I got an early Christmas present last Thursday, when I saw new route 107 pull up to the bus stop across from Beacon Hill Station, in front of the Red Apple on Beacon Ave S. Most of the waiting passengers boarded it, happy to have two routes (the other being route 60) to take them to their homes along 15th Ave S. Until recently, route 107 had been stopping and laying over a block south of Beacon Hill Station, where nobody was boarding it to head south. Now route 107 lays over on S Lander St, just north of the Red Apple. Per Metro Service Planner Doug Johnson, SDOT had to do a traffic study of the impacts of the terminal on S Lander Street and the vicinity before the layover stop could be installed there.
Newly reworked route 107 was rolled out as part of the southeast Seattle route restructure with the September service change. The route starts with the old route 107 path between Renton Transit Center and Rainier Beach Station, then takes over the portion of old route 106 from Rainier Beach Station to Georgetown, and then heads back up to Beacon Hill and up 15th Ave S to Beacon Hill Station.
Riders who paid attention to the 2012 rollout of route 50 (I’m sure there are one or two of you out there), which was similarly designed to take advantage of Link connections, will remember the difficulties with the bus stops near SODO Station. The westbound 50 stop on Lander was hidden in tree branches. Those trying to catch route 21 had to wait a few more months for a bus stop to open near SODO Station, on S Lander St, in front of the Seattle Public Schools headquarters. But then, route 50 was never added to that stop, despite the overlap of destinations in West Seattle served by both routes, and the fact that route 50 passes right by the SPS HQ bus stop. Riders going to their overlapping destinations have to choose whether to wait for route 21 or route 50, so most just wait for route 21.
I am grateful that new route 107 has gotten more care in its infancy. There is more that can still be done to improve route 107 ridership through routing and scheduling. The possible improvement of route 107’s path through Georgetown, to serve Airport Way S and S Lucile St, is still under consideration. Per Johnson, the major issue is the right turns from Airport Way S to S Lucile St and from 15th Ave S to S Lucile St, which are very tight and may require roadway and/or channelization changes. This is still being evaluated by Metro and SDOT.
It is possible to schedule route 107 to interline evenly with route 60 for southbound trips from Beacon Hill Station, with route 60’s pretty good reliability, at least during times they have similar headway. Times of similar headway include AM and PM peak (15-minute headway, a serious upgrade from the old route 107, and much more love than route 50 got), evenings after 6:30, and all day on weekends. Clever scheduling might make a similar outcome possible northbound. Creating 15-minute headway on 15th Ave S during evenings and weekends would be a sea change for bus riders along that path. Per Johnson, there are no plans at present to adjust either route’s schedule along this common segment.
Regardless, the new layover bus stop just north of the Red Apple is an excellent step toward making route 107 serious, and a wonderful Christmas present for riders along the western portion of south Beacon Hill. Thank you, Metro!