32 more of these coming to Snohomish County routes (AvgeekJoe/Flickr)
32 more of these coming to Snohomish County routes (AvgeekJoe/Flickr)

2017 will be a relatively quiet year for Sound Transit in terms of service delivery. The agency released its annual Service Implementation Plan (SIP) (Executive Summary, Complete) last Wednesday, combining 5-year service planning with in-depth route and corridor performance data. Here are some highlights:

Sounder and Amtrak

The biggest service addition in 2017 will be September launch of the final two new Sounder roundtrips funded by ST2, which will bring peak service frequencies closer to 15 minutes, compared to 20-30 minutes today. Further Sounder trips, lengthened platforms, and longer trains await a successful ST3 vote before their formal planning could begin. The final schedule will be released sometime next year, pending negotiations with BNSF, Amtrak, and WSDOT, as Cascades trains will begin using Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square in September 2017 also.

Reliability

Facing worsening congestion, and like Community Transit did last year, Sound Transit will sink 15,000 bus hours into schedule padding to make timetables more realistic for ST Express. That’s over $2M a year in direct congestion costs, borne by us the taxpayers, due to our inability to effectively prioritize transit on our highways and surface arterials.

Restructures

During the ULink restructure process, many Eastside changes were proposed but scrapped at the last minute, as a lack of overall response from the public spooked ST and Metro into backing off. The 2017 SIP promises Eastsiders a redo (page 69):

In the spring of 2017, Sound Transit and King County Metro plan to re-engage key stakeholders and the public in East King County to review key outcomes of the changes completed for the opening of the University Link extension.

Ridership Growth

ST expects Link ridership to grow another 24% next year as ULink matures and Angle Lake catches on, with annual ridership exceeding 20M for the first time. With continued organic growth and the two new roundtrips, Sounder is expected to grow by 10%. Meanwhile, ST Express is projected to grow 1% and Tacoma Link will continue to be flat or decline slightly.

Corridor Planning

  • The I-5 North corridor (Route 510/511/512/513) will be adding more double-decker buses in Spring 2017.
  • The I-405 North corridor (Routes 532/535) will also add double-decker buses, but only once those routes are redesigned to avoid entering Bellevue Transit Center, whose overhangs are too low for the Double Talls.
  • The I-90 corridor will see intensive East Link construction begin in spring 2017, with the express lanes permanently closed to buses beginning in June. At that time, 2-way HOV lanes will be in place from Mercer Island to Seattle, speeding the reverse-peak commute significantly while slightly worsening the peak-direction trip. The Rainier Freeway Station will remain open until the closure of the D-2 roadway in Fall 2018 for the construction of Judkins Park Station.
  • The I-5 South corridor will remain largely the same, though Sound Transit will consider deleting Route 586 and rerouting ST Express 574 to serve both Angle Lake and SeaTac/Airport Stations. In addition, the state grant to extend some Route 592 trips to Olympia ends in June 2017, and ST will review the extension’s performance to decide whether to continue funding it (hint: it’s carrying less than 100 boardings per day).

Corridor and Route Performance Data

The 2017 SIP has a fantastic new presentation format, offering ridership, reliability, and crowding data for every trip on every route. A deeper dive will have to await future posts, but the new format is intuitive and compact. Check it out.

Northbound Link Boardings by Time of Day
Northbound Link Boardings by Time of Day
Northbound Sounder Boardings By Trip
Northbound Sounder Boardings By Trip
Route 511 Boardings Per Northbound Trip
Route 511 Boardings Per Northbound Trip

63 Replies to “Sound Transit Releases 2017 Service Implementation Plan”

  1. Thanks for using my photo and thanks for the reminder to turn in comments, preferably this weekend. The Thu, December 1, 12:30pm – 1:30pm open house at Sound Transit HQ is in my calendar as a maybe.

  2. There is another big, looming issue coming up, possibly as soon as 2018, and that’s the closure of Montlake Freeway Station. If nothing is done to increase service on 540 and 542 to accommodate it, all off-peak trips (*) between the U-district/Montlake area and Redmond or Kirkland are going to require backtracking to downtown Seattle, adding a minimum of 30 minutes to every one-way transit trip.

    At least the bike path on the new floating bridge will be open by the time this happens, which is something.

    (*) route 542 now runs every 30 minutes during the weekday midday period, but has no service on evenings or weekends. Route 540 has a long midday service gap, with no service between 9 AM and 3 PM.

      1. He means that currently there are ZERO weekend connections between SR 520 and UW. The 271 doesn’t stop at Evergreen Point. All such trips require either a walk from the Montlake Freeway Station or backtracking via Westlake.

    1. OK, I think I’ve got it. Basically the Montlake station closes. This means that express buses into downtown don’t stop there on the way. This means that folks going from the 522 corridor to the UW are completely dependent on buses that head to the UW or backtracking. Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many buses that go directly to the UW. They run mostly at peak, and not at all on the weekends.

      Yeah that sucks big time. I can’t help but think that is when they start truncating the express buses at the UW. As I mention below, that would explain the very optimistic ridership forecasts. At a minimum, I could see truncating outside of rush hour. This would be similar to the changes to the 76*. It still exists, but only as a rush hour express. The rest of the time, you are expected to take a bus to the UW and then transfer downtown. So this would mean that the 545 only runs during rush hour. With the savings, service is added on the 541/542 so that it runs a lot more often in the middle of the day and on weekends. Metro could make similar changes (if it has similar routes).

      * I don’t remember how often the old 76 was. Maybe it was only a commuter bus back in the day. But assuming it ran all day, the changes would be analogous.

      1. The 76 was always peak only. The 71 was its all-day equivalent. The U-Link reorg added some shoulder trips to it.

    2. That is exactly what I’m thinking. During years of construction, it will be impossible for an SR-520 bus to make any stop in the Montlake/U-district area, then get back on the freeway to downtown. Essentially, there would be three service options:

      1) Routes 255 and 545 bypass Montlake altogether. Otherwise, no schedule changes.

      This option would result in Eastside->downtown trips being about 1 minute faster than today, but would be a huge inconvenience to anyone between north Seattle and the eastside outside of peak hours. Note that route 271 does not stop at Evergreen Point, so a transfer there is not an option. Overall, an off-peak trip from the U-district to Redmond or Kirkland would take about an hour each way, plus walk/wait time. This would be a major step backward, and with the U-link service restructure earlier this year, it affects all of north Seattle, not just the U-district.

      2) Routes 255 and 545 take the Montlake exit and try to turn around and get back on the freeway after dropping people off. Otherwise, no schedule changes.

      The physical layout of the streets has no room for large buses to turn around anywhere near Montlake/520. The nearest turnaround point would be to have the bus go over the Montlake bridge, stop at Montlake/Pacific, and go around the Montlake Triangle. At best, this would add about 10 minutes of overhead for Eastside->downtown trips, while completely duplicating Link between the Montlake Triangle and downtown. Depending on traffic, riders could choose to exit at the Montlake Triangle, ride Link, and arrive downtown at virtually the same time. Because of the additional service hours required to execute the turnaround, this option would also require either frequency cuts or additional funding just to maintain current service levels.

      3) Buses take the Montlake exit and stop at Montlake/Pacific, but layover in the U-district, avoiding downtown altogether. Riders who want to travel between the Eastside and downtown would need to transfer to Link at Husky Stadium.

      This option would involve a slight delay for downtown-bound riders when traffic light, but could result in a speed-up when traffic along I-5 is heavy. By avoiding the entire mess of I-5 and downtown surface streets (remember, the 255 is being kicked out of the tunnel in another year or two for convention center expansion) It would greatly improve reliability, while reducing the number of service-hours per trip, allowing for more service frequency with the existing budget.

      All things considered, option 3) is the only one that provides an acceptable level of all-day service for people downtown and U-district-bound riders. As RossB indicated, option 1) might be appropriate as a peak-hour overlay, especially since it would allow continued service to route 545’s Capitol Hill stop (about halfway between the Link Station and Westlake Station), while option 2), valuing one-seat rides to everywhere above all else, simply makes no sense for either peak or off-peak service.

      1. Another alternative would be to restructure the Eastside and send the 271 down Bellevue Way or 112th, which would let it serve Evergreen Point and maybe Yarrow Point too. If you couple that with Alternative One, things would probably be bearable during peak hours – but they’d be pretty bad off-peak when buses are much less frequent.

      2. Yeah, good assessment. I think you either go with Williams’s suggestion or with your option 3.

        William’s suggestion is how we would handle things if U-Link didn’t exist. But it does, so I would vote for option 3. I know the transfer isn’t great, but the savings are bound to be substantial, which means the extra service would probably be well worth it. I can’t help but think that the big improvement will be with midday and weekend service along with areas that are less frequent.

        That is similar to what happened with the ULink restructure. If you lived at 55th and the Ave, you used to be able to get to downtown very quickly, especially in the early morning. Service was often frequent enough that it didn’t matter much if it got better. But for other areas of the city it has been a huge change. I know a guy in Ravenna, and he loves the train. He says he will take the 76 if it is there (because it is actually faster) but that taking the train and the bus just means a lot less time waiting (even with the transfer).

        In this case, I don’t see a huge amount of that sort of thing, unfortunately. The 545 runs a lot, especially during rush hour. But in the middle of the day it runs every 15 minutes. Weekend service isn’t great, but still adequate. So weekend service could be boosted a bit, but the big trade-off would be with other routes. Unfortunately, I don’s see a lot of them. For example, the 252 is an express from Totem Lake to downtown. It only runs peak direction. So now it runs both directions at peak, but only to the UW. Same with the 311.

        But that is about it. The U-Link changes had the advantage of working with an area that had pretty good coverage, but a lack of frequency. From my cursory look at these routes, what I see is very few routes like that. I see either routes to downtown like the 545 and 255 (which are quite frequent) or routes that have very trips during the day. Those trips (like the 252 and 311) could be changed into all day routes, but I’m not sure if you have enough demand to justify it. My guess is you end up doing what I said — improve the 252 and 311 to bidirectional peak along with extra weekend and midday service to the 545 and 155. With any left overs, you provide extra east end neighborhood service. .

      3. In the U-Link restructure ST took baby steps toward terminating at UW Station so it’s probably testing public reaction and ridership. Deleting all off-peak runs to downtown would have the usual opposition from one-seat riders and may lengthen travel time. But there is an argument that the 255’s route is unacceptable now due to the unreliability of the gap between the Denny exit and the tunnel (which also affects the reverse-peak and off-peak 41 and formerly the 71,72, and 73), so rerouting it to UW Station would be overall better. And Metro was going to do that but it got lost in the overall Eastside withdrawl. So it may come back. The 545 is so popular that peak runs will probably remain until East Link opens.

      4. Baby steps? Holy cow, they killed off the most popular set of buses we had (those that went from the U-District to downtown). Everyone expected that once Link got to the U-District, but not Husky Stadium. I’m not saying it wasn’t the right thing to do, but lots of people have a much slower ride now. Lots are better off, but plenty aren’t. I see this as being very similar.

        As adf2 said, a lot depends on traffic. If traffic is light, the express is much faster. If not, then you might as well transfer. I’m having a hard time figuring out why someone needs an express from Overlake to downtown Seattle, but someone from the U-District doesn’t. It seems like the exact same trade-off to me.

      5. >> Would there be enough Link LRV capacity to have SR 520 riders transfer at UW Station during peak?

        @Brent — Hard to say. Eventually, yes, of course. But right now, maybe not. The 255 wouldn’t use the tunnel, so that would potentially enable extra train service. But that is only one bus. That itself might not add much capacity. We still can’t run four car trains every three minutes (let alone 90 seconds) like we will be able to do in a few years.

        The 545 carries a fair number of riders (about 4,000 each way) so that would greatly increase ridership at the UW station. The 255 carries about 3,500 each way, so add on 3,000*. The other buses may add another 1,000 or so, so you are getting close to doubling ridership at our most popular station. Yeah, given the current joint operations mess, that could be a problem.

        This is a very tough time for Seattle transit. It reminds me of that old picture with the cat with two paws on the shore, and two on the boat. The good news is that eventually (in less than five years) we will finally have enough ridership to justify kicking out the buses. Until then, we might have to muddle along with the option that William mentioned.

        * I’m assuming the same sort of ridership pattern that is common with these buses. Lots of people just grab a bus in one part of downtown and get off at another part.

      6. If there isn’t enough capacity on Link to handle a truncation of 520 buses, there’s an easily solution – run more trains and/or longer trains (at least, once the next order of train cars is delivered). If truncating 520 buses means Link’s all-day daytime frequency increases from every 10 minutes to every 8 minutes, that’s all the better for everyone – including people who don’t even travel along SR-520. That’s what happens when you focus a network on frequency, rather than one-seat rides.

        With regard to current weekend frequency on the 255/545 – it’s tolerable during the daytime hours, but definitely not acceptable during the evening. Weekends, the 545 drops to hourly after 8 PM, while the 255 drops to hourly as early as 7 PM. This makes riding the bus into any kind of evening event in Seattle very difficult, and leaves the bus with so little passenger capacity that if more than a tiny fraction of people attending a major event actually tried to use it, the bus would be overwhelmed and people would be left behind, with an hour-long wait for the next bus. Even half-hourly service during the daytime is not great.

        Alternative 1 from a year ago hinted at what we could get with a service restructure of the 545. The alternative showed 15-minute frequency on the 542 all day long, seven days a week, dropping to every 30 minutes around 9-10 PM, until the close of service, around midnight, all this while leaving the 545 virtually untouched during peak hours (only the off-peak 545 trips were eliminated to pay for it).

        Alternative 1’s proposal with the 255 truncated the route, but didn’t add any additional frequency to compensate for the transfer, instead, funneling the saved service hours into other routes. I believe this was a mistake, as it gave people in Kirkland very little reason to support the change, and plenty of reason for opposing it.

        One other thing that is worth pointing out, though, is that if SR-520 routes do get truncated into the U-district, something has to done during Husky football games to keep these routes moving, since everyone who simply wants to go downtown would suddenly end up stuck in game traffic. Once the Montlake lid is complete, designating the HOV ramp “bus only” during the couple hours preceeding a Husky game could be a solution. But in the interim, I’m not sure that anything can done besides post “rider alert” signs advising that people trying to get downtown to leave early and/or take an alternate route.

      7. “Baby steps? Holy cow, they killed off the most popular set of buses we had”

        I was talking about ST’s 520 routes. It created the 541 and may have added runs to the 540.

      8. As a daily rider of the 255, I really don’t think option three would be very good for riders going downtown during peak. Getting of the 520 at Montlake during peak is extremely slow, and then there would also be another 10 or so minutes added because of the transfer to Link, plus the 8 minutes to get downtown on Link. I don’t think rerouting the 255 to UW all day would be very popular unless they add some form of bus priority to the Montlake exit, which almost certainly won’t be happening anytime soon.

      9. Would there be enough Link LRV capacity to have SR 520 riders transfer at UW Station during peak?

        The bigger problem is the turning capacity at a two track station. Makeup time plus operator break probably means every 6 minutes is the limit for now. Those operations that have really frequent service tend to have 3+ tracks at the terminal or a track extension beyond the platform.

        If the only need is UW to ID, then there are a couple of places to short loop a few trains for added capacity.

      10. When we talk about “baby steps” toward UW transfers in the eastside transit network, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the eastside transit network generally has taken steps to consolidate cross-lake routes in the last several years, with transfers at places like South Kirkland and Overlake. It’s not like pre-restructure northeast Seattle, with tons of semi-redundant low-frequency service; a lot of the eastside is already two seats from anywhere in Seattle, and the routes that cross the lake outside peak hours are already trunk routes. So I think at least one of the 520 trunk routes should go downtown, by far the most popular destination.

        Maybe one of the 255/545 should be sent to UW and the other sent downtown? Maybe modifying the 271 to serve the Evergreen Point Freeway Station would provide enough UW service?

      11. If there isn’t enough capacity on Link to handle a truncation of 520 buses, there’s an easily solution – run more trains and/or longer trains (at least, once the next order of train cars is delivered) …

        The problem (as I understand it) is that you can’t do that until you kick out the buses. That’s why I said maybe. Truncating the 255 might give you better headways for the train, but it would have to be studied.

        You could, of course, kick the buses out a few years early. I think that would be worse, overall, then William’s solution (and have everyone transfer at Evergreen Station). The 41, 550 and 101 carry over 25,000 people (combined). I’m guessing the other buses (102, 150, 74) add up to another 10,000. So you are talking about making things much tougher for about 35,000 people, while things get better for those headed to the UW from 520 (which I would guess is a lot less). Meanwhile, as Nigel suggested, it wouldn’t be that great for those headed downtown.

        I really think at this point you can’t make a recommendation without knowing what Link is capable of doing with the current buses sharing the tunnel (minus the 255 of course).

        @Nigel — The situation you described is exactly why the timing on this is tricky. The whole reason the Montlake stop is going away is because they are rebuilding the freeway. The new freeway will of course have HOV (if not bus) only ramps. So eventually a truncation would make sense, when all the work is done.

        I can’t help but think that they will punt this time, and simply try and make people transfer at Evergreen. Like so much in our system, we will muddle along with a mess until Link gets to Northgate (and Bellevue) and the new 520 bridge is done. The tunnel situation is a mess, but no one is that interested in doing much about it (e. g. have off board payment for the buses) because everyone knows it is temporary.

        @Mike — That makes more sense.

      12. Would it make any sense to route some of these to downtown via Capitol Hill Station? You’d probably want to make it drop off only going into town and boarding only going eastward.

      13. “It’s not like pre-restructure northeast Seattle, with tons of semi-redundant low-frequency service”

        It wasn’t like that. There was a restructure when the DSTT opened and the 70/71/72/73X were standardized, the 74 local deleted, the 70 trolleybus created, and Campus Parkway became a major transfer point for everything not on the 71/72/73X. The 75, 65, 372, former 68, 31, and 32 gradually emerged from that. The only other downtown milk run I can think of is the 25, which had been reduced to peak-only before it was deleted. The lack of evening/weekend frequency was not because of redundant service but because there weren’t enough hours. The infill frequency came from Prop 1 and from deleting the 71/72/73X which were trunk routes like the 255 and 545.

      14. “the 74 local deleted”

        I mean, the 74 on Fairview deleted. The number 74 remained for the tail. Later it was renumbered to 30 after the local and express had diverged too radically to keep the same number. In the restructure it was (vaguely) replaced by the 62.

        The number 30 also refers to an earlier route on 45th between Fremont and Laurelhurst. In the past few years Metro has revived some traditional numbers (235, 226) so it’s possible the number 30 may eventually come back in that area.

      15. @RossB,
        Just curious… Do you know where to find information on when the various phases of the new Montlake exit will be finished, such as the HOV ramps that you mentioned? I haven’t been able to find too much information on the WSDOT website

      16. @Nigel — Sorry, no, I don’t. I’m not sure if they know what exactly they will do at this point. Last time I checked it was a work in progress. I think the folks in Montlake probably know more than most, but things are very fluid. There are various interests, some of which conflict. There are people who want good transit from 520 to Husky Stadium Station. There are people who want good traffic flow over Montlake Boulevard. Then there are people in the area that don’t want the neighborhood to turn into an eight lane car sewer (i. e. the worst part of Aurora).

        It is not an easy problem to solve, and it may take a while before things get worked out. I think it is pretty much assured, though, that at least one of the exit ramps will be HOV only if not bus only. Beyond that, who knows? It may be that a bus exits the freeway, gets right to the front of the line, then slogs with the rest of the vehicles over the bridge. That actually isn’t the tricky part. The tricky part is the other direction. Traffic northbound from the off ramp is never that bad. It only bogs up when the bridge is up (and a ramp would get you far enough ahead that it wouldn’t matter). But the other direction things are very messy. There are only two lanes (each way) over the bridge, and no enthusiasm to build a new bridge. So how, exactly, do you set aside the lanes after the bridge so that a bus can get to the ramps at a decent clip? I’ve thought about it, have some ideas, but they are pretty half baked and so am I right now, so I won’t bother to dig them out. Suffice to say, it is complicated and will take a while to sort out.

      17. “You could, of course, kick the buses out a few years early.”

        Buses are being kicked out for convention center expansion anyway in 1-2 years. By the time Montlake Freeway Station closes, the 255 will already be either banished from the downtown tunnel or about to be banished from the downtown tunnel. Whether the 255 gets truncated or not, it is leaving the tunnel – if it continues to go downtown, it will just have to slog it out down 3rd Ave.

        And, to address William’s suggestion, no, a forced transfer at Evergreen Point is not going to work. For starters, the 271 (the only current all-day U-district->SR-520 bus) doesn’t even stop at Evergreen Point. I mentioned the idea to Metro of a modified 271 to use Bellevue Way instead of 84th Ave., but the opinion of Metro staffers at present is that, while the 271’s ridership numbers in Medina are not sky-high, it’s enough that leaving Medina without any bus service would not be acceptable.

        Second, the 271, at present, simply does not have the frequency or span to support forced transfers at Evergreen Point. Evenings and weekends, the 271 is half-hourly at best, dropping to hourly on Saturday evenings as early as 6:30 PM. Forcing people to wait 20-45 minutes for a connection will simply force people into their cars instead (or, onto Uber for those that don’t have cars). The last 271 also leaves the U-district at 10:25 PM – without additional service, the option to catch the last 255/545 trip home would simply disappear.

        As I said before, I think peak-only routes to downtown, with all-day routes to the U-district with higher frequency is the best solution. Either that or run the 542/545/255/540 all day, every day, in parallel, for three years using construction mitigation funds – then, delete the off-peak 545/255 runs when the construction mitigation funds runs out.

        Outside of rush hour and Husky games, the time penalty of a Link transfer is not that much. Just yesterday, I was on a westbound 271 heading to Capitol Hill. Within 10 minutes of pulling up to a stop at the light for the Montlake exit ramp, I was on a train, pulling out of the UW Station. That’s 16 minutes from Montlake/520 to Westlake Station. Round that up to 20 minutes in case you have to wait a little longer for the train than I did (and to walk up the escalators downtown to the actual street). By contrast, the 255 and 545 are scheduled at 14 minutes. So, if the bus faces absolutely no delays, it can save 6 minutes over switching to the train – a small enough figure that can easily be made back simply by virtue of more frequent and reliable buses reducing the amount of time waiting at the bus stop. And, of course, if there’s any kind of event downtown, the train wins.

  3. A 24% gain for Link would be huge, and unlikely to happen unless they truncate a lot of 520 buses. The big gain we saw last year was due to two big factors. First, we finally built the subway section that everyone said would be huge (an urban subway). Along with it, the bus routes were restructured and truncated. Since Link still isn’t at the U-District, without the truncation, a lot of folks would have taken the 71/72/73 downtown. They no longer have the option. Regardless of what you think of the changes, they have resulted in high light rail ridership.

    I don’t see a big jump in ridership just because “ULink matures and Angle Lake catches on”. ULink is as mature as it will ever be. This is not a case where people are debating between the old way (71/72/73) versus the new way (transfer to Link). There is no old way. Folks who take the 70 know fully well that Link is an option, but it doesn’t work for them (maybe they are headed to the north end of downtown or just don’t want to bother with the transfer). Folks who take the 49 are well aware of where it goes and how often it goes there. If anything, there may be people who shuttle to Link who aren’t aware of how often the 49 runs. In short, I could easily see people adjusting to the Metro restructure (e. g. taking the 62 to Fremont) but I don’t see people suddenly discovering the train.

    I would imagine that Angle Lake ridership is driven by the park and ride. My guess is if you live or work in the area and the train works for you, you’re already riding it. But there may be people who don’t realize that the parking lot has open slots. Tukwila was full all the time, and I know people just gave up on it. People who wanted to take in an evening Mariners game, for example, tried it a couple times and then gave up. Since Angle Lake isn’t so full, it might handle more riders. But eventually that fills up, and the parking garage isn’t that big. I don’t see ridership higher than TIBS, especially since it doesn’t have the geographic advantage of TIBS. Absent great feeder service, I just don’t see how you get a 24% ridership gain.

    Unless you truncate the 520 buses. That could result in a big increase in ridership the way that a similar truncation resulted in high numbers for U-Link. Folks who want the express into town won’t have another choice while you also add much better frequency. I could see the improvements being better in a lot of ways over the ones they did in Seattle. Not that the end result will be better, just that the improvement will be bigger. Before Link, service was not great in Northeast Seattle, but it wasn’t terrible. Just about every neighborhood had reliable bus service to the UW and downtown. That simply isn’t the case for most of Kirkland and Redmond.

    1. I think you’re broadly right, but consider the 24% growth is an annual figure, so they’re saying that total 2017 boardings (with a full year of ULink + ALS) will be 24% higher than 2016 (with 9 months of ULink and 3 months of ALS).

    2. U-District ridership is not going to increase with current travelers but the UW has a huge expansion in mind. And every year new students start attending the UW and may be more train-oriented (and less 48-oriented).

      Angle Lake will continue to grow because it takes a year or two for people to gradually realize it’s there and that it could benefit them. Its growth will be limited by the P&R capacity, the number of people willing to ride the A to it, and the absence of other bus feeders. (Although it’s hard to see how any feeders would make sense, as the 180 already goes to SeaTac and going to Angle Lake would not be faster.) So when the garage fills up new riders will have to come from the A, the 574 reroute ST is considering, and hide-and-ride (if feasable there).

      1. I agree on all points. But none of that is going to result in a 24% increase in one year. I think most of the growth will be the result of exactly the statistical anomaly that Zach mentioned. In other words, October 2017 will not be 24% higher than October 2016, but March 2017 will certainly be well over 24% higher than March 2016.

    3. One caveat on Angle Lake: Unlike TIBS they have private overflow parking. Nearby private parking lots have started offering paid game day parking for a fraction of the downtown Seattle spots. If this practice expands, it could fuel a ridership boost in the short to mid term.

      Even if TOD takes a long time to arrive or never materialises, ridership has a more capability to grow than TIBS does at this moment due to that avaliable option. Its not ideal, but train stations in parking craters never are.

      1. Interesting. I would assume that they also have long term parking for the airport. I could see someone using it instead of relying on the shuttle from the parking lot to the airport (whether for the day or longer).

      2. I heard ST leased a surface lot at Angle Lake until the next extension opens in 2023. (2024 if ST3 passes.) These may be the same lots as your private ones or they may be different.

  4. Long day yesterday of regional transit between Olympia and Bothell. Observations:

    1. Have Sounder start at Olympia’s Lacey Amtrak station, after some twenty minute ST Express rides from Downtown Olympia and some other local centers. Next fall track and switches will be ready. ST’s big problem expense will be getting enough parking. Housing prices are already swelling Olympia transit constituency. I-5 starting at 6AM is already doing the lobbying.

    2. Same with the 15 minutes it takes for the 550 to get from Main Street to Bellevue Transit Center. Might be worth making every other schedule local starting at South Bellevue P&R., and the next one non stop from Mercer Island. Also, could be time to poll Bellevue residents again about those lanes and pre-empts.

    3. Same with schedule-padded I-5 riders.ST-3 would’ve had a better chance at the polls if it specifically included south bound transit lanes from Northgate, and one added ramp at Ash Way P&R. If one is necessary, next vote can include them.

    4. Recommend either hike or bike-ride whole length of Cross Kirkland Corridor. Ride both pretty and encouraging. Done right, transit can be designed to improve the trail, and increase both property values and positive vote count.

    But you’ll also see that main obstacle is not billboard posters, but engineering. Same terrain that made trail worth keeping makes transit conversion hard and expensive. But on positive, the trail is already a railroad that can make an unprecedented locally appreciated well-used tourist attractor when it gets some trains.

    Recommend a day’s region-wide transit travel at least once a month for advocates, especially in politically contested areas. And notice who else is on board. Doubt any seat mates even remember Forward Thrust shoes. Or have their parents’ suburbs for a life goal. So best political spirit for our side: Don’t Spook. Go Look.

    Mark Dublin

    1. South Kirkland hardly needs its property values increased.

      How willing are Olympians to pay ST taxes and to not vote no to every expansion?

      1. Mike, just calling BS on tired opposition argument, that transit on the trail will lower their property values. You wouldn’t really start opposing trail transit on the chance it might raise property values?

        And also saying that my own idea for the Cross Kirkland Connector, essentially a miles-long park with a car-line as a major feature, could be something that visitors will take LINK to come see.

        Including aboard LINK after landing from overseas. Also that in addition to having parents dragged aboard by screaming kids, a piece of transit that will make other subareas threaten to vote down ST-5 out of jealousy.

        But mainly, how do you know that when Olympians finally have decent I-5-free transit connections with everything north of the Duwamish they’ll vote against Seattle- area improvements they’ll finally get to ride?

        Truth is, while I have to leave the car at Freighthouse much too often because service south of Tacoma gets stuck after 6AM doesn’t exist after 9PM weekdays, from Tacoma Dome north, transit works.

        A situation that changes for the worse at the top of every LINK escalator north of Jackson. But main reason I think future LINK expansions will be far-reachingly popular is how many people live along one corridor and work along another.

        I think my generally smooth and comfortably-transferring ride to my trade event in Bothell is going to become rapidly more typical as time passes, service improves, and distance between back bumper in Centralia to front one in Everett increases.

        I’m not saying this is going to happen between now and Tuesday. But from personal assessments of age and lifestyles of fellow passengers and neighbors- it’s not your grandfather’s regional non-Seattle anymore.

        Mark

  5. Regarding Tacoma, there are some interesting numbers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe all Tacoma to Seattle service is via the Tacoma Dome. So with that in mind, page 258 (in the appendix) has numbers for that stop. The table has better formatting, but I’ll try and copy it here:

    574 — Lakewood-Sea-Tac — 394 — 416
    586 — Tacoma-U. District — 213 –193
    590 — Tacoma-Seattle — 1,270 — 833
    594 — Lakewood-Tacoma-Seattle — 437 — 604
    XXX — Sounder South Line — 1,040 — 1,338
    XXX — Total — 3,354 — 3,385

    The first number is boardings, the second number is alightings. A few things jump out at me.

    Less than 3,500 people a day take a bus or train to Tacoma to Seattle. That includes expresses as well as more local service. A lot of the buses don’t run all day long but that is still not a huge number of people.

    For Sounder, Tacoma ranks fifth when it comes to boardings, and fourth when it comes to alightings. Service on Sounder is quite evenly spread out between the Tacoma Dome and Seattle — every stop in there has good numbers. South of the Tacoma Dome (Tacoma South and Lakewood) it is very weak.

    As far as the bus lines are concerned, while the 594 does not have great numbers, it does fairly well in the middle of the day. Not fantastic, but still holding its own. What is a bit surprising to me is that there aren’t many people headed to Seattle via the bus in the evening. More at 2:00 PM, then at 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00.

    For whatever reason, they don’t have numbers for all of the trains, but Sounder ridership really trails off outside the traditional commute hours. Sounder is acting like a commuter rail, as opposed to a city to city connector. This makes sense to me, since the bus is faster (and goes to more places in Seattle) than the train in the middle of the day.

    As for the Tacoma U-District bus, I think it would make sense to kill it. You probably don’t save that much time with the direct bus versus a transfer at SoDo. My guess is that most of the people who ride it are headed to campus or the hospital anyway, so the fact that the bus directly serves the U-District isn’t a big deal.

    Truncating other runs might be worthwhile, but would be a challenge, both politically and practically. The 590 and 594 offer very good frequency during rush hour, and pretty good frequency outside of it. So if you truncated them at SeaTac, the main benefit would be to improve service to SeaTac. The 574 has weird service patterns. Northbound the most popular buses run very early in the morning. The most popular bus is at 3:30 AM, and the first run of the day at 2:15 carries more than most. In any event, ridership is not huge any time of day. Most of the riders board south of Federal Way, but Federal Way still has about a quarter of those boarding, and more than 10% of those alighting. So you wouldn’t want to skip it. The problem is, i can’t help but think that the little detour to the transit center costs some time. With the savings from the truncation you could probably keep both an express that went straight from the Tacoma Dome to SeaTac along with the a lot more service on the 574, but that isn’t ideal.

    One alternative would be to make both the 577 (Federal Way to Seattle) and the 574 (to SeaTac) both stop at Star Lake. Then kill the 590 and 594 and put the service into both of those routes. My guess is they muddle along until Link serves Star lake if not farther south.

    1. Ross, don’t know but suspect that the early morning 574 could carry a lot of airport staff to work. 574 leaves airport full-seated load at pm rush.

      Federal Way transit center costs less than ten minutes,usually less. But in really heavy traffic, Star Lake and Kent Des Moines flyer stops add time, usually from having to leave diamond lanes. Putting those stops to a local bus might work then going from freeway to Sea-Tac via present 188th route.

      574 might go faster up 518 at Southcenter. But what makes 574-LINK my choice is that of all choices now, bus and train are least likely to get blocked. Also, ’til LINK gets to Tacoma, I think we have to think of all ST Express service on that corridor as temporary.

      Mark

      1. >> Star Lake and Kent Des Moines flyer stops add time, usually from having to leave diamond lanes.

        OK, yeah. I assumed those stops were literally on the freeway, since they are called freeway stations. I figured they were like 520 stops (or the Mountlake Terrace one). It looks like they aren’t even as easy to use as Lynnwood transit center (which is great as a bus terminus, but not if the bus wants to just keep going).

        Given that, I doubt they will do anything until Link gets farther down the road.

    2. Last year’s SIP proposed replacing route 586 with a Tacoma-to-Seneca-St express, with passengers transferring at Westlake to go to UW.

    3. I don’t know how much of a difference this makes for your analysis, but AFAIK the 590 and 594 go to downtown Tacoma, so not everyone traveling from Tacoma to Seattle is counted as boarding at Tacoma Dome. Also some people in southern or western parts might use other stops (the 595 makes a couple stops in the western part of town).

      1. Good point. I knew those buses went into Tacoma, but forget to account for it (oops). The 590 adds about 300, while the 594 adds about 400. So basically about 4,000 a day ride transit from Tacoma to Seattle, and most of those folks ride the bus, with the peak only 590 being the most popular.

    4. “Less than 3,500 people a day take a bus or train to Tacoma to Seattle. That includes expresses as well as more local service. A lot of the buses don’t run all day long but that is still not a huge number of people.”

      For comparison, what else has 3,500 people? Everett? Bellevue? Issaquah? The 5? What I notice is that there are enough people to fill buses every five minutes peak on top of the Sounder runs, which seems like a lot.

      1. In other words, it’s hard to put my head around 3500 from Tacoma. Is that low compared to what? Is it good, bad, something we should be concerned about?

        One wishes it were more even during the day rather than so peak-heavy, but there are some things artificially stunting off-peak ridership. The 594 is half-hourly, it has a ludicrous time-consuming detour south of downtown Tacoma, it gets stuck in traffic, Sounder isn’t running, and there’s no way to get by bus from the center of Lakewood to Lakewood P&R or Station.

      2. It’s low. It’s very low. Al corrected me up above (my apologies to everyone, and thank you Al) — the numbers I stated weren’t right. It is more like 4,000 a day from all of Tacoma to Seattle. Yes, that is low. Each individual bus line would be very low by Metro’s standards. The combination is extremely low. This is an entire city we are talking about with pretty good transit service — bus and train — and the numbers just aren’t that good. In comparison, look at the 41, which carries way more people, and it doesn’t serve an entire city, but simply connects one neighborhood to downtown Seattle. You wouldn’t take that bus to get to the UW, or most of the city, but that alone carries way more people than the four buses and commuter train that serve Tacoma to Seattle travelers.

        This isn’t bad, this is typical. There is nothing wrong with the 594. It provides a great service, and does a wonderful job of providing city to city transit. But it simply isn’t as cost effective as a typical bus in Seattle. It could run more often in the middle of the day, but compared to a typical Seattle bus — like the 73, which carries four times as many people — it is outstanding. Yes, for a few hours it runs every half hour, but for very few. It runs every 5 minutes at rush hour. Before noon it runs every 20 minutes at worst. It’s really the afternoon and evening trips to Seattle and the reverse (morning trips to Tacoma) that are mediocre. Everything else is fine, if not outstanding for an express run.

        The thing is, there just isn’t huge demand from Tacoma to Seattle for transit service, no matter how great. The new trains that leave at 8:10 and 10:30 carry roughly 100 people and 50 people respectively. If it operates like the other trains (and I have no reason to believe it doesn’t) that means about 20 people and 10 from Tacoma. This is a train completely cut off from the hazards of traffic, yet carrying fewer than a typical midday bus in the city.

        Again, this isn’t surprising. If you look at any city in the world it operates this way. By all means we should fill in the gap and add more runs in the middle of the day. You might as well add “Swift style” frequency, and run it every 12 minutes at worst (this, of course, operates better than Swift during rush hour). It would be really cheap to add this. But don’t expect this to carry as many people as Swift, because there just aren’t that many people willing to take a transit trip that long.

      3. I’ve not taken the 594 often, but those that come from Lakewood have issues with the freeway. I took one leaving Tacoma about 9 am and it was delayed 20 minutes due to the freeway mess south of Tacoma. Other passengers seemed to think this was normal. Furthermore, the bus had every seat taken.

        So, to my mind, the thing to solve first is Tacoma to Lakewood.

      4. The 41 serves more than just one neighborhood. It directly serves two, and it’s the funnel for everything north of 100th Street that’s not on the E, 5, 522, or 372.

        I’ve only been on the 594 once from Lakewood. It also had a traffic jam between Lakewood and downtown Tacoma.

    1. It’s working at the moment but it wasn’t earlier today. I opened this article and left it for a while, then in the middle of reading RossB’s 11:01 comment I pressed refresh to see what new had come in. Big mistake, because I got the circular redirect and couldn’t read the rest of the comment and couldn’t go back. I tried periodically for the next four hours and finally it came up again.

      I checked LiveHTTPHeaders and verified it’s not an ad like I supected, but the article page itself. It keeps redirecting to itself rather than showing the page. There was an “x-cache-status: HIT” header but I don’t know if that’s relevant. But on the other hand, that header is not appearing at the moment so maybe it is.

    2. No trouble today, Brent. Thanks for dealing with it. So don’t let anybody blame you over grammar and content. And also, don’t worry about getting Spell Check and those red things that say that perfectly correct and properly-spelled things are wrong, Trolleybus. Guess that’s been fixed now.

      Mark

    3. Working fine on safari for Mac and iPhone for me. I’ll have to check when I am at work to see if the Windows computer there still has indigestion.

  6. Honest, Mike, I wouldn’t even use five minutes’ public comment time promising higher property value. Which in some audiences isn’t good news anyhow. It’s just to make a really worn-out old argument go away.

    What I am really stressing is that we are going to have to do a lot of landscape architecture extremely well for the thing to work at all. Let alone be welcome in the neighborhood.

    Although a lot will depend on future fashion sense of passengers from about fifteen ’til maybe twenty five. Suppose there’s a Mad Max revival, so trains will have to have panels made out of rusting metal with deadly edges.

    And a huge Chinese gong on the roof, and also a squeeze bulb horn, and a siren that sounds like a didgery-doo. And have to pull a trailer loaded with stripped-down beat up Harleys. And a pack of rabid dingoes tearing alongside threatening to eat people’s “bybies!”

    So this setup will probably simultaneously create maximum density by dividing up rapidly-abandoned mansions into apartments the size of small ships’ cabins with life jackets on the walls.

    Which will powerfully self-select tenants. Whose highest personal value could be to eliminate all traces of the development patterns that caused the Carpocalypse. Let them settle prices with a boomerang fight.

    “So we tanned ‘is ‘ide when he died, Clyde,
    And ‘at’s it ‘angin’ on the shed!”

    What a great Subarea Anthem for Kirkland!

    Mark

    1. OK, if you mean a train won’t turn it into a ghetto and bring renters. Although that’s an odd argument because freight trains were already there when those mansions or their ancestors were built. The salient factor in that area is really the water views, and being close to Microsoft and now Google. Train aren’t enough to make a difference.

  7. [quote]The I-405 North corridor (Routes 532/535) will also add double-decker buses, but only once those routes are redesigned to avoid entering Bellevue Transit Center, whose overhangs are too low for the Double Talls.[/quote]

    If that’s the case, then perhaps it will soon be time to move the Bellevue Transit Center to the future Bellevue Downtown station, with upgrades for double-deckers. By the time the station is opened (I think in 2023 -possibly 2024), wouldn’t the existing transit center be around twenty years old?

    1. What this probably means, in practice, is that the buses take the 6th St. HOV exit, then go around the block, taking 112th Ave. to 4th St., using the Bellevue TC stops along 108th Ave. (currently used by the 550 northbound and 240/241 southbound), which are not under an overhang.

      Perhaps when EastLink opens, they’ll add an additional stop right next to the station to make transfers easier.

    2. The station is on the side of a hill. For train passengers the escalator will bring them up to the transit center’s level, but buses wouldn’t want their biggest stop on an incline. There’s also the city hall parking garage entrance beneath the station escalator; the city would want to keep the entrance clear and also not have buses causing congestion for cars exiting. (Because you know it’s not the cars causing congestion for the buses, it’s the other way around.)

      1. The stop could be put on 110th Ave NE, adjacent to both the LR station and the transit center.

        The routing could be, from the freeway take NE 6th to 110th NE, stop farside, then loop back on NE 2nd, 108th NE, NE 4th and 110th NE to NE 6th, stop nearside.

Comments are closed.