Last evening, Metro and Sound Transit released service change concepts for revised bus service on SR 520. This kicks off the second of three rounds of public input, including an online survey and several open houses in mid- to late June. Because these are service concepts, they do not describe capital improvements in Montlake or elsewhere could be combined with either service option.

Ten routes, six Metro (252, 255, 257, 268, 277, 311) and four Sound Transit (540, 541, 542, 545), are included. Two all-day routes, Metro 255 serving Kirkland-Seattle and Sound Transit 545 serving Redmond-Seattle, carry two-thirds of current ridership. As expected, many buses that currently serve downtown Seattle would be rerouted to UW station freeing resources that would otherwise be consumed in downtown congestion. Changes would take effect ahead of the closure of Convention Place Station, currently scheduled for Fall 2018.

Either alternative improves cross-lake service for most riders, excepting those who prioritize one seat rides to downtown over all else. But the reinvested service hours target different priorities, and many riders will consider their individual circumstances in figuring which option they prefer. A notable highlight of the proposals is that both options include new service between South Lake Union and the Eastside.

Very helpfully, the Metro website separately describes the options, including pros and cons of each, for the major Eastside markets served: Kirkland, North Kirkland/Woodinville, and Redmond. Sound Transit’s website has maps for each market under each option: Kirkland, North Kirkland/Woodinville, and Redmond.

After the jump is my summary of the system-wide changes.

Option A: No Change to Service

This is just a benchmark for what will happen if no other action is taken. Metro 255 buses, currently operating in the DSTT would move to the surface. Other bus routes would not change. With space on downtown streets becoming much more constrained, significantly more agency resources are necessary just to maintain current levels of service. Many routes would require up to 10 more minutes to traverse downtown Seattle at peak. Metro 255 would face the greatest degradation in reliability, taking up to 20 minutes longer to the south end of downtown.

Option B: Connect to Link, Focus on Frequency

All downtown service is redirected to UW Link Station, and the savings from avoided downtown congestion are largely reinvested into much more frequent service on major routes. There are some new connections served. There are more buses early and late in the day, and on weekends. About 150 weekday trips are added. A few highlights:

  • Metro 255 connects to Link at UW and continues to the U-District. In Kirkland, the 255 would no longer serve stops north of Totem Lake. Metro 235 would serve those customers, increasing 255’s reliability. Between Totem Lake and UW, frequencies would be much higher with peak headways as low as six minutes. Headways would be 15 minutes well into the evening and 20 minutes on weekends, all much better than today.
  • Several Eastside buses provide new connections to South Lake Union. These include Metro 252 and 257 from North Kirkland, Metro 311 from Woodinville, and ST 542 from Redmond. All of those routes see frequency increases.
  • ST 542 serves several new stops, connecting downtown Redmond and Overlake to South Kirkland and South Lake Union.
  • ST 545 sees frequency increases with 6-8 minute headways through the peak, with more hours conserved to expand SLU service on other ST routes along the Redmond corridor.
  • ST 540 runs every 20 minutes at peak and serve Children’s Hospital.
  • Metro 277 (Juanita to U-District via Houghton P&R) is deleted. With restructured service, those riders have better options on other routes.

Option C: Connect to Link, Focus on Connections

This option also redirects downtown service to UW Station, but in this case, the frequency increases are more modest and the available service hours target new connections. About 130 weekday trips are added. A few highlights:

  • Metro 255 would connect to Link at UW weekday daytimes only, with similar improvements to frequencies during those hours as option B. After 7pm weekdays and on weekends, a new Metro 256 would connect Kirkland to downtown Seattle without a UW stop (same as today’s 255). The frequency improvements in daytime hours would not carry over into the hours when the 256 serves downtown directly. So the choice for Kirkland riders on evenings and weekends is between frequency (option B) and direct-to-downtown service (option C). There is some risk of rider confusion as buses switch routes at 7pm under option C. As with option B, 255 would not serve stops north of Totem Lake.
  • New Metro route 258 (from Houghton P&R) and ST 542 from Redmond provides direct service to South Lake Union. Both would also serve South Kirkland P&R. The 542 would serve the current ST 545 stops in Capitol Hill and Denny Triangle.
  • ST 541 adds a South Kirkland stop and improved connections in the Microsoft area, and is extended to Green Lake. Frequencies and span of service increase.
  • Metro 252, 257 (both North Kirkland), and 311 (Woodinville) would continue to serve the north part of downtown Seattle, but not operate beyond Olive Way.
  • ST 540 runs every 20 minutes at peak and serve Children’s Hospital (same as option B).
  • Metro 277 is deleted (same as option B).

The below table sketches out the differences in frequencies between the options.

Headways and span of service under each option. When comparing, remember routes vary across options.

84 Replies to “SR 520 Service Change Concepts Released”

  1. How does this work with the fact that Sound Transit won’t have more light rail cars operational until 2020?

    1. ST will have more LRVs sometime in 2019, FWIW.

      There should be just enough to run all 3-car trains all the time, once the buses are kicked out of the tunnel.

      Some have called for a split pattern to have 2-car trains to Angle Lake, and a 2-car train turn-back loop between UW and SODO. I believe the 3-car trains will handle the new ridership on the north end, with a little room to spare, and that 2-car trains might not be enough to handle south end ridership. I’d need to see data to be convinced otherwise.

      I get it that doubling frequency between UW and SODO would be a significant swaying factor in order to get choice riders to support this restructure, reducing average wait time by 1.5 minutes during peak and 2.5 minutes off-peak. But it is a political decision based on that time convenience vs. avoiding south end crushloads, not a necessity to meet the additional ridership demand.

      1. Another slight advantage of a turn-back routing is that it could theoretically operate during a service disruption in the Rainier Valley segment.

        Although infrequent, those disruptions tend to be severe with car crashes and police investigations.

    2. At this point UW to downtown still has plenty of room. I think it can probably absorb the initial boost of east side buses truncate to UW if the transfer is made pleasant enough.

      At least for the few years before new LRT vehicles are ready to go online…

  2. In addition to myriad capital improvements needed, the buses need to stop on montlake and not Pacific.

    The transfer just sucks.

    1. Ideally, yes. However, unless those buses in question are headed into east NE Seattle, that’s simply not doable.

      1. Coming from Kirkland, if the transfer to downtown at UW station is more important than the 1-seat ride to UW, perhaps they should shift frequency from 255 to 540? More 540 trips for those heading downtown, paid for by a few less 255 trips. Or does the tail to Children’s make that a waste of service hours?

    2. @AJ the Service on the 255 and the 540 are paid for by different agencies, so while not impossible its probably not politically doable for KCM to be paying for ST service. And than whos buses are you going to use, whos fares, blah blah blah.

  3. Repeat after me: MERCER STREET BUS LANE?

    And I assume that all these Eastside-SLU routes would use the 42nd St I-5 express ramp? Or would they take Stewart and then backtrack north?

    1. This came up before and I’m against it. There’s no need to use Mercer St unless you’re trying to get west of 99 from I-5. These routes are going to SLU so they should instead use one of the existing left turn lanes as BUS only or HOV to turn onto Fairview because then they can hug the right lane on that street and turn when needed to terminate in SLU. This would have much less impact on Mercer Street which is a SOV nightmare and would be highly preferred because the buses won’t see any benefit going west on Mercer anyways. On the way back, get onto Fairview and then hug the right lane until you enter the freeway. That way you can prioritize transit on Fairview without touching Mercer and making it worse than it already is.

    2. Yes but as Google builds out near Lake Union Park and Expedia begins to need through-travel all the way through Mercer to Interbay, the Mercer Corridor becomes an important transit thoroughfare IMO.

    3. A Mercer bus lane would be ill advised. Mercer is already troublesome to get East/West. Once the tunnel opens, there will be even more traffic on Mercer. No need to funnel more traffic to Mercer when alternatives are available. Using Mercer for a dedicated bus lane may seem obvious but is short sighted and not optimal. Metro needs to be smarter on their planned bus routes. Their are limited resources in the area, no need to screw up this for everyone.

      1. Once the grid is reconnected, how about Mercer/Fairview/Harrison/5th/Mercer/Elliott?

  4. A couple changes you didn’t mention for the Redmond routes:

    * In option (B), the 542 will get off the freeway to serve South Kirkland P&R. This’d slow things down some, but it’s only one peak route.

    * In option (C), the 541 will take 156th north to 51st St before heading back south on the freeway. I don’t mind this for myself, but it’d be fairly long for people coming from the Overlake Village P&R.

    * In option (C), the 542 will get off the freeway to take surface streets from 40th-148th. I’m vehemently opposed to this. Currently, riders can wait at the 40th St freeway stop for every bus to Seattle; this way, they’d need to watch the schedule and choose the 542 ahead of time. I expect ridership would plummet.

    * In both (B) and (C), a separate Route 545 will remain as the only route to serve Bear Creek P&R, running as far as the U-District, while 541 continues to Green Lake and 542 goes to SLU. This sounds good, though I’m wondering if there’s any reason they matched these specific tails?

  5. Having a bus that truncates at UW station during peak and heads downtown off peak seems confusing – I could see someone catch Link to UW thinking their bus is their, not knowing it’s actually leaving from downtown.

    Having different service patterns for weekends seems OK, but the 255-256 peak vs. non-peak service pattern might be too clever to work.

    1. Good point. Could be even more confusing if you’re taking transit right around those break points (7pm and whatever the morning time was). If your bus departs downtown at 6:50, will it stop at UW station at 7 or skip it?

  6. Wouldn’t it be great if they thought of this scenario back when they were designing UW station?

    I like the idea of option C, but it seems hacky and confusing. And it incorporates the 255 but not the 545 for some reason (probably to give northern route 255 passengers an alternative to a 3-seat ride in the evenings when frequencies are low). It does keep the one-seat ride when it would likely be faster, and force a transfer when it would most definitely be not (again, 255 only).

    I’m thinking of the scenario where people are going to Seattle to go to Redmond. Unless they are coming from somewhere on the Link line, options B and C are a minimum 3-seat ride, with the new transfer point being the poorest. So I’m split between options A and C.

    Maybe a good option D would be to start with option C, then extend route 550 to Microsoft (Overlake TC) and removing the Overlake tail of route 566. More service hours would be needed still however.

    1. Route 550? That’s going to be all bogged down in I90 traffic once it gets moved out of the tunnel.

    2. They did but UW wouldn’t allow a bus transfer facility at the station because stadium parking.

      1. A bus bay would have only required a fraction of that huge parking lot. If UW refused to sell willingly, that’s what eminent domain is for. Besides, with less room they could built a 2-3 story parking garage instead of the current surface lot, and had more parking spaces over fewer acres. Everybody wins.

      2. I don’t believe you can perform eminent domain on the UW. It is the state, and therefore the superior entity to Sound Transit. Only the Legislature could have forced this to happen. It wasn’t going to.

      3. Right, UW is a state entity, and the university is considered an essential function of the state. So its eminent-domain authority is superior to Sound Transit’s.

    3. They could have added a station where Link crosses 520. I find it very strange that the very expensive repair of 520 and the very expensive subway tunnel were not designed to work together, despite the fact that both projects occurred at roughly the same time.

    1. Yep, you read it right. Pacific Street, Campus Parkway, and Eastlake or I-5. Don’t expect it to be fast or reliable. But it would still be better than the traffic nightmare on I-5 between Roanoke and downtown and then you have to transfer again to SLU.

    2. All the peak-only ones would use Pacific/Campus Parkway/NE 42nd/I-5 express lanes AFAICT.

  7. is the span of service for when the routes leave or when they reach the end? They seem a bit early; when transfers are required, it seems less fair than today. If a bus leaving Downtown at midnight is replaced by a bus leaving UW Station at 12:20, it seems to be worse service because of the uncertainty of making the transfer (noting that Link is at 20 Minutes that time of night).

    It seems that the last train into UW should have a 520-bridge bus waiting, at the very least. Considering that UW and Capitol Hill stations (with a later nearby clientele) don’t have direct access to I90 buses and that Seattle is now planning on meters until 11 pm on Capitol Hill, a few later bus runs seem like an important and low-cost thing to offer.

    I’m not a late night nor an Eastside bus rider, but I wonder what’s the appropriate to do.

  8. This is madness. Transfers are a very big deal. Every transfer adds a large amount of unpredictability and as a result time. As an ex-AMZN employee who never took a car from Kirkland to AMZN in multiple years I worked there (bike + 255 commute) – under those circumstances I will just take the car, instead of being forced to take transfers. And I guess there is whole bunch exactly like myself still working there.

    1. Will transfers lose some riders? Perhaps, but loss of time reliability could cost even more.

      Is a transfer a bigger deal than being on a bus that has highly a unpredictable ride time due to traffic conditions?

      255 is going to lose tunnel access reguardless soon. Would you rather spend an extra 30 minutes riding it downtown to avoid having to make transfers?

      1. >> Is a transfer a bigger deal than being on a bus that has highly a unpredictable ride time due to traffic conditions?

        My issue is that transfer is unpredictable with 15-30 minute between buses. If 255 was every 5 minutes and light rail was every 5 minutes, I would be the first one to applaud. But imagine leaving a bit late from work, at 6:45 (very very common, last second thing to finish etc) not “off-peak” yet to board the new direct bus, getting on light rail, and being 1 minute late from 255, that just switched to off-peak 30 minute mode. Wait for 25 more minutes, get on 255 and spend another half an hour getting to Kirkland. Now the commute that was sub one hour is over one hour. I was a pure mass-transit user before due to family circumstances I had to take a transfer, I started to drive shortly after. 30 minute transfers are sucking the life out, even one in a month is enough to say “whatever, I am taking a car today, and tomorrow”.

        >> Would you rather spend an extra 30 minutes riding it downtown to avoid having to make transfers?

        Note that majority employer I am talking about is not on the south part of Downtown, but North. So for those people (one of which I was not too long ago) transit time through downtown is largely irrelevant. It adds to irregularity, sure but eventually they are not the ones sitting in those buses through downtown. And thats the people who are on the verge of driving vs mass transit, which eventually will result on even more mess on I5, Mercer and Downtown Virginia/Westlake cluster.

      2. As a sometime rider of the 545 around 9 PM when it’s gone to half-hourly at best, I entirely agree. If I can have a five-minute transfer, great! If it’s fifteen minutes, that’s borderline. If it’s a half-hour…

      3. A lot of the problem is that Metro and ST both live in a false world where people work 9-5, while high-tech workers tend to work later hours. Truncating frequent transit too early both makes the later buses less popular (since people don’t want to get caught with 30 minute or worse headways) and naturally increases traffic because people drive in in the morning when they figure they’re working late. If, like me, you live in Wallingford or somewhere else close in, that’s not so much a problem, but if you live in Kirkland or Lynnwood or Kent, it certainly is.

    2. I have to laugh at this. From the same kinds of commenters on this same blog that once advocated truncating every route onto LINK at the nearest station no matter how practical or not, now suddenly have a totally different story to say when their dreams start looking like reality. Personally, I don’t think the situation is as dire as some make it out to be, however I will admit that I don’t think its going to get better overnight either. In this case, UW and Downtown are far enough apart that it does make sense. The only problem is, like with a lot of LINK construction bus bays were an after thought of the project and not directly attached to the station much like most of the rest of the new start LRT systems in the US and Canada. If this were to be a success, I’d say that ST needs to talk to UW/Husky Stadium and quickly build some bus bays onto their station house. And going with the One City Center plan or whatever its called, this will be the first of several such major changes in service like this. Many downtown lines are going to be redrawn to not go through downtown but end at the periphery for better or worse. I have a feeling this wont be so popular with riders coming in from Snohomish and Pierce Counties, but will get pushed though by Seattle anyway.

      1. “construction bus bays were an after thought of the project and not directly attached to the station much like most of the rest of the new start LRT systems in the US and Canada.”

        It wasn’t an afterthought. It was UW restrictions. The whole station placement is because UW wouldn’t allow it anywhere else on campus such as under the HUB. It wanted it in the furthest, most otherwise-useless corner of campus and next to the stadium.

        “If this were to be a success, I’d say that ST needs to talk to UW/Husky Stadium and quickly build some bus bays onto their station house.”

        Why didn’t I think of that! ST should just talk with UW and convince it of the urgency of the bus bays. That’s exactly what ST tried to years ago when it was designing the station. The UW said no. Maybe it will relent at some point, but that’s where it stands so far.

        The UW is interested in things that benefit students and staff and other people who come to the U, and it points to the state-recognized importance of its educational and research mission. It’s not interested in things that benefit people who are just transfering but not coming to the U. That’s why there are no bus bays at the station.

      2. And in my opinion, when UW refused to let ST build a good station, they should have changed plans and built stations off-campus, maybe one at 520 and another at the Hub. Or, they could’ve built the Ballard line first.

      3. @Mike Orr

        >>The UW is interested in things that benefit students and staff and other people who come to the U<<

        If that were true, UW would have wanted a more centrally-located station instead of one that's a very long walk from most of the campus.

      4. Can’t build the Ballard first, we need U Link to build Lynwood Link. Unless you wanted to run the Ballard line all the way to Snohomish, which has been in no plan.

        Remember the UW Stadium station is near the hospital, too, which helps drive non-transfer ridership. If it was at the Montlake lid, the walk shed would have been pretty minimal & ridership basically dependent on bus transfers. Once East Link and 405 BRT are open, the number of people taking buses on 520 to get to downtown Seattle will drop off significantly because they’ll have a 1 or 2-seat ride via East Link into downtown. If I’m in Totem Lake, Woodinville, or Redmond, I’ll have a better option taking a bus to Bellevue or Overlake TC and then Link all the way to downtown. So while it’s unfortunate for now, a Montlake station won’t be nearly as important once the rest of ST2 Link is built out.

        520 will continue to be important for trips like central Kirkland to UW or Greenlake to Microsoft, but the “north” East King to downtown Seattle trip pairs will mostly move away from 520, IMO.

      5. Yes, and those plans should all have been reevaluated when UW refused to allow a properly-built, properly-located station. Perhaps we could extend the Ballard line. Or, perhaps we could just tell Snohomish that its line has been delayed till however-many years after UW allows a properly-located station.

        But all that’s down the drain now, with however many million dollars and however many minutes of delays from now till eternity…

      6. “when UW refused to let ST build a good station, they should have changed plans and built stations off-campus, maybe one at 520 .. Or, they could’ve built the Ballard line first.”

        UW is the largest school in the region and the and largest employer in Seattle. It has 50,000 students and staff, which is almost the number of residents in Center City. It has major expansion plans. It has people coming from all over the region and as far as Oso. It’s one of the primary reasons we’re building light rail. We can’t just build another line first or not put a station as close to it as possible.

        ST got major flack for going to the airport first instead of UW, and it did it only because the original ship canal crossing had too much risk of failure or cost overruns that could have torpedoed rail transit for another generation.

        “another at the Hub”

        That’s on campus. The UW has rights to the land under it.

        “>>The UW is interested in things that benefit students and staff and other people who come to the U<<"

        "If that were true, UW would have wanted a more centrally-located station instead of one that's a very long walk from most of the campus."

        I would argue the same but that's not how UW sees it. UW says people already walk that far anyway from the Montlake parking lot and between classes and to the Ave. A HUB station would have caused disruption during construction. And the current location is near tens of thousands of medical center people and 70,000 stadium-goers, and stadium events are right when high-capacity transit is most needed because everyone is coming at once.

      7. One thing to consider, is that in the last fifteen years since this was first discussed and planned, things change. people change and demonstrated needs change. I don’t think its impossible to reopen discussions about reconfiguring use of the space. After all, this is a stadium parking lot we are talking about, NOT key educational or medical facilities. Because of its current use its a TOTALLY different conversation. Another option would be to remove some lanes, and build new facilities in the street ROW with some kind of island platform. The motorists would get screwed but the goals would be accomplished.

      8. @MrZ – Also key decision makers change, both at UW and ST, SDOT, etc.

        Bus layover space would be good, but less important once U District station opens. I’m actually holding out for a bike valet parking lot, similar to what they have in Portland. That has the advantage of being a temp structure that can be removed whenever there are stadium events.

    3. As someone who lives in Bothell and works at Microsoft, I have to agree that transfers are a major pain. I take the 311 to Yarrow Point and then the 54x to Overlake. In the mornings, it’s reliable – the 311 is rarely late and 54x buses run every 5-10 min. But in the afternoon it’s often a disaster. It’s not uncommon for me to get to Yarrow Point at 5:30 and wait 30 minutes for a 257/311 because the previous one arrived 10 minutes early and the next one is arriving 20 minutes late. I basically assume it will take at least an hour and 20 minutes for that ride, while the morning one takes 50-60 minutes.

      Basically, it’s faster for me to bike than it is to take the bus despite this being a 10 mile commute. Most people just drive.

      1. 405 BRT and East Link to Microsoft should do wonders for those types of trips, but yeah until either of those are up & running the East King network is very Seattle centric.

        In the future I hope Metro has East King suburban routes funneling people to either Bellevue TC or Overlake TC, rather than into Seattle. People can then quickly take Link either to Microsoft or into Seattle.

  9. I can’t see Kingsgate riders going for either options B or C, with a forced transfer at Totem Lake TC and lesser frequency nights and weekends on Route 235. Also, the issue of Husky Football Games (select Saturdays) and Opening Day of Boating Season (First Saturday in May) does with transfers at UW Station. The proposed Route 256 does resolve that problem for the Kirkland riders, but Redmond Riders are stuck (and those NE Seattle riders know this already, with truncated routes stopping short of Husky Stadium game days). Personally, Routes 255 and 256 should swap numbers, with the 256 being the new route to UW and the 255 being the direct downtown route nights and weekends. Riders associate 255 with downtown Seattle service. Finally, the issue of ORCA/Cash fares and forced transfers (you already know that issue, so I will not elaborate further).

    1. Occasional Kingsgate rider here who mostly rides off-peak. To me the lesser frequency nights and weekends on the 235 is worse than the forced transfer (whether that happens in Totem Lake, Kirkland or Bellevue). It’s basically a service cut disguised as “an improvement” to reliability.

    2. Riding the 255 from Kingsgate to downtown Seattle is so horribly slow as it is, the number of people actually doing it is tiny. Ridership in the Kingsgate area simply does not warrant 15-minute all-day service.

      1. Kingsgate never had nor does it need 15 minute service but the replacement 235 service is hourly on weekends compared to half hourly at present. Comparing the present 235 schedule with the proposed frequency, it looks like they’re cutting weekday night service on the entire route from 30 minutes to hourly.

        That is not explained at all and affects riders on the entire 235 route, not just in Kingsgate. They should at least be transparent about it.

      2. Kingsgate and 108th should have 15-minute local service at least. Then these off-peak transfer problems would evaporate. However, I understand that Metro’s budget can’t reach that at present. That’s where Kirklanders need to support some kind of Prop 1 or get their city to chip in.

      3. Or at least operate a timed-transfer system that maintains current frequency and span, is clearly communicated, and minimizes wait times. Not asking for a huge investment here.

  10. We need to push Metro, Sound Transit, and UW hard about preserving transit access to the station during Husky games and other events. There’s not just a stadium there and a station giving access to the stadium. There’s the third largest regional transfer node there behind Westlake and International District that requires all-day access, especially until U-District station opens and can take over part of that role. During the past few games all northeast Seattle routes were routed away from the area south of 55th and east of 20th, and instead we were given a single 10-minute shuttle from Campus Parkway. If the 520 routes are routed away from UW Station too then that would cause a big dent in people’s travel plans, and if they aren’t routed away then it’s unfair that affluent Eastside routes have access to the station and less-affluent northeast Seattle routes don’t.

    Opening Day I’m not as concerned about because it’s a once-a-year event. Does the Montlake Bridge also close during it? If so the impact is wider than just bus access to the station.

    1. Good luck in trying to preserve access to the UW station during events at Husky Stadium and on opening day of the yacht season the Montlake Bridge is not accessible to car and bus traffic as it is either open for boat traffic and at other times the crowds of people make it a safety issue to have traffic on it.

      As far as access during events at Husky stadium the amount of people going to the stadium makes it very difficult for traffic and buses to get through the area from the south across the Montlake Bridge.

      I brought this issue to the attention of Metro planners when the issue of changing the NE Seattle routes and they basically shrugged it off and said it would not be a problem. Well as last fall showed good luck to anyone from NE Seattle trying to connect to Light Rail on Saturday Husky home games or like this Saturday the UW graduation ceremonies at the stadium and it will be the same if they make eastside riders transfer at the UW station.

      1. That’s a very good point. As an Eastside person who wants to get to Seattle on Husky game days (among other times), I can’t accept this restructure unless they actually run buses downtown or to Link then.

      2. The 271’s existing Husky reroute stops at Montlake Freeway Station, then 15th/42nd, and I’d imagine that the other buses would do the same. Yes, it’s a bit of a walk, but still way faster than slogging out those last few hundred feet on a bus.

        Once the U-district station opens, buses during Husky games could simply drop off the passengers there and avoid the Husky Stadium area entirely.

    2. How about just giving up on UW Stadium station and have routes headed to SLU from Hwy 520 cross Link at Capitol Hill station?

      1. On what route? You’d either need to head all the way up 23rd or go down to Stewart and turn on Denny, at which point you’re headed straight away from SLU.

        I’d favor UW Stadium with ironclad bus lanes, except on game days, when I’d use the freeway station and then either head downtown or head up to 45th St and turn around there.

      2. … and I meant to say, if you can’t get the ironclad bus lanes, then use the freeway station, etc.

      3. At Some point you can have some N. Seattle routes split up and end at University Station, and that may also be a suitable terminus for these lines as well to get people up into the U district, and where there’s layover space for buses.

      4. How would a bus get from 520 to Capitol Hill Station? It would have to go on 23rd, John Street, Del Mar, 10th Ave E or something like that. Those streets can’t fit a hundred additional articulated buses.

      5. Capitol Hill Station would be worse than just slogging through downtown by nearly all metrics. It is not an option.

  11. Seems odd that 545 gets essentially no frequency increase in Option B (other than very minor one during weekday peak). Night will still have 60 minute headways.

    As someone who works at MSFT and often works “late”, this is the biggest issue facing me as a carfree Seattleite. Once you hit 7:30 service slows down and there is still heavy usage from MSFT employees boarding at 51st/OTC/40th. By 8:30ish you are at 30 minute service. I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant number of Seattleites at MSFT who work a pretty standard among developers 10-7 or 11-8ish work day choose driving over bus due to the cliff drop-off in service on the 545.

    Also the 542 which is similarly heavily loaded stops service around 7PM which is still in the peak exit-from-MSFT time period. At least both Options B and C are adding 30 minute night service for the 542.

  12. As a daily rider of the 255, this is going to suck. This proposal doesn’t exchange an unreliable 1 seat ride downtown for a reliable transfer at the UW; it instead trades an unreliable direct ride for an equally unreliable transfer that simply adds time to the journey. Traffic is often terrible exiting at Montlake when coming from Bellevue, so the new 255 will get stuck in that mess. In addition, the transfer at UW station itself is terrible. It involves walking, waiting to cross a busy street, walking some more, going down multiple escalators, and then waiting a platform for a light rail train. There is absolutely no way that this will be any faster than Option A, and I highly doubt it will be any more reliable either. The only way this plan could work would be if buses received full transit priority from the montlake freeway ramps to UW station.

    1. All we have to do is get WSDOT to make one of the exit lanes a bus only lane. But WSDOT does not want to do that because they’d rather buses site behind SOVs for multiple lights.

      Apparently at the WA Bike Summit Roger Millar said: “We’re not just about moving cars and drivers, we’re about moving people,” But that message does not appear to be getting down to the people in WSDOT who are making these decisions.

      1. As a reverse commuter from the U-district to Kirkland on the 255, I have to say option B looks pretty appealing. While the 540 does run during the period of my current commute, the service is so unreliable (after doing a peak-direction trip, the bus immediately turns around, with no layover) that it is nearly always faster to go to Montlake Freeway Station for the 255, unless OneBusAway tells me that the 18-minute-delayed 540 bus is right around the corner.

        The 255 is fairly reliable today, but if it slogged the surface streets through downtown, I’m sure the reliability would fall off a cliff and actual wait times would skyrocket. According to the Metro Page, the new 255 would run every 6 minutes in both peak and reverse direction, which would be a welcome improvement.

        I agree that truncating route 545 without improving night/weekend frequency is not good. Perhaps the best solution is something of a hybrid – option B for Kirkland, option C for Redmond. I would also vote for having the 540 take the direct route between Montlake and Children’s, rather than zig-zag through the U-district (and probably duplicate the 255, in the process). If so, perhaps Metro could use the 540 as justification for getting rid of the 78 and re-investing its service hours elsewhere.

        I would also like to point that Metro’s map isn’t exactly clear about what routing or stops any of these buses would take in the U-district. A detailed map would be very nice.

        Finally, I am also disappointed to see that no improvements are being proposed to the 271, which is still hourly after 7-8 PM, depending on the day of the week.

    2. They should have built a proper station at UW, with bus bays. Even if that meant taking the adjacent parking lot from UW by eminent domain if need be.

      1. You can’t take things from UW, which is an agency of the State of Washington, by eminent domain.

        Sound Transit has zero leverage whatsoever over UW, and the City of Seattle nearly zero. They just have to beg, plead, try to exert public pressure (to which UW is essentially impervious), and hope for the best.

  13. I had a thought. In option C, instead of extending 541 to only Green Lake, what about extending it all the way to 85th/Greenwood, or maybe even 85th/8th Avenue? That way it would connect to additional north-south Metro routes. What does anyone else think of this?

    1. That’d effectively merge the 45 and 541, which’d be rather similar to the 45-271 merge put forward when UW Station first opened. I really like the idea myself, but there’d be a few operational problems – and even more if it’s the 541, which is a Sound Transit route.

      (Another possibility would be to extend the 541 north to Northgate, to add to the 555/556 service.)

  14. As someone who has obsessively optimized the Bellevue / Pine -> Eastside commute (and there are a lot of us), I would say that C is strictly better. As long as a 54X still picks up in front of City Market, people needing the 255, particularly those who had used Convention Place station to catch it, will still be ok: take the 542 and do a same-stop transfer.

    This has the cost of always having to position yourself near a door, which can be difficult under crowded conditions, especially if the driver does not reliably open the back door, but I think it’s better than walking uphill to Broadway or Westlake, going down a shitton of stairs (woe betide if you ever want to wear heels, or have knee issues), waiting, going up stairs, walking more (probably in the rain…), waiting, etc.

    There may be concerns that 15 minute frequencies on the 542 are not enough: I’d say that the 545 bunches enough that it’s no better than every 15 minutes, in practice. Moreover, it’s your first bus, so you can dawdle at home if you see it’s late.

  15. Option D: Option A, have the busses still go *to* downtown, just not all the way *through* downtown. Get off the freeway then turn around near Westlake or University St. Station–hit a few key locations, is it an option? One could always huff it from most of the downtown area to one of these locations to catch the bus, unlike with any UW forced transfer scheme.

    The effective time penalty with forced transfers at UW: the walking time, often in the rain (including additional elevator waiting time), the going-out-of-your-way time, exacerbated by event traffic and increased bus stop congestion, plus sum up the headways of BOTH the transit modes you have to take (you gotta leave at least one bus and train early just in case, to get somewhere reliably on time, and people do have activities involving schedules after work! Similar to the way drivers have to leave early to account for unpredictable traffic.) Easily 45-60 minutes for those taking the 30 minute headway busses. 45 friggin minutes–no doubt many people would rather just drive! IMHO, as a long time transit rider having to deal with this kind of transfer, people often underestimate the impact of transfers especially when those transfers aren’t well integrated into the overall system. In the end one can adapt their schedule to slower travel times, but it is much more difficult to adapt to this level of unpredictability.

    1. I think if you do that, you don’t get the reduction in service hours that can be reinvested in improved frequency or span of service.

      1. Probably true, AJ. Trade-offs! But as a rider depending on half hourly bus service I’d rather take a slower half hourly evening bus I could walk to rather than a somewhat faster one that I have to leave early to catch an earlier train to reliably get to. But then again, many other riders would presumably benefit from B or C.

        I’m not convinced whether the freeway delays are that much worse than the on/offramp delays and extra stairs/walking getting to UW station (occasionally with event hassles), especially for evening/night and weekend service when traffic calms down and the busses aren’t as frequent.

        Just wanted to put it out there as an additional option.

      2. Walking to UW station is fixed overhead, while freeway delays are highly variable and unpredictable. At different times I’ve commuted southbound into downtown or northbound to 45th in the morning, and sometimes it’s wide open but at least once a week there’s a 10-minute extra delay, and at least once a month there’s a 20-minute extra delay. Those are what drive people up the wall and make them demand rail. You can’t get out of them because they happen unpredictably — whenever there’s an accident, a ballgame, or just a large number of cars converge at the same time.

      3. Amen to that. I sometimes take the 542 to Green Lake P&R which right before it gets there, it goes out on I-5 N for about 400 yards. Sometimes that 400 yards can take 15 minutes. So I always get off on 50th. On the bad I-5 traffic days you can even walk from there to Green Lake P&R faster than 542 takes to drive. I have no clue why they don’t just go up Brooklyn which is used as a layover for buses so it clearly allows transit.

  16. Even though UW Station has lots of buses today, a good number of them will not be end points once U-District Station opens in 2021.

    Of those that remain, the 520 buses are the ones that will have the greatest need to end at UW Station.

    The Mountlake bridge crossing as well as UW events and Med Center traffic make that last block awful for 520 buses. ST can’t use eminent domain with UW either to resolve the last block connectivity.

    That seems to point to this most doable solution: buy a few houses south of the Mountlake Bridge and turn that into a transit center to terminate 520 buses. Maybe the money can come from the 520 projects, which could use a corner of the propolerty as a staging area and the rest could be used for buses.

    I know some neighbors won’t want to sacrifice their quaint houses for the larger public good, but the cost of fixing the problem otherwise will take years and cost hundreds of millions. Setting aside even $10M for property acquisition and another $10M-$20M for four or five bus bays and signal changes to Montlske could be something done in a year or two. Given that the 520 bus connection is a long-term need, some sort of investment is justified.

      1. So property acquisition may run $30M! It’s still the least costly fix. Considering the constant traffic in front of these homes, I can’t imagine that living there is bucolic and restful anyway.

    1. “Larger Public Good”, oh come on! This town is not the property of Metro and Sound Transit.

      1. With 15,000 riders that would board here on an average weekday, it’s clearly a benefit to the riders first and not just the agencies. Metro riders do not cease to be King County citizens when they board a 520 bus.

      2. Hmmm…15k daily riders vs. what, a few parking spots worth of space mainly set aside for events (and Uber/Lyft pickup)? Especially if you’re gonna be FORCING thousands of people to transfer there out of their way. I say let the people driving in to games park remotely and take shuttles!

Comments are closed.