106 stuck in Jackson St traffic
This bus is clearly saving time by skipping a few stops, right? Photo by Bruce Englehardt.

King County Metro’s spring service change begins next Saturday, March 11.  There are few major changes this time around, but quite a few incremental additions to service.  Full service change information from Metro is here; the following are a few highlights.

Routes 3 and 4 to serve SPU

Metro route 4 revised map
Route 4 revision (route 3 revision is similar). Map by King County Metro.

The sole major routing change affects the Queen Anne portion of routes 3 and 4.  Both routes will follow a common routing in Queen Anne, serving Seattle Pacific University via 3 Ave W — a solution we have long favored.  The new routing will provide a major improvement to SPU-downtown service frequency, and will allow connections to routes 31 and 32 to Fremont and the University District.  The vestigial “tails” of both routes, on small neighborhood streets, will lose service.  The new routing will be a very short walk for the few current riders using the route 3 tail, but some riders on the route 4 tail may have to walk a few extra blocks to reach service.

Although there will be just one route north of downtown, Metro is keeping both route numbers around for now.  The decision could be revisited if Metro ever restructures away the redundant and expensive southern end of route 4, as it proposes to do by 2025 in the Metro Connects long-range plan (and also in earlier proposals).  After such a restructure, the number 3 could be used south of downtown and the number 4 north of downtown, for much improved legibility and the flexibility to decouple the two parts if warranted.

More Service!

The best news in this service change is that Metro is adding a significant amount of additional service, both in the city (with some assistance from Seattle Proposition 1) and in the suburbs.  The service additions are spot additions, with few all-day frequency improvements (although we understand that some of those are coming in September).  The focus appears to be reducing overcrowding.  Many of the additions are in northeast Seattle, as Metro continues working to address pain points from the U-Link restructure.

Routes with New Peak or Shoulder-Peak Trips

C Line, E Line, 5 (local), 15, 17, 18, 21X, 26, 28, 31, 40, 41, 62, 63, 65, 67, 70, 74, 75, 101, 102, 121, 158, 212, 216, 218, 255, 257, 271, 311, 355, 372

Routes with Evening Frequency Improvements

8 (15-minute service until 9 p.m., weekdays)
65 (15-minute service until 10 p.m., weekdays and Saturdays)
67 (15-minute service until 10 p.m., weekdays and Saturdays)
75 (15-minute service until 9 p.m., weekdays)
372 (15-minute service until 8 p.m., weekdays)

Routes with Sunday Frequency Improvements

8 (20-minute service)
372 (20-minute service, between U-District and Lake City only)

Grab Bag

As always, there are a few other miscellaneous changes.

  • The northernmost portion of Route 106 will become local, serving all stops between Mount Baker and the International District.
  • Route 241, and Metro-operated Sound Transit routes 550, 555, and 556, will change their routing to avoid going inside the South Bellevue P&R once the P&R is closes for East Link construction later in the spring.
  • A new Black Diamond-Enumclaw Community Shuttle will replace the part of DART Route 907 south of Black Diamond.
  • South King County commuter routes 121, 122, 123, 157, 158, 159, and 192 will no longer serve stops on Bell Street.

51 Replies to “Metro Adding Service Mar. 11”

  1. I see route 60 is getting some additional peak trips to extend its short span of 15-minute peak headway.

    One of route 60’s busiest (most crushloaded) corridors has been 14th Ave S between Cleveland High and Beacon Hill Station. I haven’t ridden during peak since the revised and extended route 107 rolled out.

    It would still be a major improvement for that corridor to schedule routes 60 and 107 to time them better for the interlined portion of those two routes between Beacon Hill Station and Georgetown. At night, route 107 pulls away southbound from BHS a couple minutes before the next 60 shows up to head south. Interlining might not work so well during weekdays, but on evenings and weekends, when both routes are pretty reliable, they can turn 28-minute de facto headway for that corridor into 15ish-minute headway for that corridor.

    This can be done without adding more service hours, or at least not very many service hours.

  2. If only it were possible for routes 3 and 4 to serve Fremont, itself, rather than terminate just half a mile away from a major activity center. If they did, the 32 wouldn’t need to operate south of the ship canal at all, as it would be entirely redundant.

    1. Well, they could always have both 31 and 32 go to magnolia and have SPU [ed] just be a transfer point…

      1. No, there really does need to be a direct bus between Fremont and Seattle Center that doesn’t involve transferring half a mile in. The 3, 4, or 13 could meet the cut if either of them extended to Fremont. Otherwise, the redundancy of the 32 must remain. The problem is that the routes of the Queen Anne buses are dictated by the trolley wire, so any extension of such routes to Fremont would require extending the trolley wire over the Fremont bridge, which would be expensive.

        The trolley wires is the same reason why the #66 corridor disappeared. Having both the #66 and the #70 is too much service on Eastlake, which would have forced less service in other parts of the city, so a choice had to made. Since the trolley wire on Eastlake goes up 15th and ends in the U-district, that is what the bus down Eastlake has to do. The only the Roosvelt BRT corridor is able to bring the #66 route back is because it ponies up the money to extend the trolley wire to make it possible.

      2. I’m more concerned about the Fremont bridge bottleneck throwing off the reliability of the Queen Anne buses.

        I don’t think the demise of the 66 had anything to do with trolley wire. The 66 and 70 coexisted for many years. The 66 probably never had stellar ridership because the 70/71/72/73 were more frequent to the U-District and the 41 was faster to Northgate. Going to a 66 stop meant foregoing buses that might come sooner. And if Metro wanted to do anything to prebuild the Roosevelt BRT corridor, it would have strengthened the 66 rather than deleting it. In fact, it looks like a disagreement between Metro and SDOT on whether Roosevelt BRT is a good corridor. Either that or Metro thought Roosevelt couldn’t be a strong corridor without all the BRT improvements. Or simply that Metro had to cut something during the crash, so it cut the lowest-performing routes.

    2. Let’s think a little bit farther ahead, asdf2. Let’s investigate whether the new trolleybuses can run in service on battery from SPU into Fremont. I which case, really no-brainer.

      But I’m also thinking good chance the 40 will eventually be electrified, creating an excellent connection from Fremont to Ballard. Which really makes the extended wire to Fremont very much worth doing.

      Mark Dublin

      1. I don’t think Metro is willing to run a route that requires going off-wire in everyday service, especially when the act of connecting/disconnecting the poles must occur mid-route.

        Yes, there would be some amount of reliability penalty going over the Fremont bridge, but for a direct connection between upper Queen Anne and Fremont, I would consider the price to be worth it. Otherwise, you have the choice of either walking all the way up or down the hill, or waiting for two buses, which would likely be no faster than walking, anyway. The extension of the 3 and 4 to SPU helps somewhat because it at least reduces the required walk (especially for those with difficulty climbing hills), and allows at least a two-seat ride to Wallingford and the U-district, but the general principle of terminating a route at a major activity center, not half a mile before one, still applies.

    3. There are plans to extend the 13 to Fremont, although I don’t know if they’ve set aside money for wire over the bridge yet.

      But yes, such an extension would make travel from Queen Anne to North Seattle much easier, as riders could transfer to the 40, 44, or 62 directly from a QA bus (the 13 or 3/4), instead of backtracking to downtown or taking a 3 seat ride.

      1. There is no 13 (or 4) extension to Fremont in the long-range plan. I know they’ve looked at such an extension in the past. I expect reliability is a major issue.

    4. I hope that SDOT will do something about the pavement on 3rd Ave W which is in terrible shape. This is partly caused by bus & truck traffic (3rd W is one of the few ways large trucks can get onto Queen Anne Hill) and partly by the underground spring that continues to undermine the roadway.

      With 2-3x as many buses traveling on 3rd Ave W the pavement will be totally destroyed in short order.

    5. Yes. Or the 13. Impossible to convince folks in QA they should use transit more often when a five minute drive to Ballard or Fremont requires taking children on two buses.

    6. I personally think Metro should run Route 32 through Queen Anne instead of Interbay, possibly on a routing similar to Route 29. This would allow Metro to merge routes 2 and 13 into a single route.

      1. I don’t understand why both the 17 and 29 exist. Why not just the 29? Or if the 29 is too slow between Sounder and Ballard, why does it go to Ballard at all?

      2. The 29 north of SPU serves a few Ballard-SPU commuters and a greater number of Nickerson-area residents who lost one-seat service to downtown when the 17 local went away. It originally was extended to Ballard in 2012 because it was coupled with the short-lived old 62, a reverse-peak route that had timed transfers with Sounder and served SLU, SPU, and Ballard. Ridership was low so that 62 got cut in the 2014 cuts, but the 29 stayed as is, mostly to serve the folks along Nickerson.

  3. I had no idea that the 106 was previously express along Rainier avenue. Did Metro think that there was a need for an IDS – Beacon Hill Station express? Don’t we have a train for that? In any event, at least the 106 now has (or soon will have) stops in between that make it more useful and less duplicative with Link.

    “After such a restructure, the number 3 could be used south of downtown and the number 4 north of downtown, for much improved legibility and the flexibility to decouple the two parts if warranted.” That’s a good idea, although if decoupling the routes was a priority, Metro would be able to just do it. There are plenty of numbers available to choose from. Route 6, for example, has been available for a while. Personally, I would suggest “Route π,” since π is between 3 and 4, and both routes go to two universities.

    And, of course, I’ll end it with my annoyance at the usual practice of giving riders 10 days of notice before they know the specific changes. That always has the possibility of really causing problems. Speaking of which, when does Sound Transit usually publish changes to ST Express service?

    1. The 106 revision last fall put it on MLK from Rainier Beach station to Mt Baker station to replace the 38, then turning express (limited-stop) on Rainier and Jackson to Intl Dist station. It doesn’t go to Beacon Hill; that’s the 107, which goes from Beacon Hill station to south Beacon, Rainier Beach station, Rainier View, and Renton. (Earlier the 106 was on Myrtle Street and Swift Avenue, which is part of Beacon Hill but not the central north-south axis.)

      Many on this blog applauded the southern part of the 106 restructure, to connect the mid valley with Renton and add frequency, but opposed the part north of Mt Baker station where the 7 is already frequent. However, the restructure was motivated by people who wanted to restore a 42-like route for the ACRS north of Mt Baker station. I don’t know why it was first express and now changing to local. I assume the change to local is because express is really unnecessary there and it makes the overall network simpler and easier to understand.

      1. Back when DSTT buses had poles on the roof, really liked driving the 107 when it ran along the lake between Rainier Beach and Renton.

        Know reasons why service along the lake went away. But could also see reason it used to be there. Good fast ride into Renton, in addition to pretty.

        So I can imagine the 7 going RapidRide pretty much same route. Trolleywire and all.

        Same, incidentally, with the Prentice Street Route 7. One block up to Renton Avenue, straight shot down to Renton. Both routes really good connections between Renton and LINK at Rainier Beach.

        Mark

    2. Re notice: in the past I remember seven days, from Saturday to Saturday (which would be tomorrow). This time I was surprised to see Rider Alert signs on buses all this week. However, the decisions happen earlier, and so they often show up in annual operating plans or service-change proposals several months ahead, and get reported here. So those who read closely and remember will recall ST’s operating plan, Metro sending service changes to the county council for approval, the 3/4 restructure, etc. Sometimes it gets to the detail of individual trips or an hour of frequency, other times that’s just subsumed in a general “there will be minor increases this spring”. (And some of them I assume Metro makes at the last minute, based on recent conditions.)

      1. Yeah. Though it’s not likely that many people will be screwed over by a service change, it could happen. Nearly 4 years back, they reduced the span of service on my primary route at the time (187) by nearly 2 hours (11:14pm to 9:32pm) with no outreach or advance notice beyond 10 days. I just think that to the extent that they know of service change details, they should publish them. And they do show up in OneBusAway well in advance of the change, so sometimes I find myself checking the span of service on the OneBusAway website by entering a date past the start of the service change (pro tip for y’all).

        This doesn’t work for Pierce Transit though. I’ll check Sound Transit.

    3. The 106 in that section is being made local because no one is riding it from Mt. Baker to the ID.

      No one rides that section because like the 42, it serves no purpose, except has a political handout to the ACRS. There is already a Mt. Baker – IDS express, it’s called Link and it is faster and more reliable.

      The hope is that making that section of the 106 local, they can pick up enough folks in that corridor justify the duplicative service.

      1. What I’d prefer is for the 106 to be routed to Broadway to replace the off-peak 9. Or they could run it along 12th, past Seattle U, and loop around Cal Anderson Park, providing service on 12th (in the LRP but currently unserved), and provide a direct connection between Seattle U and CHS, and Rainier. That honestly sounds like a much better use of service hours than partial redundancy with the already-frequent route 7 and Link.

      2. +1. Routing it on 12th would definitely help First Hill people and SU students get to CHS. Currently it takes about 20 minutes to walk from SU to CPS.

    4. Metro should also extend Route 106 into the Central Business District. I heavily dislike the through-route system, but Metro could possibly through-route the 106 with Route 40 or 62.

      1. All three of those routes are too long to be reasonable through-route partners.

        My view is like that of a few commenters above: the 106 would probably be best extended into First Hill (and possibly from there down to SLU).

  4. Love all these night/Sunday service expansions. I hope that soon we’ll get all those routes up to every 15 mins, until 10pm, seven days a week. I remember when I moved to Seattle, evening frequent service in the north end essentially stopped at the Ship Canal.

    Also love the 3/4 extension, but it’s pathetic how long Metro has taken to implement it. Now if only they could grab their ovaries and delete the vestigial 14 tail.

    1. That portion of Route 14 is designed to serve the residents east of Rainier Ave. I think a good solution is to extend the trolley wire to Columbia City Station via Hunter Blvd, 38th Ave, Genesee, Rainier, and Alaska, and no longer have Route 14 run to Mt Baker Station.

      1. The current routing of the 14 tail actually makes it make (just slightly) more sense. The bus serves MBTC in both directions, effectively making the tail into a shuttle. I’ve never ridden it in its current configuration and have no idea whether anyone actually uses the shuttle or not.

      2. The 14 already serves residents east of Rainier by virtue of coming down 31st and turning left at McClellan, which is just two flat blocks from Mt Baker’s tiny commercial center and one block from Mt Baker park. The tail beyond the overlap is just two stops. The only thing there is the Mt Baker club a third block away, and a few houses beyond that. The only reason to keep the tail is to assuage a few status-quo advocates. I have only ridden the 14 tail when I occasionally go to the Mt Baker club, and there is nobody else on it then.

      3. The 14 should just end at Mt. Baker Transit Center, and not bother with its tail altogether. The tail is tiny, and it’s not far to just walk to Mt. Baker Station to go downtown, or to McClellen/31st, which is even closer (looks like the #14 doesn’t currently have a stop at that corner, but that’s a problem that can easily fixed with a pole in the ground).

  5. It’s probably more than a few people that will have to walk further with the loss of the 4 – its end point was John Hay elementary school, and a few of my friends use it to get up the hill and drop off their kids. Unfortunately a lot of this won’t just be more walking – when commutes and small children are involved that may turn into more driving.

    That said, I’m all for progress and efficiency. Though it would have been nice to add some trips to the hill since we lost some service. I notice most of those numbers with added service are suburban routes, rather than near-center city routes.

    1. “I notice most of those numbers with added service are suburban routes, rather than near-center city routes.”

      Hmm?

      All of the frequency improvements are on city routes (although most of them are getting help from the city).

      Among the spot peak additions, I count 20 city routes (counting the E Line and 372 as city routes in line with most of their ridership) and 12 suburban routes. The suburban routes include four (212, 216, 218, and 255) that have had significant overcrowding problems since the 2014 cuts, and one (271) that has suddenly become much more important as a result of U-Link.

    2. I would imagine the 4 was built when the high school was still there, and thus had a lot more riders. It is a decent destination, with the elementary school you mentioned and a fair number of apartments on Galer (and plenty of duplexes and triplexes in the area). You are absolutely correct, lots of people will have to walk farther.

      I think the big problem with the current routing is the spiral. It is redundant much of the way, and heading the opposite direction of the 13. If you are in the main business district (e. g. across the street from Trader Joe’s or Safeway) waiting for the 13 to head downtown, you might have to run across the street to catch the 4 (or at least consider it). That is just not good. It would have made way more sense to just spur off of the 13. It is probably hard to justify that extra service, though, because both the 2 and 3 go up Queen Anne Avenue to the top (and lots of buses go to lower Queen Anne).

      You could conceivably run an east-west line. One possibility is to run a bus up Gilman. Then work your way over to Queen Anne Avenue, then end where the 4 used to end. It would have to do some back and forth to get there, likely sharing the road with some of the other buses. But it would provide a nice connection inside Queen Anne (which is lacking) as it would be much more of a grid. Ideally such a bus would start in Ballard, providing a one seat service from various places on the top of Queen Anne to Ballard. But even if it went to Magnolia, plenty of people would have a much faster ride to Ballard, since the D is very frequent.

      The tricky part, as always, is finding the service hours. As with much of the system, the problem is really lack of money, not bad routing.

    3. Even with the high school it’s hard to understand the rationale for the 3, because Boston Street is two flat blocks away. The counterbalance has existed for over a hundred years so there was precedent to just send buses up Queen Anne Ave and turn east to the high school if that was desired. Or the 3 buses could have simply been 4s. One wonders if the 3 routing follows a streetcar precedent that was just continued blindly.

    4. Oh, I guess the 4 is the curlicue route. I thought it was the 3. But now I remember “3 North Queen Anne, 4 East Queen Anne”.

      1. The 3N turnaround at Rodgers Park may have been just a convenient place to do it given the surrounding terrain limits other options.

        As a former 3N tail rider I’ll be a little nostalgic when it goes away but I understand the reasons. 2nd Ave W is a narrow street not suited for a bus route. The left turn from 2nd W onto McGraw is becoming more difficult with increasing traffic.

        I don’t think SPU really needs the massive amount of service it will now receive – maybe it will stimulate ridership.

      2. It’s not just about SPU; routing the 3/4 down 3rd massively increases the frequency for QA riders trying to connect to the 31/32 to go to Fremont or UW. Now that there’ll be a bus every 10(ish) minutes it makes that transfer much more appealing.

      3. That’s a good point – hopefully frequency encourages more people to make the connection. It unfortunately isn’t quite seamless but as good as can be hoped for give the street grid.

        I often walked up the hill from the 31, which is great exercise but not so appealing after a long day of work or in bad weather.

  6. Also, the 48 returns to 23rd Ave on its full northbound route through the CD, after 6 months of construction rerouting. Oh happy day!

    1. This is already in effect. It’s a brief respite, though, as Phase 2 will start in a few months, which will require one or more reroutes between Rainier and Jackson.

      1. No, it issn’t. Even though 23rd northbound re-opened to traffic a few days ago, the bus is still rerouted to 19th between Union and John until Mar 11. Trust me, I took it again this morning.

      2. Interesting; our 2 driver called the coordinator yesterday after encountering a bunch of lost passengers on westbound Union, and was told that the northbound bus is back on 23rd and those passengers should walk to 23rd.

      3. Someone else I spoke to yesterday said their bus traveled on 23rd, but didn’t stop between Union and John. Sounds like there is some major confusion going on.

        In either case, there’s a big sign at the stop at 23rd and Olive saying it is closed until Mar 11.

  7. Glad to see more 17X/18X service. Looks like 1 additional AM trip and 2 additional PM trips.

    Also, the PM peak trips are completely retimed and now alternate 17-18-17-18 through the PM peak. Hopefully that evens out the loads somewhat – it is not unusual for PM trips to leave people behind at the Denny and Elliott stops because of crowding.

    1. Yes, some improvement of express service from/to Ballard. I wanted a later morning 18, however. The current last 18 Express leaving Ballard in the morning is always at crush load or close to. One additional 18 Express a half hour later would have been great. I really don’t like the 40 (to downtown), but that’s all there is after the morning rush. Or I could walk fifteen minutes to the D. Or take the 45 to Husky Stadium and a transfer to the subway. A return to some morning express runs on the 45 (old 48) from Ballard to the UW would be welcome. And I still yearn for the 17 and 18 locals. Can’t have everything! At least not all at once.

  8. I was excited to read “significant expansion of service” and the route 255 listed. Turns out we get 2 new morning inbound trips and a single outbound trip… That won’t help the standing room loads often seen on trips after 6:30pm. And still hourly weekend evenings after 6 and weekdays after 10.

  9. 15 min frequency isn’t the problem with the 67, it’s the fact that buses are often late at rush hour causing severe overcrowding. Until they start putting double buses on the 67 at rush the trip will continue to be erratic, unpredictable and uncomfortable.

    Metro hasn’t fixed the issues with the 67 at all.

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