South Seattle College Georgetown Campus could get direct service with a re-route of routes 60 and 124
South Seattle College Georgetown Campus
could get direct service with a re-route of routes 60 and 124

King County Metro rolled out a restructure proposal last month that would, among other things, change bus travel patterns in southwest Beacon Hill and Georgetown.

The proposed route 107 extension would be a boon for students and employees of Cleveland High School, with a new one-seat ride to a wide swath of south Beacon Hill. It would also give residents along that path better access to the soon-to-expand Link Light Rail system, and improve frequency on 15th Ave S.

For a portion of Georgetown, the proposal degrades transit options, by removing route 106 service between Georgetown and downtown, as David pointed out.

But that begs the question: Why is route 60, which serves southeast Georgetown and heads to Beacon Hill Station, not seen as a frequent option for heading downtown? The answer lies in a basic routing error: The route skirts the southern edge of Georgetown heading south (S Albro Pl / Stanley Ave S / 13th Ave S / S Albro Pl / Ellis Ave S), and misses most of central and northern Georgetown heading north (following Carleton Ave S / S Bailey St / 13th Ave S / S Albro Pl). Riders using route 60 to get home have to backtrack northward after departing the bus.

There is a way for route 60 to serve a larger walkshed in Georgetown: Have route 60 cross through Georgetown on Corson Ave S and S Lucile St (which is essentially one long street that becomes an overpass over the railroad tracks and under I-5), between E Marginal Way S and 15th Ave S.

Map by Ian -- Click for full size
Map by Ian — Click for full size

Not only does this widen route 60’s walkshed and remove the Carleton/Ellis couplet, but it also provides direct service to the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College, and save several minutes of travel time for through riders.

A further problem with the current Carleton Ave S path is that it features a series of traffic circles, forcing the bus to crawl down a street that was clearly not designed for bus travel, and frequently scrape its tires. In a conversation I had with a King County Department of Transportation employee a few years ago, it was indicated that SDOT put the traffic circles on Carleton Ave S without consulting King County, and that if King County had been consulted, it would have said No.

Route 60 currently runs 20-minute-or-better headway during the day on weekdays, and 30-minute headway late into the evening seven days a week, thanks to 2014 Seattle Proposition 1 funding. Compare this to 30-minute headway on routes 106 and 124, which tend to be much less reliable than route 60 due to traveling through downtown. Route 60 could easily become the favorite route of many Georgetowners with a simple tweak to put its routing where it can serve the most riders, and take the most direct path to Beacon Hill Station.

Route 124 currently does a better job of reaching northeast Georgetown, but could also improve its walkshed and travel time via a similar restructure, traveling on Corson Ave S between E Marginal Way S and Airport Way S. It, too, has to suffer the Carleton Ave S traffic circles.

One additional tweak that could be considered is decoupling route 124 from route 24 downtown, and putting route 124 in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, which would be an essentially 1-to-1 switch with peak route 106 trips, proposed to no longer go into the DSTT. This would improve reliability on route 124 and potentially improve usage of the tunnel off-peak if route 124 gets an all-day frequency bump. The decoupling from route 24 would be a prerequisite to that all-day frequency bump.

The travel time savings from straightening the path of routes 60 and 124 through Georgetown could help pay for that frequency bump for route 124. Indeed, having each 60 and each 124 travel along Corson three times per hour in each direction all day on weekdays would give central Georgetowners a bus headed in the downtown direction every 10 minutes, if the routes are synchronized well.

Metro’s Comment Period

Metro is continuing to collect input on the restructure proposal, via phone, email, and a survey, through Wednesday, December 23. There will also be a public meeting:

Wednesday, December 9, 6-8 p.m.
Filipino Community Center
5740 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle 98118

43 Replies to “60, 124 Could Do More For Georgetown”

  1. Great idea, but really, really hard to visualize without a map (for non-georgetown residents). Doesn’t need to be fancy, but a map with the current routing, the proposed routing, and shading over the core of Georgetown’s density, to show what we’re trying to serve, would be excellent.

    1. Click on the Corson and Lucile link to see the Google map of Georgetown. Click on the route 60 link and the route 124 link to see Metro’s not-to-scale map of the current routes.

      I apologize for my lack of web map-making skills.

      1. Thanks, and sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude – I’m a consumer of free news about something I’m interested in, and entitled to nothing from my favorite news source. I just have a hard time comprehending things when we talk about routing here and do it with words rather than maps. Unless I know an area particularly well, I can’t visualize the whole thing on the first read through of any description, but it’s usually incredibly clear on a map.

      2. But again, zero obligation – I massively appreciate the work you guys put in to making this blog.

  2. I completely agree re the route 60. It is also destroying the pavement and curbs on Carleton Ave S., which is a residential street with vegetation and tree filled traffic circles. Carleton has limited visibility, and Metro buses drive too fast for conditions to keep to schedule.

    Corson is an arterial with new sturdy pavement, northbound curb bulbs, and is a faster route. It’s not a street where little kids are trying to cross to catch school buses or ride their bikes.

  3. Is there anyway to put the proposed re-route on a map, so people can see in pictures what you’re proposing?

    Beyond that, Route 60 definitely feels like a bus line with the potential to be a lot more than it is now. So happy they added back the weekend service at night. As Beacon Hill resident, now it’s useful to me. I’ve ridden it a few times to/from Capitol Hill on Saturday night since then.

    Once the Capitol Hill Link Station opens, I won’t need it quite so much from Beacon Hill, but it’s still a great option for getting to Georgetown.

    Long-term, I think we’re also going to see a fair amount of migration out of Capitol Hill and into Georgetown, White Center, and South Park, as Capitol Hill becomes increasingly expensive. So having a one seat bus route with decent night time headways from this part of the city to Capitol Hill would be a real plus.

    1. Not to veer too far from topic, but the migration is mostly dependent on housing supply. South Park is welcoming more multi-story, including a new 3-story condo complex next to my 2-story apartment complex. I am delighted to see my neighborhood welcoming more density.

      Capitol Hill has its share of affordable housing opposition, so we are getting a bizarre result that the tallest buildings near Capitol Hill Station are two stories shorter than the tallest buildings near Issaquah Highlands Transit Center, and IHTC isn’t even on the ST3 map.

      Word to housing preservastionists: The shorter the new buildings, the more pressure there is to tear down older housing to meet demand. Raising height limits could help stretch affordable housing preservation funds.

      There is open space around the Georgetown campus that is just crying out to become TOD if it isn’t going to become educational facilities, and nobody would get displaced doing that.

      1. There is so much large multifamily housing being built on the north and south edges of the city.

    2. I like Georgetown—it always struck me as the poor bohemian’s Capitol Hill. That being said, the housing supply, if the zoning allows it since much of Georgetown appears to be industrial, and the bus service much increase significantly if it is going to be a refuge from Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods. Furthermore, the air quality must improve to become much more habitable–a lot of Tractor trailer diesel fuel and jet fuel to be inhaled in those parts.

      1. As is, neighborhood associations have been pushing all the new housing into the fumeshed of I-5, while surrounding light rail stations with gratuitous open space. Is that really any better?

      2. And into the fumeshed of big arterials, too.

        But the specific air quality measures of the Duwamish valley turned me off when I was a potential buyer.

  4. Having one extra bus going downtown is a must have, sometimes the 124 is a no show or very late, having another option to get to work, a doctor appointment or anywhere is desperately needed. The 124 and 60 are long routes that do run late often.

    1. Question to any Georgetowners: Would you prefer route 124 running in the DSTT or at street level through downtown?

  5. A problem on the Corson routing: it crosses a railroad staging track used many times a day by UP rail to combine freight trains. S Lucile has the same problem. Delays can be ten minutes or more. Would using Airport Way to Corson be better? (right turn from Airport to Corson may not be possible).

    1. I’m not seeing any difficulties with turns between Airport Way and Corson/Lucile.

      Northbound on Corson/Lucile, there is a turnaround right before the stub track.

      Google is not letting me get the right view southbound due to the stacking, but if a train is on the stub track, I think the bus driver can see it from the Airport Way intersection, and have time to turn left. Granted, this makes it difficult to put bus stops between Michigan and Airport.

      I have never seen a train on that stub track.

  6. It sounds like this would improve Georgetown service, which is great. But anything that shaved a few minutes off of travel time would also be fantastic. I’ll sometimes ride the 60 from White Center to Capitol Hill, and it runs about an hour, which feels way too long. Once Link opens I’d probably take it to/from Beacon Hill and transfer, but the convenience of a one-seat ride might make remain an inducement to stay on the 60.

  7. I know this is bordering on off-topic, but folks… polite reminder: Somebody has to factor into any conversation regarding Route KC Metro 124 that Route 124 serves the Museum of Flight, a key Seattle tourist attraction and ends at the Tukwilia International District light rail station.

    I’ll stop there.

    1. My suggestion still has route 124 going by the Museum of Flight the same way it does now. It may make the trip a few minutes faster.

      Georgetown is a mile or so north of the MoFly.

  8. A few things to consider about the 60, 106 and the 124:

    I personally know three Georgetown resident who rely on the 106 for bus service to downtown Renton for work. This, I feel, would be the biggest loss as the 106 is the ONLY bus providing point to point service between the Duwamish valley and Renton. And others I know prefer the 106 to go to downtown Seattle after being passed up a couple of times during peak hours when there was no room on the 124. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I read somewhere that the bus tunnel will soon be rail only so decoupling the 124 from the 24 would not give it access to the tunnel. And the author points out you can get downtown by taking the 60 to the light rail station on Beacon Hill and taking rail into downtown. Please let me know how long that takes and whether I can us my bus transfer on the rail portion.

    There are issues to consider on Corson Avenue:

    The Northern Pacific stub track is used several times a day and can tie up traffic for twenty minutes sometimes. That is likely why buses don’t use it now. And northbound Corson Avenue during peak times consistently backs up past Hat n Boots which would slow buses down in reality. As for the affect of buses on Carleton Avenue; Buses don’t crawl the curbs when they round our traffic circles at a reasonable speed; While I have seen buses going too fast for a residential street with traffic circles I have to say that I watch them out my window all day at Carleton Grocery and most I observe are driven professionally with proper caution. Carleton, like many streets in Seattle, is in need of repair. It must be remembered that some twenty years ago Carleton was an arterial that fed to Interstate 5. All manner of vehicles including large tractor trailer trucks would enter Carleton from East Marginal and sometimes hit 50 MPH racing north to the freeway. Making Carleton a residential street was one of the most important moves forward for Georgetown. This history in mind, Carleton was in need of repair when it was still an arterial, and if S-DOT would address the years of neglect and do the needed repairs it could more than handle the modest bus traffic it currently carries.

    1. Yes, your bus transfer will apply to the rail portion of your trip. Be sure to tap both on and off the rail portion on the return journey, since you pay less if you don’t travel the entire rail route and the balance is refunded when you tap off.

      1. So it will cost the same as a one zone trip on the bus now? Call me old fashioned, but I am still a per trip cash customer. And I usually don’t wear my tap shoes on public transit. Sorry for being a little snarky but my question was more rhetorical as I assumed transferring to the train from the bus would cost more than just riding the bus only. Am I wrong?

      2. If you’re paying cash, then your paper Metro transfer is not valid on Link, and you’d have to buy a ticket in Beacon Hill for $2.25

        Using ORCA however, Link from Beacon Hill to downtown is actually cheaper than the bus, so the transfer is free.

    2. I appreciate your description of Metro’s professional driving on Carleton, and the history of why there are so many overpasses connecting to I-5.

      I ride route 60 a lot. I don’t see the buses as a safety hazard, except at the intersections. The buses take Carleton slow, and take the traffic circles very slow. Even then, they scrape their tires quite frequently. I fear that someone is going to get missed in the rear-view mirror blind spots while an operator is focusing on the very narrow obstacle course. Carleton is the slowest, most annoying part of my ride on route 60, and a deterrent to ridership for those who don’t have the patience.

      I know of no other location where Metro buses have to navigate around traffic circles.

      I haven’t heard anyone else describing traffic backing up that far on Corson. When do you get to observe those back-ups?

      As for your downtown transfer, I suggest spilling out the money for an ORCA card. On paper, it may not save you money over always taking route 124, but it will save you time by making route 60 an equal-cost option, and other riders on your bus will appreciate that you let the bus move faster.

      1. I’m very sorry for being a pesky part time bus rider, slowing down the buses with my cash. Living close enough to walk to work makes an Orca card impractical for me. That said, I love the 60 and use it to go to both Capitol Hill and Westwood but to take it from Georgetown to Beacon Hill then transfer to the rail makes no sense time wise. As for traffic on Corson Avenue, 3:00 PM on is worst.

      2. You can order an ORCA card through the mail, FWIW, and load e-purse online. No special trip is necessary.

  9. This makes sense to me. The big thing that both buses could use is more frequency during rush hour. It is about every 20 minutes, which isn’t very good. I know someone who lives close to the 41 (where the bus is frequent and fast to downtown) and works at that the Georgetown campus. He drives every day (in terrible traffic) because the bus service is too slow.

    I’m not sure which bus should be a higher priority, but I think the trend is towards the 60. When Link gets to Husky Stadium, that would enable a fairly fast trip from there to Beacon Hill and then on to the 60. For my friend, riding the 41, then Link, then the 60 might make sense if the 60 was frequent enough. Then again, maybe a simple transfer downtown to the 124 makes more sense (I can’t tell which is faster).

      1. Cool, sounds good. You’re welcome to put it in the main post if you want. Also, let me know if you want me to do stuff like this in the future and I’d be happy to. If I have a bit of a heads-up I can make it look a lot nicer too.

      1. Zach has been a very busy man. We wouldn’t be able to break all these hard-hitting stories without him.

  10. As a resident of west Beacon Hill (along 15th Ave S), the addition of the 107 would be a major improvement for our connection to the light rail station. The 60 is all we currently have, and it is far too unreliable as it gets choked in areas such as First Hill (it gets stuck on 9th Ave behind long lines of cars turning down the hill to I-5), and turning onto a backed up 12th Ave S by Jackson St. It will be even worse once it’s stuck behind the new streetcar on Broadway. When it rains (most of the year), the 60 can run up to a half hour late. Therefore, I don’t believe the 60 is the best option for those of us downstream. What Metro needs to do is ensured the added 107 trips down 15th Ave S are staggered with the scheduled 60 stops, so that we get every 7 minute service as opposed to the every 15 minute (or worse) service we have now.

    1. Route 60 runs every 15 minutes only during the peak of peak. I’ve always found it to be pretty reliable… and nowhere near a half hour late.

      Route 107 would run half hourly at best. Interlining for even frequency isn’t really possible, except possibly on weekends,I am sorry to say. But if it starts at BHS, that ought to solve the reliability issue (which I wasn’t aware existed, despite route 60 being my main ride) southbound.

  11. How should one travel from Georgetown to Renton if the 106 is rerouted? How would the travel time compare with the current 106 trip?

    1. It’d be 124->F I guess, or 60->Link->106. OneBusAway is down tonight or I’d check travel time.

      1. I personally know three people in Georgetown who work in Renton and take the 106. I take the 106 myself to see performances at Renton Civic Theatre.

      2. Given the choice between a 2-seat ride for a handful of Georgetowners to Rention and a 2-seat ride (or a walk along a perilous stretch of road without sidewalks) for dozens of Cleveland High students and employees, I think the safety of the many is going to have to outweigh the convenience of the few.

        Still 124 to F Line is a reasonably swift trip, and would become even better with a frequency bump on route 124. The current route 106 is neither frequent nor fast.

  12. Also, the 106 provides single bus service between Downtown Renton and the Duwamish Valley industrial job center. I do not know how many people travel for work between these two points, but I suspect the number isn’t insignificant.

    1. F Line to 124 should take care of these hypothetical trips, too, if route 124 can get a frequency bump. Indeed, route 124 connects to a whole lot more industrial valley jobs than route 106 does.

      Route 124 did actually have 15-minute service before the South Park Bridge closed, but got cut back while the bridge was closed, and before the F Line started service. I think route 124 deserves another chance at becoming a trunk line on the Metro’s increasingly gridded network.

      I know I would take it more often.

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