Atomic Taco (Flickr)

[Note: Not an April Fools’ post.]

As part of the One Center City process, Metro and Sound Transit are currently seeking feedback and convening a Sounding Board for proposals to restructure  SR 520 service to UW Station, with survey submissions due Sunday, April 2.

The SR 520 process is farther along because it already had a trial run during the initial ULink Connections outreach process in 2015. But though the near-term pain is far more acute in the I-90 corridor, outreach there has been far less extensive. Sometime this year, South Bellevue Park and Ride will close for 5 years. Just 2 months from now, unless Mercer Island successfully delays it through litigation, the express lanes will close for East Link construction and I-90 bus service will use the general roadway (albeit in new HOV lanes) for the next 6 years.

We’ve heard that the current proposal for I-90 – proposing to truncate Route 550 at International District Station while leaving other I-90 services relatively untouched – has been unpopular. So here’s a proposal: kill the 550, or reroute it over SR 520. 

[Action Alert: regardless of what you think of the following proposal, if you want to see I-90 service considered as part of the SR 520 restructure process, get your comments in TODAY, and/or send your comments to King County Councilmember, Sound Transit Boardmember, and Bellevue Resident Claudia Balducci.]

Route 550 is a short, simple, high-performing route (page 170). It boasts 11,000 weekday boardings, with 4,700 on Saturdays and 3,000 on Sundays. It serves the core markets of Downtown Bellevue and Downtown Seattle, with just two intermediate markets, South Bellevue and Mercer Island. In the peak direction, with service every 5 minutes and roughly 90 boardings per trip, the route carries 1,100 people per hour to/from Seattle. All-day, bi-directional demand is strong.

But since its intermediate markets – South Bellevue and Mercer Island – are being so disrupted by East Link construction, the route will become much more about its endpoints. Once you’re talking about the best way to service the Downtown Bellevue-Downtown Seattle markets, SR 520 becomes a much more attractive option.

3 Reasons to Consider Restructuring Route 550

Pathway Length: all 3 possible pathways are equivalent in length, so we’re not talking about anyone detouring out of their way. Bellevue Transit Center to Westlake is 11.4 miles via SR 520, 11.5 via SR 520 and Link, and 11.7 via I-90.

SR 520 vs I-90 Pathways
ST 556+Link

Endpoint Ridership: 76% of Route 550’s ridership comes from Downtown Bellevue stops (28%) and the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (49%). I-90/Rainier accounts for 3%, Mercer Island is 11%, and South Bellevue stops account for 10%.

Transit Priority: Third, SR 520 has superior transit priority, with HOV-3, bus-only sections, and inline freeway stations. I-90 already performs poorly in the reverse-peak direction, and peak performance will suffer beginning in June.

Options for a 550 Restructure

  1. Send it over SR 520 into Downtown. If Metro or Sound Transit want to restructure most services away from Downtown but still keep a route or two serving both 520 and Downtown, Route 550 could be the one to do it. If the Stewart pathway into Downtown is untenable during Convention Center construction, the route could use a number of other pathways, including Union-University, James-Cherry, etc.
  2. Cancel the 550 entirely. Under this option most of Route 550’s hours could go into creating a high frequency, all-day Route 556. Downtown Bellevue to Downtown Seattle riders would use 556 or 271+Link. Mercer Island to Bellevue service could come either from extending Route 249 to Mercer Island, or extending Route 204 to Bellevue Transit Center.  All-day service from Mercer Island to Seattle would continue to be provided by Route 554, boosted during peak by Route 216. If this proved inadequate, you could resurrect Route 202, or add a stop on Routes 111, 114, 212, 214, and 217.
  3. Create a new Bellevue-SLU peak route. The 550’s service hours could also be redeployed to serve SR 520, Link, and South Lake Union via the I-5 express lanes. Similar to the binned proposal for Route 311 in the original Link connections proposal, “Route 551” could travel via I-405, SR 520, UW Station, Pacific Street, Campus Parkway, NE 42nd Street, I-5 Express Lanes, and Mercer Street. The route could end in Queen Anne, or preferably Interbay once Expedia moves in. Transit advocates everywhere should salivate at the idea of getting some transit right-of-way on Mercer Street.

What do you think?

53 Replies to “Route 550 via SR 520?”

  1. I think this is a nonstarter until the WB 520 – Montlake ramp has transit priority. I’ve seen buses sitting in that jam for seven minutes or longer. I’m now refusing to take any bus exiting there during PM rush hour.

    That one point is killing SR 520 transit service. I’m planning to fill in the survey imploring Metro/ST not to truncate a single additional bus at Husky Stadium until it’s fixed.

    (Admittedly, Stewart Street isn’t much better – but at least there, you can get off the bus at Montlake Freeway Station and walk to Husky Stadium, easily beating the other bus still stuck in the exit ramp jam.)

    1. Well you could also make the Montlake ramp bus only and make the Lake Wa Boulevard ramp cars only. I think I just heard an earthquake from adjacent homeowners. It’d be a 500′ detour for cars.

      1. Lake WA Boulevard is a non-starter as the only ramp for cars, and not because of the adjacent homeowners. By necessity I’ve had to go that way from the Arboretum area twice at rush hours and both times been stuck in a queue where it took nearly an hour to get from Foster Island Road to Montlake…and once you pass Foster Island Road, you’re stuck with no way out even if you decided to go some other direction. It’s hard enough to get out of the Arboretum area without dumping all of the eastside traffic headed to the UW into a single lane with a horrible intersection at Montlake. That idea is what you get when you draw a line on a map without ever having experienced the actual situation.

      2. there are several bad pathways to choose from. it is insufficient to say that Montlake has an issue, as I-90, DSTT, I-5, Olive-Stewart, 4th/5th avenues also have severe and growing issues.

    2. I am in the process of moving to Seattle, working at the University, and when I heard about the lack of bus priority there I stopped considering living in Bellevue as on option. Going to be an issue even with east side Link in place since having to go all the way down to I-90 and then backtrack through downtown doesn’t make sense no matter what the transit mode is.

    3. Yep, I routinely beat buses to Husky Stadium on Montlake from the flyer stops walking also.

      When link opened as a 255/252/257 rider I timed what a transfer would look like for me starting as if I had exited a bus in front of the station. As it stands Link + the walk back time is significantly slower for anyone who gets off today before Westlake, even with the current additional delays on Stewart. South of Westlake it’s faster, however I expect that to change when the high rise construction on 5th south of Madison completes later this year. The current jig-jog on 5th avenue is a disaster as articulated buses basically have to go through using both lanes.

      Basically it makes no sense to transfer to Link at Husky Stadium from a time savings perspective (averaged over a week) except when there is an accident on I5. Reliability though it makes sense and my feedback to Metro was still to please do this change, but wait until Eastlink completes and the new bascule bridge is done to asses ridership and traffic changes.

  2. there are no good options except to delay convention center expansion until Bellevue link opens. The sale of the property is in committee right now with the King county council, there is still time to let your council members know you oppose the sale. The sale amounts to transit rider subsidy for the convention center expansion; Metro will need 16 mill in extra appropriations (on top of the 20 mill as down payment on the sale) in the first year to relocate facilities that are current houses at the site. For the next 5 years WSCC will make interest only payments at 1% which isn’t enough revenue to make up for the increased service hours. The real revenue only starts coming in after 5 years. why not wait 5 years and sell to a buyer who can finance the sale themselves. Also I question if WSCC will even be able to make the payments, it’s a mistake to finance the sale without vetting the business plan. my 2 cents

    1. Busses have to come out of the DSTT anyhow to support East Link construction. That happens in 2018 or 2019 anyhow. So what happens with the WSCC really makes little difference, the buses will be coming out well before East Link opens.

      1. I’m under the impression that buses could remain in the tunnel until 2021 or until East link opens

      2. The construction timeline shows East Link construction work taking over the I-90 express lanes all the way to ID/C Station in mid-2017. I was under the impression that once that happens, all the I-90 express buses have to be re-routed by CLink.

      3. East Link construction (Judkins Park station construction specifically) will cause the closure of the Rainier flyer stop and the D2 roadway. Currently this is scheduled to happen with the September 2018 service change. When that closure happens buses will use 4th and/or Rainier to travel between I-90 and downtown Seattle. The 550 will come out of the tunnel then. This is separate and unrelated to WSCC construction.

      4. really? why? are there other ways to turn trains? how many years between East Link 2023 and the East Link operating base? what would the disruption to DSTT services be worth?

      5. ST is installing a non-revenue turn track at Intl Dist in 2019 so that Eastside trains can get to the SODO base. The design of the turn track will be incompatible with buses somehow.

      6. The WSCC is accelerating the removal of buses from the tunnel, but you are correct that East Link also requires closure of the tunnel to buses.

    2. @S R-M,

      No. Buses have to come out of the DSTT to support East Link construction in late 2018 or in 2019. So it doesn’t really matter if they come out due to WSCC construction or East Link construction, they will be coming out at roughly the same time either way.

      1. my comment may be slightly o/t for this article, there are a lot of moving parts of which WSCC is only one. my point which I want to make is that no one is taking about the financing of this deal and how it amounts to transit subsidizing WSCC construction. How many bus hours could be bought for 16 million because that is the price that metro will pay for the first year of this “deal”

    3. A delay of several years helps quite a bit. Not only do you have less time waiting for Link to serve people, but you also have 520 construction, which is a huge issue. As folks above have said, they don’t want the 520 truncation until after they fix the problem with the ramps. I don’t know the timetable on the new 520, but I think that will be done before Northgate Link. At that point the truncation of 520 buses makes sense.

  3. When I-90 construction starts, might 550 passengers get a faster ride via 520 and UW Station?


    1. 520 definitely, UW station maybe. As mentioned above, it really depends on the ramps and congestion around Husky Stadium (as well as the transfer). My guess is that it much of the time it would actually be faster to slog the way downtown. The advantage of the transfer, of course, is that it saves a significant amount of service hours.

      1. @RossB,

        Wouldn’t having the 550 continue downtown via 520->I-5 have the same problem as the 255 and 545 (along with all those peak expresses) do today, where buses have to merge right across 5 lanes of traffic? When I’ve taken the 255 and 545 at peak, it can be pretty slow going, though I haven’t timed it to see if it’s any slower than transferring to Link at UW Station.

      2. If the City of Seattle, of all places on Earth let alone the United States, can’t reserve, what, a mile of bus lanes to put its heaviest passenger loads aboard its showcase light rail system rather than sit an hour in surface traffic…

        I won’t let a penny from Tim Eyman deprive me of full credit for an Initiative to pull Seattle’s charter and incorporate it into (whatever municipality East of the Mountains will pay the most to use it for a private prison).

        Connected with present location by a BEAUTIFUL twelve lane freeway. AND MAKE SEATTLE PAY FOR IT! And using results as example for the real way to wall off Mexico: A freeway along the whole southern border with however many lanes I-5 has right now.

        The Canadians are probably signing off on contracts for same from Vancouver to Nova Scotia. And paying for it themselves. On our side of the Border.


  4. I definitely agree this should be studied. The current 550 is hardly a direct shot to Bellevue; going to Mercer Island and coming at Bellevue from the south on city streets definitely adds a lot of time. I go to the Bellevue Library from the U-District to pick up materials from KCLS occasionally, and the 271/556 are at least as fast as taking the 550 from downtown, even though the 550 stops right in front of the library. The 271 is actually hardly slower than the 556 depending on where you are going in Bellevue, since the transit center is on one side of downtown.

    If the 550 is canceled hours are invested into the 271/556, I would say it should be accompanied by a few improvements as well:

    1. Fix the offramp from SR-520 to Montlake already.
    2. Find some way of providing a transit lane on 405 – at least in the southbound direction in the afternoon the lane from SR-520 to Bellevue on 405 can be pretty congested.
    3. Add transit lanes for the 271 through Medina. I had the misfortune of being stuck on the 271 when Renton PD illegally shutdown 405 and I-90 for some sportsball figures, and was stuck on the bus for almost an hour before we could move.

    1. The Montlake off-ramp is a joke. WSDOT needs to make 1 of those 2 lanes transit lanes. As it is now, buses can sit in the queue for up to 10 minutes at peak time. It makes no sense to have 3 or 4 buses with a total of hundreds of people stuck in traffic behind a 30 or 40 SOV’s.

      It never ceases to amaze me the decisions WSDOT/SDOT/SoundTransit will make to avoid angering a few single-occupant motoring enthusiasts.

  5. Why is route 550 having to detour via CLink, while the rest of the I-90 express buses continue their direct access to 5th Ave? Is it just about bus volume? Wouldn’t removing cars from 5th Ave make more sense?

    1. The current plan is that when the express lanes close, Eastside I-90 buses will continue to use the Rainier flyer stop and then proceed to either the tunnel (550) or 5th (all other routes) until September 2018 when Judkins Park station construction begins. At that point buses will use 4th and/or Rainier to travel between I-90 and downtown.

  6. I had to get from Capitol Hill to DT Bellevue for a few years, and I always cobbled together some kind of 520 routing for myself — 545 plus the 271 or 555, because getting on at the first stop and getting off at the last was a horrendous waste of time.

    I agree with basically everyone else has brought up: if hours are redeployed to the 271, it has to get priority through Medina and off the 520 ramp at Montlake; if hours are redeployed to the 555, then it needs to have priority from 405 to 520.

    Option 3, the 551, is intriguing because if we could get priority on Mercer, it could also be used for a variation on the 8 when the street grid gets stitched together north of Denny.

  7. so… what about Mercer Island commuters? That is, the people who work at retail locations on the island…

    1. I think route 550 should continue between downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle, to serve people who need the intermediate stops. It’ll also continue to be handy for game-day traffic. The volume of peak buses could be reduced, to match ridership.

      But adding service to route 271 would help north Bellevue-Seattle commuters, and so might adding service to route 556.

      More I-90 express service with neighborhood tails probably needs to be restored as parking gets reduced. The recession is over.

  8. I don’t know what to say in the feedback. Rerouting the 550 to 520 is partly appealing, but there’s the heavy traffic on I-5 and the congestion getting to UW Station. We can’t depend on the state doing anything helpful in the Montlake gap, so we’d have to take a leap of faith that it won’t get bogged down and have people cursing ST. But of course, I-90 will get worse too so which is the least evil? I wish the state and UW would give some definitive assurance that they’ll belp with the gap between 520 and UW Station.

    The 255 in Metro’s 2025 plan is slated to become an Express route on 108th Ave NE – 520 – Pacific Street – Campus Pkwy – I-5 express lanes – Mercer/Harrison St – Expediaville. That’s similar to #3 above and it seems dubious to me. Crossing the U-District is not exactly fast, it’s backtracking, and it can only work in the express lanes’ direction.

    1. I took the survey anyway and said truncating routes at UW Station is a good idea but I’m afraid of congestion between 520 and the station so please get the state and UW to commit to improving bus thoroughput. I put in a plug to consider putting the 550 on 520. I emphasized that frequency is the most important factor, that dropping to hourly or no service evenings and weekends is unacceptable and must change.

      Several of the highest-rated responses match mine so that’s a good sign. Most-used routes: 255 and 545. (271 and 550 weren’t options.) What would you most like to change: wait time (i.e., frequency). Most important station amenity: real-time arrival information. Yeah! Would you be willing to transfer to Link if overall travel time increased 5 minutes or less? 56% yes. Acceptable walk time for transfer: 5 min. Acceptable wait time for transfer: 5 min. Two most important factors to make the reorg acceptable: 15-min+ frequency (51%).

    2. Mike, you can always get to Eastlake and Republican express lanes or not by using the Roanoke off-ramp then looping south on Boylston and Lakeview. It drops you on Eastlake just south of Mercer in a lightly used portion of the street, and Republican can get you over to Fairview. It’s a pretty wide street.

      Unfortunately, there’s no easy “return route” because there’s no eastbound ramp from Delmar. However, maybe a “raised gate” ramp for buses only could be built connecting Harvard East just a little way up the hill from Lakeview to the shoulder of I-5 just before the 520 off-ramp. Yes, it’s tight! But some “reverse flow” pathway has to be created for SLU-Eastside via 520 buses. Even after the 520 to Express Lanes ramp is built (if it’s built….) the off-peak direction will be much better off and this could be a reasonably inexpensive way to do it.

  9. You final routing map makes too much sense for metro. It’s a great idea. One line that serves Bellevue, downtown Seattle (via link), u district, SLU and uptown? Wowza

    1. The 800# gorilla is rerouting the 550 will make it oh so painfully obvious that ST dropped the ball “big league” by not jumping on the SR-520 Link routing as soon as it was obvious that sinking bridge was going to be replaced. East Link would be running today with the bus transfer issues at Husky Stadium eliminated. The 550 would continue on it’s merry way serving the Swamp & Ride and MI without all the grieve surrounding taking the center roadway and closing the precious P&R for almost a decade.

      That said, of course it makes sense to run the 550 over Evergreen Pt. Assuming the ramp issue can be addressed the pathetic transfer at Montlake will be much faster than a surface bus through DT.. Right now it’s still much faster for the 255 to go DT than to “hoof it” and transfer at Montlake.

      1. That’s because when they were originally designing and building Link, they were thinking only about north-south traffic, not east/west traffic. The only reason it has a stop in a location useful for 520 transfers at all is an engineering accident. The light rail was originally supposed to be routed along Eastlake.

      2. There was a stage in between. The original Link proposal would have run in the I-5 express lanes or Eastlake, as Convention Place Station was designed for. But there was an urbanist push to move it to Broadway and University Way to maximize ridership and usefulness. That led to an alignment under Broadway and near the University Bridge. But the engineers determined that this Ship Canal crossing was too risky: too prone to cost overruns and failure. So ST deferred the northern segment and started with the southern segment to the airport. Several years later it identified another Ship Canal crossing which was less risky, the current alignment. It moved or added UW Station to Husky Stadium, but did not consider adding any other stations, not 520, not 23rd, not 15th, not Bellevue. That’s because it happened in a weird time between ST1 and ST2, the board thought the existing stations fulfilled its mandate, and hardly any activists spoke up to ask for more stations until later when it was too late. But in any case, a 520 interception station was never considered a goal. In the first two plans there was no station closer than I-5 or University Way, and in the third plan it was assumed that buses might or might not be truncated at UW Station.

        Also, if buses were to be truncated at a 520 station, then they would need a place to lay over and turn around.

      3. If the 520 buses were to be truncated at 520/Montlake Station, maybe they could have used the ramps to nowhere as layover space?

        Sorry, I just had to get my April fooling in, even if it is a day late.

      4. engineers determined that this Ship Canal crossing was too risky: too prone to cost overruns and failure. So ST deferred the northern segment and started with the southern segment to the airport.

        Where they also had huge cost overruns and the tunnel to serve Pill Hill morphed into a streetcar named Disaster. Now we get the news that there’s an 50% increase in the projected cost of crossing I-90 before construction has even started. Not a stellar track record.

        a 520 interception station was never considered a goal…. if buses were to be truncated at a 520 station, then they would need a place to lay over and turn around.

        Never considered because SR-520 has never had any serious consideration. The fixation on the I-90 center roadway was such that the opportunity to include light rail as part of the original design of a Lake Washington bridge rather than a retrofit was squandered. There is a ton of surface parking around Montlake. Yes UW can be hard to deal with but ST’s “path of least resistance” is a big reason we get so little bang for the buck.

      5. “a streetcar named Disaster”

        Of course a streetcar and its problems are much less expensive than a tunnel and underground station and their problems,

        “Now we get the news that there’s an 50% increase in the projected cost of crossing I-90 before construction has even started.”

        A ship canal crossing was a necessity if you believe, as many people do, that ST’s first responsibility and raison d’etre is to connect Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, and Bellevue/Redmond. 520 might have had the same problem because it’s the same situation. Design or retrofit, there’s never been rail across a floating bridge.

        “The fixation on the I-90 center roadway was such that the opportunity to include light rail as part of the original design of a Lake Washington bridge rather than a retrofit was squandered. ”

        Looking at it from the other direction, a previous generation made an investment to make the bridge rail-ready, the way the DSTT was built for future rail. Skipping it and going to 520 would be throwing away that investment and reinventing the wheel.

  10. I wonder if we’re not using a 1957 approach to try and solve a 2017 problem.

    In Seattle’s present economy, and educational world, how many people actually have to be any particular place in person to do their job?

    Good chance hardly anybody even needs a laptop. Would definitely valve off enough pressure from current real estate calculations to hold our freeways to present average speed of zero.

    Reverse gear is Hell on fuel mileage, and backup cameras just give you a more confusing picture of what you’re going to hit than old fashioned mirrors and actual sound effects used to.


  11. So, on Husky Stadium game days, will the 550 end at the next closest station and make people walk? That would be Evergreen Point.

  12. GIven someone (Metro or ST) needs to continue to serve all the 550 stops in between Bellevue TC and South Bellevue P&R, maybe a better way to pitch this proposal is to create a new high frequency Bellevue-Seattle express that uses SR 520, and keep the 550 but at a lower frequency.

    So if I”m in downtown Bellevue and want to get to Seattle quick and easy, I can take this new route. But if I”m at, say, 16th and Bellevue Way, I still have my trusty 550 coming every 15 or 20 minutes to get to either Seattle or Bellevue.

    In this case the 550 should exit at Rainier like the rest of the I90 buses.

    1. There’s no great option, but I think it’s important to remember the Hyppocratic Oath here. Even if most of the riders are going all the way from DT Bellevue to DT Seattle, you can’t just shove the people who use the intermediate stops under the bus. Removing direct service between Mercer Island and Bellevue would turn 15-minute commutes into hour+ commutes, and eliminating service between Mercer Island and DT Seattle, leaving only the less-frequent 554 would not be good either. Then, there’s also the people who board the 550 at the stops along Bellevue Way, who would also lose direct service to DT Seattle under this proposal.

      Nor is there enough service hours, at present, to operate both a 520 route and an I-90 route without cutting the frequency of each route in half. The result would be each individual route running every 30 minutes daytime, once an hour evenings and Sunday.

      As much as I would personally benefit from the option to board the 550 at Montlake Freeway Station, I’m concerned that this proposal it picks winners and losers, and while more people would win than lose, the people who lose would lose a lot.

      I am also concerned that, with Metro already working on restructuring the 255 and 545, that throwing the 550 into the mix is too much to do at the same time.

      Given all this, my suggestion would be a more modest approach. Test the waters of a more frequent 556 between DT Bellevue and the U-district by adding more buses to the route (but only between DT Bellevue and the U-district, not going to Northgate or Issaquah). This can start out by converting a small number of peak-hour route 550 trips, eventually extending to more trips as demand warrants. But, the bulk of the 550 service should probably remains as-is.

  13. If we’re going to keep the 550 on I-90, what about exiting southbound on Rainier, and terminating a few minutes later at Mt. Baker Transit Center?

    Excellent connection to the whole rest of the system. And lets buses load up and turn back without getting into CBD traffic at all.

    Pretty much same idea as terminating at UW. With a clearer run to and from the freeway. So only real decider will be which bridge is faster. Or slower. Depending on construction needs on I-90, would be easy to shift the 550 to one bridge of the other.

    Either way, 550 passengers ride LINK through the DSTT in less time than if buses have to go into Downtown Seattle at all.


  14. Why are you trying to fix one of the best performing bus routes there is in the region? Did you also consider off peak HOV priority all the way to downtown Seattle starting in June?

    520 has reliability issues given the collisions regardless of 3+ priority and it is pretty useless going to Bellevue unless you have direct connectors.

    Out of all the things to be focused on, I am a bit disappointed in this being considered serious. Given existing ridership on the existing 555/556, that to me says people prefer the non-stop directness of 550. We should be working to ensure that 550 isn’t severely impacted come June with travel times.

    1. A large part of the reason the existing 555/556 ridership is not all that great is that it’s frequency is not all that great. If you want to use it to go between DT Seattle and DT Bellevue, chances are the 550 is going to come first. And, the 555/556 is also not all that reliable, with buses coming all the way from Issaquah, westbound, or Northgate, eastbound (not as far, distance-wise, but with wildly unpredictable traffic to contend with).

      Add more frequency, and put it on a bus that goes just between Bellevue and the U-district, it’s totally different. I still agree that any kind of drastic change to the 550 service pattern is overreaching, but there opportunities to experiment during the peak period, when ridership and traffic are at their maximums, and see how many people would bite.

      And, for those that say the 271 already offers similar service, I would reply “not really”. Westbound, the 271 sometimes has to wait 15-20 minutes in a line of cars to enter the freeway at 84th. This is the line of SOV drivers between Bellevue and Seattle trying to dodge the traffic jam on 520 they would encounter, accessing the freeway at Bellevue Way or I-405. The 555/556 pathway is much faster, peak hours, since it gets onto the HOV lane at 108th, much earlier. There’s also the fact that the added time to serve all of the 271’s intermediate stops add up.

      1. It doesn’t solve the biggest crux of the Montlake service hour sink let alone transitioning over lanes. I regularly see SR 520 accidents that screw up westbound traffic and that will improve for I-90 this year when the WB HOV is full time rather than part time. I don’t think a frequency bump for 555/556 will make much of a difference. 555 doesn’t even have direct HOV access and has to slog 405. That SB backup can be bad in peak due to WB 520 to SB 405 being a yield ramp (stupid design).

        Sure you can novel at all the HOV 3+ priority but when you miss critical pathways to those lanes and the on off areas you end up placing more risk on that routing versus the potential reward.

      2. Westbound, I don’t think the 405 slog would be that bad because it’s an exit-only lane to 520, at which point, if traffic is bad, the bus can just hug the right lane, get off at 108th, and get right back on again in the HOV lane. Eastbound, taking 405 means waiting in the general-purpose exit lane, but exiting at the HOV ramp at 108th and taking surface streets from there is certainly an option, and probably a faster option under heavy traffic.

    2. Route 550 will do fine in June of 2017. Starting in September of 2018, it will be severely impacted by having to detour by Century Link Field, and possibly be terminated at the south end of downtown.

      The latter problem can be mostly avoided by shifting some general-purpose lane use to 24/7 bus lanes.

      The former problem will be a serious time sink, costing extra service hours (and a staffing ramp-up) for all I-90 express routes.

      But even in June, there will be impacts to a set of riders who have been using S. Bellevue P&R. They may try to park elsewhere and use a different route, but all the peak routes are pretty tightly-packed already. A full solution would require both more neighborhood-connecting routes and more express service. No such plan is coming between now and September.

      The problem is not that too many ideas are being put out there, but that no ideas are being put out there to avoid a proverbial train wreck we see coming.

    3. “Why are you trying to fix one of the best performing bus routes there is in the region?”

      Because its right of way is about to go away, so it won’t be as well performing.

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