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3-Car Train at Mt Baker (Photo by AvGeekJoe)

This morning the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment (TrEE) Committee unanimously passed an amended SE Seattle restructure for the September 10 service change. The restructure will now head before the full council later this month, where all signs point to its easy passage.

As we’ve reported previously, if passed by the full committee the restructure will:

  • Consolidate Routes 106 and 38 and extend them to the International District along the Route 7 pathway.
  • Extend Route 107 from Rainier Beach to Beacon Hill, with a short Georgetown loop added via 13th/Bailey
  • Reduce Route 9X to peak-only
  • Boost Route 124 to every 15 minutes (with an assist from SDOT)

Councilmembers were largely supportive of the changes in their comments, with Councilmembers McDermott and Gosseett noting the multiple years of outreach and the number of social service providers the restructure is intended to serve. The primary objections came from Councilmember Dembowski, who despite supporting the overall restructure questioned Metro’s prioritization of duplicative services in SE Seattle just a month after an extensive and politically painful transfer-based restructure in his NE Seattle district.

Metro Deputy GM Victor Obeso said Metro can afford the roughly $4m outlay due to Seattle’s temporary 2-year contribution (intended to be capped at roughly $1m), the improved economy, and lower fuel prices. With a frustrated smile on his face, Dembowski then asked Obeso to remember Metro’s new affluence when his district comes asking for a similar amount of service hours.

My views on this remain largely the same, namely that this restructure has wrung net positive change from a duplicative and wasteful extension to the International District, and that the overall proposal deserves our support. My fondest hope would be that Metro would live-loop the new 106 at Mt Baker instead, investing every ounce of possible frequency in the Renton-Mt Baker corridor to provide the frequent evening and weekend service that the IDS extension renders unaffordable. Such a live-loop would provide a level, ADA-compliant transfer to/from Link in both directions from the current Route 7 stop on southbound Rainier, answering the transfer-related concerns from the admittedly awful built environment around Mt Baker Station. But the IDS extension is the only piece of the proposal to endure throughout every iteration of the  process, and is unlikely to be removed.

27 Replies to “SE Seattle Restructure Passes Out of Committee”

  1. From what I have read, it looks like Joe caught the photo coup of the year, a real live three-car Link train. Congrats!

    1. Indeed a good and too-scarce photo. ST operates only two 3-car trains on weekdays, and then only during peak hours. Apparently they are mostly just for show, not to provide meaningful capacity improvement.

    2. I rode a three-car train yesterday – didn’t realize it was anything unusual!

  2. Seattle transit slang question: what does “live-loop” mean? Is it just having the bus turn around and not go out of service, or is there something else that makes it a “live” loop as opposed to a normal loop?

    While I’m asking Seattle transit slang questions: when a Metro bus shows TRM on its headsign, where is it going – the base, the start of its next route, the end of its current route, or somewhere else? I asked an operator and they told me “to the terminal,” which isn’t that helpful.

      1. Most routes have two terminals, and drivers take recovery time (layover) at both terminals. Live loops only work well on short routes, since recovery time is only available at one terminal.

    1. “Terminal” is where the bus starts its run. My understanding is that those buses showing “TRM” or “To Terminal” are deadheading to the route origin, either from base or the end of the preceding route.

      I’ve heard more than a few riders waiting at stops say things like “Wow, the Terminal really gets a lot of bus service.”

      1. This is correct, terminal buses are deadheading to the start of their route. You sometimes see them switch to terminal signage shortly before the end of their route as well so that people don’t try to get on at their last stop. They used to do this a lot westbound on Campus Parkway, not sure if they do these days.

  3. the original proposal had the Chinatown/ID 38/106 extension only weekday daytime. Now, it looks like the extension is all day, 7 days a week (It would been nice to kill off the Saturday/Sunday extension and move those hours to increase Sunday frequency between Mt. Baker and Renton). Since the 106 will be express between 12th/Jackson and Mt. Baker Station, does that mean KC Metro has to use a 106X designation (like the 26X and 28X does now, since those routes skip stops on Aurora).

    Please note Georgetown does lose frequency. only hourly after 10:30pm daily and every 30 minutes Sundays on the 124.

    I will try to have staff consider the Georgetown deviation to serve the business district better (via Lucille St and Airport Way, instead of just doing the loop at 13th and Stanley). having both the 60 and 107 do this, would have better connections to the 124 along this street, It is hard to make a good connection from the proposed 107 to 124 in the northbound direction).

    1. I definitely support the 60/107 routing through Georgetown proper. The loop idea is pretty silly. Who do we yell at to get that considered?

    2. Metro’s blog says the 124 will be hourly on Sundays, or am I reading it wrong?

  4. Any chance anyone knows more about Dembroski’s pushback? I really struggle to understand his pattern of thinking…

    1. Dembrowski is opposing the 106-Rainer routing? Isn’t that the opposite of resurrecting the redundant 71? The 45 and 67 were going to be 10-12 minutes, but the resurrection of the 71 and 73 brought them down to 15. I’ve had some experience now with 15th Ave NE in the Link era, and I agree that 15-minute service between the 71 and 73 to 65th is pretty helpful. But instead of resurrecting the 71, I think it would have been better to put all the hours into the 73. It could even have been a new route, 15th to 125th then east to Lake City Way, to restore that Lake City – U-District connection. (Or 15th to Northgate Way to Lake City Way; I don’t know which is better. But not resurrecting the slowpoke 72 on Ravenna Ave, which drove me up the wall.)

      So it’s possible that Dembrowski is an unreliable urbanist, although from these examples it looks like he supports inefficiencies only when they’re in his own area. Which, um, is similar to West Seattle getting disproportional priority for Link because a lot of government officials live there.

      Maybe there’s hope though that Dembrowski will eventually repent and become an efficiency hawk in an urbanist/high-ridership sort of way.

    2. He’s mad that his district doesn’t get more service. I ask how his voters voted on proposition one.

  5. The 124 will still have 30-minute service after 7PM and all day on Sunday… I don’t really think that qualifies as “frequent service.”

    1. Metro’s definition of “frequent” is 15 minutes until 6pm weekdays and Saturdays. It’s the same standard that the 8 and 11 are on; and that the 5, 10 and 40 were on before Prop 1. Jarrett Walker tells agencies to start with a frequent standard, however modest, something that a meaningful number of routes can achieve, and publish a frequent network map of those routes. That will get people starting to use transit and thinking it’s relevant for them. Then you can work on the next stages, which may be a longer span or shorter headways or some of both. The 8 started as a 30-minute weekday route from Uptown and Group Health. It was so popular that it was expanded, then expanded again and again and again. That’s what could happen to the frequent network and routes like the 124.

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