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With the SR 99 tunneling project more than half done, it is worth considering what a revised Metro 8 bus route could look like in 2018.

By then the street grid will be connected, like so:

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a bold proposal for a new routing.

It is unlikely that all of this will come to pass. There are sections that would be very controversial, and quite possibly not be worth it. Here are my thoughts on the routing, section by section (I ignored the east end of the route, as it would remain the same).

First and Mercer through the Seattle Center

This could be rather controversial, of course. Running a bus through the Seattle Center might upset some people. During big events, the bus would have to re-routed (just as buses around Husky Stadium are). There aren’t that many events like that, though, so I don’t see this as a problem. Thomas Street does go through the Center, but some work (making better sidewalks) would have to be done. To avoid complaints about diesel exhaust, the route could become a trolley or a hybrid (running only on electricity through there). The advantage to running via Thomas is that it wouldn’t encounter any traffic through the Center. The second advantage is that it would enable a much faster connection to the monorail.

Running on Thomas avoids the worst congestion on Denny. Another alternative would be to skirt around the Center to the northeast (via 5th, then Mercer). That is likely a significant improvement, but I’m not sure how easy it will be to get additional right of way there. On the other hand, this would share part of its trip with the RapidRide D route (along 1st Ave. West and Queen Anne Avenue) which means that if those streets are given bus lanes, both routes would be able to take advantage of them.

Seattle Center to Eastlake

This is arguably the greatest part about the viaduct replacement project. The grid north of Denny (up to Harrison) will be connected. One of the great things about this area is that converting general purpose lanes to bus-only lanes won’t be that difficult from a political standpoint. There is no “taking” as people can’t drive that way today. It is quite reasonable to extend those bus lanes throughout this area, all the way to Eastlake Avenue. Even with the change, it isn’t a major through route, because you simply can’t go that far (I-5 and the Seattle Center cut off through traffic). This makes it significantly different than Madison or Eastlake (where lots of lanes were taken, while taking others proved too difficult).

Eastlake to Capitol Hill

This is another controversial change. Right now there are no buses on Belmont. This, again, is why it would make sense to run wire along this line, so that neighbors don’t complain about noisy buses struggling to get up the hill. By going over the freeway on Lakeview, the bus would avoid the traffic on Denny altogether. A traffic light (with signal priority for the bus) would have to be added to Eastlake at Thomas, but that is a pretty cheap addition. If more money is found, it looks to me like you could widen Eastlake (next to the freeway) or eliminate some parking to add jump ahead lanes. Lakeview is a bridge, of course, and it wouldn’t make sense to spend the money on expanding it. But if traffic overall is less of a problem there than it is on Denny, moving the line north would make sense.

As with the change through the Seattle Center, it might not be worth it. The big improvement will occur when the grid around Denny and Aurora is open. That, just by itself, will enable a huge improvement in speed and reliability for one of the most important buses in our system.

11 Replies to “Metro 8 After Bertha is Finished”

  1. Metro is actively planning to shift the 8 to Harrison, which is intended to be the east-west transit corridor. Thomas is intended to be the ‘green street’ for walking and biking. As for Lakeview, it’s a great idea in theory but the Belmont-Roy Street turn just isn’t feasible unless you used DART style vans. You could use that routing if buses continued on Belmont to Mercer or Republican before turning onto Broadway, but I think the Denny routing is here to stay.

    1. Yeah, I think sending a bus through the Seattle Center is a bold (and unlikely) proposal. Still, it would be nice to consider. If you don’t send the bus through, then Harrison is just as good (if not better) than Thomas.

      Are you sure the turn from Belmont to Roy is really that bad? It is a bit narrow in there, but it seems like it is a fairy obtuse angle. A bus would certainly have to travel slowly through there (and maybe extend out to the other lane) but it doesn’t seem impossible. You would certainly want to make sure before planning on it (you wouldn’t want another situation like the one that happened with the Capitol Hill restructure).

      I think continuing on Belmont and turning on Mercer or Republican would be very problematic. All of those streets are residential, which means it would be tough to run a bus through there.

      Assuming none of that happens, it means that buses would likely turn south on Fairview (not Eastlake) right? That would mean that a bus would still deal with the Denny traffic, but at least not west of Fairview.

      1. A diesel bus maybe not.

        People might be a bit more supportive if they had some experience with some of the extremely quiet battery buses I saw at Innotrans. In their post-event survey I told Innotrans they need to be using those for their internal bus shuttles that move around the grounds rather than the diesel things they use today.

        Maybe if they got a couple of the Ebus battery bus trolley replicas that are currently for sale they could run those as a circulator inside the Seattle Center grounds for a while and get people used to the idea of something running through the area.

      2. Metro’s long-range plan has:
        RapidRide #1061 on 15th W & Emerson – Mercer – 5th – Harrison – Fairview – Denny – John – Madison Park.
        Local #3208 and 3104 from 6th W & Raye and western Magnolia, overlapping at QA & Mercer to Mercer – 5th – Harrison – Eastlake – Lakeview Bv – Belmont – Roy – 10th E – Aloha – 23rd & Madison.

        So it looks close to your plan although the details aren’t exactly the same. As for having them go through the Center on Thomas Street, I’d have to look at it to see which corridor it is and how much it would affect the pedestrian environment. Is that the corridor with the Mural Amphitheater and between the Armory and the Monorail station? That would appear to cut into needed walking space during crowded times, displace a row of food booths, and disrupt listening to performances at the Amphitheater. The Center is a refuge from motor vehicles and I’m not sure we want to change that. But I’m willing to consider it and see how unimpactful we can make it. And having a bus station inside the Center would certainly be convenient for people going to the Center.

      3. @Mike — You can see what the street looks like with the Google Map view I linked to. It is narrow in places, so they would have to do some work (as I said). You would have to build up the sidewalk, and It might be a case where the buses take turns going through that section. I don’t see that as a deal breaker, though.

        Thomas is the only street that makes sense for this. John requires going back and forth (not worth the effort) while Harrison runs into the Key Arena.

      4. Oh, I forgot to mention that I added another layer on the map, which is labeled “More Likely Proposal” (it skirts the Center and does use Denny). One nice thing about that routing is that it would be able to take advantage of improvements made to Fairview (as part of the Roosevelt BRT project).

      5. The routing you want is Belmont-Summit-Olive. All arterials and summit recently had an electric trolley bus. Not sure about the turn from Summit to Olive, but you could probably take that block of John and add a light.

      6. OK, it goes on the left side of the Mural Amphitheater audience rather than behind them. That would avoid the narrow walkway with the row of food booths.

  2. When Bertha is done it will be time to start talking about what we’re going to do with the Seattle Center (actually, we should have started that conversation about 20 years ago). The school district is considering expanding the Center High School, which makes a lot of sense and there are still plenty of people supporting a rebuilding of Key Arena to host NBA/NHL teams (a terrible idea, IMO). Re-connecting the street grid between SLU and the Seattle Center will also bring many of changes to those neighborhoods and perhaps even relieve some traffic congestion on Denny.

    1. Yeah, I agree. That is part of the reason I propose this line. I don’t think it would make sense right now — you gain very little. But once the grid is connected east of the Seattle Center (all the way to I-5) it makes sense to connect it through the Center (for buses only). Personally I think it would be better for the Center. It would make it less of an amusement park, and more of the city. At some point the monorail will support ORCA, and with a bus running right next to it, feel like part of the transit network, instead of a novelty.

      Adding a school in the area would also make a lot of sense and I also agree that putting an NHL or NBA team back in Key Arena is a bad idea. Personally I would have those next to the other stadiums, and then tear down the Key Arena and put in the high school there.

      1. If ST3 goes down and there are no SLU and Gates Foundation stations, I hope that the City buys out the Monorail operators, gets new trains and adds two new stations. One would be the ever mooted one around Bell or Battery and the other would be the result of an extension to 1st North and Mercer.

        Also, redo the Westlake Terminal so that both trains can be in either terminal if necessary at one time.

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