Link near Rainier Beach (Photo by Oran – Flickr)
Link near Rainier Beach (Photo by Oran – Flickr)

The comment deadline for Metro’s SE Seattle restructure proposal has been extended until next Sunday, January 10. As a refresher, the proposed restructure would primarily change Route 106 between Rainier Beach and Downtown, severing its connection to Georgetown while providing new connections to local destinations along MLK Way while also extending it to the International District along the path of Route 7. The plan would also extend Route 107 from Rainier Beach to Beacon Hill Station and reduce Route 9 to peak-only.

We made a public records request on November 30 to King County for documentation of how this proposal was developed and prioritized relative to other documented service needs, and we expect to have those documents in the coming days (but likely after the comment deadline). The impetus for developing the proposal goes back to 2012, when Metro deleted the remnants of Route 42 against the opposition of community groups in SE Seattle. This year, Metro formed a community advisory group to analyze and propose these changes, and addressing local bus service on MLK was sure to feature prominently in any proposal, and rightfully so. Current services on MLK have been among the most unreliable in the city, as MLK’s Route 8 suffers badly from upstream congestion of Denny Way every weekday.

I believe we should be constructive and strongly supportive of quality local connections in SE Seattle, while also demanding data-driven and transparent service planning processes. Here at STB, our writers applaud Metro’s efforts to achieve more frequency and reliability in SE Seattle, while also being wary of new duplicative services that effectively push other riders’ needs to the back of the queue.

To that end, this proposal is decidedly a mixed bag. On the one hand, there is much to like. New local connections between Rainier Beach and Beacon Hill are needed and welcome. Frequent, all-day service between Renton, Skyway, Rainier Beach, and Mount Baker would knit together similar communities in a much more intuitive way.

Yet there is also much to dislike. The 106 extension to the International District adds another 15-minute route to the already 10-minute Rainier/Jackson corridor, ahead of 51 other corridors that the 2015 Service Guidelines Report (pg. 12-13) targets for priority investment. The new 106 would still see only half-hourly service on evenings and Sundays. Georgetown also would get a service reduction, losing half its frequency on Airport Way, ironically when three routes serving Georgetown (routes 60, 124, and 131) are in the top seven routes on the priority list for service investments to meet target service levels.

In your comments, we’d suggest effusive praise and support for:

  • More frequent and reliable local service on MLK Way
  • More frequent and reliable connections between Renton, Skyway, Rainier Beach, and Mount Baker
  • New local connections between Rainier Beach Station and Beacon Hill Station

We’d suggest criticism of:

  • Reducing Georgetown service during an environment of revenue growth, especially when multiple routes serving Georgetown are close to the top of the queue for service investments to meet target service levels.
  • Extending Route 106 from Mount Baker to the International District via Jackson St, which would spend over $2m per year to duplicate an ultra-frequent Route 7 that is not targeted for frequency or overcrowding investments, ahead of 51 other corridors already targeted for investment.

We’d suggest the following alternatives:

  • Use the service hours from the proposed 106 extension to fund frequent night and weekend service on MLK Way, preferably to match Link’s frequency
  • Maintain at least current levels of service between Georgetown and Downtown Seattle
  • Work with SDOT to accelerate plans to improve Mount Baker and identify short-term improvements that could improve the transfer environment between Link and Routes 7, 8, 9, 14, and 106
  • Work to get rid of paper transfers and simultaneously reduce or eliminate the cost of obtaining ORCA cards, to eliminate any fare-related aversion to transferring to Link.

Please comment by January 10th by taking Metro’s online survey, emailing Metro’s DeAnna Martin, or calling 206-477-3835.

26 Replies to “SE Seattle Restructure Comments Due Sunday”

  1. My comments have been submitted–they conform pretty closely to what I’ve previously posted on page2.

    At the community meeting in early December the overwhelming majority of the attendees were looking to maintain the status quo. But Metro did seem to be genuinely engaged in hearing community feedback.

    Based on what I heard at the December meeting, I think it will be hard to convince Metro that Georgetown needs more service to downtown but the planners I spoke to did seem open to ideas about modifying the 106 north of Mt. Baker Station.

    1. If Georgetown does not need more downtown service, why are routes 60, 124, and 131 so close to the top of the list of routes needing service investments? Before moving route 106 out of Georgetown?

  2. Is there some reason that the changed 106 can’t terminate at Mt. Baker TC? It would make connections with a nearly complete compass face of bus routes at that point and Link, of course.

    That seems like the simplest solution; southbound service on MLK then would be very schedule-reliable.

    1. That’s what several of us are suggesting. The “reason” Metro didn’t consider it is that connecting ACRS on MLK to north Rainier and downtown was the apparent impetus for this reorganization.

  3. It’s hard to remember all these Metro change proposals at different stages in the hearing process, but the 8 will be split in March, with the 38 running from Mt Baker to Rainier Beach. So unreliability on MLK will soon be gone with or without this restructure.

    1. MLK service plan: currently the 8, to become the shortened 38 in March and then the 106 in September unless Metro changes its mind before September.

    2. The 106 is just a proposal at this point, and doesn’t it need county approval? It’s surely too large for an “administrative change” that Metro can do on its own.

    3. So unreliability on MLK will soon be gone with or without this restructure.

      Not true. Ever ridden on Jackson during peak? It’s not as bad as Denny but it is a horrible time sink. It’s bad enough that you’ll almost always be better off jumping off the 7 at IDS, transferring to an I-90 bus, and then getting back on a 7 at Rainier Freeway Station.

      If the new 38 goes all the way to Pioneer Square it’ll be stuck in that mess.

      1. Hopefully you’ve made a better suggestion to Metro–they are listening this time.

      2. this is exactly why SDOT has suggested the center lanes of Jackson be converted to exclusive transit lanes shared between streetcars and center running electric buses.

      3. Mike,
        The current proposal is to mate the 38 to the 106 and extend it from Mt. Baker to Pioneer Square on Rainier and Jackson. This would greatly diminish the reliability that comes from splitting the 38 off of the 8.
        This Mt. Baker to Pioneer Square extension is what many on the STB staff are having issue with. As someone that lives on MLK between Columbia City Station and Othello Station, this is what I have a problem with. Currently coming home the 8 S is worthless. Denny screws it up so much that usually when I pull it up on OBA I have a 30 to 45 minute wait with 3 to 4 buses bunched up.
        I was looking forward to a) reliability and b) the direct connection to Renton (my soccer club watches Sounders away matches at the Berliner). Adding on the duplicative Rainier-Jackson-Pioneer Square tail to the new route would make a major impact on the reliability many on MLK thought they would be getting.

      4. Matt,

        Don’t forget the frequency. Having a bus roll by reliably every 10 minutes, as should have happened years ago, would be transformative for this fast-growing corridor. The savings from *not* sending route 38/106 downtown would pay for most of the cost of doing that. We need to be pushing the 10-minute gold standard for all major routes that connect with Link, starting with the mixed-income neighborhoods where people need it most.

      5. @William C.

        Not sure, but likely sometime before 2023. Since it would be part of the RR+ Corridor 3 it would likely happen when this line is completed. I haven’t seen a date on that yet though.

        Its also possible that if after the FHSC opens and if it turns out that Jackson is a major bottle neck keeping the streetcar from moving freely, they may decided to convert those to transit only lanes early. Since its center running though, buses that don’t allow center boarding could not make use of it.

  4. This still does not address the problem of the loss of a direct route from South Beacon Hill to downtown.
    We’ve had it for 45 years and taking it away is an improvement of some kind?

    Who is it going to help to have the 106 on MLK instead of beacon avenue, while MLK already has a bus and the light rail too?

    I have written to everyone I know (Dow Constantine, Seattle Metro, King County Transit) and all i get is
    “Well at least you can transfer to the light rail”
    I feel like we’re getting the shaft. and oh, be sure to be thankful for it?!

    1. There are many on South Beacon Hill who have been without a one-seat ride to Cleveland High School. I think it is long past time that that safe ride to school happen.

      The transfer at Beacon Hill Station is about as safe and expeditious as a bus-to-Link transfer gets.

      1. I’m not saying it isn’t safe, I’m saying it adds time to our commute. And Georgetown?

      2. Going through Georgetown adds minutes to the current 106 trip time.

        Georgetown will continue to have route 124, and hopefully soon have it running every 15 minutes instead of having routes 106 and 124 running half hourly along similar paths, but not well-timed. On top of that Georgetown has route 60.

        Metro ought to increase the frequency of extended route 107 to have it come every 20 minutes. Terminating it at Beacon Hill Station makes that a lot more doable, cost-wise.

  5. I wonder if there is interest in routing the 106 up 23rd rather than Rainier and then turning at Jackson for the remainder of the trip. Rainier between Jackson and Massachusetts is often heavily congested (I-90 metering in the morning; Dearborn/Rainier all day). The 7 is already on this segment. There aren’t many land uses between I-90 and Dearborn.

    In contrast, this routing would provide a direct Renton bus for 23rd/Jackson area residents. It may be a tad longer but given Rainier delays it would not take longer during much of the day.


  6. Charles B, I hope you’re right. Finally two things I’ve been waiting for over many years: transit only lanes along arterials, and joint use by streetcars and trolleybuses.

    Which officials do I tell that to ?

    Mark Dublin

  7. A big benefit to the current proposal is providing additional light rail connection options to the 15th Ave S corridor beyond the unreliable and infrequent route 60 (which reduces to every half hour frequency after 6:30 PM!!). The 107 proposal would do this. Residents of a neighborhood who live within a mile or two of an existing light rail station should at least have every 10 minute service or better if the new neighborhoods getting light rail this spring are being targeted for that level of service as well. Note that this area has already not had direct access to downtown via Metro for years.

    1. There are many good reasons for the route-107-to-Beacon-Hill-Station proposal. The unreliability and lack of frequency on route 60 are not among them.

      First, route 60 is quite reliable, outside of school-bell hours. I know. It is the route I ride most. (Are you thinking of before the VA knot was removed?) During school hours, frequency is added, though perhaps not enough. Adding route 107 might reduce the school traffic.

      I can’t claim to know how unreliable route 107 is currently, but having ridden it end-to-end, I can tell you it is the circuitous milk run from H. To the extent its reliability survives all the twists and turns, its reliability will be subject to the same school-bell traffic as route 60. So, no, it won’t be more reliable.

      Nor is route 107 more frequent than route 60, at any time of day or week.

      During weekdays, overlaying twice-an-hour 107 service on top of thrice-an-hour 60 service would not produce regular headway on 15th Ave S. However, if route 107 is lucky enough to get bumped up to thrice-an-hour, the two could, conceivably, be scheduled to produce 10-minute headway.

      I must say, though, that I am jealous that you have 15-minute headway in the evening on your bus route.

      1. Brent, I have plenty of One Bus Away screenshots I’ve taken at the Beacon Hill light rail station bus stop to prove the “60 is reliable” claim false. The 60 heading south spends far too much time on narrow, one lane each direction streets on 9th Ave in First Hill (stuck behind cars waiting to turn down First Hill onto I-5, stuck trying to turn onto 12th Ave S from Boren through the ID, etc), and if it’s slightly raining, all bets are off. I agree once it passes 12th & Jackson it’s reliable, but whatever happens prior to then causes issues downstream. I imagine it’ll get worse when the FHSC comes on and every Broadway bus is stuck behind the loading/unloading streetcar. This is what we rely on to get to/from the light rail station, and a 3.5 mile commute from Pioneer Square is roughly 45 minutes during peak commuting hours (5:00 – 6:30) going most of the way on the quick light rail, in my opinion we should demand better.

        15 minute headways aren’t so bad if you have one-seat service, provided the route schedule is reliable, you can plan ahead and reduce your time waiting. If you’re relying on the route as a transfer, it’s far worse since you’re now at the mercy of two separate schedules. To get 3/4 of the way and spend the next 15 minutes waiting to go the last mile is frustrating and drives people away from using the transit system, if the idea is to provide frequent service to/from the light rail stations and prevent people from using the neighborhood as a “park and ride”.

        Adding the 107 route (which is proposed to be every 15 minute frequency) and staggering arrival times with the 60 would theoretically provide every 7-10 minute service, which would be more consistent with what they’re currently trying to accomplish with the ULink stations coming on this spring.

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