want to mitigate my comment above by saying that some of the more vocal people on the Madison Park topic did yeoman’s work in trying to make the restructuring work as well as possible, looking at different options and thinking outside the box, and they should be commended for doing so. Metro is to blame for dropping the entire thing at this point, providing no better service to places like Madison Park and worse service to other places as noted by other commenters on this post.

      5. Once Madison BRT is added, you could do a some simple things:

        Change the 11 so that it follows the new proposed route, except without the silly 135 degree turn on 19th. Have it follow the 8 (on John and Thomas) past the station, then downtown. Now folks in Madison Park have a one seat ride to the north end of downtown, a one seat ride to Link and a very quick two seat ride to the middle of downtown and First Hill. That trip (from 11 to Madison BRT) would likely be the fastest way to get downtown from Madison Park and faster than any current transit (and probably faster than driving if traffic is heavy). This also doubles up the service along the most important part of the 43, from 23rd to downtown, which is even more important with addition of Link.

        Kill the 43 and put the service into additional 48 bus service. If you are headed to Group Health or the Capitol Hill station area, you transfer to a frequent 8 or 11. If you are headed downtown, you transfer to Madison BRT.

        It is tougher to figure out what to do about the 12. I would kill it as well, and put service into other bus routes. That is a tougher call, but you would have bus routes about every half mile, which is reasonable. If folks on 19th complain too much about their missing bus, then you could run a bus down 19th to Union. At that point you would need to turn, since 19th is an arterial south of Union. Either direction could work. You could follow the 2 downtown, or go the other direction, and head towards 23rd or MLK (increasing service there). Either one would work.

    1. And what makes you think Metro will do the right thing in an environment of cuts, when they aren’t doing the right thing now? Sure, their planned changes pre-Prop-1 looked good (except for frequency, of course) but so did their planned changes now. When push comes to shove, there will always be a choice other than “do the right thing,” and neighborhood groups won’t push any less under cuts.

      1. It’s the only thing we haven’t tried. By raiding capital funds, Metro never made deep cuts in the last recession.

        I know their planners want to do the right thing, so there’s someone in the decision chain at Metro or King County that has to go.

      2. If the cuts actually translated to firing management (apart from the planning department), I’d enthusiastically support them. But given that planning seems to be the only part of management that isn’t immune from cuts, I don’t think “the only thing we haven’t tried” is good enough to cut a lot of bus access.

      3. When the Seattle Times next makes the point that Metro should reform before giving them any money, I’ll have trouble disagreeing with them. Living by a light rail station, I’m experiencing their utter failure to integrate properly with Link every day, and it’s making them increasingly irrelevant to my life. As Link spreads, more people will have this sensation.

      1. I don’t know that it’s particularly broken, but in the way that you mean it, new voters who want different things. At the very least, a WSDOT that gives a crap about HOV level of service.

      2. This shows it is broken. To paraphrase Walker, this is what happens when the train people don’t talk to the bus people. Imagine the possibilities with stations on First Hill and 23rd.

      3. Metro doesn’t really dedicate the long-term planning assets for ST for interface with.

      4. I’m not even sure that is a sentence Martin, but whatever.

        A restructure for the region (meaning the entire Central Area) would never be great with the addition of only one stop. It really is that simple. Metro was given crap. They really were. One station in the most densely populated area of the entire state of Washington, which just so happens to be within spitting distance of downtown Seattle, and you wanted them to make a restructure that pleased everyone. They failed. Fine. They failed. The way they failed was horrible. You don’t fail that way. You do your homework and tell everyone that the idea they have will fail. I agree.

        But let’s not pretend that the restructure was going to wonderful. It just wasn’t going to be. Guest writers said as much. Banned (but popular) commenters said as much. I’ve said as much. The addition of only one station means that you really can’t make a great system. Hell, they will have better luck when they restructure after Madison BRT, which will probably carry more people than the one station in the area I mentioned, and cost ten times less!

        Again, you didn’t answer my question. What would a restructure look like with a station in First Hill and another station at 23rd?

        I understand, the jump shooter missed an open shot from the free throw line; but maybe the point guard we are paying billions shouldn’t pass him the ball at his shins.

      5. I will cautiously wade in here.

        Martin has long been the voice of reason on this blog, and has recently written some very nuanced, realistic posts about transit and where we’re going in the region. For him to essentially throw his hands up on Metro is huge. Huge.

        I’m pretty fed up with this entire process. Alternative 1 was a totally fantasy land proposal, and didn’t have any realistic numbers attached to it. The community thought they were being buffaloed, and got organized. Metro’s community outreach and planning process was abysmal in regards to Capital Hill.

        As a side note: My initial reaction when I read the Capital Hill restructure was there was no way it was every going to pass. My initial reaction when I read the U District restructure was wow, they really really got this one right.

        RossB makes a few great points above about the street grid, the geography, and the challenges faced by the planners. I’ve said this before and I will say this again. Joni Earl will retire shortly, having straightened ST out and made it the best agency at executing capital construction projects, in the state. However, I fear that her legacy will be that she pushed these stations with no regards for the needs of other agencies to access them, and that is a mistake that has been / is being repeated, over and over again along the “spine.”

        Capital Hill Station is in a good location for Capital Hill. But it is in a terrible location for bus integration, given the historical commerce and commute patterns in the area (and the street grid / geography issues mentioned above). Metro was never going to get Alt 1 through because the change of bus patterns was going to create extra transfers that created time penalties for many riders who were simply going downtown or just wanted to get across Capital Hill.

        Who put the station there? Joni Earl’s ST, the same agency that brought us the FHSC, Rainier Beach Station, an unusable transit center at Mt Baker (that Metro had to fight for), etc.

        I would argue that the big structural changes we dreamed of for the Capital Hill bus network were never possible, given the location of that station. But that didn’t mean we had to get this absolute turd of a restructure. This is the worst of ALL WORLDS.

        How long do you think it will take the sizable ridership in Summit to revolt over the elimination of the 43? The 14/47 Summit has long been a favorite whipping boy of the STB. Why do you think that in the 50s/60s/70s, the Summit route maintained as a trolley route, with long spans of service, as service was retrenched across the city? Why was it rebuilt as a trolley route in 1978? Because it is in historically the most dense neighborhood in the city.

        Why has the Summit route ridership suffered the last couple of decades? Because the 43, originally a 30-minute route in the 1979 route network, became increasingly popular and had service added, brining it up to greater than 15 minute service at times. Many of the Summit riders decided to take the 43 instead, with a short walk on Summit, Bellevue, or Melrose to their apartments. Route 43 ridership went up when the 47 was whacked (as did route 49 ridership, with former 47 pax walking up Roy Street).

        And now, we’re going to leave all those people with the late 8, and the 45-minute 47?

        Is this for real?

        Dow Constantine directed both ST and KCM to work together to make sure we were developing an integrated system between bus and rail in the city and the county.

        Is this what we should expect from both agencies? Is this the best the can do? Is this the integrated system we wanted?

        What a failure.

      6. Why has the Summit route ridership suffered the last couple of decades? Because the 43, originally a 30-minute route in the 1979 route network, became increasingly popular and had service added, brining it up to greater than 15 minute service at times. Many of the Summit riders decided to take the 43 instead, with a short walk on Summit, Bellevue, or Melrose to their apartments.”

        Metro also sabotaged the 14’s ridership base by running the eastbound 43 five minutes before the 14. People that could take either route took the 43, and people who were afraid the 14 might be 5-10 minutes late (as it almost always was) also took the 43.

        Ironically, the same thing happens to me now with the southbound 49 in the U-District. It’s supposed to come every 15 minutes, and the 43 too. But I skip the 43 and wait ten or fifteen minutes, and often one or two more 43s pass before the 49 comes. So I can either take the second 43 and I’ve wasted my wait, or I can wait longer for the 49 and hope it will be soon and won’t be a no-show.

      7. And here’s your regular reminder that Sound Transit is on the record as saying it has never seen itself as anything more than BART, and it is only through the efforts of transit activists that it has ever resembled real urban rail, which has only made it ill-fitting for either purpose.

    2. Since I live out of town, and county, I can’t either encourage or threaten anybody on city or county councils.

      But maybe the Chamber of Commerce, the hospitality and tourist industries, convention planners, and potential visitors might be interested that while ST service is relatively good, any firm appointment withing city limits but outside of Downtown Seattle requires cab fare.

      So just to keep this situation on City and King County Council’s minds, I think I’m going to start sending jpegs of all my cab fare receipts to every relevant official. Original paper tickets even better.

      Still don’t have Smart Phone so can’t verify, but wonder if they’ve got an app to automatically send said receipts and jpegs to the two Councils automatically. It’s been at least forty dollars this year.

      Maybe an invoice would help too. But come to think of it, I can’t help but wonder if putrefying transit service isn’t a direct result of the city’s entire population becoming people with money for Uber, or chartering helicopter if that’s too expensive?

      Though as a desperation measure, we could start attaching huge purple mustaches to the fronts of buses. Especially the ones with roofs that are already purple.



    3. +1

      And through it all (even though the sky was falling) they continue to fund the PRIVATE center park bus to appease Gossett.
      It’s never voted on.
      It’s never in any of the service changes.
      It continues to happen!!!!

      This mismanagement of the system and political pork is occurring on the backs of King County taxpayers!

  7. And while Metro largely cuts off Capitol Hill from its own Link station, it’s blowing money on resurrecting the 42 to add service on a more than adequately served corridor.

    1. THIS. We cut service to Summit, Hilltop, and East Capitol Hill because ‘duplication’, but we can add a 4th route between Mount Baker and Int’l District because politics.

      1. Duplication is only a bad thing when you are talking about the 43. I’d really like to talk to whoever is in charge of lobbying for the Rainier Valley since they are getting the 42 and a BRT corridor that will parallel light rail. While CH sees service cut. But hey, at least a handful of people at 17th & Madison won’t have to walk a whole block do go to Pike/Pine. That is certainly more important that all of the people who lose direct access to downtown period and will have to be dependent on the least on time route Metro has.

        I voted against Move Seattle and will continue to vote to deny Metro money until new leadership is in place.

      2. I used to think so, but I’ve come to think that ‘duplication’ really isn’t applicable on Capitol Hill when the sole station is 1.5 miles by road from Westlake and 3 miles (!) by road to UW Station. The 43 is actually a perfect local shadow service for Summit and Montlake, just as Community Transit 101 is to Swift, and I’m sad to see it reduced to almost nothing. I could favor eliminating it if there were a reliable sub-10 minute transfer, but it’s clear that Alternative 1 didn’t come close to happening.

    2. Do we actually know what is behind the drive to restore the 42 routing to downtown?

      Is this being driven by politics? If so, by whom? Same group as before?

      1. It was originally proposed in the cuts. I initially thought it was bad, then realized it would make a good MLK-Renton service. At a U-Link sounding board meeting I told a Metro planner they should revive this idea. He was incredulous. “We only proposed that to compensate for cuts on the 14! We didn’t think it was a good route. just a desperate measure to mitigate the cuts.” But later the idea grew anyway. Separately, according to the STB article, Metro met with the discontents from the 42 and 9 restructures, and they may have recommended the route too, I don’t know.

        I think the people who hate the route now are looking too much at north of Mt Baker Station and not enough at south of it. The north part may have to be a compromise to get the south part. And it’s not reviving the 42 but the 142!!! The 142 was like the 42 but continued to Renton. It was deleted when the DSTT opened and the 106 was created. The 106 was express to the Swift exit and then east across Beacon Hill and Othello to Rainier Avenue, and then south to Renton on the 142’s route. Later the west part of the 106 was downgraded from express to a Georgetown milk run. And now Metro is proposing to move that segment east to MLK and Rainier, where the 142 was (approximately).

  8. Don’t forget Metro is also going to axe the off-peak 9 so they can run more buses to duplicate Link, further reducing access to Capitol Hill station.

  9. Maybe Metro doesn’t know about CHS? Somebody text them and let them know there’s a subway coming soon.

  10. A great line by Zach: “… but Metro apparently did not test the operational feasibility of the the route prior to the restructure’s adoption.”

    This speaks volumes about agency dysfunction.

  11. Sooo. . . Metro didn’t test a bus turning from Madison to 19th *before* they announced all these changes and went through the public-hearing process? Uuummmm. . .

    1. I’ve been frustrated by the appearance that so many public hearings are held as a matter of form when nobody official is really interested in the results, but to actually solicit public feedback on something that simply cannot happen is a very cynical move.

      1. That just points to the stupidity of all this.

        Metro is supposedly a bus agency and supposedly understands buses. They shouldn’t need to go run a test bus through that intersection to know whether or not it is possible – they should simply “know” with a fair level of confidence whether or not it it possible. Ask an old time operator. Have a college intern check the specs and the geometry. It should be an obvious and trivial problem.

        But no, apparently that was too hard. And here we are.

        But Link will do fine at the open and Metro will have other opportunities to get religion and propose another restructure – if for no other reason that people will eventually demand that Metro do it.

        Until then? Cap Hill residents should be prepared to put on their urban walking shoes.

  12. This is a disgraceful failure on a number of levels, and creates a network that doesn’t work for an awful lot of people. A double-digit number of activist residents, very focused on hyper-local concerns, made the outcome worse for five digits’ worth of other residents.

    The people who are going to suffer the most here are those in the Summit area. Nearly 10,000 people live there, and they lose frequent downtown bus service with no replacement except backtracking up a steep hill to Link or the 49. I’m not sure the residents in the area have figured it out yet — but when they do I also expect considerable political pain for Metro and the council.

    I don’t agree with Martin that “starving the beast” will help — because I don’t think it will affect or dislodge the forces within Metro and on the Council (both are responsible) that are unwilling to stand up to the loud few on behalf of the many. Only more political pressure and bad publicity will help.

    1. I don’t see why we should continue to pour money into an agency that is going to be increasingly irrelevant to the needs of its customers, when Sound Transit and SDOT can do good things with it.

      1. Those two agencies have their own severe blind spots. SDOT is having to start from zero with service planning expertise, doesn’t have any service planning goals written into law, and has already made a few very questionable decisions. Sound Transit has proven very good at execution but subpar at planning. So far, the best planning capabilities in the region remain at Metro. They just have been totally hamstrung by other bureaucratic and political forces.

        I’m increasingly thinking your interjurisdictional agency restructuring ideas are along the right lines.

      2. If we’re being cynical about Metro, which has tried to change, we should be just as cynical about Sound Transit, which has resisted improvement at every opportunity. I do not want to give Sound Transit another dollar for building super-expresses to Snohomish County and roller coasters through Des Moines.

      3. I’m much happier with ST’s outcomes than Metro’s. Fundamentally, Metro dysfunction is in Seattle. ST is likely to build something very useful in Seattle.

        Moreover, I believe ST’s assessment of where the votes are is correct. I think Metro’s deference to a few squeaky wheels is overcoming more democratic outcomes.

      4. Thanks David — I’m typing on a phone, so you saved me a lot of time. Metro is to blame for this fuckup, but ST dealt them a terrible hand. Both agencies are sub sub sub par.

      5. I’m surprised at that assessment, Martin. ST’s fundamental dysfunction is also in Seattle, where dollars are being syphoned away to cross-lake lines in freeway medians, where the UW Station is being moved to a stadium parking lot away from the bus lines, and where the Snohomish County Super-Express is diving right under Summit and Capitol Hill while forever foreclosing the possibility of additional stations. And that’s not even mentioning their fundamental hostility to any lines ever going east-west.

        Yes, despite all these problems, Link will be a significant improvement – because the current situation is just that bad. But let’s not deceive ourselves to think ST is even vaguely resembling competence.

      6. It’s curious to me that you think a cross-lake line is of no interest to Seattle residents. Try getting on a contra-peak 545 or 550 sometime.

        Although the First Hill omission is regrettable, I’m not sure what alternative alignment you’re suggesting between Capitol Hill and UW. A true Snoho super-express would have gone straight up I-5, as some people wanted to do.

        There will certainly be flaws, but I have confidence that ST will build something useful. And BTW their ST Express planning is in my view quite solid. But we’re getting a bit off topic on the CH restructure.

      7. ST is the agency that has done all of these things:

        – offered up rail from Issaquah to Totem Lake
        – offered up rail from West Seattle to Renton, along a bus corridor that has failing ridership today
        – doggedly resisted considering Ballard-UW rail in the teeth of the best potential ridership per mile of any project on the table
        – caved to a few loud business owners in Des Moines and Federal Way, resulting in a nonsensical south-end alignment
        – built a single station in Capitol Hill, tunneling straight under the densest neighborhood in the city with no station
        – refused to explore any solution to handle overcapacity on its core Bellevue-Seattle bus route in advance of East Link… eight years from now

      8. Well here you’re equating “offered up” with “studied”, which, sure. We’ll see what they actually offer. I continue to think F ridership has no relationship to the Burien/Renton corridor’s potential.

        I’d also argue that 1, 2, and 4 are popular. #3 is skeezy but designed to favor a result that will be more popular.

      9. To more concisely state my thesis, I think the general contours of the light rail project are inevitable given the political structures and incentives the legislature created, and those structures are essentially impossible to change. In spite of that, I think ST is building worthwhile projects. I have serious issues with some of their low-level operational policies, but these are not fatal.

        Metro’s failings, in contrast, are entirely avoidable, and will drive it to increasing irrelevance as light rail expands.

      10. As disappointing as this is, I still trust Metro to provide me with more useful service than Sound Transit. I use Metro every day to travel within the city. Sound Transit’s services are only useful to me on the rare occasions when I want to leave Seattle. Its service to SeaTac, Bellevue, Redmond, etc. works very well as long as the place I’m going is near one of their sparsely placed train stations or bus stops on the other end.

        Everything I’ve read indicates they plan to double down on this strategy in ST3, giving great service to a few sparse nodes along the Ballard-West Seattle corridor while providing poor mobility to anyone living farther from stations. Given Metro’s seeming inability to rearrange service around these nodes when Sound Transit does build them, I can’t see Sound Transit ever being a part of my daily routine.

      11. I have been saying this for a number of years, I think it may be time for Seattle to split off from Metro Transit. Metro’s process, goals, and even needs seem to be incompatible with those of the City of Seattle and its residents. For those of you who favor the idea of a super agency in the region, pay careful attention to what is happening in a county wide scale. From what I see here, the Capitol Hill improvements were basically canned due to the needs to make the plan appealing to people from Shoreline, Federal Way, Auburn, etc. who do not regularly use metro to travel to/from Capitol Hill. Now just imagine throwing Tacoma, Everett, Mountake Terrace, Sumner, and Orting into the mix trying to make decisions for Capitol Hill. You can see where that is going and my guess is probably not the way you want it to. This is exactly the reason why Metro should be split up, with one agency serving the city of Seattle, accountable to the city of Seattle and its residents, collecting taxes from the residents for their own service. The focus of this agency would be to provide urban transit service to the city. The rest of the county, would remain with metro, providing the same kinds of service (suburban-urban transit service, commuter express service, etc) accountable to the county council, collecting taxes from the rest of the county, and continuing to provide service from the suburbs into Downtown Seattle just as well as they have done in the past. This agency would probally be better as a PTBA with elected officals only from the areas receiving service, and it could be used as an opportunity to “exclude” certain areas of low ridership and high cost of operations to focus on the more urban areas of suburban sprawl.

      12. I think the general contours of the light rail project are inevitable given the political structures and incentives the legislature created, and those structures are essentially impossible to change.

        Wait, so you think we should vote down any improvement in Metro service to try and change the design failings of the organization, but you believe we should support Sound Transit light rail, even if they propose a design destined to fail? How does that make sense?

        The design failings of Sound Transit route planning have been documented many times over. They have failed repeatedly in this very area (bus to rail interaction). From their reluctance to add a station at NE 130th, to their unwillingness to even propose an adequate number of stations with a Ballard to UW subway. Consider the latter. Metro would have to do very little if you add stations as Seattle Subway proposed ( The current bus alignment is actually outstanding and would need very little in the way of tweaks because it is as much like a grid any place in Seattle. But if you go with any of the Sound Transit proposals, then you have the same mess all over again. If there is no station on 8th NW, what do we do about the 28? Should it make a jog over to 15th or Greenwood? If so, where?

        The alignment of the transit stations which Sound Transit has proposed in the past and continues to propose have made it more difficult to create a grid, not less. But to rail interaction has never been a priority, nor does it look like it ever will be.

        I can’t help but think that affection for Sound Transit is due largely to the fact that they spend way more money on capital projects and the value of grade separated rail. Of course they make a huge difference in transit. But give Metro half that kind of money and this restructure would look a hell of a lot better. Run the 8 every couple minutes and run the Madison BRT out to Madison Park. Wow, that didn’t take long. The mistakes made by Metro (and this is a huge mistake) pail in comparison to those made by Sound Transit. Most of the ones made by Sound Transit are irreversible, this Metro mistake is not.

    2. Maybe it’s time to start naming names for the specific people in Metro and on the Council who are causing (or failing to prevent) these kinds of problems. Waiting for them to retire is not getting us anywhere.

    3. Let’s see…
      Why am I not surprised that Metro management CUT service for thousand of riders on the 43, but continue to fund a PRIVATE bus for c couple people at Center Park.

      This is absurd.

      1. I think Center Park qualifies as paratransit service which they would have to provide to the residents one way or another.

      2. This is a common misconception. Go ask Metro. You’ll be shocked when you learn what Gossett’s pet project is costing the system.

      3. That is crazy, especially since there are a pair of bus stops right outside of Center Park. But service guidelines!

  13. What the hell? I didn’t even know Metro could make drastic changes after approval, since the approved plan is substantially different.

    1. Anything within a half mile for a given route is within their administrative purview, no need for a restructure ordinance.

      1. Zach. just so you understand. I’m just thankful that the 43 is still there, that’s all. I really do think that along with everything else really wrong here, the actual arrival of LINK, especially with the very large increase in ridership that’ll likely follow will create enough angry voters to persuade Metro’s dumbest to fix their screwup.

        By the map, if the 43 was ever intended to go all the way downtown, that’s ridiculous. Though for a long time, a lot of us Tunnel drivers thought it should enter the DSTT at CPS, and turnback at IDS. Which would have been perfectly possible as long as the bus wire was up. Hybrid could do it- but neither desirable nor necessary now.

        Start at UW station.Turn at LINK station on Broadway. Just do it whole work day.


  14. So, transit advocates did win this battle. Just not the transit advocates here at STB. It was other transit advocates, fighting neighborhood by neighborhood, route by route. They lacked a coherent overall vision, often worked at cross-purposes, and helped produce a flawed product that doesn’t really work well. But they won and folks here didn’t and there are lessons to be learned from that:

    First, the way Metro is approaching restructures just doesn’t work. At all. Pitting frequency against coverage; treating service as a zero-sum game where for some riders to benefit, others must lose; deciding things in advance and then hoping the public will either go along or not put up too much of a fuss – none of this works. All it does is alienate people.

    Second, Metro needs to instead work with people from the start. Listen to riders about what works well with their service and what they’d like to see improved. Ask the same thing of people who aren’t riding buses but who might do so – and ask what it would take to get them on board.

    Third, Metro as well as transit advocates here at STB need to go out and treat those transit advocates in the neighborhoods and on those particular routes as allies – because they are. They vote for transit funding just like people here do. They ride buses, just like people here do. Figure out how to build bridges and alliances, rather than telling them they’re wrong for wanting to keep what they have.

    Fourth, accept that politics can never be removed from any act by a government – and instead make the politics work for you. By following the above steps it should be possible to produce restructures that are both awesome and widely popular. It’ll have to be bottom up, and it may violate some people’s ideological theories about what makes an efficient and desirable network. But it’ll be better than this nonsense on Capitol Hill that we have now.

    1. OK Robert, I’ll bite.

      What does that “awesome” restructure look like, aside from asking the Republican legislature for a bunch more taxing authority? And why would that authority not be frittered away on pointless bullshit that duplicates Link while desperate needs are ignored?

    2. I will say that Metro revenue collection is well above target for 2015. They could very easily have largely overlaid new service on top of the old service to prove that the old service sucks. This is what I hoped would happen when I voted for Prop 1 even though the revenue hole disappeared. But instead they just packed it in.

      1. Personally? I think an “awesome” restructure is one that largely preserves existing service, except where it can be replaced by a train (having the 70s in NE Seattle terminate at a light rail station is a good example), and where the main effect is to add frequency. Or, where people still have basically the same or better service, even if the specific route has shifted.

        We don’t have a Republican legislature – we have a Republican Senate and a Democratic House with a Democratic governor. That Republican Senate exists only because of two GOPers who hold blue seats in a part of King County that just fired a GOP County Councilmember and replaced her with a Democratic transit hero – by 20 points – in an off year.

        In other words, stop dividing transit riders and advocates by proposing restructures that pit people against each other. Unite people behind proposals that meet everyone’s needs, even if it means inefficiency, and use that movement to demand more revenue and revenue authority from the legislature.

        I’ve been saying this for years and as far as I can tell this ugly mess of a Capitol Hill restructure simply proves the point.

      2. I think that describes the original, aggressive Metro proposals quite well.

        I’m all for not dividing people, but allowing the status quo to persist is NOT “meeting everyone’s needs”.

      3. “Personally? I think an “awesome” restructure is one that largely preserves existing service”

        Even where “existing service” takes longer to travel 3/4 of a mile in the city than suburban buses take to get across the freaking lake?

        There’s an assumption underlying your whole theory of restructures that current service is working for people. It largely isn’t.

    3. These are great comments, Robert. Metro seems to have an ingrained problem in their staff. It seems as though they look at the public as cattle if not the enemy.

      There are so many travel patterns in this area that not having a better process from the start was a now-fatal error.

      Will any elected official force a cultural change? It’s not a time to be merely polite.

    4. “Pitting frequency against coverage; treating service as a zero-sum game where for some riders to benefit, others must lose”

      That requires more money, which is outside Metro’s authority. Only the council or a vote can change that, and those are constrained by Eyman initiatives. Without that, it is a zero-sum game and frequency vs coverage. Otherwise Metro would have just overlaid the new service on top of the existing service in the first place, because that would have satisfied both the transit fans and the status-quo advocates.

  15. Forgive me – I don’t live in the area and thus glossed over the details of the restructure, but I’m not clear on what specific “politics” played a part in this. Were the objections of Madison Park and other neighborhood riders that they would lose one-seat rides downtown in exchange for having to transfer at CHS? Did suburban county councilmembers pitch a fit about service being added in Seattle but not the suburbs?

    1. The former. Basically ST fucked up and put only one station between the UW and downtown. Then they told Metro “Deal with it”. They did, initially, as best they could. After public input, they tweaked and tweaked and then found out that it would not work. So they punted, and not very far.

      1. They were going to put 2 stations in, with one on first hill as well, however it was impractical to tunnel over to first hill and back downtown which is why you only have the one station in its seemingly cramped configuration

      2. Not impractical, risky. Politically risky, specifically. If Sound Transit was on more solid financial and political footing (like they are now) then they would have attempted a First Hill station. The lack of a station on 23rd (which the old Forward Thrust plan had) simply shows that they know nothing about how to get buses and trains to work together (just as the lack of a NE 130th station did). To be clear, the latter is going to happen, but it took a ridiculous amount of effort for something so obviously useful.

      3. “To be clear, the latter is going to happen, but it took a ridiculous amount of effort for something so obviously useful.”

        How are you so sure? And even if it does happen, how are you so sure anymore that Metro will run a bus route to feed it? Given this restructure failing at the last minute, I’m starting to wonder whether we can trust anyone to do anything until the buses are actually running on the ground.

      4. @William — From what I’ve heard (from very reliable people) the NE 130th station is a given. It is just a question of when. They had two choices: Initially build the rail line so that the station would be expensive to add later or the opposite. They will do the opposite. The city may end up paying for the actual station (just as they paid for Graham Street) but it will be built.

        And even if it does happen, how are you so sure anymore that Metro will run a bus route to feed it? Given this restructure failing at the last minute, I’m starting to wonder whether we can trust anyone to do anything until the buses are actually running on the ground.

        Oh come on. Metro fucked up big time with this, but this was never a great restructure. It just couldn’t be. There is no way they could make a restructure that is clearly better, given the addition of only one stop and the geography of that stop and the region. The streets don’t form a good grid, so it is hard for the buses to. But the lack of a station at 23rd is the major fuck up. Add a station at 23rd and Madison and everything is different. Really.

        Likewise with a NE 130th station. Everyone seems to forget that Metro is restructuring the hell out of the north end even though a lot of people hate it! Seriously, d. p., a huge fan of bus restructures to make them effective grids — a guy who lauded David’s “your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really” plan — hates it. He hates the fact that people are forced into a transfer that is inconvenient as hell. But Metro is doing it anyway! They are building more of a grid, and will continue to move towards more of a grid. It will be difficult, and they aren’t as aggressive as most of us would like. They could just build a grid without the help of Sound Transit, but it makes sense to shake things up and leverage the obvious improvement that comes from miles of rail running in tunnels costing billions. The problem is, in many cases, there is so little to leverage.

        That just isn’t the case with NE 130th. Leveraging that is simple.

    2. Capitol Hill is intrinsically difficult because it’s a small area with barriers on all sides, so a bus can’t go straight for a long distance like in an ideal grid. The dense areas are arranged in a stick-shift pattern, which requires buses to turn to reach them all, and every time it serves one place it misses another. People in all parts of the stick shift want to go to all the other parts. Metro tried to design a network that meets most of these contradictory goals but not enough people liked the result, and different people complained about different things. The status-quo factions on the 11 and 12 basically won the day.

      Unofficial proposals for Link have stations at Bellevue, Broadway, 15th, 23rd, and 520. Those are the “missing stations” that could theoretically replace the 43 completely. They weren’t considered because of how the line evolved. Originally it was going to be in the I-5 express lanes or Eastlake., but the urbanists insisted it had to serve Broadway and the U-District. The next proposal backtracked from Westlake to First Hill, then along Broadway to John and Roy and the west side of the U-District. Then Roy was deleted as too close to John. During that time ST’s budget blowout happened: the budget was too optimistic for 45th to SeaTac; the ST board was reorganized and Joni Earl’s administration came up with realistic conservative budgets. ST decided the original ship canal crossing was too risky, meaning too much chance of cost overruns or failure. So it truncated the initial segment to Westlake to SeaTac. Then ST found a new alignment via Montlake and said it was feasable. There was enough extra money from ST1 to restart University Link (Westlake-UW). But ST did not revisit the number of stations; it just kept First Hill and Broadway and that was it. That was when it could have considered stations at Summit and 15th but didn’t. Then it decided First Hill Station was too risky (the soils under it) and deleted it. There also may have been a concern that the line with First Hill Station would fail a cost/benefit eligibility threshold for federal grants. First Hill raised a ruckus like one Madison Park faction did with Metro, and got a streetcar as a consolation prize. Still there was no interest in considering more Capitol Hill stations, even though the alignment now goes directly under Pine & Bellevue or so, perfect for Summit and halfway between Westlake and Capitol Hill Stations. And maybe activists didn’t focus enough on that while these decisions were being made.

      That brings us up to the present. The 11 and 10 can’t get to Capitol Hill Station without moving to John, which angers some people who want the 11 on Pine (specifically for the mid Madison area: 12th to 23rd). Link can’t fully replace the 43. Buses from the eastside and the 48 can’t transfer at 520. The 47 has no Link station closer than downtown. Etc. I’m not convinced that all those “43 stations” would have solved everything: they still wouldn’t have helped the 11 and 12 in particular. But that’s what the controversy is.

      1. TL;DR: Capitol Hill (and First Hill) have severe geographic constraints, we’ve been planning light rail for the better part of 40 years, and we made the current routing decision 10 years ago.

      2. Well said, Mike. Not that much different than what I said, but a lot more detailed.

        I get why everyone is pissed at Metro. They had a chance to put lipstick on this pig, and they smeared it all over the hog’s nose. But let’s not forget that it really is a pig that Sound Transit gave Metro.

      3. Unofficial proposals for Link have stations at Bellevue, Broadway, 15th, 23rd, and 520.

        Wow. That’s just completely different. A bus restructure would be different, and every trip would be different. That would have been amazing.

        Oh well, at least we will have a station at Angle Lake!

  16. so I get buses not being able to make the 135º turn from WB Madison onto NB 19th … so why not route them WB on Union then NB on 19th? … should have no problem making those turns and would give that stretch of 19th a connection to the rt 2 as well

    1. On Union? How would they get over there on the other end? 23rd? That seems like a huge deviation to make away from John/Thomas.

      Besides, one of the reasons for using Madison 19th was that people wanted to keep service on every block of Madison.

    2. Using Pine and 15th to John would also have worked.

      I see the bigger issue as a failed consensus-building process.

  17. eventually (post madison BRT?) the 12 should be re-directed to go Interlaken Park – Yesler on 19th then west on Yesler on the new wire they keep wanting to install to downtown

    would create a new N-S bus route and connections for 19th to the 8, Madison BRT, 11, as well as the 2 on Union and the 27 on Yesler

    1. 19th carries on being wide until Union, but really, that’s close enough to the 48 on 23rd to be redundant. The big gap is N-S service along 15th between Broadway and 23rd. If the 10 followed 15th to Madison, and 14th to Yesler, that’d accomplish this aim. The 12 could follow the 10’s routing downtown on Pine.

      This seems like it’d overserve 19th at the expense of 15th. So maybe switch the Northern ends. But that ends up reducing legibility.

      I can’t say I envy the KCM planners, but wow, am I not impressed either.

      1. Hmm… I think you might be on to something there. How’s this sound:

        * 10 on 15th-14th-Yesler
        * 12 on 19th-Madison-Pine
        * 11 on Madison-Pine (as today)
        * 8 on Denny-John-Thomas; turnaround at Madison and MLK.
        * 38 on MLK-John-Thomas; turnaround somewhere near CHS.

        Or, you could restore the 11 to Madison-John-Thomas-Olive-downtown and put the 38 on Madison-Pine-Broadway-CHS.

        Either one of these doubles-up service on both Pine and John-Thomas, as well as giving new north-south service on 15th. The 12 can be cut down to every-thirty-minutes if necessary.

      2. The planners at Metro had some good ideas in the original Alternative 1 but they were all torpedoed by the “don’t change my bus route” crowd.

      3. Alternative 1 had some interesting ideas with respect to improving the current corridors, and accessing Link. I think I’m more onboard with the comment that Link on the Hill is an access point to that network, and not a substitute for downtown for those outside the immediate walkshed. There’s much travel around greater Capitol Hill that necessitates bus service, such that you’ll end up with routes going downtown if the network approaches any sort of legibility.

        To me, the glaring hole for Capitol Hill is one that is largely opposite that of the rest of the city, and that’s North-South connectivity. Madison kind of interrupts routes that could traverse the drumlin end-to-end, and sucks them downtown. Narrow neighborhood streets, (and inane streetcar routing) don’t help.

        Solving the Capitol Hill Grid puzzle is beyond tricky, and it’s exasperated by the status quo being so deeply entrenched (maybe due to all the trolly routes). That said, for intra-Captiol Hill mobility, it is deeply insufficient.

        Even with OneBusAway, I frequently (no pun intended) find myself walking over a mile than deal with the poor reliability and back-tracking necessary to make these short hops by bus. It would be comical if this weren’t the neighborhood one would most expect transit usage to thrive.

        To my untrained eye, there are three well spaced N-S corridors:
        – Broadway
        – 15th
        – 23rd

        The first and last have the 49/48, respectively, but the middle gets blackholed.

        For E-W there are five:
        – (27) Yesler
        – (3/4) Cherry/Jefferson
        – (2/11/12) Madison (+Union)
        – (10) Pike/Pine (+Union)
        – (8/43) John/Thomas

        Aloha-ish is at the end, though geography/geometry may work against this functioning as corridor.

        We’re doubling down on the slice that confounds a lot of this with Madison BRT. I’m not convinced it’s the best solution. But I’m hoping it will be a big help. Still there’s room for improvement, especially in the N-S department.

        If only we had the improved frequency that made transfers bearable. That’s really the bugbear behind all the heartache. If you could count on transfers being short and reliable, throughout the day(!!), and everyday(!!!), then you could make an argument that one-seat rides are worse. As things stand now, it’s the transfer and the lack of frequency, that often makes walking the better option. That’s a shame.

      1. Yep.

        The result of the official planning process is no less painful though.

        In the comments for the proposed Alternatives, I seem to remember a discussion point about CHS being a black-hole for local routes. The metaphor seems apt. The 43 seems imploded.

        The most telling points are those in the exchange between Martin and Zach, here:

  18. I am not as discouraged – or surprised – by this outcome as many commenters. In fact, leaving the Capitol Hill route structure intact was my (cynical) expectation before the official restructure process began.

    Historically, the Capitol Hill route structure does one thing well: taking people from every point of Capitol Hill/Central District to downtown Seattle (the 48 is the exception). Moving forward, even with Link, the primary transit demand will continue to be home to downtown and back.

    Link is an express service. The current routes are local service. You can’t replace local service with express service. The distance from Capitol Hill to downtown is too short for many riders to choose two seats to complete the trip. The primary use of CHS is express transit service to/from destinations within the walkshed of the station.

    As the Link network expands to other popular anchors, demand will grow for bus routes connecting Capitol Hill/CD beyond the station walkshed to CHS. But this demand will always be less than the demand for direct service to downtown. It may result in an overlay service where some arterials have two services: one to downtown and one to CHS. But this arrangement will take a decade or more to evolve.

    1. EDIT: “The distance from Capitol Hill to downtown is too short for many riders to choose two seats to complete the trip.”

    2. you can’t replace local service with express service

      But that’s exactly what they’re doing with the 43.

      1. I meant (mostly) taking away a local service because it’s seen as duplicative with an express service (Link), not that the peak 43 is express in any way.

      2. The 43 is being replaced with more frequent 8 and 48 routes. It is a move towards a grid-based system.

      3. True on a per-route basis, though as the post notes, net frequency is reduced by 25% on 23rd/24th and by 38% on John/Thomas.

        Today’s 43 runs every 15 minutes until until 8pm, and today’s 8 runs every 15 minutes until 7pm, for a combined 8 buses per hour on their shared east-west segment. Post-restructure, the 8 will have 12 minute frequency mid-day, 15 minute frequency from 6-8pm, 20-minute frequency from 8-10pm, and 30-minute frequency from 10pm-12:30am. And don’t forget that the 8 isn’t gaining any late night or night owl frequencies, with the last Route 8 trips being at 12:30am. That’s an additional cut on top of the frequency losses, as today’s 43 runs until 2:15am inbound and 1:15am outbound.

      4. The 43 and 49 have two jobs. One is to take people from the U-District and downtown to Broadway because the 71/72/73X don’t. The other is the intermediate stops on both sides of Broadway. Link fulfills the first goal much better than the 43 or 49 ever did. It doesn’t fulfill the second goal at all.

        Interestingly, Metro has been positioning the 49 to be the primary route on Capitol Hill. Every move for the past couple years has been in the 49’s favor, and even now it kept the ultra-frequency with the 49 rather than restoring the 43. I think the 49 is the most grid-incorrect route and should die — the 43 would be better because it connects all of Capitol Hill’s density centers — but Metro chose the 49 instead. So that’s the golden route you’re getting.

    3. How will riders who live outside the walkshed access the express service of Link to areas other than downtown (particularly to the north)? Ride the bus all the way downtown and then backtrack past the Capitol Hill station? Continuing to run the 10, 11, and 12 to downtown without even stopping near the station is ridiculous. Having the only east-west connection be the notoriously unreliable 8 is callous at best.

      People want to go to places other than downtown, and this “restructure” does nothing to improve that while making access to the station harder than it is today. The status quo is not being maintained, it’s being degraded.

      1. Compare two transit demands from any random point on Capitol Hill:

        1. Direct service to downtown
        2. Service to Link-served areas via CHS (UW, airport, Bellevue, etc.)

        The current network optimizes (1).
        Demand (2) doesn’t exist yet but will grow over time.
        Demand (1) will continue to exceed (2) for the next several decades.

        Since (2) is being created next year, it would be great to add transit routes to serve it. But continuing to meet (1) takes priority. Meeting demand (2) without compromising (1) would be a positive restructure. However, among several iterations of proposals Metro was unable to make that work. The street geography of Capitol Hill may require separate routes to do both (1) and (2) well. My theory is that these overlay routes will be slowly added over the next years as demand (2) increases. And us STB-types will complain about the increase in system complexity.

      2. In that case the 43 does both (1) and (2), yes? It could have served the station well while still serving its same network functions.

      3. @Ryan — You are ignoring the fact that getting on a Link train takes several minutes as well as the fact that the station itself is not located in a particularly convenient location. It isn’t a magic transporter — it is a train. Most of the Central Area was simply ignored because the stations — sorry station — in the area was so ridiculously limited. From 23rd and Cherry — AKA Garfield High School — you have two fairly frequent buses. Will either one be restructured to take advantage of this billion dollar investment that all the good people in the area are paying for? Of course not. It is quicker to just take a bus downtown.

        Metro fucked up, to be sure. But Sound Transit screwed up worse. Metro should have simply said “Sorry, you guys are idiots and know nothing about building an urban high capacity line. What you are adding does nothing for us. Call us when you figure it out”.

      4. Pine Street is only three blocks from the Denny entrance to Capitol Hill Station. It’s not fall-out-of-the-bus-into-the-train close but it’s closer than the UW Station Marathon.

      5. ” The street geography of Capitol Hill may require separate routes to do both (1) and (2) well.”

        That’s why I can see two routes coming from Madison Park, one being the 8 to Seattle Center, and the other being the 11 or BRT to downtown (Pine or Madison). People would jump in horror at the Madison Park “overservice”, but it’s the only way to comprehensively serve the area without leaving anything out given Madison Park’s location and there’s only a single road in the eastern part.

      6. I agree, the CHS is much better than Husky Stadium, but a transfer — any transfer — to a deep bore tunnel station has a significant penalty. The big problem is that from a bus interaction standpoint, the station is not convenient enough to make up for the penalty.

        Imagine a restructured 11 versus the current 11 in the middle of the day. They separate at 19th. By the time the new 11 is by CHS (right by the front door) the old 11 is by the freeway. By the time someone has walked down to the station, the old 11 is downtown. This gets to Chad’s point: it is kind of silly to transfer to Link there if you are headed downtown. Likewise, it isn’t that much faster to get to the U-District using the new 11 and Link than it is to transfer to the 48.

        Now imagine if Link had another station at 23rd and Madison. The transfer would occur there. For downtown and the UW it would save you a huge amount of bus time. You still have the transfer time, but the time spent getting from 23rd and Madison to CHS is eliminated. What is true for Madison Park and Montlake is also true for First Hill. The lack of stations is why this restructure is so hard.

        Just to be clear, if I had to add one station, ti would be at CHS, but it just isn’t convenient for buses, especially if you want to restructure the routes to serve it. A restructure will be a lot better once Madison BRT is added, assuming it is built to Gold BRT standards.

      7. RossB,

        I like you plan, and it would work well with the needs of bus riders on Madison giving them a choice of BRT or service to Light Rail. It would also provide access to the downtown Pike/Pine corridor.

        Now the big question, will the planners at Metro be able to accept an NIH plan, especially one proposed on the STB.

      8. That’s why I can see two routes coming from Madison Park, one being the 8 to Seattle Center, and the other being the 11 or BRT to downtown (Pine or Madison).

        If the Madison BRT is extended to Madison Park then that would pretty much do it. Folks would have to transfer to the 8 or 48 to get on Link, but that is really no big deal. All three buses would run very frequently. I originally scoffed at the idea of extending the Madison BRT that far, but I’m warming to it. The 11 has a lot of service hours, and they would simply go away. But to do that, Metro would have to pay Seattle for that, because otherwise Seattle would be spending a huge amount of money for a relatively small service area (Madison Park is nowhere near as popular as the rest of that line). If Metro promised that the savings would go into more Seattle service, then Seattle might just do it (even though it might kill some of their other plans).

        The other alternative is to simply follow the new plan for the 11, but without the silly sharp turn on 19th. Just have it double up service with the 8, which would probably be most welcome. This would enable someone to very quickly get from Group Health to Link and still give them a one seat ride to downtown or where the 8 goes. The 43 could, of course, then be killed completely.

  19. This is a disappointing outcome, all around.

    I must disagree with Zach’s line above about the “excellent Alternative 1.”

    It was an excellent alternative only from a pure fantasy-planning standpoint, but was an extremely hard pill to swallow for the neighborhoods in question. The STB, through David Lawson’s original write-ups, was absolutely fawning over that proposal, which quickly exploded in the comments here, and on other community blogs.

    From the moment I read the proposal, I knew it was DOA. The STB’s initial post swallowed the proposal, hook line and sinker, when many of us saw right away there was no way this was going to get through the process. It would have been far more productive for STB to be at least moderately critical of that proposal from day one. I will give David Lawson credit, he was extremely active in the comments trying to understand the exact issues in the proposal and to come up with suggestions on a more palatable plan.

    Metro, by putting out a pure fantasy plan, got folks in the neighborhood so wound up that even after revised proposals came out (ones which, on first glance seemed much more acceptable) couldn’t get the constituents to accept. This is a huge problem. In Seattle, a little nuance goes a long ways.

    I didn’t like Alternative 1 for Capitol Hill, at all. I though the interim solution was not optimal, but acceptable. Now we are getting something that is far, far worse. This is a disaster.

    I will point out before that a number of years ago the King County Council and Metro staff agree to get rid of the 40/40/20 rule (or whatever it was) in favor of using service guidelines to determine planning goals and future routes.

    Where are the service guidelines in this worse than status quo move that we’re getting for Capitol Hill? Where are the service guidelines for the restoration of the 42 MLK routing?

    These are being driven purely (?) by political considerations, without any acknowledgement of an optimal network. Remember when this blog was up in arms over a council member trying to save a barely used eastside DART route because eliminating it would cut revenue from Hopelink, the contractor that operated the route? The STB pointed out that the council making that move would be violation of the service guidelines. Where does this awful restructure (and the possibility of returning the 42 routing) fall in regards to the service guidelines?

    1. In my case I had hoped that an Alternative 1-like solution would finally spur the changes necessary to make that network work, especially doing something about Denny. As someone who has lived in both Capitol Hill and the C.D., the four brand new 10-minute transfer points (Broadway/Jefferson, Broadway/John, 23rd/John, and 23rd/Cherry) would have been a godsend. The network gave everyone more service, gave the heart of First Hill a connection to Capitol Hill via Route 49 in a way the streetcar fails to, and more. But I’ll agree that it was likely unworkable without additional political will to make transfers both more pleasant and reliable. As it stands, I will probably never ride the 49 again after March even though it stops across the street from my apartment. Under Alternative 1, I would have had more destinations available to me.

    2. And K.H., even if we disagree about particulars, hopefully we can all join together to express our disappointment/exasperation/outrage with how this process caused a lot of headaches and ended up serving no one well.

      1. Zach –

        Absolutely… I think the outcome here is a total disaster.

        But I still strongly feel that rolling out a #1 Alternative that never stood a chance of getting through was foolhardy, and did nothing but galvanize opposition to any change.

        Travel patterns in this area are very nuanced, and the street-grid and geography are extremely challenging.

      2. Since I can’t edit my posts (and I hit post comment too quickly)…

        It would be interesting to know… Is this what the neighborhood actually wants? No access by transit to Capitol Hill station?

        If the way this process went through is led to the *worst possible outcome* what would a process look like that would lead to even a mediocre outcome, if not a good outcome?

        In my mind, starting with less ambitious but passible proposal would be the start. Having a great, data driven model of who the routes will carry would be helpful. Note that we never got ridership projections, results of customer surveys, etc that supported the Alt #1 proposal. It felt very much like drawing lines on a map to create coverage.

        Metro knows, today, how many people are boarding each route, at each stop. Metro knows a bit less about where those individuals get off, though some of this can be imputed by transfer data, ORCA card travel patterns, etc. Some robust ridership modeling on a less ambitious model would have been very useful as backup for why this restructure had to happen. I didn’t see any… but maybe I was asleep at the switch?

        Finally, I fear that the way the town halls, and public process meetings are being held allows them simply to become total “bitch sessions” about everything that is wrong. I’d love to see staff to take a somewhat more aggressive approach on “why this change will be great for you.”

        Note that if staff can’t stand up there a do a “why this change will be great for you” presentation with a straight face, then the change probably won’t be great for you.

      3. Thanks for those links Zach.

        The ridership stats are for existing ridership, on each potentially affected route.

        What I would have liked to see was how many riders from the existing pattern of routes would have been expected to go to the new routes, and how many new riders would be attracted.

        This would required some complex modeling and data crunching, but should not have been impossible. Metro needs to model and measure the impact of their changes when they present them.

      4. Part of the problem could be in the presentation. Metro’s usual phrasing is to say, “Delete route X , replacing it with new service Y and Z.” At the open houses most people seemed to tune out after the “delete” and ignore the benefits of the new service. It might be better to say “Add new service Y and Z, replacing route X.” Focus on the improvements first.

      5. This is as disappointed as I have been with the transport situation in Seattle since I voted YES in 1970 for the Forward Thrust rail system. Will weill now wait another 40-50 years to make things right in the city? And will the #11 will still be running the way it has for 75 years for another 3/4 century?

      6. “At the open houses most people seemed to tune out after the “delete” and ignore the benefits of the new service.”

        That’s the intrinsic bias for the status quo. People can concretely see what losing that stop and routing means for them, but they can’t picture how they might find the new routing more useful over time. And they think about their own trips rather than about the majority of the population’s or the widest cross-section of society. Tthere are also other people who would benefit from the new route. But most of them don’t know it’s being proposed because they don’t follow transit news, or they don’t realize how it would fit their trips well, or they don’t live in the neighborhood yet because the existing transit is so time-consuming and infrequent, or they haven’t moved to the area yet or are in high school living with their parents. What Metro and the council hear is the people who don’t want to give up their routes; what they don’t hear are the people who would benefit from the new route but don’t realize it yet.

      7. “But I still strongly feel that rolling out a #1 Alternative that never stood a chance of getting through was foolhardy, and did nothing but galvanize opposition to any change.”

        We repeatedly asked Metro to be bold and it was bold. If it had proposed only a timid restructure, this debate would have never happened and we’d be fuming at Metro for not giving a real reastructure a try. It’s better to take two steps forward and two steps back than not to take any steps at all, because eventually you might succeed, whereas if you don’t step you definitely won’t succeed.

    3. “…what they don’t hear are the people who would benefit from the new route but don’t realize it yet.”

      To be fair, as an experiential learner I’d have to experience the new route (including walking to the new stop) for a few days before I see the benefits. Its tough for most people to look at a map of the proposal.

    1. It’s amazing to see that Martin is getting a d.p.’ish tendency to vote against Metro measures and advocate against them. That should scare the bejeezus out of Metro.

  20. The turn from E Madison to 19th Ave is Possible in a bus, but it will take some outside the box thinking and SDOT to make such a reality.

    To make the turn work, the stop bars the Eastern Side of Madison and the Northern side of 19th would need to be moved back about 100 feet. Parking on the West side of 19th Ave would like wise need to be reduced by 4 stalls. The Light timing would then need to be changed allow A bus to make the turn without dodging other traffic.

    Doing would give the buses the room they need to make the turn. It would be tight, but they could do so. The Route 114 makes a similar left turn from NE Sunset BLVD to NE Union Ave in a 60 foot bus.

    The questions is if there would be the political will to make such changes and would that cause more traffic pain then it is worth.

  21. After looking a bit harder at it it really isn’t that bad – it’s basically just what was there before with the exception of the 43 which becomes more of a peak period run. So not horrible, just not anything of an improvement.

    The one improvement that does seem to be getting glossed over the is the the First Hill Streetcar. That tally is not included in the vehicles per hour summary, yet it does represent an increase of capacity on that corridor which the more shrill voices on this blog seem to be overlooking

    Yes, it is not part of the restructure, but it is real and it shouldn’t be discounted just because it comes on-line before March and doesn’t have rubber tires,

      1. Ah. Sorry. My bad. You did. But you also included it in the “before”, which is a bit misleading because it is new service that isn’t even running yet. And it is new service that is specifically designed to tie in with LR

        But, ya, you did include it.

    1. You are really downplaying the loss of the 43. If you live around John east of Broadway you have a bus with direct service to the two biggest destinations in Seattle. Now, you have one bus that goes to neither and is famously unreliable. Plus it runs less frequently and ends earlier. It is absolutely horrible. The retained 43 is peak direction only so if you commute to UW or the Eastside via the 520 stop it is worthless to you.

      This part of Capitol Hill obviously kicked someone at Metro’s dog and I don’t understand it.

    2. I don’t understand the loss of the 43 (outside rush hour). I can understand why Metro punted and said “no change”, but that isn’t the case here. As I understand it, they are basically asking people to make more transfers in the middle of the day, when frequency is poor. The 8 will be a little more frequent, but not a lot more reliable (for this section). The 49 is the bus that gets the biggest improvement (from 15 minute to 10 minute frequency) but that seems silly to me. I’m sure a lot of people use the 49 to get from one college to the other (Seattle Central to the UW) or maybe as a way to get from the area around the college to downtown but you would use Link for both those trips. It wouldn’t surprise me if ridership on the 49 drops right as they add frequency, which is crazy.

      I’ve been defending the decision of Metro to stick with the status quo, but after further reading, I can’t help but think this is worse than the status quo. The only thing that might be an improvement is reliability on the 8, but that is about it. I’m not sure that is worth it.

    3. Do we know for sure that the Streetcar will come online before March? I keep waiting for Scott Kubly to announce additional technical issues with the off-wire system.

  22. Good post, Zach, except for this:

    Sound Transit is almost entirely powerless to improve transit access to its ‘neighborhood’ Seattle stations (including the Rainier Valley, Capitol Hill, and soon Roosevelt).

    Sorry, Zach, but that statement is absurd. Sound Transit has all the power in the world. They could have added a station in First Hill, and they could have added a station on 23rd. You can bet your ass that a restructure would have looked completely different (and wouldn’t have had to make 135º degree turns) as a result.

    The same is true all over our system. Sound Transit has actively fought against a station at NE 130th. Against! The light rail agency is essentially ignoring bus to train interaction, and now we want to bitch about how Metro is dropping the ball? Fine, but how about throwing them a decent pass!

    Mount Baker, First Hill, 23rd, Husky Stadium, NE 130th … All stations (or lack thereof) missing a good bus to rail interaction because Sound Transit doesn’t really give a shit about bus to rail interaction. But you can bet that the next suburban station will have a very nice parking lot.

    1. Ok, I clearly meant bus access, as adding rail stations isn’t within the purview of these restructures, but fair enough I guess. The point as I intended it remains true: that ST has neither the authority nor ability to add any non-express or non rail-connecting bus services. There was even a question of whether they would be legally allowed to add a single stop at LCW/20th Ave NE on the 522, but thankfully the Board approved it.

      1. Yes, but that really isn’t the problem. We need to look at the big picture here. Without a doubt Metro screwed up big time with this change, especially with the way they did this. But imagine if Metro said this a few months ago:

        Metro has decided to leave the bus routes largely intact in the Capitol Hill area. The addition of only one station — a station not especially accessible by buses — make it impossible to do a restructure worthy of the efforts. If Sound Transit had added a couple more stations (e. g. 23rd and Madison as well as on First Hill) then it would be much easier. Metro will restructure the bus routes when there is a more useful high capacity transit change in the area, which will occur when Madison BRT is added

        Would anyone blame them for that? Of course not. Metro screwed up, without a doubt, but it was Sound Transit that screwed up first, and gave them terrible alternatives to choose from. A restructure shouldn’t be that hard. It won’t be that hard when Link gets to Northgate. It will be much easier when Link gets to NE 130th, but let’s not forget that Sound Transit fought against the NE 130th station! Sound Transit has shown a complete disregard for bus to rail interaction. You get terrible performance as a result. To paraphrase Jarrett Walker, one of the worst things you can do is have the train people build the light rail line and then tell the bus people “deal with it”. That happened here, and has happened numerous times.

    2. Not just siting the stations (the horse is out of the barn and has been well and thoroughly beaten on the stations mentioned), but designing them. Provisions were not made to work with SDOT/UW/Metro to allow for reasonable siting of bus stops and transfer locations while the stations were being designed/built; if they had there would not be the inevitable angst re-siting stops will take or the inertia that will keep them from ever being changed.

      ST, as we’ve seen at N 130th, historically has not wanted to understand the fact that buses and trains should interface whenever and wherever possible. That said, it’s hard to completely blame them–why would you plan for bus service, no matter how logical, that may never actually appear because somebody terrified of change can scare Metro into cowering in the corner?

  23. I am still wondering where the Capital Hill Transit Station is located. Why is there a station but no bus transfer areas? Mount Baker Station is a good example but even that is not close enough to the light rail. CHS would have been great as a transfer station, instead it is nothing.

    1. The north entrance is at Broadway and John on the southeast corner, right where the 43 is was. The south entrance is on the west side of Broadway just south of Denny, next to the streetcar terminus and either in or next to the college red-brick area. That’s three blocks from Pine Street, or the north edge and the south edge of the college. There may be a third southeast entrance; I’m not sure.

    2. Very urban stations in most every city don’t have off-street bus transfer centers. Bus stops on the street serve this need.

      1. Go look at how MARTA (Atlanta) does bus/rail transfers. That should be the goal. In most stations, you don’t even have to go outside to transfer.

      2. PeteyNice. Fine, but that really only applies at stations with lots of bus to rail transfers… Think Northgate (which is being built with a great transfer facility below the station). Capitol Hill was never intended to be such since there is so much activity that can be walked to within a mile or so. Bus transfer representing a small portion of the ridership at CH, no matter how you structure bus service; same for U District and Roosevelt station.

      3. That isn’t true. There are four bus routes that serve Midtown station in Atlanta – the same number that will serve CHS – and it has an attached bus transfer facility. No crossing the street, there is a roof over your head 100% of the time from when you get off the train to when you get on the bus.

      4. Alright, you’re correct: That station in Atlanta doesn’t have a lot of bus transfers. But critically, all the routes that serve it terminate there. Transit centers mid-route (think 49 or 8) increase the overall travel time for routes because of circuitousness of routing/extra turns to get into the off-street facility.

  24. “Sound Transit is almost entirely powerless to improve transit access to its ‘neighborhood’ Seattle stations.”

    That would be true if Chairman of the Board of Sound Transit didn’t also run Metro.

    1. True, and behind the scenes Dow is the one who can agitate to get things done. But even he is limited by Sound Transit’s founding authority only to run HCT service…running connecting bus services within King County is just not their turf.

  25. How extensive was the outreach for this restructure?

    For the several restructures that are part of the MAX Orange line (the second and third haven’t happened yet) TriMet was pretty relentless in getting neighborhood feedback. It wasn’t just at a couple of specific meetings, but three were mailings, newspaper inserts (one of which contained two free day tickets), representatives sent to community organizer meetings, surveys of ridership at transit centers, web site surveys, mailings to every address in the affected zip codes, and I think even a booth at the local farmer’s market.

    In any transit system, the current route structure works for those who use it. However, it doesn’t work for those who don’t use it.

    Naturally, telling everyone using the current structure that it is changing creates an uproar.

    You have to create a bigger, louder uproar among those for whom the current structure doesn’t work. That means taking aim at those that aren’t currently aren’t using transit and don’t get the regular news feeds.

    1. It seems that the way the Metro provides information is to leak it to STB writers, who in turn let the rest of know what’s coming; so many times I read about decisions here but can’t find them on the project web sites that Metro has. Metro’s idea of feedback usually begins with no more than two alternatives at a time. Then they send out web surveys with either trivial choices or with vague opportunities to provide comments that don’t get discussed. Then, they hold public meetings and open houses at odd times showing off their choices, and leaving people to merely like or dislike it. There are no focus groups. Oh, and let’s not forget that they propose alternatives that they haven’t even field tested (like 19th/Madison).

      You are lucky in Portland to have a more strategic consensus-building commitment.

      Finally, I would note that the Orange line is open. If it’s true as you describe that restructures have yet to fully occur, it gives me hope that maybe we’ll not put the Metro restructure ideas in the trash, but will instead unfreeze them after a few months of Link operation. Maybe this refusal to implement something now is ultimately a good thing.

      1. Part of the Orange line restructures rely on a Sellwood bridge that buses can use. It’s been closed to buses since the cracks in the concrete were found in 2005 or so.

        The set of changes after that depend a bit on the politics in Southeast. They want to get rid of the silly whoop-de-doos the 19 makes on each side of Highway 99E near Bybee & 28th, but there are some wealthy residents that want them that way in the event they ever need to use the bus.

        So, stuff down here gets tied up in process too.

        At least “No More Bybee Street Bullshit” makes a good protest slogan.

    2. I thought the outreach was pretty good. I heard it about it through several outlets, including Metro itself. It is pretty easy to get on their mailing list.

      I really don’t think that was the problem. I think the biggest problem was that restructuring for this round of Link was bound to be very difficult. When the Northgate station comes in, the restructures are pretty obvious and most welcome. It will be somewhat annoying to get off the 41 and schlep up to the platform to take the train, but of course that is what everyone will do. The bus goes right by there now. But with a lot of these buses, riders were expected to see their bus route go on a completely different route to serve a station that for them is out of the way. Some would obviously benefit (getting from Madison Park to Group Health would have been a lot easier) but few would suddenly see this as a faster way to get downtown.

      Of course, the biggest problem was that they never vetted the latest idea. This was not Metro’s original plan or backup plan or alternate. This was a plan that came out of public feedback at the last minute, and no one bothered to double check the feasibility of it. That is a terrible mistake. But to say that everyone in the community preferred this, or the other over the status quo is simply not true. I’m sure there are a lot of people who find the whole process ridiculous but are happy with the outcome.

      1. It isn’t the getting on the mailing list that I would be concerned about.

        What I am most concerned about is getting the word out to the hundreds who don’t use transit because it doesn’t meet their needs.

        Then again, in this part of Seattle that might not be such a big problem.

    3. So many things have happened the past two years with Metro, Sound Transit, SDOT, and the county that I can’t keep track of which parts were related to the U-Link restructure. But as a general chronology that might not be fully accurate in the details, the process started around last fall with a sounding board, which is essentially a focus group. I applied for it and attended one or two meeting but wasn’t chosen (they were looking for more diversity). Metro presented ideas and alternatives to the sounding board and asked what they thought of them.

      After a month or two I think the sounding board disbanded and Metro published the first two alternatives. They were covered on STB, but one was an extensive urbanist restructure and the other was hardly any change. The focus was east Seattle, northeast Seattle, and the 520 routes but the changes extended to Fremont. There may have been articles in the paper and signs at bus stops; I don’t remember; there were for some other issues. The northeast Seattle changes were well received except for a few details (and laments about the distance from UW Station to Stevens Way). The 520 changes were mostly booed, and Metro didn’t feel it got enough feedback from the Eastside to be sure they were good, so it withdrew them and said they may come back in a larger Eastside restructure next year. The east Seattle changes mixed reviews: several different factions and no consensus.

      Then Metro published the third alternative, which had a substantially different network in east Seattle. Again there were mixed reactions, several different factions, and no consensus.

      Then RegN leaked an unpublished alternative on Page 2, which we can call Alternative 3 1/2. Again the same response. At that time Reg revealed that Metro had been meeting with various community groups to get their feedback, so I assume that happened everywhere. There was probably an announcement “Would you like Metro to come to your group to discuss the restructure?”

      Then Metro sent the final proposal to the county council, or Alternative 4. Again similar response. I think that was the county hearing in Sand Point, although again there have been so many hearings and events I can’t remember which was which. The council amended it to make a few changes, and passed it.

  26. It is sad to see that Madison Park/Valley along with myself are given credit for there being almost no Capitol Hill restructure. Was it out job to test the 19th Ave East and East Madison solution, I think not. I was at the KC Council voted to approve Metro’s restructure, and the Council was under the impression that it was tested!

    There were proposals by David Lawson, myself and others that could have worked better than what Metro’s final restructure was. The saddest part is that they could have run the 11 up to 15th Ave East and East Pine, but do anyone think they tested that option? They could also fix the lack of service in the Summit neighborhood by having the 10 take over the 43 route from Broadway and John to downtown via Olive. Either of these would have provided greater access to Light at Broadway.

    People on the blog given me too much credit for having stopped Metro, they did it to themselves. I was at several of the meetings in Madison Valley, and there planner was unable to answer people’s questions on how to get from point A to point B. I wish that Metro had listened to some of the great proposals that were given on this Blog. I for one was willing to have a two-seat ride to downtown to get to Light Rail on Broadway, and I was also for an all Madison 11 run with a jog at Broadway and Pine to facilitate a seamless transfer for those going downtown.

    As has been said many times before Madison is a unique street and I like most of Seattle voted for the Move Seattle initiative because I wanted the BRT on Madison and I want it to come to Madison Park too. The fact that Madison runs diagonally across Seattle from shore poses unique challenges that hopefully the BRT will meet. There will be time for a restructuring on Capitol Hill after the Madison BRT is running. Metro needs to work the connections so that BRT stops on Madison become major transfer points to Pike/Pine Downtown and Light Rail. It might even be possible to retire the 11 E Madison bus route.

    The failure of this restructure is due to Metro not working the PR and not veifying that their proposals would was workable. The Capitol restrusture could still be salvaged in my opinion. I also believe that Metro’s credability has been sevely damaged in the eye’s of the County Council.

    1. Good comment — anyone who believes you or people who sympathize with you are responsible for this mess are idiots.

      As I said below, a lot of people wanted to skip this part of the restructure and wait until Madison BRT. The way Metro did this was terrible, but the end result is not (in my opinion). Sound Transit just gave them too little to work with. With the addition of Madison BRT, they will have a lot more.

      There may again be a lot of complaints, but the restructures will be a lot more obvious and the reasoning behind them will be a lot more obvious. The 11, for example, will head to Capitol Hill Station but it won’t make a silly 135 degree turn. It will instead follow the path of the 8 and turn on John. The 43 will put to rest. This will be an inconvenience to some, if not many, but the result will be better overall. The transfer to Madison BRT will be quick and the ride will be very fast. Someone who currently takes the 43 or 11 will get downtown faster, even with the added transfer. It helps that the transfer point is so far away (which means that riders will take advantage of a faster ride for a longer distance). With CHS, that really isn’t the case. By the time a bus made the detour over to Capitol Hill Station, a current bus would be half way down Madison. By the time a rider got down to the station, the current bus would be very close to downtown. It’s the transfer point (and their only being one) that made this restructure so difficult.

    2. RegN, that’s a fair comment. You did do a lot of work and looked at different options, and Metro’s failing to do anything is on them, not any single person here or elsewhere.

  27. I am totally flabbergasted that Metro would go through all the trouble to propose a routing change to the county council, only to go “oops, my bad” months later, when they discover that a bus can’t make the turn.

    Perhaps, in hindsight, Metro should have focused just on NE Seattle for a service restructure now, and deferred Capitol Hill another year or so. Today, there’s a substantial amount of guesswork how many 43 and 49 riders will shift to Link. Once actual ridership patterns emerge following the Link opening, the correct thing to do will become more clear.

    One good thing is that, at least for the most densely populated parts of Capitol Hill, it doesn’t make all that much difference, since those people can simply walk to the Link Station and not bother waiting for a bus just to go half a mile.

    But, I have to agree that simply replacing the 43 with more frequency on the already-frequent 49 isn’t really accomplishing all that much.

    1. After it became obvious that Metro was going to have a very tough time making a restructure work for the Central Area, a lot of people (myself included) suggested they skip that area for now. The addition of only one station made it extremely difficult for a restructure to work.

      But you are right, the way Metro handled this was especially bad. After all the meetings and after all the public input, to then realize you can’t make a turn and then just abandon the whole thing is really sloppy. I am fine with the decision, but they should have known better and investigated the turn immediately after it was suggested.

      A restructure will likely occur after Madison BRT, which in many ways is a bigger change for the area. It is pretty hard to re-route a bus from heading downtown and tell people they should transfer to a train for that purpose when getting to the train and onto the train is not easy. The BRT will not only travel through an area every bit as dense as the area surrounding the station, but will be able to get people to downtown just as quickly (when the walking is considered). Since there are a lot more stops and it will go a lot farther, there will be a lot better connections. If you had to pick one station for the entire Central Area, then Sound Transit picked the right one. But it is not that convenient from a bus standpoint.

  28. It’s sad to say, but transit in downtown is often so disconnected that if I need to get somewhere fast, I use uberx. Try going from Pontius Ave in SLU to summit and pine via transit. These changes will only increase my reliance on uber or Lyft.

    1. This. Transit can’t provide door-to-door service for everyone. Your example is great. Instead of transit or Uber, a 12-15-minute walk would complete your trip.

    2. I don’t see how keeping the 11 on Pine vs. John/Olive would affect this trip. The increased frequency on the 8 remains, and keeping the 11 on Pine actually increases the frequency of buses going to Summit and Pine from downtown.

  29. As long as you have people working in transit agencies who don’t actually use transit and understand how route changes actually affect people and have some backbone when people complain, things like this will keep happening forever.

  30. Alright, so how about routing the 8 and 11 via John/Thomas to and from Madison St and extending the current route 12 down to the Madison Valley to MLK via 27th E/E Arthur Pl? This would make route 12 a true Madison route. Riders from 19th Ave could use nearby route 10 on 15th E or routes 8 and 11 on John St.

  31. I don’t know exactly where to post this but at the public viewing/safety tour of the First Hill Streetcar today, I was told that the line would most likely open by the end of the year.

    That would then be at most T-minus 28 days.

  32. Typical Seattle spend time and money on public forums, planning, etc. only to cancel and stay with the current status quo. Lame!

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