ACRS from the bus stop (Photo by the Author. 2011)

It’s too late to submit comments to Metro about the Southeast Seattle restructure, but this old post from 2011 remains relevant although the route numbers have changed. In particular, it takes a close look at the claim that a new bus providing a one-seat ride from Little Saigon and Downtown is necessary to adequately serve the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), three blocks south of Mt. Baker Station.

Events in the interim have deteriorated this claim further. The Capitol Hill restructure in March will split the 8 and new 38, and the 38 will be a reliable transfer, with minimal walking from Link and zero walking from the 7. The 38 will also address the much more legitimate complaint from people and organizations around Orcas St. that they had no reliable means of accessing the train, due to essentially random southbound arrivals on the 8.

Ironically, sending the 38 downtown (as a 106) would kneecap that improvement, once again subjecting southbound buses to schedule randomness mere months after freeing it from the chaos of Denny Way.

14 Replies to “From the Archives: A Bus from MLK to Downtown”

  1. Usually, the way these minor restructures work, Metro has already made up their mind to do it before they even make it public, so the whole comment process is mostly a formality.

    I thought about writing in anyway, saying that the resources to send the 106 downtown would be better spent elsewhere, but ultimately decided that since I don’t live or work in the affected area, it wasn’t my place to weigh in on other people’s service.

    1. I’m having troubled remembering a single Metro restructure where the outcome was identical to the original proposal.

      1. My recollection is that route 65 was moved to NE 40th St (between 55th Ave NE and Sand Point Way) the second time it was proposed, but I can’t find the stories to back up my memory.

      2. Regarding the 65 rerouting, I lived in Wedgwood at the time when this took place–it was requested by Children’s Hospital employees living along the 35th Street corridor who wanted a direct route to work instead of having to transfer.

        Another strange detour that will finally disappear: Route 16’s Northgate Way loop. This made sense way back in the 80s when its terminus was outside the north entrance to the Northgate Mall, where there was a big totem pole–remnants of the old turn-around is still there.

  2. That money being thrown away on reinventing the flat tire of old route 42 would pay for most of the cost of increasing the frequency of route 38 / new route 106 to 10-minute headway between Mt Baker Station and Renton Transit Center, providing an extremely reliable transfer from both Link and route 7 (to the extent route 7 is reliable, but it also runs 10-minute headway off-peak) to route 38/106, to get to ACRS and the rest of the neighborhoods along MLK down to S Henderson St.

    As for those who say they can’t afford an ORCA card to ride Link:

    1) If you haven’t obtained an ORCA LIFT card (which is free), you are already paying as much as twice as much as you need to to ride transit.

    2) Route 7 continues to be a frequent transfer option. With your help, we can make the new 38/106 route just as frequent, but that involves saying No to ACRS’ one-seat downtown ride.

    3) Help us convince Sound Transit and Metro, the lead partners in the ORCA pod, that charging for the regular ORCA card is penny-wise and pound-foolish. The most it costs to get a bus smart card anywhere else in the US is $2. Most of the bus smart cards in the US are free. Charging $5 for the youth card is extremely counterproductive, and not in line with the community’s social justice values.

    ACRS could find much better ways to spend $2.5 million a year on its own human services provision. ACRS does awesome work for its clientele, but oddly tries to argue that the $2.5 million a year for bus service between the campuses will lead to it being able to provide more services. I’m sorry. That’s not how budgeting works for human service providers. Giving ACRS a Metro van to transport any of its clientele who need to get between the campuses would be a tiny fraction of the cost of extending route 38 downtown, and would be more respectful of its clientele than making them walk to the nearest bus stops, which are a long walk from their building entrances.

    1. Even cheaper than a van, how about an electric golf cart to drive people three blocks down the sidewalk to Mt. Baker Station. At airports, golf carts are used to carry disabled people much further distances than this.

      1. I was thinking of a van large enough to carry wheelchairs, scooters, etc. — something like an Access van.

  3. The photo does not do justice to the distance clients have to walk from the bus stop. The entrance is on the far (south) end of the building, and you have to walk further south to the parking lot entrance to get down to it, all the while dodging any cars going in and out of the parking lot. Imagine all the TOD that could be built in place of that surface parking, if ACRS were to follow El Centro’s example. Clients could live right next door.

    1. Does ACRS own the lot? That’s a great idea. And if ACRS can’t afford to redevelop it, it can probably find a developer who will do it for the potential income while respecting the Center’s needs, or even ask El Centro for help.

    2. The entrance is in the parking lot.
      ACRS believes their clients have cars,
      This is shown by their choice of location for new in 2009 HQ, the design of their building, and backed up – possibly self fulfillingly – by the low ridership of the 42.

      For 35 years, they were in the ID.

      1. I didn’t think it stood for Asian Carowner Referral Service, but perhaps I was mistaken. ;-)

  4. I’ve only been avoiding the Route 7 all these years is because the smell clinging to my clothes all day would prejudice any employer not looking for a night-shift sugar cane cutter who won’t unionize. And who would not personally look like Bela Lugosi.

    After the new trolleybuses arrive, what could be anymore “single seat” than the Route 7? Jackson Street, Third Avenue all the way to Westlake….except for somebody deboarding for shopping or coffee before continuing trip, how may more seats would we be forcing on anybody?

    Incidentally, if the new trolleybuses themselves have any need to go off-wire, their battery motors should work just fine. What am I not getting?


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