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:
- The maps are centered at a single starting point, in this case Roosevelt and 65th.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.