By King County Councilmembers Joe McDermott and Larry Gossett

County Councilmember Joe McDermott
County Councilmember Joe McDermott

King County aims to deliver public transportation that grows access to jobs and education. Transit transforms communities and economies, helps address inequity, and plays a role in mitigating displacement. As STB has covered, the County Council is currently considering multiple changes to the bus network which includes enhanced service to South Seattle neighborhoods and South King County communities. We are both very supportive of transforming the network to better work for our communities and to protect cultural anchors, businesses and institutions as we grow and change.

King County is changing. We are quickly growing and demographics are shifting. Gentrification is occurring in South Seattle and the suburbanization of poverty to South King County is evident. King County is working in partnership with the City of Seattle to make sure our bus system is adapting to increased and changing needs.

County Councilmember Larry Gossett
County Councilmember Larry Gossett

A significant amount of public input shaped this service change. The new network is a result of years of community engagement. The engagement included a community advisory group, online surveys, community meetings, and input from thousands of impacted residents. The input received from the community was received and the routes were analyzed using Metro service guidelines. The result of all this work was passed out of committee Tuesday and will be considered by Full Council on May 16th. Before the Full Council, we will advocate for its passage.

This restructure proposal addresses long standing community concerns and meets Metro’s service guidelines. It fills gaps in service from Southeast Seattle, Renton and Tukwila to Downtown Seattle. It eliminates low-performing service. The Rainier Valley will enjoy enhanced, frequent service along MLK Jr. Way South, Rainier Avenue South, and South Jackson Street to the International District. Georgetown will receive a net increase of trips to and from Georgetown while maintaining connections provided by the current Route 106 with service improvements to the 124 and extension of the route 107 into Beacon Hill. Proposed improved weekday and Saturday service, Route 124 will operate on an even schedule and common pathway, with trips arriving about every 15 minutes throughout the day.  Added service frequency on Route 124 will not only benefit Georgetown but also double the service between Georgetown and Tukwila, including the E Marginal Way S corridor with improved access to employment and education sites and connections with other transit service and Link at the Tukwila Station.

Since 2009, and discussion around the elimination of the bus route 42, Asian Counseling Referral Service (ACRS) and the Filipino Community Center along with other community groups and organizers have worked with Metro to provide excellent transit service to Southeast Seattle. This spring, Puget Sound Sage and Got Green published Our People, Our Planet, Our Power—Community Led Research in South Seattle. The report was a culmination of nine months of research and outreach in South Seattle/King County. They interviewed 175 residents and engaged 30 organizations that work in the communities. When asked about community concerns, the lack of public transportation and affordable housing were two of the top three concerns. Increasing bus service in South Seattle and South King County is crucial. Rainier Valley residents use bus service more than higher earner areas of the County. Increasing service provides more direct access to jobs and education, but is also helps root current community members, cultural anchors, businesses and institutions. We have heard for years from impacted communities about the cultural neighborhoods and institutions that need more bus service. Now, we are responding to these concerns.

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott is the chair of the Metropolitan King County Council. He represents West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands, Burien and parts of Tukwila on Capitol Hill on the County Council. King County Councilmember Larry Gossett represents the Central Area, Beacon Hill, the Rainer Valley, Skyway and parts of North Seattle and Capitol Hill.

21 Replies to “The Southeast Seattle Bus Restructure Responds to Community Input”

  1. So why specifically is an MLK-Rainier-Jackson route important? Does it matter that the other end goes to Renton, or would it still be important even if the other end terminated at Henderson? The fact that the ACRS wanted this routing is well known. Did the majority of the “175 residents and 30 organizations” also say that an MLK-Rainier-Jackson route was among their top priorities? Or did they just say “lack of public transportation” in general. If they did ask specifically for this routing, I’d like to know how many did so and what their stated reasons for wanting it are. Did they say that not having this route was a hardship for them? That transferring to the 7 or Link at their 10-minute daytime frequencies was too much? Why is this particular route so important compared to other potential routes? Other routes like Rainier-Broadway for instance, which this change is taking midday service from.

  2. “The suburbanization of poverty to South King County is evident.”

    Great, so how many years will areas like Kent and Auburn, where housing is somewhat affordable, need to wait for the same level of transit service as southeast Seattle?

  3. Thanks for contributing, Councilmembers. But this piece does not remotely address the central issue with this restructure and the reason it’s controversial. That is: The extension of the 38/106 from Mount Baker to the International District is entirely duplicative of existing frequent service, accessible from existing MLK service through a same-stop transfer in both directions. The service hours used to make the extension could just as easily be used to enhance service frequency on the non-duplicative parts of the route, making both local trips and transfer trips quicker and easier. Using so many service hours on duplicative service is not consistent with Metro’s own Service Guidelines or with any reasonable transit planning concept.

    1. It woul be helpful to know just what need is trying to be met.

      If the objection is to the cumbersome transfer across the street at Mt Baker, then maybe the transit center and station should be modified?

      If the objection is the number of transfers required to get places, then maybe the solution is to run bus service to a spot that has better whatever location is the ultimate destination. Are people trying to get to 4th and Jackson due to the transfers to othe buses or because it is the International District?

      Are the complaints caused by the 7 being slow and overcrowded? Then maybe the solution is more service on the 7.

      Is the objection to the high floor Bredas on the 7 and how difficult they are to board and the transfer issues this causes? The cutting torch is coming for them soon.

      This solution seems a bit like trying to solve a headache by taking an aspirin when the actual solution might be to stop getting hit in the head by a hammer. It’s hard to know how well the solution will work unless the actual problem it is supposed to solve is known.

      1. No transfer across the street at Mount Baker is necessary to cover this path. It’s a same-stop transfer southbound and a walk of about a bus length northbound between the 38 and the 7.

  4. Did the additional service (saving the 42 with the 106) meet metro service guidelines for priority service?

    If it did meet guidelines, why not just use that as justification?
    If it didn’t meet guidelines, what is metro council doing to modify them, so the metro council will depoliticize the the entire issue, and stop granting political favoritism to the loudest groups.

    Once this decision is made, every single interest group going forward will be aware they can go straight to metro council and demand the pet project their group requires.

    It would be better to focus efforts on improving the mt baker link transfer, rather than wasting service hours with even more buses taking up lane space on Jackson.

  5. “Now, we are responding to these concerns.”

    Not really, but thanks for trying.

  6. Currently there isn’t any shortage of transit service on Jackson between 12th Avenue and Pioneer Square–adding the 38/106 doesn’t solve any existing problem and it might just create more congestion. The 38/106 will, however, create an easier transfer for MLK corridor passengers to the Eastside buses at I-90 Station. Riding Link to IDS and doing the up-and-over routine to catch an 550 is annoying. The new 38/106 will improve conditions for MLK to Bellevue riders, but it’s hard to find any other group of riders who will benefit from the change.

    I think running the 107 to Beacon Hill Station is just as wasteful as the 38/106 extension down Jackson Street. The 107 will be duplicating the 60 along 15th Ave. S. and with the 107 at 30 minute headways and the 60 at 20 minute headways it’s impossible to build any sort of complementary service pattern. Nevertheless, the 107 will be cannibalizing ridership from the 60 and in the future, when riders ask for better headways on the 60, Metro will just tell us that the 60 doesn’t generate enough ridership.

    1. The buses could go to broadway and still serve the I-90&Rainier stop. Going to Chinatown literally makes so little sense.

  7. Mike, David,
    The amended Southeast Seattle service restructure proposal is the result of an ongoing community dialogue that dates back to service changes made in 2009 when Link light rail first launched. Staying connected and engaging with the community is a key aspect of being consistent with our own service guidelines. Speaking to duplication, Jackson Street is essentially an extension of downtown Seattle, increasingly more like a downtown street as Seattle grows. Metro’s service guidelines acknowledge this, saying that routes should be designed to avoid duplication, but that services may overlap when operating along major corridors serving major activity centers such as the Seattle CBD.

    Along with creating new connections for riders in the MLK corridor, beyond the existing route 38, this proposal leverages a partnership investment from the City of Seattle (of about $1M) that improves one of Metro’s highest identified needs in our service guidelines, added service on the route 124. Improving this service from half hour to 15 minute frequencies will have a positive impact for the majority of the route’s riders who board the route between Tukwila and Georgetown. Our service guidelines also identify the corridor connecting Renton with downtown Seattle as underserved, and the route 107 extension along 15th Ave South on Beacon Hill addresses a segment of the underserved corridor generally served by Route 60. Connecting and improving service for people in Renton and Tukwila, two places in King County with a higher proportion of low income and communities of color, is the big reason why this proposal meets Metro’s service guidelines and equity and social justice principles.

    1. Jeff –

      No one, not one single commenter nor the byline guys on this blog, is arguing the utility of the changes that include the 107 and 124.

      Most however object to the extension to the International District of the 38/106. This is patently a duplicitous service that is a poor use of service hours.

      You indicate that this meets the service guideline standards. The byline guys on this blog have repeatedly pointed out how it does not.

      Can you please respond with exactly how this extension meets service standards.

      What is the projected ridership on this segment?
      Are these new riders? Ones coming from existing rail/bus segments?
      What about congestion along Jackson Street as that corridor faces vehicle capacity constraints including transit vehicles due to the road space they take up and the length of bus zones (exacerbated by short blocks)?

      All of the questions I’ve asked above *are* answerable. And yet, Metro has not provided any information regarding how these questions are being modeled to come to the conclusion that we have to have service on the 106 to the International District.

    2. Jeff

      As to;

      this proposal leverages a partnership investment from the City of Seattle (of about $1M) that improves one of Metro’s highest identified needs in our service guidelines, added service on the route 124. Improving this service from half hour to 15 minute frequencies will have a positive impact for the majority of the route’s riders who board the route between Tukwila and Georgetown

      Gotta say all the Museum of Flight and general avgeeks/aviation geeks salute you for this one. It’s important that major tourist destinations get quality transit services as it’s those tourist destinations that bring in sales tax revenue to pay for the quality transit residents need & deserve.



    3. Jeff,

      Was the extension of route 106 to the ID a necessary condition in order to get SDOT to invest in more 124 frequency? Does SDOT support the ID extension?

  8. Will the new 106 at least stay on Ranier Ave. through Mt. Baker, rather than looping into and out of the TC (which would actually be a deviation away from the Link station)?

    1. Proposed route 106 would presumably do as route 9 is doing: staying on Rainier.

      Of course, that makes several transfers more difficult southbound, and makes a transfer to Link more difficult northbound with the loss of the live loop.

      Whatever operational concerns the 106 extension to the ID is addressing (and Metro hasn’t given us much more than some community groups have been relentlessly asking for it), it is a huge step backward for ease of transfers.

  9. Suburbanization of poverty looks like this:,-122.2297562,3a,43.9y,65.37h,80.3t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sTqyof0SrUpYIzxWQ7LvJIg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1,-122.3130164,3a,47.7y,41.45h,89.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sC5ziWLqvTdrHbR8EtEKsOw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
    …in case you were wondering.
    Please stop to take 30 seconds to imagine what the inside of one of those trailers or motel rooms might look and smell like. Now, stop and imagine what it is like for a child, with NO CHOICE, to grow up in that environment, and what it must be like for that child to go to school, in some cases a school that is crumbling, in others a brand new school and how these experiences shape that child’s view of the world. Imagine what it might be like for that child to be invited to the home of a friend and how he or she probably cannot reciprocate the invitation. This is the world that we live in. This is 2016. This is the United States of America.

    1. With all due respect, living in an apartment or trailer is not “poverty”, and hardly a reason not to invite friends over. I’ve been in nicely-kept trailers and seen the inside of single-family houses where the owner had piles of papers all over the living room floor.

      There are those who argue that apodments, trailers, and apartments in general are undesirable and even try to outlaw them. I disagree with their world view.

      Skyway is mostly single-family homes, and is being depicted as impoverished. Hmmm.

      At any rate, I support doubling the frequency of Skyway’s main route (106), and would like to see them get an even better frequency boost, which would be a better use of the IDS extension money.

      1. We’re not talking about people living in “nice” trailers. We’re talking about people permanently living with entire families in dilapidated motels which would, in many cases, not pass a building inspection. We are talking about people living in 50 year old mobile homes that have tarps for a roof. We’re talking about people working multiple jobs and commuting an hour and a half between Auburn and Seattle because they can’t afford the cost of an apartment in Seattle on the wage of a janitor or clerk. The minimum wage increase in Seattle will certainly help this situation. But the situation will still exist. Boosting transit to neighborhoods that were impoverished 5 years ago and are quickly gentrifying does nothing to help these people.

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