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Earlier this week on the main blog, Zach posted about, and Metro responded to, potential problems with weekend service in Northeast Seattle after the Bus2Link restructure. Coincidently, I had started generating isochrone maps originating at one of the locations called out in the aforementioned posts, Roosevelt and 65th. Unfortunately, these maps and their scores largely support Zach’s contention, that while weekday service has allowed more destinations to be reachable more often, weekend service has in fact suffered.

This post will share a set of three maps apiece for weekday, Saturday, and Sunday service. The first two maps are a side-by-side comparison of pre-restructure and post-restructure service at Roosevelt and 65th. The third map is the difference between the first and second maps. For those unfamiliar with the isochrone maps and scores I’ve generated in previous posts:

  1. The maps are centered at a single starting point, in this case Roosevelt and 65th.
  2. For every minute of the day, a map is generated at that point in time. The presence of a dot at a bus stop signifies that there is at least one point in time when that bus stop can be reached within 30 minutes, by starting at the origin point and using some combination of public transit and walking to get there.
  3.  For the comparative maps, the color of the dot depends on how many points of time in the day that one could start at the starting point and reach that point. Colors range from navy blue for points that be reached infrequently to hot pink for points that can be reached often.
  4. The comparative maps have two scores associated with them. The first is a count of the stops reached. The second sums the number of times per day each stop can be reached, thus favoring networks that allow a broad number of destinations to be reached regardless of the time of day. I refer to this score as the “reachability score” throughout this post.
  5. For the difference maps, the color of the point signifies whether the point can be reached more or less often after the restructure. White dots signify no difference, more strongly black dots show an increase in reachability, more strongly red dots show a decrease.

Let’s get to the data:

Weekday

Comparative map

Difference map

The reachability score shows a 4% increase, largely on the back of large frequency gains within Northeast Seattle. The 62 and the more frequent buses on the north/south corridors appear to be excelling at improving mobility within this region.

This improvement is pulled down by a reduction in the number of times destinations in Montlake, Eastlake, the Denny Triangle, and  the northern part of downtown can be reached in under 30 minutes. The decline of reachability in Montlake can be attributed to the split of the 45 from the 48. The reliability that the split offers likely outweighs the disadvantages (as these maps use Metro’s schedule data, there’s no accounting for  congestion or accidents). The decline in the latter two areas represents a more concerning situation. Neither of Metro’s suggested options for getting downtown—the 45 to the Link nor a one seat ride on the 62—allow one to get to downtown within 30 minutes as often as the prior network did. These routes are less direct than the deleted 66, and their higher frequencies do not offset that. Of course the 30 minute time limit is arbitrary—perhaps at 31 minutes the situation changes entirely—but some cutoff had to be made.

Nonetheless, the weekday system’s increased score represents an improvement in general mobility. If nothing else, the map demonstrates a more coherent system: destinations fairly close to Roosevelt and 65th are reachable far more often than they previously were. But a coherent network is small consolation for anyone whose access to downtown has been impaired.

Saturday

Comparative map

Difference map

The reachability score on Saturday shows a 5% decrease. The general look of the difference map is the same: improvements in Northeast Seattle offset by decline in Montlake, Eastlake, the Denny Triangle, and the northern part of downtown. The reason for the decline, in spite of the superficially similar map, appears to be the shorter span of service for Northeast Seattle routes on Saturdays versus weekdays. In this case, Metro’s cache of remaining service hours may help close this gap.

Sunday

Comparative map

Difference map

The reachability score on Sundays shows a 6% decrease. While the same successes and concerns of the weekday and Saturday map are clear, a new set of issues has arisen. The north/south arterials show a reduction in reachability north of 80 Street NE, particularly 15th Ave NE and 5th Ave NE. This is not unexpected: though route 62 has the same 15 minute frequency, the connecting north/south lines suffer from frequency degradation on the weekends. Expectedly, the maps confirm that Zach’s general assertion, infrequent transfers perform worse than infrequent one-seat rides, holds true in this specific case.

Overall, I feel it must be underscored that five out of the seven days of the week, on the days when the most people use transit, the Northeast Seattle restructure lets people get to more places at more times of day. Metro should be lauded for not just making a drastic change, but a beneficial one. Metro should also be lauded for its quick, but measured, response to concerns. Hopefully data such as these scores and maps, can help target future responses and avoid gross overreactions such as a total rollback. And of course, the entire restructure can’t be judged just by reachability from Roosevelt and 65th, I hope to continue this series of Northeast Seattle maps with the other locations cited in the previous posts.

15 Replies to “The numbers support some concern over the NE Seattle restructure”

  1. The restructure would be a lot more successful if Link trains were currently serving Roosevelt Station. Long term, Roosevelt Station will be a very busy transfer node; but until the trains arrive, travelling to UW Station is a long, time consuming deviation.

  2. I think, in retrospect, Metro’s attempt to pair the 65th St. corridor from Green Lake to Sand Point with the downtown->Dexter->Fremont corridor on the same route was a mistake. The new route is too long (causing significant reliability issues for the Roosevelt->Sand Point section) and the gap in service demand between the different sections of the route is too big. Last night, while taking a walk out to Green Lake, I peaked inside about 3 or 4 62’s and counted the number of people. Turns out that Metro could have run the Green Lake->Sand Point section with a minivan and not left anybody behind.

    I think it’s way too soon to declare cross-town service along 65th St. a failure, as there are still large numbers of people who could benefit from it that don’t know about it yet. However, given the huge difference in the markets served, I don’t think it is reasonable to ever expect 65th St. demand to rival Fremont->downtown – even after Roosevelt Station opens, and certainly not before (at least not without some extreme upzoning of Wedgwood and View Ridge). In hindsight, I think Sand Point to Fremont should have a been a separate route from Fremont to downtown, operated with less frequency/span and smaller buses, with the savings used to increase the span of service (and the span of frequent services on routes such as the 65, 75, and 372).

    1. How about Aleks’ idea from another thread: swap the tails of the 26 and 62?

      The savings could:
      – Do the stuff you mentioned.
      – Keep the 71 running so people along the part of 65th with no north-south service nearby can get to UW and Link.
      – Relieve overcrowding (seeing that Metro is going to run some additional high-peak short-turn 62s, I think they should consider running them as short-turn 16s instead — but only if they could really fill the bus on those trips).

      Then, of course, after Roosevelt Station renders the 71 obsolete and makes east-west service on 65th more popular, we can implement the beautiful network we really want.

      1. Swapping the tails of the 62 would reverse a nice feature of this new route. It sets up Sand Point and 35th/65th as mini-transfer points for the 75 and 65 buses. Not many people have figured it out yet, but it makes bus access to much more of the city possible from the 65 and 75 routes. In the past those routes had one use – to get to UW (the 75 was actually frequent enough to get to Lake City as well, but the 65 wasn’t). It seems to me that the 65 is carrying a lot more people since the restructure, which is helping to convert a very car-dependent area over to transit. However something like a 2 hour trip from Fremont via UW, slogging through campus the whole way can put someone back in their car very quickly. Now lot of trips that used to have a hub at UW can bypass it.

        Or we can wait for Link and when that opens no one will be primed to go to Roosevelt, we’ll all just keep going North and South ’cause that’s the way it’s always been.

        I’d be kind of interested in seeing what those heat-maps look like for 65th and 35th and also at Magnusson Park.

      2. With the 62/26 tails flipped you’d make the transfer toward Lake City (and many other places) at Northgate instead of 65th/35th!

        One of the major deficiencies of our transit network involves traveling directly north from Fremont. Getting from lower Fremont to Northgate and much of Shoreline is a real pain and has been for years. A local bus through central Wallingford and Tangletown wouldn’t be a fast way to Northgate, but I think it would beat going downtown and taking the 41 out pretty often, and that’s probably the best way to do it most of the time today.

        I mean, I think what we really want is an E Line elevator stop near 34th or 35th. But that’s not happening soon.

    2. That’s an interesting conclusion, not one that I made from the maps. Good to hear another perspective. Since I don’t have historic real time arrival data, the map generation software does not take into account reliability. So I can’t speak to splitting the route from the perspective of improving reliability. Even if they were to be split, I don’t think reducing the frequency on the 65th St section would be a wise move; looking at the weekday maps versus the Sunday map, the ability to reach Northeast Seattle destinations is very much dependent on both the north/south routes and the 62 having high frequency.

      I think a solution to the downtown access problems doesn’t involve the 62. (I have a couple of ideas, but I’m not comfortable proposing them without further analysis.) It’s a fine route, but treating it as the “downtown route” for locations as far east as Roosevelt and 65th is a step down from previous service.

      (I also owe you a response to your comment on my previous post. I generated the post-ULink, pre-Bus2Link maps and just need to post them.)

  3. I noticed a few quirks about UW station yesterday.

    There were about 12 people waiting to use the ticket machines on the street level. Go down 1 escalator, and there were 2 ticket machines not being used. Maybe in addition to a giant sign saying “fare paid zone” ST should also have a sign saying “additional ticket machines available down the escalator”

    Montlake is really, really not built for pedestrians. Between Pend Oreille Road and the station there is literally no marked crosswalk to get across Montlake or 25th Ave. If you’re walking down the west side of 25th Ave/ Montlake, the only options are A – be redirected onto the Burke Gilman trail and then cross at Rainier Vista, or B – cross multiple times at 25th and Montlake around Pend Oreille Road which is a time-consuming slog. Well or C – dash across Montlake when traffic clears, huddle on a median if you can only get halfway across.

    Time from stepping off the train to arriving at the Rainier Vista bus stop was about 6 minutes. Trying both the escalators and elevators, I did not see a single bus sign in the station. Wherever these signs are, they aren’t in an obvious place. And if the rumors that they don’t have arrival times for Stevens Way, they’re even worse. I had to default to texting OBA once I was in the elevator (I didn’t get service with Verizon in either Westlake or UW stations).

    1. Well that’s a glitch I’ve never seen before. I posted this in the Sunday open thread, but somehow my comment got shifted to page 2. Any chance it could be moved back?

    2. On Montlake, there are pedestrian bridges sprinkled throughout. That is probably why there are no crosswalks. As for getting from UW station to Ranier Vista, I feel like they should have put in an underground speed walker from that stop to the first underground level of the UW station. That would potentially make it walkable in 3 or 4 minutes, and would actually give that level of UW station a use other than hold TVMs that nobody can find.

  4. I agree with splitting 62. I ride from DT to 65th/25th and the bus is practically empty after Roosevelt area. The route is far too long and becomes unreliable as it also gets stuck in traffic on 45th in Fremont. I find that 76 during commutes is much better for getting downtown, or biking down to the light rail.

    I wonder how ridership is for 71 now that it just loops at the Montlake triangle. Do people from NE Seattle ride it to the light rail, or do they use 372/75 (buses that go through campus), or both? Personally, I take 372 or bike there.

  5. The numbers support some concern over the NE Seattle restructure

    The numbers support some concern over a station isolated from anything by busy roads.

    They should also support some concern over doing the same damn thing everywhere else.

  6. “Overall, I feel it must be underscored that five out of the seven days of the week, on the days when the most people use transit, the Northeast Seattle restructure lets people get to more places at more times of day. Metro should be lauded for not just making a drastic change, but a beneficial one.”

    Assuming they can even get on the bus those five out of seven days of the week. It seems Metro now assumes it can run shorter buses because routes supposedly come more frequently and are more neighborhood oriented as opposed to longer, express routes to downtown. I’ll use the stops at NE 75th & 80th Streets along 15th Avenue NE as an example. These stops used to be served by the 72, 73 and 373 during peak hours and all were operated almost exclusively using 60ft buses (save for the occasional 40ft on the 373). Today, these stops are served solely by the 373 during peak hours and are operated more often than not using a 40ft bus. Tell me how collapsing these routes and utilizing a smaller bus makes any kind of sense!

  7. For once, I’m mostly onboard with King country metro’s current status let it play out a little longer, we’re trying something new and we’ll come back and tweek soon(relatively speaking). I also agree with some opinions: if we added the Roosevelt station and Northgate to the mix, outcomes could look different for sub 30 minute downtown rides.

    What I’m not on board with is the insistence by the city of Seattle to not vacate more street parking for better transit predictability (which ties into KC Metro’s ability to run an efficient system that people will love to ride…). This moronic stance is a classic example of politicians either a) overwhelmed, b) nostalgic for the past, or c) in the pockets of special interest votes (residential or commercial). By no means are their decisions based on the general welfare of residential taxpayers attempting to get their place of employment. effectively.

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