STB has a longstanding policy to print unedited responses to our articles by agency officials. Metro’s Deputy General Manager Victor Obeso submitted this response to Zach’s Tuesday piece entitled “Metro Cancels Capitol Hill Restructure“.
BY VICTOR OBESO
Metro hasn’t canceled the Capitol Hill restructure. Riders will see more frequent and reliable bus service integrated with rail service when ULink launches in 2016.
Metro did have to pull back on the proposal to move Route 11 to John/Thomas, intended to help Capitol Hill riders have better east-west service. As part of our regular planning routine to test that bus turns can be made, we tested the turns between Madison and 19th and determined that changes to roadway channelization would be necessary to enable the right turn from Madison to 19th. SDOT rejected Metro’s rechannelization proposal. As a result, Route 11 will still take riders downtown on its current path. Metro heard a wide array of comments on changing or keeping the path of the Route 11.
Not being able to change the path of Route 11 doesn’t diminish the other key changes with real benefits for riders: Better frequency and better reliability on Capitol Hill.
- Buses will be coming to Capitol Hill Station every 12 minutes North-South and East-West during the mid-day, and every 10-15 minutes during the peaks.
- We will be splitting Routes 8 and 48 to improve their reliability. (Unlike the Alternative 2 network)
- Riders will see added service on Routes 8, 12, 48 and 49.
- Routes 8, 9, 49, 60 and the Streetcar all go past and serve Capitol Hill station with frequent service.
- More frequent evening trips on Route 8 will be funded by keeping Route 11 on its current, more direct path.
Overall, we received mixed feedback from Capitol Hill riders and from surrounding neighborhoods on more aggressive restructuring concepts. There was no consensus throughout the process and we attempted to balance a number of competing objectives.
We’ll be monitoring travel patterns after ULink launches and look for opportunities for further changes, including participating in SDOT’s Madison BRT efforts. We’ve been working with SDOT on making many transit improvements we need across the city and they continue to be a key partner in working to make March changes a success.
We continue to plan jointly with Sound Transit so bus transfers work easily for riders. Each new station gives us an opportunity to learn from our past and make the system work better, and this is a responsibility we take seriously.
Metro and Sound Transit continue to chart a shared path forward, with integrated long-range planning, coordinated bus-rail connections, ORCA Lift coordination and open data sharing – examples of joint transit systems we successfully operate every day. Metro will continue to roll out bold restructures to better integrate rail and buses as ST2 projects come on line. Sometimes public resistance, council opposition, or decisions on city street operations cause us to go back to the drawing board. We will continue to look at changes to the Capitol Hill service network in the coming years.