KCM 6828 on ST Express

ST Express 550 in Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel / photo by SounderBruce on flickr

The One Center City bus restructure plan rolled out on January 26 contains some painful proposals, terminating ST Express 550 at International District / Chinatown Station, turning most of the West Seattle and Burien peak express routes (37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 116, 118, 119, 121, 122, and 123) into First Hill expresses, and having route 41 do a live-loop on Pike and Union. The plan also re-routes all SR 520 routes coming into downtown (252, 255, 257, 268, 311, and 545) to UW Station.

The cause of having to divert these routes is the seven bus routes (41, 74, 101, 102, 150, 255, 550) that will be kicked out of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel in September of 2018 when Convention Place Station gets closed permanently for construction of the addition to the convention center.

PM peak-hour buses in DSTT
Route Northbound Southbound
King County Metro 41 14 4
King County Metro 74 4
King County Metro 101 3 4
King County Metro 102 4
King County Metro 150 4 4
King County Metro 255 8 5
ST Express 550 6 12
Total 39 33

There are several tactics to mitigate these 72 surfaced peak-hour runs without the pain of passengers from two major all-day routes and eleven peak express routes having to transfer at the edge of downtown.

  • Go through with the SR 520 restructure as planned. Link can probably handle the additional passengers, in both directions, with the current fleet. This would remove 38 peak-hour trips from downtown (on routes 252, 255, 257, 268, 311, and 545), over half of what is needed to mitigate the end of tunnel joint operations.
  • Enact the Rainier Beach Station / Southeast King County restructure that Aleksandra Culver described, but with the peak-express routes removed as Link’s peak capacity allows for it. This would remove 22 peak-hour downtown bus trips collectively on routes 101, 102, 143, and 150.
  • Truncate relatively-empty route 106 at Mt. Baker Station. Give it a frequency boost to align with the all-day Link schedule, as ought to have happened last fall. This would remove 8 hard-to-justify bus trips from downtown, at a time when road capacity is at such a premium that ST Express route 550 (which has 18 peak-hour trips) might get truncated at the edge of downtown.
  • Truncate routes 158 and 159 at Kent Station. Truncate route 157 at Tukwila Sounder Station. Two more Sounder round trips are coming in September.
  • Re-route route 74 to serve UW Station. This would get four more trips out of downtown, and make some former route 30 riders very happy.

If all these tactics were used, 77 peak-hour bus trips could be removed from downtown bus traffic.

PM peak-hour trips removable from Central Business District
Route Northbound Southbound
King County Metro 74 4
King County Metro 101 3 4
King County Metro 102 4
King County Metro 106 4 4
King County Metro 143 3
King County Metro 150 4 4
King County Metro 157 2
King County Metro 158 2
King County Metro 159 1
King County Metro 252 2
King County Metro 255 8 5
King County Metro 257 2
King County Metro 268 2
King County Metro 311 4
ST Express 545 9 6
Total 42 35

Each truncation would be unpopular with some portion of riders on each route. But the OCC truncation plans (other than the SR 520 portion) appear to be much more painful.

Moreover, these truncations collectively only mitigate the surfacing of tunnel buses. There is still the matter of traffic impacts from construction of the convention center expansion, the new Colman Ferry Dock ($), the 1st Ave Streetcar, Madison Bus Rapid Transit, and that giant wormhole for a freeway under downtown. Determining these impacts is much more complicated than counting bus trips.

65 Replies to “Crunching the Numbers on Downtown’s Bus Capacity”

  1. What about constraints regarding layover space? For instance, if the 550 were to continue on to Westlake, would it have a place to wait before turning around? Currently, the 550 lays over at Convention Place Station, but this option would be gone. I’m not sure if buses will still be permitted to lay over at the International District Station, even if the buses no longer drive through the tunnel.

    (Of course, in theory, there are plenty of opportunities to create more bus layover space by eliminating parking spaces for cars, but that requires fighting another political battle).

    1. The layover space will remain after the station is closed I recall. That may not help the 550 if it can’t get from Intl Dist to Convention Place but perhaps it can help some other routes. There must be plenty of layover space in SODO, either at the bus base or on the wide lightly-trafficked streets east of the busway.

  2. Truncating the 520 buses at UW is brilliant but totally contingent on a project that as of today doesn’t exist: massive improvements in the access path from the 520 bridge off ramps and north across the Montlake bridge. Even now that interchange is a black hole, so increasing usage of an already-overburdened path just makes for more unhappy riders.

    1. Agreed. While transit users form North Seattle saved time by switching to Link at UW, there is zero benefit for 520 riders to divert to UW. I’ve tried to make the UW-Link connection a half a dozen times and it adds a minimum of 20 minutes to the travel time to/from downtown due to congestion in the Montlake area as well as the long time it takes to get from bus stops to the Link platform.

      This would result in a serious service deterioration for Eastsiders headed to/from downtown. They have the option today on ST 540 and ST 541/542 to ride empty buses and transfer to Link, but the riders have voted with their feet to stay on MT 255 and ST 545 which are often crush-loaded while the UW routes have lots of empty seats.

      There’s a whole lot that would have to be built or designed differently to make transferring at UW an efficient alternative, and none of that has been done or funded. And it won’t even save platform operating hours because there isn’t room for the buses to layover – chances are they have to go north of NE 45th St to turn around and layover. And for events like Husky games, basketball games, even Montlake Bridge openings it turns into a clusterf***

      1. It adds 20 minutes to the existing option, but the existing option (Convention Place) is going away.

        So what would you do with the 520 buses instead? Run them up the hill to Capitol Hill? Take half an hour on Eastlake? There really aren’t any good options under these conditions.

      2. About six months elapsed between when U-Link opened and when I moved out of Kirkland, where I lived right by a 255/540 stop. During that time I used both the direct 255 trip and the Link-540 transfer often.

        My experience was different AM vs. PM. In the morning, the Link transfer was much more consistent than the 255, often faster than the 255, and only slower than the 255 when the 255 trip went perfectly. In the afternoon, a combination of poor 540 scheduling for my needs, poor 540 reliability in the U-District, and better 255 reliability meant that the transfer trip was consistently slower than the 255. But not by 20 minutes; more like 10.

      3. A lot of transit users from North Seattle lost time by switching to Link at UW. However, the bus service hours saved went into improving service in the area. I see no substantial difference between doing that and the proposed change for 520 buses. Some would lose, some will gain, but overall it would provide for a better system.

      4. The difference in North Seattle is that you saved a bunch of bus hours that went into improving service. Truncating 520 routes in the U-District or U-Village will not save all that many hours, and I don’t think it’s realistic to live loop the buses around the Pacific Place Triangle because the schedule reliability would be awful for outbound service and there’s not space for them to layover.

      5. Seems like the savings would be very similar. From the U-District to Husky Stadium is similar to the trip from 520 to Husky Stadium. The trip from the U-District to downtown is about the same as the trip from the Montlake Stop to downtown. If anything, the time savings were smaller with the truncations of the 71/72/73. During rush hour, a bus would be able to get right on the express lanes and right into the tunnel in their own lane. The 255 has to battle regular traffic.

        As far as live looping is concerned, again, I don’t see the difference. In an ideal world these buses drive into a transit center right next to the station, but that won’t happen. So instead they loop around or they find a spot for the bus. I don’t know if the 373 does a live loop, or parks itself somewhere next to the triangle. If it just loops, then the 520 buses could probably get by doing the same. If not, then the 373 could be moved to campus, and the 255 could take its place.

        I can understand why someone who rides the 255 would object to the truncation, but the same was true with folks who rode the 71/72/73. People hated this change (many still do, I’m sure). I’m not arguing that it is better for those folks, or the folks in the northeast end of town, only that doing so would be very similar (some people come out better, some come out worse).

      6. “Truncating 520 routes in the U-District or U-Village will not save all that many hours” – the point here isn’t to save hours, it’s to pull buses out of downtown during peak. The time savings of 520 truncation won’t really materialize until the Montlake lid gives the buses HOV-only center exit lanes.

        And Ross is right, the proposal isn’t supposed to be better than current service – it’s supposed to be better than the do-nothing alternative in 2019.

    2. Wouldn’t the buses get closer to the station if they were being truncated there? They currently stop at the freeway stop because they are continuing on, but if the station was the last stop presumably they would loop around so they could immediately return across the bridge.

      1. The proposal, as it stands, is that the SR 520 buses would all serve stops around the station or the Triangle. Kirkland and Redmond buses would continue on Pacific into the U-District. Woodinville and Kingsgate buses would continue north on Montlake. There are also $2-3 million in unspecified station area improvements to make that transfer experience work better.


      2. Dedicated bus lanes and transit priority sounds promising, as is letting the buses continue on to the U-District or Children’s rather than laying over at the station. The issue of course is how dedicated the lanes are.

      3. What about transit priority exiting 520 westbound to Montlake? At PM peak, existing buses sit there for multiple cycles before getting onto Montlake. Will there be improvements here by Sept 2018?

      4. No improvements in 2018, and as I understand it there is no northbound transit lane planned on Montlake Blvd…. nothing unless a second Montlake Bridge is built and I think that is unlikely to ever get approved in Seattle.

    3. The upgraded UW triangle is a nice way to access central campus and the Burke-Gilman trail from UW station, but it makes no sense that the natural path from UW station to connecting buses that cross the Montlake Bridge still requires crossing two huge arterials at grade. This applies to both local buses (e.g. Metro 48) and all buses that head to the Eastside, a deficiency whose impacts will only grow with time.

      Meanwhile, buses from the Eastside must wait at a long signal to turn left at Montlake/Pacific, and then those transferring to Link wait again to cross Montlake Blvd. on foot to get back to the station. The amount of time this transfer takes (in dark or rainy weather, much of the time) can easily exceed the travel time on the train itself from UW to Capitol Hill or even Westlake via Link.

      The importance of bus/rail integration at UW triangle was raised (by myself and many others) almost two decades ago now, even before the Link station location was finalized, and for years afterwards. The awfulness of the transfer at UW triangle today is due primarily not to inherent constraints in the geography nor budgets, but to UW intransigence and territorialism. Citizens (myself included) agitated for – and achieved – city and state legislation mandating a better connection, but UW bitterly opposed it, just as they opposed placing UW station in an obviously better location west of Montlake Blvd. and we ended up with the lousy transfer we have now.

      The best idea I have seen thus far to make lemonade out of this lemon is this one from Adam Bejan Parast right here on this blog. This could use a fresh look and a possible update in light of the bus truncation concept:


      Any typical European or Asian city would have built, at the very least, underpasses from the UW station mezzanine to connecting bus stops. We’ve built tunnels from Maple Leaf to the International District but apparently such a tiny tunnel is a bridge too far in this location. The safety issues the UW once raised are a red herring; they would be no worse than the ped tunnel under Broadway at Capitol Hill station, or the UW Mezzanine itself, and jaywalking pedestrians running to catch connecting buses are anything but safe.

      Something needs to be done. It was always my hope that wiser minds would eventually prevail. Now would be a great time.

    4. How about bringing back alternative 1’s 255. Bus stops right in front of the UW Station, then continues onto Children’s, replacing the 78. It does mean dealing with southbound Montlake, but in theory, even if traffic is bad, if you saturate the route with enough frequency, downtown->Kirkland riders shouldn’t have to wait long for the bus transfer. Metro just needs to be sure to allow for lots of recovery time at the endpoints.

      1. Connecting UW station with U Village and Children’s and connecting all of them to the Eastside is eminently useful.

        What we really need is a southbound transit/emergency lane along the segment of Montlake Blvd. from U Village to UW station that has been jammed up since the 1950’s. The only other ways through there are through the campus (super slow and indirect) or paying for parking in the east lots.

        The UW campus plans massive expansion east of Montlake Blvd. in their master plan and I’ve heard rumors they may be warmer to this idea now than they were when we proposed it over a decade ago. That one lane would save people more time than the multibillion dollar project to add HOV lanes on 520 from Montlake up to I-5… especially once most of the buses are off that segment.

  3. One concern I haven’t even seen mentioned is when WSDOT begins construction around Mountlake for the Western Approach. They plan to begin that phase in 2018 after completing the western approach bridge north and opening it this summer. That means Montlake will be a complete mess right where they want all the buses to exit 520 and head to UW station. Seems like the perfect storm. Even when that construction wraps up, the portage bay will still be under construction which most likely means there will still be staging going on around Montlake for that.

    1. The 520 construction is another reason why the 520 service restructure has to happen. When the construction begins in 2018, Montlake Freeway is going to be closed. If nothing is done, this would force all off-peak U-district->eastside riders to backtrack all the way downtown on the train, only to sit in traffic back the other way on the bus. Even a transfer at Evergreen Point is not an option because the 271 doesn’t stop at Evergreen Point, and, even if it did, it would lead to excessively long mid-trip waits during the hours when the 255, 271, and 545 are only running every 30 minutes.

      In theory, the 540 and 542 could be expanded to run all day, seven days a week, including evenings, alongside the 255 and 545, but the service hours to do this do not exist without drastic cuts in frequency. Which leaves truncating routes, and re-investing the saved service hours into improved frequency, as the only viable option.

      1. There is plenty of peak period service to the U-District. My understanding is that Metro plans to reroute the 271 to serve the two Eastside freeway stations (Evergreen Point and Yarrow Point) and then use the HOV ramp at 108th Ave to reach Bellevue via Bellevue Way. That will enable transfers at one of the freeway stations.

        The 540 started as a 7 day/week all-day route and it progressively got truncated to what remains today as a peak route only. There simply wasn’t enough ridership to justify operating the 540 outside of peak. The 255 on the other hand has good ridership 7days/week all day. Forcing 255 riders to make the transfer at UW with the current conditions will deteriorate service on one of the very few Eastside Metro routes with good ridership.

    1. Good point. There would be nothing gained by truncating the 106. Might as well just shut down the First Hill Streetcar if you are concerned about vehicles clogging up Jackson.

    2. I should have been more specific. Route 106 will still be part of a phalanx of buses terminating at ID/CS. It’s impact would be the equivalent of 4 peak-hour buses, rather than 8, at its terminal point, assuming it live-loops next to the station.

  4. Metro’s long-range plan has part of the Rainier Beach restructure, with the 106 in 2025 and the 150 in 2040 (presumably waiting for BAR Station). The 101 is to remain a downtown express long term. Still, “2025” means sometime in 2017-2025, so why not get on with the 106 now. Except that Metro just spent a year restructuring the 106 to accommodate the ACRS and its allies, and it’s not likely to break that promise so soon. Unless that restructure was just a, er, sham to make it look like Metro was accommodating them when it was going to be erased a few years later.

    158/159: These remnants are really strange because it takes Sounder 20 minutes to get to Kent while these routes take 45 minutes, so who would ride them except die-hard one-seat riders. I think they’re actually two routes interlined, one for KDM P&R and the other from Kent to east Kent. Assuming KDM P&R is full, what other route can serve it until Link reaches there?

    74: I would support rerouting it to UW Station except for four things. (1) It’s packed full. It surprisingly seems to be the most-used peak express route in northeast Seattle. (2) The Montlake Boulevard congestion is real: I sat on a non-moving 75 for ten minutes Friday evening just to get from U-Village from Pend Orielle Road. (3) It would upend the “deal” with northeast Seattle in the U-Link restructure, where all-day routes were rerouted to UW Station but peak expresses starting at 55th were kept in place and increased. If the 74 is “adversely impacted” by the reroute, is it fair that it’s the only one? (4) Most of the 74’s ridership presumably comes not from Sand Point Way but from 55th and 50th. So the 74 would have to go west at least to 15th to serve them, and from there it would have to backtrack to get to UW Station.

    1. Route 74 won’t stay in the tunnel forever. It will end up taking longer than now to get out of downtown, if it stays.

      The reality (and I’ve observed it) that it is a west U-District express underlines my point that it isn’t serving former riders of route 30 very well.

      But if west U-District riders got super peak frequency on route 67 and better all-day frequency, wouldn’t that be much better than having to choose to wait upstairs for a middling-frequency peak 74 or downstairs for a train connecting to a semi-frequent 67?

      The northeast U-Link restructure Alt 1 had 10-minute all-day headway on route 65/67. Getting 6-minute peak headway on that route would be a transformative precedent for the whole network.

    2. I am curious as to which express routes should stay in after 55th?

      I was looking to truncate a few Peak Hour Only routes especially after 2021. 76 and 77 I would be axing since they duplicate 71 and 73.

      I have been half tempted to look at truncation further up for 71 and 73 out of the Montlake Zoo but with access to UW Medical Center I’d rather not have that done.

    3. Regarding 158/159, an alternative would be to serve Kent-Des-Moines P&R before heading to Angle Lake Station, and terminating there. This might make some sense once the ALS parking garage starts filling up regularly. And, of course, there have to be sufficient LRVs.

    4. The 74 never did serve former 30 riders very well, it serves former 74 riders. Of which there are a lot of. To my surprise, considering the low density of 55th, the paltry ridership of the 30, and the convoluted routing that goes north to go south. The 74 is unidirectional so it’s useless for reverse commuting.

      The 10-minute frequency on the 45 and 67 was taken away to reinstate the 71 and 73.

      Dan H: the 74-79 should all go away in 2021. That’s what U-District Station and Roosevelt Station are for. And Metro’s 2025 plan does indeed have them gone. On 55th, nothing. On 65th, Frequent 62 but straightened out in the middle. On 75th, a Local route on UW Station – Laurelhurst – Magnuson Park – 75th – Roosevelt stn. A Frequent 75 to 130th and Northgate stations. No 71 or 73, but a Frequent route like the 373.

      In 2040 the 44 and 62 become RapidRide, and a Frequent route returns to 55th to UW Station and Magnolia.

      1. The fact that the 44 is not scheduled to become a RapidRide until 2040 tells you that Metro’s planners think that the Great Ballard-UW Interceptor® is a fiction.

      2. It doesn’t mean “not until 2040”, it means “sometime between 2026 and 2040”. Move Seattle can only afford to build so many RapidRide+ lines at a time. The 45th corridor is in initial planning but it hasn’t had its first open house yet. Or maybe Metro just doesn’t want to promise it before 2025 because SDOT hasn’t said that’s a safe assumption.

      3. Mike,

        I wouldn’t get rid of 75 given the coverage of Sandpoint using FTN along with connecting Lake City and 125th St. Children’s Hospital and U Village could be serviced by a rerouted 44 to those areas but north of there 75 in my opinion should still serve as the FTN bus.

        It would be nice to find some place for the 75 or 44 to pull in easier to there.

        If 74 is ridden well I’d truncate to U-District station unless ridership would fall off a cliff.

        Looking at Northgate restructure, I’ve honestly been curious on 45,71, and 73 given they all go to UW Medical Center but going south to the triangle is another service hour toilet given the configuration.

      4. I didn’t mean getting rid of the 75; I meant getting rid of the peak expresses. Sorry my “74-79” was ambiguous.

  5. Option D on the one city center plan includes 3 new transit only lanes on 5th – so we have an estimate of how many buses per hour that would be?

    It seems like a much less painful option than all of these truncations.

    1. Makes the most sense to me. Considering that downtown Seattle has a majority non-SOV commute share, the lane allocation should reflect this! Otherwise, you WILL get more people driving in and having to find parking in downtown. The loss of car lanes could be mitigated with adjusting the signal timing.

    2. I don’t think a two-way transit-only lanes on Fifth Avenue will work effectively in the northbound direction. The timing of the signals is such that the buses heading northbound will have to stop at almost every block or two. There are plenty of cross-streets that will have both vehicle traffic and pedestrians — so a bus-priority retiming won’t work very well.

      Keep also in mind that the opening of the AWV tunnel will eliminate the southbound “relief valve” ramps on cross-streets at places like Columbia Street and Elliott Avenue — on top of Fifth being the major southbound street to get to the I-5 on-ramps. The result will be much more southbound evening traffic in just two years even with no changes! Let’s be aware too that traffic includes Car-to-go, ReachNow, Uber, Lyft, taxis, paratransit vans and other shared modes and it’s not just executives in expensive SOVs. If southbound traffic backs up, the effect will be to congest all of the other streets around town too, as vehicles are left unable to clear intersections.

      Meanwhile, some of these bus truncations are inevitable. Bus route truncations are the future of long-distance transit for Downtown Seattle. The question is more about when they will occur, and not if. I think that Metro should probably bite the bullet and get some or most of these done now — as long as Link operations can handle the loads. I’m not naïve; Link capacity is the major key or the obstacle to any solution.

      If Link can handle the demand, I would rather see an approach where we actively encourage peripheral parking lots near Downtown with a modest rate (not free), and direct Downtown people to those rather than to have them drive into the Downtown core. Then, those people can hop on Link (assuming that we can make the capacity available) to complete their journey in the morning and leave in the afternoon. I wouldn’t even be adverse to giving a free ride “coupon” (paper or electronic) to a person who pays to park in one of these lots to get a one-way trip on Link to complete their journey to Downtown only.

      1. One assumes that a revision of 5th as major as converting it into a two-way transit street would include a new signal timing scheme, probably similar to the one on 3rd now, which gives buses heavy priority and works fine (or would work fine if illegal cars didn’t try so much to take advantage of it).

  6. The 41 and the 550 are really stand-ins for two out of three corridors on our LINK system. Not only do they carry extremely heavy loads of very long standing.Most important is that they serve same function as the Angle Lake line: trunk service getting very large numbers of people in and out of Downtown Seattle.

    I think it’s time for Sound Transit and King County Metro to start prepping for whatever political fight it’ll take to re-adjust the Convention Center Addition time schedule so a couple of major passenger contingents can get to all Convention Center events. We the city’s transit system were here first.

    At least far enough ahead to have all our plans made before transit ever heard of the construction project. For the basic functioning of Seattle itself, as well as its entire region, and the whole Convention Center, our subway system requires first priority. Doubt any trunk sewer lines are going to be similarly impaired.

    Can DSTT handle two heavy duty, long-standing bus routes’ worth of joint ops? Prove it can’t.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I agree with you, Mark, but I think that we are vastly outnumbered here. I do not think that grade-separated downtown connections to areas that will, eventually, be served by Link should be cut until the replacement grade-separated connections are ready. Circumstances on the ground demonstrate rather conclusively that provision and enforcement of lane priority, lane dedication, box-blocking, and other problems associated with surface, at-grade bus transit will not happen beyond, at a minimum, the two-week ribbon cutting period.

      So, instead, people who ride these bus routes are being asked to take a 3-5 year massive downgrade in how well their transit functions to hurry up the construction of a convention center and hurry up and get out of the way of the train.

      But we’re going to be shouted down by the emphatic supporters of the train, the Convention Center management, and the management of King County Metro and Sound Transits. And that’s annoying because, not only were we “here first,” the mitigation of a lot of the problems for which solutions are being debated will literally ride in on the rails a couple of years after the problems are created. So why can’t we just wait? We’re really good at stalling on all manner of other projects, why not “stall” this one until the replacement service is ready?

      1. 100% agree. There is no urgent need for a larger Convention Center, except that the people that run it need something to do with their dedicated tax base. (If only transit could get such a reliable, not subject to voting tax base!).

        I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but with Metro selling Convention Place Station quietly to the Convention Center for a song – the fix seems pretty well in. It’s been decided already.

      2. Sorry I didn’t make myself clear on running conditions, Wes. We’ll be lucky if we can even get that half century overdue second direction HOV lane between Northgate and CPS.

        But whether we can or not, all I’m talking about is running a single very long bus route through the DSTT terminating at Northgate and Bellevue Transit Center. Could even give it single number. Or keep 41 and 550. On same lanes as now.

        Rush hour “counterflow” could blow the whole thing- though hard to imagine it being any worse than now. Could be most intense driving in company history. Region’s heaviest traffic, joint-use with crush loads. And good badly-needed chance to prove we can handle it.

        DSTT joint-ops as designed. Drivers trained accordingly. Should have been same division from the beginning. “Pre-LINK” sounds like a sabertooth prehistoric bobcat with tassels on its ears. Seeing how LINK handles snow, could be great system emblem!

        Believe me, I’m not spoiling for a fight. Enough political things smell like that already. For reasons you name, I’m looking for some positive action with a chance at improving something. With equipment we’ve already got.

        But I’m not just trash-talking about the proof. If ST and King County Metro Transit can really prove- with its own employees and passengers- that DSTT can’t coordinate one through route along years’ familiar routing with LINK service, with less blockage than now- I’m done here.

        Since none of the opposition (what ear-protectors are for) has any even non-credible alternative, will be more than time somebody faced every one of these forces down. City of Seattle’s got its useless address to Deep Bore Tunnel surface treatment to answer for.

        Both relevant agencies’ handling of the DSTT shows above all that if they can’t merge into a single agency- as a system like that required from the beginning- they can at least play one on TV. For operating personnel, DSTT rail and bus should’ve been same division from the get-go.

        But regarding opposition forces, maybe it’s bad feelings about the Waterfront Streetcar being Disappeared like an Argentine dissident, but I want the Convention Center effort to raise their opposition to my plan in public. And in person. Can anybody tell me where to address my invitation?

        Mark Dublin

    1. The 590/594/595 all terminate at IDS, the 577/578/592 are extended up into the SLU area. One change I think I’d make is taking half the 590 trips, and turning them into a new route – the 593 – that follows the same route as the 577/578/592 and going up to SLU. This would give riders from Tacoma the option of going to either end of downtown.

      As for CT, half of them seem to loop at Westlake, the others seem to terminate at IDS. As for IDS, i’m not sure if there’s enough curb space there.

  7. ‘Nother thought. Anybody in service planning…would it work to through-route Northgate to Bellevue? Would eliminate layover problem Downtown.


    1. Back in the U-Link restructure, they proposed through-routing the 67 and 48, and 45 and 271. I rather liked that idea. 67 and 271 would also be nice.

      Of course, the difficulties are deadheading to whichever base it’s run from; and aligning headways.

    2. The difficulty is traffic on the bridge and in Montlake throwing off reliability in north Seattle.However, it was probably withdrawn because of the postponement of the rest of the 520 restructure. Which supposedly will come back this year. But in any case, a 271 interline doesn’t replace the 550.

  8. Or, better yet, construct a new tunnel with four bores and separate lanes for buses and light rail (the two types of vehicles never share a lane or bore). And that’ll relieve congestion for years to come.

    Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

  9. The most obvious solution would be: Don’t push forward with the convention center expansion at the expense of the region’s transportation infrastructure.

    The timing of the WSCC’s expansion is set for the hottest point in this recent construction boom in addition to causing unnecessary disruptions to the region’s already fragile transportation network.
    If the WSCC would wait a couple of years, they could benefit from a cooler construction market and would not inconvenience thousands of commuters. There’s no imperative for them to build now: attendance at the WSCC is lower than it was in 1997.

    1. That’s good but how do we convince the state to hold off when it hasn’t been convinced already. As the state sees it, the Convention Center benefits the entire state and is a higher level of government, while transit is just a regional and local issue.We’re working around the state because we have no power over it, the same way we have no power over the HOV lanes or lack thereof.

      1. Actually, since 2011, The WSCC has been a Public Facilities District and is no longer governed by the State. It’s governed by a board made up of appointees selected by the governor, the county executive and the mayor. It isn’t so much a higher level of government, but its own separate government (with bonding authority and the ability to seize property through eminent domain) with little or no oversight from the general public. The expansion project is a play to tie up the $70 million in tax revenue the WSCC receives each year into paying off debt, so that any government with accountability (i.e. the state, the county, or the city) can’t claim that the WSCC doesn’t actually need its very generous funding stream. Any claim that the WSCC is bursting at the seams is not backed up by attendance numbers.

        The opacity of the WSCC’s organization is very intentional, and putting pressure on the elected officials that select its board (i.e. Mayor Murray and Dow Constantine) may be the only way to affect change. Encourage them to stand up for the issues that matter to their constituents (transit and safe streets) rather than capitulating to and accommodating and outdated agency that does not have residents’ interests in mind.

      2. I agree Dave. We need to mount a letter writing campaign. Similar campaigns have been successful in the past, including ones mounted by this very blog (e. g. getting the city to study ORCA use for monorail). We need something like that (under the headline “Action Alert”).

        Instead of trying to figure out how best to deal with a bullet hole in the foot, we should try not to shoot ourselves. Simply delay the work until Link reaches Northgate.

      1. At the time of the sale, access was granted until 2019:


        The eventual closure of Convention Place Station was determined nearly a decade ago, when the Sound Transit Board of Directors approved a light rail extension to Northgate that bypassed CPS; at the same time, the increasing frequency of light rail trains to Northgate would mean that buses could no longer use the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, starting in 2021.
        WSCC will provide adequate off-site layover space for Metro Transit during construction of the Addition. Buses will continue to use the site and operate in the Transit Tunnel until 2019, when additional light rail service is added.

        Not sure what was meant by “…additional light rail service is added.” Perhaps the additional LRVs?

        WSCC built plans to support this in their draft EIS (build a ramp to 9th):

        Zach wrote up the impact when the sale occurred:

        What is not clear is why the City Center Mobility Plan calls to end bus service in the tunnels sooner than 2019?

      2. @Mike, the beginning of 2019 is halfway between work changes for Metro, which now occur every March and September. So, the convention center isn’t reneging. Metro/ST are just opting not to have a major restructure in the middle of a pick period.

  10. Should have gotten this into the discussion sooner, but have a feeling this is only the beginning of whatever controversy this issue is going to generate.

    Tempting to say that politics should be kept out of this one, but the truth is that everything transit-related owes its existence to the political system that is the people’s own tool.

    But reason I’m stressing instead of desperately pretending to ignore the fact is that I’m getting the sense of key political decisions being made, and changed, intentionally without public discussion, or even notice. Wish I were the only one who thinks this.

    Because for the good of every person and entity involved,not least the well-deserved good reputation of Seattle government, a matter that promises to disrupt the core of Seattle for an unknown number of years doesn’t dare attempt to be private or confidential in any sense.

    And no citizen should have any reason to think anything’s being concealed. I don’t make any secret of my own political thinking because I think doing so is now a pervasive bad habit. But aside from transit, all my political thinking is even father out of order here than usual.

    The fact is that in my view, both the Convention Center construction schedule and transit operations can be adjusted so as not to conflict. And even to make each others’ job easier. In the DSTT, largely by finally using some measures overdue since the Tunnel opened in 1990.

    Which, fortunately, everybody official involved will not only be able to bring to a good result, but have a good time doing it.

    Mark Dublin

  11. As a regular user of buses on streets (primarily 2, 8, 43, 49), and light rail in the tunnel, I cannot WAIT to get these buses out of the tunnel! Nothing holds up the high capacity trains like another slow-poke 41 trundling along. The fact that Metro won’t allow a bus and a train to be at any given station at the same time seems stupid enough – add in a bunch of ridiculously slow bus routes, and the trains just get further and further off schedule the later in the day it gets.

    Getting as many buses out of the tunnel as possible is a huge step in the right direction. Don’t like surface buses? Then don’t drive into downtown.

    1. Last time I was in Westlake during PM peak, all the buses were moving like greased lightning. The dwell time for trains was longer than the dwell time for bus platoons.

      What surfacing the buses will do is allow the trains to move faster than 30 mph in the tubes between stations, and allow more train frequency. Of course, it will also take more LRVs to be able to add frequency.

  12. The concern I have about the 150 which I have stated before is that it is a route for which many riders already have to transfer at least once sometimes more just to get on the 150. Requiring another transfer does not seem equitable to me.

    Of particular concern is those coming from covington which is a 30 minute ride away. You are proposing adding about 20 more minutes on to each trip for that covington rider. I am all for light rail. Just not jumping off the freeway which they are already on to make the drop.

    The 101 would make a good candidate though as they need simply not get on the freeway and I have seen people get on the 106 or 107 just to get to light rail. So move the 101 not the 150.

    1. I live in Fairwood so for me it would be another transfer. But given the trip on the 101 is only 35 minutes it’s doable.

    2. John,

      I encourage you to read the full proposal (linked above). Any bus that currently connects with the 150 would be rerouted to connect directly with Link, and so nobody would need to make an extra tranfser.

      For example, Covington riders would be able to take the 168 to SeaTac/Airport or Angle Lake Station, and then Link to downtown. Likewise, from Fairwood, you would be able to take the 107 to Rainier Beach Station, or the new 149 to SeaTac/Airport Station.

      If you think you’ve found a trip that would require 3 vehicles to get to downtown Seattle (and that doesn’t today), please let me know.

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