Photo by the Author
Photo by the Author

The Metro restructure that accompanied the opening of Sound Transit’s University Link was the most significant service change in a generation. It undid decades-old travel patterns, killed a handful of routes, and created several new ones. It was rightfully controversial, and we covered it each step of the way (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). And though we’ve seen release after release of Link’s ridership numbers, we’ve been wondering how broader travel patterns have changed. Though the final report on the March 2016 restructure won’t be presented to the King County Council until March 2017, we finally have some preliminary ridership numbers.

Net New Boardings

Metro, Link, and Metro-operated ST Express routes are up by 6% overall, or an additional 27,900 daily boardings (through the end of Q2). Bus ridership on restructured routes is down by 9,100 boardings (as is expected when many routes are deleted), but the net effect of the ULink restructure is an additional 18,800 boardings per day, of which 15,000 are new boardings and 3,800 are bus-rail transfers. 

Northeast Seattle Winners

Northeast Seattle travel patterns were altered drastically by the restructure, and the area saw the largest route-level ridership changes. Some routes were deleted (25, 30, 66, 68, 72), but most restructured routes doubled in frequency, bringing 15-minute service to NE Seattle for the first time.

  • Route 44 is up 20%, from 6,900 to 8,300 per weekday. We’ll have to wait until stop-level data comes out, but it’s likely that East Wallingford and UDistrict riders are making the trip down to UW Station to transfer.
  • Routes 45 and 48 are up 7%, from 12,200 boardings for old Route 48 to 13,100 for Route 45 (7,200) and Route 48 (5,900) combined. Despite disruptive construction on 23rd Avenue, on-time performance also improved drastically. Route 48 went from being late 23% of the time to just 11%. Yay for splitting up long routes.

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  • Route 65 is up by 42%, from 3,100 to 4,400.
  • Route 67 is up by 159%, nearly tripling from 1,700 to 4,400. This is down by 400 boardings compared to the old 66 and 67 combined, but that’s mostly made up for by…
  • Route 70 is bursting the seams. Ridership is up 75%, from 4,400 to 7,700 daily boardings.
  • Route 372 is up by 58%, from 4,800 to 7,600.
  • Routes 541 and 542, serving the Redmond-UW corridor, are up by 61%, from 1,800 a combined 2,900. And the two routes are only taking 4% of Route 545 boardings away, as that route fell modestly from 9,800 to 9,400.

Northeast Seattle Losers

  • Routes 63 and 64 have been slow out of the gate, though Metro says their ridership is starting to grow. Route 63 (Northgate to First Hill via SLU) has just 400 boardings per day. Route 64 fell by 25%, from 800 to 600 riders, despite adding SLU to its route.
  • Route 78 is fighting with Route 22 for the lowest ridership Seattle route, clocking in at just 200 riders per day.
  • Routes 71 and 73/373 – truncated to UW Station with a similar frequency – fell by 60%, from 11,800 combined riders to just 4,800. Route 71 riders, all 1,700 of them, are voting with their feet to take frequent arterial service to UW Station on Routes 65 and 372, or to Roosevelt on Route 62. Route 73 riders north of 65th Street seem to be walking to Route 67 (up 159%).
  • Former Route 72 riders in the Upper Roosevelt area didn’t get much replacement service beyond a boost in Route 372 frequency and an added ST Route 522 stop. But the 522 didn’t gain any riders, remaining at 5,300. So those riders are either walking to Route 372 or not riding.

Capitol Hill Winners

Capitol Hill routes near Link generally lost riders, while those a little further from Link gained riders. The time travel advantage of ULink is big enough that the walkshed appears larger than standard planning assumptions. People are willing to walk to good service.

  • Route 11 is up 38%, from 3,400 to 4,700. The #11 is likely absorbing demand on Pine Street east of Broadway for former Route 10 riders unwilling to walk to Link.
  • Route 49 is down 1%, from 7,200 to 7,100. So why is it a winner? Because as the most direct service between Capitol Hill and Downtown prior to Link, we at STB expected it to fall further.  It seems like more people than expected are using it as feeder service to Link, or are continuing to use it as a one-seat ride. Because frequency was boosted from 15 to 12 minutes, buses are 25% less full. Enjoy those uncrowded buses, y’all.
  • Routes 8 and 38 are up 6%, from 9,700 to 10,300. But the “L8” has finally seen some on-time improvement,  from being late 37% of the time to 27%.  Baby steps!

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  • Route 43 is a shadow of its former self, and ridership is down 85%, from 7,000 to just 1,100. So why is it still a winner? With just 16 remaining trips per day (plus a few in-service deadheads that don’t go downtown), the 43 is still averaging 60+ riders per trip.

Capitol Hill Losers

  • Route 10 is down 28%, from 4,600 to 3,300. Most riders on the route are within 1 mile of a Link station, and many of them seem to be walking to Link.

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Other Winners

  • Rapid Ride is quietly booming as a brand, with the C/D/E lines now combining for 41,000 riders per day, up 20% from a year ago. Paid for by Seattle voters via Prop 1, the March extensions of the C and D lines seem to be drawing riders in Pioneer Square and South Lake Union, and the E-Line continues growing (up 12%) despite not being extended.

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Too Soon to Tell

  • The Fremont/Greenwood/Wallingford restructure is complicated. On the one hand, ridership fell dramatically on Routes 26 (-25%) and 28 (-30%), but by using Aurora they also serve fewer stops and provide a generally faster trip. Meanwhile, Route 40 grew by 23%, absorbing a lot of the local Fremont to Downtown demand formerly served by Routes 26/28. And new Route 62 jumped out of the gate with 6,500 riders. We’ll have to wait for stop-level data to evaluate just where this part of the restructure is losing and gaining riders. My educated guess is that Fremont-Downtown service is up, and non-Downtown trips on Routes 26 and 28 are down significantly, and that the lion’s share of Route 62 ridership is coming from south of Green Lake.

Finally, here are all the Seattle routes with more than 5,000 boardings per day:

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143 Replies to “The U-Link Restructure: By the Numbers”

  1. Wow, the E Line gets more passengers than all of Sounder, and is growing. Would be prudent to get some cap. investment as a result to improve PM commute speeds and relieve bunching.

    Could we put a tollbooth gate on 6th to prevent people from blocking the bus zone at Denny? It would only allow people to advance into the intersection if there were space available in the car lane.

    1. Why don’t they have a traffic cop standing there directing traffic during rush hour? Seems like an obvious solution.

      1. Second.

        Barring that, someone needs to invent photo enforcement for “don’t block the box.”

      2. Photo enforcement has the bonus feature of not picking on drivers based on race or gender, and not pulling anyone over in the bus lane.

      3. I remember talking to someone about that. He was from Boston, and was blown away by the fact that we have so few traffic cops (and cops in general). I looked up the numbers and he is right. We are at the bottom end of police per capita. Hiring a few traffic cops in various areas would really be a good idea. Not only for transit, but for traffic in general. It does no one any good if traffic just doesn’t move on key corridors.

        I wonder if Metro could hire a few officials to do the job. They wouldn’t be cops, but have the same powers as the construction guys and gals that wave the flags. That seems like a relatively cheap solution (just like the folks that scan the ORCA cars downtown and let people board in the back).

      4. I imagine we have so few cops because of our very limited state and local taxes. IIRC, the state also takes a huge cut of any ticket revenue, supposedly to discourage cities from becoming ticket mills. Unfortunately, this makes it hard for cities to self-fund police. I wonder if we could have some exemption for supporting transit movement?

    2. If South Sounder ran all day, it very well could have numbers approaching Link.

      1. Not without increased parking. There needs to be some big cultural changes in driving habits in the South Sound if we are going to increase Sounder ridership. All garages are full. The only way this works is if people starting biking, walking or taking a bus to our sounder stations.

      2. Parking will be added, but there are other ways. Managing parking would be good.

        Solid TOD growth in Auburn, Kent, and Puyallup would also help. It’s a bit of a chicken & egg, but as South Sounder adds additional trips and additional cars, more people will choose to live in these historic town centers to commute for work.

        And improved bus feeder service will also boost ridership, such has between Puyallup and Orting or South Hill

      3. If my choice is to buy a house in or out of the lava flow path of mount Rainier, I’m going to choose outside of it.

      4. Congratulations on being able to afford a single-family house. But some people may prefer to live near a trunk transit station (preferably within walking distance) rather than up in the hills away from it. A Mt Rainier eruption may or may not happen in a hundred years and could take out the entire Puget Sound region no matter where you live, whereas your distance from a transfer station may affect you every day.

      5. Mike Orr, lots of people can afford single family homes. Here is the data:

        Housing units per structure:
        1 (detached, single family): 423,328
        1 (attached, effectively a condo): 23,838
        2 (duplex) 15,831
        3 or 4: 31,428
        5 to 9: 49,573
        10 to 19: 57,782
        20 or more: 120,380
        Mobile homes: 18,539
        Boats, RVs, vans, etc.: 1,538

        Yep, lots and lots of people can afford to live in single family homes. Most of the single family homes in my neighborhood are cheaper than the 700 square foot crackerbox apartments in Seattle.

        We need feeder bus service to Sounder, similar to what Wallingford, Fremont, Wedgewood, and Ballard had 25 years ago when they were sleepy little bedroom communities. SKC continues to get treated like it isn’t part of the city. Yet, Seattle very much relies on SKC for affordable housing stock for its working class families.

  2. Zach, do you have a version of the chart without Link? The massive ridership skews the scale dramatically, making it difficult to discern the scale of difference between the non-Link routes.

  3. Are the 2016 numbers on the 541/542 perhaps reversed? Can’t believe the 542 is showing 600 riders a day, but the new 541 has been a slow start, as expected until the Overlake TC at NE 40th closes for East Link construction. Addition of mid-day 542 trips has really helped 520 access.

    1. Phil, Yes, the table we provided mistakenly transposed those ridership figures. Thanks for pointing out so we could correct.

  4. Thanks Zach. Would you agree that this statement effectively dissolves any argument that Link’s ridership is up because less people are riding the bus?

    “…net effect of the ULink restructure is an additional 18,800 boardings per day, of which 15,000 are new boardings.”

    1. I would agree. This data is a hard counter to that stock anti-transit line, which comes up frequently in comment sections across the internet.

    2. Almost, but need one more datapoint. Remember bus is down by 9,100 boardings, so in theory 9,100 of those 15,000 new boardings are people taking the Link instead of the bus where their trip doesn’t require. New Boarding simply means no bus-rail transfer involved, correct?

      So if the restructured routes were down ~18,000, it would look like Link is simply absorbing bus trips. Thankfully that’s not what is happening here, but you do need to grab the delta in bus boardings to complete the argument.

  5. Time to finally make 15th Ave and Aurora bus lanes 24/7. Or at least from 7 AM to 7 PM.

    1. Yes, and rail critics pushing BRT and BRT elements as being more “efficient” and “less expensive” than rail could get BRT and BRT elements more cheaply and more efficiently by actually supporting the real-lift opportunities to get BRT and BRT elements, instead of voting against them.

  6. 28 became mostly unusable. Not only number of combined trips diminished, but most of the buses are now not articulated, while all peak trip ones before were.
    So 8-8:45 buses are overflowing and most of the days buses don’t stop after Market St.
    I’m going to Fremont and 5 is now a better option. 40 takes an hour.
    Luckily I just bike most of the days :).

    1. The changes made to the 28 were absurd and pointless, and the lower ridership proves that this was a bad move. I look forward to Metro reversing its move and restoring the old 28 and 28X.

      1. Not entirely pointless; it was done to not double up service on Dexter with the 62.

        I agree the lower ridership hints that it might be a bad change, but where’s that lower ridership coming from? If (hypothetically) there were just as many boardings along 8th, but now none along Dexter, then it might still be a good change. I’ve no idea whether that’s the case, though; that’d need to wait for stop data.

      2. The lower ridership on the 28 is coming from roaring right past most of the high-population areas where people want to go (Westlake, Fremont, eastern Frelard) and running straight from downtown out to Market Street before starting a little teeny butt-tail up to 145th on the back streets.

        It looks like there’s a transit commissioner who has his house out there and kept the part of the route that’s useful to him while scrapping all the rest or something.

    2. I think the changes had merit. The 28 was useless to most heading downtown because of the slogging over Dexter Ave, a corridor without a ton of destinations anyway. Frequency increased. They tried to retain some usefulness to Fremont with the 40th routing, instead of bypassing it entirely on 46th, a la the old 28x. But maybe they should’ve?

      I think it makes all of the Aurora stops too, which is really too bad.

      1. Then again, it does avoid the Market hill, which was very slow in those older buses.

      2. No it only makes the Galer and Prospect stops (Prospect is likely going away soon) but I have had bus drivers accidentally stop at the earlier stops if you pull the cord early enough.

      3. I does not make most of the Aurora stops.

        The 39th St routing is wise–I still use it to get from E Crown hill to Fremont with about 3 minutes of extra walking, and my trips downtown are notably faster. What’s not to like?

    3. Off-peak it’s fine. 30 min. headways isn’t great obviously but it still provides fast service from West Woodland to Fremont if you’re willing to walk from 39th down to 35th/36th as well as the fastest way to get to Westlake/SLU by getting off at Galer and walking a bit.

      I am glad though that I don’t have to ride the 28 as a commuter anymore which is saying something when you consider I ride the 44 twice daily at peak.

    4. Yeah, the 28 is super hit-and-miss for Fremontsters. When it works, it’s glorious. However, other times I get passed up and then give up and go back home for the bike. I do miss the one-stop 28/40 option. Someday there will be sensors that tell us how full each bus is along with real-time arrival…

    5. The 26/28X aren’t intended to serve Fremont; they’re for trips from further north to downtown. Forcing everyone to crawl through Fremont and Dexter and wait for the Fremont Bridge was an anti-feature. That’s like when the 6 used to crawl to Seattle Center East and Greenlake West on the way to 65th, 85th, 105th, 130th, and Aurora Village. I take the 131/132, which are though-routed with the 26/28. Before the restructure they were notoriously late: 10-20 minutes almost every time. After the restructure I haven’t ridden them often enough to be sure but hopefully they’re more punctual. People who previously took the 26 and 28 to Fremont have the 5 and 62, which are twice as frequent.

      1. Why not? It passes through Fremont.
        Mind you, I am not complaining about re-routing, that’s fine by me. I’m complaning about decreased frequency (if you compare 28+28X vs new 28X there were more trips during rush hours) and smaller size buses, which are, in my commute, always overcrowded.

        As far as speed goes — my wife rides 40 from SLU to Frelard and there transfers to 28 and gets home faster than walk 2 more blocks to 28 and then ride it all the way.

      2. The issue is its primary transit market, not whether you can take it to Fremont anyway. The Fremont routing arguably degraded its primary market. Metro has been trying to make the 26 and 28 all-express repeatedly since 2012, and it failed because other parts of the restructures were withdrawn by Metro or superceded by the county council. This was just the first time it successfully went through.

      3. I think we’re reading way to much into this. Before the restructure, most of the ridership on the 26 and 28 was Fremont->downtown or Dexter->downtown. After the restructure, these trips have shifted to the 62, leaving the 26 and 28 with the segments north of Fremont that have historically generated less ridership. In theory, the 26 and 28 would have probably gotten higher ridership had they taken the old routing, in practice, doing so would have simply poached riders from the 40 and 62 while significantly slowing out everybody’s trips from north of Fremont.

      4. @Mike Orr: Isn’t the “primary transit market” for central-Wallingford riders downtown also? What about riders in old Ballard? In both cases, though their primary routes now go through Fremont, there’s not a two-seat combo that’s usually faster (for some people in some locations walking to a different route is faster). Without a serious service increase (or reversion of today’s frequent corridors into route-spaghetti), some north-end neighborhoods are going to have their primary downtown service go through Fremont and Dexter. I’m not sure there’s any hard and fast principle spelling out which they should be. Some earlier proposals sent the 5 down Dexter, making a reasonably-straight local arterial route and providing some transit access between lower Fremont and at least some areas directly to the north (something that’s been missing for years and years).

        It’s not that there aren’t good arguments for today’s 62 and 40 being the Fremont routes… I think they mostly have to do with providing useful northern destinations to the growing number of riders living along Dexter and in lower Fremont. Central Wallingford and old Ballard are much more useful destinations than the Latona and 8th Ave NW corridors… but they aren’t the primary transit markets for Dexter or lower-Fremont riders, and they aren’t obvious network building blocks.

    6. How can they say ridership fell dramatically on the 28? It’s so much more crowded than it used to be.

  7. SeaStrap, you’re absolutely right about intolerable blockages in the Mercer area. My favorite hate is waiting at PM rush for an inbound streetcar trapped at Fairview. Where signal pre-empt is absolutely necessary from street to lakefront.

    Certainly should be signaled, and certainly enforced. Anybody familiar with traffic control: what works best? Policeman? Gate? Proliferating cameras are a bad civic habit- we could regret what-all footage ends up on police computers. But at least how effective are they for streetcar liberation?

    But using ridership to pick “winners and losers” sounds to much like the National Public Radio campaign coverage that gave the Republican Party a vertical marmot sanctuary for a candidate. Naming him “front runner after one twelve-participant informal poll in a town of ten people.

    Is somebody putting up secret cameras to report deserters escaping to freedom from slow buses? Not surprised Route 43 isn’t carrying people who could be at Westlake while the bus is waiting for the Montlake Bridge to come down.

    If sudden influx of people along that route starts complaining about the loss of it, like for a ride between the bridge and Group Health hospital, wire and switch are there to put it back. Decades ago, but has happened before.

    Also if LINK starts imitating BART and DC Metro for maintenance schedules.


  8. “Route 70 is bursting the seams. Ridership is up 75%, from 4,400 to 7,700 daily boardings.”

    Yes – because Metro shortsightedly cut every other route along Eastlake connecting NE Seattle and the U District to SLU and refusing to take into consideration the seasonal influx of Amazon interns who commute.

    The result is a shit-show for anyone – but particularly Eastlake residents – with Route 70 buses regularly bypassing crowded stops because they are at/over capacity.

    Metro really has dropped the ball on this one. If they are going to have only a single route running on a major thoroughfare, they need to increase that routes resources. They’ve added a bit with a few more articulating buses than used to service this route – but not enough to ensure adequate service reliability.

    I’d love to see an article like this highlight not just ridership but on-time performance as well. Buses running late or leaving riders stranded at the stops waiting for the next bus (which should be along in 15 mins but is also late…) has prompted many Eastlake residents to take to their cars rather than put up with what has become consistently unreliable Metro.

    1. That’s definitely possible, but I’d be interested to see how these numbers compare to last summer’s on the 70+66. If it’s all from Amazon interns, then (assuming their numbers are constant) we’d see a similar jump last summer.

      Also, note that there’re two new routes taking the I-5 express lanes to SLU – so while the 70 is the only route there from the U-District, it isn’t the only route from NE Seattle.

      Regardless, your point about on-time performance and making sure buses don’t skip stops is quite correct.

      1. Last year the 66 and 70 were in a terrible state, comparable to the current 40 experience through Westlake. The reliability was non-existent at rush hour. Between low frequency and blockages coming from downtown and bunching/overcrowding, I often took Pronto instead. The higher ridership likely comes from higher frequency and reliability as anything. Roosevelt HCT should improve that even more even if it’s more ‘enhanced bus’ than true BRT.

    2. Most of those 70 riders will go away when U-district nee Brooklyn station opens. It’s a result of Google etc. trip planners telling riders in the UW campus area to catch a 70 downtown rather than walking to the UW station. Based on my few times stupidly following GMaps’ advice and riding the 70 in the weeks after U-link opened, the rest are cash/paper transfer riders who refuse to get an ORCA and thus cannot use U-link without double-paying.

      Either way, SDOT has a plan for this coming, “HCT” / “Rapidride Plus” on Eastlake.

      1. If only we could get Eyman to do an initiative for free or 25-cent ORCA cards…

        Oh, well, smart-phone and private debit card payment should be up and running for the opening of Northgate Link.

      2. Since we don’t have a billionaire ready to hire him for a pro-transit initiative, maybe we could hire him to do a publicity stunt where he shows up in his Darth Vader costume and asks Metro/ST to “Use the invisible hand. If you want people to use the ORCA card, don’t price it so as to discourage people from getting it.”

        But then, Eyman is no big fan of improving transportation through market forces, given his attacks on congestion pricing.

      3. Trip Planners as a group don’t like transfers on high frequency routes. There’s one that I routinely make but since it is only about 3 minutes if everything is on time the trip planners (Google or TriMet’s own system) don’t like it and insist on something a bit more time consuming.

      4. I don’t know if you can blame the trip planners. It is just the result of the restructure, that’s all. The 71/72/73 used to carry a combined 16,000. Many of those folks were trying to get from the U-District to downtown. Now they can’t (that way). They either have to take a bus to the Husky Stadium station, or take the 70. For a lot of them, especially in the middle of the day (when Link is less frequent and traffic is low) it makes sense to take the 70. The transfer at Husky Stadium is a slow one. So you are absolutely right, ridership will decrease a bit when Link gets to the U-District. However, it won’t go away — you have the same dynamic if you are, say, down by Campus Parkway.

        My guess is that if you ran the 70 more often, ridership would increase substantially. I’m sure there are people who just miss the 70 and don’t want to wait 15 minutes, so they take a bus and make the transfer. In other words, Trip Planner (or similar apps) are doing what they are supposed to — allow people to save time by making the right decision.

      5. It lets them make the right decision if it gives them the right information.

        In order to give them the right information, transfer settings need to be correct.

        Let’s take a trip from Magnuson Park to King Street Station. First option given:

        Google Maps: Go North on the 75 or 32 or 31 to Lake City Way and 125th, then take the 522 or 545. Trip time: 49 minutes.

        SoundTransit Trip Planner: Go South on the 75 or 32 or 31 and take Link. Trip time: 39 minutes.

        Google maps doesn’t recommend the Link route as the first option due to the way it sees the transfer at UW. ST’s trip planner sees it differently then ST’s trip planner does.

        Some of this can be assumptions about walking speed. Some of this can be assumptions about slop in the schedule and the number of minutes required to allow in the scheduled times between the two routes.

        Without knowing what the underlying assumptions are at Google and SoundTransit, there is no way to know what causes one trip planner to suggest one way and the other a different way. However, those assumptions can certainly cause some interesting results in where people transfer to what.

    3. @ Lack Thereof – if the issue is overcrowding, isn’t the solution higher frequency of buses, not the SDOT HCT investments?

      The HCT investments improve speed & reliability, which is all good but doesn’t help if the buses are already full.

      1. You can’t have higher frequency without improving speed and reliability. Otherwise you get bunching. That’s the same reason the 8 will continue to suck miserably.

      2. The current route of the 70 is probably always going to be a mess due to backups at Denny and Mercer.

        What about a parallel peak period route that would take Eastlake all the way through, including using the bus only lanes on Howell?

      3. Bunching is bad, but if people are getting left at the bus stop, wouldn’t even bunched service help that b/c they’d catch the next bus (which might be coming in 2 minutes instead of the intended 12…).

        Metro could add frequency knowing there may be bunching until the HCT plan is implemented?

      4. Glenn,

        Can’t help Denny, but it is completely reasonable for the bus to turn off Fairview at Republican to Eastlake where a flashing yellow on Eastlake would turn red when a bus approached. A stop after the bus turns at Republican would be close enough to serve the blocks south of Mercer just west of Fairview, and it’s just as easy to go out the back door at Fred Hutch and board on Eastlake.

        The proposed bus lane on Fairview could then end at Republican, allowing two lanes to turn into the freeway ramp. It would be a win for transit and a win for car flow.

        I understand the basic rule of bus route design: if you’re headed down a street in one direction, don’t deviate except for major trip generators. But there are exceptions such as the Fustercluck at Fairview and Mercer.

      5. The thing is, the trolley wire already goes the way it goes. There’s a lot of incentive to keep the 70 where it is, except backups at peak periods.

        I suppose that as time goes on the Mercer Mess will expand to include more and more of Seattle and cover a broader range of times.

        The thing about taking Eastlake all the way is that it avoids both the mess at Mercer and the one at Denny, thanks to ramps that separate the freeway entrance mess from Eastlake. It’s not near the places a lot of people will want to go, but it doesn’t really do that for a huge distance. A bus there could cover much of the 70 route plus add a bit of coverage to the Cascade neighborhood.

      6. The SDOT HCT improvements will most definitely increase capacity. For the Roosevelt/Eastlake corridor, it is likely the biggest improvement. They will have things like off board payment and level boarding (which will dramatically help reduce bus bunching) but they will also have very frequent service (along with big buses all the time). Even if they don’t get the street improvements that we all wish would happen, that should really make things nicer.

    4. NoSpin, Route 70 ridership demand grew faster than anyone expected, and we were monitoring closely and worked to create a solution that could be implemented mid-service change. As of Wednesday, Aug. 3, Metro was able to add two morning trips using artics between 8 and 9am. Those trips will continue to operate at least through Sept. 9, and we are continuing field monitoring. Also, schedulers worked to make sure 60-foot buses were in service during peak demand times to help meet the demand with available resources. We hope the steps we have taken are helping to ease the pressures of the quick rise in ridership demand.

      1. I’m a little surprised at the 70’s ridership and it will be very interesting to follow this data out much further as travel patterns change. I live in the NE section of Seattle and work in SLU. I have access to the 62, 64, 65, 71 & 76. I occasionally use the 63 as well for my return trips.

        I have tried the 62 as it picks up and drops off in the closest proximity to both home and work, however, it is slow, very slow. And not just due to routing – I feel that the drivers really don’t know the route well and drive it very tentatively. Additionally, the Fremont-Dexter slog can be downright painful (although part of that is due to construction along the route). I rarely take it in the afternoon but when i do, reliability is the big problem, as alluded to above, due in large part to the Denny snag

        The most direct route for me is the 64 both morning and evening. In the evening though, reliability and ridership are issues. Thirty minute delays are not all that unusual. The more interesting change that i’m starting to see, is the number of people riding only from Fairview and Harrison to the 42nd in the U-District. Reminds me of the how the 214 used to stop at the freeway overpass near the Eastgate park and ride…the stop was eliminated due to the fact that Issaquah riders couldn’t even get on the bus. The same thing is happening here…it will get to the point that the Wedgwood riders will get left behind. My other point here is that as riders learn of the option to take the 63 or 64 as an express alternative to the 70 which gets to the U District quicker, I think (although the 70 ridership will continue to be strong) that we will see additional increases on the the express routes.

        My larger point of writing this all up is that travel patterns have change significantly and will continue to do so. I know that Metro and ST know this and are doing the best they can to mitigate those changes, but I think the changes are outpacing both.

        And, if I am still retaining any readership, there was a comment on another blog post about the stop at Fairveiw and Harrison. For several reasons it should be moved. One, the north crosswalk across Fairview is a death trap. Drivers are incredibly aggressive there. I myself was almost run over a couple of weeks ago and some driver tried to beat me through the crosswalk. Two, the biggest backup starts at that intersection – several parking garages dump their contents onto Harrison verses the streets to the south…although also busy. This means that buses ALREADY are stopped the block before. Although I know that best practice is to locate the stop after the traffic signal…if you survey the location, I think it will very obvious that placing the stop mid block between Thompson and Harrison would be safer and more efficacious. Riders would cross the street on the north side of the intersection – avoiding all the cars turning north – and people could load where the buses natural have to stop anyway.

      2. Oh and by the way, thanks Jeff. I think Metro has made so many good changes since I first started riding – back in 1984.

      3. Thanks Jeff, I really appreciate you coming on here and making the comment.

        I’m a bit surprised that Metro was surprised, but I guess that makes sense. My guess is that a substantial number of people don’t want to transfer to Link, even when it probably makes the most sense (during rush hour). It is hard to predict that.

    5. I can confirm that I now walk, bike, or drive instead of taking the 70 after multiple occasions of watching packed busses drive buy my stop. I don’t really try anymore unless I am going downtown on the weekend. I really have to be generally on-time for work and can no longer count on the 70 to get me there. On the plus side I am walking a lot more and I’ve found quite a bit of free parking near work.

      I miss the 66.

  9. I think you are comparing apples and oranges in your final ridership chart. For many routes this is a statement of frequency, or lack thereof.

    1. Might be, but might not… for example, my route 120 has higher ridership than the 44, despite lower frequencies. And the 44’s frequencies are already similar to Link anyway.

      In fact, it’s not just the 44… Pretty much all of the routes in the “Over 5000 club” have midday frequencies similar to Link, some that even beat Link.

    2. Yes, frequency has an impact, but consider that the E Line is just as frequent as Link most of the day, and yet far behind in ridership.

      Sounder is never as frequent as either of those two, but comes in a strong third on that chart.

      The chart is not comprehensive of all Seattle transit routes, as the ferries are not included. The actual second-highest ridership transit line is the Bainbridge Island ferry, with over 18K boardings on an average day.

      There is something else going on with Link, Sounder, and the Bainbridge Island ferry that attracts riders more easily than the E-Line or more milk-runny routes.

      1. Link, Sounder, and the Ferry 1) all serve downtown and 2) are all fast & reliable. Destinations matters, and a bus route serving two secondary destinations could have lowish ridership and still be considered a very successful route.

        E-Line could probably get Link level ridership if it magically became gold-plated BRT.

      2. Link and Sounder are like several bus routes in one. If each kind of trip were split into separate bus routes, it would split up the ridership between them. That’s assuming the right of ways are equal (stoplights, congestion, directness of roads). But you’d lose the trips between bus segments that are one-seat rides on the train but nonexistent on a bus (e.g., Rainier Valley to SeaTac, or Auburn to Tukwila).

      3. Mike – but isn’t that the point? You could never create a bus route that match’s Link or Sounder ROW. That the reason we built Link in the first place

      4. The point is that to compare Link to a bus route, you have to count only train riders who get on and off within the bus route’s segment. People who get on and off are assigned to other bus routes. If a train trip spans two bus routes, then you’d have to consider the probability that the person would take the bus in that case, and that all the bus segments exist (Rainier Beach to TIB never did).

      5. “People who get on and off are assigned to other bus routes.”

        People who get on and off elsewhere are assigned to other bus routes.

        The closest comparison to the E would be downtown to 185th but most of that isn’t open yet. For something that is open, there’s Rainier Beach to Mt Baker, either directly compared to the 8 or assuming the 7 is the same market. But many people aren’t going just to Mt Baker, they’re going to downtown, as the 7 does. So you could compare Link from Rainier Beach to downtown. But then you’d have to exclude Beacon Hill riders because they’re on the 36 not the 7.

      6. The problem with the E is that there really aren’t that many apartments between south Shoreline and 46th within walking distance of it. It has a nice SFH catchment north of Green Lake to the cemetery, and take it for a quick ride to North Seattle College, but it needs more density and better nodes to get Link ridership.

      7. There’s already a nearby route with apartments, the 5. The advantage of the E is it’s faster than the 5 and it goes through to Aurora Village. The problem with the E is that it takes forty-five minutes when it should take closer to thirty, and that’s where transit lanes and a stop diet come in.

    3. It would be interesting to also throw up a 2nd chart showing all routes measured by riders/bus. That would be a good proxy for adjusting for frequency & span of service.

    4. “For many routes this is a statement of frequency, or lack thereof.”

      That’s the question we wanted answered: how much did the frequency change ridership? As I said a few days ago, doubling the frequency makes a route twice as convenient, which means existing riders have to wait less and adjust their schedules less (which makes them happier and ride more often), and marginal riders are attracted to it (who wouldn’t ride it before). That builds up over several years after a restructure, because it takes time for people to realize it’s changed and adjust their habits, and for people who want frequent service to move to the area.

      So the question is, how much of that effect has appeared so far? The answer seems to be somewhat. Some increase would have occurred anyway due to the rising population and jobs. Some of it is hard to tell because the route stat includes three or four kinds of trips, some of which were expected to rise while others were mostly unchanged.

    5. It just seems crazy that the 522 numbers are so low when its standing room only on 125th during the commute. Its like the Yogi Berra restaurant that is so busy that nobody eats there.

  10. Some of the numbers seem hard to deconvolute.
    Is the increase in 67 ridership coming from the cancelled 66 south of 75th or the 68 around Northgate, or from new riders?
    Is the increase in 372 ridership coming from the cancelled 68 south of 75th or 72 around Lake City, or from new riders around Bothell?

    So how long before the 78 nee 25 is finally put out of its misery so the buses can be transferred to where they will actually be used?

  11. In the morning rush, the 62 buses leaving Wallingford are relatively empty while the 26 are often full and leave riders waiting at stops. At the Stone Way and 40th stop were riders have the option to ride either, only a few will get on the 62 while a line the length of the bus will wait for the 26 indicating a strong preference for that route.

    The old 16 and 26x gave more riders the option of taking the Aurora route to downtown while now many riders are ‘forced’ to take the slower route through Fremont and Dexter. BTW, how does this analysis handle the routes (like the 16) that were removed?

    1. People throughout Greenwood and Phinney Ridge give daily prayers of thanksgiving that Metro has never been able to force the 5 through Fremont, try as it may.

      1. I’m also surprised by the 62 numbers. It must get a very sudden burst of ridership at peak-of-peak and then almost nothing the rest of the day. For instance, I rode it today going north at 4:30PM from Stone Way. It was bunched up with another 62, and I figured the leading one would be standing-room-only. There was only 10 people on it, and who knows how many or few people were on the trailing bus. By the time I got to 12th & 65th I was the second to last person on the bus (the other person was discussing with the driver whether she should get off at 12th or the next stop).

        I definitely like the 62 over the old 16, but I think Metro could get rid of the articulated coaches and be just fine. There certainly are other routes that could use them.

      2. I have the exact opposite experience. Every single day there are about 20 people trying to get on the bus at Dexter and Aloha, and the bus leaves about 15 of us on the platform because it is so packed. I’ve been able to get on the first one that shows up only three times since the restructure. Coupled with the chronic bunching and lateness, the route is incredibly frustrating and it has me on the verge of buying a car (my job is in Bellevue to the route is 62 -> 550 or 62 -> Link -> 271… of which taking the 62 downtown is by far the longest segment).

        I also haven’t seen any temporal shifts. I’ve varied my departures by as much as an hour earlier and half and hour later than normal and I get the same experience every time.

      3. I rarely take the 62, since it goes down 45th, not 40th, but I had to get to Fremont today and took it from 4ith and Union at about 7 pm. It was fairly empty when I got on, but there were about 20 people at each of the stops along 7th avenue, and it was crushloaded all the way to Fremont.

      4. We have a different problem with the 62. We use it to go crosstown from Wedgwood and then transfer to/from the 67 or 26 towards the Northgate area. We love the 62 for its 7-day frequency. But because of how unreliable it is, it’s impossible to plan a specific trip that connects to a specific 26 (every half hour) or 67 (every 15 minutes, but somewhat unreliable itself). The only option is to leave extra time and pray to the bus gods for a quick transfer.

        It seems that the unreliability comes from the length of the route and the frequency of Fremont bridge openings. And ridership is drastically different east and west of I-5. But I’m also pragmatic enough to know that if Metro separated the downtown-Green Lake and Green Lake-Sand Point parts of the route from each other, there’s no way the 65th St segment would maintain the frequency it has now.

    1. No numbers, and only a feedback/observation of 1. I LOVE the 75 and its new frequency. I seem to always catch the 75.with minimal waiting on 125th to go to Link, I usually see 10 or so passengers already, and often 5-6 more Lake City denizens come on after. Flies along Sand Point, then collects more starting at where the 62 intersects.

      65 is similar, but 5-10 minutes slower as Wedgewood collects more passengers.

      The bad news is that the 75 currently takes 25-30 minutes to get to Link (30-35 in spring when school is really in session), then a walk, then a wait, then a stop. 45-50 minutes which does not compare time-wise to 25-35 minutes on the 522 or the 312. OTOH, always get a seat, and it doesn’t matter what catastrophe is on I-5,

      1. Just curious, if you’re catching a bus at 125th St, how come you don’t catch the 372? It’s the shortest and most direct bus to UW and Link. Admittedly you’re less likely to get a seat though.

      2. The 372 bypasses the Montlake backup which the 75 and 65 get caught in. The backup is most common in the PM peak on game days.

      3. My goal is to catch the first bus that comes, with no waiting. :) My first stop walking is 33rd/125th (which I know should be eliminated as a stop diet, but hey). Usually I’m in sync with the 75 so a 30 second wait.

        I have taken the 372, and I usually get a seat, and usually takes 20-25 minutes but if you factor in the 1-2 minutes it takes to get to LCW/125th, and maybe the 2 minute wait, then eh, its a wash.

        There is a common stop on Montlake, the U-Village stop right before Pend Oreille that everybody (65, 75, 372) gets stopped at. But is only one.

        Coming back and walking to Stevens, I have a choice between 372 and the 75. Again, first one that comes.

        I especially want to give the 75 love and affection now because when Northgate opens it will be a much better feeder bus than the 41. I can get to Northgate several minutes ahead of the 41.

  12. So, would it be better to put the 10 back where it used to be and maybe relieve some of the pressure on the 11? Or keep it where it is even though the new route hasn’t been as popular?

    1. I’m on the new 10 so I’m biased toward keeping it. The 43 dropped to half-hourly evenings but the 10 is 15-minute full time. However, the mid-Madison hole does exist, as I experience whenever I go to Trader Joe’s and Central Co-Op. I can either take the half-hourly 11 evenings and Sundays, or take the 10 to 15th and walk down from John Street. Coming back I could take the 12 but it stops a way’s away. The best solution would be to make the 11 15-minutes full-time, but that’s what Metro doesn’t have hours for.

      Also remember that keeping the 10 on Pine would also have been affected by the restructure; we can’t assume its ridership would have remained as it was.

    2. My guess is they won’t do anything until Madison BRT opens. In general it is a zero sum game for Capitol Hill/CD, and the one Link station in the area didn’t change that. Madison BRT should help quite a bit (since it covers a broader area) and enable a restructure that makes more sense. Now if they could only move the streetcar …

  13. Brent, maybe blanket refusal to take my car onto any freeway during rush hour- hour wait in coffee-shops gives me unwinding time before hitting the road- but idea of “Congestion Pricing” bothers me.

    Once heard of a book called “Gotcha Capitalism- The Death of the Price Tag. Where fuzzy time-schedules suddenly leave people with a higher bill than they had any way to know was coming. Airlines are very good at this. So is “Ride Sharing”

    Have a feeling “Apps” take care of a lot of this. Hate touch-screen everything. But seems to me most honest thing is just to charge by time of day, and post it. Like Metro has been doing for decades.

    Important point for repelling certain lobbyist, until State Legislature gets enough guts to abide by a Supreme Court ruling handing them his head on a plate, apple in his mouth and all. Tragic fact of spite-induced face-negative nose-removal. For Government, people prefer tyranny to nuisance.


  14. Metro/SDOT should really invest in the E line because unlike the C and D lines it will never be replaced or shadowed by Link. While the C line will be cut after West Seattle Link and the D line will serve as a Ballard Link feeder, the E line will continue to be independent of link. The next Move Seattle type transportation measure should fund real BRT improvements for the E line such as dedicated center running lanes and aggressive signal priority. Heck, if that doesn’t happen maybe ST4 could chip in.

    1. Lynnwood Link will probably divert some riders from the E. Right now there’s no incentive to take the 45 to Roosevelt because it’s much slower than the E to downtown. The 40 goes to Northgate but the 41 gets caught in traffic. You can’t get to the 145th ST Express station because there’s no east-west bus, while Link will certainly have a feeder. In Shoreline the 301 is peak-only. All those people are currently taking the E because there’s nothing better, but with Link some of them might switch to it, particularly if they live east of Aurora.

      I agree that Aurora should get full BRT treatment if we’re not going to put a second Link line there, and center lanes is intriguing. I have no idea about ST4; there has been no discussion of what the scope of ST4 should be. Some people think there will never be an ST4 because Everett and Tacoma will have their spine so Snohomish and Pierce won’t be interested in anything more, or at least not sufficiently interested to pay taxes for. But if there were an ST4, other North King projects would also compete for it: the 45th line, the Lake City-Bothell line, the Ballard-Lake City connector, ST’s Ballard-Eastside idea, and the “Metro 8 Subway” that ST hasn’t acknowledged but has great support here.

      1. The E is my bus, and I’d love to see these kinds of improvements. I mainly travel between 46th and downtown, and honestly, outside of rush hour, it mostly runs pretty well as is, is only slow through downtown. At rush hour, though, it’s terrible over the bridge and getting around the exit backups at Queen Anne and Dexter. Center running could fix this, but I’m not sure how they do anything on the bridge without a major capital project (on the plus side, such a project could create a stop for lower Fremont).

      2. If ST4 was done King County only, major upgrades to the E-Line could be one of the premier projects.

        You could probably structure a BRT only package (no Link extensions) that focused on “gold BRT” upgrades to E-Line, the 44, the two 405 BRT lines, and the now-truncated C line. Toss in some love for South King and you’d have a well rounded package that hits most of the major corridors in King County without needing to build out rail anywhere.

        I think a smart Metro restructure after 135th station opens should give Lake City great service without need to go full BRT, and I think high frequency ST 540/541 gives the region sufficient service across 520 Bridge. However it’s very much an open question if bus service between Ballard and UW can ever be fixed or if a tunnel is ultimately needed.

        Of course, this is because I agree with ST and think the Metro 8 is an pipe dream that simply isn’t needed after ST3 serves SLU and Uptown, and that puts me in disagreement with most the commentators on this blog…

      3. @AJ:

        Of course, this is because I agree with ST and think the Metro 8 is an pipe dream that simply isn’t needed after ST3 serves SLU and Uptown, and that puts me in disagreement with most the commentators on this blog…

        Ahem. Those of us who live in the Central District–where there is no room for bus lanes, new lanes, or any way to escape the IH-5 / Montlake Bridge congestion to go three out of the four compass directions (well, two of three, since east means floating)–would like to have a word with you about “simply isn’t needed.”

      4. @AJ — I completely agree with your first three paragraphs and the last phrase of your last sentence (” and that puts me in disagreement with most the commentators on this blog”).

        I live in the Pinehurst area (west of Lake City) and agree — it is quite possible that the Lake City and Bitter Lake area could do really well with improved bus service (as opposed to BRT) once the station at NE 130th is put in. I think “BRT light” type changes (similar to Roosevelt BRT) would be excellent. There really isn’t too much traffic here, which is why people really want the station (it is probably the best I-5 crossing in the city). Add off board payment, level boarding a few minor bus lane improvements (there already are a few) and run a bus from Lake City to Bitter Lake frequently. That would be a very cost effective project.

        But Metro 8, like Metro 44, is tough to solve with striping. You probably need a tunnel, and ST3 service really won’t change that. Here is an example that was shared to me via email:

        Imagine your starting point is somewhere around Fairview and Republican. This is hardly a fringe case; that area is under crazy construction right now, and most would consider it well within the core rectangle that is SLU.

        Now imagine your destination is a restaurant on the 15th East strip — say, 15th E and Republican. Also a common gathering place, and as it happens, precisely 1 mile away along a perfectly straight line.

        So how would a Link-“enabled” trip like this simple, perfectly commonplace journey between two adjacent neighborhoods look?

        You would need to:
        1. Walk 10 minutes.
        2. Wait for the train.
        3. Go one stop.
        4. Indulge whatever laborious transfer pathway Sound Transit builds at Westlake.
        5. Wait for the next train.
        6. Go one stop.
        7. Walk 13 more minutes.

        Of course, you could also add in a feeder bus or two. But now you’re waiting four times. Remember, this entire freaking trip covers 1 mile as the crow flies!

        Now, let’s be honest: when all is said and done, Link hasn’t helped you one bit. It is dead to you. You go back to the slow as molasses 8 bus, still just as lousy decades on. Or you take a Lyft or drive your own car.

        So anyway, that’s a trip involving two “served” areas of the city, on the two lines that everyone likes to think of as the slam dunks (U-Link and Ballard-downtown). And yet, it still kind of sucks. Add in parts of the Central Area, and it sucks more. If we are going to invest in very expensive train improvements, then Metro 8 is exactly the type of investment we should make.

    2. @QATRider – aside from any spending trying to help the C get into downtown faster, I think the investments in the C & D will mostly continue to be used even after ST3 is finished.

      The C will presumably truncate at Avalon, but give Link will only go to the Junction the C will be the backbone service of actually getting people around West Seattle and to/from Link to transfer to downtown.

      The D will simply be a shadow for Link, but given the stop placement of Ballard Link I think the D will be very effective at filling in the gaps between the Link stations. I could see splitting the D so it ceases to cross the Ship Canal, with one route shuttling between Interbay and downtown, operating as a true “shadow” to the Link, and another route anchored by the Ballard station and serving everything north of the station.

      This would allow for the Link station to be closer to Market & Leary to make for an easy transfer with 40. This “North D” would simply turn onto Market from 15th to loop around the station since it no longer needs to head across the Ship Canal.

  15. Some observations regarding 43 and 48 bus service post-ULink from someone who currently lives in Montlake with no car and relies on Metrobus and Link to get around town.

    Losing regular service on the 43 has been particularly annoying because of how the 23rd Avenue construction in the Central District has made service on the 48 somewhat unpredictable (so many untracked buses on the 48 via OneBusAway). Increased service along the 48 has been nice, but transferring to / from Link at the UW Station can be frustrating, because of the lengthy time it takes to get from the Bus Bays on Pacific Street and across Montlake Boulevard to the station escalators / elevators. In the case of a Link-to-southbound-48 transfer, you’re dealing with two separate crosswalk cycles and I always seem to be on the other side of Montlake Boulevard just as a southbound 48 departs Pacific Street.

    If you’re going from, say, Broadway / John Street / Olive Way on Capitol Hill to Montlake, the 43 can get you there in 10-15 minutes. By taking Link to UW from Capitol Hill, you’re potentially talking about a 5-10 minute wait for a Link train north, 2 mins to reach the surface, 2 mins to cross Montlake Boulevard and Pacific Street and 10 mins for the next 48 bus because inevitably, one will be leaving, prompting you to let out an audible shrug of annoyance waiting to cross Montlake Boulevard with cars speeding by. You’re rolling the dice a lot more every step of the way. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And while this doesn’t have a huge impact me as much, it does have a major impact if you rely on the bus to reach medical appointments at Group Health on 15th Avenue and you have a difficult transfer between the 48 and 8 buses.

    I’m preaching to the choir here, but the quality and ease of bus-to-bus, train-to-bus and bus-to-train transfers matter and additional minutes certainly add up at the UW Station / Montlake Triangle but also at 23rd Avenue and John Street if you’re trying to go between the 48 and the 8. Because of the situation of the topography around that intersection and limited sidewalk right-of-way, it’s difficult to create low-impact transfers, as it will be at 23rd Avenue and Madison Street for the future Madison BRT. The ULink restructure has been great for so many other neighborhoods, but it’s not-so-great for Montlake even with a new light-rail station in the vicinity. SDOT has a lot of work to do to make sidewalks along 24th Avenue East and Montlake Place East safer for pedestrians to reach the UW Station, too. (I’m thankfully moving to a more transit accessible neighborhood very soon.)

  16. Does someone smarter than me want to take a stab at this question based on the 2nd paragraph of the article.
    “Metro, Link, and Metro-operated ST Express routes are up by 6% overall, or an additional 27,900 daily boardings (through the end of Q2). Bus ridership on restructured routes is down by 9,100 boardings (as is expected when many routes are deleted), but the net effect of the ULink restructure is an additional 18,800 boardings per day, of which 15,000 are new boardings and 3,800 are bus-rail transfers”
    With overall bus ridership being down by 9,100 after the restructure, and only 3,800 transfers from those routes serving the two new stations, it appears that most of the Link riders are new to public transportation due to Link being fast between the Udist and Downtown. My concern is what happened to the net 5,300 former bus riders who didn’t transfer to Link?

    1. It’s confusing wording I was given, admittedly, but I think it’s that ridership is down on restructured routes, which included a lot of deleted routes now carrying zero riders, but ridership gains on other routes largely cancels out the effect. Overall Metro ridership is basically flat despite the restructure.

    2. OK, next paragraph says, “Northeast Seattle travel patterns were altered drastically by the restructure, and the area saw the largest route-level ridership changes. Some routes were deleted (25, 30, 66, 68, 72), but most restructured routes doubled in frequency, bringing 15-minute service to NE Seattle for the first time.”
      So doubling frequency would cost double the hours ($$) for a net loss in overall or flat ridership. Any idea how many net service hours were added or lost by MT?

      1. The restructure was intended to be service-hour neutral. That frequency was paid for by axing the 43, 72, etc.

      2. That’s what I recall, but didn’t know how it shook out. I would have hoped the biggest restructure, in the richest transit environment, would have yielded better outcomes than loosing 9,100 bus riders per day.
        Adding t8.800 daily riders to Link didn’t come cheap either, as annual operating cost has risen from $60m/yr in 2015 to $85m/yr in 2016.

      3. Most of the bus ridership that NE Seattle had previously was U-district to downtown. While some of these riders are taking the bus to Link (or continuing to ride the 70), a good number are probably just walking to Link, especially those coming from the UW campus, rather than the business district to the northwest of it. With no restructure, Metro would have probably lost a lot more than 9,100 bus riders per day, so the restructure is probably a success.

  17. I’m not surprised the 63 has few riders–there is already an express bus (303) from Northgate to First Hill. Don’t understand adding a new route that functions primarily to duplicate service.

    For route 10, the section of the route they changed was mostly the section serving people farthest away from light rail. Residents of that section of 15th now have no close bus service, and it duplicates #43. Wonder how that affects ridership on both routes.

    1. The furthest point on 15th is Howell Street, and it’s two blocks from either the 10 or 11. The 43 is only a few hours a day and unidirectional, so it barely exists. Without the 10 on John, the only service on John/Olive is the 8 which covers part of the corridor, and the 47 which is 45 minutes until 7pm. Keeping the 10 on Pine radically overserves Pine while letting John/Olive drop to below 15 minutes, which is not very appropriate for the densest neighborhood in the city. There is an argument for consolidating John and Pine service since they’re so close together, but it was unclear before the restructure which corridor people would naturally move to. Perhaps John/Olive should be downgraded long term, but it needs to be done from a planning perspective and not just a knee-jerk reaction based on three months of experience.

      1. and the 8 is terribly unreliable thanks to the Denny mess.

        Maybe send the 43 down to the former 10 to take some pressure off the 11?

      2. Well, the decision to downgrade Pine was a pretty knee-jerk reaction without any mention of a change throughout the whole restructure planning process, until the very last minute when people on the 43’s route freaked out.

        It’s not that I’m “unwilling” to walk to light rail, but when I could time my ride on the 11 to get from 15th and Pine to Westlake in about 12 minutes, the 8-10 minute walk to light rail, 2 minutes to get down to the platform, 3 minute ride to Westlake and 2 minutes to get out of Westlake and back up to the street, why would I walk to light rail? I guess I could save 50 cents, but at that point, I might as well just walk to Westlake and save the whole bus fare.

        I don’t think the 10 radically overserved Pine at all. The number of enormous apartment buildings going up on Pike/Pine is a huge shift in the population density of the neighborhood. Where mostly 1 story commercial buildings stood, 7 story apartment blocks are taking their place. John was considerably denser than Pine in 2010, but things have obviously changed since then.

  18. Replace “despite adding SLU ” with “due to adding SLU” on the explanation of dropping 64 ridership. The 64 has added a good 15 minutes and massive unpredictability by now routing on Virginia, fairview, mercer. It’s gone from being a good bit faster than the 76, to being way slower. I’de be interested how the 76 has performed.
    The 64/ 63 poor performance should be exhibit A in explaining why eastlake/Roosevelt rapid ride needs dedicated lanes through SLU.

    1. A couple weeks ago, I took Lyft from the U-district to Westlake/Denny at about 9 AM on weekday. Due to all the tech workers in the area, 9 AM there is the height of rush hour, not the tail end of rush hour. Going down I-5 was fast, but the last mile from the exit ramp was a solid crawl. Enough of a crawl that I actually asked the driver to let me out early so that I could walk the last few blocks and avoid some of the mess.

      In hindsight, I probably could have saved both money and time by having the driver drop me off at the UW Station, then ride Link to Westlake, then walk the streetcar route to the destination. (I was traveling with luggage and didn’t want to deal with the crushloads of the 372).

      Given that no transit priority exists for getting any bus from I-5 to SLU, I would expect the experience of the 63/64 riders to be similar, in which case the utility of peak-hour I-5 service to SLU suddenly seems very questionable. Without transit priority, the bus will simply get stuck in the long line of cars trying to get on or off of I-5. And, if the will for bus lanes on Mercer, Fairview, and the I-5 ramps to Mercer does not exist, perhaps express buses should not go to SLU at all, with an underground transfer at Westlake between the existing Link line and the ST3-funded Ballard line being the long-term solution.

      1. Just wait for the Convention Center expansion to close bus access to the DSTT 3 years ahead of light rail extension. Get ready for things to get much worse.

  19. I’m kind of shocked that the winning route in the 48/45 split is the 45 and by a 20% margin. I would have bet good money that the bulk of the riders on that route would be found on the new-48. It makes me wonder if the 45’s ridership increased by itself or if people are avoiding the 48 because of the construction, still having to sit at the Montlake Bridge, and loss of north-side destinations.

    A follow-up question: Does Metro have a policy or plan for these kinds of linked-but-not-linked routes? In the run up to the restructure, Metro and people here often said “there won’t be a problem continuing further north, just get off at the Triangle and a 45 will be waiting for you.” But far too often I’ve been on the trailing 48 as I watch, either at the stop light just before the left or–more infuriatingly–right behind the leading 45 as the continuing 45 departs before any of us can leave the 48 to transfer. Since the 45 begins at that stop (technically at the one just before, but still), shouldn’t the driver of the 45 wait for us?

    1. I was surprised at that too because the 48 was the higher-ridership segment. People can’t “avoid the 48” if it doesn’t go where they’re going; which is the 45’s primary market. Those who can take either one will take whichever one shows up first. One possible reason is that the 48 doesn’t go up to 65th, so people going from 65th to the station are on the 45 or 71 or 73. I thought the 48 and 45 should have overlapped to 65th rather than 45th.

      1. Well, I meant avoiding the 48 down here on the other side of the ship canal though I confess that I can’t guess what else those riders would be using. Walking to the 8 and taking Link up to the university? Maybe, since the bulk of the 48’s reroutes have overlapped it with the 8 and, let’s be frank, riding the 48 through the construction zone will throw out your back on those high-floor buses.

        I’m with you on having the 48 go up to 65th. I kept pestering Metro and they just responded that it wasn’t what the neighborhood wanted or some such. I’d have been much, much happier running the 48 to Green Lake Park and Ride (at least unofficially, just using it for layover space) just to have the connection to Roosevelt. I regularly ride the 48 to its last stop and still have that feeling of “so close, yet so far.”

  20. I didn’t think I was going to say this, but I do miss the 72, at least the leg between Lake City (urban village 1), through Roosevelt (urban village 2), and down The Ave (urban center 1).

    1. I miss it, too. One of my favorite things to do on my weekend was to go hit up Kaffeeklatsch and then take the 72 down to Roosevelt to either hang out at Wayward or go to Rain City Burgers and maybe continue into the U District to walk the Ave. But I also understand why it had to go in exchange for more service on the 372. To be honest, the 372->62 connection isn’t bad and, in a lot of ways, beats the half-hourly-or-less service on the 72. I can still coffee and burger on my days off, I just have to make sure I hit the transfer, which isn’t difficult. It just requires some more thought on my part.

  21. What happened to the Capitol Hill Route 12?

    I know the route 12 was not changed by the U-Link restructure, but the 11 was not changed by the restructuring either!

    1. The 12 serves a different market than link and the link related buses. I ride the 12 regularly, and most people are going between the hospitals on First Hill and Downtown, with a few riding it farther up to the 12th/Madison area. The 12 doesn’t really get people to CHS.

  22. A note on the 45/48 split: These data show those riders that used to be one through-riding boarding on the 48 are now riders who make two boardings (45 and 48) because they must transfer between the two routes. To add them together is and saying that it’s an increase is not technically accurate.

    Of course, the impact of the UW Station attractiveness probably more influences ridership. At the end of the day, I suspect that the 48 ridership is lower because students that used to use it to get to UW now merely stay on Link between Mt Baker and UW. On the other hand 45 riders are those that were probably on other routes from Downtown that have switched because of the UW Station convenience.

    1. I forgot about the Rainier Valley factor. The 48 takes an inordinate amount of time to get from UW to Mt Baker, especially peak hours when it stops at every single intervening stop. There has long been pent-up demand for Link from Rainier Valley to UW and now finally it’s here.

      I doubt there are many 48+45 transferers. If there are it’s probably because the 48 doesn’t go to 65th, so it covers only part of the UDistrict-Roosevelt urban village.

  23. I can shed some light on the 62 as I ride it every day to work, and some weekend days.

    In the mornings, the bus is pretty empty during rush hour when I board on 45th, but we stop at every single stop on the way to downtown, and the bus is usually pretty full by the time we leave Fremont, and is usually crush loaded and skipping stops towards Dexter and Aloha. As soon as you get to Dexter/Mercer it starts emptying out fast and is empty right after 7th/Bell. It’s basically an Amazon shuttle for those that live in Fremont and on Dexter, which I am good with since it gets me very frequent service in Wallingford. If it’s been more than 5-7 minutes between buses in the morning, then the stop skipping generally starts.

    Reliability is a huge issue in the afternoons and evening. I’ve seen buses show up 45 minutes late at the beginning of the route in downtown, how that’s possible on a route with 15 minute service is mind-blowing and OBA isn’t of use.

    A couple weeks ago someone suggested routing 62 up to Northgate and having the 26X take over the 62’s north/eastern part of the route and I think that would be an intelligent decision as it would most likely cut the number of buses needed to run the route and still maintain frequency and make the neighbors happy.

    Overall I’m sad that the 62 has to take the slower Fremont/Dexter route as it can take an hour to get home from downtown which is amazing, but I do like the more frequent service.

    1. The 62 opened up crosstown service between Fremont, Roosevelt, and Sand Point that has never existed. However, it’s not clear that should be attached to the Fremont-Dexter-Downtown route. Metro responded to the crushloads by adding some downtown-Greenlake peak runs but apparently it’s not enough, so maybe it should add some downtown-Fremont runs.

      1. I think the 62 is begging to be two lines: Greenlake to downtown via Fremont and Dexter, and Sand Point to Ballard via the south side of Greenlake and 65th.

    2. I think the big thing impacting the 62’s reliability is congestion around Fremont, both in general and around bridge openings. I think this is a lot worse southbound than northbound due to the lack of a protected left-turn, and the fact that both the 40 and 62 are articulated buses.

      Even navigating through Tangletown in articulated buses doesn’t seem to slow it down much.

  24. As a Capitol Hill resident, I felt that the changes to routes 10 and 43 were losers. The 10 no longer provides a connection to goods and services on Pike/Pine. How many route 10 riders were lost due to that change? I rarely ride the 10 now. Even the limited service 43 no longer provides a connection to the heart of U-District (sorry the UW Link station does not count). I tried the 8/48/45 triple transfer option but that a was slow and painful experience. My visits to the U-District have dropped off significantly. If the route 10’s path and 43 frequency was restored I bet ridership on both lines would increase and also provide better connection to LINK.

    1. If you’re going to argue that the 43 should be brought back to its former self, you should also be prepared to say which other route should have its service reduced to pay for it. To keep it fair, you would need to take from another route on Capitol Hill, rather than stealing service from other parts of the county.

  25. Former 66, now 63/70 AM rider and 70/63 or 41/67/walk PM rider here. Here’s what I see with the 63. FYI it’s a smaller coach than the 66 was. Generally by the time it gets to I-5 in the AM it is full, sometimes with a few standing. By the time it starts up Boren (at Virginia), it is essentially empty.

    In the evenings, when it arrives at 9th & Virginia it may have 1 or 2 people on it, and is often empty. It is consistantly late – so much so that it shouldn’t even have a schedule.

    Given that the 63 ,64, and 309 all stop at all of the same stops from Fairview & Harrison up Boren and down Boren to 9th & Virginia, perhaps thought needs to be given to moving one of the routes to 3rd.

    BTW – although my AM commute is pretty much the same as my old 66, or 66/67/41 commute, my afternoon commute – if all goes well (and it seldom does) has increased by at least 15 minutes. It is usual for my commute to be an hour or more door to door – 6.1 miles.

  26. If I can’t make the last 18 Express going downtown, which I greatly prefer over a local, I am now trying the 45 (almost from the terminus in Loyal Heights) to UW/Husky stadium and transferring to Link. I suppose it might take a little longer than the 40 direct, but I so dislike the latter that I’ll take a few extra minutes as long as I can use our fabulous subway. That being said, I wish Metro would reintroduce a 45 Express similar to the 48 Express of yore, as it is still a slog all the way from one end to the other. And I much preferred the 48 on 15th Avenue NW than the 45 now on slow-going University Way.

  27. The 63 would be useful to me if it ran more frequently. Losing the 242 and living near Northgate (and having to commute from there to Redmond) is not a fun time– I end up driving to the Greenlake P&R and using the 542…waiting half an hour for the 63 is not a viable option.

    1. FWIW, have you tried using the 555/556 and transferring on 520? (If you’re commuting while they’re running, of course.)

      1. Was unaware…will need to look into that…still would have to line up almost exactly to be worth it though…

  28. Interesting post. How can I get my hands on the raw data? Is there stop-level data available as well?

  29. I’m late to the party here (I was out of town) but to me the big takeaway is that frequency matters. The routes that now have decent frequency are very popular, even if I wouldn’t call them frequent. While the routes that don’t, have lagging performance. The 73/373 is much better coordinated then before, but it is no more frequent, and as a result, carries very few people. In contrast, the 72/372 has seen a huge jump in ridership to go along with it’s increased frequency.

    The increased frequency was revenue neutral, taking advantage of Link’s improvements to truncate service. But from a big picture perspective, there is no reason why we can’t just spend money on more service. I’m not saying it is the only thing we should spend money on, but for a lot of people, it is the difference between a trip that makes sense via a bus, and one that doesn’t. Money spend on additional service is money well spent, in just about every case imaginable.

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