SDOT held two open houses for the Roosevelt-Eastlake HCT, on Wednesday at TOPS elementary school and last night at UW Tower. The project is the second of the RapidRide corridors partially funded as part of the Let’s Move Seattle levy.

While it’s still early days for this project, we’re getting a better idea of what SDOT meant by the somewhat vague “RapidRide+” that appeared in the levy campaign materials.   Though the initial Transit Master Plan had targeted this corridor for possible streetcar treatment, the city has narrowed the study to focus on buses. That’s consistent with what we’ve seen previously from the Murray administration, which has been selective about streetcar investments.

The latest transit study focused on a route that runs from Westlake Station to Northgate via Roosevelt Avenue and Eastlake.  Think of it as a “local” version of Link light rail, which will travel underground along a similar route. From Westlake Station to Eastlake Ave E, the route might take Westlake Ave. N or Fairview Ave. N.  The Westlake routing is a holdover from when this was a streetcar proposal. Now that buses have been chosen as the preferred mode, Fairview seems like the wise choice, based on current bus routes and the available right-of-way. The buses themselves would continue on to Northgate, but major capital investment would stop at NE 65th St.

The Goldilox menu includes three options:

  • “RapidRide” is the minimum bar and least expensive. It would be similar to other RapidRide corridors: branded buses, station improvements, and transit signal improvements.
  • “Targeted Investments” is being pitched as the sweet spot: it’s what we might think of as RapidRide+. It would add queue jumps for buses at major intersections and possible electrification, along with some bus lanes.  SDOT seems eager to push for electrification as far as possible.
  • “Full BRT” would have exclusive right-of-way and center island stations. It would take away parking and have the highest per-mile capital costs. It would also have the fastest travel times.

The full Roosevelt-to-Downtown corridor has a long and varying right-of-way. Getting exclusive lanes all the way through is likely to be cost-prohibitive. Conversations with Metro on bus integration are still in early stages, though SDOT is obviously aware of the similarities with the new Route 67.  The “targeted investment” approach also leaves the most room for an “Open BRT” system used by both this route and other Metro routes.

Removing all parking is likely to encounter some opposition from some in the Eastlake neighborhood, especially since most demand for higher speeds and reliability will come from passengers on either side of Eastlake, not the neighborhood itself.

The bike options seem the most fluid: bikes may be located on the side of the street, in a 2-way protected bike lane, on a parallel street, or a mixture of all three.

Speaking of parallel corridors, while they are usually rare in a hilly city like ours, the U-district is unique in that there are 5 major N-S corridors within 1/2 mile: I-5, Roosevelt/11th Ave, University Way, 15th Ave, and, of course, Link. Rather than spread out capital and service investments, it would make sense to have a single point of view from Metro, SDOT, and Sound Transit on where to put biking, transit, pedestrians, and cars.

Project engineering will begin next year, with the new line slated to open in 2019.  Documents from the open house will be posted shortly on the project website.

Thanks to reader Tim Fliss for contributing to this report.

83 Replies to “SDOT Presents Bus Options for Roosevelt-Downtown”

  1. Frank – could you provide a little more info on why fairview seems like the wise choice? As far as I know, buses in eastlake typically take eastlake, and fairview has few businesses, less walkshed, and that annoying gap.

    I like your observation that the u-district has 4 parallel n-s routes and consolidation would be advantageous. For routes with local service, I think getting off of the ave (soooooo slow) is a good idea. Roosevelt/11th is great for serving the u-district, but 15th is better for serving campus. Anybody have a strong opinion about which is better?

    1. Edit: sorry, I misread it. We’re talking about fairview in SLU, whereas I had eastlake in my mind.

    2. I know you were referring to Eastlake neighborhood alignment but it is still worth elaborating on why Fairview is better than Westlake. The big reason in my mind is the fact that Convention Place Station to U District service is going away leaving a big gap in service on that end of downtown which has been served the 70 series. Coming down Fairview allows the route to serve this area en route to Westlake Station, a nice alternative to the 40 and the trolley already providing frequent service on Westlake.

      Not sure why this downtown stretch doesn’t have bus lanes in their targeted investment approach. Similarly, Sdot will need to address the sb approach to the University Bridge with some sort of priority treatment.

    3. The 71/72/72 local used to go down Eastlake where Fairview splits from it, while only the 74 went down Fairview. That was reversed when the 70 was created because of the recent and future development around Fairview.

      The map uses the same line style downtown as on Eastlake so it seems to indicate the bus lanes or BAT lanes would go all the way to the downtown end. However, the maps only showed one neighborhood at a time with no legend so it wasn’t certain what exactly the line meant. But the lines south of 75th were all the same style, while the line north of 75th was different, and that’s where it warned the Full BRT option would have shared lanes (i.e., north of 75th).

    4. With regards to Roosevelt/12th, the main advantage is speed. Everything big is east of there (the Ave, the campus, most of the big buildings, the Link station, etc.). But making a turn and going on any of those streets would take a fair amount of time. It is a trade-off, but a good one in my mind. As Roosevelt continues to grow, it may prove to be less of a trade-off.

    1. At the meeting, a preference for electric was clearly evident, because it involves just extending existing wire. I think the actual bus may not match conceptual diagrams, here.

      1. From what I heard, it sounded likely that they were considering using the same fleet (just buy more buses) that is going to be used on the Madison BRT.

      2. Any talk of center running? It may not make sense here. I don’t really know if there are a bunch of people who turn right and clog things up. Any have any ideas? I know center running can add up, but one of the costs (the buses) would already be paid for.

  2. I don’t notice this being talked about much.. Is there anyway that we can get better bus shelters? As in structures at major bus stops that actually act as a shelter from wind and rain (not just something that looks fancy)? The new rapidride shelters are likened to using an umbrella in the wind…they don’t work much. With the weather lately, that is has been in my face. The old shelters work much better. They block more wind and more rain than the new ones (the old shelters are lower to the ground, higher up, and deeper). Does anyone think about this?? Or are the people designing this stuff just casual, every once in a while riders of transit? Cause that’s what it seems like. When you’re waiting for ten minutes in the rain and wind for a bus, the least you could hope for is a bus shelter that works.

    1. There was an architect at the TOPPS meeting. I remember they were asking for feedback on stuff like bus shelters.

      1. Oh! I would have brought this up if I was there. I hope this is on their radar. I get the impression that a lot of the skimming down on the shelters are at least in part to discourage homeless from hanging out. Which I find retarded. There are more effective ways to handle that issue. Such as the silly mushroom top seats at many of the rapidride stops….can’t lay down on that!

      2. It’s like the protrusions on benches to keep people from lying on them or the spikes on low walls to keep people from sitting. There are better ways to keep the homeless from hanging out there, but they involve money to build housing.

      3. Maybe the discourage homeless people tactics is a little heartless. Uh oh, what if a homeless person could get some sleep in a dry place? Better put some bars and spikes to make sure that doesn’t happen.

        Even when they’re in out of the way places – unused land on side of freeway, underpasses no one passes under – cops come wearing masks and gloves, root through their tents, then have garbage workers throw out everything.

        I’m not even saying we should house these people. I’m just saying we should stop actively trying to make their lives worse

  3. If you didn’t make it to either open house, there have an online comment form here:

    If you care about bicycle safety and bus priority, make sure you let SDOT know. Currently they are aiming for low investment, but paint doesn’t cost that much, and with fairly low investment quite a lot can still be done for buses and bikes along this corridor.

  4. “The bike options seem the most fluid: bikes may be located on the side of the street, in a 2-way protected bike lane, on a parallel street, or a mixture of all three.”

    Please don’t do the mixture of all three – just pick one option and stick with it. A bike corridor that involves constant zig-zagging every few blocks between one side of the street and the other, or a parallel street is going to be a major turn-off to most riders – especially if each zig-zag requires waiting for a stoplight to cross the main street.

    Given the configuration of the University Bridge, one-way (hopefully, protected) bike lanes on the right side of the street seems best.

    1. What about putting the bike lanes on Fairview, which is lower volume and already a bike route. Would that inconvenience bicyclists too much? I guess it depends on whether most of them are going to Eastlake or through it.

      1. See Seattle Bike Blog’s discussion here:

        Fairview Ave E has a big missing piece right in the middle of it, between Roanoke and E Hamlin. The city’s right-of-way turns into lake, and there’s no public passage through the private community. To get around the closure, you have to navigate some extremely steep hills, including a steep dip through a narrow alleyway that passes driveways and garages.

        Fairview Ave E will never work as a complete bike route without a direct and flat connection through this gap… There is no talk of such a project, and no identified funding. For the sake of this discussion, Fairview Ave E is not a functional bike route alternative. We can’t wait any longer to connect the city center to the University Bridge with a safe and direct bike route.

      2. I agree. The Fairview bike route through Eastlake is pretty bad. There’s a steep hill at the North end. Then in the middle there’s a steep jog up to an alley (Yale Terrace) for two blocks. Then back down to the water. There’s some talk of getting a right-of-way through the apartment complex parking lot, but I don’t know enough of the local politics on that. There’s also talk of a floating bridge and more local politics.

        When you ask around, though, the route people tell you about is to stay on Eastlake (southbound) to Edgar, drop down to Yale *Avenue*. That street is all yield signs until it pops back up to Eastlake via Yale Pl. A similar route goes down to Minor Ave instead, which also works and essentially pops out at the Fairview Bridge. It has stop signs, though.

        Wayfinding signage for this route is nonexistent and parallel parking on both sides of the street makes it basically one lane. There’s not a lot of car traffic, but when there is, it’s a problem. Also the Yale Ave route is mostly flat.

        This is the route a lot of my coworkers take, and it’s my personal route when I bike through. I spoke to several Eastlake residents who prefer Yale as well.

        Things to consider is Eastlake probably isn’t wide enough to get really wide PBLs. A lot of the traffic is fast commuter bikes because there are long-haul commuters trying to get up to NE Seattle and beyond. There should be a better secondary option than Fairview regardless, and I don’t think it should just be word-of-mouth.

      3. The Yale and Minor routes (like the route that uses Fairview south of Edgar) still use Eastlake between the U Bridge and Edgar; the Yale route also uses it from where Yale rejoins Eastlake. So they require good bike lanes on Eastlake in those places. This is particularly difficult from the U Bridge to Edgar. Northbound, the last stretch before the U Bridge is where bus lanes are needed most, since the signals at Harvard and Fuhrman are both places where cars heading for the bridge bottleneck join in, therefore where buses need to jump the queue. This section just south of the bridge moves just fine southbound (southbound you’re leaving the bottleneck, not approaching it), but only as long as the left-turn lanes to Fuhrman and Harvard are long enough that cars waiting to turn left don’t block those continuing on Eastlake… which means there’s not much space to spare there either.

      4. Absolutely correct Al. Eastlake North of Edgar has to be a focus if the changes are going to work for people on bikes and in buses. I don’t see any realistic way to get people commuting by bike off that stretch and the current situation is completely unsafe. For me that means PBL southbound at least. I’m still thinking on Northbound. Bus/bike lane? But that seems to be the opposite of what you’re saying.

        At the meeting a consultant said they’d consider a two-way bike lane and reconfigure the bridge to match, but that probably leads to problems on the North end of the bridge and I know people aren’t big on two-way bike lanes.

      5. The problem with the Fairview route is that it doesn’t go through to the U-bridge. So it becomes a jog left and a jog right without a couple miles of each other. It also means waiting for an additional light or two to get back onto Eastlake before the U-bridge.

      6. Not much of a jog, though (800 feet by my measurement). The issue of the traffic light is a good one, but it is only an issue heading north. My guess is that it would be similar to streets like Pacific versus the Burke Gilman. The average rider welcomes the diversion away from the traffic (even if it is “protected”) while the hard core rider just takes a lane. Given the choice of biking along Eastlake with a bus whizzing by me (which is sort of the point) I would choose Fairview all the time (and it would be quite scenic on a nice day).

      7. It’s not just about 800 feet. Getting between Eastlake and Fairview also entails going up or down a steep hill. The north section of the Fairview route also involves an alleyway that has its own steep up and down. While Eastlake is not flat, it’s still a lot closer to flat than the alternatives.

        Also, on the light to turn back onto Eastlake, you are traveling against the dominant traffic direction, which means during peak travel hours, you’re looking at several minutes of waiting just for the light to change.

        Fairview is a great route if you’re just out for a stroll and don’t have anywhere in particular to be, but if you have to keep to a schedule, Eastlake is considerably faster. I’ve tried both options and the time savings by taking Eastlake over Fairview is about 10 minutes.

        Also, if you’re taking a Pronto bike between the U-district and downtown, this 10-minute difference is also the deciding factor as to whether or not it is possible to complete the trip within the 30 minute window to avoid overtime use charges.

      8. But you are talking about Fairview as it exists now, though, right? Not as it would be altered if the city bought the right of way (and built a connection). I think it should be part of this project and we should get an idea of how much it costs. The traffic light is still an issue, though. It would be nice if you could leverage Portage Bay Place (that would involve a slight hill, but avoid the light altogether by using the underpass).

        Just to be clear, if all we have to do is get rid of parking and we can put both BAT lanes and bike lanes here, then let’s do it. But if that isn’t the case, then I don’t want to see a crucial part of our transit infrastructure (connecting Roosevelt, UW, Eastlake, South Lake Union and downtown) hampered because they won’t fit.

  5. I used to bike through this corridor from Ravenna to Lower Queen Anne. I never understood why any biker would travel on Eastlake. I always dropped down closer to the lake. One would really need to be an aggressive rider to brave the parked cars and traffic on Eastlake.

    1. I tend to alternate between the two. Eastlake is harrowing, and not even much faster because all the lights, but the lower route isn’t great either. There are a lot of places with limited visibility where people pop out from behind parked cars and cars pop out from little alleys and driveways. There’s also that silly up down jog through that alley which is so tempting to coast down despite that being a death wish. The closer to lake route is safe-ish if you are riding slow. Eastlake is always dangerous. Honestly, i sometimes will go all the way to dexter, though with all the construction, dexter hasn’t been safe for sometime either.

      So here’s what the deal. If cycle lanes can make Eastlake safe for everyone, we should ask for them. People ride Eastlake in its current configuration. More would ride it if it was safe, and those riding it already would be safer.

  6. “RapidRide+” will soon be seen as “RapidRide-“. I don’t see any features listed in the “targeted improvements” that aren’t already part of RapidRide. Queue jumps at major intersections and some occasional bus lanes is what RapidRide is all about. The only + components could be trolleybuses, or the claimed goal of 6-10 minute frequencies and 10 minute service.

    Metro already picked the three most important lines in the City for RapidRide. Future lines will have slightly less travel demand and less political support, and therefore will be slightly weaker than C, D and E, not +. (Are the 11 or the 67 in the top tier of popular/frequent bus lines? No. The 7 and 48 are, but they are not prioritized.)

    People have already been disappointed in “RapidRide.” Promoting “RapidRide+” when it will actually be “RapidRide-” is just setting yourself up for more disappointment.

    1. the 7 and 48 are in the 10-year BRT plan (as the 23rd-Raineir corridor); they just aren’t the first corridors.

    2. Dedicated lanes are the only thing that will get people moving. Hopefully by the time these RR+ lines are created there will be political will and boldness required to take them and actually solve congestion problems.

    3. The original six RR routes mostly focused on streets that were already designed to move fast. The A and E Lines on different parts of 99, the D Line on Elliott and 15th, the B Line on its wide eastside arterials… even the C Line, which doesn’t have big highways to run on in West Seattle, takes the express route to and from downtown, like the E Line does south of Green Lake. Then there’s the F Line, and there’s nothing particularly fast about the F Line (but it’s important for other reasons, and at least doesn’t have Seattle-level congestion to deal with).

      The “RR+” lines certainly won’t move faster than the original RR lines on average. The Move Seattle corridors mostly don’t include miles-long express or semi-express sections on six-lane highways, and do include slow-moving local streets and lots of bottlenecks. But they do connect lots of high-ridership neighborhoods where today’s service is pretty bad. It will take higher levels of investment just to make a noticeable improvement to reliability!

    4. I think it is too early to tell with either project, but if the point of Rapid Ride is to move people much faster (more rapidly) than a regular bus on the same street, then I think Madison is heading in the right direction. The changes there seem rather dramatic (center running, which implies off board payment, etc.). This would make it faster than a regular bus, and quite often faster than a car (even without considering parking).

  7. So parking is more important than transit? Isn’t all the parking in eastlake free? These things don’t compute.

    Save some parking and loading where you can, manage with price, and keep the city moving.

  8. The Full BRT option appeared to show transit lanes up to 75th Street, not 65th, although it was hard to interpret the maps and there was no more specific information. North of there is where it moves to 5th Avenue NE which has little traffic in my experience, so that may be OK.

    I was glad to see the route going into the transit center on 103rd and 100th rather than going up to Northgate Way, which is a traffic bottleneck. But not using Northgate Way also prevents it from using Roosevelt north of 80th because the in-between streets are too narrow for a bus to get to the transit center, so that puts it five blocks away from the development on Roosevelt and requires walking down a hill to 5th. Still, I think that’s better than buses getting stuck in Northgate Way traffic and becoming unreliable.

    A minor correction: the Wednesday open house was at the elementary school. The Thursday open house was at UW Tower.

    One board asked for feedback on whether reducing on-street parking to improve transit/bike/ped access was OK. I put up a response with “Yes!” and more detailed feedback. Later I looked at the board and there were a couple dozen other responses. I looked through the top half of the responses and most of them said “Yes!” too. So the pro-parking pitchforks did not show up with overwhelming strength.

    1. I think it makes the most sense to turn on 75th and use Banner Way to get over to 5th. You could easily add a traffic light there (at 5th and Banner) which is probably long overdue. For both Banner and 75th you could add BAT lanes (in some cases taking parking, in other cases taking a general purpose lane). For the latter, I don’t know if it is an issue. I don’t know if there is enough traffic through there to justify four lanes. Simply adding a signal might get more people through there quicker than having four lanes..

      There is some traffic in the evening along 5th (heading south, I’m not sure about heading north), but it is not nearly as congested as Northgate Way. There also aren’t as many turns, which is a big issue with the new 67. But 5th is very wide, and has parking on it. I would just take those lanes and call it a day. I can’t help but think that the infrastructure work quits north of there because of Link. There are some people and businesses along 5th (as you get close to Northgate) but not huge numbers. The main value of that route (from Roosevelt to Northgate) is to connect those two neighborhoods (as well as other areas, since many buses end at the Transit Center). I think that route would be very popular if it was fast (and I think it could be fast), but eventually people will have Link as an alternative.

  9. University Way, not University Ave.

    That was actually a point of conversation with another attendee, a staffer, and myself at the open house last night.

    1. Yeah, it is one of the weirdest names, since people call it “The Ave”, even though it is a “Way”

  10. It appears that the City of Seattle is taking back running transit within the city, one route at a time.
    Will Metro still be able to run a few DART buses way down the road?
    When the honeymoon is over in this 3-way marriage (SDOT-MT-ST), it will be interesting which party dominates the divorce settlement?

      1. SDOT doesn’t fund transit. As in there are no operational dollars in their budget. Metro (i.e King County outside of Seattle) bailed out Metro when they failed and were on the brink of defaulting on pension funding. Seattle is back at a point they could revive Seattle Transit. but unwinding from Metro would take some strong political support. And of course Seattle doesn’t want to leave the rest of the county high and dry because the City economy is dependent on suburban commuters.

  11. It always amazes me at how the map in the flyer shrinks the distances south of Spokane Street; the map makes it look like that the BRT network doesn’t need to cover Southwest or Southeast Seattle. Note also that missing unnerved area called Lake City, and that the biggest blank area radiating from Downtown is between Madison and Jackson/Rainier, which is one of the highest low–income and minority areas. There illustrate why I keep noting that Seattle has a white privilege transit plan.

    1. South Seattle is a third smaller than north Seattle. And if you start from all the way south at Spokane Street, it’s only sixty blocks to the city limit, or less than the distance from Fremont to Northgate.

      1. The distance from Northgate Way (105th) to the north city limits (145th) is slightly greater than the distance from Spokane Street (3500) to the south city limits (10500) on this map.

        It’s representative of how the transit planning staff think that South Seattle residents are worthy of less consideration than north Seattle residents.

        Frankly, the map has a huge omission: the First Hill streetcar. SDOT needs to be called out on these things. They have made a bad map here.

      2. Why is the First Hill streetcar relevant? Will it run as frequently as Link or carry as many people? For that matter, will it run as frequently as Madison BRT or carry as many people? The answer is no, in all cases — it is no better than the average bus.

      3. What exactly do you have in mind for the south end, anyway? From what I can tell most of the major areas are covered by Link or this map. It really is Lake City that is the missing part here.

    2. I think it is a stretch to call any of this racism. With the exception of Lake City, the city’s plans make sense, especially in light of existing light rail. Our very first light rail line (the one that is running right now) happens to cut through the largest, most populous section of the south end. Many of those neighborhoods have high numbers of people of color. Madison BRT cuts through the area that used to be the center of the black population in the city (Minor Elementary was about 90% black when I went there). Sound Transit should build a “Metro 8” subway (starting at Mount Baker, connecting to Judkins Park and on to Capitol HIll with a few stations in between and after) before they mess around with West Seattle rail, but that shows a disinterest in effective urban transportation, not racism. I can’t help but think that the lack of a corridor for Lake City has more to do with the reluctance of Sound Transit to add a station at NE 130th (it still isn’t official).

      1. There is a difference between white privilege and racism. Racism would be to intentionally not serve people of color. White privilege is the institutional phenomenon where white citizens are granted power to do things and they do not see that people of color are not at the table. It’s what happens when you have mostly white people hire a mostly white transit consulting firm to prepare a transit plan.

      2. Lake City BRT was in the 2005 plan. The 2012 plan deleted it. The plan was adopted before any ST3 studies started. Blaming ST is a cop out. It’s entirely at the fault of SDOT.

      3. @Al — Fine, replace “white privilege” with “racism” above. I stand by my statements. You still haven’t explained the basis of your statement — which areas of even moderate density are being left out because of white privilege?

        Again, the only major area that is left out is Lake City — an historically white area — and as of this writing, we still don’t have official word from ST if they will even authorize a station at NE 130! Do you really want the city to build a corridor along NE 130th, only to have Sound Transit say “Oh, we aren’t going to add a station there”. As long as Sound Transit strings the city along, the city has to wait, or roll the dice (pick Northgate or 130th).

        By the way, Sound Transit 2 passed in 2008 (in between the two dates you mentioned). ST2 included light rail to Lynnwood, which should have included a station at NE 130th by now. The issue has nothing to do with ST3. Graham Street Station is not part of ST3. Seattle can pay for its damn station, thank you very much — we just need the board to allow us to. Rumors have suggested that this is a given, but there is no official word, which is why Seattle can’t possible plan on using it, nor can they plan on using anything else. We have about 7 years before Lynnwood Link gets built, so hopefully ST can make up their mind by then.

        At best we could work on the section between 145th and 125th, but that is a small section, and my guess is SDOT would rather work on a larger corridor (as soon as it knows which one connects best to Link).

      4. The original point: Shrinking the higher minority areas of South Seattle on the map to be much smaller than they really are (and the tacit acceptance of this by STB posters) is a pretty dang good example of the perception issue that serving whiter areas is more important to portray.

        It’s remarkably similar to the 3/5th head count for African Americans agreed to in the original apportionment of the US.

  12. The information stated that with full BRT that they could achieve an average transit speed of 25 mph south of Denny. That is about what a good subway averages. That showed the thoroughness which they had studied the full BRT option.

    1. That is quite remarkable and definitely worth investing in. One of the big selling points of the proposed Ballard to downtown subway is that serves South Lake Union. This would serve it better (with more stops) and much cheaper (even with full BRT) and roughly the same speed. If it did achieve that speed, then it would be extremely popular, thus enabling much higher frequency.

  13. I know electrification comes with downsides – route inflexibility, losing poles, extra infrastructure costs, etc – but the upside is to me way worth it. Trolley busses are quieter and, most importantly don’t emit diesel soot.

    Personally I’m amazed we allow burning petrol products in the city at all. Every busy street is toxic to breath near. Even for things which aren’t electrifiable like buses, there are alternatives. CNG, battery, hydrogen, are all options, yet we just keep poisoning ourselves because it’s cheaper because that’s how we’ve always done it.

    Sorry for all the rants today. Basically I cannot overstate my preference for electrification

  14. Coming from Maple Leaf, I can’t imagine I’d ever take this route once Link hits Roosevelt and Northgate – even to SLU, I’d rather take Link to Westlake and walk up (or take the SLUT.) Unless they go full BRT, that is, but it sounds like that’s off the table.

    So once you get past five years from now, what’s this route for? Are there that many riders who’d rather have a slow, one-seat ride into Eastlake or SLU? Is it to connect points in-between to Link? Something else?

    1. I used to live near 55th & University Way. At the time U-Way had the frequent transit and Roosevelt was half-hourly, so I didn’t use Roosevelt transit much. But if Roosevelt had been BRT and the primary frequent corridor, I would have taken it to appointments on Eastlake, my dad’s apartment in Eastlake, Northgate if I didn’t want to walk to U-District Station, and shorter trips like Half Price Books (43rd) and Whole Foods (65th). Roosevelt currently feels like the western ass end of the U-District and full of car dealerships, but it’s right in the middle of the upzone area which stretches from 15th to I-5. I can see tons of current and future residents using Roosevelt BRT all day, including for things they didn’t initially realize it was useful for.

      Another way to look at it is, Roosevelt is getting the large walkable mixed-use urban neighborhood that we’ve been trying to get on Aurora for years but failed. Roosevelt BRT may never have as many riders as the E but it’s sure to get a large fraction of it.

      1. Thanks for your answer. I agree that Roosevelt is in the middle of a lot of things. I think where we differ is that I would never even think about waiting for and taking a bus for 10 blocks – that’s in ‘walking is a no-brainer’ zone for me. And I pretty much think of Eastlake a place to pass through rather than a place to go to. For the latter, I understand that’s not true for everyone. But for the former, I’m not sure a BRT with proposed stops every ten blocks helps with that use-case, unless your starting and stopping points happen to align with the bus stops.

      2. I walk some of the time but other times I’m carrying two heavy bags of groceries and more in my backpack, or I’m feeling tired or sick that day, or transferring to another bus, or I have to do a lot in a few hours and don’t have time to walk, or just for variety because I’ve walked past the same blocks too many times. Elderly and disabled people would use the bus all the time.

      3. One of the city’s materials said that 13% of the city’s population live within walking distance of this Roosevelt/Eastlake line. I don’t know if that includes any flying over the I-5 chasm or other impossibilities, but I think this line will be very successful and generate a lot of trips.

      4. The whole point is that it is fast and frequent. Not as fast as Link, but still fast. So, while you might walk ten blocks over to Link, catch it, then walk ten blocks after, I will be sitting at the other end wondering what took you so long.

    2. Coming from Maple Leaf, I can’t imagine I’d ever take this route once Link hits Roosevelt and Northgate – even to SLU

      Yeah, my thought exactly when I read the post title. All the nashing of teeth over Roosevelt getting an expensive LINK station w/o rezoning and now there’s talk of adding deluxe bus service to DT? You want to go DT ride LINK. To paraphrase Yogi, “Nobuses goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”.

      1. Have you ever seen the area? The Roosevelt neighborhood is one small part of this corridor. It’s only getting a line because it happens to be directly between two larger parts. When I said Roosevelt above I meant Roosevelt Way which is much larger than the neighborhood. Andy anyboty who takes it from 65th & Roosevelt to downtown is stupid because Link will be much faster (about 13 minutes). It’s not meant for trips like that but for trips to the myriad intermediate destinations that are either between Link stations or away from Link’s route.

        I would compare it to something on the Eastside except there is nothing comparabe on the Eastside; the closest might be BRT on Bellevue Way and Lake Washington Boulevard from South Bellevue P&R to downtown Bellevue and Kirkland. Tons of businesses and/or multifamily housing that you can walk to on almost every block, and two jobs centers along the way.

      2. Have you ever seen the area?

        Mostly as a drive through or bike riding on Ravenna Blvd which blows me away at how a road in the middle of the city can actually be a pleasent place to ride a bike. When I think of Roosevelt I mostly think of Speaker Lab that used to be there and the hot tub place (does that still exist?).

        I would compare it to something on the Eastside except there is nothing comparable on the Eastside; the closest might be BRT on Bellevue Way and Lake Washington Boulevard from South Bellevue P&R to downtown Bellevue and Kirkland.

        I guess not. B’way and LWB on the eastside don’t intersect but both have nothing but water on one side and nothing on the other. I get it that there’s lots of “stuff” on the arterial called Roosevelt north of the UW. Bus to DT not going to happen. Refer back to my previous posts about nobody goes DT (on a bus); “Not nobody, not nohow!” .

      3. What Mike said. I really encourage people to read the census maps, if you can’t explore the area. The population doesn’t suddenly drop off north of 45th the way it drops off north of 145th. Quite the opposite. The census block between 50th and 55th is quite high (for Seattle). These are people in “no man’s land”. Too far from either station to quickly get there. For most it would take around ten minutes to get to the station, let alone the platform. Speaking of which, if the frequency is the same, the transfer penalty is very low for a surface transfer versus a surface to tunnel transfer (especially our tunnel). I’m not criticizing Sound Transit, it is just the price you pay for a deep bore tunnel (it takes a long time to get to and from a station). There are just a lot of trips for which this will be the fastest way to get downtown, to say nothing of South Lake Union (assuming it is done right).

        One of those trips would be Eastlake to downtown. Eastlake is also relatively high density — more dense than any census block west of the Duwamish, with the exception of High Point.

      4. Sorry Bernie I interpreted your last sentence the opposite of what you meant. But a bus to downtown is realistic, because it happens to be two adjacent areas that both need a bus anyway. A Roosevellt bus could terminate at the Ship Canal but that would be silly because it could just continue as the Eastlake bus. We don’t want to overinvest in long routes to downtown, but at the same time we shouldn’t go too far to avoid them because it’s a cheap way to satisfy the one-seat riders and bus-only people while also serving the non-downtown corridors that are our real goal.

      5. This isn’t that long of a route, either. If it can be made fast, it will be huge. I doubt someone will take the bus in they are on 45th and Roosevelt headed downtown, but just consider taking Link instead:

        1) Walk to the outside of the station — 4 minutes
        2) Walk to the platform — 2 minutes
        3) Take the train to Westlake — 10 minutes
        4) Walk up from the platform — 2 minutes

        It is 4.3 miles by bus to the same spot. If it averages 15 MPH, then it will be faster. This is a good baseline, and if things go well, we could do better than that. That would mean that taking this bus would be rather popular, at least to Westlake or anywhere north of there (to the south you are better off switching to Link). Forty years ago this would have been a pretty empty line for a lot of it. But with growth around South Lake Union, I see this as being hugely popular, assuming they can manage good speed with it.

      6. That would mean that taking this bus would be rather popular,

        But it’s not a popularity contest. Right or wrong the bulk of the money spent by ST has been on building “the spine”. Bruce Gray has expressed on this blog that a large part of Sound Transit’s planning has been based around the premise that in 5-25 years the street capacity of DT Seattle will be such that they can’t route buses to DT. If that’s true, and I can believe that it is, planning routes into DT is a fools errand other than routes that are essentilaly within walking distance and serve as mechanized sidewalks. Everything outside the DT core has to revolve/evolve around LINk stations. Of course that’s part of the justificaiton for spending the huge amount of capital on building LINK .

  15. One of the engineers I spoke with at the open house said that for the “Targeted Investment” option in between RapidRide and BRT, there would be transit signal priority at every single signalized intersection. If that were to remain true into implementation, it would be huge.

    1. What level of priority? Rapid Ride already has some priority; I see it in action every day at 31st and 156th in Redmond. But it isn’t anywhere near enough.

      (Also, does this mean that SDOT is open to retiming the D.P. Memorial Stoplight at Elliot and Mercer Place?)

      1. He specifically said the standard extending greens. The info board said that it would also have sooner greens. I’d be interested in seeing if TSP has any more effect than say a pedestrian hitting a beg button and still waiting the same time. But what I like is that every signal will have it, instead of just a handful on typical RapidRide lines. Who knows whether it would happen or not, as we know everything always gets watered down.

        I think the City needs to step up in providing queue jumps at Fairview and Mercer and southbound University Bridge. Fixing those two chokepoints alone would greatly improve the reliability of the corridor.

        Another idea I think should be seriously discussed is providing bus only hours for one peak direction lane on all the Ship Canal bridges: University, Montlake, Fremont, Aurora, and Ballard. Say from 7-10 southbound and 4-7 northbound. It would be an inexpensive operations/policy fix that would make a huge difference for those transit corridors. Also, the businesses who front the corridors that are always trying to kill bus lanes would not be able to do so as easily on the bridges.

      2. I think we should do 24/7 bus priority on the bridges. As we see in the CBD, timed car bans have a huge failure rate. Ask anyone who tries to get out of the CBD on an Aurora Ave bus.

      3. By itself, a bus-only lane on the Montlake bridge could actually make things worse for transit. The reason is that the merge point it would create for cars would cause massive backups on both Montlake and the exit ramp from 520. Without additional queue jumps a mile long, buses would simply be stuck waiting in line for cars, and the bus lane over the bridge itself becomes counter-productive.

        Besides, the Montlake bridge itself, isn’t really where the backups occur. It is the approaches to the bridge where transit priority is most sorely needed.

  16. Many commenters have noted opposition from business owners and residents of Eastlake to removing parking to allow for a full or partial transit-priority or transit-only lane.

    While I would fully support removing streetside parking in Eastlake altogether (as an Eastlake resident), it seems like it *would* be difficult, given the feedback I’ve heard around the community.

    Would it not be workable, from a transit perspective, to have a beefed-up version of the system we have now, with restricted parking during peak hours (possibly with extended peak-hour timeframes) and parking allowed outside those hours? Eastlake really doesn’t get enough traffic in non-peak hours that it slows down buses as it stands currently.

    1. It’s not just about transit. There isn’t enough room for bike lanes – even the skinny kind – without removal of parking on at least one side of the street.

    2. Of all the compromises and sacrifices that have to be made, I think parking should be the first one. There are plenty of streets that have no parking. Most of them have nothing special in the way of bus lanes, either. You can’t park on Mercer or Denny — there is just too many cars going through there. Just park on the side street.

      I realize this is a change, but in this case (unlike Mercer and Denny) it is a change that will directly benefit the people in that area. There will be stops there and if the bus runs without any congestion, then it can run much more frequently. Madison BRT, for example, will run every six minutes, day and night. That means that basically, if you want to visit a store on Eastlake, you don’t think about driving there, you just take a bus (just like you don’t think about driving downtown).

  17. Eastlake: delete parallel parking; the limited ROW is needed for throughput; buy parcels with low rise buildings; build garages with priced parking; sell the air rights for housing atop the garage.

  18. The full Roosevelt-to-Downtown corridor has a long and varying right-of-way. Getting exclusive lanes all the way through is likely to be cost-prohibitive.

    How expensive, I wonder. I know we don’t want to blow all our money on just this corridor, but it does look a very important one. If we remove parking and move bike lanes to Fairview, then how much of the cost would be for the bike section (buying the right of way)? It seems like that is the way to go. This area is a major thoroughfare. It is kind of surprising there is parking allowed there now (there is no parking on Denny, for example). If the city wasn’t focused on transit and was simply trying to move cars then it could just get rid of parking there just as it did on Denny a long time ago.

    The “targeted investment” approach also leaves the most room for an “Open BRT” system used by both this route and other Metro routes.

    At this point, that makes sense. I don’t think will ever have center running, nor do I think it necessary (correct me if I’m wrong and there are areas with huge numbers of people turning right). BAT lanes could do the job. Focusing on improving the corridor and reducing congestion would be huge, regardless of what kind of service is added there.

    I do see a couple issues with Open BRT. One is that it might screw up reliability. Given the density and demand along this corridor, I could see very high headways (similar to Madison BRT). But that high frequency can easily get messed up if a bus is stuck in traffic somewhere to the north.

    The other issue is payments and cost of operation. Madison BRT is a lot farther along and it isn’t clear to me how that will work exactly. I assume it will be off board payment, but is it proof of payment? If that is the case, then you need the occasional inspector. The longer you stretch out the system, the more inspectors you need (assuming the same headway). To quote Transit Wiki (a site I just found out about), “off-vehicle fare payment may be most cost-effective on corridors with a high volume of boardings” ( That might not be the case north of Roosevelt, especially if it isn’t particularly fast.

    Of course you could just have a very high frequency BRT bus sharing the lanes with the occasional long route bus. I’m not sure if that makes sense for this route, or if it makes sense to keep them separate (and thus avoid any slowdown of the BRT do to the regular bus). All those questions (aimed at reducing dwell time) seem like ones that will be answered at a later date, while we figure out how best to reduce congestion on this corridor.

  19. Maybe this project and Madison BRT with their custom fleet (and the elimination of the 43) will free up quite a few normal fleet electric trolley buses to use on electrifying the 48, 8 and 11?

  20. It would be interesting to consider routing the line between Roosevelt Station and Northgate TC via Green Lake on 5th Ave NE/Weedin Pl NE. It would run right past Green Lake Village PCC store and the commercial district in Green Lake.

    1. I was thinking that as well. Banner has been suggested in the past, and I think that makes sense as well.

      Based on my reading of this, I don’t think anything north of Roosevelt will get much in the way of improvements. My guess is that they aren’t that interested in investing much into it because Link provides the key connection. The farther out you go, the more it makes sense to take Link, and avoid the surface route (even if the surface route is pretty fast). Half way in between Roosevelt and the UW is a high density area. South of the UW you have Eastlake (another high density area) and South Lake Union (very high density, high employment area). Between Roosevelt and Northgate there really isn’t much, except close to each station (and the area you mentioned is fairly close to the station). A 5th/Weedin would change that dynamic. There are plenty of people there. I have no idea how much work would have to be done to make that route fast (or if making the other route fast would be easier or even how they stand right now).

      1. I feel like Green Lake was kind of missed though in the whole Link route, yes its close to Roosevelt but still a distance and with a freeway between the two.

        I wish Link between Northgate and Downtown had like twice as many stations and was like a conventional subway in its station placement.

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