Route 107 now serves the bus stop in front of the Red Apple
across from Beacon Hill Station.

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!

18 Replies to “107 Shades of 50, But Better”

  1. Finally! I’m curious to know what you think of the idea of extending the 107 east from BHS down McClellan St all the way to the current route 14 terminal, and in exchange, truncating the 14 to terminate at MBTC. I would add better east-west connection which is sorely lacking in SE Seattle, and reduce the wasteful time suck on the 14, freeing up a lot of service hours, that the rest of the route could benefit from.

    1. Interesting idea! I believe there are issues with the hillside on McClellan between BHS and Mt. Baker. I’m not sure that buses longer than the 30-footers on the old 38 can get up and down that hill.

      1. The 107 uses 35-foot coaches, which are the shortest low-floor buses in Metro’s fleet (save for the DART vans).

        The 38 used 40 foot coaches.

    2. Actually, I’m wondering if the correct solution is to simply truncate the #14 at Mt. Baker TC, and replace the tail with nothing. The tail is very short, all single-family homes, and entirely within the walkshed of both Mt. Baker Station and other stops along the #14.

      The tail of the #14 is essentially a vestige route that the bus does only because that’s what it did before Link opened, and Metro didn’t want to fight the battle of telling three people who used to board the bus in front of the their house, that they would now have to walk a few blocks, even though, they probably end up walk the few blocks anyway because walking directly to Mt. Baker Station (via the ped bridge) is faster than waiting for a bus, then dealing with the ugly connection between the transit center and the light rail station, after getting off the bus.

    3. The 14 tail does need attention or abandonment, but I’m not sure if this is it — because of the hill on McClellan. Converting the tail from electric or extending the wires so that it ended at a better destination would create more ridership and provide better connectivity to several community destinations that don’t get service beyond the 7 and 9x. Making riders transfer for the last half-mile or so to get to Safeway, Walgreens or Columbia City’s businesses is quite a disincentive.

      1. The designers of Mt. Baker Station did get one thing right–there is an excellent drop-off location for transit vans on the back side of the station. Transit vans aren’t significantly cheaper to operate than a standard bus, but eliminating the forked tailed of the 14 should be a priority. Metro could start by offering peak hour vans from Mt. Baker Station to the 14’s traditional terminal and save the service hours needed for the duplicative routing with the current 14 schedule.

  2. I didn’t pay enough attention to the Georgetown loop during the proposal. Does it do anything besides make the trip longer? Are there people going from Renton and south Beacon to Georgetown all day?

    1. The increased running time as a result of the 107 going to Georgetown and back doesn’t really bother me because thru-riders aren’t captive to it, as they have more direct options. For instance, they could take the 106, or start on the 107, then transfer to Link at Ranier Beach Station. Having a decent frequency of cross-town buses going up and down the hill is worth doing.

  3. I suspect that there will be increasing pressure in years to come to connect Metro to the Judkins Park Station with a few more routes once 2023 approaches. Maybe the 107 will be one of those routes.

    Generally, Judkins Park would seem to become more attractive as higher East Link frequencies (compared to ST 550) and new access at 23rd Avenue are added in the future. Because Mt. Baker parallels Link and many routes that end there pass by other Rainier Valley Link stations, the utility of transferring at Mt. Baker could be diminished in favor of Judkins Park as riders seek to access the new higher-speed, high-frequency East Link connection.

    1. I believe the 107 is still thru-routed with the 148 at Renton Station. By 2023 I hope that there will have been enough restructurings that a one-seat ride between Judkins Park and Fairwood would be considered unnecessary (and inefficient).

      1. The through-route is gone. On the bright side, that makes it easier and builds the pressure to have route 148 continue up Sunset/MLK to Rainier Beach Station the fast way.

      2. I just watched the Metro bus tracker for a few minutes and the thru-route currently still exists, at least off-peak.

      3. I see you are correct. The online schedule doesn’t show the traditional right column where continuing buses are usually highlighted, but it has a note at the bottom I missed earlier:

        “Most trips on Route 107 are through-routed with Route 148. All trips on Route 148 continue as Route 107 to Rainier Beach upon arrival at the Renton Transit Center.”

        My apologies.

      4. Rumors have it that the 107 and 148 thru route will be split in March. The 107 will be a standalone route and Routes 105 and 148 will be thru routed instead (These routes were thru-routed in the past).

  4. The new layover zone at BHS for the 107 is great for riders, but it’s located much too close to the driveway of the Red Apple grocery. Yes, there’s not a lot of traffic on Lander St., but the parked bus totally blocks the sightline for motorists exiting the grocery parking lot. (Yes, I know, everyone should walk or ride their bicycle to the store, but in the meantime….)

    1. Completely agree on this. I’ve pulled out of that lot twice in the last few days. Both times there have been a bus in the 107 layover zone, and it is very difficult for me, a younger, tall, very observant (I think so, at least) person to see if there is traffic coming. It is just a matter of time until someone gets in an accident pulling out of there. There is a good amount of road rage at that intersection, as well.

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