A very lonely bus stop back in 2012. (photo mine)
A very lonely bus stop back in 2012. (photo mine)

The insane Night Owl loops of Routes 82, 83, and 84 will finally meet their end under a new proposal by King County Metro and SDOT announced this morning. Remnants of pre-Metro Seattle Transit that have remained mostly unchanged since the 1950s, the Night Owl routes have always been poorly-ridden, difficult to understand, and unnecessarily complex.

Routes 81 and 85 were terminated upon introduction of the C and D lines, and by finishing the job, the new proposal brings a healthy grid of simple, comprehensible overnight service to Seattle for the first time.

If approved by the County Council, the proposal would boost total overnight service by roughly 50%. The proposal would:

  • Replace Route 82 with Night Owl trips on Routes 3 (to Seattle Pacific), Route 5, and Route 62 (to Roosevelt only).
  • Replace Route 83 with Night Owl trips on Route 70
  • Replace Route 84 with Night Owl trips on Routes 3 and 11
  • Add Night Owl trips on Route 120
  • Upgrade RapidRide C, D, and E to hourly overnight service, up from 75-90 minute frequencies currently
  • Extend Route 124 to SeaTac Airport when Link isn’t running.

This is an excellent start for a reliable, comprehensible all-night service network, and it’s exciting that after a half-century we’re finally getting here. SDOT currently funds the entirety of the Owl network to the tune of 3,900 service hours; the Owl network was slated for elimination before Mayor Murray deferred Ship Canal Crossing study funds to save it in 2014. The County Executive’s recent budget proposal includes some funding for the final year of the current Night Owls.

The airport extension of Route 124 is particularly welcome, as South King and Pierce County have had (half hourly!) overnight service to the airport for years via Sound Transit 574 and Metro Route 180. Though the last Route 124 trips today have a timed connection to RapidRide A, this connection is nearly useless for airport workers or travelers, since the Link walkway is closed overnight. Intrepid commuters trying to use the 124/A connection would need to walk along International Boulevard and then Arrivals Drive, an insane proposition. The extended 124 would pull all the way into the terminal, like Sound Transit 560 and 574, and would offer bi-directional Night Owl service. Since Link’s first full-length service arrives at 5:30 am, and assuming a minimum 1-hour check in time, the extended 124 will make transit a viable option for the 27 daily flights that depart before 6:30am.

Another big change would be the end of the 2:15/3:30am pulse. The new network would deemphasize transfers downtown, and instead offer more service staggered throughout the night. Metro and SDOT seem to believe that more consistent activity will be safer than the pulse, and also that the benefit to through-riders (who would no longer have to hold 5-10 minutes downtown) outweighs the burden on the relatively few transferees.

The largest remaining holes are service to Northgate and Lake City, where service would continue to end around 1:00am on Routes 41 and 372.  In a presentation to the Seattle Transit Advisory Board last week, Metro and SDOT staff say that preference was given to routes that most closely approximate the current Owl loops, but that a small reserve of hours will be available to respond to the public comment period. Northgate service could be most easily accomplished by extending the Route 70 Owl trips as Route 67, telegraphing the coming Rapid Ride service on the corridor. Lake City service could be accomplished by adding two or more trips on Routes 41, 372, or 522.

Metro is seeking comment through October 31 30, and if approved the changes would go into effect in September 2017. Take the survey here (English, Spanish, and Chinese), or email comments here.

75 Replies to “Metro and SDOT to Overhaul Night Owl Service”

    1. I’m not sure which pots the funding is coming from, but it’s a net increase of 2,000 service hours, from 3,900 to 5,900. The County budget adds money for the 83/84, which I’d assume would get rolled into the 3/5/11/62/70 funding. And since the 124 isn’t strictly Prop 1 eligible, there will have to be some county or Tukwila/Seatac funding added.

  1. I like this. I live right near the 84 and have used it to get to the first Link departure from Stadium for early flights. The 84 is the very definition of “the best kind of correct, technically correct.” Hopefully the trips to Link will still meet up before the first train like the Owls do now (and, for example, RapidRide D that still goes to Stadium for that one trip in the early morning) but other than that, I’ve no complaints here. :)

  2. Sadly, still no service to Northgate. Which could be fixed by swapping the tails of the 40 and RapidRide D.

    1. Now that the D Line is split from the C Line, I’d like to see the D Line extend to Northgate, all day and night.

      1. I’m pretty sure that’s part of the long term plan, but I don’t think they’ve got funding for the extension right now.

  3. Horray! Do it!

    The one objection I have – beyond “More more more” – is Route 84. I haven’t ever ridden it, but given the magnitude of Capitol Hill nightlife, I think its direct connection between Capitol Hill and Madrona might be useful. But, then, service to Harborview would also be. Does anyone know actual ridership?

    (Oh, and any chance of extending the 120 to the airport too?)

    1. Metro staff said that ridership on deleted segments was ~1 rider per trip. But for the 84, that would only include MLK between Madison and Union, and the 14th Avenue stretch where there isn’t even a stop. I’m not sure if a Capitol Hill-Madrona rider would have been captured in that analysis since their origin and destination still have service, just on a different routes. I think the answer isn’t keeping the 84, but working to add a short trip or two on Route 2 (to 34th Ave only). Today the last Route 2 trip leaves Broadway/Union at 12:37am.

      1. would love owl service to be focused/more extensive around capitol hill, u district, ballard, LQA

  4. “Metro is seeking comment through October 31, and if approved the changes would go into effect in September 2017.”

    Wow guys, what’s the hurry? Take your time! It’s not like our City needs reliable 24/7 transportation anytime soon or anything…

    1. Proposals that increase service hours have to wait for Metro to train the additional drivers. In the case of night-owl service, there shouldn’t be additional livery needed, though.

      The staffing increases in the Executive’s budget should help.

  5. This is really great! More buses running around in the middle of the night with nobody on them!

    What is the cost per boarding or cost per passenger-mile of night owl service?

    1. First off, the amount of service-hours we’re talking about is negligible compared to service during the day. Second, having night owl service available is important to reduce drunk driving and the deaths associated with it. Even if each trip has just 5 people on board, if it’s 5 people that would have been driving drunk, had the service not been there, it’s well worth it.

      The very low ridership on the existing night-owl service is partly due to the fact that people are generally asleep late at night, but also partly due to the fact that the current night-owl network is unnecessarily complex. Having special routes that only run in the middle of the night doesn’t work because people in a rare situation where they need a ride in the middle of the night don’t remember that the route exists, or where it goes. Replacing special night-owl routes with night-owl trips on routes that run frequently, all day, makes a huge amount of sense.

      The extension of the 124 to the airport when Link isn’t running is also a no-brainer decision, and should have happened back in 2009, when Link opened and the 124 got created. Hopefully, there will be signs directing travelers to the route 124 stop when the Link station closes for the night. Between airport workers coming to work for early morning shifts and travelers coming home from delayed flights, I actually think the late-night 124 trips will be fairly well used, or at least, much more well used than they are now.

    2. I would say Night Owl service is important as say DART is to the rest of the metro bus system. While DART is intended to serve communities that are farther out or not as densely populated, but still significant enough to have service. Night Owl is to connect people to their jobs or home late in the night when most of the transit system is closed for the day. Not all services in the metro bus system ate going to make a profit or have high ridership, but they still serve a purpose in the larger picture.

    3. Whilst many comment on removing drunk drivers ((a MORE than worthy effort) the primary goal of Night Owl Services ought to be to allow late night work force folks to get home, and early am workers to get to work using transit. Adding Lake City and Northgate should be a no-brainer – Make It So, KC Metro.

    4. The existence of the last run makes people more willing to take the second-last run, knowing that if they miss it or it doesn’t show up there’s still another one after it.

      The current night owl network also has 1-3 hour gaps with the adjacent day service (worst on Sunday mornings). This makes the “last run” logic above break down, because people don’t think a 2-hour wait is continuous service but rather two separate service periods.

      Chicago and San Francisco have a grid of half-hourly night owls spaced a mile apart. That’s what we should be aiming for. The north-south routes are almost there in terms of their locations, but the nominal night owls are 1:15 hours apart and the gap before and after them is often larger depending on the corridor.

      1. The Bay Area included subsidizing regional Owl Service in the referendum raising bridge tolls in 2004.

      2. They also cancelled many night owls over time, such as the buses going out to Concord and Livermore.

        Since this is SDOT funded, the routes are obviously going to concentrate on the city, but I’m somewhat surprised there isn’t a push to add owl Eastside service again. With ST3 a skeleton owl network should be created to Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond similar to the Bay Area owl network. I’m of a mixed opinion as to whether this network should be local buses, which end up attracting “passengers riding for non-transportation purposes” and scare off riders due to long transit time, or running the basic ST Express buses that serve these corridors all night long and have the individual find a ride for the last mile. In Southern California the Foothill Transit Silver Streak runs all night with no underlying local service, and many riders in the owl are met by private cars who pick them up and take them home, be it ride services, taxis, parents, or friends/relatives. The Silver Streak covers 35 miles in about 60 minutes for the owl, but if you ran the underlying local service instead, that would easily take 2.5 hours and be non competitive for almost all trips.

      3. The county voted against King County Prop 1 which would have propped up bus hours during the recession and yielded additional hours now, and there hasn’t been much support for another countywide measure, not with south King County being pretty strongly No. Bellevue and Renton have been pretty silent about losing the 280. Instead Metro has been focusing on the new city partnerships, which allow cities to pay for additional bus service they want. Seattle is using that extensively, and I’ve heard conflicting things about whether Mercer Island or any other cities are using it. In any case, they’d probably want to spend the hours on day service rather than night service.

        The Bay Area is ahead of us in terms of having a few regional night owls and a few in San Jose.

        To get Sound Transit night owls would probably have required a funded project for it in ST3. There is a project for ST Express increases, but any night runs you add would displace day runs, and everyone probably assumed the hours would be for daytime/evening service not night owl.

      4. Since the ST Express line item is suitably vague enough, and just says service hours, future boards can make funding flexible and extend service hours. The 574, for example, already runs an airport-focused service with the first trip arriving at SeaTac at 3:15 am, but the last transit trip of any type leaving Tacoma northward to King County is at 10:30 pm (on the 590) which seems way too early.

        Rail emulator or rail parallel service (where owl buses are within 2/3 mile or a 15 minute walk of all rail stations) is essential. With Seattle and SeaTac becoming a 24 hour airport a good regional backbone helps, and it could probably be the express network. The 280 was a horribly useless route because it ran as a circle and tried to cover as much area as possible. SDOT is correct to use existing routes and run them at night rather than jerry rigged night owl routes which just confuse people.

      5. “Sea-Tac becoming a 24 hour airport”.

        Is it? Is it getting flights between midnight and 6am?

        The 3:15am arrivals are because the workers have to get ready for 6am flights.

      6. Mike, assuming this is a serious question, http://www.flightstats.com/go/FlightStatus/flightStatusByAirport.do>absolutely. The last flight arrives SEA at 2:07 am and the first flight arrives at 4:31 am. The last flight leaves at 1:40 am and the first flight leaves at 5 am. Seven flights leave in the 5 o’clock hour, so that’s 800 potential boardings there who need to get to the airport before 4:30 am to assure themselves of making the flight. There are six flights with scheduled arrivals after midnight, with another 600-800 passengers, and several times more in the 11 pm hour which could be delayed and arrive in the midnight hour

    1. I’m curious to know if it will serve the airport drive? Transfers in that area are interesting to say the least, involving either long walks, extra single stop transfers (Airport to TIBS for the 560, 574, etc. or using the horrid bus facilities at Sea-Tac Airport Station (the SB platform on International Blvd is very unfriendly in my opinion, having to cross the very busy street to a very narrow platform). Personally, I would like to see the 560 and 574 extended to TIBS, but there probably isn’t any layover room for them there.

  6. Extend the 70 to Northgate via Roosevelt, add owl trips on the 41, and you’d have a pretty good bar cleanup/low-income swing shift Owl network. All night service on the E line is long overdue. The 124 extension is also a great idea. Good job, SDOT & Metro on finally fixing this crap.

    Honestly, though, the most important thing for night service is extending the span of 15-minute headway service until later on core routes. With UberX, Lyft, Car2Go etc. providing $5-10 direct rides home, with minimal wait, few people are going to wait more than 15 minutes for a free or cheap ride+walk home. This should be the focus of the future night service improvements.

    1. My guess is that even if it ran every fifteen minutes, you would get roughly the same number of riders. These are folks who have no other choice (other than walking). If they had the money, they would take a cab, but they don’t, so they wait for a bus. Of course it would be great if folks didn’t have to wait so long, but that is true in general. Given the fact that there are still plenty of bus routes that max out at every half hour, I’m guessing it is hard to justify the extra service at that hour.

    2. Although the problem with doing a 70 that then goes to Northgate via Roosevelt (sort of a 67 tail?) is that you get into what we’re trying to get rid of: Routes that only run at night that no one knows about.

      If anything perhaps we should pull out the 67 and run it as well. (Hey it could be the same bus/trip, just that there’d be a layover near campus to do it?)

    3. > Although the problem with doing a 70 that then goes to Northgate via Roosevelt (sort of a 67 tail?) is that you get into what we’re trying to get rid of: Routes that only run at night that no one knows about.

      As you suggested below, this is not necessarily a problem if each segment is signed appropriately. Just change the signage to 67 after it reaches Campus Parkway. That said, there’s a bigger problem — the 70 is a trolleybus route, and so it can’t really be extended past the U-District unless you make the whole bus a diesel route.

      Personally, I’m still hoping that Metro will swap the tails of the 26 and 62 north/east of Roosevelt. The 62 has a lot more “gotchas” than a frequent arterial route should: the late-night NOAA swap, and the short-run peak service, among others. If the 62 instead went to Northgate, then it could follow a single routing 24/7, and the less-than-frequent 26 could deal with all the strangeness.

      1. I know the night run of the 7 I used to get was always a diesel.

        I’d expect that all of the night owl services would be diesel coaches, it leaves the lines free for any repairs that need to be done overnight that might require shutting the system off.

      2. Also its bordering on OT, but what makes the 62 great and noteworthy is that its an east/west bus, in an area that is dominated by north/south routes. I happy used the 62 today and was pleased to enjoy the bare bones of a gridded system. Swapping tails would’ve made my trip more annoying and have required a slog through NTC.

        The east tail of the 62 does need to be resolved. IMHO, Seattle needs to push the Parks Department to fix NE 65th out to allow it to have a proper terminal either at the US Western Fisheries research or the place across the street.

      3. Depending upon how such a swap would be done …

        The 62 at present runs pretty much through the cores of Wallingford and Fremont. The 26 pretty much bypasses them. I think you would want the “crosstown” service which 62 provides to serve the cores of these neighborhoods rather than the margins.

        Although I don’t live in any of the neighborhoods affected, I have some friends who live near the 62 well east of Roosevelt. They have been discovering the possibilities opened up by the 62. I think they would lose a good part of their interest if their direct rides to the Wallingford and Fremont cores went away. Yes, anecdotal – but it seems to me to make sense.

      4. My wife and I live in west Wallingford, and we love the 62 much more than the 16. Not only does the 62 get us a ride to Fremont (impossible with the 16) which lets us haul groceries by bus rather than foot, but it also gets us to Green Lake/Roosevelt. The 16 sort of did that, but not at any frequency or reliability that made it useful. The 62 still has reliability issues, but at least it’s much more frequent than the 16.

        We also have a friend who just moved to Wedgwood. Her standard bus is the 65 but the 62 gives her an option that isn’t as affected by UW-related traffic.

        I have a feeling that if the 62 went to Northgate, the reliability problems would just get even worse given the traffic problems around there.

  7. I’m all for this, and see it as a start, with holes still to fill.

    Route 49 needs some additional love when Link is closed, as demonstrated by both its current night-owl ridership and the fact that UW Station, Capitol Hill Station, and Westlake Station are three of the top four busiest light rail stations. If RapidRide routes are getting hourly overnight service, the ridership in this corridor merits service every half-hour overnight.

    Route 124 reaching the airport in its overnight configuration is well-justified by the ridership between Westlake and Airport Station (the 3rd-busiest), not to mention the scariness of having to transfer at TIBS in the middle of the night.

    And, yes, time the various midnight runs to connect from Link and the 5 am runs to connect to Link.

    1. I transferred at TIBS at 1AM a couple months ago, it wasn’t too bad but certainly not having to would be great especially for out of towners. Truly a collection of interesting characters there at that time of night.

      Several people were trying to use light rail to get downtown from the airport and ended up on the bus . They should run the trains later at night.

      1. TIBS after hours has the same crew that used to wait all night at the Federal Way P&R when the Owl route was the 174 rather than the 124 and A. It really is a motley group.

      2. I had to wait at TIB 40 minutes for a transfer after missing the last Link train, but there weren’t any particularly special characters there; there weren’t many characters at all there. So it may depend on the day.

  8. Some crosstown service in the north would be welcome too. Any plans for a few trips on the 44 or anything? I’m not sure how much demand there is, but it looks like a conspicuous gap.

    1. You wouldn’t need much to get there, as the 44 already runs pretty late, with 15-minute service until midnight and half-hourly service until 1:30am. The last eastbound trip from Ballard is at 1:55am, hitting UW at 2:14am and continuing to Capitol Hill as Route 43, arriving at Broadway at 2:34am before returning to base.

    2. I agree, the 44 definitely could use a couple trips to fill in the gap when it stops 1:30-2AM and when it starts again 4:30-5AM. The great thing about the 44 is it intercepts all of the other North Seattle night owl routes (D, E, 62, 70).

  9. I remember back before U Link opened, I wanted to take the bus to Link for an early airport run. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and Metro didn’t start regular service early enough to get me to the first morning train. I tried to figure out the night owl thing, but it seemed crazy complicated. I ended up just walking the 2 miles from my home to Westlake.

  10. The 41 serves both Lake City and Northgate. In the evening, the driver often “wings it” and basically goes wherever he thinks is the fastest way downtown. There are no stops between Northgate and downtown, so it really doesn’t matter. Given all that, I would do the following:

    Rather than terminating the 62 in Roosevelt, have that bus go straight to Northgate, then follow the 41 route. Call that bus the 41. For regular riders of the 41, it really is no different — either way you get downtown (you just have some stops along the way). So if you miss the last regular 41, you get a slow 41. There would also be less confusion for regular 62 riders. If you are on the 62, you know it goes to Sand Point. But if you are waiting for the 62, and see the 41, you know you have to take it (the 62 is done for the night). You don’t have to bother the bus driver (“Does this bus go to Sand Point?”) or read the reader board on the side of the bus. Just look at the number to know where the bus is going.

    This is you can find the money (of course).

    1. Or we could just send the 62 to Northgate all day, and send the 26 to Sand Point instead :)

      1. A few people have suggested that, but why is it better? It would give eastern 65th a quasi-express which is kind of nice but few people would benefit, and for Latona and Northgate it would reinstate the frustratingly slow 26 that I always hated to use.

      2. My big problem with the 62 is that it couples a very high-ridership segment (Dexter/Stone/Meridian) with a much less popular one (65th east of Green Lake). The core part of the 62 could use much more service than it currently has, especially at peak. But there is so much neighborhood opposition to 62 service that Metro has had to go out of its way to take service _away_ from Sand Point, and all added service (e.g. extra peak trips) has skipped most/all of the route’s eastern tail.

        The change would also make both routes straighter and more legible. The 62-Northgate would be completely N-S, while the 26-Sand Point would be an E-W route that also has an express segment to downtown Seattle.

        I’m a bit confused about your comment about Northgate and Latona. For Latona, nothing would change; the 26 would still provide service to downtown via Aurora. For Northgate, instead of a 30-minute express (not too appealing when you have the E and 41), riders would have frequent service to Wallingford, Fremont, and Dexter. That might not be as fast a trip to downtown, but it’s a lot different than the 26 was. But maybe I’m missing your point?

  11. Last time I used it (a few years ago) the A Line’s airport access wasn’t “nearly useless” or “an insane proposition”. I got off down at 182nd and walked up the sidewalk, eventually reaching a door at the south end of the terminal building. IIRC the entrance was at baggage claim level. It’s no longer or harder than walking from the Link station.

    1. Fair enough. I was thinking more about walking from 176th at 3:30 am. But yeah the 182nd stop wouldn’t be terrible I suppose.

  12. It’s great having Owl service available!

    I don’t travel on transit late unless I’ve been on a late-arriving plane so I’m no expert.

    I do have to wonder some things:

    Should Metro focus a route that generally follows Link? Should the replacement service stop then be highlighted at the stations?

    Should Metro use route numbers add a letter to explicitly indicate that the routes are overnight routes? (Examples: Route N7 and N11)

    Should the signage at the Link platforms tell riders where to go? (Scrolling messsge example: Next train 5:00. Owl bus on 3rd available.)

    1. I’d love it if Metro used letters to differentiate all the various quirks that go under the same route number. (My current favorite is the 372, its much shorter on the weekend.)

      I’m also curious if one bus could have two route numbers. Make it route 41 and 62 and it goes upto Lake City?

  13. Wow, surprised that an all-night route 97-like Link shadow wasn’t even proposed. If their goal is really to reduce confusion and maintain system usability at night, they could at least start with the Link route that many probably think runs all night already.

    1. I think Metro would want Sound Transit to contribute some or all the costs for operating such a route. Enhancing existing bus routes (7, 49, 124) that cover portions of Link and already run late nights would be an efficient use of limited funds.

    2. In all seriousness, I’m not sure that this route would be all that popular. Link’s success comes from its frequency, reliability, and speed. A late-night shadow route would share none of those things. Who would want to slog through Capitol Hill and Montlake to get between downtown and Roosevelt?

      Stop spacing would also be a big question. Should it stop at every point along John/Thomas and 23rd, even though it will make the route slower? Or should it skip every stop between CHS and UW, even though it will inconvenience a lot of riders?

      As an emergency shuttle, it’s a different story. If someone arrives at a Link station and finds out that Link isn’t running, providing some sort of substitute will save time and aggregation. The difference is that riders can’t really plan for that situation in the way that they can plan for late-night trips. Also, Metro/ST can run as many 97 buses as they need. (In Boston, T shuttle routes arrive almost constantly — as soon as one bus leaves, the next one starts boarding.) At night, that level of service would be harder to justify.

    3. A Link shadow is one of those things that looks better on paper than on the ground. If you look at where the night ridership and residential density is, it’s on Rainier not MLK, and it’s between Broadway & Pike and 45th & University Way not at Husky Stadium. That’s why the 8 shadowed only part of Link, from Rainier Beach to Mt Baker and then diverged, because that’s where the majority of local trips are. The Link corridor is good for a fast train that can go in tunnels. It’s not good for a bus that has to meander on streets to reach all the stations. Link was located on MLK not because people thought it was denser than Rainier but because Rainier was too narrow and congested for a surface train and the construction would disrupt too many businesses. With Link shadows like the 7 and 49 and something north of that, a full-length shadow is not that important. The biggest gap is between Rainier Beach and TIB where no bus route exists. When Link gets longer a direct shadow might make more sense because a greater percentage of people will be going between Link’s stations as opposed to just vaguely in the vicinity of Link’s stations. But that’s a way’s off.

      1. If a Link shadow is needed, the question is how many people are going from Rainer Beach to points south of TIBS? If Link reached Federal Way or Tacoma, there would likely be more people than Angle Lake or the airport – and airport customers can more easily get a ride than someone originating from Tacoma. This is what AC Transit did with their night owl shadows, by having customers bound for El Cerrito or Richmond ride directly on the San Pablo Ave bus than taking the detour through Berkeley.

    4. “Metro/ST can run as many 97 buses as they need.”

      Right, they don’t use any gas or driver hours or security costs.

      1. That’s why I said “as an emergency shuttle”. When Link isn’t running for two hours because of a breakdown in the tunnel, Metro can use whatever resources it has available to keep people moving. But a twice-yearly emergency is a very different proposition than running scheduled service every night.

  14. Overall, it’s positive. Comments:

    – The guaranteed transfer downtown of a few minutes (regardless of how long it took to get there) will disappear. There is a public perception (deserved, overplayed, or otherwise — no judgement here) that 3rd and Pike isn’t a particularly smart place to hang out at night. Metro will have to address this somehow.

    – I believe that the RapidRide dream should be bigger: every 30 minutes, every line, every night.

    – There are obvious late-night candidates missing, most notably (IMHO) the 8 and the 40.

    1. Late night service is really about coverage on a very broad scale. The parts of the 40 that matter are covered at that level by the D and the 62.

      The area that really needs something is the far northeast corner of the city, which gets nothing at all. Owl 41 trips would provide coverage. It could probably be done cheaper by extending the Owl 70.

      1. Late night service is really about coverage on a very broad scale. The parts of the 40 that matter are covered at that level by the D and the 62.

        I agree. But that makes me wonder why the 5 is getting service, and the 41 is not.

        I mean, I know why; it’s so that the 82’s riders don’t torpedo this plan. But even so, why isn’t the E considered a suitable alternative? Even back when I lived on Greenwood, I still would have preferred more frequent E service to a mere 2 late-night trips on the 5.

  15. Toronto has a night owl network in which every route maintains headways of 30 minutes or less throughout the night, and nearly 100% of the population lives within a 15 minute walk of at least one night owl route. It’s probably the best overnight transit on the continent.

    The long-term goal for the city of Seattle (say 20 years) should be a similar level of service.

  16. How important is it to have the 5 running north of 85th St where the E Line is half a mile away and the elevation difference is not as great as Phinney Ridge? The 62 isn’t running the full route at night either.

    Could they instead use those resources to extend service to Northgate and Lake City?

      1. No, I haven’t. That’s why I asked.

        I have walked up 65th from Aurora to Phinney. Now that’s steep and I can’t imagine anywhere else along that corridor being as steep as that. Another problem I just realized is the lack of sidewalks north of 85th.

      2. Until this year, I lived on Greenwood, and the walk that CC describes is exactly how I got home late at night.

        Yes, it’s steep. (No, it’s not as steep as 65th.) But I’m still pretty sure that the walk to Northgate or Lake City is a lot harder/longer.

        In the abstract, I have no problem with owl service on the 5. And it’s certainly a politically expedient way to get rid of the 82. But if I lived in Lake City, I would be really annoyed that Greenwood was getting a second owl route before Lake City got a single one.

      3. Not that you mention it, I am annoyed. :) I used to live in Greenwood and now in Lake City. that 90th, 92nd, 95th up the hill is a slog.

        I suggested on the survey an all night 41, which would hit Northgate and Lake City.

        While nothing’s ever a great walk at 2 am, a crosstown east west walk on the southside of 125th/130th is relatively flat, with good traffic lights, lit, and sidewalked.

  17. I just finished the survey at Metro’s site.. Gotta hand it to them for honesty in the options. One of the reasons that you could chose for why you ride a particular route is “sleep”

    1. I heard a homeless advocate supporting the new routes for that very reason on the radio this morning.

      IMO, that is not a good reason for the routes. But it does bring to mind the Sunday open thread video some months back about the London night bus.

      1. If anything these routes would be worse as places to sleep. I’d have to go looking at the schedule, but my guess is the 82/83/84 busses had longer runs than any of the routes that they will be replacing.

        A bus is a poor place for someone to sleep. Better than a sidewalk, but worse than a homeless shelter, or just housing.

        An FWIW, if there were issues with the shelter system such that there were more people to house than spaces available, I’d fully support using a bus as a last option shelter. Its not great, its not a bed. But I’d rather have people warm and dry attempting to sleep sitting up, than on a cold wet sidewalk.

      2. oops…
        “but my guess is the 82/83/84 busses had longer runs than any of the routes that they will be replacing.”

        should’ve read:

        “but my guess is the 82/83/84 busses have longer runs than any of the routes that they will be replaced by.”

    2. I can’t believe the radio editor couldn’t think of any better purpose for the night owl routes than as homeless shelters… like maybe TRANSPORTATION. It sounds like somebody who never takes transit especially at night and doesn’t realize how many people have night jobs or might want to come home from the bars without driving or paying a $10 taxi.

      1. When I last took the 82 and asked if it stopped at a particular stop, the driver looked at me funny because no one else got on or off the bus. I was in fact using it because I was working late and couldn’t drive (having just had cataract surgery).

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