Today, 3/26/2016, begins a new era in Seattle transit service as the route 48 that we’ve known for the last 6 years is split into 2 routes: the 45 travelling from Loyal Heights to the light rail station at Husky Stadium and the 48 which will run between the University District and Mt. Baker Station. In 1980, route 48 followed the familiar core path from Loyal Heights to Franklin High School, where the current Mt. Baker Station exists. But southbound from S. Hanford St. and Empire Way S. (today known as Martin Luther King Jr. Way South) the 48 followed a different route on its way to its terminal at South Seattle Community College. Southbound from Franklin High School the 48 stayed on Rainier Avenue until Alaska Street where it turned west and climbed up to Beacon Hill, passing the VA–but not detouring into the parking lot–on a routing similar to current route 50. From Beacon Hill, it apparently used Spokane Street and the low level route to cross the Duwamish and then headed to its terminal at SSCC (kind of a combined 50 and 125).
Midday headways were at about 33 minutes and peak service could be as frequent as every 6 minutes. Evening service was every 30 minutes on the UW to Franklin HS core with buses scheduled every 60 minutes on the extensions north and south. There also were a variety of intermediate turnbacks and short-runs scheduled in the timetable. Weekday trips began at the endpoints and at Beacon & Columbian (near the VA Hospital), Rainier & Hanford (Franklin HS), Montlake Station, 45th and 15th in the University District and at Greenwood and 85th.
In the future we may see the 48 evolve again if money can be found to electrify the gaps along 23rd Avenue E. Some STB posters have suggested combining an electrified 48 with the 7 and creating new 1-seat rides between Rainier Valley and the Central District. Since its creation in the mid-1960s as a shuttle between Mt. Baker, the Central District and the University of Washington, the 48 has changed from short shuttle route into one of the longest in-city routes and back to a shorter route providing high frequency service. Has any other route been as drastically modified during the last 36 years as the 48?