It’s that time of year again! Metro and Sound Transit service changes begin Saturday, September 10. If you feel like this is earlier than past years, well, you’re right. The agencies have moved to biannual service changes, in mid-March and mid-September, replacing the previous late-September timing when there were three changes each year.
The big news is Metro’s Southeast Seattle restructure, which is essentially identical to to the final proposal Metro published in May, and the first midday Sounder service. Two weeks after the service change, Link’s Angle Lake Station will open. Changes beyond those headline items are limited to minor tweaks, mostly improving service in the area that went through major restructures in March. Details below the jump.
Southeast Seattle restructure
The big news here remains the heavy revision of Metro route 106, which is so different that it’s surprising it keeps the same number. The only part of the route that remains is the portion in Upper Rainier Beach, Skyway, and Renton. The route will no longer serve South Beacon Hill, Georgetown, Sodo, or downtown Seattle; instead, it will go north via MLK Jr. Way, Mount Baker, and the International District.
During the day, route 106 doubles in frequency, from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes, a long-overdue change for what has been Metro’s busiest 30-minute route. It entirely replaces the short-lived route 38, and extends service into the International District for those MLK Way riders who don’t wish to use Link.
Service in the South Beacon Hill area is replaced by an extension of route 107, which will now run every 15 minutes during weekday peak hours and every 30 minutes at other times. Instead of going downtown via Sodo, route 107 will take riders to the Beacon Hill Link station; to get downtown, riders can transfer either to Link, route 36 at Beacon Hill, or route 124 at Georgetown.
Route 124, for its part, is also getting doubled frequency, again welcome news for a busy route that serves many economically disadvantaged areas. This is mostly to backfill the loss of route 106 between Georgetown and downtown, but will have the welcome side effect of improving connections in Tukwila. The route will now be through-routed with both routes 24 and 33 to Magnolia.
To partially cover the expense of the frequency improvements on routes 106 and 124, route 9 will be cut to peak-only service. Off-peak riders will need to use route 7, transferring either to Link, the First Hill Streetcar, or route 60 to reach First Hill and Capitol Hill.
Northeast Seattle Restructure Improvements
The dramatic Northeast Seattle restructure that accompanied the opening of Link’s UW Station represented the biggest change to the area’s bus network in decades, and came with its share of hiccups and growing pains. Metro addressed a few issues between service changes, and is addressing a few more with this service change:
- Routes 65 and 67 get upgraded Sunday frequency, from 30 to 20 minutes.
- Route 73 gets Sunday service, running every 30 minutes.
- Route 372 gets several new peak trips to relieve overcrowding, and a new set of express stops at NE 60 St.
- Peak-only routes 63 and 77, and all-day route 48, get additional peak trips to keep up with demand.
- Routes 40 and 62 both get increased peak frequency to relieve overcrowding, backfilling for route 26 and 28 trips that no longer serve Fremont or South Lake Union. Metro has doubled peak frequency of route 40 since establishing the route less than four years ago, and still has trouble keeping up with demand.
As always with service changes, there are interesting miscellaneous items to report:
- New Sunday service on Vashon Island (on-island only), using route 118.
- New peak-only route 243 between Overlake, Bothell, and Kenmore. This route is a way to let passengers ride on buses that are deadheading between trips on peak-hour route 244. Metro’s long-range plan turns a route similar to the 244 into a frequent all-day one, so Metro may be trying to build awareness of the corridor early.
- New “Redmond Loop” DART service serving Education Hill and Avondale.
- Routes 186 and 915 in Enumclaw are extended a few blocks, to a new terminal across from Safeway.
- New peak trips to keep up with demand on Metro routes 8, 15, 18, 21X, and 120.
- New trips to keep up with demand on Sound Transit routes 545, 555, 556, and 577.
- New trips to coordinate with Sounder on Sound Transit routes 567, 580, and 596.
- Routing revisions to speed afternoon First Hill service on routes 193 and 303.
- A long-term construction reroute on route 249, the Beaux Arts part of which becomes a one-way loop (requiring some riders there to wait through layovers) while South Bellevue P&R undergoes East Link construction.
- Routing changes on Sound Transit routes 555, 556, and 560 as a result of East Link construction. Route 560 will no longer serve South Bellevue P&R or any stops on 112th Ave SE, while routes 555 and 556 will serve different stops south of Bellevue Transit Center.