Coach 4504 signed 44 Ballard
Metro wants this bus to turn red and go to Children’s Hospital. Photo courtesy of Bruce Engelhardt.

This past Monday, Zach introduced STB riders to Metro’s new Long Range Plan.  The plan sets forth an ambitious series of large-scale goals for Metro. Most prominently, it brings truly frequent service (15 minutes or better, daytime and early evenings) within a 10-minute walk of 70 percent of King County residents.  While the plan is considerably more than a network planning vision, its centerpiece is a rough, high-level network proposal restructuring Metro service around Sound Transit’s regional projects and relying on an ambitious increase in service levels.

The proposal has two parts: a near-term “2025” vision designed around the funded projects from Sound Transit 2, and a longer-term “2040” vision that reflects King County projects included in Sound Transit’s ST3 draft plan.  The 2040 vision would bring Metro from roughly 3.5m annual service hours today to about 6m.  Metro emphasizes that neither vision “is a service change proposal” and that proposed routes in these visions need to go through much more analysis before they could become part of service changes.  In other words, this is all very much Before Seattle Process.

Still, the plan provides insight into what Metro’s professional planners think would work given local jurisdictions’ long-term plans.  Metro’s Chris O’Claire, one of the plan’s principal architects, emphasized to us in a briefing that Metro considered local comprehensive plans, growth expectations, and transit priorities, and that the plan reflected a cooperative process between Metro and lots of local and regional stakeholders.  One pleasant surprise is a very heavy emphasis on frequent Link connectivity systemwide, resulting in a major shift toward east/west service in Seattle and South King County, and north/south service on the Eastside.

The 2040 plan changes literally every route in the Metro system to some extent, so there is no realistic way for us to cover all of the changes, no matter how deep we try to dive.  Below is a grab bag of a few of the most interesting, and likely controversial, specifics I’ve found in the Seattle portion.  A suburban installment, equally full of new ideas, will be coming later.  Reach in, pick your candy, and comment after the jump.

Central Seattle

The 8/11 Chimera Lives!  Both the 2025 and 2040 maps revive the “Alternative 1” idea of replacing the East Madison segment of route 11 with a frequent extension of route 8 to Madison Park, relying heavily on Link connections at Capitol Hill Station.  In the 2040 vision, the 8/11 is upgraded to RapidRide standard.  But this time Metro would be able to do something about notoriously poor reliability on Denny.  Instead of Denny, the 8/11 would use Mercer and the newly reconnected Harrison between Uptown and Fairview, using Denny only for the short trip across I-5.  Meanwhile, the relatively few route 8 riders along MLK would see their service become more reliable, but less frequent.  A short, 30-minute north-south route would run between Madison Valley and Beacon Hill Station, relying on connections with Link at Judkins Park (formerly I-90) Station and with Madison BRT.

New Connections on First Hill.  Metro is thinking about two different new north/south corridors across First Hill.  In both maps, Route 38 would be extended to Little Saigon, and then along Boren and Denny to Uptown (replacing the western part of route 8’s Denny coverage).  Route 27, proposed for deletion in the past because of its proximity to frequent routes 3 and 4, would stay, but head across First Hill on 9th and 8th Avenues rather than going downtown.  (It would come very close to the downtown retail core at 8th and Pine.)  As a bonus, it would provide partial replacement service for route 2 riders on the west end of First Hill, as route 2 itself would move to Pine Street.

A More Northerly Crosstown Route.  One of the longest-standing criticisms of the Metro network is that there is no crosstown route anywhere in the considerable area between Denny and the Ship Canal.  The reason is physical: today, there is no east-west route across Capitol Hill north of John that is passable for buses.  The plan shows that Metro would like to change that, with a service pattern that would run from Uptown to East Capitol Hill via the Lakeview Bridge, Belmont Av, and Roy and Aloha Streets.  The route would be infrequent in 2025, but upgraded to frequent status (as a combination of two infrequent routes that differ only in their tails west of Uptown) in 2040.  Major capital investments would be needed to make such a route possible, but it would be a major improvement.

Making the 49 Useful.  Anecdotal experience since U-Link opened suggests that the current 49 routing south of Capitol Hill Station has become redundant.  Metro would combine the north end of the 49 with route 36 to Beacon Hill, using 12th Ave to connect the two segments.  The combined route would have current 49 frequency in 2025 and become RapidRide in 2040.  This would, for the first time, create a truly frequent and easy-to-use north-south route through Capitol and First Hills.  It would also introduce service to 12th.

Radically Streamlined Downtown Service.  In the 2040 map, just eight bus routes would run along Third Avenue in downtown Seattle, all either RapidRide or frequent service: rough equivalents to RapidRide D, RapidRide E, 1/14, 3N, 3S/13, 5, 7/70 (upgraded to RapidRide), and 62 (upgraded to RapidRide).  This demonstrates dramatically how Sound Transit’s proposed second downtown tunnel and Link connections can relieve both capacity constraints and congestion through downtown.

Smith Cove is a Big Deal.  Sound Transit’s planned “Smith Cove” station on the ST3 Ballard line, in the otherwise unappealing neighborhood of Elliott and Prospect, looked to some observers like a sop to Expedia.  But Metro finds it a very convenient place to make west-side connections.  The 2040 network has Smith Cove as a terminal or major connection point for all Magnolia routes (there is no one-seat Magnolia-downtown service), for RapidRide D’s successor, and for no fewer than four crosstown routes serving Uptown, SLU, and points east.

North Seattle

Metro Wants 130th Street.  Metro’s 2040 map counts on something that we agitated for in Lynnwood Link, and still hope will be built later or included in ST3: a NE 130th St station.  The map proposes a straight, fast, frequent route (attached to what is now route 75) connecting Lake City, 130th Station, and Bitter Lake.  Overnight, the route and Link would become the best way to get from Lake City, Pinehurst, Ingraham HS, or Bitter Lake to… well, almost anywhere in the region.  The station and this route have always seemed to us like a no-brainer, and we hope Metro’s demonstration of the potential connectivity helps persuade Sound Transit of the station’s benefits.

Pinehurst Was Heard.  Probably the most consistent complaint about Metro’s Alternative 1 proposal for North Seattle was the lack of easy southward connectivity from Pinehurst.  Metro reversed course for the LRP, turning a frequent route along 15th Ave NE into a critical piece of the Northeast Seattle network.  The plan combines the 73 and 348, providing north/south service along 15th all the way from UW Station to North City, and then connecting to the NE 185th Link station and Shoreline.

New Greenwood East/West Connections.  SDOT’s Transit Master Plan has long featured an extension of RapidRide D to Northgate via Holman Road and N 105th St.  Metro’s LRP puts this extension in place, displacing Route 40… but what it does with the 40 instead may be more interesting.  The north end of the 40 would use a new crosstown routing connecting Crown Hill, Greenwood, Northgate, and Lake City.  This connection would give Greenwood commuters a faster alternative to reach Link than route 45’s slog through Green Lake; make the fastest Lake City-Northgate connection more frequent; and connect Lake City and Greenwood directly for the first time ever.

Much Improved East/West Service in Northeast.  East of I-5, Metro’s 2040 plan would have crosstown routes on 45th, 55th, 65th, 75th, 105th, 125th, and 145th.  This route spacing is a major upgrade from today’s, and would restore all-day service to east/west customers of deleted routes 30 and 68.  All of these routes would be frequent except the one along 75th, and all of them would connect directly to Link.

Streamlining the 62.  Metro’s new route 62 has attracted some criticism for its indirect and unreliable routing in the Wallingford and East Green Lake areas.  Metro would streamline it, serving N 56th St and Latona Ave NE rather than narrow, winding Kirkwood Pl N and Woodlawn Av NE.  This would give north Wallingford and Tangletown a significantly faster connection to Link at Roosevelt Station, and speed other crosstown connections between Wallingford, Fremont, and NE Seattle.  The lost coverage would be replaced by a local route connecting U-District Station, Latona, East Green Lake, and Northgate Station.

South and West Seattle

Splitting Route 7.  SDOT has long proposed that South Seattle’s workhorse route 7 be split in half, to enable new connections not covered by Link and prevent reliability issues in the International District from affecting service along Rainier Av S.  Metro is now on board.  In both maps, Route 7 would be split in half at Mount Baker Station.  The south half would be connected with route 48 and upgraded to RapidRide, restoring a one-seat ride between Rainier Valley and the Central District and providing a new easternmost anchor for the gridded network.  The north half would also be upgraded to RapidRide and connected with route 70 for the 2025 network, creating a one-seat surface bus route connecting Mount Baker, the International District, downtown, SLU, and the U-District.  The northern route would be further extended for the 2040 network, absorbing route 67 and creating a one-seat route all the way from Northgate to Mount Baker.  (How the reliability of this route would be addressed is an open question.)

Metro Wants Graham Street.  Just as with NE 130th St, Metro is proposing a frequent east/west route to connect with the planned Graham Street Station. This one would replace the southern portion of route 60 with increased frequency, and would connect Westwood Village, White Center, South Park, Georgetown (along a new routing via Corson and Lucile), Cleveland HS, and Graham Street itself.  Because of South Seattle’s byzantine street network, most of these connections are a bit slower than those Metro could achieve from NE 130th St.  Nonetheless, the map shows how Graham, just like 130th, can help Metro create a truly frequent and gridded network.

All In on West Seattle Rail.  The 2040 map would completely restructure West Seattle bus service, orienting it almost entirely around connections to Sound Transit’s proposed Link line with stations at Youngstown, Avalon, and Alaska Junction, and radically increasing neighborhood coverage as a result.  RapidRide C would be entirely replaced by a new RapidRide line within West Seattle, intent on connecting additional destinations with Link at Alaska Junction: Alki, North Admiral, Morgan Junction, High Point, Highland Park, Beverly Park, and Burien.  Route 120 would be upgraded to RapidRide and rerouted through Sodo, presumably with the idea that downtown passengers would mostly transfer to Link at Youngstown.  Arbor Heights and Fauntleroy would be served by a new route that would connect them with Alaska Junction… but also provide an all-day express connection between West Seattle and SLU via the Deep Bore Tunnel, the tunnel’s one practical use for transit.  Additional frequent lines connecting to Link would replace routes 21 and 125, and also add new connectivity to Beach Drive, Shorewood, and the unserved area east of West Seattle HS.  New all-day local lines would serve several other areas close to Alaska Junction.

New Approach to South Park.  In addition to the east-west Graham Street route mentioned above, South Park would be served by two north-south routes, both connecting to Link.  A frequent route connecting South Park with Beacon Hill Station, Des Moines Memorial Drive, and Burien (essentially, a combination of parts of routes 60 and 132) would stop only along 14th Ave S at the eastern edge of the neighborhood.  The rest of the neighborhood would be served by a local route that would connect South Park and the adjacent industrial area with Sodo Station via 1 Av S, while providing new service between South Park, the Glendale industrial and residential areas, Riverton Heights, and Tukwila.  This approach would take away South Park’s one-seat service to downtown, but create more frequent connections to Link and new connections to nearby areas.

Connections at Boeing Access Road.  Metro appears to be assuming yet another infill stop from Sound Transit: Boeing Access Road (BAR).  Routes serving the general area of BAR would be restructured into an X shape with the station at its center.  Route 124 north of BAR would be combined with route 107, connecting Skyway and BAR with Georgetown and Sodo.  Route 124 south of BAR would be absorbed into an extended RapidRide A, running between Rainier Beach and Federal Way via BAR.  This idea would improve connectivity along route 124, but would not provide long-sought late-night and early-morning connectivity between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport.

And Another Crosstown Route.  Not satisfied with one new crosstown connection, Metro suggests another one (albeit infrequent) connecting Rainier Beach Station, South Beacon Hill, Georgetown (via Michigan St), Highland Park, Westwood Village, Gatewood, and the Alaska Junction.

83 Replies to “Seattle Tidbits from the Metro LRP”

  1. Me thinks Renton screwed up in 1995, joining the East Subarea. A better plan would have been to join Seattle(via annexation), as the Council, Mayor and City Manager lament about paying nearly 1/2 billion in taxes to ST over the last 20 years, and getting only a parking garage and relocated TC at Grady for the effort.
    Now they are officially ‘Behind the Curve’.

    1. South King has more transit needs and less money. So Renton might have gotten even less with South King.

      The city of Renton needs to articulate what kind of transit network it wants.

      1. I wonder how they feel about fellow Subarea Pols loaning Snohomish a billion to help out Boeing and Paine Field with rail? RDC from Bieing to Sodo using the existing rail line might be a good starting point in that discussion. Sharing the tracks with an occasional delivery of fuselages shouldn’t be a problem.

      2. They haven’t lent it yet. Everett wants them to, but Everett is not the ST board and the board hasn’t made a decison yet.

      3. It’s 2 miles shorter to go from Park Ave/I405 to KSS via existing tracks than to go to KSS along BRT to S.Bellevue to E.Link. The trip should be considerably faster without the transfer to E-Link. Three more stops at Burnett CBD, Grady P&R and Tukwila N. would fill in some nice gaps for Renton and Kent Highlands trying to access the Link system they are paying for.
        this also sends a message that rail along the rest of the ROW is something to think about in future years as I-405 again fills up after the next round of widening.

      4. mic,

        There aren’t any RDC’s left; they’ve all be trashed except the occasional one at a museum. Or were you just using them to mean “multi-unit self-propelled diesel trains”? If so, it’s a very good idea. The good news is that the spur to Renton connects north of the tangle at Black River Junction where the number of tracks is reduced from four to three.

      5. Yes, RDC is generic for “MUSPDT’S :)
        Maybe that would untie the gordian knot known by many as the Black River Junction Intertie, or has the UP and BNSF decided to play nice.

    2. I agree with your original idea mic. Consider Corridor 4 (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/), which follows the Metro 7, the second most popular bus route in our system. Now imagine if Renton kicks in a bit of money to extend that out to Renton. That seems like a winner to me — tying together areas that are connected more and more every day (as folks cash out/get pushed out to the south). That could be done 20 years before Issaquah rail and will be a lot more useful.

      1. I remember when the 7 went from Prentice to the U-dist for most trips, like a long snake. Now it’s the 7 & 49, and soon will get cut in half again at Mt. Baker. Extending it to Renton is not far-fetched, and getting them connected to Link with the best OD pairs should be a top priority of their limited influence on ST. After ST3, it’s nothing for the next 25 years.
        Time to get active while ST is looking for supporters.

      2. I think the big reason it has been cut into pieces is because of congestion. By the time a bus hits the end of the line, the schedule is meaningless. But that is where the big investment in BRT infrastructure comes in. Make those roads fast (for buses), add off board payment and level boarding, and a long line like that is just fine.

        But I don’t see any of this happening if ST3 passes. The spine will be connected — Sound Transit’s mission will be complete. Seattle might spend the money (Seattle likes spending money) but I doubt the suburbs (or satellite cites, like Renton) will be willing to spend a few million on that sort of infrastructure improvement after spending billions on ST3. Renton will have to suck it up, and just spend money on other things (things that arguably are more important, anyway).

      3. Unfortunately, you are right again. Probably too late in the game to have any influence on ST3 or the Metro LRP for Renton. The lines between what ST and Metro do are getting blurred every day. Is it a BRT local, express, extended RapidRide? I can’t tell anymore.

      4. The 7 in years past went farther then the U District as the route split two ways at NE 65th. One portion continued north on 15ht Ave NE to NE 85th and while the other portion turned right on NE 65th and continued east to 35th Ave NE. You also had another portion of the old 7 route become the 8 in downtown which turned right on NE 50th and followed the route of the just deleted 30 to 35th NE where its terminal was a small drive way located next to the cemetery. During the afternoon rush hour you also had some number 7 buses signed Cowan Park and they would terminate at NE 65th. In the Seattle Transit days the 7 was one of the more interesting routes in their system.

      5. There were several routes that had branches.

        The south portion of the 18 had two designations. One was signed 18 Fauntleroy-Lincoln Park and went past Lincoln Park and the ferry dock terminating at around 45th SW and Brace Point. The other portion was signed 18 Fauntleroy-Gatewood and continued south on California Avenue to its terminal at Gatewood.

        The south portion of the 15 had two designations. One was signed 15 Admiral-Alki and would continue down Admiral Way following the current 50 route to 61st and Alki. The other was signed 15 Admiral-West Seattle Junction and would turn left at California Ave and continue to its terminal on Alaska Street.

        The 12 had two designations. One was signed 26th Ave S and terminated at 26th Ave South and Judkins Street. The other was signed 12 E Cherry and was routed as currently the 3 is to 34th Avenue and E Union.

        The 6 and 16 did not have branches but were hooked together. After going northbound on its route it would terminate on 1st Avenue NE just south of NE 80th. Going south it would become the 16 and follow that route to downtown.

        The 16 would follow its route also to 1st Ave NE just south of NE 80th to its terminal and when going southbound would become the 6 and follow that route to downtown.

        On it southbound portion the 7 would have several terminals. Some would end at Graham Street, others at Rose Street while the remaining would terminate at Prentice Street. During the afternoon rush hours a couple of trips would terminate at Fletcher Street.

        The 27 had two terminals. One was Frink Place a block or so south of the current 27 terminal. That route would turn right at 32nd and Yesler Way and continue down to 35th Ave So and then on Lake Washington Blvd to its terminal. On its return trip it would follow the current 27 route along Lake Washington Blvd and then continue up Lake Dell Avenue back to Yesler Way.

        The other portion of the 27 would do the opposite and turn left at 32nd and Yesler Way and then down Lake Dell to Lake Washington Blvd to it terminal at Lane Street. On its return trip it would go up 35th Ave S and back to Yesler Way.

      6. After I posted the last note I thought of a couple of more routes that had branches.

        The 22 Roosevelt had two terminals, one at NE 80th and Ravenna on a little island in the middle of the street and that island is still there. The route would turn right at NE 80th at Roosevelt and continue to 20th Ave NE, turn right down to I believe was NE 78th and make a left to its terminal.

        The other 22 terminal was NE 92nd and Roosevelt Way. The route would turn left at NE 84th and down to 5th Ave NE and then to NE 92nd before turning right to its terminal.

        The 41 has two terminals. One at NE 92nd and Roosevelt Way where it would connect to the 22. From there north to NE 94th with a left to 5th Ave NE to the Northgate Mall where it would go into the mail to its stop right on the east of what is now Macys but then was the Bon Marche. From there back north on 5th Ave NE to NE 125th and then east to 30th Ave NE making a left to NE 127th turning right to Lake City Way and turning right to NE 125th to its terminal.

        From there back west on NE 125th to 15th Ave NE and making a left and then south to NE 85th where it would connect to the 7 15th Ave NE-85th branch. It would make a loop at NE 80th to Lake City Way and then back north on 15th Ave NE back to its terminal at NE 125th and Lake City Way.

        On its next trip it would then follow its route back via the Northgate Mall to NE 92nd and Roosevelt Way. So basically it would alternate between its two terminals from Lake City.

      7. “The lines between what ST and Metro do are getting blurred every day. Is it a BRT local, express, extended RapidRide? I can’t tell anymore.”

        They’re dropping the term BRT. Madison BRT will be RapidRide M, Roosevelt BRT RapidRide R, or whatever letters they choose. BRT is a vague term with several levels. I wouldn’t call anything less than 15 minutes full-time BRT. So the current RapidRide lines fail because of lack of transit priority, and Swift fails because of 20-minute evenings and weekends. But there is a level low enough for RapidRide, to move the discussion from “Is this BRT?” to “Is this low-level or high-level BRT?”

  2. I hope Seattle doesn’t spend the next 23 years arguing about these details. But I hope that enough things will change to make this much detail a waste of time and money. Same thing I wished about last quarter century ’til first LINK ride inbound from UW Stadium.

    However, frequent travel between Olympia and Seattle shows me I don’t have to worry that there’ll be some serious changes in transportation in this whole region. My guess is a major region-wide back-up, caused by a single-vehicle accident, getting several hundred people killed, will get things moving in right direction.

    Sort of a motorized Bhopal. However, I also think that before that happens, the Washington National Guard will have to get several thousand people out of a situation, both outside of an in Seattle, that’ll take both every tow truck in the State and a fleet of Skycrane helicopters to clear. I give it another year.

    So I’d rather the time, effort, and expense in this posting’s plan be spent on figuring out how to get the exponentially exploding permanent traffic jam on I-5, and its causes, which generate a lot more problems than that, given more-than-first priority.

    On positive side, especially for Seattle, tunnel boring technology is also rapidly improving. So chance is that Ballard-UW-CBD-West Seattle-Everett progress can equally likely at least assure that everybody desperately waving at the helicopters will be there by their own choice.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Fifteen minute service isn’t frequent. It’s bare minimum to be considered viable. Especially when you have to walk 10+ minutes to it, and of course we are talking about Seattle here so the buses will never actually be on schedule (so half an hour before you’re even on a bus if you’re unlucky).

    We need to set a higher standard.

    1. Those are not the highest-level routes; they’re second-level. The highest-level routes are RapidRide. And hopefully sense will prevail and some of them will be 10 minutes daytime. There will be a RapidRide route in practically every neighborhood on the highest-volume streets.

      The lateness of buses is what the capital improvements are supposed to improve.

      Seattle needs to get to a full-time frequent network because that’s what San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Vancouver, etc, have had for decades.

    2. 15-minute headway is just the gold standard in Metro’s Service Guidelines…. as in that is the only frequency used as a goal for a queue of targeted bus routes. But 15-minute headway only syncs with every third train in the north end, and not at all with Link in the south or for Ballard or West Seattle.

      10 should be the new 15.

      But it would also help to stair-step routes, with a list of routes targeted for two-way peak (if currently one-way), all day (if currently peak only), weekend service (if currently weekday only), hourly headway (if they are less than hourly), 30 (if hourly or 45), 20 (if 30), 15 (if 20), 10 (if 15), and 5 (if 10, especially in the north end). Peak frequency may need to be handled separately.

      And then, Metro shouldn’t force SDOT to fund the queue while Metro is creating political routes not backed up by the Service Guidelines.

      Bus routes that are designed to connect with Link should be synchronized with Link, as much as possible, in our lifetime. That starts with route 7 and 36 in the here and now, as some are confusedly using route 7’s lack of synchronization with Link as a further excuse for extending route 38 downtown.

    3. Yes, 10 should be the new 15. But we have to get to 15 first. We’ve gone a long way with Prop 1. I’m concerned when David said, “daytime and early evenings”. Metro’s current definition of frequent is 15 minutes until 6pm weekdays and Saturdays. That does little for people who work 8-5 and the only only time they can use the frequent service is on Saturdays, so if they want to shop in the evening or on Sundays they’re stuck with 30-minute buses. I thought that Metro’s future plan for frequent meant until 10pm seven days a week like the current RapidRide standard is.

      Buses can’t be synchronized with Link when they’re subject to stoplights, traffic vagraties, and wheelchair lifts.

      1. “Early evening” was intended to cover the evening until 10 p.m. That’s what Metro is defining as frequent for long-term planning purposes.

    4. I agree, I wouldn’t call 15 frequent. But that is just semantics (I wouldn’t call RapidRide BRT, and neither would ITDP). We should have different levels of service, and there is no sense in arguing what makes the most sense at this point. It really depends on the route, and what else is there. The RapidRide+ corridors seem like major workhorses, and I think they should have all day service under ten minutes. I’m not sure if six minutes (like Madison BRT) makes sense, but I don’t think it is out of the question. I think there are only a handful that should be added to that set. I would rather have those routes run more often, even if it means there are fewer 15 minute routes. I would also try and consolidate more. In general, though, I don’t see any easy decisions. Looking at the map, I see a few things that I would change, but it looks pretty good to me. The only way to get the kind of system that would be a major improvement is to pay more money.

  4. I have to wonder how the Metro-Link connectivity will be created at stations. There are numerous examples of Metro riders having to cross two major busy streets to get from a Link station to a Metro stop — after waiting through a traffic light where bus passengers stare at the Link entrance and sometimes the platform, for example. This kind of connectivity issue exists at Columbia City, Othello and Capitol Hill today. As more suburban Link stations open in areas where traffic volumes are heavy and cross-streets carry higher-speed traffic, it will be an increasing issue.

    I sense that this is one of those ‘boundary’ issues which has not resolved itself between the two operators — or any bus operator and ST. Who pays for an additional crossing under or over a busy street to connect Metro and Link? Is Metro willing to reconsider stop locations or redesign bus routes to improve Link access? I keep reading how there is a broad statement for coordination, but I’m not seeing these issues resolved on the street at the current stations.

    For starters, the map here in the LRP should show where conceptual Link entrances should be as well as where the connecting Metro stops should be.

    1. If your examples were Mt Baker or UW Stations you’d have a point. MLK is a walk to center platforms at grade, and CapHill has entrances on both sides of Broadway and at John.
      Deep stations, multi escalator rides, misplaced Orca readers and bus stops placed with little priority to transferees are all fair game.
      Heading to a freeway station near you? I feel your pain.

      1. Exactly the kind of discussion that’s needed!

        ST didn’t do this at UW – but one could also argue that it’s up to Metro or even SDOT to do it.

        Agencies keep giving lip service to coordination but when it comes to the preliminary design and EIS, no one will address it strategically. We end up with too little too late! This LRP needs to have a specific vision on connectivity at each station! Bus operations can be moved around — but a good transfer point is exactly what should be proposed in an LRP!

        We should be focusing on the connections more than the alignments here.

      2. At St. Clair North, if I remember right, a wide circular center platform had slanted pull-in bus bays. Something like saw-teeth, but spaced so that driver could swing in level with an angled edge, and then swing out without backing.

        Streetcar tracks ran around the outside of the bus bays, and the cars stopped at their own space- with no pullout- else where around the platform. Also seem to remember that at that station, streetcars with trolley pole collectors shared positive wire with trolleybuses- which are now gone- for a stretch.

        Also recall that original plans for CPS had those slanted pull-out bays for buses, when first designed.

        Mark

      3. When I attended the Northgate station open houses, it was a surprise to me to see the metro contacts come in at the 60% design stage. Way too late; they should have been in there at the jump.

  5. Love that idea for the 40. Nice to see Metro demonstrating the obvious network value of Graham and 130th; hopefully ST figures it out in time.

  6. It unfortunate that there are so many improvements that could have been made YESTERDAY that still won’t be made for another 10-25 years.

    Take “Making the 49 Useful” as suggested. How could planners not anticipate that the current 49 routing south of Capitol Hill Station would become redundant? And why does it take nearly a decade to combine two bus routes, the north end of the 49 with route 36 to Beacon Hill? Just freaking DO IT!

    Same with “A More Northerly Crosstown Route.” How could they spend the better part of a quarter-billion dollars on the Mercer Mess and not include transit?!?!?! Just put a freaking shuttle bus on Mercer between Uptown and SLU already!!! It’s not freaking rocket science!!! No, it won’t go all the way across town – but it’ll be one more crucially needed east-west option that’ll take some pressure off of the #8 along Denny, and they could do that NOW instead of waiting until 2025. Better yet, make a new route loop around SLU and Seattle Center via Mercer/Fairview/Denny/Fifth or First Avenues.

    Meanwhile, Metro wastes resources planning and building things like streetcars that either duplicate other planned/existing service (why lumber along in a streetcar between Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square when Link gets you there faster and more reliably?) or could be done at much less expense with a bus (why didn’t they just put a new bus route where the First Hill Streetcar line is, instead of spending a lot more money laying rail for much more expensive streetcars that just get stuck in the same traffic a bus would?). Now, after the SLUT and the First Hill Streetcar, they’re going to tipple-down on a bad investment to connect the two with another street car through downtown?!?! While telling us it’ll take a decade or more to connect/convert two existing bus lines into one!!!

    1. “How could planners not anticipate that the current 49 routing south of Capitol Hill Station would become redundant?”

      They could, they just didn’t know whether it would happen. Nobody did because there had never been light rail on Capitol Hill before. How far were people willing to walk from the station? What would they do given the fact that UW Station is not near the Ave. I though the 49 should have been replaced with the 43 or a north-south route. But Metro had been positioning the 49 as the main route on Capitol Hill for several years, and it was the hgihest-ridership route before Link. I’m waiting to hear some numbers regarding how far it’s fallen.

      “why lumber along in a streetcar between Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square when Link gets you there faster and more reliably?’

      That was Sound Transit, and it was because First Hill wanted a streetcar to compensate for the loss of First Hill Station. It’s not for traveling between the endpoints, but for traveling from the middle.

      “they’re going to tipple-down on a bad investment to connect the two with another street car through downtown?!?!”

      That’s SDOT, and the connecting segment will have transit lanes. SDOT says it will double the streetcar’s total ridership. I have no way of telling whether that’s correct or not.

      “While telling us it’ll take a decade or more to connect/convert two existing bus lines into one!!!”

      It’s “by 2025”, not “not until 2025”. It will be done gradually between now and then, if the cities do their part and funding is found.

  7. Looking at these maps is fun, but remember, it’s only a model. What gets passed will bear little resemblance to these plans, after hundreds of public meetings and dozens of waterings down to protect the status quo.

    Fixing Metro’s Service Guidelines to focus on Link synchronicity, rather than on the arbitrary 15-ninute frequency as gold standard when it does not sync with Link, would be one of the most important outcomes of this exercise.

  8. South Park is my main destination, and I approve of making BHS and TIBS the main places buses head from there. Burien, not so much.

    Metro is rightly seeing a lack of ridership between South Park and West Seattle, but that may have something to do with the Arrowhead Gardens knot in the 60. Fix that knot, and they may see an uptick in ridership to Westwood, just as they saw an uptick in ridership on Beacon Hill after separating the 60 from the VA knot.

    South Park has traditionally had a significant proportion of Mexican and Vietnamese residents. I’d hate to see them lose the White Center connection.

  9. I know that this is a bit off-topic, but they often say that Tacoma is where Seattle was 25 years ago, and I’ve been looking at Pierce Transit’s long range plan, which largely would make Tacoma’s bus network like Seattle’s is today.

    1. Pierce Transit’s frequency is like Metro was in the 1980s. But the routes have a better grid structure.

  10. Route 120 would be upgraded to RapidRide and rerouted through Sodo, presumably with the idea that downtown passengers would mostly transfer to Link at Youngstown.

    but… WHY! Why pull the 120 out of downtown but keep it wasting 10 minutes a trip plunging into SODO, rather than just ending it at Youngstown as it should be?

    If you want to extend it an extra 10 minutes, do it at the other end, and terminate it at TIBS instead of Burien Transit Center! WAY more useful than a bus between Youngstown and Sodo stations.

    This is probably just to keep a large enough portion of it in Seattle to keep it classified as a N.King route instead of S. King, I suppose.

  11. I am a bit bothered by a lack of structural visions in this plan. Specifically, growing traffic jams will result in much slower mixed traffic routes, while ST3 will make many trips on rail much faster. As driverless transit vehicles evolve, they will arise for low-speed feeder routes to the higher-speed rail and bus routes. Riders won’t want to take a direct bus in 2040 for more than a few miles within Seattle and King County. Signal priority won’t be enough to solve the problem in many cases.

    I would like to see a second scenario of more of a bus-rail exclusive corridor trunk routes with shorter, potentially slow-moving driverless feeder routes into convenient hubs that have very convenient transfer capabilities between feeder buses, trunk line buses, pronto, shared-ride and other options.

    Just having one vision that has much of the same general type of service design seems very unimaginative and lazy. Going through the process of designing a differently-oriented system can also reveal where improvements can be made in this vision.

    1. We can’t depend on driverless vehicles until the technology is mature. Otherwise you have a blue-sky plan and no backup if the driverless cars don’t arrive in time.

      What does “bus-rail exclusive corridor trunk routes” mean? You want more rail lines? You want the RapidRide lines to have transit lanes? Something else? The RapidRide lines mark where Metro thinks the highest level of service is needed. That doesn’t doom them to shared lanes or all the problems with the existing RapidRide. It will be up to the cities and Metro to negotiate how far each line gets to exclusive lanes.

      1. RapdRide with only exclusive lanes is the minimum of what I’m visioining here. Something even more like light rail spacing and speeds in exclusive lanes as much as possible would be better. I’m even imagining median bus-only lanes with median stops with 3/4 to 1 mile spacing between stops for example – MLK in Rainier Valley with buses.

        I don’t understand your skepticism of driverless rubber-tired transit vehicles by 2049. The technology exists and is currently in use in several countries today. It may not yet be in mixed auto traffic but it’s technically able to do that and will happen in the next year. Auto guidance for things like automated parallel parking are commercially available. To deny that driverless rubber-tired vehicles aren’t going to be commonplace by 2040 would be like saying that real-time arrival info on your cell phone wouldn’t be popular in 1995. It’s coming!

      2. I should add that we should be wondering how fast these vehicles should move, and whether the free market will end up providing the service. If Metro keeps designing routes in the traditional 8 mph transit operations model on top of an increasingly congested street network, a driverless uber or driverless car-to-go shuttle service to a nearby rail station could wipe out local demand.

      3. Ideally, whatever technology allows for driverless cars would also allow for driverless buses and driverless Link trains. This could have the potential to greatly reduce operating costs. In practice, though, I would expect driverless Uber’s to hit the road decades before driverless buses do.

      4. Actually, buses and trains would come way before driverless taxis of any business model. Driverless vehicles aren’t like people – humans need to pre-map the route in excruciating detail for driverless cars to work. This works great for buses and trains, which are going to the same place 100% of the time. It works terribly for taxis that never go to the same place twice.

      5. buses and trains would come way before driverless taxis of any business model

        Driverless trains, yes; the driver doesn’t interact with passengers. Driverless buses; who assists with wheel chair loading, fare enforcement, helping people figure out the bike rack and the myriad of other things that constitute a bus drivers job?

      6. There’s a couple of unattended stations in Japan and France that are experimenting with robot attendants.

        Teaching it to operate a wheelchair ramp when needed could get interesting.

      7. Teaching it to operate a wheelchair ramp when needed could get interesting.

        That’s the easy part. Assisting a passenger is the hard part. At a minimum it would require an android like robot that could leave the bus, reconfigure seats as required/requested, etc. It’s not that it couldn’t be done but the expense, on every single bus, would be astronomical. And what about maintenance? I can’t see building a race of robots to service the “driver” robots when they return to base.

      8. Driverless trains have been a perfected technology since the 1970s — see Vancouver SkyTrain!

        For some reason people are paranoid about having driverless trains with grade crossings, even though the driver really has no ability to do anything to prevent a crash with a trespasser at a grade crossing. *Sigh*

  12. Funneling everything through Link is definitely the direction we want to be headed, but how are Metro/ST planning on handling the hours when Link is currently closed? The high-performing late night routes (49, 120, C) are no longer going downtown.

    1. Good point. I would like to see ST run Link shadow routes at 15-30 minute frequencies when Link isn’t running.

  13. In my earlier comment didn’t mean I think “things will have to get worse before they get better.” Something that even if it’s true, I don’t like to count on. Though a month or two back, The Times did note that pillars supporting considerable length of I-5 won’t take a ‘quake.

    Meaning that any morning’s routine zero-motion hour could make what I said an understatement.
    But am saying that planning for a quarter century ahead has to include plans to make any idea happen. I really don’t want to hear any argument that civil engineering is separate from route planning.

    Kansas City, maybe. Or Portland. Or the whole transit world not in a hill town in Portugal. Not Seattle.

    For instance, whatever the route number, how to get service across I-5 on Denny- or at least in its corridor. Or how to make up for the deletion of the LINK First Hill station? Or, however the Deep Bore Tunnel turns out, including as a storm drain for a tsunami….

    What are we going to do to provide the very large amount of transit service the new Waterfront will desperately need absent the Viaduct, and completely unaided by the Deep Bore Tunnel? Aside from travesty on the boards in yesterday’s discussion any plans at all?

    Speaking of which: Why is the Viaduct only being shut down two weeks? Wasn’t the thing supposed to be dynamited in 2012? Not kidding around about “Well, at least when it collapses we can finally build some transit!” Transit’s best friend could be an effective Federal prosecutor in a mass wrongful-death proceeding.

    One perspective I’d like to see today’s planning include: 26 years ago this September, the first Breda left staging into the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Positive: March 26 this year opened the first line of real rapid transit Seattle has ever had.

    But over the same time-period, and snowballing now, car traffic has made freeways both dangerous and increasingly useless. And is spoiling the Downtown Seattle Weekend Night experience for anybody who can’t get in on transit.

    For starters, to the subject of this posting needs to include a permanently co-evolving study of exactly what efficient transit needs along every major route. Bus lanes and signal-pre-empt for starters. But also, seriously, machinery to get passengers, without or with their transit vehicles, across vital routes with a cliff in the way.

    Like I’ve been saying about the various ST3 alignments, at least meetings will lead to more progress faster. Including because in the face of soils, rocks, and water, arguments will be shorter.

    Mark Dublin

  14. When I look at the 2040 map, it appears that Arbor Heights and Fauntleroy in West Seattle would only have peak period express service. There would be no more all day service to the Fauntleroy ferry terminal.

    1. Paul, I think there’s a good chance that in 25 years, there’ll be appropriately-sized high speed ferries operating all over Elliott Bay, and up and down Puget Sound 24-7-365.

      Whether climate change will raise our water levels to where we notice, I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot more floating homes and other buildings, with miles of walkways between them. We’ve got some house-boats left over from the old days.

      Which I’m pretty sure originated in reaction to unaffordable dwellings on dry land.

      Mark

    2. Metro says that a lot of the express routes are going to run all day, maybe even every hour. Considering that (IIRC) the ferry doesn’t run any more often than that, that sounds like the best service: run a bus every hour, and have it wait for the ferry.

    3. The website says Express is every 15-30 minutes all day. But when I talked with a Metro consultant at the Ballard open house, he said they weren’t 100% sure yet which express routes would be all day and which might be peak only. So you may see some peak only things around Federal Way or east of Auburn.

  15. Anecdotally, my day to day commuting 49s are just as crowded as they were pre-Link. Once the U-District Station opens it may well be different, but I wouldn’t write the 49s obituary quite yet.

    1. They are just as crowded? Interesting. They added service, which means that ridership on a route that parallels Link has gained a lot of ridership. This was with nothing more but added service. Makes sense to me. This is not to downplay U-Link. A super fast, super frequent connection between the UW and downtown is huge. It is the second biggest thing the city ever did for transit (the first being the bus tunnel). But it doesn’t work for everyone. Transfers aren’t that great (and partly this is just because of the nature of a tunnel so deep). So in many cases, it makes sense to just ride the bus. It really depends on where you are headed.

      That is why I find the Roosevelt BRT project so fascinating. The speeds are amazing, and if they achieve anything close to that, service at Madison BRT levels (every six minutes all day) should be easy to achieve (with high farebox recovery). But as with the 49 versus Link, a lot depends on where you are. Link doesn’t have that many stops. Roosevelt BRT will. There are plenty of places — not just along Roosevelt — where taking the surface bus will make more sense. Campus Parkway to South Lake Union would save a ton of time. If it runs just as frequently, then it would be hugely popular.

      1. I think a lot of it depends on which section of the 49 you are riding. From the Broadway business district to the U-district, the 49 takes pretty much the same amount of time as walking to Link and transferring to a bus at Pacific St. If you see the 49 coming and don’t have to wait for it, the 49 is actually, usually faster.

        On the other hand, if you’re talking about the Broadway->downtown section of the 49, this is the slowest section of the 49, and the Link option doesn’t require a transfer at the other end. The 49 is also splitting its Pine St. ridership with the 11, and distances are short enough that walking is also an option, especially for those living at Pine/Bellevue, rather than Pine/Broadway. In some cases, it is even possible to use different stops for morning/afternoon trips so that the walk to/from the station is downhill in both directions.

    2. If you look around you will probably find some socunentation about MAX green line causing a ridership increase on the semi-parallel 72.

      Feeder routes are feeder routes, even if they happen to be parallel.

  16. It will be interesting to see how much these plans get watered down by the Seattle process. Lots of routes shown on map could easily end up consuming more service hours than Metro hopes, necessitating lower frequency. Every block of bus lane that gets canceled due to parking impacts, every legacy route deviation that gets retained due to people not wanting to walk a couple of blocks, makes every trip that much more expensive, which directly translates into less frequency.

    It is also not a guarantee that Sound Transit will help out as much as Metro hopes, as ST 3’s passage is not a sure thing.

    I’m also not quite clear on where the revenue will come from for the overall service-hour budget to increase. While the population will most certainly grow between now and 2040, if zoning rules limit the growth to exurban greenfield development, any new tax dollars that come in will get sucked up in operating new milk runs to the new communities.

    But in spite of all this, the proposed maps are definitely a step in the right direction.

  17. It’s obviously a detail to be worked on later, but it seems like Ballard light rail would be an opportunity to rethink the entire Magnolia service pattern. For example, would the 32 really need to go to Seattle Center any more, and maybe it should instead take over one of the 24 cross-stitch segments?

    The Mercer Mess sure throws a wrench in the works. It would be nice to be able to combine the 33 with something into a crosstown route to Capitol Hill station so that while downtown is no longer a one seat ride a bunch of other places would be.

    1. I don’t like the idea of subjecting Magnolia service to the vagaries of Denny. Nor am I too optimistic about the jog to Harrison – when Denny isn’t backed up, the extra turns will merely serve to slow things down, and without dedicated bus lanes, when Denny is clogged up, cars would just clog up Harrison too. In practice, even a 3-seat ride bus->train->train might get you from Magnolia->Capitol Hill faster than a one-seat bus – especially if the Downtown->Capitol Hill segment is running every 5 minutes and there’s an underground transfer between the lines at Westlake Station.

      One thing I like about the simple neighborhood circulator is that short distance directly translates into better frequency and better reliability. It would free up service hours for the 31 to start running on evenings and Sundays.

  18. Many of these proposed changes affect current Trolleybus routes. Will additional wire be strung, will dual-mode battery/electric buses be used on and off wire as done elsewhere in the world, will the wire be abandoned and the routes covered by diesel vehicles, or…?

    1. Some of the RapidRides are already planned to be electrified. Others could be. But things like the 47 turning into a 47/25 would require many miles of wire in a low-volume area, so it will probably be just dieselized.

  19. Radically Streamlined Downtown Service… demonstrates dramatically how Sound Transit’s proposed second downtown tunnel and Link connections can relieve both capacity constraints and congestion through downtown.

    Nature abhors a vacuum. With only six routes you can be sure 3rd will be given back over to GP traffic making the entire trip through the ever expanding CBD slower than a lame snail.

    1. I could see SDOT doing something like making the curb lanes bus only all day and giving the middle lanes back to GP traffic. Not the best solution, but I think it would still be acceptable.

  20. In both maps, Route 7 would be split in half at Mount Baker Station. The south half would be connected with route 48 and upgraded to RapidRide, restoring a one-seat ride between Rainier Valley and the Central District and providing a new easternmost anchor for the gridded network.

    So, I gotta ask (and maybe it’s too late and this thread has died so no one will notice): why is joining route 7 with route 48 a good idea? Didn’t route 48 just get split because it was too long and unreliable? Didn’t the 8 also get split for the same reason?

    “Upgraded to RapidRide” seems like a pipe dream since the road where the 48 spends most of its time–23rd Ave–can’t have dedicated bus lanes or much in the way of signal priority (most of the intersections are too small for a bus-only queue jump lane).

    So we went from having two routes that serve the core of the CD, one going south (route 8 all the way to Rainier Beach and serving several Link stations along the way) and one going north (route 48 all the way to Loyal Heights and easy non-downtown connections to Ballard and Northgate) to…one going to South Lake Union but not north of the cut and one going from Rainier Beach aaaaalllllll the way to the University via one of the most congested streets east of IH-5. Is this really the service pattern that people are clamoring to get? Because I live here and those routes are completely backwards for my desired use.

    Added bonus questions: Why does there need to be so much service that emulates Link? I can see feeding to Link stations because that’s basically what the new 48 now does (serves a huge gap where there is not and never will be any Link station). Why do we need a super-long 7+49 (or a 7+48) or a 38 that hops from Link station to Link station?

    1. The 23rd-Rainier route comes from Seattle’s Transit Master Plan of 2012. I don’t quite see the purpose, but it is the easternmost streets that can expect high-volume service so there may have been a wish to connect the easternmost streets together. I don’t like breaking the connection between lower Rainier and upper Rainier, meaning you have to transfer just to go straight, and you have to look at a map to see which route serves which part of Rainier. To me it seems better to turn the 7 into a Rainier-Boren-SLU route. But the same thing will happen on Madison if the 8-Madison goes through combined with leaving Madison BRT terminating at MLK.

    2. “Didn’t route 48 just get split because it was too long and unreliable? Didn’t the 8 also get split for the same reason?”

      The unreliability was due to the current street configuration and lack of signal priority. If they redo the streets right the bottlenecks will go away. It won’t happen for several years so we might as well see how good the plans are before assuming the lines are too long. One advantage of 23rd-Rainier is it avoids the I-90 entrance, so that in itself might improve the thoroughput. My own experience with the 48 is that its peak-hour slowdowns are due to people getting on and off at every single stop all the way down.

      That’s where a limited-stop overlay would help, which Metro calls “express” and Link also is. I haven’t seen how much of the Rainier Valley-UW ridership has switched to Link; is it as dramatic like both sides of Capitol Hill are? Metro’s assumption seems to be that even with Link there’s still demand for routes like Rainier Valley-UW, and enough demand to warrant a RapidRide line. That’s similar to the assumption with the 49, that it would remain strong after Link. In the 49’s case that may prove to be incorrect, and its frequent hours should be redistributed to other Capitol Hill routes. So something of the same may or may not affect Rainier Valley, thus influencing a 23rd-Rainier route. I think 23rd-Rainier will doubtless have high ridership because it’s there; the question is whether another route combination would have higher ridership.

      1. Even before U-Link, I experimented with the 48 from Mt. Baker TC to the U-district. Unfortunately, the 48 was so unreliable, that even taking Link downtown and transferring to the 71/72/73 was usually better. Today, it is hard to imagine going all the way through on the 48.

        That’s not to say that the 48 isn’t worth funding, however. Connecting the U-district and the Ranier Valley to the Central District is important, in and of itself, and Link won’t help with trips like that.

  21. Last week, I decided to give the new route 71 a try and took it to the Link Light Rail station at Husky Stadium, rode the rail to downtown and headed back to my home on 30th Ave NE.

    What used to be convenient door to door downtown service on the 71 has been incredulously replaced by a route that still winds through the U District and then forces one to transfer. Along with the 73, there is now no service on Sunday. The transfer point is a wind swept, multi-lane expanse with ONE bus shelter. The only direct route line to downtown from 65th NE is the 62, which take OVER AN HOUR to get downtown as it weaves its way though congested neighborhoods in local traffic.

    Upon arriving back at Husky Stadium on light rail I walked across the stupid overpass, and waited with dozens of others for my transfer bus. It took nearly twice as long to get downtown and back…what progress! I am livid.

    What about the handicapped or the aged? What are they supposed to do? Wait for a transfer while its sleeting sideways in December? Wheel themselves across 25th on an overpass? I get it…really I do. Metro/Sounder is forcing these hair brained route changes to drive the light rail numbers up. I am looking to Metro to bring back the 71 route as it was…at least until the Brooklyn and Roosevelt Stations are completed. I hope heads roll.

    -Jim

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